Posted on: October 29, 2010 12:00 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's always one of the first factoids cited whenever the ACC 's lack of strength is a topic of discussion, even ahead of "Wake Forest won the league championship within the past decade": the ACC has never earned an at-large bid to the Bowl Championship Series . 12 years, 12 whiffs, 12 missed paychecks worth millions of dollars and 12 missed opportunities to grab some kind of foothold of respect within the sport.
The talking points in the immediate wake of N.C. State 's dramatic 28-24 win over Florida State last night were that the Wolfpack had stolen away control of the ACC Atlantic and that Russell Wilson 's sudden return to form means they just might keep it. But what shouldn't be missed is that the loss all but guarantees the ACC will go yet another season without an at-large BCS bid.
That's because the Seminoles were the conference's only halfway viable candidate. Virginia Tech has taken two losses already, one to FCS James Madison in the season's biggest upset to-date. Neither Maryland nor the Wolfpack have the kind of cachet to pull in TV ratings over similar programs from other conferences (not to mention their pair of losses each). Miami was embarrassed in defeats to Ohio State and the 'Noles. Etc.
After their early-season thumping at Oklahoma , you wouldn't have said the Seminoles were a favorite to land a BCS at-large berth, but as long as they kept winning, they would be in the mix. They still have name-brand recognition dating back to the Bobby Bowden glory days. They play an exciting brand of balanced offensive football led by a high-profile star in Christian Ponder . Most importantly, they had just the one loss and the remaining schedule (home against North Carolina and Clemson , at Maryland , home to Florida in what could be a key ACC-SEC triumph) to make the leap into the BCS top 10, even the top 5. If the 'Noles ran the table but lost in the ACC title game to, say, the Hokies, they would have received a long look from bowls like the Sugar and Fiesta .
But a hypothetical three -loss FSU team? With non-AQ bid snatchers like Boise State and TCU around, not to mention the likes of Ohio State, the Auburn-Alabama loser, or a Big 12 team like Nebraska or Oklahoma ? Forget it. This isn't the year, either, and every one that passes with the BCS millions going places other than the ACC makes it that much harder for the conference to break through next year.
It's fair to say the ACC powers-that-be weren't begrudging N.C. State their raucous celebration after the victory last night. But if any Wolfpack fans happened to stumble onto a sour and depressed-looking ACC official in the aftermath, here's to hoping they weren't begrudging that official his bitterness and disappointment, either.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 7:36 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 7:39 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There's obviously still a long way to go before this year's edition of the Iron Bowl , with plenty of pitfalls for both teams involved: Ole Miss and resurgent Georgia for Auburn , LSU in Baton Rouge and Mississippi State at home for Alabama .
But if both teams can navigate their way through those troubled waters without a loss, the battle royale between 11-0 Auburn and 10-1 Alabama for not only 1. the right to go to Atlanta and play (a heavy SEC East underdog) for the SEC championship but 2. potentially a spot in the BCS national championship game would make it, hands-down, the biggest game in college football this season.
So maybe it's not a surprise that even with the game still a month away, the Crimson Tide are -- allegedly -- already beginning their preparations :
That's a tweet from Travis Reier of BamaOnline.com , and if he's right that those numbers don't correspond to players from the Tide's next opponent (LSU ), it seems an incredibly good bet that they do correspond to Auburn starting wideouts Kodi Burns (18) and Terrell Zachery (81).
Of course, this wouldn't be the first sign that Nick Saban was taking the Auburn game extremely seriously; the Tide rescheduled the week prior's matchup against fledgling FCS program Georgia State for Thursday rather than Saturday all the way back in July. According to Reier it's not unusual for 'Bama to use bye weeks to look further ahead down the schedule, and certainly no one will be surprised if word leaks that Auburn is using next week's game against FCS Chattanooga to begin studying for the Tide.
But all the same, with LSU as formidable an opponent (particularly in Tiger Stadium) as they promise to be, and with the Georgia State week also looming as an opportunity to focus on Auburn, there seems little question that the Tide wouldn't be breaking out the 18's and 81's already if so much didn't promise to be on the line.
HT: From the Bleachers .
Posted on: October 28, 2010 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 7:13 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
If you can't tell by reading my name up there, I am a white male. I'm also a white male that played in various sports as a youth, and was never quite able to shake off the stereotypes that are typically attached to the white "athlete." Much like Wesley Snipes once told us in a movie, white men can't jump. I can jump, just not very high. I'm also not all that fast. In fact, my Little League baseball coaches took to calling me "Lightning" because they thought they were funny. I just thought they were douchebags.
As I grew older I became more comfortable with my lack of athleticism and caucasion limitations. I accepted them for what they were. When I see fast, white linebackers playing in the NFL or in college, I don't get jealous, I'm just happy somebody is out there helping the cause. Not all people feel this way, however. Take, for instance, Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder. The Florida alum knows what is wrong with his former team these days, and it hit him when he saw those white linebackers running down John Brantley.
“They don’t have an identity,” Crowder told reporters immediately after last week’s game at Green Bay, which followed Florida’s 10-7 loss to Mississippi State. “They don’t know what — John Brantley don’t know what he wants to do. He can’t outrun anybody. I saw him get run down by a white linebacker last week, which was a disgrace to all Florida football history.”
But if Mike Pouncey was playing quarterback, who would snap the ball over his head?
To be fair to Crowder, while I don't necessarily agree with the way he goes about saying it, I totally concur with his assessment of what the Gators are doing on offense. John Brantley is not a running quarterback, yet Steve Addazio and Urban Meyer insist on treating him as though he is. So I don't think it's fair to blame Brantley, nor compare him to Tim Tebow, because he isn't Tim Tebow.
Also, just for kicks, I'd like to see Crowder have a race with Brian Urlacher. If he can't win that one, then he obviously shouldn't be playing linebacker in the NFL.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 4:10 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 4:27 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
As the regular season winds to a close, we'll break down the conference races and let you know what scenarios are needed for your favorite team to grasp that automatic BCS berth. In the SEC, we'll shake down each division race first then make an insanely premature prediction. Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below. For the ACC edition, click here .
West DivisionAuburn (8-0) (5-0)
Alabama (7-1) (4-1)
LSU (7-1) (4-1)
Mississippi State (6-2) (2-2)
Arkansas (5-2) (2-2)
Ole Miss (3-4) (1-3)
Week 9 Preview
With Auburn sitting a game up on their bitter Alabama rivals but a full two or more on the rest of the field -- thanks to head-to-head tiebreakers over LSU , Arkansas , and Mississippi State -- it looks like there's not much stopping an Iron Bowl meeting (Nov. 26, only on CBS!) for all the Western marbles. But we're not there yet. There are plenty of reasons a team calling itself the No. 1 team in the country has lost on the road each of the last three weeks, and an awful lot of those reasons are in play again this week as emotionally-drained Auburn travels to Ole Miss . Houston Nutt has enjoyed a ton of success against favored Auburn teams over the years, and with Jeremiah Masoli now in what appears to be firm command of Nutt's offense, the Rebels have the ability to take advantage of the Tigers' often-porous defense.
But the Rebels are also struggling to stop the run in SEC play, giving up 162 yards per game, and that's after playing Vanderbilt and before playing Auburn (who has rushed for more than 300 yards in their last four SEC outings). If the Tigers come out focused enough to execute in their punishing ground game, they should wear down a Rebel defense that has sagged in several second halves.
If Auburn does come away with the win, Arkansas and Mississippi State will be all but eliminated even with wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky , respectively; they would need to run the table, see Auburn to lose to both Georgia and Alabama , and get enough other help to squeeze into a three-way tie that would avoid the head-to-head dilemma. Much more likely is that when the smoke clears, next week's critical game between LSU and Alabama (both of whom are on byes this week) will either help set up a winner-take-all Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa ... or, if LSU wins, bring Auburn within one win of clinching the West.
Week 9 West Winners -- Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State
West Favorite -- Auburn
East DivisionSouth Carolina (5-2) (3-2)
Georgia (4-3) (3-3)
Florida (4-3) (2-3)
Vanderbilt (2-5) (1-4)
Kentucky (4-4) (1-4)
Tennessee (2-5) (0-4)
Week 9 Preview
The most muddled division in all of college football should gain some clarity this week when Georgia and Florida play a de facto elimination game in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (3:30 ET this Saturday--only on CBS!). Assuming South Carolina holds serve at home against reeling, winless Tennessee , the loser will find themselves at least two games behind the Gamecocks with only two games remaining on Carolina's slate. Though either team could still hope for a three-team (or even four-team) tie at 4-4, there doesn't appear to be a way for this Saturday's loser to win that tiebreak.*
The Gators do have the advantage of controlling their own destiny, while Georgia will need help even with a win. But it's Mark Richt 's team that comes in as the Vegas favorite after destroying the Volunteers, Commodores, and Wildcats over the previous three weeks. The Dawg offense looks rejuvenated with A.J. Green back in uniform, changes along the offensive line leading to better holes for Washaun Ealey and the rest of the Dawg ground game, and Aaron Murray coming into his own as the trigger-man in charge. The Gators remain mired at 89th in the country in total offense, and unless Urban Meyer has worked some miracles during his team's bye week or the Gator return game reprises its magic from the LSU loss, it's difficult to see how Florida scores often enough to keep pace.
If Georgia does win, there's still a long road to the division title, though; they'd have to either defeat Auburn on the road in Week 11 or hope Carolina loses to Florida in Gainesville and Arkansas at home. But neither scenario is that far-fetched, meaning the East would stay muddled for at least a few more weeks.
One thing we can say: with Kentucky and Vanderbilt both major road underdogs this week (at Miss. St. and Arkansas, respectively), their brief run as legitimate players for the divisional title appears to be over.
*Since South Carolina would be the first team eliminated from that tiebreak, thanks to their divisional loss to Kentucky. After that, it's Florida vs. Georgia head-to-head.
Week 9 East Winners -- South Carolina, Georgia
East Favorite -- South Carolina
Insanely Premature ACC Championship Game Prediction - Auburn 35, South Carolina 31
Posted on: October 28, 2010 11:55 am
Edited on: October 28, 2010 12:02 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Marcus Lattimore is a measty (man+beast) individual with very focused goals on demolishing anything that stands in his way. His running style is a perfectly blissful combination of evasion and force, he can accelerate through closing gaps or bounce off defenders like a pinball. He has been a crucial piece of the Gamecocks' success, but the health of the true freshman became a concern after missing South Carolina's 21-7 victory over Vanderbilt while nursing a sprained ankle he suffered in the loss to Kentucky. South Carolina welcomes Tennessee to Columbia on Saturday, with the Volunteers still searching for their first conference win. Unfortunately for Derek Dooley's squad, Lattimore appears to have the green light to unleash hell on earth.
Lattimore said after practice Wednesday that he feels "100 percent." He is anxious after watching backup Brian Maddox rush for a career high 146 yards against the Commodores, a game that Lattimore feels he could have suited up for, but as starting quarterback Stephen Garcia pointed out Lattimore can be just as dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. With so much attention on the wide receivers downfield, Lattimore can catch balls in open space and use his running ability to break a big play. Against Kentucky, Lattimore racked up 133 yards receiving, including a 47 yard reception for a touchdown.
So Lattimore is healthy, and has all of his weapons fine tuned to help the Gamecocks make a run at the SEC Championship. I suggest that the remaining opponents of the Gamecocks hide y-...well, you get the idea.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 3:00 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 3:01 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Florida wide receiver Chris Rainey's time away from the field appears to be coming to an end. After being suspended indefinitely for his aggravated stalking arrest last month, Rainey has returned to practice this week and could see his first bit of playing time since Florida's 38-14 victory over South Florida on September 11. As least that is the way it sounds from head coach Urban Meyer's comments on Wednesday.
"As of now, he’s done everything he’s supposed to do,” Meyer said on the SEC teleconference. “What is today? Wednesday? Tomorrow is the deadline that I set with him and myself, and I’ll just do a thorough check again tomorrow of everything we asked him to do."
Rainey has completed the required community service in his deferred prosecution agreement, and the junior from Lakeland, FL will likely be looked to for an immediate impact for a stagnant offense. Rainey could fill in as the big-play threat that has been missing with speedy running back Jeff Demps being limited by a sprained foot for nearly five weeks. That will come as welcome news for the Gators, losers lost three straight games.
After being reinstated to the team on October 10, Rainey was back on the sideline to witness the Gators' 10-7 loss to Mississippi State. Now with a week of practice under his belt, Rainey will no doubt be looking to make up for lost time on the field against Georgia. The Gators can still make a run at the SEC East Division title with a win over South Carolina on November 13, but cannot afford any more conference losses if they plan on being in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
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Posted on: October 27, 2010 2:39 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is far and away the leader in the Heisman race so far this season. He has singlehandedly put the entire Auburn offense on his back this season and carried it to an 8-0 start and the top spot in the BCS polls. Honestly, if you have a Heisman vote right now and you don't plan on giving it to Newton, you aren't doing it because you don't think he deserves it, you're only voting for somebody else to be different.
But what if you're the latest Heisman winner, and you happen to play for Auburn's biggest rival? Is that reason enough not to vote for Newton to win the Heisman? Possibly, but Mark Ingram went on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and said he'd throw a vote Newton's way if he feels he deserves it.
"We'll see what happens," Ingram said. "We'll see how the rest of the season plays out and who keeps playing the best football. They're definitely playing the best football out of everybody right now.
"If he's the best and has been the best so far, I wouldn't have no problem. I'm a real person and I can't hate on the man."
That's right, Ingram "wouldn't have no problem" voting for Newton. Could it be that Ingram is intentionally using the double-negative to throw off the scent, and that he has no intention of voting for Newton? Now, as we've seen in the past, the proper usage of grammar and syntax can be a problem for members of the Alabama football team . It's very possible that Nick Saban 's misuse of the english language has transferred to the rest of the team like some unstoppable virus, hell bent on creating run-on sentences and leaving participles dangling.
But, no, I believe Ingram is too smart for that. He's obviously just trying to fool us all into thinking he supports Newton's campaign. Well he hasn't fooled this blogger!
I'm on to you, Ingram.
Hat tip: CFT
Posted on: October 27, 2010 1:44 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you missed Georgia defeating Kentucky 44-31 last Saturday night, you missed a dominating special teams performance by the visiting Bulldogs. Brandon Boykin broke loose for a 100-yard kick return touchdown, a surprise Wildcat onsides kick was recovered by Georgia, and dangerous Kentucky punt returner Randall Cobb was held without a return yard on three Georgia punts.
The performance was all the more impressive considering that behind Cobb and players like excellent punter Ryan Tydlacka , Kentucky ranked -- and still ranks -- No. 1 in statistical guru Phil Steel 's cumulative special teams ratings . And after Saturday, the Bulldogs themselves have movd all the way up to sixth.
What's the secret of Georgia's success? According to interviews with players before the Kentucky game, it's as simple as the dog-bone pride stickers on the back of Georgia's helmets:
Seems a little over-simplified, right? Award helmet stickers, get better players for the special teams, have better special teams? If it was that easy, wouldn't every program in the country would be awarding pride stickers?
Maybe. But maybe not. According to a (100 percent accurate and comprehensive) list of sticker-employing programs on Wikipedia , 24 teams offer pride stickers for good play, or exactly 20 percent of the FBS. Of those 24, however, eight rank in Steele's special teams top 25, or 32 percent. If we take Steele's ratings at face value, it's true: teams with helmet stickers represent a greater share of teams excelling on special teams than we would expect from a random, equal distribution.
Admittedly, the correlation isn't that strong; it's likely the phenomenon examined here is simply coincidence. But unless keeping the team's helmet unspoiled is a top priority, isn't it evidence enough (along with Georgia's testimony) for programs to at least consider offering pride stickers? If one minor uniform tweak might be all it takes to get one minor upgrade at one special teams position, couldn't the benefit over the course of the season be worth the attempt?
HT: GTP .