Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 1:09 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
LSU WILL WIN IF: any of the following do not happen: 1. Les Miles decides to drive the team bus to the stadium himself, takes a wrong turn or three, and several hours later decides that since they're already at Rock City, they might as well stop and see it 2. a bizarre eleventh-hour ruling from a local Oxford judge results in Gatorade becoming a banned substance within city limits, and the unknowing Tigers are arrested upon their arrival at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on charges of "synthetic water" possession 3. Jordan Jefferson throws a series of interceptions, Brad Wing has an off-game, and Randall Mackey hits just enough big plays that LSU's usual domination of field position is negated--and without it, a Rebel defense that's given up 98 points their past three games to Auburn, Kentucky and Louisiana Tech gets just enough stops to squeak out a win in front of an energized home crowd.
Of these three scenarios, we find the third one least likely.
OLE MISS WILL WIN IF: inspired by their head coach, LSU's 30 to 35 best players decide to hold a team-building exercise in which they travel en masse to an area "park" and sample the local "grass." Unfortunately, the "park" is a farm's heavily-pesticided soybean field and the "grass" soybean leaves coated with enough chemicals to leave the entire group in the hospital for the weekend. Or if a spaceship landed on the field just before kickoff, declaring via loudspeaker it had come to return Houston Nutt to his home planet, and--
Fine, we'll be serious for a moment. If Mackey takes care of the ball and hits a few throws downfield to loosen up a hole here or there for the ground game, if Jefferson and Lee are way off their games, if Nutt pulls the final remaining trick plays out of his bag and they all work, if the Rebel defensive line plays out of its mind and forces enough three-and-outs to avoid field position devastation ... yes, Ole Miss could hang around. And maybe, just maybe, in the sense that if a million monkeys banged out a million scripts for this game one would eventually type the words "OLE MISS WINS," this game could wind up following that millionth script. But we wouldn't bet on it.
THE X-FACTOR: If a game is played at Ole Miss and the mascot doesn't watch it because he's got a box on his head, did it even happen?
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
How ugly has it gotten down in Oxford? Ole Miss's 27-7 home loss to Louisiana Tech tells most of the story, but what's left over is aptly told by this second-half photo of the famous Rebel Black Bear:
That's right: it's ugly enough that even a mascot who could use all the public support he can get admitted he couldn't watch the Rebels anymore.
For another shot of "Rebel"'s version of the old bag-over-the-head-routine, check out this story from the Daily Mississippian, in which Ole Miss official Michael Thompson sounds only semi-amused by the R.B.B.'s antics:
But that's the thing: if you are an Ole Miss superfan, at this stage of the season it's far, far easier to turn away from the Rebels' 2011 train wreck than it is to keep watching. We at Eye on CFB applaud Rebel for telling it like it is.
HT: Red Cup Rebellion
Posted on: November 13, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 5:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Wait, whaddya mean, "not officially"? The only thing standing between Georgia and their trip to Atlanta is a home game against Kentucky, the same team that spent its Saturday getting drilled 38-8 by Vanderbilt. It's more likely some sort of bizarre last-minute eligibility scandal -- Bacarri Rambo busted for selling prime Sanford Stadium hedge clippings, or something -- keeps the Dawgs from the East crown than the Wildcats do. Arrange the days off, book the hotels, scalp the tickets--for the first time since 2005, Georgia's going to play for the SEC title.
LOSER: The ghost of Willie Martinez. So why have the Dawgs made the leap? The friendliest possible league schedule has had a lot to do with it -- if Georgia goes to Arkansas and it's South Carolina who gets to visit Ole Miss, the Gamecocks are booking their tickets today -- but it's also true that as much hand-wringing as there's been over the Dawgs' struggles since 2005 at quarterback, the offensive line, running back, play-calling, etc, their biggest problem has always been on the defensive side of the ball. And in his second season after replacing the exiled, despised Willie Martinez as Georgia's defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham has those problems nearly solved. His unit ranks in the national top 10 in rush defense, pass defense, and total defense, and showed why vs. Auburn. Clint Moseley got no time to throw, Michael Dyer found precious little room to run, Rambo made the biggest play of the game with a pick-six, and the bottom line was that a Tiger offense that had scored 41 points two weeks earlier got none after their opening drive.
After that performance, it's safe to declare the specter of Mr. Martinez's failures fully exorcised.
WINNER: Hangovers. You play the Game of the Century one week, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise you don't quite play with your hair on fire the next. So even though they're LSU and Alabama, LSU and Alabama still took their leisurely time putting away outmatched opponents in Western Kentucky and Mississippi State, respectively. (The Hilltoppers a little more outmatched than the Bulldogs, obviously.) No one's immune to the week-after effect, apparently.
LOSER: The Rematch Resistance. Hangovers or no hangovers, though, LSU-Alabama II: Rematch of the Century took a big step closer to reality Saturday with both Stanford and Boise State falling from the ranks of the unbeaten. With Oregon unlikely to be any more palatable a rematch opponent for the Tigers than the Tide is, the only hurdle for Alabama to clear appears to be whichever team wins Bedlam: Oklahoma State would be undefeated and home-free, of course, but Oklahoma might also stake a claim with plenty of computer power and the voters' aversion to a sequel. But with that Texas Tech loss looking less and less explicable by the day, the educated guess here is that a Sooner win would send the Tide on for a second crack at the Tigers.
WINNER: Joe Adams. Because seriously:
LOSERS: Ole Miss supporters. Facing a substantially less-talented Louisiana Tech squad at home Saturday, the Rebels had a terrific opportunity to 1. rally for their fired head coach Houston Nutt 2. snap their six-game losing streak 3. show some kind of pride in their program and themselves regardless of the off-field distractions and coaching turnover. Instead they lost to the visitors from Ruston by three full touchdowns in what has to go down as the worst, most embarrassing nonconference loss for an SEC team this season. The Rebels still have two games to play this season -- at home to LSU and at Mississippi State -- and we don't envy anyone from Oxford compelled to watch either one.
WINNER: Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks won't be going back to Atlanta. They won't make any kind of dent in the national title race. They won't go down in history as some great team gone unrewarded, not having now won three SEC games in which they scored 17 points or fewer and having been the only SEC team to host Auburn and not blow the Tigers out of the water. Marcus Lattimore won't win the Heisman, Alshon Jeffery won't be named All-American or even All-SEC (today's tally: 2 receptions, 17 yards), and the less said about Stephen Garcia the better.
So on many, many levels, this 2011 season is a disappointment ... and on the other, even for all of those struggles, the Gamecocks have just won 6 SEC games for the first time ever. As Spurrier noted, they've gone 6-0 the past two seasons vs. their main East rivals at Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. And in players like Jadeveon Clowney, Brandon Wilds and tackle Cody Gibson, there's still plenty of young talent to groom. The specific goal was to win another East title, and Spurrier failed at that. But maybe the larger, more important goal was to prove that 2010 wasn't a fluke -- that the old annual November swoon, perpetual also-ran Gamecocks were gone for good -- and on that count Spurrier has succeeded, without question. If he wasn't already the best coach in the Gamecocks' history, this 2011 season means he is now.
LOSER: Derek Dooley. Any talk of removing the second-year head man at Tennessee is wildly premature; if Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter are still healthy, who knows what the Vols' record is? And Dooley of course had nothing to do with a schedule that handed his team LSU, Arkansas, and Alabama out of the west. But it's one thing to lose a lot of games -- even SEC games, even six such games in a row -- and another to look as hopeless as the Vols did in their drubbing at Arkansas. Dooley's already been more good than outstanding on the recruiting trail, and if he loses next week to James Franklin and Vandy, the knives are going to really come out among the Vol faithful ... and that recruiting job is only going to get harder.
(Gene Chizik isn't in the same boat, but he deserves a mention here all the same. The 4-3 SEC record isn't bad, but in the non-Ole Miss portion of the schedule, those three wins have come by a total of 21 points and the three losses by 97. With a defense that Chizik has a major hand in the main culprit, those blowouts suggest last year's national champion has a lot of work to do between now and 2012.)
Tags: Aaron Murray, Alabama, Alshon Jeffery, Arkansas, Auburn, Bacarri Rambo, Boise State, Brandon Wilds, Clint Moseley, Cody Gibson, Derek Dooley, Florida, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston Nutt, Jadeveon Clowney, James Franklin, James Franklin the Vanderbilt coach not the Missouri quarterback, Jerry Hinnen, Joe Adams, Justin Worley, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, SEC, SEC Winners and Losers, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Todd Grantham. Michael Dyer, Tyler Bray, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Willie Martinez, Winners and Losers
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:36 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
WHY ALABAMA WON: As good as Richardson and Lacy were, this win wasn't much about the Tide offense; by going an even-quieter-than-the-numbers-sugge
Which they did, of course. The numbers tell most of the tale -- those 131 total yards for the Bulldogs, the 12 rushing yards given up on 29 carries, the 4 yards allowed per Mississippi State passing attempt -- but they don't quite explain how well the Tide stiffened the few times the offense put them in a bad position ... for instance, when McCarron's inexplicable second-quarter interception set MSU up at the Tide 4. First down: blanketed receiver, incomplete. Second: Vick Ballard rush, loss of 3. Third: under-pressure incompletion. And then, just to make the Tide defense feel really good about itself, the missed chip shot field goal on fourth. Spread that kind of domination out over four quarters, and it seems somewhat strange State even got on the board.
WHEN ALABAMA WON: The Tide took over on their own 27 up 17-7 in the fourth quarter with 6:26 remaining, and we suppose weirder things have happened than teams -- even great teams like Alabama -- losing in that situation. Nothing weirder has ever happened, though, than a hypothetical State win once the Tide plowed downfield for an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive -- every inch of it coming on the ground via Richardson and Lacy -- that took up all but the final 78 seconds.
WHAT ALABAMA WON: Nothing where the SEC West is concerned, but thanks to Oregon (and TCU, to a lesser extent), the Tide finished the day in better shape for a second shot at LSU than ever. Ugly win in Starkville or not, they'll take it.
WHAT MISSISSIPPI STATE LOST: a shot at bowl eligibility, technically speaking, and we're not sure the Bulldogs are going to get it at Arkansas next week, either. But with Ole Miss coming in two weeks and apparently having given up on the season for good, a competitive loss to a potential national champion isn't the worst thing in the world.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 4:31 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has made it clear he is ready to get back into coaching. His name was mentioned frequently as a possible replacement at Maryland and Miami last season, and he has already been identified as a possible target for FAU, Tulane, and Arizona. With Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt's eventual dismissal at season's end now evident, some are wondering if Leach could end up in the SEC.
As our own Tom Fornelli wrote on Tuesday, Leach has expressed interest in the Ole Miss job to The Commercial Appeal. He spoke highly of the position, and reminded everyone that "I'm not too hard to find" if the search committee were interested in Leach. Mississippi has struggled to hang with an SEC West division that has grown stronger over the last half-decade, and the former Red Raiders coach might be just different enough from his colleagues to make the Rebels stand out among their peers.
SEC football writer Ron Higgins weighed in on the Ole Miss job opening with Tim Brando on Wednesday, including his opinion on Mike Leach's fit in Oxford.
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Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 3:43 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
TENNESSEE WILL WIN IF: Tyler Bray finds the broken thumb miracle cure between now and Saturday. The Vols' sophomore starter hasn't played since his team's loss to Georgia Oct. 8, and though he got his hard cast off this week, it doesn't sound like he's going to be nearly ready to play against the Hogs. But the Vols might not have a prayer without him: in the three SEC games Bray has missed, backups Matt Simms and Justin Worley have combined to complete 39.5 percent of their passes and post a 0-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio. Yes, those three SEC games came against teams with far better defenses than Arkansas's -- LSU's, Alabama's, and South Carolina's, in fact -- but two of them also came at home. It's also not like the Vols' 118th-ranked rushing game (fresh off averaging all of 2.67 yards per-carry vs. Middle Tennessee State) is going to be much help. Unless Bray can find a witch doctor or mad scientist or special magnetic wristband that fixes his thumb in time, it's awfully hard -- and just about impossible -- to see the Vols winning this game.
ARKANSAS WILL WIN IF: they can just avoid catastrophic mistakes. Maybe easier said than done, of course, if you saw Tyler Wilson do this vs. Carolina last Saturday:
Wilson isn't the only Hog to have turnover issues of late: Dennis Johnson's fumbles helped keep both Vanderbilt and Ole Miss in those respective games. If Wilson, Johnson or any other butter-fingered Hog set the Vols up with short fields or throw away scoring opportunities, the Vols have shown -- in their 6-6 halftime tie with Alabama -- that they can hang around with better teams, even on the road.
Hang around long enough to win it? Probably not, but where turnovers are involved, never say never. Wilson and Co. have to make sure they aren't.
THE X-FACTOR: Jake Bequette. The Razorbacks' preseason All-SEC defensive end had suffered an injury-plagued and disappointing season until last Saturday, when he roared to life with three sacks of Connor Shaw and the game-clinching forced fumble. If Bequette terrorizes poor Worley or Simms the way he terrorized Shaw, the Vols really, really have no hope.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 3:17 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
In his post on Houston Nutt's firing at Ole Miss on Monday, our own Jerry Hinnen said that Mike Leach will "be along any minute to mention how much he'd love a shot at coaching in the SEC." Well, that minute is now.
On Tuesday Mike Leach told The Commercial Appeal that if Ole Miss is interested in hiring him to replace Nutt, he isn't hard to find.
“I haven’t heard from anybody, but I’m not too hard to find,” Leach told the paper. “It’s a great job. I’m sure the (Ole Miss) administration has a certain individual it is looking for, and I’m sure they’ll find the right guy.”
As for whether or not Leach will be a target or get the job, nobody knows.
The fact of the matter is that anytime an opening is created at a program these days, Leach's name is mentioned as a replacement. Just recently he was mentioned as a candidate at Tulane, his name has come up in rumors about Arizona, and he was mentioned at places like Miami and Maryland last season as well.
He's yet to be hired anywhere, and as long as he has his current lawsuit against his former employer Texas Tech, the odds are he won't be on the sidelines anywhere. Which is a shame. Leach is one of my favorite coaches in the sport, along with one of the best, and this sport is just better off when he's a part of it.
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.