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Vince’s Vibe: Fave 5 Week 1 Games

Each week I’ll break-down my favorite five games of the college football weekend. I’ll focus on the SEC and Top 25 for the weekend, but on occasion I may step out of those borders for a game or two, if there’s enough national intrigue there.

Ferrara’s Fave 5 – College Football Week 1

1. (3) Oregon vs. (4) LSU in Arlington, TX (Sat at 8pm)

The intrigue of this game is obvious. The entire NCAA staff is likely to be mandated to not only watch but DVR, so they can go back and review for more potential violations. Can Jarrett Lee protect the football? Can LSU’s great defense handle the pace of the Oregon offense? Who will have more yards rushing, LaMichael James or Spencer Ware? Will that Tigers defense disrupt the Ducks at the line of scrimmage up the middle ala Auburn? This game will be close and both will have great moments. I’m not a believer that LSU’s season falls apart. Les Miles has a history of guiding teams through adversity (three different hurricanes including Katrina.) Oregon is very good again this year but I give LSU the edge. I like LSU to win.

 

2. (5) Boise State vs. (19) Georgia in Atlanta, GA (Sat at 8pm)

To be honest, I’ve flipped on this game numerous times. I almost went Boise just because of what the Georgia pro combat uniforms looked like. Boise’s uniforms don’t look great either, so I nixed that thought. This is a great test of how much Georgia’s defense has improved in the second year of Todd Grantham’s 3-4. Even with the Broncos losing the top two WRs from a year ago, the offense with Kellen Moore and some talented backs should still be a challenge for Georgia. What not enough people are talking about is how (or if) Boise State can stop Georgia’s offense over four quarters. I think Georgia wears them down a little late in the game. The Georgia Dome will be pro-Bulldogs, which will help. The difference though will be the nation’s best special teams wearing the red, white and black. I like Georgia to win.

 

3. (12) South Carolina vs. East Carolina in Charlotte, NC (Sat at 7pm)

Connor Shaw will now start at quarterback for the Fighting HBCs? It is always must-see-TV when it comes to Steve Spurrier and his handling of the quarterbacks. Watching true freshman freak DE Jadeveon Clowney is must-see material as well. Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are pretty fun to watch as well. ECU has a prolific offense that should be even better now that terrific QB Dominique Davis has gone through a full spring and off-season to learn the offense. Ruffin McNeil has switched the defense to a 3-4 to try to improve a really bad unit from last year. South Carolina will give-up some points but the Gamecocks should score more than enough to beat ECU. I like South Carolina to win.

 

4. SMU at (8) Texas A&M (Sun at 7:30pm)

This could easily be called the Big 12 baton-passing bowl. Texas A&M intends to leave. SMU wants in. June Jones told me on my sports talk show a few weeks ago that four 16-team super conferences and separation from the NCAA was coming, which would happen in the next two years. The first domino in that theory is his first opponent. Jones said this is the best defense he’s ever coached in college. If so, with the offensive weapons of the Mustangs, SMU will give A&M all kinds of fits. In the end, Texas A&M is too big and strong, especially in the offensive line. I like Texas A&M to win.

 

5. BYU at Ole Miss (Sat at 4:45pm)

This is a very different and interesting match-up between a long-time SEC school and a brand new independent. Jake Heaps and the BYU offense will score points. Ole Miss has more unknowns but more upside, including new QB Barry Brunetti. The Rebels have a massive and physical offensive line (smallest linemen are 315,) an excellent running game led by Brandon Bolden and an overall size advantage that will help them in the fourth quarter. Oh, by the way, the game is in Oxford. The Rebel Black Bear celebrates, or something. I like Ole Miss to win.

 

Enjoy the games!

Vince Ferrara has more than 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, in numerous SEC and Big 12 markets, working in sports radio, play-by-play and television. You can hear him host the “News Sentinel Sports Page” weekdays 10am-12pm ET on WNML - “The Sports Animal” in Knoxville and read more of his work at Examiner.com. 

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“Longshot” Doesn’t Begin To Cover Arkansas’ Odds Of Leaving The SEC

The Big 12 made a mistake last week.  The league had a source leak word to The New York Times’ Pete Thamel that they were going to chase Notre Dame and Arkansas should Texas A&M leave.  Well, A&M left and Notre Dame and Arkansas aren’t coming.

Now the Big 12 will have to move on to fallback candidates like BYU.

We at MrSEC.com have not spoken to a sole at the University of Arkansas, in the Arkansas media, or in the Arkansas fanbase who hasn’t guffawed, horselaughed or hee-hawed at the idea of UA leaving the stable SEC for the unstable Big 12.

Harry King of ArkansasNews.com explains the situation as follows:


“Thamel admitted Notre Dame and Arkansas are longshots.  As for Arkansas, longshot does not come close to describing the Razorbacks’ status.  Longshot indicated there is some chance.  Occasionally, longshots win at Oaklawn Park.”

Let’s put this one to bed.  Arkansas is not going anywhere.

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Vegas’ View Of The SEC: Week One

The Week One odds have been set by the boys out in Las Vegas and — as usual — SEC schools are getting a whole lot of love.  Below you’ll find the lines from:


* The Las Vegas Sports Consultants
* The Las Vegas Hilton
* The MGM/Mirage Casinos
* The Caesars/Harrah’s Casinos


Tennessee-Montana, Arkansas-Missouri State and Vanderbilt-Elon do not have lines as the Grizzlies, Bears and Phoenix are all FCS squads.

The favorites are in italics.


Game
LVSC
Hilton
MGM/Mirage
Caesars/Harrah’s
MSU at Memphis
-27.5
-28
-27.5
-27.5
WKU vs Kentucky
-18.5
-19
NONE
-20
Utah St. at Auburn
-21.5
-22.5
-22
-22
Kent St. at Alabama
-36.5
-37
-36.5
-37
BYU at Ole Miss
-3
-3
-3
-3
S. Carolina vs E. Carolina
-20.5
-21
-20.5
-20.5
Boise St. vs Georgia
-3
-3.5
-3
-3.5
LSU vs Oregon
-3
OFF
OFF
-1
Fla. Atlantic at Florida
-34
-33.5
NONE
-35



There are only two SEC underdogs to start the week: Ole Miss (hosting BYU) and Georgia (in Atlanta against #5 Boise State). 

You’ll also notice that two groups have pulled the LSU-Oregon-Willie-Lyles-Distraction Bowl from their boards altogether.

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Brunetti Named Starter At Ole Miss

In the end, Ole Miss’ quarterback battle — at least for the season opener — was settled by one player’s off-field decision-making. 

Houston Nutt announced yesterday that Barry Brunetti will get the start against BYU in the Rebels’ opener next week.  Zach Stoudt will also play in the game.

UM’s third quarterback candidate, Randall Mackey, blew his shot at the job with an arrest for disorderly conduct on Monday night.  Allegedly, Mackey got involved in a large bar fight at an Oxford music venue called The Lyric.  During the scrum, Mackey allegedly struck a police officer who was trying to play peacemaker.  He was given a lesser charge because it’s not believed he took a swing at the officer on purpose.

“I am still looking into everything, but the bottom line is that he got into a fight,” Nutt told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger.  “The bottom line, as I tell them, even though there may be 50 other arrests, your arrest is headlines.  Walk away.  Turn the other cheek.”

Mackey violated his team’s curfew by being out after 11:30pm.

“I wish I had known there was a Monday night school party downtown,” Nutt said.  “I really wish I’d known that.  Because had I known that it wouldn’t have happened.”

Credit Nutt for acting quickly on this one and suspending Mackey for a game.  At LSU, senior starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson also broke his team’s curfew and also found himself in embroiled in the aftermath of a bar fight.  But Jefferson has continued to take first-team snaps in Les Miles’ practice sessions.

Brunetti transferred from West Virginia to Ole Miss this past offseason.  He has been the favorite to win the Rebels’ quarterback job, but he’s still been splitting reps in practice.  Now he has the opening day start nailed down and he obviously has a leg up in the ongoing competition for everyday starter.  His performance against a good BYU team will obviously help determine if he can keep said leg up.

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SEC Headlines – 3/21/11 Part One

1.  Here are five questions facing Auburn as it opens spring practice.

2.  Two of the four Auburn players arrested for armed robbery made bond (at $511,000) this past weekend.

3.  Spring practice is the first chance for Alabama’s new assistants to shine.

4.  And spring drills began today in Tuscaloosa.

5.  Tonight Anthony Grant and crew host a New Mexico club that beat BYU twice.

More to come…

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SEC Headlines – 3/21/11 Part One

1.  Here are five questions facing Auburn as it opens spring practice.

2.  Two of the four Auburn players arrested for armed robbery made bond (at $511,000) this past weekend.

3.  Spring practice is the first chance for Alabama’s new assistants to shine.

4.  And spring drills began today in Tuscaloosa.

5.  Tonight Anthony Grant and crew host a New Mexico club that beat BYU twice.

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Florida, Kentucky Keep Marching On

The SEC’s two premiere programs are still carrying the league’s banner in the NCAA Tournament this week.  Kentucky — the SEC’s top program all-time — slipped by both Princeton and West Virginia last weekend to set up a Friday night duel with top-seed Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen.

Florida — the league’s best program in the 2000s — snuffed out UC-Santa Barbara and UCLA to make it back to the regional semifinals.  The Gators will take on Jimmer Fredette and BYU on Thursday evening.

Last week, we presented our “good bets and bad bets” for the tourney and we’re still feeling pretty good about ‘em.  Our “bad bets” all disappeared after their first games — Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Our good bet — UK — faces a pretty tough road at this point.  To reach the Final Four, the Wildcats will have to upset an Ohio State team that has won its first two tourney games by 29 and 32 points.  Get past the Buckeyes and North Carolina will likely be waiting.  No offense, Cat fans, but it looks like Kentucky is about to exit the dance.

Our best bet — UF — still looks like an Elite Eight team at worst.  #3 seed BYU has looked good so far, but can the Cougars outrebound the Gators without dismissed starter Brandon Davies?  If not, and the Gators move on, UF will play the winner of Butler and Wisconsin for the right to reach Houston.  On Wednesday, we said that the #1 seed in Florida’s bracket — Pittsburgh — was “the least frightening of the tourney’s top seeds.”  Turns out they were indeed the first #1 to go.  Which means UF’s road to the Final Four is still shaping up as the easiest among #1 or #2 seeds.  If we had to put money on it, we’d take the Gators to reach Houston.


Here’s how the Sweet Sixteen field breaks down by conference:

ACC (3) — Duke, Florida State, North Carolina
Big East (2) — Marquette, UConn
Big Ten (2) — Ohio State, Wisconsin
MWC (2) — BYU, San Diego State
SEC (2) — Florida, Kentucky
Atlantic-10 (1) — Richmond
Big 12 (1) — Kansas
CAA (1) — VCU
Horizon League (1) — Butler
Pac-10 (1) — Arizona

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BYU and Utah up next

Arkansas heads to Utah to face BYU and Utah on Dec. 3-4.
(more)

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Don’t Blame Crowton For The QB Conundrum In Baton Rouge

Earlier this week, Les Miles took a few broadsides from the media covering the LSU football team and its still struggling passing game.

Here’s a sampling as provided by Glenn Guilbeau of The Shreveport Times…


REPORTER:  “Jordan Jefferson’s been in the program for almost three years now.  Jarrett Lee’s been in it for four, and yet you’ve got the worst passing attack in the SEC.  It continues that way every week.  Every week, you answer the question the same way, that ‘We’ve got to get better throwing the ball.’  What are you all not doing?  Or what is the problem?”

MILES:  “We’re throwing it, I can tell you that.”

REPORTER:  “I know that, but…”

MILES:  “We’re throwing it.  I don’t know.  It’s… we’re working at it.  And the players and the coaches are taking the time.  And we’re throwing.  We’re throwing balls.  I guess for me, I just expect at some point in time that this thing is going to take off.  I just think it’s OK.  That’s what we would well have expected.”

REPORTER:  “Do you think the coaching has been good enough after four years with one, three with the other?”

MILES:  “I don’t know.  You know, that’s a tough question.  The only thin I can tell you is that they’ve been coached and coached and coached and drilled.  The passing attack has not changed so significantly that it’s not comfortable for all.  I, uh, yeah, I think they’ve been coached.”


Brutal, no? 

Well it could get even more brutal if LSU loses to Alabama next Saturday and can’t throw the ball to boot.  With Miles possessing a buyout clause that basically cedes to him all the lands of The Louisiana Purchase should he be ousted, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton figures to be LSU’s version of The Fall Guy if things don’t improve.



But it’s hard to point a finger at Crowton considering his past work with passers.

He began his career in 1982 under LaVell Edwards at BYU.  From 1991 to 1993 he tutored future NFL quarterback Glenn Foley at Boston College.  As Louisiana Tech’s head coach in 1997, his team was third in the nation in passing and in total offense with future NFL quarterback Tim Rattay at the helm.

A year later, Rattay threw for a ridiculous 590 yards against 4th-ranked Nebraska.  The Bulldogs had the top passing offense in the nation in 1998 and Rattay was named an All-American.

After Louisiana Tech, Crowton became offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears where his 1999 squad ranked #3 in the NFL in passing and set a franchise record for passing.

Next, Crowton served as head coach at BYU for four seasons.  In 2001, the Cougars led the nation in total offense and in scoring.  Future NFL pick John Beck was his signal-caller in 2004. 

After losing his job at BYU, Crowton became the offensive coordinator at Oregon.  Again, his offense ranked in the Top 10 nationally in a number of categories.  His quarterbacks were future NFL’ers Kellen Clemmens and Dennis Dixon.

After coming to LSU in 2007, the Tigers immediately won a national title with him calling plays.  Matt Flynn threw for nearly 2,500 yards and wound up being drafted into the NFL.

FOR MORE ON CROWTON’S SUCCESSES AND LSU’S CURRENT WOES… Read the rest of this entry »

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