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SEC Forecast and Predictions: Week Thirteen

Nov 20, 2014 -- 9:02pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Here is a quick look at the week thirteen SEC games that might be interesting and a word on the opponent for the ones that will be, well, unwatchable.

Eastern Kentucky (9-2) at Florida (5-4, 4-4 SEC)
11:00 AM CT | SEC Network

The Colonels home field, Roy Kidd Stadium, seats 20,000. Florida’s enrollment of over 51,000 is double the size of their seating capacity.

Winner: Florida

South Alabama (6-4) at South Carolina (5-5, 3-5 SEC)
11:00 AM CT | FSN/ESPN3

30.6967° N, 88.1787° W. These are the coordinates for the University of South Alabama campus. 33.9975° N, 81.0253° W are the coordinates for South Carolina. Guess which one is further south.

Winner: South Carolina

Charleston Southern (8-3) at # Georgia (8-2, 6-2 SEC)
11:00 AM CT | SEC Network

These are the people Wikipedia list as the notable alumni of Charleston Southern: Stuart Lake - CSU baseball coach; Bobby Parnell - Pitcher for the New York Mets; Tim Scott - United States Senator; Charlie Simpkins - Olympic Silver Medalist; R. J. Swindle - Pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization; Tyler Thornburg - Pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. Impressed?

Winner: Georgia

#8 Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2 SEC) at Arkansas (5-5, 1-5 SEC)
2:30 PM CT | CBS

The Razorbacks look to become bowl eligible, while the Rebels will play their first competitive game since losing to Auburn in heartbreaking fashion. In their two losses, to LSU and Auburn, the Rebels highly touted run defense was shredded by both of the opposing offenses. That could be bad news given the power running game of the Razorbacks. It will also be interesting to see if the Arkansas defense is as stiff as it was last week in their win over LSU. There is rain in the forecast for Saturday.

Winner: Arkansas

Western Carolina (7-4) at #1 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC)
3:00 PM CT | SEC Network

It is homecoming in Tuscaloosa. A tad later than most. Western Carolina is actually located in North Carolina. This will be of benefit for those who might be geographically challenged.

Vanderbilt 3-7, 0-6 SEC) at #4 Mississippi State (9-1, 5-1 SEC)
6:00 PM CT | SEC Network

Mississippi State needs to do more than just survive their game with Vandy to hang onto their number four ranking. The toughest assignment for Dan Mullen’s team will be forgetting about the Alabama loss and not looking ahead to Ole Miss.

Winner: Mississippi State

Samford (7-3, 5-2 So Con) at #4 Auburn (7-3, 4-3 SEC)
6:00 PM CT | ESPNU

Samford football coach Pat Sullivan won the Heisman Trophy as a quarterback at Auburn in 1971.

Winner: Auburn

Missouri (8-2, 5-1 SEC) at Tennessee (5-5, 2-4SEC)
6:30 PM CT | ESPN

The Biggest Tennessee fans this weekend all wear the red and black of Georgia. The Bulldogs are pulling for the Vols to beat Missouri and give them a shot to advance to the SEC Championship Game. The Vols have become a much better team since Josh Dobbs took over at QB. The Missouri offense is very average, but their defense has some special players. With a win Tennessee becomes bowl eligible.

Winner: Tennessee




SEC Power Rankings: Week Twelve

Nov 20, 2014 -- 8:18pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Twelve weeks are in the books now and once again we have a new team at the top of the power rankings. Here is an individual player stat (conference games only) for each team this week.

1. Alabama

One key to success for Bama? Field position. Freshman punter JK Scott gets genuine credit for helping in this area. He leads the SEC with a 47 yard average. He has fifteen kicks of fifty or more yards.

Trend: Up

2. Mississippi State

QB Dak Prescott generates 358.8 yards per game in total offense. Good for second in the SEC.

Trend: Down

3. Ole Miss

Senquez Golson has an SEC leading six picks in 2014. That is an average of one for each SEC game.


4. Georgia

Who needs Todd Gurley? Freshman RB Nick Chubb is averaging 119.9 yards per game in SEC play.


5. Auburn

QB Nick Marshall has scored ten touchdowns on the ground in 2014. He has thrown for another eight.

Trend: Down

6. Missouri

Here is a head scratching stat. QB Maty Mauk is passing for only 134.3 yards per game.

Trend: Neutral

7. Tennessee

The Vols have the SEC’s top two sack leaders. Derek Barnett has eight solo and two assists, while Curt Magget has eight solo.

Trend: Up

8. Arkansas

Linebacker Martrell Spaight has sixty-five tackles this season. This is the third best in SEC play.

Trend: Up

9. LSU

Freshman Leonard Fournette averages 113.4 all-purpose yards in SEC play. This is good for ninth best.

Trend: Down

10. Texas A&M

Benched and suspended QB Kenny Hill is still the SEC leader in passing yards per game with 360.2.

Trend: Neutral

11. South Carolina

Gamecock receiver Pharoh Cooper is averaging 91.8 yards per game receiving. He has eight touchdowns on the season in SEC play. These numbers are both second best in the conference.

Trend: Up

12. Florida

Antonio Morrison has eighty-even tackles in 2014. Twenty-five solo and sixty-two assists.

Trend: Down

13. Kentucky

Josh Forrest also has eighty-seven tackles this season. He has fifty-one solo tackles and thirty-six assists.

Trend: Down

14. Vanderbilt

Darrius Sims averages 33.4 yards per kickoff return and has two touchdowns. Both lead the SEC.

Trend: Poor, poor pitiful Commodores










Jeff Long has a tough job every Tuesday

Nov 18, 2014 -- 8:06pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Arkansas Athletic Director, Jeff Long, is starting to sound like a White House press secretary trying to spin bad public policy as he explains the decisions of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee he chairs. Here are some quotes from Tuesday night after the rankings were released:

Regarding Baylor being behind TCU he said, "At this point the committee doesn't feel Baylor and TCU's body of work is comparable enough that (head-to-head) would kick in."

In other words, the games don’t count as much as other factors…these are both teams with just one loss.

About Marshall he said, "Marshall's body of work, their strength of schedule, what they've done to this point in time, the committee does not feel that they warrant being ranked in the Top 25 at this point in time. They're very close."

Why would they be "very close?" Their whole schedule has been one that power five teams are criticized for playing even one of.

Talking about number four Mississippi State loss to Alabama he said, "You never felt like Mississippi State was out of that game."

Interesting. After the Tide took a 5-0 lead, there were not many Bama fans that thought the Bulldogs had a chance. By the way, Long used the word “decisive” to describe the Tide’s win over Mississippi State.

Here is what Long said about undefeated Florida State, "We look at the games, how they've played them, whether they've controlled the game. They've had a number of come-from-behind victories."

I guess the committee believes Alabama and Oregon had better game control in their losses.

While it looks like the committee has a solid top four, the answers to the questions of how the rankings are developed really, really need some work.

Here is this week's Top 25:

3Florida State10-0
4Mississippi State9-1
6Ohio State9-1
8Ole Miss8-2
11Michigan State8-2
12Kansas State7-2
13Arizona State8-2
18Georgia Tech9-2


LSU vs. Arkansas: Who has the Advantage?

Nov 14, 2014 -- 9:22pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

This weekend the Arkansas Razorbacks will host LSU in a game that will be played at Don W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN2.

Here is a preview of what to expect.

When Arkansas Runs the Ball

Is Arkansas a good rushing team or not? In SEC play the Hogs have the eighth best ground game. This is quite a drop from being the fourth best running attack for all games played. In SEC games only, the Razorbacks rush for 163.20 yards per outing, 85 less than for all their games. This is by far the largest differential for the SEC’s best running teams. What Hog fans are wanting to see is the same powerful running game that is on display in non-conference games in SEC contests. The Razorback ground attack is led by Jonathan Williams and Alex Collin. In conference games Williams is averaging 73.4 yards per game, while Collins is right behind him with 67.20. When running on third down the Hogs convert 61% of the time.

The Tigers give up 172.8 yards per game rushing and were really run through by Auburn in their 41-7 loss. Mississippi State pounded out 302 yards in their game with the Tigers. The Tigers have a deep rotation up front, but are somewhat undersized compared to most teams the big Razorback line has faced in conference games. On third down LSU gives up an average of 4.63 yards per carry. This is 13th in the SEC, but the Tigers are the best third down defense in the conference overall.

Advantage: Arkansas

When Arkansas Throws the Ball

On third down Arkansas QB Brandon Allen likes to target wide receiver Keon Hatcher or his big tight end Hunter Henry. Of Hatcher’s 32 catches, 20 have gone for first downs. Henry has been targeted 16 times on third down in 2014, and 12 times he has moved the chains. Looking at the numbers the Razorbacks are a very average passing team in SEC play. The Arkansas offensive line takes care of Allen. They have only allowed nine sacks this season.

LSU has a solid secondary and pass defense. SEC teams are averaging 208.3 yards per game through the air when playing the Tigers and complete 52.1% of their passes. This is also not a great team at creating sacks, with only eight this season in SEC play. LSU only has nine interceptions in 2014. This Tiger defense excels at not giving up big pass plays, allowing only 57 plays of ten or more yards this year.

Advantage: LSU

When LSU Runs the Ball

LSU is not shy about their goal in the game when they have the ball. They are going to line up and run the ball right at you, until you prove they can’t. Only Auburn and Georgia have run the ball more this season in SEC play and the Tigers use a stable of running backs to get the job done. Freshman Leonard Fournette is the leading rusher with 738 yards, but you can also expect a healthy dose of Terrence McGee, who averages 5.5 yards per carry. The reliable Kenny Hillard will miss the rest of the regular season with a shoulder injury, so look for Darrel Williams to get more carries. The LSU rushing game has improved since settling in with a consistent starting five on the offensive line.

Arkansas has the SEC’s fourth best rushing defense in conference games and get very consistent play from Taiwan Johnson and Darius Philon. Overall the front four lacks depth and the linebackers are not at their best in run support. The lack of depth is seen in the second half of games. On the season Arkansas has allowed just 520 yards in the first half of games, good for second in the SEC. In the second half they have given up 711.

Advantage: Arkansas

When LSU Throws the Ball

The Tigers get just 155.2 yards through the air in SEC play each game, while completing just 43.6% of their attempts. On the season they have completed just six passes for touchdowns and leading receiver Travin Dural only has 15 catches when facing SEC defenses. Texas A&M has six receivers with more receptions. Anthony Jennings is much more a threat when moving with the ball, than he is in the pocket.

The opportunity for LSU is they will be facing one of the weakest pass defenses in the SEC. Arkansas gives up 270 yards per game and does not have a corner that has proven the ability to consistently shut an opponent down. Against Alabama, Henre’ Toliver did a good job controlling WR Amari Cooper, but he has battled injuries at times this season. The Razorbacks get excellent support in the passing game from linebackers Martel Spaight and Brooks Ellis.

Advantage: LSU

Special Teams

Arkansas has allowed only two punt returns of more than 20 yards in 2014, but they have also lacked any explosion in returning punts. The Razorbacks have no punt returns of twenty yards or more in SEC games. Arkansas punter Sam Irwin-Hill’s 40.5 yards per punt is the lowest in the SEC for qualified punters.

LSU’s Jamie Keehan is second in punting average with just over 45 yards per kick. Colby Delahoussaye is extremely reliable kicking field goals. He is 10-11 on the season and has excellent range, including a 50 yard kick to win the Florida game.

Advantage: LSU


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.

Bret Bielema Career Record: 75-38

Since replacing Nick Saban at LSU, Les Miles has taken the Tigers to two BCS title games and won the national championship in 2007.  Prior to coaching at LSU, Miles was the head coach for Oklahoma State for four season. He is in his 10th season at LSU.

Les Miles Career Record: 130-48

Advantage: LSU

The Call

If you look at this game on paper, it is an easy one to call for LSU. This is a week, however, where the intangibles might just matter as much.

 Here are three that tilt the game to Arkansas. 1.) LSU suffered an emotionally, and physically, draining loss at home last week to Alabama. 2.) Past LSU teams have shown a tendency to be less than focused when they have nothing to play for. 3.) It is going to be cold outside and Arkansas has had the week to get use to the colder temperatures, while LSU has not.

While the game will be relatively close for most of the night, expect the Razorbacks to put an end to their SEC losing streak and get a home win against LSU.

Final Score: Arkansas 27  LSU  17




SEC Predictions: Week 12

Nov 13, 2014 -- 9:17pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Week 12 in the SEC brings a top five showdown, the return of the nation’s best running back and plenty of more typical action in the nation’s toughest football conference. Here is a quick look at each game and the prediction.

South Carolina (4-5, 2-5 SEC) at Florida (5-3, 4-3 SEC)
11:00 AM CT | SEC Network

Since making the switch at quarterback from Jeff Driskel to Treon Harris, the Florida Gators look like they have an offensive plan they can execute. The challenge for the Gamecocks in this game is their lack of ability to stop other teams from moving up and down the field at will. Here is how South Carolina ranks in just SEC games this season on defense: Rushing Defense-12, Pass Defense-10, Total Defense-13, Scoring Defense-13. These numbers don’t get you a win against even Florida.

The big question: Will South Carolina’s defense get off the field so their surprisingly decent offense can take control of the game?

Winner: Florida

#1 Mississippi State (9-0, 5-0 SEC) at #5 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
2:30 PM CT | CBS

Alabama is favored to beat the nation’s top ranked team. Really? The Tide has struggled with the mobility of Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs and LSU’s Anthony Jennings. This week they get to face the rushing ability of Dak Prescott. In conference games he is the SEC’s fifth leading rusher going for 90.4 yards per game. He is also throwing for an average of 148.4 yards per game in league play. How Bama contains him will decide how this game turns out. History has said it might be a long day for the Tide.

The big question: Can Bama QB Blake Sims create big plays against the Mississippi State pass defense?

Winner: Mississippi State

Kentucky (5-5, 2-5 SEC) at Tennessee (4-5, 1-4 SEC)
3:00 PM CT | SEC Network

Both teams are fighting to become bowl eligible and there are fewer and fewer opportunities to get a much needed win. The difference in these two teams right now is that Kentucky is looking like they have lost a step while the Vols are looking like a team that is starting to discover just what they can be. Expect Tennessee to take another step toward going bowling this season.

The big question: Will Kentucky find an elusive sixth win on the rest of their schedule?

Winner: Tennessee

#9 Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC) at #15 Georgia (7-2, 5-2 SEC)
6:15 PM CT | ESPN

Todd Gurley returns from suspension this week and Auburn is coming off a loss that is much more typical of what they have inflicted on other teams the last few seasons. Both teams feature high scoring offenses, but the Georgia defense is a notch better than Auburn’s and the Tigers have also struggled making tackles the last few weeks.

The big question: Will Georgia struggle to establish an offensive identity with the return of Todd Gurley?

Winner: Georgia

Missouri (7-2, 4-1 SEC) at Texas A&M  (7-3, 3-3 SEC)
6:30 PM CT | SEC Network

Freshman QB Kyle Allen had a great debut as a road starter in Auburn torching the Tigers secondary with four touchdowns. He will be meeting a Tiger with different stripes this week as Missouri features a strong pass rush and is pretty good at creating turnovers. The challenge for Missouri is generating offense, but the Aggies have the SEC’s worse defense statistically in league games.

The big question: Is Kyle Allen going to take another step forward in this game?

Winner: Texas A&M

#17 LSU (7-3, 3-3 SEC) at Arkansas (4-5, 0-5 SEC)
7:00 PM CT | ESPN2

. The Razorbacks have been close in several games this season, but have not been able to break own the door and get an SEC win yet. This game will feature strong running teams and the winner should be the one that plays the best defense, but managing the weather might be just as important.

The big question: Will the passing game matter in the cold, and possibly wet, weather in Fayetteville?

Winner: Arkansas




SEC Power Rankings: Week Eleven

Nov 12, 2014 -- 12:13pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

There have been eleven weeks of games now, and here is what we know. Life in the SEC is tough. Auburn had a very short stay on top of the weekly power rankings and there is sure to be a shuffle again at several spots next week with the games on tap this weekend. Here are the rankings for this week with a stat (SEC games only) for each.

1. Mississippi State

The Bama offensive line better be on their A game this week. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in sacks with eighteen. Despite this, the bulldogs give up 310.8 yards passing per game. Last in the conference for pass defense.

Trend: Neutral

2. Alabama

This season the Tide has only allowed seven sacks. Something will have to give when they face Mississippi State this weekend. Statistically, Bama has the SEC’s third best pass offense gaining 272.8 yards per game.

Trend: Up

3. Georgia

The SEC’s top scoring offense, 39.4 points per game, gets back the nation’s best running back for the Auburn game when Todd Gurley returns from suspension this week. In just five games this season he has 773 yards on the ground. Georgia is sixth in scoring defense with opponents scoring 26.9 points per game.


4. Auburn

Gus Malzahn’s team is right behind Georgia in scoring offense. The Tigers rack up an average of 37.3 points per game. They are seventh in scoring defense allowing 28.8 points per outing.

Trend: Down

5. LSU

The red zone is a fifty/fifty proposition for the Tigers. They have scored touchdowns on just ten of their twenty trips into scoring position. This includes one very critical possession against Alabama last Saturday when LSU had to settle for a field goal.

Trend: Up

6. Ole Miss

Two important numbers behind the success of Ole Miss this season. They lead the SEC in interceptions with ten and only four lost fumbles. Their 2014 turnover margin is plus ten.


7. Missouri

While we talk about how bad the Missouri offense is, we neglect that the Tigers have scored on 100% of their trips into the red zone. In twelve trips they have eight touchdowns and four field goals. Stats can be deceiving though. Only Vanderbilt has been into the red zone fewer times, at eleven. The next two lowest numbers are Arkansas and Tennessee with eighteen trips each.

Trend: Neutral

8. Texas A&M

The Aggies are the SEC’s last place team in total defense so far this season giving up 499.7 yards per game to opposing offenses. They are also last in scoring defense with teams scoring 39.3 points per game.

Trend: Neutral

9. Florida

The “Fun n Gun” no longer exists in Gainesville. The Gators are number thirteen in pass offense in the SEC averaging just 148.1 yards through the air each game. Only Missouri and Vanderbilt average less than Florida’s 5.7 yards per attempt.

Trend: Up

10. South Carolina

Sometimes special teams are not. The Gamecocks ae 13th in the SEC in these categories: Punting (35.6 per punt average), kickoff return (19.2 yards per return) and kickoff coverage (36.9 yards allowed per return).

Trend: Down

11. Arkansas

Bret Bielema likes his team to control the clock, and tempo of the game. His Razorbacks lead the SEC in time of possession keeping the football 34:26 minutes per game. Two stats he does not like will be the Hogs 20.8 points per game and SEC last red zone scoring of 66.7%

Trend: Neutral

12. Tennessee

The Vols are not the worst team in the league at protecting their quarterback any longer!!! Tennessee has allowed eighteen sacks. Ole Miss and Kentucky have allowed nineteen and twenty, respectively. The Vols also have eighteen sacks on the year, tied for first with Mississippi State.

Trend: Up

13. Kentucky

Bad news for the Wildcats. They have allowed opponents to score on 96.6 % of their trips into the red zone. Even more bad news. They have allowed opposing teams to get there 29 times. Something to feel better about? South Carolina has allowed teams to enter the prime scoring area a whopping 36 times. Vandy has allowed teams into the red zone 26 times. Those are the bottom three.

Trend: Down

14. Vanderbilt

The Commodores have a minus six turnover margin. This ties them with South Carolina for the bottom in the SEC.

Trend: There is nowhere else to go.









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