TEXAS PETE HOT SAUCE WEEK NINE 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. Gene Chizik
Pardon me if I'm failing to understand the claims that Gene Chizik turned out to be the perfect hire for Auburn. Nothing screams perfect hire like a 5-19 career record. What does scream perfect hire is Cam Newton and the favor of the sports gods. Chizik has done exactly two good things at Auburn: Sign Cam Newton and had Gus Malzahn in place to get the most out of Newton's talents. Without Newton, Auburn is the same 8-4 team that was lucky to be 8-4.
If only more teams and universities were about family, then they too could experience the joy of of an 8-0 season aided by Kyle Parker's inaccurate arm in overtime, instant replay incompetence and the dual threat monster that is Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.
3. Ted Roof
When I said last week that Roof needed to make sure at least half his salary went to Gus Malzahn, I should have mentioned the other half (minus Roof's living expenses) needed to go to Cam Newton. Once he goes pro, of course. Auburn, nor would any fine, upstanding school in the SEC, ever engage in such practices.
4. Mike Hartline
From earlier this week: 2 SEC games, 59-85 (69%), 702 yards, 8 TDs and 1 INT. That's MIKE HARTLINE. MIKE HARTLINE OF KENTUCKY.
5. Mark Richt
Three straight conference wins (granted, they were three of the worst teams in the conference) and exactly zero arrests. I think this clock is ticking the fastest.
6. Dan Mullen
The Bulldogs have won five straight and are bowl eligible. If that's not playing with house money, then playing with house money ceases to be qualified to be used in an example like this. And with Kentucky in Starkville this weekend - I can't believe the day has come when I have to type this - it could be six straight.
7. Tyler Wilson
The injuries to the quite delicate Ryan Mallett have given Wilson a chance to show that he is indeed a competent quarterback. Against Auburn he looked very strong (minus the interceptions we knew were coming) and had a few solid glimpses versus Ole Miss, but that was mainly due to the Rebel defense laying down for Knile Davis.
8. Brian Maddox
Who? No idea. But he benefited from the injury to Marcus Lattimore and cranked out 146 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt.
9. Julio Jones
He's got a robotic hand and one normal hand and is catching passes at a higher rate than ever before. I doubt Nick Saban is above giving Jones another Luke Skywalker hand if he can continue to catch 12 passes for 221 yards each week.
10. LaDarius Perkins
Again, no idea. But he was the beneficiary of Vick Ballard's injury and rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown against UAB (also caught a short touchdown pass).
Last week: 5-1
Season: 48-13 (.789)
Tennessee at South Carolina
As I've been hammering on with Tennessee, the Vols have so few good players, it's nearly impossible for them to put together consecutive good games. Now, they've reached the point where all that can be asked of them is one good half. And I'm going to go ahead and say even one good half won't happen in consecutive games. So good news for you, South Carolina.
In that general vicinity, bad news for you, Tennessee. You stink and Steve Spurrier got smashed by you last year. And if Spurrier is still the Spurrier we all once knew, he lives for vicious payback, especially when he knows a team is down. My favorite example is the late touchdown pass he threw against Mississippi State in 2001 to make it 52-0 (the one for the manager who got knocked over in State's celebration a year earlier). Now THAT was the Steve Spurrier I love. And given his feelings for all things Tennessee, I expect him to give the Vols a similar treatment.
Florida at Georgia (in Jacksonville)
Only because it never stops being funny, and what better way to recognize the tomfoolery associated with the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (or whatever the politically correct name is now):
Per the usual, this game has SEC East title implications. Not per the usual, both teams SUCK and will make this game far less interesting than Leah smashing her face into a bathroom stall door. However, even with three conference losses, the winner is still alive in the SEC East race. If Florida wins, all they need to do is win out and they'll go to Atlanta. Georgia would need South Carolina to do something dumb in at least two more games, which, with the powers of Stephen Garcia and the history of South Carolina football, is very realistic.
As you have no doubt correctly guessed by now, neither team will do much forward advancement of the ball. Florida will continue running option plays with John Brantley, whose foot speed is in the neighborhood of that table in the corner of the room (the one without the lamp on it), and throwing 1.2 yard passes. Georgia will do whatever it is they do while they're not throwing in the direction of A.J. Green. Given Florida's alleged offense, all signs point to Georgia as the winner. However, two things come to mind: 1. Georgia is terrible and lost to COLORADO. 2. Mark Richt is owned by Urban Meyer (1-4 against him) and just about any team of equal strength.
Look, I know Florida is awful and Georgia has shown signs of life after COLORADO slapped them around for 60 minutes. But there is not a chance in hell I would ever pick Mark Richt to win a game against Florida. NONE. I don't care that Steve Addazio would be questioned by parents of a Pop Warner league team as he continually called for sweeps and options with the fat kid, Mark Richt was born to lose games like this. BORN TO.
Auburn at Ole Miss
I was poised to pick Ole Miss to conjure up some Houston Nutt magic and pull off the upset of upsets. Then these national media assholes had to go and pick the same thing, ruining whatever chance at the upset there was (I don't have my hands on the information now and could be pulling this out of the air, but I'm sure there's a mathematical property that shows how your chances of upsetting a team go down as more people jump on the bandwagon. GET YOUR ASSES OFF, ESPN). So yes, I am casting an Urban Meyer death-stare at you Kirk Herbstreit, Colin Cowherd, Pat Forde and Scott Van Pelt.
You know what else tells me the upset isn't going to happen? Those get-to-the-point, brutally honest, bastard stats. Compare and contrast:
Total offense 1st
Rushing offense 1st
Passing offense 9th
Passing efficiency 1st
Ole Miss' Defense
Total defense 10th
Rushing defense 6th
Passing defense 10th
Pass defense efficiency 12th
Not good times for the Rebels. In order to pull of a win like this, you have to have a defense that can get stops at crucial points in the game (or, in Ole Miss' case, in general). This Ole Miss defense is horribly undisciplined, makes the same mistakes over and over again and it's becoming quite evident that Tyrone Nix is making a habit out of getting his ass handed to him. There's no evidence to suggest this group will have their shit together on Saturday.
But (insert creaking door opening noise here), there is a sliver of hope for Ole Miss. As we all know, Auburn's secondary is wretched (11th) and the defense in general is very average (6th in total and 8th in scoring). If Ole Miss comes out running the second half at Arkansas offense (Masoli throwing, running for his life and throwing some more), then the Rebels have a chance to match Auburn score for score. Obviously, throwing is more dangerous than running with interceptions and Auburn's ability to have tipped balls land in their hands, but it's the only chance Ole Miss has. If we (yes, WE, DAMMIT) come out and try to run read option plays and stay conservative, the thrashing shall commence immediately. And I will be filled with the burning hot anger and rage of 1,000 suns.
I've just made the case for Auburn to win the game. But, hold on, let me check and see if I have money on this game.
/checks for forgotten bets
/checks email first
/checks for forgotten bets
/finds no bets
/answers GChat message
/forgets about writing this post
/remembers 10 minutes later
No, I do not have any wagers on this game. So with that in mind, screw it. Something good has to happen this season. HAS TO HAPPEN. Move your frosted tips over, Herbstreit, I need a seat on this bandwagon. I'm taking the Rebels.
/sports gods laugh
/break Jeremiah Masoli's hip
Vanderbilt at Arkansas
Someone explain to me why this game isn't the JP/Lincoln Financial Special. The game reeks of Dave Neal and Andre Ware. It also reeks of death and destruction for Vanderbilt.
Kentucky at Mississippi State
I missed this game last year because I neglected to look at the stat that will determine this game. State's rushing offense: 2nd. Kentucky's rushing defense: 11th. All the others don't really matter. Unless State turns the ball over or begins showing off Chris Relf's arm, this is win number seven and the sixth straight. Kentucky should put up some points due to the arrival of Mike Hartline's quarterbacking ability and shaky State secondary (8th), but this magical ride into the ionosphere of Hartline touchdowns and massive yards without interceptions and incompletions will soon be coming back to the cold, hard ground, smashing into a million pieces. I like State to take one step further away from the Liberty Bowl with this win.
Note of average importance: I will be traveling on Friday to the Ole Miss/Auburn game in Oxford on Saturday to witness the upset or yet another soul-crushing defeat in a long line of soul-crushing defeats. I expect to come back a man full of boiling rage or absurd optimism, so you've been warned. Anyway, all of that means that there won't be any posting here on Friday. I might make an attempt to get one in later tonight, but, let's be honest with each other, I have important stuff to do, like catch up on MTV's Cutthroat Challenge. And I forgot to watch Modern Family last night. Plus, 30 Rock, Community and The Office (I REFUSE TO GIVE UP). So we'll see. For those of you who aren't familiar with what that means, it means not gonna happen. But feel free to explore the space and see just how wrong I am most of the time.