Thursday, October 14, 2010

Week Seven SEC Power Poll and Picks


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. Les Miles

2. LSU
This year's inexplicable undefeated streak is allowing LSU to quickly gain on Auburn as the luckiest school that has ever existed.

3. Jarrett Lee
If he had to throw the fade pass that beat Florida 100 times, how many are successful? Five? Six? And this lucky bastard threw a successful one on the second try.

4. Gene Chizik
Same line as last week:
"The undefeated season soldiers on, riding the shoulders of a one-man offensive show, a shaky secondary and the towel of Trooper Taylor."
Except this week, we'll change that shaky secondary to shaky defense.  Giving up 34 points to Kentucky will do that.

5. Stephen Garcia
The odds of Garcia ever throwing up another 17-20, 201 yards, 3 TDs and only one whatthehellareyoudoing play? NEVER.

6. Steve Spurrier
Spurrier would have been higher had he not three-putted on 17 and 18 on Sunday.

7. Jordan Jefferson
While still mostly ineffective throwing the ball, Jefferson was not awful otherwise and made no game-killing mistakes, plus he ran for two touchdowns.

8. Dan Mullen
He faces his old employer this weekend and may know a thing or two as to how Steve Addazio operates, which is universally known as poorly.

9. Vick Ballard
All of sudden Ballard has 11 rushing touchdowns, which leads the conference. When did this happen? How long have I been asleep?

10. Cam Newton
Eventually he has to not go for 300+ total yards right?
/would never bet on this
/could talk self into betting on this
/foolishly believes it will happen
/watches in horror as he drops 500 yards on Ole Miss

Last week: 5-2
Season: 40-9

Vanderbilt at Georgia
Remember how awful I assumed (and correctly at that) last week's Georgia/Tennessee game was going to be? Here's its twin, but with an even worse personality. My only question concerning this game is if Dave Neal and Andre Ware left Athens or just set up shop at the downtown Best Western. The complimentary breakfast and USA Today certainly had to be a strong selling point for staying. Georgia it is.

Arkansas at Auburn
Last year when Auburn got of to a similar start to this season, they traveled to Fayetteville and proceeded to have the sugar-coated shit stomped out of them. However, that team was led by the clone of Ben Leard/Daniel Cobb/Brandon Cox and this year's team is owned and operated solely by Cam Newton, who is roughly a nine billion infinity percent upgrade over what they had last year. So I don't think keeping up with Arkansas' offense will be as much of a problem as it was when Chris Todd was executing poor productivity effectively.

The numbers suggest Arkansas has a much improved defense (3rd in total defense, 2nd in scoring defense), and they have looked much better than last year. But, they've also only played one legitimate offense and it was Alabama, who rang up 421 yards of total offense. I think we'll see similar numbers from Auburn because, let's face it, until we see someone actually stop, nay, moderately limit Cam Newton, I think we can safely assume (and hurriedly jump to conclusions sans mat) that IT CAN'T BE DONE.

Normally, that would mean continued success for Auburn. But, this Arkansas offense has the capability of properly reminding everyone that Ted Roof is in fact not a good coach and his secondary stinks (10th in pass defense). Ryan Mallett finally proved he can have a good game on the road in the SEC, granted it was against Georgia, but the Bulldogs have offered more resistance (7th in pass defense) through the air than Auburn. If Mallett can avoid the large quantities of incompletions that plagued him in road games last year and the interception bug he's picked up this year, I like the Hogs' chances against this defense.

Usually, I'd insert something right about here about Arkansas needing to run the ball to pull this upset off. But, in Auburn's last two SEC games (South Carolina and Kentucky), neither of those teams paid much attention to running the ball (either they couldn't or got behind and had to start throwing) and were able to throw with success, nearly winning both games. If not for South Carolina's free football giveaway in the fourth quarter, they win by throwing the ball.

I would be willing to bet Bobby Petrino, deep within the recesses of his evil lair, has not slept this week due to the pure joy of facing a secondary like this (or he's possibly already thinking about Ole Miss'). If Petrino and Mallett threw for 357 yards against an Alabama secondary I think is much better than Auburn's, they should see some strong results on Saturday. I'm taking Arkansas and the potential regret that may come Saturday afternoon.

South Carolina at Kentucky
I have no official stats to back this claim up, but since leaping to conclusions is always fun and highly popular, I'll go ahead and say games like this should scare the crap out of the Gamecocks, given their history of collapsing at the worst possible time.  Team Spurrier/Garcia is fresh off an upset of the number one team in the country, in control of their destiny in the East and facing a Kentucky team piloted by Mike Hartline, who might be without the services of Derrick Locke.

The old Spurrier would drop a heavy payload of napalm over Kentucky's hopes and dreams right out of the gate, then when the matter was well in hand, do it again because, hell, that stuff is not gonna keep for another week.  But the Spurrier at South Carolina has never found the ability to destroy teams he should destroy.  Perhaps it's South Carolina and its football history (and lack of a successful history).  Or maybe it's hard to plan for a destruction while trying to rally on the back nine.  Whatever the reason, this game reeks of red flagness.  I like South Carolina, but it won't be comfortable.

Mississippi State at Florida
Surely after two straight weeks of loses and good, solid visual and statistical evidence that the option run by John Brantley is a horrible idea, Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio will decide that punting is a bad thing and perhaps they should throw passes further than 7.3 yards down the field with Brantley.  It's entirely possible that Brantley is himself terrible and that would be a bad idea, but something other than whatever they're doing now has to be tried, right?  Barely out performing Tennessee in total offense should send chills and a sweaty fever throughout your body.

Even though Florida comes stumbling in at number eight in the conference in run defense, I'm not sure State can effectively move the ball.  Florida still had a pretty good defense (4th in total defense) and good defenses usually have their way with one-dimensional teams, which State is.  Certainly, the Bulldogs have plenty of offensive momentum right now (three straight wins) and appear to have found some help in the backfield for Chris Relf in the form of Vick Ballard, but if they can't throw in the neighborhood of 150 yards to keep Florida from crowding the line, they might have a hard time running.

I realize this is coming from the guy who went on top of a mountain to look down upon Dan Mullen and shout that Relf needed to throw the ball as few times as possible, and they can still throw very little as long as they hit some big passes, but against legitimate defenses that probably have better athletes than your offense, you can't be one-dimensional.  And if Mullen plays Tyler Russell for more than, no, wait, AT ALL, State fans, you are more than justified to hop on a plane, fly to Gainesville, catch a cab to the stadium and attack Mullen on the sideline.

If State's defense can get out of the way and let Florida's offense jalopy its way around, I think they have a chance to steal this game.  Unfortunately, the game is in Gainesville where the Bulldogs last won sometime in the 14th century (give or take a few years).  To date, Mullen's biggest wins on the road have come over Vanderbilt and Kentucky, so until he pulls off a win like this one would be, I shall rest my selection on the steely glare of Urban Meyer and the Sgt. Slaughter looks of Steve Addazio.

McNeese State at LSU
What a stroke of genius it would be if the sports gods had been setting us up for an LSU loss to the Cowboys.  I would weep with joy and perhaps suffocate from deep, violent belly laughs.

Ole Miss at Alabama
The only factor I need to examine to correctly pick this game is its location.  Tuscaloosa?  Yes.  Alabama wins.  Across the street from Bryant-Denny Stadium in a cemetery, and, if you look closely enough, you'll find a tombstone in there with Ole Miss' name on it because Tuscaloosa is where Ole Miss teams always die.  And it's pretty convenient just to carry them across the street.  So while.....


COMPLETE AND UTTER CATASTROPHE AVOIDED.  While I'm on record against this whole stupid process for its waste of time and resources when we have much larger problems, I am glad Ole Miss fans sent Hotty Toddy back to Greendale Community College before he got loose on campus.  Now, let's move on and never speak of this business again.  IT'S A DAMN MASCOT.

Anyway, about this game, the way I see it Ole Miss has two major issues going into this game (why yes, that is pretty generous of me).  One, and the most obvious one, Alabama is very good.  They're bigger, faster and stronger than we are and better coached.  And two, for Ole Miss to have a chance in a game like this, we have to have a defense that can get stops when we desperately need them.  This defense cannot do that.  They can't pass rush, defend the pass, defend anything to the outside or resemble a non-Big 12 defense in any way.  In short, THEY STINK.

And that in of itself stinks because Ole Miss should have some success moving the ball.  Jeremiah Masoli is athletic enough that he can make a bad play into not-so-bad and this offense puts him in position to make good plays stay good plays.  Plus, this is the first time this season Alabama has seen an offense like this.  I'm sure they'll eventually adjust to make some stops, but for a while, I believe we'll be treated to lots of rednecky screams of "GET HIM!!!" as Masoli runs around the Alabama defense.  Unfortunately, unless the Crimson Tide is in a giving mood, say in the vicinity of 12 turnovers, Ole Miss has no chance to win.  Not to worry though, I've already talked myself into a potential financial victory and taken the 21.5 points Vegas so graciously gave Ole Miss.

Edited to add a programming note:  Due to my travel to Tuscaloosa to absorb another body blow in a long line of body blows, The Belly of the Beast will be set to "non-operational" on Friday.  Not that this status is much of a departure from the norm around here, but I thought you'd like to know.  However, please feel free to stop by and explore the space.  There's no charge for that. 

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