Tag Archive for 'SEC'

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Cole Brock’s EndZone

The Less of the Best

It’s good to be right, but its really good when’s it’s about Auburn being overrated. Oh come on, my crimson blood hasn’t shown through too much so far. Auburn’s loss, as I called it, was predictable. But there’s more to this; the media loves unbeatens, auburnregardless of whom they’ve gone unbeaten against. Auburn is still the same team the media said was average at the beginning of the season, why are they top-25 worthy now? They went unbeaten against teams with a combined record of 10 – 17; to me that doesn’t warrant a ranking or hype. Auburn is a decent team and they should’ve beaten the teams they did but they’re right where I thought they’d be. I’m not picking on only thenotre_dameTigers, there are definitely others as well. Michigan probably got a little too much love too quick, and Notre Dame’s ranking is a joke. We’ll see whether Notre Dame deserves it’s current ranking this week, but as of now I can’t see anything they’ve done to deserve it. Notre Dame’s offense is very good; Jimmy Clausen may be playing the quarterback position better than anyone in the nation right now. But their defense is terrible, specifically the secondary and line. Penn State was vastly overrated at the beginning of the season, but I can’t understand why they still are. The only ranked team they’ve played, Iowa, dominated them. Their offense was shut down pure and simple. Their defense has played good, but it needs to play great until their offense can get it together. They’ve only beaten two opponents with winning records, Temple (3-2) and Eastern Illinois (4-2), members of the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1- AA.

The Best of the Best

Alabama is now the #2 team in the nation and if they keep it up, it looks like they’ll stay there until their inevitable Dec 5 meeting with #1 Florida. If this #1, #2 match-up pans out, it will be the second year in a row the SEC championship has been a de facto alabamasemifinal for the National Title Game. Florida faced their toughest challenge last week against LSU, and they’ll likely be favored in every game, the rest of the regular season, by at least two touchdowns. South Carolina is their biggest threat and how monumental would it be if Spurrier could foil Florida’s SEC championship and NC dreams? Alabama still has South Carolina, LSU and recently rejuvenated Tennessee all in a row, but the Tidefloridahas more than impressed so far and they should get through this stretch unscathed. Texas’s schedule isn’t much easier with the Red River Rivalry coming up next week and a tricky road stretch against Missouri and Oklahoma State following. They have Kansas at home but I’m not sure that’ll be much of a test. Any slip up and Texas’s NC hopes will be seriously diminished. If USC and VT finish out the season unbeaten it’ll be all up to the computers. Predicting that isn’t an exact science either, but my vote goes to a one-loss VT team. With Cincinnati and Iowa’s week schedules they could go undefeated and still not top any of the one-loss big shots. It sucks and it’s not right but that’s the BCS, just ask any Auburn fan. An undefeated TCU won’t get the NC bid either. Ask any Utah fan about the BCS and see what they think. And if TCU and Boise State both go undefeated Boise won’t even make a BCS game. This might actually be a good thing. The more controversy the better; I don’t see the NCAA changing the current bowl system anytime soon, but something will happen sometime.

Here’s Nick Saban’s take on the current BCS system, courtesy of Rivals.com. To read the whole interview click here.

NICKSABAN250_1117A“I think if we had a plus-one system where we used the current bowl system to pick the top four teams — maybe eight, but let’s just say four — it would eliminate some of the controversy. Auburn got left out [in 2004]; USC got left out when we won the national championship at LSU [in 2003]. Somebody always gets left out. But four teams, you would get it right. Use two of the BCS bowls each year to play two of the games and a week or 10 days later have a national championship. I think that would keep a lot more people in the mix right down toward the end of the season. There could be 10 or 12 teams that might be able to get into the top four, depending on what may happen. It would create a lot of interest and a lot of excitement.”

I tend to agree, Nick.

The Mess of the Rest

Georgia’s about as hard to understand as quantum physics. A year and six weeks ago, Georgia was the best in the land, “numero uno.” Now Richt’s boys are 3-3, (2-2) in the SEC and off to their worst start since ’96. We knew their offense might struggle with georgiathe losses of #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford and fellow first rounder Knowshon Moreno. But no one expected their defense to be this bad. They rank 100 nationally in scoring defense giving up 30.7 ppg, and rank 74 in total defense giving up 377.2 ypg. Their 2008 rankings weren’t nearly this bad with season ending rankings of 58 (24.5 ppg) and 22 (312.0 ypg) respectively. Florida State isn’t exactly elementary stuff either. Their trouncing of BYU at Levell Edwards Stadium was impressive, but everything else has been dreadful. Their defense has been blitzed by much worse offenses than BYU’s, and their offense has struggled against much worse defenses than BYU’s. I guess I should forget that game but no matter how you look at it, it doesn’t make sense. Bobby Bowden’s loomingflorida_stateretirement may have something to do with the sporadic play of the Seminole’s. And I can’t blame them; distractions are distractions no matter how much you try to block them out. In case no one knew, the “anemic spasm” I referred to last week was Tennessee’s Jonathon Crompton. Just how bad is Georgia’s defense? Well the anemic spasm was 20 of 27, for 310 yards and 4 TDs. Now maybe it’s a combination of Crompton’s maturation and Tennessee’s line finally giving him some time to throw. But even against Ohio he was 17 of 34, for 222 yards 2 TDs and a pick. Against good defenses like UCLA and Florida he went a combined 24 of 45, for 186 yards no TDs and 5 picks. I’m telling you, Georgia’s just that bad. Crompton may have some confidence after the win but I’m not sure he’ll be so confident in the film room watching Alabama’s defense maul QB after QB. Tennessee needed this bye week and if they want any chance two weeks from now in Tuscaloosa they’ll use it wisely.

Cole Brock

Cole Brock’s EndZone

Sorry for the no-show earlier this week…

Before I get into this week’s predictions, I am going to vent. Why can’t the NCAA mind it’s own business? I mean seriously, where does it find time to investigate the most irrelevant issues. A few weeks ago, Tennessee’s freshman RB Bryce Brown was under investigation for his dealings with a recruiting “advisor” and a fundraising event he participated in. The NCAA found no wrong doing after its month-and-a-half search.

I’m not going to go into the NCAA’s infatuation with Alabama, but in the interest of relevance, I’ll cite a few recent rulings. After a laughably exhaustive investigation into a fishing trip taken by Alabama’s Julio Jones and Mark Ingram, with a non- booster, they were found to have received “impermissible benefits”. These “benefits” included food, transportation, lodging, and entertainment. For this, they were forced to donate the amount deemed impermissible to charity. How many college kids go on a trip of any kind with a family friend and are expected to pay for any part of it? Why should Julio and Mark be treated any differently?

Another example, sophomore LB Jerrell Harris has been suspended for the first six games of the season for “impermissible benefits”. A year ago, Alabama was handed another 3-year probation and a $43,000 fine for a textbook scandal that was equally as ludicrous. I disagree with the rules themselves, and also disagree with the NCAA’s choice of investigations. Alabama, like all other Division 1 schools, belongs to the NCAA, and is subject to punishment for not following its rules.

And now the NCAA has found another way to screw another great player out of a chance to compete. Oklahoma State’s star receiver, Dez Bryant, has been ruled indefinitely ineligible because he “failed to openly disclose, to the NCAA, the full details of his interaction with a former NFL player, not affiliated with OSU.” If you want to read the whole story, click here.

Why hasn’t the NCAA looked into the relationship between Deion Sanders and WVU RB Noel Devine? Here’s another example, why hasn’t the NCAA done anything about the three-year old the Reggie Bush/USC scandal? If you want to check out all the facts yourself, read this

Now that I have vented my frustrations with the NCAA, I can talk about the good the side of college football.

Nebraska Missouri FootballThursday night’s match-up of Big XII North opponents #21 Nebraska at #24 Missouri was wet n’ wild. After Missouri simply outplayed Nebraska for three quarters, they subsequently imploded in the final quarter allowing all 27 of Nebraska’s points, 20 of which were in a 3-
minute 22-second span early in the fourth. Nebraska might have a claim to the Top Ten. Results are the biggest measuring stick, and Nebraska is one point away from a 5-0 start. I like them; their defense held Blaine Gabbert, fourth in the nation in passer efficiency, to 134 yards and two interceptions on 17 of 43 passing attempts. Give Bo Pelini credit, his offense isn’t always there, but he can defensively scheme with the best.

Now, onwards to the always entertaining, sometimes comical, sometimes accurate, picks of the week.

1. #1 Florida at #4 LSU

Death Valley is appropriately named; if you’ve been there you know what I’m talking about. Night games in this place leave opposing fans floridacowering in fear and opposing coaches, not named Bear Bryant or Nick Saban, wondering what the heck just happened. An interesting fact, Bryant had a 14-2 all-time record in the Bayou and started a winning streak that spanned 5 coaches and three decades. Ha, don’t you just love history? Regardless, most teams have a tougher time there than Alabama, including, yep you guessed it, Florida. 2007 saw the then, top-ranked Tigers, pull out a 28-24 thriller that kept LSU’s Saturday night home-win streak alive, which is now at 32.

The obvious question is whether or not Tebow will be fit to play. I tend to think he shouldn’t play, given he suffered a brain injury. If they’re not sure now, I can’t see doctors finding any definitive evidence that he’ll be ready before Saturday. Whether he plays or not, you can bet thatlsu all the rest of the players will still be fired up. Florida’s back up, John Brantley has been decent so far in mop-up duty, completing 73 percent of his passes for 232 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. If he does get his number called Saturday, he’ll be facing, by far, the biggest and fastest defense he’s ever competitively played against. I’m not sure he can go in there and handle it.

LSU’s struggling run game won’t get any help from Florida’s front seven. I’m pretty positive Florida won’t get beat by Jordan Jefferson, and that leaves Charles Scott to step up. He was a dominant force between the tackles last season and showed some of that brilliance last week in Athens. If LSU can get him going, they have more than a chance. He hasn’t impressed me much this year but he’ll be key. And for the first time ever I make two predictions.

w/ Tebow ____ Florida 34 – LSU 32,  w/out Tebow_____ LSU 27 – Florida 21

He really is that good…

2. #3 Alabama at #20 Ole Miss

I’m not happy going into this game, not at all… This game is just oozing with upset sauce. Houston Nutt is notorious for having his teams play above their potential in big games. Everybody remembers last year’s incredible upset in the swamp, but let’s not forget his days at alabamaArkansas where every year they had an upset early and a disappointment late. My only consolation is that if anybody will make sure his team isn’t going to have a hiccup, it’s Nick Saban. He preaches finishing and playing to your potential; I believe if we do that, we won’t lose a game all season.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Ole Miss’s QB supposed to be a dark horse for the Heisman? Through their first four games, Jevan Snead hasn’t been impressive. His 51 percent completion rate and 9 to 5 TD to interception ratio leave alot to be desired. He started off slow last season and the Rebel faithful must be clinging to that. If they have any chance of turning their season around Saturday, it’ll start with him. McElroy on the other hand, has put up numbers unheard of for recent Bama QB’s. Since his first halfole_miss jitters against VT, he has thrown 9 TD’s and no interceptions. If he continues taking care of the ball and spreading it around it won’t matter what defense they face.

Dont’a Hightower will be sorely missed. We knew that going into last week. I’m just not sure we really believed it. Alabama fans have been blessed with back-to-back national recruiting titles and most fans believed they had a little more depth than they did. While Courtney Upshaw, Corey Reamer, and Erik Anders are great players, they all started at new positions last week. Don’t expect the LB’s to be the same this week. Kentucky exploited the smaller LB’s last week and Bama gave up three times it’s average in rushing yards (133).  Expect Saban to have a whole new look for Nutt on Saturday. In the end Alabama’s offense steals the show and keeps their streak alive at 6 games in a row scoring over 30 points.

Bama 38 – Ole Miss 20

Side note; I always have fun in Oxford.  As much as I don’t care about your football team, you sure do have some exceptionally pretty ladies. I’ll see you this weekend, and you can tell me “hotty toddy” anytime.

3. #17 Auburn at Arkansas

I haven’t seen the Barners this excited since “Independent Study Classes” were offered to student-athletes. But at 5-0, they have a right to be. And yet I sit here in utter turmoil as to who to pick. Auburn is undefeated, as they should be. WVU was their only opponent with a winning record. That 54-30 win over Ball State doesn’t sound nearly as good when you recall that Ball Sate lost to North Texas who lost to Alabama 53-7.

auburnGuz Malzhan knows offense. And though he’s shortly removed from the high school coaching ranks, he has come through in SEC play. He’ll probably continue that against Arkansa’s woeful secondary this week. Junior Chris Todd’s rise from part-time obscurity has been impressive. I’ll admit, I gave him no chance after his shoulder surgery on top of last season’s dreadful 903-yard, 5-TD, 6-interception performance. He has come through this season along with hard-nosed RB Ben Tate, who is second in the SEC, in rushing, with 108.0 ypg. Again, I have to question these numbers when I look at the arkansasopposition.

With offensive wiz Bobby Petrino calling the shots, Arkansas isn’t hurting. I may have been too quick in crowning Ryan Mallet as king of SEC QB’s, but I still think he will be great. These teams are overflowing with offensive talent but their defenses are both sub-par. Auburn has allowed over 22 points in all but their first game against lowly Louisiana Tech. Even the anemic spasm that Lane Kiffin calls his quarterback had success against the Tigers. This should be a high-flying affair, but Arkansas, brimming with confidence after last week’s rout of A&M, brings Auburn back down to earth.

Arkansas 35- Auburn 28

4. Kentucky at #25 South Carolina

Isn’t this just a great week for the SEC. Seriously, I’ll be watching all these games intently. For what it’s worth, Kentucky played Bama the best of anyone, so far this season. Now, whether this bodes well for them against South Carolina, no one knows. South Carolina is the favorite kentuckyand I tend to agree. Their offense, while sporadic, can still put up points, and Steven Garcia has been making much better decisions compared to this time last year. Their defense is among the best in the country, and I don’t have to talk about my respect for Eric Norwood. He is a dominant force and continues to rack up sacks at an alarming rate. He should have a fieldsouth_carolina day busting through the Wildcat’s shaky line. If he does, I can’t say I have confidence in Mike Hartline. His performance last week was dreadful. Kentucky’s lone bright spot is speedster and do-it-all sophomore, Randall Cobb.

All this being said, I’m still worried South Carolina won’t live up to the hype. Teams from that state tend to be overrated, uhhuuh Clemson… Anyway I put my faith in the numbers and based on that, South Carolina should win. Don’t be surprised if they have a let down though.

South Carolina 20 – Kentucky 12

Cole Brock

Cole Brock’s EndZone

This weekend’s match-ups are loaded with All-American talent. These should be great games. Let’s cut to the chase, here are my picks:

1. #4 LSU at #18 Georgia

This is the premier SEC match-up so far and I don’t think it will disappoint. LSU has a lot to prove with their lofty #4 ranking. Georgia is lsulooking to forget their season opening loss to Oklahoma State with a win this weekend. Both are SEC powerhouses year ingeorgiaand year out, and both teams have a lot on the line.

LSU’s secondary is as good as you’ll find anywhere. They’ll need this unit to play its best game yet as they try to contain sophomore sensation A.J. Greene. Greene has 25 receptions for 428 yards and 4 TD’s through the first third of the season. LSU star corner back and fellow sophomore, Patrick Paterson, will be the best competition Greene will have seen this year. The same can be said for Paterson as no WR he’s faced has the raw talent of Greene. The two have similar builds and identical athletic abilities; this will be the battle to watch, and I’m sure it will be worth the hype.

LSU’s running game was non-existent against MSU last week, and running back Charles Scott is playing nowhere near the level he was this time last year. Georgia’s defense has been porous at times and I’m not sure what to expect from them this week. They rank second to last, in the SEC, in total defense, allowing 355.8 ypg. Lucky for Georgia, that LSU is ranked 105th nationally in total offense with only 310.0 ypg. This game will be much closer than their respective rankings would lead you to believe. Georgia pulls off the upset with superman A.J. Greene leading the way. Georgia 24 – LSU 17

2. #7 USC at # 24 California

This game will make or break one of the teams’ conference title hopes and absolutely eliminate them from BCS title contention. Both teams have uscfresh losses on their minds and hopefully neither will let it affect them. Last week’s 42-3 debacle didn’t completely derail Cal’scalifornia championship aspirations but it certainly hindered them. They cannot afford another let down, if they want to keep their dreams alive. USC’s inexplicable 16-13 loss to Washington isn’t their first. They’ll need all the experience they can muster to rebound. Cal’s much better than Washington State, and Washington for that matter, and USC needs to stay focused to win. Pete Carroll’s been here before and I think he’ll have them ready.

As if USC needed more distractions, last season’s leading rusher, Stafon Johnson, will never suit up for the Trojans again, after a nasty weight room accident left him with a crushed neck and larynx. Joe McKnight will have to step-up, along with freshman QB Matt Barkley. Barkley is coming off a bruised shoulder but is expected to be a  100% for the game. They will definitely need him competing at his highest level if their passing game is to improve. Neither teams passing has been where their coaches I’m sure, expected it to be, ranking 66th and 63rd nationally.

Jahvid Best is coming off his worst performance of the year and he’ll need to get over it before he runs into the Trojan’s front seven tomorrow. His stats, coming into last week’s game, had him in the front running for a Heisman trophy. He’ll need a Heisman-like performance against USC, if he expects his team to win. Berkeley will be “rockin’” Saturday night but I still think USC pulls out the win. USC 21- Cal 17

3. #8 Oklahoma at #17 Miami

I’m so disappointed in the Canes. I thought they were the real deal. Well, this weekend, they can prove to me and the rest of America that they oklahomaare, by turning in a  good performance, at home, against BCS title contender Oklahoma. Their chances might have improvedmiami_fl since Heisman trophy winner Sam Bradford will be out again, still recovering from his strained shoulder. Redshirt freshman, Landry Jones, has picked up most of the slack, setting a school record for TDs in a single game, with 6, against Tulsa two weeks ago.

Miami is fresh off a humbling loss to Virginia Tech and should be fired up. Both teams still have shots at their conference titles and Oklahoma, at least, has a realistic shot at the national championship. This game means a lot to both sides and should be very hard fought.  Randy Shannon says his team needs to go “back to the basics” and he’s right. Miami missed 17 tackles that accounted for 180 extra yards and his receivers dropped 8 passes, where all but one would have resulted in a first down and/or touchdown. If Miami can correct these juvenile mistakes, they can compete with anyone. Virginia tech manhandled their offensive line and disrupted Jacory Harris all night. Look for Oklahoma to run multiple blitz packages and disguises to upset that young offensive line again. If Miami expects to compete they have to get their running game more involved. Whether Jacory Harris looks like a Heisman candidate or not he is still just a sophomore and Miami can’t depend on him to bail them out.

Oklahoma’s passing game isn’t near the well-oiled machine it was last year without All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham and Bradford. They need someone to step-up and while Jones is doing his best, he still needs help. From a statistical standpoint, Oklahoma’s offense is way down but they aren’t out either. Look for Jones to pick his way through Miami’s secondary, late. Oklahoma will find a way to win to take a lead in the all-time series 4-3. Oklahoma 31- Miami 18

Cole Brock

Cole Brock’s EndZone

My take on the weekend’s college football activities…

The top 5 this year has had three constants Florida, Texas and Alabama. Seven others have rotated in and out of the other two spots. LSU andfloridaBoise State are the newest additions, but I’m not sure they’ll last too long either. Oklahoma fell as soon as Sam Bradford did; upstart Houston stunned Oklahoma State the next week. USC sputtered against lowly Washington, and this week Ole texasMiss and Penn State lost to underrated South Carolina and Iowa, respectively. Lets not forget #6 Cal’s pitiful display against Oregon, or #9 Miami’s lousy performance against #11 VT. If there were one word to describe this season so far, it’d have to be OVERRATED. Even the highly skilled college football analysts haven’t been able to get a grip on the teams and their capabilities, so far. I’m not sure there’s anything they could have done about it. Let’s face it every one of these teams are good, they’ve just been inconsistent. No one saw any of these upsets coming, except for BYU, Washington and everyone else doing the upsetting. And really, South Carolina was the only non-shocker.

Would it be too inappropriate to fill out the rest of the top 5 this week with blanks? LSU doesn’t deserve to be #4 in the nation, just as Ole Miss didn’t deserve to be last week. LSU won in a 30-24 squeaker against the downtrodden Mississippi State Bulldogs this weekend. Their only other conference win was in an uninspired performance against Vanderbilt. Boise State’s schedule is a joke and they’ll ride that Oregon win all the way to an undeserved BCS bowl. Houston and TCU will both loose at some point, and even though, they are better more deserving teams… we all know how the BCS works. The only two teams I think that deserve to be mentioned for the spots are Virginia Tech and Iowa. No other teams have proven themselves so far, as well as they have. I’m not saying I think they’ll finish there but as of right now no one else can stake any claim in the top 5, besides them. And yes, I realize VT has a loss, and LSU and Boise don’t, but if they’d started the year off against Alabama they would too.

Enough poll talk. There’s more pressing matters at hand. The amazing Tim Tebow, was injured this weekend, as I’m sure everyone knows. It’s

Dante Hightower, Alabama (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Dont'a Hightower, Alabama (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

a shame he was concussed and missed a shot at boosting his stats in Florida’s rout of Kentucky. But I hardly consider this front-page news. I know already and I still don’t care. I’m tired of it, because other great players like Dont’a Hightower, Robert Griffin III, and Stephon Johnson are barely mentioned after suffering serious, season-ending injuries. Johnson, who was rushed to the ER after a weight bar fell on his throat, had emergency surgery and is not expected to play for USC again. His throat and larynx were crushed and the seven-hour surgery was a success. He still can’t speak but his voice is expected to come back. Hightower suffered an ACL tear after a low, legal, cut-block and is scheduled for surgery early this week. He is expected to be out for the season. Griffin, Baylor’s standout young QB, will also miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered in their blowout victory over Northwestern State. I’d think America would agree these players deserve a little more than an

Stafon-Johnson, USC

Stafon-Johnson, USC

update marker running across the bottom of ESPN.

Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli came in Saturday’s game with pitiful performances in his first three games with less than a 50% completion rate, no TDs and 2 interceptions. First year coach, Chip Kelly obviously saw something we didn’t. Regardless, I’m not sure anyone not wearing neon yellow and green expected the 253 yard three TD show he put on for us. I hope Jeff Tedford can keep his guys cool and collected after this embarrassing defeat. They’ll need some composure and some fight next week against USC.

Florida State might be the biggest enigma this college football season.  They’ve averaged 44 points against ranked opponents Miami and BYU, and unexplainably averaged 13 points against Football Championship Subdivision Jacksonville State and unranked USF. This defies explanation. I really think it’s time Bobby Bowden step down and quit chasing Paterno. Jimbo Fisher is in his prime coaching years and could more than handle the load Bowden has.

I might have been wrong about Miami (there still a good team), but I’m riding Bama all the way to the national championship. They have answered all the questions we had coming into the season. Their performance has been better than anticipated. McElroy is now third in the alabamanation in passer efficiency with 175.15 rating, only behind Hawaii’s Greg Alexander and Boise State’s Kellen Moore. Hightower will be sorely missed, but the fallout won’t be felt too hard. Freshman, 5 star recruit, Nico Johnson will likely fill in for now. Sophomore Jerrell Harris has been cleared to play by the NCAA for the South Carolina game, and will likely start over Johnson. Bama fans have a lot to look forward to.

Cole Brock

Cole Brock’s EndZone

ole_missOle Miss what are we going to do with you? It’s been a long time, since a team as undeserving of credit and acclaim, has beeen as hyped and talked about. This year’s USC may compare, but they, at least, beat a good Ohio State team that was deserving of some attention. For the hapless Rebs’, the first two games were cakewalks. Their fiery finish last season sent thousands of Ole Miss fans into a crazed hysteria, the likes of which previously only the Mannings could accomplish. Houston Nutt has beensouth_carolina touted as the savior, the man with the plan. Nutt accomplished a lot with a little last year. This had been his “MO” at Arkansas for years. I like Nutt as a coach and a motivator; he’s a great leader and his players always leave their hearts out on the field for him. Regardless, Ole Miss DOES NOT have the talent their ranking warrants. I never believed they were a top 5 team. They may end the year as a top ten team, but this was much to much, much to soon for the rejuvenated Rebels.

In various preseason interviews, Nutt had eluded that he was worried his boys had let a little of their success go to their heads. This week’s #4 ranking in the AP Poll is the highest in nearly four decades, and after years in the SEC doghouse, I’m sure the players were on top of the world coming into this game. Remember, the 2007 season saw the Rebs go winless in the SEC and 3-9 overall.  Two recruiting classes cannot improve the talent level that much, unless you’re Nick Saban, of course. Ole Miss fans, my only consolation to you, is that you did loose to Vanderbilt last year, and I know you all like the way the ’08 season turned out. All is not lost.

Eric Norwood is the most underrated player in the country, but after last night, I don’t see that continuing. He is the SEC’s current leader in sacks and tackles for loss with 24.0 and 47.5. That’s saying something with the likes of Brandon Spikes, Rennie Curran, Rolondo McClain, Greg Hardy, and many others still around. Steve Spurrier said in an ESPN interview he thinks if Norwood played with USC, or another high rofile school he would be the national defensive player of the year. http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/3707/norwoods-impact-goes-beyond-big-plays

Enough can’t be said about the turnaround Stephen Garcia has made from his 6 TD, 8-interception season last year. Spurrier’s still got it, and no matter what criticism you have of him; he can coach the QB position better than anyone in the nation. This I’m sure has to be one of his toughest transformations. Garcia looks like a different man this year and I don’t expect anything less for the rest of the season. His 47.1 % completion rate and 220 yards through the air isn’t eye popping, but he managed the game as a leader, and tool good care of the ball excluding the first-Quarter fumble.

I really like South Carolina; they are a few critical plays away from a 4-0 record and top 10 ranking. SC is far from finished with the upsets. I see them in the underdog role the rest of the season and I think they’ll relish that. I wouldn’t put it past them to make some serious noise in their games against Bama and Florida.

Now to the top match-ups of week 4.

1. #9 Miami at #11 Virginia Tech

Everyone should be watching this one. It looks to be pretty sweet. Never mind the heated nature of this game or the ACC championship miami_flimplications. Miami has a chance to return to national prominence in the next two weeks, something that hasn’t been done since Ken Dorsey and Larry Coker had them in the running earlier this decade. Now with all-everything sophomore QB Jacory Harris, they look poised to re-enter the spotlight. Now lets not take VT. I saw them play Alabama in person and they were physically under matched. But that game gave them more than just bruises and a loss. VT has some intangibles that I virginia_techthink could make them special. These guys have heart and are tested against the best of the best. Their game with Nebraska was a nail biter, but VT found a way to win. Tyrod Taylor can’t be praised enough for his leadership and pocket presence in that game. If he continues buying time with his feet they’ll be in much better shape. Miami’s front seven aren’t near as disciplined, as Nebraska’s. It’ll be exciting to see Taylor finally making plays with his feet downfield and not just behind the line. The key to this game, though, is whether or not VT can stop the running back tandem of Graig Cooper and Javarris James. VT has struggled against the run in all three games this season. Alabama exploited it the most with a power running attack. Look to see if Randy Shannon isn’t planning something along the same lines. Expect Cooper and James carries early and consistently throughout. VT gets tired late and Miami finishes strong. Miami 38 – VT 28

2. Arkansas at #3 Alabama

I’ll be at this game in Tuscalloosa and I cannot wait. The offensive mastermind Bobby Petrino vs. the defensive genius Nick Saban. Ryan Mallet arkansaslooks to get his first real introduction to an SEC defense this weekend, in Tuscaloosa. Dante Hightower and Rolando McClain are two parts to the best linebacker group in America. I’m afraid they might not be able to impact the game as much as usual. Petrino is a master when it comes to creating mismatches for his offense to exploit, and loves taking opposing defenders out of the game by scheming around them. Expect a high-powered aerial assault. They don’t run much and this has to calabamaoncern Petrino. His offense is based around balance, but I guess you go with what works, sometimes. Besides the intriguing Petrino-offense vs. the Saban-defense battle, there’s not much to this game. Arkansas’ porous defense will have its hands full with Julio Jones coming back off a bruised knee. Greg McElroy has been as impressive as anyone, the last few weeks and especially the last nine quarters. Since the half time of the VT game, McElroy is 40 of 51, 553 yards, four touchdowns no interceptions. He looks the part, and this week will be just another showing of why Saban’s so confident in him. Bama rolls but not before Mallet shows why he’s the best QB in the SEC. Alabama 41– Arkansas 27

3. Texas Tech at #17 Houston

This is going to be one fun game to watch. I’m not sure both teams have scored over 70 points in the same game, but these two just might do it. texas_techHouston’s Case Keenum is among college footballs elite QB’s and Taylor Potts can throw the ball better than people givehoustonhim credit for. Texas has a tough defense and he stood toe-to-toe with them last week. The Red Raiders once again lead the nation in passing with 465.7 per game. And Houston is fifth in the nation in total yards with 525.0 per game. Neither defense is amazing, but they aren’t pushovers. Look who they practice against every day. This will be a close one but in the end Houston’s more balanced attack wins out. Houston 44 – Texas Tech 41

4. #6 California at Oregon

Cal fans are elated right about now. They’re in the national championship talks again, and they have they’re best shot in recent memory to beat californiaPete Carrol and his USC Trojans. Lets hope they don’t forget about those pesky Oregon Ducks. Oregon comes in as thoregone underdog, and after a raucous start this season on national television; they’ve learned to appreciate it. Jahvid Best will no doubt take care of his duties, but I’m not sure they’re passing game will keep up with his tempo. Oregon is going to load the box and make sure Best earns every yard he gets. Shaky QB Jeremiah Masoli, for the Ducks, is going to have his hands full against this stingy Cal secondary. If he struggled against Boise State and Purdue I’m worried he may not even show up against Cal. Cal overpowers the Ducks with pure speed and talent. California 28 – Oregon 19

With too many exciting games to pick from here are the Honorable Mentions:

#15 TCU at Clemson.

Who knows which Clemson squad will show up, but you can bet the Horned Frogs defense will. This will be an interesting inter-conference game, worthy of an extra look.

#7 LSU at Mississippi State.

MSU hasn’t shown up against LSU in about five years. I’m not sure they will this year either.  MSU RB Anthony Dixon is their only bright spot;  he could be a factor  this year at home.

#21 Georgia vs. Arizona State.

This was a huge game last year; this year no one seems to really care. With squeakers over SC and Arkansas the past two weeks everyone has forgotten about the Georgia Bulldogs. This’ll be a statement game for them. Dennis Erickson can’t be forgotten. This may be closer than people think.

#18 Florida State vs. USF

South Florida lost senior QB and emotional leader Matt Grothe for the season last week. Nobody knows much about his back up, but look for USF to fight hard till the end. FSU is coming off their dominating win over BYU. Bobby Bowden will make sure his boys don’t have a let down against the bulls.

Cole Brock