Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:08 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A look at the key matchup that could decide the Rose Bowl.
Chip Kelly vs. time to prepare
In addition to being a great matchup on the field, the Rose Bowl this season pits two head coaches who have experienced plenty of success early on in their careers as the men calling the shots. Both Bret Bielema and Chip Kelly have taken over for their respective mentors and taken their programs to new heights. Wisconsin is making a return trip to the granddaddy of them all while this is Kelly's third straight BCS game with an appearance in the national championship game to boot.
For Kelly though, this game presents yet another challenge to rise to the occasion and finally put Oregon over the top. He's lost just six games in three years running the team but, outside of a loss to USC this year, has found success fleeting against teams with weeks to prepare for the fast-paced offense that he signals in from the sidelines and is the biggest reason why they've been dominating Pac-12 conference play. Last season, Oregon was averaging 49 points per game but against Auburn's bend-but-don't-break defense they rushed for less than 100 yards and managed just 22 points. Boise State, Ohio State, LSU, the story seems to be a constant one. As much success as Kelly has had, it just hasn't come against teams with time to prepare.
When asked about that after the Pac-12 Championship game, Kelly noted that they were all pretty good teams Oregon faced. So is Wisconsin, with Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball and a top 10 defense. The Badgers won a down Big Ten this year but still will be a stiff test for the Ducks in Pasadena. They're big and physical and though it seems like the speed of the Oregon offense should be effective, history suggests that's no sure thing.
Kelly has plenty of weapons to use this game, with running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner able to score from anywhere on the field and freshman De'Anthony Thomas a dynamic playmaker in space. Darron Thomas has had to throw it more than Kelly probably likes but he can get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. For some reason, the head coach hasn't been able to figure out the adjustments opponents have made against what he does game-in and game-out. There's been plenty of success and big games with this program and it's up to Kelly to finally get them over the hump, regardless what Bielema and the Wisconsin defense throws at him.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 10:11 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A look at the key matchup that could decide the Outback Bowl.
Georgia's interior offensive line vs. Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy
Though it wasn't the grueling grind of past years, Georgia still made it through the SEC schedule and saw plenty of good defensive linemen. Outside of games against South Carolina and LSU however, they haven't seen anybody playing at the level that Jerel Worthy has been for Michigan State this season. Named a first team All-American, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior racked up 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks but the numbers don't show how dominating he was during games. His play is one reason why CBSSports.com draft experts have him pegged as a first round pick should he decide to leave school early.
The Bulldogs offensive line has come together better than expected after dealing with injuries and other issues at the beginning of the year. They had their issues with good defensive lines from Boise State, South Carolina and LSU and better buckle up to face another big test in Michigan State. The group gave up just over two sacks a game on the season, good (bad?) enough to rank 80th in the country in that category. Ben Jones is an experienced and battle-tested center who will likely be part of plenty of double-teams of worthy with young guards Kenarious Gates and Chris Burnette. The ability to contain worthy and keep quarterback Aaron Murray upright to deliver a few throws will be key for the offense to move the ball at all down in Tampa.
It's not all about the passing game either, as the Spartans allowed just 104 yards per game on the ground thanks in large part to Worthy. The UGA run game is a bit of a mystery at the moment but they no doubt need all the backs healthy and for the offensive line to get some push up front. Don't expect this to be a high scoring game given the way both teams are constructed but the ability for the Dawgs to break big plays comes down to their offensive line creating holes and time to throw.
This should be a great battle in the trenches but based on how Georgia has fared in other games this season, expect Worthy and his defensive teammates to get plenty of pressure. Don't be surprised if a running back is kept back to pass block more than usual and, given the amount of time between games, expect Mark Richt and the coaching staff to develop an offensive game plan that avoids Worthy as much as possible. In a matchup of two 10-3 teams, this one should go to the group who controls the line of scrimmage the best.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 4:03 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
At long last, the SEC finally unveiled its 2012 football schedule Wednesday--its first with Texas A&M and Missouri as its 13th and 14th members, and the matter of intense speculation and rumor ever since the Aggies and Tigers joined this past fall. Though the schedule isn't yet an indicator of how things will look in 2013 and beyond (Mike Slive pointedly said recently the 2012 edition is a one-year stopgap before a permanent divisional rotation is established the following season), that doesn't mean there's not plenty to parse and analyze where 2012 is concerned. Here's a team-by-team look at what each SEC program is happy about regarding the schedule, and what they're not so glad about:
Likes that: its East divisional draw doesn't feature either South Carolina or Georgia. A road trip to Missouri could be tricky, but given the way the Gamecocks whomped the Tide the last time the two teams met and how the Bulldogs have finished this season, Alabama's not going to complain about getting a first historic visit to Columbia under their belts. And of course, their permanent cross-divisional rivalry with Tennessee isn't anything to fear at this stage. Getting Auburn at home is always a plus.
Doesn't like that: what shapes up as the two biggest SEC games on its schedule, LSU and Arkansas, both come on the road. If the Tide are going to earn the critical head-to-head tiebreaker over either of their West rivals, they're going to have to do it the hard way.
Likes that: both Alabama and LSU have to visit Fayetteville, where the Hogs have been particularly feisty against the Tigers. And taking on the Tide early (Sept. 15, the first SEC game of the season for both) could work to Arkansas's advantage as Nick Saban retools his much, much younger defense. Any West team that gets "home vs. Kentucky" as one of their East games has to be pleased with their good fortune there, too.
Doesn't like that: its annual game with South Carolina is on the road, we guess. But the way the Hogs have routed the Gamecocks the past few seasons, they probably don't care too much where they play them, and that still might be their only complaint; the West is still the West, but this was as kind a schedule as it was possible to draw up for the Hogs.
Likes that: three of its four road games are visits to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The fourth is to Bryant-Denny, but after this year's murderous road slate, the Tigers will take what they can get--and three road games as a potential favorite is an awfully nice thing for any West team to get. As solid as Vandy looks to be in Year 2 of the James Franklin reclamation project, too, it's doubtful the Tigers will mind the Gamecocks and Gators rotating off the schedule and the Commodores rotating on.
Doesn't like that: the Alabama game is on the road, or that they have to deal with the general pain of having the East's current best team as an annual rival. But this schedule shapes up much more like the Tigers' palatable 2010 slate than their 2011 one.
Likes that: if the Gators actually haul themselves up into a position to contend for the East title, they'll get potential co-challengers South Carolina and Missouri in Gainesville. And it's an even year, which means four home games and three true road games to go with the neutral-site Cocktail Party.
Doesn't like that: they get the "honor" of being the first SEC team to visit Kyle Field for a conference game; think the Aggie faithful will be a little fired up for that one? Having LSU as an annual rival hurts there days, and even getting them at home doesn't help since the Gators would likely prefer to have a more beatable opponent in that slot. Tough to get a rougher West draw than that.
Likes that: for the second straight season, there's still no LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas on the schedule. Instead, the Bulldogs get Ole Miss at home--the single easiest West game it was possible for them to pull. In terms of raw 2011 win-loss, the Bulldogs have the easiest set of opponents in the league.
Doesn't like that: if the East comes down to one game against either South Carolina, Florida, or Missouri, all three are away from Athens; with Auburn on the road, too, it's arguable that not one of the Dawgs' four toughest opponents will come to Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs can't complain too loudly (if at all) given the teams they're facing out of the West, but this is still a much tougher road to hoe than they faced in 2011.
Likes that: they get annual cross-division opponent Mississippi State at home; given the other options out of the West, that's not so bad. Their traditional most winnable SEC game -- Vanderbilt -- comes at home in 2012, too.
Doesn't like that: their other West game is a trip to Arkansas, two precious home games are "wasted" on the potentially out-of-reach Bulldogs and Gamecocks, or that they have to travel to Knoxville when the Vols are as vulnerable as they've ever been. (Though given the choice, they'd have surely taken them at home in 2011 rather than '12.) When you're Kentucky, it's hard to put together a schedule that doesn't immediately seem like an impossible hill to climb.
Likes that: Alabama has to return to Baton Rouge for a guaranteed night game that could -- again -- decide the SEC West. Though the Tigers would maybe rather have their dates with the Mississippi schools on the road (since they'd likely beat them anywhere), getting the Bulldogs and Rebels for back-to-back November home games should provide a nice lead-in to the critical season-ending roadie at Arkansas.
Doesn't like that: aside from the Alabama game, the SEC did the defending champs no favors. Gators/Gamecocks is almost as touch a draw from the East as you can get; the Tigers have to start their SEC season with a pair of challenging roadies at Auburn and Florida; and the long-awaited renewal of their hot-blooded rivalry with Texas A&M will begin in College Station rather than the friendly confiens of Death Valley. All together, no SEC contender will face a more difficult quartet of road games than the Tigers will.
Likes that: the winnable games are at home. Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and Auburn shape up as arguably the four most vulnerable opponents on the rebels' 2012 slate, and all four come to Oxford. If the Rebels go winless in conference for a second straight season, they can't say the schedule didn't give them a reasonable opportunity.
Doesn't like that: the road slate is just this side of completely impossible: at Alabama, at Arkansas, at Georgia, at LSU. Toughest set of road games for one team in SEC history? It's in play. And for a team as currently woebegone as the Rebels are, drawing Kentucky or Tennessee instead of Georgia out of the East would have been very, very welcome.
Likes that: their date with Kentucky is in Lexington but their dates with Alabama and LSU in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge, respectively; the Bulldogs should beat the former anyway, while traveling to the latter saves their home games for more beat-able Auburn, Texas A&M, and Tennessee. And speaking of the Vols--could MSU have drawn anything better out of the East than at the Wildcats and home vs. Tennessee? No, no they could not have.
Doesn't like that: the all-important Egg Bowl is at Ole Miss. But other than that, this is about as pleasant a schedule as State could expect.
Likes that: they host Georgia in their SEC debut, giving them a chance to take control of the East race (in front of what should be one of their season's best crowds) right off the bat. That three-week home stand in the middle of the season -- one that includes both Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- could be a springboard to bigger things down the road. And even if the middle game of that stretch is Alabama, a potentially unfortunate pull from the West in terms of the win column, might as well start off your SEC tenure with a bang, right?
Doesn't like that: games against potential East rivals South Carolina and Florida both come on the road.
Likes that: they get Georgia and Missouri at home and could use that advantage to earn a key head-to-head tiebreaker. That's about it.
Doesn't like that: they're still stuck with Arkansas as their annual West game and add a road date with none other than LSU; no one in the East faces a tougher pair of cross-divisional games. Coming only one season after the Gamecocks' West draw arguably kept them out of Atlanta singlehandedly -- they traveled to face Arkansas (and lost) while Georgia went to Oxford to crush the hapless Rebels -- that's a tough, tough pill to swallow. Going to Gainesville is adding insult to injury.
Likes that: Kentucky comes to Neyland for the best possible shot at starting a new streak over the Wildcats, and as potential West opponents go, the Vols could be facing one more difficult than Mississippi State (even on the road). Hosting Florida to kick off the SEC season could give Derek Dooley's under-fire tenure a quick jumpstart, and hey, get this--the Third Saturday in October is actually scheduled for the third Saturday in October.
Doesn't like that: road games at Georgia and South Carolina should pretty much end any hope of a dark horse SEC East run before it starts. And not that anyone in Knoxville wants to drop the Tide, but that series pretty much guarantees the Vols will have a rougher West draw than a team like, say, oh, Georgia.
Likes that: they get one of the league's glamour teams for their SEC debut, hosting Florida on Sept. 8; adding the Gators and old rivals LSU to the home slate will make season tickets at Kyle Field as hot as they've been in years. Traveling to the Mississippi schools isn't nearly as daunting as traveling to some other SEC locations.
Doesn't like that: they get a looming three-game road stretch between October and November that features visits to both Auburn and Alabama. If their date with Arkansas stays in Dallas for one more season -- the Aggies want to move it to College Station and it's all-but-certain to become a home-and-home in 2013 -- they'd have just three SEC home games total, a la Georgia.
Likes that: they can immediately announce themselves as serious SEC East players with a home date against the Gamecocks, one that will open the entire 2012 SEC season on Aug. 30. Their annual cross-division rivalry with Ole Miss has never looked better, and their other West opponent -- Auburn -- must come to Nashville.
Doesn't like that: in the event of a loss to South Carolina, consecutive road trips to Georgia and Missouri could take the wind completely out of the Commodores' sails by the first week of October.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 2:02 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Bowl season rolls on unabated, and the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast rolls on as well with its bowl previews. On the show today the guys go over the bowl games being played from January 6th through the 9th, though not that one game that features Alabama and LSU. They'll have much more on that one later.
Instead they break down some interesting matchups in the Cotton Bowl, the BBVA Compass Bowl and the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Can Arkansas' Tyler Wilson have the same kind of success against the Kansas State defense that Brandon Weeden and Landry Jones had before him? Can Arkansas stop Collin Klein and Kansas State's rushing attack? Then there's talk about how SMU and Pitt match up with one another, and about a bowl game that may be a diamond in the rough between Northern Illinois and Arkansas State.
Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.
You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: December 28, 2011 10:34 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The most desired Christmas present was delivered a few days late for many die-hard SEC football fans. On Wednesday, the league finally released the conference schedule for 2012. This is the first official look at how a 14-team SEC with Missouri (SEC East) and Texas A&M (SEC West) shakes out for each school.
One early takeaway from the schedule on first glance is how it favors the reigning SEC East champion Georgia Bulldogs. Mark Richt's squad was able to bounce back from their 0-2 start and roll off 10 straight victories to earn a bid to the SEC title game. In that run through the conference schedule, the Bulldogs avoided a matchup with LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas. In 2012 Georgia will once again dodge all three opponents, drawing Ole Miss and Auburn as their cross-division foes.
Check out each team's slate below, and drop us your comments on what stands out heading into the 2012 SEC season on Facebook, Twitter (@EyeOnCFB), or in the comments section below.
Sept. 15: at Arkansas
Sept. 29: OLE MISS
Oct. 13: at Missouri
Oct. 20: at Tennessee
Oct. 27: MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 3: at LSU
Nov. 10: TEXAS A&M
Nov. 24: AUBURN
Sept. 15: ALABAMA
Sept. 29: vs. Texas A&M
Oct. 6: at Auburn
Oct. 13: KENTUCKY
Oct. 27: OLE MISS
Nov. 10: at South Carolina
Nov. 17: at Mississippi State
Nov. 24: LSU
Sept. 8: at Mississippi State
Sept. 22: LSU
Oct. 6: ARKANSAS
Oct. 13: at Ole Miss
Oct. 20: at Vanderbilt
Oct. 27: TEXAS A&M
Nov. 10: GEORGIA
Nov. 24: at Alabama
Sept. 8: at Texas A&M
Sept. 15: at Tennessee
Sept. 22: KENTUCKY
Oct. 6: LSU
Oct. 13: at Vanderbilt
Oct. 20: SOUTH CAROLINA
Oct. 27: vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 3: MISSOURI
Sept. 8: at Missouri
Sept. 22: VANDERBILT
Sept. 29: TENNESSEE
Oct. 6: at South Carolina
Oct. 20: at Kentucky
Oct. 27: vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
Nov. 3: OLE MISS
Nov. 10: at Auburn
Sept. 22: at Florida
Sept. 29: SOUTH CAROLINA
Oct. 6: MISSISSIPPI STATE
Oct. 13: at Arkansas
Oct. 20: GEORGIA
Oct. 27: at Missouri
Nov. 3: VANDERBILT
Nov. 24: at Tennessee
Sept. 22: at Auburn
Oct. 6: at Florida
Oct. 13: SOUTH CAROLINA
Oct. 20: at Texas A&M
Nov. 3: ALABAMA
Nov. 10: MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 17: OLE MISS
Nov. 24: at Arkansas
Sept. 29: at Alabama
Oct. 6: TEXAS A&M
Oct. 13: AUBURN
Oct. 27: at Arkansas
Nov. 3: at Georgia
Nov. 10: VANDERBILT
Nov. 17: at LSU
Nov. 24: MISSISSIPPI STATE
Sept. 8: AUBURN
Oct. 6: at Kentucky
Oct. 13: TENNESSEE
Oct. 27: at Alabama
Nov. 3: TEXAS A&M
Nov. 10: at LSU
Nov. 17: ARKANSAS
Nov. 24: at Ole Miss
Sept. 8: GEORGIA
Sept. 22: at South Carolina
Oct. 6: VANDERBILT
Oct. 13: ALABAMA
Oct. 27: KENTUCKY
Nov. 3: at Florida
Nov. 10: at Tennessee
Nov. 24: at Texas A&M
Aug. 30: at Vanderbilt
Sept. 22: MISSOURI
Sept. 29: at Kentucky
Oct. 6: GEORGIA
Oct. 13: at LSU
Oct. 20: at Florida
Oct. 27: TENNESSEE
Nov. 10: ARKANSAS
Sept. 15: FLORIDA
Sept. 29: at Georgia
Oct. 13: at Mississippi State
Oct. 20: ALABAMA
Oct. 27: at South Carolina
Nov. 10: MISSOURI
Nov. 17: at Vanderbilt
Nov. 24: KENTUCKY
Sept. 8: FLORIDA
Sept. 29: vs. Arkansas
Oct. 6: at Ole Miss
Oct. 20: LSU
Oct. 27: at Auburn
Nov. 3: at Mississippi State
Nov. 10: at Alabama
Nov. 24: MISSOURI
Aug. 30: SOUTH CAROLINA
Sept. 22: at Georgia
Oct. 6: at Missouri
Oct. 13: FLORIDA
Oct. 20: AUBURN
Nov. 3: at Kentucky
Nov. 10: at Ole Miss
Nov. 17: TENNESSEE
Any games you are already looking forward to? What team has an early advantage thanks to the 2012 schedule? Let us know your thoughts over at the Eye On College Football Facebook page.
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Tags: 2012 SEC Football Schedule, 2012 SEC Football Schedule Announced, 2012 SEC Football Schedule Released, 2012 SEC Schedule, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Chip Patterson, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana State, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, SEC, SEC Football, SEC Schedule, SEC Schedule Announced, SEC Schedule Printed, SEC Schedule Released, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Posted on: December 23, 2011 5:37 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The long wait to see exactly how the SEC has corralled its new 14-team monster of a league into its 2012 football schedule -- and on short notice, no less -- should be almost over.
According to a report Friday from Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun, the finished 2012 SEC schedule "is expected to be released Monday." The SEC's official Twitter feed confirmed Thursday that the schedule is in its "final stages" but would not be made public until after Christmas.
But to believe the sources who have spoken to Dooley, the process has already gone past those "final stages" to "completed." Among the impacts of the last-minute addition of Missouri to the SEC East, Dooley reports, is that Florida won't receive the returned home game from their cross-divisional rotation trip to Auburn this past season--nor will they get their new, expected rotated-in matchup against Ole Miss. Instead, the Gators will face only two West opponents (Texas A&M and annual cross-division rival LSU) while adding Missouri to their East slate.
Assuming that information is correct, it will put to bed once and for all the notion -- advanced in November by no less than South Carolina president Harris Pastides -- that the SEC is moving to a nine-game conference schedule for 2012. The SEC moved quickly to quash that suggestion at the time, and Mike Slive told the Birmingham News Thursday that he "[doesn't] sense any interest" in moving beyond the current eight-game arrangement.
But neither that statement nor the eight-game 2012 slate rules out a nine-game schedule in the league's future. Slive also confirmed that the 2012 schedule is intended as a one-year stopgap before the 2013 slate establishes the SEC's future divisional rotations, and pointedly added "Who knows what the future holds?" when asked about the possibility of nine games.
So some of the nagging questions about the new look SEC will (very likely) be answered on Monday. Some, though, are going to linger on for a good deal longer than that.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 3:59 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In 2008, SEC commissioner Mike Slive attempted to float a plus-one "playoff" proposal to revamp the BCS's method of determining a national champion. But even with the ACC's John Swofford also backing the idea and Slive wielding as much influence as anyone in college football, the proposal never got off the ground.
Ironically, that failure has done nothing but help Slive's league since then; buoyed (in part) by the conference's ever-growing reputation as the closest on-field product the college game has to the NFL, the SEC has won five straight national titles and will add a sixth when LSU faces off against Alabama on Jan. 9--a spot the Tide won in the polls over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State despite finishing second in the Tide's own division behind the Bayou Bengals.
So with the curent system playing to his teams' advantage like that, has Slive tempered his support for the plus-one? Judging from this interview with the Birmingham News, it doesn't sound like it:
"For the last six years, looking at it from our own prism, we were better off without it ... If I knew that for six more years it was going to work this way then I wouldn't be for the plus-one. But I think the law of averages catches up over time.Slive added that he would be "interested" to discover if conferences other than his own (and Swofford's) would support the plus-one if re-introduced. The Big 12 appears to be on board in the wake of the Oklahoma State snub, and while Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has not committed himself one way or another, his league's athletic directors have both voted in favor of one potential four-team playoff format and called the plus-one "inevitable." The Big Ten and Jim Delany may be the only holdouts, meaning that if Slive is still entirely behind the 2008 proposal (or something similar), there may be no stopping it when the BCS convenes in 2012.
Slive declined to discuss the likelihood of the dissolution of the BCS's automatic-qualifying status for conference champions, or other changes to the BCS selection process.
"There are lots of different ways to think about it and to overemphasize any one issue would be premature," he said.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:23 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Turns out that SEC football, particularly LSU's brand, isn't just popular in the United States. That billboard pictured above that wants you to know who's number one can be found in Afghanistan.
Now, odds are the message was spray-painted on the billboard by an American soldier currently in Afghanistan, but I'm going to pretend that it was done by an 11-year old child in the country who has never seen a single college football game in his life. It's just that the magic of Les Miles is so great that it transcends all borders, religion, and politics.
Oh, and the 11-year old kid that I like to pretend spray-painted it? Yeah, he's a Harris Poll voter too. They let everybody vote in that thing.
Hat tip: Kegs 'n Eggs