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SEC Game Previews – 11/16/12 (Glorified Scrimmage Edition)

Here’s your weekly rundown of all the SEC action on tap for Week Eleven of the regular season.  As always, you’ll find everything from TV listings to the betting lines to our own predictions.

Enjoy the games, be safe, and best of luck to your favorite school this weekend.

Sadly, this is an absolute joke of a weekend.  Horrible games abound.  Reminds us of this!  But here goes anyway…

 

Arkansas at Mississippi State

12:21pm ET on SEC Network

Opening Line:  MSU -6

Current Line:  MSU -6

Storylines:  Arkansas is trying to keep its slim bowl hopes alive.  Mississippi State is trying halt a three-game losing skid.

Keys for Arkansas:  Stop the pass.  The Razorbacks are dead last in the SEC in pass defense and QB Tyler Russell of Mississippi State is likely licking his chops.  (Then again, after three straight losses, there probably shouldn’t be much chop-licking of any kind going on in Starkville these days.)  Arkansas needs to either a) slow down Russell, b) fire up RB Knile Davis to chew clock, or c) do all of the above.

Keys for Mississippi State:  Reignite the run game.  Arkansas’ rush defense is pretty good statistically but that could be because everyone spend their time attacking the Hogs through the air.  The Dogs ground game has ground to a standstill the past three weeks — 47 yards, 98 yards, and 47 yards.  In MSU’s first seven games — against bad opponents — the Bulldogs rushed for no less than 141 yards in any one contest.  Gotta run the thing.

Pick:  Mississippi State 31, Arkansas 27

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WOW Headlines – 11/14/12

Vanderbilt AD David Williams says VU is “prepared to do what we need to do” to keep James Franklin as head coach
Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder on whether he’ll be back next year: “I don’t know that I can say that I’m confident.”
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze isn’t happy with the way SEC officials spotted the ball during Vanderbilt’s game-winning drive on Saturday
Texas A&M DT Spence Nealy on last weekend’s upset of Alabama: “I still can’t believe we won.”
Georgia players aren’t looking forward to back-to-back games with triple-option teams Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech
Florida QB Jacoby Brissett will start against Jacksonville State due to QB Jeff Driskel’s sprained ankle
A newspaper report suggests Kentucky’s football revenue is off by at least $5 million due to poor attendance
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari caused a stir by saying Duke was “flopping all over the place” in a 75-68 Blue Devil win last night
Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele received 8 stitches in his head and injured his wrist in a fall during last night’s 78-58 win over Florida Atlantic
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SEC Headlines – 10/5/12

SEC WEST

1.  If Auburn’s offense is ever going to get moving, tomorrow’s game with Arkansas look to be the best opportunity.

2.  Alabama running back/return man Dee Hart and wide receiver DeAndrew White both had knee surgery yesterday.

3.  Arkansas defensive coordinator has an idea of what Auburn will try to do tomorrow: “What do you think they’re going to do?  They’re going to come in here and throw the ball around.  You know, I would too.”

4.  Expect more musical chairs from LSU as Les Miles continues to search for a left tackle replacement for the injured Chris Faulk.

5.  Ole Miss’ 3-2 start has given folks in the Magnolia State bowl hopes.

6.  The Rebels haven’t named a starter at quarterback for tomorrow’s game with Texas A&M.  “Our big thing is who is going to take care of the football.”

7.  MSU quarterback Tyler Russell is hoping to get over a poor outing against South Alabama with a good performance at Kentucky… where the Bulldogs will be visiting for a second consecutive year.

8.  Hugh Freeze on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: “He extends plays as good as anyone I’ve seen in this game.”

 

SEC EAST

9.  Florida’s Will Muschamp has used last year’s loss to LSU to motivate his team for a full year.

10.  Georgia O-line coach Will Friend on South Carolina: “I couldn’t think of a team I saw cross the goal line yet.”

11.  UGA’s home game with Georgia Southern on November 17th has been given a 1:30 start time.

12.  Kentucky defensive tackle Tristian Johnson had to reassess his football future when Joker (Phillips) called him a “joker.”

13.  South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is aiming for another big day against Georgia.

14.  This matchup with the Dawgs is the game for Gamecock fans.

15.  Derek Dooley on Tennessee’s practice habits: “They’re a good group.  They’re a focused group.”

16.  Vol AD Dave Hart “is a tough customer” and that could bite Dooley in the rear at season’s end.

17.  Vanderbilt is looking for consistency at the tight end position.

18.  Here’s more on the arrest and suspension of Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham who won’t play against the Commodores tomorrow.

19.  Tiger fans’ sanity will be on the line tomorrow in Columbia (West).

 

SEC/COLLEGE NEWS

20.  CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel can’t believe some fans’ reactions to the Alabama/LSU/BCS/Krystal/“sexual taunting” case.

21.  A few college football pickers pick the winners of Florida/LSU and Georgia/South Carolina… and their picks are very much split.

22.  The lure of Kentucky basketball is greater than ever.

23.  SEC scheduling guru Larry Templeton says some teams will have to repeat road trips next year… just asMississippi State is returning to Kentucky and Missouri is returning to Texas A&M this season.

24.  Does ESPN hate Georgia (as many Dawg fans believe)?

25.  They must not hate Kentucky as the network is planning an “All-Access Kentucky” series on UK hoops.  (As if John Calipari needed any more help recruiting.)

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Georgia Recruiting Is About To Get Tougher

Each February, more SEC football signees come from the state of Georgia than from any other state in the Union.  That includes Florida, despite the fact that the Sunshine State produces more NFL-caliber talent year-in and year-out than the Peach State does.  The explanation for that is pretty simple:

 

FBS Schools in Florida: Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, and Florida International.

FBS Schools in Georgia: Georgia and Georgia Tech.

 

It’s easier for SEC schools like South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Auburn to target Georgia kids because — face it — they can’t all stay in state.  That’s the reason Missouri is now aiming at Georgia and Atlanta, too.

Ah, but things could get a bit tougher in the years ahead for all those schools who mine Georgia for talent.  And don’t laugh too hard when you read this: Georgia State is moving to the FBS level this season and Georgia Southern is taking steps toward such a move down the road.  Remember, at one point South Florida and UCF were laughers, too.  Now they’re in a BCS league and can go toe-to-toe with SEC teams in football on occasion.  (Ask a Georgia fan about UCF’s Liberty Bowl win over the Dawgs two years ago, for example.  Then again, don’t.  You’ll get slapped.)

Bill Curry’s Georgia State program has potential.  This year they’ll move into the Sun Belt Conference.  The school is located smack in the middle of downtown Atlanta.  That means prospects and it also means a busy campus life to sell to those prospects.  The school’s enrollment is already 30,000 and it’s the second largest school in the University System of Georgia.  Now, there’s certainly the potential for the board of regents of Georgia’s system to handcuff and hold back GSU the way the power brokers in the Alabama system consistently undermine UAB’s football program.  Still, it’s one more program to compete with for all those out-of-state programs looking to raid the Peach State.

As for Georgia Southern — which is also in the University System of Georgia and under the same board of regents as UGA — the six-time FCS champion Eagles are now readying for a move to the big time, too.  According to The Statesboro Herald the school is trying to raise $36.6 million over five years to make the move up in class.  ”There’s no question it’s where we want to go,” said president Brooks Keel.

All of this is coming at a time when the NCAA is seriously looking at its current make-up.  For the first time ever even the NCAA president is openly talking about how hard it is to try and keep all schools — rich and poor, big and small — competing on an even level.  Obviously there’s a chance that both Georgia State and Georgia Southern could move up to the FBS just in time to see the biggest BCS portion of that group shift off into its own supersized subset of the FBS and NCAA, thus defeating the purpose of those schools’ moves.

But all things being equal, the potential doubling of FBS football programs in Georgia bears watching by Southeastern Conference teams.  If Georgia State or Georgia Southern are able to keep just one key recruit at home each year, that’s one less impact player who most likely would have landed at another SEC school in previous years.

For all the cracking wise done at the expense of programs like FAU and FIU in Florida, they have had an impact on SEC recruiting.  You can see it every February… when the league’s teams ink more players from Georgia than from the state just below it on the map.

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Even After Georgia Southern’s Big Day, Bama Still On Top Of National Defensive Stats

All week, Nick Saban tried to warn Alabama players, fans and media that Georgia Southern’s wishbone-style attack could pose problems for the Crimson Tide’s vaunted defense.  Turns out, he was right.

The Eagles put up 21 points (though 7 came on a kick return), 341 total yards and 302 rushing yards in Bryant-Denny Stadium last Saturday.  For a squad hoping to become the first since Oklahoma in 1986 to lead the nation in the top four defensive team stats, that’s the kind of day that can ruin a season’s worth of work.  So did it?

Nope.  Bama had a big enough lead in most categories that even Saturday’s slip-up didn’t knock the Tide down a peg in any of the main statistical areas. 


Scoring Defense
1.  Alabama — 8.4
2.  LSU — 10.0
3.  Penn State — 13.0

Rushing Defense
1.  Alabama — 74.6
2.  Georgia — 81.2
3.  Florida State — 84.3

Passing Defense
1.  Alabama — 121.3
2.  South Carolina — 137.5
3.  Wisconsin — 146.8

Total Defense
1.  Alabama — 195.9
2.  LSU — 247.9
3.  Michigan State — 257.3


Barring a huge offensive performance by Auburn in this weekend’s Iron Bowl, it appears as though Bama will match the Sooners’ feat from a quarter-century ago.

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SEC Game Projections For 11/19/11

Before we get to today’s projections, picks and predictions, just a note on the BCS title race.  LSU’s Les Miles said in the immediate aftermath of his team’s 9-6 overtime when over Alabama two weeks ago that he would be “honored” to step on the field against the Tide’s team one more time… if it came to that.

Well, it looks like it’s coming to that.  In two weeks, every unbeaten contender for the crown — except distant outsider Houston — has fallen.  (It’s a lot easier to upset teams with high-flying offenses than it is teams with dominating defenses.) 

Last night’s Iowa State over Oklahoma State upset gave #3, once-beaten should give Bama a real bounce.  We wrote on Monday that Oklahoma would knock off the Cowboys and would likely get their own BCS computer boost in the process.  Now, even if once-beaten OU does beat OSU, the Sooners’ reward will be considerably smaller.

If LSU and Alabama win out, they should get the nod from the BCS computers.  Only the human vote could move someone past Bama.  But it seems the Tide will be okay on that front, too.  In past years, voters have sometimes jumped a team up in the final polls in an effort to change the BCS title game (in 2006, voters gave a big, last-minute boost to Florida in order to avoid an Ohio State-Michigan rematch).  This year, there is no clear cut next-team-up.  Even if the humans decide they don’t want to see a rematch, their votes will likely be so split that it will have little impact on the final poll… leaving the computer selection of LSU-Alabama as the title game matchup.

So for LSU and Alabama, it appears they control their own destinies.  So long as they take care of business.

And now the game projections for what amounts to an SEC/Southern Conference Challenge weekend:


The Citadel at South Carolina
12:00pm on Pay-Per-View

Why It Matters:  Carolina is trying to get to 10 wins for just the second-time in school history and a victory today would be number nine on the season.

What Vegas Says:  South Carolina by 39.5 (opened at -39.5)

What We Say:  The Citadel is 2-6 in Southern Conference play.

Prediction:  South Carolina 45, The Citadel 7


Kentucky at Georgia
12:21pm on SEC Network

Why It Matters:  Georgia can wrap up the East Division and a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a win.

What Vegas Says:  Georgia by 31 (opened at -28.5)

What We Say:  UGA has improved steadily as the season has gone on… and Kentucky hasn’t.

Prediction:  Georgia 34, Kentucky 13


Furman at Florida
1:00pm on Pay-Per-View

Why It Matters:  A scrimmage with the Paladins should help the Gator offense heading into its rivalry game with Florida State.

What Vegas Says:  Florida by 31 (opened at -31)

What We Say:  Florida becomes bowl eligible in a walk.

Prediction:  Florida 44, Furman 7


Georgia Southern at Alabama
1:00pm on Pay-Per-View

Why It Matters:  Alabama now has a BCS rematch in its sites and and it can’t afford any injuries heading into next weekend’s Iron Bowl.

What Vegas Says:  Alabama by 43 (opened at -43)

What We Say:  The Tide defense will be too much for a solid Georgia Southern team sporting Bear Bryant’s old option offense.

Prediction:  Alabama 48, Georgia Southern 3


Samford at Auburn
1:00pm on Pay-Per-View

Why It Matters:  Following last week’s trouncing at the hands of Georgia and with Alabama up next, Auburn needs to rebuild its confidence.

What Vegas Says:  Auburn by 31.5 (opened at -31.5)

What We Say:  Pat Sullivan returns home to The Plains, but his Samford team will be run right out of the stadium by Auburn’s offense.

Prediction:  Auburn 42, Samford 14


Mississippi State at Arkansas
3:30pm on CBS

Why It Matters:  Its chances are slim, but Arkansas is still keeping an eye on the BCS standings.

What Vegas Says:  Arkansas by 14 (opened at -13)

What We Say:  We keep waiting for MSU to upset someone, but Arkansas’ offense appears to be too much.

Prediction:  Arkansas 34, Mississippi State 17


LSU at Ole Miss
7:00 on ESPN

Why It Matters:  LSU still controls its own destiny in the BCS standings.

What Vegas Says:  LSU by 30.5 (opened at -28.5)

What We Say:  Teams with lame-duck coaches and suspended quarterbacks and tailbacks don’t upset top-ranked teams.  (Do they?)

Prediction:  LSU 37,  Ole Miss 10


Vanderbilt at Tennessee
7:00 on ESPNU

Why It Matters:  With a win, Vandy can lock up its own bowl bid while preventing its cross-state rival from going bowling at all.

What Vegas Says:  Vanderbilt by 1.5 (opened at -1)

What We Say:  The eyeball test says Vandy, but history says UT (especially if Tyler Bray can give the Vol offense some confidence).

Prediction:  Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 23

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SEC Headlines 11/19/2011 Part One

Citadel at South Carolina

1. Forty-one years after playing and coaching at The Citadel, Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson faces his alma mater for the first time.

2. A win today by South Carolina means the Gamecocks will be gunning for their 10th victory of the season when they face Clemson.

Kentucky at Georgia

3. Georgia’s seniors began their careers with double-digit winning seasons.  They can end that way as well.

4. A few lessons Kentucky can learn from Georgia this year.

5. Joker Phillips: “I love playing Georgia.”

6. A win today would clinch Mark Richt’s fifth SEC Eastern Division title.

Furman at Florida

7. With Florida State up next, this is a chance for the Gators to improve their offense.

8. The Paladins could make things interesting with their offense.

Georgia Southern at Alabama

9. Alabama’s fifth-year seniors took a chance on a new head coach back in 2007.

10. Win today means four straight 10-win seasons for Nick Saban.

11. Oklahoma State loses in double-overtime. Alabama fans celebrate.

12. Does the loss mean the Heisman race is back to a duel between Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson?

Samford at Auburn

13. Auburn’s motto today - just win, baby.

14. Auburn knows it needs to get more receivers involved in the passing game.  Three receivers account for nearly 60% of receptions.

Extra – Urban Meyer edition

15. Meyer: “No truth” to the rumors he’s taken the Ohio State job. Pat Dooley tweet.

16. Cleveland Plain Dealer: “If you asked who I believe will be the best Ohio State head coach, it’s Urban Meyer. As of right now, that’s still only a belief, not a report.”

17. If the rumors turn out to be true, would LSU coach Greg Studwara be joining Meyer in Columbus?

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SEC Headlines – 5/11/11 Part Two

1.  Billy Donovan’s new assistants at Florida — John Pelphrey and Matt McCall — will bring a lot of familiarity to Gainesville next season.

2.  Pelphrey says “hopefully” he can be a better aide in his second go-round with Donovan.  “I’m sure it will come back (to Donovan) that I was a tremendous pain in the neck to him.” 

3.  Despite months of rumors, Georgia Southern “has not been and will not be in conversation with Washaun Ealey,” the former Georgia leading rusher.  Ouch.

4.  Is Mark Richt getting tougher… or just more pragmatic?

5.  UGA’s Mark Fox has lifted a Twitter ban on his hoops team.

UPDATE — 6.  The Orlando Sentinel has a Q&A with Dawg QB Aaron Murray.

7.  New basketball coach Cuonzo Martin helped collect goods for Tennessee residents impacted by last month’s tornado outbreak.

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Ealey Will Be Back On UGA Team… If He Takes Care Of Business

The rumors have been floating around for a while.  Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey was being kicked off the team and he would transfer to Georgia Southern.

Yesterday morning, ESPN.com reported that Ealey had been indefinitely suspended from the team, not dismissed.  Then Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph actually caught up with Ealey who admitted that he’d been suspended, wouldn’t say why he had been disciplined and said “of course” when asked if wanted to remain in Athens.

However, he also said, “I’m looking at my options… and (we’ll) see what happens.”

In announcing Ealey’s suspension, Richt said that his leading rusher from a year ago would eventually earn his way back on to the team.  “We have certain expectations and standards that apply to all our student-athletes.  We expect them to do things the right way, the Georgia way.  If Washaun does things the Georgia way, he’ll be back in good standing.”

Ealey’s career has never taken off as expected at UGA.  Now the suspension and the signing of top prep back Isaiah Crowell throws Ealey’s future further into question.

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Reports: Shoop, Pry To Vandy

Multiple internet sites are reporting that yesterday’s rumors have become today’s facts.

William & Mary defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has resigned and is expected to be hired in that same capacity at Vanderbilt.

FootballScoop.com is reporting that former Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Brent Pry will join James Franklin’s staff as Shoop’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

It is expected that Shoop will coach the Commodores’ safeties.

(As for the photo, that’s Shoop on the left, Pry on the right.)

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