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SEC Football-Television Schedule Week Four

Sep 20, 2014 -- 8:01am

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Today's SEC football schedule and games times. All times are central.

Sat, Sep 2011:00 AMTroy at # 13 GeorgiaSEC NETWORK
Sat, Sep 202:30 PM# 6 Texas A&M at SMUABC, ESPN3
Sat, Sep 202:30 PMFlorida at # 3 AlabamaCBS
Sat, Sep 203:00 PMIndiana at # 18 MissouriSEC NETWORK
Sat, Sep 206:00 PMNorthern Illinois at ArkansasESPNU
Sat, Sep 206:00 PMMississippi State at # 8 LSUESPN3, ESPN
Sat, Sep 206:30 PM# 14 South Carolina at VanderbiltSEC NETWORK

 

Game Preview: Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas

Sep 19, 2014 -- 11:11am

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

The Arkansas Razorbacks will host the Northern Illinois Huskies in Fayetteville this Saturday at 6:00 PM CT in a game that will be broadcast on ESPNU. Here is a preview of what to expect.

When Arkansas Runs the Ball

In their last two games the Razorbacks have shown they can be a very physical team running the football. Against Texas Tech last week the Hogs rushed for 438 yards and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. RB Alex Collins totaled 212 yards on the ground and Jonathan Williams added four touchdowns. This success was obtained behind an offensive line that dominated the Red Raiders at the line of scrimmage.

Northern Illinois’s run defense is the 13th best nationally, giving up just 81 yards per game. It does matter that they have not faced an offense with a physical ground game like Arkansas features. Their opponents UNLV and Northwestern are 87th and 115th nationally in rushing offense. In the middle the Huskies feature several players who are 300 pounds and up, and DE Jason Meehan plays with a high motor.

Advantage: Arkansas

When Arkansas Throws the Ball

Around Arkansas there is great angst because the Hogs have not thrown the ball much. Most believe this to be because there is a lack of confidence in QB Brandon Allen. The reality is that the Razorbacks have not needed to throw the ball much so far in 2014. This means we don’t know if they can use the passing game to win, if necessary. What we do know is that Allen is completing more than 50% of his pass attempts and against Tech five of his six completions resulted in first downs. What can’t be overlooked is that against the Red Raiders, Allen also missed two receivers on deep balls where his man was wide open. The receiver to watch is Keon Hatcher who has caught a pass in seven straight games now.

Huskie DE Jason Meehan has done a good job of getting to the defensive end, recording a sack in Northern Illinois last seven games. As a unit the Huskie defense has eleven sacks, good for the top position in the MAC. Getting a good rush will be important because the secondary for Northern Illinois is very inexperienced and as a unit they allow 259 yards a game and have allowed teams to complete 60% of their pass attempts.

Advantage: Arkansas

When Northern Illinois Runs the Ball

Like the Hogs, Northern Illinois has an offense that is centered on running the football first. They rank eighth nationally with an average of 325.3 yards per game on the ground. While not as big as Arkansas on the offensive front, the Huskies still feature a big group of players on the line and will have a significant size advantage on Arkansas. Expect to see several players line up at running back for Northern Illinois, but Akeem Daniels and Joel Bouagnon will get the bulk of the work. Daniels averages 6.3 yards per carry and Bouagnon has four touchdowns on the season. The longest run from scrimmage for the Huskies is just 29 yards. Quarterback Drew Hare is also a dangerous runner and has 156 yards rushing through three games.

The Razorbacks are giving up 145 rushing yards per game and an average of 4.5 yards per carry. The Arkansas linebackers are the most athletic group as a whole the school has had in years, but they need to be more physical in the interior.

Advantage: Northern Illinois

When Northern Illinois Throws the Ball

Like Arkansas, the Huskies only throw the ball on about 29% of their offensive plays. Quarterback Drew Hare is completing 62.7% of his attempts. There is one main go to receiver for Hare and that is Da’Ron Brown. Through three games Brown has 357 yards receiving and four touchdowns. The next leading receiver for the Huskies is Juwan Brescacin with just 88 yards and two touchdowns.

Arkansas was very effective at disrupting the Texas Tech pass offense last week and the return of Tevin Mitchell at cornerback was obvious, as he broke up two passes on the first Red Raider possession of the game. The Razorback linebackers are also very active in the pass defense and last week Brooks Ellis broke up four passes and Martrell Spaight had an interception to his credit.

Advantage: Arkansas

Special Teams

Arkansas

Sam Irwin-Hill gives Arkansas a reliable punter and is averaging 43.6 yards per kick this season. Korliss Marshall has four returns on kickoffs for a total of 92 yards.  

Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois has settled for more field goals than Arkansas this season to score points and Tyler Wedel has a long of 45 yards in 2014.

Advantage: Northern Illinois

Coaching

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has a plan and is working it steadily by building the Hogs in the mold of his Big Ten teams at Wisconsin: big and physical. There is more work to be done, but the foundation for future success is being laid. This week the Razorback coach gathered plenty of attention for the physical domination his team displayed against Texas Tech.

Rod Carey leads Northern Illinois and has a 15-3 record since taking over the team in 2012.

Advantage: Arkansas

The Call

Expect this game to be a physical one that is dominated by play in the trenches and both teams to have success moving the ball behind strong running games. As the game unfolds the Arkansas offensive line should take control of the game and grind the clock up. If the Huskies are forced to throw the ball they only have one receiver that has demonstrated an ability to make plays, and the Arkansas secondary can handle that. In the end, the Hogs have more talent and will win their third straight game of the season, and this will be the highest quality win of the season so far for Bielema’s team.

Final Score: Arkansas 35  Northern Illinois  27

 

 

SEC Forecast and Predictions: Week Four

Sep 18, 2014 -- 9:39pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Week four of the college football season and the drama continues to build with more SEC games taking place. Here is one opinion of how things should shake out this weekend.

Troy (0-3, 0-0 Sun Belt) at #13 Georgia (1-1, 0-1 SEC) 
Noon ET, SEC Network

The Bulldogs are looking to lick their wounds following their loss to South Carolina and Troy is probably the perfect punching bag. The Trojans have a 38 point loss in the books to UAB and this team is bad on both offense and defense. Troy allows 40 points per game and is the 105th offense in scoring with just 20.7 points per game.

Winner: Georgia

#6 Texas A&M (3-0, 1-0 SEC) at SMU (0-2, 0-0 AAC)
3:30pm ET, ESPN2/ABC

The big story in this game will be Tom Mason taking the helm at SMU on an interim basis after the sudden resignation of June Jones. The Mustangs have given up 98 points in two games and scored just six. A&M has scored 163 points through three games, giving them an average of 54.3 points per game, which is good for second nationally.

Winner: Texas A&M

Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) at #3 Alabama (3-0, 0-0 SEC) 
3:30pm ET, CBS 

This is the headline game in the SEC this weekend. Florida may be undefeated, but entering this game they seem to be a team that has been backed into a corner after struggling with Kentucky in a three overtime win. Offensively these two teams rank second (Florida) and third (Bama) in total offense in the SEC, but neither has been tested by a defense like they will see Saturday. Both are ranked in the top 15 nationally in total defense. The winner will be the one that can establish a running game, and that is an edge to the Tide.

Winner: Alabama

Indiana (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at #18 Missouri (3-0, 0-0 SEC)
4:00pm ET, SEC Network

Indiana has the ability to put points on the board, but the Hoosier defense is full of holes like swiss cheese. When Indiana has the ball watch Tevin Coleman carrying the football. He leads FBS in rushing average per game with 218.5. Missouri is finding solid offensive production behind QB Maty Mauk and their defensive line is as good, or better, than last season.

Winner: Missouri

Northern Illinois (3-0, 0-0 MAC) at Arkansas (2-1, 1-1 SEC)
7:00pm ET, ESPNU

These two teams may not combine for 20 passes in the game. Northern Illinois ranks eighth in the nation on the ground averaging 325.33 yards per game, and Arkansas is third racking up 362 yards on the ground. The Huskies boast a good run defense, but have not been challenged by a team like the Hogs and their power running game that features Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams carrying the ball.

Winner: Arkansas

Mississippi State (3-0, 0-0 SEC) at #8 LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:00pm ET, ESPN

Can Dan Mullen lead Mississippi State to the next step in the SEC against one of the annual powerhouse teams in the conference? The Tigers have plenty of talent, but they are still developing some very young players at key positions. LSU has pitched two shutouts in a row, but the competition in those games was sub-par. For State to have any chance quarterback Dak Prescott will have to have a career night. If this game was in Starkville, we might be talking upset. It is being played in Baton Rouge though.

Winner: LSU

#14 South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1 SEC)
7:30pm ET, SEC Network 

There will be no hangover for South Carolina in this game against the Commodores. Even if they did have one, they would still beat a very bad Vandy team. Dylan Thompson showed he may be ready to lead the Gamecock offense to better places with his steady performance against Georgia.

Winner: South Carolina

Thursday, September 8, 2014

#5 Auburn (2-0, 1-0 SEC) at Kansas State (2-0, 1-0 Big 12)
7:30pm ET ESPN

This Thursday night game will be entertaining early, but over the course of the game Auburn will eventually wear the Wildcats down and head home with a win.

Winner: Auburn

 

 

SEC Power Rankings-Week Three

Sep 17, 2014 -- 11:27am

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

With three weeks down it was time to shake things up based on the outcomes of last weekend. Week four promises to bring more change.

1. Auburn

The Tigers take their show on the road to face Kansas State this weekend. Auburn is averaging 330 yards per game on the ground in 2014.

Trend: Neutral

2. Texas A&M

It does not appear that the loss of Johnny Manziel has slowed the Aggies any. They are averaging 54.3 points per game, but have mostly played against air.

Trend: Neutral

3. LSU

Is it time to start buying in on LSU? They are only giving up eight points per game.

Trend: Up

4. Alabama

The Tide has issues, but is leading the nation in rushing defense, giving up 47 yards per game on the ground.

Trend: Down

5. Georgia

It seems that the Bulldogs may lack that championship DNA. Jeremy Pruitt’s defense is 12th in the SEC giving up 29.5 points per game.

Trend-Down

6. Ole Miss

Like what Ole Miss has shown, but need to see them be really tested before jumping on the wagon. Bo Wallace is second in the SEC in passing and has nine touchdowns. Also has four picks.

Trend: Neutral

7. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are in the upper half of the SEC in scoring offense (43.7 ppg) and defense (12.3 ppg).

Trend-Neutral

8. Arkansas

There are Texas Tech players still having nightmare about being run over by the Hogs. Arkansas is tops in SEC with 362 yards per game running.

Trend: Up

9. South Carolina

Yes they beat Georgia. That still does not account for the complete letdown in the opener. The Gamecocks are dead last in the SEC in total defense giving up an eye popping 513 yards per game. Almost 100 more than Vandy.

Trend: Neutral

10. Missouri

The Tigers have not missed a beat on defense and lead the SEC in sacks with eleven in three games.

Trend: Up

11. Tennessee

Vols gave a credible performance in Norman, but the offensive line is really bad. They have given up nine sacks in three games. Last in the SEC.

Trend: Up

12. Kentucky

Great effort against Florida. The Wildcats have a 1.33 turnover margin. Third best in the conference.

Trend: Up

13. Florida

The Gator won the game with Kentucky in three overtimes, but Will Muschamp lost. It is really hard to believe Florida is second in the SEC in total offense averaging 593.5 yards per outing.

Trend: Down

14. Vanderbilt

The Commodores are last in total offense and next to last in total defense. So, would you say this team’s strength is defense?

Trend: Down

College Football Random thoughts

Sep 14, 2014 -- 9:13pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Three weeks of college football are complete and here are some random thoughts on my mind as we have now watched a little football.

I think…

  • Alabama is going to lose three games because the Tide’s pass defense is weak, the offensive line play is average and at some point QB Blake Sims will have to throw the ball to someone other than Amari Cooper.
  • That in just a matter of weeks half the AP top ten will not be from the SEC West as they start beating each other up.
  • Every school in the SEC West could challenge to win the SEC East.
  • Jimbo Fisher may feel good about his Gator team beating Kentucky in three overtimes, but Gator fans don’t like feeling lucky to have “gotten by” the Wildcats.
  • When Arkansas and Texas A&M face off in a few weeks, things will come down to who has the football last because neither team will stop the others offense.
  • Nicholls followed up their 73-7 loss to Arkansas by losing to Henderson, a Division II school, by a score of 27-10. This says something about the value of the Razorback win over the Colonels.
  • Jim Delaney can keep selling, but the Big 10 is playing a really bad brand of football. Last week the conference went 3-6 in out of conference games. Bowling Green State and Iowa State are two of the teams that took the conference down.
  • It does not matter how mad Urban Meyer is about losing to Virginia Tech a week ago. Throwing a bomb on the last play of the game against Kent State was classless. The Buckeyes led 66-0.
  • Arkansas fans may have been more excited that Bobby Petrino’s Louisville team lost, than their own victory over Texas Tech. The Cardinals lost to a Virginia team that has struggled in recent years.
  • If Georgia’s Todd Gurley was my tailback and we needed a score late in the game from inside the ten, he would see the ball on every play.

Then there are the things I wonder about. Like….

  • How much football do the athletic directors who are on the CFB playoff committee actually watch each week? These people all have full time jobs and I’m assuming they have not cut back on those duties to make more time to watch tape. For example, we know that USC’s Pat Haden is dialed in on USC football.
  • Don’t you think that with all the problems in the world, we could find a better use for Condoleezza Rice’s considerable talents time than worrying about who plays for the national title in college football? No, I don’t mean working on the challenges facing the NFL.
  • Does anyone really care about the playoff forecasts being done by almost every pundit? What is the value in it?
  • Will these same writers skewer the committee when they disagree with them?
  • Does Texas need to hire a coach to help their captains know how to handle the coin toss?

Is there any sport better than college football? Uh, No.

 

 

 

 

Arkansas vs. Texas Tech: Who has the edge?

Sep 12, 2014 -- 5:40pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

The Arkansas Razorbacks will travel to Lubbock, TX Saturday to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 2:30 CT on ABC. Here is a preview of what to expect.

When Arkansas Runs the Ball

Expect the Razorbacks to be able to run the football against Tech. Not because of what the Hogs did against Nicholls, but because they have a strong offensive line that might end up being one of the best in the SEC by the end of the season. Arkansas also features a trio of running backs that would be the best in any other conference. Alex Collins is averaging 99.5 yards per game and Jonathan Williams is checking in with a whopping 16.1 yards per carry. Korliss Marshall is a genuine playmaker who can take the ball to the house at any time.

Another reason to believe Arkansas will be able to run the ball is the performance of the Tech defense in the first two games of 2014. The Red Raiders have played very average competition so far, and are giving up 227 yards rushing per game. That is good for next to last in the Big 12 in rushing defense. Tech has also given up six touchdowns in ten trips to the red zone by their opponents. Expect to see as many as ten linemen play for Tech against Arkansas.

Advantage: Arkansas

When Arkansas Throws the Ball

Quarterback Brandon Allen did not throw much against Nicholls, but he was very efficient. On the day, he completed four of his five pass attempts and each catch went for a touchdown. In the Razorback opener the biggest problem with the passing game was the number of drops by Arkansas receivers. Keon Hatcher is a dynamic player, but too many times he fails to make the catch. Star tight end Hunter Henry also needs to become more involved in the passing game. He is a mismatch for almost every school on the schedule.

The Red Raiders have only given up one touchdown pass in their two games and allowed UTEP to complete just 26% of their pass attempts. It is a young group of players in the defensive backfield with J.J. Gaines, a junior, being the old man. There are two sophomores in the mix and true freshman Tevin Madison. The secondary for Tech has failed to make an interception this season.

Advantage: Push

When Texas Tech Runs the Ball

On the offensive line the Red Raiders have one very legitimate tackle in Le’Raven Clark. The junior is a first team All-Big 12 player with a nasty streak. Last year’s leading rusher, Kenny Williams, is now a starting linebacker. This means that there is confidence in DeAndre Washington and the rest of the RB rotation. Justin Stockton is a true freshman and has been spectacular in limited duty. On fourteen carries he has 177 yards.

The front seven for Arkansas may be better suited for defending the passing game than stopping the run. Even after facing a hapless Nicholls team the Hogs are still dead last in the SEC in rushing defense. The biggest boost that Arkansas could receive in stopping the run is for the defensive line to be more physical to free the linebackers up to make plays.

Advantage: Push

When Texas Tech Throws the Ball

Davis Webb in his second year and has a command of the Tech offense. He is completing 67.5% of his passes and has seven touchdowns. Webb threw two picks in the opening game, but showed an ability to take care of the football as a freshman. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in twelve straight games. Jakeem Grant may only be 5’6” tall, but he is an explosive player with great speed. Brad Marquez is also a dangerous playmaker with five touchdowns in 2014 already. Expect lots of quick slants that will challenge the Arkansas linebackers.

The Razorback secondary struggles. This unit does not cover well and has trouble tackling receivers after they make the catch. There is a possibility that corner Tevin Mitchel may return to the field this Saturday, giving a boost to the Razorback secondary. Tech likes to get the ball out of the quarterbacks hand fast, so using unique coverages might provide some opportunities to slow down Webb and crew.

Advantage: Teas Tech

Special Teams

Arkansas

Sam Irwin-Hill gives Arkansas a reliable punter and is averaging 43.8 yards per kick this season. Korliss Marshall is a threat to take the ball to the house whenever he touches it.

Texas Tech

Wide receiver Grant also provides a spark to the kickoff return team and totaled 400 yards on nineteen returns last season. Ryan Bustin can be a bit erratic kicking field goals at times and for the season has made one of his two attempts.

Advantage: Arkansas

Coaching

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has a plan and is working it steadily by building the Hogs in the mold of his Big Ten teams at Wisconsin: big and physical. There is more work to be done, but the foundation for future success is being laid.

Texas Tech is led by Kliff Kingsbury, the nation’s youngest head football coach at a power five school. The 35 year old has a career record of 10-5. This is second year leading Texas Tech.

Advantage: Arkansas

 

The Call

Both teams have a decided edge in what they do well on offense. Tech will have a hard time slowing the Arkansas ground game, while the Red Raiders will put quite a bit of pressure on the Arkansas pass defense. The final edge in this game will go the team that executes their game plan the best with what they do well coupled with success at taking away something from the other team. Expect the Arkansas defense to limit the running opportunities of Texas Tech, while the Arkansas passing game will have enough success to keep the Red Raider defense honest. There is also the question of talent. Looking at these two rosters, it looks like that overall edge goes to the Hogs as well.

Final Score: Arkansas  38  Texas Tech  28

 

 

 

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