Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
OLE MISS WILL WIN IF: Houston Nutt reaches into the deepest crevices of his bag of magic tricks to find the last remaining pixie dust that produced results like his 2007 upset of No. 1 LSU or the 2008 upset of Florida. Jeff Scott may not be able to bring that wood like Darren McFadden, but the Razorback defense hasn't exactly been stout against the run, giving up an average of 290 yards on the ground through their last three games. If Scott can break a couple of long runs ... and quarterback Randall Mackey can use his legs and the occasional accurate throw to keep the Hog back seven off balance ... and the injury-ravaged Ole Miss defense can make the handful of big plays necessary to avoid getting swamped ... then realistically speaking, the Rebels might lose by only two touchdowns. But that's discounting the effect of that Nutt pixie dust, which has made the highly unrealistic happen before and could again.
ARKANSAS WILL WIN IF: they simply play their game. If Tyler Wilson performs like the high-quality quarterback he's established himself to be, and the Hog offensive line gets the sort of push against the banged-up Rebel front it's capable of getting, and the nation's deepest receiving corps avoids dropping a handful of receptions directly into the Ole Miss secondary's hands, Arkansas will have entirely too much firepower for the lo-fi Rebel offense to keep pace. Add in the advantages of home field and the Razorbacks' bye week, and the only thing that can really stop Arkansas this week is Arkansas.
THE X-FACTOR: It would be an enormous help to the Rebels if the most likely source of lightning-in-a-bottle points was on their side ... but in this matchup, that honor belongs to Joe Adams, the senior jitterbug who added to his early-season collection of punt returns for touchdown with a game-changing 93-yard scoring run against Auburn two weeks ago. Ole Miss has a hard enough task preventing the Hogs from driving the length of the field for points; if an Adams score (or two) keeps the Hogs from having to make even that much effort, the Rebels won't have a prayer.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 2:14 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. Despite a miserable 6-for-19, 81-yard, 2-INT performance against Arkansas, Tiger quarterback Barrett Trotter will still be the starter in Saturday's showdown with Florida. "He's our quarterback today; he'll be our quarterback Saturday," Gene Chizik said. Many Tiger fans have been clamoring for a greater role for true freshman Kiehl Frazier, but Chizik reiterated that Frazier would remain a "changeup."
For their part, both offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Frazier himself agreed that the freshman isn't ready to take on the full-time quarterbacking responsibility. Auburn will have to face Florida without starting senior guard Jared Cooper, out with an ankle injury. He'll likely be replaced by redshirt freshman Chad Slade.
FLORIDA. Meanwhile, Auburn's Saturday opponents have their own worries at quarterback with John Brantley out. But freshman backup Jeff Driskel has returned from his ankle injury and split reps during Tuesday's practice with fellow freshman (and starter vs. LSU) Jacoby Brissett. Though the two are now locked in close competition to be the starter at Auburn, Will Muschamp said he doesn't plan on keeping his decision a secret once it's made ... though he has also hinted at leaning in either Brissett's or Driskel's direction.
Despite reports suggesting his Gator career was over, sophomore linebacker Dee Finley has not yet made a final decision on whether to transfer out of the program or not, Muschamp said.
VANDERBILT. More QB drama: for the first time this season, the Commodore depth chart at quarterback has an "or" between starter Larry Smith and backup Jordan Rodgers, younger brother of Aaron Rodgers. Head coach James Franklin said the team would "kind of have a competition" at the position and whichever quarterback performs better in practice this week would get the nod against Georgia. Rodgers came on in relief of Smith vs. Alabama and completed 11 of 18 passes, but with two interceptions.
LSU. The No. 1 Bayou Bengals' Nov. 5 trip to Alabama is already being marked on many college football fans' calendars as the Game of the Year--including LSU's, who chanted "We Want 'Bama" at the end of their team's beatdown of Florida. But don't tell that to Les Miles. "I hear the talk," he said. "But I promise you that talk doesn't exist in our building. That's fan chat or a media buzz. That buzz doesn't take place in our building."
With Miles stressing ball security, LSU has now gone three games without a turnover. At +11, the Tigers rank fourth in the nation in turnover margin. With the Auburn game a week from Saturday set for a 2:30 CT kickoff (on CBS), LSU will go an entire season without playing an SEC night game for the first time since 1935.
ELSEWHERE: The already-struggling Tennessee running game could be without starting tailback Tauren Poole, day-to-day with a hamstring injury ... new/old starting quarterback Matt Simms is happy to return to the starter's role against LSU, the team he nearly defeated last season ... Arkansas's bye week comes at a good time for quarterback Tyler Wilson, who needs the extra time to recover his lost voice ...
Don't expect to beat Alabama on the Tide's mistakes: they're committing the second-fewest penalties in the nation and AJ McCarron hasn't thrown an interception in 127 pass attempts ... Good news and bad news on the injury front for Georgia, who should see inside linebacker Alec Ogletree back on the field as scheduled come the Bulldogs' Oct. 29 meeting with Florida, but will miss receiver Malcolm Mitchell for this week's trip to Vanderbilt ...
Amidst the higher-profile stories breaking in Columbia Tuesday, Andrew Clifford and Dylan Thompson are battling to be this week's backup quarterback against Mississippi State. Steve Spurrier said picking one or the other could be a game-time decision ... Ole Miss will stick with Randall Mackey as the starter at quarterback against Alabama Saturday, but there's no set backup there, either ... But at least the Gamecocks and Rebels have a starter. Dan Mullen has said he won't name Mississippi State's until kickoff, if then. Chris Relf is attempting to fend off a challenge from Tyler Russell, who sparked the offense to three second-half touchdowns against UAB.
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, AJ McCarron, Alabama, Alec Ogletree, Andrew Clifford, Arkansas, Auburn, Barrett Trotter, Chad Slade, Chris Relf, Dan Mullen, Dee Finley, Dylan Thompson, Florida, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Gus Malzahn, Jacoby Brissett, James Franklin, James Franklin the Vanderbilt coach not the Missouri quarterback, Jared Cooper, Jeff Driskel, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Jordan Rodgers, Kiehl Frazier, Larry Smith, Les Miles, LSU, Malcolm Mitchell, Matt Simms, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Randall Mackey, SEC, South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, Tauren Poole, Tennessee, Tyler Russell, Tyler Wilson, Vanderbilt, Will Muschamp
Posted on: October 8, 2011 11:42 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 11:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
ARKANSAS WON: The Razorbacks spotted Auburn a 14-7 first-quarter lead but finished the game on a 31-0 run as the Tigers' passing attack continued to flail and the Hogs eventually caught up to Gus Malzahn's running game. While Auburn's quarterbacks combined for a 9-of-25, 4.2 yards-per-attempt, zero-touchdown, three-interception performance, Tyler Wilson was his usual steady self: 24-of-36, 262 yards, 7.3 YPA, two touchdowns, no picks. But the highlight reel play of the game belonged to wideout Joe Adams, who took a handoff and went 93 yards for a third-quarter touchdown, the second-longest run in Razorback history.WHY ARKANSAS WON: It's not their run defense, that's for certain; a week after giving up 381 rushing yards to Texas A&M, the Hogs gave up 290 more to Auburn, with the Tigers' one-two punch of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combining for more than 200 yards alone.
But even one terrific dimension isn't usually enough to make up for the lack of a second, as Auburn found out when their offense ground to a halt over the course of the final three quarters. Arkansas, meanwhile, kept moving in large part due to their excellent balance: 7.3 yards averaged over their 36 passes, 5.7 yards on their 31 runs. Sure, many of those rushing yards came on Adams' 93-yard lightning bolt -- the game's pivotal play, taking the Hogs from up 7 and backed up deep in their own territory to two a clear two-touchdown lead -- but Dennis Johnson and Broderick Green ground out plenty enough yards themselves (89 combined on 28 carries) to keep Auburn honest.
Combine that balance with a precision red zone attack that scored 31 points on its final five attempts, and Bobby Petrino's attack finished the night as a model of efficiency--a (relatively light) 438 yards, but 38 points. Auburn's defense had a better day against the Hogs than it did a year ago (or than it did earlier this year vs. Clemson or Utah State), but it hasn't caught up with the likes of Petrino and Co. yet.
WHEN ARKANSAS WON: Auburn actually responded well to the Adams run, using an exchange of punts to flip field position and then driving to the Arkansas 23. But then Malzahn elected to let run-first true freshman Kiehl Frazier make a rare passing attempt ... which was promptly picked off by the Hogs' Eric Bennett. Auburn wouldn't come close to threatening again.
WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Technically speaking, The Hogs remained only a game back in the SEC West race. But more realistically, they reasserted themselves as the SEC's third-best team, stayed in the mix for a top-10 poll position in the near future, and remain cleanly in line for a Capital One Bowl berth. As ugly as that loss to Alabama might have been, Arkansas remains well on track for another superb season.
WHAT AUBURN LOST: A 5-1 start with two massive SEC road wins would have silenced Auburn's doubters for good; as it stands, the Tigers still have work to do if they want to come out of their brutal October slate any better than 4-4. Next week's home date with Florida could be a make-or-break game for both teams.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 2:41 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.
This is a bit of a bizarro week in your college football diet, as most of the big games on Saturday will be taking place earlier in the day while our nighttime offerings lack some of those bolder flavors we all love. But that's fine, because with some of the entrees you'll be served during the day, you might not have enough room for that 32-ounce steak once dinner comes around.
Though hopefully you have room for one of those steaks at breakfast.
#3 Oklahoma vs. #11 Texas - ABC 12pm ET
This is a pretty wonderful way to start the day, isn't it? There are a lot of great rivalries in the world of college football, and this one has to be considered one of the best. For years the winner of this game basically helped decide who was going to win the Big 12, and it will go a long way in deciding the conference champion again this year. Also, Texas finds itself ranked near the top ten once again after a terrible 2010 season, and while things seemed to have turned around in Austin, this game will be the first real indication of how far the Longhorns have come. - Tom Fornelli
#13 Georgia Tech vs. Maryland - ESPNU 12pm ET
The Yellow Jackets keep scoring in bunches and riding their offense to methodical wins, while Maryland desperately is trying to put the pieces back together following a pair of home losses. The Terps offense finally got back in a groove against Towson, particularly getting a boost from the return of wide receivers Quintin McCree and Ronnie Tyler. Maryland's high-tempo offense must keep drives alive in order to give their defense time to rest on the sideline. Additionally, the defense must get stops on third down or Georgia Tech will slowly wear down Maryland on both sides of the ball. Let's casually call this one "The Friedgen Bowl" since former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said he "could care less about Maryland" and "is flying a Georgia Tech flag now." - Chip Patterson
North Carolina vs. Louisville - ESPN2 12pm ET
Louisville's offense is struggling, averaging less than 20 points per game and ranking dead last in the Big East. The matchup against North Carolina's talented front seven will provide plenty of work for the Cardinals inexperienced offensive line. Louisville's greatest strength on defense might be their secondary, but this Tar Heels team has become uncharacteristically run-heavy. The emergence of Gio Bernard has changed the face of the offense, as the redshirt freshman will look to continue his streak of 100+ yard games to four. Something that hasn't been done by a North Carolina running back since Ethan Horton in 1984. - CP
#1 LSU vs. #17 Florida - CBS 3:30pm ET
What happens when a Honey Badger smells blood? We may find out when Tyrann Mathieu and the rest of the LSU defense hosts a Gator attack missing John Brantley and still licking the wounds from its strangling at the hands of Alabama. Whatever hope Florida has will rest in their defense shutting down the Bayou Bengals' power-running game, but the return of the bruising Spencer Ware from a hamstring problem won't help them. - Jerry Hinnen [Video Preview]
#20 Kansas State vs. Missouri - ABC 3:30pm ET
Raise your hand if you thought before the season started that Kansas State and Missouri would be pegged as a game appearing on a national network during the middle of the season. Okay, now put your hand down, liar. Missouri has been a bit up and down this season as James Franklin has grown accustomed to filling Blaine Gabbert's shoes, and he doesn't have the easiest defense to go against this week. Then there's Kansas State which has caught just about all of us by surprise so far this year, as Bill Snyder has once again lifted this program back into Big 12 contention. - TF
#21 Virginia Tech vs. Miami - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
Both of these teams need a win if they plan to contend with Georgia Tech for the Coastal Division title, but neither team has put together a truly impressive performance that makes me think they could. It will be a chance for both teams to prove (to themselves, really) that they belong at the top of the ACC. Miami has been wildly inconsistent on both sides of the ball this season, but get a huge boost with preseason all-conference safety Ray-Ray Armstrong returning from suspension. The Hokies' offense will need more than David Wilson to beat the Canes, and that responsibility falls on quarterback Logan Thomas. Thomas' development has taken longer than some expected, but this would be a great time for him to grow up and lead VT to a huge home win over their longtime rivals. - CP
Penn State vs. Iowa - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
This has been a rather one-sided affair over the last decade or so, but give Iowa-PSU credit: the games are generally exciting, with six of the last 10 meetings featuring either single-score margins or a 4th quarter lead change. Expect more of the same this week, with Iowa bringing the conference's most prolific passing game (seriously) to town and Penn State hoping to turn their offensive fortunes around against a surprisingly green Hawkeye defense. - Adam Jacobi
#10 Arkansas vs. #15 Auburn - ESPN 7pm ET
Last year's meeting produced an SEC regulation-time record 108 points, and judging by Tyler Wilson's 500-yard passing day last week (and Texas A&M's 381 yards rushing), Arkansas looks ready to do their part for a repeat performance. But this time, the Tigers have to hope their improving defense can keep them out of a shootout--a struggling passing game has Gus Malzahn's unit leaning heavily on Michael Dyer and ground-out first downs. - JH
Northwestern vs. #12 Michigan - Big Ten Network 7pm ET
If it weren't for that Russell Wilson fellow over in Madison, this game might feature the best two QBs in the conference, as Dan Persa leads the Northwestern charge against visiting Denard Robinson and the Wolverines. Persa shined in his first week back from that Achilles injury last year, but missed the last few minutes for precautionary reasons after an awkward tackle. Can Northwestern make headway against a newly re-energized Michigan defense, or will the Wolverines keep rolling along? - AJ
#7 Stanford vs. Colorado - Versus 7:30pm ET
Colorado isn't terribly good this season but the Buffaloes are rebuilding their program under new head coach Jon Embree and do have several weapons Stanford has to contain. The Buffs are 36th in passing offense and sophomore Paul Richardson is averaging 95 yards receiving a game. As always though, the reason to tune into this game is Heisman candidate Andrew Luck and a balanced attack that can beat you through the air or on the ground. Plus, you never know when something like this is going to happen and make you say wow. - Bryan Fischer
#14 Nebraska vs. Ohio State - ABC 8pm ET
Before this season, this game looked like the second half of a brutal conference opening for Nebraska. Wisconsin held up its end of the bargain last week by beating the Huskers 48-17, but Ohio State is hardly the challenge it used to be without Terrelle Pryor and a host of other stars. If Nebraska's going to show it belongs among the Big Ten elite, it has to bring the pain against a reeling OSU ballclub this week. - AJ
LATE NIGHT SNACK
BYU vs. San Jose State - ESPNU 10:15pm ET
Not exactly a marquee matchup, I know, but it's football and it's on your television. Plus, aside from getting pasted by Utah a few weeks ago, BYU hasn't played a game this season that didn't come down to the final minutes, so the possibility of some midnight HAM is totally in play here. - TF
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bill Snyder, Blaine Gabbert, Bryan Fischer, BYU, Chip Patterson, Colorado, Dan Persa, David Wilson, Denard Robinson, Ethan Horton, Florida, Georgia Tech, Gio Bernard, Gus Malzahn, Iowa, James Franklin, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Jon Embree, Kansas State, Logan Thomas, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michael Dyer, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pac-12, Paul Richardson, Penn State, Quintin McCree, Ralph Friedgen, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Ronnie Tyler, Russell Wilson, San Jose State, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, Spencer Ware, Stanford, Terrelle Pryor, Texas, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Towson, Tyler Wilson, Tyrann Mathieu, Utah, Virginia Tech, WAC, Wisconsin
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: October 4, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:10 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Each week, the CBSSports.com college football staff offer their choice for the week's Expert Picks. But before we make our selections for Week 6, we spin the wheel o' games to select a handful of contests we want your take on.
Check the poll below to pick an outcome for the 10 games our wheel landed on, including Florida at LSU on CBS, Oklahoma vs. Texas in the Red River Rivalry, and Auburn traveling to Arkansas in a matchup of ranked teams. Also on tap: Southern Miss taking on Navy at 3:30 ET on the CBS Sports Network. To see the results of the poll, tune in to Inside College Football, 8 p.m. ET on CBSSN.
As a sneak peek of this week's Expert Picks, here's this blogger's early impressions of the week's slate:
Southern Miss at Navy: The Golden Eagles have recovered nicely from an early-season loss to Marshall, but still have to prove their defense is at all capable of stopping the Midshipmen triple-option. At home in Annapolis, Navy should have the edge.
Army at Miami (Ohio): It's been an up-and-down season for the Knights, who upset Northwestern but have been clubbed by a total of 50 points in two previous trips to MAC teams Ball State and Northern Illinois. With the Redhawks winless and going nowhere on offense, though, Army should be OK this time.
Missouri at Kansas State: The Wildcats are flying high after upsetting Baylor, but the Tigers promise to be much stingier on defense than the Bears and are coming off a bye. We like the Tigers to bring KSU back to earth a bit.
Iowa at Penn State: Kirk Ferentz has owned Joe Paterno's squad in recent years, and with the Nittany Lions seemingly going backwards on offense as James Vandenberg has woken up the Hawkeye attack, that may not change this season.
Georgia at Tennessee: All bets are off if Tyler Bray catches fire. But Mark Richt has always been an outstanding coach on the road, and until the Vols show some ability to get some push for the running game, we'll take the team with Isaiah Crowell.
Arizona State at Utah: The Utes got a rude welcome to the Pac-12 in their conference home opener against Washington last week, and the Sun Devils are a more complete team than the Huskies. An injury to Jordan Wynn won't help matters, either.
Texas A&M at Texas Tech: There's no more myserious undefeated team in the FBS than the Red Raiders, whose 4-0 record has been complied against an FCS tomato can, hopeless New Mexico, Nevada (in a nail-biter) and Kansas. We're not sure they've been impressive enough to take them over what should be an angry Aggies squad.
Florida at LSU: There's not a college football fan alive who wouldn't tell you the same thing, but it's true: the matchup of true freshman Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel against LSU's defense in Baton Rouge should not be pretty.
Auburn at Arkansas: Last year, Tyler Wilson ripped the Auburn defense for 330-plus yards and four touchdowns in relief of Ryan Mallett, and that was on the road at the defending national champions. At home vs. an even more wobbly Tiger defense, Wilson may make it 1,000 yards in two weeks.
Oklahoma vs. Texas: Ever since Garrett Gilbert went to the sidelines, the Longhorns have been scorching hot, roaring back against BYU and thumping UCLA and Iowa State on the road. The Sooners are still a bridge too far for a team this young, but the Red River Rivalry should me much closer than many expect.
Tags: Arizona State, Arkansas, Army, Auburn, Ball State, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, BYU, Conference USA, Florida, Garrett Gilbert, Georgia, ICF picks, Iowa, Iowa State, Isaiah Crowell, James Vandenberg, Jeff Driskel, Jerry Hinnen, Joe Paterno, Jordan Wynn, Kansas, Kansas State, Kirk Ferentz, LSU, MAC, Mark Richt, Marshall, Miamo (Ohio), Missouri, Navy, Nevada, New Mexico, non-BCS, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Pac-12, Penn State, Ryan Mallett, SEC, Southern Miss, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson, UCLA, Utah, Washington
Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:22 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 6:30 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.
With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.
AP Poll Coaches Poll
(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)
Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC
Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: West Virginia
Everybody saw West Virginia up close two weeks ago when LSU came rolling into town for a big primetime match up. They also saw quarterback Geno Smith set a school record with 429 yards passing on 34 completions against one of the best defenses in the country. Sure, turnovers doomed the Mountaineers against the Tigers but they were still able to move the ball and made it a game before Morris Claiborne's kick return. This is an explosive offense and a solid enough defense that should be the leading contender to win the Big East. Yet they sit behind fellow one-loss teams Arkansas, Nebraska and Auburn. Considering that neither of those three lost to the highest ranked team in the land, WVU fans are right to be upset that they're behind them.
Top 10 teams generally don't fall into 18 point halftime deficits. One could argue that top 10 teams come back from 18 down but I think that's counterintuitive because, of course, good teams should be up by that much, not have to come back from it. The offensive and defensive lines are a mess, partly due to injury. Tyler Wilson has shown the offense hasn't really lost a step at the quarterback position and Ronnie Wingo/Broderick Green are a nice one-two punch but none of that matters. We knew the offense was going to be good. Before the season Bobby Petrino said this was his best defense he's had since becoming head coach of the Razorbacks but the Texas A&M game proved they weren't that great after allowing five touchdowns in the first half. They're a good team but ranked too high to be in the top 10 right now.
A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.
For the second week in a row, Wolf occupies this spot with his ballot. He's the only one to give Boise State a number one vote and has Oklahoma ranked lower than anyone as a result. Wisconsin is the lowest out of anybody too, they're 8th despite beating Nebraska 48-17. By the way, he had ranked the Cornhuskers 5th the week before so not sure how that works; beat a team you ranked in the top five by 31 and then put them behind Oklahoma State and Clemson? One loss Baylor is ahead of Texas and even 3-2 Notre Dame is in the top 25. All told he ranked five teams higher than anybody, had undefeated Illinois behind 10+ teams with a loss, included SMU in the poll but not Texas A&M and, oh yeah, had Florida State in the top 12.
What were you thinking? One vote teams
Dear coaches: I understand why you don't reveal your ballots for the poll from week-to-week. I know because one of you gave Ohio State a top 25 vote. You obviously have not watched the Buckeyes recently, since they're 108th in total offense, 91st in scoring and 104th in sacks allowed. They had 35 yards rushing against Michigan State last week. For the AP voters, there are plenty of one-vote rebels but at least we know their names. Here they are: Joe Giglio (Tennessee), Desmond Conner (Pitt), Ira Schoffel (Cincinnati). Three people also gave Penn State votes and four gave USC votes, proving they haven't seen the Nittany Lions on offense or the Trojans on defense.
Our tech team at CBSSports.com is pretty awesome and came up with this neat tool to take a look at team and region bias in the AP Poll. Check it out below, it's a fun thing to play around with.
Tags: ACC, AP poll, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Broderick Green, Bryan Fischer, Cincinnati, Clemson, Coaches Poll, Desmond Conner, Florida State, Garry Parrish, Geno Smith, Illinois, Ira Schoffel, Joe Giglio, Jon Wilner, LSU, Michigan State, Morris Claiborne, Nebraska, Nebraska, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Poll Attacks, poll reactions, Ray Ratto, Ronnie Wingo, Scott Wolf, SEC, SMU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, The Poll Attacks, Tyler Wilson, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 2, 2011 1:32 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The gap between the Big Two and the Smaller Ten is even wider than we thought. Last week in this space, we wrote that Alabama and LSU were the top two teams in the SEC and that no one else was close. That's not exactly right; the Crimson Tide and Bayou Bengals are indeed the top two teams, but no one else is even within the same stratosphere.
After all, if there was ever a situation where one team or the other was going to be challenged, it was going to be Saturday night in Gainesville, right? The Tide were on the road, at an undefeated Florida team, in prime-time, in an atmosphere just about as hostile as it's possible to have in college football and they fell behind 7-0 in the first 20 seconds ... and casually laughed all of it off on their way to a 38-10 romp.
So who's going to challenge either of those Big Two? The Gators have already been crushed by one and may not have John Brantley for the other. Arkansas? Kudos for their resilience today, but they also looked overmatched in their one attempt and gave up 381 yards rushing (628 total) vs. Texas A&M. South Carolina looks totally lost (see below), but not so lost they couldn't beat Georgia in Athens. Tennessee? Lost to Florida. Auburn? Still the same team that needed a miracle to beat Utah State.
We don't want to write things that look silly later, so for now we'll hold off on declaring the potential college football Game of the Year Nov. 5 between the Tide and Tigers a mortal lock to decide the SEC champion. But it may not be long until it looks silly to write anything else.
The Sports Illustrated curse has its first victim, and that victim is South Carolina. Back in August, we detailed how teams that have a player or players appear on the Sports Illustrated college football preview cover wind up limping to disappointing seasons more often than not. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, Alshon Jeffery was one of those players this year.
And so surprise, surprise, guess who's well on their way to playing out exactly that disappointment. It's not just the loss to Auburn, either; after the big first-half deficit to East Carolina, the wheeze past Navy, the "putrid" offensive display against Vanderbilt, the only thing left to complete the Gamecock backslide was the nigh-inexplicable loss at home to a double-digit underdog coming off a 316-yard display against hapless FAU. Arguably the most surprising thing about the Tiger victory today was how unsurprising the rest of Carolina's season had already made it.
2011 was supposed to the confirmation of the lessons of 2010, that the old bait-and-switch Gamecocks were gone and the new East-winning, top-15, nationally-relevant Gamecocks were here to stay. Instead, 2011 has seemed to confirm that South Carolina is still South Carolina: talented, dangerous, capable of big things ... but always too erratic, too unfocused to accomplish them. It must particularly rankle to have that confirmed against Auburn, which beat Carolina twice last season. That the Tigers lost seemingly half their roster while the Gamecocks returned the likes of Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore, Devin Taylor and the incredible Melvin Ingram -- not to mention a senior quarterback coming off his best season yet -- should have turned the tables. But even at home, even with Auburn committing four turnovers, even with Barrett Trotter utterly unable to complete a pass longer than five yards downfield, the tables stayed unturned.
There's still time to turn things around and get to Atlanta, thanks to John Brantley's injury potentially crippling the Florida offense and the tiebreak over Georgia. But if not? If we're a Carolina fan, we're blaming SI.
Mississippi State is in a similar, even-leakier boat. The Bulldogs were also looking to 2011 as the season they proved their old haunts at or near the SEC West cellar were behind them, thanks to an offense that returned nine starters and had another year of Dan Mullen's tutelage under it. But that offense hit its lowest point yet in what looks like another ho-hum season, going without an offensive touchdown at Georgia and scoring just three points in a dispirited (and dispiriting) 24-10 loss. Coming only a week after only putting up 20 regulation points against Lousiana Tech -- and given that Georgia's not exactly a defensive juggernaut just yet -- something appears to be seriously amiss with Mullen's unit. When the schedule still offers visits from Carolina and Alabama and a trip to Arkansas, he'd better have it fixed in a hurry--or his team could be one upset loss from missing the postseason entirely.
The SEC's roster of Heisman candidates goes much deeper than Marcus Lattimore. One less-than-overpowering performance from the big sophomore shouldn't douse his Heisman hopes too badly, but it did open up the floor for the rest of the league's stars to make their statements ... and they did.
Trent Richardson put his slow 2011 start even further behind him with a punishing 181-yard, 2-touchdown performance. Tyrann Mathieu further cemented his status as the leading defensive candidate with another highlight-reel play -- a quarterback strip, fumble recovery, and touchdown return -- as well as keying another lockdown performance from the LSU secondary. Tyler Wilson isn't on anyone's shortlist yet, but a few more 510-yard passing days might change that. Melvin Ingram had an absurd game, collecting 3.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles-for-loss and an interception. And it seems unfair to mention Lattimore without also mentioning Michael Dyer, the Auburn running back who outrushed him 141-to-66 Saturday -- grinding out many of those yards in the face of poor blocking and a second-half ankle sprain -- and has now outrushed him 305-183 over their three head-to-head meetings.
For all that, if the Heisman vote were held today, Lattimore would still likely top the SEC's list. (As badly as his team is struggling, where on earth would it be without him?) But the SEC's roster of stars is deep enough that that could change as soon as next week.
Houston Nutt won't be fired this week. He still has a long way to go to guarantee himself a spot on the Ole Miss sideline in 2012. But flying cross-country to get a 10-point win over a likely bowl team in Fresno State isn't a bad first step.
Tags: Alabama, Alshon Jeffery, Arkansas, Auburn, Barrett trotter, Dan Mullen, Devin Taylor, East Carolina, FAU, Florida, Fresno State, Georgia, Houston Nutt, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Melvin Ingram, Michael Dyer, Mississippi State, Navy, Ole Miss, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Trent Richardson, Tyler Wilson, Tyrann Mathieu, Utah State, Vanderbilt, What I Learned