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Auburn Wins In OT, Vandy Gets A Victory, Aggies Crush An Old Texas Rival

Auburn 31 – Louisiana Monroe 28 (OT)

1. Cody Parkey’s field goal in overtime the difference.  Gene Chizik: “He’s been perfect in practice. He’s been perfect in the games. We feel very comfortable putting him in with the game on the line.”

2. Tigers grind it out on the ground – 255 rushing yards.

3. How did Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier grade his performance? “I made a lot of mistakes I need to get fixed, but I feel like I’m getting better.”

4. Defensive end Corey Lemonier: “Going into LSU, we need some confidence.”

Auburn video highlights

Vanderbilt 58 – Presbyterian

5. 410 rushing yards for the Commodores – Zac Stacy goes for 174 yards on eight carries.

6. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers doesn’t play – Austyn Carta-Samuels gets the start for the Commodores.

7. Looking forward to playing Georgia.  Vanderbilt defensive end Johnell Thomas: “I see it as unfinished business.”

Vanderbilt video highlights

Texas A&M 48 – SMU 3

8. Four touchdown passes, two rushing TDs for quarterback Johnny Manziel. Teammage Uzoma Nwachukwu: “He’s ‘Captain Amazing.’ ”

9. Most points A&M has ever scored against SMU away from Kyle Field.

10. Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin: “The story of the game was how our defense played early.”

11. Aggie senior running back Christine Michael and senior safety Steven Campbell suspended for SMU game.

Texas A&M Video Highlights

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Vince’s Vibe: Week 3 Picks

Vince Ferrara

Here’s the complete schedule of SEC football games this weekend with details, analysis and a score prediction for each game. My record last week was 9-2. My record after week 2, straight-up, is 19-3.

 

Saturday, Sept. 15 Games

Louisiana-Monroe (1-0) at Auburn (0-2, 0-1 SEC)

12: 21 a.m. ET / 11:21 a.m. CT • SEC Network

Auburn, Ala. • Jordan-Hare Stadium / Pat Dye Field (87,451)

Vince’s View:

Winner: ULM deserves a ton of credit and attention for shocking the college football world with an overtime win at Arkansas last week. But, let’s be honest, Arkansas’ lack of focus and respect for their opponent (see Nick Saban) is the biggest reason why ULM pulled the upset. Despite Auburn’s major issues throwing the football, the Tigers will be focused and desperate. An Auburn loss and the Tigers may wave goodbye to any bowl game hopes this season. ULM QB Kolton Browning was outstanding for the Warhawks last week. The most amazing stat from last weekend’s game: ULM was 14 of 30 on 3rd and 4th down combined. That, along with 2-to-1 time of possession should tell you why ULM came back from 28-7 down to win the game. Back-to-back wins at SEC schools should warrant another billboard (or 10) in Monroe, Louisiana. I don’t see that happening.

Winner: Auburn 30-16

 

Presbyterian (1-1) at Vanderbilt (0-2)

12:30 a.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. CT • CSS

Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (40,550)

Vince’s View:   Next game, please.

Winner: Vanderbilt 56-10

 

Alabama (2-0) at Arkansas (1-1)

3:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. CT • CBS Sports

Fayetteville, Ark. • Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)

Vince’s View:   Boy, how different does this game look from less than a week ago. QB Tyler Wilson is out and no one behind him is close to his level right now. No team leaves injured players in their wake more than Alabama. The Razorbacks defense has been on the field for 184 plays in the first two games, and now they have to face the bruising Bama run game? Yeah, good luck with that.

Winner: Alabama 41-10

 

Texas A&M (0-1) at SMU (1-1)

3:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. CT • FSN

Dallas, Texas • Ford Stadium (32,000)

Vince’s View: This is the first time these two teams will play at SMU since 1990. After making progress on defense the last few years, SMU is off to a bad start on that side of the ball. The Mustangs will have difficulty with A&M’s fast-paced offense. Look for QB Johnny Manziel and RB Christine Michael to have big games in Dallas.

Winner: Texas A&M 42-20

 

Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) at Tennessee (2-0)

6 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. CT • ESPN

Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium / Shields-Watkins Field (102,455)

Vince’s View: The heat and criticism will be at an all-time high for the loser of this game. The winner will be at the highest point in their tenure at that school and a legit contender for the SEC East title. The stakes are extremely high. This appears to me to be a much different Tennessee team than the one that started in similar fashion last year. This team is better-coached, more experienced, confident, aggressive and dynamic. New schemes and new players make the Vols look like they belong. There are still plenty of things for Tennessee to prove. Can Derek Dooley beat a ranked team and finally get that signature win? Will Tyler Bray play well against a good team? How will the team handle adversity? If Tyler Bray and the offense goes 3-and-out or can’t move the ball for 3-4-5 straight possessions, will he start forcing throws that leads to INTs and easy points for UF? Florida’s defense is outstanding, but they are banged-up. Florida isn’t as inept offensively as UT fans think they are. Jeff Driskel, Jordan Reed and Mike Gillislee can make plays and move the chains. How healthy is Gillislee? If he’s not able to go or be effective, that could be a big problem for the Gators. Will Driskel hold the ball too long as he has or will he be coached-up to run quicker? OC Brent Pease hasn’t given Driskel full-field reads yet. Will Tennessee DC Sal Sunseri scheme to make Florida pay for their simplicity? The one clear advantage Florida has is the kickers. I see Tennessee getting up big early and not needing a critical field goal. With a new kicker for the Vols, look for Dooley to go for it on 4th and manageable in Florida territory rather than try long field goals. Both teams have great return games.

Winner: Tennessee 34-17

 

Mississippi State (2-0, 1-0 SEC) at Troy (1-1)

7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT • ESPN3

Troy, Ala.  • Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000)

Vince’s View:   Mississippi State is #1 in the country in turnover margin after two weeks. Troy throws the ball a lot, and looks to be a willing participant in the turnover-fest. A sluggish post-Auburn performance is possible, but MSU will still win.

Winner: Mississippi State 37-20

 

Arizona State (2-0) at Missouri (1-1, 0-1 SEC)

7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT • ESPN

Columbia, Mo. • Memorial Stadium / Faurot Field (71,004)

Vince’s View:   Missouri’s James Franklin needs to play better. He hasn’t been bad but he needs to be dynamic for the Tigers to have great success. Missouri better win this game because SEC wins in the week-to-week grind will be tough to come by late in the year. Arizona State has looked fast and explosive this season. I’ll give Mizzou the benefit of the doubt that it bounces back from the loss to Georgia last week. I think this will be a wild, high-scoring game.

Winner: Missouri 45-38

 

Western Kentucky (1-1) at Kentucky (1-1)

7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT • ESPNU

Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium / C.M. Newton Field (67,942)

Vince’s View:   Western Kentucky showed it has ability by playing Alabama tough last week. WKU had six sacks against arguably the best offensive line in the country. Their problem is turnovers (108th in the country.) Kentucky played as well as we’ve seen them in years on offense versus Kent State. QB Max Smith and the boys should play much better than they did the last time these two teams met a year ago in Nashville.

Winner: Kentucky 34-21

 

UAB (0-1) at South Carolina (2-0, 1-0 SEC)

7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT • FSN

Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Vince’s View: The HBC will get his 200th career coaching win. The Blazers rebuilding project is a big one that’s a long way away from being a threat to the Gamecocks. Question is, who plays QB for SC (Connor Shaw or Dylan Thompson), how will they look and how will Spurrier handle it moving forward if Thompson is effective again.

Winner: South Carolina 45-13

 

Florida Atlantic (1-1) at Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC)

7:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. CT • CSS

Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)

Vince’s View: FAU barely beat FCS team Wagner 7-3 and lost to Middle Tennessee, who did lose to a FCS school. Georgia gets players back from suspension and injuries. The Bulldogs should win big.

Winner: Georgia 42-0

Idaho (0-2) at LSU (2-0)

8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT • TigerVision PPV

Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,542)

Vince’s View:  Losing four academically ineligible players and Jordan Allen to injury won’t affect LSU considerably. The only difference is many of those players would have played a lot with the score out of hand in this game.

Winner: LSU 38-3

 

Texas (2-0) at Ole Miss (2-0)

9:15 p.m. ET / 8:15 p.m. CT • ESPN

Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium / Hollingsworth Field (60,580)

Vince’s View:   This is one of only eight games of 2-0 FBS teams squaring off. This is a more intriguing match-up now than what we may have thought before the season. Ole Miss is 9th in the country in rushing, and QB Bo Wallace has played well to this point. Texas’ defense has been strong, and QB Davis Ash has been efficient. I trust Texas in turnovers and special tams a little more, so I’ll go Longhorns on the road.

Winner: Texas 27-17

 

Follow me @VinceSports on Twitter and see everything I’m working on in sports. Download the WNML App for your mobile device, so you can hear the “News Sentinel Sports Page” radio sports talk show that I host (weekdays 10am-12pm ET/9-11am CT) at www.sportsanimal99.com.

 

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UM’s Kennedy Dismisses Nelson, Jones From Hoops Squad

With back to the wall career-wise, Andy Kennedy has dismissed two members of the Ole Miss basketball team… including the squad’s leading scorer.  Dundrecous Nelson was arrested at his home and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia just hours after the Rebels beat SMU on Wednesday night.  The arresting officer said he found eight cigarillos of marijuana in the apartment when he entered.  He also said he’d been in the same apartment on another occasion and let Nelson off with a warning.  Freshman Jamal Jones and two women were in the apartment with Nelson on Wednesday.  And that was all Kennedy needed to hear. 

Kennedy dismissed Nelson and Jones for a violation of team rules:


“When you see guys that have to be dismissed for things that are just poor decision that they make at very influential times of their life, it’s hurtful.  It’s hurtful to me as their coach.  It’s hurtful for me as a guy who brought them into our extended family.  I’m terribly disappointed.”


This is a body blow for Kennedy. 

In his sixth season in Oxford, most believe the coach will need to reach the the NCAA Tournament to save his job.  Two weeks ago, leading rebounder Murphy Holloway suffered the dreaded, slow-to-heal high ankle sprain.  Now Nelson — who was averaging 11.6 points per game — is gone.  All from a team that ranks fifth in the SEC in rebounding and just 10th in scoring.

Ole Miss opens SEC play tomorrow afternoon at LSU.

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UM’s Nelson Arrested After Win Over SMU

The end could be near for Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy.  The fates seem to be aligned against him.

With his team showing promise midway through its non-conference slate, leading rebounder Murphy Holloway went down with a high ankle sprain.  A three-game losing streak followed.

That streak was snapped on Tuesday night with a 50-48 homecourt win over SMU.  But it’s now been learned that after the game, sophomore Rebel guard Dundrecous Nelson was arrested at his home and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.  Nelson is UM’s leading scorer at 11.6 points-per-game.

Kennedy said he learned of the arrest yesterday afternoon and he is currently doing his “due diligence” on the issue.

Minus his leading rebounder and scorer, it’s doubtful Kennedy can rally his team to the point of earning an NCAA Tournament bid.  Heading into the season, the feeling in Oxford was that only an invitation to the Big Dance would save his job.

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SEC Headlines – 1/4/12 Part Two

1.  Before gearing up for SEC play this weekend, Alabama coasted past Georgia Tech 73-48 last night.

2.  With Florida State tonight and the SEC up next, Tony Barbee says Auburn’s schedule is about to get “really real.”

3.  Arkansas won its sixth-straight game with a 83-66 blowout of Savannah State last night.

4.  Heading into Friday’s Cotton Bowl, Kansas State isn’t sure what to expect from the Razorbacks’ defense under new coordinator Paul Haynes.

5.  Mississippi State coaches got a pleasant surprise with defensive back Johnthan Banks’ decision to return for his senior season.

6.  Rick Stansbury didn’t expect his team to reach 13-2 in the manner it did.

7.  Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak by grinding out a 50-48 home win over SMU last evening.

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SEC Headlines – 1/3/12 Part One

1.  Nick Saban believes in getting back to basics during bowl practice.

2.  Andrew Steele could be back on the hardwood for the Tide tonight against Georgia Tech… despite issues with concucssions.

3.  Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel recorded the first triple-double in Auburn basketball history last night.  First.  One.  Ever.

4.  A pair of AU footballers have been tabbed to play in the Senior Bowl. 

5.  Arkansas’ three senior receivers will look to “put on a show” in the Cotton Bowl.

6.  The Hogs’ defense will have to make sure Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein doesn’t put on a show of his own.

7.  Nationally-ranked Virginia won a tight defensive battle at LSU last night, 57-52.  The Tigers are looking like they may be tougher than a lot of folks expected.

8.  Here’s a quick comparison of LSU’s Jordan Jefferson and Alabama’s AJ McCarron.

9.  Ole Miss will try to snap a three-game losing streak when SMU visits oxford tonight.  Unfortunately, Murphy Holloway remains out.

10.  New Rebel coach Hugh Freeze will retain running backs coach Derrick Nix from Houston Nutt’s staff.

11.  Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has decided to turn pro a year early.

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Texas Readers: Please Vote This Guy Down

Just a quick note to our many thousands of readers in the Lone Star State…

Please vote down Craig James.  The former college football star at SMU — if you’re looking for character flaws, look up his ties to the Pony Express — left his job as an ESPN analyst yesterday in order to run for a US Senate seat in Texas.

Yeah, ’cause if there’s anyone ready to “fix” Washington, it’s a guy who’s become one of the most unpopular college football analysts on television.  His take down of Texas Tech’s Mike Leach — reportedly because the coach was a meanie to his son, Adam — still might cost ESPN millions in a lawsuit brought by Leach.

James says he was protecting his son.  Most people in and around Lubbock will tell you they believe Leach, not James.

Asked about his political qualifications, here’s what James told the AP:

“Washington is busted up, and I understand how the economy works because I have been concerned about continuing to provide jobs in this economy, not 10 years ago, not 15, not 20 years ago.  I live in this economy, I get it.  We need someone from what I call Real Street, this is what separates me.”

Huh?

Good to know James doesn’t fit the ramble-at-the-mouth dumb jock stereotype.  Also, if living in the economy is a qualification for becoming a Senator, then I, too, would like to toss my hat in the ring.  Those folks get a darn fine retirement plan and great health benefits.

Forget politics, people.  I could care less about his party affiliation (he’s running as a Republican, by the way).  As a nation, we send plenty of dimwits from both parties to DC every couple of years.  It happens.  But here’s hoping Texans don’t send this one.

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Thursday Morning SEC/A&M Expansion Update – The “Thanks For Dragging This Out, Baylor” Edition

Expansion is good for web traffic.  There’s zero question about that.

But expansion coverage also requires constant attention.  Not unlike a chihuahua.  And I don’t like chihuahuas.

So many thanks to the folks at Baylor for waiting til the last minute to toss a new glitch into everyone’s plans — including thousands of frustrated fans who are Suh-Ick of this story.  Cheers to the Bears.  If only I could go back in time to last Friday night and un-pull for BU’s upset of TCU.

Here’s a wrap of what was being said early — and we mean early — Thursday morning:


1.  Mississippi State president Mark Keenum explained in detail yesterday how the SEC’s powers-that-be learned of Baylor’s reversal of field on Tuesday night.

2.  In this must-read breakdown of a split Big 12, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin loosened his bow tie and let Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe have it for his last-minute backtrack:


“We took this letter (of September 2nd) very seriously.  We asked for such a statement.  They gave it to us freely.  It says here a unanimous vote was taken and yet when we look at Beebe’s letter (from Tuesday) night it says: ‘No we didn’t really mean that,’ and I find that to be rather difficult to digest. …

We are being held hostage right now.  Essentially, we’re being told that you must stay here against your will and we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans, for example, and makes us free people.”


(An aside… dollars-to-doughnuts that if someone from the University of Texas had made that statement they would have substituted the word “Texans” for “Americans.”  Guaranteed.)


3.  Loftin also took aim at Baylor:


“Clearly for quite some time, one school has been specifically the one trying to both bring pressure on us politically for a while and now raising the threat of legal action.  In fact even calling members of the board of the SEC directly and the commissioner of the SEC directly and speaking to them and leaving voicemails for them.”


4.  Beebe put out a statement yesterday confirming that his league as a whole won’t take legal action against the SEC or Texas A&M, but he won’t guarantee what individual schools might do:


“If the departure of Texas A&M results in significant changes in the Big 12 membership, several institutions may be severely affected after counting on revenue streams from contracts that were approved unanimously by our members, including Texas A&M.  In some cases, members reasonably relied on such approval to embark on obligations that will cost millions of dollars.”


(That sounds pretty legit.  Except for the fact Houston, Rice, SMU and TCU could have made the same claim when Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech left them in the hot Texas dust back in 1996.)


5.  Some claim Baylor and their Beggin’ Brethren are hoping to force Oklahoma to “remain in the Big 12 and allow the conference to continue its quest to expand and survive with its strongest members.”

6.  ESPN’s Andy Katz writes that until Oklahoma agrees to stay in the Big 12, eight of the league’s nine school will not waive their right to pursue litigation against A&M and the SEC. 

7.  In case you didn’t know, BU president Kenneth Starr has always been a lightning rod.

8.  But Baylor’s got a fan in this writer from FoxSportsSouthwest.com who says — unbelievably — that Baylor “has positioned itself as that guy standing in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square.”  Uh, yeah.  That’s a fair comparison. 

(Anyone need further proof that the anti-expansion crowd can’t make their argument without wildly exaggerating?)

9.  Gary Parish of CBSSports.com says Baylor is both desperate and right at the same time.

10.  This SI.com writer says Baylor is simply delaying the inevitable in the hopes of catching a realignment ride.  (Agreed.  We said the same yesterday.)

11.  Speaking of Washington insiders like Starr, A&M alum and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “A man’s got to know his limitations,” when asked about the Aggies move to the SEC.  (“Magnum Force,” sweet.)

12.  Written when it looked like Baylor would back down from its lawsuit threats, Matt Hayes’ piece from The Sporting News says mass hysteria will befall college football when A&M finally moves to the SEC.  (Dogs and cats living together…)

13.  The Oklahoman reports that Sooner officials have denied a report that six (now eight, according to ESPN) Big 12 schools are trying to force OU to stay:


“I haven’t heard anything about this ‘group of six.’”


14.  Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton — who also happens to be the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors – pretty much admitted that Mizzou’s been talking to people in other conferences.  Yep, good league you got there, Mr. Chairman.


“There’s so much discussion around the nation right now that I think there’s probably not an institution in the Big 12 that has not been in discussion with other institutions.”


15.  Orangebloods.com reports that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Missouri “have apparently retained their right to sue but have vowed they won’t take actions against the SEC.”

16.  Speaking of Texas, this writer says the Longhorn Network is to blame for the current mess.

17.  And speaking of Texas Tech, that school’s president said yesterday that “things are going to be in a holding pattern” for Big 12 schools.

18.  This writer for The Kansas City Star says he would dismiss any court case brought by Baylor and its Beggin’ Brethren:


“You boys didn’t lose any sleep when you left those other folk on the outside looking in.  So don’t try to convince me this is anything but a blatant attempt at self-preservation now that you coots are about to be on the outside looking in.  Case dismissed.  Texas A&M, do as you please.”


19.  Pat Forde of ESPN.com has this to say about Baylor slowing down the expansion train:


“Nobody cares about Baylor football, which is why Baylor must do everything it can to retain the big-six conference membership it got mostly through political pressure and traditional alliances.  When the Southwest Conference collapsed in the mid-1990s, Baylor tenaciously clung to Texas, A&M and Tech for inclusion into the Big 12 while Houston, TCU, SMU and Rice were cut loose and marginalized as football entities.  Since then the Bears have done nothing on the football field to merit keeping their place among the power elite — which is why any radical redrawing of the map could easily leave Baylor without a seat at the big-boy table.”


20.  Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com says no one looks good in this latest Big 12 snit.

21.  Stewart Mandel of SI.com says that “no one (with the exception of Texas A&M) actually wants super-conferences.”  Uh, well, technically A&M just wants to be School #13 in the SEC.  And if the Big 12 just replaces the Aggies, all those people who don’t want super-conferences… can avoid super-conferences.  I still don’t get how trading A&M for BYU, for example, would unhinge the Big 12.  Especially when everyone in the Big 12 is telling the world it’s still strong as new rope. 

22.  So what’s up with the Big Ten’s expansion options?

23.  Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com wonders who’ll be the SEC’s 14th school.

24.  CBS analyst Gary Danielson — very wisely, I might add — states that the SEC’s School #14 should be Florida State because of the school’s name recognition.  (Danielson understands the business of expansion.)

25.  Finally, raise your hand if you’ll sue.


And one last note…

After the events of the last 36 hours, how welcoming do you think Aggie fans will be when Baylor visits College Station on October 15th?

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Legal Threat From Baylor Halts A&M/SEC Expansion For Now

When Nebraska left the Big 12, no one sued.  When Colorado left the Big 12, no one sued.  When TCU and BYU left the Mountain West, no one sued.  When Boise State left the WAC, no one sued.

But with Texas A&M set to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, the threat of lawsuit has slowed the process.

The Big 12 last week waived its right to litigation which appeared to open the door for A&M and the SEC to officially consummate their relationship.  That was expected to happen today.  But the SEC’s presidents want assurances that no Big 12 school will act on its own to sue.

Baylor has not given that assurance.

“We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action,” said Florida president Bernie Machen in a statement released by the SEC this morning.  “The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure.  The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2, 2011.”

A&M’s announcement and celebration are now on hold.  The SEC has voted to accept A&M — unanimously, as expected — but not without Baylor agreeing not to sue.  So the ball is clearly in Baylor’s court.

Baylor and president Kenneth Starr are literally holding Texas A&M and every other school in the country hostage.  They are preventing other universities from acting in their own best interests. 

Nevermind the fact that Baylor high-tailed it for the Big 12 back in 1996 with nary a thought for old SWC mates TCU, SMU, Rice and Houston.

In addition to releasing its statement, the SEC also released the Big 12′s letter sent on September 2nd.  The letter from commissioner Dan Beebe read in part: “We both agreed it is in the best interests of each of our conferences and our member institutions of higher education to waive any and all legal actions by either conference and its members resulting from admission of Texas A&M into the SEC, as long as such admission is confirmed publicly by September 8, 2011.”


UPDATE – Some have pointed out that the remaining Big East schools sued the ACC when it absconded with Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech in 2003.  But as we recently noted on the site, that lawsuit was eventually settled for a paltry $5 million — in league terms — two years later.

That suit was not the act of one school, it didn’t feature a billion-dollar claim (as has been suggested regarding an SEC suit), and it was not aimed at one, lone conference commissioner (as it’s been suggested that Baylor might sue Mike Slive personally).  This one appears to be a first of its kind move by the Bears.

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Vince’s Vibe: Fave 5 Week 1 Games

Each week I’ll break-down my favorite five games of the college football weekend. I’ll focus on the SEC and Top 25 for the weekend, but on occasion I may step out of those borders for a game or two, if there’s enough national intrigue there.

Ferrara’s Fave 5 – College Football Week 1

1. (3) Oregon vs. (4) LSU in Arlington, TX (Sat at 8pm)

The intrigue of this game is obvious. The entire NCAA staff is likely to be mandated to not only watch but DVR, so they can go back and review for more potential violations. Can Jarrett Lee protect the football? Can LSU’s great defense handle the pace of the Oregon offense? Who will have more yards rushing, LaMichael James or Spencer Ware? Will that Tigers defense disrupt the Ducks at the line of scrimmage up the middle ala Auburn? This game will be close and both will have great moments. I’m not a believer that LSU’s season falls apart. Les Miles has a history of guiding teams through adversity (three different hurricanes including Katrina.) Oregon is very good again this year but I give LSU the edge. I like LSU to win.

 

2. (5) Boise State vs. (19) Georgia in Atlanta, GA (Sat at 8pm)

To be honest, I’ve flipped on this game numerous times. I almost went Boise just because of what the Georgia pro combat uniforms looked like. Boise’s uniforms don’t look great either, so I nixed that thought. This is a great test of how much Georgia’s defense has improved in the second year of Todd Grantham’s 3-4. Even with the Broncos losing the top two WRs from a year ago, the offense with Kellen Moore and some talented backs should still be a challenge for Georgia. What not enough people are talking about is how (or if) Boise State can stop Georgia’s offense over four quarters. I think Georgia wears them down a little late in the game. The Georgia Dome will be pro-Bulldogs, which will help. The difference though will be the nation’s best special teams wearing the red, white and black. I like Georgia to win.

 

3. (12) South Carolina vs. East Carolina in Charlotte, NC (Sat at 7pm)

Connor Shaw will now start at quarterback for the Fighting HBCs? It is always must-see-TV when it comes to Steve Spurrier and his handling of the quarterbacks. Watching true freshman freak DE Jadeveon Clowney is must-see material as well. Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are pretty fun to watch as well. ECU has a prolific offense that should be even better now that terrific QB Dominique Davis has gone through a full spring and off-season to learn the offense. Ruffin McNeil has switched the defense to a 3-4 to try to improve a really bad unit from last year. South Carolina will give-up some points but the Gamecocks should score more than enough to beat ECU. I like South Carolina to win.

 

4. SMU at (8) Texas A&M (Sun at 7:30pm)

This could easily be called the Big 12 baton-passing bowl. Texas A&M intends to leave. SMU wants in. June Jones told me on my sports talk show a few weeks ago that four 16-team super conferences and separation from the NCAA was coming, which would happen in the next two years. The first domino in that theory is his first opponent. Jones said this is the best defense he’s ever coached in college. If so, with the offensive weapons of the Mustangs, SMU will give A&M all kinds of fits. In the end, Texas A&M is too big and strong, especially in the offensive line. I like Texas A&M to win.

 

5. BYU at Ole Miss (Sat at 4:45pm)

This is a very different and interesting match-up between a long-time SEC school and a brand new independent. Jake Heaps and the BYU offense will score points. Ole Miss has more unknowns but more upside, including new QB Barry Brunetti. The Rebels have a massive and physical offensive line (smallest linemen are 315,) an excellent running game led by Brandon Bolden and an overall size advantage that will help them in the fourth quarter. Oh, by the way, the game is in Oxford. The Rebel Black Bear celebrates, or something. I like Ole Miss to win.

 

Enjoy the games!

Vince Ferrara has more than 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, in numerous SEC and Big 12 markets, working in sports radio, play-by-play and television. You can hear him host the “News Sentinel Sports Page” weekdays 10am-12pm ET on WNML - “The Sports Animal” in Knoxville and read more of his work at Examiner.com. 

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