Posted on: October 23, 2010 5:23 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 5:27 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Through one half, the LSU defense has lived up to its reputation ... and unfortunately for the visiting Tigers, so has their offense. Gus Malzahn 's dynamic Auburn offense was held to just 10 points and 177 yards in the first half, well below their season averages. While Cam Newton ran for 78 yards and a touchdown, he also threw for only 32 total yards and looked uncomfortable in the pocket against LSU's (arguably) SEC-best secondary.
But those 10 points were good enough for a 10-3 lead until the final 15 seconds of the half, when Jordan Jefferson escaped a Daren Bates tackle at the 10 and sprinted in to tie the game. The play capped a huge 14-play, 78-yard, momentum-changing drive for LSU following a missed field goal by the usually-reliable Wes Byrum , the miss wasting Auburn's own 13-play march. Both teams will kick themselves for missed opportunities; LSU took the ball across midfield on their first three possessions and scored just one 48-yard Josh Jasper field goal.
So who's got the upper hand? LSU will take the second-half kickoff, a big deal in what's shaping up as an extremely low-possession game, but LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee suffered a wrist injury just before the half; Les Miles just said he would play in the second half, but if he can't, can Jefferson throw well enough to keep LSU moving? Can Auburn use their big home crowd to propel themselves into a big second half, as they did against Clemson and South Carolina ? But what if Nick Fairley really has a head injury and has to miss the second half himself?
The Lee injury might tilt the odds slightly in Auburn's favor, but after 30 minutes, things are way too close to call.
Don't forget to stop by Tom Fornelli's live Facebook chat during the second half and have your say.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:49 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.
BreakfastMain Course - Northwestern vs. #8 Michigan State - Noon - ESPN
Michigan State leads the way for breakfast for the second straight week, which is what happens when you're the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten. Be forewarned, though, just because this matchup doesn't seem all that appealing, it...ok, it isn't really. It's just that the morning slate is light again because that's just the way things work in this television dominated world.
Still, the Spartans shouldn't take Northwestern all that lightly. First of all, no road game is easy, even if it's being played in a stadium with 35 people in it. Yes, Northwestern inexplicably dropped a game to Purdue last week, but that's Northwestern's style. It has a tendency to play to its opponents. So there's a chance that the Wildcats could hand MSU it's first "Sparty, no!" of the season.
Side Orders: Ohio State hosts Purdue, and this game may be interesting for a few reasons. First of all, it's our first chance to see how the Buckeyes will respond following a loss, and they'll also be looking for revenge for last season's loss in West Lafayette. Speaking of revenge, I'm sure Notre Dame wouldn't mind beating Navy and starting a new trend there as well. Or you can just watch Texas, West Virginia and Virginia Tech romp over some conference foes.
LunchMain Course - #5 Auburn vs. #6 LSU - 3:30pm - CBS
Two undefeated Tigers roll into Jordan-Hare on Saturday, and only one will emerge. Who is it going to be? Well, there are going to be two different games being played in this one. There's the game between each team's strength -- Auburn's offense and LSU's defense -- and their weakness -- Auburn's defense and LSU's offense.
Odds are that whichever team's weakness best resembles a strength is going to emerge victorious, and have a much easier path to the SEC title and possibly a BCS game. If you're wondering which way I'm leaning, well, I'll just say that one team has Cam Newton at quarterback and the other has some indecipherable combination of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.
Also, I'll be doing a live-chat during this game over at our Facebook page, so stop on by and make fun of Les Miles for four hours with me, won't you?
Side Orders: The afternoon is packed with some big games this week. If for some reason two undefeated teams battling it out isn't good enough for you, you can always go with Iowa and Wisconsin or the also undefeated Oklahoma State taking on previously undefeated Nebraska.
Main Course - #18 Missouri vs. #3 Oklahoma - 8pm - ABC
Personally, I've been waiting to dig in to this one for a while. I've seen Missouri play a few times this season, and as I've said here before, I'm just not sure what to make of them. The Tigers are a good team, but are they really 11th in the BCS good? Is that what a couple of victories over some 3-3 BCS teams and nobody else gets you these days?
Whatever the case, we'll find out on Saturday night. If the Tigers can knock off the team that sits atop the current BCS standings, then I guess we have to take them seriously.
Though, I feel I should point this out as well, just so Missouri fans can hate me a little less, I think Oklahoma is a bit overrated as well. Still, I think the Sooners will prove to be better on Saturday night.
Side Orders: Bit of an light night on the menu this week. There really aren't any other marquee matchups being played on Saturday night. Kentucky and Georgia could be interesting seeing as how both teams are still alive in the SEC East, but other than that the only game that even catches my eye is TCU and Air Force. Though, if you hate yourself, you could always tune in to Texas A&M and Kansas.
Late Night SnackThe Washington Huskies have found a home as a late-night snack here. I've featured them here twice in the last few weeks, and they're undefeated in those games. Can they run the streak to three on the road against an Arizona team that is without Nick Foles?
Tags: Air Force, Arizona, Auburn, Cam Newton, Georgia, Iowa, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Navy, Nebraska, Nick Foles, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Saturday Meal Plan, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:34 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2010 7:29 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The production and sale of college football-related art is a multi-billion dollar business* in the state of Alabama, and no one profits from it more than Daniel A. Moore , the Birmingham-based artist whose oil paintings of famous moments in Alabama football history have made him a household name statewide. An example from last year's narrow escape against Tennessee :
Each and every Moore production is wildly anticipated (and eventually purchased by the thousands) by Crimson Tide fans in much the same way indie rock geeks salivate over their favorite band's next release.
Auburn fans, however, haven't had any equivalent single artist to turn to for their artistic needs. But maybe that's just a case of not having the right artist with the right motivation. Not surprisingly, budding Heisman candidate/Auburn folk hero Cam Newton may just be that motivation, as painter Carolyn Foret describes on her website:
Inspiration hit me fast last weekend! Pardon me right now, Alabama fans or those not interested in football! But CAM NEWTON came to life on my easel after watching him superman himself into the end zone a couple of times for my team, AUBURN UNIVERSITY.What does that life look like? Like this:
A gauntlet may have just been thrown down in Mr. Moore's direction. Maybe more to the point: if you needed any better evidence of the hold Newton and his seismic impact already have on the imaginations of Auburn fans, you've got it.
*Possibly a slight exaggeration.
HT: @warblogle .
Posted on: October 20, 2010 6:15 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Check out any of this week's multitude of Internet Heisman polls you like, CBS Sports's included , and you'll notice they'll have two things in common: 1. Cameron Newton 2. LaMichael James . Sure, James occasionally comes in a narrow third to Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, and there's even a few random holdouts declaring someone other than Newton to be the leader, but the consensus is universal that both Newton and James are in the very thick of the Heisman race.
This is significant because both Newton and James, like the polls, have something unfortunate in common: high-profile arrests.
By now, virtually every college football fan knows that while at Florida in 2008, Newton purchased a stolen laptop and tossed it out a window when a police investigation located it in his dorm room. (Those fans and even occasional writers, anyway, who aren't under the frequent misapprehension that Newton stole the computer himself.) Fans outside the west coast may have forgotten in James's blistering start, however, that James was suspended for Oregon 's season-opener after being arrested on three charges stemming from a domestic violence incident.
At the time, many pundits opined that Heisman voters would pass on supporting the candidacy of a player associated in any way with a domestic violence arrest. (James eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge and was sentenced to 24 months probation.) Similarly, some writers and even a minority of Auburn fans wondered whether even Newton's tremendous physical talent was worth the risk of recruiting and signing a player tarred as a thief and character risk.
But at midseason, with both players in the midst of brilliant, Heisman-worthy seasons, those concerns appear to be the very furthest thing from the trophy-tracking media's -- and potentially Heisman voters' -- minds. When Newton's past is referenced at all, it seems to be placed within the context of his redemption as charismatic team leader and even selfless community volunteer . (If you watched CBS' broadcast of the Auburn-Arkansas game, you know that Newton aspires to one day open his own day care center .) James's arrest and suspension seems to have become an afterthought as soon as he exploded for his eye-popping 72-yard touchdown run against Tennessee .
As far as this blogger is concerned, this is as it should be. Media members (or Heisman voters) trying to parse what off-field missteps would be worth altering coverage or opinions and which ones wouldn't opens up all kinds of messy ethical dilemmas and value judgments that aren't worth bothering with; if a player is on the field, what happens on the field is (almost always) the only fair criterion for which they should be judged.
But whether you agree with that position or not, the larger, more important lesson to learn from Newton's and James' unambiguous success (and resulting Heisman standing) is that once the on-field exploits are spectacular enough, the off-field mistakes simply aren't going to matter.
In mid-season, with Newton and James providing us fresh highlights and mind-blowing stats on a weekly basis, this seems blatantly obvious -- "analysis" on par with "that Les Miles sure makes some unorthodox decisions" or "maybe Virginia Tech shouldn't have tried playing James Madison five days after Boise." But we'll all do well to remember it come the offseason, when the next Newton or James gets in legal hot water and we're assured this is a major setback for the player's reputation and profile.
The 2010 Heisman race suggests that unless the offense committed is one serious enough to keep him away from his entirely, it simply won't be.
Posted on: October 20, 2010 3:02 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Let's start with the actual college football information provided by Les Miles ' appearance at today's SEC coaches media teleconference, namely, that he and defensive coordinator John Chavis are not planning on deploying a quarterback spy to help keep Auburn quarterback/hellbeast Cameron Newton in check:
No, I'm not sure what "other very talented perimeter" means. Or "when he throws it or hands it off, it's a very talented group," either, exactly. But the point is clear enough: Miles isn't going to assign a spy to Newton, which makes some sense when you consider that the most effective defense against him to date has been to drop as many players into zone coverage as possible.
Of course, all we really know is that Miles isn't going to assign a visible spy. Since he makes it clear that if he can find a way to put a transparent 12th defender on the field, he will:
When asked how he would defend Newton otherwise, Miles respnded, "If I could have a spy no one could see, a guy on the field that didn't count, that would be a great answer."If this was any other head coach, we'd all have a good laugh at his debonair wit and move along to the next question. But since this is Les Miles we're talking about, there's no point in pretending we're not going to be watching very carefully Saturday to see if Newton suddenly falls to the ground for no apparent reason. If he can win that North Carolina game ... and that Tennessee game ... and that Flordia game ... well, finding a way to turn a defender invisible and sneaking him onto the Jordan-Hare Stadium field doesn't seem like such an impossible task.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 4:29 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 5:30 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
We're halfway through the regular season, so it's time for the Midseason Report. Who the real contenders are in the Big Ten is pretty clear. Who'll actually win the conference, however, is a little more muddled. This certainly looked like Ohio State's conference to lose seven days ago -- and it still might be -- but Wisconsin's superlative 31-18 upset of the Buckeyes in Madison muddled the picture somewhat. Here's a list of the contenders for the conference crown thus far.
Michigan State (7-0, 3-0): It's generally lazy analysis to assume that a current front-runner -- especially one without any recent history of success -- will maintain its place atop the conference. And yet, Michigan State has, essentially, a two-game schedule to sew up a trip to Pasadena. After all, of the Big Ten teams with one conference loss or fewer, Michigan State has already beaten one (Wisconsin), won't face another (Ohio State), and gets another at home (Purdue, who, yeah). The only games left are visits to Northwestern and Iowa in the next two weeks. If the Spartans win these, they'll have the tie-breaker over everyone in the conference. Add a loss anywhere, and the prospects get a little dicey -- especially since if it comes down to Michigan State and Ohio State both at 11-1. More on that in a bit.
Iowa (5-1, 2-0): If the Spartans are the new frontrunners to the Big Ten title, then the Hawkeyes are the gatekeepers. Iowa has three home games remaining, and they're against the other three teams on this list: Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Will the Hawkeyes beat all three of these teams? That'll depend on the leadership of Ricky Stanzi, the senior quarterback who's playing at a level few would have expected after last season. The Hawkeyes' defense, anchored by Adrian Clayborn and the rest of the line, is still their strong spot. But if Stanzi malfunctions like he did on occasion in 2008 and '09, the Hawkeyes could take a very damaging loss and (probably) watch their Big Ten title hopes evaporate.
Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1): Which Wisconsin team will show up in Iowa City on Saturday? The high-octane world-beaters that ran Ohio State out of the stadium last weekend? Or the semi-suspect squad that looked sluggish against plainly inferior non-conference competition and got outgained by 150 yards in a 10-point loss to the Spartans? Granted, 2009 Iowa demonstrated the folly of reading too much into low margins of victory against putative cupcakes, but Iowa won the majority of their games against upper-level Big Ten competition, and Wisconsin hasn't reached that plateau quite yet. A win in Iowa City changes that outlook substantially. Still, when the Badger rush offense is struggling, QB Scott Tolzien's track record isn't promising. It's probably wise to expect one more loss from the Badgers before the season's said and done.
Ohio State (6-1, 2-1): Ever thought you'd see the day when a 6-1 Ohio State had arguably the fourth-best chance to win the Big Ten crown? Here we are, though; for as good as Michigan State's prospects look, the Buckeyes' seem to be on the other end of the spectrum. Of the contenders, they've already lost to one (Wisconsin), they play another on the road (Iowa), and the last they miss entirely (Michigan State), which means OSU can't take matters into their own hands and put a loss in the Spartans' column. Essentially, to win the conference, Ohio State needs every other team to lose at least once -- and the Buckeyes only play Iowa in the second half of the season. That's a lot of help needed. The Buckeyes have the talent to keep up their own end of the bargain, of course; that defense is still stellar across all 11 positions, and OSU's offensive line will keep their offense humming. But for all his otherworldly physical talent, Terrelle Pryor still isn't taking over games at the level that, let's say, Cam Newton is. Further, this is Pryor's third year in Tressel's offense. It's Newton's first with Auburn OC Gus Malzahn. Either this trend gets corrected, or Pryor's collegiate career becomes a relative disappointment; it's not as if OSU's a seven-win team without Pryor at the helm, is it?
Any of these four teams could go to the Rose Bowl without any surprises; Wisconsin's an underdog at Iowa, but not prohibitively so. Yes, technically, Northwestern and Purdue are in the mix for now too, but they're definitely longshots next to these four teams. My prediction is that Iowa effectively eliminates the Badgers from the discussion by beating them this weekend, while MSU handles Northwestern. Iowa then hands Michigan State their first conference loss in Iowa City, all while Ohio State keeps winning. Then, Ohio State knocks off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. All three teams win out otherwise, and there's a three-way tie atop the Big Ten standings at 7-1. Tiebreaker time!
Iowa will be the first team to be eliminated from consideration, as the Hawkeyes will be 10-2 while OSU and Michigan State are 11-1. Now, a few years ago, the Big Ten had a Rose Bowl tiebreaker after head-to-head competition and overall record that gave the bid to the team that hadn't been to Pasadena in the longest amount of time. This would obviously be Michigan State. But! That tiebreaker was ditched a few years ago and replaced with a Big XII-style stipulation that the highest BCS ranking is awarded the bid. So here we go again. Ohio State, having been ranked ahead of Michigan State when both were undefeated and having an earlier loss than the Spartans, is likely ranked higher at the end of the regular season and sent to Pasadena. Spartan faithful cry foul, but they're rewarded with an Orange Bowl bid in consolation. Iowa represents the conference in the Capital One Bowl, and Wisconsin goes to the Outback for the third time in the last seven years.
Of course, watch Northwestern beat Michigan State this Saturday and render this entire prediction worthless.
Tags: Adrian Clayborn, Auburn, BCS, Big Ten Bowls, Big Ten Outlook, Big Ten Report, Big Ten Tiebreaker, Cam Newton, Gus Malzahn, Iowa, Michigan State, Midseason Conference Reports, Midseason Reports, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pasadena, Purdue, Ricky Stanzi, Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl Tiebreaker, Scott Tolzien, Terrelle Pryor, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 17, 2010 12:23 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. Parity has wrought havoc in the SEC. Remember the days when there was no question that the SEC was the class conference in college football? Well, that either no longer applies to the conference, or everybody has become so good that everybody can beat everybody. No matter which side of the argument you fall on, one thing is clear: when it comes to who is going to win the conference, none of us know anything.
2. The SEC East is up for grabs. Sticking with the parity theme, while we know that the SEC West is going to finish with either LSU, Auburn or Alabama on top, the SEC East can be had for the taking by anybody who wants it. South Carolina may have lost to Kentucky on Saturday night, but no matter, if it wins out it's still theirs. Right behind the Gamecocks is Florida, who have lost three in a row, and Georgia. The same Georgia team that we all thought might have a new head coach by the end of the season.
3. Cam Newton is a monster. Newton had a monster performance against Arkansas on Saturday, leading the Tigers to 65 points -- the first time that Auburn's hung 60 on an SEC opponent since they did it to Florida in 1970. With all the losses in the top 10 this week, it's safe to say that Newton will be on top of the Heisman list come Monday. The only question is how long will his defense let him stay there?
4. Florida REALLY wishes it still had Cam Newton. You really do have to wonder how much time Steve Addazio has left in Gainesville following another anemic performance from the Gators offense against Mississippi State. Anytime your defense holds an opponent to 10 points in your building, you have to win that game. Florida just couldn't get it done. It's time to go back to the drawing board, and the Gators may need to put the dry erase marker in somebody else's hand.
5. Marcus Lattimore is the key to South Carolina's offense. Lattimore had 212 yards and three touchdowns in the first half against Kentucky, and South Carolina had a 28-10 lead. Then Lattimore spent the second half on the bench on the second half, and the Gamecocks couldn't do anything on offense, getting outscored 21-0 in the second half and losing. Leaving the ball in the hands of Stephen Garcia is just not a winning formula.
Posted on: October 16, 2010 5:34 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2010 6:23 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
While Denard Robinson was grabbing most of the intention during the first month of the college football season, now that Michigan has begun to fade a bit -- it lost last week, and could be on its way to another loss against Iowa -- there is some room atop the Heisman discussion. Much like the Arkansas linebacker in the clip above, Cam Newton is running right over everybody in his way.
The Auburn Tigers lead Arkansas 27-21 at halftime, and Cam FREAKING Newton is running roughshod all over the Arkansas defense. He's thrown for 88 yards and rushed for another 143 on 13 carries. In other words, he's dominating the Arkansas defense and is putting his team in a position to be 7-0.
Though he is getting some help.
Auburn was given a gift touchdown by the officials following a big Newton run to set the Tigers up inside the 10-yard line. On the next play Mario Fannin got a carry and fumbled at the one-yard line before going into the end zone, Arkansas recovered the fumble, but according to some mystery official, Auburn had scored a touchdown. To anyone watching the replay it was obvious that Fannin had not broken the plane of the goal line with the ball in his arm, but tell that to the replay official who ruled it a touchdown anyway.
Also not helping Arkansas today? Ryan Mallett left the game in the second quarter with what Bobby Petrino said was some kind of head injury.