Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:06 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. South Carolina and Auburn will battle for the SEC title in Atlanta. It's official, even though the game is three weeks away, we know that no matter what happens from here on out, South Carolina and Auburn are headed to Atlanta to square off for the SEC Championship. It'll be the first time since 2004 that the game didn't feature Florida, Alabama or LSU. Coincidentally, that's also the last time Auburn played in the game, beating Tennessee 38-28.
2. Sources tell me Cam Newton is still awesome. Distractions? What the hell is a distraction? Cam Newton sure didn't play like a kid who spent the last week dealing with the media circus surrounding his NCAA investigation. Newton finished the day with 299 total yards and four touchdowns during Auburn's 49-31 win over Georgia.
3. I worry about Marcus Lattimore's future. Listen, I totally understand why Steve Spurrier and South Carolina choose to ride Lattimore's back. The kid is a beast, and he completely changes the Gamecocks offense. Still, when I see him get 41 carries on Saturday night -- along with 38 against Georgia earlier this season -- I do worry that he'll be worn out by the end of his college career. We've all seen in the past at places like Wisconsin what happens to running backs who carry the ball hundreds of times in their college career when they get to the NFL. I just hope Lattimore doesn't suffer the same fate.
4. The Cam Newton Saga seemed to have a bigger effect on Mississippi State. Newton played like Cam Newton against Georgia, but Mississippi State played like a team that should have coughed up the dough on Saturday night. Sure, Alabama -- a ticked off Alabama team at that -- had a lot to do with it, but the Bulldogs didn't look very good in their 30-10 loss.
5. Tennessee has its quarterback. Who would have thought back in September or early October that Tennessee would have a chance to go bowling this season? I certainly didn't, but thanks to the continued rise of Tyler Bray and his back tattoo, the Vols have played incredibly well the last few weeks. Bray threw for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns as Tennessee destroyed Ole Miss 52-14. Now, if the Vols can manage to win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- which isn't all that crazy -- they'll finish the season 6-6 and be bowl eligible.
6. Florida's offense is still terrible. Listen, you may have been fooled by seeing Florida score 41 points against Vanderbilt last week, and some pollsters might have been as well, but I wasn't. An offense that has struggled all season did so again on Saturday night, managing a paltry 226 yards and 14 points against a Gamecocks defense that gave up 24 points to Tennessee, and 31 to Kentucky. If Steve Addazzio survives this season, then somebody is going to burn Gainesville to the ground.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 12:22 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Two weeks ago, Vanderbilt made an unusual midseason change at the offensive coordinator's position , elevating running backs coach Des Kitchings to the role of play-caller and demoting previous OC Johnny Kiser . The results have been, unfortunately, right in line with what you'd expect from Vandy following a Titanic deck-chair rearrangement: 156 total yards against Arkansas , a miserable 109 against Florida . Total first downs those two weeks: 15. Total punts those weeks: 19. Oy.
So if there's any team that deserves a break on the injury front, it's Vandy. But this being, you know, Vandy (which apparently used up all the luck they'd missed out on in the lean years before and all the luck they may ever have in their miraculous bowl season of 2008), they are not getting those breaks . In a sentence:
Vanderbilt will be without its top two running backs Saturday at Kentucky, and its No. 3 back is questionable.Those first two backs are Warren Norman , already out for the season following wrist surgery, and Zac Stacy , who started in Norman's place but left the Florida game in the second quarter following a concussion that has left him doubtful for the remainder of the season. Stacy's replacement, Wesley Tate , didn't even make it to halftime before injuring his ankle and remains questionable for the Commodores' matchup this weekend against Kentucky .
All of this attrition leaves senior Kennard Reeves as the team's likely starting tailback for Saturday. Reeves has 271 career yards in his four years at Vanderbilt, his 77 yards this year representing 6.4 percent of his team's total for the year. Norman and Stacy, Vandy's top two leading rushers? 67 percent.
If there's any good news for Vandy, it's that the Wildcat defense ranks ninth in conference play in total defense, so maybe Kitchings and the 'Dores can start to make some headway even without their most dangerous offensive players. But there's little doubt at this stage that Kentucky's still the ones getting the better news.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:31 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. Les Miles loves the taste of grass and victory. Seriously, he loves the taste of grass. We have video to prove it and Russell Sheppard says he does it all the time because it's filled with protein. But as any mad genius herbivore can tell you, the grass always tastes sweeter when you win, and that's what LSU did on Saturday to keep its SEC title hopes alive and end those of Alabama at the same time. Miles did it in his usual crazy manner, too. Making sure his team looked horrible for the first 30 minutes before coming out firing in the second half. I'm really starting to wonder if Miles is just so insane he's actually sane. Like, he's done the complete 360 degrees of insanity, and the rest of us just can't comprehend it.
2. The SEC West > The SEC East. Okay, so the Mississippi State Bulldogs are 7-2 overall, and 3-2 in conference play. This is good enough to earn them fifth place in the six team SEC West. You know where this would put them in the East? They'd be tied with Florida and South Carolina for the lead with one less loss -- but one less win as well -- and they'd have the best overall record in the division. For further proof of the West's dominance, look what fourth place Arkansas did to South Carolina on Saturday night.
3. Cam Newton is not easily distracted. Here's what I know about Cam Newton after watching Saturday's game. He either knows he's 100% innocent of any of the allegations about selling himself to the highest bidder, or he just doesn't give a poop. Newton threw for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns on Saturday, and granted, it was against Tennessee-Chattanooga, but those are still very impressive numbers. Now he has the Tigers only one win shy of the SEC West title, and a few more wins away from the title game.
4. Cupcakes are delicious. Listen, I don't like the annual sacrifices of FCS schools to BCS schools that we see every year, but the fact of the matter is that as long as the BCS reigns, we are stuck with them. And, to be honest, I can't really blame SEC schools for wanting to schedule them in the middle of conference play and taking a break. Georgia, Auburn, Kentucky and Florida -- I'M KIDDING, VANDERBILT* -- all feasted on them, while Ole Miss and Tennessee enjoyed some slightly heavier Sun Belt and Conference USA fare.
*No I'm not
Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
Main Course - #19 Oklahoma State vs. #22 Baylor - 12:30pm - FSNI don't believe it. After weeks of barren morning slate after barren morning slate, we actually get a matchup of two ranked teams this Saturday morning. Surely my complaints have finally been heard and answered by the college football gods.
Granted, a game between Baylor and Oklahoma State doesn't usually carry such cache, but this should turn out to be a very fun way to start your Saturday, and chock full of calories otherwise known as points. Just do the math.
Both teams have high-powered offenses ranked in the top ten nationally, and both teams have defenses ranked in the lower third of the country. Which means it's going to look like a tennis match watching Robert Griffin and Brandon Weeden lead their teams back-and-forth down the field. If the prospect of possibly seeing 100 points scored doesn't do it for you, then I just don't know what I can do for you.
Side Orders: There's quite a bit of mediocre Big Ten fare on Saturday morning as the conference's power teams beat up on the nerds and goth kids, but one Big Ten game that may deserve your attention is Michigan and Illinois. The Illini are one of those teams that is a lot better than you think they are, as they're 5-3 and all three of those losses have been close contests against teams currently ranked in the top 15. Though I suppose you might want to tune in to see Florida destroy Vanderbilt, or see how much money Chattanooga offers Cam Newton to stop running over them.
Main Course -#6 Utah vs. #4 TCU - 3:30pm - CBS College SportsFor years, many a college football fan has clamored for a playoff to determine the national championship. We're not exactly close to getting one, but if ever there was a game that may as well be considered a playoff game, this is it. Oh, and it also features two teams who happen to be ranked in the top 5 in the BCS right now.
Those games don't come along very often in the regular season.
Whichever team wins this game basically assures itself a BCS bid, and strengthens its case to play for the title once the year is over. Plus, considering that Utah is bound for the Pac-12 and TCU may be heading east, this may be the last time we get to see these "mid-majors" square off during the regular season.
So take the time on Saturday to figure out where CBS College Sports is on your cable system and enjoy this one.
Side Orders: Now you all have CBS, so if you're not into that whole Mountain West thing, you could always turn to the mothership and watch Alabama take on LSU. The winner remains alive for the SEC title, and the loser is done. Oh, and you can watch the game while chatting with yours truly over on our Facebook page. Football and Tom Fornelli making smart-assed remarks to your honest questions? What gets better than that? Certainly not Oregon disemboweling a Jake Locker-less Washington team, or Penn State and Northwestern duking it out for fourth place in the Big Ten.
Main Course - #10 Stanford vs. #13 Arizona - 8pm - ABCStanford's chances to win the Pac-10 are somewhat slim at this point considering its already a game behind Oregon, and that its sole conference loss is to Oregon, but hopes are not dead yet. However, if they lose to Arizona on Saturday night they are. The same can be said for the Wildcats, who trail Oregon by a game as well but still get to travel to Eugene at the end of the month.
If Arizona loses this one, it's in the same boat as Stanford, and we may as well crown the Ducks champions on Sunday morning.
The good news for Arizona is that it won't need to rely on its backup quarterback as Nick Foles is expected to return, which means we get a matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10 as Foles squares off with Andrew "Jim Harbaugh's Other Wife" Luck.
Side Orders: There are some other nice choices on Saturday night if you prefer to try something else. South Carolina looks to keep its lead in the SEC East against the cannon of Ryan Mallett and Arkansas. Missouri will also look to keep its BCS hopes alive when it travels to Texas Tech, and I suppose you could tune in to see if Texas can lose yet again against Kansas State.
Late Night SnackNot much to dine on late this week, though if you're desperate for more football at the end of the night, you can tune in to see if Lane Kiffin can distract Matt Barkley a few more times against Arizona State. If nothing else, you might get some awesome Ace of Base action, and who doesn't want more Ace of Base in their beautiful life?
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Brandon Weeden, Cam Newton, Chattanooga, Florida, Illinois, Jake Locker, Jim Harbaugh, Kansas State, Lane Kiffin, LSU, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Missouri, Nick Foles, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Mallett, Saturday Meal Plan, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington
Posted on: November 4, 2010 11:17 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here are the main story lines to keep your eyes on in Week 10. You will be graded on this. Eyes on your own paper.
Who's the class of the Mountain West? For all the consternation caused by TCU jumping Boise State in the BCS rankings this past weekend, the real drama happens this Saturday at 3:30 on CBS College Sports, when TCU faces fellow unbeaten conference member Utah in a pivotal game that may have national championship implications. After all, if Utah beats TCU but doesn't hop Boise State in the BCS rankings, the Utes would be right to question why that'd be the case. If TCU wins and wins out, though, Boise State's national title hopes are effectively over regardless of the Broncos' undefeated record for the second year in a row.
And past the implications, it should be a really interesting game to watch; these two teams are some of the best-coached, toughest squads in all of college football, "non-AQ" label be damned. TCU quarterback Andy Dalton is having another stellar season, and the Utes are tied for third in scoring offense this season. Oh, and both defenses are in the top six in both scoring defense and total defense ; TCU in particular hasn't even given up more than seven points in a game since September. Something's gotta give ... right?
Will the SEC races be over? The key SEC matchup this week -- almost by default, considering the glut of non-conference games there on Saturday -- is certainly No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 LSU , at 3:30 on CBS. Both teams are 7-1 and ready to make a push for, at the very least, an at-large BCS bid. But here's the thing: if LSU wins, the SEC West is basically over; Auburn would have to lose to both Alabama and Georgia the week prior for LSU to take the division title. Let's at least wait for Cam Newton to be declared ineligible first.
Meanwhile, No. 17 South Carolina could take a commanding lead in the SEC East... or all hell could break loose. Again. The Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville to put their 4-2 conference record on the line against No. 16 Arkansas . If the Gamecocks pull off the win and Florida drops their game against Vanderbilt (tell us it can't happen; go on, tell us.), SC takes the SEC West just like that. It could , technically, happen.
Will off-field distractions doom top teams? So undefeated No. 2 Boise State 's out of the national championship picture the way things look now, and it hosts a surprising 7-2 Hawaii . Drama?? No. 3 Auburn faces 5-3 Chattanooga , possibly without Cam Newton. And OK, technically, the Mocs are an FCS team, but still: intrigue??? Even No. 7 Wisconsin faces plucky Purdue , and Wisconsin has to deal with this blog that clearly makes fun of it and its fans. Chicanery???? Look for all three of these ranked teams to lose by at least 20 points this week as their worlds crash down around them.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 3:42 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 a mostly premature prediction. Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below.
West DivisionAuburn (9-0) (6-0)
Alabama (7-1) (4-1)
LSU (7-1) (4-1)
Mississippi State (7-2) (3-2)
Arkansas (6-2) (3-2)
Ole Miss (3-5) (1-4)
Week 9 Preview
With their convincing victory over Ole Miss last weekend, Auburn has eliminated both Arkansas and Mississippi State from the West race. Thanks to a head-to-head loss to Auburn and a second loss for both the Razorbacks and Bulldogs within the division (where Auburn finishes 4-1 at worst), it appears that's it's impossible for either team to win a tiebreaker against the Tigers, whether it be two-way, three-way, or even four-way. Since the Tigers are already two games up in the loss column with only two to play, the Hogs and Dogs cannot do better than a tie and are done where Atlanta is concerned. A share of the West will be as good as it gets.
But that's not the case for either LSU or Alabama , who will play what will very likely amount to an elimination game Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Tide could still make Atlanta after a loss by winning out, having Auburn lose to Georgia , and watching LSU drop one of their final two SEC games; they'd win the three or four-way tie at 6-2. But that's a lot of breaks to catch. LSU, on the other hand, has no way back in the event of a loss, as they'd fall into the no-way-past-Auburn boat shared by Arkansas and MSU.
For the winner of LSU-Alabama, though hope remains very much alive. LSU would need a pair of Auburn losses, but if they got them they would control their own destiny for Atlanta. Things would be even rosier for the Tide, who control their own destiny already and would be only two home games away from the divisional title.
Which is why Auburn will be rooting hard for LSU (not, of course, that they wouldn't be anyway). A Bayou Bengal win would mean that after dispensing with FCS Chattanooga this week, Auburn would have the golden opportunity to clinch the division at home next week against Georgia. The opinion here is that they won't get it, however; unless Patrick Peterson can produce some game-changing plays in the return game, it's hard to see how LSU's feeble passing attack makes enough hay against the Tide's defense to put a game-winning number of points on the board.
Week 10 West winners: Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss
West Favorite: Auburn
East DivisionSouth Carolina (6-2) (4-2)
Florida (5-3) (3-3)
Georgia (4-5) (3-4)
Vanderbilt (2-6) (1-5)
Kentucky (4-5) (1-5)
Tennessee (2-6) (0-5)
Week 9 Preview
Thanks to form holding in the South Carolina vs. Tennessee , Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas, and Kentucky vs. Mississippi State games, what once appeared to be an incomprehensible mess will almost certainly come down to one game: South Carolina at Florida, Nov. 13, for all the division's marbles.
It's "almost" because there's one remaining possible fly in the ointment: Vanderbilt, who hosts the Gators at noon Eastern this Saturday. If the Commodores can pull off the shocker, Carolina will go into their evening game against Arkansas knowing that a win will send them to Atlanta for the first time in the program's history.
Much more likely, of course, is that the Gators take care of business and render the tilt between the Gamecocks and Razorbacks completely meaningless where the East title is concerned. Even in the event of a Gator win and Carolina loss -- a likelihood, given the downtrodden state of the Carolina secondary and the skills of Ryan Mallett -- the Gamecocks will still have the tiebreaking upper hand if they can win in the Swamp, and Florida will have no way past that tiebreak after that fourth loss. It will be 100 percent winner-take-all.
(Note that Georgia has been eliminated; even the Vandy-over-Florida / Arkansas-and-Florida-over-Carolina / Georgia-over-Auburn series of events that leads to a three-way tie at 4-4 doesn't help them, since Florida would take it on the strength of head-to-head wins over both the Dawgs and Gamecocks.)
Week 10 East winners: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee
East Favorite: Florida
Mostly Premature SEC Championship Game Prediction - Auburn 34, Florida 28
Posted on: November 3, 2010 4:16 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2010 4:21 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Though it's been described in some quarters as a "down year" for the SEC , the polls would beg to differ; the league still hogs a third of the BCS top six and more than a quarter of the BCS top 20. A year after Alabama and Florida staged a de facto play-in game for the right to play for the BCS national championship, most bowl projections --- including CBSSports.com's -- currently see this year's meeting between a potentially undefeated Auburn and a potentially one-loss Alabama to be just as critical. Charges that the league's lack of depth was being masked by the Tide's and Gators' dominance have been answered this season as up-and-comers like Auburn, South Carolina , Arkansas , and Mississippi State have more than filled the vacuum left by the decline of Florida and Georgia .
In short, at the top of the standings, it's as good to be the SEC as ever. Too bad the story is a different one in the league's other half, where several teams will have to scratch and claw their way to bowl eligiblity. While fewer bowl teams would be something of a black mark for the league's record, it would be even worse news for the bowls on the back end of the SEC's 9-game bowl tie-in pecking order.
With the league all but guaranteed a second spot in the BCS (likely to go to either the Auburn-Alabama loser or LSU in the event the Bayou Bengals knock off Alabama at home this weekend), the SEC will need 10 bowl-eligible teams to fulfill all of those tie-ins. If they fall short, the struggling Birmingham Bowl -- having already lost its papajohns.com title sponsor and sitting on the ninth and final choice from the SEC pool -- could be forced to invite a Sun Belt also-ran that would almost certainly lead to diminished attendance and TV ratings. The bowls with the SEC's No. 7 and No. 8 choices, the Liberty Bowl and Music City Bowl , are more stable but would no doubt take some form of hit from being forced to choose a lower-rung Big East team or non-AQ at-large squad.
So there's more at stake in the race for bowl eligiblity for the SEC's bottom half than just gift bags and extra practices. CBS projects nine of the conference's teams to make it across the line to the postseason, but this assumes a few results break the SEC's way. Taking a look at the league's eligibility picture ...
Team-by-TeamAuburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas : Each of these teams has already earned postseason eligibility.
Florida : The Gators need only more one win, and if the exceedingly unlikely event they don't get it this week against Vanderbilt , they will Nov. 20 against FCS Appalachian State .
Kentucky : This is where things start getting at least a little dicey. The Wildcats have used the four-mediocre-nonconference-wins plus-two-SEC-victories blueprint to eligibility before and, with only four wins to date, could need it again. Charleston Southern will get them to five, but if the 'Cats botch their Nov. 13 home date with Vandy, they'll have to end their 25-game losing streak to Tennessee (the NCAA's longest between two teams) in Knoxville to make the postseason.
Georgia : With Idaho State on tap this week but a trip to Auburn the following Saturday, the 4-5 Bulldogs are likely to be at 5-6 and in need a win at home over Georgia Tech in the season's final week to go bowling. The 5-3 Yellow Jackets have taken a step back this season but won their last trip to Athens.
Ole Miss: This is where the shots at eligibilty get legitimately long. The 3-5 Rebels will need three wins out of a slate that includes a home dates against Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State and trips to Tennessee and LSU. The Ragin' Cajuns are a gimme, but the Rebels will likely be underdogs in the other three and will need a pair of upsets to make up for their season-opening stunner against FCS Jacksonville State .
Tennessee: At 2-6, the Vols must win out to grab a bowl berth. But they have the schedule to make it happen, at least: vs. Memphis , Ole Miss, and Kentucky at home with only Vandy on the road. But at 0-5 in the SEC and dealing with a quarterback controversy, it's hard to see the Vols running the table even against that soft slate.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores also sit at 2-6, but with Florida up this week, they will very likely be the first SEC team officially eliminated from postseason consideration.
Best-Case ScenarioKentucky beats Vandy, Georgia beats either Auburn or Tech, Tennessee wins out, and Ole Miss shocks both LSU and Mississippi State to send every SEC team but Vandy into the postseason (four of them at 6-6).
Worst-Case ScenarioKentucky loses to Vandy and Tennessee. Tennessee loses to Ole Miss. Ole Miss loses to LSU and Mississippi State. Georgia loses to Auburn and Georgia Tech. And only seven SEC teams go bowling.
A PredictionWe'll stick with the CBS line for now: the Dawgs and 'Cats do enough to keep the Music City and Liberty happy, but neither the Rebels nor Vols make it and the Birmingham Bowl scrambles. But should Kentucky lose to Vanderbilt or Georgia to their in-state rivals from Atlanta, there's going to be some very unhappy bowl executives in either Memphis or Nashville.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 2:22 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
49-14 Vanderbilt losses like the one the Commodores suffered Saturday at Arkansas haven't been that uncommon over the years. By the time the victor has finished padding their stats and the usual condescedning platitudes about the Vandy effort have been written, it's typically time to simply move on to the next potential 'Dore drubbing. (Up this week: Florida !)
But this has proven to be one blowout with surprisingly long -- and acrimnious -- legs. For one thing, the game has proven to be the final one of the year for key contributors on both sides, as both Razorback receiver Greg Childs and Commodore running back Warren Norman have been ruled out for the rest of the season with a patellar tendon injury and a dislocated right wrist , respectively. This space has already commented on the impact of the loss of Childs on the Hog attack, but Norman's injury could be an even greater blow for the already-struggling Commodore offense; the SEC leader in all-purpose yardage a year ago, Norman was Vandy's leading rusher, kickoff returner, ball-carrier, and touchdown-scorer.
But at least those injuries occurred during the normal run-of-play of the game (though Bobby Petrino has had to answer questions about why Childs was still playing in the fourth quarter of a three-touchdown game). Petrino is of the opinion that the same can't be said of the knock taken by freshman Arkansas defensive tackle Byran Jones :
For their part, it's doubtful Vandy will be expressing too much symapthy. The Hogs were called for a pair of chop blocks during the game, and the 'Dors are claiming the rude reception in Fayetteville went well beyond the scoreboard :
Vanderbilt equipment manager Luke Wyatt confirmed that the two ball boys (college students) that the Commodores provided to work on the Arkansas sideline required protection after being verbally abused and physically pushed by a member of the Razorbacks' support staff in the early stages of the game.Coaches sniping at the opponents? Season-ending injuries? Chop blocks? State troopers called in to keep the ballboys safe? This is not your typical Vanderbilt rout. And after all of this, it's highly likely that next year's rematch in Nashville won't be either. It's rare that any Commodore game makes for appointment viewing, but that one just might.