Tag:Ole Miss
Posted on: October 30, 2011 1:20 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 9

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: Mark Richt. 
It's not just that the victory today was only Richt's third in 10 tries against the team most Georgia fans want to beat more than any other. It's not just that with the win, the Dawgs are two home victories over a middle-of-the-pack Auburn and far-below-the-pack Kentucky from a 7-1 SEC record ... and with a little help from someone vs. South Carolina, a trip to Atlanta. It's not just that after today, it seems close-to-impossible that Richt won't return for an 11th season on the Georgia sideline. 

It's that in many ways, this victory belonged to Richt. It was Richt who was able to keep his struggling team mentally afloat when the Gators took a 17-3 lead and the Dawg half of the stadium couldn't help but think "here we go again." It was Richt who made the calls to go for it on 4th-and-long inside the red zone once Blair Walsh showed himself unreliable, calls that resulted in two of the Dawgs' three scores in a game where points came as easily as pulled teeth. And it was Richt who showed enough faith in the flailing Aaron Murray -- who'd missed nine straight attempts -- to endorse a throw on 2nd-and-9 as the Dawgs tried to run out the clock.

That decision worked, as did nearly every move Richt made Saturday. That's what it was, and why Georgia won.

LOSER: Charlie Weis. We don't want to be too hard on Mr. Decided Schematic Advantage, since the quarterbacks he's worked with the past few weeks have been 1. true freshmen 2. still kind of hurt 3. more inherited than hand-picked. But still: between weapons like Chris Rainey, Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Deonte Thompson and even a half-speed Jeff Demps, we're not sure there's excuses enough to explain 10 second-half points across four games, one first down in the second half against Georgia, or 175 total rushing yards in this four-game losing streak on all of 1.5 yards a carry. Weis arrived at Florida with a reputation for expertly handling quarterbacks and passing games but perhaps not having a good idea of how to operate a rushing attack with smaller backs like Rainey and Demps ... and with Brantley's downfield accuracy gone and the field shrunk, Weis has lived up to every bit of that reputation.

WINNER: Vanderbilt. We know, we know, they lost. But they also outgained the nation's No. 8 team (and one of its most explosive offenses) by 74 yards. Their years of wandering the wilderness at the quarterback position appears over, thanks to Jordan Rodgers' outstanding 15-of-27, 240 yard, 66 rushing yards, 3 touchdown, zero turnovers performance. They took over down 3 at their own 9 with 3 minutes remaining, a situation in which Vandy has accomplished nothing since the days of Jay Cutler, and promptly drove 80 yards for what should have been the game-tying field goal. Top-to-bottom, Vanderbilt was a better team than Arkansas Saturday.

In short, in so many, many ways, James Franklin's Vanderbilt is not the same old Vanderbilt

LOSER: Vanderbilt. Of course, there were even more ways in which Vanderbilt was precisely the same Vanderbilt they've been for decades. Shall we count the ways? The four or five easy interceptions which Commodore defenders let slip through their hands ... the backbreaking 15-point fourth-quarter swing as their best offensive player, running back Zac Stacy, fumbles the ball at the opponent's 3-yard line (without being touched) for a touchdown fumble return the other way ... with a chance to go in at halftime up 21-7 and in firm control of the game, the touchdown allowed with five seconds remaining ... and, yes, the shanked 27-yard field goal at the bitter, bitter end.

Until further notice: same old Vandy.

WINNER: South Carolina offensive tackle Cody Gibson. Gibson is a big fella: 6'6", 285 pounds. And when Tennessee's Prentiss Wagner picked off a third-quarter pass from Connor Shaw and bolted clear for the Gamecock end zone 56 yards away, Gibson probably could have been forgiven for ... well, not quitting on the play, but only making a token effort; the odds of the tackle being made by a tackle among the Gamecocks' receivers and running backs and the quarterback was insanely low, right? But Gibson made much more of an effort than that, going all-out in pursuit of Waggner until the corner cut back towards the middle of the field, cut again, had to slow up one last time ... and Gibson caught him, flattening him at the Gamecock 2-yard line. 

Against most offenses, that might not have mattered much. But vs. Tennessee's? It mattered a ton: only two plays later, Vol freshman QB Justin Worley threw an ugly interception, and Gibson's play had saved his team seven points in a game which only totaled 17. Instead of being down 10-7 with a wobbly Shaw in front of a fired-up Knoxville crowd, Carolina drove 98 yards for their own touchdown and (for all intents and purposes) the win. Gibson's play won't make him a star, but Saturday, there's no question it made him a winner.

LOSER: Barrett Trotter. This might a touch unfair to Trotter, who didn't even see the field Saturday. But whatever hope he had of reclaiming the starting quarterback job he lost at halftime of Auburn's win over Florida was extinguished for the foreseeable future by Clint Moseley's outing against Ole Miss. The redshirt sophomore (left)connected on 12 of his 15 attempts for 10.7 yards a pass and four touchdowns ... all without an interception. More importantly, the Auburn offense looked like the Auburn offense for the first time in weeks, rolling up 414 yards and 41 points on a Rebel defense that caused real problems for Arkansas last week. Remember those Snickers commercials? Where the Tiger pecking order under center is concerned, neither Trotter nor Moseley are going anywhere for a while.

WINNER: The Liberty Bowl. With LSU and Alabama surely off to the BCS and a pair of teams with precious little bowl eligibility hope in Kentucky and Ole Miss, the SEC was already in danger of not fulfilling all its bowl tie-ins ... and a Wildcat win against Mississippi State would have made things even more dire for the last couple of bowls at the end of the food chain, as that result would likely leave neither team in striking distance of the postseason. As is, the BBVA Compass Bowl is still likely out of luck, but the venerable Liberty can live in hope--the Bulldogs have both FCS patsy UT-Martin and the Rebels on the schedule.

LOSER: The rest of the SEC. It's now officially LSU-Alabama week. We'll see the other 10 of you next Sunday*.

*We're kidding, geez. Mostly kidding, anyway. 

Posted on: October 29, 2011 4:28 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 8 Arkansas 31, Vanderbilt 28

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ARKANSAS WON: In the wildest, most unpredictable, best game in the SEC in weeks, the Razorbacks scored the contest's final 14 points for their second upset-avoiding comeback victory in as many weeks. But this one was an even closer shave than the one at Ole Miss, as Vandy's Carey Spear missed a 27-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining that would have sent the game into overtime. The difference in the placekicking made the difference in the game, as the Hogs' Zach Hocker made three tries from 35 yards out or further, including the game-winner from 42 yards with 6:53 to play.

WHY ARKANSAS WON: The continued brilliance of Tyler Wilson had an awful lot to do with it. Despite taking yet another pounding from an opposing defensive front (especially late in the first half), Wilson connected on 27 of his 43 passes for 316 yards, one huge late first-half touchdown, and no interceptions. With the Hog ground game reverting to its usual sputtering self (71 yards on 26 carries, 2.7 an attempt), Arkansas doesn't come close to winning this game without Wilson.

But the largest factor in Vanderbilt's defeat was that Vanderbilt -- for all of James Franklin's culture-changing confidence, bravado, and game-planning -- is still Vanderbilt. Opening up the second half with the ball and a 21-14 lead, Zac Stacy threw a halfback pass into excellent coverage that was picked and turned into a Hocker field goal. Stacy redeemed himself with a tackle-breaking 62-yard third quarter touchdown run and could have salted the game away when he took an early-fourth quarter handoff from the Arkansas 3, with his team up 28-20. But he fumbled without being touched, and Jerry Franklin scooped and scored from 94 yards on the game's biggest play. And then Spear capped what should have been an inspirational 8 play, 80-yard drive with the game on the line -- the sort of thing Vandy never does -- with the sort of thing Vandy always does.

Franklin clearly has the 'Dores on the right path, and faster than anyone could have imagined. But the exorcism isn't complete yet.

WHEN ARKANSAS WON: Spear's miss and Stacy's backbreaking fumbles were huge plays. But they might not have been any bigger than the touchdown thrown from Wilson to Jarius Wright (pictured) with five seconds remaining in the first half. The Hogs had taken over on their own 38 with just over 90 seconds left in the half, down 21-7, with Vandy having scored three long touchdown drives in four first-half attempts and getting the ball to start the third quarter. All the momentum was with the home team. But Wilson hit Wright for a 30-yard gain on 4th-and-10, and on the next play Wilson and Wright connected again from 11 yards out. The Commodores were never fully in control of the game again.

WHAT ARKANSAS WON: A continued spot in the polls' top 10, a 7-1 overall record, a 3-1 SEC record, and the knowledge that no matter how poorly they might play over the first 30 minutes, the Razorbacks always have a second-half comeback in them. But if one escape from a heavy underdog is a fluke, two is a trend, meaning that it's hard to argue the Hogs are playing like a top-10 team right now.

WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: As with the Rebels a week ago, this wasn't one of the games the 'Dores would have had circled as a must-win for bowl eligiblity. But to play as well as Vandy did and have the game so ... close in hand only to lose on a handful of mistakes must be crushing. Franklin will have his work cut out for him keeping his players' positive and focused after this kind of heartbreaker.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 4:41 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 25: They're that good

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.



DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 11, or the number of points (or fewer) to which LSU and Alabama have held 13 of their combined 16 opponents in 2011. (The exceptions: Oregon and West Virginia scored 27 and 21, respectively, against LSU, and Arkansas netted 14 against the Tide.) It's also the number worn this year by LSU starting tailback Spencer Ware, who we can now safely say will be playing against the Tide. (See below).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Everyone thought Ohio State and Michigan were the nation's clearcut two best teams when they went 1-vs.-2 in 2006, and both of them crashed and burned in their bowl games. What are the odds LSU and Alabama aren't as good as the hype and rankings suggests they are, either?

The truth is that there's no way to guarantee the winner of LSU-Alabama will finish the national championship job the way the 2009 1-vs-2 SEC championship game winners did and the Buckeyes didn't, or that they'll even make the BCS title game. (Facing Georgia in the Georgia Dome might be tricky, for instance.) But there's two things we can say with certainty: 1. after the past five years, the SEC champion deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to playing for national titles 2. LSU and Alabama are both SEC championship-caliber teams.

In fact, both might be a good bit better than your typical SEC champion--or (with one exception) even any of the league's national titlists in its current streak. How can we say that? Here's how those five teams stacked up in terms of average margin-of-victory across their nine games vs. SEC opposition:
2010 Auburn: 13.4 points
2009 Alabama: 15.8 points
2008 Florida: 30.0 points
2007 LSU: 10.0 points
2006 Florida: 6.9 points
And with five SEC games already behind both the 2011 Tide and Tigers, here's where they stand in the same statistic:
2011 Alabama: 32.4 points
2011 LSU: 27.4 points
Now, a few caveats: this year's injury- and inexperience-ravaged SEC is in many ways not as tough top-to-bottom as the SEC of several of these previous five seasons; obviously, neither LSU nor Alabama has played the most difficult game on their SEC schedule yet (meaning each other), so those numbers will no doubt drop; and even the mighty '08 Gators slipped up against Ole Miss but still made the national title game, a luxury the winner on Nov. 5 (probably) won't have.

But caveats or not, those margins aren't just impressive; they're nearly twice what any team besides those 2008 Gators managed. Offering any "yeah, but" ojections is to ignore the obvious conclusion from everything we know about these two teams to date: whoever wins this is game is deserving of being the league's heavy favorite, they are the likeliest candidate to win the 2011 national title, and yes, whatever happened in 2006, this game deserves the hype.

THE LATEST FROM BATON ROUGE: We'll let Tyrann Mathieu break the biggest news of the past 24 hours himself:



That's no doubt Mathieu celebrating the fact that he and two other members of the "Synthetic Three" were reinstated as expected Tuesday. It was just yesterday LSU's chancellor was saying Mathieu, Ware, and Tharold Simon would have to "get their act together" for A.D. Joe Alleva to give them the OK to play against the Tide; apparently Alleva didn't need that much convincing said acts have come together.

Speaking of Alleva, an open letter from the LSU A.D. to LSU fans announced the news that as part of moving this year's LSU-Alabama game to a prime-time kickoff, CBS has already agreed to air next year's Tide and Tigers showdown in Death Valley as a prime-time game. In this video, CBS Sports executive vice president Mike Aresco talks on the Tim Brando Show about the process of moving both this year's kickoff to 8 p.m. ET:



THE LATEST FROM TUSCALOOSA: Nick Saban's parking ticket might have gotten the most attention out of his public appearance in Birmingham yesterday, but it was also Saban's first opportunity to say more about his Nov. 5 opponent than saying he wasn't going to say anything about them yet. His assessment:
"I think they've got great team speed, (they're) very athletic ... They've got good depth. They play a lot of players. Their ability to execute on a consistent basis has been good. The one thing they've been able to do offensively, they've run the ball effectively on everybody that they've played, and they've played very well on defense, pretty consistently against everybody that they've played. Because of the team speed that they have they're always a little bit of a matchup issue when it comes to special teams."
Parsing exactly what a master of press-conference speak like Saban really means is always tricky, but we think two things here are telling: 1. he doesn't bother praising the rejuvenated LSU passing game, saying the "one thing" LSU's done is run the ball well 2. while the other areas of the team are praised as "effective" or "consistent," the Tiger special teams is a "matchup issue." Despite Saban's protestations to the contrary, we'd wager a large sum of money some of his staff's man-hours the past coupel of weeks have been spent breaking down LSU film, and a substantially lesser amount of money that those special teams areas are where Saban's concerned.

It's been a busy week of award-collecting for Dont'a Hightower. The junior linebacker was named this week's SEC Defensive player of the week, the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week, and Tuesday one of 12 Butkus Award finalists, along with teammate Courtney Upshaw. A big game against LSU could make Hightower -- already arguably the most visible member of the Tide defense, along with safety Mark Barron -- a Butkus favorite.

Posted on: October 23, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:17 pm
 

SEC poll reactions, Week 8

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.


(AP/Coaches)

1/1. LSU

We'd like to think that even if Oklahoma had completed their failed comeback against Texas Tech, the Bayou Bengals' annihilation of a top-20 Auburn team (as opposed to a mighty struggle at home vs. an unranked team with two home losses) would finally resulted in their taking over as a consensus No. 1. But fortunately for clarity's sake, the Red Raiders finished the job. And even if Alabama wasn't on a bye themselves, that consensus wasn't going to change during LSU's off-week--the Tigers have a 49-10 advantage in first place votes in the AP, and a 41-18 edge in the Coaches.

2/2. ALABAMA

The Crimson Tide should have passed the decisively less-impressive Sooners weeks back, but there's no doubt plenty of thanks being sent Lubbockward after the Red Raiders made the Tide's consensus move to No. 2 it official. (Then again, knowing the relationship between the Tide fanbase and Tommy Tuberville, maybe not.) What's interesting is that the Tide have enough support for a short fall in the event of a loss to LSU--the 122-point margin between the Tide and No. 3 Oklahoma State is wider than the margin between the Cowboys and No. 6 Clemson.

8/8. ARKANSAS

The Razorbacks move up two spots in both polls but find themselves in the same broad position as last week: the second-highest one-loss team behind Oregon. It's a strong show of support for the Hogs that even after an unimpressive win over Ole Miss -- one that required overcoming a 17-0 first-half deficit and a last-minute interception to preserve the victory -- Arkansas still moved past plummeting Oklahoma and Wisconsin. But as we said last week, if forced to pick between the Hogs and Ducks in a one-loss head-to-head, we think the Hogs deserve the nod.
14/14. SOUTH CAROLINA

Oh, Coaches poll. We wish there was a better explanation for jumping Kansas State past the Gamecocks on the basis of a win over Kansas and Carolina's bye week than "Oops, we kind of messed up by having that undefeated team so low last week, better fix it" ... but we know there isn't. At least Michigan State's leapfrog past the Gamecocks makes more sense. The Spartans jumped the Gamecocks in the AP, too, but Carolina stayed put thanks to West Virginia's freefall. Given that the Gamecocks' loss came to a now three-loss team at home and that their signature win is a three-point escape at Georgia, they can't have any complaints about sticking at 14th.

22/21. GEORGIA

The Bulldogs didn't play this week, but still got a two-slot bump in the AP and leapt into the Coaches at No. 21. Guess it helps when so many bottom-rung top-25 teams -- Auburn, Illinois, Washington, Georiga Tech -- absorbed lopsided and/or embarrassing losses. But the Dawgs can't gripe about not being higher, not when their best win is still over 3-4 Tennessee.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:03 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 3:11 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 8


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 8.

WINNERS: Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. On the eve of the 2011 season, the LSU quarterback situation was supposed to be the team's Achilles heel. The senior Lee had spent his entire career as erratic at best and a turnover machine at worst; Jefferson was suspended and might never return; and despite intense fan interest, Zach Mettenberger hadn't been able to beat either out for so much as the backup's job. But after the Tigers' demolition of Auburn, it's time to give the Bayou Bengal quarterbacks their due: not only are they not a weakness, they're a major reason LSU is 8-0 and now preparing for an undefeated megatilt against Alabama.

The stats are argument enough: a combined 16-of-23 for 219 yards (9.5 an attempt), three touchdowns, and no interceptions. (This was LSU's fifth straight game without a turnover, by the way.) But the two touchdown throws they made in the second quarter -- one by each, both of 40-plus yards, both to the rapidly-improving Rueben Randle -- are an even better argument. On the first, Jefferson was leveled by an Auburn blitzer and stood strong in the pocket to deliver Randle a precision strike; on the second, Lee "dropped it in a bucket," as they say, allowing Randle to beat double coverage. The end result was that a quarter that began 7-3 and with Auburn in a dogfight ended with LSU up 21-3 and the game over. If those two throws are examples of what LSU can expect in two weeks, even Alabama might not be good enough to beat the Tigers. At this point, it seems obvious no one else in the SEC can.

LOSER: Houston Nutt. Honestly, this isn't entirely fair to Nutt, who just coaxed the best performance from his team all season and has nothing to hang his head about, final score-wise; losing to a legitimate top-10 outfit like the Razorbacks by five points is an accomplishment, especially when the outcome is still in doubt in the final minute. Still: a 17-0 second-quarter lead over that kind of opponent -- not only one of the best teams in the country, but an opponent whose fans enjoy needling Nutt and the Rebels about their failures -- is the kind of golden opportunity that Nutt and his team simply couldn't afford to let slip through their fingers. In the end, solid performance or not, it's just Nutt's 10th straight SEC loss ... and another few before the year's end could be the end for Nutt.

WINNER: James Franklin. On the other end of the spectrum, we've got a coach for whom beating Army isn't really that big a deal ... but beating them by a comprehensive 23 points is. The Commodores had only one week of study for the Black Knights' triple option and held them to 288 total yards anyway, forcing three turnovers in the process. The 'Dore running game racked up a stout 344 yards and Vandy may have finally found a quarterback in Jordan Rodgers, who didn't set the world on fire (10-of-27, one touchdown, two interceptions) but whose 10 completions did go for better than 18 yards a pop. In short: this was the kind of performance that suggests the 'Dores 3-3 record wasn't a fluke, and that they could go bowling in Franklin's first year. It won't be enough to win him Coach of the Year with Miles and Saban around, but it's still a heck of a job.

LOSER: Drama. Another week, another series of blowouts in the SEC. Save for Arkansas's escape from Oxford, the average score of the four Week 8 games involving SEC teams was 41-13. After another week of winning their two games by some outrageous combined score -- 66 points' worth this go-round -- LSU's and Alabama's average margin of victory has ballooned to a full 30 points. It's a good thing the Tide and Tigers have next week off; not only will it give us another week to savor the buildup to the Game of the Century of the Year, but maybe it'll give us a chance to enjoy more than a single helping of competitive SEC football.

WINNERS: Alabama's receiving corps. The Tide's wideouts were alleged to be the team's one weakness entering this season, and doubly so once Duron Carter was ruled ineligible. But Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and Kenny Bell made that expectation look more ridiculous than ever in the second half Saturday night, hauling in acrobatic circus grab after acrobatic circus grab and eventually totaling 11 receptions, 213 yards, and Bell's game-clinching touchdown. AJ McCarron didn't have his best night, but Maze, Hanks, and Bell made him look awfully good all the same.

LOSERS: Auburn's special teams. The way LSU (and their quarterbacks in particular) are playing, it didn't matter what Auburn did today. But the one area where you can't show any weakness vs. Les Miles's team is in special teams, where they will kill you with field position if given the opportunity. Given the Tigers' strength in this area so far in 2011, Gene Chizik was probably expecting a draw in this phase, at least. Nope: punter Steven Clark had his worst game of the year, repeatedly failing to pin LSU deep when given the chance, and dynamic freshman kick returner Tre Mason fumbled away a second-half return to turn the game from decisive LSU advantage to full-on rout.

LOSER: Matt Simms. Ugly as Simms' final line in the box score was (8-of-17, 3.4 yards an attempt, no touchdowns, one interception), he was facing Alabama on the road; lots of quarterbacks would have looked just as bad, and Simms did play a role in getting the Vols to a 6-6 halftime tie. But Derek Dooley's decision to burn Justin Worley's redshirt late could indicate a move towards getting the freshman snaps at Simms' expense, and though he had a lot of company on the Tennessee sideline, he wasn't able to do much in preventing the Tide onslaught in the second half.

WINNER: College football. No. 1 LSU and (now consensus) No. 2 Alabama are going to meet in two weeks, both undefeated, both extremely heavy favorites to finish their regular season schedule perfect and run a way with the SEC East with a win over the other, both having established their national championship contender's bona fides weeks ago. It really, really, really shouldn't get any better than what we now know we'll see Nov. 5.


Posted on: October 22, 2011 4:24 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 10 Arkansas 29, Ole Miss 24

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ARKANSAS WON: For a half, it looked like Houston Nutt had his magic upset mojo working and working hard, with the Rebels dominating the line-of-scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Randall Mackey looking sharp (that's him scoring a first-half touchdown at right), and Ole Miss eventually going up 17-0 halfway through the second quarter. But from that point on it was -- almost literally -- all Razorbacks, with Tyler Wilson warming up after a scattershot first half and Dennis Johnson finding plenty of room for his biggest game of the year on the ground. Result: 29 straight Arkansas points just enough cushion to hold off the Rebels' late rally..

WHY ARKANSAS WON: Because the Rebels didn't run out of gas in the physical sense ... but they did in terms of their game-planning and innovation. Nutt's team burst out of the gate with plays designed to include any number of play-making weapons -- freshman receiver Nickolas Brassell foremost among them -- and sly misdirection that gave Mackey several easy throws. The junior former JUCO transfer responded by starting 8-of-9 and throwing the best pass of his career -- a beautiful lofted 31-yard throw to Donte Moncrief -- that gave the Rebels a 10-0 lead.

But as soon as Bobby Petrino got his team into halftime still in the game (thanks to a Johnson 53-yard touchdown run on 3rd-and-14, a major turning point), adjusted to shorten Wilson's frequent (and frequently unsuccessful) downfield throws, got Johnson going, and never looked back. Nutt and his staff deserve plaudits for their early-game approach, but once the game turned, they had no answers--as seen most clearly on a second down on their own 1-yard line, late in the third quarter, already down 24-17. With Mackey having already looked deep on first down and failed, the Rebels tried a simple sweep to the right for Jeff Scott, and the Hogs snowed it under for an easy safety. By the time Nutt and his staff reclaimed their offensive spark, it was too late.

WHEN ARKANSAS WON: The game looked well over at the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter, with Arkansas taking over at their own 42, up 29-17, with all the game's momentum. But the Rebels forced a three-and-out, drove 80 yards for a touchdown on their ensuing possession, and then recovered an onsides kick to start at their own 43 with 1:23 in which to score the game-winning touchdown. But Mackey was sacked on first down, and threw an interception on second to end the game.

WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Not a lot of kind words from Petrino and their coaches after that start. But Johnson looked like he's ready to give the Hogs a legitimate ground game for the first time all season, and we doubt anyone in Fayetteville's going to turn down a W after staring at a 17-point hole on the road. (And that said comeback came against Houston Nutt? Well, then, all the better.)

WHAT OLE MISS LOST: the Rebels' 10th straight SEC game, a school record. It would be encouraging to stay as competitive as Ole Miss did against a top-10 team after the blowouts they've already endured this season ... except that that 17-point lead represented the kind of golden opportunity Nutt simply can't afford to blow if he's going to coach next season. His job remains on a knife edge.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 6:48 pm
 

Free Bruce Podcast: Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In this edition of the Free Bruce Podcast, CBSSports.com senior writer Bruce Feldman sits down with our Bryan Fischer to talk about some of college football's most pressing topics at midseason: how Oregon shrugs off injury after injury, Stanford's domination, Jacory Harris's stunning improvement, Trent Richardson's jaw-dropping Ole Miss performance, and more.

And all of that is just prelude to this week's podcast guest: Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who offers his insight into conference realignment and what the Big 12's future will hold, how you go about hiring a Bob Stoops, and what unique challenges lie ahead for a team ranked No. 1 in the country.

To listen, either click below, download the mp3, or open the podcast's popout player by clicking here.



Make sure you don't miss the next edition of the Free Bruce Podcast--subscribe to the podcast in iTunes by clicking here for the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast page.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:53 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Ole Miss at Arkansas

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.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com