TEXAS PETE HOT SAUCE WEEK SIX 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. Les Miles
Was there any doubt he wouldn't be perched here? Like General Benjamin Prentiss' division at the center of the Union line on the first day of Shiloh, Miles' lines have bent back on themselves, but have refused to break. They will break at some point, but son of a bitch, can they go ahead and shatter so LSU can finally have a 5-7 season and Miles gets fired as opposed to LSU having a 10-2 season and Miles gets fired. Knowing LSU's good fortune, they latter will happen and the new coach will immediately win 11 games.
You lucky bastards. You should have felt the pain and shock of what was going to the be worst loss you will ever experience.
3. Jarrett Lee
He achieved the rank of serviceable, which is about six floors above his ceiling.
4. Brandon Bolden
Since the Enrique Davis injury (two games), Bolden, who should have been the feature back from the first minute of the Jacksonville State game, has rushed for 336 yards on 42 carries (8 yards a carry) and has three touchdowns. When Davis gets back, Bolden will certainly lose carries for some reason that makes sense only in the recesses of Houston Nutt's mind.
5. Gene Chizik
The undefeated season soldiers on, riding the shoulders of a one-man offensive show, a shaky secondary and the towel of Trooper Taylor.
6. Stevan Ridley
Despite Gary Crowton's attempts to keep LSU's total yardage at or below 100 yards a game, Ridley has quietly put together a solid year (97 carries, 557 yards, 5.7/carry, 4 TDs). Once Crowton gets wind of this nonsense, your day in the sun will come to a close.
/emails Gary Crowton repeatedly
7. Dan Mullen
The questionable Mississippi State secondary doesn't have to face Case Keenum operating the sprint to half a hundred that is the Houston Cougar offense. Keenum tore his ACL a few weeks ago and just about every other quarterback on Houston's roster is injured as well.
8. Jeremiah Masoli
He momentarily stopped throwing interceptions and added four more touchdowns to his bag of statistics. While I think the touchdowns will continue, I have not eased my concerns over the interceptions.
9. Tyler Russell
Even thought it was only Alcorn State, Dan Mullen did dust off Russell and allowed him to play. And he only threw one interception as opposed to the three he threw last time he saw action.
10. H.R. Greer
It's not everyday a fullback at Ole Miss is allowed to touch the ball, much less score. Greer caught his first career touchdown pass (and first touchdown period) against Kentucky. Don't judge me for putting him here, you know what you're getting in this space, plus NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED LAST WEEK.
Last week: 6-1
Tennessee at Georgia
Let's go ahead and put the records set in the 3-2 Auburn/Mississippi State game in 2008 on notice. 74 punts, a combined 0-91 on third down conversions and something like 0-22 on fourth down conversions - they all could fall this weekend. The perfect storm (great book by the way; movie not so much) of offensive ineptitude is brewing somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains and looks to descend upon Athens on Saturday. Though the offenses are ranked 73rd (Georgia) and 87th (Tennessee) in the country in total offense, let's not totally discount the suckiness of the defenses here. The Vols are 78th in total defense and Georgia, while an eh-not-so-bad-all-things-considered 39th, is fresh off surrendering 235 rushing yards to Colorado's commitment to piss poor offensive play. The forecast for watching all of that nonsense calls for safety goggles (and not the cheap ones from Walmart; go for the Home Depot ones).
Surely Tennessee is emotionally cooked. Surely Georgia is wallowing in self-pity as to just how awful they are. Surely the winning team will not really win the game, but merely be the beneficiary of horribleness one or two degrees above theirs. All that is certain is that for the first time in my life I will actually feel pity for Dave Neal and Andre Ware as they have been charged with the duty of watching and describing the action of this game in a positive manner. Granted, they will be compensated for their burden, but unless 50% of that compensation comes in the form of grain alcohol, it isn't enough. I'll take my chances that Georgia's output is not 95% garbage and somewhere in the 70% range to get the win.
By the way, if Georgia should lose, that will be the official end to the Mark Richt era and his big game bed-shitting ways.
Arkansas at Texas A&M (in Arlington)
There's a pretty good chance both quarterbacks could throw for 450 yards and five touchdowns. However, only one of those quarterbacks has a better than average chance of also throwing 11 interceptions. And his name is Jerrod Johnson. Feast away, Arkansas defensive backs on your way to a turnover-fueled victory.
Alabama at South Carolina
This is most likely Alabama's last major challenge until the Auburn game, which could turn out not to be a challenge at all, but more of a "hey, I think we hit something, should we check the damage to the car?" It is also the Tide's third straight game against a very competent football team. No matter how strong or powerful a team is, eventually a stretch like that takes its toll both mentally and physically on a team. UNLESS THAT TEAM IS COACHED BY NICK SABAN. He does not yield, nay, acknowledge such things as wear and tear, dismissing them as problems made up by inferior coaches and eight grade girl's basketball teams.
Now, whether he can convince his team of that is another story. I think this game being on the road at the end of this three game stretch actually helps Alabama in terms of preparation and, as Saban says, "getting your mind right." Obviously, Alabama would rather play this game at home. But after last week's thrashing of Florida and everyone in the country anointing them the best team in college football, being thoroughly pleased with yourself is an easy trap in which to fall. By being on the road, the hostile environment gets them out of any comfort zone (with the aid of an irate, wired Nick Saban), demands that they be sharper and more focused and allows them to adopt the "us against the world" mentality that players love to cite as a reason for a road win. It should be a fairly close game in terms of score, but South Carolina is not disciplined enough (turnovers and their affection for false start penalties) or physical enough to be able to win.
Eastern Michigan at Vanderbilt
A rare moment here at The Belly of the Beast: A selection of Vanderbilt TO WIN.
LSU at Florida
If Les Miles pulls this one off and moves to 6-0, I demand that the FBI search his office, home, circus tent or whatever for records that confirm he has made a pact with the Dark Prince (Note: not Jackie Sherrill, but the real one). There's no other explanation for why a team that is 91st in total offense, 83rd in points scored, 112th in passing yards and 75th in turnover margin has not lost a game(s). The man has lived on the edge before (see: 2007 National Championship season), but this is getting ri-damn-diculous.
As for those citing LSU's defense as reason for success, you'd be partially right, but take a look at the offenses they've faced so far (total offense rank):
North Carolina 62nd
West Virginia 63rd
Not exactly a series of tremendous challenges there. But, they have done what a good defense does and shut those offenses down (minus T.J. Yates dropping FOUR HUNDRED AND TWELVE YARDS of passing on them). Clearly, the defense is the strength of this LSU team and, other than ass-backwards luck, may be the only strength of this team. But I'm not so sure they're everything they're made out to be. If T.J. Yates can hold them hostage for a quarter and a half, one would think Florida took notes on that and will finally let John Brantley do what his skill set says he can do, which is THROW NOT RUN.
Of course, that's assuming Brantley is able to walk upright after being pounded into a fine paste by Alabama's defense. Reports are indicating he will play, but backup Trey Burton will see more playing time than usual. And wouldn't you know it, the whole scenario is playing RIGHT INTO LES MILES' PLAN, which is not really a plan at all, but loosely structured chaos. It is at this point I have come to the realization that he might be able to pull this off (with the help of his friend who has a house on the lake of fire). So join me, fellow readers, as I step outside and angrily punch the air for the next 20 minutes.
I'm taking Florida, but fully expect to have that pick smashed to pieces by something I've never seen before in a college football game.
Auburn at Kentucky
Remember when Auburn lost to Kentucky at home last year? Oh, Chris Todd, how I miss you and your delicate arm and plodding feet. And why is the line to this game only Auburn (-6)? WHAT DOES LAS VEGAS KNOW THAT THEY'RE NOT TELLING THE REST OF US? I like Auburn, but know that I'm giving you a cautious glance, Auburn/Kentucky game.
Mississippi State at Houston
At last check, Houston was still trying to locate a starter between two freshmen quarterbacks. They were also busy searching for their run defense, which has not been seen since sometime in the late 1960s. If the Cougars had Case Keenum, they probably have a pretty fair chance to win this game, but with no QB and defense that can't help protect their offense, State should win with somewhat ease, but not too much. The only real concern here is if Tyler Russell can continue his climb up the 2010 Jevan Snead Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Failure leaderboard while being the backup quarterback.