Thursday, September 30, 2010

Five Words and Pictures That Adequately Describe Arkansas' Season Thus Far

HOPE

Dreams of a season riding on an arm touched by Zeus himself, and an attitude that screams Blue Steel.

HOPE 2.0

Things jumped up a notch when Magnum was revealed.

Note:  It's not my fault Arkansans have a limited vocabulary and rely on the same 17 words to communicate.

HYSTERIA

"We told you that Houston Nutt was no good!  You got what was comin', boy!"
/reviews Houston Nutt's correspondence
/reviews Houston Nutt's emails
/reviews Houston Nutt's phone records
/reviews Houston Nutt's text messages
/digs through Houston Nutt's garbage
/tails Houston Nutt to the grocery store
/conducts stakeout of Houston Nutt's home
/reports findings to Internet

Arkansas:  Come to Our State and Wish You Were in Yours

HOPE 65.0

"If we beat Alabama, here we shall be."

HUSHED

"Well, horseshit.  At least Orlando should be nice."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week Five SEC Power Poll and Picks

Texas Pete Hot Sauce Week Five 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
Just what in the hell does this man have to do to lose a game?  He has no quarterback, no offense, an offensive coordinator unfit to direct a third grade YMCA flag football offense, a fanbase bearing down on him waiting for a screw up before pouncing and a defense, that while good against totally inept teams, was ripped to pieces by the eh-he's-not-that-bad T.J. Yates.  HOW LONG CAN REASON AND NATURAL LAW CONTINUE TO BE SLAPPED IN THE FACE?

2.  Gene Chizik
Another leader of a flawed football team, but the leader of a "God-thing" football team, which is the only rational explanation as to how this team is undefeated.  Well, that and Cam Newton running around.

3.  Cam Newton
He leads the SEC in rushing, is second in total yards a game and first in passing efficiency.  And yet he hasn't even looked good passing.  If he figures that out, the New Israel's team marches on to an undefeated showdown with Alabama.

4.  Greg McElroy
Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson bailed him out of what was certainly going to be a loss had they not taken over the game (mostly Ingram).  While it was not his fault for calling that many passes (the stink eye looks at you, Jim McElwain), it was his job not to throw crushing interceptions.

5.  Dan Mullen
A rare conference win over Georgia and a first win for Mullen over one of the big guys.  Surely he's not itching to dust off Tyler Russell for conference play again after he throws four touchdowns against Alcorn State?

6.  Robbie Caldwell
Still gathering points from his win over Ole Miss.

7.  Patrick Peterson
Even Les Miles can sense something is afoot with his fanbase.  He's not sure what it is, but, like all ass-backwards luck people, it's telling him that he needs to give Peterson a chance to play offense.

8.  Jeremiah Masoli
Each passing week, Ole Miss has added more and more read option, the offense Masoli was scientifically created to run.  Now if only he can stop throwing interceptions.

9.  Urban Meyer
Running back Jeff Demps has been given the all clear sign and will play against Alabama.  This is perhaps Florida's best chance to avoid the shutout.

10.  Chris Rainey
Rainey avoided time in a Gainesville or state of Florida correctional facility and agreed to a misdemeanor charge of stalking.  Instead of some solid incarceration time, he'll do the community service blah blah blah.

THE PICKS
Last week:  4-3
Season:  29-6

Former Directional School at Auburn
I've said it once and I'll mention it here again with bold, obnoxious text IS THERE ANYONE REALLY SURPRISED JOHN BLAKE IS A BAD GUY?  Quick, Les Miles, push to schedule North Carolina from now until ever.

Vanderbilt at Connecticut
Outside of the Ivy League, will there be a whiter crowd than the one at this game?  Duke at Maryland may beg to differ, sir.

Oh, right, the pick.
/points blindly at a map
/finger lands off the coast of Greenland

Since Greenland is closer to UConn, let's take the Huskies.

Kentucky at Ole Miss
Last Friday, I had this weird belief that Ole Miss was actually going to play well and beat Fresno State.  I didn't dare mention it because we all know if I had done that Ole Miss would have lost by three touchdowns (since, you know, somehow an individual is ultimately in charge of the team's fate).  Well, it's now only Thursday and I've already convinced myself Ole Miss can actually win this game.  Sure we can't stop anyone, but since when is that a good reason to pick against someone?  I say NEVER, especially when I'm emotionally involved.

My case, while cheap napkin thin, goes something like this:
1.  Mike Hartline is back in the interception game.  He had two last week and no doubt is itching for more when he realized how far behind he is in the 2010 Jevan Snead Award for Oustanding Achievement in the Field of Quarterbacking Failure.

2.  Joker Phillips has never won a conference game, most importantly a road conference game.

3.  The aforementioned adoption of the offense Masoli was created to operate.

4.  A Kentucky defense fresh off surrendering 466 yards of offense to what Florida calls their offense.

To be fair, the opposing case, which has the thickness and consistency of a young pine tree:
1.  Ole Miss' defense offers the resistance I do at the thought of eating Chick-fil-a even though I have just finished my supper.
/brief pause to inhale nine dollars of golden brown, cooked-in-peanut-oil deliciousness

2.  Randall Cobb will not be defended by someone with more than 45% of his skill.

3.  The Ole Miss defense is also on pace to go the length of 2010 without an interception, even with Hartline's best efforts.

4.  By my last count, the Ole Miss offensive line starts a walk-on at left guard, a guy who has played center four times in his entire career and whoever won this week's lottery to start at right guard.

Like many decisions I have made in life, I shall shun the smart choice and go with what I want, which works something like 12% of the time.  Good enough for me.  Ole Miss it is.

Alcorn State at Mississippi State
I found this to be particularly spectacular:


Tennessee at LSU
HO-LEE SHITBALLS.  Les Miles is going to be 5-0.  Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and older siblings and cousins, here is an effective tale you may relate to the young ones to really drive home the point that LIFE IS 100% NOT FAIR.
/shakes fist angrily at the sky

Georgia at Colorado
And here's this week's avoid-at-all-costs game.  Colorado, unable to fire Dan Hawkins because they no longer have any money, will certainly crank out a very special uninspiring performance against a team that may still be trying hard but is simply awful.  So in order not to drag this post any lower than it already is (Georgia will win), we shall move on to more important matters.  Like, say, the Ole Miss mascot situation (and yes, it enrages me this is a story).

To refresh the collective memory, the committee/focusgroup/wasteofresources has narrowed the final choices to three, eliminating the lion and the horse.  Reasons for cutting the lion (don't forget:  "Rebellion"):
"The Rebel Lion was eliminated because, despite a positive response to the play on the word “Rebellion,” the committee felt that there was not a strong enough Mississippi or Ole Miss connection, according to a statement from the committee."
Because a horse is totally Ole Miss.  But why the elimination of the horse?
"The committee also eliminated the Rebel Stallion concept due to the problematic logistics of having a live horse in the stadium or Grove.  Though there was great enthusiasm for a live horse to lead the Ole Miss Rebels, we soon realized that the horse would in reality be present for a short time at the beginning of each football game.  Also, there are limitations concerning the horse functioning among the extreme crowds in the Grove.  These facts would require a companion costumed horse mascot to be visible at the games, other sporting events like basketball games where horses are not allowed and at special events.”
Right.  Of course.  Logistically, getting a bear or shark in the Grove presents far fewer problems.  Dammit, why are we doing this again?

The surviving concepts:
"Depictions of the remaining three options – the Rebel Land Shark, the Rebel Black Bear and Hotty Toddy — will be released for public review as a part of the poll on Wednesday, and the committee said it has taken more time than expected to ensure the designs presented are respectful of Ole Miss culture.  In fact, based on input from all groups within the Ole Miss community, the committee said it spent a great deal of time over the past few months discussing, reviewing, tweaking and re-thinking the Hotty Toddy concept, which has evolved from a pair of characters into one mascot.

“This concept has a strong tie-in to Ole Miss traditions; it is unique, and it has the potential to unify our fan-base.  However, it is important that the ultimate concept be proud and in no way silly, so we have taken more time than anticipated to make sure the concept shown is as strong as it can be.”
So there it is, your new mascot, Ole Miss - Hotty Toddy - just as I said when this committee/focusgroup/wasteofresources released the 10 or so concepts earlier this summer.  We no longer have an ambiguously gay duo, but a giant Muppet that may have ambiguously gay characteristics  One day, perhaps not in my lifetime, but one day, we may finally figure out how to get out of our own damn way.  However, today is certainly not that day.

UNCLE VERNE GAME OF THE WEEK
Florida at Alabama
The only hope for the Gators is that Alabama has not totally recovered from last week's game against Arkansas - both physically and mentally.  And perhaps that offensive coordinator Jim McElwain will continue to call for Greg McElroy to throw when the two best running backs in the conference are at his disposal.  Also, it's possible John Brantley could turn into an All-SEC quarterback like so many thought he would be even though he had yet to play a meaningful down in college football.

I suspect that, even though Florida is outmanned, they will make this a tougher game than expected for Alabama.  Despite being a a chief on the great council for assholes, Urban Meyer is still a good coach who does well in big games.  I think we'll see Florida's best effort, but even if Alabama isn't clicking on all pound-you-into-physical-submission cylinders, they still have enough to beat the Gators.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Things You Should Keep an Eye on if You Are of the Wagering-on-Sport Ilk

It's only Wednesday, but it's never too early to begin your meticulous preparation for wagering so that you can properly waffle over various point spreads from Wednesday night to Friday afternoon.  And we all know it's not a real bet unless you interpret defensive passing efficiency statistics combined with the tides schedule in the Gulf and that one Tennessee fan who annoyed the hell out of you five years ago in Knoxville to mean that, YES, the road underdog will cover.  So to add to the information most certainly necessary to making a successful bet, The Belly of the Beast is here to help.

But first, a free exercise in wagering to get the competitive juices flowing.  In the video below, a grainy coed from Ole Miss celebrates in a nearly-empty stadium after last weekend's win over Fresno State.  Will she:  say something racist or faceplant like no other?  MAKE YOUR WAGERS.

If you had her heading towards a faceplant, then veering sideways to land on her ass on the row below, you, my friend, correctly anticipated the garbage time 35-yard touchdown pass and the cover, and your pockets are now full of imaginary money.

Les Miles still standing behind Jordan Jefferson, mainly because there's nowhere else to stand
Yes, Jefferson is terrible, but even Bill Stewart knows you don't push in all your chips with Jarrett Lee.  And Les Miles, at least six points worth better than Stewart, by some mathematical property I have intentionally forgotten because math is completely worthless after the sixth grade, knows better than that.  If he starts Lee, and he's awful, which he most certainly will be, he loses the last bit of hope to which Tiger fans are clinging.  By not starting Lee, he has some sort of hope offering to fans, who will give him time before they come burn his house down.  Or course, he could solve all of this by firing Gary Crowton and becoming the savior of Baton Rouge until November when Alabama holds LSU to -72 yards of offense.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  None.  A water buffalo with a parrot telling it what to do could successfully quarterback a win against Tennessee.

Florida running back Jeff Demps could play this weekend against Alabama;  OR NOT
Urban Meyer said he's hearing "positive things" about Demps being ready to go for the game this weekend.  This is good news for Florida because Demps is essentially the only positive thing for the Gators' offense.  I suppose you can count Trey Burton's five touchdown effort against Kentucky, but I remind you that his effort came against Kentucky.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  Significant.  Without Demps, I don't see how Florida can score enough (read:  at all) to keep Alabama from covering.

A.J. Green admits wailing and gnashing of teeth over his suspension
Green said "he lost sleep" over his absence damaging Georgia's 2010 season.  A.J., of course, is being much too hard on himself.  The real blame lies with Mark Richt WHO IS GOING TO GET FIRED FOR THOSE FAILURES.  And there's the defense.  And offensive line.  And one out of every 8.5 Bulldogs getting arrested this year.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  There's no way A.J. Green can make things worse.  OR WILL MARK RICHT FIND A WAY TO MAKE HIM WORSE?  But seriously, Dan Hawkins is coaching Colorado.  No one is taking Colorado.

The Ole Miss offense just got exponentially more efficient
I think wishing injury on someone or delighting in an injury is a terrible, abominable practice (unless it was Lee Ziemba's temporary knee injury against State that allowed him to briefly feel the pain of the knee injuries he's inflicted and careers he's ruined; don't worry, he's fine now).  That said, and I'm not saying I'm happy about his injury, but the knee injury sustained by Enrique Davis actually helps Ole Miss.  By removing the temptation from Houston Nutt of playing Davis over Brandon Bolden, who has clearly shown he is the far superior back, Ole Miss will have its best running back on the field the majority of the time.  Hopefully, when Davis comes back in three weeks, Bolden will have entrenched himself atop the DNA of Nutt's depth chart and Davis will be a semi-quality backup.
/crosses fingers
/waits patiently for disappointment
INFLUENCE ON BET:  Until 2011, or maybe 2012, hell, maybe 2013, Ole Miss is a stayaway.

Michigan's Denard Robinson, briefly sidelined from terrorizing Big Ten opponents and the NCAA record book, should return on Saturday
Robinson was diagnosed with a knee bruise after last week's game against Bowling Green, but will likely play this weekend against Indiana.  This is good news for Michigan because Robinson is exactly 100.79% of Michigan's offense (roughly).
INFLUENCE ON BET:  If one wagers on a Big Ten game, are you required to watch?  Because I'd rather not.

Someone from Minnesota was reinstated or something
IT'S MINNESOTA.  THEY'RE GOING TO LOSE.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  Never.

Five Words and Pictures That Adequately Describe Auburn's Season Thus Far

CHAOS

"I'm sorry, I thought you said we would NOT be starting a plodding, delicate, jelly-armed middle-aged white man at quarterback this year. You did?"
/vomit and the shakes ensue

AWE

"So you say that black man that is the size of seven Chris Todds is our new quarterback? What is his name? Cameron? What a beautiful creature!"

DELERIUM

"He looks nothing like what we've had since Dameyune Craig!  Huzzah!"
While Jason Campbell was indeed a black quarterback, he was essentially Daniel Cobb with a stronger arm.

ANOINTED

Behold! The New Israel has been chosen! The great prophet Chizik has spoken!

HOME

Does that look like an easy place to win a football game if you're the visiting team?

Monday, September 27, 2010

From the Weekend That Was

GAME RECAPS
Week:  4-3
Season:  29-6

Tennessee 32, UAB 29
I'm not sure what's more embarrassing, the Blazers of UAB rampaging through your alleged defense to the tune of 544 total yards, OR beating that UAB team in double overtime and carrying the player who scored the winning touchdown off the field.  I can't confirm this, but I'm pretty sure Phil Fulmer coughed up some mashed potatoes when he saw wide receiver Denarius Moore being lifted on the shoulders of his teammates after catching the game-winning touchdown in the SECOND OVERTIME AGAINST UAB.  The good news for Tennessee and its fans is that proper shower discipline was maintained and the shame of the game and celebration was adequately washed away.

Alabama 24, Arkansas 20
I said it on Twitter during the game, but I will repeat it again here:  I recant my belief that Mark Ingram is not the best running back on his team.  Trent Richardson is very, very good and probably does possess more physical gifts than Ingram, but Ingram presently holds the title of "I can't believe we have to tackle this guy 25 times.  Shit."  While Greg McElroy was busy throwing way too many passes and two brutal interceptions, Ingram was keeping Alabama from getting run out of the building.  It was a performance strong enough that when my summer house is completed sometime around 2035, Ingram is certainly welcome to spend June and July there, despite his playing for Alabama.

As expected, Ryan Mallett took advantage of an inexperienced Alabama secondary.  Though, I'm not sure anyone thought he'd put up 357 on them.  However, it was Arkansas' inability to run the ball that ultimately undid them (64 yards on 20 carries).  With 6:01 to go in the game and Alabama cutting the lead to three (20-17), Arkansas was clearly reeling and needed to eat some clock to let their defense get its heart rate down to 200 beats a minute.  Instead, this is what happened:
1st down:  Mallett incomplete pass to Greg Childs
2nd down:  Holding penalty
2nd down:  Mallett completed pass to Knile Davis for nine yards
3rd down:  Mallett intercepted
Total time of drive:  1:21 (and Alabama has the ball on the Arkansas 12)
Alabama would score to take the lead, which would force Arkansas into a pure throwing situation and Mallett into another interception.

If Arkansas has any kind of running game, they can take a couple minutes off the clock, punt and make Alabama put together a 60-70 yard drive in three or four minutes to win the game instead of a 12-yard drive.  I'm not saying Arkansas needed to make some major commitment to the run because Mallett's arm gives them the best chance to win, but against really good teams, you have to be able to control the ball when you have a lead.  And from this game, we learned Arkansas is a pretty good team, but not a great team.  Their defense, which I thought played pretty well for who they are, is not strong enough and they can't run the ball.  They have established themselves as the second best team in the SEC West, but once again, it's Alabama and everyone else.

Also, there's at least a 75% chance Mallett throws for 600 yards against Ole Miss.  Watching Mallett's first half performance, I started to get dizzy and broke out into a cold sweat.  Then later, when Fresno State's quarterback looked like Steve Young against us, I went outside and projectile vomited in the bushes.  NOT GOOD TIMES.

Florida 48, Kentucky 14
Mike Hartline, WELCOME BACK TO EARTH.  2 INTs and the 24th straight ass-kicking at the hands of Florida.

Mississippi State 24, Georgia 12
I encourage everyone to spend some time in thought with their favorite Mark Richt memories because the production of those memories is soon to be halted.  A school with the size and resources of Georgia should never start 0-3 in the SEC, yet here they sit.  Plus, I think there's an unwritten SEC rule that states "no coach is allowed to stay at a school for longer than 10 years because no coach can successfully perform his job for such a period of time in the eyes of SEC fans, who, for the most part, are a batshit crazy people."  Fair?  Of course not, but you know what else isn't fair?  Watching your team repeatedly shit the bed for 10 seasons.

I tried to watch as much of this game as possible, but I found out that watching three games at once (Ole Miss/Fresno, Auburn/South Carolina and this one) is much harder that it seems, but made easier when one of them is a miserable football game and not fit for human viewing (i.e., THIS GAME).  From what I was able to watch, Dan Mullen did indeed abandon the Tyler Russell Experience and ride Chris Relf's legs (21 carries, 97 yards), which he should have been doing all along.  And in good news for Relf's survival through the 2010 season, a running back surfaced with a decent game (Vick Ballard, 14 carries, 77 yards, 2 TDs). 

From reading about the game and taking a look at the box score, it was probably a game Georgia should have won, but did the dumb things that teams coached by a guy who's going to get fired do.  Outgained the opponent, two turnovers (one of the 1-yard line) and committed nine penalties.  But, State deserves credit for taking advantage of that stupidity and not doing anything as dumb or even more dumb.  And one, shiny gold star for Dan Mullen for his first win against one of the bigger SEC schools.  He went with a much more conservative approach and forced a bad Georgia team to make plays to beat State.

Ole Miss 55, Fresno State 38
My list from last week that I wanted to see out of future games:
1.  Less Enrique Davis
-Two carries, which was mainly due to an injury
2.  More Brandon Bolden
-19 carries, 228 yards, 12 YARDS A CARRY, 2 TDs.  Houston Nutt, STOP PLAYING ENRIQUE DAVIS
3.  Exactly zero runs up the middle in short yardage situations
-Check.  We even brought out more read option than we have been running.
4.  A sign, single sign, of emotion or that someone out there gives a shit
-Whether it was the 6:30 start or just an I-don't-care attitude, the crowd was exceptionally rowdy and seemingly well-lubricated, which really fed the players, who were already pretty fired up.  Shocking that more emotion is involved in a night game that in the JP time slot.
5.  A guard that only gets obliterated by the opposing defensive lineman 70% of the time
Well done, back-up guards who got to start this week.  Aside from a few plays, they kept that number down near 15%-ish.
6.  One properly defensed play in the flat
I remember at least one, so we'll give this one a giant check in the "yes" box
7.  A safety that remains in proper position for an entire series
Getting a little greedy aren't you, Gray?  THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN THIS YEAR.
8.  To not look like Ed Orgeron is calling the shots
-We're certainly still operating defensively as if Ed Orgeron is calling the shots, but at least for now on offense we appear to be a competent unit.  Granted, Fresno State is probably terrible on defense, but we did do what teams are supposed to do to terrible defenses:  578 total yards (425 rushing).  Now, this is still a bad team, but if things get a little more feisty, they could pull off five wins.

And don't look now, but Jeremiah Masoli making a strong push for an Ole Miss quarterback to lead the league in interceptions two straight years.

One more note, Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn, after his 32-42, 390 yards, 4 TDs, was cordially invited after the game to join the Society of Quarterbacks Who Owe 50% of Their Career Statistics to the Ole Miss Defense.  Members include Andrew Zow, Greg Zolman, B.J. Symons, Danny Wimprine, Chris Smelley, and Matt Jones.

Wait, one more final note.  News that Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett, Twitter All-Star and a guy who appears to have a functioning brain, tore his ACL and is done for the year reminds us that life can be terribly unfair.  Here's to a full recovery and Tweeting during the remaining games of the season.

Auburn 35, South Carolina 27
I can't remember exactly, but I believe I said something last week about Cam Newton having his worst statistical game of the year.  Let's see, wait, yes, I did:

"BOLD PREDICTION THAT IS ALSO IN BOLD TYPE:  Newton will have his worst statistical game of the year so far."

And how did that turn out?  Newton went 16-21, 158 yards, 2 TDs and 25 carries for 176 yards, 3 TDs.  Damn you, Ellis Johnson and the South Carolina defense for proving what many already know to be true:  Gray is an idiot.  Not only did he have his best game of the season, he was clearly the best player on the field.  His passing, which is still not great, was vastly improved and I don't know if South Carolina has tackled him yet.  It was such a strong enough performance that we can now refer to Chris Relf as a poor man's Cam Newton.

I never thought South Carolina would lose this game due to its defense being dominated.  I expected that if the Gamecocks were to lose it would be at the hands of Stephen Garcia.  Though he tried his best (two backbreaking fumbles in the fourth quarter), it was ultimately South Carolina's defense that failed, unable to protect a 20-7 lead and later a 27-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.  They were given an assist from Garcia's two fumbles inside South Carolina territory, but Auburn's score right before halftime that they gave up got the Tiger's back in the game.

Obviously, the major story in this game was Steve Spurrier's decision to pull Garcia with 6:23 in the game and his team, down a touchdown, facing the most important drive of the game.  Spurrier, clearly frustrated with the two late fumbles, yanked his starter who was 15-21 for 235 yards and 3 TDs in favor of a true freshman.  And after Connor Shaw threw a terrible interception on that drive, Spurrier went right back to Shaw for the final drive, which was again THE most important possession of the game.  Incredibly, Shaw took them right back down the field and threw a pretty good pass to Alshon Jeffery in the end zone, and then the New Israel's team struck in a most unfortunate fashion for the Gamecocks.  The ball went through Jeffery's hands (who at that point had caught every damn pass thrown his way, 8 catches, 192 yards, 1 TD), hit another defender and was intercepted about eight inches off the ground from a third defender who came flying in from nowhere.  Add this to their missed 23-yard field goal, which was IMMEDIATELY followed by a Garcia fumble, and the New Israel continues in march to the promised land.  I'm not sure even Les Miles stands a chance against that kind of falling ass-backwards fortune.

LSU 20, West Virginia 14
407 yards of COMBINED offense.  5-26 COMBINED third down conversions.  25-52 COMBINED quarterback completions and attempts.  It was as awful as advertised.  But, a golden beam of heavy sunshine did shine through this mess.  Jarrett Lee made his triumphant return to Tiger Stadium.  Though he led an efficient three and out, Lee did NOT throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.  He even managed to throw his one pass to someone on his team.  Here's to a quarterback controversy between the pu-pu platter and the pu-pu platter with a dash of soy sauce.

GAME I DIDN'T PICK BUT DESERVES MENTION HERE
UCLA 34, Texas 12
The final score of UCLA's last two trips to Austin:  100-15.  Bit of advice to Texas athletic department people:  Do not schedule more home games with UCLA.

DEUCE MCALLISTER OF THE WEEK
Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
16-21, 158 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
21 carries, 176 yards, 3 TDs
Multiply those stats by 2.5 and you'll get a rough estimate of what he'll do against Ole Miss on October 30th.

ERIC OLIVER OF THE WEEK
Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play
Mark Richt, Georgia
An uninspired effort in a game that was pretty much must win for the continuation of Richt's career at Georgia.  Two turnovers and nine penalties for 63 yards.

JOHN VAUGHT OF THE WEEK
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
His first win over one of the bigger SEC schools.  He stuck with Relf and the ground game and waited for Georgia to make a play, which they didn't.

2010 Jevan Snead Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Quarterbacking Failure Leaderboard
Awarded to the SEC quarterback who throws the most interceptions during the season
1.  Jeremiah Masoli  5
     Ryan Mallett  5
3.  Jordan Jefferson  4
     Tyler Russell  4
5.  Cam Newton  3
     Chris Relf  3
     Matt Simms  3
     Greg McElroy  3

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS WEEK
Florida at Alabama
Though Alabama should win, it is a matchup of the best from both divisions of the SEC (now that South Carolina has sufficiently and rather timely revealed themselves not to be the team from the East).  And if you think I'm going to put Tennessee and LSU in this space, you probably enjoy 17-minute YouTube videos in which the ins and outs of Microsoft Word are explained.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week Four SEC Powerpoll and Picks

Texas Pete Hot Sauce Week Four SEC Powerpoll

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.  Robbie Caldwell
The man Bobby Johnson essentially forced on Vanderbilt managed to yokel and folksy his way into his first career win AND SEC win.  I didn't think this had a chance of happening until October 9th when Eastern Michigan came to Nashville.  But then again, I didn't think 11 months would pass and Ole Miss would still be just as clueless at defending the read option than they were last OCTOBER against Auburn.  No, no, Tyrone Nix.  Take your time.  I'm sure the read option is just a phase.

2.  Les Miles
If not for Robbie Caldwell's explosion onto the scene, Miles was about to find a permanent spot atop this poll.  To date, Miles has no quarterback, no offensive consistency, a defense that was at the mercy of T.J. Yates, repeat, T.J. YATES, and is somehow undefeated, ranked 15th and about to go to 4-0 because West Virginia is coming to Tiger Stadium, and Baton Rouge will become one of America's great retirement cities before Bill Stewart figures out how to not bumble that game right into Les Miles' open arms (no, I don't know why his arms are open, maybe he wants a hug).  LIFE, YOU ARE NOT FAIR.

3.  Ryan Mallett
A breakthrough performance on the road leading to national hype for Saturday's game against Alabama, an inexperienced secondary coming to Fayetteville and he got his picture taken with Erin Andrews.

Drink it in quickly, tall Mallett, for unless your name is Les Miles, your position here is fleeting.

4.  Joker Phillips
He's now 3-0 and the toast of the SEC.  Wait, checking the validity of that statement....Okay, make that the toast of the SEC East.  No?  Checking again....the toast of the usual fifth and sixth place teams, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

5.  Mark Ingram
Let's see, nine carries, 151 yards and two touchdowns in the season debut.  Granted it was against a David Cutcliffe-Maginot Line defense, but he had to keep himself fresh while averaging 16.8 yards per carry.

6.  Gene Chizik
The leader of the New Israel's football team best hope that Saturday night is another "God thing" or his appearance in the poll will be a short one.

7.  Cam Newton
How much longer can a quarterback be so awful at throwing before he costs his team a win and people calm the hell down as to just how awesome that quarterback is?  Chris Relf says two games and Jordan Jefferson says, "About half a season."

8.  Steve Spurrier
South Carolina is ranked 12th?  I'll have to consult the four-page South Carolina almanac of football success, but I believe it calls for collapse within the next few weeks.

9.  Stephen Garcia
The fact that we're four weeks into the season and Garcia is still here is nothing short of Butler's run to the NCAA Championship Basketball Game.

10.  Tyler Russell
He has the great fortune of playing behind a quarterback who can't throw because how else would you explain four interceptions in 19 passes in conference play and still being considered for playing time.

THE PICKS
Last week:  6-2
Season:  25-3

UAB at Tennessee
I read earlier this week that Derek Dooley said kickoff return man David Oku has brought "nothing" to kickoff returns "other than an inability to make yards."  Admittedly, I'm not even a poorly informed observer of Tennessee football, but, looking at Oku's career stats, one will discover that coming into this season he had physically touched a football in a game just 25 times (23 rushes, 2 catches) in his entire career.  This means before Dooley put him back at kickoff return, Oku had exactly ZERO kickoff return attempts in his career.  Now, Oku may be terrible at returning kicks, but if Dooley's going to throw him under the bus, perhaps he should admit putting him back there was a bad idea.  Or Dooley could just admit that he was an asshole.  Seriously, what an asshole.

Uncle Verne Game of the Week
Alabama at Arkansas
Clearly, Ryan Mallett will need to play the game of his life if Arkansas is to win.  And the environment is set up for it.  At home against a secondary that lacks experience in a defense that relies heavily on man-to-man coverage and a crowd of 70,000+ temporarily transferring its obsessive hatred of Houston Nutt to the Alabama Crimson Tide.  However, what Mallett really needs is ANY kind of a pulse in the ground game and a defense that doesn't surrender 200+ rushing yards.

Last year in Tuscaloosa, Arkansas ran for 63 yards on 26 attempts (2.4 per rush).  Their lack of ability to run the ball put the entire offensive game on Mallett and allowed Alabama to focus on stopping one thing only.  It gave Alabama the option to sit back in coverage or really come after Mallett with blitzes, which they did quite often.  By not having any success running the ball, Arkansas allowed Alabama to dictate the terms of that part of the game, which forced Arkansas to react to what Alabama was doing and not the other way around.  If Arkansas can figure out the gate code and get into the neighborhood of 150-ish yards rushing, I think they have a chance to put close to 30 points on the board.  They'll need those rushing yards because I expect Alabama to blitz on just about every passing down to try to protect their secondary.

Unfortunately for Arkansas, their defense stinks.  If Aaron Murray and a shaky Georgia offensive line can push close to 400 total yards, that is not a sign of good things to come, especially when a good offensive line, solid quarterback and two really, really good running backs are next up.  I expect Alabama to pound away with the backs, use lots of play action and pound away a little bit more.  I just don't see any way the Hogs can slow them down, unless Greg McElroy turns into not Greg McElroy and starts throwing interceptions.  I like Arkansas to keep Uncle Verne excited and have a couple of How-do-you-do's ready at hand for nearly three quarters, but Alabama is just too strong for them to win the game.

Kentucky at Florida
Fact:  Joker Phillips owns the Commonwealth of Kentucky (2-0 versus in-state schools in 2010)
Fact:  Florida owns Kentucky (23-0 in the last 23 games)
Fact:  The last time Kentucky won at Florida was in 1979
Fact:  The last time Kentucky played at Florida they were something like 27-point underdogs
Fact:  Gray took those sweet 27 points because Florida was staggering around like a drunken hobo on offense, though not like they are now
Fact:  Florida won that game 63-5
Fact:  I STILL HATE KENTUCKY FOR THAT
Fact:  I like Florida to out-stagger Kentucky on Saturday
Fact:  No more facts

Georgia at Mississippi State
Another SOMETHING MUST GIVE game for Georgia after they failed their test last weekend.  For Mississippi State, this is their first Belly of the Beast-sanctioned SOMETHING MUST GIVE game so it will be interesting to see how they respond to added pressure they don't even know exists.  Both teams are staring at the ugly face of an 0-3 start in the SEC.  And both teams desperately need a big game out of their quarterbacks.

For Mississippi State, they seem to be stuck in an odd place on offense.  Chris Relf (Canadian pronunciation according to Jesse Palmer is "Ralph") gives the Bulldogs the best chance to win a game, but he severely limits what they can do on offense.  He's clearly State's best runner and most dynamic player on offense, but when he's in the game, State is a one-dimensional team due to his inability to throw averagely accurate forward passes.  Conversely, when Relf comes out and Tyler Russell goes in, State stays a one-dimensional team, only they become a pure passing team because the read option doesn't have the same effect with Russell pretending like he's going to run.  Mullen needs to make up his mind what he wants out of his offense.

Either he says we're playing Relf the whole way and running the ball 55 times and not passing until we will lose the game if we don't start, or he says Russell is the guy and we're going to find a running back that can carry the load of the ground game.  I think, for at least against Georgia, he goes with Relf and runs non-stop.  A terrible running team like South Carolina was able to go for over 200 rushing yards against the Georgia defense.  And I don't know how you can trust Russell right now and with no running back having any real success, Relf has to be his choice.

As for Georgia, its offensive line needs a game in which its freshman quarterback is not getting swarmed in the pocket.  That at least gives Aaron Murray a chance to be average.  If Georgia can get the running game going, and I expect State will play the rarely deployed 11-0 defense, Murray should be able to periodically take advantage of a secondary that is not very good.  I'm taking Georgia, but not due to any confidence in them, it's just that I think they're a little more situated on offense than State is right now.  And again, until Dan Mullen proves he can beat one of the big SEC schools, I shalln't side with him.

Fresno State at Ole Miss
I saw Fresno State play earlier this year against Cincinnati in the late Saturday night game.  Cincinnati, as we know is terrible, got up 14-0 before the Bulldogs rallied and won 28-14.  From what I remember as I was trapped in the last stages of my football coma, Fresno is not that good either.  Unfortunately, Ole Miss is probably worse.  Check that, IS worse.  If there is any consolation for Ole Miss fans, it's that I don't recall Fresno using any read option plays, which means the Bulldogs will just straight up beat us rather than run through our defense untouched.  Ole Miss is not going to win, but I would like to see a few things that at least indicated we're improving or our coaches have figured out what works best with this team.

1.  Less Enrique Davis
2.  More Brandon Bolden
3.  Exactly zero runs up the middle in short yardage situations
4.  A sign, single sign, of emotion or that someone out there gives a shit
5.  A guard that only gets obliterated by the opposing defensive lineman 70% of the time
6.  One properly defensed play in the flat
7.  A safety that remains in proper position for an entire series
8.  To not look like Ed Orgeron is calling the shots

South Carolina at Auburn
The Steve Spurrier I once knew probably wished this game could have been played on Wednesday because he would have been that eager to get after this Auburn defense.  It's a defense with a bad secondary, one defensive lineman and arguably 1.5 linebackers.  Oh, and it's coached by Ted Roof, whose work you may remember at Duke before David Cutcliffe arrived.  And to add to the mix, it's a defense coming off a round of gladiatorial games at the Roman Colosseum with Clemson.  If that Spurrier still exists, he carves this defense apart.  Heavy doses of Marcus Lattimore and moderate doses of under-control-Garcia.

Unless Cam Newton has developed quarterbacking skill since last Saturday, South Carolina's defense should dominate Auburn.  BOLD PREDICTION THAT IS ALSO IN BOLD TYPE:  Newton will have his worst statistical game of the year so far.  Now, by me being so confident in this, New Israel's team will royally suck for 3 and a half quarters, then fall ass-backwards into another win that only Les Miles could have the powers to pull off.

West Virginia at LSU
As previously mentioned, if you want to enjoy a coaching chess match where neither player knows the rules of chess, THIS IS YOUR GAME.  Don't even make an attempt to question strategy, personnel moves or anything else that might fall under a head coach's jurisdiction.  YOUR HEAD WILL LITERALLY EXPLODE.  However, I will keep my eye on the area of clock management.  I get the feeling this could turn into one of the very rare "anything you can do worse I can triple-worse it" situations.  Do not let your children watch any part of this game.  They will grow to hate football, lose faith in society as a whole, get caught in a spiral of shame and end up becoming a baseball fan.  A BASEBALL FAN.  No self-respecting parent could live with themselves if that happened.

Les Miles wins this one for LSU by a triple-jump King slapshot free throw in the top of the third period.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Five Words and Pictures That Adequately Describe Florida's Season Thus Far

SUPERIORITY

Two Days Before the Miami (OH) Game: "John Brantley will offer exactly a zero percent decline in quarterback from Tim Tebow. If anything, he will throw for EVEN MORE TOUCHDOWNS."

INVINCIBLE

One Day Before the Miami (OH) Game: "FINALLY, A REAL PASSING QUARTERBACK."

STUNNED

Day After the Miami (OH) Game: "Wait, you're telling me a quarterback who has never taken a meaningful snap and is not a great athlete is a significant drop-off from the greatest quarterback in the history of college football? Has Urban lead me astray?"

HOW

Day After the South Florida Game: "Where did the supersonic engine go? What are we, POOR?"

ANGST

Day After the Tennessee Game: "This is safe, right? I mean, we're good, right? Shouldn't be worried about anything, should I? Cool? I do like its classic feel."

"What do all these lights on the dashboard mean?"

Five Words and Pictures That Adequately Describe Ole Miss' Season Thus Far

An attempt at a new feature around here, and, like all new feature ideas around here, it will most likely die a forgotten death.  Or one of neglect.  Whichever comes first.  Anyway, the title pretty much explains what's going on here, and it is my hope that I do these for all teams.  However, this is just a one-man operation, so there is no accountability or guarantee I will make time to do them.  That means you'll get them when I remember to do it and YOU'LL LIKE IT.

INTRIGUE

Much like the boring, uninspiring Oldsmobile Intrigue (RIP 2002), the Ole Miss season wasn't expected to deliver much performance.  However, it did provide a semi-reliable way to get from point A to point B of the college football season, a solid six, possibly seven-win sedan.

JOY

"What's that you say? Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremiah Masoli is coming to Oxford to play football? Why, yes, that is reason to run outside and celebrate!"

FURY

"The NCAA did what?  TO THE STREETS WE TAKE!!!"

HALLELUJAH

And in an unprecedented move, the NCAA was kept from beating Ole Miss like the broken down mule that it is.  If only we had paid attention to Red in Shawshank when he said, "Hope is a dangerous thing."

HORROR

And then the games started. What's that? Why, yes, we do wear tuxedos and evening gowns to games at Ole Miss.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things You Should Keep an Eye on if You Are of the Wagering-on-Sport Ilk

It's only Tuesday, but it's never too early to begin your meticulous preparation for wagering so that you can properly waffle over various point spreads from Wednesday night to Friday afternoon.  And we all know it's not a real bet unless you interpret defensive passing efficiency statistics combined with the tides schedule in the Gulf and that one Tennessee fan who annoyed the hell out of you five years ago in Knoxville to mean that, YES, the road underdog will cover.  So to add to the information most certainly necessary to making a successful bet, The Belly of the Beast is here to help.

But first, a free exercise in wagering to get the competitive juices flowing.  In the video below, a Phillies fan in one of those body suits makes his way out on the field to cause 90 seconds of real, actual excitement during a baseball game.  Will he:  tasered without mercy or eventually run out of gas due to the 37 Beast Lites he had before the game?  MAKE YOUR WAGERS.

If you had Braves' outfielder Matt Diaz sweeping the leg, you, my friend, anticipated the late tack-on field goal for the cover and your pockets are now full of imaginary money.

Mississippi State players continue to look at one another waiting for someone to become its vocal leader
The Bulldogs are apparently a team lead by those who lead by example.  It's a fine practice, but when your example is not good the whole thing sort of falls apart.  Will someone speak up?  No one knows because it might be a team FULL OF MUTES.  Running back Robert Elliott (24 carries, 92 yards in three games) admits he's not a rah-rah kind of guy, but is willing to take on the role.  But let's be honest, no one is going to listen to Robert Elliott. 
INFLUENCE ON BET:  Potentially significant.  If no one can tell Dan Mullen to stop throwing the ball, how will they stop throwing the ball?

Ole Miss is not pointing fingers, but they're probably making faces behind one another's backs
It's a delicate situation in Oxford right now.  Most players are still toeing the company line, but there are cracks throughout this foundation of porcelain.  Safety Fon Ingram met a reporter's question about the secondary's chemistry with "awkward silence" before saying something about leading by example blah blah blah.  To be fair, it's hard to have good chemistry when you are so soul-numbingly awful at just about every aspect of defensive football (strangely enough, they have managed to shut down the deep ball, but I'll attribute that to the gashing runs and sustained drives they so readily give up).  After Saturday's loss to Fresno State, whether the rest of the team falls apart will depend on how soundly they are beaten.  Be gentle, Pat Hill.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  None.  You should know better than to bet on Ole Miss.

Urban Meyer wishes John Brantley wasn't John Brantley
Meyer wants his quarterback to be a 200+ yard passer (172 is his high this season) and is looking for more production out of his offense as a whole.  No quarterback change is in the near future, most likely because there is no one else, but his lack of satisfaction in Brantley should be noted and monitored.  As should that same lack of satisfaction in Steve Addazio.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  None.  A savvy better knows Florida is as safe as glowing uranium.

Derek Dooley has no time for your silly medical diagnosis
Instead, he's got to find enough healthy bodies for his starting offensive line.  Due to injuries he can't remember, nay, DOESN'T HAVE TIME TO REMEMBER, Dooley will most likely play three freshmen this week on the offensive line.  This will not effect offensive production because there was none to begin with.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  Significant.  But not because of the injured linemen.  Anything over +17 for UAB needs to be carefully digested.

Georgia president Michael Adams is unhappy about the arrest of his school's athletes
Adams recently let the athletic department know that all of these arrests have got to stop.  And he did so while eyeballing the football team the whole time.  Short of college kids making better decisions (IMPOSSIBLE) and finding administrators that don't ride around with panties not belonging to their wife between their legs, he best hope those players and administrators get better at not getting caught. 
INFLUENCE ON BET:  Much like Florida, an arrest of a Georgia player is always imminent.  Perform daily checks of the Athens police blotter. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

From the Weekend That Was

GAME RECAPS
Week:  6-2
Season:  25-3

Arkansas 31, Georgia 24
Two things we learned about Arkansas this weekend:  One, Ryan Mallett CAN have a good game on the road in the SEC.  21-33 for 380 yards and 3 TDs, 0 INT certainly qualifies in that department.  Two, in the words of an angry Dennis Green, Arkansas is who we thought they were.  Great offense led by a quarterback who is one outstanding game against Alabama away from officially seeing the Matrix.  However, it is still a team with a defense that remains bumbling around in the putrid category.

The Hogs entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 24-10 lead.  They promptly allowed three drives that started in Georgia territory to enter the Arkansas side of the field, one which ended in a turnover on downs and two that ended in seven points for Georgia (these came within four minutes of one another).  If not for a Georgia safety taking one of the worst angles I've ever seen at a wide receiver, that defense could have worked some more magic in overtime (we all know Arkansas was going to miss the game-winning field goal).  If not for Aaron Murray, who may be good one day, but today is not that day, and a Georgia offensive line that resembled the Giants trying to block the Colts last night, this is probably a game Arkansas gives away.  But, to their credit, they went on the road, made the necessary plays to win and beat a team they were better than, which is something good teams do (or so I've heard; I know nothing of watching a good team play).

Vanderbilt 28, Ole Miss 14
(Old school Jefferson Pilot intro music begins playing)
(Highlights chronicling Ole Miss plays of failure in the 2010 season begin playing)
(This takes at least five minutes)
(Live shot of Dave Neal standing on a podium with Houston Nutt and Pete Boone)

Dave Neal:  We're here live in Oxford, Mississippi for our Nexium Purple Pill postgame show.  We've just watched Vanderbilt run through Ole Miss like Dave Rowe through a halftime spread of hot dogs and nachos.  Now joining me are Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt and athletic director Pete Boone.  They're here to accept the label as the worst team in the Southeastern Conference, which they firmly and convincingly ripped away from Vanderbilt today.  And presenting the label is my old partner, Dave Rowe.  Dave...

Dave Rowe:  Thanks, Dave.  Coach, Pete, here ya go.  (Hand over label.  Blank stares ensue.  Rowe either doesn't have any questions or freezes at the prospect of talking outside the booth.)

Dave Neal:  Well, coach, what kind of work did you put in to make this happen?

Houston Nutt:  Gosh, Dave, I gotta tell ya, it wasn't easy.  Lots of poor choices.  Lack of offensive linemen.  Players that may not have a pulse.  Defense that still can't stop that read option play.  Enricky Davis up the gut.  Anyone up the gut.  Defense that let Larry Smith throw underneath when he can't throw deep to save his life.  Plays that I should know aren't gonna work.  It was a total team effort.  Not gonna mention the coaches for reasons I won't explain.

Dave Neal:  Well, congratulations, you've definitely earned it.  (Looks at Pete Boone)  Pete, how about your coach and his team?

Pete Boone:  (Looks up from texting on his phone)  What?

Dave Neal:  How about your coach and this team?

Pete Boone:  Hold on, Leach is explaining how the Air Raid works.  (Steps off the podium to talk with the obsessor of Blackbeard)

Dave Neal:  Well, folks that just about does it for us here.  Until next year in Nashville, Ole Miss has the right to be known as the worst team in the SEC.

And scene.

On a side note, after we lose to Fresno State and Kentucky and Alabama rolls us something like 55-7, I'm not sure how Nutt survives.  We'll be 1-5 and have the pulse of Ed Orgeron's 2007 team.  This very well could be the third year since 2007 in which a State or Ole Miss coach gets canned after the Egg Bowl.  Especially after State runs for 300 yards and wins by three or four touchdowns.

If there is one positive thing about this team, and there is ONLY one positive thing, it's watching Jeremiah Masoli play.  Although not particularly strong in the passing game, his athleticism and the power with which he runs are enjoyable to watch.  Too bad he is wasting those gifts in Oxford, like so many before him.

Alabama 62, Duke 13
I checked and Duke's defensive coordinator is not Don Lindsey or Chuck Driesbach.  However, it is one of David Cutcliffe's long-time disciples, Marion Hobby, which explains the wet paper towel resistance shown to Alabama's offense.

Florida 31, Tennessee 17
For the record, I think Tennessee could be the one SEC team Ole Miss beats.  Their offense is miserable and most importantly, THEY DON'T RUN READ OPTION PLAYS.  That game has the chance to be  the least watchable game this season, even surpassing Saturday's Vandy game, which made Sun Belt fans scoff in disgust.  And yes, the Florida/Tennessee game falls in the top ten of that category.

Auburn 27, Clemson 24
Are all the body parts that were involved in this game fully accounted for?  Three trips by the cart to take players off the field, Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker nearly had one of his lungs explode through his chest and one of Auburn's running backs probably just realized he is in fact not walking through a sunny meadow with a polar bear discussing the economies of Bolivia and Chile.  Had it gone to another overtime, a second cart might have been pressed into service.

Aside from the violence, which hit a record 25 on the 1-to-10 scale I keep in my head, Auburn continued to reveal who they really are.  A running team with an athletic, yet horrible throwing quarterback (who so far has only shown the ability to throw the ball to WIDE OPEN wide receivers) and a team with a bad defense.  However, unknown to me until Saturday night, was that Auburn very well could be the New Israel.  According to Gene Chizik, when asked about the outcome of the game, he replied, "Something something something "this is a God thing tonight.""  So beware you Philistines, Babylonians, Canaanites and Persians of the SEC.  Although, I suppose the New Israel will not have to fight those people, but, nevertheless, Gene Chizik IS NOT PLAYING AROUND.

Kentucky 47, Akron 10
Mike Hartline:  3 weeks, 0 INTs.  UNREASONABLE.

LSU 29, Mississippi State 7
Thanks to new cable company's channel packages and its failure to correctly install Internet at my house, I was not able to watch on ESPNU or via ESPN3 online.  From what I gather, this too was a miserable game to watch, full of turnovers and the standard inept LSU offense.  I see from looking at the box score that Dan Mullen went back to the ground game, rushing 44 times and passing only 18 times, but unfortunately, five of those 18 passes were intercepted.  This, of course, means that next week he needs to throw fewer than 10 times, eventually working his way down to zero passes a game.

Once again, Chris Relf appeared to be the only offense the Bulldogs could put together and when he went out with an injury it was essentially over.  Vick Bellard and LaDarius Perkins combined for a robust 42 yards on 21 carries, but Robert Elliot, rockin' the deuce, perhaps showed some promise for relief of Relf with 39 yards on nine carries.  Of course, I have no idea when any of these guys played, so those may have been garbage time yards.  Regardless, everyone outside of Baton Rouge (excluding the State fans in the stadium) were ultimately disappointed that Les Miles teased us so well and then did not put Jarrett Lee into the game.  BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  A black day for college football.

South Carolina 38, Furman 19
Put Garcia on the big board with two interceptions.

GAME I DIDN'T PICK BUT DESERVES MENTION HERE
Michigan State 34, Notre Dame 31
A game which nearly game all fans a heart attack and actually caused a coach to have a heart attack.  In case you somehow missed it, Michigan State said to hell with it, we're faking this:

And not long after the game, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio suffered a mild heart attack.  I have yet to hear a report that suggests the large amount of testosterone flowing through his body was partially responsible for the heart attack, but I'll assume that it was.  Also, it was enjoyable to see the Notre Dame band trapped between a wildly celebrating opposing team and a concrete wall.

DEUCE MCALLISTER OF THE WEEK
Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
21-33, 380 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
See above.

ERIC OLIVER OF THE WEEK
Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play
Tyrone Nix, Defensive Coordinator, Ole Miss
In the fourth game of seeing a team that uses read option plays (Auburn 2009, MSU 2009, Jacksonville State and Vandy), Nix's defense gave up 227 rushing yards on 41 attempts (5.5 per attempt). This included a 35-yard touchdown run and 80 and 15-yard runs in which the rusher was not even touched. How in the hell this is still happening is either atrocious coaching, undisciplined players or what we probably have, a deadly combination of both. And congratulations to Coach Nix, this is the first time an assistant has ever won this award.

JOHN VAUGHT OF THE WEEK
Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him
Robbie Caldwell, Vanderbilt
My apologies to Coach Caldwell. I had the Commodores squarely pegged for an 0-12 campaign. An excellent job doing what Ole Miss is powerless to stop: THE READ OPTION.

2010 Jevan Snead Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Quarterbacking Failure Leaderboard
Awarded to the SEC quarterback who throws the most interceptions during the season
1. Jeremiah Masoli 4
    Tyler Russell  4
3. Cam Newton 3
Chris Relf 3
Matt Simms 3
6. Aaron Murray 2
Jordan Jefferson 2
Ryan Mallett 2
Stephen Garcia 2

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS WEEK
Alabama at Arkansas
If Ryan Mallett pulls this off by playing extremely well, he shall wear the crown of the best quarterback in America. For Arkansas to have a chance, they need Matrix-seeing Mallett and a defense in general to show up.

Georgia at Mississippi State
Mark Richt is in a full-blown staring contest with an 0-3 start in the SEC. And as is Dan Mullen. It's only September and we've got another SOMETHING MUST GIVE game.

South Carolina at Auburn
This is a game Spurrier should win. Can he keep Garcia under control to prevent Auburn from pulling yet another game out of its ass?

West Virginia at LSU
A collision of fan bases that should be thoroughly documented by news agencies across the country. I demand at least 15 photo essays from the events in Baton Rouge.

Administrative Administration

I state my regret that there is no recap of the weekend up right now.  Last week, Time Warner was kicked to the curb for its commitment to substandard cable and internet service.  While an excellent decision, the new guys appear to have that same commitment, but are really nice about it.  Anyway, the Internet at the house has been down since Thursday night (but the cable still works says smiling customer service representative) so I wasn't able to plow through a recap last night.  Plus, after the massive jackknife of the Ole Miss football season, I'm still cleaning up the mess.  Check back later today for the standard weekend recap, but this time with 85% more bitching and moaning.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stop Looking at the Clock; It's Not Even Lunchtime Yet

Soon, my friends, soon you'll feel the sweet arrival of the weekend.  A joyous time filled with football, inactivity, obnoxious calorie consumption and the usual Sunday night depression that will destroy your good memories in about .7 seconds when it sets in, usually around 7 o'clock.  Until that time, and to assist your efforts to not do work on a Friday (or whatever it is you do on a Friday DAMN YOU COLLEGE STUDENTS I HATE YOU AND YOUR LIFE), a fresh truckload of links has arrived, some more valuable than others.

Dexter McCluster, I love you

I miss your laugh, I miss your musk and I'm a mess without you.

At least he got paid


Stewart Mandel pulls his useful and informative hat out of storage
Insightful article into the NCAA's Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities division.  Not-so-shocking revelation:  Only 4 people work in this group that oversees all NCAA members.  Something like (and my math could be off here) one staff person for every 6 billion athletes.  Shocking revelation:  I went to school from the fifth grade to 12th grade with the first NCAA employee mentioned in the article.

By the way, I recently discovered that my claim of the NCAA having only four people working in their Eligibility Center was wrong.  Turns out, they have about 55.  But, those 55-ish employees have to go through 90,000 transcripts to determine a prospective athlete's eligibility.  That works out to about 1,636 transcripts a person, assuming every employee does transcript work, which is probably not the case.  So there's your answer as to why it takes a quarter of a century for a player's eligibility to be determined.  Perhaps cutting back on the $6 million the NCAA spends on 14 pretenders-that-this-is-about-academics and freeing up some of the $700 million in revenue might allow for a few more employees here.

Urban Meyer is "real upset"about the 30th player arrest under his watch
Whew, that was all the reassurance I needed.  Moving on to something else...

He went on to say (stuff in the parenthesis is my words):
"I don't care (yes, the 30 arrests in less than six years tells us that)," he said, when asked if he was concerned the program was being perceived that way.  "We do our best to win games (we recruit ANYONE WHO IS REALLY GOOD AT FOOTBALL).  Dirty program?  It's not a dirty program (30 arrests might tend to argue with that).  We follow the rules (30 arrests suggest not so much) and some guys make mistakes and we've got to correct those mistakes (like not going to jail).  We follow the rules (again, 30 arrests).  We do it the right way at Florida and we have to do a better job with correcting some of the people making mistakes (the State of Florida penal system is there to assist!)."

The end of electricity jokes about the South
MICHIGAN HAS NEVER HAD LIGHTS IN ITS STADIUM.  Welcome to modern America, hillbillies. 

A.J. Green's agent-ish friend seems like he's heading in the right direction
In addition to not playing the role of first degree asshole, he should probably stop driving around with marijuana and cocaine in his car.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Week Three SEC Picks

Texas Pete Week Three 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.  Steve Spurrier
After his not-so-entertaining-but-effective win over Georgia, Spurrier's team looks like the most competent in the SEC East.  They can magically run the ball now and Stephen Garcia has been temporarily coached into not doing dumb things (repeatedly).  Plus, the OBC showed he still has something left in the tank after last Saturday's win.

2.  Mark Ingram
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner will likely make his season debut on Saturday against Duke.  No doubt it's been killing him not to be playing, but I offer a bit of advice for Saturday:  IT'S DUKE, so 23% effort is sufficient enough to get the job done.

3.  Joker Phillips
He's so hot right now!  Well, at least in the state of Kentucky, which he currently owns after beating Louisville and Western Kentucky.  Assuming Akron is terrible, and I believe they perpetually are, he should move to 3-0 to start his career.

4.  Tennessee
Nothing takes eyes off your 48-13 obliteration at the hands of Oregon like yet another Florida player getting arrested.  If you're scoring at home, that makes 30 arrests during the Meyer era, which is now just a shade below six per year.
/standing ovation from Jackie Sherrill
/a tip of the cap from Phil Fulmer
/still waiting for public skewering of Meyer
/will be waiting a long time

5.  Les Miles
He dared to publicly mention the name Jarrett Lee and the phrase "playing time" in the same sentence and lived to tell the tale.  LSU fans have gotten soft.

6.  Stephen Garcia
Our judges must have felt Garcia lost some of his magic from opening night, but he's still riding high enough right now (Note:  Not literally high.  Or at least I think not.  Surely he waits until at least January.  Or right before bowl games played in Birmingham.) that he belongs in the poll.  And with Furman coming to town this weekend, he's got plenty of house money left.

7.  Ryan Mallett
Mallett has put up the numbers he should put up against the likes of Tennessee Tech and Former Directional School, but his first big test comes this week against Georgia.  But it's also a Georgia team that surrendered 408 passing yards and five touchdowns to him last season.  I think I speak for the judges when I say, he needs a strong road performance for just once in his career.

8.  Steve Addazio
Addazio jumped two spots this week thanks to an offense that looked 14% more competent than week one against Miami (OH).  But most importantly, he still has a job.

9.  Ole Miss
Yes, it was an ugly win over Tulane, but these days you'll take anything you can get.  Plus, if there is a time for confidence in a conference win, it's when a hapless Vanderbilt team comes rolling into town.

10.  Tyler Russell
Despite going 4 of 9 for 19 yards and an INT against Auburn, Russell will most likely see playing time this weekend against LSU.  I think this is mainly an effort to get Chris Relf some rest since no other running back can run for more than three yards at a time against a team not named Memphis.

THE PICKS
Last week:  9-0
Season:  19-1

Arkansas at Georgia
As I mentioned earlier this week, this is our first SOMETHING MUST GIVE game of the young season.  An 0-2 start in the SEC for Georgia stuffs them in the coffin and begins the hammering process for their hopes of Atlanta.  And, more importantly, it could signal the beginning of the end of the Mark Richt era.  As for Arkansas, dreams of a 10-win season hinge on this game, as does Ryan Mallett's Heisman campaign.

Last year, Mallett was horrible on the road in SEC games.  You could argue it was because of the schedule (Florida, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss), but if you're a good quarterback, you don't stink it up like this in four games:  53-135 (39.3%), 216.3 yds/gm, 4 TDs, 2 INTs.  If Arkansas wants all those things I mentioned in the previous paragraph (and more), the Mallett of Fayetteville games has to show up.  I look for Georgia to blitz the hell out of him and see if he can handle the pressure on the road.  And while we know nothing of Arkansas' defensive improvements (if any), we'll certainly find out if there's anything there as I would expect Georgia to pound away on them trying to run the ball.

I'm taking the conservative, that's-the-way-it's-always-been approach here, but until I see Mallett not throw passes to empty spots on the field in road games, I'll be picking against him.  I hope for the sake of this pick UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham remembers that the teams that came after Mallett beat him.

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss
/pouring one out for Dave Rowe and the rest of the Jefferson Pilot crew

Ah, it's good to have some structure in life.  Death, taxes and the 11:30 JP time slot for Ole Miss/Vanderbilt.  I think I've mentioned this before, but this game should never be referred to as the Ole Miss/Vandy game, instead it should always be known as the 11:30 Memorial JP Bowl.  And I think ESPN should dust off Dave Rowe, find him a short-sleeved white dress shirt and tie and stick him back in the booth with his old partner Dave Neal.  I can't remember if Buzz Baker is still on the sidelines, but let's get him back too.  Someone break the news to Andre Ware, THE BAND IS GETTING BACK TOGETHER.  Make this happen, ESPN, just one day a year.

As for this game, if you don't care about Ole Miss or Vanderbilt, or don't get pleasure out of either team losing, let me assure you, you have exactly zero reasons to watch this game.  Horrifying offense?  Check.  Horrifying defenses?  Check.  Complete and total lack of enthusiasm?  YOU GOT IT.  Hell, I have to watch and I'm angry about it.  Spending three and a half hours watching a blood bath of incompletions, soft zone coverage, read option defensive failures and punts is not how I want to spend part of my Saturday.  But, of course, I will.  It is my cross to bear.  Aaaaaannnd, I'll say Ole Miss wins.  Only because I'm a believer in Vandy's 0-12 season.

Alabama at Duke
Has David Cutcliffe reunited himself with defensive coordinators Don "Dr. D" Lindsey or Chuck Driesbach?  Currently, the Blue Devils sit at 114th in the country in points allowed with 40.5 points a game.

Florida at Tennessee
What was once one of THE games to watch in the early part of the SEC schedule has been reduced to I'll watch, but it won't be so I can enjoy the high level of competition.  Mainly, I'll be watching to inwardly and outwardly cackle at the look on Urban Meyer's face when his offense sprints on the field and immediately off for a punt.  And you never know, the 31st Gator to be arrested under Meyer could get picked up by Knoxville police as he jogs off the field, and Tennessee's bench could challenge the first five rows of Neyland Stadium to a King-of-the-Ring contest.  Whatever happens, Uncle Verne will be there to describe it all in at times painfully confusing and mispronounced detail.

Earlier this week, Derek Dooley said, "Until we get our passing game going, we’re going to struggle."  So that's only 10 more games of struggling in 2010, Vol fans!  As bad as Florida's offense is, they won't struggle like Tennessee's will.  Partially because Florida understands John Brantley can't throw and partly because Tennessee's defense gave up two and a half miles of rushing yards to Oregon.  I like Florida to win the game and the rushing attempts battle.

Clemson at Auburn
The late and spectacularly awesome Lewis Grizzard once described Clemson as nothing more than "Auburn with a lake."  While I agree with the sentiment, after all, both are Tigers, white, orange, land-grant schools and had Bowdens piloting the operation at some point, only one has managed to consistently not lose to teams it shouldn't lose to and be spectacularly lucky over the past decade or so.  Hint:  IT IS NOT CLEMSON.  And even though I don't believe in this Auburn team, there is no way in hell I'm casting my lot with Clemson.  I wouldn't trust Dabo Swinney or anyone at Clemson to run a Saturday free car wash for the Baptist Church.  Soap bubbles would come out of your air conditioning vents for the next three years.

Akron at Kentucky
Confirmation:  Arkon is horrible.
Evidence:  Gardner-Webb 38, Akron 37

Mississippi State at LSU
If Mississippi State throws more than 15 passes in this game, Dan Mullen should be known as The Coach Who Misuses His Offensive Talent (TCWMHOT).  After confirming that Chris Relf still can't throw effectively over eight yards and that Tyler Russell can't throw against real teams (and is a giant red flag that says to defenses, "Hey, we are probably not going to run the ball, and certainly will run no option plays," Mullen has no excuse for rushing attempts being anywhere near passing attempts (that assumes LSU doesn't get out to a big lead, which I find highly unlikely).

Defensively, State needs to treat Jordan Jefferson like they should have treated Cam Newton:  don't recklessly blitz and make him read and throw into coverage.  Jefferson isn't the athlete Newton is so LSU will have to have more of a ground game because Jefferson has been instructed not to or simply won't run for yards.  And things might get easier for State if Les Miles decides to toy with LSU people by exhuming Jarrett Lee.  PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN.

I think this has a chance to be one of the better games in the SEC this weekend, not in terms of quality of football, but closeness of score.  Unfortunately for State, this game is in Baton Rouge, where they haven't won in something like 72 years (roughly).  Until they do it, I shalln't be picking them.

Furman at South Carolina
Unfortunately for the Paladins, I think former Two-a-Days star Max Lerner has exhausted his eligibility.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vince Young Denied a Multitude of Retroactive Awards

Earlier today, the head of the Heisman Trust, William Dockery, announced that there would be no winner of the 2005 trophy after former USC running back Reggie Bush elected to forfeit the trophy yesterday before it was taken from him.  This decision adds to a growing list of awards Vince Young wanted, but was denied because, you know, he never actually won them. 

But based on information provided by ESPN-like "sources" in the Houston area, The Belly of the Beast can now give you an exclusive look at the other awards Young was petitioning to receive after Houston Youth Sports directors stripped the original winners for various infractions.

1989 YMCA Basketball Red Team Hustle Award
     -Winner was discovered to have only given 97% effort instead of the required 110%

1989 Hiram Clarke Yankees Best Teammate Award
     -Winner recently admitted he hated their right fielder

1991 Raiders Football MVP
     -Technically, he won the MVP for being the quarterback, but he wants the MVP for being a linebacker

1993 YMCA Basketball Rockets Leading Scorer
     -If three-point line had been in play, he would have lead team and league in scoring

1995 Hiram Clarke Rangers Home Run King
     -In 2004, winner was discovered to be a 17-year old playing 12-year old baseball

1997 Punt, Pass and Kick Winner
     -Area champion admitted to filling his football with helium; later offered coaching job by Jackie Sherrill

And in a somewhat related story, additional awards have recently been stripped from their winners. The include, but are not limited to:

1997 Heisman Trophy - Charles Woodson, Michigan
     -Heisman Trust now realizes that running a punt back for a touchdown against Ohio State really doesn't mean that much

2003 Lou Groza Award - Jonathan Nichols, Ole Miss
     -In order to be the best kicker in the nation, one probably should have made a 47 and 36-yarder to win the game in the most important game of the year

2003 Heisman Trophy - Jason White, Oklahoma
     -Heisman Trust now realizes anyone with a functioning arm can put up big numbers at Oklahoma

2007 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year - Mark Mangino, Kansas
2007 Paul "Bear" Bryant Award - Mark Mangino, Kansas
     -Whoops

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Things You Should Keep an Eye on if You Are of the Wagering-on-Sport Ilk

It's only Tuesday, but it's never too early to begin your meticulous preparation for wagering so that you can properly waffle over various point spreads from Wednesday night to Friday afternoon.  And we all know it's not a real bet unless you interpret defensive passing efficiency statistics combined with the tides schedule in the Gulf and that one Tennessee fan who annoyed the hell out of you five years ago in Knoxville to mean that, YES, the road underdog will cover.  So to add to the information most certainly necessary to making a successful bet, The Belly of the Beast is here to help.

But first, a free exercise in wagering to get the competitive juices flowing.  In the following video, Big Boi of Outkast spends a few minutes with penguins.  And how dare you require an explanation as to why.  Will he:  Reel in terror when the penguin waddles up to him or share a Swisher Sweet with the penguin?  MAKE YOUR WAGERS.

If you had "I can't wait to see the polar bears," then you correctly anticipated the late touchdown for a cover and your pockets are now full of imaginary money.

Florida WR Chris Rainey seems like a lucid, got-his-head-on-straight kind of guy
Actually, whatever the direct opposite of that is, that's what Chris Rainey is.  Rainey was arrested (DIRTY COACH ALERT, Stewart Mandel; I expect 1500 words STAT) last night on a charge of aggravated stalking.  Just what constitutes aggravated stalking?  Apparently, sending a text to your sort of girlfriend that says "Time to die" and following that up with "Wait and see what happens when they leave" when told the police have been contacted.  One would assume this will keep Rainey out of Saturday's game against Tennessee, but it's possible Urban Meyer will find a way to pin this on a reporter, call him a "bad guy" and give him the Meyer death stare, which lost its effectiveness when Tim Tebow graduated.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  None.  A car made out of milk crates, duct tape and old mops is still not a functioning car even when it loses one of those mops, no?

Les Miles considers tinkering with his offense (does not understand tinkering is supposed to make things better)
After Jordan Jefferson's display of incompletions against Vanderbilt, Miles has opened the door for the possible return of the pick-six machine that was Jarrett Lee.  Somehow, Miles has managed to block out the seven touchdowns Lee gave to other teams in 2008 and is considering giving Lee a shot at taking over for Jefferson.  "Jarrett Lee is practicing better, and he deserves to compete in this process," he said.  Though Jefferson remains the starter, it is likely Lee will see some action if Jefferson struggles, which means that Lee will see some action.  Possibly this weekend.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  When you have visual confirmation of Lee entering the game, buy a new house, take out no less than eight mortgages and confidently place them on the team LSU is playing.  And if LSU is favored, scrape up any spare cash you have and add that to the bet.

Arkansas RB Dennis Johnson has....yikes...you may want to enter a full-body flex before reading this
Johnson has what head coach Bobby Petrino described as a "bowel injury" that required surgery after Saturday's game.  Petrino said that his strength coach told him that Johnson talked about falling on the ball during a play.  Initially, the team thought it was a rib injury until Johnson starting throwing up, then they took him to the hospital for surgery.  According to Petrino, Johnson is "very, very sore" from surgery, but is up and walking and seems to be doing well.

I read that last night and still haven't relaxed my abdominal muscles (what few functioning ones there are).  Let's hope Johnson makes a full recovery and this injury NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN to anyone because I can't read something like that again.  Plus, if my abs don't relax soon, I won't be able to properly stuff my face at lunch.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  Ryan Mallett on the road in the SEC is all the influence I need.
SEC home games:  86-137 (62.8%), 331.8 yds/gm, 12 TDs, 3 INTs
SEC road games:  53-135 (39.3%), 216.3 yds/gm, 4 TDs, 2 INTs

Alabama RB Mark Ingram returns to practice with 1.5 good knees
Ingram practiced wearing a brace yesterday, a sign that he might see some playing time against Duke this weekend.  However, it is Duke and he probably won't be needed.  But if he were pressed into playing duty, I would think Mark Ingram with no knees could probably still grind out 80 yards and a touchdown against the Blue Devils.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  None.  But this highlight involving Duke is pretty awesome.


Houston Nutt wants to see more out of his defense this weekend and not the team in general
I'd like to see both units play for extended periods of time like they are not completely and totally as bad as I think they are.  Though I suppose the first steps to admitting you have a problem is some type of public admission, so we're taking steps to correct this.  By 2011.
INFLUENCE ON BET:
/checks line
/sees Ole Miss (-14)
/purchases new home
/takes out eight mortgages
/places all eight firmly and confidently on Vanderbilt

A.J. Green's weekend eligibility to be determined Wednesday
The NCAA is expected to hear Georgia's appeal tomorrow and possibly issue a ruling on the same day.  Or maybe Friday.  Or next week.  Or in 2049.  There are no rules or accountability for the NCAA, so my best guess is that he gets an additional three game suspension, has to enroll in a graduate program while still an undergraduate and intern next summer in Indianapolis to take the workload off the four full-time employees.  Fair?  It's debatable.  But things like this happen when the spirit of a rule is compromised.
INFLUENCE ON BET:  How about a prop bet that says Aaron Murray will not throw a touchdown until A.J. Green returns?