Big Games in SEC and Big XII
So amidst the stir I more or less caused with last week's Alabama hate post and the Big Orange Roundtable collaboration and farks, I never got around to previewing the weekend's slate of games. For that I apologize now. I also apologize for more or less going M.I.A. since then.
I actually got to go to the Colts-Titans matchup this past Monday night, quite an atmosphere it was. However, having class the next morning made getting back at 3 a.m. have some unfortunate lasting effects.
It's beginning to look like the BCS is going to have quite the mess on its hands at the end of this year. Texas is undefeated and running through their current gauntlet in the Big XII. If they get by Texas Tech Saturday night, the only real challenge might be the trip to Kansas. Penn State goes undefeated, barring a loss in a tricky trip to Iowa in a couple of weeks. USC is still in the mix.
Alabama's still unbeaten, and looks to have the SEC West all but wrapped up. Also, their "tough" games - at LSU and Auburn at home - don't look so tough anymore. Florida and Georgia both look to be rolling into their showdown in J'ville this weekend.
Utah and Boise State are still lurking, and let's not forget about Tulsa sneaking up into the Top 20.
As we enter the month's last season, all I'll say is that it's going to be real fun watching all this unfold. There's going to be some great games, and there's bound to be some upsets and some things no one will have seen coming. So it begins...
Auburn at Ole Miss (12:30, RayCom): Auburn fans, we feel your pain. We know how you feel. While Tennessee's closing schedule is manageable, it's just now getting difficult for Auburn. The Tigers close after this road trip with Tennessee-Martin, Georgia, and a trip to Alabama. Not getting to 6-6 for a bowl game is a very likely possibility.
Ole Miss bounced back from the Bama loss by surviving Arkansas. Now they have a chance to all but wrap up a bowl game, and second place in the SEC West - a big step from 0-8 - is within reach, believe it or not. With Auburn reeling, it makes pretty good sense to think Ole Miss will win.
Tulsa at Arkansas (2:00, ESPN GamePlan): Speaking of the Golden Hurricane, this is the toughest game of their season. A win here and they might as well book an undefeated season. The Hogs struggled with Western Illinois and UL Monroe, and their defense has been bad at times. Tulsa's quirky offense is going to give them trouble, despite Arkansas having the advantage in athletes.The other storyline here is Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's return to Arkansas, in a game definitely worth keeping your eye on.
Kentucky at Mississippi State (2:30, ESPN GamePlan): Ouch. Kentucky, like Vanderbilt, has somewhat returned to their awful ways. After stealing a W from Arkansas, the Cats were smashed by Florida. How will they respond with a bowl bid potentially on the line in Starkville?
Despite winning last week over MTSU, this is State's last chance to even think about a bowl bid. They can more or less guarantee getting out the cellar with a win here - remember they already knocked off Vandy, and host Arkansas in a couple weeks. Both these offenses are horrific, so it might be the first to 14 wins. I'll take Mississippi State at home.
Arkansas State at Alabama (3:00, ESPN GamePlan): Another November Sun Belt opponent at home for Alabama. Arkansas State already won at Texas A&M to open the season. Just throwin' that out there...
Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville (3:30, CBS): So many storylines here. Florida scored 63 points last week and look to be rolling. Georgia hung 52 in Baton Rouge last week. There's the whole endzone celebration that everybody's downplaying. Athletes everywhere. The SEC East on the line. Staying in the national title chase on the line. SEC football at its best.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="We all remember this little deal...especially the Gators..."][/caption]
I hate to see either of these teams - and Bammer too - play for championships while Tennessee wallows in its awfulness. But I would be a total moron to not watch this game. TOTAL. MORON. The safe pick is Florida. Why? Well, for one they have Tebow of Nazareth. Two, they own Georgia. Three, they remember last year. I thought Florida would win the East at the beginning of the year, and I don't see how the Dawgs can keep that from happening.
Tennessee at South Carolina (7:00, ESPN2): Six points against Florida. 14 at Georgia. Nine against Alabama. Tennessee's offense is really bad. OK, enough with stating the obvious. It's actually South Carolina that has the top defense statistically in the SEC. I have no idea how Tennessee will move the ball and how the Vols will score. Not a clue.
I'm seeing the same ol' same ol' from Tennessee. The defense forces some mistakes from Stephen Garcia, keeps the score close for a while, but then just gets worn down. The frustration continues. I would say last weekend was THE bottom (here's why I think so), but now - down to basically one healthy DT - the team's gotta go play a road game. I was gonna go, but not anymore. I'll watch, and be prepared for more frustration.
Tulane at LSU (8:00, ESPN GamePlan): Speaking of reeling, what's up with LSU? Florida scored 51. Georgia scored 52 - at LSU. The defensive losses eventually became too much to overcome, and now LSU looks like they won't repeat anything. Tulane hung with Alabama earlier this year in Tuscaloosa, and who knows how LSU comes out after two beatdowns. Just sayin'...
The Weekly Duke Update:Go Duke! The Devils have a winning record in November. In football. After beating Vanderbilt in Nashville last week, David Cutcliffe's Blue Devils sit at 4-3 entering the toughest part of the schedule. Duke plays at Wake Forest Saturday. The host NC State and North Carolina and play at Clemson and Virginia Tech down the stretch. I don't know if there's two wins, but even four wins at Duke is quite the accomplishment.
I know we Vol fans learned how important Coach Cut was to Tennessee, but I for one don't want to see him come back if/when Fulmer's done. First, I want a younger up-and-comer. Two, Cut is building something here people.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Duke is 4-3 after beating Vanderbilt, Tennessee is 3-5...go figure..."][/caption]
Elsewhere in the wide-open, who-knows-who's-actually-good-enough-to-win-the-thing ACC, Florida State plays surprising Georgia Tech in Atlanta. After sucking in September, Al Groh has Virginia of all teams at 3-1 in the ACC after beating Tech last week in Atlanta. UVA hosts Miami Saturday.
The JV League/Big East is garbage and no one cares who wins it. The Big Ten is pretty much Penn State's, but somehow, someway, Minnesota is 7-1 hosting Northwestern Saturday. The Gophers - ranked in the top 20 now - have beaten exactly zero good teams, and avoid Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan State . Honestly, they could go 11-1 and, if Penn State ends up playing for it all, could sneak into the Rose Bowl a la Illinois last year, where they would likely get trounced by somebody. Feel-good story? Nope, something else that needs to be fixed.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="125" caption="Can Texas stop Graham Harrell and/or Michael Crabtree?"][/caption]
Much like the Big Ten, the Pac 10 is all USC, who hosts winless Washington Saturday. That said, Oregon State still actually leads the league, tied with the USC team they smacked at 3-1. More technically, Oregon leads the league at 4-1. However, they play at 3-1 Cal Saturday afternoon, so an elimination game there that zero of us over here in the South (a) care about and (b) will get on ABC at 3:30.
That leaves the New Pac 10, aka the Big XII. Last week's Okie State-Texas game was 28-24, which is like a game in the 50s in hoops (which has now started, yes!!). Oklahoma scored 51 points - in the first half - at Kansas State. Forgotten Missouri beat Colorado 58-0. Texas Tech hung 63 on Kansas in Lawrence. Are the defenses this bad? Are the offenses this good? Guess we'll find out when one of these teams is playing in the title game...
Speaking of that title game, Texas has a trip to Lubbock Saturday night basically between them and a Missouri rematch/unbeaten season (no, I don't think Kansas gets them). How does my new coach choice Will Muschamp plan to stop Mike Leach and Graham Harrell. Michael Crabtree would be an NFL receiver - now. This should be a great game to watch, with obviously tons of offense. Still, it's Texas Tech. When have they won these types of games? I like Texas in this game.
Images Courtesy of: Memphis Commercial Appeal • Mark Humphrey / AP (Daylife) • Matt Slocum / AP (Daylife)
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