Professor’s Picks Week 9

2009 Record
Overall: 87-33
Last Week: 13-2

Comment: Best week of the season catapults the 2009 grade up into the A- range. Several tough games this week, a few with national implications.

Best Pick: Arkansas was a trendy choice to whip Ole Miss, but the rejuvenated Rebels ripped the Razorbacks.

Worst Pick (Tie): If you can figure out Clemson or Miami let me know. Canes could have taken control of ACC Coastal, but Tigers tamed them. TCU outclassed overrated BYU.

Here are this week’s SEC picks and national games of interest.

Enjoy!

SEC Picks

Ole Miss (5-2, 2-2) at Auburn (5-3, 2-3)
11:21 a.m. CT
SEC Network / ESPN360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Pat Dye Field/Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
Comment: Two teams headed in different directions play on the Plains. Rebels easily handled Arkansas last week and may be starting to live up to preseason hype, with offense clicking (Dexter McCluster became first Ole Miss player since at least 1965 to gain over 100 yards both rushing and receiving vs. Hogs). Auburn would love to generate that type offensive performance. The Tigers “O” has scored progressively fewer points for four straight games. Reality has come to the Chizik era for 2009.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

Florida (7-0, 5-0) vs. Georgia (4-3, 3-2)
3:30 p.m. ET CBS Sports
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (80,000)
Comment: The cocktail party has gotten a little cranky the past two seasons. First was Georgia’s 2007 “celebration” when the Dogs spilled onto the field after an early touchdown, caught the defending national champ Gators off guard, and stomped to a 42-30 win. Urban Meyer and UF did not forget and took a little extra time to savor last season’s 49-10 destruction of the Dogs by calling timeouts at the end of the lopsided game. Gators have won nine of twelve in the series, but I do not believe the Florida offense is good enough to blow this game open. Georgia may not be able to score much either, but expect this to be close into the fourth quarter.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

Eastern Michigan (0-7) at Arkansas (3-4, 1-4)
6 p.m. CT ESPNU
Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
Comment: Hogs need three more wins to go bowling in Bobby Petrino’s second season, and the 0-7 Eagles from Ypsilanti provide an inviting treat on Halloween. Razorbacks rumble.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas

Mississippi State (3-5, 1-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3)
7 p.m. ET FS South / ESPN360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Comment: Cats can secure a fourth consecutive bowl bid with wins over State this week and Eastern Kentucky or Vandy the next two. The Bullies are no pushover, but a letdown after the emotional Florida loss is to be expected. Wildcats move closer to post-season.
Professor’s Pick: Kentucky

Georgia Tech (7-1) at Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-5)
6:30 p.m. CT CSS / ESPN 360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Comment: The ACC figures to gain bragging rights when the conference’s best team plays the cellar-dweller of the SEC. The Johnson boys, Bobby of Vandy and Paul of Tech, have a history of good competition dating to their days leading Furman (Bobby) and Georgia Southern (Paul). The Tech option is a dream to watch, but a nightmare to defend, and one week prep time is not adequate even for the scholars of the gridiron in Nashville.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia Tech

South Carolina (6-2, 3-2) at Tennessee (3-4, 1-3)
7:45 p.m. ET ESPN
Shield-Watkins Field/Neyland Stadium (100,011)
Comment: Not sure even massive Neyland Stadium can contain the egos of the two coaches in this one. Lane Kiffin of UT gets another chance to beat somebody he insulted before the season, and Steve Spurrier of SC can prove he still wields the sharpest tongue in town. Offensive coaches aside, this promises to be a terrific defensive struggle between two of the league’s most physical and rugged units. The Neyland crowd might help Mr. Brash (young) beat Mr. Brash (old). Keep the mics open for this one.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee

Tulane (2-5) at LSU (6-1, 4-1)
7 p.m. CT TigerVision PPV/ESPN 360.com/ESPN Game Plan
Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Comment: While the Bengal Tigers cannot treat the Green Wave as a Saturday night scrimmage in preparation for the trip to T-Town next week … well, that’s what it should be. LSU fans are seeking an identity (and some consistency) on offense before the Bama brawl.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Selected National Picks

Miami at Wake Forest: Hurricanes need help to reach ACC title, but none in this game. Professor’s Pick: Miami

Kansas at Texas Tech: Can a Big 12 North team win a meaningful game? Doubtful. Professor’s Pick: Texas Tech

Michigan State at Minnesota: Big Ten bowl bound teams battle for best Florida destination. Professor’s Pick: Michigan

Cal at Arizona State: PAC-10 is deeper than most “experts” think. Cal is the best of this duo. Professor’s Pick: Cal

West Virginia at South Florida: Mountaineers try to keep Big East hopes alive. They get it done in Tampa. Professor’s Pick: West Virginia

Texas at Oklahoma State: The biggest remaining obstacle between Longhorns and title game. Bevo is up to the challenge of fending off the Stillwater Cowboys. Professor’s Pick: Texas

USC at Oregon: Winner likely on way to Pasadena … for granddaddy or BCS title game. The Ducks are hot, but to be the champ you’ve got to beat the champ. Trojans have earned the respect. Professor’s Pick: USC

See you at kickoff!

Around SEC Football Week 9

Around the SEC

Who snuck off with the Snickers?

Who confiscated the Candy Corn?

Who jacked the Jack-o-Lantern?

Who made the college football weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving as invisible as the Great Pumpkin Linus waits on every year?

Alabama and Florida that’s who.

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer that’s who.

Mark Ingram and Tim Tebow, Terrence Cody and Carlos Dunlap, Javier Arenas and Joe Haden … that’s who.

Those guys might as well be ghosts, goblins, and sorcerers because they’ve cast a spell over the SEC that makes the next month nearly meaningless.

Everybody seems to be simply waiting on the inevitable SEC Championship Game showdown between the nation’s top-ranked teams. Shoot … with the way Southeastern Conference fans show conference loyalty and regional pride, many may actually be pulling for the two super teams to win out and assure another SEC team plays for the national title (a trait that seems to really grate on people from outside the South).

There’s only one figure who might botch the witch’s brew that has ended the SEC season before Halloween … the Mad Hatter.

Yes, Les Miles and LSU are about the only scary characters on the league horizon. Should the Bengal Tigers upset Alabama next weekend, the boys from Baton Rouge would leap into the conversation. If – as most expect – the Tide rolls over the Tigers, the SEC West race will be over.

The SEC East is already done.

Oh, not officially … but Florida holds a two-game lead and does anyone really believe Florida will lose twice in three games?

Georgia might spook the Gators (or even beat them) this weekend, and the Florida trip to South Carolina on November 14th could raise the pulse … but even with a Halloween upset in Jacksonville the Dogs would still trail the Gators and have games remaining against Kentucky and Auburn. South Carolina plays at Tennessee and Arkansas the next two weeks, so the Gamecocks showdown with the Gators may mean little from a division-race perspective by mid-November.

Start munching that Halloween candy and let’s wait on Thanksgiving.

Alabama and Florida have made a turkey out of this conference race.

The Campus Game SEC Ratings (Week 9)

12. Vanderbilt … Commodores mediocre on defense and awful on offense.

11. Mississippi State … Bullies are not really good enough for Dan Mullen to be complaining about officials so strongly. Win a few first.

10. Auburn … with Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama still on schedule, the Tigers are reeling a bit.

9. Arkansas … Razorbacks probably better than this ranking, but have lost two in a row.

8. Kentucky … Wildcats have solid shot for 8 or 9 wins.

7. Georgia … Bulldogs could upset the SEC applecart with a win over Gators.

6. Tennessee … Volunteers could win four or five more games as they move into what has traditionally been the easy month of schedule.

5. Ole Miss … Rebels failed to live up to preseason hype but are rebounding for a solid season.

4. South Carolina … Gamecocks better enjoy this ranking because the final four games are scary (at Tennessee, at Arkansas, Florida, Clemson).

3. LSU … this lofty ranking is fragile as a child’s teeth after eating too much candy … not sure the Tigers are this good.

2. Alabama … The shoddy quarterback play has cost Tide only style points … so far.

1. Florida … Gators toughness moves them back to head of TCG class.

Enjoy the games and check back for Professor’s Picks!

College Football Week 9

Crying Time

“Oh, it’s crying time again … I can see that far away look in your eyes”
(Crying Time, Buck Owens)

Haven’t heard such whining since the alternator on my 1969 Chevelle went out (in 1978).

Haven’t listened to so much criticism of officials since John McEnroe wore short shorts and a headband.

Haven’t witnessed so many waterworks since Dick Vermeil hung up his whistle (and handkerchief).

Yes, like the great Buck Owens sang … it’s crying time again.

Especially in the SEC.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, where you can get all the college football news fit for print or comment with nary a complaint (well, I may have one a few paragraphs down).

The Southeastern Conference again admonished coaches this week for critical comments toward game officials.

Bobby Johnson garnered a public rebuke from SEC commissioner Mike Slive after the Vanderbilt coach complained about calls in the Commodore loss to South Carolina.

Then, the usually mild-mannered Dan Mullen drew a reprimand by calling for severe sanctions against the replay booth official in the Mississippi State-Florida game. Mullen’s ire resulted from a play in which Gator linebacker Dustin Doe appeared to have the ball slapped from his hand before getting to the end zone with an intercepted pass. Mullen, in a not-so-forgiving mood hoped “he’s severely punished … if he ever works another SEC game.”

Finally, the league’s favorite bad boy – Lane Kiffin of Tennessee – got summoned to the principal’s office yet again. This time Slive threatened to put him in detention – I mean suspend him – when Kiffin blasted officials after his Vols lost to Alabama when a last-second field goal was blocked.

Kiffin not only felt Bama blocker Terrence Cody should have been penalized for taking his helmet off after the block (but before the whistle), he also claimed that he let the clock wind down because he “wasn’t going to let the refs lose the game for us … or wait for some magical flag to appear.”

These smackdowns come a week after Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino vented about poor officiating in a Razorback loss to Florida (the SEC admitted a mistake), and in the aftermath of the conference acknowledging another bad call in Georgia’s loss to LSU.

Still.

While some complaining may be justified, crying time needs to be over.

Scolding officials has darn near become a national sport in America and it’s unseemly. Officials are easy targets. The only time they get attention is when something bad happens.

Quick … how many college football officials can you name?

Just once wouldn’t it be funny to hear a ref lay into Kiffin in the papers?

“Gosh, did you see Lane’s playcalling on the goal line against UCLA? Daddy’s last name didn’t help him much then did it?”

Or how about a zebra getting overheard on the loudspeaker saying … “How many more lies did Kiffin tell today? Let’s see, he accused Meyer of cheating, South Carolinians of being dumb career gas-pumpers, and told a big fib about firing a UT staff member who picked him up late from the airport. What a punk.”

Maybe the ref in the Miss State game should have queried Mullen on why he blew the fake punt call against the Gators. Ref to Mullen … “Nice call coach – you should be penalized – if you ever get another job.”

Refs are easy targets and moderately compensated.

Coaches are spoiled, rich, and (some of them) are not real bright (my guess is Kiffin’s IQ combined with his SAT score is below 1000).

I’ll side with the guys in the stripes.

Here are this week’s Top Ten Lists.

Enjoy!

The Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 9)

10. Oregon … Ducks have made remarkable turnaround since disastrous week one.

9. Boise State… Broncos bound for a BCS bowl but not the BCS bowl.

8. TCU … Horned Frogs defense will give anyone fits.

7. Georgia Tech … have called Jackets ACC best all season and now they are atop the league.

6. USC … beware the Trojans if they beat Oregon this week.

5. Iowa … an undefeated Big Ten champ has been left out of title mix before (see Penn State).

4. Cincinnati … Bearcats a long-shot to reach title game, but have a chance.

3. Texas … Longhorns in best position to reach title game.

2. Alabama … Crimson Tide offense is struggling (as mentioned here a week ago).

1. Florida … Gators move back to top of TCG rankings.

The Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 9)

10. Miami at Wake Forest: Hurricanes need help to reach ACC title.

9. Kansas at Texas Tech: Can a Big 12 North team win a meaningful game?

8. Ole Miss at Auburn: Rebels try to continue resurgence against tumbling Tigers.

7. Michigan State at Minnesota: Big Ten bowl bound teams battle for best Florida destination.

6. South Carolina at Tennessee: Mr. Brash (old) meet Mr. Brash (young). Only one has ever won anything though.

5. Cal at Arizona State: PAC-10 is deeper than most “experts” think.

4. West Virginia at South Florida: Mountaineers try to keep Big East hopes alive.

3. Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville): Can Dogs break Gator grip on the largest outdoor cocktail party?

2. Texas at Oklahoma State: The biggest remaining obstacle between Longhorns and title game.

1. USC at Oregon: Winner likely on way to Pasadena … for granddaddy or BCS title game.

See you at kickoff.

Professor’s Picks Week 8

2009 Record
Overall: 74-31
Last Week: 10-4

Comment: 10-4 good buddy is a phrase those of a certain age will surely recognize, and it was also last week’s record. We now move toward the holiday season still hoping to get together a convoy of victories.

Best Pick: Georgia Tech whipped Virginia Tech as predicted, and the Jackets could be on the cusp of an 11-1 regular season.

Worst Pick: (Tie) Wisconsin could not pull out the win over unbeaten Iowa, and Nebraska laid an egg on behalf of the Big 12 North against Texas Tech.

Here are this week’s SEC picks and national games of interest.

Enjoy!

SEC Picks

Arkansas (3-3, 1-3) at Ole Miss (4-2, 1-2)
SEC Network 11:21 AM CT
Hollingsworth Field/Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Comment: While the Hogs have earned praise for leading the conference in passing and playing Florida tough on the road last week, Ole Miss has been catching some heat for not living up to preseason expectations. I have a feeling the Rebels will pull this one out.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

Tennessee (3-3, 1-2) at Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
CBS 2:30 p.m. CT
Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,012)
Comment: Volunteers come to T-Town fresh from both a week off and the first big win of Lane Kiffin’s career (45-19 thumping of Georgia two weeks ago). Now that all the national media seemed to have climbed aboard the Bama bandwagon, I’ll become more skeptical (my sense is that the Tide offense may have peaked already). Still, this should be another chance for Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer to give em … well, Tide fans know the rest of it.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Louisiana Monroe (3-2) at Kentucky (3-3, 1-3)
FS South 7 p.m. ET
C.M. Newton Field/Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Comment: With win over Auburn, UK Wildcats suddenly look bowl worthy – even without their starting QB. Warkhawks of ULM can throw it around a bit, but Big Blue too tough.
Professor’s Pick: Kentucky

Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4) at South Carolina (5-2, 2-2)
ESPNU 7 p.m. ET
Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Comment: Two pretty good defenses playing against two sporadic, if not mediocre, offenses project to a low scoring game alongside the Cockaboose Railroad. SC a little better on both sides.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina

Auburn (5-2, 2-2) at LSU (5-1, 3-1)
ESPN2 6:30 p.m. CT
Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Comment: These two squads tend to play close and wacky games. If the Bengal Tigers woeful offense (11th in scoring and 12th in total offense in SEC) is ever going to get better, the Auburn defense might provide the tonic (11th vs the run). Watch for a big dose of the LSU running backs … but most people have been expecting that all season. The team that can block the other wins. Slight edge to boys from the bayou.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Florida (6-0, 4-0) at Mississippi State (3-4, 1-2)
ESPN 6:30 p.m. CT
Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (55,082)
Comment: Much has been made concerning State coach Dan Mullen’s knowledge of Florida’s calls and system (since he helped implement the offense as Gator coordinator), but one thing he cannot do is switch players. Just as a hunch tells me Alabama might have peaked for a while, another says the Gators start to growl a little louder this week.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

OPEN: Georgia (4-3, 3-2)

Selected National Picks

Oklahoma at Kansas … both teams trying to recover from big losses. Professor’s Pick: Oklahoma

Clemson at Miami … Tigers a major obstacle to Canes title hopes. Professor’s Pick: Miami

South Florida at Pitt … Panthers try to stay atop Big East race. Professor’s Pick: Pitt

Boston College at Notre Dame … do all Irish games go to last-play? ND breaks long losing streak to Eagles. Professor’s Pick: Notre Dame

Penn State at Michigan … two of college football’s flagship programs. Professor’s Pick: Penn State

Oregon State at USC … Beavers ended SC title dreams last season; not this time. Professor’s Pick: USC

Texas at Missouri … Longhorns must avoid post-Oklahoma letdown. Close, but they do. Professor’s Pick: Texas

TCU at BYU … winner tries to woo BCS bowls. TCU dream season ends. Professor’s Pick: BYU

Iowa at Michigan State … does Iowa’s dream season end in East Lansing? No. Professor’s Pick: Iowa

Around SEC Football Week 8

Around the SEC

Simply the best …

In case anyone still needed convincing, this week’s bickering provided evidence aplenty of the Southeastern Conference’s supremacy in college football.

First, Steve Spurrier called out Alabama for breaking rules. Seems Alabama’s kicker (Leigh Tiffin) was putting down a small marker to show where the football would be placed down on extra points and field goals. That may be about the most meaningless rule-breaking that has ever gone on in Tuscaloosa (or anywhere else), but the head ball coach picked up on it and turned in the Tide.

Where else but SEC country would so much attention be given to a little square piece of white tape?

Next, word of a suspension broke.

Not a player or coach, but an official. Actually, make that a whole crew of officials.

The same 20-20 gang that potentially cost Georgia an upset of LSU a while back (with a phanton unsportsmanlike conduct call that the league acknowledged as a mistake) was up to its old tricks, this time in Gainesville.

A 15-yard personal foul call against Arkansas aided Florida’s comeback (the Gators scored on the play after the call). The conference released a statement saying no video evidence supported the call … wonder why it got made then?

This time commissioner Mike Slive had seen enough. The group will not be assigned a game together before Nov. 14th. It’s the first time the SEC has ever publicly suspended an officiating crew.

Then came Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin (aka Agent Orange).

Possibly bored after not offending anybody during the Vols off week, Kiffin informed the Big Orange nation that UT had requested to wear their home orange jerseys on the road against Bama this weekend, but had been rebuffed by that mean old Nick Saban (who’s also a cheater for using white tape on field goals). I don’t think Kiffin mentioned that he hired Bama’s best recruiter last winter (and went na-na-na-na-na-na while sticking out his tongue) … but he may have.

Kiffin has quickly become a sportswriter’s best friend. After his Vols beat Georgia two weeks ago, he declared Georgia to be Tennessee’s biggest rival (something he had neglected to share previously). Do you get the feeling that had the Vols beaten Florida .. or should they roll over the Tide this weekend, that one of those teams might supplant the Bulldogs as his top rival? Me too.

(By the way, UT could wear those orange jerseys anyway, but would face a 15-yard penalty at the start of each half)

One final bit of melodrama played out deep in the heart of Texas with another UT.

Coach Mack Brown apparently got fed up with being asked why his Texas Longhorns only beat Oklahoma (sans Sam Bradford) by three points. At a press conference, Mack got as testy as Bevo during branding season and sputtered that if it was an SEC game everybody would have been bragging on the defenses.

Not sure why Mack was whining because his Longhorns are in the best position of any team to play for a national title, but his performance was just another bit of evidence.

White tape … suspended officials … orange jerseys … surly coaches from rival leagues.

Yep, the SEC reigns supreme right now.

Campus Game SEC Rankings Week 8

12. Vanderbilt: Commodores just not getting it done on either side.

11. Miss State: Bullies and Dan Mullen get Gators in prime time.

10. Auburn: That 5-0 start is getting farther into rearview mirror.

9. Kentucky: Wildcats had nice comeback on Plains.

8. Georgia: Pretty good game together against pretty bad Vandy.

7. Tennessee: Will week off have Vols ready for Bama?

6. Ole Miss: Rebels can regain respect against Arkansas.

5. Arkansas: Razorbacks battled Florida to the wire.

4. South Carolina: No shame in loss to Bama.

3. LSU: Bengal Tigers still in hunt but face wounded Auburn.

2. Florida: Gators getting by with mental toughness.

1. Alabama: Tide stays atop conference and national TCG rankings.

Check back for Professor’s Picks on Friday!