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Saturday SEC Schedule
Auburn at Mississippi State. MrSEC.com Pick: Auburn 20 – Mississippi State 16
East Carolina at South Carolina. MrSEC.com Pick: South Carolina 34 – East Carolina 17
Florida at Texas A&M. MrSEC.com Pick:  Florida 20 – Texas A&M 16
Western Kentucky at Alabama. MrSEC.com Pick: Alabama 41 – Western Kentucky 10
Georgia State at Tennessee. MrSEC.com Pick: Tennessee 52 – Georgia State 10
UTEP at Ole Miss. MrSEC.com Pick: UTEP 28 – Ole Miss 27
Washington at LSU. MrSEC.com Pick: LSU 37 – Washington 17
Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas (Little Rock). MrSEC.com Pick:  Arkansas 52 – Louisiana-Monroe 14
Kent State at Kentucky.  MrSEC.com Pick: Kentucky 34 – Kent State 20
Georgia at Missouri.  MrSEC.com Pick: Mizzou 31 – Georgia 30
Vanderbilt at Northwestern: MrSEC.com Pick: Vanderbilt 24 – Northwestern 21

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SEC Game Previews – 9/7/12

Here’s your regularly-scheduled rundown of all the Week Two SEC contests.  You’ll find everything from kickoff times to TV info to betting lines to our keys to each of the games.

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

 

Auburn at Mississippi State

12:00pm ET on ESPN

Opening Line:  MSU -2

Current Line:  MSU -3

Storylines:  State comes in 1-0 and looking to get a leg up on Auburn for once.  Dan Mullen has never gotten the better of the Tigers and that’s left his Bulldogs to dig out of a hole in each of three previous seasons.  As for Auburn, Gene Chizik can’t afford to start 0-2.  There’s already a whisper in the wind that he might not be all he’s cracked up to be.  If AU loses tomorrow, expect the Auburn messageboards to heat up.

Keys for Auburn:  First, Kiehl Frazier and the Auburn passing game have to be more effective.  If it’s not, MSU will simply stack the box against the run.  Second, Brian VanGorder’s new defense needs to be stout against the run and tackle much, much better than it did last weekend.

Keys for Mississippi State:  With a game as full-time starter now under his belt, it’s time for Tyler Russell to establish himself as a true leader.  He has the weapons at wideout to move the ball against Auburn.  If State can avoid turnovers, they should finally record a much-needed breakthrough win for their head coach.  But if the Dogs find themselves in another tight game with Auburn late, will doubts begin to creep into their minds?

Pick:  Mississippi State 20, Auburn 17

 

East Carolina at South Carolina

12:21pm ET on SEC Network

Opening Line:  USC -23.5

Current Line:  USC -21.5

Storylines:  Connor Shaw’s bruised shoulder.  Carolina’s passing offense was almost non-existent last week against Vanderbilt.  If Shaw is ready to go — and he’ll be a gametime decision — then he and his receivers need to find some sort of rhythm.  If he’s not ready to go, expect a massive dose of Marcus Lattimore.

Keys for South Carolina:  As noted above — work on the passing game.  If Shaw’s not available, that’s a moot point.  Either way, USC’s ground game and defense should be enough to coast past ECU.

Pick:  South Carolina 34, East Carolina 17

 

Florida at Texas A&M

3:30pm ET on ESPN

Opening Line:  A&M -2.5

Current Line:  A&M -1

Storylines:  How ’bout that billboard in Gainesville for one?  Remember how all the Aggies claimed an investigation would prove that a Texas or Baylor person was behind it?  Well, besides what turned out to be a phony contract floating around on messageboards, there’s been nothing more said about who indeed paid for that bit of trash talk.  But more importantly, this is A&M’s welcome to the SEC party.  Will Muschamp brings what looked to be a sloppy Gator squad back to the Lone Star State where he’s sure to find a wild and raucous Kyle Field crowd.  If that weren’t enough, this will also mark the beginning of the Kevin Sumlin era in College Station.  Toss in the first start for redshirt freshman Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel and you’ve got more storylines than a Steven Soderbergh flick.

Keys for Florida:  Brent Pease must help new starting quarterback Jeff Driskel build confidence via the coach’s play-calling.  The Gators have to prove that last week’s improved running game had more to do with themselves than with their competition (Bowling Green).  Defensively, you can bet Muschamp has studied Sumlin’s pass-happy system from Houston… but will that be the same offense the coach trots out tomorrow?

Keys for Texas A&M:  Hard to say since we’ve never seen a Sumlin-led Aggie squad play.  We’ll go with this one though — get the ground game going with a deep stable of backs to help take some of the pressure off of Manziel.  First starts can be tough on QBs.  They can be especially tough when the D-linemen coming after him have SEC speed and size.

Pick:  Florida 20, Texas A&M 16

 

Western Kentucky at Alabama

3:30pm ET on SEC Network

Opening Line:  UA -37

Current Line:  UA -38.5

Storylines:  RESPECT!  Nick Saban wants you to know that WKU is a big, bad, hard-working bruiser of a football team.  They’re nothing to laugh at.  Don’t scoff.  Scoffing isn’t part of the “process.”

Keys for:  In all seriousness, keep people healthy.  The #1 team in the country shouldn’t have too much trouble with a Sun Belt team so the trick will be to get the starters out as soon as possible and get reps for the backups.

Pick:  Alabama 41, Western Kentucky 10

 

Georgia State at Tennessee

4:00pm ET on Pay-per-view

Opening Line:  No Line Posted

Current Line:  No Line Posted

Storylines:  Will anyone attend?  Vol fans are excited about a season-opening win over NC State, but spending big bucks to watch Georgia State?  If the national trend holds, expect a whole bunch of empty seats at Neyland Stadium.

Keys for Tennessee:  Same as Alabama.  Same as so many SEC teams playing sub-par competition — just stay healthy.  Working on the interior run game against living, breathing opponents wouldn’t hurt either.

Pick:  Tennessee 52, Georgia State 10

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UT’s Dooley Channels His Inner-Saban

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley might not have wound up on the Volunteers’ radar way back in January of 2010 had he not been an ex-assistant for current Alabama coach Nick Saban.  From Florida to Colorado State, if you worked for Saban, you’ve got a little extra juice these days.  Well yesterday, with his team riding high after a 35-21 opening night win over NC State, Dooley seemed to channel his old boss with regards to his own team possibly becoming complacent:

 

“Most teams never reach their dreams because they overestimate the event and underestimate the process…

Our biggest challenge is going to be not patting ourselves on the back and listening to everybody talking about how good we played and not remembering why we had success, which is the process these guys have been going through the last eight months.”

 

Ah, the process.

How long before Dooley suggests the media isn’t giving enough respect to Georgia State, Tennessee’s next foe?

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Report: UT WR Rogers Suspended Indefinitely

Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers has been indefinitely suspended from the Volunteer football team according to Volquest.com — the Rivals’ site covering Tennessee (paywall warning).  Derek Dooley is expected to address Rogers’ latest issue after today’s practice in Knoxville.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Vol fans as the media in Tennessee have repeatedly tried to prepare them for the possibility of a suspension or dismissal coming at some point for Rogers or quarterback Tyler Bray or both for their off-field actions.

The junior wideout is best known for being arrested in a bar fight as a freshman, for allegedly tossing a weight at a strength coach, for barking at since-retired receivers coach Charlie Baggett during UT’s loss to Kentucky last year, for being removed but not tecnhically “suspended” from the team at various points this offseason, and for suggesting via Twitter this past spring that he would be transferring to Georgia State.

Oh, and for leading Tennessee in receiving last year when fellow wideout Justin Hunter went down to injury.  Last season he recorded 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.

Dooley has been slow to hand down any official discipline or suspension to Rogers despite all of his previous antics.  No doubt two factors have played a role in that: Dooley’s own job security and Rogers’ talent… when the player’s head is screwed on straight.

Now it seems that Rogers has finally done something to force Dooley to officially push him away from his squad for a while.  Here’s betting we won’t find out what it was Rogers did when Dooley addresses the media this afternoon.  For that matter, it will be interesting to see if Dooley terms the situation a “suspension” at all or if he just says Rogers is attending to “personal issues,” which the coach is wont to do.

There were rumors two weeks ago that Rogers was in hot water once again and that a suspension could be coming.  It didn’t.  But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Dooley wanted to gauge the talents of juco receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and the recovery of Hunter before pulling the trigger on a sit-down for Rogers.

UT opens against North Carolina State in the Georgia Dome next Friday.

 

UPDATE — The University of Tennessee has officially announced that Rogers has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.  This would seem to suggest that this is a UT decision and not a Dooley decision.

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UT’s Rogers Says He Never Considered A Transfer

Transfer?  What transfer?  What’s a transfer?

Last week, mercurial Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers stirred up a controversy by tweeting: “Georgia State.  Wasup?”  He was absent from practice the next day, but Panthersville.com quoted Rogers as telling that site that “Georgia State would be the only place I’d look at” should he transfer.

Over the weekend, Rogers returned to practice after doing some things Derek Dooley told him to do.  The coach would not elaborate on what those things were, but he did say Saturday that Rogers was good to go and that a transfer had never come up in any conversations between the two.

Today, Rogers spoke to the media and said all’s well:


“Oh, man, no controversy.  Just had some little things to handle off the field, got those handled and now we’re looking forward to becoming a championship-contending team. … If I was a distraction, I really wasn’t trying to be a distraction.  It was a situation that we got handled, and everything is good now.

No transfer for me, no consideration.  Maybe I need to do a little better job with my tweets, letting everybody know what’s really actually going on so next time it won’t be misinterpreted.”


Maybe he needs to make sure what he tells websites covering other programs isn’t misinterpreted either.  Or maybe he could have straightened things out via Twitter when the story blew up last week.  Funny that he didn’t.

Or maybe Derek Dooley needs to simply ban his guys from Twitter.

Rogers went on to praise the chemistry on Tennessee’s team before stating: “Sometimes you just come to a point in your life where you have to be strong about things.  I had a little weak moment, and that’s gone behind me and behind the team now.  We’re ready to go.”

Judging by the tweets sent out by some of his teammates last week, it seems that some Vols might be ready for Rogers to go.  Or maybe those tweets were misinterpreted, too.

Either way, Knoxville is still Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood for now.  We await his next episode.

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UT’s Rogers = MSU’s Sidney; UT’s Dooley = MSU’s Stansbury

There’s a line in the movie “The American President” in which Michael Douglas — playing the Prez — tells the public, “I was so busy trying to keep my job that I forgot to do my job.”

Derek Dooley should order that film from Netflix.  Or maybe he should ask deposed Mississippi State hoops coach Rick Stansbury for advice.

For the second year in a row, Tennessee’s football coach appears to be on the verge of losing his team’s locker room because he refuses to put his foot down when star players walk over him, his staff and his rules.

Receiver Da’Rick Rogers — we chronicled his previous issues yesterday — has done something to earn himself another ban from UT’s football team.  That would be the player’s second ban this offseason, though Dooley refuses for some reason to use the word “suspension.”  The first “ban” came when Rogers allegedly made “a physical threat to a strength coach.”  Scuttlebutt claims the tempestuous star tossed a weight at one of the staff members.

Yesterday, the coach said his All-SEC wideout could return from his current — break? hiatus? timeout? vacation? siesta? — as soon as he completes a few tasks.  Sources claim that simply means running some extra laps.

If that’s indeed the case then it looks like Rogers would rather run to Georgia State instead.  On Wednesday night the player tweeted: “Georgia State.  Wasup?”  Yesterday a report from Panthersville.com — the Scout site covering GSU — wrote “GSU May Snag 5-Star SEC Transfer.”  In the story, they contacted the Georgia native and Rogers told the site:


“Georgia State would be the only place I’d look at.”


Uh, yeah.  Rogers going to North Alabama while Terry Bowden was running that ship?  That I could see.  Bill Curry putting up with a diva dissing him and his staff?  Rogers better be prepared to have his facemask jerked.

Remarkably, when Dooley was asked yesterday about the possibility of Rogers leaving, the coach said: “I don’t have any knowledge of him wanting to leave.  He’s never told me that, or indicated that to me or anybody else.”

Which tells us that Dooley doesn’t follow Rogers’ Twitter feed or read Panthersville.com.  Apparently.

The coach needs to win this year or else his rump could be headed back to the Louisiana Tech-level of coaching.  (Actually, the Bulldogs are winning more since he left, so perhaps he’d land at a coaching rung lower than Tech.)  With receiver Justin Hunter still on the mend from major knee surgery Dooley obviously wants to hang onto his best pass-catcher for now, at least. 

But at what point is Rogers’ on-field talent offset by his off-field demeanor?  After all, Tennessee’s team went 5-7 and lost to Kentucky with Rogers last season.

While a number of Vol players told the press yesterday that they still support Rogers, others posted some rather odd comments on Twitter after Dooley’s “he’s just got some things to do” presser.

Offensive lineman Jawuan James wrote:  “What you allow you encourage.”  Was he referring to Dooley’s lack of action with Rogers or some mother not disciplining her kid in the McDonald’s line in front of him?  You decide.

Defensive lineman Maurice Couch posted via his Twitter feed: “Talk is cheap lead with actions.”  Aimed at Dooley?  Aimed at Rogers?  Aimed at something else entirely?

We could be wrong, but it sure looks like 2 + 2 = 4 in this case.

The whole Tennessee-Dooley-Rogers situation is very reminiscent of Stansbury’s decision to recruit, sign and then put up with Renardo Sidney’s attitude issues at Mississippi State.  When Sidney got into a fight on national television with teammate Elgin Bailey, the guy with more potential stayed and Bailey left.  When Sidney worked out last summer with John Lucas in Houston rather than travel with his teammates on a preseason European tour, Stansbury said his big man was still in his good graces.

But this past season, the Bulldogs’ locker room went up in flames as players openly alluded to certain teammates not giving enough effort, not being in shape, and not having a proper attitude.  Stansbury fiddled while Starkville burned.

The coach’s decision to let Sidney poison his locker room eventually ended said coach’s stay in said locker room.

Dooley is now walking down the same path.  He allowed star safety Janzen Jackson chance after chance after chance to the point that some former Vol assistants even grew tired of it.  Jackson let Dooley down in the end and was forced out by school policy, not Dooley’s.

It seems he’s determined to give the talented Rogers as many chances as it takes to get his head straight.  Meanwhile, Rogers apparently contemplates a move to Georgia State.

Dooley should be so lucky.

UT’s coach has a Sidney problem on his hands.  And if he doesn’t fix it soon, UT athletic director Dave Hart may come to believe that he’s got a Stansbury problem on his.

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UT’s Dooley Says Rogers Has Some “Internal” Things To Take Care Of

Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers wasn’t at practice today.  According to Derek Dooley, Rogers has some “internal” things to take care of before he’s welcomed back to spring practice.

There was no timetable given for a possible return.  And the coach stopped short of calling Rogers’ disappearance from team activities a suspension.

Rogers — who we told you earlier today posted a couple of curious tweets yesterday (“I cannot wait to talk to the media tomorrow.  It finally comes out.”) — has been silent on his Twitter account for the past 13 hours.

Looks like Dooley’s going to continue to let Rogers work through his issues without dismissing him from the Vol squad.  No surprise.  He also gave former Tennessee safety Janzen Jackson umpteen shots at redemption before that player finally forced his hand — reportedly — with failed drug test number umpteen-and-one.

For now, we await a new tweet from Rogers who also posted the cryptic “Georgia State.  Wasup?” last night.

When asked if Rogers is transferring, Dooley said today, “Nobody has told me that.”

I seem to remember Auburn’s Gene Chizik saying roughly the same thing when asked about reports that Mike Dyer would transfer to Arkansas State.

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No Permanent Cross-Divisional Rivals In The SEC?

Here’s one that will get Alabama and Tennessee fans fired up.  SEC associate commissioner and chief PR guy Charles Bloom told Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman that the league’s permanent cross-divisional rivalries could go bye-bye as soon as 2013:


“There might not be a permanent rival.  Don’t read anything into next year’s schedule (2012).  But we are staying with eight conference games.”

For many fans across the SEC, the permanent cross-divisional rivalries serve no purpose.  Kentucky and Mississippi State have no hatred for one another.  South Carolina and Arkansas have little history.  And Florida and LSU would rather not have to face one another every year.

But there are other schools that do have reasons to maintain those cross-division games.  Alabama and Tennessee — traditionally speaking — is the SEC’s biggest game, played annually between the two teams who own the most SEC titles all-time.

Georgia and Auburn is the oldest rivalry in the Deep South.  Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have played 86 times.  And Missouri desperately wants to keep Texas A&M on its schedule for recruiting purposes.

Killing cross-division games is not a good solution.

We’ve said repeatedly that we believe the SEC will eventually go to a nine-game league schedule.  We’ve taken that stance because the SEC has almost always in the past acted wisely from a business sense.

But if the league does away with permanent cross-division games and discards three of the league’s oldest rivalries in order to allow its schools to schedule more pitiful home games with schools like Georgia State and Elon, then the league will not be acting wisely.

If the league fails to follow the lead of most other BCS conferences that will be going to nine-game league slates by 2017 if not sooner, then — to be blunt — the SEC will be acting cowardly.

And if the SEC maintains permanent cross-divisional games while eliminating a rotating cross-divisional foe — meaning schools will visit one another every dozen years — the league will be undermining the very thing that makes it great: fantastic rivalries.

If there’s a story to watch in 2012, it’s the final scheduling plan for the SEC moving forward into 2013 and beyond.  Will the SEC act wisely and boldly as it has in the past?  Or will it be motivated to act out of greed (one more home game for everyone!) or fear (nine games is too tough!).

Here’s hoping the league’s leaders wise up before they damage America’s best conference from the inside out.

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SEC: Crimson Tide rolls, looks ahead to Auburn

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

(AP photo/Dave Martin)

(AP photo/Dave Martin)

SEC links for Friday:

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2012 Quarterback To Visit Alabama Tonight

Gunner Kiel will be in Tuscaloosa for Thursday night football as Alabama plays host to Georgia State, according to 247sports.com.

Kiel, a junior quarterback from Columbus (Ind.) East High School, is one of the top 2012 prospects at his position in the nation.

He has already attended games at Tennessee, Missouri, Northwestern, Purdue and Indiana, where his brother, Dusty Kiel, is a redshirt freshman.

Kiel’s father, Kip Kiel, told 247sports.com that Gunner will likely visit Iowa next month.

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