Made while watching Ben Howland butcher another UCLA basketball game. I think it's time to start referring to him as the Mark Richt of college basketball.....
Last week: 5-1
Tennessee at Vanderbilt
The leadoff batter in a miserable set of games this weekend. And it just so happens this leadoff batter is Willy Taveras. Actually, that's probably an insult to Willy Taveras. I just spend ten minutes looking up who is considered the worst leadoff batter in the history of baseball and came across a guy named Ivan DeJesus, who played shortstop for the Cubs in 1981. DeJesus started 59 games as the leadoff batter and hit a whopping .173 with an on-base percentage of .272 in the top spot. So there you have it. This game is the Ivan DeJesus of leadoff games. My apologies to Willy Taveras.
As for the teams involved in this epic struggle of the 115th (Tennessee) and 116th (Vanderbilt) ranked offenses, Vanderbilt became the worst bowl eligible team in the history of bowl eligible teams last week with their win over Kentucky and will probably be a little looser in their final two games now that their sphincter muscles have relaxed. I don't think that will necessarily jump start the 116th ranked offense, but it will certainly decrease their chances of blowing a 24-9 fourth quarter lead in this game like they did last year.
Tennessee has to be playing to avoid losing to Vanderbilt in the same season in which they watch Vandy in a bowl game while they sit at home. But given their performance against Wyoming, the Vols may not attempt to try the rest of the season. That is, if they were trying before then. I don't care if Tennessee isn't trying anymore, Vanderbilt is busy thinking about all the gentleman's establishments they'll be visiting in Shreveport, Memphis or, in what would be perfectly fitting for a Vandy team finally bowl eligible, Nashville. I'm taking Tennessee here in a classic 3 1/2 hour JP game where neither team breaks 20.
The Citadel at Florida
Remember the story from the Old Testament where one of the prophets (Elija or Elisha? Can't remember.) decides to show some pagans the power of God against the power of theirs? He has two huge altars built, covers them and everything around them with water, and waits to see whose god can light the altar to burn the sacrificial animals on the respective altars. So the pagans dance around and cut themselves, calling out for fire from their gods to light the altar, and nothing ever happens. Then it's Elija/Elisha/Someone else's turn and he prays to God and a fireball the size of Montana falls out of the sky and completely incinerates everything on both altars and anything remotely close to them.
Well, Florida is that giant fireball that consumes everything. While they are presently not God, they're at least an extension of a finger. And yes, The Citadel is playing the role of the altars on Saturday.
*Note: No doubt I screwed up the significance of that story, but hopefully I got most of the details right.
Arkansas at Mississippi State
How was I unaware that Casey Dick has a younger brother who also plays quarterback at Arkansas? And because he's a redshirt freshman, we're guaranteed the ability to have three more years to make immature jokes involving the family's last name. And even more good news, both might have a chance to play this weekend. Casey may still be suffering from the concussion he got against South Carolina and apparently his brother has been deemed the most competent backup. Now, I don't believe for one second that Casey Dick's brother is the most capable backup, but that this is just Bobby Petrino amusing himself. I'm sure there's an immature joke to be made here, but I'll pass for now.
As for this game, Sylvester Croom has never beaten Arkansas and I don't think that's going to change this year. While the brothers Dick aren't anything worth noting at quarterback, State is bringing nothing to the table at that position. Tyson Lee plays hard and has some mobility, but let's be honest, he stinks. And Wesley Carroll? Surely you jest. In a battle of badly quarterbacked teams, Arkansas will prevail and increase the wailing and gnashing of teeth in Starkville.
Ole Miss at LSU
I'll be braving Somalia West this weekend as I head to Baton Rouge for the game. So if an empty liquor bottle should find the side of my head, this could be my last pick of the week so I'll try to get it right. Oh, I forgot to mention bags full of urine. I don't think one would kill me, but if one hit me I'd certainly vomit everywhere, which could possibly cause me to choke and die.
This game will come down to which quarterback screws up the least. Both defenses are pretty good against the run (Ole Miss is 13th and LSU is 15th in the country) and horrid against the pass (Ole Miss 84th and LSU 63rd), meaning the team that passes well will probably win the game. And the plot thickens there. Jarrett Lee leads the conference in interceptions with 15 and Jevan Snead is close behind with 11, so both quarterbacks are wildly inconsistent in their passing abilities (and both are around 54% in completion percentage). That means both teams need to do the thing they don't really want to do in order to win.
Even though he's improved, I still don't trust Jevan Snead to take care of the ball and not make dumb decisions. But, luckily for Ole Miss fans, Jarrett Lee is in charge of the other team. The longer he plays and the more he's called on to throw, the higher Ole Miss' chances for a win go up. At this point in the season, I think Lee is a bigger liability than Snead so I'm taking the Rebels in a miserably close, emotionally draining win. That's right Jim Jones, pass the lighter, I'm about to freebase some of that Kool-Aid.