And DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME
Wrong sport perhaps, but the SEC teams' final push toward Atlanta is thundering toward us like Seabiscuit flying on the outside. (It's amazing how florid the prose can become when you're not worried about getting your butt beat on Saturday.)
Gawd, we love the bye week, particularly when our team is 7-1 and we can assume the almost god-like position of picking for and against SEC rivals on the most self-serving of whims.
The week off also gives Alabama fans the luxury of switching stations to audit three games that will have a significant impact on the SEC's offseason: unbeaten Michigan State at Iowa; unbeaten Missouri at Nebraska, and unbeaten Oregon at USC. (Bonus prediction: Only Oregon and their goblin-esque uniforms will be undefeated as of Halloween. Meaning, the SEC's chances of having a one-loss team in the BCS Championship Game will have been greatly enhanced.)
With that in mind, here's our black-market BCS playoff this year: Quarterfinals: The Iron Bowl. Semifinals: The SEC Championship Game. Finals: The best of the SEC vs whomever is left standing. How's the Iron Bowl winner vs. Oregon sound?
First, there's the small matter of a playing the games.
Auburn at Ole Miss: The extent of Arkansas' dismantling of TRFKR (The Rival Formerly Known as Rebels)was somewhat surprising, given the pluckiness Houston Nutt's team showed in Tuscaloosa. But this is the kind of game the Right Reverend supposedly lives for. One question: What number buckshot does Nutt plan on using to slow the Auburn offense? Short of that, and assuming Cam Newton et al can dodge the bourbon bottles, Auburn will be sending Ole Miss fans to The Grove sometime in the third quarter. Ursine this! The Barn, 38-24.
Florida vs. Georgia All signs say Woof. So Georgia should be scared to death. Never mind that the Bulldog offense is steaming along. Never mind that Florida comes in O for October, or that Urban Meyer's sideline expressions these days are a dead wringer for Dr. Frankenstein's when he realizes he has no control over his monster. Florida is ALIVE, barely, and it must beat Georgia to keep its hopes of reaching Atlanta ALIVE!! as well. True, the Gator offense will plod along based on players being jammed into a system that doesn't fit them. Yet, something tells me the UF defense will cause a couple of turnovers at pivotal times. The Dawgs may be playing better, but they rarely play well in Jacksonville, and Georgia remains a fragile team with way too much to lose. Florida, 21-20
Tennessee at South Carolina: Take it from Eva Braun, funny things can happen in the bunker when the battle begins slipping away. Still, Tennessee fans must be swallowing deeply after their coach's Nazi metaphor following last week's pounding by Alabama. As a student of history, Derrick Dooley must know the Allies didn't show much mercy when they had Hitler on the ropes. Steve Spurrier, then, would be Stalin, a role he was born to play, with his Red (and black) Army poised to increase the body count and steam on toward Atlanta. USC, 24-10.
Kentucky at Miss. State: It goes to show how far the Bulldogs have come this year that we can describe Kentucky as a "trap game." State hasn't played a trap game since Jackie Sherrill was fooling around with livestock. Kentucky certainly has the offensive weapons to give Dan Mullen problems. But the Wildcats seem to no longer have the stomach for a fight. Bullies: 21-16
Vanderbilt at Arkansas: Suffice to say Ryan Mallett's junior season has not unfolded like a movie script. His three picks ruined the Hogs' early upset bid of Alabama. He suffered a concussion against Auburn and a shoulder injury against Ole Miss. Another ding could cost him millions more in next year's NFL draft (if there is a NFL draft). Fortunately, throwing against Vanderbilt should be little more than pitch and catch at the combine. Arkansas: 35-17.
Georgia vs. Florida (Jax): This seems like a good time, as a Georgia fan, to point out the irrefutable truth that Any Team In Orange Is Bad. But there are levels of orange-hating, and here they are, least hated to most:
4. Clemson: Don't play them much anymore, Danny Ford's gone, still hoping for a human avalanche as the players run down the hill after touching Howard's Rock, but all in all, they're OK.
3. Auburn: Trying to tamp down man-crush on Cam Newton, but otherwise easy to hate, especially after the Bull Connor game of 1986 (the Auburn groundskeeper fired hoses at UGA fans after the Dawgs upset Auburn on the road).
2. Tennessee: I arrived at the Observer in the midst of the Peyton Manning years at UT. My boss at the time was a big Tennessee fan. She would have a party every year for the UT-UGA game, and by the end of the first quarter she'd be cackling and I'd be into my second six-pack because Tennessee would be up 28-3. Good times. So, yeah, pounding them this year was fun. I need to give my old boss a call.
1. Florida: Steve Superior, Kerwin Bell, that obnoxious chomp thing, jean shorts, they still do the freaking Two Bits cheer, Urban Meyer's esophagus, Danny Wuerffel, Tebow, Brandon Spikes' eye-gouges... I could do this for 10,000 more words. And of course, they've beat us 17 out of the last 20.
This year both teams are mediocre. Georgia has won three in a row and Florida is on its worst stretch since Galen Hall... but all those beatdowns over the past 20 years have got me flinching. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if we lost again. But for today, at least, I'm gonna believe. Georgia, 26-21.
Auburn at Ole Miss: Cam Newton takes your trap game and wraps it around your neck, while he's dodging all your safeties on the way to the end zone. War Eagles, 38-17.
Tennessee at South Carolina: The Cocks still have the inside track to the SEC East title, although their chance for a truly great season dissolved on the Kentucky bluegrass. But these fans deserve a trip to Atlanta either way. USC, 29-10.
Kentucky at Miss. State: The other Bulldogs are the sneaky-good team in the SEC this year. State, 24-13.
Vanderbilt at Arkansas: Mallett feasts on the weak. Razorbacks, 44-14.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Trust me: Have some Dramamine handy before you read this.
Tony Barnhart at the AJC goes through the various competitive spasms that could determine who plays Auburn or Alabama in the SEC Championship in December.
Florida, Georgia and South Carolina remain very much alive. The Roosters and Lizards still control their own fates. The fat white Dawgs do not, given their early-season roll-over-and-play-dead against South Carolina (and yes, that was written by an Alabama fan).
But given UGA's early struggles, it's borderline amazing the school still has a strong shot of reaching Atlanta. Unlike its competitors, Mark Richt's group is playing its best football of the season.
Like I said, read for yourself. Just know that motion sickness is a real possibility.
Monday, October 25, 2010
1. The Doubting Thomases in the miracle season of Cam Newton are running out of time. Every week, their arguments go something like this: He's a one-man team benefiting from a gimmicky offense!!
Or: Just wait until they play a real defense like (insert name here)'s!!
One problem: With the possible exception of Mississippi State, every defensive coordinator in the SEC who has plotted against Newton and Auburn offensive wizard Gus Malzahn has been embarrassed. The latest: LSU's supposed rock wall, which was designed by veteran DC John Chavis and patrolled by Patrick Patterson, presumed to be the SEC's best defensive player.
So much for supposeds and presumes. FOUR HUNDRED rushing yards later Auburn finds itself ranked at the top of the BCS with three SEC games remaining. The Tigers' utter dominance reminds me of how Alabama toyed with the league during its early wishbone days. When Alabama met Ole Miss for its first SEC game in 1971, retired Reb coach Johnny Vaught said the Tide's newfangled offense wouldn't stand up against a real defense. Well, he was right. it didn't stand up. It bent over and steamrolled Ole Miss from first whistle to last, leaving a level of carnage eerily similar to what Auburn is meting out now.
That said, if you want to write Auburn into the national championship game, do it with a pencil. The Tigers face a potential trap game at Ole Miss this weekend. It hosts improving Georgia in two weeks, then rests up before its end-all showdown against Alabama in Tuscaloosa the day after Thanksgiving.
Which brings us back to 1971. That year, Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan led undefeated Auburn into the Iron Bowl against undefeated Alabama and its gimmicky offense. The better running team prevailed. (AU Heisman winner Bo Jackson also lost his last crack at the Tide in 1985.
Now it's Newton's turn. The big QB is the run-away favorite this year to take home college football's most prestigious award, and he will bring the best running game seen in Tuscaloosa since the 1973 Tide.
Yet, the Iron Bowl has never been kind to Heisman Winners (witness Mark Ingram's struggles last year). Will that curse continue? Or will it be Cam "over the top," Camup the middle and Cam around end?
History, in this case, is a bookie. It could go either way, or it could easily be both
2. First things first, Alabama has plenty of work to do before the potential showdown in T Town. It must survive LSU's last stand in Baton Route in two weeks, then be ready for another knife fight with Mississippi State. The Tide is improving, but it still has significant flaws. Its defense is a shadow of last year's unit, and the running game still spews too much oil for so late in the year. Still, it can easily run the table, and if it gets home for turkey at 11-1, the Iron Bowl will make the last two SEC championships look like coed two-hand touch in the backyard.
3. Don't talk to me about LSU until they find a quarterback. Losing Ryan Perilloux certainly was a setback. But Perilloux is now (insert Eddie Murphy's voice from "Coming to America" a hunnert and thirty-seven years old!! Clearly, Les Miles had had time to find a replacement. In the end, the answer may prove to be Georgia outcast Zach Mettenberger, who like Perilloux lost his QB job because he didn't know how to behave. So much for closure.
4. Can South Carolina hold on? Based on their performance against Vandy, barely. The Gamecocks were in full choke mode Saturday before putting the Commodores away. Now they get Marcus Lattimore back, but they still face Arkansas (home) and Florida (away) to close out their conference schedule. That red blur along the rail is Georgia, which is making the greatest comeback since Lazarus. The Dawgs should beat Florida this weekend, but then face Auburn in greater Opelika. For Georgia to get to Atlanta, the Gamecocks must lose two. That they could easily do. But Georgia must win out. That they won't do.
5. In Nick Fairley and Cam Newton, Auburn has the best offensive and defensive players in the league. Naw, that team can't play at all.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Hard to imagine that after this week, we'll be down to the final third of the season. Seems like only last week when Les Miles and LSU were lucking past an inferior opponent . . . wait, it was last week.
Forget the past. This is about the day after tomorrow, when Miles' charges will be decided underdogs for the first time this year. The undefeated Tigers' mojo will be sorely challenged by Heisman run-away Cam Newton and his equally undefeated band of merry Tiger/Plainsmen. War Eagle.
Saturday also brings us the latest episode of The Real Bulldogs of Georgia Respectability Tour. Based on the woofing by Dawg Nation that followed their team's gallant stands against Vandy and the worst Tennessee team of my lifetime, a win this week over Kentucky will certainly have the Leg Humpers making hotel reservations for the BCS Championship game.
Beat up Alabama goes into Knoxville where rested Tennessee has dug the trench lines for a last stand. And there's good news at last in Gainesville: Florida doesn't play.
Here we go.
LSU vs. Auburn: A simple question for Auburn critics: If Cam Newton is a one-man show, why can't anybody defend him? If it truly is 11 on 1 every week, how does Newton run and throw with such ease that, in the words of Bear Bryant, "it looks like he got to practice an hour early."
Odds are, the big man will be hit by LSU like he hasn't been hit all year. Patrick Patterson will take AU receiver Darvin Adams out of the game, so in theory Gus Malzahn's offense will be somewhat limited.
Which brings this one-word response: So?
LSU's offense still looks like a schizophrenic who goes on and off his medication. Auburn's defenders will give up enough yards to backfill the Louisiana Purchase. But they'll make a few key stops, then get out of the way of the Newton Express. Two undefeated Tigers become one. Auburn, 35-27
Alabama at Tennessee: This one has a bad feel to it -- like "300" of "The Alamo" or one of those other historic melodramas with welling music, drawn-out death scenes and inspiration galore. Barf. Tennessee is awful. But, with the exception of their putrid effort at Georgia, the Vols play hard for at least a half. This week they're rested (Surprise! another Tide opponent with two weeks to prepare) and they're facing Alabama, which every Tennessean over 35 hates more than ring worm. Alabama, on the other hand, has played tepidly on the road at Arkansas and South Carolina, particularly on defense. This also will be its eighth straight game, the offense has bogged down and Julio Jones still can't get through an airport metal detector. That said, Nick Saban would have us believe his team is climbing out of the crater left by the South Carolina loss. Show us. Tide, 24-14.
Georgia at Kentucky We won't have a repeat of the pinball wizardry displayed by Auburn and Arkansas last week, but bring extra batteries for the calculator just in case. The Georgia team got run over by a truck early in the year, leaving Mark Richt's team in more bandages than the English Patient. Each week in rehab, they add a little more weight. Can Georgia lift its way past Kentucky? By the cold, wet nose of its improving defense. Woof, 31-28
South Carolina at Vandy The Gamecocks' loss last week at Kentucky, as beautifully staged and as utterly predictable as Italian opera, turns what should be a walk-over into an veritable aria about loss and second chances. If the Dores somehow win, they take the lead in the SEC East. Sorry, but I have to sit down for a minute. That notion is definitely out of my range. USC, 24-16
Ole Miss at Arkansas: Remember Tiger Paws, the tire with the cartoon ad that had claws protruding under the bumpers to keep the car on the road? Unfortunately for Arkansas, a set of real Tiger mits shredded the Hogs' season last week and raised new questions on whether coach Bobby Petrino will ever care enough about defense to be competitive in the SEC. Ole Miss, on the other hand, passed its share of licks at Alabama, even though Jeremiah Masoli and the Reb offense were hit far more than it hit back. The key here is the absence of Hog QB Ryan Mallett and the level of shell shock experienced by the Arkansas defense. Cam Newon still haunts the dreams of Fayetteville. Black Rebel Bears, 31-28.
UAB vs. Mississippi State: The team no one wants to play demonstrates why. Bullies, 35-10.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Unblaring headline of the week: Gary Danielson has no shortages of opinions. That, in my opinion, makes him the best color analyst in the game, and a heckuva one-on-one interview.
Check out this chat with Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News. Among the topics: Can anybody stop Auburn's quarterback?
By the way, he make many of the same points Tuesday morning on WFNZ in Charlotte. With one exception: He said "Cam Newton and Alabama are a little better than I thought they'd be . . ."
Oh the humanity.
Monday, October 18, 2010
1. I can't remember a year when the gap between HOME and AWAY performances has been so vast. A week after beating Alabama, South Carolina takes a short plane ride to the Bluegrass and looks . . . like South Carolina. On Friday, we predicted a Gamecock victory because Steve Spurrier had Marcus Lattimore on his side. Except, he didn't in the second half Saturday. OBC kept making pilgrimages to where his star freshman runner was sitting, but that's where Lattimore stayed, and Spurrier kept returning to the sideline with that sour smirk on his face, as his team blew its 18 point lead and its fleeting control of the SEC East. Once again USC's pass defense -- where all its stud young players are supposed to reside -- was lit up like a bug lamp. And how, even in the annals of a Gamecock ineptitude, could Randall Cobb go uncovered on a fourth-down pass so late in the game. That's one for the record books, even a record book as soiled as South Carolina.
2. Things Mrs. Meyer might say to her husband at bed time: 1. Wake up, honey. 2. Your offense isn't working. 3.) You don't seem to have the players or ideas to fix it. 4.) Doing the same things over and over again when they don't work is a definition of insanity. 5.) Mississippi State?
2B. That said, here's a guy who has won two national championships in five years and would have won three had it not been for Alabama. And yet, Gator fans want blood. It's the same moronic virus now sweeping through a segment of Alabama's fanbase who demand vengeance because their team is ONLY 21-1 in their last 22. Clearly, someone must die. Reminder to Bama fans: Nick Saban says he will retire at Alabama unless expectations get so out of whack that he'd head elsewhere.
3. The SEC East reminds us of the ACC. Mediocrity as far as the eyes can see, which means we have the equivalent of a NASCAR restart midway through the season. Only Vandy is out of the race. And here comes Georgia on the outside, which beat two SEC lowlifes and now is only a 1/2 game out of the lead. Dogs still have Auburn on their schedule, which means they'll have to beat at least one good team. But that hasn't stopped the Wet Noses from now trumpeting their team's resurrection -- two weeks afer most of them wanted their coach fired.
4. Les Miles has clearly sold his soul. But in a one-on-one matchup at Auburn between the Devil and Cam Newton, I'm taking Newton. Auburn, which is in the police jurisdiction of hell but just outside the city limits, gives the Tigers perhaps the SEC's srongest home field advantage.
5. I'll make a deal with you: We'll talk about Arkansas again when somebody on the team makes a tackle. Until then . . .
Friday, October 15, 2010
Georgia gets a new dog. The SEC's former favorite for the Heisman meets the current edition. Wounded Alabama either hides in its corner or gets off the mat. South Carolina sees if it can catch its breath in rarefied air. And Florida and Mississippi State duke off in a battle of, gulp, also-rans.
Ole Miss at Alabama Nick Saban can huff and puff all he wants about meeting the standards he has helped set in Tuscaloosa. But until his defense starts playing better, his press conference curse words carry more weight. Enter the Rebs, not your grandmother's normal homecoming patsy. The Ole Miss offense and Jeremiah Masoli storm into Tuscaloosa playing their best ball of the season. The Reb defense: not so much. But that didn't stop lineman Jerre Powe from shooting off his mouth. Powe, whose biggest claim to fame is that it took him longer to get into school than it does most students to complete a doctorate, took time off from his studies to declare "Almighty Alabama" a one-dimensional offense. In that, Powe sounded like a truly annoying segment of the Alabama fan base -- one regular-season loss in 29 games and the end is near. Not this week. Tide, 44-28
Arkansas at Auburn Ryan Mallett's last chance to get back into the Heisman conversation lucks into an Auburn defense that played one of its worst halves of the season at Kentucky. Cam Newton, again, bailed out his team. But in Mallett, Auburn is facing its most explosive opposing player of the year. Still, Arkansas, like most SEC schools this year, is not the same team on the road. And Auburn runs on rocket fuel in front of the home crowd. This one could be like Shiloh -- massive casualties on both sides and only the narrowest of winning margins. In the end, I like Newton's arm and legs. Mallett will put up big numbers that, once again, don't add up to enough. AU, 42-35.
South Carolina at Kentucky The win against Alabama may have been the most important 60 minutes in Gamecock history, but it had the staying power of a charcoal fire. Based on its past, South Carolina could very well lose at Kentucky -- it's what the Gamecocks have done for more than a century. Stephen Garcia can't play any better than he did last week. A letdown is one thing. But if Garcia reverts to the dark side, South Carolina is in trouble. Lucky for Steve Spurrier, he has freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore. Luckier still, Kentucky likely will be without Derrick Locke, its leading rusher. The two defenses aren't close. Still, the score will be closer than it should be. Gamecocks, 24-20
Vandy at Georgia The "All is Well" Tour in Athens gets its second freebie in as many weeks. Vanderbilt may be a step up from the worst Tennessee team of my lifetime, but it should provide little resistance for the Dogs, who introduce a new mascot Saturday as it tries to spit polish what still looks like a lost year. Woof, I say. Woof, woof. UGA, 35-14
MSU at Florida: If this were in Starkville, Urban Meyer's team would need fitting for a hat trick. MSU is too young and untalented at too many positions to be counted on for a road upset. But if Florida is expecting a handout, the Swamp will have more boos than bare midriffs by game's end. Gators, 24-14
McNeese State vs. LSU: Does Les Miles' deal with Beelzebub extend to in-state patsies? Seems like a waste of brimstone to me. Tigers. 42-7.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Let's choose up sides.
Georgia won its second football game of 2010, with its 11 players on offense giving their best performance of the year. Not long afterward, starting tailback Caleb King became the 11th Dawg player to be arrested since spring.
That puts Georgia neck-and-neck with Florida for the Fulmer Cup, the prestigious award given to the SEC school who has the most players with bit parts in the remake of Cool Hand Luke.
To the columnists of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this is not a good thing. The Georgia fans, more concerned about the number of Ws than the size of the team's rap sheet, seem about 70-30 on the issue.
Still unheard at this point is school president Michael Adams, who a short while back said the deportment of the players had to improve. Richt says that, too -- almost every week.
And then check out the AJC's Jeff Schultz, who's wondering when enough is enough.
One last addition. Who doesn't love a cartoon?
Monday, October 11, 2010
Nick Saban, also known by some on this board as Mr. Clenched Butt Cheeks, loosened his derrierre muscles long enough to offer editorial comment on the state of his team. His comments came when asked if his players had expected the name on their jersey to carry them through the South Carolina game, which the home Gamecocks thoroughly dominated in ending the Tide's ride on top of the polls.
Hint: Saban offers what is known in diplomatic circles as a "frank-and-open" exchange in comparing this year's team to last year's national champion.
No sense paraphrasing. Read here.
If you want to watch, go here The comment in question comes a little after the 15 minute mark.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
1. Intuition can be a strange thing. Two weeks ago, when I emailed a bud to firm up details on our trip to the Alabama-USC game, he wrote that he'd given our 50-yard line seats to his kids. Despite that . . . ahem . . . minor setback, Saturday morning still should have been drunk with anticipation for the great run of SEC games ahead. But all I could think of was 1982, when undefeated Alabama -- being touted as the Bear's last great team -- went to Knoxville and got smoked. Not by two touchdowns. But the underdog Vols made far more plays than anyone thought imaginable. Note to Intuition: Shut the hell up! Note to the Alabama defense: Make some plays.
2. The irrefutable force on this board that is J likes to call Tide quarterback Greg McElroy, the David Hasselhoff of signal callers. Let's ignore that McElroy threw for more than 300 yards Saturday to stick with J's metaphor for a moment: At Columbia, Alabama fans saw far more of Hasselhoff running shirtless on the beach than Pamela Anderson. The Tide's great running tandem, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, carried the ball 17 times -- the same number as South Carolina freshman Marcus Lattimore. In football, you can't reshoot the scenes. But for future episodes, perhaps the director might strive a little harder to achieve artistic balance.
3. OK, I can't put it off any longer: Kudos to Tomlinson. He hit the trifecta Saturday: A. Georgia won. B. He picked Alabama to lose. C. He said stumbling LSU, under the coaching of the Hat Savant, Les Miles, would not only beat Florida in the Swamp, but would do it in almost alchemical fashion. (Dramatic pause; now key the theme from The Exorcist): I think Tomlinson and Miles have gone into time shares with the Devil.
4. We have seen the future: Whoever is to beat Auburn will have to score a lot of points. The Tiger defense was absolutely dreadful against Kentucky, giving up enormous amounts of yards for the entire game. But the AU offense and Cameron Newton got all that back -- plus 3 more -- in the win Saturday night at Lexington. LSU certainly has the bodies to at least bruise Newton -- if they can catch him. But Auburn's offense was as vanilla as vanilla gets against Kentucky and still went up and down the field like FedEx trucks. Meanwhile, Darvin Adams is the SEC's most underrated receiver.
5. Finally a personal note: The South Carolina game was not only Alabama's first loss of the year, but it was my first wrong SEC pick for the season, quickly followed up by my second, LSU-Florida. Now that I'm just an itsy-bitsy more like the rest of you, I promise to be more humble, more conscious of the disappointments you face each day as also-rans in the SEC. That doesn't mean I have to like any of you -- and I don't -- but we can at least be civil. Now where the heck are those Baywatch CDs.
-- Michael G.
From Tommy T.:
Thanks for the kudos, Mike, and I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know that Lucifer Acres is complete and ready for your visit! Coach Miles and I are honored to be partners in this venture. All rooms oceanfront (yes, oceans of molten lava, but still).
Look, Alabama isn't as good as last year -- the defense lost too many great players. They had to lose sometime. And South Carolina was set up for the greatest win in their history. Those fans had a bigger case of delayed gratification than any other fans in the country. I'm sure some are still sleeping it off.
I'm not gonna crow about Georgia, except to say that when you keep hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, it feels really good when you stop.
One last thing about Les Miles. I've decided who he is: He's the conventioneer from Utah who walks into a Vegas casino, sees a craps table for the first time, and immediately starts throwing sevens. I'm pretty sure his headset is actually an iPod that plays nothing but a constant loop of Abba. How else can they win? Giant sinkhole? Alien invasion? Nothing is off the table at this point. I'm riding LSU until they lose, which is apparently impossible. We love you, Les. Shine on, you crazy diamond.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Alabama at South Carolina: Well, this is it for USC -- their chance to prove they belong with the SEC's best, their shot at an SEC title game (in a weakened SEC East), their moment to reward all their fans for all that suffering over the years. If they played 100 times, Alabama might win 75. But it's one game, in Columbia, with so much at stake. This time, the stars align. USC, 16-10.
Alabama at South Carolina: Mr. Tomlinson, whose brainwaves have been scrambled by Georgia's sudden return to generational mediocrity, is like a husband trapped on the wrong end of an argument. The facts, his friends and everything else lines up with the wife, but he sticks to his guns like a polyster-clad bulldog clings to his ice bags under the Athens sun.
Mr. Tomlinson, you see, still believes Alabama will lose three games this year. As such, the Gamecocks must win Saturday for his prophecy to come true.
Carolina has a puncher's chance. They are very good. They dare to be better. And they don't want this to be the last big game they play under Steve Spurrier. That said, South Carolina can't win on its own. It still needs more help than Alabama is likely to give. One last thing to mull: If Alabama is to lose three, it will have to play as badly as Georgia. Like I said, Tide, 28-18.
Tennessee at Georgia: Dooley the Younger's Baker's Dozen Road Show stops in Athens for another brunch-time kickoff. Georgia has played in the midday slot so often that it's about to announce a longterm endorsement deal with Mrs. Butterworth. Bigger news: Mark Richt will be leading his team onto the field for the first time. A naked Herschel Walker(check out ESPN) would make for a better entrance. Georgia by a big wet nose: 21-18.
LSU at Florida: Has there ever been an undefeated coach more maligned than Les Miles? After Saturday night, all that earlier abuse will seem like polite chit-chat between inlaws at a Baptist wedding reception. We hope you like the cheese straws, Mr. Miles. Florida, 24-13.
Auburn at Kentucky: Only on The Plains is roadtrip considered a dirty word. At home, Auburn has emerged as one of the country's most dynamic teams. But qb Cameron Newton must show that he travels well, even if the opponent is the perpetually lackluster Kentucky. Still, it's an interesting measuring stick for Auburn. Tigers, 35-24
Eastern Michigan at Vandy: Wow, we thought only Ohio State played MAC teams. Vandy, I think, 24-21
Arkansas at Texas A&M: The Hog defenders better make some stops or Ryan Mallett's arm will fall off. This one has upset written all over it, except the Big 12 is so bad it should have broken up just to save everybody the embarrassment. Hogs, 44-35
Miss. State at Houston: Big, big game for the Mullen regime, and the Bulldog defense gets them through. Bullies: 24-21.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
1-4 record aside, three things never change at Georgia.
1. The Dawg fans may lead the SEC in the decibel-level of their moral outrage, though their team's performance through the years has not exactly been top tier.
2. Another fat white bulldog is about to be offered up as a canine sacrifice to Saturday afternoons in Athens. The ice trucks are standing ready. The grave has already been dug.
3. And nothing will ever be better than Herschel Walker. (If for some reason you want to skip Diana Taurasi and the women's volleyball team, Walker is no. 19.)
Will an old Herschel and a new UGA save the Georgia season? Certainly not. But the team's greatest player in the buff and a new dog in the red sweater may salvage a bit of Dawg mojo.
Having Tennessee and Vandy as its next two opponents doesn't hurt either.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
We're down to three in the Great Ole Miss Mascot Hunt. The voting has begun.
See the finalists for yourself.
And thanks to the committee for thinking of how the well-dressed mascot should appear when partaking of The Grove.
Monday, October 4, 2010
1. If this were "Survivor," the SEC would have voted off Vandy, Georgia and Tennessee by now. Any league would be wounded when traditional powers like the Dawgs and Vols take a page from a Stephen King novel and plunge into "Simultaneous Suckage." LSU is the worst or luckiest unbeaten of the last decade. And there's the great mass of mediocrity or worse category for just about everybody else. In summary, this may be the weakest year in the conference in decades. Yet it still offers the overwhelming favorite for the national championship.
2. Can anybody truly argue that Alabama and Auburn aren't the SEC's two best teams? Florida has talent but seems caught in an identity crisis (This word of advice to Gators everywhere -- from a member of a fan base who sets the standard for gazing into the past: He ain't coming back!!! AU must still play a heavyweight on the road, but it's looking more and more like that won't happen 'til Tuscaloosa. Alabama? The Tide enters the absurd portion of its schedule, when five consecutive SEC opponents having two weeks to prepare. It starts Saturday at Columbia, and UA fans may fret the roosters far more than they did Florida. Here's something for South Carolina to ponder: Alabama's first half Saturday night was its best of the season.
3. Where are the chat rooms burning hotter: Georgia or LSU? Let's call it a tie for now, which is amazing in its own right. Georgia is 1-4; LSU is 5-0. But Les Miles is taking just as many shots as Georgia's Mark Richt. Miles treats the criticism as if it's just another game clock he can ignore. Richt keeps responding with gridiron platitudes -- preaching effort and trust and hard work -- that have his critics howling even louder. In that, however, Richt has an advantage over Miles, who not only runs the most disorganized team in America, but hasn't shown much affinity for complete sentences either.
4. Thirteen players? Really?
5. An ACC note: The North Carolina free fall has reached the scary stage. It's bad enough that former assistant head coach John Blake had a longtime and extensive financial relationship with an agent, it appears now that he was recruiting players for that agent -- including Alabama's Marcel Dareus. Up to now, coach Butch Davis has floated just above the floodwaters. But the charges against his kids and former top assistant have reached the saturation point. If more allegatons surface, Davis could very easily go under.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Interesting comparison of the arrest records of players under Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Suffice to say, Gator fans would love such a mismatch when the two teams square off Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
For now, though, some national pundits look at the arrest numbers and accuse Meyer of running an out-of-control program. Mark Richt is receiving similar heat at Georgia, where off-the-field deportment of the players has become a bigger issue as the Dogs' season teeters on the brink.