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Tag:Troy
Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 3:31 pm
 

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Throughout the 2011 season, our own Bryan Fischer has been skewering the vagaries and missteps of AP poll voters in his weekly Poll Attacks. And though it's sometimes said that the media poll no longer "counts," it's still the method by which half of college football's national championship, so, yeah: it counts.

However, since 2005 it does not count as part of the BCS standings. That job has, of course, been passed onto the Harris Poll, a body of 115 pollsters "comprised of former players, coaches, administrators and current and former members of the media who have committed to submit rankings for the top 25 college football teams each week." You can view the results of 2011's final Harris Poll here and looks at their individual ballots here (both links PDF).

And looking at those results and ballots ... yeesh. How many things are wrong with this picture? Let us count the ways:

1. Oklahoma State ranked sixth ... three times. We won't wade into the "Alabama vs. Oklahoma State" debate here, but at least we can agree -- when looking at the Cowboys' resume before they drubbed Oklahoma and claimed the outright title of the deepest league in the country this year -- that the Tide and Cowboys should have been No. 2 and No. 3 in some order, right?

Not if you ask former Iowa administrator George Wine, former Notre Dame wideout Derrick Mayes, former Hawaii coach Bob Wagnerwho each had the Cowboys sixth. Wine went with Houston, fresh off their 49-28 beatdown at the hands of Southern Miss, at No. 5; Mayes went with Mountain West runner-up Boise State fifth; and Wagner ranked Boise No. 4 and two-loss Oregon fifth. All together, 15 voters placed the Cowboys fourth or lower. (The good news, Cowboy fans? That didn't cost you the title game.)

2. Virginia Tech three spots ahead of Clemson. If the Hokies and Tigers had played a single close game, you could forgive voters for ignoring the head-to-head result, particularly this late in the season. But after Clemson's 38-10 slaughtering of Tech in the ACC championship game, the two teams played twice and both games were lopsided blowouts, one of them in Blacksburg. Yes, Clemson has one extra loss, but we'll attribute that to the Tigers playing a legitimate out-of-conference opponent like South Carolina as opposed to Appalachian State, Marshall, East Carolina and Arkansas State. 

So how do you wind up with the Hokies 11th and Clemson 14th? How do former SMU quarterback Lance McIlhenny and former Troy Trojan Eric Mizell place the Hokies 12 places ahead of Clemson? We don't know.

3. Rampant bias. It's not quite as much of a problem here as it is in the Coaches -- where giving coaches like Nick Saban a say in whether their own teams go to the national championship game (or sneak into the BCS at-large pool) is probably the single most preposterous thing about the entire BCS system -- but bias is an issue in the Harris, too. For instance, as pointed out by our Bruce Feldman, former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer crammed all five SEC teams in the poll into his top 11. 

4. Just plain silliness. Arkansas pounded South Carolina a few weeks back, remember, and they have the same record. So of course former Texas player Tony Jones has Arkansas 19th and Carolina 8th. Remember Georgia pummeling Auburn? The aforementioned Mr. Mayes has Aubun 18th and Georgia unranked. Michigan has the same number of losses as Wisconsin and finished second in its division while the Badgers won the league, so they clearly finish behind Wisky, right? No: three voters had it the other way round, with former Army player Bob Anderson having not just the Wolverines (at No. 13) ahead of the Big Ten champion Badgers (at No. 17), but the Michigan State team they just defeated. Oh, and all five SEC teams are in Anderson's top 9

Of course, the BCS's real problem isn't the Harris poll itself; no matter how you construct a poll like this one, there's going to be strongly-held biases and blatant stupidities. The issue is that using a poll like the Harris (or Coaches, or AP) ensures that -- when the margin for error in selecting a playoff that includes only two teams is so thin -- those biases and stupidities are magnified and multiplied. Push the playoff to four teams, and it won't matter if a few outliers put the Cowboys sixth; reward merit over (purported) fan support, and no one will care that Virginia Tech gets so much benefit-of-the-doubt.

We don't hate the Harris Poll, really. But we do hate that college football's system for selecting a champion has to resort to putting something like it to use.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 2:42 am
 

CBSSports.com Conference Power Rankings (Oct. 4)


Posted by Chip Patterson

Just after I wrote last week about how the Big 12 is pushing the SEC for the top spot in the power rankings, Texas A&M shows up with a monumental collapse against Arkansas in Cowboys Stadium. Despite the jokes about it being a "SEC West conference matchup," this was a poor display for the 2011 version of the Big 12. But the most glaring conference realization from Week 5 was in regards to the Big Ten.

Wisconsin handled Nebraska in Camp Randall easily, becoming a conference favorite and national title contender. But elsewhere in the conference, Michigan State and Ohio State - both ranked at the beginning of the season - played out a painful 10-7 Spartan victory that displayed more offensive inefficiencies than defensive dominance. Illinois and Michigan have been the surprises of the Big Ten this season, and if you have watched either team play that should not give the conference a ton of confidence.

The ACC has begun to make their case with the emergence of Clemson and Georgia Tech in the national spotlight. If Virginia Tech and Florida State can bounce back this weekend the league will have four teams in the rankings and boost their stock significantly. Mountain West had a rough weekend, and if the struggles continue it could end up costing Boise State a shot at the title. The most shake up in this week's rankings come near the bottom, where the Sun Belt has fallen two spots to last place.

You can give your opinion in the comment section below, but here are the CBSSports.com 2011 Conference Power Rankings heading into Week 6.


1. SEC (LW: 1)- Alabama and LSU continue on their warpath towards the Nov. 5 meeting in Tuscaloosa, but the conference takes a bit of a hit with Florida's stock dropping. As much as a mess the SEC East is, the West has four teams in the Top 15 of the AP Poll and the conference showdowns once again reminds us how big and bruising these SEC teams are, and why they have won the last five national championships.  The Big 12 was certainly pushing the SEC last week, but Arkansas' come-from-behind victory over future confernece rival Texas A&M has kept Mike Slive's conference in the top spot of the power rankings. 

2. Big 12 (LW: 2) - As mentioned above, the Big 12 does settle back into No. 2 after that monumental collapse by the Aggies in Arlington on Saturday. However, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appear to be dancing their way to a Bedlam showdown for the ages. But Texas will have something to say about that in the Red River Shootout this weekend. The Longhorns have their quarterback situation sorted out, and have looked dominant in road wins over UCLA and Iowa State. Despite the off-field headlines, all seems normal on the field with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas vying for the Big 12 title.

3. Pac-12 (LW: T-3) - Stanford's seventh straight win of 26 points or more has reminded the nation that there is a powerhouse on the West Coast that does not quack. Arizona State survived Oregon State's best shot to preserve a solid representation in the polls, and Washington has emerged as a surprise thanks to a 4-1 start. The addition of Colorado no longer makes Washington State the conference door mat, and the Pac-12 leaps out of a tie with the Big Ten to hold third place to themselves in the power rankings.

4. Big Ten (LW: T-3) - Wisconsin's beatdown of Nebraska on national television cemented their status as a title contender and kicked off Russell Wilson's official Heisman campaign. But outside of Madison, there are a lot of question marks surrounding the Big Ten's "frontrunners." Michigan, Illinois, and Michigan State all have displayed frustrating inconsistencies, and if the Cornhuskers are the second best team in the conference there is a huge gap between the Badgers and the rest of the league. Ohio State, on the other hand, is doing a great job of making headlines off the field. If the on-field performance won't cut it, at least the Buckeyes have that - right?

5. ACC (LW: 5) - The ACC is beginning to make a charge up the power rankings, but still don't quite have enough going for them to jump the Big Ten or Pac-12. Clemson's defeat of their third straight ranked opponent makes them the first ACC member to accomplish that feat in the league's history. Georgia Tech has also jumped into the scene with their 5-0 start thanks to one of the most productive offenses in the nation. Predicted division-winners Florida State and Virginia Tech haven't derailed just yet because of their 0-1 conference starts, and will be looking to bounce back in crucial division match ups this weekend.

6. Big East (LW: 6) - South Florida's rising bubble burst on Thursday night, getting embarrassed by Pittsburgh on national television. In the words of Adam Jacobi: "It's the Big East, where nothing that is supposed to happen happens!" West Virginia remains at the top of the pile, but the rest of the conference is up for grabs at this point. Some call it parity, others call it mediocrity, but the fact remains you never know what kind of performance you'll get your opposition in Big East conference play.

7. Mountain West Conference (LW: 7) - The Mountain West has slowly fallen from a borderline premiere conference thanks to several notable losses and a recent hiccup in the non-conference performance. In Week 5, the league went 1-3 in non-conference matchups - with Air Force's overtime victory against Navy as the only win. TCU's overtime loss to SMU is embarrassing for the league, and despite expectations Colorado State and New Mexico losing home games to WAC opponents doesn't help. None of this is helping Boise State's cause, who has continued to steamroll through their schedule.

8. Conference USA (LW: 10) - After a questionable start, Conference USA bounced back in a big way this past week - picking up three impressive non-conference wins. Marshall's takedown of Louisville, SMU's upset of TCU, and even Tulsa's victory over North Texas provided enjoyable entertainment for Conference USA fans. Even lowly UAB hung tight with Troy, one of the top teams in the Sun Belt. Tulane's loss to Army doesn't look great, but it was overshadowed by the big wins mentioned above.

9. MAC (LW: 8) - Western Michigan's takedown of Connecticut was the bright spot this weekend's MACtion, which featured four conference matchups while Ball State, Bowling Green, and Miami were fed to BCS Rancors. Toledo and Temple not nearly as close as I expected, with the Rockets jumping out to 15-3 first quarter lead and never looking back. Owls fans filled less than 22,000 of Lincoln Financial Field's 68,000+ seats, and the game did little but lock in Toledo's status as the conference favorite moving forward.

10. WAC (LW: 11) - San Jose State and New Mexico State delivered non-conference wins over Mountain West opponents while Nevada received the revenge punishment from Boise State on the Smurf Turf. Idaho put together a respectable performance taking Virginia to overtime on the road. Fresno State also came close to knocking off a BCS opponent last weekend, but blew a 28-27 fourth quarter lead to Ole Miss.

11. Sun Belt (LW: 9) - Not a great week for the Sun Belt. Conference favorites FIU suffered their second consecutive loss, and this time at the hands of Duke. Troy struggled to beat UAB, and one of the conference's only non-conference wins was Middle Tennessee squeaking past Memphis. When Louisiana-Lafayette is the conference leader, things aren't' off to a great start for the league.

Check back in to the Eye On College Football next week for the updated edition of the Conference Power Rankings.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 27, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 1:28 pm
 

CBSSports.com Conference Power Rankings: Week 5


Posted by Chip Patterson


We took Week 4 off for the conference power rankings to put together the Future Conference Power Rankings.  With realignment rumors slowing, we made a few projections and broke down how the conference's would rank in 2014 at the BCS automatic qualifying renewal.  I put together a set of power rankings for football, Matt Norlander did college hoops, then we put our brains together for a joint future conference power ranking.  

The exercise was an interesting look into the makeup of building and sustatining a conference, but I was more than excited to turn the attention back to what we know: football in 2011.  

LSU and Alabama have continued to carry the SEC banner as the game's leading conference.  The two juggernauts have overcome every obstacle in their path so far, heading down a collision course to their Nov.5 meeting in Tuscaloosa.  But the Tide should be on upset alert this weekend, as defeating the Gators under the lights in The Swamp will be no easy task.  Oklahoma showed no signs of slowing from their methodical road victory against then-top-ranked Florida State, and the Cowboys' comeback victory against Texas A&M showed the strength of the conference lies in the Bedlam schools.  Mountain West and Conference USA suffered some embarrassing losses, while Big Ten's weak slate left room for the Pac-12 to move up into the No. 3 spot.  

You can give your opinion in the comment section below, but here are the CBSSports.com 2011 Conference Power Rankings heading into Week 5.


1. SEC (LW: 1)- The giants in the SEC West each pass their Week 4 tests with flying colors, and LSU takes over as the No. 1 team in the nation according to the writers.  Mississippi State avoided dropping two in a row barely, but the Bulldogs can pick themselves up before heading back into conference play.  Florida performed their annual slaughter of Kentucky, and their defense and running game could give them a shot to challenge South Carolina in the East.  

2. Big 12 (LW: 2) - The Big 12 is definitely closing the gap on the SEC for top conference in the nation, which is interesting considering the instability off the field.  While Oklahoma and Oklahoma State continue to lead the way in the polls, the depth of the conference has been more impressive as of late.  With Kansas State knocking off Miami in Coral Gables and Baylor continuing to follow Robert Griffin III's lead the league has five teams in the top 20.  That's just as much as the SEC and an argument could be made for the middle of the Big 12 looking better on the field than the middle of the SEC recently.

3. Big Ten (LW: 3) - The Big Ten gets very little credit for their weak non-conference schedule in Week 4.  While Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State all did their part to take care of the inferior competition the rest of the conference did not fly the banner with pride.  Minnesota and Indiana's losses and Illinois' squeaker against Western Michigan put a stain on what could have been a clean sweep for the B1G.  Legends and Leaders will strap it up in Week 5 though, with five conference matchups on the slate.

3. Pac-12 (LW: 4) - With Oregon showing flashes of 2010 in their rushing game, the Ducks sent a warning shot across Stanford's bow with their performance on Saturday.  Arizona State's victory over USC helped justify what may be the Sun Devils' berth to the inagural Pac-12 title game (due to USC's postseason ban).  The conference has plenty of question marks when you look down the entire membership roster, but the heavy-hitters at the top of the standings keep the conference near the top.  

5. ACC (LW: 5) - Florida State's second loss in a row removes the ACC's lone team from the national spotlight.  However with a victory over Virignia Tech, Clemson could find themselves elevated to that elite group of undefeated teams.  The Tigers have never defeated three ranked opponents in a row, and will be trying to do so on Sunday evening in Blacksburg.  The Hokies have played an unimpressive collection of early season non-conference matchups, so Frank Beamer and Co. will be looking for a win to justify their place in the naitonal scene.  Georgia Tech is also on the rise, but Maryland's loss to Temple and Miami's loss to Kansas State the ACC's "middle" took a hit in Week 4.

6. Big East (LW: 7) - West Virginia deserves credit for giving LSU their best shot.  They were able to move the ball on that touted defense and until Mo Claiborne's 99-yard kickoff return TD it looked like the Mountaineers could take it to the wire.  South Florida continues their offensive tear, but that will be put to test in the conference opener at Pittsburgh on Thursday.  Despite only having to vote-getting teams in the polls, the conference moves up a spot in the power rankings thanks to a little bit of hope shown by the league's middle.  Cincinnati looks like they could be headed back to the postseason after their dismantling of N.C. State and while Pittsburgh is still horrendous to watch at times they gave themselves a shot to win at Notre Dame..

7. Mountain West Conference (LW: 6) - Kellen Moore and Boise State will stay on course, and I imagine their revenge victory against Nevada will be quite the offensive output.  TCU is starting to get their footing back as well, but still has not displayed anything on field yet that looks like they could give the Broncos a run for the conference title.  The league takes a one-spot drop in the power rankings after San Diego State looked shellshocked against Michigan in the Big House.  The Aztecs weren't expected to win, but Rocky Long's squad could have definitely put up a better fight against the Wolverines.  

8. MAC (LW: 9) - Nothing quite like some MACtion upsets to make for good conference smack talk.  The fighting Addazio's have lived up to their hype once again, this time picking Maryland apart on their own field.  Temple's strong start, and what should have been a Toledo win against Syracuse have the MAC ranking just below the MWC in terms of non-AQ conferences.  Throw in Ball State's win over Army and it was a blown call away from a MAC sweep in Week 4.

9. Sun Belt (LW: T-10) - The Sun Belt's darling in 2011 was FIU, at least until Wesley Carroll and T.Y. Hilton left Saturday's game with injuries and the Panthers dropped their first contest of the season.  After knocking off Louisville and UCF in back-to-back weeks, it is unfortunate Mario Cristobal's tear came to an end against a conference opponent.  Troy now has second life as they try to pursue at least a share of their seventh straight Sun Belt Confernece title.  North Texas delivered the upset of the weekend for the league, knocking off Indiana 24-21.  

10. Conference USA (LW: 8) - In a weekend that featured several notable non-conference upset opportunities, Conference USA really dropped the ball.  Southern Miss was able to hold on against Virginia, but after the Cavaliers' recent performances even that ACC victory might not be an upset.  UCF lost a very winnable game against BYU on Friday night, and an improved Tulane squad certainly had a fighter's chance against Duke.  As a league, Conference USA went 2-6 in non-conference play during Week 4.  Making their case worse, Memphis continues to make a case for being the worst team in the bowl subdivision.  The jury is still out, but the Tigers are making their case.

11. WAC (LW: T-10) - Lots of "almosts" for the WAC in Week 4.  Utah State almost knocking off Colorado State.  Nevada almost upsetting Texas Tech, and Louisiana Tech almost pulling the upset of the week.  Unfortunately "almost" is only acceptable with horshoes and hand grenards.  Need more W's to move up these rankings. 

Check back in to the Eye On College Football next week for the updated edition of the Conference Power Rankings.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 26, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 5:34 pm
 

SEC Poll Reactions, Week 4

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

LSU. We wrote late Saturday that you couldn't go wrong with either the Bayou Bengals or the Crimson Tide at the top of a ballot, so yes, from here LSU's ascension to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll looks entirely deserved. What's interesting is that the voting wasn't even that close; Les Miles's team drew more the double the first-place votes of previous No. 1 Oklahoma and the Tide combined.

Two points to be made from this development:

1. Aggressive nonconference scheduling can pay off. The "three victories over ranked teams on the road" soundbite is a bit of an exaggeration -- the "neutral" site in Dallas was far closer and cozier to LSU than Oregon, and Mississippi State, only No. 25 at the time, is deservedly nowhere near the polls now -- but there's still no question which team has the best overall resume in the country right now. That LSU is now in poll position to potentially lose a game somewhere and still reclaim their BCS title-game spot with a win over Alabama is a just reward for their willingness to challenge themselves.

2. The AP poll deserves kudos for their voters' willingness to respond to results on the field and adjust accordingly. It wasn't that long ago the Sooners would have held the top spot come hell or high water, as long as they didn't lose. Thankfully, where the AP is concerned, those times are behind us.

ALABAMA. As much fun as the polls are to track and debate, when you're in the Tide's position, it doesn't honestly matter where you're ranked at this stage. If Alabama continues winning -- particularly against LSU -- it will reach the No. 1 spot, no questions asked.

But it remains odd to see the Tide badly trailing LSU and Oklahoma in first-place votes, leaving them third in the AP and tied for second with LSU in the Coaches. If the Tide don't have LSU's overall body of work, in Saturday's total domination of Arkansas they also put together the most complete single-game performance of any team in the FBS this year, considering the opponent. With Oklahoma struggling to put away Missouri at home and Florida State absorbing a second loss (and in turn making the Sooners' win in Tallahassee less impressive), it's a close call ... but after watching Saturday's performance, we'd favor the Tide, and we find it surprising more voters don't.

SOUTH CAROLINA. The Gamecocks are now officially a top-10 team in both polls, moving up to 9th in the Coaches and 10th in the AP. But they're still not doing it by overwhelming the voters' impression of them; they simply moved up one spot to account for Texas A&M's loss in the Coaches and two for that and Florida State's in the AP.

No one in Columbia's going to complain about occupying a top-10 slot when Stephen Garcia's playing as poorly as he is, but we asked last week why the Gamecocks were ranked behind an Oregon team with a worse record and worse resume, and that still stands. Carolina is undefeated, the Ducks aren't; Carolina has beaten Georgia on the road, Navy and Vanderbilt all teams with better records than anyone the Ducks have beaten. To rank Oregon higher means voters are simply guessing that they're better--and at this point of the season, shouldn't they be relying on something other than guesswork?

FLORIDA. The Gators continue to rise, moving from 15th to 12th in both polls thanks to losses from the Aggies, 'Noles, and Razorbacks. The same complaint regarding Oregon could maybe be repeated here (the Ducks are one spot ahead in the Coaches, three in the AP), but with wins over FAU, UAB and a terrible Kentucky team, the Gators don't have nearly the quality-of-victory the Gamecocks do.

ARKANSAS. The Razorbacks fell to 18th in both polls, a slide of six spots in the Coaches and just four in the AP. This seems extremely generous on the part of the voters--yes, the Hogs are likely good enough to eventually win their way back into the top 15 or even top 10 by season's end, but at this point their entire resume consists of: 1. Blowing out an FCS team; 2. Blowing out New Mexico, potentially the worst team in the FBS; 3. Beating Troy by 10 points 4. Being routed by Alabama.

The Razorbacks are a good team. But until they prove it by beating quality competition, they have no business being ranked in front of teams like Michigan, Georgia Tech or Illinois, all of which have victories (or two) over likely bowl teams tucked away. Again: guesswork should be for preseason polls, not for those in Week 4.

EVERYBODY ELSE: In the Coaches, no other SEC team is receiving more than the 3 points pulled by Tennessee, good enough to make the Vols "No. 37." Auburn somehow checks in the third-team-out position in the AP -- clearly, not media members saw the Tigers wheeze past awful FAU Saturday night, when they outgained the Owls by all of eight yards -- but aren't quite "knocking on the door" of the poll yet; they're still 97 points behind No. 25 Arizona State.

Still, a win at South Carolina this weekend (however unlikely that seems after Saturday) would seem to lock up an AP spot for Auburn next week.


Posted on: September 18, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:10 pm
 

SEC Poll Reactions, Week 3

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.

LSU/ALABAMA. Back and forth we go. A week after the Tide leapfrogged the Bayou Bengals in the AP poll by the slimmest of margins, LSU's overwhelming defensive performance on the road in Starkville -- and in Thursday night prime-time -- was enough to push them back ahead in the media balloting. Alabama couldn't have been much more dominant than they were in thumping North Texas 41-0 ... but with the game airing on regional pay-per-view, did enough media get a look at it?

In any case, the coaches didn't mind; though the Tigers collected five first-place votes to the Tide's four, Alabama's 38-point margin only shrunk to 29. And it's not like the Tide won't have a chance to surge back in front -- possibly for good -- when they tangle with Arkansas in the league's highest-profile game to-date this Saturday.

SOUTH CAROLINA. It's not an easy trick to fall two spots in one poll and rise one space in the other, but after the Gamecocks' 24-21 escape against Navy, Carolina managed it. Only eight points separate teams 10 through 12 in the media poll, but unfortunately for the Gamecocks, they wound up team No. 12, five points behind Florida State and three more behind Oregon.

On the one hand, the Gamecocks can't complain too much when they struggle so badly with a lesser opponent like the Midshipmen. On the other, the four teams defeated by the Seminoles and Ducks so far this season are ULM, Charleston Southern, Nevada and Missouri State--as strong as the teams FSU and Oregon lost to are, should they really be ranked ahead of an undefeated team with two wins (Navy and Georgia) stronger than any claimed by the two teams in front of them?

The Coaches would seem to agree; the Seminoles dropped to No. 14 and the Gamecocks moved up a slot to No. 11.

ARKANSAS. The poll-vs.-poll debate regarding Florida State also affected the Hogs. With the Coaches dropping the 'Noles to 14, the Hogs got a one-spot bump from 13 to 12; the AP keeping FSU up at No. 11 meant the Hogs likewise stayed at 14. Given the cupcake-laden slate the Hogs have faced thus far (and their struggles with Troy), though, it's hard to argue Arkansas deserves to be any higher.

FLORIDA. No SEC team has made a more consistent charge up the ballots than the Gators, who after their decisive win over Tennessee have reached the No. 15 spot in both polls. But with the 14 teams in front of them all members of the preseason top 15, the Gators may have hit their ceiling until a few more losses open things up. (Which is not to say that's how it should be; having seen off a quality team in the Vols, the same complaints regarding Carolina vs. Oregon and Florida State apply here, too.)

EVERYBODY ELSE. With Auburn falling to Clemson and Mississippi State dismissed so rudely by LSU, the SEC can still claim a full third of the top 15--but after starting the season with eight teams of the polls, those first five teams are now the only ones to still make the top 25 cut. Auburn is the only team even close, ranking "No. 27" in the AP.

And frankly, that's the way it should be. With the Tigers so unimpressive in getting clubbed by their South Carolinian mascot equivalents, the Vols unable to survive the Swamp, and Vanderbilt not yet proven top-25 caliber (though we applaud the 'Dores for picking up a handful of votes in both polls), the next SEC team to make the ballot will have to prove it belongs.



Posted on: September 18, 2011 1:44 am
 

What I Learned in the SEC, Week 3

Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Until proven otherwise, yes, Arkansas is a step behind LSU and Alabama. Thursday, the Bayou Bengals put together what we'd confidently call the most impressive defensive performance by any FBS team this season. Saturday, well, Alabama didn't do a whole lot in their 41-0 workout against North Texas. But we know what the Tide are capable of with that defense, as the previous week's throttling of Penn State proved.

But Arkansas? Their Saturday performance against Troy might be the first one by any of the consensus top three teams in the West you could legitimately describe as "disappointing." After scrimmages against FCS Missouri State and FBS-in-name-only New Mexico, the Trojans were the first Hog opponent of the year capable of doing much more than meekly rolling over ... and Troy did much more than that in Fayetteville, rolling to 457 total yards (three more than the Hogs) and cutting a 31-7 deficit to 31-21 midway through the third quarter. Bobby Petrino's teams made major mistakes on both sides of the ball, turning it over three times on offense -- including a pick-six from Tyler Wilson -- and allowing the Trojans seven plays of 20 yards or more.

It might be just a one-week fluke; it might be the Hogs looking ahead to next week's showdown against the Tide; it might be something more serious. Whatever it is, it's the kind of sloppiness we haven't seen yet from the Tide or Tigers--and reason enough to doubt the Hogs can upset the LSU-Alabama apple cart until they do.

Florida is a frightening, frightening football team. The old adage says that to win in the SEC, you have to run and stop the run, and everything else will take care of itself. So maybe it's time to start taking the Gators as a serious conference contender--and not just on the East divisional side of things. Defensively, Will Muschamp's team held Tennessee to minus-9 yards on the ground and their tailbacks to less than two yards a carry; offensively, they netted 134 themselves with Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey averaging 5 yards an attempt.

No doubt there will be stronger running games to shut down and stronger front sevens to run against down the road. But as long as Florida stays anywhere near this productive on the ground, their hat will remain in the ring.

Houston Nutt is on the hottest seat in the SEC. It's one thing to lose to Vanderbilt; the Commodores don't do it often, but occasionally they do leap up like those crocodiles in a Discovery Channel documentary about African water holes and drag some unsuspecting SEC wildebeest into the mud. And with James Franklin having instilled a stunning amount of confidence in the downtrodden 'Dores and NFL-bound corner Casey Hayward leading one of the league's best secondaries (one that now has three pick-sixes in three weeks), that's an occurrence you can expect to happen more often.

But to lose to Vandy 30-7? To go without a single point against Vandy for 57 minutes? To be outgained by the 'Dores by 153 yards? There's no other word for it than "embarrassment," one that without question ranks along the very lowest points of the Ed Orgeron era. Nutt's biggest misstep has been his butchering of the Rebel quarterback situation; after waffling all offseason between Randall Mackey and Barry Brunetti, Nutt seemed to settle on JUCO Zack Stoudt against BYU on little more than a whim. Stoudt responded by fumbling away that game, then topping himself with five interceptions Saturday in Nashville.

With the Rebel offense in total disarray and what seems like the team's only potential SEC win on the road (at Kentucky in November), an Oregeron-esque 0-8 mark in the conference -- and a 2-10 or 3-9 overall record -- is entirely in play. And as much support as Nutt earned in his back-to-back Cotton Bowl seasons, last year's loss to Jacksonville State and Saturday's horrorshow has burned through virtually all of it with the Rebel fanbase ... and maybe even Nutt's boss. When Georgia comes to Oxford next week, Mark Richt will clearly need a win in almost the worst possible way. But we'd argue Nutt will, somehow, need one even more badly.

Auburn's defense is even worse than it should be. Yes, the Tigers are ridiculously, fatally young. Yes, Clemson is loaded with explosive playmakers that will give more veteran units fits, too. Yes, the up-tempo nature of Gus Malzahn's offense --particularly when it struggles, as it did for the final two-and-a-half quarters Saturday -- puts a hefty portion of extra pressure on that defense.

But that's still no excuse for numbers like Clemson's 14-of-18 mark on third-down conversions or 624 total yards, numbers far beyond what Dabo Swinney's squad managed against either Troy or Wofford. While Ted Roof is public enemy No. 1 among Auburn fans right now, Gene Chizik also has some questions to answer. As many, many positive things as he's done at Auburn (for which he's rarely received enough credit), Chizik also has yet to translate the acumen that made him such a successful assistant into any kind of defensive consistency on the Plains.

South Carolina hasn't put it together yet. A week after edging Georgia as much on Georgia's fatal mistakes as the Gamecocks' own play, Carolina needed a last-minute stop to hold off Navy. The talent in Columbia demands that the Gamecocks remain the SEC East favorites, but they haven't played like it yet.

Kentucky's bowl streak is in serious, serious jeopardy. With the Wildcats unable to overcome an inexperienced Louisville team in Lexington, it's a difficult, difficult thing to find four more wins on the UK schedule. Jacksonville State, you'd hope. Home to Ole Miss, sure. And after that? Best of luck, Joker Phillips.

Posted on: September 17, 2011 5:25 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 5:28 am
 

Game day weather updates, Week 3

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Pretty chilly this morning, eh? Yep -- that's football weather. We've got a lot of games on today's schedule of Top 25 teams. A LOT of games. Almost seems like it practically doesn't matter whether a program schedules a tough opponent or a cupcake in the non-conference, doesn't it? At any rate, not much bad weather on the horizon today, but summer's sure not sticking around this year. Happy tailgating/game-going!

Noon kickoffs

No. 21 Auburn at Clemson, 12:00, Clemson, SC: Mid 60s, overcast

No. 18 West Virginia at Maryland, 12:00, College Park, MD: Mid 60s, mostly cloudy

Afternoon kickoffs

Louisiana-Monroe at No. 23 TCU, 2:00, Fort Worth, TX: Mid 80s, mostly cloudy

Tennessee at No. 16 Florida, 3:30, Gainesville, FL: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Washington at No. 11 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Lower 60s, cloudy, storms

No. 7 Wisconsin at Northern Illinois, 3:30, DeKalb, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

Missouri State at No. 12 Oregon, 3:30, Eugene, OR: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

No. 23 Texas at UCLA, 3:30, Los Angeles, CA: Lower 70s, clear

No. 15 Michigan State at Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

Arkansas State at No. 13 Virginia Tech, 4:00, Blacksburg, VA: Lower 60s, mostly cloudy

Evening kickoffs

Navy at No. 10 South Carolina, 6:00, Columbia, SC: Lower 60s, cloudy, light rain

Florida A&M at No. 20 South Florida, 7:00, Tampa, FL: Mid 80s, partly cloudy, storms

No. 22 Arizona State at Illinois, 7:00, Champaign, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

Stephen F. Austin at No. 19 Baylor, 7:00, Waco, TX: Lower 90s, mostly cloudy

Idaho at No. 9 Texas A&M, 7:00, College Station, TX: Upper 80s, partly cloudy

No. 17 Ohio State at Miami, 7:30, Miami Gardens, FL: Mid 80s, partly cloudy, rain

North Texas at No. 2 Alabama, 7:30, Tuscaloosa, AL: Mid 70s, partly cloudy

Troy at No. 14 Arkansas, 7:30, Fayetteville, AR: Lower 70s, cloudy, storms

No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State, 8:00, Tallahassee, FL: Mid 70s, partly cloudy

Late night kickoffs 

No. 8 Oklahoma State at Tulsa, 10:00, Tulsa, OK: Lower 70s, mostly cloudy, storms

No. 6 Stanford at Arizona, 10:45, Tucson, AZ: Lower 70s, clear

Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Arkansas's Wright, Bequette to miss game vs. Troy

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The good news for Arkansas is that their schedule has handed them the home game against Troy this week and the road trip to Alabama next week. The bad news? A pair of key starters for the Hogs will head into that critical SEC West showdown without getting a tuneup against the Trojans.

Bobby Petrino announced Thursday that both senior defensive end Jake Bequette and senior wideout Jarius Wright will miss his team's matchup against Troy Saturday, Bequette with a tweaked hamstring and Wright with a strained knee. The Razorbacks may also be without  star receiver Greg Childs, whose grandmother passed away this week.

None of those absences should matter much against the Trojans. For one thing, the Hogs have capable replacements; Bequette's spot will be filled by sophomore Chris Smith, already tied for the team lead in tackles-for-loss with 2. And as for Wright, this is where the Hogs' national-best depth at receiver comes into play. Even if Childs misses the game as well, Arkansas can still start a pair of Biletnikoff Award Watch List members in Cobi Hamilton and Joe Adams.

For another, after their 43-19 loss to Clemson in Week 1, this may not be a vintage Troy squad. And the Hogs even have some good news to report on the injury front, as explosive running back and kick returner Dennis Johnson is due to return from a hamstring injury of his own.

But the questions surrounding Bequette and Wright's absences aren't about to subside no matter how well the Hogs play against Troy. For Petrino's team to win in Tuscaloosa, they'll need all of their most talented players  -- which, without question, includes Bequette and Wright -- playing at something close to their best games. So: will they be healthy enough for that? Will they have any rust after missing the last game and a half and a big chunk of practice time? If they are rusty, will they have any hope of hanging with a team of the caliber of the Crimson Tide, on the road?

Thanks to the schedule-maker, things could be worse for the Hogs. But given the uncertainty that now surrounds the team's best pass-rusher and field-stretching receiver, things could be a lot better, too.
 
 
 
 
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