Posted on: October 14, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 3:40 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.
This week we're offering a menu that is a bit low on carbs. It's not that we don't have plenty of interesting choices to offer you this weekend, but there isn't exactly a must-have on the list. Which I suppose is a good thing considering all the big meals we've all been ingesting the last few weeks and the pounds they've packed on, we could all afford to eat a bit more salad this weekend.
#23 Michigan State vs. #11 Michigan - ESPN 12pm ET
This game has it all: rivalry, firepower, and consequence. Michigan State is looking to continue its reign in this series, having won the last 3 in the series. Michigan will need to get Heisman candidate Denard Robinson rolling and light up the scoreboard; that hasn't been much of a problem for UM this year. At stake is probably the best shot at challenging Nebraska for the Legends Division crown; the loser, meanwhile, will need a lot of help in the race. - Adam Jacobi
#21 Texas A&M vs. #20 Baylor - FX 12pm ET
Robert Griffin is appointment television no matter who Baylor is playing, but considering that Texas A&M is statistically the worst passing defense in the country, this one could be really fun. Of course, Texas A&M isn't exactly a slouch either, as Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael have done a good job of covering up that secondary's mistakes on offense. This one could be a pretty nice shootout to start your day with. - Tom Fornelli
Mississippi State vs. #15 South Carolina - SEC Network 12:21pm ET
Is Connor Shaw for real or not? The Gamecocks' now-unquestioned starting quarterback looked the part against Kentucky, but a veteran Bulldog secondary playing at home in Starkville is a much tougher test. And if Tyler Russell's breakout second half against UAB was more than illusion, State could have put some of their offensive woes behind them as well. Whichever quarterback proves last week's performance wasn't a fluke should come away with the victory. - Jerry Hinnen
Tennessee vs. #1 LSU - CBS 3:30pm ET
For the second week in a row, the Tiger defense gets to face a backup quarterback making his first start of the season. The Vols' Matt Simms has a lot of advantages Florida's Jacoby Brissett didn't, though: he'll be at home; he's a senior who started eight games for Tennessee in 2010; and he saw the LSU defense up close and personal playing against them last year. Too bad the Vols don't have the running game to keep the Tigers from teeing off on Simms all the same. - JH
#22 Texas vs. #6 Oklahoma State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
Did you know that Mack Brown's Texas teams have never lost a game following the Red River Shootout? That record is likely going to be in serious jeopardy with the Oklahoma State offense coming to town, but if the Longhorns can manage to keep Brandon Weeden in check and pull off a win, it'd be a very large step in returning the program to where it once stood. Or you should watch just to see if Oklahoma State can finally hit the century mark. - TF
Virginia vs. #12 Georgia Tech - ESPNU 3:30pm ET
The last time Virginia took the field, they needed overtime to steal a 21-20 victory over Idaho. With an off week to get healthy and prepare for the Yellow Jackets' option attack, the Cavs defense will try to live up to their 311.8 yards allowed per game (ranked third in the ACC). Tech coach Paul Johnson criticized the decision making of quarterback Tevin Washington in last week's 21-16 win over Maryland, and cited a lack of "continuity" as a reason for their uncharacteristically low score. Look for Georgia Tech to try and use this game to get their methodical attack back on track. It might be more than a young Virginia defense can handle, even with a week to prepare. - Chip Patterson
#16 Illinois vs. Ohio State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
The Illini look to continue their tear through a stunned and unsuspecting slate of opponents and run their record to 7-0. In Illinois' way is mighty Ohio State, who's got the talent to win the battle up front on both sides of the ball. If OSU doesn't have Braxton Miller at 100% after last week's ankle injury, though, can the vaunted Buckeye rushing attack pick up the slack and turn drives into touchdowns? - AJ
Maryland vs. #8 Clemson - ESPNU 6:30pm ET
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd wasn't wearing hip pads for "swag reasons." Now he has to shed his hip fashion style in order to protect his strained hip against Maryland. Boyd may have been carted off the field last week against Boston College, but he'll be lining up under center on Saturday night in Byrd Stadium. Maryland, on the other hand, won't make a decision regarding their starting quarterback until game time. Starter Danny O'Brien was benched in the 21-16 loss to Georgia Tech in favor of freshman C.J. Brown, who ran for 124 yards in just one half of action against the Yellow Jackets. But Brown struggled throwing the ball, so it will be interesting to see what head coach Randy Edsall decides to do. The last time Maryland played a primetime game at home, they wrapped themselves in the state flag and pulled out a victory. Tune in to see what fashion statement they make this week. - CP
#24 Auburn vs. Florida - ESPN 7pm ET
In a matchup of teams with passing games that will be lucky to reach "mediocre" -- the Gators thanks to John Brantley's injury, the Tigers due to Barrett Trotter's ongoing struggles -- the winner should prove to be whichever team can get their pair of star tailbacks on track. With Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey on one side and Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb on the other, backfield head-to-heads don't get a whole lot better than this. - JH
Washington State vs. #7 Stanford - FX 7:30pm ET
The Cardinal have the country's best quarterback in Andrew Luck and the conference's toughest defense (just 10.6 points per game allowed) so this should be a relatively easy road trip for the Cardinal. Head coach David Shaw will likely want to establish the running game this week after tilting heavily in favor of the pass last week against Colorado. The question probably isn't if Stanford will win, but by how much. Washington State showed they've got some fight in them last week before coming up short against UCLA. - Bryan Fischer
Kansas vs. #3 Oklahoma - ESPN 2 9:15pm ET
This is a pretty late start for a game that's being played in Kansas, but I have to believe it's some kind of strategy. Maybe the Jayhawks are hoping that by starting the game later, nobody will be watching the Sooners offense destroy a Kansas defense that has been shredded by everybody it's faced this season. This one likely won't be competitive for very long, but who knows? - TF
LATE NIGHT SNACK
#9 Oregon vs. #18 Arizona State - ESPN 10:15pm ET
They're still the conference king until knocked off their perch but Arizona State will present a stiff test for Oregon this weekend. The Ducks are not as good as they were last year on defense and will be missing star running back LaMichael James but Kenjon Barner and freshman DeAnthony Thomas are able replacements for him on offense. The atmosphere at Autzen at night should be a big advantage but expect a tough Sun Devils defense to force a few turnovers and make things interesting. - BF
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Auburn, Barrett Trotter, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Boston College, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Bryan Fischer, C.J. Brown, Chip Patterson, Chris Rainey, Christine Michael, Clemson, Colorado, Connor Shaw, Cyrus Gray, Danny O'Brien, David Shaw, DeAnthony Thomas, Denard Robinson, Florida, Georgia Tech, Idaho, Illinois, Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Kansas, Kenjon Barner, Kentucky, LaMichael James, LSU, Mack Brown, Maryland, Matt Simms, Michael Dyer, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Onterio McCalebb, Oregon, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Randy Edsall, Robert Griffin, Ryan Tannehill, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Tajh Boyd, Tennessee, Tevin Washington, Texas, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Russell, UAB, Virginia, Washington State
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 6:36 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.
I've made a huge mistake.
The last few weeks, as I was clawing my way back into the race and approaching Woman, ready to pass her, I got overconfident. Sometimes the problem with being Man and being awesome is that it gets hard to control the ego once in a while. I did a terrible job of this last week, and because of it, I'm back in second place. I've now dropped a game behind Woman in the race, but it's okay. All I have to do is spew some cliches and I figure I'll be right back in this.
You know, going to take this competition one game at a time. Give them all 110%. So let's get to it for this week.
Michigan State (-3 1/2) vs Michigan - Saturday, 12pm (All times Eastern)Man - This is a tough one to call. Michigan has played really well so far this season, but since 2008, Michigan State has had the Wolverines number. Combine that with the fact that the game is being played in East Lansing, and it makes me lean towards Sparty. And as I'm leaning, I remember that the Michigan defense has improved a lot stronger than any of us expected, and I remember how Michigan State's offense looked against Notre Dame. So I'm taking the points and saying that Michigan takes the state back on Saturday. Pick: Michigan
Woman - "Thank goodness, life at Michigan is back to normal, more Bo and Lloyd than Rich and Rod. But that doesn't mean no bumps in the road. Today's game is that bump. Spartans will win. Not as certain they'll cover." Pick: Michigan
Machine - It's a clean sweep as The Machine sees Michigan pulling off what looks to be quite the thriller. Fitzgerald Toussaint scores a touchdown in the final minutes to tie the game, and then scores a couple more touchdowns as Michigan wins 41-37 in double overtime. Pick: Michigan
Texas A&M (-9 1/2) vs. Baylor - Saturday, 12pmMan - This one seems so simple to me that I'm actually a bit scared of it. Like Vegas knows something that the rest of us don't. Baylor and Robert Griffin have been lighting secondaries up all season long, and Texas A&M's secondary has been lit up all season long. I don't know if Baylor wins, but I have to think it covers that spread. Pick: Baylor
Woman - "Baylor will exact revenge on the field as well as off for the Aggies SEC defection. (Based on this secret video of the last Big 12 meeting between the schools' attorneys, it's gonna get real, y'all.)" Pick: Baylor
Machine - The Machine sees Texas A&M putting together its most complete game of the season as the Aggies take care of Baylor 38-21. Pick: Texas A&M
Mississippi State vs. South Carolina (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 12:21pmMan - Sure, Connor Shaw isn't playing Kentucky this week, so life may not be as easy for him replacing Stephen Garcia this time around, but he still has Marcus Lattimore to turn around and give the ball to. Combine that with the fact that Mississippi State's offense has looked anything but potent this year, and I have to go with the Gamecocks. Pick: South Carolina
Woman - "Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier dumps his troubled QB mid-season, then bans a reporter for not towing the party line. What the Gamecocks got is failure to communicate." Pick: Mississippi State
Machine - Bring back Stephen Garcia! The Bulldogs roll 37-13. Pick: Mississippi State
Tennessee vs. LSU (-15 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Tennessee doesn't have Tyler Bray and it has to face the LSU defense? My prediction here is that Phil Simms is going to be really mad at Gary Danielson on Sunday. Pick: LSU
Woman - "Still riding Miles' Magical Mystery Tour. (Vols' loss at home last week to Georgia makes the ride easier.)" Pick: LSU
Machine - The Machine seems to have more faith in Matt Simms than either Woman and I do, but it's still not enough as LSU wins 28-17. Pick: Tennessee
Texas vs. Oklahoma State (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Texas was a bit exposed against Oklahoma last week, and I'm pretty sure that Oklahoma State noticed how well Landry Jones performed against that Longhorns defense. I see no reason why Brandon Weeden can't do the same this week, and although I feel that Texas will have more success on offense, it won't be able to keep up with the Cowboys. Pick: Oklahoma State
Woman - "Here's a stat from Burnt Orange Nation: In thirteen years at Texas, Mack Brown has never lost the game after the Red River Shootout. Between that and points..." Pick: Texas
Machine - The Machine sees a lot of angry Texas fans in the future. Oklahoma State tears Austin apart, winning 48-20. Pick: Oklahoma State
Illinois (-3 1/2) vs. Ohio State - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Is there an Option C? I mean, I either have to rely on an Ohio State offense that has looked terrible for most of the season to finally put together a complete game, or I have to give up points with a team that is coached by Ron Zook. Illinois has only beaten Ohio State once under Zook, but that was the year the team ended up in the Rose Bowl. Well, Illinois isn't going to the Rose Bowl this year. Pick: Ohio State
Woman - "Illinois is 6-0 with 2 division wins. Ohio State is .500 with two division losses. So this should be easy. But I'm just waiting for that fateful day when Illinois pops a Zook. Like, this Saturday." Pick: Ohio State
Machine - Well it looks like Illinois' unbeaten season is coming to an end this weekend, as The Machine has Ohio State winning as well, 31-17. Pick: Ohio State
Wake Forest vs. Virginia Tech (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 6:30pmMan - I haven't seen a whole lot of Wake Forest this season, but I have seen enough from Virginia Tech to be a bit leery about giving up over a touchdown on the road. I'm not sure if the Deacons knock off another ACC favorite this weekend, but I think they can keep it close. Pick: Wake Forest
Woman - "Wake Forest has quietly laid down four impressive wins in a row, and is 3-0 in the ACC. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech,1-1 in the ACC, was last seen playing for its life against NFL farm club the Hurricanes. Upset alert: The Hokies aren't going to see Wake Forest coming. (For the sake of illustration, let's say Virginia Tech is the TV news producer and Wake Forest is the turkey.)" Pick: Wake Forest
Machine - Sorry, Wake Forest, but The Machine does not believe in Cinderella. Virginia Tech 48-10. Pick: Virginia Tech
Texas Tech (-3 1/2) vs. Kansas State - Saturday, 7pmMan - As I said last week, I've become a firm believer in Bill Snyder and what the Wildcats are doing. Until they let me down, I'm not picking against them, especially if I'm getting points. Throw in the fact that Texas Tech has lost Eric Stephens for the season, and it only makes me more confident in this pick. Pick: Kansas State
Woman - "Texas Tech's at home and out to avenge a painful loss to the Aggies last week. Kansas State has yet to experience the agony of defeat this season. You're about to land in a tangled heap at the bottom of a ski slope, Wildcats." Pick: Texas Tech
Machine - The Machine sees Kansas State's unbeaten season coming to an end this weekend, but it has no knowledge of the Kansas State bus being covered in anything. Texas Tech wins 31-17. Pick: Texas Tech
Auburn (-1 1/2) vs. Florida - Saturday, 7pmMan - I'm not comfortable at all with this pick, as neither team has done much to instill any confidence the last few weeks. Yes, Florida wasn't exactly facing the easiest competition in the world, but I'm not sure either quarterback is capable of taking full advantage of the Auburn secondary. That being said, I don't have much faith in the Auburn offense either. So I guess I'm just going with homefield advantage. Pick: Auburn
Woman - "I looked for something trending in either of these teams and none of it's very good. The one thing that stands out is how Florida couldn't put more than one touchdown on the board either of the last two weeks. That doesn't speak too well for its QB-by-committee approach and I can't see how that'll change in a hostile Jordan-Hare." Pick: Auburn
Machine - Chris Rainey saves the day for Florida with a 73-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give the Gators a 27-21 win. Pick: Florida
Oregon (-15 1/2) vs. Arizona State - Saturday 10:15pmMan - This game would normally be easy for me to pick because, aside from Stanford, I just don't think there's anybody else in the Pac-12 that can hang with the Ducks. The problem is that Arizona State kept things close enough against Oregon last season, but that game was played in Tempe, and Autzen Stadium is a different beast entirely. I also worry about the absence of LaMichael James, but the Ducks have enough weapons on offense and know how to use all of them that James' absence may not be a major problem. So I'm going with the Ducks, even if I had to think about it a little. Pick: Oregon
Woman - "Forget football, who's going to win the Style Bowl? Two fashion dynamos go padded shoulder to shoulder this weekend and like everyone knows, in football, as in fashion, one week you're in and the next, you're OUT. Oregon has shown an ability to transform even basic black into something original, and last week's eye-popping green with the retro duck made everything old seem new again. ASU, on the other hand, is stuck with a hopelessly dated color palette and when they tried doing something different with black? Well, auf wiedersehen, ASU. But before you air kiss Heidi, I'll take the points." Pick: Arizona State
Machine - There are going to be a lot of points scored in Eugene on Saturday night, but The Machine sees the Ducks getting the majority of them. Oregon wins 55-38. Pick: Oregon
StandingsSeason Record (Last Week)
1. Woman 41-24 (7-3)
2. Man 40-25 (6-4)
3. Machine 34-31 (5-5)
Tags: ACC, Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Bill Snyder, Bo Schembechler, Brandon Weeden, Chris Rainey, Chris Simms, Connor Shaw, Eric Stephens, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Florida, Gary Danielson, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas State, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Lloyd Carr, LSU, Mack Brown, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Marcus Lattimore, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Phil Simms, Rich Rodriguez, Robert Griffin, Ron Zook, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Bray, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
FLORIDA WILL WIN IF: their young secondary can continue to make Auburn's suddenly woebegone passing game as inefficient as it's been the past few weeks. The Tigers ran for 290 yards against Arkansas and it still didn't keep them within three touchdowns of the Razorbacks, thanks to a passing game that completed just 9-of-25 attempts and threw three interceptions without a touchdown. But Barrett Trotter has been much more comfortable at home than on the road -- his QB rating of 160.71 at Jordan-Hare Stadium dwarfs his 88.88 rating elsewhere, albeit against substantially lesser competition -- and the Gators didn't respond well to their first road test last week, allowing LSU quarterbacks to complete 10 of 14 passes for a whopping 15.4 yards an attempt and two scores. Despite starting a true freshman at both corner and safety (and a true sophomore, Matt Elam, at the other safety position), the Gator secondary showed in effective performances against Tennessee and Alabama that they have the potential to keep Trotter and Co. on continued lockdown--if they bounce back from their outing in Baton Rouge and do, Auburn will have a difficult time putting points on the board no matter how well they run.
AUBURN WILL WIN IF: they can keep Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey under wraps. Easier said than done, of course, and as Joe Adams' 93-yard touchdown run for Arkansas showed, the Tigers remain highly vulnerable to giving up the big play on the ground to quick, elusive runners ... like, say, Demps and Rainey. But after some early-season difficulties, the Tiger run defense has improved to the point of adequacy the past two weeks; remove Adams' 93 yards from the equation, and Auburn allowed a combined 3.59 yards per-carry against the Razorbacks and South Carolina. Numbers anything close to that mark will mean Auburn will have shifted a big chunk of the offensive burden
to Jacoby Brissett (or, possibly, Jeff Driskel); judging by the LSU game, that's a burden Brissett isn't yet ready to carry.
THE X-FACTOR: Night games against Florida -- a traditional rival of the Tigers, who thanks to the divisional split now visits only rarely -- have been known to bring out the best (read: loudest, rowdiest) in the Jordan-Hare crowd, as evidenced by the Gators' last visit: 2006, when the cauldron of noise helped Tommy Tuberville engineer an upset of the then No. 1 team in the nation (and the only defeat suffered that season by Urban Meyer's eventual national champions). If a hot Auburn start can get its fans past last week's disappointment and back into the full voice of that 2006 victory, it remains to be seen how the inexperienced Gators will react.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 7:20 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
LSU WON: At halftime, the Bayou Bengals had just 211 yards of offense, had completed only two passes, and had suffered the FBS's first-ever touchdown overturned for a live-ball "unsportsmanlike conduct" celebration call (see below). They were also ahead 24-3, because they are LSU, and without John Brantley or backup Jeff Driskel, Florida isn't the same Florida they were earlier this season. True freshman Jacoby Brissett had a few moments under center, but at 8-of-14 for fewer than 100 yards and two interceptions, he couldn't keep Florida moving with any kind of consistency against LSU's typically ferocious defense.
WHY LSU WON: Whatever hope Florida had of winning this game without Brantley or Driskel relied on shutting down the LSU running game ... and the young Gators simply weren't up to it. The Tigers ran the ball a whopping 49 times and still averaged a healthy 4.9 yards per-carry, frequently whipping the Gators up front and pounding them with Spencer Ware's thumping running style.
At no point was LSU's physical superiority more evident than on the Tigers' second drive of the game, which started on the LSU 43 and went like this: Ware for 13, Ware for 8, Florida offsides, Ware for 4, incompletion, Alfred Blue (pictured) for 13, Blue for 11, Ware for 1, Ware for 2 and the touchdown. That put LSU up 14-0, and Will Muschamp's decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 in his own territory on the Gators' ensuing possession showed just how firmly the LSU offensive front had already seized control of the game--and how desperate the Gators' situation already was.
WHEN LSU WON: The Gators had the faintest glimmer of hope when Brissett found Andre Debose for a 65-yard touchdown strike near the end of the third quarter, doubly so when an ingenious two-point play -- a direct snap to Chris Rainey as Brissett effectively faked a snap over his head -- cut the LSU lead to 27-11 and made the contest, hypothetically, a two-possession game. All of three plays later Jarrett Lee hit Rueben Randle for a 57-yard gain down the Florida 3, andthree plays after that Jordan Jefferson's jump-pass TD restored the lead to 34-11. Good night, Gators.
WHAT LSU WON: Another week at the top of the AP poll, no doubt, and another hurdle cleared on their to way to Nov 5's Game of the Century of the Year against Alabama.
WHAT FLORIDA LOST: Though no one will fault the Gators too badly for losing to the Tide and Tigers, they still count for two SEC losses--one more than either South Carolina or Georgia have at the moment, with both still to come on the schedule. And Muschamp can't be happy with how his team has been shoved around on both lines of scrimmage.
THAT WAS CRAZY: LSU's Australian punter Brad Wing probably wasn't expecting to become a footnote in college football history when he woke up Saturday morning, but that's what happened on a fake punt early in the second quarter. Wing was strolling towards the end zone for what would have been a 44-yard touchdown when he extended his arms in what may have been innocent celebration and may have been a slight taunt in the Gators' direction; either way, he was flagged for it, becoming the first-ever player to have a touchdown wiped off the board for a live-ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In which we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:
Florida's running game: can you give your quarterback(s) any breathing room? Any team that can start Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps at tailback and then substitute the other in for the first is going to be a threat on the ground, regardless of who their team faces; when the tiniest sliver of a crease could equal an 80-yard touchdown before the coaches have their headsets correctly adjusted, the Gator ground game is where a defense's focus is going to start ... and probably finish.
That probably goes double for LSU this Saturday, since with John Brantley out and some combination of true freshman Jeff Driskel and other true freshman Jacoby Brissett taking over at quarterback, the Gators' passing game is the most glaring of question marks. But it doesn't matter how badly the Tigers stack the box, how fearsome LSU's defensive front is, how well John Chavis has his charges prepared--Florida must find a way to get Demps, Rainey, and possibly Trey Burton moving forward on the ground. Even with Brantley looking as sharp as he ever has in the first half, the Gators still couldn't rush the ball at all vs. Alabama; Rainey, Demps, and Mike Gillislee carried 17 times for 13 yards, and the end result was zero points over Florida's final 10 drives.
If Driskel and Brissett have any prayer of completing passes consistently against the carnival of athletic freaks that make up LSU's secondary -- in Baton Rouge, no less -- that secondary is going to have to be not just concerned but downright obsessed with the Florida running game. That won't happen if that running game doesn't pick up some good early gains, maybe break a 20-to-30-yarder somewhere, and keep the Gators out of anything but the occasional third-and-long. Otherwise, Chavis's Tigers will spend all afternoon teeing off on the newbies under center and generally choking the life out of Charlie Weis's attack. Weis failed miserably in his first attempt at finding a way to run the ball against an elite SEC defense; a second failure will equal a potentially even-more-miserable defeat.
Barrett Trotter: are you up to giving Auburn a passing attack again? The Tigers' 4-1 record and road upset of South Carolina has helped mask a major, major flaw in the Tiger offense, and a surprising one given Gus Malzahn's track record: Auburn's vertical passing game has all but vanished. In the five quarters since the start of the second half against Clemson, junior QB Trotter has completed just 52 percent of his passes, for only 5.9 yards an attempt, while throwing 4 (often ugly) interceptions to just 3 touchdowns. That's not to mention the eight sacks taken by Trotter the last two games or that neither FAU nor the Gamecocks are going to be mistaken for having world-class secondaries any time soon.
Judging by Arkansas's efforts to stop the run against Texas A&M (or lack thereof), Trotter should get plenty of help from Michael Dyer and the Auburn running game. But that alone won't be enough for the Tigers to keep pace with the Hogs, not given the way Bobby Petrino's quarterbacks have shredded the Auburn defense the past two seasons (702 combined yards, 7 touchdowns) and the kind of form Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright are in right now. With the Tiger secondary as flammable as ever (provided your quarterback isn't Stephen Garcia), Arkansas is going to score a boatload of points.
Which is why the injuries to receivers to Trovon Reed and Emory Blake couldn't have come at a worse time for Auburn. Trotter already needed to take a substantial step forward to keep the Tigers within striking distance on the road; now he'll have to do it without two of his top three receivers. If there was ever a week for Malzahn to earn his substantial assistant's salary, this looks to be it.
Georgia secondary: are you for real? When Kellen Moore gouged the Bulldogs for 28-of-34 passing and 3 touchdowns Week 1, it looked like the Bulldog defensive backs had regressed back to their dark Wille Martinez-led days. But with safety Bacarri Rambo returning from suspension, the Dawgs have held their last four opponents to team QB ratings under 86 and rank 11th in the country in opponent's pass efficiency despite the Moore carpet-bombing.
Those past results are no guarantee of future performance, since facing Tyler Bray in Neyland Stadium represents a vast step up in competition from the likes of Garcia, Zack Stoudt, the slumping Chris Relf and whoever it was Coastal Carolina trotted out. But it's worth remembering that the Vols still have next-to-nothing going on the ground; even after totaling 199 yards against Buffalo, the Vols rank a horrid 109th in the country in yards per-carry. If the Dawg defensive backs can slow down Bray at all, the Vol offense could grind to a halt ... and barring another turnover-fest from Aaron Murray, Georgia should be able to walk out of Neyland with the victory.
So: can those Dawg DBs slow down Bray or not? The evidence to date is encouraging, but with the memory of Moore's night at the Georgia Dome still lingering, it's not compelling just yet.
Other SEC questions worth asking: How does AJ McCarron look against the Vanderbilt secondary? (Don't laugh; this is the best set of defensive backs McCarron has faced yet. A strong showing would further cement the belief that the Tide have no Achilles heels.) Can Marcus Lattimore keep pace in the Heisman race? (Sure, most of the attention on Carolina is focused on new quarterback starter Connor Shaw. But a second straight subpar outing against a Kentucky defense that kept LSU's ground game bottled up for a half would put the sophomore badly behind at the midseason mark.) Does Mississippi State have any fight left? (The Bulldogs have looked utterly listless and deflated ever since losing to LSU. Is there any indication that could change down the road vs. UAB?)
Tags: Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Bacarri Rambo, Barrett Trotter, Bobby Petrino, Buffalo, Charlie Weis, Chris Rainey, Chris Relf, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Connor Shaw, Emory Blake, FAU, Georgia, Gus Malzahn, Jacoby Brissett, Jarius Wright, Jeff Demps, Jeff Driskel, Jerry Hinnen, John Chavis, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, LSU, Marcua Lattimore, Michael Dyer, Mike Gillislee, Mississippi State, SEC, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Trey Burton, Trovon Reed, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson, UAB, Vanderbilt, Willie Martinez, Zack Stoudt
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 4:41 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.
I respect you all too much to lie to you, so I'll be upfront about the fact that outside of our dinner menu this week, we're a little light on the calories this weekend. Yes, having a matchup between two ranked non-conference opponents to kick things off in the morning is a wonderful way to start you day, but after that, it's kinda thin.
Of course, none of this means you shouldn't eat lunch. Many times the simplest meals turn out to be the best ones of the day. So keep an open eye while perusing this week's Meal Plan.
#18 Arkansas vs. #14 Texas A&M (in Dallas) - ESPN 12pm ET
The final meeting between these two schools as non-conference foes, and both teams are coming into the game with a bit of a limp. Texas A&M blew a halftime lead at home against Oklahoma State last weekend, and Arkansas did not enjoy its trip to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. What better way to move on from a defeat than by beating one of your oldest rivals? It's not often that we're given a matchup like this so early in the morning, so take advantage of it while you can. - Tom Fornelli
#24 Illinois vs. Northwestern - ESPN2 12pm ET
You want points? You're going to get points. Northwestern finally welcomes 2010 dynamo Dan Persa back from his Achilles injury, and the Illinois pass/option attack led by Nathan Scheelhaase has led the Illini to over 32 points a game -- and a 4-0 record. Both teams are looking to make a darkhorse run at their respective Big Ten division crowns, and each would welcome a hard-fought win to begin the conference slate. I know it's an early kickoff, but don't sleep on this game. - Adam Jacobi
Navy vs. Air Force - CBS 12pm ET
Restaurants of all kinds tend to offer "alternative" meals for customers, so think of this matchup of two of our nation's military branches to be our vegan offering of the week. Just replace animal products with passing game, and that's exactly what this is. When these two teams meet it's like looking through a window back in time as both teams employ option attacks. - TF
#10 South Carolina vs. Auburn - CBS 3:30pm ET
Neither team enters this game feeling particularly good about itself, not after the Tigers wheezed their way past an awful FAU team 30-16 and Carolina watched Stephen Garcia throw four hideous interceptions against Vanderbilt. But given Auburn's persistent tackling issues, even Garcia shouldn't be able to keep Marcus Lattimore from racking up another Heisman-type day on the ground. - Jerry Hinnen
Kansas State vs. #15 Baylor - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
I don't think many people saw this game on the schedule at the beginning of the year and envisioned a battle of unbeatens in Manhattan, but that's exactly what we're getting. Even if that weren't the case, this one would still be worthy of your attention for the prospect of seeing Robert Griffin play football for three hours on its own. It's the first time Griffin and Baylor have had to venture outside of Waco this season, so it'll be interesting to see how he performs in hostile territory. - TF
Ohio State vs. Michigan State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
The Big Ten's night game is going to get all the attention, but this game could prove to be the most ruinous for whoever loses it. Michigan State is reeling after seeing its vaunted offensive attack shut down by Notre Dame's, um, inconsistent defense. Meanwhile, OSU hasn't looked great since Week 2, and if Braxton Miller can't get the Buckeyes moving against the MSU defense, that QB controversy is firing right back up and we haven't seen the last of Joe Bauserman. - AJ
N.C. State vs. #21 Georgia Tech - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
The days of Paul Johnson's offense being defined as "three yards and a cloud of dust" are long gone in Atlanta. The Rambling Wreck lead the nation in plays of 30 yards or more, and they passed their first conference test putting up 312 rushing yards against North Carolina's touted front seven. N.C. State did not pass their first conference test, allowing 438 yards of total offense against Wake Forest. The Wolfpack are banged up on defense, and enter the game with only one of their top three running backs (not good for keeping the opposing offense off the field). But Tom O'Brien's squad had their number a year ago in Atlanta, forcing some turnovers and blocking a punt on the way to a 45-28 win. Unfortunately for the struggling Wolfpack, the Yellow Jackets remember that game all too well. - Chip Patterson
#11 Virginia Tech vs. #13 Clemson - ESPN2 6pm ET
Two undefeated Top 15 ACC foes face off under the lights in Lane Stadium, and both have a lot to prove in this game. The Hokies haven't been tested by any kind of noteworthy competition, and the development of sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas has taken a bit longer than some expected. Clemson, on the other hand, is trying to win their third straight game against a ranked opponent - something an ACC member school has never done. But the Tigers' undefeated record has all come in the comfy confines of Death Valley. Before anyone anoints Dabo Swinney's squad as contenders, they need to prove themselves on the road. Chad Morris' offense against Bud Foster's defense. The young Dabo Swinney against the winningest active coach in the conference. It's the premiere game in the conference and should live up to the hype. Make sure you tune in early for a chance to see "Enter Sandman" in action. - CP
Iowa State vs. #17 Texas - FX 7pm ET
Another battle of unbeatens in the Big 12 takes place in Ames on Saturday night. Normally a matchup between Texas and Iowa State wouldn't seem like something you'd want to try, but remember that Iowa State went into Austin last season and beat the Longhorns. So Texas is going to want to return the favor this season, and if either team wants to have any legitimate chance to win the Big 12 this season, then this is one they'll have to win. - TF
#12 Florida vs. #3 Alabama - CBS 8pm ET
Another week, another serious challenge to Alabama's potential national title campaign. And given the environment (as hostile as you'll see in college football this season, most likely), the weaponry on the opponent's defensive line (Ronald Powell, Jaye Howard, Sharrif Floyd, etc.), and the big-play capability represented by Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, the Gators should prove an even more substantial challenge than Arkansas did. But it's going to take the performance of John Brantley's life to keep the Tide from collapsing on Demps and Rainey, and something similar from the Gator back seven to keep Trent Richardson from uncorking another 60-plus-yard game-changing run. Are they up to it? - JH
#7 Wisconsin vs. #8 Nebraska - ABC 8pm ET
Saturday is the day of reckoning for one of the Big Ten's two divisional favorites; Nebraska is ranked eighth, but has not looked like a world-beater in any of its non-conference games, whereas No. 7 Wisconsin has rolled in early play, but against clearly inferior competition. Wisconsin's the only team of the two that's been able to run and pass at will, but with Nebraska's defense at its healthiest all year, it remains to be seen whether the Badgers can move the ball reliably this week. What a great way to finish the first week of Big Ten play. - AJ [Video Preview]
LATE NIGHT SNACK
#6 Stanford vs. UCLA - FSN 10:30pm ET
Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel said earlier in the week that one of the biggest differences between his program and what the Cardinal have been doing is easy: Andrew Luck. No doubt Rick, no doubt. The Heisman front runner should enjoy facing a UCLA defense ranked 98th in the country. This is also Stanford's first game without linebacker Shayne Skov so keep an eye on how they handle UCLA's Pistol offense. - Bryan Fischer [Video Preview]
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Air Force, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Braxton Miller, Bryan Fischer, Bud Foster, Chad Morris, Chip Patterson, Chris Rainey, Clemson, Dabo Swinney, Dan Persa, FAU, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa State, Jaye Howard, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Joe Bauserman, John Brantley, Kansas State, Logan Thomas, Marcus Lattimore, Michigan State, Mountain West, N.C. State, Nathan Scheelhaase, Navy, Nebraska, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Paul Johnson, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin, Ronald Powell, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, Sharrif Floyd, Shayne Skov, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Texas, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tom O"Brien, Trent Richardson, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 3:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In which we break down the SEC's biggest games. This week: Gators and Crimson Tide, 8 p.m. ET Saturday on CBS.
AT STAKE: Nothing less than the winner's continued presence in the national championship race. Yes, Alabama could potentially lose and still work their way back in via a victory over LSU, but the way teams like Oklahoma and Wisconsin are playing, we wouldn't risk it if we were them. And no, Florida isn't widely viewed as a national title contender at the moment--but a win over the Tide would change that in the biggest of hurries.
WHEN ALABAMA HAS THE BALL, THEY MUST: Give AJ McCarron time to throw. The Tide's pass protection hasn't exactly been an Achilles heel so far this 2011 season, but it hasn't been a strength, either; the Tide have given up eight sacks in their four games, ranking them 77th in the FBS in that department, and that's with the offense heavily favoring the run game and North Texas and Kent State on the schedule.
Now tackles Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker will have to deal with the most fearsome pass rush they've faced yet. The Gators have collected seven sacks the past two weeks alone, and it's not the result of just one superstar player; Will Muschamp's blitz packages have resulted in six different Gators collecting at least one sack, with linebacker Jonathan Bostic and defensive end Ronald Powell tying for the team lead with two. Tackles Jaye Howard, Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd mean the Gator pass rush is just as strong inside as it is outside, too. In short: the Tide offensive line is going to have its hands full.
But the rewards for keeping McCarron clean should be lavish. The Gator secondary is athletic and has been highly productive to date (four interceptions in the last two games, 4.7 yards per-attempt allowed for the season), but they're also young, mistake-prone (as the avalanche of penalties vs Tennessee showed) and no doubt highly concerned with the Tide rushing attack. Keeping McCarron upright likely also means the handful of big plays that would keep the Gators defense honest ... and honesty is no way to deal with Trent Richardson.
WHEN FLORIDA HAS THE BALL, THEY MUST: break Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey free for big plays--and we mean really big plays, plays of the 60-, 70-yard touchdown variety the Gators have already enjoyed vs. Tennessee and Kentucky.
Against the Tide, that's easier said than done, of course. But that's also the Gators' best hope. The Tide have allowed only four plays all season longer than 20 yards (second-fewest in the nation), and yielded just one to Arkansas. Result? Being forced to drive the length of the field, neither the Razorbacks nor Penn State before them were able to muster more than one serious drive before the game was well out of reach.
And it's not as if the Gators are any better built for pounding out long, methodical possessions; for all their brilliance neither Demps nor Rainey is the sort of back to move a pile of Crimson Tide defenders on 3rd-and-2, and while much improved, John Brantley still only completed 59 percent of his passes in the Gators' two SEC contests to date. Charlie Weis must figure out a way to get Demps and Rainey into space -- we suggest a heavy dose of the screen passes and check-downs that so damaged the Vols -- and hope they can work their magic. Otherwise, first-year punter David Lerner is going to get an awful lot of work.
WHAT ALABAMA CAN'T ACCOUNT FOR: The Florida Field crowd. The Swamp hasn't always been The Swamp as of late -- it was just last year the Gators conspired to lose an unthinkable three consecutive home games -- but with the 4-0 start, the burst of energy from Muschamp, the primetime start, and no less an opponent than Nick Saban's Alabama, the atmosphere in Gainesville promises to be as hostile as any college football will see this year.
On the whole, a veteran team like the Tide should be able to handle it. But can McCarron? And if the Tide fall behind, will he be alone in feeling the pressure?
WHAT FLORIDA CAN'T ACCOUNT FOR: The inevitable deflation of that crowd. At some point, Alabama will connect for a big play, whether it's Marquis Maze on special teams, Richardson breaking loose on a screen pass or Eddie Lacy coming off the bench to thunder for 40 yards or so. While Florida has any number of upperclassmen leaders, this remains a young team on the whole, with a first-year coaching staff, that's enjoyed nothing but prosperity so far in 2011. When Alabama socks them in the mouth and the crowd loses its buzz momentarily, there's no guaranteeing how the Gators will respond.
AND IN THE END: Buoyed by the home crowd, Florida's defense holds up much better in the face of the Tide running game than Arkansas's did. But there's not enough weapons in the Gator passing game to keep Demps and Rainey from being swarmed under, and the Tide seizes control early in the second half. Alabama 27, Florida 16.
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Tags: AJ McCarron, Alabama, Arkansas, Barrett Jones, Charlie Weis, Chas Henry, Chris Rainey, D.J. Fluker, Dominique Easley, Eddie Lacy, Florida, Florida Field, Jaye Howard, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Jonathan Bostic, Kent State, Kentucky, LSU, Marquis Maze, Nick Saban, North Texas, Oklahoma, Penn State, Ray Guy Award, Ronald Powell, SEC, SEC shakedown, Sharrif Floyd, Trent Richardson, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 27, 2011 3:13 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).
AUBURN. After last week's decidedly ho-hum display against FAU, it's safe to say the Tigers will need every offensive weapon they can get facing South Carolina this Saturday in Columbia. But one weapon they won't have is redshirt freshman receiver Trovon Reed, who Gene Chizik said yesterday was doubtful for the game with a shoulder injury suffered vs. the Owls. He then confirmed today that Reed will not play against the Gamecocks. Reed has collected 13 receptions so far this season for 91 yards, making him Auburn's second-most productive receiver to date.
The matchup against Carolina will be broadcast on CBS at 3:30 ET Saturday. The Tigers will likely stick with the simplified cover 2 defensive schemes that led to (somewhat) better results against FAU. The inexperienced Tiger offensive line doesn't have its chemistry perfected yet, says senior guard Jared Cooper--potentially a major issue confronting the Gamecocks' beastly defensive line.
ALABAMA. The Tigers' cross-state rivals have their own injury worry with linebacker C.J. Mosley "questionable" for the Tide's showdown with Florida (8 p.m. ET Saturday, also on CBS). Nick Saban said Mosley would be replaced by committee, with Dont'a Hightower adding that no one would be "the equivalent" of Mosley, but that he has confidence in the Tide's linebacking depth.
The game is a homecoming of sorts for Florida native Trent Richardson, whose high school team's nickname was the Gators. Richardson said he raced against Gator speedster Jeff Demps in high school. "For the first 40 meters we were going at it. After that, it wasn’t a race. I think after 80 meters he was 10 meters, maybe 20 meters in front of me," he said.
FLORIDA. The story of the Gators' season so far has been the revitalization of the Jeff Demps-Chris Rainey tag team, but Will Muschamp says there's still more to see. "They’re going to touch the ball," Muschamp said Monday. "The touches we get them could be different and not as conventional as we’ve seen." But Muschamp said that despite those tweaks, the strength of Alabama's run defense meant John Brantley would throw the ball more often as well.
Muschamp said he knows former mentor Saban well--but that it won't help the Gators' preparation, since Saban knows him just as well.
GEORGIA. Bulldog center Ben Jones clipped Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox during the two teams' 2010 meeting, and revealed in advance of this week's rematch that he felt poorly enough about it to write Cox a letter of apology. "I felt bad when I got home," Jones said. "I was like, `Man, that’s wrong.’ "
On the Dawg injury front, linebacker Christian Robinson could return from the foot injury that's kept him out the past two weeks, but lineman Chris Burnette may be out longer than initially thought with his knee injury.
ELSEWHERE: Arkansas senior corner Isaac Madison left the Alabama game with a minor injury, but will return against Texas A&M. Fellow senior defensive back Tramain Thomas also left the game, but for reasons Bobby Petrino said were performance-related ... Despite his strong start to his career (team-high four sacks, five tackles-for-loss, three forced fumbles), Jadeveon Clowney still won't start just yet. Melvin Ingram (the SEC's reigning Defensive Player of the Week ) and Devin Taylor remain the team's bookend DEs in their base defense ...
Tennessee all-purpose back Raijon Neal will focus on the wide receiver position for now ... Injured Vol teammate Herman Lathers was able to jog for 20 minutes at practice Monday. The veteran linebacker is working his way back from breaking his ankle in the spring ... While acknowledging that Texas A&M's move to the SEC was "great for the Southeastern Conference and great for us," Les Miles also added that he found the splintering of the Big 12 "inconceivable." "It's hard for me to figure this," he said. "You're taking the traditional rivalries and throwing them out the window" ... None of the four players who left the West Virginia game with injuries have been ruled out of this Saturday's game against Kentucky ...
Mississippi State is reshuffling its offensive line in advance of their trip to Georgia, with former left tackle James Carmon working at right guard after his recent MCL injury ... Last year, Ole Miss ran for more yards in one game against this week's opponent -- Fresno State -- than they have this year in all four games combined ... One bright spot for Kentucky as they get ready for their trip to Death Valley: senior defensive tackle Mark Crawford will return from a four-game suspension.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ben Jones, Bobby Petrino, C.J. Mosley, Chris Rainey, Christian Robinson, Devin Taylor, Dont'a Hightower, FAU, Fletcher Cox, Florida, Fresno State, Geen Chizik, Georgia, Herman Lathers, Isaac Madison, Jadeveon Clowney, James Carmon, Jared Cooper, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Kentucky, Les Miles, LSU, Melvin Ingram, Mississippi State, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, Raijon Neal, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tramain Thomas, Trent Richardson, Trovon Reed, West Virginia, Will Muschamp