Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
It's been one of the longest weeks that I can remember in the world of college football because of what has been going in in State College this week, and I don't know about you, but I could really use a day to just immerse myself in football games and nothing else at this point.
So, thankfully, we've got a pretty decent slate of games on tap this weekend, though the schedule does get a bit thin toward the end of the day.
Texas Tech vs. #2 Oklahoma State - ABC, 12pm ET
Texas Tech has already spoiled the party for Oklahoma this season, and now it will be looking to finish off another Oklahoma school with BCS championship dreams. Of course, considering the way that Texas Tech has looked the last two weeks since that Oklahoma win, a victory against Oklahoma State in this one might be even more of a shocker. - Tom Fornelli
#13 South Carolina vs. Florida - CBS, 12pm ET
Steve Spurrier facing the program built by Steve Spurrier is always a headline-maker, but the bigger story is whether the Gamecocks can stay afloat in the SEC East title race. As in command as Georgia appears to be, a Carolina win over the Gators paired with an Auburn win over the Dawgs would have the East crown clinched for the Gamecocks by the end of the day. Florida may have something to say about that, though, after their previously moribund offense came to life with 410 total yards and 26 points vs. Vandy. - Jerry Hinnen
Iowa vs. #17 Michigan State - ESPN2, 12pm ET
There are approximately three games left (barring disastrous upsets) that will decide the Big Ten Legends Division race. This is one of them. Iowa, even with three losses, still controls its own destiny in the race, and has been undefeated at home. Meanwhile, Michigan State is the putative leader of the division, and a win here puts the Spartans in great shape to make it to Indianapolis in December. MSU hasn't been able to run on anybody, and Iowa hasn't been able to stop anybody on the ground. Something's gotta give. - Adam Jacobi
#5 Boise State vs. TCU - Versus, 3:30pm ET
Here it is, Boise State's Mountain West Super Bowl. With no conference championship, and a soft finish to the regular season schedule, this is the Broncos last chance to make a statement against an opponent with any national recognition. The Horned Frogs aren't the power they have been the last two seasons, but they definitely present the most difficult challenge to Boise State in the conference. Bad news for TCU though, the defense that is giving up 200+ yards per game through the air has to face Kellen Moore on the Smurf Turf. I expect Moore and Co. to take the opportunity to make a statement to the nation, so get the scoreboard warmed up now. - Chip Patterson
#14 Kansas State vs. Texas A&M - ABC, 3:30pm ET
If last week was any indication, we were all a bit early in writing off Kansas State following it's loss to Oklahoma. The Wildcats nearly put an end to Oklahoma State's BCS hopes last weekend, and they will be looking to put another nail in the coffin of Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies have lost two in a row coming into this game, and lost running back Christine Michael for the season last week. Will the A&M offense be capable of making up for his absence? Also, will it even matter if Collin Klein has another amazing game for the Wildcats? - TF
#15 Georgia vs. #20 Auburn - CBS, 3:30pm ET
Can Mark Richt's team handle the pressure? Win this game, and the Bulldogs will be one home gimme over Kentucky from their first trip to the SEC Championship game since 2005--the sort of stakes under which Richt's team has repeatedly shriveled in those five preceding years. If Aaron Murray plays his game, the Dawg defense forces Clint Moseley to look like the sophomore making a third career start he is, and Isaiah Crowell can find a hole or two, Georgia should be home and dry. But if they don't? The Tigers showed against Carolina and Florida that they're perfectly happy dragging opposing pro-style offenses into a low-scoring slugfest where Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb dominate things ... and the Tigers win. - JH
Florida State vs. Miami - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET
The in-state rivalry enters a new chapter with both Miami and Florida State making coaching changes in the last two seasons. With EJ Manuel healthy again, the Seminoles are on a four-game winning streak averaging 38.5 points per game. They are likely out of the ACC Atlantic race, but there is still plenty to play for for these two Florida programs. Players from both locker rooms have made a point to mention this game meaning a little more, as you can feel the intensity returning to the rivalry. High profile recruits will be in the house, bragging rights will be on the line, and the Hurricanes are no doubt looking to get revenge after last season's embarrassing 45-17 loss at home. - CP
USC vs. Washington - FX, 3:45pm ET
Although USC can't play in a Pac-12 Championship game this season, it would still like to show the rest of the conference that it's the best team in the Pac-12 South this season, and if it continues to play like it has been the last few weeks, then Washington may be in for a long day. Of course, on the other side of the field is a Washington team that is improving but still doesn't have that signature win under Steve Sarkisian. Going to The Coliseum and handing USC a loss would be just that. - TF
Illinois vs. #24 Michigan - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET
The last two times these teams squared off, the final score was a 67-65 3OT masterpiece in Michigan's favor. We might not see 132 total points scored (or even 100; quelle horreur!), as both defenses have been miles ahead of last year. That said, both teams' exciting quarterbacks are back and putting up solid numbers, and each squad should be extremely motivated to snap a losing streak with a big victory. Folks, it's Denard vs. Scheelhaase; why wouldn't you watch this game? - AJ
Maryland vs. Notre Dame - NBC, 7:30pm ET
Do you ever think to yourself that you hate your eyes? Well, if so, then this will be the game for you. Maryland will be breaking out the infamous uniforms we saw in their season opener against Miami earlier this year, and they'll be combined with Notre Dame's Trapper Keeper helmets. By the time the third quarter begins you'll feel like you've been trapped inside a Jackson Pollock painting. - TF
Mississippi State vs. #3 Alabama - ESPN, 7:45pm ET
Oh, Bulldogs, you did not pick the right time to face Alabama. Not that it likely would have any difference--since back-to-back shockers over the Tide in 2006 and 2007, State has lost three straight to Nick Saban's team by a combined score of 93-20. But catching Alabama the week after the wicked sting of losing to LSU won't do much for their chances. Unless Chris Relf and Tyler Russell took some seriously ginormous strides during last week's clobbering of FCS UT-Martin, it's doubtful a Bulldog offense that's had its share of troubles this season will find many solutions against the angry Tide. - JH
#4 Stanford vs. #7 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET
The Game of the Century may have been in Tuscaloosa this past weekend but the Game of the Century, Western edition will take place Saturday in Palo Alto as Oregon puts their 18 game conference streak against Stanford's nation-leading 17 game winning streak. This was a close game last season before the Ducks pulled away late, something Andrew Luck and company are intent on correcting in order to come out of the game with a win and their national title hopes alive. - Bryan Fischer
LATE NIGHT SNACK
Washington State vs. Arizona State - Versus, 10:30pm ET
Both teams are looking to make a statement and pick up a win but more is on the line for Arizona State after losing control of the Pac-12 South after last week's loss to UCLA. The Cougars are improved but will have to deal with Vontaze Burfict on defense and an offense with plenty of weapons to contain. - BF
Tags: Aaron Murray, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Auburn, Big 12, Big Ten, Boise State, Chip Patterson, Chris Relf, Christine Michael, Clint Moseley, Collin Klein, Denard Robinson, E.J. Manuel, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Isaiah Crowell, Jackson Pollock, Jerry Hinnen, Kansas State, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, LSU, Mark Richt, Maryland, Miami, Michael Dyer, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Mountain West, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Onterrio McCalebb, Oregon, Pac-12, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Sarkisian, Steve Spurrier, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Russell, UCLA, USC, Vontaze Burfict, Washington, Washington State
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery finished the 2010 season as the nation's fifth-leading receiver with 1,517 yards. He was consistent, finishing with 85 or more yards in 11 of his team's 14 games. He was explosive, averaging more yards per-reception (17.2) than any other receiver in the FBS with more than 70 catches, and Jeffery had 88 of them.
2011 has just a bit different. Jeffery is currently outside the nation's top 100 receivers with 487 yards. He has been inconsistent, finishing with 35 or fewer yards in five of his team's nine games and not once cracking the 100-yard barrier. He has not been explosive, averaging just over 13.5 yards per reception.
Things have been particularly dire for Jeffery over the past three games. Jeffery looked to be ready for a second-half resurgence after Connor Shaw took over as the Gamecocks' quarterback vs. Kentucky on Oct. 8, catching 6 balls for 95 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats.
But the stretch since then has instead been the most ineffectual of Jeffery's career--vs. Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas Jeffery caught 11 passes for a total of 60 yards, or fewer yards than he had in all but two individual games last season. Not one of those 11 receptions covered so much as 10 yards. Jeffery's most productive game in that span -- 24 yards vs. MSU -- ranks as the ninth-most productive receiving game on his own team over those three games.
For a player of Jeffery's talents, this kind of lack of production is baffling at best and a seeming flat-out impossibility at worst. So it's no wonder he's expecting things to get better this week vs. Florida.
“He has not seen a lot of true bump-and-run, me-and-you,” Gamecock receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said Thursday. “He thinks he’s going to have an opportunity.”
For the Gamecocks' sake, he'd better. It's no coincidence that during Jeffery's three-game downturn from what had already been a season-long downturn, Carolina has averaged all of 16 offensive points per-game* and 271 total yards--or one yard less than what the 118th-ranked Memphis offense averages a contest.
Of course, there's plenty going wrong with the Carolina offense that's not Jeffery's fault. Shaw has been wobbly at best, indecisive and erratic at worst. With no Marcus Lattimore, the running game has had all the explosiveness of a box of matches left out in the rain. Aside from the occasional burst from Bruce Ellington, no complementary playmaker has emerged to keep opposing defenses from sending regular over-the-top help Jeffery's way. And after reyling so heavily on Lattimore the past season-and-a-half, Steve Spurrier seems to have lost something of his old playcalling ingenuity and spark.
But since Carolina can't solve all those problems at once, they'll have to start with solving the biggest one of them all: finding a way to get their best offensive player and only legitimate big-play threat the ball somehow. If not, the noon kickoff (on CBS!) means the Gators will have the Gamecocks SEC East hopes done and dusted before Georgia even takes the field.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 1:23 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's not No. 1 vs. No. 2. But with virtually nothing in the way of fanfare, Vanderbilt and Kentucky will become just as big a part of SEC history when they meet in Nashville this Saturday.
Why? Because thanks to the Commodores' James Franklin and the Wildcats' Joker Phillips, the game will mark the first-ever SEC matchup between two African-American head coaches.
Sylvester Croom famously became the league's first African-American head coach at Mississippi State in 2004, but resigned the position before any other minority hires were made in the conference--Phillips is the league's second, Franklin the third.
Speaking to SBNation's Steven Godfrey after practice Wednesday, Franklin said that with his team fighting for bowl eligibility, the historic nature of the game hasn't even occurred to him:
"Today is the first time I've heard or thought about it, honestly ... I hope we can get to the point real soon where it's not even a discussion point. But I also understand the signifigance of it, and I'm proud to be here with Vanderbilt, and proud that it's Joker. I've got a tremendous amount of respect for him. I've known him for a long time and I know who he is as a man."This is true, but the fact that this particular bit of history is being made in a Vanderbilt-Kentucky game is a sign that there's still a long way to go; it's simply not a coincidence that the SEC's three African-American coaches to date have gotten their shot at the three universally acknowledged least-desirable jobs in the league. Still only 8 of 66 BCS conference head coaching positions (12 percent) are held by African-Americans.
But as Franklin points out, that it's taken until Thursday for anyone to notice that this substantial a milestone is being passed is a good indication that progress is being made. Given where the SEC was not so long ago, we think the league will take it.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
With one conference game left on the schedule, Saturday's home game against division rival Florida is a must-win to keep South Carolina's SEC Championship Game hopes alive. The Gamecocks fell a game behind division-leading Georgia in the standings after their loss to Arkansas. The game not only set them back in their quest for a second-straight SEC East crown, but also jeopardized the playing status of starting quarterback Connor Shaw. The good news out of Columbia this week was that Shaw (concussion) is expected to play against the Gators.
"We think Connor's going to be all right by the middle of the week," head coach Steve Spurrier told the media. "Clint Haggard, our trainer, gave him the test to see how he was doing; and he's been doing very well."
Florida's defense is among the best in the nation, and with the return of starting quarterback John Brantley the Gators were able to end a four-game losing streak against Vanderbilt. They are also expected to have both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey healthy for the contest, meaning the Gamecocks should expect more offensive production from the opposing offense. Because of the injuries and dismissal of Stephen Garcia, the quarterback position is not especially deep for Ol' Ball Coach. Shaw's backup is redshirt freshman Dylan Thompson, who has only thrown two passes all season.
If South Carolina defeats Florida and Georgia loses in their contest to Auburn on Saturday, the Gamecocks will win the SEC East and return to the SEC Championship Game for the second year in a row. If the Gamecocks lose to Florida in the conference finale, they will need Georgia to lose their final two conference games to win the East. Otherwise the Bulldogs will make the short trip to Atlanta to face the winner of the SEC West.
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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:40 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
AUBURN WILL WIN IF: Clint Moseley's performance against Ole Miss wasn't a mirage. Against the Rebels the redshirt sophomore hit 12-of-15 for better than 10 yards an attempt, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. It looked like a breakout game for a player still making just his second-ever start, but after watching the Rebels give up 30 points to Kentucky's dead-offense-walking, it's fair to ask if Moseley's numbers weren't a product of Moseley as much as an Ole Miss defense that's throwing in the towel. We'll find out for certain against Georgia: the Dawgs are sixth in the country in opposing QB rating and have held their six SEC opponents to a collective 44 percent completion rate and a 4-to-9 TD-to-INT ratio. If Moseley can hold his own on the road against that kind of secondary, Auburn will have found themselves a quarterback--and the same running game that took adavantage of his precision to roll up 254 yards vs. the Rebels could find space to dominate again.
GEORGIA WILL WIN IF: Aaron Murray plays like Aaron Murray. No one's going to confuse the 2011 Auburn defense for the '85 Bears, but against teams without a legitimate threat at quarterback, the Tigers have done just fine: 13 points allowed to South Carolina in a win, 6 to Florida in a win, 17 to Ole Miss before a meaningless TD on the game's final play. If Murray plays like the erratic quarterback who missed 9 straight passes against Florida two weeks ago, the Tigers have shown they'll be just fine concentrating on Isaiah Crowell and turning the game into another low-scoring slugfest like the ones they won vs. Carolina and the Gators ... and that was back when Barrett Trotter was flailing wildly as the Tiger QB.
Despite Moseley's ascension, a solid game from Murray would still likely leave Auburn unable to keep pace offensively, especially on the road. But after Murray's Florida performance, it's not a given.
THE X-FACTOR: Auburn freshman kick returner Tre Mason started the season like gangbusters, housing one against Utah State and looking poised to break another any minute through the first quarter of the Tigers' season. He's since cooled off (thanks in part to a nagging injury) but still ranks among the nation's top 25 per-return. The Dawgs, meanwhile, have often been atrocious in kick coverage this year -- Mark Richt openly campaigned for starters to volunteer for coverage duty recently, with several responding -- and have up a kickoff score to Auburn's Demond Washington last time the teams played in Athens. A similar big play from Mason (or Dawg returner Brandon Boykin the other way) might decisively tilt what shapes up as a tight contest.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 11:11 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 12:39 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
UPDATE: From CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman
Expect to hear that former Ole Miss great Archie Manning and FedEX VP Mike Glenn to be announced as heading the Ole Miss search committee to replace Houston Nutt. Rebel AD Pete Boone will step down, which may get categorized as him "retiring" and have no real role in the school's coaching search, a source at Ole Miss told CBS Monday morning.
It's a move that most people have been expecting to happen, but Ole Miss' 30-13 loss to Kentucky on Saturday appears to have been the final nail in Houston Nutt's coffin. According to reports, Nutt has been informed by the school that this will be his final season at Ole Miss.
Nutt came to Ole Miss in 2008 after serving as head coach at SEC West rival Arkansas from 1998 to 2007. Nutt's tenure at Ole Miss started with a lot of promise, as his Rebels went 9-4 in each of his first two seasons and won consecutive Cotton Bowls. Since then, however, things haven't been nearly as encouraging.
Nutt's team followed those Cotton Bowl wins with a 4-8 record in 2010, including a 1-7 mark in SEC play. So far in 2011 the Rebels are 2-7 and 0-6 in conference play, including a school record 12 consecutive conference losses. His team's only wins on the season have come against Southern Illinois and Fresno State.
Nutt's record at Ole Miss is currently 24-23, but it's the 10-20 mark in the SEC that has ultimately led to this.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:45 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
But the stakes were so high for their win over Alabama, the rewards so lavish, that there's no real need to split those kind of hairs. LSU will now be the unquestioned, unanimous No. 1 team in the nation in every available poll, BCS standings included; they are only two games away from clinching the SEC West championship, one of which is against a team that's lost 12 straight SEC games and the other at home against a team whose last two road trips ended in death-defying escapes from that same 12-game losing streak team and Vanderbilt; they are three SEC games, then, from playing for the national championship in their own home state, at the same site where they won it in 2003 and 2007. And they accomplished all of that by defeating what might be their bitterest rival's best team in 20 years in that rival's own stadium and forced their forme head coach under the .500 mark against their current head coach. It's 100 percent possible LSU just cleared the highest hurdle between themselves and the national championship and did so in the sweetest possible fashion.
Not bad for 60-plus minutes of work.
LOSER: "Make his ass quit."
But in recent big games, the Tide have been strangely unable to force anyone on the other side to "quit"--and in fact, have come closer to doing it themselves. There was the fourth-quarter failures against LSU in Baton Rouge last season. Then the fall from 24 points ahead against Auburn. And tonight, there was this in the second half: five first downs, 104 yards, two turnovers and three three-and-outs, the last of which was the disastrous overtime possession which covered minus-10 yards. LSU did next-to-nothing on offense in regulation too, of course, but in overtime their Jordan Jefferson/Michael Ford speed option still worked as well as it ever did.
Result: another championship-level game in which it was the other team outplaying the Tide over the final 30 minutes-plus and walking off the winners. It's not conditioning (we have little doubt every team at this level is as fit as they're going to be), but those second-half woes are something Saban's going to have to figure out all the same if he wants his teams hoisting trophies again.
WINNER: the Baton Rouge ticket market.
The stipulation was always that the best scenario for a rematch was for Alabama to win a narrow, competitive game over the Tigers that left voters wondering what would happen on a neutral field. We got the "narrow, competitive game" part, but voters won't need to see LSU on a neutral field ... since they've already beaten the Tide on Bryant-Denny Stadium's highly hostile field. Beyond that, while the first half featured plenty of smart offensive football countered only by outstanding defense, the second more often seemed like a sloppy, grind-it-out affair with neither team taking much in the way of offensive risks or producing anything resembling attacking "flair." Aesthetic value shouldn't play a part when deciding who gets to play for a national title, but voters are human all the same--and they may not be thrilled by the prospect of a second touchdown-less meeting.
WINNER: Joker Phillips.
There were more than a few people who saw Kentucky's opening-week slog against Western Kentucky, their wipeout against Florida, the epic pratfall at South Carolina, and pegged them for an 0-8 season in the SEC. Even as recently as last week, a dispiriting double-digit home loss to Mississippi State didn't suggest a corner was about to be turned.
But Phillips kept his team believing, and Saturday they comprehensively outplayed an Ole Miss team that -- at the very least -- has more offensive playmakers and comparable defensive talent. No one, Phillips included, would claim he's done a great coaching job this season, but likewise no one would argue he and his staff didn't badly outprepare the staff on the opposite sideline.
LOSER: Pete Boone.
Whether he chooses between them now or at the end of what will likely be an 0-8 SEC campaign, the Ole Miss athletic director has two choices ahead of him after today's Rebel loss in Lexington: he can either stand behind Houston Nutt and make his own less-than-popular hold on the AD's chair that much less popular, or he can swallow Nutt's gigantic contractual bullet and go in search of a new coach even as he also fundraises for a new basketball facility and other capital improvements. Before today, Boone could entertain the possibility that a big finish by Nutt would allow him to put the ax away for at least one more year and still save face. Not any more--Nutt will enter 2012 as a virtual lame duck, or employed somewhere else, and there's nothing else Boone can realistically hope for any longer.
WINNER: Jeff Demps.
For weeks, Demps has been nagged by various injuries. And not coincidentally -- though God knows the Gators' issues weren't that simple -- for weeks the Gators' ground game has all the effectiveness of the proverbial submarine's screen door. Against Vanderbilt, Demps finally looked like his old self, and not just on the juke-the-first-tackler-out-of-his-j
LOSERS: Mark Richt's circadian rhythms.
That's not to say, of course, that Richt wouldn't take having his team control its own destiny in a heartbeat over the alternative. But we're guessing there's a few more exhausted stares at the digital clock at 2:47 a.m. this week, too, now that Richt knows the fallout from a loss will be greater than ever.
Tags: Aaron Murray, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Dennis Johnson, Florida, Georgia, Houston Nutt, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Jefferson, Kentucky, LSU, Mark Richt, Michael Ford, Mike Gillislee, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, SEC, SEC Winners and Losers, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky
Posted on: November 6, 2011 1:24 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
WHY ARKANSAS WON: Because eventually, even with the help it got from Taylor and special teams, the Gamecock offense just wasn't built to keep pace with Arkansas's. Connor Shaw had led Carolina to 28 points total in his team's two previous games--getting them to 28 in this one game alone was a huge step forward, and a nod is due even if the Gamecocks somehow got there on only those barely-more-than-200 yards.
Arkansas, meanwhile, twice settled for field goals after driving inside the Gamecock 15, were stopped on 4th-and-goal at the 2, and had two other drives end in a missed field goal. And they'd still scored 37 points when Shaw stepped back to pass inside his own 10 late in the fourth -- no time any more for trying to grind out drives -- and was buried by Hog defensive end Jake Bequette. Shaw fumbled, the Hogs recovered, ballgame.
WHEN ARKANSAS WON: when Bequette made that sack. But we suppose getting Broderick Green into the end zone two plays later (pushing the lead to 16 points with only 4:07 to play), as opposed to a second goalline stuff, made it official.
WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Combined with Alabama's loss, a ticket directly back into the SEC west race. If the Hogs win out -- a tall task, since that would include taking down LSU in Baton Rouge -- they would force a three-way tie atop the division that would be broken by the BCS standings. It's a long shot, but it's a shot nonetheless.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA LOST: their grip on the SEC East. The Gamecocks now slip a game behind Georgia in the loss column, and will need beat Florida at home next week and have the Dawgs to lose to either Auburn or Kentucky to make it back to Atlanta. Their shot is probably better than the Hogs', truthfully, but it probably doesn't feel that way with their destiny controlled by someone else.