Tag Archives: sec championship

Can Anyone Dethrone Alabama?

Which team, besides Alabama, has a legitimate chance to win the SEC?

Consider that for a moment.

Ok, here is my attempt at ranking the SEC, top to bottom…

1. Alabama 2. Auburn 3. Texas A&M 4. Florida 5. LSU 6. Tennessee

7. Arkansas 8. Ole Miss 9. Kentucky 10. Vanderbilt 11. Georgia

12. Miss State 13. South Carolina 14. Missouri

Before I start the process, I’m going to eliminate all teams from number seven on down. None of those teams will even come close to winning their division, much less take the conference title.

Now we will take each team, in order, and speak to its possibilities of unseating the Crimson Tide.

Auburn

To quote a snippet from the old Johnny Cash/June Carter song, Jackson; Auburn is “hotter than a pepper sprout.” The Tigers are smoking!

AL.com’s Kevin Scarbinsky weighs in on the matter.

You have probably heard it said or seen it written many times: The SEC is a line of scrimmage league.

Yes, it has to get done in the trenches. Your team’s chances of winning any game primarily depends on how it fares on both lines of scrimmage.

Auburn is playing extremely well in the trenches and if it continues to improve in each game from here on out, it will be very, very tough to beat.

If you couple that with its blistering HUNH offense, you have one lethal combination.

I give Auburn the best chance of dethroning Alabama.

But before the Tigers can even have an opportunity to win the SEC, it must win out and someone else must defeat…

Texas A&M

If the Aggies and Auburn both win out, then Kevin Sumlin’s group would represent the West in Atlanta by virtue of its 29-16 win on the Plains back on September 17th.

Jerry Palm, of CBS, actually proposes the possibility that two SEC teams could make the College Football Playoff in this column.

Florida

It’s simple, on paper, for the Gators. It wins out. It (cough, cough) upsets Alabama in the SEC Championship game. It makes the playoff. Presto!

SEC Country’s Will Miles shares his thoughts on the Gators.

LSU

These Tigers play Bama a week from Saturday. They wins that game and the remaining three games that follow it (Arkansas, South Alabama, and Texas A&M). Alabama takes care of Auburn, and LSU finds itself in Hotlanta.

Mark Heim, also of AL.com, has this to say.

And finally…

Tennessee

The Vols will need help in winning the East. They overcame the Gators, in Knoxville, on September 24th, but they have two conference losses to Florida’s one.

Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina are the next three games on Florida’s schedule and one of those must topple the Gators. Presbyterian and Florida State follow as non-conference match ups.

Tennessee finishes with South Carolina, Tennessee Tech, Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt. They must win the four games which involve SEC opponents.

John Adams, of knoxnews.com, breaks it down.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, and sports fans of all ages, it appears that we have five exciting weeks of SEC football to be played before the Big One at the Georgia Dome on December 3rd!

Most pundits and prophets, if pressed, could very well concede this thing to Alabama, and that is quite understandable.

But I, for one, am not ready to do that just yet.

That oblong ball has been known to take some very odd bounces and don’t be completely surprised if that’s what occurs before this 2016 regular season is completed.

Stay tuned!

 

E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.
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2016 is the Year of Butch Jones and the Vols

It’s been 3 years since Tennessee bought out Butch Jones’ contract with Cincinnati. Three years of top 15 recruiting classes, three years of improving records from 5-7, to 7-6, to 9-4. Three years of preseason hype followed by losses that make fans’ hopes rise, but hearts break. There was that Pig Howard fumble at the goal line for a 31-34 loss to Georgia in overtime in 2013, those consecutive losses to Florida and Georgia by a combined four points in 2014, and every loss in 2015, which consisted of a double-overtime loss to #19 Oklahoma, a one-point loss to Florida, a four-point loss to Arkansas, and a five-point loss to the eventual national champions, Alabama. After three years of work, he has the recruiting classes, he has the experienced players, he has the Power Five conference football program, and he even has the not-so-formidable schedule to help him out. Only one real question remains about Butch Jones as a head coach, and it is now set to be answered this year. How far can Butch Jones take the Tennessee football program?

Can Butch Jones end the 9-year losing streak against Tennessee’s arch-rival Alabama?

That game will be played at Neyland Stadium, in front of their passionate fan base. Barring injury, they’ll have the senior quarterback, Joshua Dobbs with 24 starts under his belt, against a quarterback yet to be determined by Nick Saban and the staff who will have a total of six options. Tennessee’s defensive line of juniors and seniors will be playing against Alabama’s offensive line of sophomores and freshmen. Again, barring injury, almost every player that starts for Tennessee will have played in that five-point loss to Alabama last year. Alabama still has its vaunted defense, running back Bo Scarborough, and some of the best coaching in the nation, but if everything holds through the first six games, there has been no better opportunity for Tennessee to defeat Alabama in the nine years since it last did so.

Can he win an SEC Championship and make the CFB Playoffs?

If he can defeat Alabama, the road to the SEC Championship is one of the least formidable in the SEC. Non-conference home games against Appalachian State and Ohio, as well as a neutral site game at Bristol Motor Speedway against Virginia Tech, give them a manageable 3-0 record out of the gate.  The only real threat to that will be Virginia Tech, who’s coming off a 7-6 season and still trying to find a starting quarterback.

The next four games will determine the path of their season, at home against Florida, at Georgia, at Texas A&M, and at home against Alabama. Florida will be a difficult game against a tough defense, but they’re also looking for a quarterback (none of their quarterbacks have ever thrown a pass for Florida), and the game will be played at Neyland. Georgia will be their first difficult road game, but they will be facing a new head coach, Kirby Smart. Georgia is also young on offense but very talented and has a quarterback that won ten games last year in Greyson Lambert. Georgia is very experienced in the secondary on defense, and Smart is a defensive coach. This game will be a grind and a test for Tennessee.  the road game against Texas A&M will be their “trap game,” with a quarterback in Trevor Knight who went 11-4 last year at Oklahoma, and a coach fighting to keep his job in the midst of off-the-field drama in Kevin Sumlin. Alabama has already been discussed above.

All four of those will be tough games, but after them, Tennessee has the easiest four game schedule a team could compile in the SEC, and an FCS school they will soundly defeat. Ending the year at South Carolina, at home against Tennessee Tech, at home against Kentucky, at home against Missouri, and finishing off at Vanderbilt is a schedule that even Cincinnati, the program he left, could reasonably go undefeated against. Mark my words, if Tennessee is 7-0 on October 16, 2016, they will go undefeated through the regular season. Those middle four games will be tough, and I expect them to at least be 3-1 in the Florida, Georgia, A&M, Alabama matchups, but could there be an easier route to the SEC Championship? If he gets there and wins, it’s a virtual guarantee Tennessee will be in the CFB Playoffs… How far can they go? Every piece is in place for Butch Jones to answer the question every Tennessee fan is asking, “How far can Butch Jones take this program?”

So Tennessee fans, as you sit at #10 on the recently released Amway College Top 25 Coaches Poll, kick back and enjoy. You’re about to see the full potential of what your athletic director Dave Hart bought out of Cincinnati 3 years ago. Whether Tennessee has the next great coach in the SEC, or just one in the series of coaches trying to bring the “Power T” back to prominence, everything is in now in place.  You will know which of these he is at the end of this year, which is why, for Tennessee fans I would call it, “The Year of Butch Jones.”

Photo courtesy of Jason Yellin.

For These Two SEC Teams in 2016, it’s Atlanta or Bust!

Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Sports fans across the USA! Fall camp has begun at eight SEC schools and the remaining six are soon to follow. You don’t have to be force fed politics any longer. The first college football game is less than a month away. On Friday, August 27, the University of California Golden Bears will take on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at 10 p.m. ET in Sydney, Australia. Say where? Yep! All eyes will turn to the land down under.

Yes! College football is upon us! YeeeeHaaaaw!

No piddling around here. I will get right down to the nitty gritty and make my predictions as to how the SEC will shake down, and there are some surprises. After digesting this column, some of you might think I’ve been on tour with Willie Nelson or, at least, that I have shared a ride or two on the Honeysuckle Rose with the Red Headed Stranger. I wish.

Back in early April, I wrote this column on my early SEC predictions for the coming 2016 season with the promise to re-visit those picks later. Later is now. And some things have changed.

Following each team, below, you will see the prediction for said team’s overall record, followed by it’s projected SEC record.

So, take a deep breath, exhale, and… read.

SEC East

1.Tennessee (12-0, 8-0) The hype is real. The Vols will march through their regular season undefeated and play for the SEC Championship. Will they win it?

2. Georgia (9-3, 5-3) Kirby Smart will have a good debut season and lay the foundation for the Bulldogs to become a championship contender year in and year out.

3. Florida (7-5, 4-4) Gator fans will surely be hoping for more, but reality sets in as Jim McElwain attempts to continue building the program back to its former glory. He will also have the help of the Head Ball Coach as an ambassador and consultant.

4. Kentucky (7-5, 4-4) Mark Stoops finally has that break through season and the Cats return to a bowl game. Look for an upset win over Georgia in Lexington in early November.

5. Missouri (5-7, 2-6) True Son Barry Odom will get off to a rocky start in his first year as head coach of the Missouri Tigers.

6.Vanderbilt (4-8, 1-7) The Commodores will play a lot of teams tough, and flirt with a big upset or two, but will fail to improve on their overall record from 2015.

7.South Carolina (3-9, 0-8) The Gamecocks have a long, long climb back to respectability. Will Muschamp might accomplish that, but South Carolina hit its high water mark under Steve Spurrier.

SEC West

1.LSU (11-1, 7-1) This team is L.O.A.D.E.D. But isn’t it every year? The difference lies in a Heisman Trophy winning season for Leonard Fournette and the re-discovery of the forward pass by Les Miles. Brandon Harris will have the year Tiger fans have been waiting for.

2. Alabama (10-2, 6-2) In my April column I wrote that it would be “foolish” to pick anyone other than Bama to win the division. Then color me foolish. Losses to LSU and Tennessee will mar an otherwise very good campaign for the Crimson Tide.

3. Auburn (10-2, 6-2) Surprise! Surprise! But not really if you consider Auburn’s history of sterling seasons when you don’t expect it. An upset win over LSU in mid-September propels these Tigers into contention in the cruel SEC West.

4. Arkansas (8-4, 5-3) There were just too many big losses in personnel for Bret Bielema and his Hawgs to take the next step up the ladder of success on the gridiron. But opponents better be ready for this dangerous squad.

5. Ole Miss (8-4, 5-3) The looming NCAA sanctions will create just enough turmoil off-the-field to knock the Rebels down a notch on the field. That, in spite of a brilliant season from Chad Kelly.

6. Miss State (5-7, 2-6) The loss of Dak Prescott, and it’s residence in the West, will spell trouble for State.

7. Texas A&M (4-8, 1-7) The problems the Aggies have experienced, many of them inexplicable, will contribute to Kevin Sumlin’s fall from grace in College Station. His days will soon be numbered.

And so, it’s Tennessee vs. LSU for the SEC Championship, on December 3rd, in the last one of these games to be played in the Georgia Dome, in spite of its still being a great place to watch a football game. Whatever. It is what it is.

LSU and Fournette put an exclamation point on the season Tiger fans have been impatiently waiting for since 2011 when it last won the West and the SEC. Les survives and takes his team to Tampa, and a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Who will join the Tigers there? No guesses from this corner, just yet anyway.

It’s onward to the first SEC games on Thursday, September 1st, when Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina (look for an “upset” here), and the Appalachian State Mountaineers travel to Knoxville to do battle with the Tennessee Volunteers (don’t look for an upset here).

I cannot wait! How about you?

Tennessee and Florida: the Evolution of an SEC East Rivalry

This month, I was given the task of writing an article about “my” team’s biggest rivalry. This obviously posed an interesting question for me…which team would I be considering my own? If I were to stick with my Tennessee roots, then I would surely be writing about years of Tennessee-Florida matchups. But if I were to decide that Florida is “my” team for this purpose, then there would be no mention of Tennessee and it would be all about Florida playing Florida State. Funny how that works out! I, of course, decided to choose the option that allowed me the chance to talk about both of my teams in discussing Tennessee’s history of losses and their recent rivalry woes against the Florida Gators.

When the Rivalry Really Began

Those woes started about eleven years ago, now. But the real reason this qualifies as a rivalry is because of what happened in the 1990s. Though the teams did play before then, it was in 1992 that the SEC divisions made their matchup a permanent one. Any competitor that stands in your way of the division title is automatically going to be a rival. In the 1990s, the division title wasn’t the only one both teams seemed to be constantly chasing. Between the Vols and the Gators, they took eight out of ten SEC Championship titles during the decade. Not only that, but they also accounted for two National Championship victories during that same time period. It was safe to say that this game always had major implications for SEC football and possibly even NCAA football, as a whole.

If you ask most Gator fans which team is their biggest rival, they won’t say Tennessee. If you ask who their second-biggest rival is, they probably still won’t mention the Volunteers. But if you ask any Vol fan who their biggest rival is, they will easily mention the Gators. I know it; I grew up as a self-proclaimed “Gator hater” in East Tennessee. The only other rivalry that seems to come close is that with Alabama. But the Gators are still public enemy number one. So how did this disparity come to be?

The 1990s, the decade of VolGator SEC dominance, Florida managed to amass a 7-3 record over Tennessee. In the 2000s, they also had a 7-3 record over the Volunteers. And in the 2010s, they’re undefeated thus far and will therefore have the majority of wins in this rivalry regardless of the outcome of the next four games. Obviously, Gator fans aren’t particularly worried about the Tennessee game each year. But because Tennessee has managed to lose to them the majority of the time, and often in close fashion, Vol fans loathe the Gators. Two games come to mind when thinking about why exactly I would hate the Gators so much if I were still only a Vol fan. Their worst loss in recent memory came last year in Gainesville, and their “best” loss (if there is such a thing) came in the 2000s in Knoxville.

Tennessee’s “Best” Loss

In 2006, Urban Meyer was eager to prove himself as the new head coach for the Gators. He came into Neyland Stadium and did just that. But for the Volunteers, this was their best loss in this series. One highlight of this game was that defensive tackle Justin Harrell played his last game even though he had just injured his arm the week before. They also brought everything they had to the field, including a trick play touchdown pass and a great kicking performance. The Vols had the lead for much of the game and they didn’t blow it because of some horrible coaching decisions (I’ll get to that). They blew it because of simple mistakes in execution. To end Tennessee’s chances of possibly mounting a comeback after the Gators had taken a 21-20 lead in the closing minutes of the game, the Gators needed a big play. That’s just what they got when Reggie Nelson got an interception, allowing the Gators to eventually run out the clock.

The fact that they played such a close game with the eventual national champions is not something shameful. Think about how different things would have been that season if the Vols had been able to win on a last-minute field goal. The Gators would’ve been 6-2 in SEC play and the Vols would’ve been 6-2 as well. Since the Vols beat the Gators, they would’ve been the team representing the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game and would’ve gotten another shot at Arkansas (one of their two SEC losses). If the Vols had beaten Arkansas this time, then who knows how the season would’ve ended. Not to mention, Urban Meyer wouldn’t have gotten the same momentum over the Vols and the current win streak for the Gators would only be at a maximum of eight games, not eleven. There was another loss more recently that I would consider their “worst” loss in this rivalry, though.

Tennessee’s Worst Loss

Last year the Volunteers came into the season surrounded by more hype than they had seen in years. When Tennessee traveled to Gainesville, FL to play the Gators, many people knew that this game could possibly decide who took the SEC East title. Those people were right. Tennessee seemed to be clicking on all cylinders and the game was all but over. But then, the Gators managed to mount a stunning comeback. Butch Jones only helped the Gators in their comeback quest by calling timeouts at moments when Florida Coach Jim McElwain could really use those timeouts to his team’s advantage. The Gators capitalized on the opportunities they were given and were leading 28-27 with very little time left. The Vols were able to get in field goal range and missed not one, but two tries at what would’ve been the game-winning field goal. That is just the epitome of a terrible loss.

Again, think about how differently the season would’ve panned out if the Vols hadn’t choked in this game. Once again the Gators would’ve been 6-2 in SEC play and the Vols would’ve finished at the same mark with the tiebreaker. They would’ve headed to the SEC Championship Game for a rematch against Alabama, a team they played very tough just a few weeks prior. Tennessee could’ve beaten Alabama and the end result of their season would’ve been entirely different. The Vols did manage to run over Northwestern in their bowl game, but imagine if they had been able to squeak into the New Year’s Six instead. All of that opportunity was lost because of poor timeout usage by Jones and some pretty pitiful kicking.

Twelve in a Row?

This year, the rivalry may prove to be relevant to the NCAA as a whole again. But that only holds true if Tennessee can make this a true rivalry again by winning a game for the first time eleven years. While Florida seems to still be somewhat of an unknown with a new QB and the loss of some defensive starters, Tennessee has everything it could possibly need to make a great run in the SEC East. Once again, this game is likely to be the one that decides the SEC East champion. That fact alone automatically makes this a fantastic rivalry to witness. And if the Vols want the Gators to respect this rivalry the way they do, then they’ll need to bring everything they have for an entire four quarters of football this season. This journey back in time proves that just one bad quarter in this rivalry can ruin a whole season.

E-mail Kristen at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ogkristenb.

My Favorite SEC Football Players of All-Time

Last week was a busy one for SEC football. Coaches wish it weren’t so, but it seems as though there is never a dull moment when it comes to headlines that don’t spotlight the positives in and around their programs.

Hugh Freeze got blindsided (pun intended) with the resurrection of the Laremy Tunsil debacle just as Ole Miss is about to hear from the NCAA and its investigation into their program. Also, it appears that Freeze and Jim Harbaugh will attend the same satellite camp in Mississippi.

As the football world turns. These soap operas are highly entertaining and they give people like me something to write about.

Speaking of smoking weed with a gas mask device, four Auburn players were arrested on the Plains Saturday night for, you guessed it, ganja possession, and much to the chagrin of Gus Malzahn and the rest of us in the Auburn family. How long, oh Lord?

Then there was the NFL draft. Ohio State had the most first round picks with five and Alabama had only one, which surprised many “experts”, but the SEC, once again, had more players drafted than any other conference. So there! Nanny nanny poo poo!

So much for all of that. In my last couple of blogs I, subjectively ranked, in order, SEC head coaching jobs and power rankings of the fourteen schools in the conference.

I like lists. From top tens to favorites to whatever. I think most people do enjoy these.

That being said, this week I’m going to give you my top ten favorite SEC players of all time, excluding Auburn. If I allowed my Tigers’ players on the list you would have Pat Sullivan, Terry Beasley, Bo Jackson, Cam Newton, Jimmy Sidle, Tucker Frederickson, Phil Gargis, James Brooks, Joe Cribbs, Cadillac Williams, Bobby Hunt, Travis Tidwell, and the like to dominate it.

Here we go! My top ten favorite non-Auburn players in SEC history. I will do them alphabetically.

Billy Cannon – LSU – 1957-59. Cannon is most remembered for his 89-yard punt return against Ole Miss, in Tiger Stadium on Halloween night in 1959, to give the Tigers a 7-3 win. He won the Heisman that year, as well. Cannon was also named the SEC player of the year in both 1958 and 1959. LSU won the National Championship in ’58.

Randall Cobb – Kentucky – 2008-10. Cobb was an electrifying player at multiple positions for the Wildcats including quarterback, wide receiver and return specialist. He could do it all.  He is not to be confused with boxer, Randall “Tex” Cobb. 

Archie Manning – Ole Miss – 1968-70. Archie is, actually, one of my favorite players in any sport at any level. I never enjoyed watching a player from a team, not named Auburn, more. Just go back and watch some of the old clips from his days as a Rebel. Simply amazing!

Peyton Manning – Tennessee – 1994-97. Does anyone really need to be familiarized with Peyton? He led the Vols to an SEC Championship in 1997. He was a consensus All-American that year and also won the Maxwell Award. He should have won the Heisman Trophy.

Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M – 2012- 13.  Has there ever been a more exciting college football player than “Johnny Football”? Incredible. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. The 2012 Heisman winner pulled off more incredible escapes than Houdini. I truly hope his story turns out to be one of redemption.

Darren McFadden – Arkansas – 2005-07. McFadden could flat out tote the rock. He rushed for 4,590 yards at a 5.8 yards per carry clip during his years as a Razorback.  He tied the SEC record for most yards rushing in one game, in 2007, with 321 against South Carolina. McFadden won the Doak Walker Award twice, 2006-07, and the Walter Camp Award, given to the nation’s best overall player, once, in 2007.

Joe Namath – Alabama – 1962-64. “Joe Willie”, “Broadway Joe.” These are two of the monikers that Namath was known by during his playing days with the Crimson Tide. I loved him. Most boys loved him. All the girls loved him. Bama won the National Championship, with Joe under center, in 1964. But he is most famous for guaranteeing that his New York Jets would win Super Bowl III, and they did.

Dak Prescott – Mississippi State. The best player in the history of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, no? He was a gifted athlete who could both run and throw the ball. He carried the Bulldogs to heights henceforth unknown as they topped the polls for several weeks during the 2014 season. That season he also passed for 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns, and accumulated 4,435 total yards. He rushed for 2,411 yards in his time at State and that is third all-time, by a quarterback, in SEC history.

Steve Spurrier – Florida – 1964-66. Spurrier may be best known as the Head Ball Coach, but he was also a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for the Gators in 1966. There may have never been a more competitive, driven player and coach in the annals of the SEC. Football, golf, tiddlywinks, Spurrier just wants to beat you. And, he was always good for a great quote.

Herschel Walker – Walker is,  arguably, the greatest running back in the history of college football. Bo Jackson is my choice for the greatest athlete of all-time, but Herschel, both a Heisman winner and a national champion, carried the mail. He rushed for 5,259 yards in only three years as a Bulldog. And he was a sprinter, mixed martial artist and bobsledder!

There is my list of favorite non-Auburn players in SEC history. Why not come up with your own list? I am also open to suggestions for future lists as they are a lot of fun, and great conversation centerpieces at home, or at your favorite sports bar.

Now, who was the greatest fighter that ever lived? 😉

What’s the Best Head Coaching Job in the SEC?

Quick! Off the top of your head, what’s the best job in the SEC? We’re talking football, of course. That’s what we do here.

So, what is it?

Did I hear a goodly number of ‘Alabamas’ out there? Ok, that would be fair. But here is what the head coach at the University of Alabama, Nick Saban, thinks. In an article written by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, Saban compliments his former pupil, Kirby Smart, and also questions him as to why Georgia does not win on a grander scale. That is something that has left many pundits and fans scratching their collective heads over the years. That has been debated, ad nauseum, over the past eleven years. It’s how long it has been since the Bulldogs won an SEC championship. They haven’t won the Big Enchilada, a natty, since 1980.

Smart now finds himself in the big chair, in Athens, and Dawg fans are howling… with glee. Time will tell if Georgia returns as a dominant power in the SEC East. We shall see.

Now back to Saban. He thinks Georgia and LSU should be the top jobs in the conference. And that brings us back to our original question… What is the best head coaching job in the Southeastern Conference?

Barrett Sallee make a a very solid and strong argument for Alabama. He thinks that is, pretty much, a no-brainer. It is difficult to disagree with him, whether you love or hate the Crimson Tide. The “Process” is hitting on all eight in T-Town and it doesn’t look like things are going to change in the near future.

What about the rest of the league?

I’m going to start at the bottom and work my way up to the top. This is what I think and you should take it with the very smallest grain of salt you can locate with a magnifying glass.

Onward!

14. Vanderbilt

A gimme, right? You don’t have to be Carnac The Magnificent to figure that one out. Vandy is the graveyard of coaching jobs in the SEC and it ain’t even close.

13. Kentucky
They play basketball exceptionally well in Lexington.

12. Mississippi State
StarkVegas. It holds no similarity, whatsoever, to the derivation of its, now popular, nick-namesake.

11. South Carolina
We’re about to be reminded, once again, how great a football coach Steve Spurrier really was.

10. Arkansas
Ole Bret Bielema has done some good things in Fayetteville but he will never win the SEC West.

9. Ole Miss
Hugh Freeze has proven the Rebels can contend but Oxford is a place where no one will win, consistently, over an extended period of time.

8. Missouri
The Tigers have won two out of the last three East division titles but it doesn’t appear that is going to happen again any time soon.

7. Tennessee

A lot of coaches around the country wish that they were up on Rocky Top.

6. Auburn

They have both won a national championship and played for another, in the last six years, down on the Plains.

5. Texas A&M

The resources in College Station are limitless.

4. LSU

I don’t think it’s one of the top two jobs in the conference but one could certainly argue that point.

3. Georgia

A great, great job that is begging to be the top one.

2. Florida

It’s been done here, one more than one occasion, and it, probably, will be done again.

1. Alabama

In the SEC? How about the country?

That’s my two cents on how head coaching jobs rank in the Southeastern Conference. It’s entirely subjective and that’s one reason we love to spend much of our time, as SEC fans, debating countless subjects related to college football. Everybody has an opinion and, quite often, they are strong ones. Mull it over. Chime in!

Hey! Only 127 days remain until Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina on a Thursday night!

Monday Morning Breeze: College ‘Chips and NFL Winter Dips

Sometimes the parallels between life and these splendid sport displays are too loud to ignore.

Yesterday, when walking around the city (Austin) I came across a couple random dudes that’d just jumped (illegally) off the main (Congress) bridge into the frigid Colorado River which bisects the downtown portion of the city. It was a random moment in a rapidly-changing town that I just happened to catch, yet it contextualized the city and the day in its own special way. Two bike-kids popping off their wheels to flee the scene of cement and soar into unknown waters far beneath, for glee. It reminded me of this weekend’s football significance, with college teams hopefully plunging into waters of uncertain depth and temperature, hoping to return to the surface as league champions and playoff participants. Similarly, the NFL action called for the consistent competition that comes with our beloved professional game; pitting healthy, hot teams against the those lurking in the coldest waters, always looking to strike despite what the record beside their nickname might say.

‘Tis the season for organizational heathens leaving pink slips on the desks of disappointing coaches country-wide, and championship pursuit pictures getting clearer with Time’s guide. Regardless of the ugly sides of this football guide, we thankfully sigh knowing entertainment lies once again on the full weekend’s tide with Saturday, Sunday, and Monday offering welcome rides to the truths turf-tussling provides.

In the college ranks, we’ve already seen the coaching turnstile spinning round and round, with massive shake-ups at schools big and small. We’ve also heavily anticipated this championship weekend, as if the weeks leading to this Saturday were conjecture-filled opening/closing arguments for who belonged in the College Football Playoffs, this weekend would provide the jury’s decision, finally offering the truest clarity of the Four-tunate teams that’d go on to compete for college football’s holiest grail.

In the NFL, games continue chugging along with each week promising the delight and defiance showcased in a league built on the ideal of parity, in loud contrast to College Football’s “Mostly Big, Old Powers Rule” system. Post Sunday-Monday-smashing we’d learn if the Seahawks or Vikings were more for real, if the Panthers could remain the NFL’s sole undefeated in New Orleans, if Philadelphia is as bad as they seem facing the Super Patriots, and more and more and more.

So here’s what happened…

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Championship Saturday’s here! The conjectured smoke we’ve made will finally clear. On. The. Field.

College Football Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

The College Football Playoff is set…HEAD COACHING TURNSTILE UPDATE: Mark Richt heads to Miami, where I think he’ll dominate…Alabama’s DC Kirby Smart off to replace Richt in Georgia…Nice SI (Staples’) piece on Smart’s potential at UGA…Will Muschamp gets another HC shot at South Carolina…DJ Durkin leaving UofM(ichigan) for another UofM(aryland)…BYU’s Mendenhall off to mend Virginia…Syracuse to hire Bowling Green’s Dino BabersRutgers to hire OSU DC Chris Ash?…LSU to hire the coach they already had, Les Miles (great article)…Standout PITT RB James Conner, already out for the season w/a knee injury, diagnosed with Lymphoma

CFB Game of the Week

#4 Iowa vs. #5 MSU (B1G Championship Game)

Of all the championship games taking place Saturday, this one was the only clear-cut “win and you’re in the playoff” scenario for both teams participating. MSU, coming off a massive win over at-that-time-undefeated for 23-games Ohio State and a pummeling of Penn State, was rolling strong and appeared to be on a warpath to the Playoff. Meanwhile, Iowa’s been humming along in relative obscurity all year, except for those taking potshots at the Hawkeyes’ mediocre schedule and claiming they lack proof for being counted among the nation’s elite. For each, this game was a chance to quiet naysayers. In MSU’s case, forever playing second-fiddle to the University of Michigan in its own state (even as MSU’s been superior for years) has created a little-brother complex the Spartans seem ready to shed, and this game’s potential for granting MSU a spot in the CFP would lift any lingering question marks about their legitimacy as a national power. On the other hand, Iowa’s vanilla offense and vanilla schedule have created a mostly vanilla reception from the national audience relative to their elite status. If they could beat a mostly-proven opponent in MSU, on the Big Ten championship stage, it’d quiet almost each (but not all) negative Nancy and push them into the even brighter lights of the College Football Playoff.

LJ Use

#5 MSU 16 – #4 Iowa 13

Here’s One Play that Defined the Game, My Way:

  1. Sparty’s Longest Drive, Longest Yard, Long-Awaited Playoff Berth:

Click here to watch the play of the game.

We could talk all about the defensive slugfest this game predictably turned out to be. We could talk all about the resilience of Michigan State all year exhibited again here, the toughness of Iowa showing up on the big stage proving they belong listed among the nation’s elite, but we should only talk about one play. This play capped the one drive that mattered in this evening’s contest: Michigan State’s game-ending, 22-play, 82-yard drive that took 9 minutes and 42 seconds off the 4th-quarter clock, finishing with a battle comprised within a run that exemplified the entire game up to that point. Two teams playing disciplined, defensive, program-identity-laden football eventually being decided by this amazing gasp of human exertion by MSU’s Freshman RB LJ Scott.

For an outsider, this was the perfect play-nugget to decide and explain this B1G championship contest between two defensive-centric, heavyweight-slugging teams. This running play, given to Scott heading off the right tackle, into a swarm of Iowa defenders, appeared to have been smothered behind the coveted goal line. However, just like Michelangelo’s depiction of spiritual swine Divine and Man touching digits in the “Hand of God”, LJ Scott would not be denied a connection with his fate, with his Ultimate Understanding. Just like Man must twist and collide and pivot and spin and eventually strive to stretch past His hurdles in Life, LJ managed to do so past the Hawkeye’s defensive contingent, reaching the rock over the blessed white line into the end zone, Heaven, Enlightenment, and all that’s holy in the B1G’s championship dossier. Watch it once and you’ll probably see a hard-nosed football play. Watch it twice, perhaps your eyes can catch the human pursuit of peace and perfection, hope’s resurrection, time’s exalted collection of the homo-sapien struggle, all contained within one foray of this funny football snuggle.

At the End of the Day: CFB’s Top 25 Went this Way (Rankings via Official College Football Playoff Poll)

#4 Iowa vs. #5 MSU (B1G Championship)

Spartans strong, win with one loooong final drive and outstretched RB arm, on to the Playoff

#12 Baylor vs. Texas

Charlie makes strong, season-ending statement besting beat up Bears in Koresh’s House

#19 Houston vs. #22 Temple (AAC Championship)

Herman’s Coug’s run Owls back east, clinch ‘ship and hopeful future with new 5-year HC deal

#1 Clemson vs. #10 UNC (ACC Championship)

Tigers remain undefeated, decleating Carolina, Dabo dances finah than Fedora

#2 Alabama vs. #18 Florida (SEC Championship)

Bama whamma’s Gators gains, screams victory from Mobile plains enroute to Playoff

#7 Stanford vs. #20 USC (Pac-12 Championship)

Card’s ride McCaffery’s record-setting (all-time yardage) son, may’ve won himself the Heisman

NFL WEEK 11 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Teams Keep Smashing Each Other in Fast, Fun, Frightening Ways

NFL Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week

God-damned Lions lose on this crazy play to the Pack…We know JJ Watt’s good, but outperforming Buffalo’s entire D-Line good?…Great look at how the NFL’s money train keep rolling, no matter what…Rams’ WR Stedman Bailey recovering miraculously from gunshot wounds to the head…Panthers’ CB Josh Norman on how he gets his game face on…

NFL Game of the Week

Seahawks @ Vikings

Minnesota red-carpeted to this game on a roll, winning 6 of their last 8 games, leading the NFC North and riding a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson fresh off his massive suspension last year to a dominant season thus far. Meanwhile, Seattle has struggled to regain the form that saw them to the last two Super Bowls, missing out on a repeat chance due to one (very) questionable goal-line offensive play call against New England. The Seahawks had rebounded from a rough 0-2 start to the season to 2-3, and now regaining their championship form on a 2-game winning streak. Who’s momentum would continue after this meeting of two of the warmer teams in the League? Could the ‘Hawks D slow down the Peterson train (yes)? Could Minnesota contain Russell Wilson (no)?

WILSON YES

Seattle 38 – Minnesoooootaahhh 7

One Play that Defined the Game, My Way:

  1. Russell Wilson Spins the Game, Vikings, on His Fingers:

Click here to watch the play of the game.

Much has been (rightfully) made of Steph Curry’s dominance of the NBA recently, including this glowing NY Times’ piece getting the similarly glowing reviews from professional ballet dancers on Steph’s footwork and exploits. If there’s anyone in the NFL that can offer such a consistently entertaining, fleet of foot viewing experience it’s Seattle’s QB Russell Wilson. On a key 3rd down play during SEA’s first scoring drive against the Vikings, Wilson’s Curry-like ways were on full display as he rolled left and was rudely confronted by Minnesota’s DE, #99 Danielle Hunter. Wilson, in response to potentially being mauled, chose to feign a quick cut right, seemingly planning to return whence he came for greener pastures. His juke so convincing the ultra-athletic (and jacked) Hunter sought to cut Russell off at the pass, for a likely sack, glory, and end of the Seahawks’ potential TD drive. Unfortunately for Hunter, and Viking fans worldwide, Wilson was merely setting him up, like Reggie Miller getting free for another open 3 or a mark getting took by the Vegas shark that’s lurked longer, better, and quickly spun back to his left, revealing a wide-open patchwork of turf he’d quickly sprint across, gaining a valuable first down and ultimately a Seahawks touchdown. It appeared effortless, perfect balance maintained throughout, as though Wilson was Kasparov playing chess with a beginner, knowing all along the trap he needed to set for a quick victory. This is just one play, but it resembled the entire afternoon of this Seattle blowout victory, as Wilson was at his best all day, controlling the pace of the game, distributing the ball effectively, and being electric when he had to. Don’t count out the ‘Hawks just yet, thanks to Wilson’s balletic brilliance, that’s a play I won’t soon forget.

NFL Results Roundup

Packers vs. Lions (Thursday Night)

McCarthyism wins in miracle fashion, Pack smack Lions back down with shocking Hail Aaron

Texans @ Bills

Rexy’s boys finally get win machine turned on, top Texans and turn tons of pressure on Billy’s butt

Falcons @ Buccaneers

Rookie QB’s rule today, with Winston rolling once more to a win over Matt “Not Good” Ice

Jaguars @ Titans

Mr. Mariota runs looooong past Jacksonville, cast Jags in a losing suit once more

Jets @ Giants

Despite another lovely ODB Jr. long TD, Jets with the battle of New York, see?

Cardinals @ Rams

If you haven’t noticed yet, ‘Zona’s good and they pull the hood over Rams’ heads again

49ers @ Bears

Gabbert shows he’s a fast white dude, excludes Cutler from that category & the one named WIN

Bengals @ Browns

How’s that Manziel punishment going? Dalton’s smash baby Browns, make clowns of CLE frowns

Ravens @ Dolphins

Will Smith’s win over the Poe’s in the city of Southern Sin

Broncos @ Chargers

Brock bowls a nice game again, smacks Future Los Angeles Chargers hard

Chiefs @ Raiders

Reid’s steeds beat Al’s young pals, KC craters Raiders

Panthers @ Saints

Cam’s Cats stay undefeated, gut-punch hope-depleted Stains du Nu Orlosin’s

Eagles @ Patriots

Chip shows college football how much he loves NFL by bringing hell to 2-loss-in-a-row Belichicks

Colts @ Steelers

Big Ben busts Hasselbeck’s butt so bad, the Colts can’t remember Luck ever feeling so bad

Cowboys @ Washington (Monday Night Football Prediction)

(EDIT) Cousins continues climb to kiddie-Canton1Editor’s Note: We realize Drew Stanton plays in Arizona, but we tend not to bother The Breeze when he’s rolling, a la Brother Bluto, leads Terrible Name past the Collarbone’d Cowboys

Follow This to Finish Fantasy Fantasy Football Finer than Foes

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1. Editor’s Note: We realize Drew Stanton plays in Arizona, but we tend not to bother The Breeze when he’s rolling, a la Brother Bluto

Don’t Hold the SEC East Against Alabama

Colin Cowherd made a polarizing statement. and in other news, the world is round. But here’s the thing, this time Cowherd is correct when he says that the SEC is overrated.

I didn’t expect the SEC to be the best conference in college football prior to the season starting and I don’t think they are the best conference in football as we speak. The conference as a whole just lacks depth.

As has been the case for the past few years, the balance of power in the SEC is tipped overwhelming in favor of the West division. Both the East and the West have SEC caliber football players. So what is the difference between the two divisions? Simple, its coaches.

The SEC West has a stockpile of highly successful coaches. Nick Saban obviously leads the pack, but Les Miles, Hugh Freeze, Dan Mullen, Gus Malzahn and Bret Bielema are no slouches. Between this group of 6 coaches, they have won 6 national championships. Now think about the SEC East. Steve Spurrier was the only coach who had won a national championship and he quit mid-season.

Next season does not look much better for the SEC East. In addition to South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri will have new head coaches as well. Georgia fired Mark Richt and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel retired. Each coach had been at their school for 15 seasons. Butch Jones is now the longest tenured coach in the SEC East and has a 54% winning percentage while at Tennessee. Come on SEC East, it’s time to step up your game.

I’ll admit that comparing the number of national championships between the coaches may be to rigorous, so let’s compare the number of SEC championships the East has won in comparison to the West. The last SEC championship for the East was when Florida won the league in 2008. Urban Meyer was their coach and has since moved on to Ohio St. where he is public enemy number 1 for the SEC. That’s what beating Alabama for a national championship will do.

The league is down and it has been for a few years, but that has nothing to do with Alabama. I’ve heard it time and time again, as I’m sure you have as well: Alabama hasn’t beaten anybody and Alabama has a bad loss. There is parity throughout college football this year so name me a school that doesn’t have a questionable loss or has had issues putting a lesser opponent away this season. It’s tough to do.

Alabama, to me, is the best team in college football right now. Pay attention to what I just said: RIGHT NOW. Since losing to Ole Miss on September 19, the Crimson Tide have rolled off 9 consecutive wins. That is tough to do for any team and is particularly tough when you have a target on your back. Think back to the first game of the year when Alabama opened with Wisconsin. Alabama won that game 35-17 and that was prior to having figured its own offense out. In addition to having an offensive identity that was yet to be determined, Alabama beat a team from what many believe to be the best conference in the country- the Big Ten.

As I’ve said before, the SEC season is all well and good for Alabama, but their real season starts in the SEC championship game. Perhaps their critics will be validated and Alabama will lose to some mythical superior opponent. I doubt it.

This is nut cuttin’ time and I’m not betting against Alabama and I’m certainly not betting against Nick Saban with a chip on his shoulder.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

Photo: Shutterbug459/Flikr

Georgia vs. Miami: Who Got The Best Deal?

If you follow college football at all, by now you know that the University of Georgia has hired Alabama defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart to be their head football coach. You also know that the University of Miami has hired, recently deposed, GEORGIA head coach, Mark Richt as their CEO.

Welcome to this edition of “As the Coaching Carousel Turns: Dawgs and Canes”, or “Sanford or South Beach?”, or “Hedges or Hialeah?”.

At any rate, we could all join ole George Jones in singing his classic, “The Race Is On”.

The race IS on for NCAA football coaches all across this great land. It’s kind of like a Whack-A-Mole game. And for those of us who eat, breathe, and sleep college football, particularly FBS football, we’re dang near giddy.

Now back to the business at hand. I’ll pose a question to you. Who do you think got the best deal, the Dawgs or the U?

Hmmmmmm… right? Or no?

For me, the immediate answer to that was, The U!

That was my initial, gut response. And my first response, if asked, as to why I thought that Miami was getting the best deal is this… Mark Richt is a PROVEN winner as a HEAD coach in the SEC.

His record is 145-51 for a .7397 winning percentage. That’ll round right up to 74%. I was a bad ass in arithmetic. Now I’m not too shabby with calculators.

That’s for starters. More at 10 PM!

Richt is also, by all accounts, a great guy. And a good Christian. That DO help, maybe, but give me a Wiccan who wins football games and I’ll be just fine.

Ahem, Richt has won two SEC Championships and five SEC East titles. He was named SEC Coach of the Year twice and was a finalist for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year in 2002.

Richt is one of only five men in NCAA Division 1A history to record 132 or more wins in his first 14 seasons as head coach. Other guys on that short list? “Big Game” Bob Stoops, Tom Osborne, and Gary Patterson.

The only coaches to win two SEC titles in their first five years? Frank Thomas at Alabama, 1933-’34. Bernie Moore at LSU, 1935-’36, Vince Dooley at Georgia, 1966-‘68 and Mark Richt 2002-’05.

Now that’s just a smattering of info from his days at UGA.

You can go to the University of Georgia Official Athletic Site, as well, and read much, MUCH more. Thank you GEORGIADOGS.COM.

See! I did all the heavy lifting!kirby smart

Now, how about Bainbridge, GA native son and first team all-SEC defensive back, Kirby Smart? A Georgia grad.

Do you think that defense at the University of Alabama is pretty darn good? Well, Smart has been defensive coordinator there for for the past seven years. He has been on the staff there for nine years.

Smart was named the 2012 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year and he took home the 2009 Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country.

His defense, in 2011, led the nation in total defense (183.6 ypg), scoring defense (8.2 ppg), rushing defense (72.2 ypg), passing defense (111.5 ypg) and passing efficiency defense (83.69 rating).

That’s JUST the 2011 season!

Nick Marshall completed 27 of 43 passes for 456 yards and 3 touchdowns as Auburn amassed 630 total yards and 44 points against Smart’s defense in the 2014 Iron Bowl.Nick Marshall

Oops!

NOOOOOO! I kid! Just funnin’ with ya’!

Smart has also been an integral part of 3 SEC Championships and 3 BCS National Championships, to date.

Suffice it to say, Kirby can coach him some D!

And that info above? You can traipse over to the University of Alabama Official Athletic Site, at ROLLTIDE.COM (OUCH), and complete your, already begun by me, search for info on the new Head Coach in Athens, GA.

AND… I don’t care if Kirby Smart is an atheist or a Buddhist. He is a defensive mastermind.

So there you have it!

Once again, I’m going with Miami as getting the best deal. Could I be wrong? Time will tell.

What say ye????

The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry

I have attended twenty-five Auburn-Georgia games. My record is 13-11-1. Saturday, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise (well, the creek HAS risen, but that’s another story), will be number twenty-six for me. And I hope my record improves to 14-11-1. More on that later.

Here is a look back at some of those games I attended which were memorable and had a huge impact.

1968

The 1968 game was the first one I was privileged to view in-person. My father drove me, and my friends Frank McGraw and Mike Collins, to The Plains that rainy November morning. The weather cleared during the game.

Auburn was 6-2 with designs on an Orange Bowl invitation. Those dreams were squashed by a suffocating Bulldog defense which allowed only 3 first quarter points. The visitors scored all 17 of their points in stanza number two. The final tally was 17-3.

The Herschel Years

Herschel Walker, arguably college football’s greatest running back EVER, toted the rock at UGA for three seasons, 1980-82, and Georgia was the victor in all three. The respective scores were 31-21, 24-13, and 19-14.

I was there for all of those losses.

1982

Moral victories (is there really any such thing?) are ultimately hollow, but often provide a ray of hope. That was the case in 1982.

Georgia was undefeated and had their sights set on a second National Championship in a three-year span. They had beaten Notre Dame to accomplish this, behind the running of frosh phenom, Walker, following the 1980 season.

The Dawgs led 13-7 in the fourth quarter when Auburn’s Lionel “Little Train” James fielded a punt at his own 13-yard line and took it to the house. Tigers 14-13!

The number one team in the country responded like the champions they were with an 80-yard march that ended with Walker taking it in from the three. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

The Tigers countered with a desperation drive, engineered beautifully by quarterback Randy Campbell, that fell just short, as Campbell threw into the end zone on fourth down only to have the pass batted away with 47 ticks remaining on the clock. Game over. Georgia, 19-14.

This was the afternoon that legendary Bulldog broadcaster, Larry Munson, screamed, “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky! Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!” as the game concluded, and referencing the, now upcoming, trip to the Sugar Bowl for the SEC Champion Bulldogs.

But… BUT, also as the game concluded, Auburn fans, as often we do, chanted “It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!” over and over and over. And the mood at our, and other’s tailgates, was not one of sadness or despair, but one of optimism and hope.

One game was yet to be played on that 1982 schedule, and the opponent was the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Auburn fans knew, in their heart of hearts, as one, that the nine-game winning streak that the Tide lorded over the Tigers could very well come to an end in two weeks at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

It did! Bo Jackson went “over the top” to give Auburn a 23-22 lead which they did not relinquish. That was Bear Bryant’s last regular season game as head coach at Alabama, and the balance of power, within the state, began to shift.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Another monster game in “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.”

1983

I was NOT in attendance. We were living in Albany, NY and didn’t make the game, but it’s tale is a must tell when one consider’s the enormity of the event.

Auburn had not won an SEC Championship since 1957. Third-year coach Pat Dye brought a determined group of Tigers to play “between the hedges”. They were 8-1 and number 3 in the country. Georgia was undefeated and ranked number 4.

Georgia was looking for its fourth straight league title. The winner of this one would decide who would represent the SEC in New Orleans.

Auburn would, absolutely, not be denied this time. They were in full control of the game, from the beginning, and the 13-7 triumph was not as close as the score indicated.

The twenty-six year conference championship drought came to an end in Athens.

Auburn went on to defeat the Michigan Wolverines, and Bo Schembechler, 9-7, in the Sugar Bowl. They would be crowned National Champions by the New York Times.

Schembechler said Auburn would not be able to run on Michigan. Auburn did, indeed, run on the Wolverines and Bo Jackson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Fast forward to 2004. I’m back in attendance.

2004

Auburn… #3 and undefeated. Georgia… #5 with one loss.

ESPN College GameDay.

There is only one game in which the atmosphere was more electric on an Auburn football Saturday. That was in 1989 when Alabama came to town for the first time in the history of the series.

Auburn had already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game and was playing for a, potential, spot in the Orange Bowl in the BCS National Championship Game.

Auburn held Georgia scoreless for 57 minutes and wound up winning by a 24-6 count. It wasn’t that close. They dominated the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball.

Carnell “Cadillac” Williams carried the ball 19 times for 101 yards.

Ronnie Brown ran for 51 yards. He also caught 7 passes for 88 yards.

And how about Jason Campbell? 18 for 22 and 189 yards.

Most of us know the rest of the story.

Auburn went into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama two weeks later. The Tigers should have played Southern Cal for it all. They did not, as the idiots in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls kept Oklahoma at number two, and college football fans were robbed of what would, most likely, have been a monumental ‘game for the ages’ in Miami.

Auburn WAS named National Champions by People’s National Champions and the GBE College Football Ratings, among others.

2013

‘Nuff said!!!

And that brings us to…

2015

It’s not 2004, or even 1982, but this year’s contest between Auburn and Georgia is very important. Without rehashing what is going on in Athens, with Mark Richt and his squad, Georgia needs this game… BADLY.

Auburn needs this game.

The Tigers went to to College Station and whipped the Texas A&M Aggies in a most impressive fashion.

The game plans for the offense and defense were excellent and they were well executed.

Jeremy Johnson returned as the starting signal caller and performed extremely well.

Jovon Robinson asserted himself as that ‘go to’ back that Auburn can give the ball to with complete confidence, and he will break a couple of long runs before the season is over.

The Auburn defense nabbed three picks off the arm of dynamic freshman quarterback, Kyler Murray and, very importantly, contained him in the pocket.

In short, the Tigers played Auburn Football, really, for the first time this year. Now it’s time for them to step up and do that consistently.

For the 119th time, Georgia awaits. The series stands at 55-55-8. Think it could get any closer?

There has been turmoil within the Bulldog program and Richt might be coaching for his job in these last two games, but you can believe that he will have his minions ready for Auburn. He always does. The Dawgs have won seven out of the last ten.

The stage is set.

I am of the opinion that Auburn will continue to build on what they have been doing for the past three weeks, the A&M game being their most complete one, and play their best game of the 2015 season. And I will run my record, in games I’ve attended versus Georgia, to 14-11-1.

Auburn 31, Georgia 20