Sunday, November 29, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

Another experience drinking the Ole Miss Kool-Aid and another disappointment. So glad the Rebels decided to show up when playing for a trip to the best (at least financially) bowl game in school history since black people started playing college football. Well done, Ole Miss, well done.


Alabama 26, Auburn 21
Nick Saban said it perfectly at halftime and after the game, if the Crimson Tide could weather the shitstorm, they had a chance to win the game. And after Auburn's blitzkrieg in the first few minutes with Alabama playing the role of Poland and France, the Tide pretty much shut Auburn down, save for a blown coverage on the long touchdown pass in the third quarter (take away the 72-yard touchdown and Auburn had just 43 yards of offense in the second half). And although he tried to throw more than one interception, I'll give Chris Todd credit for throwing only one and not absolutely killing his team like someone who plays for Ole Miss. He essentially already kills his offense with the inability to throw the ball with any degree of accuracy over 10 yards, so it was nice to see him not destroy Auburn's bid for the upset (On the last play of the game, my dad and I questioned whether or not he could actually throw it into the end zone from the Alabama 43-yard line. To our surprise, he cleared the goal line by a good two to three yards.).

Also, I'd like to mention how well Auburn's defense played after I spent most of the season besmirching their efforts. They played with an insane amount of emotion and were one of the first teams all year to take away Alabama's ability to run. So a tip of the cap to you, good sirs. If I'm Florida, I really take a look at how they were able to limit the run because they have the secondary to play the one-on-one coverage Auburn could not while loading up against the run. And if CBS doesn't pull an ESPN and give us a damn countdown clock to the Florida/Alabama game like the Ohio State/Michigan clock that ran for like 112 days, I'm going to send a nasty and indignant email to somebody.

South Carolina 34, Clemson 17

Representing one half of the ACC in the conference championship game, it's Clemson! A team that surrendered 223 rushing yards to a South Carolina team that had amassed a whopping 179 yards on the ground in its last three SEC games combined. And a South Carolina team that had lost four of its last five with the lone win coming over a fantastically bad Vanderbilt team (14-10). Oh, and the Doak Walker Finalist, C.J. Spiller, got his special teams touchdown, but as far as actually running the ball, he turned in a solid nine carries for 18 yards. The scene in Jacksonville (I assume this game is still played there) on Saturday night should be one of the great moments of this college football season.

Mississippi State 41, Ole Miss 27

As I mentioned to open this post, Ole Miss decided their C to B game would be enough to beat a hungry Mississippi State team, which we found out was not the case. Make no mistake about it though, this was, as we in the South like to say, an absolute ass-whuppin'. While the Jevan Snead meltdown was not a surprise, Mississippi State's domination of the Ole Miss defense certainly was. I'm not sure anyone on the State offensive line would have said before the game that they could block the offense's way to 317 yards rushing.

I wrote last week that I thought State needed to get something out of the passing game in order to win. What I should have said was that they just needed to get something out of the quarterback position. And with Chris Relf looking like Tommy Frazier circa 1995, they certainly did. What was so frustrating as an Ole Miss fan is that 11 other teams have seen Relf and knew what his capabilities were. And all 11 kept Relf from averaging, AVERAGING, 8.7 yards per carry. The Rebels were basically clueless when it came to defending the read option. Defensive ends came crashing down, not even considering that Relf could actually keep the ball, and linebackers did the same. It's like the defense watched about four minutes of film and said, yeah, we got this. Well done, guys, well done.

Now, here's the paragraph I've had 30 or so hours to think about. I tried my best to let my rage die out before putting my thoughts into words, and I think I've done a decent job of that. So, here goes. Jevan Snead is the worst quarterback in the SEC. There's no other way to say it. Yes, Tyson Lee and the guy from Vanderbilt are awful, but they have 2% of the physical abilities that Snead possesses. Snead has the NFL arm, athleticism and size to be a great quarterback, but HE HAS NO CLUE WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND HIM. His inability to read defenses, throw over the middle and put any damn touch on the ball absolutely cripples the Ole Miss offense, which was on full display on Saturday. And when you compound that he actually has a running game behind him, it's even more disgusting how poor he really is. As one of my friends said to me on Saturday, Snead needs to buy Shay Hodge a car or pay for his apartment for as many times as Hodge bailed out yet another one of this crappy throws. If not for Hodge, I doubt Ole Miss wins seven games and Snead probably throws 25 interceptions.

Here's a stat for you: In his last 25 games as a starting quarterback in the SEC, Snead has thrown 30 interceptions. 30. No, that is correct. 30. And if it's possible, he's getting worse. Seriously, there is no way that he can be allowed to keep playing quarterback with those numbers. Throw in that he doesn't have a high completion percentage and he's really not bringing anything to the table. Personally, I cannot stomach the idea of watching him play another football game at Ole Miss. He's a complete liability and there's no reason to risk throwing away another game because of five games last season and this alleged talent he has. Please, for the love of all things decent and holy, make him win the job this spring (I say that because I am aware the guys behind him could actually suck worse). Or hell, let's just run the Wildcat every damn play next year like the Dolphins are attempting in the NFL this year. I refuse to watch him throw 1.42 interceptions every game next year.

Florida 37, Florida State 10

Remember when every talking head in college football was going apeshit over the Miami/FSU game on Labor Day, saying the once great rivalry was back now that both teams are poised to be back on the national stage? So how'd that work out? The Seminoles ended up being a bad team in a horrible conference and Miami, while better, lost to a pair of teams (Clemson and North Carolina) that good teams don't lose to (also, the Hurricanes had the ACC's winner of the Awww-Shit Trophy in Jacory Harris, who also threw 17 interceptions on the year).

There was one moment of outstanding comedy in this game when CBS cameras caught Bobby Bowden wearing a headset, pretending to coach. I haven't seen that many Florida State games over the past few years, but the ones I have seen involved a bewildered Bowden staring out at the field wondering whether or not Joe Paterno won on that day while not being within 20 feet of a headset. Good times.

Tennessee 30, Kentucky 24
Damn you, Rich Brooks, damn you! Every time I throw my support behind you, you go out and lose. HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A FOOL. Although, I suppose he deserves some credit for taking this game to overtime while being outgained 446-261. It's also important to note that Jonathan Crompton didn't go down without a fight in the Awww-Shit Trophy competition, as he did give us one last interception to remind us of the magical journey we thought he was going to take after throwing eight picks in his first four games. *Tears*

LSU 33, Arkansas 30

The sports gods teased us with LSU facing another two minute drill, but took away our good fun like the jerks that they are (I'm done with Jevan Snead era at Ole Miss so I no longer care about angering them). Another clock management debacle from Les Miles would have been undescribably awesome. I'm excited just thinking about it even though it's already passed. I'd offer my congratulations like so many others have to Les Miles and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton for successfully coaching a two minute drill, but that's like congratulating me for showering and feeding myself. I would hope I know how to do those things.

I wrote last week that I thought Ryan Mallett needed to get close to the 60% completion mark in order for Arkansas to win (which he had never done on the road in SEC play). He finished 17-39 (44%) and Arkansas lost a game in which they had probably should have won. Now, it's not entirely his fault (nice job, Razorback special teams), but he needed to have a performance like he's had at home and he didn't have it. I'm very interested to see if he sticks around for another year because I feel like another five or six games of experience and he'll start to see the Matrix and win games like this one.

Georgia 30, Georgia Tech 24

And representing the second half of the ACC championship game, it's Georgia Tech! The Bulldogs obliterated the Georgia Tech defense to the tune of 339 yards on the ground and even had Joe Cox looking competent, which is best done by having him throw as few times as possible (14 for this game). Yes, Tech did lose its quarterback for a few series, but last time I checked he has nothing to do with defense. If their defense showed up at all (or even exists outside the ACC), Tech probably wins this game. Can you feel the excitement for Jacksonville yet?


USC 28, UCLA 7
For some odd reason, UCLA started calling timeouts as USC was kneeling the ball trying to run out the clock. So Pete Carroll gave them the F-you treatment and called a play (a deep play-action pass), which resulted in a touchdown. UCLA responded quite rationally and nearly started a 170-man King-of-the-Ring Battle Royale at midfield. This might make the alleged Battle for Los Angeles (I'm pretty sure this is the name of a Rage Against the Machine album too) a little more interesting, except for the whole thing about Rick Neuheisel being 0-2 against Carroll while being outscored 56-14 in those games.


(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)

Chris Relf, QB, Mississippi State
3-5, 43 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
15 carries, 131 yards, 1 TD

Relf was the difference in the game for Mississippi State. His ability to read the crashing Ole Miss defensive ends and then run for almost nine yards a carry put an end to any chance Ole Miss had to win the game. While his stats were great, they weren't totally overwhelming, but what he brought to the game for State won it. And in another fairly significant note, he took Tyson Lee out of the game.

(Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play.)

Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss
17-29, 275 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT

Was there any doubt he wouldn't win this? I covered all of his failure above, but I'd like to add one more time how I really cannot stand the idea of seeing him take another snap in which he will most likely do something dumb.


(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
After being dominated by Alabama, beaten thoroughly by Arkansas and eliminated from bowl eligibility, Mullen rallied the troops and thumped his in-state rival who was playing for a major bowl game. And he won a major college football game with only calling 14 passes.

2009 Awww-Shit Trophy Final Standings
The trophy, which gets its name from the reaction of fans when their team’s quarterback throws an interception (“Awww-shit!!!"), will be awarded at the end of the year to the quarterback in the SEC who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.

1. Jevan Snead 17
2. Joe Cox 14
2. Tyson Lee 14
4. Jonathan Crompton 12

Congratulations to Jevan Snead for being the most liberal quarterback in giving the ball away. You cost your team the Auburn and State games with your inability to deliver an early knock-out blow due to inaccuracy and sealed the team's fate with some late killer interceptions. And now, in a Belly of the Beast exclusive, it's Jevan Snead. Take it away, Jevan.

"Wow. Thanks. You know, a lot of people think it's really hard to throw this many interceptions, almost like you have to try to do it. But I gotta say, if you just trust where you're going to throw the ball before you even take the snap, the picks will take care of themselves. And if you just ignore whatever coverage the defense is in and deliver a smoking hot, wildly inaccurate ball, there's a good chance your receiver can't grab it. Hopefully, all the NFL teams won't touch me with a seventh round pick and I can come back next year and make it two straight."

Outstanding. Can't wait for next year.
(Post is delayed for a few moments while I play in traffic on the Interstate.)


Florida vs. Alabama

Thursday, November 26, 2009

SEC Picks of Week 13: The Thanksgiving Edition

Even though this is essentially the last week for the picks of the week, you'll not be receiving the usual 2300 words on six football games. I can already sense the disappointment. I have two reasons for this: One, it's a holiday and no one goes online during the holiday other than to check the steady failure of a fantasy football team (I spent a good 20 minutes today thinking how not thankful I was for the bums on both of my teams.). And two, I just had a gravy burp and don't want a piece of the 24,000 calories I consumed today ending up on my keyboard. So on to a rather hurried edition of the picks...

Last week: 5-1
Season: 75-14 (.843)

Alabama at Auburn

It's Chris Todd's turn to meet the buzzsaw that is the Alabama defense. We've seen this defense destroy every quarterback it has faced with the exception of, and strangely enough, Jonathan Crompton. Somehow Crompton was able to avoid a 40% completion rate and multiple interceptions, and if he had a kicker on his team, we might still be talking about the performance he pulled out of the air. Unfortunately for Auburn, I don't see the jelly-armed Todd having any such success. Alabama loves to play tight, man-to-man pass defense, which requires a quarterback with a strong arm and/or a great ability to throw a deep ball to burn that coverage. Todd has neither of those abilities in his portfolio.

Oh, and there's the whole thing about Auburn's defense sucking. Just a minor detail. I expect Alabama will slowly and methodically pound Auburn's defense into submission, which will end with the Tigers in a Figure Four (a Ric Flair specialty) and eventually tapping out. If I could remember the moves from Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton, I'd mention them here as well.

Clemson at South Carolina

I can't imagine how pleased ACC officials are that Clemson will be taking part in their illustrious conference championship game. Clemson, one of maybe three schools in the ACC that has a large, caring fanbase, should send attendance in the championship game close to 40,000, up from 11,000 or so every time Boston College and/or Virginia Tech are involved. I have no idea who Clemson will be playing (I can't even name the divisions in the ACC or the teams that are in the separate divisions), but I'm sure it will be every bit as exciting as you're imagining it to be right now.

As for this game, I don't have a damn clue. I know nothing of Clemson, other than they always lose to teams as good or better than them and usually find a way to lose a couple of games to team worse than them. And South Carolina, who the hell knows what's going on there? Are they totally done or do they have a little left in the tank? They put up a pretty good fight against Florida before finally crumbling in the last quarter, but I would not be surprised if they rolled over and officially died on Saturday. Based on a total lack of information, Clemson's tendency to lose games they shouldn't and a belief that South Carolina is better at home against a Clemson team that I think is terrible, I'll take the Gamecocks.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State

I think we can all agree the Egg Bowl trophy is secondary to the prestigious Awww-Shit Trophy (although, technically there's not a physical trophy, but it lives in spirit). Two of the favorites to win that trophy, Jevan Snead and Tyson Lee figure to play prominent roles in this game. Snead holds a one pick lead over Lee and Joe Cox, but as of late he's been reduced to a Trent Dilfer and isn't required to throw as much as he once was. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen says that Lee will play (even though he did not play the entire second half at Arkansas), but I don't expect him to throw more than 10 passes. So, it's going to be a battle and a tight one at that. If I had to wager on it, I'd pick Lee to tie Snead because I think State will have to throw more than they really want, and I assume they'd prefer Lee to throw those passes rather than Chris Relf.

As for the actual game, State should have some success running the ball, but in order to win they'll have to get something out of the passing game. And I have no official stats, but I'm pretty sure every time this season I've written that sentence State has gotten nothing out of their passing game (that's not to be confused with every game they've played so far). I look for the Ole Miss offense to keep plowing along, nothing spectacular (except for Dexter McCluster) and rack up 400-ish yards of offense and score enough to win. It should be a standard, gross Ole Miss/State game in which one team is better, but can't put the other away. As much fun as another 45-0 game would be, State plays much harder under Mullen and is at least 250,000% more competent on offense than last year.

Florida State at Florida
This game narrowly edges out Clemson/South Carolina as the single most unwatchable game of the weekend. Florida State is a bumbling, inconsistent but consistently bad 6-5 ACC team. Unless you are a fan of Florida State, there is no part of you that should have any desire to see this team play. Florida is a good, offensively choppy and generally boring team to watch. Again, unless you are a Florida fan, there is not a compelling reason to watch more than 18 seconds of this game. I would strongly advise everyone to take a nap during this time. Your body and mind will thank you. Florida wins.

Arkansas at LSU

Is it too much to ask the sports gods for another Les Miles coaching decision that blows up in his face? This has been one of the most glorious weeks I can remember in quite some time. LSU fans are out for blood, Miles can't give them any acceptable answers and LSU fans finally feel the pain of their fall-into-a-win-ass-backwards not working. If another major act of buffoonery happened again, I don't think he'd make it out of the stadium.

Interestingly enough, this is Arkansas' fourth road game of the year (they played Texas A&M in Dallas) and the previous three were all loses (Florida, Ole Miss and Alabama). And Ryan Mallett hasn't been so great on the road. 36-96, 638 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT. His completion percentage is awful, but he hasn't made the killer turnovers to totally wipe out any chance they had to win those games. If Arkansas is going to beat LSU, he'll need to really pick up his completion percentage to something near the 60% mark. But unfortunately for Arkansas, he's only done that twice in SEC play (Auburn and South Carolina) and broken 50% only four times in SEC games. If this game were in Arkansas, maybe I'd take the Hogs, but it's not and I don't want anything to do with them on the road.

Tennessee at Kentucky

A battle for one of the lower-tier SEC bowls. What the hell, let's take Rich Brooks and AN EIGHT WIN SEASON FOR THE WILDCATS.

Georgia at Georgia Tech

One of the other favorites to win the Awww-Shit Trophy, Joe Cox, could sneak in and steal the trophy from Tyson Lee or Jevan Snead. I really like his chances because I think Georgia will spend the majority of this game playing from behind. I would thoroughly enjoy Cox obliterating the competition by throwing something like four interceptions. What a great end to a career and season that would be. I like Tech to win.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

While it almost turned out to be poisonous, the red and blue Kool-Aid I was so readily swilling ended up going down smooth. And I'm actually drinking a glass right now. I've got so much of the stuff around the house that I'm considering getting some sort of bottling operation going here. I plan on shattering last week's record of Kool-Aid consumption, so be prepared for some potential outlandish statements.


Arkansas 42, Mississippi State 21

I haven't received word if Arkansas defensive coordinator Willie Robinson is back in the hospital with another allergic reaction to his defense's performance as they gave up 327 yards on the ground. I think he was probably able to fight it off thanks to the quarterbacking buzzsaw that is Tyson Lee and Chris Relf, meaning he only had to watch one aspect of his defense suck rather than two. Those two quarterbacks combined to go 8-13, 49 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT (the zero picks is hard to believe). Granted, they didn't really need to throw when the running game was piling up yards, but when State went down 14 with 12:35 to go in the game, they really could have used a quarterback. In fact, from the 12:35 mark to the end of the game State would only have 54 yards of offense. That impressive showing included a three and out, a turnover on downs and a seven play series in which time ran out.

Fortunately for Arkansas, while their defense was getting pounded by the run, Ryan Mallett overcame a shaky start and gave the business to the Mississippi State defense. 313 yards, 5 TDs (2 INTs) and he even danced his way to seven yards on the ground. I mention that because he came into this game with -35 yards in rushing on the year. While the State defense certainly lived down to expectations, it should be noted that they did hold Arkansas four yards shy of 400 total yards, so there's a nice feather for their hat.

But to me, the most disturbing news to come out of this game was the news that Tyson Lee did not play in the second half. Instead, the Bulldogs chose to go with Chris Relf and his tendency to throw the ball to no one rather than the other team. This is a travesty for all of us at opposing schools who have enjoyed watching Tyson Lee's body of work this season. I can't even put into words how disappointed I'll be if I don't get at least one more chance to see him throw an interception or five. But from what little I have seen of Relf, I think he has a great chance to carry on the standard of failure set by Lee.

Alabama 45, Chattanooga 0
If Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman played in the SEC, he would be a lock for this week's Eric Oliver. Coleman was a spectacular 7-25, 36 yards, 2 INTs. The good news for Chattanooga was that he was not a liability on the ground as he carried the ball zero times for zero yards.

Ole Miss 25, LSU 23
As exciting as it was to hold on to win this game (although it's hard to call something that most certainly took three years off my life "exciting"), it was a game plagued by and nearly ruined by coaching buffoonery. Obviously (and rightfully so), Les Miles is getting crucified for whatever the hell it was he did and/or didn't do in the last two minutes (I'm convinced he ran it down because he thought they'd just take one shot at the end zone, never expecting the Hail Mary to fall short), but Houston Nutt did his best Les Miles impersonation and isn't catching as much flak as he should since Ole Miss won (note: I am still on a huge emotional high and couldn't be happier, but the glaring mistake needs to be pointed out.).

His disastrous decision to go for two in only the second quarter down 17-15 nearly did Ole Miss in. There should be one rule and one rule only on when it's okay to go for two. And that rule is that if you do not go for two at that time, then you have no chance to win the game. That's it. No charts, no stupid scenarios, that's the rule. At that point in the game, Ole Miss' chance to win the game did not depend on that conversion. And LSU's defense was showing no signs on being able to stop the Ole Miss offense, so more points were certainly on the way later in the game. As soon as Ole Miss failed to convert on that stupid play, I knew it was going to come back to haunt them, like say being up two with LSU sitting in field goal range with one minute to go. Stuff like that always comes back and it's exponentially increased when Ole Miss is involved.

Despite Nutt using Les Miles' brain for a few minutes, Ole Miss was able to dominate this game (and yet almost let LSU steal it). 426 yards of total offense to 290 for LSU. 153 rushing yards to just 40 for LSU. In fact, until LSU's last two drives where Ole Miss did what it could to lose the game, the Tigers had only 172 yards of offense. As expected, LSU really struggled to run the ball. I thought Ole Miss' defense had a lot to do with that, but I also thought LSU gave up too early on the run, plus they rarely ran on first down (26 total plays on first down: 19 passes, 7 runs). And as expected, the Ole Miss defensive line really got a lot of pressure on Jordan Jefferson (4 sacks) and hit him on a good number of his passes.

Dexter McCluster earned the privilege of having first choice of bedrooms at our apartment we're getting in the spring. He was good, not Tennessee good, but without him there's no way Ole Miss wins. And Jevan Snead has truly become 2000 Trent Dilfer with the Baltimore Ravens. Don't screw anything up and occasionally make a good throw, which he did several times (I know, I'm still in shock). He still terrifies me each time he has to throw, but his attempts hovered around the 20 mark, which is right where it needs to be.

And finally, let's revisit Les Miles. I'm not really sure why anyone is shocked at what he did (or didn't) do. This lunatic has been doing this crap since he got to Baton Rouge. Remember the 2007 Florida game? He went for just about every fourth down they faced. Or how about the 2007 Auburn game? He threw into the end zone just for the hell of it when a field goal wins the game (receiver caught the ball with one second left and after the game he admitted he thought more time was left on the clock before they elected to throw). He has a history of making decisions that don't make any sense. It just so happened this time his luck ran out (and no one seems to be pointing out how fortunate LSU was to even have caught the Hail Mary) and the sports gods finally served him some sweet justice. And I say it's about damn time.

Florida 62, FIU 3

Since everyone cares about this game as much as Les Miles cares about rational thought, organization and clock management, I've got a little more on the scene in Oxford on Saturday. In case you missed it, Ole Miss made national news when the KKK announced they would be in Oxford on Saturday to protest the school's decision to stop playing From Dixie with Love at football games. Not getting into how the school totally mangled the process of getting rid of the song (which I was totally for), the administration told the band to quit playing the song because a large group of students and other morons in the stands would yell "The South will rise again" at the end of the song.

Because of you assholes and your unbelievable stupidity in your choice to yell that line, my freaking school makes national news with a story in which the KKK is involved. Of course, everyone knew the school was not in favor of the KKK being there, but the very fact that they were there is all your damn fault. Since whatever part of your brain that functions couldn't understand that yelling something like "The South will rise again" is horrible for Ole Miss' image (and it's not a damn tradition so don't give me that shit), the Ku Klux freaking Klan came to Ole Miss' campus. An organization associated with murder, violence and the stupidest assholes alive arrived on the biggest football game weekend of the year. So let me extend a hearty BURN IN A FIRE to all of you assholes who chose to yell "The South will rise again" when you were told what would happen if you didn't stop.

And to make matters even worse (if that's possible at this point), Houston Nutt said in his Sunday press conference that eight recruits chose not visit this weekend because of the KKK's appearance in Oxford, and that teams were most certainly using this against us. So let me go ahead and double down on that BURN IN A FIRE. Stop being a great reason why Ole Miss has the worst fanbase in America. Stop being so damn stupid. And if you could stop breathing, that would be great too. Ole Miss has too many problems outside of ourselves to continuously make us our own worst enemy.

Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 13

And there it is, our first two-time member of the 0-8 Club. Well done, Bobby Johnson, well done. And well done Vanderbilt for having completed five 0-8 seasons in the SEC since 1992. Also, look out for a late charge from Jonathan Crompton in the Awww-Shit Trophy competition. He's sitting at a distant 11 now, but I'd keep an eye on him next week.

Kentucky 34, Georgia 27

Thanks to Joe Cox's strong showing, we now have a tie atop the Awww-Shit Trophy leaderboard. Jevan Snead and Joe Cox are tied at 14 interceptions each with Tyson Lee lurking at 13 and Crompton at 11. Given Snead's new Trent Dilfer role, my money is on Cox to take home the trophy, especially if Lee remains on the bench. Georgia doesn't run as well as State or Ole Miss so the burden of the offense will fall on the passing game and the mediocre arm of the Ginger Ninja.

And congratulations to Rich Brooks for making me look smart when I claimed I thought he was a really good coach. It's not often you win games when you're outgained 487 to 260. This makes four straight years he's gotten the Wildcats to a bowl game.


Connecticut 33, Notre Dame 30
For a team that's had one bowl win in 15 years (over Hawaii mind you), Notre Dame sure does get a lot of attention. They are without a doubt one of the most irrelevant teams in college football. And watching them fade into obscurity will be nice when everyone STOPS GIVING A SHIT ABOUT THEM. Why does anyone care whether or not they fire that fat pear? They're a 6-5 team! The last time they stepped onto a national stage they were brutalized by LSU in the Sugar Bowl. They suck and will continue to suck because Notre Dame hasn't meant anything since before black people started playing college football. Please, at the very least give me two days where I don't run across a story that has anything to do with a Notre Dame coach.

(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)

Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss
24 carries, 148 yards
3 receptions, 18 yards
1-1, 27 yards, 1 TD

At the rate he's going, the number 22 at Ole Miss could belong to him instead of Deuce McAllister (and this award). In his last four SEC games he has 739 yards rushing. SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE. He's 97 yards away from 1,000 on the season and only 88 yards away from 500 yards receiving on the year. I already miss him so damn much.


(Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play.)

Joe Cox, QB, Georgia
12-30, 291 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT

Normally such a performance would not land you here, but this week didn't have many options. His second interception (to a defensive lineman) was a huge boost to Kentucky's comeback effort and whatever happened on the fumble on the two yard line are the main reasons Cox is this week's winner.

(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)

Rich Brooks, Kentucky
Goes into Athens and somehow pulls off a win despite being dominated in the stats. Brooks is now one bad Jonathan Crompton game away from having an eight win season.

2009 Awww-Shit Trophy Leaderboard

The trophy, which gets its name from the reaction of fans when their team’s quarterback throws an interception (“Awww-shit!!!"), will be awarded at the end of the year to the quarterback in the SEC who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.

1. Jevan Snead 14
1. Joe Cox 14
3. Tyson Lee 13
4. Jonathan Crompton 11


Alabama at Auburn
The last step before the Armageddon game in Atlanta. I look for Chris Todd to be spectacularly bad.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State
Two schools that hate each other bitterly, but no one else really cares. Hell, I think both schools are happy if national media types just get our names right. The Ole Miss Bulldogs is close, but not quite there. I expect this game to be cold, wet and full of spite.

Florida State at Florida
The other last step before the game of games in Atlanta. Note from CBS to Urban Meyer: Don't screw this up.

Arkansas at LSU
If Les Miles manages to lose this one, is that it? I would think not, but is there such a thing as a rational LSU person right now? For the record, if I were an LSU fan, I would be driving the bandwagon to fire him. Like, literally in the driver's seat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SEC Picks of Week 12

With Ole Miss' thrashing of Tennessee last weekend, there was a major shakeup in this week's bowl hierarchy as the Rebels became bowl eligible and poised to go somewhere not cold. Tennessee and Auburn took a turn for cold weather and Kentucky now finds itself in the mix. Now, not all of these teams can go to bowls with wind chill factors, as some of them will be sent to Florida by default, but as of right now none of them have secured their spots in the 70 degree weather.





Ole Miss


South Carolina




Mississippi State



Made while adding the sugar to my giant vat of red and blue Kool-Aid...

Last week: 6-1
Season: 70-13 (.843)

Chattanooga at Alabama
Once when I was in downtown Chattanooga, I ran into a group of Appalachian State fans right after they won the I-AA (or whatever it's called) championship game against Delaware (I have no idea why it's played in Chattanooga). I thanked them for beating Michigan earlier in the year, as it was one of the happiest moments of that football season for me (Ole Miss would go 0-8 in the SEC that year). They seemed like nice people. This of course has nothing to do with this game, but it was the only talking point I had.

Mississippi State at Arkansas

Arkansas had a moment of concern last weekend when defensive coordinator Willie Robinson had to spend the night in the hospital on Friday. Turns out it was an allergic reaction to the worst defense in the SEC, which he allegedly coaches (What? Too soon? He's fine so we're all free to make jokes now.). The good news for Robinson and his defense is that the Tyson Lee-led Mississippi State offense comes to Little Rock. As the Hogs showed against Auburn, they have the ability to shut down run-based teams for a period of time because their run defense isn't so bad (5th in the SEC). And Mississippi State is a run-based team sort of by default since throwing the ball is almost impossible for them.

Of course, Arkansas also boasts the worst pass defense in the conference, which could be exploited if Mississippi State had a quarterback. But, as documented numerous times around here, they do not. Arkansas will play an 11-0 defense and require Tyson Lee to have a career day to beat them. And looking at Lee's stats from this season, here's his best game so far: 20-30, 278 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT against Georgia Tech. It was one of two games this year in which he has thrown at least one touchdown pass and one interception or less. That, as you can deduce, is not good. So even if he pulls a Georgia Tech game out of his ass, it probably won't be enough for the Bulldogs. Why you might ask? This makes for a nice transition to our next paragraph.

The Mississippi State defense currently sits at number 11 in the league. Their pass defense is at 10 and the run defense is at nine, so they don't do much of anything well, and if you recall last week's game against Alabama, their secondary is really, really bad. Throw in a heating up Ryan Mallett who carved up South Carolina for 329 yards with only four incompletions out of 27 passes in Arkansas' last SEC game, and this is a perfect storm about to hit them (By the way the book, The Perfect Storm, is excellent. I highly recommend it. The movie, not so much.). The Bulldog's dream of a bowl game comes to an end here.

Florida International at Florida

Most likely I read this earlier in the year and forgot, but was anyone else aware that this is the last year for the Independence Bowl to have teams from the SEC and Big 12 play each other? This is a travesty. Back in the David Cutcliffe era when Ole Miss' home away from home was the Independence Bowl, I spent some time in the Shreveport-Bossier City area and to see that opportunity taken away from other SEC fans isn't fair. To me. If I had to suffer, then so should they.

LSU at Ole Miss

I told you earlier this week I was swilling the Ole Miss Kool-Aid with reckless abandon. In fact, I made so much I have more than enough to go around. So if you like games of chance (and who doesn't) that involve a potentially soul-crushing, core-draining moment, then please, have a glass while I show you how Ole Miss will win. What's that? Why yes that is an IV sticking in my arm. I'm pretty sure it's okay to insert Kool-Aid directly into the bloodstream.

LSU is claiming that Jordan Jefferson is healthy enough to start, and I'm sure he is, but I think we can all agree he won't be 100% healthy. The main question facing the LSU coaches is determining what percentage of Jefferson is better than 100% of Jarrett Lee. Personally, I'd go as low as 55%, but for some reason they have more faith in Lee than that. Anyway, if Jefferson's ankle is bothering him, it will limit his mobility, which is the quality he'll need most behind his porous offensive line, which is second worst in the SEC in giving up sacks (27 so far. And maybe I can use the word "which" a few more times in one sentence.). If he were more of a scrambling quarterback, I would think his ankle would be a huge deal, but strangely enough he doesn't run that well for as good of an athlete as he is (only 81 yards rushing in six conference games). That's either because he doesn't like to or the coaches told him we will kill you if you get hurt running and make us play Jarrett Lee. What that means is that he will be staying put in the pocket, assuming LSU's offensive line can form a pocket, and that makes it much easier on a defense.

Chasing Jefferson around will be a defense that ranks third in the league in sacks and fifth overall. LSU could combat this problem if they could run the ball. Unfortunately for them, they can't (10th in the SEC) and will be without Charles Scott, who last year had a whopping 10 yards on 10 carries in this game. Decent defenses, which Ole Miss is, can shut down one dimensional offenses and bad offenses (LSU is 11th in total offense) and I expect they'll do so on Saturday. However, LSU's receivers do scare me, but I take comfort in the fact that if their quarterback doesn't have time to throw or isn't very good, then neither are they.

As for the Ole Miss offense against the LSU defense, we all know what's coming. LSU has to find a way to slow down Dexter McCluster and put the game in the hands of Jevan Snead. I would think LSU certainly has the quickness on defense to be able to do so, but five days ago I saw McCluster run around a good SEC defense like they were a high school team. If McCluster is still running around in eighth gear, I don't see how he can be stopped. As long as Snead doesn't miss on his 10-yard passes, I think Ole Miss should be able to move the ball fairly well. I do think Snead will be forced to throw a little bit more than every Ole Miss fan would like simply because there's no way McCluster can do what he did against Tennessee again. He'll have a good day, but nothing that makes me question whether or not I just saw the single greatest performance by an Ole Miss player in my lifetime.

So there you have it, that's how Ole Miss will win. Shutting down the LSU offense and getting just enough out of their offense. Now, there's more Kool-Aid to be drunk/drank/dranked/drinked/shouldhavelearnedenglishmorebetter.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee
October was an exciting month for Tennessee football. They achieved the status of a decent team and saw their quarterback, who was challenging Tyson Lee for most inefficient quarterback in the league, become a competent forward passer. Things were looking up for the Vols. Then November started. Four arrests, two players kicked off the team, one victory and a blasting at the hands of Ole Miss. It was only fitting because things had started to run a little too smoothly in the Lane Kiffin era. The good news is those fortunes are probably about to change with Vanderbilt coming to town and a bowl birth on the horizon, which will immediately be followed by something else dumb. It's just how the Kiffin era is going to go.

This week, I suspect Bobby Johnson placed some phone calls to faceless/nameless Detroit Lions coaches of years past to gain some insight on how they avoided the 0-16 season, despite being absolutely awful. Unfortunately for Bobby Johnson, he doesn't have a Joey Harrington or the stable of other bad quarterbacks the Lions trotted out. He has a Mackenzi Adams, which, unbelievably, is worse than whatever the Lions had. I fully expect Johnson to join Ed Orgeron in the 0-8 SEC coaches club, and that's too bad. Johnson comes across as a nice guy and a coach who has flashes of looking like he knows what he's doing. I would venture to say that he's actually underqualified for the 0-8 Club, while Ed Orgeron is one of the only coaches in the world that's actually overqualified for such a club.

Kentucky at Georgia
I have nothing remotely interesting to say about this game (assuming all of the above was actually interesting). Georgia will win, but I have something else to mention. (WARNING: OLD MAN RANT POTENTIALLY BREWING.) Earlier this week, I read an article talking about the buzz for this movie called Twilight or something like that. Apparently, it's kind of a big deal. Something to do with books maybe, I'm not really sure because I wasn't paying that much attention to it. Anyway, I felt like it was a big day for me because as someone who does a pretty good job of keeping up with pop culture, things in this area are starting to slip by me.

I'm sure this means I'm headed down a road where I don't go to movies (wait, already there) and complain about all the kids and their nonsense. But, on the bright side, this means I'll no longer be able to rattle off the names of Taylor Swift's old boyfriend and her new one. It's embarrassing to be a 28-year old male and know the details of Chris Brown punching Rihanna (WHAT A BASTARD!!!). So I embrace my slow slip into cultural ignorance. Besides, being able to regularly spend 2500 words on the outcomes of football games about which most of the country could care less is much less embarrassing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ole Miss/LSU: Where Quarterbacking Becomes Mediocre or Worse

As I was daydreaming yesterday of a bewildered Jarrett Lee throwing multiple interceptions to Ole Miss defensive backs and passes into the ground on Saturday, the news came from Baton Rouge that Jordan Jefferson would get the start for LSU on Saturday. Part of me was disappointed because whenever you can watch a quarterback as bad as Lee put on a show, it's exciting on two fronts. One, your team's chances of winning take a dramatic jump. And two, watching suckitude of that level gets to be really funny (as long as you're not related to him or support LSU) after about three possessions. But, there was another part of me that was mildly excited because I know that Jefferson isn't very good either. In fact, just about everyone who has played quarterback in this series hasn't been very good.

So that got me thinking. Just how bad has the quarterbacking been for both teams in the series that goes back to some date when offensive linemen weighed as much as a 13-year old does in 2009. I decided to go back to 1992, when the 12 team SEC was formed (mainly because I started going to Ole Miss games around this date and I didn't want to do something like 103 hours of research looking up stats), and find out just how bad it's been since then. It's been bad enough that the yardage leader for Ole Miss in this series is, gulp, ROMARO MILLER. Yes, the same deer-in-the-headlights Romaro Miller that for some reason played over Eli Manning in 2000.

Anyway, let's drink in the carnage. Starting with LSU and from oldest to most recent (record in parenthesis)...


Jamie Howard (1-2)
37-92, 509 yards, 3 TD, 4 INT
I think it's also important to note the 40% completion rate for the man who once threw five interceptions in a single quarter against Auburn. Had Jordan Jefferson not come along, this is who Jarrett Lee was to be.

Herb Tyler (2-2)

62-105, 753 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Mostly thanks to playing for four years, Tyler was able to put up some decent stats. But, divide those numbers by four and you have a very blah quarterback.

Josh Booty (1-1)
38-68, 546 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT
While not great, Booty did achieve solid mediocrity in his two years against Ole Miss. And like all solidly mediocre things, he lost just as many as he won.

Rohan Davey (0-1)
9-23, 183 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
And this is the same quarterback that took them to the SEC Championship game after Ole Miss collapsed from 6-1 to 7-4.

Marcus Randall (2-0)
15-25, 194 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Although he didn't start two games, he did play in two. And one of his wins can be credited to Tremaine Turner catching the ball with his helmet instead of his hands, which resulted in a game-ending interception on the goal line. Not that I'm still bitter.

Matt Mauck (1-0)
16-28, 189 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
If the Ole Miss secondary had hands instead of hooks, that interception number would have been at six. If you can remember that '03 game, Mauck was awful, yet LSU found a way to win (thanks Lou Groza winner).

JaMarcus Russell (3-0)
39-77, 431 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
I think Russell benefited from the last year of David Cutcliffe and two years of the illustrious Ed Orgeron era. While not great, all he had to do was not screw things up against those crappy teams.

Matt Flynn (1-0)

19-29, 229, 1 TD, 0 INT
That one touchdown was in mop-up duty in LSU's 40-7 smashing of Ole Miss in 2005. Apparently, he also started in 2007, of which I have no memory. All I can remember about that game is the Shrimp Boat finally unleashing a spread option offense with Brent Schaeffer and the Rebels put up something like 400 yards of offense against a really good LSU defense. I too thought it was a good decision to wait until the 22nd game of Schaeffer's career to finally put him in an offense that played to his strengths.

And I thought I should mention that in 2002, Rick Claussen, yes the Rick Claussen, got to play and was an impressive 2-6, 9 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT.


Russ Shows (1-0)
9-15, 136 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Unfortunately, there were no stats which told me if Shows used all three first half timeouts on the first drive of the game. I feel certain that he did because it was a move that I'm pretty sure he patented.

Lawrence Adams (0-1)
14-22, 125 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Just when I had blocked this season out I ran across this stat. Adams was basically the black Tyson Lee with a little more athleticism. And looking at that stat line, fewer interceptions.

Josh Nelson (1-1)
20-41, 212 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
I'm pretty sure these stats are lying. There's no way Josh Nelson had a 4:1 TD to INT ratio. And thanks to Jamie Howard for letting him win one.

Stewart Patridge (1-1)

43-73, 503 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
I'll always hold a special place for Patridge after watching his 1997 performance in Baton Rouge in person. It helped that he had John Avery, but that was the start of my personal 4-0 record in Tiger Stadium.

Romaro Miller (2-1)

46-83, 669 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT
Not only is he the yardage leader, but he actually had a winning record. This is all very confusing. However, most of his stats can be attributed to the 1998 game in which he threw 4 of those TDs in the first half in what was probably the greatest first half of offensive football I've ever seen from Ole Miss.

Eli Manning (1-2)

63-118, 667 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT
If only he could have had a running game and/or a defense. I hate Ole Miss.

Robert Lane (0-1)

Brace yourselves
4-13, 23 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Granted, he had some yards rushing, but he seriously could not throw a ball further than 12 yards.

Ethan Flatt (0-2)

15-27, 124 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Flatt split time with Lane in one of those losses because of the inability of Lane to throw the ball further than a fourth grader. I think it was a small victory that Flatt completed more than 50% of his passes.

Michael Spurlock (0-1)
11-23, 119 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Also split a little time with Flatt in his loss, which when you combine those two, awful things soon take place.

Seth Adams (0-2)

7-16, 80 yards, 1 INT
What a tremendous run of quarterbacks Ole Miss has had since Eli Manning. To be fair to Seth, Brent Schaeffer and Ed Orgeron helped lose those games too.

Brent Schaeffer (0-2)

19-42, 280 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
See above about his wasted career running a pro-style offense. Not that he would have won many more games, but just maybe we wouldn't have been one of the worst offensive football teams in the country for two straight years.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Paul Head's one showing in this series in which he split time with Josh Nelson. 11-23, 85 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT.

If you're still reading, here are the possible combatants for this year's contest. While Jevan Snead's stats don't reflect his current ability, he certainly had the best performance by an Ole Miss quarterback since Romaro Miller's '98 showing.

Jarrett Lee

4-12, 49 yards, 1 INT
Please, please, please, please, please, please let him play.

Jordan Jefferson
10-20, 129, 1 TD, 1 INT
If his ankle really is that bad (and given LSU's offensive line struggles), his one feature, mobility, is gone, which is nice if you're Ole Miss.

Jevan Snead
16-25, 274, 2 TD, 0 INT
If history is any indication, no quarterback in this series put together more than one good game. And given Snead's new role in the offense, I don't expect he'll do anything like this again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

Just when I had begun the checking out process on the Ole Miss season, the Rebels do what they do best, lure everyone, including me, back in. Usually this sort of behavior means they're setting us all up for yet another colossal failure, but like any good Rebel, I'll blindly ignore what history has told me and fix myself a giant vat of red and blue Kool-Aid, which I will be swilling with extreme aggression this week.


Ole Miss 42, Tennessee 17
After the game on Saturday, it was a familiar sight at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium seeing Ed Orgeron walk off the field with the scoreboard heavily in favor of the opposing team. Only this time, he did not lead the Ole Miss Rebels to another SEC loss, but instead helped Tennessee achieve its worst conference loss since Florida pounded them 59-20 in 2007. But, thanks to Ed Orgeron and his addiction to recruiting (with an assist to Red Bull and pork rinds), he was able to find the best player on the field on Saturday and convince him to come to Ole Miss.

I've been to more Ole Miss games that I can remember over the last 20-ish years and have seen numerous acts of failure, mediocrity and general incompetence. But, sprinkled in between all of those I have seen a few performances that I really couldn't believe were happening. Eli Manning probably provided the most, Deuce McAllister had some and Patrick Willis gave one pretty much every time he played (despite his team getting the crap kicked out of it; he also would have had more, but since he only started two years, Eli had more.). But Dexter McCluster, discovered by the Shrimp Boat Captain, probably gave the greatest one I've ever seen. His quickness, acceleration, speed and vision all came together to form sort of gear that no one else has. If he had been on NCAA Football 2010, his rating would have been a 99 with a +419 next to it. And if you had been playing as Tennessee, you would have turned the game off.

As great as McCluster's performance was, and I wish I had the ability to wax poetic as to how good it was (I haven't the skill or patience to write like that), the one thing not really being discussed about this game is that Jevan Snead has become such a liability that he is no longer allowed to throw passes over 15 yards or passes over the middle. If you watch the game again, every pass he threw was in the flat to a running back or tight end, or an out or curl to Shay Hodge. He did complete one pass over the middle to Hodge, but it was off a play-action/roll out thing where he just had to turn around and throw to his one read. I understand the plan on Saturday was to get McCluster the ball as much as he could handle it, but it was still shocking to see a quarterback once headed for a top five spot in the NFL draft reduced to wearing the label "game manager." Not that I had a problem with it, but if LSU or Mississippi State comes up with a plan to slow down McCluster (although the good Rebel in me tells me that's impossible), the burden falls back on Snead, which I can tell you will be a disaster for Ole Miss.

Wearing his new label, I thought Snead played well. He didn't do anything dumb (the one interception wasn't really his fault) and even ran a couple of times when the one receiver he's allowed to throw to wasn't open. However, if he's asked to do anything more, I fully expect the mistakes to return to their former heights. As for the opposing quarterback, Jonathan Crompton wasn't bad, but wasn't exactly the Crompton we'd seen over the past few weeks. He made some really bad throws, a few good ones and was mostly just blah. Much like Ole Miss, if Tennessee can't run the ball (only 99 yards on 25 carries), they're in trouble because their quarterback isn't going to win the game. Some of that was helped out by the Tennessee defense, which had some guys out with injuries, not able to do much of anything with success. But I'll be interested to see if Crompton begins to return to the player full of bad decisions and throws that the 11 other teams in the SEC know and love.

Kentucky 24, Vanderbilt 13
Welcome to the Music City Bowl, Kentucky. Your next trip to Nashville will not take you to the West End, but to downtown. And welcome back Mike Hartline. He only threw six passes, but was able to get in one interception. Although according to Rich Brooks, he's supposed to have surgery on his knee, which could keep him out of a late push in the Awww-Shit competition.

And barring a stunning upset, Ed Orgeron should get the champagne ready for Bobby Johnson for a quick toast after next week's Vanderbilt loss to Tennessee. Orgeron can swap stories with Johnson on just how bad you have to be to actually go 0-8 in the SEC. In Johnson's defense, he has no players, which is still his fault to a degree, while the Shrimp Boat reached his 0-8 season with a combination of bad players and historically wretched coaching.

Florida 24, South Carolina 14
Steve Spurrier lives. Unfortunately, he lives at South Carolina where he has no offensive line and running game. I applaud the Gamecocks' effort while in the midst of yet another late season collapse. At least they're fighting and losing rather than rolling over and losing. It is appreciated by those who jumped on South Carolina at +16 this weekend. Now, please, muster the strength to beat a crappy Clemson team next week. We'll all be embarrassed if you don't.

Georgia 31, Auburn 24
All this game did for me was make me even more sick and disgusted with Ole Miss' loss to Auburn. Joe Cox, who got the Jevan Snead treatment this weekend and was demoted to game manager, fulfilled his duties nicely by delivering a 9 of 17, 173 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT performance, and Georgia was able to grind out some rushing yards against one of the league's worst defenses. Chris Todd reminded everyone that he does indeed suck and threw a pair of killer interceptions inside the Georgia 25 (and created just 17 offensive points against a bad Georgia defense). Why this Chris Todd couldn't show up against Ole Miss can be attributed to the Sports Gods having a good laugh at Ole Miss' expense.

With the loss, Auburn probably cost itself a shot at a bowl in Florida and the Cotton Bowl (assuming they lose to Alabama and fall to 7-5). If I were an Auburn fan, I'd make plans for lovely Shreveport or Memphis in late December. Georgia now has a shot to change its bowl fortunes for the better if they can beat Kentucky and Georgia Tech, which would get them to eight wins, one of which would be over a top ten Tech team. If A.J. Green weren't hurt and Georgia's defense was actually average, I'd feel good about their chances. Unfortunately for Georgia, neither of those are true.

LSU 24, Louisiana Tech 13
I don't know about you, but it was good to have some Jarrett Lee back in my life. I didn't watch much of this game, but the few plays I did were thoroughly enjoyable as he struggled to resemble any form of a competent quarterback. The only question I have coming out of this game is did LSU assume (and rightfully so) that they could beat Tech with their backup quarterback or is Jordan Jefferson hurt much worse than they're letting on? I think Ole Miss has a decent chance to win next week, but if Lee is running the Tiger offense instead of Jefferson, those chances jump exponentially.

Alabama 31, Mississippi State 3
Welcome back to Earth, State fans. I guess we can all agree the win over Kentucky wasn't as glorious as previously thought. And it was good to be reminded that the Bulldog secondary is still awful (I look forward to Ryan Mallett's body of work against this group next week.). As I said last week, in order for State to have had a chance in this game, they needed Alabama to be sloppy. Alabama was not. Tyson Lee also needed to have a career game and instead threw up a 9 of 17, 99 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs performance, which was not unexpected. Lee now has 13 interceptions and is suddenly a serious challenger to Jevan Snead for the overall Awww-Shit trophy. I have a feeling that if Chris Relf could competently throw the ball forward, Lee would not get his chance to win the trophy, but Relf is miraculously worse than Lee at throwing.

In order to go to a bowl, State must beat both Arkansas and Ole Miss in the next two weeks. I could see them beating Ole Miss...well, not really (I told you I was back on the Kool-Aid). This State team makes too many mistakes on both sides of the ball, and while Anthony Dixon is a great player, he can't take over a game. He's got to have help from at least one other player (preferably a quarterback) and I can't find one person on State's offense that could be that person (at least for this year, perhaps Chad Bumphis could be that kind of player, but not right now). One man offenses can be successful to a degree, but in order to win there needs to be more help.

Arkansas 56, Troy 20
Arkansas has two chances, State and LSU, to greatly improve its bowl game.


Oklahoma State 24, Texas Tech 17
When I saw this highlight, I yelled.

(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)

Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss
25 carries, 282 yards, 4 TDs
4 receptions, 42 yards

As if there was any doubt. The only question is where he, myself and Shay Hodge will be getting our apartment next spring.

(Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play.)

Tyson Lee, QB, Mississippi State
9 of 17, 99 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs

I received a text message from a State friend Saturday night that just read "Please graduate Tyson Lee."

(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)

Houston Nutt, Ole Miss
His team was poised for a floundering 6-6 finish after the Auburn debacle, but Nutt was able to right the ship, take the ball out of Jevan Snead's hands, put the ball in his best player's hands and as a result destroyed Tennessee. Now he has a chance to actually improve on last season's regular season record of 8-4.

2009 SEC Awww-Shit Trophy Leaderboard
The trophy, which gets its name from the reaction of fans when their team’s quarterback throws an interception (“Awww-shit!!!), will be awarded at the end of the year to the quarterback in the SEC who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.

1. Jevan Snead 14
2. Tyson Lee 13
3. Joe Cox 12
4. Jonathan Crompton 10


Mississippi State at Arkansas
Will Tyson Lee throw even more interceptions? Will Ryan Mallett throw for 500 yards? Will the Bulldogs start a miraculous run to a bowl game?

LSU at Ole Miss
Will Jordan Jefferson play? I'm no mathematician, but my calculations tell me that LSU's chances of winning drop by at least 25,000% if Jarrett Lee is their starting quarterback.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee
Just kidding, no one is looking forward to this game.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SEC Picks of Week 11

Since I took last week off to attend to very important things and pretend that I was extremely busy, I suppose it's time to update the always fluid (and what will ultimately prove to be incorrect, as I usually am) SEC bowl hierarchy heading into this eleventh week of the season. Please note that whatever absurd, Kool-Aid swilling confidence I had in Ole Miss earlier this season is now completely shattered.






South Carolina


Ole Miss

Mississippi State



Made while stirring a giant vat of gumbo to welcome the Shrimp Boat Captain back to Oxford...

Last week: 7-1
Season: 64-12 (.842)

Tennessee at Ole Miss
And now comes the day of reckoning. No, not Ed Orgeron's return to Oxford, a place which saw him nearly get into a physical altercation with his neighbors (allegedly, of course), land one good recruiting class out of three and win exactly 10 games in three years, of which three wins were courtesy of the now fired Tommy West's Memphis Tigers. I was actually looking forward to this game earlier in the year so I could see the Shrimp Boat grind his teeth into a fine paste as some of his good recruits destroyed his new team. However, that will not happen. The day of reckoning I am talking about is today. I am now faced with and will admit the cold, hard truth that Jonathan Crompton is a better quarterback than Jevan Snead, and, on Saturday, I will look at Tennessee's sidelines and wish the two teams could swap quarterbacks before the game starts. Just thinking about that moment makes me want to reach for a bottle of the stuff Orgeron used to drink in his headbutting days.

Ole Miss will lose this game for two reasons: One, the aforementioned Jevan Snead. I can't emphasize enough just how bad he is. Yes, he's incredibly gifted physically, but upstairs, to quote Ray Finkle's father, "the engine's running, but nobody's behind the wheel." And two, the Ole Miss run defense is not the wrecking ball it was last year. In fact, it's more like the arm barrier thing that you find at parking garages. Yes, it's in your way, but if you want to break through it you can (this of course is assuming that everything in movies and television is true and it really is that easy to break those things). Tennessee will rush four people, drop seven and wait for the turnovers to start happening. Then, once they get those turnovers, they're going to pound Ole Miss with the ground game. Hell, now that Crompton has performed well enough to pull himself off Tennessee fans' hit lists, he might get a little frisky and throw 25 times.

Tennessee is going to win this game, so the real question is how long does Ole Miss stick with Snead? After the Auburn and Alabama disasters (not counting South Carolina, in these two games he often had plenty of time to throw), what else does he need to do to prove he doesn't need to play anymore? Five interceptions? Pull a Michael Henig and throw six? Seriously, what is it going to take to get him out of there? Once he throws up a 3 of 11 for 35 yards with two picks in the first half, HE DOES NOT NEED TO PLAY THE REST OF THE YEAR (unless Nathan Stanley is even more awful, which, at this point, is hard to believe). As I've said before, Ole Miss has to at least find out what Stanley brings to the table, even if it is an onslaught of incompletions and bad decisions.

Wow, that was depressing. The only thing I'm looking forward to on Saturday is the potential Nathan Stanley appearance and the possibility that Ed Orgeron's meating-out level will be at DEFCON 2.

LATE ADDITION: It looks as if Ole Miss will be without Greg Hardy, who apparently has a broken wrist and might be done for the year (THE SPORTS GODS CONTINUE TO HAVE A GOOD LAUGH AT ALL THE HOPE WE HAD FOR THE 2009 SEASON). And, in even more exciting news, three freshmen Tennessee football players (only two of them actually play) were arrested last night for attempted armed robbery. These assholes used a pellet gun to try rob two people outside a convenience store. The word "try" is key here because the two victims actually didn't have any money. Whoops. Oh, and of these three assholes, one was apparently wearing some Tennessee gear, and to help them get away from the scene of the crime, they all hopped in a Toyota Prius, which of course is known for its ability to reach high speeds quickly and then handle well at those speeds. And the excitement rolls on in the Lane Kiffin era.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt
More than likely, this is Vandy's last chance to help keep Ed Orgeron as the last SEC coach to not win a conference game. Yes, they play Tennessee next week, but unless Jonathan Crompton remembers that he's Jonathan Crompton and not whoever he is right now, that's probably not going to happen. For Kentucky, they become bowl eligible if they win and will spend the holidays in the very spot in which they play on Saturday, most likely playing one of the eight 7-5 ACC teams in the Music City Bowl. So as you can see, there's a lot at stake this weekend.

Which makes it perfectly fitting that this game is rewarded with the JP Memorial 11:30 AM Time Slot (technically it's 11:21, but no one can look at a clock with any degree of accuracy before noon on a Saturday). And while we're talking time slots, allow me to pass out a hearty "go straight to hell" to CBS for picking up the Ole Miss game and putting it on at 11 o'clock in the damn morning. I was looking forward to a home conference game at night that didn't involve Vanderbilt (in 2008 Vandy was the only such game and before then it was 2006 against Georgia, which by the way, goes down as having one of the drunkest crowds in the history of sport. An 8 PM Central, not Eastern mind you, kickoff and a toothless Ed Orgeron team going against a Georgia team ranked tenth. It was a small miracle people were still alive by the time the third quarter started.).

Anyway, I've lost my train of thought now. Kentucky wins.

Florida at South Carolina

Both of these teams are sputtering their way down the stretch this season. For one of them, this occurrence is called November. For the other, it's a bit confusing. In the past two seasons, Florida has had one game (loss to Georgia in 2007 and Ole Miss in 2008) that caused it to find another gear and then ride on to burn and pillage the rest of its opponents. This year, it's not happening. Whether it's shaky offensive line play or very average wide receivers, the Gators are incapable of wiping people off the map in Genghis Kahn-like fashion. Luckily for them, all the other teams they've faced are more incompetent or don't have a complete team. In other words, Florida's superior talent level is saving its ass right now (which is a good problem to have). That will most likely change when they get to Atlanta, but we're not there yet.

Luckily for the Gators, the typically confused and bumbling late-season South Carolina team has arrived and can't seem to do anything right for an extended period of time. But unluckily for the Gators, South Carolina has enough talent to make this a game. And if Steve Spurrier's inner coach is still alive, he has to make this one close. It's a chance to prove that he can still coach, and that he should stick around Columbia for a few more years. But if the Gamecocks come out and drop their Arkansas performance on Saturday, I think you can officially start the Steve Spurrier "retirement" clock. This Florida team is not good enough to run South Carolina out of the stadium and if they do, it's on Spurrier, which I don't want to happen because I can't imagine life without him. I'll miss him so damn much. His laugh. His scent. After this is over we might have to get an apartment together. I think it's a close game, but Florida wins.

Auburn at Georgia
Joe Cox might be one of four quarterbacks in the SEC for which I wouldn't trade Jevan Snead (the others: Tyson Lee, Larry Smith and Mike Hartline), but I'd still think about it. Do I want a short, weak-armed, poor decision-maker or a tall, rocket-armed, poor decision-maker? It's a good question. I suppose I'd take the more physically gifted quarterback just on the chance he might get lucky on some passes, but a Joe Cox would be less aggravating because you know he has very little physical ability. Either way you're going to lose.

I'm not really sure where I was going with all of that because I was trying to find something to talk about for a game in which I have no idea what to expect. Auburn isn't a very good team (they didn't suddenly become good by beating Ole Miss). Georgia is a team that has a resting heart rate of about 12 beats a minute, so while not legally dead they're teetering between this life and the next. But, in Georgia's defense, they've only been completely destroyed once (Tennessee) and recently kept things interesting against Florida before collapsing under the weight of their own suckiness.

So, given that I have no idea what could happen here, let's go to the numbers to see if we can figure out anything because 60% of the time, numbers work every time. Both teams come in with below average defenses (Georgia 7th and Auburn 11th) while Auburn, thanks to some of the bad teams they've obliterated, has the top offense in the league and Georgia comes stumbling in at number 10. But, what we've learned about this Auburn defenses is that they spend a great deal of time making other mediocre offenses look like they know what they're doing (LSU, Ole Miss, Kentucky and even West Virginia). Georgia, despite being led by Joe Cox, should have the ability to move the ball and score on them.

However, Georgia's pass defense has the toughness and resistance of France's armies since they kicked Napoleon out of the country. This means that Chris Todd has a good chance to put a decent game together, and like most teams, if you can throw and run it's pretty easy to score. But, all of that said, it'll be a cold day in hell before I back Chris Todd on the road. Give me the Ginger Ninja and Georgia.

Louisiana Tech at LSU

This should be a lovely get-together between the highbrows of north central Louisiana and those who make their homes south of and along I-10. It'll be like a family reunion of sorts except with more violence and cursing. But rest assured, 80% of them will be related. LSU wins.

Alabama at Mississippi State
Here's a comforting report for State fans who should still be outraged over the fumble that was ruled not be to a fumble in the Florida game. You know how every time there's a play being reviewed the announcers immediately launch into the "they're seeing the same views you're seeing at home" routine? Well, not exactly. You see, the picture you see at home is in crystal clear high definition. The one the SEC replay officials see is in boring standard definition. So games that can cost schools millions, coaches their jobs and years off fans' lives can be decided by picture quality that is both disgusting and beneath me (watching standard definition for more than three minutes makes me want to vomit). So everyone remember that this weekend when a play critical to any chance State has to stay in this game goes upstairs. I, for one, am looking forward to yet another screw up by SEC replay officials (or officials in general) at the expense of Mississippi State (now that I've said this, I fully expect Ole Miss to be punished).

As for the Bulldogs staying in this game, they'll need Greg McElroy to stink worse than he has all year, which would be pretty bad. The only problem with that is even in the games in which he was awful, most notably against South Carolina (10 of 20 for 92 yards and two INTs), Alabama was still in control of the game. Their defense is that good (if you're State fan, just wait until you see them in person). They'll challenge Tyson Lee to basically be the offense for the Bulldogs, and if you've seen Lee play, you know that the more plays he is involved in, the more mistakes he creates. I look for him to solidify his spot at number two in the Awww-Shit Trophy rankings this week (no one will catch Jevan Snead unless he is placed on the sidelines).

I think we'll see a game much like the Florida/State game, that is one that is close in terms of the score, but never out of Alabama's control. State doesn't have enough offense or the players to actually pull this off, but I look forward to seeing Nick Saban curse repeatedly as his team slowly and frustratingly plows its way to a win.

Troy at Arkansas

Monday, November 09, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

My apologies for not giving the world 2500 words on who would win the eight SEC games over the weekend, but seeing that six of those teams played awful teams, I can assure you that nothing remotely interesting would have been found here (of course, that's assuming interesting things are normally found here, which is debatable). So without further delay, let's get right to all those thrilling games from the weekend.


Arkansas 33, South Carolina 16
Here are two series of events that perfectly define the Steve Spurrier era of one step forward, two steps back at South Carolina:

1. Second quarter, just under three minutes left before halftime, leading 10-7, the Gamecocks have the ball third at two at the Arkansas 49. They fail to convert and punt to Arkansas, who starts at their own 24. The Hogs immediately complete a 69 yard pass to D.J. Williams to the South Carolina 7 and kick a field goal to tie it before halftime.

2. Third quarter, first play of the half, South Carolina throws an 80 yard touchdown pass. They then immediately drop the snap on the extra point and fail to convert it.

Now, as an Ole Miss fan, I can appreciate that effort in disappointment. I've seen much worse than that over the years, but the essence of failure was still there. This is now year five for Spurrier at South Carolina and I'm not sure you can say they're any better than they were after year one. I know South Carolina has never had this level of consistent winning before (seriously, go look at their football history. It. Is. Awful.), so it's hard to question South Carolina for not wanting to make any changes (and this is still Steve Spurrier we're talking about), but with the lack of improvement and same dumb mistakes made over and over again, maybe it is time to discuss the idea of Spurrier moving to a golf course and an environment free of college kids who ruin his perfect plays. A firing seems as likely as a successful South Carolina running game, but a "retirement" doesn't seem completely out of question. So with that said, let's all watch South Carolina beat Florida next week, only to lose the following week to Clemson by four touchdowns.

Georgia 38, Tennessee Tech 0
While Joe Cox did not throw any interceptions, his backup (and I would assume the starter for next year), Logan Gray, did and is getting a jump on the 2010 Awww-Shit Trophy.

Kentucky 37, Directional Kentucky School 12

Let's all enjoy an interpretive dance to the Star Spangled Banner.

Auburn 63, Furman 31

I am happy to report that former Two-a-Days star Max Lerner of "We're gonna lose the game because Max Lerner is a dumbass" fame led the Paladins in tackles with eight and even forced a fumble. Unfortunately for Furman, Ross Wilson was not quarterbacking the offense and Rush Probst was not involved in any way.

Alabama 24, LSU 15
I'm sure you've read and heard all about LSU's claims that they were jobbed by the officials in this game. And they do have some legitimate claims, especially the Patrick Peterson interception that was incredibly ruled not to be an interception, but what everyone is ignoring here is that even if Peterson had been given credit for making the pick, LSU still had to have another score, and leading that effort would still have been Jarrett Lee. JARRETT LEE. And the scoring drive would have had to been one of 69 yards (assuming he would have been spotted out at the 31). The odds of that happening are about as good as an SEC replay official getting a call right.

I understand the outrage over not having the chance to watch Lee throw some more incompletions or another interception, but personally I'd rather not have to go through that and save myself the stress from such an event that would most certainly take off at least three weeks of my life. This game was over when Charles Scott and, I can't believe I'm typing this, Jordan Jefferson were done for the game. Jefferson played under control and was actually giving LSU a chance to win the game, as was Scott who was really starting to look good before hurting his shoulder. Without those two, the burden of winning the game fell on the LSU defense to create a turnover (which they sort of did) or a touchdown and on Jarrett Lee, which was almost a guarantee Alabama would win.

So now that the SEC finally has its Armageddon match up between Florida and Alabama set up, maybe this will be the end of the weekly buffoonery of SEC field and replay officials. However, they still want both of them to reach the title game undefeated, so two more weeks of stupidity should be expected, assuming that there is some sort of conspiracy, of which I am drinking the kool-aid. Only the National Basketball Association deals with these rampant conspiracy rumors, which may not be exactly rumors. How else can one explain such a constant screw up when a play goes to the replay booth (or even on the field)? With the amount of incompetency reigning down from these veiled figures in the press box, I wouldn't be surprised if the outcomes of the reviews were based on two drifters fighting over a tin can of saltines. And until your team has been thoroughly screwed over by one of these assholes, you'll never understand the rage that the rest of us have at the SEC.

Tennessee 56, Memphis 28
Now that the Tommy West era in Memphis is officially over, he has a few things he'd like to tell the world what the rest of us already knew. Watch the bridges burn.

Florida 27, Vanderbilt 3
The good news was that Vanderbilt had quite the balanced offense attack on Saturday. The bad news is that it produced only 100 passing yards and 99 rushing yards. It is still my hope that they can somehow beat Kentucky next week and allow Ed Orgeron to hold on to the title of the last head coach to lead his team to zero SEC wins in a season.

Ole Miss 38, Directional School 14

Rest assured ladies and gentlemen, Jevan Snead is still not very good. I was there for a little over a half of this game and nothing I saw leads me to believe he can produce a win against Tennessee. After he stinks up the first half this week against the Vols, there is no evidence in existence that could possibly prove he'll be a competent quarterback this year, which means he's officially done, so let's move on. For the sake of my sanity and health, let's at least give Nathan Stanley the chance to show that he too stinks.


Northwestern 17, Iowa 10
How is it humanly possible to talk about Iowa for a month straight? Well, at least this will be the last week in which the Hawkeyes are mentioned here. Finally, they ran out of sacrificial animals and the football gods struck them down with all their might. In fact, they even took out the starting quarterback in payment for Iowa's streak that was bordering on challenging on Seal for luckiest sequence of events in the history of mankind (his music career and his smoking hot wife, which to this day cannot be explained). Unfortunately, this turn of events means we'll most likely be seeing Ohio State in the Rose Bowl where Terrelle Pryor will ring in the New Year with a holiday basket of incompletions and generally awful quarterbacking skill.

(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)

It's the first week in which we have no winner. Seriously, everyone sucked this week.

(Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play.)

Jarrett Lee, QB, LSU
Although not really his fault since he wasn't supposed to play, Lee came in for the injured Jordan Jefferson and reminded everyone why he no longer plays. He wins this week's award because he had the opportunity to at least give LSU a chance (assuming they wouldn't have been screwed by the officials even more) and responded with a 4 of 10 for 44 yards and 1 INT.

(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)

Nick Saban, Alabama
Despite a void at the quarterback position, Saban finally broke LSU's win streak in Tuscaloosa. Yes, he got a little help, but in the end it was his defense that put LSU away for good.

2009 SEC Awww-Shit Trophy Leaderboard
The trophy, which gets its name from the reaction of fans when their team’s quarterback throws an interception (“Awww-shit!!!), will be awarded at the end of the year to the quarterback in the SEC who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.

1. Jevan Snead 13
2. Joe Cox 12
3. Tyson Lee 11
4. Jonathan Crompton 10


Tennessee at Ole Miss
The Shrimp Boat Captain returns to the school in which he won just three conference games and 10 games overall in three years. I plan on being there when the Vols get off the bus with a big pot of gumbo in hopes of luring him away from his game day responsibilities. Not that jumping up and down with the players before they run out of the tunnel is that important, but anything to throw off their normal Saturday would be a good thing.

Florida at South Carolina
Florida's last major test in keeping the undefeated season alive before reaching Atlanta against Alabama. I would mention something about Florida State, but let's be serious.

Alabama at Mississippi State
It has to be some sort of record for a team to host two top two teams in one season. I'm sure someone has done the research (if not, get on that, the rest of us need to know), but for now let's say it's never happened before.

Monday, November 02, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

And the year of wretchedly bad quarterbacking marches on in the SEC. Back in August when I was making my preseason predictions, one of the reasons I thought so highly of Florida and Ole Miss was that they were the two teams that were returning experienced and very talented quarterbacks. No one else in the conference had a quarterback with both of those qualities. Now nine weeks into the 2009 season, we know that any team that has a quarterback, experienced or not, that doesn’t turn the ball over multiple times a game and doesn’t throw completions to the ground with great zeal is all a team really needs to win. Because more than likely, the opposing bad quarterback will lead his team to loads of turnovers and offensive incompetency.

This weekend saw Chris Todd and Jonathan Crompton, two guys I have mercilessly labeled as horrible, lead their teams to wins over higher ranked teams. Granted, both won at home, but they played at an average level, didn’t do anything to kill their team and watched as the opposing team staggered around and freely gave away the ball. And remarkably, these two have combined for 10 wins this season. 10! These two have shown that with all the crappy quarterbacking taking place, you don’t have to be good to win, just don’t be a complete and total liability.


Auburn 33, Ole Miss 20

Let me open this individual recap by offering an apology to all Auburn fans and Chris Todd. As I mentioned above, if you’re a regular reader here then you know I don’t think very highly of Todd’s ability as a quarterback. And I’ll go ahead and say that I still don’t (on his very best day he is average). But, I was wrong to blast his lack of abilities while not doing the same to Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead. If it were possible to do so, I would welcome a midseason trade for Chris Todd. While he has 25% of the physical gifts Snead has, he’s not a liability for his team right now. Jeavan Snead is. (And that is how you write a paragraph that offers an apology, a backhanded compliment and a disparaging remark.)

Since leaving the game early on Saturday (yes, I know that probably makes me a bad Rebel, but after watching Ole Miss’ sixth drive enter Auburn territory and end with no points, I had seen enough. Although, I’m sorry I missed number seven, which ended in yet another Jevan Snead interception.), I have tried to come up with a single, legitimate reason why he should continue to be Ole Miss’ starting quarterback. So far, the best I could come up with was that when the offensive line falls apart as they do at least four or five times a game, he has the most mobility of the quarterbacks and has a chance to gain some yards running. That’s it. He doesn’t do one thing well (except throw really hard, he still has that going for him). He doesn’t read coverages. He doesn’t look off defenders. He doesn’t stay calm in the pocket. He doesn’t limit turnovers. He doesn’t throw the ball downfield or over the middle with any degree of accuracy. He. Is. Awful.

Yesterday when I got home, I decided to put myself through the misery again and watched the game (where does DVR rank on the list of top inventions in the past 10 years? Five? Four? I would absolutely be a wreck without it.). What I saw confirmed that which I saw in person on Saturday and for most of this season: He doesn’t have a clue what’s going on with defensive coverages. If his first read isn’t there, he panics and starts dancing around, hoping that he’ll randomly see someone break open. Good quarterbacks can identify the coverage pre-snap or as they’re dropping back to pass. They also know where to go immediately if their first read isn’t open. Snead can do none of that, which results in performances like we’ve seen all year, a bundle of imcompletions and interceptions.

Perhaps some of his suckiness can be blamed on the offensive line and a group of receivers that don’t appear to be as strong as last year (with the exception of Shay Hodge who is even better than last year). To me, the South Carolina game was the only game in which the offensive line was a total failure. Every other game they have been at worst average, giving Snead the time he needed. Auburn was able to get lots of pressure late on Saturday because Ole Miss was in obvious passing downs (and losing by two scores) and their ends didn’t have to worry about the run. Yes, Bradley Sowell isn’t very good, but he’s not the matador he was against South Carolina. With the exception of three or four plays, I thought he did a pretty good job on Saturday. And until I see receivers constantly dropping wide open passes or even looked at after Hodge is covered, I can’t assess much blame to them.

For Ole Miss to have a chance to beat Tennessee, LSU and, gulp, Mississippi State, they have to find a quarterback who will not commit turnovers. Incomplete passes can be overcome, but turnovers more often than not cannot be overcome. And right now, Jevan Snead is killing, repeat, KILLLING Ole Miss with his turnovers. I don’t know what Nathan Stanley brings to the table with his limited experience, but I think Ole Miss has to roll the dice and find out. You know what Snead is bringing and most of it isn’t good. Stanley could turn out to provide nothing, but when you’re getting nothing with what you have right now, it’s worth the risk to find out if you can at least get something average behind center.

If you’re still reading at this point, congratulations. And if you’re not an Ole Miss fan and just read all that, I salute you and can tell you that this is the portion of the recap where I stop complaining and discuss the actual game. To me, this was a game that Ole Miss lost in the first and second quarters. Against teams that are struggling like Auburn was coming into this game, you can’t let them hang around, especially after jumping on them 7-0. You hammer away and get to halftime up two scores. Ole Miss completely failed to do that. They bumbled around and let Auburn start to get confidence, especially on defense where after Zac Etheridge’s injury, the Tigers had three scholarship defensive backs available. DO YOU HEAR ME JEVAN SNEAD? THREE!!! Then Auburn was able to hit a couple of big pass plays and the next thing Ole Miss knew, they were losing a game they had control of 10-7 (Seriously, Ole Miss had 230 yards of total offense in the first half and scored seven points. And for the game, not counting Dexter McCluster’s long touchdown run, Ole Miss had one offensive drive that ended in points.).

I thought the Auburn offense did a nice job of using the aggressiveness of the Ole Miss defense against itself by using multiple play action passes, misdirection runs and getting to the outside quickly to but the burden of tackling on the linebackers and secondary, which are not as talented as the defensive line. And when Chris Todd threw, it was usually to a deep route or a safe, short pass outside. They didn’t ask him to throw a lot or do anything very complicated and he made good decisions, mostly not throwing to the other team or at the ground.

This is the freaking recap that won’t end. ENJOY ANOTHER PARAGRAPH. Going forward for Auburn, they’re now bowl eligible, which I was close to 2,000% positive wouldn’t happen this year. They’ll beat Furman this week and as awful as Georgia looks, they’ve got a good chance to win that one to finish 8-4 (after a loss to Alabama). Maybe chalk it up to a weak SEC, but for this team with what they have to finish 8-4 is outstanding. For Ole Miss, suddenly a 6-6 record is a real possibility. Tennessee is coming on, especially on defense, and LSU, while not anything special, is getting stronger. I think 7-5 is the best the Rebels can hope for (knowing that a quarterback change probably isn’t happening since the coaches are probably convinced the real Snead is the one from the second half of 2008), and worst case they’ll have to beat State to become bowl eligible since they can’t count both wins against I-AA opponents. And if State stays at five wins, this could be the first Egg Bowl that actually is worth something. The teams will still be bad, but at least a bowl birth will be at stake, which hasn’t happened since the Tommy Tuberville/Jackie Sherrill games.

Florida 41, Georgia 17
Another big game in another gimmick uniform results in a familiar pounding of Georgia. Joe Cox, reminding everyone that if you’re a fifth year senior and it’s your first year to start that you will suck (unless you play at Texas Tech), continued his impressive spiral down into the wing of the Short, Crappy SEC Quarterbacks Hall of Fame by throwing three more interceptions (what a race it will be between him and Jevan Snead for the Awww-Shit Trophy in these last few weeks). It was a performance that upset Mark Richt enough that he actually shrugged his shoulders and groaned (What a monster this man is. How dare he pretend like he cares.).

As expected, Georgia’s offense sputtered its way through most of the game, save for a ten-point flurry early in the second quarter (it also took Joe Cox only 20 passes to make multiple mistakes, not the 30+ I predicted). And, as expected, Florida was able to run when it pleased against the Bulldog run defense. Although to be fair to the run defense, the pass defense was equally awful when presented with its few chances to defend.

I was right about Urban Meyer doing something stupid, but wrong about when it would happen. In case you haven’t heard, Meyer suspended Brandon Spikes for the first half against Vanderbilt (and will most likely miss the second half after Florida builds a 28-0 lead) for eye gouging Georgia running back Washaun Ealey as he lay at the bottom of a pile after a play. I have no idea why he chose to do that, maybe Ealey had said unpleasant things to him earlier, but to go at a guy when he can’t fight back is chicken shit. At least Oregon running back LeGarrett Blount had the courtesy to attack a guy who had his hands free. And making it more of a total bitch move, Spikes is 6’3” and weighs 258 pounds. Ealey is 5’11” and weighs 205. So more than likely, Spikes could beat his ass straight up, yet he chose to go after him while he was lying on his back unable to defend himself. Well done, Brandon, well done.

Arkansas 63, Eastern Michigan 27
I’m sure it was as compelling and rich as we thought it would be.

Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 24
Yet another game about which I was wrong. I was right about Mississippi State being able to run the ball (348 yards), but apparently there was no Florida hangover for the Bulldogs. And it helped that backup Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton was, how shall I put this gently, ONE PERCENT BETTER THAN JEVAN SNEAD. If watching bad quarterbacks is your thing, I strongly suggest watching the replay of this game. Combined, the two combatants went 21 of 35 for 264 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs, which will be in the neighborhood of Jevan Snead’s stat line against Tennessee, but with a lower completion percentage.

I’d like to spend some time on this, but from the two-ish quarters I watched I can’t think of anything worth discussing. Anthony Dixon was outstanding (33 carries for 252 yards) against the nine-man Kentucky defense…wait, I’m being told Kentucky actually did play with 11. My mistake. I wrote last week that Kentucky had a great chance to win if they held State to around 150 yards on the ground. Well, State more than doubled that number and Kentucky lost a game they really needed, and probably should have won, in order to gain bowl eligibility.

Georgia Tech 56, Vanderbilt 31
Just when I was ready to have a good laugh at how the highest ranked team in the ACC was in trouble with the worst team in the SEC, Georgia Tech pillaged and burned the confidence and joy Vanderbilt had going with one of their strongest offensive outputs of the season. The good news for Vandy is that they were officially eliminated from bowl contention and no longer have to experience the small bursts of confidence being crushed by a superior opponents in their last three games.

Tennessee 31, South Carolina 13
With three early turnovers from South Carolina, all Jonathan Crompton had to do was not screw the first half up. He tapped into the limited ability he has and didn’t. He even threw two touchdowns. I can’t believe I’m about to write this, and I know South Carolina gift-wrapped this game for the Vols, but Tennessee is looking like an 8-4 team. Crompton has eliminated his turnover problem and their defense is turning into a really good unit, despite injuries at the linebacker position. And looking at their last four games (Memphis, at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and at Kentucky), there’s not a game in which they won’t be favored. Now, Crompton certainly has the ability to return to the real Crompton, but until he does, this team is a pretty decent.

Auburn is bowl eligible under a head coach who previously won five games in two years. Tennessee, coached by Lane Kiffin, has morphed into a decent team. These are frightening, uncertain times my friends. I can’t get a handle on it either. But, there is one certainty in life, and that is South Carolina’s inability to run the ball. The Gamecocks piled up 65 yards on 20 carries and as a result were forced to throw 50 times in the rain. And it didn’t help that they were down 21-0 before Steve Spurrier could even grind another millimeter off his teeth. But, the Gamecocks came in as a one-dimensional team and Tennessee made sure they stayed that way. Kenny Miles leads this team in carries with 86. Number two? Stephen Garcia with 72. As far as I know there is no running back named Stephen Garcia, so we’ll assume that’s the quarterback named Stephen Garcia. Unless you’re Georgia Tech, Navy, Air Force or some other option team I can’t name right now, that should never happen.

If South Carolina wants to find itself in Florida in January and end their typical year-end collapse, they have to find a way to run the ball. Arkansas and Clemson while not great teams can be frisky enough to beat the Gamecocks if they know they can stop the run with four or five guys. Those are two teams that South Carolina should beat, which would get them to eight wins, and a perfect game against Florida, who is beatable, is possible if they can become balanced. But at the rate they’re running the ball, a 6-6 finish isn’t that absurd.

LSU 42, Tulane 0


Iowa 42, Indiana 24
I think it’s safe to assume now that there are no more living cows, sheep or any other form of livestock in the state of Iowa. Every last one of them has now been sacrificed for the 2009 Hawkeye season. How else would one explain a game in which Iowa turns it over SIX times and wins by 18? Surely Indiana isn’t that awful, right? I think we should also send a warning to all of Iowa’s neighboring states because now that Iowa is out of sacrificial livestock, they'll be coming for yours.

(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)

Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State
252 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns. I’d say this one was pretty easy. With three games to go, Dixon has already hit the 1,000-yard mark. He’ll get a week off before his biggest challenge of the year against Alabama.


(Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play.)

Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss
16 of 35 for 175 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Not much more to say here other than what I wrote earlier. I can only hope this is his last appearance here either because he is no longer allowed to play quarterback this season or he goes on some sort of hot streak that no one sees coming.


(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
I wrote last week that State needed a miracle to get bowl eligible. Now they only need a break or two thanks to this giant win. Mullen was able to get them over the Florida loss and steal a game on the road. All that remains for him to do is find a win against Alabama, Arkansas or Ole Miss.

2009 SEC Awww-Shit Trophy Leaderboard
The trophy, which gets its name from the reaction of fans when their team’s quarterback throws an interception (“Awww-shit!!!), will be awarded at the end of the year to the quarterback in the SEC who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.

1. Jevan Snead 13
2. Joe Cox 12
3. Tyson Lee 11
4. Jonathan Crompton 10

Larry Smith and Mike Hartline have fallen out of contention due to improved play and/or injury. Mostly injury.


South Carolina at Arkansas
Can Ryan Mallett actually play well against a good defense? Will Stephen Garcia throw fewer than 48 times? Will more than 200 South Carolina fans make the 78-hour trek from Columbia to Fayetteville?

LSU at Alabama
Alabama’s last major threat to ending it’s undefeated season before Atlanta. Is LSU a decent team or one that has thrived on playing crappy teams as of late?