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Tyler’s Take: Week 7 Picks – Cam Newton Edition

After two consecutive Saturday’s of decent picks, last weekend ended up a massive train wreck – going  2-5 against the spread, most of the games I picked didn’t even come close to covering. I thought UT would beat UGA and the Gators could sneak up on LSU. I believed UK would give USC a run and Auburn would hang with the Hogs. Well, that’s pretty much a NO across the board.

So to turn things around this Saturday I’m dedicating this bag of winners to none other than Cam Newton. Whether people like it or not an NCAA ruling is the only thing that matters and they have ruled: “Cam Newton is not guilty on all 180,000 counts of being paid. Case officially closed in several years.” (Can I get an AMEN from the Auburn congregation, Cecil!)

If a player on your favorite team is cleared by the NCAA, regardless of how alarming the evidence against him might be, an NCAA not guilty verdict means you’re free to cheer without fear. With the NCAA’s ruling now officially recorded on tape – you hear that John “James” Bond and Danny Sheridan – should those who enthusiastically dug Cam’s grave long ago express an  ounce of remorse? I certainly do.

I’m guilty of believing every far-fetched, wild Newton Tiger tale as gospel and I’m sorry I did. Rumors, secret tapes and bag men – pieces lifted right out of the real Watergate – distracted me from fully appreciating the best season an SEC player could ever have. That last sentence should mean something if you’ve ever chanted “SEC!” after a bowl victory.

Was Cam’s dad, a man of the cloth, shopping his son around to the highest bidder incredibly shady? Yes. Was it 100% outrageously immoral? Dismount your high horse and saddle up on an infant pony if you think so. Did Cam ever take money? Sure, he probably took a few extra benefits on the side so what’s the big deal? It’s no different than the hundreds of college athletes that do the same thing every year. And if he did accept cash, I’m sure it was a figure missing several zeros that everyone so desperately wanted it to be.

When the college football lynch mob of fans lit a fire under the NCAA to take down major programs like USC, OSU, UT, UNC and Miami the NCAA felt the heat and punished accordingly. Ultimately, they managed to uncover most of the illegalities of the guilty programs/parties and justice, for the most part, was served. The eroding NCAA credibility was slowed with the temporary dismembering of these high-profile programs.

Then out of right field a Cam Newton softball was lobbed down the middle of the NCAA plate ready to be smacked like a Paul Finebaum piñata. College football fans didn’t light a fire under the NCAA on this issue; they pulled out a cannon-sized flamethrower and aimed it directly at Indianapolis. Wasn’t this the perfect storm for the NCAA?  Outraged fans > Slam-dunk case > Picture perfect poster boy for punishment > Restore a shred of integrity in the process. For once the NCAA was going to run parallel with enraged college football fans across the country and react appropriately. Justice was going to be served.

Only something funny happened on the way to Jordan-Hare… the NCAA actually did its job. They conducted roughly 80 interviews and probably wrote something like a 2,983 page document about this case. The NCAA tried its hardest to “All Out” Newton, but in the end they innocently reached their destination with no gas left in the tank to go any further. Good for Newton and bad for me.

I’m disappointed because I was the biggest cheater during Newton’s epic season. Instead of marveling at his talents I spent more time hung up in the muckraking tornado. Newton was aggressively attacked week after week like no other college athlete that I can remember and yet he played through it all with a smile bigger than Ronald McDonald’s. Think about what he had to do last year and the audience he had to do it in front of. 99% of the people trashing Newton week after week would have soiled their silver britches if they had to walk half a yard in Cam’s cleats onto an opposing SEC field.

Let’s take a look at Newton’s 2010 “Things to do List.”

ü  Put the entire team on my back every single play for 14 games.

ü  Defeat the hated Crimson Tide.

ü  Win the West.

ü  Win the SEC Title.

ü  Win the Heisman.

ü  Win the BCS Title.

(The “things to do list” my wife leaves me every Saturday consists of things like taking out the trash, making the bed or doing something to improve the look of the front yard. Without fail I go 0-3 every time and I don’t have 100,000 people screaming at me. However, my wife often makes just as much noise.)

Seriously, who else has banged out a list like that under such pressure? Tip your damn helmet to the guy and don’t bother bringing up Mark Ingram or Tim Tebow to me. Punishment for ignoring Newton last year means I must patiently wait until the SEC Network rolls out old Cam games, and it’s a shame there aren’t more.

Two final Chik-Fil-A nuggets to leave you with…

1) I’m a Bama graduate and big fan of the Tide so don’t call me an Auburn homer. (My barely-used Bama cleats from the ‘97 season are still in my basement.)

2) What if the Cam Newton situation had happened to Tim Tebow instead? Hmmm…

These picks are for you, Cam. Keep tearing it up in Carolina.

USC -3’ @ MSU – Drugs eventually stole the career and life of one of my favorite musicians, Jerry Garcia. Outside of the drug problem Stephen Garcia had no connection to Jerry, and Sandstorm doesn’t hold a candle to The Dead, so it was long past time for Spurrier to set him free. Shaw has the Cocks humming and I expect him to keep the Cock Walk to Atlanta on course. Garcia was simply a Cock block. Roosters win and cover 28-21.

Florida -1’ @ Auburn – This group of Tigers will be a welcome relief for the Gators after seeing Bama and LSU in consecutive weeks, but putting points on the board is still an issue with QB-0 under center. If Rainey and Demps are contained the Gators struggle. Tigers beat the Gators 27-24.

UGA – 12 @ Vandy – I was down on the Dawgs after losses against Boise State and the Cocks, but they bounced back and have covered the last three weeks. After a 3-0 start someone has put a padlock on the Dores; it’s just that the lock has been applied by USC and Bama while on the road. I’m foolishly picking against the Dawgs again this weekend – probably great news for UGA fans. UGA wins 31-21 but doesn’t cover.

LSU -15’ @ UT – While I think “Honey Beaver” would be a comical improvement over the worst nickname in college football, Mathieu and his LSU defense is fun to watch. No Tyler Bray means no chance for the Vols.

Bama -24’ @ Ole Miss – Broken record section of the week. The Bama back seven is the best college football has ever had and I’ve been writing it before the first game of the season. What separates the Bama defense from the LSU defense? Bama can survive without delivering a haymaker. They line up and punch an offense in the face play after play until it blacks out and crumbles; their stats are my corner man. Bama wins and covers 35-7.

National Defensive Statistics:

#1 Rushing Defense: 39 ypg // 1.5 ypc // One rushing td allowed

#1 Scoring Defense: 7 ppg

#3 Total Defense: 191 ypg

#4 Passing Defense: 151 ypg // Four passing tds allowed

#25 Interceptions

#29 TFL

#78 Fumbles Recovered

#94 Sacks

A&M -9 vs. BaylorRGIII is amazing and read the recent USATODAY article about him if you haven’t. A&M wins 261-255 but doesn’t cover.

Mizzou -15’ vs. Iowa State – The third set of SEC Tigers win and cover 33-3.

Bye -16’ @ UK – Bye wins 3-0 in triple overtime but doesn’t cover.

Arkansas -400’ vs. Bye – Hogs cover and take the victory formation before the first quarter is over.

I’m giving you NINE winners this week!?

*Southern Comfort is rolling out a Fiery Pepper brand so be sure and take it to your tailgate next week. You can thank me later.

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

 

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Tyler’s Take: Documentary Ideas For The SEC

With the SEC network rolling out in the next few years there’s little doubt it will need to come up with something other than showing classic football games 24 hours a day. (Well, maybe not.)

An Eastern divisional archery showdown between Vandy and UK doesn’t exactly get me too fired up, so in addition to airing games I’m looking forward to the documentaries and back stories about legendary SEC tales.

Not shameless about following the ESPN 30 for 30 series created by the Godfather, Bill Simmons, what would be the first 30 stories featured on the SEC Network if I were running it? Since I was born in ’76 –essentially knocking out anything before 1980 – here’s what I’d like to see in some kind of loose order:

1)      Tim Tebow’s Story: “God and Gators – A match made in Heaven”

2)      Alabama-Auburn Rivalry: “I hate you”

3)      Steve Spurrier: “My Visor led the SEC out of the Dark Ages”

4)      SEC Probation: “A 200-part series about being terrible at cheating”

5)      SEC Championship Game: “The Game that changed College Football Forever”

6)      Bo Jackson: “Athletic Freak 2.0”

7)      SEC Expansion: “20 Years ahead of the Game”

8)      Bigger is Better: “The SEC football Arms Race”

9)      Peyton Manning: “Tee Martin won a BCS title and I didn’t”

10)   SEC Commissioner: “College Sports Commander-in-Chief?”

11)   Cam Newton: “Get on my Back”

12)   Herschel Walker: “Athletic Freak”

13)   1996 UK Basketball team: “Best we’ll ever see”

14)   Bear Bryant: “The Bear is still alive, I swear!”

15)   Jefferson Pilot: “Awesomeness”

16)   BCS Trademark: “The SEC Chant”

17)   The Manning’s: “SEC Football’s First Family”

18)   Lane Kiffin: “Disaster from Day 1”

19)   The Better Half: “Mrs. Kiffin”

20)   THE Game: “UK vs. Duke”

21)   SEC Game Day Traditions: “Are you serious?”

22)   Les Miles: “Dinner with Les”

23)   Richter Scale: “Earthquake Game and SEC rivalry games after dark”

24)   Dry County: “If SEC stadiums sold beer”

25)   No Way… Way: “Craziest SEC Fan”

26)   Basement: “Vanderbilt Football”

27)   ShakeWeight: “ The antics of Will Muschamp”

28)   Subway: “Charlie Weiss”

29)   Mission Impossible: “The miserable life of a compliance person in the SEC”

30)   Looking ahead: “The SEC in 2031”

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

 

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Tyler’s Take: A Man Crush On The Tide

1 – Seldom do I pay myself on the back – simply because I never get the chance – but this Bama defense is inching towards the title of the best defense in college football history. What exactly are the ingredients that go into claiming that “mythical moniker?” Let’s take a look:

National Ranking of Defensive Statistics (and remember Bama’s played the two best offensive teams in the SEC):

-          Total Defense – #3 (190 ypg)

-           Rushing – #1 (39 ypg and 1.9 ypc)

-          Passing – #5 (152 ypg) and yards away from the #2 spot

-          Points Per Game – #1 (8.4 ppg)

-          Pass Efficiency - #2

-          First Down Defense - #1

-          TFL (#15), Fumbles Recovered (#60), Interceptions (#35)

Obviously those five categories speak for themselves but I find the last three telling. It means Bama plays straight up to shut an offense down. No need to channel Joe Lee Dunn. Exclusive of the sterling statistics Bama’s the most violent college defense, too. Rarely do they miss “in space,” the biggest cliché of the past five years, and deliver the kill shot in the process. Where this defense ends up I can’t say, but I’ve been writing before week one is you’ll have to do serious work to convince me this isn’t best back seven ever. It’s littered with NFL players and the #2 unit ain’t half bad either.

2 – Rematch in the BCS title game? Let’s say Bama runs the table – SEC title included – and beats LSU by a field goal. Would LSU have a high enough BCS ranking to jump a handful of undefeated teams? Does five years of SEC success support a case for LSU? Did LSU maul the winner of the PAC-12 and Big East? Flip it with LSU beating Bama there’s no way a one-loss Bama team leaps a few undefeated teams? Five contenders to choose from with their chances:

-          Oklahoma: THE Major roadblock. Huge.

-          Stanford: Big Pothole. The Oregon is titanic. If it’s tight LSU will point to their carving of the Ducks. If Oregon wins the PAC-12 it’s going to be even harder to leave LSU out of the conversation.

-          Clemson: Speed Bump: The Auburn win is “impressive.” At Arkansas and Alabama, and home games against LSU and Florida, make for tough sledding so their win against a potential five-loss Auburn team might not mean as much in two months. Auburn probably ends up fourth in the West for Clemson fans scoring at home.

-          Wisconsin: Traffic ahead. Before week 4 I plotted Russell Wilson on the Heisman map and Wisconsin potentially as the team opposite an SEC team for the title. (Patting myself on the back 2.0) Wilson’s is doing his part and the Badgers leapfrogged three teams this past week. A weak Big-10, combined with OOC schedule consisting of UNLV, Northern Illinois, Oregon State and South Dakota doesn’t excite voters. A potential rematch against Nebraska in the conference title game won’t exactly win a ton of points, either. A rematch of 48-17? However, a potential rematch of Bama-Florida (38-10) doesn’t help a one-loss Bama team.

-          Boise State: Quit rubbernecking. What if UGA wins the East? A real possibility at this point.

3 - Is Trent Richardson the most punishing collegiate runner in the past 20 years? When he runs up the middle it’s like a swarm of bees chasing something on a cartoon show. Against Florida you couldn’t even see his jersey, and it was like a big blue scrum of interlocked rugby players moving downfield. He’s like Ray Lewis in his prime… only playing running back. Speaking of linebackers, they take shots that would cut most running backs down and Richardson bounces off the hits without breaking stride. OK, enough before I send #3 a message on Facebook asking for his hand in marriage. (Has Tom Albetar beaten me to the punch?)

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

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Tyler’s Take: Grading The Broadcast Booths

With an empty house this past weekend I took in about 14 hours of college football and am handing out grades to those who share their football wisdom with the viewers.

Verne & Danielson: A++ There’s a reason why these two get the best game each Saturday at 3:30. Combine Verne’s grandfatherly voice with Danielson’s ability to pick up and articulate bits of in-game information that’s invisible to most of watching at home makes this combo untouchable.

Musburger & Herbie: A+ Almost a clone to the pair mentioned above I just can’t give a second + sign that doesn’t exist in the first place. Jay Bilas, for the first time in his life, would say both these broadcasting teams have reached their “tremendous upside potential.”

Fowler & Davis: A Both playing quarterback on Saturday’s for their respective teams these two never fail. Fowler’s the best host college football has ever had, and Davis is amazing considering the players he’s got to coach every Saturday.

Erin Andrews: A It’s Erin Andrews. She could stop Nick Saban while he’s running towards the locker room after a bad half and ask him how to solve world peace and he’d at least try to come up with an answer. After three seconds he’d cuss her out and give her the stinkeye and EA would carry on like Saban just asked her to marry him.

Samantha Steele: B+ Not quite Erin Andrews 2.0, the fantastic porn name gives her the plus. With a name like that I suggest chasing John Brantley into the locker room against UK to check on his injury isn’t the best play. Now if we can get her to do an interview with John Holmes – now known as J.B. Holmes – about life on the PGA tour she automatically moves into A+++ territory.

Jesse Palmer: B+ Palmer’s really starting to shine and isn’t afraid to throw his opinion around. Even rocking the Lloyd Christmas ultra-tight suit and mid-80’s skinny tie, Palmer’s going to be talking about college football on ESPN for a very long time and that “suits” me just fine.

Derek Dooley: B+ He’s funny and good. Dooley’s Southern Comfort and Laney Boy’s Southern California.

David Pollack: B Not in the same league as his buddy Palmer.

Tim Brando: D The “Fly in the Ointment” died a few years ago.

May and Holtz: D- The Dr. Lou segment and the infatuation with Notre Dame is bad. He still thinks they can win 20 games this year is worse. Mark May spending 80% of his air time talking about offensive lineman is like taking 29 Ambien. The entire Courtroom skit has me throwing cushions off my couch to find the remote.

Spencer Tillman: F While Tillman isn’t bad on set – somewhere in the 70’s – any man who wears copious amounts of mascara, eyeliner and sheen in his hair gets downgraded. The sixth Jackson family member really does exist.

Lee Corso: Incomplete. I love Corso to death since he’s been with us since the creation of CGD, but if Auburn’s eagle swooped down and plucked Corso off the set would viewers at home even notice?

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 
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Tyler’s Take: Week 4 Six-Pack Of Knowledge

1- It was comical listening to all the “experts” this past weekend stumble time and time again when it came to doomsday talk about conference expansion. When is everyone going to realize they need to have the Captain of Expansion, Mr. John Pennington, on speed dial to get his opinion? (If John called Mike Slive on the phone chances are good the incoming call would show up as Nostradamus.)

Everyone says the current system is just fine and a move to four or five super conferences would be an irreversible decision that destroys college football forever. REALLY? Look at this backwards. Let’s say in 2011 we’ve got four super conferences and a NCAA tournament to crown a champion.

Then all the sudden everyone starts suggesting the NCAA blows up the super conference/tournament system to make way for 10+ conferences with a bunch of meaningless bowl games at the end of the season. And from these newly created 10+ conferences only a handful of conferences could actually produce a team that can play in the title game. The NCAA, and those fighting to keep the current state of college football intact, should be 100% embarrassed.

2- Bama’s defense has a chance to be considered the greatest in college football history if they keep pace. Settling down after a quick start from Tyler Wilson, what they did to Petrino’s offense was other-worldly. They have the best back seven I’ve ever seen, and on offense Trent Richardson might actually run over a defensive back this year and kill him. If McCarron plays error-free football – completing the four or five difficult passes required from him each game – it’s going to be hard to keep the Tide from winning it all. The collapse of 2010 is all the motivation Saban needs and Cam Newton’s no longer around.

3- What about LSU? At this point there’s no question they deserve to be the #1 ranked team in the country.Oregon, MSU and WVU – all on the road – turned into a breathtaking three-game sweep. Anyone ready for the LSU-Bama game on the fifth of November? For the Tigers maybe it’s a good thing the game is in T-Town.

4- Could we be looking at a rematch in the BCS title game, pitting two teams in the same division of the same conference? You better damn believe it. You don’t think an 11-1 Bama or LSU team will have a high enough BCS ranking to be the #2 team? Either team would win in Norman. They would win in Palo Alto. They would win on Pluto.

5- Not breaking news to anyone, the spread offense doesn’t work against an elite defense in the SEC (OK, maybe for you,Cam). Dana Holgerson was a wide receiver for Hal Mumme, and eventually coached under him, so the results of the LSU-WVU game came as no surprise toUK fans. WVU put up record-breaking passing numbers against LSU, but the Mounties had to scratch and settle for 21 points. Three reasons why the WVU spread wouldn’t work in the SEC:

-          A “dink and dunk” offense rings up huge numbers, however, take notice where the yards are picked up. It’s in between the 20s and the stats come in a meaningless 60-yard window.

-          Inside the 20 the field is shortened and bullying SEC defensive line play takes over, especially without a running game. An offensive playbook consisting of 10 plays just won’t work.

-          A head coach can’t win in the SEC when he could double as a washed-up tennis pro teaching seniors how to play doubles tennis in Naplesat The Villages. How awesome was the atmosphere in Morgantown? SEC-worthy for sure. 

6- I’m the dork who still follows his old high school football team – I have no problem admitting this – which leads me to Russell Wilson. I first read about him when he torched my old high school when he was a QB at Collegiate in Richmond, Va. I followed him at N.C. State when he broke just about every ACC passing record. Was he the best QB ever to play in the ACC? (Quick… in the next 60 seconds name 10 ACC QBs who could claim this title? Time is up so who’s on your list? That’s what I thought.) Wilson spurning Auburn for Wisconsin was the most underreported story of the off-season. I believed Wilson had a shot to win the Heisman before the season started and expect the Wilson hype to swell if the Badgers topple Nebraska this weekend.

If Wilson makes a serious run at the Heisman this means the Badgers go undefeated. Can they find themselves in the BCS title game? Can the Badgers jump a one-loss team from the State of Oklahoma or an undefeated Stanford team that only has to play  Oregon? 1,927 things had to happen for the ’07 LSU Tigers to reach the BCS title game so it is possible for the Badgers.

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

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Tyler’s Take: Alabama-Arkansas Running Diary

3:30 – Here we go and I’m fired up! Two things I need to cover right off the bat… How has Spencer Tillman made it this long with out being “outted” as the Sixth Jackson? Heavy make up and jerri curl, am I the only one that sees this? Speaking of hair, hello, Mr. Brando! I’ll always have a soft spot for Timmy B. since I was fed college football by you for years on the legendary JP network. Where’s Papa Manning’s plaid blazer? I’m REALLY starting to like Dooley. Not only did he drop a great one-liner that almost made Brando’s hair plugs fall out, he’s everything Laney Boy wasn’t. Let’s call it SoCal vs Southern Comfort.

3:33 – The Voice of Verne… Ahhhh. Why did I not pay $5,000 for Verne to read something at my wedding? Maybe I’ll just have him renew my vows. The Tide comes out and it looks like the stands of BD is soaked in blood. Hello, Gary Danielson. Verne and Gary just kill it on CBS. Gary’s hitting on what I wrote about yesterday…It’s the Bama back seven vs. the wideouts of Arkansas: Adams, Childs and Wright.

First Quarter: Bama’s opening drive Richardson is killing it and Bama is moving the ball with ease… I would hate it if my last name was Smelly… McCarron running the ball has to scare Bama fans and he comes up short for 4th down… FAKE PUNT and Bama scores on a pass play – what a call! Petrino has to hide a smile on that one… Bama 7-0 and this is what Arky had to avoid at all costs with the Bama D coming out… 5-wide for the Hogs on 3rd &10 and Bama counters with six db’s and allows a one-yard gain… Arkansas comes up with a stop and Bama has to punt… Uh-oh, punt hits an Arkansas player and Bama recovers… Hold up… 15-yard penalty against Bama and Hogs get a second chance… Huge first down to Childs and Wilson’s 5-5 on the day… Adams catch and 6-6… Adams catch and goes East-West on Bama for a gain…  Wingo with a HUGE run up the middle for a touchdown!… Bring it back with a holding penalty… 3rd & 11 and Wilson nails Wright for a 1st, clutch… Kirkpatrick with a huge hit, but another Wilson completion… TOUCHDOWN Dennis Johnson on the 14th play of the drive! Damn this is going to be a good one and it’s what all the “experts” called for: surgical offense vs. a hard-hitting defense… I don’t know if another team in the country could bounce back that quickly and forget the Bama touchdown… Bama LB CJ Mosely out for the game… Bama comes up short on 3rd down at the end of the first and has to punt… RECAP: Bama’s going to have to score some points because it seems clear the the Hogs are going to do just that.

Second Quarter: Hogs ball and Mallet who? Wilson’s shredding it for another 1st down… 3rd & 13 and Hightower comes up with a great tackle to prevent a 1st down… No 1st but this Hogs offense is crisp… Bama ball on their 20 and Richardson goes long… 5 rushes for 63 yards and the guy just won’t go down… Bigger, better and faster version of Heisman winner Mark Ingram… Lacy ain’t half bad either… Thunder and Thunder? Verne laughs – did I mention I love Verne? UGA beats Ole Miss and covers 27-13 and I had the Dawgs winning 31-14 in my W4 picks this morning on this very site (patting myself on the back)… Arky sack brings up 3rd & 10… Shot put to TR and TR almost kills an Arky player but gets stopped on the 1… Arky is getting a lot of pressure on McCarron thus far… Arky comes up BIG on the goal line with three straight stops and Bama settles for three… What a confidence builder for the Arky D… Bama 203 total yards – Arky 89 and Arky is the better team deep into the second quarter… Verne just said egregious… 3rd & 8 for the Hogs… Bama interception returned for a touchdown! What a crusher and the first Wilson misread today… After talking smack to each other the play before, Courtney Upshaw decleats Wilson during the interception return… Bama stuffs an Arkansas reverse on the 1st play of the drive… Why run East/West against this defense? 3rd & 15 comes up short on a completed pass… 3:00 to go and the Hogs MUST keep points off the board because they get the ball to start the third quarter… Bama’s going vanilla and burning clock… 3 & out for Bama with 1:26 left in the half… Dre Kirkpatrick blows up two consecutive plays… RECAP: Bama has two big touchdown plays and is dominating the stats but it just doesn’t feel that way… I haven’t seen a harder hitting D that doesn’t miss an open field tackle in a long time… -6 yards rushing for Arky after two quarters…

Third Quarter: Arkansas opens with two consecutive first downs… 3rd & 16 and Wilson throws out of bounds and Hogs punt… MAZE takes it to the house on a whirling 83-yard punt return and Bama goes up 24-7… Big plays have killed the hogs and empty series for Arkansas could already seal the game early in the 3rd… You can’t play from behind against the Bama D… Long pass and two Bama db’s almost catch it… 4th down and Hogs punt… Verne laughs as Maze almost breaks another return… Richardson goes for 61(!) on a screen pass for six and this game is getting ugly… What are the Hogs going to do? Wilson responds with a great throw to Wingo for 39 to the Bama 20… 3rd & 10 and TOUCHDOWN HOGS! Wilson doesn’t flinch and Hamilton pulls one down in the back of the zone and what a response as this game was getting out of hand… I see the Bama offense slowing it down for the last 21 minutes… 3rd & 9 and  ALMOST a Hogs pick from the D-Line and this has happened a few times… Nice hold for Arkansas… Can the Hogs do it again starting on their own 20? First play 1st down and a 15-yard penalty… Russell Wilson is living up to my Heisman call yesterday… Hogs get stuffed on a 4th & 1… Ouch… Richardson on a long run and lands inside the 10… Touchdown Lacy and Bama goes up 38-14… RECAP: Outside of LSU there isn’t a team that can play with Bama IF they don’t turn the ball over… Bama is going Drago on Wilson like he’s Stallone in Rocky IV as he keeps taking head shots and somehow continues to get up… Big ups to him.

Fourth Quarter: Arkansas punts with 14 to play… Bama punts it back… Tyler Wilson sits for the rest of the game and let’s call this one with 10:23 to play.

Game Summary: For four weeks I’ve been saying Bama’s defense has a chance to the the best in college football history and I’m still standing behind that statement. The Tide won’t face another offense like this the rest of the way, so expect their stats to get progressively better. This is a Saban team for you. Don’t turn the ball over and he’ll strangle the opponent with about 20 first-round NFL draft picks on defense. I thought the Hogs would lose by 10 and I wasn’t even close…

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

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Tyler’s Take: Week 2 Picks

I dedicated my picks last week to Clay Travis and the results were like chugging that last sip of a warm beer before heading into the stadium… atrocious. To get back to my winning ways I’m going to dedicate my W2 winners to the Baylor Bears. How great a story is this? It’s like Mark May stealing cash for years without anyone actually knowing he’s alive, and then all the sudden he decides to hold ESPN hostage for $200M. Who can blame him? Who wants to end up calling Tuesday night Sun Belt games on Lifetime? These winners are for you, MayDay.

USC -3 @ UGA – Is this the last stand for Richt? Is this a Fulmer 2.0 situation where everyone is simply waiting for the season to play out? Are “feelers” already going out to Peterson at Boise State, Mullen at MSU and Kirby Smart at Bama? For a brief moment I thought the Dawgs might challenge in the East, but when they were overwhelmed by the Broncos I changed my tune. Boise State is good. South Carolina is good, too. Once Garcia took the field against ECU it was on for the Cocks and I don’t expect him to slow down in Athens. This is the first “Game of the Year” in the SEC and the winner will dramatically shape the landscape in the East. If the Cocks win they should easily be 6-0 with a top-10 ranking heading into a W7 game in Starkville. UGA looks better this week, but the Cocks to win and cover 31-24.

Bama -10 @ Penn State –JoePa still coaching at 84 should really be the sports story of the year. To the three people who might be reading this:  Do you know anyone who is 84-years-old? Both my grandmother’s are a few years older and they would believe I’m JoePa if I told them. As I said last week, this Bama defense has the ability to be the greatest defense ever. A team that never turns the ball over did five times against Kent State – and still won 48-7 – so expect a much cleaner game on offense. Bama wins and covers 28-10.

MSU -7 @ Auburn – If MSU really wants to make a statement they will run away with this one. I understand a national title hangover can be a problem, but I’m still scratching my head over the Utah State game. Malzahn’s system is a plug-and-play so any QB should put up big numbers; however, they didn’t against a bad Aggie defense. While Auburn pulled off a Newton-like comeback I still believe they’re on the path to a six-win season. MSU is for real and they beat and cover against Auburn 28-17.

UT -6 vs. Cincy – This is a huge game for Dooley and his Vols to prove they are on the right path. It worries me the Vols stalled a bit against Montana in the second half and Cincy is coming into Knoxville hyped to play an SEC team after hanging 72 points last week. I’m torn on this game because I think Cincy can spring the upset. The Vols win 31-28 in overtime, but Cincy covers.

Florida -23’ vs. UAB – I love what Muschamp is doing at Florida and the biggest winner in all of this is John Brantley. There’s not much talk of Florida because of the rise of USC and fall of UGA, so it wouldn’t surprise me to watch Florida sneak into Atlanta in December. Florida wins and covers 45-17.

Arkansas -36’ vs. New Mexico - This team continues to dance in the shadows as a national title team with a real shot. Everything is winnable after a September 24th game in Tuscaloosa until they go to LSU Thanksgiving weekend. Arkansas wins and covers 300-0.

UK -10’ vs. Central Michigan – MAC teams have traditionally given the Cats a hard time (doesn’t everyone?).  Not this time. After a dreadful performance against Western Kentucky… in Nashville… on a Thursday night… at 9:15 at night… UK bounces back with a win and cover 31-10

Vandy -2 vs. UCONN – Meah. Vandy wins and covers 28-21.

Ole Miss – NL

LSU – NL

A&M – Off

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company. A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

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Tyler’s Take: Will Kentucky Ever Win In Football?

I’m 33 and have been attending UK football games for as long as I can remember, so maybe that’s why I went to Bama for college. In my life there’s been only one season, 2007, when Kentucky fielded a team that truly belonged in the upper-half of the SEC. And for a program that annually ranks in the top-20 national attendance figures how can the Cats consistently be this bad? Considering UK already owns a blueprint on how to win that lives in the checkbook of athletic director Mitch Barnhart – with its annual W-2s from hanging from the Rupp Arena rafters – it’s ridiculous the Cats can’t win in football.

 UK basketball went on a coaching run of Rick Pitino > Tubby Smith > Billy Clyde Gillespie > John Calipari from 1989-present. Pitino and Smith won titles at UK and more than likely Cal will win one within the next few years.*  Gillespie was the biggest coaching flop in UK history, but two more coaching giants, Adolph Rupp and Joe B. Hall, won titles at UK to make up for it.

Hire the best coach – and pay whatever it takes – and you will win games. So what in the hell is wrong with UK when it comes to hiring football coaches?

Kentucky went Bill Curry > Hal Mumme > Guy Morris > Rich Brooks > Joker Phillips from 1990-2010 and posted a 100-146 record. A bad head coach loses a whole lot of games and a UK football graph chart during this time authentically reflects this. But when Brooks walked after the 2009 season he left UK on the rise and in the best shape ever for an incoming coach. 2010 was finally the time for UK to spend the money and hire a winner.

Spoiler: Pitino was hired to resurrect the basketball program… and a year later Curry was hired to do the same thing for football. Spoiler #2: Calipari was hired to resurrect the basketball program… and Joker Phillips was hired to take UK football to the next level. If Calipari isn’t in Lexington right now Barnhart isn’t either.

The Joker regime, still in its infantile stages, is already anchored to a dissatisfied UK fan base and the Cats might be fortunate to duplicate the six-win mark of last year. The last two years Tennessee and Georgia have been dumpster diving and Florida has had coaching instability, so how do UK fans believe this will play out when the SEC East adds another team and the Dawgs and Vols rise from the dead?

The Cat Walk – the walk for players and coaches from the bus to the stadium – on game day could be renamed the Green Mile for Joker Phillips by the Tennessee game if the season goes poorly. And the last time UK beat a team from Tennessee was Sewanee right before the Civil War… Oh, in case you forgot this is year two for Joker.

So what can Kentucky do? Let’s turn back the clock to right around the time South Carolina and Arkansas joined the SEC for some historical perspective.

South Carolina went Sparky Woods > Brad Scott > Lou Holtz > Steve Spurrier from 1989-2010 and posted a 124-130 record. Hmmm, I wonder what a graph chart of USC football spanning the last 20 years looks like? Think improved coaching is responsible? Talk of conference titles and Heisman trophy candidates are no longer whispers in Columbia.

Arkansas went Jack Crowe > Joe Kines > Danny Ford > Houston Nutt > Bobby Petrino from 1990-2010 and posted a 137-112 record. Graph chart please. Arkansas upgraded after Nutt and captured a top-five coach in Bobby Petrino from Louisville, Ky. of all places. Even better on the field than South Carolina, and living in the more challenging West, Arkansas should have beaten the Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl last year and currently stands in the shadows of a 2011 national title run.

Coaching more important than talent? The last 20 years in the SEC has proven hiring the best coach is the best way to compete for a title. Amongst top SEC teams the better coach wins with either roster more often than not and for me this sums it up. If UK ever wants to win in the SEC, and by that I mean be in a position to reach Atlanta with three weeks left in October, it must spend big money on a coach. I’m talking Calipari $4M a year big. Otherwise, UK fans should continue to enjoy being an average Big East team caked in SEC makeup.

USC and Arkansas at any point in time during the last 20 years have never been that much more attractive than UK for a coach to call home. So why has UK remained #3 on this list of three for the better part of the last 20 years? Spurrier is at South Carolina. Petrino is at Arkansas. Joker is at Kentucky. The more things change the more they stay the same, so the joke is on long-suffering Kentucky fans. I’m taking my five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter to their first UK against Central Michigan on Saturday, and I’m positive even my kids are old enough to get this one…

Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

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A New Look For MrSEC.com

Good Monday morning to all. Here at MrSEC.com we’ve launched some new info and added more server power today. Unfortunately, that means we’ve got some kinks to work out. (Oh, for a rare switchover with no kinks or bugs!)

At any rate, we wanted to let you know what’s new around here:

Hot Topics – That bar at the top of the page will give you an idea of the some of the recent stories that have drawn the most clicks from our readers. We never know what will be a hit (example: Brad Paisley burning and Arkansas rug). This should be interesting to keep an eye on.

Recruiting – Josh Ward will continue to cover the entire league when it comes to big recruiting news. Now you can link to our recruiting page from a shiny, new box on the homepage.

Overtime – Over the past couple of years we’ve heard from quite a few ex-writers and free-lancers interested in sharing their SEC views. Last fall we allowed one of those guys — Tyler Beam — to pen a weekend column during football season. Now we’ve created a special page just for outside writers who’d like to contribute to the site. If you’re interested in submitting stories, contact us at admin@mrsec.com. And remember, that page is written by outsiders, not those of us affiliated with MrSEC.com. “The views expressed on the Overtime page do not necessarily reflect those of MrSEC.com or its staff.” We also feature an SEC video player on that page.

Blue Chip Stories – This page is simply a collection of some of our bigger pieces. Our “Expounding on Expansion” series from last summer can be found over there. Posts about SEC television schedules can be found there. Big picture, long-lasting stuff slides into that department. (As always, you can also just use our search engine on the homepage or any team page to find exactly what you’re looking for.)

Twitter Talk – Well, when you love Twitter as much as we do, you’ve got to include some tweets. On the right side of the page you’ll see where we’re following 12 of our favorite college football and basketball writers from across the nation.

Coming soon, we’ll also be adding a scoreboard panel that will allow to keep up with scores from across the sports world and we’ll be unveiling a new MrSEC App for iPhone and Android users.

Your comments and emails have led directly to many of these additions, so we hope you like them. And as we work to get everything up and running, we hope you’ll excuse the fact that we might have a bug or two to squash.

Many thanks and happy reading,
The Management

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