TEXAS PETE HOT SAUCE WEEK 13 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 (who probably knows all about the Cam Newton payment plan), 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. Cam Newton
As of this writing an entire week has gone by without mention of Newton, his dad, money, the NCAA, eligibility and Auburn University in the same sentence. AND WHAT A BORING WEEK IT WAS. STIR, HORNET'S NEST, STIR.
The dream season is still alive on the shoulders of Cam Newton and not Kodi Burns or a Chris Todd/Brandon Cox/Daniel Cobb clone.
3. Cecil Newton, Sr.
The cuffs have not been slapped around his wrists by the FBI, which is always a positive note.
4. Gene Chizik
Why does a school with the prestige and dollar bills of Auburn hire a 5-19 coach? Because he'll do whatever they tell him to do.
5. Jordan Jefferson
Your reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week. First Tyler Bray, now Jordan Jefferson. I like Chris Relf's chances this week.
6. Les Miles
Look, any time he doesn't achieve a cataclysmic failure, he'll damn well find his damn fine self here.
7. Chris Relf
He gets the Ole Miss defense this week, and after last year's performance, plus the aforementioned Tyler Bray and Jordan Jefferson Player of the Week Awards, his potential good fortune has jumped exponentially.
8. Ted Roof
Employment still in check.
9. Steve Addazio
One victory away from throwing its resume into the ring for worst SEC team to ever go to a bowl game. The 2007 Mississippi State and 2008 Vanderbilt teams are not amused with this new competition.
Last week: 6-0
Season: 70-17 (.805)
Auburn at Alabama
Rivalry games are always enjoyable to watch, especially when it's two schools that would rather die than watch the other have more success. Throw in one school has a chance at an undefeated season and the other holds in its hands the chance to ruin that season, and we can all expect to be treated to the sight of very large, very fast objects smashing away at one another, attempting to beat the hell out of the other one over the course of three and a half hours. Most importantly, it's on Friday, so, hey, now we all have something to do during turkey and gravy burps.
Alabama is the one team I believe has the speed and physical size at linebacker to handle Cam Newton's running ability. The key to their success is Auburn's offensive line handling Alabama's defensive line with single blocks, which will allow those other offensive linemen to get out on the linebackers. If those offensive linemen can do that, Newton is free to run as he pleases. If Alabama's defensive line creates problems and requires a double team or two, then I think Auburn's running game won't be hitting the 300-yard mark.
And on passing plays when Newton starts to scramble, I don't think he's going to be able to gain significant yardage due to those linebackers. And even though Alabama's secondary is not very good, I expect Saban will have his safeties playing much closer to the line to limit Newton, which will leave single coverage on the outside. A risk, yes, but I'll take my chances playing tight on the line and blitzing Newton on obvious passing downs, where he is not all that successful.
We know Alabama is going to score because Auburn's defense stinks. The outcome of the game will depend on to what degree Alabama limits Auburn's offense. Newton is the best player in college football, as evident by him dragging this Auburn defense to at 11-0 record, so he can't be completely stopped. However, I think if the Alabama defense can get even just a medium shutdown, they'll win. I have no idea what a medium shutdown looks like, but I'll know it when I see it. And I think we'll see it on Friday.
Kentucky at Tennessee
I haven't the desire or patience to sit here and write about this game. I declare you, Kentucky, to be my pick.
LSU at Arkansas
Can we all agree, well, how about just LSU and Ole Miss fans, that Houston Nutt and Les Miles never need to coach against one another again? With the recent exception of the 2008 thrashing by Ole Miss, Nutt and Miles always seem (going back to Nutt's Arkansas days) to get locked into these epic struggles that result in thousands of lead changes, spiked and plummeting blood pressure, violent mood swings and display quantities of coaching buffoonery not normally seen in 60 minutes of football. I know I'd rather not go through something like that for the next two or three years.
As for the contest here, unlike the Auburn and Ole Miss offenses, Arkansas' version does not involve a shifty (or just plain awesome) quarterback or lots of read option, which requires discipline and less aggression to defend, something LSU's defense does not seem capable of doing. So, even though Ryan Mallett is in charge, I think this is a better matchup for LSU's defense.
LSU will probably take a page out of what Mississippi State did last week, minus the collapse and giving up big plays, but further increase the pressure. A Mallett with free time is a Mallett that will destroy a defense. I think they'll force enough mistakes and get just enough offense from Mr. SEC Offensive Player of the Week to pull off the win.
Florida at Florida State*
Remember when this game was really, really, really important on a national scale? NOT ANYMORE.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
Ole Miss is going to lose because Tyrone Nix has no idea how to stop a read option offense. He's learned absolutely nothing since Auburn beat him last year running it and after State obliterated him last November. I fully expect him to be more aggressive than ever to show that he means business this year, which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what you should do against this offense. I can't wait to yell incoherently at the TV as I watch a stunt or reckless run blitz on first and ten result in a hole the size of Nebraska opening, through which Vick Ballard or Chris Relf will sprint and evade the Ole Miss safeties by continuing to run along the same path, knowing such a horrible angle will have been taken that Johnny Brown, Fon Ingram, Damien Jackson or Brishen Matthews will just fly right by.
/realizes HERM EDWARDS WILL BE DOING THE GAME
/robs local liquor store, not for cash, but for booze
/encourages all of those forced to watch and listen to this asshole at home to do the same
South Carolina at Clemson*
In August, Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker agreed to a contract with the Colorado Rockies that allowed him to play football for another year at Clemson. After reading that, I wrote the headline "Kyle Parker returns to Clemson to ensure the Tigers complete another 7-5 season." Any idea what their record is now? 6-5.
Wake Forest at Vanderbilt*
The four victories present between these two teams: Presbyterian, Duke, Ole Miss and Eastern Michigan.
/random bout of snow blindness despite lack of exposure to snow
/soft sobbing until bedtime
Georgia Tech at Georgia*
If Georgia wins this game and Tennessee wins theirs, FIVE TEAMS from the SEC East will be bowl eligible and will probably go. FIVE. One team that has played well at times and four garbage teams. Nashville, Memphis and Birmingham, CHOOSE WISELY.
*Me picking at ACC team? HAHAHAHAHA. You'll sooner find me saying, "That was a well-thought and lucid gameplan, Tyrone. I enjoyed how you showed your defense how to stay disciplined and cover their gaps and assignments. Well done, sir."