Thursday, October 15, 2009

SEC Picks of Week 7

It appears the call-in show has fallen on hard times. Call it lack of technology, effort and ability to create decent content three times a week around here, but whatever the reason, it has apparently died (and what a great two weeks it was). So in hopes of keeping the spirit of it alive, I’ve added a little more material to the weekly SEC picks. This week following the picks, you’ll find some more content. By doing this, I only have to come up with two posts a week instead of three, which is a royal pain in the ass (or so I’ve heard from those who actually do post three times a week), and now you’ll get two lengthy, mildly well-thought-out posts a week. And if you were counting, this week’s weekend recap came in at a whopping 2800 words, which should never happen again. Reading 2800 words on three-day old news is absurd. On to the picks…

Made while enjoying ESPN’s unintentional tribute to Sean Connery’s finest work on SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy.

Last week: 4-3
Season: 42-7 (.857)

Georgia at Vanderbilt
Congratulations to Georgia for successfully wrestling away the 12th spot in scoring defense from Arkansas. It was quite an effort they put up last week against Tennessee and now thanks to that effort, Hog fans can now claim there is one defensive category in which they are not last. I’d like to see Georgia catch Arkansas for worst total defense, but with the Bulldogs facing a trapped-in-a-coma Vanderbilt offense and the Hogs facing Florida, I don’t think it will happen. Yet.

Anyway, as for the actual game being played here, Vanderbilt has revealed itself to be absolutely horrible, at least on offense. Their defense has a little feistiness in it, but unless it learns to score, the Commodores have no hope. As awful as Georgia has become, they’ve got more to offer than Vandy. I look for a depressing, sloppy, miserable game, perfectly fitting of the old Jefferson Pilot time slot. If only Dave Rowe could replace Andre Ware and be with his old buddy Dave Neal, it would be just like old times. Georgia wins, yet keeps its fans in the spiral of depression known as the 2009 season and boosts liquor sales across the state of Georgia.

Mississippi State at Directional School
Thanks to the last three games, Mississippi State has come out of nowhere to challenge Georgia for the last spot in the turnover margin department. Georgia has an impressive total of -11, but State is closing fast at -8. It’s another thrilling race in failure between two bad teams.

I know almost nothing about MTSU (there’s a zero percent chance I’m going to ever type that out). I can tell you they’re in the Sun Belt, they recently lost to Troy and former Auburn offense coordinator Tony Franklin is now employed there. I have no idea if Troy is good (I say no) and couldn’t say how Franklin is doing in running the offense. What I do know is that despite Tyson Lee’s tendency to destroy his team’s chances of winning through turnovers and lack of skill, it shouldn’t matter here. If last year’s atrociously coached team could bumble its way through a win over this team, I say this year’s better-coached version should be able to do the same. If not, welcome to a 2-10 season Bulldogs.

Arkansas at Florida
There seems to be a belief this week that since Arkansas defeated an unbeaten Auburn team they must be turning some sort of imaginary corner toward being a good team this season. I am here to tell you that when you beat an average, overrated team at home, you are not turning a corner because you still stink. Last time I checked Arkansas is still horrible on defense. Unless they suddenly got faster and less terrible in the past few days, I’m pretty sure they’re still bad. Throttling a Chris Todd-led offense does not make you a good defense. Let’s keep that in mind going forward.

Remember what Alabama’s defense did to this Arkansas offense a few weeks ago? Expect more of the same slapping around to go on this week. Florida’s defense, which is probably not as good as Alabama’s but is still outstanding (sort of like the difference between Wendy’s regular chicken sandwich and the spicy chicken sandwich), currently is number one in the SEC in total defense (yes, I am aware I just made one claim then used stats that go against that claim, but whatever) and I expect they’ll give Mallett and company all sorts of problems, namely keeping him upright.

Even with the recently stagnant Florida offense due to their desire to prevent more “brain shakeage” (actual phrase used by an ESPNU analyst) in Tim Tebow’s head, they shouldn’t have much trouble putting up points. Florida cruises.

UAB at Ole Miss
How about we not talk about Ole Miss for one week? Since our scheduling debacle has prevented us from having an off-week, let’s just use this time to take one. Ole Miss will win, but I doubt any confidence will be restored.

Kentucky at Auburn
All you need to know about this game is that Kentucky is the worst defense in the league against the run. That should let you know that Auburn is going to have a field day against the Wildcats. I’m just disappointed we won’t be able to see any Mike Hartline interceptions since he’s out with an injury. Perhaps when he returns he’ll put on a strong show for everyone. Auburn wins.

South Carolina at Alabama
This has the potential to be an interesting game. Alabama is coming off a systematic destruction of Ole Miss, their first serious conference test of the year, and have to be feeling pretty good about themselves, which is always a dangerous thing in college football. South Carolina has sort of been flying below everyone’s radar and currently sits 5-1 and a winner of four straight. Stephen Garcia is threatening to jump into the category labeled “good quarterbacks” and the Gamecock defense can be labeled as good now that they’ve corrected the problems from the Georgia disaster.

Two things could make this game not interesting. One, if Alabama maintains its machine-like execution and mental state. If they come prepared and without high opinion of themselves, they will dominate. They’ve got better players, especially their defense matching up with the South Carolina offense, and don’t make mistakes. And two, if South Carolina’s performance against Kentucky was not because they were overlooking them but because they really aren’t that good. A two-point win at home over Kentucky is not an indication of a good team.

I think South Carolina will keep this one interesting a little longer than expected. Much like the Ole Miss game, Alabama’s offense will have an easier time moving the ball on South Carolina’s defense than the Gamecocks’ offense on Alabama’s defense (not that any of it will be easy). Even if South Carolina makes it really close, do you have any faith in Stephen Garcia against a good, aggressive defense? I know that I don’t. Alabama wins.

A segment in which I take a question about college football that may or may not be from a real person.

Ricky from Alabama writes:
“Can we get some sort of hierarchy as far as the teams in the SEC go this season?”

Well, I certainly hope this is the Ricky from the video involving a battered dining room table and a grown man carrying a shaker inside a house. If so, I’m assuming he learned the word hierarchy from “the TV.” Anyway, as I see it, here’s how the SEC breaks down. And there are no rankings within each section.


South Carolina


Ole Miss
Mississippi State


Only Florida and Alabama can beat everyone and no team can beat them. Everyone else can beat everyone else, except Vandy and Kentucky who can only beat each other. I’m not sure any of that made sense. But what all of this nonsense does mean is that it’s been a pretty bad year for SEC football. Not many great matchups and just a horde of not good teams playing each other in not very good games. I don’t know if this explosion of incompetence is due to a lack of quarterback skill, but that seems to me the most logical explanation.

Tim Tebow and Jevan Snead were the only two successful, talented and experienced quarterbacks in the conference coming into this year (and we see how Snead has turned out). Everyone else was new or terrible. At this point, you can say only Tebow, Greg McElroy, Chris Todd (who should start to some back to earth), Stephen Garcia and Ryan Mallet could be called successful right now. That’s less than half the conference trotting out anything good behind center, and by the end of the year I think that number will be even smaller (I’m looking at you Chris Todd and Stephen Garcia). I really noticed it last year, but if you don’t have anything competent playing quarterback, then you’re going to struggle, like so many SEC teams are this year. I hope this crap gets corrected next year because I’m tired of watching so many bad teams.

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