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Alabama Returning To BCS Championship Game, Beats Georgia 32-28 In Classic SEC Title Bout

1. Alabama ground-game dominant. Tide set SEC Championship-game record with 350 rushing yards.

2. 270 of those yards came in the second and third quarters.

3. What did Mark Ingram tell Eddie Lacy on the field moments after the game? “He said that’s the best I’ve ever seen you run.”

4. Georgia rally ends at Alabama 5-yard line as time expired.  Why didn’t Bulldogs spike the ball?  Mark Richt: “Well, spiking the ball takes time.” Aaron Murray: “I wasn’t calling the plays.”

5. “Someone asked me just a second ago what I thought the difference was (in the game),” Richt said. “All I could think of was, we just ran out of time.

6. “Several guys came back to be deemed SEC champions, to play for a national championship,” Georgia senior receiver Tavarres King said. “Those dreams were crushed tonight.

7. Kevin Scarbinsky: “Nick Saban’s teams have won bigger games…but one of his Alabama teams has never won a bigger game from a bigger hole, against a better foe, on a bigger stage.”

8. Dan Wetzel: “In many ways Saturday could be called Saban’s greatest victory…”

9. Saban on Georgia: “If you got in this game, you should be in a BCS game.”

10. Dennis Dodd on Quintin Dial’s shot to the head of Aaron Murray:  ”Dial may not get the luxury of suiting up for Notre Dame when SEC officials examine the film.

11. Mark Richt’s testy exchange with a media member after the game.

12. Richt post-game news conference video.

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SEC Headlines – 10/19/11 Part One

Just a few quick headlines today as we try to make time to finish an expansion-related piece scheduled to be posted this evening:

1.  Alabama’s AJ McCarron continues to make progress as the Tide’s starting quarterback.

2.  Trent Richardson really is better than Mark Ingram.

3.  Gus Malzahn says new Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley’s “got a little bit of the gunslinger in him.”

4.  The Tigers are dealing with injuries as they prep for top-ranked LSU.

5.  Are the trees at Toomer’s Corner worth more than $20?

6.  Arkansas AD Jeff Long says he’s not afraid to “dream big” when it comes to facilities.

7.  Receiver Greg Childs hasn’t been putting up big numbers this season.

8.  LSU fans should savor their team’s success, not fret over rankings.

9.  Tyrann “the Honey Badger” Mathieu will be looking to make up for a quiet game at Tennessee with a big game against Auburn.

10.  Dan Mullen is trying to figure out what’s happened to Mississippi State’s offense.

11.  MSU hoops coach Rick Stansbury isn’t ready to talk about his team just yet.

12.  Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden says he and three other suspended players “felt horrible” watching Alabama crush their teammates last weekend.

13.  With Chris Warren and Zach Graham gone, Ole Miss will be looking for new scorers in the backcourt this winner.

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SEC In The NFL – McFadden Is The Man

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (Arkansas) is the man.  Just ask New York Jets corner back Darrelle Revis.  “He just crushed us today,” said Revis following the Raiders 34-24 victory on Sunday.

McFadden rushed for 171 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.  One of those touchdown runs went for 70 yards on a play that was supposed to be a pass.  “I just felt like it was in my best interest to go ahead and run,” McFadden said.

“He’s able to get from point A to point B faster than anyone I’ve seen,” quarterback Jason Campbell (Auburn) said. “He can get in a hole and shift out and make two guys miss and get down the sidelines.”

With 393 rushing yards in his first three games, McFadden leads the NFL.  ”He’s the best back in football, bar none,” said Raiders coach Hue Jackson.

On the defensive side of the ball for Oakland, Jarvis Moss (Florida) had a big day for the Raiders, notes Jerry McDonald of the San Jose Mercury News.  The defensive end had two sacks, a tackle for a loss, and three quarterback hits.

Pending the outcome of tonight’s Washington-Dallas game, there will only be three or four undefeated teams left standing heading into week 4.  One of those teams is the Detroit Lions led by quarterback Matthew Stafford (Georgia).  On Sunday, Stafford led the Lions back from a 20-0 halftime deficit as Detroit rallied to beat the Minnesota Vikings 26-23 in overtime.

Although this is Stafford’s third year in the league, thanks to an assortment of knee and shoulder injuries, the Lions QB completed his 16th career start on Sunday, completing his “rookie” year.  Detroit News columnist Mike O’Hara breaks down Stafford’s stats and says the former Bulldog compares favorably to another SEC legend – Peyton Manning.

“Stafford is proving he’s the real thing.  He is a quarterback, not just playing the role.”

Sunday afternoon in Minnesota, Stafford completed 32 of 46 passes for 378 yards and two TDs. Stafford is currently fifth in the NFL in passing yards, only behind Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Drew Brees and leader Tom Brady.

Speaking of Cam Newton (Auburn), the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL draft had his worst statistical game but got something that had eluded him in his first two starts – a victory.  The Carolina Panthers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-10.

After back-to-back  400+ yard efforts in his first two games, Newton completed 18 of 34 passes for just 158 yards yesterday. But he did engineer his first fourth-quarter game-winning touchdown drive in a game that featured “monsoon-like” weather conditions.

“No matter what the conditions were — dry, slick, wet — it doesn’t matter as a quarterback in this league,” Newton said. “There’s an old saying: ’Don’t tell me about the pain, just bring me the baby.’”

Another positive for the rookie yesterday – no interceptions and no sacks.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (Ole Miss) was also a winner Sunday – torching the Philadelphia Eagles for four touchdown passes with no interceptions in the Giants 29-16 victory.

Sean Hartnett says it’s time to recognize Manning for what he is – a top 10 NFL quarterback.

“No longer should he be the whipping boy of New York back pages, radio hosts and fans when things go wrong”

A few other SEC-related notes from Sunday:

  • Mike Wallace (Ole Miss) caught 5 passes for 144 yards including an 81-yard touchdown pass in the Steelers 23-20 victory over Indianapolis.
  • Julio Jones (Alabama) had an impressive showing in a losing cause.  The Atlanta Falcons rookie caught 6 passes for 115 yards against Tampa Bay.  The Bucs won the game 16-13.
  • Sidney Rice (South Carolina) had 8 catches for 109 yards as Seattle won for the first time this year.  The Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals 13-10 in Rice’s season debut.  He had been sidelined with a shoulder injury.
  • Mark Ingram (Alabama) scored the go-ahead touchdown in the Saints victory over the Texans.  It was his first touchdown of his young NFL career. New Orleans defeated Houston 40-33.
  • The Broncos lost to the Titans 17-14 on Sunday fueling speculation in Denver that it’s time for Tim Tebow (Florida).  But coach John Fox is still backing Kyle Orton.  “Right now, in our opinion, Kyle gives us the best chance to win.”

And finally, Colts owner Jim Irsay made news this morning when he told a group of Super Bowl donors that Peyton Manning (Tennessee) was out for the season.  Irsay later clarified those comments saying there’s an “outside chance” Manning returns in December.

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SEC In The NFL: Randall Cobb Shines In Debut

Just how good was Green Bay Packers rookie and former Kentucky wide receiver Randall Cobb on Thursday night in his NFL debut? How about two mistakes that both end up as touchdowns.

Cobb tied an NFL record with his third quarter 108-yard kickoff return but he broke a team rule in the process.

“If I have to take any steps back,” Cobb said, “the rule is don’t bring it out. And I did. I’m going to be in trouble for that one. I’m thinking I’m going to get chewed out. ”

Earlier in the game, Cobb was supposed to run a drag pattern – instead he ran a slant.  Result?  A 32-yard touchdown pass.

“We didn’t have off-season workouts,” said Aaron Rodgers after the game. “But surprisingly I was able to read [Cobb's] body language there and he made a nice catch and run for a touchdown.”

“I scored two touchdowns, and they were both mess-ups,” said Cobb. “They’ll go down as ‘MAs.’ Missed assignments. But my first game, it exceeded all of my expectations.”

Cobb missed most of the preseason with bruised knees. I’d bet there’s more than a few fantasy owners kicking themselves today for not drafting the Green Bay rookie.

The Packers first round pick, tackle Derek Sherrod from Mississippi State, was inactive last night.

For the Saints, former Alabama running back Mark Ingram made his pro debut in the backfield. Unfortunately for him, his most memorable carry of the night came up short.  On the game’s last play from the Packers 1-yard line and trailing by 8 points, Ingram was stopped at the goal line by a swarm of Packers defenders.

“I’ve got to get a yard,” Ingram said. “It’s goal line to win the game.”

Ingram carried the ball 13 times for 40 yards in the Saints 42-34 loss.

Former Tennessee wide receiver Robert Meachem scored the first touchdown of the season for the Saints on a 31-yard pass from QB Drew Brees.  Meachem finished the game with five catches for 70 yards.

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Can The SEC Win Six Straight National Championships?

Alabama fans hated to see former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville hold up six fingers signifying six consecutive wins over Alabama from 2002-2008. This season Alabama fans might relish the sight considering Alabama will be one of the leading candidates to win the SEC’s six consecutive national championship in 2011. Never before in the history of college football has a single conference won five consecutive national titles until Auburn beat Oregon last season. To compound other conferences misery, it has been accomplished by four different schools in the five-year run (Alabama,Auburn,Florida, and LSU).

Alabama, LSU,South Carolina and even Arkansas are prime candidates to give other league commissioners including the Big 10′s Jim Delany another reason to despise the SEC in 2011. LSU (with or without suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard) have a tenacious front seven lead by linebacker Sam Montgomery and defensive end Barkevious Mingo. Arkansas suffered a major loss in early fall camp losing one of the SEC best running back’s Knile Davis to a knee injury. But the Hogs are expected to make a seamless quarterback transition from Ryan Mallett to Tyler Wilson. Joe Adams and Jarius Wright will lead the most talented wide receiver corps in the nation.Alabama coach Nick Saban nearly allowed himself to smile at a recent press conference talking about one of the best defenses in the nation lead by linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower and Heisman Trophy candidate running back Trent Richardson. Even South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is excited about returning sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore and a very talented front seven on defense led by All-SEC defensive tackle Travian Robertson and freshmen sensation Jadeveon Clowney.

How has the SEC won five consecutive national championships? The SEC enjoys a tremendous advantage with some of the top coaching talent in the nation, recruiting success and tough weekly competition that prepares teams for the post season.

In this five-year run, the SEC has had great coaches. Nick Saban, since joining the SEC, has a 91-27 record in nine seasons at LSU andAlabama. Saban has coached a Heisman winner (Mark Ingram) and won two BCS national championships (LSU in 2003 and Alabama in 2009). Gene Chizik, who endured the infamous “boo bird” at his airport arrival with a 5-19 record as a head coach at Iowa State, has gone 22-5 in two seasons at Auburn. He has coached a Heisman winner in Cam Newton, and won a BCS national championship at a University that went half a century without repeating as national champions. Urban Meyer, who “retired” after this past season to become a ESPN analyst, amassed a sparkling 65-15 record with the Florida Gators, coached a Heisman winner in Tim Tebow, and won two BCS titles in a three-year span (2006, 2008). LSU coach Les Miles who waivers from looking like a genius to a buffoon with his clock management skills, has compiled a 62-17 record at LSU and won a BCS national title in 2003.

TV rules college football now and the SEC’s TV exposure, on CBS and ESPN have allowed the league to telecast its product nationwide. Alabama recruited Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram from Flint,Michigan. Tennessee recruited starting quarterbacks Casey Clausen from Northridge, California and pulled Erik Ainge out of Hillsboro, Oregon.

Competition in the SEC makes a team battle tested. Critics proclaim there is no way an SEC team can go undefeated each year running the gauntlet of a typical SEC sausage grinder schedule. Auburn and Alabama’s undefeated seasons in 2009 and 2010 refute that premise. When Florida won the national championship in 2006, it lost to Auburn and also had stiff challenges in LSU and Tennessee. In 2008, Florida suffered a defeat to Ole Miss, struggled against LSU and Georgia and also had to beat Alabama (who went 12-0 in the regular season) 31-20 in the SEC Championship game. In 2009, Alabama did go unbeaten, but the Tide’s Terrance Cody had to block two field goals (one on the last play of the game to win 14-12) and also was trailing Auburn before driving the length of field to win 26-21.

One position where the SEC is a level above any conference in the nation is defensive line play. The SEC clones defensive tackles and ends to combat spread formation offenses run by talented quarterback and skill players from other conferences. As Jon Solomon of notes the BCS Championship Game defensive MVPs during the SEC’s run have all been defensive linemen:Florida’s Derrick Harvey, LSU’s Ricky Jean-Francois,Florida’s Carlos Dunlap, Alabama’s Marcell Dareus and Auburn’s Nick Fairley. If it’s not Harvey sacking Troy Smith three times, it’s Dareus knocking Colt McCoy out of the game. If it’s not Jean-Francois blocking an Ohio State field goal, it’s Fairley wreaking havoc in Oregon’s backfield. These athletic linemen “freaks” relentlessly pressure opponent’s quarterbacks and shut down running games on the biggest stage in college football.

“One hundred percent that’s the difference between the SEC and other conferences,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. “SEC fans think it’s the SEC speed. The Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC, these guys have speed on the perimeter. It’s not about the speed. “It’s the difference in the interior line — the athletic ability, the power, the energy, the intensity, the depths of it. Almost every team in the SEC has defensive linemen that when they go outside the conference, they will dominate the opposing offensive line.”

Mental and physical toughness goes hand-in-hand with success in the SEC. Legendary coaches in the league such as Paul Bryant, Pat Dye, Vince Dooley, Gene Stallings, and General Robert Neyland believed running the ball and playing defense are the keys to winning championships. Every SEC team to win the BCS title the past five years has either averaged over 200 rushing yards per game or held its opponents to less than 300 yards of offense per game. The SEC prides itself on having the biggest and strongest teams, not the fastest. Speed kills, but not always as  Oregon discovered the hard way against Auburn last season.

Will the law of averages finally catch up with the SEC this year as many college football critics predict? Maybe, but no one thought two players at Auburn who were not on anyone’s preseason All-American list such as quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley would end up being such difference makers.

Critics say no team can win a national championship with an inexperienced quarterback. Ask Greg McElroy of Alabama and Cam Newton of Auburn if they can win one. Five of the past nine national titlists have had a first-year starting quarterback, including the Tide in 2009.  A sophomore is too young and inexperienced to make that much of a difference. Well ask sophomore running back Mark Ingram if he could make a difference as he did in Alabama’s 2009 run. A fifth-year senior Matt Flynn who played sporadically during his career was the calm effective game manager Les Miles needed to win the national championship over Ohio State in 2007.

Can the SEC win an unprecedented sixth national championship? Don’t bet against them.

Brett Beaird and Harold Bugg co-host the Boomo Bugg Show on WYTK 93.9 FM The Score weekdays from 12:00-2:00 pm and the Sportsbuzz on WZTV weekdays at 5:30 and 11:00 pm CT. Brett is also a free-lance writer for

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SEC Headlines – 7/12/11 Part One

1.  Ex-Alabama back Mark Ingram is on the cover of EA Sports’ NCAA Football 12 video game which is out today.

2.  Auburn linebacker Jessel Curry is transferring to Delaware.

3.  Georgia offensive lineman Brent Benedict is transferring to Virginia Tech.

4.  LSU has moved up the date of next year’s home game with Washington by three weeks.

5.  Here’s the watch list for the Thorpe Award.  Ten SEC defensive backs made the list.

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Ex-Bama Back Ingram Lands The Cover Of

A departing Heisman winner from the state of Alabama will grace the cover of the incredibly popular video game “NCAA Football 12″ when it hits shelves later this summer.

No, not that departing Heisman winner from the state of Alabama… the other one.

Mark Ingram, the 2009 trophy winner, won an online vote and was announced today as EA Sports’ latest cover boy.  Ingram beat out Jake Locker, DeMarco Murray and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley for the honor.

Cam Newton — the 2010 trophy winner from Auburn — was not among the choices presented to voters.  I wonder why?

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Ex-Bama Back Ingram Sees Stock Drop Due To Knee

Former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram might be set for a tumble on draft day due to a past injury.  According to, the NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi said during Wednesday night television show that he has “had two teams tell me the knee is very bad.”

In fact, Lombardi said the ex-Tide back “won’t be on their draft boards,” stating also that “these are teams that need running backs.”  Mike Mayock, also of the NFL Network, says Ingram might drop out of the first round of the draft even if he were fully healthy.

The tailback was believed to be visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday.

Ingram had arthroscopic knee surgery last August and sat out Alabama’s first two games of the 2010 season.  His average per carry dropped from 6.12 in 2009 to 5.54 last year.  That’s hardly a major decline.

But when it comes to investing millions of dollars in players/commodities, teams pay awfully close attention to X-rays and CT scans.  In Ingram’s case, it appears those X-rays are speaking more loudly than his past accomplishments in the nation’s toughest conference.

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SEC Headlines – 4/12/11 Part One

1.  Nick Saban is using “never again” signs around the Alabama football facility to keep memories of last year’s Iron Bowl collapse in players’ minds.

2.  Trent Richardson is ready to emerge from Mark Ingram’s shadow.

3.  Cornerback Jonathan “Young Buck” Rose — who enrolled early at Auburn — is still adjusting to the college game.

4.  Quarterbacks Clint Moseley and Barrett Trotter will be on “a bigger stage than we’ve been on all spring” during Saturday’s spring game.

5.  Bobby Petrino is putting a new spin on Arkansas’ decision not to play Arkansas State.

6.  Hog receiver Quina Funderburk says he’s still on the football team, but his high school coach says he’s hanging up his cleats.

7.  Trent Johnson says LSU needs a perimeter player… so it was a tough blow when a juco prospect chose Nebraska yesterday.

8.  Mississippi quarterback Randall Mackey continues to fight through his speech problem.

9.  Linebacker DT Shackleford injured his knee during practice yesterday… and now the Rebels are left to wait for MRI results.  (That would be a big, big loss for UM.)

10.  MSU’s backup quarterbacks are ready to push Chris Relf.

11.  Former Bulldog hoopster Ravern Johnson put on “as one-dimensional a performance as a player can have” at a pre-draft NBA camp last week.

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SEC Headlines – 1/14/11 Part One

1.  Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley will announce his NFL intentions this afternoon.

2.  Cam Newton is leaving Auburn as “perhaps the program’s most beloved player.”

3.  Former Clemson guard Noel Johnson will transfer to Auburn’s basketball team.

4.  It doesn’t look like Alabama will lose any additional underclassmen to the NFL.  (But they’ve already lost Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus.)

5.  Arkansas’ players know they blew a good shot at an SEC road win Wednesday at LSU.

6.  LSU’s Stevan Ridley says the NFL is a possibility he just can’t pass up.

7.  This writer believes Les Miles spun the Michigan job into a great insurance policy in Baton Rouge.  (There’s also word that Miles wasn’t happy with AD Joe Alleva’s lack of support during the 2010 season.)

8.  Jim Chaney, Paul Chryst and a few new names pop up on this writer’s list of potential Tiger offensive coordinator candidates.

9.  As we told you earlier today, Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney combined for 49 in a 69-64 MSU win over Ole Miss last night.

10.  Last night’s hostile crowd in Oxford helped fuel Sidney.

11.  Rick Stansbury says the “very sweet” win extends beyond one game.

12.  The loss drops Mississippi to 0-2 in SEC play.

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