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Tag:SEC
Posted on: March 30, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 3:50 pm
 

Week-by-Week in SEC Football

Sure the games are tentative and we are months from the start of the season, but that won't stop me from breaking down week-by-week of what to watch for in the SEC.

Sept. 4: Opening weekend of the season. If you want to get excited about Alabama playing San Jose State or Florida vs. Miami (Ohio), go ahead, but I'll be watching LSU vs. North Carolina in the Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. LSU's offense was horrendous last season, while North Carolina's defense was one of the best. So with Jordan Jefferson having a full season under his belt at quarterback, things have to get better for the Tigers, right? North Carolina is one of my teams to watch as it returns a ton of starters and will ranked in the preseason Top 20.

Sept. 11: Two huge out-of-conference matchups highlight this huge day in sports. Not only do we have Michigan at Notre Dame, Stanford at UCLA, Florida State at Oklahoma, Miami at Ohio State, but three key games involving SEC schools. No. 1 -- Oregon at Tennessee: Pac-10 vs. SEC matchups don't happen very often. Can Oregon put offseason issues behind them or will Derek Dooley earn his first big win as coach? No. 2 -- South Florida at Florida: Last year when USF beat Florida State they put up billboards claiming it is now part of the Big Four. Is this the year USF shocks the Gators in The Swamp? John Brantley's first real test. No. 3: The biggest of them all -- Penn State at Alabama: These two teams have had some epic history. The 1979 Sugar Bowl and 1989 blocked field goal game come to mind. The teams haven't played since 1990, so expect this to be one of the biggest games of the year.

Sept. 18: Florida at Tennessee. Urban Meyer vs. Lane Kiff ... Oh what could have been a great rivalry between the two coaches. Either way this one is always huge. Both schools and fans don't like each other very much no matter who is coaching. Two other games to watch ... Arkansas at Georgia. Last year's game was won by Georgia 52-41. Ryan Mallett's first really big game of the season to see how legit the Razorbacks will be this year. Clemson at Auburn: For two schools only four hours apart this will be the first time they meet in the regular season since 1971. ACC vs. SEC is always fun.

Sept. 25: West Virginia at LSU. It's hard to believe, but these two schools have never played each other. By this point, we'll know how good LSU is and if it can be a real contender in the SEC. This will be the Mountaineers real first game. Gotta love those LSU night games with the hostile crowd welcoming in the opponents. Make sure you are in front of the TV for this one. Alabama at Arkansas: If the Razorbacks get past Georgia, this one will be their biggest game of the season, especially since they get the defending champions at home.

Oct. 2: Florida at Alabama: Seven of the last 11 times these teams have met was in the SEC Championship game, but the two haven't played in Tuscaloosa since 2005. Could be a conference title game preview. If both teams are ranked in the Top 10, this might end up as one of the games of the year in college football. Tennessee at LSU: Another classic east vs. west division matchup. The last three games have been classic -- Tennessee 30-27 (2005); LSU 28-24 (2006) and LSU 21-14 (2007). At this point, we'll know if either team has a chance to win the SEC.

Oct. 9: LSU at Florida: Another huge West vs. East division game. LSU has lost three of the last four in the series, including last year's 13-3 game in Baton Rouge. This is a tougher task for the Tigers as they go to Gainesville, but expect this game to be another classic matchup.

Oct. 16: Mississippi State at Florida: With the Bulldogs on the up swing and only losing 29-19 last year, this could be the year Mississippi State gives the Gators a real run for its money ... or it could be a 42-10 blowout by the Gators.

Oct. 23: Alabama at Tennessee: Remember last year's 12-10 win by Alabama that featured two blocked field goals? Get ready for another defensive battle, this time the Vols get the defending champs at home. Georgia at Kentucky: The Wildcats shocked Georgia 34-27 in Athens last year, so this game has a little more meaning than a usual SEC matchup. Georgia would love a little payback, while Kentucky looks to cap a three-game home stretch (Auburn on the Oct. 9 and South Carolina on Oct. 16).

Oct. 30: Florida vs. Georgia. It doesn't matter what the records are or who is playing at quarterback, get to Jacksonville to experience The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Nov. 6: Alabama at LSU: At this point of the season, we'll know who is challenging Alabama in the West. Arkansas? Auburn? Or LSU? If it's LSU, get ready for an epic SEC game.

Nov. 13: Georgia at Auburn: Auburn's final home game of the season before it takes on Alabama. While this is Georgia's last road game before it gets Georgia Tech at home the final week. Georgia has won four in a row in the series, including 31-24 at Athens last year.

Nov. 20: South Carolina at Troy: Troy loves taking on SEC teams, but usually is on the losing end. But this time, the Trojans get South Carolina at home and just might be able to pull off the upset. Also if South Carolina loses this one and is sitting at 6-5, get ready for the "Fire Steve Spurrier" chants.

Nov. 26: Auburn at Alabama: The annual Iron Bowl is always one of the best traditions in college football. No explanation needed.

Posted on: December 4, 2008 3:49 pm
 

AFCA All-America Team

The AFCA announced its Coaches' All-America Team today and boy was the SEC rewarded.

Nine players made the team from the SEC, including four from Alabama. Offensive lineman Andre Smith, center Antoine Caldwell, defensive tackle Terrence Cody and defensive back Rashad Johnson. Florida had two -- linebacker Brandon Spikes and all-purpose player Percy Harvin.

The Big 12 had six players on the team, headlined by Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, wide receiver Michael Crabtree and offensive lineman Brandon Carter.

I was really surprised TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes didn't make the team. He leads the nation with 14 sacks and six forced fumbles and is a finalist for the Hendricks and Nagurski Award. I know he doesn't play for a major BCS school, but not like TCU is some team that nobody knows about either.

Defensive back is one of the deepest positions this year, but glad to see Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith make it. Even though the Demon Deacons had a rough season, he makes plays every game.

Stay tuned for the CBSSports.com All-America Team, which will come out next week.

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 1, 2008 1:22 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2008 7:12 pm
 

CBSSports.com 120 -- SEC Heavyweight Fight

Alabama and Florida are about to make history.

The top two teams in this week CBSSports.com 120 are also ranked No. 1 and No. 4 in the BCS, marking the first time in BCS history that two teams ranked in the Top 5 will meet in a Conference Championship Game.

Before the emails coming flying in about Ohio State vs. Michigan, stress the words -- "Conference Championship Game."

Yes, No. 1 Ohio State took on No. 2 Michigan in the final game of their regular season in 2006, but it wasn't a conference title game because the Big Ten doesn't have one.

Even last year's crazy season had an SEC title game between No. 7 LSU and No. 14 Tennessee, while the Big 12 game featured No. 1 Missouri and No. 9 Oklahoma.

Another game between top five teams in the last week of the regular season was between No. 3 Nebraska and No. 4 Colorado. The Buffaloes smashed the Huskers 62-36 and advanced to the Big 12 title game against Texas, which was ranked No. 7 in the BCS. No worries for Nebraska, though, because it still found itself in the national title game that year.

But back to this season ... Alabama is one of only four undefeated teams remaining and if it takes care of business against the Gators on Saturday in the SEC Championship (CBS, 4 p.m. ET), the Crimson Tide will be playing for the national title for the first time since winning it all in 1992. Meanwhile Florida, which is a 10-point favorite against the No. 1 ranked team in the country, will find itself in the title game if it beats the Crimson Tide.

This is about as big as it gets for two teams from the same conference.

Florida's No. 3 ranked scoring offense with 46.3 points per game vs. Alabama's No. 3 ranked scoring defense, allowing 11.5 points per game. The big difference might be that Florida's defense is ranked No. 4 (12.3 ppg), while Alabama's offense ranks 28th in the nation (32.1 ppg).

"The challenge of playing an opponent like the Florida Gators is, you know, something special for our players," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "They certainly have an outstanding team, and Coach Meyer has done a fantastic job of putting together a bunch of outstanding athletes who play well together, and are very well coached, and execute as well as anybody in the country. Relative to their scoring offense, balance on offense, Tim Tebow's ability to execute in the way they have. They all contribute in a positive way to playing the roles, to make it difficult to defend them. Their defense is one of the top defensive teams in the nation. They've got some outstanding players, good athletes in all positions. "

The will also mark the fifth time a team from the SEC is playing in the BCS national title game since 1999, where the conference owns an undefeated record (Tennessee in 1999, LSU in 2003, Florida in 2007 and LSU in 2008).

As for the other conference title games (ranking is according to the CBSSports.com 120):

ACC: Boston College (No. 16) vs. Virginia Tech (No. 26), Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ABC -- Pretty simple the winner goes to the Orange Bowl to likely play Big East champion Cincinnati, while the loser will probably be headed to the Champs Sports Bowl to play Wisconsin/Northwestern/Minnesota. Boston College won earlier in the year 28-23.

Big 12: Oklahoma (No. 3) vs. Missouri (No. 21), Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC -- Now that Oklahoma is ahead of Texas in the BCS all it has to do is beat Missouri to play for the BCS national title. If the Sooners lose, Missouri goes to the Fiesta Bowl, Texas gets into the national title game and Oklahoma falls to the Cotton or Holiday Bowl. If Missouri loses, they will most likely be headed to the Alamo Bowl vs. a Big Ten team.

C-USA: Tulsa (No. 27) vs. East Carolina (No. 56), Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN2 -- Winner gets to play in the Liberty Bowl vs. an SEC squad, which will likely be Vanderbilt. If Tulsa loses it will probably end up in the Texas or Houston Bowl. Meanwhile if East Carolina loses, it will likely be headed to the GMAC Bowl against a MAC team. The two teams did not play this year.

MAC: Ball State (No. 12) vs. Buffalo (No. 52), Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN -- Both teams are headed to the a bowl, but the winner gets to play in the Motor City Bowl. There is talk of Ball State going to the Humanitarian Bowl to play Boise State, but there is also talk of Boise State going to play in the Poinsettia Bowl vs. BYU or TCU. If Buffalo wins, throw all that other talk out the window. The two teams did not play this year.

Also of note, even though its not a conference title game -- Arkansas State (No. 80) meets Troy (No. 70). If Troy wins, it will win the conference. If Arkansas State wins and Louisiana-Lafayette beats Middle Tennessee, it would create a three-way tie at 5-2 in Sun Belt play. Only Arkansas State and Troy would be considered because NCAA rules state a 7-5 team, must be picked over a 6-6 teams (La.-Lafayette). So based on head-to-head, the winner of the game would go to the New Orleans Bowl.

Posted on: September 29, 2008 12:33 pm
 

Northwestern helps Big Ten in conference rankings

With one month of the season in the books, the usual debate of "Who has the best conference?" continues. Nobody can doubt the SEC is still king, but the conference that ranks No. 2 might surprise you.

Don't be so quick to say the Big 12, because after analyzing the rankings of this week's CBSSports.com 120, we see the Big Ten ranks slightly ahead of the Big 12 from top to bottom. Based on an average ranking of 36.63, the Big Ten edges out the Big 12, which has an overall average of 37.83. SEC is first at 31.83.

Before the e-mails of "How can that be? Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Texas Tech are all ranked in the Top 10!!!" -- we only have to look at the overall records in the Big Ten.

The Big Ten has two undefeated teams, three with a 4-1 record and zero teams in the conference have a losing record.

And one of those undefeated teams is Northwestern. The Wildcats sit tied with Penn State atop the Big Ten with a 5-0 record, including 1-0 in the conference.

Northwestern is off to their best start in 46 years and jumped all the way from No. 41 to No. 27 this week in the CBSSports.com 120. The Wildcats are on the verge of breaking into the Top 25 in the other polls too. They are ranked 30th in the AP poll, 26th in the Coaches poll and 27th in the Harris poll.

Northwestern takes on No. 24 ranked Michigan State on Oct. 11 in what could be a major breakthrough for a team that usually finds itself at the bottom of the conference.

"Our plan going into the bye week is, No. 1, get healthy," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "No. 2 is to stay sharp. I feel like we're getting better each week and growing each week. With that prudent mentality, we'll probably go quick in our practices and won't be out there real long."

Another factor that helps the Big Ten rank ahead of the Big 12 is the lowest-ranked team in the Big Ten is Indiana (No. 74), which stands at 2-2. Texas A&M (No. 84) and Iowa State (No. 90) pull down the average in the Big 12.

The Aggies lost to a Sun Belt school earlier this year (Arkansas State won 18-14) and barely beat Army 21-17. Iowa State is 2-2, but its only victories are against South Dakota State and Kent State.

Here are the overall average conference rankings:

1. SEC -- 31.83
2. Big Ten -- 36.63
3. Big 12 -- 37.83
4. ACC -- 45.67
5. Big East -- 52.5
6. Pac-10 -- 55.3
7. MWC -- 72.75
8. C-USA -- 78.25
9. WAC -- 82.75
10. MAC -- 89.46
11. Sun Belt -- 101

Quick Notes

... The ACC which gets criticized for being one of the weakest conference, is ranked fourth. Despite not having any undefeated teams, the conference has seven teams ranked between No. 31 and No. 49. Florida State (No. 35), North Carolina (No. 36) and Maryland (No. 40) all had big wins this past week, moving up numerous spots.

... The lowest-ranked undefeated school is Kentucky at No. 38. Kentucky defeated Louisville, Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky. It will surely move way up the rankings if it beats Alabama this weekend.

... UCF dropped the farthest in the rankings this week, dropping from No. 76 to No. 100 after losing 58-13 to UTEP, which entered the game at 0-3.

... FIU got out of the 120th spot with a 35-16 victory over Toledo. The Golden Panthers are now ranked No. 114. North Texas fell from No. 118 to No. 120 after losing 77-20 to Rice. The Mean Green are one of only three teams without a win. Army (No. 119) and Washington (No. 101) are the others. The Huskies are ranked so high because it lost by only one point to BYU and by 7 to Stanford this past week.

Posted on: September 8, 2008 11:10 am
Edited on: September 8, 2008 1:58 pm
 

CBSSports.com 120 -- Movers and Fallers

Vander-who?

Don't look now but there is more to the SEC than Florida, Georgia and Alabama. That's because the Commodores are quickly moving up the rankings in the CBSSports.com 120.

Vanderbilt had the biggest jump this week moving up 25 spots from No. 67 to No. 42 after improving to 2-0. It knocked off Miami (Ohio) 34-13 in the first week and then upset South Carolina 24-17, earning its first win over a ranked team in 16 years.

"I think tonight's win was a statement win. We showed the nation that our football team is improving and that we are becoming a winning organization. We showed that not only is Vanderbilt University a great academic school but a great athletic school as well. There are a lot of exciting things happening here at Vanderbilt and I think everyone saw that tonight," said quarterback Chris Nickson after the game.

And with games vs. Rice and at Mississippi over the next two weeks, the Commodores might find themselves reaching the Top 25 and starting the season 4-0.

Now don't get too excited Vanderbilt faithful because it could all be short lived as the meat of the SEC schedule is still on the horizon -- Auburn, at Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

And the folks in Nashville have seen this start before. Last season it started out 3-1 only to lose six of the last eight. In 2005, the Commodores did start out 4-0, beating Wake Forest, Arkansas and Mississippi, but then came the tough SEC games and they ended up finishing 5-6.

For now they are No. 42 eyeing the Top 25, but let's see how they do in the middle of the season.

Other big movers:

Minnesota -- 22 spots up -- from No. 82 to No. 60
Middle Tennessee -- 21 spots up -- from No. 111 to No. 90

Big fallers:

-- Maryland dropped 34 spots falling from No. 65 to No. 99 after losing to Middle Tennessee. Maryland might be in for a long season since their only win was a 7-point victory over FCS Delaware.

-- Memphis and Syracuse also fell as both teams dropped to 0-2. Memphis fell 25 spots from No. 68 to No. 93 and Syracuse dropped 20 spots from No. 90 to No. 110.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com