Sunday, November 29, 2009

What we learned from Week 13

1. It's hard to imagine one conference having a worse weekend than the ACC. Underdogs Georgia and South Carolina physically maul Tech and Clemson; Florida State looks inept . . . again; and even up and coming North Carolina coughs one up against a mediocre rival. Gee, whaddya say we all go down to Tampa to see if we can score some championship game tickets!

2. Hmmm, I wonder what the Zapruder wannabes from LSU are saying now? Three weeks ago, they stitched together a veritable film festival of the supposed missed calls against Alabama. Saturday night, they made it to OT largely on a glaringly blown stop-the-clock call on their last drive. A win's a win, you say? Except, Corndog doubts about coach Les Miles and the direction of the program were hardly lessened by LSU's performance against Arkansas. As the game turned in the Hogs' favor, ESPN's audience was treated to one lingering crowd shot after another in which Tiger fans were holding their heads and muttering what the bleep!

3. Being the students of history that they are, Ole Miss fans should not be surprised by their team's showing against MSU. Classic Houston Nutt. Score a big (albeit lucky) win against LSU, then get stripped naked in the second half at Starkville. Scary insight: Mullen's quickly improving team will leave an SEC West next season with absolutely no weak links -- except Nutt and that guy in the undersized hat to his southwest.

4. Big win for UT. Lane Kiffin's first season, for all its goofiness, has been a solid success. And who couldn't like what they've seen so far from Gene Chizik.

5. Early Gordo line on the championship game. If Florida plays pitch and catch like it did yesterday against FSU (and like it did in the 2008 championship) no one can beat them, not even Alabama, with the biggest and fastest defense the Gators will face this year. Tim Tebow is not unbeatable, but he's the best college football player in several generations largely because of what he does in the biggest of moments. Gators by 8.

-- Michael Gordon

I don't put on my homer hat very often -- being an MSU grad, there's not been much reason to through the years -- but I'm liking coach Dan Mullen's style, especially when it comes to Ole Miss. Among the things I read after State's 41-27 win over the Rebels:

* Mullen's been jabbing Ole Miss ever since he took the job, never calling them by name but instead referring to them as "the school up north" or "the team up north."

* He had a countdown clock put in the locker room to remind players when they'd get another shot at Ole Miss (last year's score was 45-0 Rebs).

* He took to the microphone after the game and told the Starkville faithful, "This is one program in this state that's definitely on the rise and heading in the right direction," a response to a comment by Houston Nutt earlier in the week.

And for good measure, at game's end the MSU scoreboard flashed a postcard saying, "From Dixon With Love," both saluting RB Anthony Dixon and mocking the now-banned Ole Miss song, "From Dixie With Love."

Nothing to get too carried away about, but still ... State was 5-7 against a schedule that might've been the nation's toughest (9 bowl teams in all), and they've got a coach who's putting some fire in the program.
-- R. Trentham Roberts

Mr. Gordon was correct in his earlier Iron Bowl postgame decompression: Alabama was the better team. The Tide's players lived up to the moment when they had to. Greg McElroy looked an awful lot like Jay Barker on the final drive - poised and efficient in a moment when it's very easy not to be either.

But for this particular game, at least, Alabama was outcoached - and Auburn fans can be heartened by what that signals. In 2009, the Auburn staff made a middling SEC quarterback, Chris Todd, into one with 20-plus touchdown passes. It made a middling SEC running back, Ben Tate, into one of the conference's top backs. What will happen when the coaches get the elite players they want - and thus far are getting on the recruiting trail?

The Tigers right now are where Alabama was when Nick Saban began - with holes to fill, with immediate playing time as an incentive to recruits, and with an energy the program hasn't felt in years. Friday, as disappointing as it may have been, was an affirmation of where the program is headed.

Peter St. Onge
I was in Tennessee all week with my wife's side of the family -- wonderful people who live in the mountains, don't have cable and don't care about football. I caught the last minute of Auburn-Alabama, just enough to see that Gene Chizik went to the Les Miles School of Time Management, but didn't go through the doctoral program in How to Win the Game Anyway.
We got home Saturday at halftime of Georgia-Georgia Tech, and saw order restored to the world once again. The big question now is whether beating Tech was enough for Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez to save his job. Probably not. Then again, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo should share some of the blame. The good: Georgia splattered Tech with a run-first offense that hid Joe Cox's limitations. The bad: It took 12 games to figure this out?
But that's for the off-season. This week Tech is back in its rightful place, behind the lead dawg, where the view never changes. This week we enjoy.
Tommy Tomlinson


Bigdawg said...

SEC SEC SEC !! You seen it right there on your TV screens, sports fans. The two top teams in the ACC, who will play for the coveted ACC Championship next Saturday lost to 2 very average SEC teams yesterday. The Dawgs and Gamecocks have a combined 7-9 record in the SEC. The Jackets and Tigers have a combined 13-3 record in the ACC. And if any more irony was called for there's this: Georgia's victory over GA Tech, the ACC's top ranked team, MAY qualify the Dawgs to play in the Music City Bowl in Nashville against the ACC's 5TH RANKED TEAM !

For excuses from ACC fans, see comments below:

Anonymous said...

I saw a comment on Tom Sorensen's blog where some ACC hack was bragging about ACC schools being better academically than SEC schools, and that, combined with the ACC's superior hoops rankings, makes the ACC better than the SEC. I think the ACC's hoops reputation is a lot better than the actual basketball, outside of UNC and Duke.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the conferences end up ranking in bowl competition.

kevin said...

All you hear is how good the ACC's academics are, compared to the other conferences. It's the trump card that ACC fans historically use when they get their a**es kicked in football. They (especially UNC fans) think they are the academic equivalent of Harvard and the gridiron equivalent of Texas. I always ask to see the proof about academic disparity, but I have yet to see it. By the way, a friend of mine has similar degrees from UVA and from Tennessee. He said the Tennessee degree was much more demanding. I agree - I'm eager to see how the bowls shape up. If there's a few ACC vs. SEC, it won't be pretty.