TEXAS PETE HOT SAUCE WEEK ELEVEN 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
Sure the shit hit the fan with great speed and power this week, but at last check, Chizik still held his job and had the full support of the Auburn administration. Though all signs certainly point to waves of planes loaded with napalm headed to the Auburn campus and careers of Chizik and staff, he's coaching an undefeated team that just needs to not screw up and they're in the national championship game.
2. Les Miles
Though he may have the appetite and digestive tract of various barnyard animals, The Hat has somehow piloted an LSU team with no discernible form of offense to an 8-1 season. No one can explain it and God forbid you ever listen to him try to explain it.
3. Ted Roof
4. Steve Addazio
5. Bobby Petrino
Arkansas destroyed what everyone assumed was at least a good South Carolina team on the road and now gets to feast on UTEP, a team that lost to UAB, Tulane and Marshall and is somehow still 6-4 (combined record of those giants: 9-18).
6. Ryan Mallett
See, Texas-El Paso, University of
7. Knile Davis
Considering how much Bobby Petrino likes to throw, Davis is having an unprecedented run (NO RESEARCH WAS DONE TO VERIFY THAT CLAIM) over his last four conference games. 459 yards, 114.8/game, 8 touchdowns.
8. Dan Mullen
Deranged Auburn fans have yet to find his address, post it on the Internet and send him packages filled with feces.*
Though 1-5 in the SEC and awful, the Wildcats are one win away from bowl eligibility. After facing Vanderbilt this weekend, who can't wait to see this team in a cold, wet, miserable bowl game in the last week of December?
10. Trooper Taylor
Largely recognized as Auburn's "guy" in recruiting, we have yet to hear Taylor's name in the Cam Newton mess. Not to worry, towel-waving haters (hey, that's me!), the bell will soon toll for Trooper.
*Subject to change any second
Last week: 6-2
Season: 58-16 (.784)
Ole Miss at Tennessee
Last week, thanks to the very exclusive cable package I have, I was unable to watch the Ole Miss game on ESPNU via my television. And since ESPN3.com decided they'd rather stream some Sun Belt game in which everyone who cared about the game was at the game, I was forced to find a non-legitimate source in order to watch. I ended up finding a feed that was ESPNU's coverage, but it was out of the Tampa area because I kept being tempted to call in some take-out from Tampa's best Chinese Fusion restaurant, Crazy Buffet. DAMN YOU CHINESE FOOD AND HOW YOU ALWAYS LOOK SO GOOD NO MATTER THE HOUR OF THE DAY.
And the way Ole Miss and Tennessee have played this year, this game deserves to be on a bootleg feed out of Tampa that's only accessible through knowledge of websites that also show horse races in Finland. Instead, it's the early CBS national game. So now, all of America will get the privilege of watching a 4-5 and 3-6 team pummel each other with piss poor defense, overall marginal offense (no thanks to you, Tennessee) and play that leads to a combined 1-9 conference record.
If Ole Miss wants to take away something positive from this season, this game provides that chance. Tennessee is awful. In all major offensive and defensive categories, the Vols' highest rank is 6th (passing offense). While Ole Miss offers very little that impresses, they do scratch the top half in three categories (scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense). But the stat that jumps out at me, which I think gives Ole Miss the advantage, is in the run game.
Ole Miss has the second-ranked rushing offense while Tennessee ranks ninth in rushing defense. Tennessee has the worst running game in the conference, which helps limit Ole Miss' 8th-ranked run defense. When bad teams collide, I prefer the one who will have the greatest ease in running the ball. Now, of course, Tyler Bray could come in and torch the Ole Miss secondary for something like 350 and 4 TDs, but until he puts up solid numbers against schools not named Memphis, I will discount anything he's done. With regret and minimal confidence, I'm taking Ole Miss.
EDIT: If Jeremiah Masoli is ruled out with a concussion, then it's Tennessee all the way and Nathan Stanley will also have a concussion.
Vanderbilt at Kentucky
Outside of the Ole Miss/Vandy game, this is the game that most screams Dave Neal and Andre Ware. Boring? Of course. Dead atmosphere? No doubt. People not yet in the stadium? You know it. Miserable game play? COUNT IT.
Before we move away from something not fun to talk about, a tip of the hat to Vanderbilt, who now boasts the conference's statistically worst total defense and offense. And if not for Tyrone Nix's shitshow, they'd have the worst scoring defense and offense. So get excited, Birmingham, Kentucky is on their way to whatever bowl you host.
Georgia at Auburn
When Abraham Lincoln appointed General Joe Hooker as head of the Army of the Potomac in 1863, Hooker famously said, "May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none." If you're unfamiliar with what happened next, Hooker's much larger army was annihilated by Lee's army at Chancellorsville. And though the analogy doesn't work here, I like the the quote and will bend it to apply to Georgia. May God have mercy on them, for Auburn will have none.
Auburn was already the far superior football team, but now that the whole world has gone and pissed them off, DUCK AND COVER, MARK RICHT, DUCK AND COVER. I think that crowd and team are going to be worked up into quite the frenzy due to the events of the last two weeks, and Georgia is going to bear the full fury of both crowd and team. I find it hard to believe Auburn is going to come out flat and distracted. This is their chance to finally hit back after the last week or two, and I fully expect them to make Georgia pay.
And on a note of not-so-minor importance, because of the speed of the investigation into Newton's recruitment, there's always the possibility this is Newton's last game. If the much-rumored tapes of Newton and his dad asking for money to play are made public (assuming they exist), that's the end of the magical ride for Auburn. They'll turn back into the 2009 Auburn team with Chris Todd/Brandon Cox/Daniel Cobb 2.0 leading the way.
UTEP at Arkansas
Of the five Division-I teams the Miners have beaten (though it's debatable if New Mexico and New Mexico State are D-I), those teams have a combined record of 11-35. UTEP: We can lose to teams that are slightly less bad than the ones we beat!
Former Directional School at LSU
I have no doubt LSU will win this game by less than 11 points and with less than 27 yards of offense.
South Carolina at Florida
Ah, South Carolina, marching cohesively into the SEC East championship game. When told Stephen Garcia said this was the biggest game in South Carolina's history, Steve Spurrier said, "No, that's not true. Please don't listen to Stephen when he talks all the time. He's speaking sometimes for Stephen."
Usually, I would never go against Spurrier when it comes to matters with Garcia, but in this case I think Garcia's right. They win, they go to Atlanta and take part in something they've never experienced before with the chance to do something even greater. They lose, they're 6-4 and headed to a bowl game they'll lose with an uninspired effort. A win could signal a change in the culture of choking away seasons, while a loss solidifies what they've always done - lose. So, yes, this is the biggest game in school history. Well done, young Stephen.
Even though Florida has had a resurgence of sorts, if beating and Georgia can be considered such, my eyes still tell me Florida is crap. And I will not betray the things that allow me to see. South Carolina has one bad showing (Kentucky) and just got its ass kicked last week against Arkansas, but they still have a claim to be a legitimate football team (win over Alabama and a should-have-won against Auburn).
More importantly, South Carolina defends very well against the one thing Florida can kind of do (when the mood fancies them), which is run. The Gamecocks' horrible secondary shouldn't come into play here because Florida doesn't like throwing passes that travel more than 1.3 yards. But what could come into play is South Carolina's deathly sensitive allergy to the month of November. They hate this month. It causing wheezing, vomiting, blood-red faces and their throat eventually closes up, leading to a 1-3-ish finish. History and allergies may be on Florida's side, but non-crappy football is on South Carolina's. I'm taking the Gamecocks. SO DON'T BLOW THIS, STEVE. YOU TOO, STEPHEN.
Mississippi State at Alabama
I desperately hope there is video from Tuscaloosa this Saturday that shows Alabama fans laying down palm leaves at the feet of State fans as they walk around. If one State fan pays for a drink on Friday or Saturday, I say shame on you Crimson Tide fans, shame on you. Your season has been ruined and all you've been hearing about is Auburn playing in the national title game, and now a gift has fallen from the sky. You show your respect to those who have punched a giant hole in the legitimacy of Auburn's season.
Unfortunately for State, as much adoration and praise as they'll receive on Saturday, Nick Saban has no time for that business. He does however have time for getting angry and turning his team into a hate-fueled machine seeking an outlet for that hate, which, this week, is Mississippi State. I think you'll see a renewed dedication to the run and an Alabama win.