Thursday, September 15, 2005

Start Your Engines...

The conference championship races are about to begin and with many supposed contenders' national title hopes presumably squandered in just the first 2 weeks of the season (Oklahoma, Miami, all of the "Big 11"), winning the conference crown and securing an automatic BCS bid in one of the "also ran" bowls is all they can hope for--except of course for the Sooners who seem to always get a shot, regardless. But, accomplishing such a feat is not all that bad of a consolation prize for these teams with high preseason hopes; still, for others it would be just as rewarding as winning it all. So, the next 2 weeks of this 2005 season can be anticipated even more than the first 2 weeks since by the time October rolls around every team will have played at least one opponent from its own conference. While there will always be heated debate over which of the major conferences is indeed the toughest to not only play in but also to win (SEC hands-down), watching these races unfold is just as exciting regardless of the region of the country in which they're being run. Therefore, let's take a look and see who will be this year's frontrunners...

Alabama 24, South Carolina 20. If you read the top of the page, you might think that my only justification for picking the the Tide in this one is because I'm somewhat biased. However, there is some legitmate reasoning why it's a safe bet to pick Bama to win even after a seemingly less-than-impressive 2-0 start. Last Saturday night, Mike Shula's team did what Crimson Tide fans never thought possible: overcome a double digit deficit. Even though the offensive line and kicking game may have reached an all-time low, the Bama defense did its job once again by not letting the game get out of reach, and the offense finally appeared to have found a groove in the passing game as career numbers were put up by Brodie Croyle, Tyrone Protho, and DJ Hall. However, Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks accomplished another near impossible feat by playing Georgia to a close game "between the hedges." But we're not playing horseshoes, and we're definitely not throwing hand grenades. Therefore, even in spite of a valiant effort by SEC passing leader Blake Mitchell, the best South Carolina could do was bring home a moral victory. So, when the Tide kicks it off against Steve Spurrier on Saturday for the first time since beating him twice in 1999, maybe Darth Visor can pull out another moral victory to start off 2-0 in SEC play.

Vanderbilt 17, Ole Miss 14. BOb Dylan's famOus lyric, "the times, they are a changing," might be the best way tO summarize what's been happening in the Vanderbilt fOOtball prOgram this seasOn. Usually, a hOme date against Vandy is a certain "W," but sOmehOw, BObby JOhnsOn's team has changed its lOsing ways as Vanderbilt has nOt Only wOn its first 2 games, which were bOth On the rOad, but the Commodores have alsO dOne sO in dramatic cOmeback fashiOn. Behind the leadership Of 10th year seniOr Jay Cutler (SEC leader in tOtal Offense), the COmmOdOre passing attack has becOme One Of the best in the SEC averaging 276.5 yds per game. TherefOre, this will be a stark cOntrast tO what the Rebels saw in their Opener against a Memphis team playing withOut its starting QB and leading wide receiver, sO Michael SpurlOck and CO. better prOduce mOre than their 262 yards and One TD drive of less than 20 yards that they had against the Tigers in Order tO beat Vandy this year. But with the OppOrtunity Of having its first 3 game winning streak since 1999 and first 3-0 start since 1984, dOn't expect Vanderbilt tO blOw anOther clOse One with Ole Miss. Therefore, when the Rebels leave Nashville this weekend, "COach O" will mean "COach O-1 in the SEC" as Vanderbilt gets clOser and clOser tO bOwl eligibility.(Note: If the capitalized "O's" threw you for a loop, refer back to week 1's picks.)

Notre Dame 30, Michigan State 21. There may not be a conference title for the Fighting Irish to chase. But after the last couple of weeks many fans have started talking about a national title. Let's not put the cart before the horse, though, as Charlie Weis' team still has games against Purdue, USC, and Tennessee on the schedule. And this week Notre Dame is pitted against the ever feisty nemesis of Michigan State, a team that abruptly ended Wisconsin's run for a title last November. This season the Spartans have outscored their opponents 105-31, but this lopsided margin was posted in home games against the 102nd and 103rd ranked teams in the nation. On the other hand, the Irish have gone on the road into 2 hostile environments and knocked off what were at the time a Top 25 team and a Top 5 team, respectively. Therefore, when Notre Dame plays its first game under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus on Saturday, it'll be Michigan State who's sending up the prayers.

Boston College 26, Florida State 17. The Eagles of Boston College are lucky enough to get to play their first ever ACC contest against Florida State, a team that didn't suffer its first ACC loss until its 4th season in the conference. And the Seminoles haven't lost many since, either, which is exactly why the "Almost Champions Conference" went out and stole reputable football programs from the Big East 2 summers ago. This move by the conference to gain more respect on the gridiron paid off in its first season a year ago as Virginia Tech took home the conference trophy in its first tour. Now, BC arrives looking to do the same. In order to keep that dream alive, though, Tom O'Brien's squad must first beat Bobby Bowden's. This, however, shouldn't be as tough as it might've been in years past, primarily because there's no Charlie Ward, Warrick Dunn, Peter Warrick, et. al. to run Papa Bowden's offense. Instead, there's a Drew Weatherford who, in his only other game of the season against a Division IA team, threw for all of 67 yards on 7-24 passing. And last week against an explosive Citadel team, Weatherford was able to lead his team to an impressive first half score of 13-10. Therefore, it might be harder for a fan to get a ticket to get in minute Alumni Stadium (capacity 44,500) than for BC to take down Free Shoes University.


Florida 31, Tennessee 21. After having the week off (funny how the Vols always have the week off before the Florida and Alabama games) to correct the mistakes that almost cost them the game against UAB a couple of weeks ago, Tennessee begins its 2-week road trip to Top 10 powerhouses Florida and LSU. This time around though, when Phil Fulmer goes to the swamp, he won't be facing a Gator team coached by a man that inspired the first ever "fire(insert coach's name here).com." Instead, he'll be facing a team coached by the Urban Legend, himself. But does a coach really matter that much? Or is it really the players that win games? Well, if you ask the pollsters, they would definitely say the former. Just look at the difference between the final 2004 rankings and the 2005 preseason rankings. At the end of last season, Urban Meyer's Utah squad was ranked 4th in the nation while Florida was not ranked. However, in the opening polls of this season, the Utes were nowhere to be found in the Top 25, but the Gators had miraculously moved up to number 10. Since that time, Florida has done nothing but affirm the media's partiality to Meyer by winning its first 2 games by an average of 30 points, thereby moving up to the 6th spot in the AP poll. While the Gators won't be playing a juco team this week, the Vols may have spells where they resemble one if Erik Ainge gets his time under center. Since Fulmer has already said that Ainge will get to share some of the snaps, the 2 quarterback system will gain another victim as Florida, led by just one quarterback who happens to be a Heisman candidate, will roll to victory and give Urban Meyer his 19th straight win and 1st in the SEC. Good news for UT fans though, when drowning in the swamp, Phillip Fulmer may be used as a floatation device.

Well, that's what I have for this week. As you read this, I'll have started my weekend early as I am embarking on Road Trip #1 of the 2005 season to Columbia. So, feel free to leave your comments, but I might not be able to see them for a couple of days. I'm sure that someone else will disagree with you though if you have a bone to pick. Anyways, some possible games for next week are Alabama vs Arkansas, Georgia vs Mississippi St, Tennessee vs LSU, Iowa vs Ohio State, and Notre Dame vs Purdue. Let me know what games you'd like to see. The votes really do matter as evidenced by the Vandy-Ole Miss game making this weeks docket. Also, be sure and nominate your pimp/wimp. Until next time...

41 Comments:

Blogger mattkeathley said...

no coverage of the game of the week, MSU-Tulane...I'm shocked and appalled. Nice pick on the Ole miss vandy game though

Thursday, September 15, 2005 2:57:00 PM  
Blogger Josh Manley said...

Delta State plays what will be a pivotal D2 game this weekend in Florence, Alabama against the UNA. The Statesmen really need this one to take a major step in bringing home the GSC crown. Although it will be close, the Okra will squeak this one out 38-35.

Word has it that the Mason Lowe will be watching the Dores take on the rebs this weekend in the DC area.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 3:04:00 PM  
Blogger Josh Manley said...

Matt -- I thought Mississippi State gave their football program the ax. If they didn't, I hear Delta State is looking for a Homecoming opponent for next year and would love to schedule them.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 3:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Ralph said...

Some tough picks this week. A lot of games that can go either way- You come out 4-1 this week and I will be overly impressed.
Ralph

Thursday, September 15, 2005 3:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

Kyle,
I'm very impressed at your blogging skills. Keep up the good work. RTR

Thursday, September 15, 2005 5:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

delta state sux.

you fogot an O in therefore dumbass. 17-14 is a copout call.

S the teacher

Thursday, September 15, 2005 6:09:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Good picks this week, Kyle. I think Jay Cutler and the Vanderbilt offense will put up 7 to 10 more points than you have predicted even against a somewhat improved Ole Miss defense.
Other than that, it's nearing that time to head over to the Palmetto state and roast a fighting chicken or two.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 6:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Batson said...

I'm starting to think you are an auburn fan, what with your hating on the sooners and glorified view of the SEC, which has merit this year but did not last year.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 7:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Batson said...

P.S. The Notre Dame sympathy better end now or I will know you are no true bama fan.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 7:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Russell said...

Just one comment on you outlook for Alabama. Im not sure if you were there or not but they close a double digit deficit against Southern Miss, not to be confused with Southern University except on the football field. I love the Eagles and you know this, but I can't let you get away with that crazy optimism. O and My C-town hero will rush for over 100 this week and punish in the 4th quarter. Ole Miss rolls, although you picking Vandy is somewhat refreshing.

Friday, September 16, 2005 6:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Russell said...

Ok and I just have two more things...
1. Basketball season 05-06 will put an end to your ACC bashing 2. I love that you are taking a road trip to my home town 3.(just becaue i dont know how to shut up) I can handle Alabama every week, but Notre Dame? Every Week? Im with your brother, Id rather you cover the Fighting Okra than the Irish. JMO

Friday, September 16, 2005 6:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Paula said...

I'm in agreement on all of your picks. I hope you are 100%!!
See ya in Columbia...Roll Tide!!

Friday, September 16, 2005 6:22:00 AM  
Blogger BOSSHOG said...

I am looking forward to your pick next week against ARKANSAS. I agree totally witH you tHis week, we will talk more on Monday.

Friday, September 16, 2005 7:42:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Russell, Southern Miss has given Alabama tough games going back to Coach Bryant's days in Tuscaloosa.
For instance, Coach Bryant's last two teams spanked some of Joe Paterno's finest Penn State teams including his first national championship team in 1982. Southern Miss tied Alabama in 1981 and gave the Bear his final home loss the following year. During the last national championship season, it took a stingy defense and a 72 yard pass from the punter to beat Southern Miss.
By the way, there is a reason why both Miss. State and Ole Miss have not played a game with USM for 15 and 21 years respectively. It's because the Golden Eagles beat both teams on a regular basis.
The bottom line is that playing Southern Miss is more beneficial, except in the eyes of northern media elites, than playing teams like Baylor, Duke, Indiana and Illinois.

Friday, September 16, 2005 7:44:00 AM  
Blogger horner said...

kyle, i'm down with russell about the irish...make sure you don't turn into NBC broadcasting the domers weekly. good picks this week. Bama-SC could go either way though.

Russell, nobody loves bball more than me, but what's up with talking ACC basketball in Sept?

Anonymous, shut your dirty mouth and put your name on the blog...

Friday, September 16, 2005 7:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Russell said...

Im with you on the potty mouth Horner. And sorry about the basketball comment, its just that he said almost champions conference. North Carolina, Hello! jk

James, believe me I am very aware of what the long standing series between Southern Miss and Alabama consists of, but Southern Miss doesnt get the name Giant Killers for no reason. It may not be the reason that you are thinking, however. It's because they are so far from even contending as a Giant. I bleed black and gold, but you guys beating us has become the rule, not the exception. Therefore I cant allow you guys to boast enormously about a come from behind season breaker for you and maker for us. As for Ole Miss and State not playing Southern, I used to wrestle this, but there is clearly no gain for anyone in the situation but Southern Miss. So we will continue to play Tulane and TCU for rival games and hang on to the patriotic conference as if it were a life-line. sorry for the long posts, but at least it was clean!!

Friday, September 16, 2005 8:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Payne said...

Somebody always has to mention that dead guy the bear huh?

Friday, September 16, 2005 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

start picking against the spread

Friday, September 16, 2005 1:33:00 PM  
Anonymous the O zone said...

kyle, you really suck at picking games. what happened to you, at one point you were so good at it. first, ole miss is due for a huge blowout against vandy so expect that to come in about 12 hrs. theres no way bama has a chance againt the COCKS especially when brody (or whatever his name is) gets his leg torn off. Bamam goes down in Columbia. Mike Shula is still a punk B*TCH puppet!

Friday, September 16, 2005 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey mr o zone... its a good thing this isnt your blog cause nobody would ever come back after your predictions. And whats with the potty mouth?

Saturday, September 17, 2005 2:10:00 PM  
Blogger JennyMoree said...

Nice job picking the Dores against the Weebils, Kyle, but I'm tired of you not giving State any respect.

Saturday, September 17, 2005 2:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O zone sounds like a typical reb. Too bad your woman beater coach couldn't beat on the dores. Wasn't he like an assistant defensive line coach last year? Cutcliffe aint lookin so bad now, is he?

Saturday, September 17, 2005 7:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Ralph said...

Great Picks
3-2 with Notre Dame and BC both coming down to the final minutes. I am impressed.

Sunday, September 18, 2005 8:11:00 AM  
Blogger Kyle Manley said...

well, it looks like this week's picks really caused a stir. i'm somewhat disappointed in my 3-2 record, but o well, my irish just didn't come through for me. maybe they will next week against the big 11 powerhouse purdue. also, i should've know bc wouldn't win b/c the only upset they ever pull off is against, well, notre dame. anyways, glad you enjoyed it and let me know what games you'd like for next week, besides the alabama game of course...

one more thing...i like the commenting, but just try and use a more extensive vocabulary sometimes. like, if i miss an "o", try and make up something a/b my literacy struggles or something. also, continuing to post the same stupid comment a/b mike shula is neither appropriate nor funny. if you think, he's a bad coach. fine. just try and be a little more creative w/ how you express it instead of sounding like a drunk redneck. other than that...enjoyed reading the comments after spending all weekend on the road and look forward to discussing things w/ everyone next week

Sunday, September 18, 2005 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Welcome to the SEC...Coach "O"-1. He looks so classy on the sidelines with the slobber coming out of his mouth and ranting on the sidelines, but I guess his wife is happy because if he is on the sidelines he can't be beating her too...I love the fact that Ole Miss thinks because people dress up for games they have class...kind of like putting cologne on a homeless man to make him smell good...too bad Ole Miss real SEC schedule starts now..oh yeah, "O Zone" you're brilliant..it comes through in your writing...just accept the fact that it is going to be another 4-7 year and you will never go to the ATL..no matter who you hire...even if he is such a big name as Oregeon (or however you spell it)

Sunday, September 18, 2005 4:29:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Kyle, Notre Dame plays Washington this week. Some games that I think you should pick are Purdue-Minnesonta or Ga. Tech-Va Tech.
By the way the Ole Miss head coach's last name is Orgeron.

Sunday, September 18, 2005 5:39:00 PM  
Blogger Kyle Manley said...

thanks for pointing that out. i guess i just overlooked the huskies. let's hope the irish don't do the same...

Sunday, September 18, 2005 6:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Russell said...

Let's hope we dont have to read about the Irish on this blog next week. Actually i dont mind it much, but i think if you cover ND and Bama every week you have to add another game.
Kyle, 45 x 29 = ? I sure do miss that!

Sunday, September 18, 2005 7:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ben W said...

Kyle, enjoy the blog, and I would like to see maybe a PAC-10 pick this week, say the USC/Oregon game? Also I wanted your input on the Michigan/Wisconsin game as well...Roll Tide

Monday, September 19, 2005 8:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely Great picks for pimp/wimp of the week. This blog is getting better by the week.

Monday, September 19, 2005 2:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Ralph said...

Step ot on the limb and do three ACC games along with the LSU/TENN and Ala-Ark
Va Tech Ga Tech
Colorado-Miami
BC-Clemson

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 1:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pick against the spread...you picked 4 out of the 5 favorites last week..anyone can do that...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 1:51:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Once again this week, another Alabama receiver is a nominee for Alabama Game Changing Performance. This week it is Keith Brown's first quarter 46 yard catch to put Alabama ahead 14-7. Vote for Brown's exciting catch and run in an important victory for Alabama.

ESPN Game Changing Performance

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 3:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Ralphus said...

Maybe you should all visit the Wizard. He picks winners, too:

http://www.thewizardofodds.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous sandy said...

it is not the picks but the narratives that keep me coming back- Game descriptions are extremely creative. Enjoy reading them each week

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 7:38:00 AM  
Blogger horner said...

sandy, well said. If you want someone to help with a gambling habit this is not the place...no offense kyle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 8:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

S the teacher sux.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:42:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Alright, here is a few things you'll need to know about the upcoming Alabama-Arkansas game.

Arkansas loves to run the football. They are 3rd in America in rushing offense with 291 yards per game. Their passing though is extremely limited. Only 4 players have caught more than 1 pass on the year. Their only threat at wide receiver is sophomore Marcus Monk. He has caught 14 passes for 169 yards with 4 touchdowns. The completion of the year for Arkansas was a 29 yard completion against Vanderbilt. The Razorback defense ranks at or near the bottom of the SEC in nearly every statistical category. They are 103rd in America in pass defense (294 yards per game), 95th in run defense (196.7 yards per game), 111th in total defense (494 yards per game) and 108th in scoring defense (38 points per game).
I know that USC inflated a lot of those numbers, but if you take last week's performance away, their defense is still not something to write home about. Even Division 1-AA Missouri State gained 335 total yards on Arkansas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ARKANSAS is terrible and an embarassment to the SEC. To go to USC and not even give somewhat of a respectable showing makes me think we should consider kicking the hogs out of the conference. They need to get that cheerleader they have for a coach off of the sidelines and get someone that actually knows football.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger BOSSHOG said...

if anyone is an embarassement to the sec it is oxford high school. they cant even go to wyoming and make a respectful showing. do you run the sec, who is we. how many times has ohs played in the conference championship game? we will see how the cheerleader does against the tide.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 6:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Russell said...

Ok guys seriously! You are arguing about the worst teams in the SEC! Yep Vandy gave that their spot up. But if you could just curb your egos for a minute and realize that its a bad year for both programs. It was a bad year for Arkansas to play USC. Even two years ago might have been better, simply because Arkansas had an offensive attack and somewhat of a defense. As for Ole Miss, their best linebacker is running the ball 5 times a game and their offensive line blocks about as much as the morning after pill blocks a vinereal disease. Stop arguing about the embarassments of the SEC and celebrate the greatness of the conference. Take a look at the teams that haven't been their in a while, or ever. Georgia, Vandy, and dont look now, but South Carolina will do the same. JMO oh and dont forget to check my link out! Esp. you Horner!

Thursday, September 22, 2005 1:16:00 PM  

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