Thursday, November 10, 2005

How the SEC Was Won: Showdown Saturday

Sleep deprivation...loss of appetite...increased anxiety...mood swings...irritable bowels (oops, was that outloud?). All of these symptoms signal that a significant event in a person's life is looming on the horizon. While for most people the momentous occurences that cause such indicators to arise tend to be incidents in which they are directly involved, there are a pathetic few (myself included) that experience these warning signs for reasons that really just aren't plausible. Exhibit A: This weekend's slate of football games in the Southeastern Conference. November 12, 2005, could end up being one of the most memorable days of football ever played below the Mason Dixon Line. And for that reason, Chris, Lee, and Kirk have decided that they should actually come down and pay a visit despite their (and the rest of the nation's) recent disrespect for football played in the South. With the divisional races still wide open with less than 3 weeks left, no weekend is more important as both the East and the West could actually be clinched by Sunday morning, or the suspense could grow even more. In case you still haven't figured out the implications of this upcoming weekend, let me offer some assistance by breaking down each contender's outlook heading into Saturday. First, the East...If Georgia beats Auburn and Kentucky, then they go to Atlanta. However, if they lose either one of these games, and Florida beats South Carolina, then the Gators go because they win the head-to-head tie-breaker. But if Florida loses to South Carolina, Georgia could lose both of their games and still make it because there would be a 3-way tie at the top between these 3 teams with the tie-breaker favoring the Bulldogs because their 2-1 record against the West would be better than either of the other 2's record of 1-2. Now, we go West...If Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn, then they get to play the extra game. If LSU loses to Alabama, then they're out. But, if Alabama loses to LSU, and LSU proceeds to defeat Ole Miss and Arkansas, then they go. If LSU loses one of these final 2 games, though, Alabama can still make it with a win over Auburn. If Alabama beats LSU, and Auburn loses to Georgia, the Iron Bowl won't even be a factor in determining who goes. But, if Alabama beats LSU, and Auburn beats Georgia, then the winner of the Iron Bowl will go. Finally, if LSU beats Alabama, and Auburn beats both Georgia and Alabama, then LSU has to win both of its remaining games to keep Auburn from going to Atlanta. But if Auburn loses to Georgia and beats Alabama (given that LSU beats Bama as well), then LSU only has to win one of its remaining 2 games because they'll have the head-to-head tie-breaker against Auburn...So now, since that's as clear as mud, just look at the predictions below, and you'll be happy to see that none of these scenarios will ever have to be analyzed again because the race will end this weekend when the 2 leaders (Georgia and Alabama) take care of business and clinch their divisions...

Alabama 21, LSU 10. When 5th year seniors Brodie Croyle, Roman Harper, Freddie Roach, etc...dressed out for the 1st time under the Bryant-Denny Lights for the UCLA game during their Redshirt Freshman year, the Gameday Crew made its 1st trip to Tuscaloosa to witness an underdog team (the Bruins) pull out a win. Almost 5 football seasons and no championships later, ESPN's celebrated college football personalities will be on hand again to see these seniors off as they suit up for the last time at the Capstone. And again, the underdog (LSU is a 3 point favorite) will prevail. In spite of Bama's 9-0 record, unparalleled defensive dominance, and knack for winning big games this season, the Tide still doesn't have the respect of others. Therefore, a statement game is strongly needed against a top 5 team this weekend, and the Tigers' 2 turnovers & 9 penalties per game average along with just a 37% 3rd down conversion rate should allow such a statement to be made. Look for seniors to lead Alabama in its most complete game (offense, defense, & special teams) of the season as they end their playing days in Byrant-Denny on their highest note.

Georgia 19, Auburn 16. If only DJ Shockley wouldn't have missed the Florida game, the Bulldogs would have already clinched the SEC East and would still be undefeated. But, injuries are part of the game. Luckily for Mark Richt, though, his QB's injury wasn't season-ending. On the other hand, Tommy Tuberville probably isn't as excited to see Tereshinski III back performing his normal duties as longsnapper because, up to this point, the Plainsmen have beaten only 1 IA team (South Carolina) with a winning record. And that win came when the Gamecocks starting QB Blake Mitchell was out with an injury. So, when Auburn is forced to actually beat a legitimate team that has its 1st string signal caller, look for the Tigers to do as well as they did against Georgia Tech and LSU. Let's just hope the 3 point margin of defeat isn't John Vaughn's fault again...for his sake.

Florida 27, South Carolina 14. The conference home opener against Alabama was supposed to be fun. Returning to Knoxville to pick up where he left off was nice. But the game that the Ol' Ball Coach has really been looking forward to is this one. When Steve Spurrier's Gators (yes, I'd say he still has more influence in Gainesville than anyone else) come to visit his Gamecocks this Saturday, many more eyes than usual will be on what usually is a ho-hum contest between Eastern Division foes. When Spurrier was at Florida, he created a monster that destroyed just about anything in its sight. While the Gators are no longer such a dominant force, the monster does reappear on occasion. This week would be a pretty opportunistic time for the monster to make such an appearance when Urban Meyer's ballclub faces a team that has won 4 straight. As explained earlier, the Gators' championship hopes would be ended with a loss this weekend. But even if they win, they still might not go to Atlanta despite beating every other team in their division--a feat that has only occured one other time in SEC history (if you don't count the 93 Auburn team on probation). Ironically, the other instance also involved a Gator team led by a 1st year coach in 2002 when Ron Zook beat every team in the East, but, you guessed it, Georgia represented the East because it had the better overall conference record. Funny how history has a way of repeating itself. Even though Spurrier has already accomplished his 1st season goal of going to a bowl game by becoming bowl-eligible last week, he hasn't quite achieved his more lofty aspiration of making the Gamecocks one of the SEC elite, so don't expect them to attain that status by knocking off another of the Big 3 this weekend.

Ole Miss 20, Arkansas 14. (I know you've missed this!) Never befOre have 2 teams drOpped as drastically as the Rebels and RazOrbacks simply by lOsing their multi-year starting quarterback. Ever since Eli left OxfOrd, Ole Miss has been 4-9 in cOnference play; and Arkansas hasn't wOn a single game in the SEC since Matt JOnes left. SO, it shOuld cOme as nO surprise that these 2 teams that depeneded sO heavily On their quarterbacks are still desparately trying tO find the recipe tO replace them. Last week, HOustOn Nutt wasted 7 weeks (and anOther year dOwn the rOad) Of quarterbacking by giving (what was suppOsed tO have been redshirt) true freshman Casey Dick nOt Only his 1st start but alsO his 1st game-time experience at all. Needless tO say, the HOgs still lOst. This week, COach O is jOining in On the fun by sitting Micheal SpurlOck and starting Ethan Flatt. Since Dick will be experiencing anOther 1st this weekend (playing On the rOad), Ethan Flatt's bOys shOuld have the "edge"--term used extremely lOOsely. Since bOth Of these teams eliminated themselves frOm cOntentiOn in the Western DivisiOn race sOmetime during the preseasOn, this game may appear to be insignificant. But with a win Over Arkansas On Saturday, Ole Miss will clinch the 4th place spOt in the West, which, using the Rebels' standards, is bannerwOrthy.

Tennessee 27, Memphis 10. There's no need to adjust your monitor. That really is a 27 next to Tennessee. Despite their offensive struggles this season, last week's 21 point production was a sign that the Vols might actually have solved a couple of problems. The improvement should continue this week since Fulmer's team is playing a defense coached by "highly acclaimed" Joe Lee Dunn. How Dunn ever became such a sought-after and respected coordinator might be a greater mystery than the collapse of the Volunteer program during the 2005 season. Memphis has given up over 20 points in 6 of 8 games this season, and the Tigers have surrendered 0ver 30 3 times. This Tiger High generosity is due largely in part to the "innovative" schemes of Dunn such as playing 2 down linemen against a UAB team that continued to run it down their throats. While U cheaT may no longer have an offensive coordinator, any body with an IQ over 100 could figure out a way to score on the Tigers. So, expect the Vols to keep their bowl hopes alive by avoiding their 5th straight loss. Fortunately for Memphis, it won't exactly be time to panic because they still have 2 very winnable games left to make them bowl eligible.

Well, there you have it folks. In closing, I'd like to point everyone's attention to the fact that Notre Dame has actually dropped in my Top 15. I know this is impossible for some of you to believe, but I am finally growing weary of the love shown to the Irish this year despite their loss to an unranked team and only beating one ranked team. That should never warrant a BCS at-large bid. Anyways, hope you enjoyed the All-SEC version this week, and enjoy the weekend....O yea, 1 more thing. I was actually told this week that, in essence, it was George W. Bush's fault that Southern Miss lost to Alabama earlier in the season b/c the Eagles would've won the game had it not been for Hurricane Katrina...and we all know who caused Katrina don't we???


Anonymous Russell said...

I did say that Southern Miss wins if its their second game of the year and i really didnt say it was W's fault. I left that up to your right hand man HoJo! Remember that's what they are teaching you guys at Bama!

Thursday, November 10, 2005 7:10:00 PM  
Anonymous sandy said...

I am going to miss reading these when the best season of the year draws to a close. they have been great . It has become a Friday morning ritual.

Friday, November 11, 2005 7:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it just me, or is anybody else worried about sandy? he actually reads this thing every Friday morning....

Friday, November 11, 2005 9:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not that it really matters but the hogs beat the rebels

Friday, November 11, 2005 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

anonymous -It's just you

Friday, November 11, 2005 1:42:00 PM  
Anonymous rags said...

I hate to be the guy to say this, but im pretty sure you missed every single game this week! Oh and how is the BM!

Sunday, November 13, 2005 3:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ben W said...

Red pants? Darn you Kyle, you cost us the game

Monday, November 14, 2005 8:33:00 PM  
Anonymous the O Zone said...

kyle i need to know if you are still alive? o yea who are you going to be pulling for in the ole miss-lsu game?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous the O Zone said...

I was reading the Spirit ealier today and laughed out loud at this. Someone had a post asking what time the State/Ole Miss game was and if it had a shot to be on tv. The next poster responded, "7:00 a.m. on the Cartoon Network.", who puts pics of themselves on the comments page, come on who really does that?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

After a crushing loss to the hands of the Bengal Tigers, the Crimson Tide wants to exact its revenge on another set of Tigers this Saturday on the Not so Loveliest Village on the Plains.
Since throwing for 4 interceptions against Ga. Tech, Brandon Cox has thrown 10 touchdown passes to only 3 interceptions since the opening week loss. Al Borges likes to call alot of play action roll outs, screens to the running backs and deep passes to receivers like Devin Aromashodu, Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu and Anthony Mix.
With a 187 yard performance against LSU, Brodie Croyle became Alabama's all-time leading passer surpassing Andrew Zow. This week, the offensive line and wide receivers will need to step up their performance after a dismal second half against the Bengal Tigers. The o-line allowed Croyle to be sacked 5 times in their last game and the wide outs dropped 7 passes. However, the offense committed 0 turnovers last week.
To the hardwood, Alabama comes off a hard fought 64-58 win over a well-coached Miami (OH) team that won the MAC Regular Season title last season. The Tide faces Memphis tomorrow night at 9 pm on ESPN2 in the newly renovated Coleman Coliseum. One player that really impressed me last night was Alonzo Gee. He scored 8 points in the second half against Miami (OH). Gee showed a knack for playing the passing lane and tightly guarding the perimeter, something that was sorely lacking from last season. Bama will have to be on their A-game defensively to slow down Darius Washington, Rodney Carney and the Tigers from Memphis.
By the way, I will be doing Alabama men's basketball Sunday as they face Alabama State. You can hear me online via the UA campus radio station WVUA-FM at the link provided below. The audio link will be at the bottom of the page.
Air time will be at 5:45 with a 6:00 tipoff.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005 1:10:00 PM  
Anonymous the O zone said...

someone needs to inform james that this is a comments page not an opportunity to write his own blog, thanks, management

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 7:16:00 PM  
Anonymous russell said...

Seriously, and does kyle not have to answer to his predictions when they go bad? I mean I know you are sooo busy Kyle, but you took the time once to argue that a Marathon was more COMPLEX than a NASCAR race so you must make time for us.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:27:00 AM  

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