Texas Pete Week Three SEC Power Poll
Carefully scored by a panel of three judges, former figure skater Scott Hamilton, current Secretary of the Navy (and former Mississippi governor) Ray Mabus, and a shadowy Russian judge, this poll attempts to rank those in the SEC who are living the good life. And by that I mean should probably go buy lottery tickets in bulk. Pronto.
1. Steve Spurrier
After his not-so-entertaining-but-effective win over Georgia, Spurrier's team looks like the most competent in the SEC East. They can magically run the ball now and Stephen Garcia has been temporarily coached into not doing dumb things (repeatedly). Plus, the OBC showed he still has something left in the tank after last Saturday's win.
2. Mark Ingram
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner will likely make his season debut on Saturday against Duke. No doubt it's been killing him not to be playing, but I offer a bit of advice for Saturday: IT'S DUKE, so 23% effort is sufficient enough to get the job done.
3. Joker Phillips
He's so hot right now! Well, at least in the state of Kentucky, which he currently owns after beating Louisville and Western Kentucky. Assuming Akron is terrible, and I believe they perpetually are, he should move to 3-0 to start his career.
Nothing takes eyes off your 48-13 obliteration at the hands of Oregon like yet another Florida player getting arrested. If you're scoring at home, that makes 30 arrests during the Meyer era, which is now just a shade below six per year.
/standing ovation from Jackie Sherrill
/a tip of the cap from Phil Fulmer
/still waiting for public skewering of Meyer
/will be waiting a long time
5. Les Miles
He dared to publicly mention the name Jarrett Lee and the phrase "playing time" in the same sentence and lived to tell the tale. LSU fans have gotten soft.
6. Stephen Garcia
Our judges must have felt Garcia lost some of his magic from opening night, but he's still riding high enough right now (Note: Not literally high. Or at least I think not. Surely he waits until at least January. Or right before bowl games played in Birmingham.) that he belongs in the poll. And with Furman coming to town this weekend, he's got plenty of house money left.
7. Ryan Mallett
Mallett has put up the numbers he should put up against the likes of Tennessee Tech and Former Directional School, but his first big test comes this week against Georgia. But it's also a Georgia team that surrendered 408 passing yards and five touchdowns to him last season. I think I speak for the judges when I say, he needs a strong road performance for just once in his career.
8. Steve Addazio
Addazio jumped two spots this week thanks to an offense that looked 14% more competent than week one against Miami (OH). But most importantly, he still has a job.
9. Ole Miss
Yes, it was an ugly win over Tulane, but these days you'll take anything you can get. Plus, if there is a time for confidence in a conference win, it's when a hapless Vanderbilt team comes rolling into town.
10. Tyler Russell
Despite going 4 of 9 for 19 yards and an INT against Auburn, Russell will most likely see playing time this weekend against LSU. I think this is mainly an effort to get Chris Relf some rest since no other running back can run for more than three yards at a time against a team not named Memphis.
Last week: 9-0
Arkansas at Georgia
As I mentioned earlier this week, this is our first SOMETHING MUST GIVE game of the young season. An 0-2 start in the SEC for Georgia stuffs them in the coffin and begins the hammering process for their hopes of Atlanta. And, more importantly, it could signal the beginning of the end of the Mark Richt era. As for Arkansas, dreams of a 10-win season hinge on this game, as does Ryan Mallett's Heisman campaign.
Last year, Mallett was horrible on the road in SEC games. You could argue it was because of the schedule (Florida, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss), but if you're a good quarterback, you don't stink it up like this in four games: 53-135 (39.3%), 216.3 yds/gm, 4 TDs, 2 INTs. If Arkansas wants all those things I mentioned in the previous paragraph (and more), the Mallett of Fayetteville games has to show up. I look for Georgia to blitz the hell out of him and see if he can handle the pressure on the road. And while we know nothing of Arkansas' defensive improvements (if any), we'll certainly find out if there's anything there as I would expect Georgia to pound away on them trying to run the ball.
I'm taking the conservative, that's-the-way-it's-always-been approach here, but until I see Mallett not throw passes to empty spots on the field in road games, I'll be picking against him. I hope for the sake of this pick UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham remembers that the teams that came after Mallett beat him.
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss
/pouring one out for Dave Rowe and the rest of the Jefferson Pilot crew
Ah, it's good to have some structure in life. Death, taxes and the 11:30 JP time slot for Ole Miss/Vanderbilt. I think I've mentioned this before, but this game should never be referred to as the Ole Miss/Vandy game, instead it should always be known as the 11:30 Memorial JP Bowl. And I think ESPN should dust off Dave Rowe, find him a short-sleeved white dress shirt and tie and stick him back in the booth with his old partner Dave Neal. I can't remember if Buzz Baker is still on the sidelines, but let's get him back too. Someone break the news to Andre Ware, THE BAND IS GETTING BACK TOGETHER. Make this happen, ESPN, just one day a year.
As for this game, if you don't care about Ole Miss or Vanderbilt, or don't get pleasure out of either team losing, let me assure you, you have exactly zero reasons to watch this game. Horrifying offense? Check. Horrifying defenses? Check. Complete and total lack of enthusiasm? YOU GOT IT. Hell, I have to watch and I'm angry about it. Spending three and a half hours watching a blood bath of incompletions, soft zone coverage, read option defensive failures and punts is not how I want to spend part of my Saturday. But, of course, I will. It is my cross to bear. Aaaaaannnd, I'll say Ole Miss wins. Only because I'm a believer in Vandy's 0-12 season.
Alabama at Duke
Has David Cutcliffe reunited himself with defensive coordinators Don "Dr. D" Lindsey or Chuck Driesbach? Currently, the Blue Devils sit at 114th in the country in points allowed with 40.5 points a game.
Florida at Tennessee
What was once one of THE games to watch in the early part of the SEC schedule has been reduced to I'll watch, but it won't be so I can enjoy the high level of competition. Mainly, I'll be watching to inwardly and outwardly cackle at the look on Urban Meyer's face when his offense sprints on the field and immediately off for a punt. And you never know, the 31st Gator to be arrested under Meyer could get picked up by Knoxville police as he jogs off the field, and Tennessee's bench could challenge the first five rows of Neyland Stadium to a King-of-the-Ring contest. Whatever happens, Uncle Verne will be there to describe it all in at times painfully confusing and mispronounced detail.
Earlier this week, Derek Dooley said, "Until we get our passing game going, we’re going to struggle." So that's only 10 more games of struggling in 2010, Vol fans! As bad as Florida's offense is, they won't struggle like Tennessee's will. Partially because Florida understands John Brantley can't throw and partly because Tennessee's defense gave up two and a half miles of rushing yards to Oregon. I like Florida to win the game and the rushing attempts battle.
Clemson at Auburn
The late and spectacularly awesome Lewis Grizzard once described Clemson as nothing more than "Auburn with a lake." While I agree with the sentiment, after all, both are Tigers, white, orange, land-grant schools and had Bowdens piloting the operation at some point, only one has managed to consistently not lose to teams it shouldn't lose to and be spectacularly lucky over the past decade or so. Hint: IT IS NOT CLEMSON. And even though I don't believe in this Auburn team, there is no way in hell I'm casting my lot with Clemson. I wouldn't trust Dabo Swinney or anyone at Clemson to run a Saturday free car wash for the Baptist Church. Soap bubbles would come out of your air conditioning vents for the next three years.
Akron at Kentucky
Confirmation: Arkon is horrible.
Evidence: Gardner-Webb 38, Akron 37
Mississippi State at LSU
If Mississippi State throws more than 15 passes in this game, Dan Mullen should be known as The Coach Who Misuses His Offensive Talent (TCWMHOT). After confirming that Chris Relf still can't throw effectively over eight yards and that Tyler Russell can't throw against real teams (and is a giant red flag that says to defenses, "Hey, we are probably not going to run the ball, and certainly will run no option plays," Mullen has no excuse for rushing attempts being anywhere near passing attempts (that assumes LSU doesn't get out to a big lead, which I find highly unlikely).
Defensively, State needs to treat Jordan Jefferson like they should have treated Cam Newton: don't recklessly blitz and make him read and throw into coverage. Jefferson isn't the athlete Newton is so LSU will have to have more of a ground game because Jefferson has been instructed not to or simply won't run for yards. And things might get easier for State if Les Miles decides to toy with LSU people by exhuming Jarrett Lee. PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN.
I think this has a chance to be one of the better games in the SEC this weekend, not in terms of quality of football, but closeness of score. Unfortunately for State, this game is in Baton Rouge, where they haven't won in something like 72 years (roughly). Until they do it, I shalln't be picking them.
Furman at South Carolina
Unfortunately for the Paladins, I think former Two-a-Days star Max Lerner has exhausted his eligibility.