There is a surprising lack of cupcake games going down on Saturday. At least of the traditional variety. Florida are favored by 34.5 against Hawai'i, but technically the Rainbow Warriors played in a better bowl game last year. The only other number over 30 I see is Kansas -36 over FIU. So theoretically we have some more compelling games than in previous openers though there are few blockbusters.
CLEMSON -4.5 bama
This line is about two points too low based on the bama hype machine. Clemson is going to be able to run at will against this young and thin bama front 7. And when Clemson starts running the passing game becomes a lot more fluid. The bama sports a mediocre rushing attack with a streaky passing game. I think bama is the team more likely to turn the ball over because they'll be pressing and if one team was capable of putting up 35 points it's Clemson.
OLE MISS -7.5 memphis
Ole Miss has won this game by 2,3,and 4 points the last three years. And let's face it, Ole Miss has been pretty dreadful those years. Houston Nutt is by no means an offensive savior but he at least brings a mentality. Cordera Eason and Enrique Davis should be able to pound the ball behind a veteran offensive line. Jevan Snead makes a few safe passes and Ole Miss is on their way.
Wisconsin -26.5 akron
I like teams with a good running game to cover big spreads. Because you're not rubbing it in if you call a running play every time. It just means you 2nd string backs and offensive linemen are talented. The 2003 Auburn team was dreadful against quality opponents but also managed to rack up 45,48,45, and 73 against their worst opponents. I see Wisky taking an early lead then continuing to pile it on.
MICHIGAN -3 Utah
I'd say that there is more than a chance that the Utes could win this game. I also think this rebuilding year under Rich Rodriguez is a little overblown. I think it's easier to switch from run heavy to pass oriented than vice versa. Also, Michigan still fields a defense right? So let's say the Wolverines somehow manage to put 17 points on the board. They should win by at least 7. I think the App State loss last year put a stain on Michigan in voters minds. They were undervalued for most of last year after that and I think it's carried over to this year. Michigan at home giving 3 seems like a value pick to me if I've ever seen one.
AUBURN -26 LaMonroe
I think there are two reasons for this line. First, LaMonroe beat bama last year so there seems to be some sentiment they can give Auburn a run. Well, bama was pretty mediocre last year and everyone knows that. But guess what? LaMonroe was just as crappy. They went 6-6 last year and got blown out by the other BCS teams they played. The second reason for this line is the thought from outside observers that a QB controversy is going to affect the team. I don't think it's much of a controversy at this point. It's pretty much the exact same thing as Chris Leak and Tebow but with the races reversed. Chris Todd is your passer and Kodi Burns is your running option. So they will take different drives or field positions. It's not like they have similar skill sets and they are streaky. Also, in a game like this it means both QBs will get quality reps to sort out the situation. I think Auburn puts up an absolute minimum of 38 points. So LaMonroe has to figure out a way to get 2-3 scores. I see them topping out at 14. It may be cutting it close but I'm taking Auburn.
Friday, August 29, 2008
There is a surprising lack of cupcake games going down on Saturday. At least of the traditional variety. Florida are favored by 34.5 against Hawai'i, but technically the Rainbow Warriors played in a better bowl game last year. The only other number over 30 I see is Kansas -36 over FIU. So theoretically we have some more compelling games than in previous openers though there are few blockbusters.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
South Carolina 5-3
Ole Miss 5-3
Miss St 3-5
SEC: Auburn vs. Florida
SEC Champ: Auburn
This season sets up more or less like 2004 did for Auburn. And after beating Florida the last two years why not three in a row. I think once again the biggest shocker is that I managed to do the math right.
Another lightning round in an attempt to get this and the wrap up online before the Vandy/Miami (OH) game tonight
8/28 @ Miami (OH): I'm sick of differentiation between the two Miami's in the world. There is the University of Miami in Florida and then there's some school that no one cares about. Vandy cares about the win they are picking up tonight.
9/4 South Carolina: USC is above this game now. Gamecocks win
9/13 Rice: Couple of heavyweights duke it out. Vandy is victorious.
9/20 @ Ole MIss: Cordera Eason and Enrique Davis run up and down the field at will. Rebs win
10/4 Auburn: The last visit by the Tigers to Nashville in 2003 was basically a 9th road game. About 30k AU fans and 20k Dores fans in attendance
10/11 @ Miss State: Bobby Johnson gets Croom'd. Bulldogs win
10/18 @ Georgia: No way. No how. UGA wins
10/25 Duke: David Cutcliffe returns to the site where he scorched Vandy defenses in years gone by. His Duke team is worse that the lowest of his Ole Miss teams. Dores over Duke
11/8 Florida: Futility personified. Gators chomp Vandy.
11/15 @ Kentucky: The Cats avoid being the worst team in the East.
11/22 Tennessee: We're talking about old school Vandy here. Not the Jay Cutler redux. Vols win
11/29 @ Wake Forest: Because South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida all play non-conference rivals, Vandy has nobody to play on Thanksgiving weekend (which the SEC now forces teams to play on, goodbye Iron Bowl history of my youth). So I guess they'll trot out someone interesting each year. This unfortunately is a bad matchup for them. Demon Deacons over Dores.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Time for speed round. Also, I don't have a clue what to make of Tennessee this year.
9/1 @ UCLA: UT beats UCLA. Neither coach is as good as they were 10 years ago.
9/13 UAB: Roddy White is not walking through that door. Vols roll.
9/20 Florida: Ball control is UT's only chance. Crompton throws a pick or fumbles Florida escapes with victory.
9/27 @ Auburn: Hell of a road schedule for the Vols. Lose 4th straight to the Tigers.
10/4 Northern Illinois: Didn't they beat bama once? Tennessee wins
10/11 @ Georgia: Dawgs defense is to much. Tennessee loses.
10/18 Mississippi State: Two largest coaches in the SEC? The Orange take it
10/25 bama: Arian Foster runs at will on the tahd defense. UT big.
11/1 @ South Carolina: That Spurrier is a slippery one. Gamecocks win
11/8 Wyoming: Vols win
11/22 @ Vanderbilt: So UT's two off weeks fall before UAB and Vandy. That seems unnecessary. Vols win.
11/29 Kentucky: The streak continues. Rocky Top
With intensity ratcheting up so has my college football reading. Uncle Rico's Time Machine takes a look at and critiques the all the new duds being sported this year by various teams.
Friends of the Program does their own SEC predictions. It's less intensive than mine and a little more original. Each team is compared to episode of Saved By the Bell.
(pic from BWE)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I think we're on year 8 of it possibly being the year that South Carolina breaks through. Injuries killed the defense this year and it appears the search for a QB lives on for another year.
8/28 NC State
Someone wake me up when NC State becomes semi-relevant again. I honestly think it's been since 2003 that they were even mildly intriguing. With the Thursday opener spotlight upon them USC takes a victory.
9/4 @ Vanderbilt
South Carolina is rocking back to back Thursdays like Virginia Tech. South Carolina works their way through another tune up. Vandy is powerless this year. Gamecocks win.
South Carolina had several close bouts with UGA before finally claiming the victory last year. Even when Georgia had comfortable wins in seemed to be because of a dull offense rather than defensive lapses. South Carolina gets an extra couple of days to get whichever starting QB ready to go against a great Dawg defense. I think they come up short again. Something 10 points or under, just close enough to make it interesting but ultimate failure at the hands of UGA.
A couple of years ago the Blazers had a firm hold of the claim to be the third best football team in Alabama. Hell, they had a decent shot at claiming it over the tide. But now they appear to be in fourth place behind Troy and they may be getting worse by the season. UAB can no longer keep these games close. South Carolina gladly picks up another win.
10/4 @ Ole Miss
Neither team has ever made the SEC Championship game yet both fan bases perennially believe they have a shot. Both are mired and mediocrity and denial. So it's a small victory for South Carolina to take the win and move one step closer to the impossible dream.
10/11 @ Kentucky
Not a particularly daunting slate of road games for the Gamecocks this year until you hit the stunners to close out the year. South Carolina should make easy work of the Wildcats and keep trucking along.
It's hard to take LSU in a game like this given their QB situation. But maybe they get just enough out of the defense, special teams, and running game to pull it together. LSU takes the tough road win.
An off week before the big time showdown with the Vols. The winner could stay in the SEC East race the loser is most certainly out and trying to hold on for a respectable season. Both teams are solid this year and I may have to go with the cliche of home field advantage. I just don't know how to judge the UT offense until I see it. What I am supposed to do, look at Richmond game footage on Youtube? Cause I'm not going to.
A final easy win before the walking death march that is the last two weeks of the year
11/15 @ Florida
It seems like a daunting task for South Carolina to make this game as competitive as they have since Spurrier took the helm. But somehow South Carolina keeps putting points on the board and providing a minimum of a scare. I think this year plays out like last year with USC putting up some points but not being able to keep up with the Gator track show.
11/20 @ Clemson
Doesn't this just seem like a game Bowden would blow? I doubt the Tigers are undefeated at this point but they may have wrapped up a trip to the ACC championship game. Just a little stinker to screw up what would have been a coming out year. South Carolina plays the spoiler in this one.
That's a pretty good season for South Carolina. New Years Day Bowl with wins over Clemson and Tennessee. It also appears that I've failed to pick out one boneheaded loss for them. 9-3 would mean they win every game they are favored in plus upsetting Clemson. It'd be hard to argue with that as a fan.
Monday, August 25, 2008
The Combustible Cajun, Ed Orgeron, has been given the boot and in comes the slightly less crazy Houston Nutt. Fortunately for Rebel fans Houston has some idea how to coach a football team. We'll call last year the bottoming out for the program and there should be some return to respectability. Jevan Snead provides immediate help at QB and the non-kill players were already pretty talented.
Memphis trending towards suck. Ole Miss trending towards not suck. Seems like the Tigers have been in an identity crisis ever since DeAngelo Williams bolted for the NFL. Ole Miss starts off the Nutt regime on a good foot.
9/6 at Wake Forest
Wouldn't expect a lot of offensive fireworks in this one. Two ball control offenses slowly figure out who has the least marginal skill players. This early in the season I have to give the edge to the Demon Deacons. It takes awhile for a new coaching staff to spread their philosophy and I think it's a little too much to ask for Ole Miss to become a successful power running team so soon.
It's conceivable that Pat Sullivan could turn Samford into an intriguing Subdivision team in a few years. But that day hasn't come yet.
It must have been a soul crushing experience the last few years for Ole Miss fans when Vandy came up on the schedule. Ole Miss throws more money and time into football, they have better facilities, and a better recruiting base. Yet the Vandy has won 2 of the last three and been extremely competitive over the last 5 years. I think Ole Miss rises above the dregs of the SEC.
9/27 at Florida
The Rebels were magically able to keep this game close last year in Oxford. Assuming the Florida defense tightens up a little bit this year and the crowd shows up at all, Florida should win this one by 20 points or more. For the record, these schools may have the biggest disparity between female student gameday attire. I've seen tube tops, tank tops, jean shorts/skirts and even bikini tops at Florida. Ole Miss ladies prefer to dress for the bar, church, soiree but they definitely aren't wearing an outfit that comes under $200 and they definitely are wearing makeup. Both are good in their own way, just totally different.
10/4 South Carolina
Trick roady trip for the Gamecocks. Ole Miss should be properly battle tested by this point in the season. South Carolina should have tried out about 6 different quarterbacks by the start of October. South Carolina does not have a big enough of an advantage to take this game lightly. This game probably ends up being 21-17 and a couple of plays will decide who ends up with 21. I like Spurrier matching up against Tyrone Nix who was his former defensive coordinator at South Carolina. That's not the type of thing that the OBC will take lightly. Cocks beat Nutt.
10/18 @ Alabama
The off weekend finally rolls around for the Rebs and I think they'll need it. bama gets an off weekend as well and I have a feeling they come out flat. I also don't like the matchup of the depleted 3-4 against the Ole Miss rushing attack.
10/25 @ Arkansas
The bad news is the back to back road trips. The good news is that Arkansas is awful. Houston Nutt rides the wave of emotion heading back to Fayetteville and pulls out the important win. Just looking at coaching staffs, Nutt will have an easier transition of philosophies in Oxford than Petrino will in Arkansas.
Did I really pick Ole Miss to win this game? Well, no one would have thought Stanford was going to beat USC last year. The more parity that enters the league the more preparation and energy become vital to victories.
11/15 Louisiana Monroe
Ole Miss avoids pulling a Saban and manages to beat LaMonroe. Someone give Houston Nutt $4 million a year.
11/22 @ LSU
Jevan Snead vs. Ryan Perrilloux would have been exciting showdown based on their hype out of highschool. Of course out of high school that would have been LSU vs Texas and not Ole Miss vs. Jacksonville State. Ole Miss has no business keeping this game close. The Tigers roll in Death Valley.
11/28 Miss State
The Rebels figure out a way to not disappoint the home fans in the Egg Bowl. Like many Ole Miss games this year, it should be a grind it out ball game that could be decided by a couple of fluke plays. Those fluke plays usually seem to fall you way at home.
Ultimately that would be a very successful year for the Rebels. 7-5 is much more likely though. I believe I'm sensing a non-existent switch of momentum.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I will always contend that "Scott Tenorman Must Die" is the best South Park episode ever and maybe the funniest 30 minutes of television ever produced. But this may just be the best opening minutes of an episode. I can't watch without going into a five minute laugh/giggle marathon.
Friday, August 22, 2008
The fact that an 8-5 record in 2007 was a banner year kind of summarizes the current state of Miss State football. They aren't exactly world beaters, but they are getting back into the one big upset a year mold. The talent base is starting to be rebuilt to a little below Jackie Sherrill cheating levels. They still don't have a ton of depth but they are making strides. If they can grab a couple of skill players in the next couple of years they could pull one of those occasional Houston Nutt Arkansas seasons. Which is a long way from the suggestions I was making last year that they play wacky football.
8/30 at Louisiana Tech
Heading to Ruston for the opener doesn't seem like a ton of fun. It's all risk and no reward. Some fans from around the South will realize that it's a tough matchup but the rest of the country will just assume it's a cupcake game. Though, to me, LaTech hasn't been as good since they abandoned the pass happy offense. Miss State grabs the victory and starts the year off on the right foot.
9/6 Southeast Louisiana
What is this Auburn's schedule from 1992? Are they trying to play every old directional school in Louisiana? Miss State wins.
Since Miss State won this matchup last year I don't think the Tigers will take it lightly. Last year was a sloppy turnover laden affair that broke up many years of futility by the Bulldogs. I expect this year to be a return to normal.
9/20 @ Georgia Tech
Huh? I live it Atlanta and haven't heard any mention of this game? This is a pretty cool matchup. Tech brings in Paul Johnson's wacky triple option spread or whatever the hell he runs. Miss State is basically a pro style offense with heavy power run leanings. So I would say this game will be about the exact opposite of say Texas Tech against Missouri. There might not even be an attempted forward pass this game. Well they may attempt one but the odd for a completion were just set at 10-1. I think Tech takes this one. Assuming Tech loses their earlier games with BC and Va Tech this will be the first chance for a big win in the Paul Johnson era. I think he pulls it out.
9/27 @ LSU
LSU wins. End of story.
Having an off weekend before the Vandy game is just asking for a sleepy start to the game for the home team. Miss State wakes up in the second half and Anthony Dixon puts on a show. Dogs over Dores.
10/18 @ Tennessee
Pretty tough road slate for Miss State this year. I know that there is a decent possibility that MSU wins this game but it just sounds so unlikely. Every fan is a homer but I'm starting to here some positive rumblings about the Volunteer offense. And I really think the only chance for MSU in this situation is a low scoring affair. Tennessee wins.
10/25 Middle Tennessee
MTSU signs up for the second defeat at the hands of the SEC.
I just went back and checked and apparently I chose MSU to win this game during the Kentucky preview. And if that guy says it, then I agree.
11/15 @ bama
This has become an annual bright spot for Mississippi State the last couple of years. But if Saban wants to stay Forbes' most powerful coach in sports he has to win games like this. And I think his ego demands such things.
Assuming Miss State doesn't oversleep and miss their bus to the game I'm pretty sure they will win this one.
11/28 @ Ole Miss
I miss this game being on Thanksgiving night. On friday it just gets lost in the shuffle and no one can really come with a reason to watch it. There have been some competitive games in recent years but this will feature the most combined talent on the field in several years. The bulldogs scored 17 points in the 4th quarter last year to win 17-14. Very timely scoring guys. I think Ole Miss takes back the Egg Bowl trophy this year though. I'm not sure their record will suggest it, but I think the Rebels will be much better this year.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Is LSU in for a slack year after winning the national championship last year? Possibly not with Ryan Perrilloux at the helm. Of course, he's at Jacksonville State now. Instead the Tigers are starting a guy who Gary Crowton originally recruited at BYU. When Crowton bolted Andrew Hatch headed up to Harvard. Then he took a mormon mission, tore his knee up in South America and came back home. With Crowton now at LSU he joined the bunch. Not the typical story for an SEC QB.
8/30 Appalachian State
There is no sneaking up anymore. LSU wins big. That's the type of thing that happens when you're working out a QB situation. You give it your best shot offensively for the entire game.
Troy should fall back to the pack a little this year with the loss of OC Tony Frankling and QB Haugabrook. They somehow manage to keep sneaking up on people despite always playing teams close (UGA 2007). LSU should be prepared and do what it takes to stretch the lead out.
9/13 North Texas
I miss the days of LSU playing a fun west coast team in the early part of the season. These games are boring. Now is a good time to mention that Les Miles implied at the SEC media days that their early season scheduling this year, was supposedly planned to prepare them for Auburn's new offense. Which is a wonderful coincidence but it no way part of a Miles' stroke of genius. As usual he just seems to luck into these things.
9/20 @ Auburn
This game has fallen into a rhythm lately. On even number years the game is played in Auburn as the 3rd or 4th game of the year and is a day game without much scoring. In odd years it's in Baton Rouge in mid October and high scoring night game. This year it'll be a night game in Jordan Hare for the first time in over a decade. I expect the crowd to be a little excited. QB issues kill LSU who's only really chance is to ruthlessly pound Auburn with a power running game. Auburn wins.
9/27 Mississippi State
A broken and bruised LSU team may need to pay attention to this Miss State team. They could make this close. LSU's defense is too good though. The Bayou Bengals restore order and take the victory.
10/11 @ Florida
LSU's second tough test of the season. The vulnerability of the Gator's defense this year is their secondary. I don't see LSU being an excellent passing team. If they played a ball control game and kept Florida off the field like Auburn did last year, they could have a chance. I think Florida pulls it out in front of the home crowd.
10/18 @ South Carolina
A tough back to back set of road games. It seems to me like LSU will have a ton of close games this year and they could go either way. It's hard for me to fathom them losing 5 games. So in games like this I'm going to give LSU the benefit of the doubt.
UGA has the offense to really challenge the talented Tiger defense. LSU may not fare as well against the Dawg D. I think Georgia takes this one despite the hyped Cajun crowd.
A midseason break. LSU gets to work out some of that bad voodoo and clear their heads for the rest of the season. LSU wins.
I have to imagine there are some fans and players who will be into this game. The senior class should be chock full of Saban recruits. LSU gets rowdy on their way to blowout win.
11/22 Ole Miss
An off week before welcoming in an Ole Miss team that should be dreaming of an upset. Ole Miss will come in and lower a boom in an effort to make this a physical game. LSU hits back and takes the W.
11/29 @ Arkansas
The trip to Little Rock will not be a daunting one. LSU will be closing off a lackluster 3 or 4 loss season with a lackluster victory over a miserable bunch of Hogs.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
One of my biggest regrets last year was not pulling the trigger on the Kentucky emergence. I had a notion but not the guts. Unfortunately, Kentucky is not worthy of such a risk this year. The overall talent level continues to improve but there is nobody at the helm.
8/31 at Louisville
The Cardinals sure aren't what they used to be. But these teams should be pretty equal these days. Home field advantage brings the Lou the win.
9/6 Norfolk State
Why don't more Historically Black College and Universities play against Div 1 teams? It'd be a good showcase for their draft quality players and the paycheck can't hurt. Kentucky wins the game.
9/13 Middle Tennessee State
Did you know that over 23,000 students are enrolled at Middle Tennessee? Surprising right? Well they don't have 22 students that are elite football players. Kentucky sends MTSU on it's way.
9/27 Western Kentucky
Kentucky grabs an off week to prepare for Western Kentucky. Once again, if this was basketball, even against Kentucky proper, WKU would have a shot. In football it's not that close. Depending on how the Louisville game goes, the Wildcats could 5-0 at this point and heading into the top 25.
10/4 @ bama
The first SEC game brings a dose of reality about the year. Andre Woodson isn't behind center any more. Even Curtis Pulley has been dismissed from the team. The improved defense may try to make things interesting, but the Tide wins this one.
10/11 South Carolina
Seems like Spurrier used to have some fits going up to Lexington even though he had a superior team. I have feeling that the Gamecocks will need this game too badly to sleep on it. South Carolina leaves town with a W.
The battle to avoid being the worst team in the SEC? Vandy sure hopes so. Petrino returns to Louisville but with zero offensive talent and a young defense. Kentucky is happy to grab an SEC win no matter who it's against.
10/25 @ Florida
This game is over before it starts. But Florida does the home fans a favor and goes through the motions for an easy win.
11/1 @ Mississippi State
Did you know that Bear Bryant used to coach at Kentucky? Did you know that Sylvester Croom played under Bear Bryant at bama? You did? Well you're just a book of football knowledge. Either team could probably win this game. Miss State should be able to win this game. Chances are by this point in the season I will hardly even notice who wins this game. But it'll be the Bulldogs.
If Georgia were to fall to Florida in the preceding week, I guess Kentucky could catch them in a stupor. But I doubt it. UGA rolls either way.
Kentucky retains a little pride by beating both SEC cellar dwellers this season.
11/29 @ Tennessee
To continue our did you know segment... I can hardly believe this but did you know that the Vols will be going for their 24th straight victory over the Wildcats. That has to make the 52-50 thriller last year that much more painful for Kentucky fans. Once they break the streak I'll start predicting but until them it'd be idiotic to side with anyone other than Tennessee.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Big time expectations for Georgia this year. Which I'd say often happens with a team that has won their bowl game and returns their entire backfield. There is no doubt the Dawgs are talented this year. The question is how the hold up to the expectations and schedule. You'll remember that LSU was in a very similar situation last year and ended up losing two games. They ended up winning the national championship and there coach is insane. So I'm not sure how that applies.
8/30 Georgia Southern
Is Georgia Southern fun? Yes. Do they have a chance? No. Chris Hatcher brings an exciting style of play into Stanford Stadium but not enough talent. Take for example Troy. The Trojans took UGA to the absolute limit last year but they weren't able to pull out the victory. And Troy is light years better than Georgia Southern. UGA starts off the season with a healthy victory.
9/6 Central Michigan
Georgia doesn't give themselves many breaks with out of conference scheduling these days. Dan LeFevour is the talented QB for a dangerous Chippewas team. Central Michigan doesn't have enough defense to pull out the victory, but they can score enough points to keep the UGA starters in for most of the game. But this games also serves as a test for the defensive secondary, who get a chance to hone their skills before the Arizona State game.
9/13 @ South Carolina
The first of 4 very tough road games for Georgia which doesn't even count the game in Gainesville. South Carolina's defense should be improved over the injury decimated performance throughout the 2007 season. Georgia however should be able to defensively control the Gamecocks at this early point in the season. Georgia wins in a close one.
9/20 @ Arizona State
That's a hell of a turnaround for Georgia. Get back from the game in Columbia, get maybe three days of good practice in and then fly cross country. That being said, I think the Georgia defense will be able to wreak havoc on the Sun Devils. Pair that with a strong rushing performance and the Dawgs should be able to stay in control most of this game. It should be battle but I think Georgia pulls out there second straight tough road win.
Georgia returns home to Sanford Stadium at 4-0 and still #1 in the country to face Nick Saban and the tide. The crowd alone should carry the team on to a win. Breaking it down, bama doesn't have the linebackers to keep up with Knowshon Moreno all day. He'll break off at least a couple of huge gainers. Defensively Georgia should have the pass rush to cause the tide fits all day. Dawgs roll.
After a very much needed off week, the Vols roll into town. This seems like a game where UT is able to open an early lead, possibly 10-14 points at half time. Then the team wakes up at half time and comes storming back. Georgia ends up wining by 7-14 points.
This is the mental break Georgia needs. Theoretically this would be a trap game, but Georgia is so physically dominant compared to Vandy they can somehow manage to win this game. Mainly this is a game that Georgia doesn't have to emotionally get up for. They stay undefeated and get ready for another monster matchup.
10/25 @ LSU
LSU has the defense and the athletes on offense. They lack the QB. LSU should be able to pull through several games based on talent and fear alone. But I think they will struggle in these big time matchups. Georgia also gets the break by this game supposedly being on CBS instead of a Death Valley night game. Stafford and Moreno will need to have good games but Georgia's offensive line will have to be outstanding to pull out the victory. The Georgia bandwagon hits full capacity after this win.
11/1 The World's Largest Outdoor Coke Orgy
Obviously Georgia will not be overlooking Florida. But I think they could get too hyped for this game and press too much. Matt Stafford passes up the easy dump off and forces a deep throw. The cornerbacks gamble too much and go for picks or the linebackers key on Tebow too much. It's just too much too ask of Georgia. Look at their schedule in 2002 when they went 13-1. Do you see how much easier that was? Georgia may face up to 8 ranked teams when they meet this year. Up to as many as 5 top 10 teams. It's hard to play mistake free for 5 games. I think Stafford throws a couple picks, maybe some other unlucky plays or calls and the Bulldog balloon is busted.
11/8 @ Kentucky
You have to rebound quick before you lose your season. It's gotta be tough to focus that next week but you need to take your anger out on someone. Getting out of town might help a little as well. UGA finds a way to get the victory in this one.
11/15 @ Auburn
Two one loss teams fighting for a chance to stay alive in the national championship picture. Which depending on the rest of the national scene, means it probably has a little less anticipation than the 2004 game. Auburn will be looking for redemption after two crushing losses in a row. The 2006 game was a blood bath and the 2007 game was a 4th quarter explosion. Auburn has retooled the offense and defense this year partly in response to those two games. I think Auburn has the attitude and the talent to pull out a victory. Could be a classic in the mold of the 4th quarter finishes in 2005 (AU) and 2002 (UGA).
11/29 Georgia Tech
Paul Johnson needs another year before he's ready to compete in this game.
It's not what I would call a disappointment, though I know many will feel that way after the early expectations. It's just a bit too much schedule to handle.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Year four of the Urban Meyer regime in Gainesville. At this point he should basically have the type of players he wants to run his offense. And I'd would say with the influx of running backs into the program this year we really will see how this offense will perform.
You're impressed with my use of the apostrophe aren't you? You won't be impressed with Hawai'i though. The Gators won't be as amped up as Georgia was in the Sugar Bowl, but they won't have to be. Florida wins by 30 or more.
It's now been a few seasons since Miami has looked potent. I think it's asking a bit much for the transformation to happen this early in the season. The Hurricanes could have a chance by really attacking Florida's secondary, but I'm not totally sold on their offense yet. Florida wins by 14-20.
9/20 at Tennessee
The Vols will have already unveiled their new look on offense in the UCLA game. Florida will have proven their merit or not as well in the Miami game. Since Jonathan Crompton doesn't have much experience I will give him a little advice. If UT gets up in this game he needs to resist all urges he has to do the chomp before the end of the game. I've heard that doesn't turn out well. I think Tennessee will be solid on both sides of the ball but probably not special on either. Florida's now dynamic offense helps them pull out the tough road victory.
9/27 Ole Miss
I feel that Ole Miss will be much improved this year. But not so much that they can pull off a road victory like this. Florida wins this one by putting up 40 or so points.
10/4 @ Arkansas
The Hogs really are going to suck this year. Weren't Meyer and Petrino both considerations for the Notre Dame job a few years ago. I'd say that Meyer has had the better time since then. Cam Newton could start this game and Florida would win.
Is there a way LSU can win this games without a quarterback? They have a stable of running backs, a beastly defensive line, and talent spread all over. I'm guessing they don't. If they lost two games last year, and they aren't as good this year, I don't know how they could win a road game like this. And Les Miles is crazy. Florida becomes a definite national title contender once they get through this game.
It's not such a bad thing to have an off week after facing LSU. Let the bruises heal and then you're also treated to a declawed Kentucky team. Last year was a fun run for the Wildcats but they lack the offensive firepower this year. Gators win.
11/1 The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
You think there will be a lot of buildup for this one? After last year's game and the likelihood that both teams will undefeated it should be. I'd say that Florida will have the slight better offensive team and Georgia will have the better defense. So this game comes down to the big plays, emotion, etc. It could easily go either way. I just feel like the emotion will be on Florida's side. Until they start losing this game regularly I'm going to give Florida the advantage.
11/8 @ Vanderbilt
I think Vandy has slipped into another boring era. They lack the friskiness of the Jay Cutler years and their defense is not likely to thwart you like the Woody Widenhofer era. Seems like the Raycom early game where Florida is unimpressive but pulls out the victory.
11/15 South Carolina
USC has been shockingly competitive in this game recently. I'm not quite sure how they do it. You know.. other than Spurrier. It's like he picks out 4-5 games a year he really cares about and then sleeps through the Arkansas and Vandy games. Florida will be all grows up and all grows up by this point in the season. The secondary holds up and holds on for the win.
Remember when Auburn missed out on the national championship game in part because they played the Citadel? I'm just pointing that out. Play hard for a quarter then enjoy victory.
11/29 @ Florida State
You know how every year there is one top 5 team that loses a completely inexplicable game. I don't even think Florida State will be decent this year. But couldn't they put it all together for just one game? Run off the emotion of the home field crowd and the desire to regain some pride after recent futility. I think it's possible. FSU shocks the world.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Nick Saban took over a difficult situation. Mike Shula left the cupboard bare, if not talent wise than character wise. Then he was left to deal with a rabid fan base who just paid him $4 million a year. So you know... they want results at some point. I though all along that "the process" would take at least three years. Another 7-6 season would really put the pressure on for next year. Though it's not like they can fire him at that salary.
8/30 Clemson (Georgia Dome)
The Clemson Tigers play their second straight game in the Georgia Dome against a team from Alabama. They also hope to kick off their national championship question on a big stage. Gameday will be in town and I'm sure we'll somehow getting treated to a "Bama's Back" segment for about the 8th time in the last decade. Clemson is bringing an explosive offense into the season. The tide has some talent on the line and in the secondary but the linebackers, especially in Saban's 3-4 system, are depleted to say the least. Offensively I expect bama to have success this year. An experienced line and QB always helps. I'm expecting a shootout but I'm giving the defensive edge to Clemson. Tigers start off on the good foot.
Tulane is not quite as frisky as they used to be. bama rolls.
9/13 Western Kentucky
Unfortunately for Western Kentucky, this is not a basketball game. WKU has been playing the role of SEC whipping boy for a few seasons now. Which I guess is worth it when you get that paycheck. Again bama wins easily
9/20 at Arkansas
This is a must win game for bama. It's the easiest road game on the season and starting off the year 2-2 would definitely create an angry fan and media response. Luckily for bama, Arkansas sucks this year. The tide should be able to move the ball at will and then take it easy in the 4th quarter.
9/27 at Georgia
The last time Nick Saban brought his team to Athens in 2004 he got torched. Big time. I think Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown are still catching fly routes down the sideline. And thus began the futility of Nick Saban and his pupil Will Muschamp against Richt and UGA. UGA is going to put up some points either through the air or on the ground. Though it'll probably be both. It'll be tough for bama to keep it close. UGA wins
Kentucky doesn't intrigue me at all this year. Probably because I know nothing about them. But that's also a bad sign. If no one whatsoever is talking about you than you probably don't have much going for you. bama wins.
10/18 Ole Miss
I think it's quite possible that Ole Miss has a season like Miss State did last year. Which would include beating bama. And I see that happening. The Rebels should have the defensive line to hold up to bama offensive line. The Ole Miss offense should be able to put up some points, and I could see bama's depth being a little thin by this point in the season. And once again, my illogical "off week then playing at home" rule. Ole Miss pulls out the victory
It's the third Saturday in October and seasons lie in the balance. I feel like UT has underperformed in recent years of this rivalry. And a home game is a great way to shake the trend. Arian Foster puts up huge numbers on the way to victory.
1/1 Arkansas State
11/08 @ LSU
There are a lot of weird coaching situations this year. Nutt heading back to Fayetteville, Petrino/Tuberville, and then this ginormously uncomfortable situation. You never want to give LSU fans a reason to get angry drunk. And when that atmostphere hits in Baton Rouge, it's a scary place to be. I'm assuming that LSU will have some sort of QB situation figured out by this point in the year. At that's really the only thing holding them back. LSU sets the field on fire as the demolish bama.
11/15 Mississippi State
Playing Miss State before or after LSU the last few years has definitely contributed to the Bulldogs recent success. But I just don't see MSU winning this game three years in a row.
11/29 The Iron Bowl
Seven in a row is going to be a tough pill to swallow in Tuscaloosa. I imagine that bama will pull out all the stops to somehow win this game. It's that important. But on the field I think that Auburn has the advantage on offense, defense, and special teams. The one shot for bama is that Auburn's secondary continues to pile up injuries and bama is just able to air it out all day. But I'm not willing to take that leap in logic. Auburn wins. I can't even think of a gimmick with 8 in a row yet.
6-6 seems a bit low. bama will actually take one of the Ole Miss or Tennessee games. If they took both it'd be a pretty good season for them. I might change this later in the week.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
This seems like about the 12th straight year that at least one of Auburn's coordinators is new. But since it's an olympic year they decided to pull the double swap. Will Muschamp made the lateral move to Texas and Al Borges is somewhere in a Hawaiian Shirt. The good new is for Auburn is that it's an even numbered year and the SEC slate is more favorable.
8/30 Louisiana Monroe
Seriously? bama actually lost to Louisiana Monroe? Was there starting QB hurt? No? hmm... that's gotta sting. Auburn unveils The System under new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. Which will be a pretty good indicator right off the bat. In recent even numbered years Tuberville has kept everything basic the first two games in order to prevent LSU from picking up too much film. And in general, it seems that Tubbs has also strongly encouraged the offensive coaches to play close to the vest in general. If Auburn comes out in the first game and slings the ball around and tries to put 40 in the first half it will be an exciting year. If they pull the typical limited playbook, work on the ground game game plan, then I'll have my doubts about this new offense. But yeah, Auburn wins.
9/06 Southern Miss
Brett Favre is not walking through that door. It's a nice little warmup for the LSU game though. Being a night game on ESPN it should get the crowd a little more into things than they should for this game. Auburn rolls.
9/13 @ Mississippi State
So sadly, Starkville is a game I haven't attended (along with tuscaloosa) in the SEC. Last year's game broke up a run of absolute futility by the Bulldogs against Auburn. After the loss I ventured back to Atlanta and hung out with some UGA fans. I decided to take the positive approach and focus on the Kodi Burns and Mario Fannin coming out party. It's quite possible that those two could actually dominate this game. I actually think this is one of those games where teams play better on the road. It's really hard to overlook and opponent on the road compared to the sleepy showing in a home LF/JP/Raycom 11:30 game. I think it's back to normal and Auburn wins by 21 or more.
The last four games in this series have been epic. Last second occasions featuring rekicked field goals, 5 missed field goals, a red zone stand at the buzzer, and the most successful bonehead clock management in history. After seemingly the last 50 games of this matchup in Auburn being daytime affairs, ESPN rolls in to town for night time kickoff. Things might get a little crazy. This game (and season) feels a lot like 2004. LSU had the defense and the uglies on offense to be good in their repeat MNC bid. However they didn't have the QB. Turns out the Auburn coaches might have been on to something when they quit recruiting Ryan Perriloux. I say Auburn moves the ball through the air and the Bayou Bengals get their ground game working. I'm thinking Auburn wins 27-24. I'll set the odds at 100% that I won't be able to drive back to Atlanta after the game.
Burnt Orange is better than Creamsicle. I expect UT to be one of those teams that is really good but for whatever reason doesn't throw up great results. I'm taking Auburn based on home field advantage and the three game streak in the Tigers' favor.
10/04 @ Vandy
Playing at Vandy and going to the spring scrimmage are very similar affairs. The attendance, the pressure, the ability to play 3rd stringers. So Vandy's best chance is to catch Auburn sleeping, which is certainly a possibility. However I don't think the Dores have the fire power to hold onto a half time lead. Tigers lead.
No Fred Talley, No Matt Jones, No Houston Nutt, No Kryptonite. Auburn wins this one with ease.
10/23 @ West Virginia
Can't wait to head up to Morgantown for this Thursday night showdown. This should be an absolute brawl. I don't think the Mountaineers will have quite as much consistent firepower as they've had in the past. But Noel Devine or Pat White are going to rip off a big play or two before the game is over. I would typically give the advantage to Auburn. But without using stats to back my theory up, I always take the road team when both schools have an off week heading into the game. Auburn wins the game and enters the media circus by at least reaching the top 4.
11/01 at Ole Miss
Yeah so, I think the Houston Nutt curse transfers to Ole Miss. Physical power running team that punches a speed based and undersized Auburn defense in the mouth. The tradition of Auburn losing with the national spotlight on them continues. Ole Miss wins by a field goal.
If you didn't know, Auburn used to be with Russell Athletic before switching to Under Armour. Well UT-Martin pulled the high school move and uses Auburn's old uniform design. So It's going to be a weird sight on the field at Jordan Hare. But as usual this is a game to see the players of the future. Auburn puts it out of reach in the first half.
Between Will Muschamp and Brandon Cox moving on, that's like Auburn automatically gaining about 35 points against the dawgs. Once again this season really reminds me of 2004. UGA entered the season gaining much of the press with David Greene and David Pollack entering their senior seasons. Auburn got some pub but was ranked a good bit lower in the polls for most of the season. Auburn then completed one of the most textbook wins I've ever watched. This year will be a repeat. Auburn recovers from their Ole Miss loss and tempts me with national title hopes that will somehow fall through.
11/29 Iron Bowl
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Arkansas is first up in our preview of all the SEC teams. They are going to be a little bit quicker this year and I'm going to do a little less research. But I'm pretty sure I'll be as deadly accurate as always. I'm kinda like a lazy version of Phil Steele. Accept I don't do exhaustive research and look at stats and my predictions are more accurate. You may remember that last year I correctly predicted the divisional winners and tabbed LSU to win it all. My one regret was missing out on the Kentucky bandwagon. On to the preview...
Somehow Houston Nutt left Arkansas, Bobby Petrino left the Falcons midseason to take the Razorback coaching job, McFadden and Felix Jones bolted early for the NFL. Coupled with 2007 offseason, it seems like Arkansas makes more news January through August than they do all season.
8/30 Western Illinois
The Leathernecks? That's kind of a cool mascot. Arkansas wins.
9/06 @ Lousiana Monroe
It'd be really embarrassing for an SEC team to lose to La-Monroe. How would you possibly explain that to your fans? Wait. What's that? Oh that's shameful. Sorry bama, I had forgotten. The Warhawks will have just played Auburn the week before and should be low on energy and optimism. Razorback continue to work on switching offenses and building up a young defense in their way to victory. This is listed as a road game. However it will be played in Little Rock. So it's not like when Miami played at Louisiana Tech.
9/13 @ Texas
I wouldn't predict Petrino pulling a Houston Nutt and sporting the upside down horns when this one is over. I predict pain. The Razorbacks are just woefully overmatched in this game. They would have had a much better shot in either of the last two years. Their only hope is Petrino pulling a Mark Richt on Will Muschamp's defense. Offensive masterminds seem to find ways to exploit man coverage. Unfortunately for Arkansas, Casey Dick is their quarterback. Horns over Hogs in this one.
Both teams will have had a major test with out of conference games. Though I don't expect either team to win those match ups. So this is the first chance to take a home an important victory. If Petrino can convince himself to play a ball control ground oriented game he has a serious shot. The bama defense definitely has it's weaknesses this year. It should be a low scoring game and basically the complete opposite of last year's 41-38 thriller. I'd say the winner maybe gets 17 points and I think bama is the team to do that.
I guess the bright side is that you get an off week heading into this game. The downside? Arkansas has zero chance in this game. Florida will run, pass, and in general rack up yards and points on the Arky defense. Bloodbath.
10/11 @ Auburn
Tough back to back games for the Razorbacks. The Petrino/Tuberville matchup will be draw the media's attention for the week. And for good reason, because that's actually a story line. The game itself will lack any drama. Auburn will win big.
10/18 @ Kentucky
This game will have a different feel from Petrino's previous visits to Lexington. He doesn't quite have the offensive firepower yet that he had with Louisville. And the Wildcats shouldn't be as hyped for this game. In fact either team should really be grappling for what could one of their only SEC wins for the year. This should be a painful game to watch. Just dreadful. I can't think of a compelling reason to watch. I'll give it to Kentucky because of home field advantage. Maybe they make a special teams play to give them the W.
10/25 Ole Miss
Did I mention that the media would focus on the Tuberville/Petrino matchup? Well it won't be anything compared to the state of Arkansas' reaction to Houston Nutt bringing the Rebels to Fayetteville. I guess Spurrier has shown no problems facing his alma mater and former coaching stop. I reckon Nutt will do the same though not because of his mental fortitude. Nutt gets to face his old recruits with Orgeron's recruits at his disposal. Advantage Ole Miss.
The Golden Hurricane make the short trip over to Fayetteville and the Razorbacks are thankful. Arkansas makes it close but pulls out the much needed victory.
@ South Carolina
Of the constant East vs. West battles, this matchup is constantly the least intriguing to me. Miss St. and Kentucky is a close second but at least their borders are somewhat close. If they both had fully stocked teams it'd be a blast to see Spurrier face off against Petrino. But the OBC has been on the job a bit longer and has more talent. The Cocks prevail over Casey Dick. I'm not above it.
@ Miss State
I'm getting tired of writing this preview, so I imagine Arkansas' players, coaches, and fans will already be focusing on the future instead of this dreadful season. I don't think Miss State will have quite the season they did last year but they should be able to pull out this victory at home.
I can't figure out why Arkansas keeps playing this matchup in Little Rock. It's essentially their biggest matchup every year and they waste with an off campus setting. They must be locked into some sort of contract. Anyways, LSU's QB could be a Dartmouth transfer and still win this game. I'm assuming that Harvard has a better football program than Dartmouth. Should I have said Wellesley?
Rough year for Arkansas.