Posted on: October 28, 2011 2:53 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
Last week's menu was full of surprises as both Wisconsin and Oklahoma fell from the ranks of the unbeatens, and this weekend could include a lot more of the same as Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Clemson all face challenges. Yes, we'll have to wait another week before LSU and Alabama are available, but there's plenty here this week that should help stem that hunger.
#13 Nebraska vs. #9 Michigan State - ESPN, 12pm ET
It's not often that the marquee matchup of the Big Ten kicks off before noon local time, but that's what we've got this week with Michigan State visiting Nebraska with an 11:00 CT kickoff time. The Spartans come off a stunning 37-31 win against Wisconsin, and Nebraska comes off a bye week; those factors combined with an early kickoff means it's going to be difficult not to come out flat in this contest. Whoever sustains a high effort from the first to the fourth quarter seems likely to get the win here. - Adam Jacobi
#16 Texas A&M vs. Missouri - FX, 12pm ET
These two teams will meet for the final time as Big 12 rivals, but that doesn't mean it will the the last time they meet in a conference game does it, Mizzou? Wink, wink, nudge. It's a big game for both teams as Texas A&M still has an outside chance at a Big 12 title and BCS game but can't afford another loss, and Missouri really needs a win or its bowl hopes could be in some trouble. - Tom Fornelli
Florida State vs. North Carolina State - ESPNU, 12pm ET
Florida State played themselves out of the national picture with three straight losses, dropping them from the polls and the ACC title race. The Seminoles redemption tour welcomes N.C. State to Tallahassee on Saturday, with both teams at 4-3 hoping to move one step closer to bowl eligibility. Since EJ Manuel's return to the lineup after suffering a shoulder injury in the loss to Oklahoma, the Seminoles offense has regained some the early-season production that had pundits talking "title contender." But N.C. State boasts one of the league's best defensive playmakers in sophomore David Amerson. Amerson leads the nation with eight interceptions, even returning one for a touchdown. The Seminoles have a lot of talent on the outside, but Manuel (seven interceptions in six games) needs to be wary of where #1 is at all times. - Chip Patterson
Vanderbilt vs. #8 Arkansas - SEC Network, 12:21pm ET
At 4-3, the Commodores are just two wins away from doing something in one year under James Franklin they've done only one other time in their past 29 seasons--go to a bowl game. And with potential All-American corner Casey Hayward leading a secondary capable of keeping Jarius Wright and the Hog receivers (mostly) under wraps, the potential for a stunner is there. Is new quarterback Jordan Rodgers really up to moving the ball consistently against an SEC defense, though? - Jerry Hinnen
#3 Oklahoma State vs. Baylor - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET
Do you like to see a lot of points scored and very little defense getting in the way? Well then I've got good news for you, because Oklahoma State and Baylor are going to score a lot of points and not play much defense. This could truly be one of those games in which the first team to score 50 wins, and Baylor is just as capable of put points up in bunches. There's a chance that another Oklahoma school could suffer its first lost this Saturday. - TF
#10 Kansas State vs. #11 Oklahoma - ESPN, 3:30pm ET
Kansas State has been one of the biggest surprises in college football this season, getting off to a 7-0 start and even winning a couple of shootouts along the way. That being said, the real test for Bill Snyder and the Wildcats begins on Saturday when they face Oklahoma. The Sooners are likely to be a bit cranky following last week's loss, and will be looking to end Kansas State's unbeaten season as well. - TF
#22 Georgia vs. Florida - CBS, 3:30pm ET
CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart has written that Mark Richt's job is on the line in this one, and given that the Dawgs won't win this year's well-water SEC East without a win Saturday -- begging the question of when he ever would win the East again -- we're inclined to agree. The good news is that unless John Brantley provides a serious spark to the Gator offense, he has the team to get the job done; the Gator front hasn't looked its best against straight-ahead power running games, and Isaiah Crowell gives Georgia plenty of pop in that department. - JH
#21 Penn State vs. Illinois - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET
Coming into the season, it seemed far more likely that these two teams would have three losses apiece eight games in than three combined. But even with the Illini fading, they're still 6-2, and PSU currently leads the Big Ten with a 7-1 (4-0) mark. As such, there are major consequences for both the Legends Division race and bowl positioning here -- not to mention two of the Big Ten's best wideouts in A.J. Jenkins and Derek Moye. Don't sleep on this game -- there'll probably be some late-game theatrics, and when Ron Zook's involved, that's a recipe for chaos. - AJ
Tennessee vs. #14 South Carolina - ESPN2, 7:15pm ET
Can Justin Worley hack it? If the Vols' new true freshman starter can hang in there against Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Gamecock pass rush (no mean feat), the pieces could be in place for an upset. Carolina's ground game could be completely MIA without Marcus Lattimore, Connor Shaw looked awfully wobbly his last road game, and Tauren Poole has finally given the Vols a rushing game with a pulse. With Derek Dooley's seat growing ever-slightly-warmer and Carolina's East hopes on the line, this is a big one for both teams. - JH
Georgia Tech vs. #6 Clemson - ABC, 8pm ET
The primetime rematch of the 2009 ACC title game (which the NCAA will tell you "didn't happen") was a possible selection for ESPN's College Gameday two weeks ago when both teams were undefeated. But since two straight Georgia Tech losses, this game has lost some of the luster it once carried. That does not make it any less of a trap game for the undefeated Tigers. Clemson's BCS dreams could be erased in the dust clouds of Paul Johnson's grinding option attack, which when run effectively can eat up game clock and wear down opposing defenses. If ABC is broadcasting this game in your region, it should definitely be worth your time to watch for fireworks. - CP
#20 USC vs. #4 Stanford - ABC, 8pm ET
The first top 20 match up in the Coliseum in over three years, this has turned into the game of the week thanks to a marquee quarterback showdown featuring Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley. This game likely comes down to defense - as in who can stop who - as the Cardinal has a trio of talented tight ends 6-foot-6 or taller and the Trojans have All-American candidate in wide receiver Robert Woods. - Bryan Fischer
Ohio State vs. #12 Wisconsin - ESPN, 8pm ET
If this game were in Madison, the Badgers would probably cruise. It ain't. Fresh off their first loss in their first game in a truly hostile environment, Russell Wilson and crew have to travel to Columbus to face a Buckeye team that's just finding its stride after injuries and suspensions rocked its first half of the season. And just to up the ante even further, this one's under the lights. What a way to end a great slate of Big Ten action. - AJ
LATE NIGHT SNACK
Washington vs. Arizona - Fox Sports, 10:30pm ET
Looking for a good old fashioned, late night, Pac-12 shootout? Look no further than the Huskies and Wildcats. Both teams have struggled defensively and Washington gave up over 400 yards rushing to Stanford last week. Keith Price and Nick Foles are two quarterbacks who are a joy to watch and they have plenty of weapons to get the ball to. Like offense? This is your game. - BF
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arkansas, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Bill Snyder, Bryan Fischer, Chip Patterson, Clemson, Connor Shaw, Derek Dooley, Derek Moye, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Isaiah Crowell, Jadeveon Clowney, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Justin Worley, Kansas State, Keith Price, Marcus Lattimore, Mark Richt, Matt Barkley, Melvin Ingram, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nick Foles, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Penn State, Robert Woods, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Tauren Poole, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tony Barnhart, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 27, 2011 4:07 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.
I learned a few things about myself last weekend. First of all, I learned that passing my girlfriend in the standings of our year-long picks competition brought me more satisfaction than I ever thought possible. In fact, probably a lot more than it should. I mean, should I be so thrilled with myself at being able to pick college football games -- a sport I cover for a living -- better than my girlfriend who kinda-sorta pays attention alongside me on Saturday afternoons?
The other thing I learned is that the girlfriend is taking this competition very seriously. There wasn't much joy in Womanville on Saturday as she kept seeing the teams she picked fail, knowing that I was overtaking her in the standings. I've been sleeping with one eye open all week.
Nebraska (-4 1/2) vs. Michigan State - Saturday, 12pm (All times Eastern)Man - This is not the easiest game to pick, as I'm never sure what to expect from Nebraska in any given week, and this is still the same Michigan State team that lost to Notre Dame. That being said, sometimes things happen for a reason, so I'm going to ride the momentum of Michigan State's win last week. Pick: Michigan State
Woman - "After watching the Spartans rewrite the ending of '300' against both Michigan and Wisconsin, I just can't go against them, especially if I'm getting points. (Given my recent track record, congratulations, Nebraska!)" Pick: Michigan State
Machine - The Machine has no concept of religion, therefore no Hail Marys can save Sparta this weekend. Nebraska wins 27-17. Pick: Nebraska
Texas A&M (-11 1/2) vs. Missouri - Saturday, 12pmMan - While I admire the way James Franklin stood up after last week's turnover-laden performance to take the blame for Missouri's woes, I'm not putting any faith in Franklin or the Tigers offense until they give me a real reason to. Oh, and SEC! SEC! SEC! Pick: Texas A&M
Woman - "Hey, Mizzou, as you prepare to make your high-drama Big 12 exit, thinking you might want to come up with something better than falling on your butt and having your skirt fly up over your head." Pick: Texas A&M
Machine - Texas A&M left first, and therefore it has the upper hand. Aggies roll 34-21. Pick: Texas A&M
Rutgers vs. West Virginia (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Before last weekend I thought West Virginia was the only thing you could count on in the Big East. Now? Good luck. While I don't want to underestimate the impact of Eric LeGrand's appearance before the game starts, I can't help but feel it will wear off by halftime and West Virginia will get rolling. Pick: West Virginia
Woman - "When picking a Big East game, I have learned that the best strategy is a coin, a hard surface and a stiff shot of whiskey. West Virginia should win but with paralyzed player Eric LeGrand miraculously leading the Scarlet Knights onto the field, I'll call "tails" and hope it stays close." Pick: Rutgers
Machine - The Machine knows nothing of human emotions or the lifts they can provide. West Virginia stomps all over Rutgers, winning 44-13. Pick: West Virginia
Kansas State vs. Oklahoma (-13 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - I have this nagging feeling that Oklahoma's loss last weekend may have woken a sleeping giant, and that the Sooners are going to take it out on Kansas State this weekend. I just can't shake it. Still, sometimes you have to go with your heart, and since Kansas State is one of my favorite stories so far this season, I'm not giving up on it. Pick: Kansas State
Woman - "I know the Sooners are looking for someone to beat up on after that shameful loss to Texas Tech last week. But giving thirteen and a half points to a 7-0 team playing at home, the same team who beat the team that beat Oklahoma? Ooooooo-kay." Pick: Kansas State
Machine - Well, it was fun while it lasted, Wildcats. Oklahoma wins 47-17. Pick: Oklahoma
Oklahoma State (-15 1/2) vs. Baylor - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Quite simply, there is no game this weekend I'm looking forward to more than this one. The over/under on this game was set at 79.5 and my original reaction was "That's WAY too low." I don't know who wins, but I know there's going to be a lot of points and very little defense. So I have to take the points. Pick: Baylor
Woman - "Not much else to say here." Pick: Oklahoma State
Machine - The Machine seems to agree with me about the lack of defense and the overabundance of real good times in this one. This is Pitbull's Dr. Pepper Lock Of The Week. Oklahoma State 51-45. Pick: Baylor
Florida vs. Georgia (-2 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - I'm way too confident in Georgia to win this game, and that worries me a bit, but I'm still going with the Bulldogs. Pick: Georgia
Woman - "Uncertain who will prevail but I will bet that the average blood alcohol content of the tailgaters will be the reverse equivalent of that spread." Pick: Georgia
Machine - Everybody in the club getting tipsy, especially the offenses. Georgia wins 16-10. Pick: Georgia
Tennessee vs. South Carolina (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 7:15pmMan - I have no idea what to expect from a South Carolina offense that is now without both Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore. Throw in the fact that this game is in Knoxville and things get even more confusing. That being said, Tennessee is starting a quarterback this week who wasn't even supposed to play this season, so I'm going with Steve Spurrier. Pick: South Carolina
Woman - "All four of Tennessee's losses have been against SEC teams, which is to say, good teams. The Vols will go down fighting. In a bad wig." Pick: South Carolina
Machine - The Machine recognizes Marcus Lattimore as one of its own, but The Machine also knows that it was built to be replaced. South Carolina wins 23-17. Pick: South Carolina
Georgia Tech vs. Clemson (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - Georgia Tech's been in a bit of a freefall the last few weeks, and while I think that the Jackets will be able to move the ball with relative ease against the Clemson defense, I can't help but feel like the Tigers just have too many weapons on offense. Tech won't be able to keep up. Pick: Clemson
Woman - "For the first six weeks, the Yellow Jackets were stinging everything in their path. Then came two dismal away games and lots of questions. Yeah, they're up against 8-0 Clemson but they're also at home, and with a rivalry where 14 of the last 16 games have been decided by an average of 4.6 points, well..." Pick: Georgia Tech
Machine - Down goes Dabo! Down goes Dabo! Georgia Tech wins 31-27. Pick: Georgia Tech
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - The Ohio State of late October is much better than the one we saw to begin the season thanks to the return of some key suspended players. That being said, the offense still isn't anything wonderful, and though I expect that Russell Wilson and the Badgers will have some trouble on Saturday night, I still feel they'll pull off the win. Pick: Wisconsin
Woman - "Both teams have their seasons on the line and the loser can kiss the Rose Bowl goodbye. But until last week's stunning loss, the Badgers won each of their games this season by at least 31 points. They won't get close to that number but will beat the spread and keep this magic year going." Pick: Wisconsin
Machine - Ohio State will manage to cover, but The Machine doesn't think you should expect a lot of excitement in this one as Wisconsin escapes Columbus with a 13-10 win. Pick: Ohio State
USC vs. Stanford (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - Listen, I have no problem taking Stanford against anybody when the Cardinal are giving up 20 points in the spread. You think I'm not going to jump on a spread this small? Sorry, USC, but just because Stanford hasn't played a great team yet this season doesn't mean they're playing one this weekend, either. Pick: Stanford
Woman - "Hey, look, it's the One Percent Bowl! Stanford is LSU plus 300 more SAT points and a tan. Pick against them at your own peril." Pick: Stanford
Machine - Hope you enjoyed that win in South Bend, Trojans, because the good times end on Saturday night. Stanford wins 31-14. Pick: Stanford
StandingsSeason Record (Last Week)
1. Man 51-34 (6-4)
2. Woman 50-35 (3-7)
3. Machine 44-41 (6-4)
Tags: ACC, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Clemson, Eric LeGrand, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, James Franklin, Kansas State, LSU, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Marcus Lattimore, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Pitbull, Russell Wilson, Rutgers, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 26, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 5:29 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.
DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 10, or the number of first downs the Crimson Tide defense is allowing per-game, rounded very slightly up. The actual number: 9.9, best in the nation by nearly four first downs a game. LSU ranks fourth, at 14.5 per game. 10 is also the number worn by AJ McCarron, the SEC's No. 2 most efficient passer behind ... Jarrett Lee.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Could the Tide and Tigers stage a winner-take-all rematch in the BCS national championship game?
Lots of other people are asking this question, so we will too. And the best answer we can offer is: Probably not. But it's too soon to rule it out entirely.
As pointed out this week by resident CBSSports.com BCS expert Jerry Palm, it's safe to assume poll voters don't want a rematch after they vaulted No. 4 Florida over No. 3 Michigan in the wake of the Gators' SEC championship victory (and No. 2 USC's upset loss) in 2006. "I think there is a sense that it isn't fair to make the winner beat the loser again," Palm writes, and that's even before discussing the logical allure of taking the team that has a BCS conference championship over the one that doesn't (assuming their records are equal). As long as voters have a viable option other than the rematch, they'll take it.
So how would we come by a situation in which there is no viable option? Here's how:
1. A tight, competitive game Nov. 5. If one team blows out the other, the push for a rematch is going to immediately be reduced to just-barely-more than nothing. It would help if LSU was the team absorbing the narrow defeat, too, since the Crimson Tide get to play host.
2. Losses by Oklahoma State, Stanford and Clemson. (Oh, and Kansas State.) By season's end, the schedule conquered by any candidate from that pool would make them a no-brainer for the BCS title game. But will any of them cross the finish line unblemished? Football Outsiders numbers guru Bill Connelly pegs the Cardinal with the best chance of the foursome ... but at just 22 percent. The collective odds of one of them running the table is much better, but as Oklahoma and Wisconsin showed last weekend, avoiding the upset bug for a whole season is always easier said than done.
3. Continued dominant play from the LSU-Alabama loser paired with extra defeats or lackluster play from teams like the Sooners and Badgers. Down-and-out as they appeared to be Saturday, an Oklahoma Big 12 conference championship on the heels of a win over previously undefeated Oklahoma State or a Big Ten title for the Badgers won with a dominant revenge victory over an 11-1 Michigan State would thrust either directly back into the BCS championship game spotlight (assuming the game was reduced to taking a one-loss team). If the LSU-Alabama loser continues to destroy all comers, though, and the Sooners, Badgers, or any other one-loss team doesn't look the part, the voters could opt for the rematch.
That's already a lot of hoops to jump through before we even start asking whether the voters would take an undefeated Boise State over the LSU-Alabama loser, a debate potentially so headache-inducing we're cringing at the thought of it. So for now, the safest assumption is that it's win-in-Tuscaloosa-or-else for LSU and Alabama's national title chances. But we can't call that assumption a certainty just yet.
Want a second opinion? Here's CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart:
THE LATEST FROM TUSCALOOSA: Tyrann Mathieu's Twitter smack talk might have rubbed some opponents the wrong way, but the Tide's Courtney Upshaw doesn't seem likely to be all that bothered. In fact, when asked about the Bayou Bengals, he seems like something of a fan (emphasis added):
"I watch LSU, honestly ... Whenever we have a chance in the hotel, we're watching games, me and my roommate. There are a bunch of guys when I'm watching I'm like, 'Wow, those guys are real good.' And Tyrann Mathieu, I like that guy to death."Right up until kickoff, we imagine.
The Tide returned to practice Tuesday after taking Monday off, but per Nick Saban haven't started LSU-specific game prep just yet. “[Wednesday] we'll work hard on fundamentals, and start later in the week with our preparation for the game we have next week," he said.
On the Tide injury front, starting right guard Anthony Steen has recovered from the concussion that kept him out of the Tide's win over Tennessee and is expected to return to the starting lineup vs. LSU. (His replacement vs. the Vols, Alfred McCullough, will now serve as the backup left tackle after the loss of Cyrus Kouandjio.) But there was some minor bad news as the Tide will miss reserve linebacker Jonathan Atchison, due to undergo bicep surgery this week. Atchison had appeared in two games this season without a tackle.
VIDEO BREAK: So, yes, this little promotional video was made by an (ahem) rival network. But it's too good not to share:
THE LATEST FROM BATON ROUGE: If you read yesterday's Daily this didn't come as a surprise, but the "Synthetic Three" were officially reinstated to the Tiger roster yesterday and practiced with the team. "We're preparing them to play," Les Miles said. "We plan on using them."
It goes without saying that having players like Mathieu, Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon around for the biggest game of their careers might be a little helpful. But Miles has to be particularly happy the issue has been resolved as quickly as it has been; brilliant as they are, all three players are only sophomores and will no doubt need an ample amount of practice time to be fully ready for an opponent like Alabama. If the decision (reportedly made by athletic director Joe Alleva) had dragged out much further, the results could have been seen on the field.
On the topic of suspensions, Miles dropped this typically wonderful Milesism:
"It's a real lifetime lesson. Just put yourself in the wrong spot and have proximity to real issues, and suddenly you're out of control. When you don't have control of the decisions that need to be made for your happiness, that's misery."Like the Tide, the Tigers also got some good injury news on the offensive line. Miles said starting center P.J. Lonergan is practicing again after an ankle injury sidelined him the past two weeks, setting him up for a return vs. the Tide. "He could really have played Saturday," Mile said. "It just worked out that we didn't need him."
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Tags: AJ McCarron, Alabama, Alfred McCullough, Anthony Steen, Bill Connelly, Boise State, Clemson, Courtney Upshaw, Cyrus Kouandjio, Florida, Jarrett Lee, Jerry Hinnen, Joe Alleva, Jonathan Atchison, Kansas State, Les Miles, LSU, LSU-Alabama, LSU-Alabama Daily, Michigan, Michigan State, Nick Saban, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SEC, Spencer Ware, Stanford, Tennessee, Tyrann Mathieu, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 26, 2011 2:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
One of the cool things about the modern-day Internet is that when John or Suzy Q. College Football Fan in Anywhere, USA does something brilliant, we all get to find about it. And one Tennessee-supporting mother named Cortney has indeed gone and done something brilliant:
For those of you unfamiliar with the current Volunteer head coach, that costume is Derek Dooley from the top of his headset to the soles of his shoes. We don't know a lot of details about Cortney (or her tyke, who we expect Barbara Dooley to try and make a play for legal custody of any minute now), but thanks to an e-mail to Outkick the Coverage we do know how she put together the costume: an XBox accessory for the headset, a pitch-perfect dye job for the pants, an iron-on for the T logo, a radio clip to accompany the headset and -- most critically -- a black vinyl wig borrowed from a Superman outfit for Derek's impeccable hair.
We seriously doubt Cortney's efforts are going to be topped this Halloween season, but the nice thing is that if anyone does? The Internet will make sure we know about it.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:57 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 1:57 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: They can manage any kind of running game in the absence of Marcus Lattimore. The only fully healthy tailback on the Gamecock roster is freshman Brandon Wilds, who started the season on the fifth string. Wilds looked competent against Mississippi State in emergency duty but will no doubt need help--most likely from Bruce Ellington in Wildcat sets and from Connor Shaw himself on the zone read option and other quarterback keepers. (Though not known for mobility, Shaw has totaled 70 yards rushing in his two starts--and that's after removing sack yardage.) Shaw looked more than a little uneasy in the pocket against the Bulldogs and that was with Lattimore around; if Steve Spurrier can't find some sort of offensive balance, it seems unlikely Shaw's ready to quarterback the Gamecocks to a road SEC win singlehandedly.
TENNESSEE WILL WIN IF: Justin Worley is ready. Derek Dooley proved once again this week he isn't scared of rolling the dice, naming the true freshman the Vols' starting quarterback even after the veteran Matt Simms showed some command of the offense against Alabama. If Worley can hack it, the Vols will have a lot going for them: the backing of the Neyland Stadium home crowd, a previously moribund running game that inexplicably found its footing against LSU and Alabama behind tailback Tauren Poole, the abundant question marks on the Carolina offense, and a defense that for all its second-half woes did keep the Tide entirely in check for a half. But none of that will matter if Worley completes more passes the ball-hawking Gamecock secondary (fifth in the FBS with 14 picks) than he does to his own receivers, and a Carolina pass rush featuring Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney won't make things easy on him.
THE X-FACTOR: Neyland. It's been a house of horrors for opponents in the past -- particularly ones quarterbacked by, say, a sophomore making just his second road start without his All-American running back security blanket -- but the recent downturn in the Vols' fortunes has left a lot of unhappy customers in the crowd, dulling UT's formerly fearsome holme-field advantage. If Dooley's team can get out to a fast start and engage the orange masses, Shaw may not be able to get the boulder rolling back in the other direction. If a slow start brings out the boo-birds, though, it's Worley who might wind up wishing he was somewhere very different.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Tennessee freshman quarterback Justin Worley was supposed to redshirt this season, but after an injury to Tyler Bray and an ineffective performance from Matt Simms against Alabama on Saturday, Worley found himself on the field late in Tennessee's 37-6 loss. Worley didn't throw a pass while in the game, but I guess Derek Dooley has seen enough of Matt Simms.
When the new Tennessee depth chart was released on Monday, Worley's name was listed as QB1 with Simms backing him up.
"I know (QB) will be the main storyline. It's just something we have to do," said Dooley. The Tennessee head coach also went on to say that he doesn't "know what it will look like on Saturday."
Neither do we, but it won't be easy against a South Carolina defense allowing less than 20 points a game and gets after the quarterback.
Still, considering that Tennessee is now 0-4 in the SEC this season and Worley's redshirt has already been burned, Dooley and the Vols might as well see what they have in the freshman. He's already seen plenty of Matt Simms the last two years, and he hasn't been enough.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:17 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
We'd like to think that even if Oklahoma had completed their failed comeback against Texas Tech, the Bayou Bengals' annihilation of a top-20 Auburn team (as opposed to a mighty struggle at home vs. an unranked team with two home losses) would finally resulted in their taking over as a consensus No. 1. But fortunately for clarity's sake, the Red Raiders finished the job. And even if Alabama wasn't on a bye themselves, that consensus wasn't going to change during LSU's off-week--the Tigers have a 49-10 advantage in first place votes in the AP, and a 41-18 edge in the Coaches.
The Crimson Tide should have passed the decisively less-impressive Sooners weeks back, but there's no doubt plenty of thanks being sent Lubbockward after the Red Raiders made the Tide's consensus move to No. 2 it official. (Then again, knowing the relationship between the Tide fanbase and Tommy Tuberville, maybe not.) What's interesting is that the Tide have enough support for a short fall in the event of a loss to LSU--the 122-point margin between the Tide and No. 3 Oklahoma State is wider than the margin between the Cowboys and No. 6 Clemson.
The Razorbacks move up two spots in both polls but find themselves in the same broad position as last week: the second-highest one-loss team behind Oregon. It's a strong show of support for the Hogs that even after an unimpressive win over Ole Miss -- one that required overcoming a 17-0 first-half deficit and a last-minute interception to preserve the victory -- Arkansas still moved past plummeting Oklahoma and Wisconsin. But as we said last week, if forced to pick between the Hogs and Ducks in a one-loss head-to-head, we think the Hogs deserve the nod.
14/14. SOUTH CAROLINA
Oh, Coaches poll. We wish there was a better explanation for jumping Kansas State past the Gamecocks on the basis of a win over Kansas and Carolina's bye week than "Oops, we kind of messed up by having that undefeated team so low last week, better fix it" ... but we know there isn't. At least Michigan State's leapfrog past the Gamecocks makes more sense. The Spartans jumped the Gamecocks in the AP, too, but Carolina stayed put thanks to West Virginia's freefall. Given that the Gamecocks' loss came to a now three-loss team at home and that their signature win is a three-point escape at Georgia, they can't have any complaints about sticking at 14th.
The Bulldogs didn't play this week, but still got a two-slot bump in the AP and leapt into the Coaches at No. 21. Guess it helps when so many bottom-rung top-25 teams -- Auburn, Illinois, Washington, Georiga Tech -- absorbed lopsided and/or embarrassing losses. But the Dawgs can't gripe about not being higher, not when their best win is still over 3-4 Tennessee.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:03 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 3:11 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 8.
WINNERS: Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. On the eve of the 2011 season, the LSU quarterback situation was supposed to be the team's Achilles heel. The senior Lee had spent his entire career as erratic at best and a turnover machine at worst; Jefferson was suspended and might never return; and despite intense fan interest, Zach Mettenberger hadn't been able to beat either out for so much as the backup's job. But after the Tigers' demolition of Auburn, it's time to give the Bayou Bengal quarterbacks their due: not only are they not a weakness, they're a major reason LSU is 8-0 and now preparing for an undefeated megatilt against Alabama.
The stats are argument enough: a combined 16-of-23 for 219 yards (9.5 an attempt), three touchdowns, and no interceptions. (This was LSU's fifth straight game without a turnover, by the way.) But the two touchdown throws they made in the second quarter -- one by each, both of 40-plus yards, both to the rapidly-improving Rueben Randle -- are an even better argument. On the first, Jefferson was leveled by an Auburn blitzer and stood strong in the pocket to deliver Randle a precision strike; on the second, Lee "dropped it in a bucket," as they say, allowing Randle to beat double coverage. The end result was that a quarter that began 7-3 and with Auburn in a dogfight ended with LSU up 21-3 and the game over. If those two throws are examples of what LSU can expect in two weeks, even Alabama might not be good enough to beat the Tigers. At this point, it seems obvious no one else in the SEC can.
LOSER: Houston Nutt. Honestly, this isn't entirely fair to Nutt, who just coaxed the best performance from his team all season and has nothing to hang his head about, final score-wise; losing to a legitimate top-10 outfit like the Razorbacks by five points is an accomplishment, especially when the outcome is still in doubt in the final minute. Still: a 17-0 second-quarter lead over that kind of opponent -- not only one of the best teams in the country, but an opponent whose fans enjoy needling Nutt and the Rebels about their failures -- is the kind of golden opportunity that Nutt and his team simply couldn't afford to let slip through their fingers. In the end, solid performance or not, it's just Nutt's 10th straight SEC loss ... and another few before the year's end could be the end for Nutt.
WINNER: James Franklin. On the other end of the spectrum, we've got a coach for whom beating Army isn't really that big a deal ... but beating them by a comprehensive 23 points is. The Commodores had only one week of study for the Black Knights' triple option and held them to 288 total yards anyway, forcing three turnovers in the process. The 'Dore running game racked up a stout 344 yards and Vandy may have finally found a quarterback in Jordan Rodgers, who didn't set the world on fire (10-of-27, one touchdown, two interceptions) but whose 10 completions did go for better than 18 yards a pop. In short: this was the kind of performance that suggests the 'Dores 3-3 record wasn't a fluke, and that they could go bowling in Franklin's first year. It won't be enough to win him Coach of the Year with Miles and Saban around, but it's still a heck of a job.
LOSER: Drama. Another week, another series of blowouts in the SEC. Save for Arkansas's escape from Oxford, the average score of the four Week 8 games involving SEC teams was 41-13. After another week of winning their two games by some outrageous combined score -- 66 points' worth this go-round -- LSU's and Alabama's average margin of victory has ballooned to a full 30 points. It's a good thing the Tide and Tigers have next week off; not only will it give us another week to savor the buildup to the Game of the Century of the Year, but maybe it'll give us a chance to enjoy more than a single helping of competitive SEC football.
WINNERS: Alabama's receiving corps. The Tide's wideouts were alleged to be the team's one weakness entering this season, and doubly so once Duron Carter was ruled ineligible. But Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and Kenny Bell made that expectation look more ridiculous than ever in the second half Saturday night, hauling in acrobatic circus grab after acrobatic circus grab and eventually totaling 11 receptions, 213 yards, and Bell's game-clinching touchdown. AJ McCarron didn't have his best night, but Maze, Hanks, and Bell made him look awfully good all the same.
LOSERS: Auburn's special teams. The way LSU (and their quarterbacks in particular) are playing, it didn't matter what Auburn did today. But the one area where you can't show any weakness vs. Les Miles's team is in special teams, where they will kill you with field position if given the opportunity. Given the Tigers' strength in this area so far in 2011, Gene Chizik was probably expecting a draw in this phase, at least. Nope: punter Steven Clark had his worst game of the year, repeatedly failing to pin LSU deep when given the chance, and dynamic freshman kick returner Tre Mason fumbled away a second-half return to turn the game from decisive LSU advantage to full-on rout.
LOSER: Matt Simms. Ugly as Simms' final line in the box score was (8-of-17, 3.4 yards an attempt, no touchdowns, one interception), he was facing Alabama on the road; lots of quarterbacks would have looked just as bad, and Simms did play a role in getting the Vols to a 6-6 halftime tie. But Derek Dooley's decision to burn Justin Worley's redshirt late could indicate a move towards getting the freshman snaps at Simms' expense, and though he had a lot of company on the Tennessee sideline, he wasn't able to do much in preventing the Tide onslaught in the second half.
WINNER: College football. No. 1 LSU and (now consensus) No. 2 Alabama are going to meet in two weeks, both undefeated, both extremely heavy favorites to finish their regular season schedule perfect and run a way with the SEC East with a win over the other, both having established their national championship contender's bona fides weeks ago. It really, really, really shouldn't get any better than what we now know we'll see Nov. 5.
Tags: AJ McCarron, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Darius Hanks, Derek Dooley, Duron Carter, Gene Chizik, Houston Nutt, James Franklin, Jarrett Lee, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Jefferson, Jordan Rodgers, Justin Worley, Kenny Bell, Les Miles, LSU, Marquis Maze, Matt Simms, Ole Miss, Rueben Randle, SEC, Steven Clark, Tennessee, Tre Mason, Vanderbilt, Winners and Losers