Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:46 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
ALABAMA WILL WIN IF: they shut down Michael Dyer and the rest of the Auburn running game. Because the hard truth for the Tigers is that there's little-to-no reason to believe Clint Moseley and the Tiger passing game are going to get anything going against the Tide. Though Moseley has been a slight improvement on Barrett Trotter, neither QB has had much success against any SEC opponent not named Ole Miss--over those six games, Auburn's averaged just 131 yards per-game and 5.8 per attempt, and a 5-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. And unfortunately for the Tigers, the Tide are as good-if-not-better than any of the teams they've faced yet, ranking No. 1 in the FBS in both straight pass defense and opponent's QB rating.
Dyer and the Tiger running game will pose a much more formidable challenge; the speedy Onterio McCalebb may be particularly troubling for the Tide, given their struggle to hold the edge against the option looks of LSU and even Georgia Southern. But if the Tide do keep the Auburn ground game in check, it's hard to see how the Tigers ever more the ball enough to pull out the win.
AUBURN WILL WIN IF: they get some help from AJ McCarron. In our "Keys to the Game" prior to the Tigers' contest against Georgia, we noted that Auburn had been oustanding vs. teams with questionable quarterbacking and terrible vs. teams with anyone decent under center. Aaron Murray? He was far better than decent (14-of-18, 12.4 YPA, 4 TDs) and Auburn was naturally shelled to the tune of 45 points and 528 total yards. Can McCarron reprise anything like Murray's domination? Certain early-season performances suggest he can, but the redshirt sophomore has been noticeably less effcient on the road (three non-Ole Miss games have yielded a combined 5.8 YPA and just one touchdown pass), and his past three SEC games anywhere have yielded just a 1-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
If McCarron is on his game, everything about the Tigers' season-to-date suggests they'll give up major yards and points. But that's a big if given the kind of environment McCarron will face and his erratic play of late.
THE X-FACTOR: the Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd. It's often said that a given football team is "a different team on the road" than at home, and that goes double for one as young as Auburn has been this season. That's how it's played out for Gene Chizik's team, which has dodged a few close scrapes (and played a couple of terrible teams) but nonetheless enters the Iron Bowl with a perfect 6-0 home record. It was just two years ago Alabama came to the Plains to face a 7-4 Tiger team with a national title game berth on the line, and left needing a last-minute touchdown and knocked-down Hail Mary to escape with the win. The Auburn team that's shown up for most of the season may not be quite as fierce as the one the Tide has to tangle with Saturday.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 11:52 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
You start the week as a unanimous No. 1, you beat a conference opponent (such as Ole Miss is these days) 52-3, you finish the week a unanimous No. 1.
We noted last week that even if Oklahoma State lost to Oklahoma in Week 13, the Tide had enough of a cushion over the Sooners and Oregon that they'd likely ascend to the No. 2 slot in both polls no matter how impressive OU or UO might be. So what hapens when the Cowboys, Sooners, and Ducks all lose? Not only do the Tide move up to No. 2, they have a 24-point head-to-head win over the No. 3 team and the teams ranked No. 4 in either poll (Stanford in the AP, Virginia Tech in the Coaches) both have 20-point losses at home.
In other words: barring a loss to Auburn this week, the Crimson Tde are as safe at No. 2 as LSU is at No. 1.
Let's be honest: with all due respect to the Hogs, the 2011 season isn't always as much about how you play as who you play. Arkansas's faced only two opponents all season ranked in the current polls, and one of those opponents (the aforementioned Tide) smashed the Razorbacks 38-14. Is one home victory over a top-25 caliber team all season really enough to justify the team's highest ranking since 1978? This year, it is; Stanford and Virginia Tech's schedules aren't any better (both are also sporting 1-1 records vs. currently ranked teams), and Oklahoma State's lone loss is so inexplicable there's no benefit of the doubt there, either.
It's weird to say a team with Arkansas's resume deserves to be the No. 3 team in the nation, but ... Arkansas deserves to be the No. 3 team in the nation.
The Bulldogs move up after ... wait, sorry, our mistake:
Just got a little carried away there. Anyways: the Bulldogs move up one spot in the Coaches after Clemson's tumble, but hold steady in the AP after beging leapfrogged by USC. Despite Georgia's freshly-minted SEC East title, the Trojans deserve the love; despite the gaudy 9-2 overall record, the Bulldogs still have yet to beat a team ranked in the current top 25 (they're 0-2 in such games). As we've said for the past couple of weeks, East crown or not, we're still not sure why the AP continues to rank Georgia over a South Carolina team that has the same record and beat the Dawgs head-to-head on Georgia's own field.
14/13. SOUTH CAROLINA
As with Georgia, the Gamecocks get a Clemson-based one-spot bump in the Coaches (where USC is ineligible) but stay put in the AP. We think Kansas State deserves to move up a few notches for their outstanding road record, but otherwise, 14th/13th is about right for the Gamecocks.
And once again, those are the only five SEC teams in the poll, with Auburn in the first three of the "also receiving votes." All four of the Tigers' losses have come on the road to top 20 teams -- the Tigers have played a full quarter of the top 20 on the road, collecting a win at Carolina to go with the four defeats -- but no four-loss team makes the polls.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:21 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
WHY LSU WON: The part where they played a team that fired its head coach two weeks ago and had its starting quarterback and leading rusher suspended, mostly. But Ole Miss could have least made the game competitive -- well, made it less of a total laugher -- if they'd taken care of the ball and not handed LSU easy scores.
But of course, with Randall Mackey unavailable, the Rebels were forced to turn to Zack Stoudt and Barry Brunetti, quarterbacks that had already proven themselves turnover-prone against the likes of BYU and Vanderbilt. So, yeah, vs. LSU? Stoudt threw a sloppy pass picked of by Brooks and housed to put his team in a 7-0 hole after the first drive of the game. Brunetti took over in the second quarter, only to help botch an end-around handoff in the end zone that Minter recovered for LSU's second defensive touchdown.
Ole Miss's chances were just-this-side-of-nonexistent already. Their odds of a win with their quarterbacks making seven-point mistakes like those? Entirely nil.
WHEN LSU WON: Kenny Hilliard scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 6:45 left in the first quarter, capping a 9-play, 86-yard drive to make it 14-0. The Rebels weren't scoring 14 points on the Tigers if the game lasted 12 quarters.
WHAT LSU WON: Given the state of the Rebels, not much more than another notch on the belt on the way to facing Arkansas next Saturday with the SEC West on the line. But Les Miles can't be unhappy with the level of domination shown by his team in Oxford, as compared to the sluggish start vs. Western Kentucky last week.
WHAT OLE MISS LOST: Just their 13th straight conference game and ninth loss of the season, dropping the Rebels to a woeful 2-9 record on the year.
THAT WAS CRAZY: It was already 42-3 when Miles had his team punch in on 4th-and-goal from the 1 midway through the fourth quarter. So maybe it was some measure of remorse that the next time his team reached the Rebel 1, he opted to put his team in victory formation and kneel four times, going from the 1 to the 4 to the 7 to the 10 and giving the ball back on the 13 ... with more than four minutes still remaining in the game. While we're guessing Miles was trying not to make the score look any worse than it was, the guess here is that that decision made the Rebels feel much more humiliated than even another touchdown would have.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 7:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
ARKANSAS WINS. For the first 30 minutes of this contest it looked as though we might have a game. While Mississippi State's offense was struggling to move the ball, its defense had forced a turnover and blocked a field goal to keep the Bulldogs in the game. Unfortunately for Dan Mullen and his team, then the second half started. The Razorbacks outscored the Bulldogs 20-7 in the second half, with the lone Mississippi State touchdown coming in the final seconds.
The game was over long before that however, as Arkansas had 540 yards of total offense on the day compared to Mississippi State's 210. Tyler Wilson finished the afternoon with 365 yards through the air and 3 touchdowns. Chris Gragg and Jarius Wright were his favorite targets, as the duo combined for 16 receptions and 215 yards. Mississippi State's offensive "leader" was Dylan Favre, who finished with 80 total yards and 2 touchdowns on the day.
WHY ARKANSAS WON. Just way too much offense for Mississippi State to handle. If the Bulldogs were going to have a chance in this game than it needed the game of its life from the defense, and though the defense played well, the Arkansas offense had just too much firepower to be held in check for a full 60 minutes.
WHEN ARKANSAS WON. When the Razorbacks put together a long 12-play 78-yard drive on their first possession of the second half to make the score 31-10, it was hard to imagine that the Mississippi State offense was going to be able to muster 21 points to get the Bulldogs back into this one.
WHAT ARKANSAS WON. Arkansas remains a darkhorse candidate to get to the national championship game, but by winning on Saturday it keeps the dream alive. Of course, considering that Arkansas lost to Alabama earlier this season, you'd think that the Hogs would need another Alabama loss to climb over the Tide in the BCS standings. Still, if Arkansas can manage to knock off LSU next week and then win the SEC title, it'll end up in a BCS bowl at the very least. Also, Bobby Petrino's team has now won ten games for the second straight season.
WHAT MISSISSIPPI STATE LOST. There are two trends that continued on Saturday with Mississippi State. First, the Bulldogs still haven't won a game against Arkansas in Little Rock, and second, Dan Mullen is still looking for his first win over an SEC West opponent that isn't Ole Miss. More importantly, this loss knocks State to 5-6 on the season meaning that the Bulldogs have to beat Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to go bowling this season.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:11 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 was able to make up some ground against Woman last week, though not nearly as much as I had hoped to as we're approaching the finish line here and I don't have a lot of time. Unfortunately, this week I won't gain any ground at all. It took 12 weeks for it to happen, but for the first time, Woman and Man have the same picks in all 10 games this week.
Is it a coincidence? Probably, as we both hand over our picks to each other at the same time to assure there's no foul play. Still, is there a chance that she infiltrated my mind using female powers in an attempt to extract my picks and make sure she made the same ones so I couldn't pick up any games on her? I'm not ruling it out. Science is yet to scratch the surface of women's intuition, so we can't be sure what their full powers are.
What this means is that this will be the week that Machine either gets all the way back into the game or falls out of the race, as it does not agree with us on a few games. So without further ado, let's get to the picks.
Virginia Tech (-10 1/2) vs. North Carolina - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)Man - I'm not sure how North Carolina went from scoring 49 points and beating Wake Forest to being shut out by N.C. State, but that's not the kind of thing that makes me want to put any faith in the Tar Heels. So even though I'm not completely sold on the Hokies yet, I'm still going with Tech. Pick: Virginia Tech
Woman - "The Hokies beat Georgia Tech by 11 points on the road last week, so I don't think the Tar Heels will pose much of a problem at home." Pick: Virginia Tech
Machine - The Machine makes this one a clean sweep as it doesn't see the Tar Heels doing all that much to make this one interesting late, as the Hokies win 31-16. Pick: Virginia Tech
Michigan (-3 1/2) vs. Nebraska - Saturday, 12pmMan - This is an incredibly important game for both teams and their chances to play in the first Big Ten Championship, and though at times Michigan does some things on offense that make me shake my head, I'm going to go with the homefield advantage in this one. Though it'll be fun to see Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez facing off to see who can miss their receivers by more. Pick: Michigan
Woman - "In an alternate Star Trekian universe, did you know the Cornhusker receivers morph into a Taiwanese father?" Pick: Michigan
Machine - The Machine foretells of Michigan falling out of the Big Ten Legends race when the Cornhuskers come to Ann Arbor and beat the Wolverines 27-24. Pick: Nebraska
Illinois vs. Wisconsin (-14 1/2) - Saturday, 12pmMan - Let's see, an Illinois team in a free fall that will probably hear news of their head coach being fired soon, or a Wisconsin team that's lost on two Hail Marys and has dominated just about everybody else. Such a tough decision! Pick: Wisconsin
Woman - "Three weeks ago, Illinois lost to Purdue 21-14. One week later, Wisconsin beat Purdue 62-17. Maybe the Badgers will get Zook'ed but I doubt it." Pick: Wisconsin
Machine - The Machine thinks that this game will be closer than most expect given what we've seen from Illinois over the last month, but Wisconsin still prevails 37-28. Pick: Illinois
N.C. State vs. Clemson (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Honestly, if there was ever going to be a game that Clemson goes all Clemson on us and pees down its own leg, this would be it, wouldn't it? Still, I don't think that's going to happen as there's just way too much talent on this team. Pick: Clemson
Woman - "With the ACC Atlantic Division clinched and a match-up against rival South Carolina looming, many assume Clemson won't be focused. But coach Dabo Swinney will remind his team its pride is at stake, especially since N.C. State played a better game against Georgia Tech than the Tigers did." Pick: Clemson
Machine - The Wolfpack is going to get blown out in Raleigh this week, as The Machine sees Clemson winning this game 41-17. Pick: Clemson
Ohio State (-6 1/2) vs. Penn State - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Listen, before all of the terrible news to come out of Happy Valley surfaced, there was another secret about the Penn State football team that nobody seemed to realize. It's just not that good. Ohio State hasn't been great this season, either, but I don't think that will matter all that much on Saturday. Pick: Ohio State
Woman - "Two teams fractured due to very different circumstances. Feels like a coin flip - going with home field advantage." Pick: Ohio State
Machine - It's unanimous, as Dan Herron rushes for 187 yards and 3 scores against this Penn State defense to give Ohio State a 24-13 win and further muddy up the Leaders Division. Pick: Ohio State
Arkansas (-13 1/2) vs. Mississippi State - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Here's a list of SEC West teams not named Ole Miss that Dan Mullen has beaten since taking over at Mississippi State: none. So until that changes I'm not picking Mississippi State to even cover. Pick: Arkansas
Woman - "Over the last two weeks, the Razorbacks have gone on an SEC scoring spree, putting 44 and 49 points on the board against South Carolina and Tennessee, respectively. The most points Mississippi State has put up against a ranked team this season was 24. Fear the inexplicably adorable, calorically challenged Tusk." Pick: Arkansas
Machine - Arkansas keeps its SEC Championship and BCS hopes alive in a relatively easy 49-34 win over the Bulldogs. Pick: Arkansas
Baylor vs. Oklahoma (-14 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - Baylor has not had its best games of the season against the strongest teams in the Big 12 this season, which initially had me leaning toward the Sooners. What changed that, however, was that I'm not sure what this Oklahoma offense will look like without Ryan Broyles and Dominique Whaley, and that those Baylor losses all came on the road. I don't know that Baylor wins this outright, but I think it's going to be a close game. Pick: Baylor
Woman - "Robert Griffin III's sizzle is oh-so-mesmerizing but let's focus on facts. The Bears have scored an average of 36 points a game this season - the Sooners, an average of 45 points. So, Okies win but don't cover." Pick: Baylor
Machine - The Machine is not worried about the absence of Ryan Broyles, for it believes in Kenny Stills and sees him catching 10 passes for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns. Oklahoma wins 41-24. Pick: Oklahoma
Texas (-9 1/2) vs. Kansas State - Saturday, 8pmMan - You want this spread explained? No problem. There's no way Vegas is going to get any action on the Kansas State side if it lists the Wildcats as a favorite. People would just jump on Texas and the points not realizing that Kansas State beat Texas 39-14 last season in what was Collin Klein's coming out party. Now Klein is taking every snap and the Longhorns are decimated by injuries in the backfield. Pick: Kansas State
Woman - "I'm not sure what Texas has done to deserve this spread, especially with last week's pantsing by Missouri." Pick: Kansas State
Machine - The Machine just really does not like Kansas State. Week after week it picks against it, and that doesn't change now. Texas wins 31-20. Pick: Texas
Oregon (-14 1/2) vs. USC - Saturday, 8pmMan - USC has played in close games all season, which made me want to take the Trojans and the points this week but with Robert Woods' status in question at the moment, I'm not as comfortable with the Trojans in Eugene. So I'm going to roll with Oregon, though I wouldn't be shocked if USC keeps it close or even wins outright. Pick: Oregon
Woman - "In these closing weeks, the Trojans are coming on strong but against the Oregon juggernaut, I'd suggest they just duck and cover. (By the way, after watching the Arkansas version above, who'd have guessed USC has its own inexplicably adorable, calorically challenged version of Tusk? Hey, us Americans, we're not so different after all!)" Pick: Oregon
Machine - Go ahead and hand Oregon its Pac-12 title. The Ducks stomp the Trojans 52-21. Pick: Oregon
Stanford (-19.5) vs. Cal - Saturday, 10:15pmMan - Last week was the first time Stanford didn't cover a spread since last season, but that's not going to deter me from picking the Cardinal once again. The main reason for this being that Cal is not Oregon. Pick: Stanford
Woman - "Speaking of animal mascots, if affluent Stanford ever choses one, it should be a NSFW hip-hop horse that kicks butt. Specifically, Cal's butt." Pick: Stanford
Machine - The Machine sees Stanford winning this game rather easily, but a late fourth quarter touchdown by Cal kills the cover. Stanford wins 42-24. Pick: Cal
StandingsSeason Record (Last Week)
1. Woman 65-50 (4-6)
2. Man 63-52 (5-5)
3. Machine 61-54 (5-5)
Tags: ACC, Arkansas, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Cal, Clemson, Collin Klein, Dabo Swinney, Dan Herron, Dan Mullen, Denard Robinson, Dominique Whaley, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kansas State, Kenny Stills, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, N.C. State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Robert Griffin, Robert Woods, Ron Zook, Ryan Broyles, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Taylor Martinez, Tennessee, Texas, Tom Fornelli, USC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 15, 2011 7:43 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Two of the precious few bright spots for the Ole Miss offense aren't going to shine against LSU--and maybe not again this season.
Houston Nutt announced after the Rebels' Tuesday practice that starting quarterback Randall Mackey and leading rusher Jeff Scott would be suspended for at least Saturday's home game against the Bayou Bengals due to a violation of team rules. Also suspended was backup wide receiver Korvic Neat.
Though the trio's status was not confirmed for the Rebels' season finale against archrivals Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl, Nutt did say the length of the suspension "looks like two (games)."
Nutt declined to specify what rules the trio had broken, but said that his recent firing and the disappointing season was "tough for a lot of them. Especially when the season doesn’t go just right, it’s easy to let go.”
The suspensions will do absolutely nothing to help the Rebels' already microscopically slim chances of victory against LSU. Scott was one of the Rebels' few dependable playmakers, having picked up 529 yards and six touchdowns rushing this season on a respectable (give nthe state of the offense as a whole) 4.6 yards per-carry average.
Mackey's numbers, meanwhile, aren't overwhelming -- a 50 percent completion rate, 7.2 yards per-attempt average, and a 7-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio -- but are far better than the ones posted by new starter Zack Stoudt, who in five apperances posted a 4.9 YPA and 2-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio. With Stoudt at the helm, the Rebels failed to top 315 yards of offense against any of four opponent,s including FCS Southern Illinois; with Mackey installed, the Rebels have topped that number in four of out of six tries.
The Rebels already had a huge mountain to climb ... something like, say, Kilimanjaro. Now? Beating LSU will be like going up K2 ... without oxygen ... in flippers.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 4:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When he agreed to co-chair the committee assigned to hire Ole Miss's next head football coach, Rebel legend Archie Manning had to know he was going to encounter some (ahem) passionate opinions from the Ole Miss fanbase about who that committee should select.
But even he might not have been ready for the outpouring of support for a candidate with no professional coaching experience at any level, one who played and graduated from a rival SEC insitutition. Namely: Peyton Manning.
"I've gotten about 20 or 25 e-mails from people in that regard," Archie told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And hey, since Peyton's got that neck injury and all, and he's probably already forgotten more about offensive football than most candidates would ever know, why wouldn't he be interested?
"I passed that on to Peyton," Archie said. "He said, 'Just tell them that I'm 0-10 as an assistant for Indianapolis.'"
Oh. Guess he hasn't settled on retiring just yet. But the Commercial-Appeal reported that the younger Manning has "passed on names of several viable candidates." (There's an opening, Ole Miss fans: your school's in need of a new athletic director, too. Peyton sounds like a pefect fit!)
We don't know exactly who those candidates are, and Archie delined to name names. But buzz is building behind a handful of candidates all the same: the omnipresent Mike Leach, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, and former Rebel assistant and current Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze.
None of those names are quite as big as Peyton's. But we'd think they'd do just as fine a job in Oxford all the same.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:22 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Former West Virginia and Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez admits he has enjoyed his time as an analyst for CBS Sports Network. But that does not mean he has given up on the idea of returning to coaching.
"I still have the hunger to coach," Rodriguez told Tim Brando on Tuesday's edition of the Tim Brando Show. "We'll see what happens in the next three or four weeks."
Rodriguez and Brando discussed the challenges of coaching at a place like Ole Miss, where you are competing with some of the best programs in the nation. Rich Rod, along with former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, have been some of the names immediately tied to both current and future vacancies all over the FBS. Check out the video below to hear Rodriguez weigh in on life as an analyst, and his thoughts on dealing with the legalities of former employers.
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