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Auburn Fans Goes Griswold With Christmas Lights

Even Alabama fans should appreciate this one.

OK.  Maybe not.

But an Auburn fan living near Fayetteville, Georgia has taken the ending to this year’s Iron Bowl — meaning the radio call — and combined it with the Tigers’ fight song to create a Christmas spectacle more impressive than anything Clark W. Griswold ever attempted.  It’s lavish.  It’s ridiculous.  And it’s impossible not to stare at.

Merry Christmas, Auburn-style.

 

 

Where’s the Tylenol?

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SEC Headlines 12/5/2013

headlines-thuSEC Title Game

1. Missouri’s run defense or Auburn’s run offense? “Four times this season, Auburn has run for more than twice what its opponent usually gives up.”

2. Gary Pinkel on coaching rumors:  ”I’m a Missouri Tiger and I’m going to stay a Missouri Tiger.”

3. MrSEC on Gus Malzahn and Texas talk:  ”There’s no denying it’s better to be at the #1 “name” school in a state…”

4. Will Missouri jump Alabama with a victory over Auburn?  ESPN’s Brad Edwards: “Just a win over Auburn in the computer part alone would send them past Alabama. “

5. Can Auburn jump Ohio State if both teams win?  Edwards: ”Auburn…is going to need approximately 75 percent of voters to have them ahead of Ohio State on their final ballots..”

6. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive makes the case for this Saturdays’ winner: “The SEC champion with one loss ought to play for a national championship.”

7. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson on Missouri quarterback James Franklin: “He’s a big 230-pound guy. When he pulls it down, he’s not easy to tackle.”

8. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall won a state title in high school at the Georgia Dome.

9. Auburn backup linebacker and special teams player Javiere Mitchell suffered a “slight concussion” in Iron Bowl but expected to play Saturday.

10. CBS analyst Gary Danielson was at the Missouri practice Wednesday: ”I think the coach needs to see me in person.”

SEC Football

11. The SEC on CBS had its best year ever for ratings- up 24% percent.

12. Mike Slive doesn’t like the idea of an Iron Bowl rematch in the Sugar Bowl: ”If you’re playing for the national championship, I would be in favor of a rematch. Not if you have other options.”

13. “The SEC West is no longer Alabama, LSU and the four dwarves.”

14. Five reasons why the Cotton Bowl should select Texas A&M over LSU.

15. How does an ACL injury impact LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s NFL draft chances?

16. South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game next month.

College News

17. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is not impressed with Florida State’s schedule: “They beat Clemson, and that’s about it.”

18. Christine Brennan: SEC has no room to gripe about the BCSMrSEC disagrees.

SEC Basketball

19. Alabama 76 – North Florida 48. 20 points for Levi Randolph and 12 from freshman Jimmie Taylor.

20. Texas A&M 74 – Houston 57. Aggies snap two-game losing streak.  Video highlights.

21. A win tonight over Kansas State would give Ole Miss its best start since the 2007-2008 season.

22. Mississippi State plays TCU tonight - first Bulldogs opponent from a major conference.

23. “Missouri, 7-0, is undefeated but also largely untested.” That changes tonight with a game against West Virginia.

24. 4-3 Vanderbilt faces Marshall tonight.Coach Kevin Stallings sees a need to emphasize winning.  “We’re not playing 7-year-old soccer.”

25. Kentucky will play Baylor Friday night at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium

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Auburn Fans Still Reveling In Iron Bowl Victory

My goodness, Alabama fans are gonna have a long, hard offseason.  Fans of Auburn — and LSU — are already cashing in on Nick Saban’s last-second defeat in this year’s Iron Bowl with t-shirts, photoshop jokes, and multiple YouTube videos.

Here’s a quick sampling:

 

lsu-t-shirt

 

Auburn vs. Alabama : Iron Bowl

 

kick-bama-kick-iron-bowl-2013-t-shirt-8b22116550e92f68

 

2013 Iron Bowl Final Radio Call You Probably Haven't Heard

 

welcome to bama sign

 

Yep.  A long, hard offseason.

 

 

 

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FSU’s Fisher Defends His Old Boss, Bama’s Saban

gfx - they said itIt’s not often that Nick Saban needs defending when it comes to his game management.  We believe that’s in large part due to the fact that his team’s talent makes up for his coaching decisions.  On Saturday, team failed to make good on his decision to attempt a 57-yard field goal on the Iron Bowl’s final play.  Result: Auburn 34, Alabama 28.

While we still feel the field goal attempt was more likely to fail than to succeed, one man — an ex-Saban assistant — has defended the coach’s decision.  Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had this to say yesterday:

 

“I mean, Nick has coached that up, I promise you that.  We do it here, and that’s the way we handle that.  There’s chances in everything you do.  If he makes it, he’s a hero.  You play to win the game, you don’t play not to lose the game.”

 

Bama’s loss makes it nearly impossible for the Crimson Tide to meet the Seminoles in the BCS Championship Game.  That Alabama/FSU matchup was the most likely BCS outcome… prior to Saban’s decision to risk a block or a return on an improbable kick.

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SEC Gameday Links: Iron Bowl 2013

gameday links1. How would Alabama fans react if Auburn pulls off the upset?  Paul Finebaum: “I think it would be one of the most manic Mondays in Alabama history.”

2. Keep your eye on Auburn running back Tre Mason.  Leads the SEC in rushing with 1,153 yards.

3. But in three games with Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator, Tigers have out-gained Alabama just once.

4. One of the reasons why Alabama will win today. “Alabama coach Nick Saban has been there and done that.”

5. But here are five reasons why Auburn will win today.

6. Gregg Doyel: “This is the biggest rivalry in college sports, and it’s not particularly close…”

7. Tony Barnhart says there are two Iron Bowls that have matched this one in intensity.

8. You have to go back to the Oklahoma teams of the 1940′s and 50′s to find a program as dominant as Alabama in recent years.

 

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SEC Headlines 11/29/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Did you know? “LSU leads the nation in consecutive years with at least eight wins in a season with 14 beginning in 2000.”

2. Does a victory over Arkansas means its likely that LSU will head to the Cotton Bowl?

3. Loss by Arkansas would mean the Razorbacks first winless conference record since 1942.

4. Kevin Scarbinsky: “The Iron Bowl was a great game until Saban came along.”

5. Alabama’s strength of schedule ranks 55th in the nation.  Auburn 38th – Missouri 39th.

6. Many of the Iron Bowl matchups favor Alabama but Auburn may have the edge at running back and special teams. No one has been able to stop Auburn’s running game this year.

7. Alabama and Auburn jointly own the “Iron Bowl” trademark.

8. Recalling Jadeveon Clowney’s comments about whether Tajh Boyd is scared of him. Steve Spurrier: “That was summertime talk.”

9. Bobby Bowden on the Florida State-Florida matchup: ”You know, it’s always been a game that either team could win. Now, it seems like one of them can’t.”

10. Key part of the Missouri turnaround has been the offensive line.  Evan Boehm’s switch to center has had a big impact.

11. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on his offensive tackles and Mizzzou’s starting defensive ends: “I don’t think there’s any doubt those four guys are going to play at the next level.”

12. Georgia has dominated the series with Georgia Tech since Mark Richt took control of the Bulldogs program – won 11 of 12 games.

13. Despite the fact that he’s played almost the entire season with a cast on his hand, Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson is third in the SEC in tackles.

14. The Kentucky game could be the last in college for Tennessee juniors Antonio “Tiny” Richardson and A.J. Johns0n – both considering entering the NFL draft.

15. Could Tennessee coach Butch Jones been the Kentucky coach instead?

16. Vanderbilt running back Wesley Tate looks to end his career on a high note.

17. Why did Ole Miss freshman Robert Nkemdiche have to change his jersey last night?  A new rule instituted this year.

18. Thanks to Mississippi State’s win over Ole Miss Thursday night, there are now 1o bowl-eligible teams in the SEC – 70 in the country.

SEC Basketball

19. Football field on Saturday but basketball court tonight for Florida-Florida State.

20. Bill Raftery on Kentucky: ”The competition they’re playing against isn’t in awe of them.”

21. Tennessee will play in the 2014 Old Spice Classic.

22. Alabama plays Drexel today in the NIT consolation game.

23. Fresh off beating Northwestern to move to 6-0, Missouri plays Nevada tonight in Las Vegas.

24. Our roundup of Thursday SEC hoops.

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Alabama/Auburn: Malzahn’s Run Game Versus Saban’s Run Defense

gfx - by the numbersEntering Saturday’s Iron Bowl game at Auburn, there’s no better ground attack in the SEC than that of the Tigers.  Fittingly, there’s no better SEC run defense than that of Alabama.

Not quite a month ago, the Crimson Tide completely stuffed the run game of LSU, a team boasting Bama’s same run-first DNA.  Final tally: 31 carries for the Tigers… just 43 yards.

But holding LSU to a 1.3 yards-per-carry average isn’t the same as halting Auburn’s ground game.  LSU lines up and pounds the football right at you.  Gus Malzahn and Auburn are much more creative, bringing ball-carriers and blockers from any and all directions.

By now you’ve probably heard the stat that a Nick Saban team (either at LSU or Alabama) has never beaten an Auburn squad that finished with nine wins.  That’s a flukish type of stat.  A more telling examination would require only a quick look at past Saban-versus-Malzahn matchups to see how Nick’s Tide has fared against Gus’ Tigers.

 

2009

It was Malzahn’s first year as offensive coordinator on the Plains.  The Tigers would finish the season 8-5.  Their rushing attack was the fourth best in the SEC averaging 212.0 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry.  Alabama boasted the league’s best run defense in ’09.  The Tide allowed just 79.3 yards per game and a miniscule 2.8 yards per carry as they captured their first national crown under Saban.

Iron Bowl result:  Bama won the game 26-21 as Saban’s unit held Auburn to 151 yards (61 yards below it’s average) and a 4.72 yards per carry.

 

2010

Year Two for Malzahn, but this time he had the incredible Cam Newton behind center.  The Tiger offense led the SEC in rushing with 284.7 yards per game and a whopping 6.1 yards-per-carry average.  Bama’s rush defense took a backseat to Auburn’s in 2010.  Second in the SEC, Saban’s crew allowed 110.1 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry.

Iron Bowl result:  Auburn raced back from a 24-0 first-half deficit to win the game (28-27) and propel itself toward the 2010 BCS championship.  However, AU rushed 41 times for just 108 yards on the day.  That was a full 176 yards below the Tigers’ average output on the ground.  Auburn’s per-carry number dropped from an average of 6.1 all the way to 2.6 in the Iron Bowl.  With its run game stuffed, the difference in the game became Newton’s passing ability.  Supercam was 13-of-20 for 216 yards (10.8 per pass attempt), three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

 

2011

Minus Newton, Auburn’s ground game fell back to fourth best in the league — 182.3 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry.  Malzahn would leave at year’s end to become the head coach at Arkansas State.  Alabama was back on top of the conference’s run defense chart in ’11.  Bama allowed only 72.1 yards per game — a ridiculously low number — and just 2.4 yards per rush.

Iron Bowl result:  Starting to spot the trend here?  Alabama blasted the Tigers 42-14 on its way to capture yet another BCS crown.  On the day, Malzahn’s offense gained just 78 yards on the ground on 35 carries.  That was 104 yards below the Tigers’ season average and their per-carry number was just 2.2 (compared to a 4.4 season average).

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SEC Headlines 11/26/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Would losing to Auburn be the most crushing defeat of Nick Saban’s career?

2. Saban on Auburn fullback Jay Prosch: “You can’t say enough about what that guy does for them.”

3. Expect Auburn freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson to play in the Iron Bowl.  Gus Malzahn: “We do have a plan for Jeremy, package wise, for this upcoming game.”

4. This will be the ninth Iron Bowl for defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson - but his first on the Auburn sideline.

5. Bruce Feldman: ”To me, there is a big, big difference between a one-loss team and an unbeaten team.” 

6. How can Missouri stop Johnny Manziel? Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel: “I don’t think the right word is stop because you’re not going to stop Johnny Manziel.”

7. Bryan Burwell on the Tigers:  “An SEC East title carries a lot more weight than a Big 12 North crown.”

8. Mark Bradley on Florida coach Will Muschamp: “I’d have fired him Saturday.”

9. Is Connor Shaw the best quarterback in South Carolina history?

10. Why the Cotton Bowl could be a destination for the Gamecocks.

11. If Mississippi State beats Ole Miss, the BBVA Compass Bowl will include the SEC.

12. Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders – the team’s leading rusher – suspended for the Tennessee game.

13. Tennessee needs a win against Kentucky to avoid the first eight-loss season in the program’s history.

14. If Arkansas loses to LSU, it will be the program’s first winless conference season since 1952.

15. Instead of two games a year, Arkansas will play just one a year in Little Rock for the next five years.

16. LSU freshman cornerback Rashard Robinson had a spectacular game against Texas A&M - held Mike Evans to four catches and intercepted a Johnny Manziel pass.

SEC Quarterbacks/Injuries

17. With quarterback Aaron Murray the latest, Georgia has had four offensive players tear their ACLs this year. Read MrSEC’s take on injuries in college football.

18. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason will get his first start this weekend since 2009 when he was a senior in high school.

19. With Dak Prescott out with an elbow injury and Tyler Russell day-to-day, quarterback Damian Williams’ performance could have a big impact on the Egg Bowl.

20. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace says his flu-like symptoms this weekend have passed.

21. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy remains questionable - not cleared by medical staff. Full Florida injury report.

22. Tennessee coach Butch Jones confirmed Monday that freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson fractured his tibia before the Alabama game. ”Josh Dobbs will be our starting quarterback.” Tennessee has scored just three offensive touchdowns in last four games.

23. Vanderbilt is comfortable with its two quarterback system. Coach James Franklin: “I look at it as nothing but an advantage.”

SEC/NFL Draft

24. Would South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney be the perfect fit…for the Atlanta Falcons?

25. After pleading guilty to trying to cover up an alleged rape, former Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Boyd will attempt to go pro instead of transferring.

Extra

26. What are the similarities between the rape cases at Vanderbilt and Florida State? ”The biggest similarity between the two cases is secrecy.”

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Malzahn’s Success Further Exposes Chizik’s Missteps At Auburn Last Season

malzahn-chizikAuburn’s Gus Malzahn was expected to have the quickest path to success of all of the SEC’s new coaches.  His “rebuilding” project would benefit from a fully-loaded roster, unlike the projects getting underway at Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.

But Auburn’s roster isn’t just talented, it’s Malzahn-talented.  It’s filled with players recruited to specifically run his hurry-up, spread attack.  That fact has played a big role in Auburn winning more games than most of us would have expected.

It’s also further emphasized just how big a mistake Gene Chizik made last season in turning away from Malzahn’s brand of offense..

Chizik is a defensive-minded coach.  He’d been a defensive coordinator before landing his first head coaching job at Iowa State.  So it’s no wonder that he wasn’t a complete convert to Malzahn’s go-go ways.  Up-tempo offenses don’t allow defensive teammates to get as much rest between series.  As offenses speed up, typically a team’s defensive stats will go down.  This year’s Auburn squad, for example, ranks 12th in the 14-team SEC in total defense (in SEC games).

There was a bit of friction between Chizik and Malzahn in 2011 as the head coach asked his offensive coordinator to slow things down a bit in an effort to protect the Tigers’ defense.  At the conclusion of that season Malzahn took the head coaching job at Arkansas State and Chizik hired Scot Loeffler to install more of a pro-style, normal-paced offense.  But with a team recruited to run Malzahn’s spread, Loeffler was doomed from the outset.

Under Malzahn, Auburn’s offense had finished second, first, and eighth in the SEC in total offense from 2009 through 2011.  Last year, the Tigers finished dead last in that category, averaging just 305 yards per game under Loeffler.

AU fell to 3-9, the Tigers heave-ho’d Chizik just two years removed from a BCS crown, and brought back Malzahn.  Instead of a rebuild, Auburn’s new coach is enjoying more of a “pick up where I left off” kind of season.

Auburn’s recruiting classes have ranked highly from 2009 (fifth-year seniors) to 2013 (true freshmen).  With the exception of one signing class in 2012, Malzahn was present for all of those recruitments.  And even with the February 2012 class, Malzahn had been working on those players before departing for Arkansas State.

According to Rivals.com, Auburn’s classes from ’09 through ’13 ranked 19th, 4th, 7th, 10th and 8th.  Arkansas and Kentucky haven’t come close to that level of success.  Tennessee had some top 20 classes, but they’ve had twice as much attrition as the other programs thanks to two coaching changes since 2009 (and three since 2008).  Further, the coaches at Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee didn’t have a hand in any of the scouting or signing done prior to their arrival.  Malzahn did.

This is not to take away from the job Malzahn has done.  The only folks who would have predicted he’d enter the Iron Bowl at 10-1 would have been Tiger fans and they’d have been making their predictions based on hope and heart, not facts and figures.

But while Malzahn deserves credit, Chizik deserves blame.  Or pity.  He had a roster built to do one thing and he attempted to do something else.  It wound up costing him and his assistants their jobs.

Now Malzahn has returned to simply pick up where he left off.

 

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SEC Weekend Wrap – 11/11/13

weekend-wrapEleven weeks are in the SEC history book and we’ve crossed off yet another Game of the Century.  If Alabama and Auburn keep things rolling we might have another come Iron Bowl weekend.

Below is our game-by-game wrap of Saturday’s action plus a few extra thoughts on Johnny Manziel’s Heisman hopes, Alabama’s “shush” patrol, and the Don James Bowl that’s currently on the horizon.  Enjoy.

 

Vanderbilt 34, Florida 17 (Our prediction: Florida 24, Vanderbilt 17)

If only we’d foreseen four Gator turnovers, three inside their own 22-yard line.  Can you say, “implosion?”  When Tyler Murphy first took the field against Tennessee back in September (following an injury to Jeff Driskel), he looked good.  Then he looked good against Kentucky and Arkansas.  People wondered why the third-team junior had been wasting away on Brent Pease’s bench.  Now we know.  The past few weeks have been rough on Murphy.  His three picks deep in Gator territory and his fumble near Vandy’s goal line pretty much doomed a Florida team that outgained Vanderbilt 344 to 183.  Florida has 26 first downs to Vandy’s 12.  Commodore starting quarterback Patton Robinette completed six-of-12 passes for 57 yards, no TDs and a grand total of 57 yards.  Ya know how we’re always banging the turnover drum?  This was a prime example of why.  Aside from a five-sack performance against the Gators’ make-shift O-line, James Franklin’s team was mostly outplayed.  But by protecting the football and being good enough to take advantage of all Florida’s bungles, VU looks to be a bowl lock while UF looks bowl-blocked.  The fact that this was Florida’s first home loss to Vanderbilt since 1945 only made matters worse for an already-under-fire Will Muschamp.  For the Dores, the win gave them a first-in-school-history double over Georgia and Florida in the same season.  Big congrats.

 

Missouri 48, Kentucky 17 (Our prediction: Missouri 38, Kentucky 20)

The preliminaries are now over and Missouri is in the surprise position of controlling its own destiny en route to the SEC Championship Game.  James Franklin got another week to mend his shoulder, and Maty Mauk made sure his teammate wasn’t missed.  Mauk threw five TD passes — four to Dorial Green-Beckham — as Gary Pinkel’s team rolled past Kentucky.  Wildcat QB Jalen Whitlow wasn’t bad (269 yards of total offense), but UK lacks the weaponry to trade shots with Mizzou.  Even a pair of Tiger turnovers made little difference.  By the end of the third quarter, Mark Stoops’ team has clawed back to within 35-17, but Green-Beckham’s fourth TD reception and an 86-yard run by Henry Josey closed the door.  UK single-covered the Tigers’ star receiver for much of the game and they paid the price.  “I just felt like I came out there and just beat their defense myself and just went out there and made plays,” said a not-so-modest Green-Beckham.  Kentucky is now 0-5 in the SEC.  They finished 0-8 in the league last season.  The Cats will be underdogs at Vanderbilt and at Georgia over the next two weeks.  Then they’ll finish at home against Tennessee… the last SEC team UK beat way back in the 2011 finale for both squads.

 

Auburn 55, Tennessee 23 (Our prediction: Auburn 35, Tennessee 17)

If only we’d foreseen Auburn scoring twice and gaining 312 yards on seven returns.  The Volunteers weren’t going to win this one, but they might have been able to keep things respectable had they not seen their special teams units — a strength of the team for much of the year — go South without warning.  Punt returner Chris Davis returned two punts for 127 yards (63.5 yards per return) including an 85-yard touchdown scamper.  Not to be outdone, Corey Grant took the second half kickoff 90 yards for a stake-to-the-heart touchdown.  For good measure, Auburn rushed for 444 yards and quarterback Nick Marshall did his best Cam Newton impressions, gaining 214 on the ground.  Tennessee’s run game showed some improvement, but not so much that the Vols ever really threatened in this one, their third straight game against a top 10 foe.  The Vols have an open date to regroup after facing — get this — seven ranked teams including five top 10 teams in their last eight games.  Gus Malzahn is bucking for Coach of the Year for leading Auburn to a 9-1 record.  Butch Jones should get an honorable mention just for getting his team through such a brutal stretch with their lives.

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