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SEC Football Predictions for Week Ten

Oct 30, 2014 -- 8:08pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has shown their respect for the SEC with three of the top four teams in their poll coming from the conference. This weekend features a head to head elimination game for Auburn and Ole Miss, plus a possible elimination game for Florida coach Will Muschamp.

Here are the week ten SEC predictions. All times are central.

ULM (3-4) at Texas A&M (5-3, 2-3 SEC)
11:00 a.m. | SEC Network

QB Kenny Hill was a Heisman contender after week one and many pundits tagged the Aggies as the best team in the nation. That was a long time ago. Hill is in a battle for his starting position with Kyle Allen and the horrid October is finally over for Kevin Sumlin and his team. The Warhawks are an average Sun Belt team and that should be good enough to get the Aggies back in the win column.

Winner: Texas A&M

Florida (3-3, 2-3 SEC) at #11 Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC)
2:30 ET | CBS | Jacksonville

It does not matter that Todd Gurley will still be serving an NCAA suspension in this game. Georgia freshman RB Nick Chubb is carrying the load just fine and Hutson Mason is starting to make plays with his arm without Gurley in the backfield. Florida will start Treon Harris, and Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt probably has plenty in store for the first time starter. The big question: have the Florida players given up on their embattled coach?

Winner: Georgia

Kentucky (5-3, 2-3 SEC) at Missouri (6-2, 3-1 SEC)
3:00 PM ET | SEC Network

Kentucky will be looking to become bowl eligible in this game and Missouri will be looking to find a rhythm for their struggling offense. Wildcats quarterback Patrick Towles is turning into a genuine difference maker and had a very solid outing against number one Mississippi State. Missouri is second in SEC games in total defense and their special teams are solid. The best way to pick a game like this is to go with the team that has shown an offensive spark at times and that is the Wildcats.

Winner: Kentucky

#3 Auburn (6-1, 3-1 SEC) at #4 Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1 SEC)
6:00 PM ET | ESPN

Someone is going to drop out of the top four and most likely end their quest for a national title in this game. Bo Wallace made critical mistakes late against LSU and Hugh Freeze showed the moment might have been a bit too big for him. Auburn had to spend lots of energy to take down South Carolina last week and both of these teams may be just a little tired heading into this game. The edge goes to the run defense of the Rebels…think how K-State slowed the Tiger ground game. For Auburn to win QB Nick Marshall will have to make plays downfield against a strong Ole Miss secondary.

Winner: Ole Miss

Old Dominion (3-5) at Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-5 SEC)
6:00 PM ET | ESPNU

A player to watch in this game is Monarch QB Taylor Heinike. In his second year as a starter he has thrown 54 touchdowns and for 6,308 yards. He may be the most exciting offensive player on campus since Nancy Liberman played basketball for the women’s Monarch team. What is not fun to watch is the Old Dominion defense that gives up 40.5 points per game. Even Vanderbilt should be able to score on this team.

Winner: Vanderbilt

Arkansas (4-4, 0-4 SEC) at #1 Mississippi State (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
6:15 PM ET | ESPN2

To win this game Arkansas QB Brandon Allen must make some explosive plays in the passing game. In SEC play the Hogs only have six pass plays for thirty or more yards. That puts them at number twelve in the conference. The good news is that Mississippi State has given up seventeen. While Dak Prescott is critical to the Bulldogs success, RB Josh Robinson might be the best weapon on hand for Dan Mullen’s team.

Winner: Mississippi State

Tennessee (3-5, 0-4 SEC) at South Carolina (4-4, 2-4 SEC)
6:30 PM ET | SEC Network

Butch Jones is still trying to find an SEC win and the South Carolina game might be the perfect opportunity. Josh Dobbs played a solid game for the Vols against Alabama last weekend, but with a week of film to watch it might be that the Gamecocks are better prepared than Bama was for the dynamic playmaker. You have to wonder what the mental mindset will be this week for South Carolina after their tough game with Auburn. Call it a hunch, but look for an upset in Columbia.

Winner: Tennessee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEC Power Rankings: Week Nine

Oct 30, 2014 -- 8:04am

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

There are now nine weeks of games in the book and week ten will continue the drama that is the SEC West.  Here are the power rankings for this week with a stat (from conference games only) for each school.

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are a well-disciplined team and lead the SEC in fewest penalty yards per game with just eighteen for 131 yards. Not a sexy stat, but speaks to their maturity.

Trend: Neutral

Ole Miss

For the season Ole Miss is plus eleven in turnover margin, tied with Georgia for the SEC’s top spot. The Rebels have gained fourteen and lost just three.

Trend-Down

Alabama

Nick Saban’s team leads the SEC in defensive fourth down conversions allowing none in eight attempts. They are the only team nationally that has not allowed one in 2014.

Trend: Neutral

Auburn

The Tigers are the top red zone defense in the SEC allowing opponents to score only 68.8% of the time. Why did Auburn beat South Carolina? Two red zone turnovers by the Gamecocks are one big reason.

Trend: Up

Georgia

Good defense gets off the field on third down. The Bulldogs have held opponents on eighteen of sixty-one attempts for an SEC best 29.5% conversion rate.

Trend-Neutral

LSU

When you feature a power running game field position matters. That is why leading the SEC in punt return average is significant for the Tigers who go for 17.7 yards per return.

Trend: Up

Kentucky

While the Wildcats are fourth in pass defense giving up 186.8 yards per game, they are the SEC’s most efficient team against the pass.

Trend: Down

South Carolina

Teams have converted 100% of their fourth down attempts against the Gamecocks. Why not give it a shot against the South Carolina defense. They are number twelve in total defense.

Trend: Down

Texas A&M

The Aggies SEC opponents have only committed seventeen penalties against them. The fewest in the SEC. Only Alabama has gained fewer yards in penalties.

Trend: Down

Missouri

The once high flying Missouri offense is dead last in total offense in the SEC averaging just 232.8 yards per game. The Tigers have scored just seven touchdowns on offense, but are averaging 21.8 points per game. Missouri is averaging 4.3 points per game by defense or special teams.

Trend: Down

Arkansas

The Razorbacks are the only SEC team to have not made a field goal in conference play. They are also the only school to have missed two extra points.

Trend: Down

Tennessee

Good news, bad news. The Vols lead the SEC with seven made field goals in as many attempts. The bad news, Tennessee has only scored four touchdowns in the red zone on ten attempts. Fewer than even Vandy.

Trend: Down

Florida

For all the talk about how bad the Florida offense is, the Gators lead the SEC in red zone offense converting all fifteen trips into points. They have ten touchdowns and five field goals.

Trend: Down

Vanderbilt

The Commodores have averaged 33,911 in attendance at all home games this season. This is 23,231 less than the second lowest SEC team, Kentucky.

Trend: Anchors WAY, WAY down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEC Football-Television Schedule Week Nine

Oct 24, 2014 -- 6:54pm
DateTime (ET)MatchupNetwork
Sat, Oct 2512:00 PMUAB at ArkansasSEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 253:30 PM# 1 Mississippi State at KentuckyCBS
Sat, Oct 254:00 PMVanderbilt at MissouriSEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 257:15 PM# 3 Ole Miss at # 24 LSUESPN
Sat, Oct 257:30 PMSouth Carolina at # 5 AuburnSEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 257:30 PM# 4 Alabama at TennesseeESPN2

 

SEC Preview: Week Nine

Oct 24, 2014 -- 1:27pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Think about this. Alabama still has to face Mississippi State. Auburn still has to play Ole Miss. The Tide and Tigers have to meet. Ole Miss and Mississippi State have a game at the end of the season. Before all those things happen there will be LSU, Georgia and other roadblocks to a championships for all the SEC contenders. Oh, and don’t forget that Georgia is also legitimate.

Here is a glimpse at week nine in the SEC.

All times are central.

UAB (4-3) at Arkansas (3-4, 4-4 SEC)
11:00 a.m. | SEC Network

(Complete UAB-Arkansas Preview Here)

This is a good week for the Razorbacks to get their swagger back. UAB may have scored the most points of anyone on Mississippi State this season, but that was WAY back in week two. The Blazers will struggle to stop the power running game of the Hogs and that will be the difference in this game.

Winner: Arkansas

#1 Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC)
2:30 p.m. | CBS

It seems that every item written about Kentucky must start with the phrase “much improved.” They are still Kentucky and will have lots of work to do to make a bowl, although the game with Missouri should give them a lock. The only SEC team to not put 30 points on the board against the Wildcats was Vandy. Mississippi State will be looking to keep their foot on the accelerator and should have no problem making QB Dak Prescott look good to the Heisman voters.  

Winner: Mississippi State

Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4 SEC) at Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC)
3:00 p.m.  | SEC Network

In conference games these are the two poorest excuses for offenses the SEC has. Missouri averages 21.0 points per game and only gains 182 yards per SEC outing. Vandy scores an average of 15.2 points per game while generating 252.5 yards of offense. The edge in this contest goes to Missouri for their defense which only allows 22.3 points per game while the Commodores give up 37.5.

Winner: Missouri

#3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) at #24 LSU (6-2, 2-2 SEC)
7:15 PM ET | ESPN

A night game in Baton Rouge is a real test for these Rebels, even if this is not the LSU team of the past few years. The Tigers have shown improved play the last two weeks, but those wins have come against Florida and an overrated Kentucky team. LSU has settled into an offensive line rotation and that has paid big dividends in the running game. Ole Miss has the best defense in the nation and the ability to make the LSU offense one dimensional. Bo Wallace is still playing solid and as long as he is not turning the ball over, then the Rebels will be in the hunt. Expect a good game.

Winner: Ole Miss

South Carolina (4-3, 2-3 SEC) at #5 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
6:30 PM ET | SEC Network

Expect Auburn to pound the ball, pound it some more and keep on pounding in this game. South Carolina wilted against Kentucky down the stretch as the Wildcats lined up in the wildcat offense and dared the defense to stop them. This game has “long night” written all over it for Steve Spurrier’s team. The again, so did the Georgia game. A home crowd should be a big boost for the Tigers.

Winner: Auburn

#4 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) at Tennessee (3-4, 0-3 SEC)
6:30 PM ET | ESPN2

Tennessee is last in the SEC in scoring offense averaging just 14.7 points per game in conference games. The band has taken to playing Rocky Top whenever their QB is sacked so they can get the musical number in the requisite number of times. As far as defense goes, Bama second in scoring D, first in rushing defense and fourth in passing defense. The Vols do feature a decent defense and Blake Sims has not been nearly as good on the road as he is at home. Can the Vols challenge in this game? Yes, but it would take them going against their current trends in a whole bunch of areas.

Winner: Alabama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEC Power Rankings: Week Eight

Oct 24, 2014 -- 6:48am

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

There are now eight weeks of games in the book and week nine promises even more drama in the top loaded SEC West.  Here are the power rankings for this week with a stat (from conference games only) for each school.

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are lighting up the scoreboard with 40 points per game, but they are dead last in pass defense giving up 305 yards a game.

Trend: Neutral

Ole Miss

One way to identify a good team is discipline. The Rebels are the least penalized team in the SEC (32.2 YPG) and second in turnover margin at plus eight.

Trend-Neutral

Alabama

The Tide is tops in the SEC when it comes to red zone defense giving up just four touchdowns to opponents. Alabama’s opponents have only seen the red zone seven times and turned the ball over twice.

Trend: Up

Auburn

Coach Gus Malzahn has to be happy that his team has only given up five sacks this season. Good enough to share the top spot in the league with Alabama. When it comes to getting to the other teams QB, however, the Tigers are last in the conference with just four.

Trend: Neutral

Georgia

One of Georgia’s keys to success against Arkansas was short fields. They set this up through turnovers. The Bulldogs are tops in the SEC in turnover margin at plus eleven.

Trend-Up

LSU

Are the Tigers starting to find their legs? One sign may be the offense that is starting to eat the clock up. The Tigers are averaging 31:47 minutes in tie of possession. Third best in the SEC.

Trend: Up

Texas A&M

Even though the Aggies have had a tough three weeks, they still lead the SEC in passing offense with 360.8 yards per game. They are next to last in red zone offense scoring only 78.9% of the time.

Trend: Down

Kentucky

The Wildcats give up 220.2 yards per game in rushing yards. That is not a good things for a team that has Georgia and Mississippi State left on the schedule.

Trend: Down

South Carolina

While there are plenty of questions about the Gamecocks offense, they have racked up more first downs this season in the SEC than any other team with an average of 24.8 per game and a total of 124. 55 have come by the rush and 57 by the pass.

Trend: Neutral

Missouri

There were high hopes for Maty Mauk and the Tigers offense this season. They have not materialized as Missouri is only producing 182 yards per game this season and is good for last in the conference.

Trend: Down

Arkansas

Coach Bret Bielema is winning the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 33:21 minutes per game. Good for second in the SEC. One issue for the Hogs is turnovers. They are next to last in conference games at minus five.

Trend: Neutral

Tennessee

How sore do you think QB Justin Worley is every Sunday morning? The Vols allow 5.33 sacks every game. This is good for last in the SEC. They are 125th nationally.

Trend: Neutral

Florida

For all the misery that is Florida football right now, the Gators lead the SEC in sacks getting after the opponents QB 2.80 times per game.

Trend: Down

Vanderbilt

The Commodores lead the SEC in kickoffs returned for a touchdown. The league leading two were both returned in their loss to South Carolina.

Trend: Down

 

 

 

 

 

UAB vs. Arkansas: Who has the advantage?

Oct 23, 2014 -- 9:06pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Arkansas will host UAB Saturday at Don W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium at 11:00 a.m. with the game being broadcast on the SEC Network.

Here is a preview of what to expect.

When Arkansas Runs the Ball

Call this a get well opportunity for the Razorback running game. The Hogs have struggled to get the ground game going in losses to Alabama and Georgia, and the Blazers might just be what the doctor ordered. Expect a heavy dose of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins with their identical 6.5 yards per carry. The Arkansas offensive line will also face better matchups and less depth than they have the past couple of weeks.

UAB is a middle of the pack Conference USA defense against the rush, giving up just under 161 yards per outing. Diaheem Watkins is the most experienced player on the defensive line, but is more disruptive against the passing game. Linebacker Jake Ganus leads the team in tackles for a loss with 8.5. The Blazers will play seven players across the front, but they do not have the quality depth of SEC schools.

Advantage: Arkansas

When Arkansas Throws the Ball

The Razorback tight ends are the best receivers QB Brandon Allen has as weapons in the passing game. Hunter Henry has 16 catches and AJ Derby is right behind him with 15. Allen has significantly improved his completion percentage in 2014 completing 58.8% of his passes. He has thrown 13 touchdowns in 2014 and only four picks.

Just like against the rush, the Blazers pass defense is an average Conference USA team giving up 233.9 yards per game. Safety Calvin Jones leads an experienced secondary that starts two seniors and two juniors. His counterpart, Jordan Petty, had three pass breakups against Mississippi State in week two of the season.

Advantage: Arkansas

When UAB Runs the Ball

The Blazers like to run the ball first to set up the pass. In 2014 they have run 369 times and average 4.0 yards per carry. Jordan Howard and D.J. Vinson do most of the work from the running back position and each has produced 7 touchdowns on the ground. Howard is on track for a 1,000 yard season with a total of 752 yards through seven games. The offensive line has pretty good beef on one side with Victor Salako and Roscoe Byrd both coming in at 325 pounds. The rest of the offensive line is undersized.

Brook Ellis was missed against Georgia in run defense. The Bulldogs Nick Chubb broke a 43 yard touchdown right where Ellis would have been. His replacement, Josh Williams, had good moments filling in, but on several occasions was clearly out of position. Ellis is doubtful for the UAB game. Darius Philon and Trey Flowers give the Razorbacks two standout players on the defensive front. Philon leads all SEC tackles in tackles for a loss with eight.

Advantage: Arkansas

When UAB Throws the Ball

Quarterback Cody Clements has experienced some good moment in 2014 and some bad ones. He tossed an 81 yard touchdown against Mississippi State, but has also thrown ten picks this season. For the year the team has a total of 11 touchdown receptions with three of more than 75 yards coming against Mississippi State. The Blazers have a trio of explosive receivers with Kennar Backman, JJ Nelson and Maudr Humphrey getting the bulk of the catches. Nelson averages 22.3 yards per catch.

Arkansas gives up 237 yards per game in passing offense to other teams. The secondary has improved, but has shown a vulnerability to big plays in games with Georgia and Texas A&M. This unit needs Henre’ Toliver to continue improving and for the big guys up front to get pressure on the quarterback. Philon and Taiwan Johnson have both shown the ability to disrupt the passing game from their defensive tackle spots.

Advantage: Arkansas

Special Teams

Earlier this week Razorback coach Bret Bielema said the punting and field goal jobs were open to competition. Sam Irwin-Hill has been an effective weapon, but against Georgia averaged just 33 yards per punt. Adam McFain will be the new guy kicking field goals replacing John Henson. Arkansas will also be without kick returner Korliss Marshall who is suspended.

Ty Long has made 7 of his 9 field goal attempts in 2014 with a long of 49. Both misses have come from beyond 45 yards. Hunter Mullins has dropped 13 of his 32 punts inside the 20 and has 8 of fifty yards or more.

Advantage: UAB

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.

Bret Bielema Career Record: 74-37

Bill Clark is in his first year leading the UAB football program after serving as the head coach at Jacksonville State. Prior to that Clark was coaching high school football in the state of Alabama, and has an excellent reputation.

Bill Clark Career Record: 15-7

Advantage: Arkansas

The Call

Arkansas is coming off a stretch of games that were hopefully going to be break through opportunities to end the Hogs SEC losing streak. It did not happen. This week they play a game as the heavy favorite and anything less than a solid win will be a disappointment. This is a must game for the Razorbacks to keep their bowl hopes alive.

Guess who has scored the most points against the nation’s number one team this year? It was not one of the Mississippi State Bulldogs SEC foes. It was the Blazers in week two. Using three long passes UAB put 34 points on the board. However, UAB does not take care of the football well and is last in Conference USA in turnover margin.

This is a get well game for the Razorbacks and Bret Bielema has shown he likes to rack up yards and points in games like these. The Razorbacks will feel really healthy after this outing.

Final Score: Arkansas 52   UAB 21

 

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