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The SEC’s Most (And Least) Impressive Performances Of Week Four

Well that didn’t take long.

Just four weeks into the season and an SEC team has already skipped right past undefeated Oklahoma to grab the #1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll.  While LSU tops the AP Poll, the Tigers’ 4-0 record is only good enough for #3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll behind the aforementioned Sooners and fellow-SEC member #2 Alabama.  Suffice to say, the top of the SEC is as good as any conference in the land.  Again.

But which team had the most impressive performance of the week?  We’ll rank ‘em all below.  And remember, we’re talking about one week only.  Here’s your weekly best-to-worst look at the SEC’s performances in Week Four:

 

1.  LSU 47, West Virginia 21 at Morgantown, WV —  So how did LSU edge out Alabama for our top spot when it allowed 533 yards of offense?  Because most of those yards were meaningless.  On the road.  In one of the nation’s most hostile environments.  The Tigers got another solid performance from quarterback Jarrett Lee (16 of 28 for 180 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions), a player who is quickly becoming one of the best stories of the season.  Just as they did in an opening night win over Oregon, the Bayou Bengals forced four turnovers against the Mountaineers.  It seems that even when offenses find ways to the move the ball against John Chavis’ bunch, his lightning-fast defenders answer with key takeaways.  No arguments with this team’s #1 ranking.  None.

 

2.  Alabama 38, Arkansas 14 at Tuscaloosa, AL –  At the end of the day, I think Arkansas will be a better team than West Virginia, but the Crimson Tide  faced the Hogs at home while LSU traveled to WVU.  That’s about the only reason to deduct points from the balanced, dominating effort turned in by Nick Saban’s crew.  While the offense was totaling 200 yards passing and another 197 rushing, the Bama defense was squelching Bobby Petrino’s flashy offense.  Just compare the efficiency of the two QBs: AJ McCarron passed for 200 yards on 20 passes, but it took Tyler Wilson 35 flings to tally just 185 yards.  In addition, the Tide managed to score in all three phases of the game.  Arkansas looked to be outclassed from the get-go… and there’s no reason for them to be ashamed.  A lot of teams will be outclassed by Bama this season.

 

3.  Florida 48, Kentucky 10 at Lexington, KY — Chris Rainey put up his usual good numbers (105 yards rushing), but this game belonged to Jeff Demps.  The speedster galloped 10 times for 157 yards and two scores (one covering 20 yards, the other 84) as the Gators flattened the Cats on the road.  In total UF amassed more than 400 yards on the ground in notching win #25 in a row against UK.  This performance might have ranked higher if not for the level of the Gators’ competition — Kentucky’s pretty bad, folks.

 

4.  Georgia 27, Ole Miss 13 at Oxford, MS — Mark Richt emerged victorious in the Hot Seat Bowl and his team was more dominant on the field than on the scoreboard.  The Dawgs rolled into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and out-offensed the Rebels 475 to 183.  They won the rushing battle 207-34.  If not for three Blair Walsh missed field goal attempts and one punt return for an Ole Miss touchdown, the Bulldogs’ victory would have appeared even more complete.  You never got the feeling in this one that UM had a chance to win it.  And that’s good enough to keep most Richt-bashers — not all, but most — at bay for at least another week.

 

5.  South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 3 at Columbia, SC —  As I watched this game I kept wishing someone would come and administer some Novocaine to me.  It was painful to watch.  Vanderbilt’s offense was just non-existent.  And while Carolina should get credit for holding VU to just 73 yards passing and a ridiculous 4 yards rushing… it’s Vandy we’re talking about.  The Commodores got off to a nice 3-0 start this year, but they’d won games over lesser foes and with the help of multiple turnovers.  Against Carolina, not even 4 Stephen Garcia picks could help them.  They just couldn’t move the ball.  At all.  Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier stuck with Garcia — though it was a headset-throwin’ night for the Ol’ Ball Coach — and he credited the 5th year senior after the game for doing the best that he could.  Carolina’s signal-caller is maddening.  One minute he’ll whistle a rifle shot through defenders and the next he’ll overthrow a dump-off to Marcus Lattimore by five yards.  But he’s still the guy the Gamecock team trusts, so credit Spurrier for sticking by him.  But on this night there just wasn’t much to celebrate aside from a methodical victory.  USC fans will take it.

 

6.  Auburn 30, Florida Atlantic 14 at Auburn, AL —  How bad is Auburn’s defense?  Well, FAU entered the game with one of the worst offenses in America and still the Owls almost matched the Tigers in total yardage (315 to 307).  That 307 yards of offense?  FAU was averaging just 92 yards per contest heading into Saturday’s game.  AU fans had to be nervous looking up to see a 10-6 game in the third quarter… before Neiko Thorpe and Jermaine Whitehead picked off FAU passes to set up the Tigers’ pull-away scores.  And how ’bout this for fickle fans — the AP reported several “half-empty” sections in Jordan-Hare’s upper deck.  The report also mentioned booing from the student section “during a particularly bad stretch” for Gus Malzahn’s offense in the first half.  And this is a team that had gone 17-1 in its previous 18 games and won a little sumthin’ called the BCS title.  Yeah, and it’s the media that’s been “disrespecting” Auburn’s young team.  Considering the boos and attendance versus FAU and the thousands of Tiger fans who streamed to the exits and missed their team’s Week One comeback over Utah State, it’s a good thing we’re ranking the team’s performance and not the performance of their fans.

 

7.  Arkansas 14, Alabama 38 at Tuscaloosa, AL —  Think the Hogs missed Knile Davis?  Bobby Petrino’s offense officially logged 17 rushing yards on 19 attempts on Saturday.  That’s bad anywhere.  But against a team like Alabama, such a performance spells certain doom.  Wilson didn’t get much help from his O-line as he was harassed and hurried on seemingly every dropback.  Now throw in a pair of Hog turnovers and you can begin to grasp the Razorbacks’ level of futility.  In a battle between the SEC’s top defense and top offense, it was the defense of Bama that emerged victorious.

 

8.  Vanderbilt 3, South Carolina 21 at Columbia, SC —  James Franklin’s Cinderella 3-0 start to his Vandy coaching career came to a crashing thud Saturday night in the Palmetto State.  If you thought Arkansas’ rushing numbers were bad, check out these: 25 carries, 4 yards.  Four!  And the Commodores converted just one third down all night (out of 14 chances).  At least the Vanderbilt defense put up a fight.  Lattimore was held to just 77 yards on 20 carries.  And a week after picking off Mississippi’s Zach Stoudt five times, VU’s D came down with four Garcia passes.  It just didn’t make a difference on the scoreboard this time around.

 

9.  Mississippi State 26, Louisiana Tech 20 in OT at Starkville, MS —  MSU’s meteoric rise has plum flickered out the past three weeks.  Coming off back-to-back losses to Auburn and LSU, the black-jersey’d Bulldogs figured to get well against Louisiana Tech and its 17-year-old quarterback.  Instead… Dan Mullen’s team was outgained and at times outplayed by La. Tech.  If not for a late interception deep in State territory — which prevented Tech from kicking a game-winning field goal — and another INT on the first play of overtime, the Bulldogs might have suffered a remarkably embarrassing loss to a WAC team that’s now just 1-3.  Chris Relf was so shaky in the passing game that Mullen chose to play for overtime on MSU’s final possession even though he had time to throw and good field position.  It’s still early, but MSU seems to be a team moving in the wrong direction these days.

 

10.  Kentucky 10, Florida 48 at Lexington, KY —  Joker Phillips’ team — a squad he called “sloppy” after the game — turned the ball over four times and failed on all five of its fourth-down tries.  And that was just the offense.  Rick Minter’s defensive unit gave up 520 yards and allowed UF to score three touchdowns in a five-minute, first-quarter barrage that put the game away almost as quickly as it had started.  The Wildcats are now 2-2 with a pair of unimpressive victories over Western Kentucky and Central Michigan, but at times they’ve played more like the 1994 Bill Curry-led squad that managed just one win on the season.  Things look very bad in the Bluegrass State.  So once again they find themselves near the bottom of our Impress-O-Meter.  More showings like Saturday’s and they can apply for permanent residence at the bottom of our Monday morning chart.

 

11.  Ole Miss 13, Georgia 27 at Oxford, MS —  Even when Houston Nutt teams have struggled in past years, his offense could move the ball.  Stumbling to a 4-8 mark last season, for example, the Rebels averaged more than 30 points per game.  Not this year.  Not even close.  The check for going out in search of a transfer quarterback every year has finally come due.  UM passed for just 149 yards against Georgia and rushed for a meager 34 yards on the ground.  David Lee’s offense managed just one score on the day.  Athletic director Pete Boone said earlier in the week that he wanted to see more fire from the Rebels’ eyes.  He likely went home disappointed.  Heck, as poorly as the Rebels played on Saturday, I was surprised Nutt didn’t pull his straight-billed cap down a little bit lower so as not to have to cast his eyes upon a squad that’s quickly costing him his job.

 

Open Date — Tennessee

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Grading The SEC’s 2011 Football Schedules

Last week at MrSEC we gave each SEC school’s 2011 non-conference schedule the eyeball test.  Today we check out each school’s entire 2011 schedule… and we even get mathematical about it.

First things first, this is just a simple exercise.  It’s not intended to serve as an entrance thesis to MIT.  We didn’t use a slide rule, pi, or the Pythagorean theorem.  Instead we simply used each team’s 2010 performance — which of course presents its own set of problems.  Based on 2010′s results, Auburn would be the toughest game on anyone’s schedule in 2011.  But in reality, the Tigers figure to take a step back next season.  Still, last year’s accomplishments are the best figures we have to work with at this time.

Our “formula” is an easy one.  Here’s what each SEC squad received for each opponent on its 2011 docket:
 

* 1 point for every opponent’s 2010 wins
* 1 point for every 2011 game played away from home
* 5 points for every bowl appearance by an opponent in 2010
* 5 points for every final Top 20 ranking by an opponent in 2010
* 0 points of any kind for FCS-level opponents on 2011 schedule


When the numbers were tallied, the SEC’s 2011 schedules ranked as follows from most difficult to easiest:


SEC 2011 Schedule Difficulty

Rank
School
Points
Games Away From Home
Why So Tough, So Easy?
1 LSU
166
6
Oregon and WVU away from home + SEC schedule
2
Ole Miss
163
5
BYU, Fresno St. solid non-conf games
3
Arkansas
158
5
SC, UT, MSU, at LSU to close season
4
S. Carolina
152
5
3-game stretch at MSU, at UT, at Ark
5t
Auburn
151
5
4-game stretch of at SC, at Ark, UF, at LSU
5t
Florida
151
5
4-game stretch of Ala, at LSU, at Aub, UGA (Jax)
7
Miss. State
146
6
Memphis, La. Tech, UAB, UT-Martin non-conf games
8
Georgia
144
6
Boise St., SC to open the season
9
Vanderbilt
142
5
Finish at UT, at W. Forest
10
Alabama
139
5
Kent St., N. Texas, Ga. Southern bad non-conf games
11
Tennessee
138
4
7 of first 9 games at home
12
Kentucky
122
5
W. Ky, C. Mich, L’ville, Jax. St. bad non-conf games


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Championship Week Phil Steele Forecast For #18 South Carolina

South Carolina
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South Carolina wide reciever Alshon Jeffery (1)  catches a pass for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/The State, Gerry Melendez).  Can the Gamecocks prove Phil Steele wrong yet again this season?

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Gerry Melendez – AP

South Carolina wide reciever Alshon Jeffery (1) catches a pass for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/The State, Gerry Melendez). Can the Gamecocks prove Phil Steele wrong yet again this season?

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SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:
GEORGIA DOME, ATLANTA
#2 AUBURN vs #18 S CAROLINA
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
AUBURN 210
200
36
2.0
S CAROLINA
125
285
36
1.6
-
The last two years the SEC Champ game has featured #1 vs #2 Florida vs Alabama and while this year’s matchup won’t have the same build-up it is equally intriguing with 12-0 Auburn in contention for a national title and their QB Newton the Heisman frontrunner. These two teams did meet earlier this year which was a 35-27 win by Auburn at home on 9/25. In that gm, SC led 20-7 late 2Q and 27-21 early 4Q, but QB Garcia fmbl’d twice and then was pulled and bkup Shaw was int’d twice (all 4 TO’s in the 4Q and resulting in 14 pts for Aub). Newton threw for 158, 2 TD and rushed for 176, 3 TD in the 1st matchup while Garcia threw for 235 with a 3-0 ratio but RB Lattimore was held to 33 rush yds. Aub did have 492-384 yd and 29-20 FD edges in the gm. SC finished their ssn strong with 3 str DD wins incl LW’s 29-7 win over rival Clem (322-251 yd edge). SC QB Garcia is avg 221 ypg (66%) with an 18-9 ratio while RB Lattimore has 1,114 (4.8). Aub is off the biggest come-from-behind win over rival AL ever as they trailed 24-0 late 2Q but rebounded for a 28-27 win. They were fortunate to be only down by that score as AL scored just 3 pts on 3 drives inside Aub’s 20-yd line in the 1H. QB Newton was held to 39 rush yds but threw for 216 and 3 TD and the D held AL to 69 rush yds (2.3). While this is SC’s 1st trip to the SEC Title gm, it is Spurrier’s 8th and he is 5-2 in those games. Aub’s last title trip was in 2004, a 38-28 win over Tenn when Chizik was the DC here. Spurrier has the experience factor in his favor and I think SC can stay in the gm as long as Garcia doesn’t have another meltdown.
PHIL’S FORECAST: AUBURN 38 S CAROLINA 34


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As the biggest college football rivalry game in South Carolina is this Saturday, Firehouse Subs is…

South Carolina
Content provided by Garnet And Black Attack.

As the biggest college football rivalry game in South Carolina is this Saturday, Firehouse Subs is offering a special deal at locations in the winning team’s city.

Following the big game this weekend, all Firehouse Subs locations surrounding the winning team invite fans to enjoy free chips and a drink with the purchase of a sub on Sun., Nov. 28 and Mon., Nov. 29.

To redeem this offer at participating Firehouse Subs locations, fans say “Go Gamecocks” at any of the below eight locations surrounding Columbia if USC wins.

Also, for an ideal photo opportunity, the USC/Columbia Firehouse Subs location showcases a mural poking fun at the Clemson Tigers.

Locations include:

* Hardscrabble

4546 Hardscrabble Rd.

Columbia , SC 29229

* USC/Columbia

633 S. Main Street

Columbia, SC 29201

* IRMO

7467 St. Andrews Rd.

Irmo, SC 29063

* Lexington

109 Old Chapin Rd.

Lexington, SC 29072

* Lexington Medical Center

2805-B Sunset Blvd.

West Columbia, SC 29212

* Harbison

150-A Harbison Blvd.

Columbia, SC 29212

* Spring Valley

10136-B Two Notch Rd.

Columbia, SC 29229

* Sumter

1293 Broad St.

Sumter, SC 29159

Firehouse Subs, founded in Jacksonville, Fla. by former firefighting brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen, is a 400-unit fast-casual restaurant chain. Firehouse Subs offers oversized portions of premium hand-sliced meats and cheeses, steamed to make the flavors burst, then piled high with fresh produce atop a toasted sub roll. The restaurants reflect the authentic firefighter heritage, as well as the founding family’s 200 years of firefighting service.

*Offer valid only at participating locations if USC wins.

Just wanted to pass along a message I received from a Firehouse rep.


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Week 13 Phil Steele Top 25 Forecast For #18 South Carolina

South Carolina
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Brett Flashnick – AP

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#18 SOUTH CAROLINA AT CLEMSON
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
S CAROLINA 102
198
21
1.7
-
CLEMSON
94
208
18
2.6
•••
LY the intangibles favored South Carolina, as Clemson had the ACC Title gm on deck and SC pulled the upset but this year TY, SC has the SEC Title gm next week. LW Clemson got its 1st road win with a 30-10 win over WF while SC rolled 69-24 over Troy (most pts under Spurrier). Clemson has won 5 of the L/6 vs SC at home and haven’t dropped 2 str to SC S/’69-’70 (series uninterrupted since 1909).  If this was a meaningful game, I would pick SC as I think they have better personnel but with SC clearly looking ahead, I’ll call for the mild upset.
PHIL’S FORECASTCLEMSON 27  SOUTH CAROLINA 20


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Game Time Set For Carolina – Clemson

The time has been set for the Clemson vs. South Carolina football game to be played on Saturday, November 27, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC. The game is set to kick off at 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.
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Phil Steele Week 12 Top 25 Forecast for #17 South Carolina

South Carolina
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Troy's Chris Pickett, left, wraps up Oklahoma State's Josh Cooper, right,  during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla. Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010.  Oklahoma State defeated Troy 41-38.(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

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Brody Schmidt – AP

2 months ago:

Troy’s Chris Pickett, left, wraps up Oklahoma State’s Josh Cooper, right, during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla. Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. Oklahoma State defeated Troy 41-38.(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

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#17 SOUTH CAROLINA VS TROY
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TROY 49
270
18
3.3
-
S CAROLINA
236
310
48
2.1
-
SC is off the biggest win in Spurrier’s career at SC as they clinched a spot in the SEC Title gm for the 1st time ever with their 36-14 win over FL. RB Lattimore (964, 4.8) rushed for a career high 212 yds as SC dominated with 395-226 yd and 24-11 FD edges. This could be the biggest letdown spot for any team this week as the Gamecocks have in-state rival Clemson on deck. While South Carolina is 7-0 vs Sun Belt tms incl 2 wins over Troy winning by an avg of 31-14, Troy almost upset LSU late in the yr (led 31-3 late 3Q before LSU came back for a 40-31 win a couple years ago. Troy is off a 52-35 upset loss to FIU in which they suffered a 4-1 TO deficit. SC gets the win but this will be closer than what many people think.
PHIL’S FORECASTSOUTH CAROLINA 34  TROY 20


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A Report From the Sidelines: Arkansas vs South Carolina

Arkansas
Content provided by Razorback Expats.

Editor’s note: We’re pleased to share this eyewitness report from HoginAiken, who attended Saturday’s glorious game in person. He has many great observations to share…big thanks to him for taking the time to write this up. Enjoy!

Full disclosure:

I’m a Uof A graduate who lives in SC and works for the University. I have taken advantage of my employee perks and have held season tickets for 6 of the past 8 years, mainly sitting with my cousin and extended family members. I miss seeing the Hogs when playing on TV, but I’d prefer a live SEC game to a TV game any day. South Carolina has earned a place in my heart and I root for them in all but one game a year. Every other year, the congenial fans in my section tolerate my Arkansas fandom and kindly call me a “turncoat”. But I cheer enthusiastically and fanatically for my Razorbacks. Following the gamecocks has led to a true appreciation for a passionate and beleaguered fan base. Imagine that, by the end of his tenure at Arkansas, Houston (spit) Nutt had earned more Bowl victories for Arkansas than South Carolina had achieved in their ENTIRE history. And yet, up until this year, 80,000+ showed up for every home game.

It was cold – at least for SC.

In Fayetteville you get used to chilly evening games but not in Columbia, SC. I know the fans were unprepared and uncomfortable in the cold. Their fans, in a combination of discomfort and frustration, were streaming out after the dueling interceptions and resulting Arkansas touchdown in the 3rd quarter.

Arkansas Fans

Hog fans were there but in much fewer numbers than other visiting SEC teams. This makes sense. The distance is just too far for most Razorback fans to travel. I made the trip from South Carolina to Fayetteville to witness DMac’s supercrushing of Carolina back in, what was it, 2007? My family members and I who made the trip will never take another road trip together again after driving 14 hours from Fayetteville to SC on the Sunday after. It plain sucked. This is too bad because I think the rivalry would be much improved if the teams could figure out a way to travel to each other’s stadiums in a timely and affordable fashion.

The Hog fans present were wonderful and, outside of one truly jeering and rude fellow, were passionate yet neighborly. Believe me when I say that I have witnessed the behavior of many visiting SEC fanbases to Williams Brice when the visitor blew out the ‘Cocks. The big three of the east (Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida) were horrid but were exceeded only by LSU’s nut-bar crazies in rude and vile taunting behavior. Alabama’s fans, which showed up in great number this year, were either gracious from habit or humbled by defeat. It was the South Carolina fans, by the way, that shook their hands on the way out and wished the ‘Bama fans success – and hoped for a rematch in Atlanta.

It was a Fumble. Period. End of Discussion.

Davis versus Lattimore

I’ve spent this season awed by the downhill and bruising running quality of Marcus Lattimore. He runs down the middle, gets hit after a short gain, and then drives the pile for an extra 3 yards. It is awesome. Well, Arkansas’ defense shut him down prior to his injury (and USC really didn’t utilize him afterward)and I was seriously impressed by that. But I was even more impressed by Knile Davis and his speed. He has a true breakaway burst when running to the outside or once he clears the line, and he was running away from a very speedy USC secondary last night. Is he DMac fast? No. But he is close. This speed was not evident to me when I saw him on TV the last few weeks, but I was seriously impressed by him last night.

Alshon Jeffery versus Cobi Hamilton and DJ Williams

Alshon Jeffery’s one-handed grab happened right in front of my and the Arkansas fans sections. It was utterly beautiful. I heard an Arkansas fan, after he made the catch, utter a massive “Oh-OH How the hell do you defend against THAT?”. But it was Cobi Hamilton and DJ Williams who quietly outperformed the SC star receiver last night. Hamilton won with speed against a depleted secondary – How awesome was it to see that 1st quarter completion after USC utterly failed on their 1st long bomb on blown coverage? But – and I don’t know how well this came across on TV- DJ tore up their line backing corps on the short middle routes. ESPN is reporting that he had 5 receptions for 67 yards. Especially in the 1st half, it seemed like more. DJ deserves a lot of credit for Cobi’s and for Knile’s successes last night because every time they succeeded, there was DJ attracting a whole lot of attention. He got 11 – 15 yards every time they ignored him.

Defensive line credit: both against the run and against the pass + Garcia keepers

I’ve already mentioned how well the d-line blocked up the middle when USC ran the ball, but the defensive ends were fast and brutal from the outside on the passing plays. That South Carlina O-Line was getting run over and beat up every play. It didn’t show in sacks and interceptions as much as I noticed that, when pressured, Steven Garcia threw short a lot. And he threw short when he was feeling the pressure of the pocket collapsing on both side of him. Likewise, our D got burned in the 1st quarter by a Garcia option keeper for 20 or so yards. They tried it again late in the 1st half and the D had already adjusted, stopping him for little gain. Serious credit to the D-Line for keeping the USC passing game from getting into rhythm.

Jerico Nelson hit on Connor Shaw

I didn’t have a good view of Jerico Nelson’s hit on USC backup QB Connor Shaw. The USC fans, in a mood to complain about something vocally, were incensed. I understand that the hit was late but that the injury to his ribs was likely due to the fact that Shaw stood up at the end up the play and was unprepared for the contact. Here is what I did see. After the personal foul call, Nelson came to the Arkansas sideline and a very fired up Bobby Petrino pounded him on the helmet and shoulder pads and celebrated the violent hit with Nelson. I doubt that Petrino realized that the hit caused an injury or could see that the hit happened out of bounds. I understand that coaches and players alike must be passionate and intense as the game is played. But the celebration of a called personal foul on a particularly violent hit by a head coach struck me as classless. This is the first time I’ve see Bobby live on a sideline and I’m usually fine with his intensity. But I was embarrassed to be an Arkansas fan at that moment.

Halftime explosives

This comes at the expense of an Arkansas player, and for that I apologize, but the moment was priceless. The homecoming halftime show went way long for USC. This was mainly due to the presentation of National Championship rings to their Baseball team. (A USC fan, already pessimistic on the gamecocks, commented that we were already hearing the loudest cheers of the second half!) So, with the band, and baseball team still on the field, the Razorbacks came out from under the stadium and headed toward their sideline. I looked at the clock and there were less than 3 minutes left in the halftime period. The Hogs players stayed in the north endzone and off the field as they made their way toward their sideline. I don’t know if they knew the circumstances, but they were being very respectful. As they approached midfield of their own sideline, men in blue jackets started standing in the players’ way and telling them to stop. I was incredulous too. I mean, ok, let the halftime go long, but you can’t hold the visiting teams’ players from the center of their very own sideline right?

So a player or two started going around the blue-jacketed rude guys. What the Razorback players and I didn’t know was that, at that very moment, the USC band was finishing their fight song in celebration of a National Championship. The coup de grace of the song? Massive fireworks mortars launched from a small platform located in the middle of the Razorback sideline. Those suckers went off just as the Arkansas players were rounding those blue-jacketed guys who, it turns out, were trying to keep the Arkansas player safe. I was 34 rows up in the stands and was taken aback by the scale of the fireworks. There were Arkansas players who not only stopped in their tracks, but were hitting the ground in total fear. I didn’t catch their numbers, but I’m guessing that they needed to change their underwear after the incident. 20 feet closer and the story could have been tragic, but it wasn’t, and therefore funny as hell!

Penalties

Too many. Too frustrating. Too blatant. Took a lot of fun out of the second half(6 or 7 at least – two for 15 yards).

Empty seats

More than once my South Carolina section-mates stated, in disgust. “Who here is really surprised? It’s South Carolina. It’s November. Any questions?” – or similar comments. I saw this in a comment thread here as well. It’s no wonder they are frustrated.

Elsewhere in a thread I saw a comment that the USC stadium was surprisingly empty and that they wondered if the ticket license was at fault. I can confirm that USC sold something like 10,000 less season tickets this year. Likewise Clemson (spit) had the same trouble. I know that I discontinued my season tickets last year when they we going to charge me an extra $290 a year for my pair of tickets. I can also tell you that USC athletics truly does not care. They brought in many millions more dollars than ever and are willing to pay the price of distancing themselves from loyal fans (Especially the ones who bought the lower priced upper deck seats, you know – blue collar everyday working folks who can no longer afford the prices.).  Contributing to the loss in sales is the ESPN TV package, which pretty much guarantees that fans can pay much less for a cable/satellite package and see ALL of the SEC games from the comfort of their couches. My Cousin, who had blue lips by the middle of the 3rd quarter said so himself.

Thanks again to HoginAiken for the report.

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Week 10 Phil Steele Top 25 Forecast for #18 South Carolina

South Carolina
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Streeter Lecka – Getty Images

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#17 ARKANSAS AT #18 S CAROLINA

 

Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST

ARKANSAS

         68

355
29
2.1
-

S CAROLINA

162
260
29
2.4
-
SC HC Spurrier said in his press conference that if they are going to beat Arkansas, they better play better pass defense as they gave up 300 yds to Tennessee last week and are allowing opposing QB’s to complete better than 65% against them. SC does control its own destiny in the SEC East, but has the “SEC East Championship” on deck (at FL). SC RB Lattimore rushed for a career high 184 rush yds LW (722, 4.8) after returning from inj and QB Garcia is avg 238 ypg (71%) with a 13-7 ratio and WR Jeffery leads the SEC in receiving (52, 18.0). Ark QB Mallett is avg 306 ypg, 66%, 18-7) and the Razorbacks are off a 49-14 win over Vandy in which Mallett set a UA record with 409 pass yds. Points should be plentiful in a close gm but I will go with the home team.
PHIL’S FORECASTS CAROLINA 38 ARKANSAS 35

 


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Tennessee at South Carolina: Post-Game Thoughts / Topics for Discussion

South Carolina
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South Carolina tailback (21) Marcus Lattimore takes a handoff from  quarterback Stephen Garcia, right, and pushes into the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game at Williams Brice Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Columbia, SC.  (AP Photo/Rich Glickstein)

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Rich Glickstein – AP

about 4 hours ago:

South Carolina tailback (21) Marcus Lattimore takes a handoff from quarterback Stephen Garcia, right, and pushes into the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game at Williams Brice Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Columbia, SC. (AP Photo/Rich Glickstein)

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A few quick thoughts on the game:

1.The biggest problem with this team continues to be pass defense. I’ll give credit to Tennessee’s QBs for delivering some nice passes, but part of the blame goes to our continual inability to play tight coverage. Chris Culliver was schooled yet again today, and Stephon Gilmore continues to look bad at times. We have guys out of place, there seems to be really poor communication between our players, and guys aren’t doing enough to contest the ball when the pass is delivered. Another overall poor effort from these guys. Luckily, a stout pass rush bailed them out for the most part–the defensive line played lights out today.

What do you think about the pass D? Can it be helped this year, or should we just start bringing the house on passing downs and hoping we can get to the QB before he releases the ball?

2. Don’t know what to say about special teams other than they’ve gotten bad. We have no return game, and Spencer Lanning seems to have lost his touch. Lanning still punts well, but that’s about all we’ve got on special teams.

3. Not really sure what to say about the offense today. There was some shaky play calling at points, and Garcia had a bit of an off day. However, there were definitely some bright spots (Marcus Lattimore running out of the I was it for me), and you really can’t complain about 31 offensive points. If our defense was playing well, that would always be enough. Unfortunately, I fear that next week against Arkansas we’re going to need the offense to play it’s best game of the season, because it’s going to be a shootout.


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