Around SEC Football Week 7

Around the SEC

Ruminations on the Passing Scene …

Best Since the Bear …

Arguably the two best coaches to patrol Southeastern Conference sidelines since Bear Bryant growled on the gridiron meet in Tuscaloosa this weekend when Steve Spurrier and South Carolina face Nick Saban and Alabama.

Spurrier earns my vote as the greatest SEC football coach AB (after Bryant), and third greatest in conference history (behind Coach Bryant and General Bob Neyland of Tennessee). Although he is often erroneously credited with bringing the passing game to the SEC (please see a fellow named Wally Butts to know better), Spurrier certainly modernized the conference and his Florida teams of the 1990s were terrific.

Saban typically garners less respect as a legendary conference figure than Spurrier, in part because he has spent less time in the league (leaving for a brief NFL gig between stints with LSU and Bama). Still, the man won a national championship in Baton Rouge, rolled the Tide to an unbeaten 2008 regular season in only his second year at the Capstone, and currently has arguably the most impressive team in the nation.

At least one other active SEC coach deserves to be in this conversation – Urban Meyer of Florida. With two national titles in four seasons, the youthful head Gator may simply need just a few years longevity to surpass both Spurrier and Saban.

Note: Vince Dooley (Georgia) and Pat Dye (Auburn) would rank fourth and fifth on my post-Bear list, although I consider Dooley more a contemporary of the Bear since their careers overlapped for many years.

Hot Seats and Cold Showers …

Speaking of top coaches … so, Georgia’s Mark Richt is on the hot seat?

Come again.

The same Mark Richt with two SEC championships, two Sugar Bowl wins, a 6-2 bowl record, and a career record that stands at sixty games over .500?

The same Mark Richt who leads a life off the field that makes Tim Tebow look like a young Hugh Hefner?

The guy who takes mission trips to Central America during the off-season (where I don’t remember reading that he ran into Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino, or Nick Saban), and has the Bulldogs build Habitat-for-Humanity homes in the spring and summer?

The guy with the pretty wife that serves as the team water girl, the same wife that went to Eastern Europe to adopt a child after she and Mark were moved to do so by their Christian faith … and ended up bringing two new Richts home?

That guy is on the hot seat?

Because he can’t beat Florida (who can)? Because he lost to Georgia Tech last season (for the first time in eight seasons)? Because he won’t fire his coaches (the same staff that compiled all those wins and bowl trips)? Because Lane Kiffin and Tennessee threw some bootleg passes that Georgia couldn’t stop and thumped the underachieving Dogs last weekend … and now the Vols might sign a few more recruits from the Peach State?

Excuse me, but a soothing cold shower might be in order for anybody putting that man on the hot seat.

Last time I looked, a season lasts twelve games, not six; talented freshmen and sophomores dot the skill positions on the Georgia roster (including two highly regarded quarterbacks), Tebow reaches sainthood (or graduates) after this season so Florida will come back to the pack some, and Lane Kiffin seems as much Ron Zook as Urban Meyer.

Maybe the sky is not falling in Athens.

Coach in Waiting …

Beware Kentucky, this coach-in-waiting strategy is turning into a joke (no offense Joker Phillips).

While it might be understandable for a moderately successful program like Kentucky to wrap up a good assistant by promising him the head coaching job, why would any well-established program do so?

Florida State named Jimbo Fisher heir apparent to Bobby Bowden when the Seminoles hired the LSU offensive coordinator a couple years ago, a decision all involved now seem to rue (possibly including Fisher himself). Well-respected though he might be, Fisher has never been a major college head coach, never a head coach at any level, and he will be walking into a minor mess (the Noles still have talent) when Bowden steps down (or is shoved aside).

Had FSU not pre-emptively named Fisher head coach, think Brian Kelly of Cincinnatti, Chris Peterson of Boise, Gary Patterson of TCU, or other young – but proven – head coaches might be intriguing?

At Texas, head Longhorn-to-be Will Muschamp and current head Horn Mack Brown seem to co-exist well … but let the program skid a bit and see what happens.

Midterm Conference Rankings

12. Vanderbilt … last season’s bowl seems so long ago.

11. Kentucky … don’t count the Wildcats out of a bowl just yet because the schedule softens soon.

10. Mississippi State … Dan Mullen has the Bullies playing hard and competing … and that’s about as much as can be expected this season.

9. Georgia … the Bulldogs are inconsistent on offense and defense, have poor turnover margin (-11 worst in SEC), and rank as one of the nation’s most penalized teams (9 per game – worst in SEC).

8. Tennessee … Vols played a solid game on both sides of ball against Georgia and should win at least three of next six (and probably four or five).

7. Auburn … Tigers season should not come undone because of loss to Arkansas, but I do expect two-three more hiccups along the way.

6. Ole Miss … Rebels rank in the top tier of the conference is tenuous.

5. Arkansas … the Razorbacks are probably a little high here, but trending up because the schedule has some winnable games after the visit to Florida.

4. South Carolina … Gamecocks schedule looks more and more suspect as Georgia and Ole Miss falter, but the defense is sound.

3. LSU … Tigers squandered great opportunity against Gators at home, and must regroup for a pretty challenging second-half schedule.

2. Florida … the Gators may be struggling a bit offensively but they have guts and a great defense. Oh yeah, the guy named Tebow is pretty good too.

1. Alabama … now that everybody has caught up to The Campus Game (this site had Bama ranked first in the nation before anybody else), the concern becomes overconfidence because this is a tough three game stretch for Tide (SC, Tennessee, bye, LSU).

Be sure to check back Friday for Professor’s Picks!

Thursday Night Pick: Cincy over South Florida

Around the Nation Week 7


Week seven of the college football season marks the halfway point of the semester, and students across America understand the significance of that course calendar milestone.

Before loading their cars and leaving campus for home, or the mountains, or the beaches, or even for some seasonal work to earn extra money, students must confront a beast more ghastly than any Halloween costume they will face at the end of the month.

The dreaded midterm examinations.

Those first, few exciting and new ice-breaking weeks of school are long gone. Buddies no longer have time to shoot pool or the breeze. Co-eds might still flirt on the steps of the library, though only for a minute. Surly professors, so open and friendly in late August but now bogged down with grading and committee work, no longer seem quite so approachable. Sleep, always at the top of a student’s wish list but the bottom of his to-do list, beckons but must wait.

Good old midterms.

Welcome to The Campus Game, where the professor only gets surly when Georgia or Notre Dame loses (so this midterm week may be a tough one for my students!).

For the past several years, midterm grades have been posted here and 2009 continues our grading efforts.

A few reminders … there is no curve … there is no extra credit available … there are no makeup exams … and if you complain about the grade – study harder!

Here are grades for the six BCS conferences, plus selected independents and potential BCS busters (conference and overall records listed):


Atlantic Division

Wake Forest 2-1 4-2 … Deacs deserve credit for beating Stanford, but schedule gets a bit tougher next few weeks. Midterm: B+

Maryland 1-1 2-4 … the heat is warming up for Fridge. Midterm: F

Boston College 2-2 4-2 … please spare us another BC-VT title game. Midterm: C

Clemson 1-2 2-3 … too much talent to lose so many close games. Midterm: C-

NC State 0-2 3-3 … one win of note in 09 (Pitt) for taciturn Tommy O. Midterm: D

Florida State 0-3 2-4 … hate to see it get so ugly for Bobby Bowden. Midterm: D

Coastal Division

Virginia Tech 3-0 5-1 … Beamer ball has turned since loss to Tide. Midterm: B+

Virginia 1-0 2-3 … this team is not a contender and Al Groh may be out of Mr. Jefferson’s U before Christmas. Midterm: D

Georgia Tech 3-1 5-1 … still my pick for ACC champ. Midterm: B+

Miami 2-1 4-1 … Canes handled difficult early schedule well. Midterm: A

Duke 1-1 3-3 … Coach Cut gets chicken salad from lemons or something like that. Midterm: B

North Carolina 0-2 4-2 … Butch Davis is perhaps too well-repected? Midterm: C-

Big 12

North Division

Kansas 1-0 5-0 … Jayhawks have played nobody. Midterm: Incomplete

Nebraska 1-0 4-1 … Watch Bo’s boys … should be unbeaten: Midterm: A-

Kansas State 1-1 3-3 … remember when that guy used to schedule a bunch of cupcakes for K-State? What – he’s back! Midterm: C

Missouri 0-1 4-1 … much will be learned abou Tigers in next two weeks. Loss to Nebraska hurt grade. Midterm: B-

Colorado 0-1 1-4 … you know things are bad in Buffalo land when the head coach has to bench his son. Midterm: F

Iowa State 0-2 3-3 … Cyclones have beaten teams they should’ve and lost two close ones. Should pass the course. Midterm: C

South Division

Texas 2-0 5-0 … prize pupil has major assignment this week; a win might be valedictory honors. Midterm: A

Oklahoma State 1-0 4-1 … only one letdown so far, but haven’t beaten anybody of note either. Midterm: B-

Oklahoma 1-0 3-2 … excused absences make this grade a challenge; ace the exam this week to move the grade back up. Midterm: C+

Texas Tech 1-1 4-2 … class clown is entertaining but failed two biggest exams of semester. Midterm: C

Baylor 0-1 3-2 … Bears giving it the old college try in a solid effort to this point. Win at Wake offset by loss to U Conn. Midterm: B-

Texas A&M 0-1 3-2 … Aggies aced early quizzes but fell behind as pace of semester picked up. Midterm: C-

Big East

Pittsburgh 2-0 5-1 … no great submissions, but results are good. Midterm: B

Cincinnati 1-0 5-0 … looks like star of class. Midterm: A

South Florida 1-0 5-0 … a class favorite, but remaining schedule of assignments will be a challenge. Midterm: A

West Virginia 1-0 4-1 … does not look like a champion, but certainly passing. Midterm: B

Rutgers 0-1 4-1 … has recovered from early flub, but not against anybody of note. Midterm: C

Connecticut 0-1 3-2 … one nice win and two close losses equals a decent grade. Midterm: C+

Louisville 0-1 2-3 … win over Southern Miss salvages some hope. Midterm: C-

Syracuse 0-2 2-4 … not much expected, so not failing. Midterm: D+

Big Ten

Ohio State 3-0 5-1 … failed a big assignment, but may be class best. Midterm: B+

Iowa 2-0 6-0 … aced all tests so far. Midterm: A

Wisconsin 2-1 5-1 … good start to semester but could not handle big exam. Midterm: B

Minnesota 2-1 4-2 … beautiful stadium makes me want to grade soft … tough schedule looms. Midterm: B

Michigan State 2-1 3-3 … expected more and Sparty may eventually earn a good grade. Midterm: C

Penn State 1-1 5-1 … high expectations have not been met, but still might earn Dean’s List. Midterm: B

Northwestern 1-1 4-2 … has not passed any major assignment so I find them suspect. Midterm: B-

Michigan 1-2 4-2 … failed last two tests, but this student has potential. Watch Wolverines. Midterm: B

Indiana 0-2 3-3 … good early start has been forgotten, especially with embarrassing loss to Virginia last week. Midterm: C-

Purdue 0-2 1-5 … five straight losses, each progressively uglier. Midterm: D-

Illinois 0-3 1-4 … this act has run thin. Midterm: F


Oregon 3-0 5-1 … early discipline issues are fading. Midterm: B+

Stanford 3-1 4-2 … recent failure does not lessen potential. Midterm: B

USC 2-1 4-1 … annual snooze through a minor test costs points, but probably still earns valedictory honors for this class. Midterm: B

Oregon State 2-1 4-2 … solid year after year. Midterm: B

Washington 2-1 3-3 … low expectations make performance more impressive. Midterm. A-

Arizona 1-1 3-2 … under radar but not danger of failing at this point. Midterm: C+

Arizona State 1-1 3-2 … unsure about this pupil with difficult stretch ahead. Midterm: C-

California 0-2 3-2 … looked like star student early, but 6 points (total) in last two games? Midterm: D

UCLA 0-2 3-2 … good early start is thing of past for struggling Bruins. Midterm: C

Washington State 0-4 1-5 … low expectations have been met. Midterm: D-


East Division

Florida 3-0 5-0 … professor’s pet has passed all tests. Midterm: A-

South Carolina 2-1 5-1 … with a genius for a coach, the Gamecocks should do well. Midterm: B+

Georgia 2-2 3-3 … alma mater dear – where’s the defense (or the offense)? Midterm: C-

Tennessee 1-2 3-3 … arrogant students irritate me, but must be graded fairly. Midterm: C+

Kentucky 0-3 2-3 … results look worse than they should because of schedule. Should pass the course. Midterm: C

Vanderbilt 0-3 2-4 … not sure I find any more wins on this schedule. Could get ugly. Midterm: D

West Division

Alabama 3-0 6-0 … best of the class so far. Midterm: A+

LSU 3-1 5-1 … not sure this squad earned some of those high marks; we’ll find out. Midterm: B+

Auburn 2-1 5-1 … again, low expectations make good results look even better. Midterm: B+

Arkansas 1-2 3-2 … talented but flawed, this squad could spoil somebody’s season at some point. Midterm: C

Mississippi 1-2 3-2 … read too many press clippings and forgot that grades are earned not given. Midterm: C

Mississippi State 1-2 2-4 … two more wins are feasible (not probable) but Bullies have competed. Midterm: C+

Independents/BCS Busters

Notre Dame 4-1 … my beloved team of childhood, the Irish have aged the professor this season. Midterm: B+

Boise State 5-0 … take some upper level courses so we can get a true reading. Midterm: B+

TCU 5-0 … love this squad, but doubt they will win out to bust BCS. Midterm: A

Here are this week’s Top Ten lists.


Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 7)

10. Kansas … I like undefeated teams from BCS conferences.

9. TCU … Horned Frogs get nod over Boise as best of BCS busters.

8. Virginia Tech … I fully expect Georgia Tech to beat the Hokies this weekend.

7. Miami … Canes may deserve to be ranked higher.

6. Iowa … not really a believer, but results are there.

5. USC … Trojans still in driver’s seat among 1-loss teams in my opinion.

4. Cincinnati … Big East is better than usual and the Bearcats deserve some respect.

3. Texas … Should Longhorns lasso Sooners this weekend, the path is right there for the BCS title trek.

2. Florida … Gritty Gators will be tough to dethrone, regardless if offense struggles.

1. Alabama … Crimson Tide look powerful and only concern seems to be peaking too early.

Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 7)

Arkansas at Florida … Razorbacks have plenty of firepower to test Gators great defense.

Boise State at Tulsa (Wednesday) … Golden Hurricane could douse Bronco’s BCS busting efforts.

South Carolina at Alabama … The head ball coach has quietly gotten SC into the Top 25.

Pitt at Rutgers (Friday) … Scarlet Knights cannot afford another Big East conference loss.

Texas Tech at Nebraska … Huskers defense gets chance to prove itself against terrific passing attack of the Red Raiders.

Iowa at Wisconsin … Hawkeyes unblemished record may get scratched up in Madison.

Cincinnati at South Florida (Thursday) … winner will be favorite to win Big East BCS bid.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech … A Yellow Jacket win could mean end of Hokie reign as ACC champ.

Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas … Think Sooner fans would like to spoil another title run for Horns?

USC at Notre Dame … Irish have chance to prove whether they belong among Top 25 against greatest rival.

Wednesday Night Pick: Boise over Tulsa

Professor’s Picks Week 6

Professor’s Picks
Week 6

2009 Record
Overall: 55-23
Last Week: 10-4

Comment: This will be a no frills version of Prof’s Picks as we head into midterms (please check back for midterm grades next week).

Best Pick: Many people pegged LSU as next in line to fall from the Top Five, but the Tigers prevailed over the Bulldogs in Athens as prognosticated here.

Worst Pick: A toss-up between overrating Oklahoma, thus missing the Sooner loss to Miami … or underrating Auburn and whiffing on the Tigers taming of Tennessee.

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


(All Times Eastern)

SEC Picks

Vanderbilt at Army (CBS College Sports Noon): Commodores get thrill of playing at Michie Stadium along the beautiful Hudson. Vandy should have enough defense to contain Cadets.
Professor’s Pick: Vanderbilt

Auburn at Arkansas (ESPN Noon): Tigers won on the road for first time last week and remain unbeaten. Hogs cannot stop anybody, so the AU offense figures to score plenty … still, I’m waiting on Arkansas to put a whole game together and for Auburn to come to earth. Upset special.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas

Georgia at Tennessee (SEC Network 12:21): Two teams struggling to find an identity. Vols cannot score. Dogs can one week, but not the next. Neither team is very good at this point, but Georgia is probably a little better.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia

Houston at Miss State (ESPNU 12:30): A week ago, the Cougars would have been a big favorite to whip the MSU Bullies. A blowout loss to previously unimpressive UTEP changed that storyline. Improving Dogs handle C-USA visitors.
Professor’s Pick: Miss State

Kentucky at South Carolina (Fox Sport South 12:30): Two middle of the pack teams jousting for potential bowl positions. Gamecocks have looked better, but do not discount the boys in blue.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina

Alabama at Ole Miss (CBS 3:30): Polls projected Ole Miss to be main challenger in West for the Crimson Tide, but Rebels have disappointed. Toughness looks to be biggest difference between the two … Bama is tough, Ole Miss is flashy. Tough usually wins.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Florida at LSU (CBS 8:00): Most likely the top game of the conference regular season. With or without Tim Tebow, I like Florida to win the game. Gators have had a week off, and Urban Meyer and staff are usually pretty good game-planners. What factors give LSU an opportunity? Aside from the Tebow saga … the Gators can be susceptible to a power rushing attack (and LSU has bruisers in Charles Scott and Keiland Williams); the atmosphere of a night game in Baton Rouge (especially with the national attention and ESPN College Game Day there) might become the overriding factor in the game. It’s feasible the crowd might just will the Tigers to a win. So, it’s no sure thing, but I expect Florida to play with a bit of a chip on the shoulder.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

Selected National Picks

Georgia Tech at FSU … Can Noles slow Jacket option game (and Bobby Bowden’s departure)? No. Professor’s Pick: Tech

TCU at Air Force … Horned Frogs remain potential BCS busters, but Air Force is capable of grounding those hopes. Professor’s Pick: TCU

Oregon at UCLA … PAC-10 race is shaping up to be strange (although USC will likely win it again) and the survivor is in good shape. Professor’s Pick: Oregon

Wisconsin at Ohio State … Badgers are undefeated and unloved by pollsters. Buckeyes will probably show us why in the Shoe. Professor’s Pick: Ohio State

Michigan at Iowa … Which Hawkeye team will show up … vanquishers of Penn State or pretenders barely beating Arkansas State? Doesn’t matter, Wolverines win. Professor’s Pick: Michigan

Stanford at Oregon State … Jim Harbaugh’s Cardinal sit atop the PAC-10, but Mike Riley and the Beavers always play tough at home. Professor’s Pick: Oregon State

College Football 2009 Week 6

Around Campus
Week 6

Football Folly

Remember those hilarious old football television shows called Football Follies?

The ones created by NFL Films legend Ed Sabol and his son Steve that featured wacky plays, embarrassing bloopers, and voiceovers by funnyman Mel Blanc?

The 2009 college football season is showing signs of becoming a Football Folly – only without the laughs in most instances.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, the college football site where the only folly comes when we make our weekly predictions.

The follies can be categorized into three “P”s … Pinstripes, Programs, and Polls.

Pinstripes: Complaining about college football officials is sort of like complaining about getting grains of sand in your swim trunks at the beach. There’s just too much to avoid so live with it.

Still, seems there is a weekly controversy.

The most egregious call of last Saturday’s games came when an SEC crew flagged Georgia’s mild-mannered receiver A.J. Green for excessive celebration. Gosh fellows, he had just snagged a sensational TD pass with just over a minute remaining to put the Bulldogs ahead of 4th-ranked LSU. His teammates swarmed him and that was it. The penalty was costly as the Tigers Trindon Holliday returned the ensuing kickoff into UGA territory and LSU scored a couple plays later.

The conference released a “My Bad” announcement … seems that Green had stumbled coming out of the pileup and one of the 20-20 gang calling the game took that as Green bringing attention to himself. Makes one wonder whether SEC officials are still keeping a close eye on Georgia after that team celebration against Florida a couple years ago.

Programs: Several programs are turning into potential follies before our very eyes … Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, and Louisville come to mind along with several mid-majors. Still, three program follies really deserve our attention this week.

At Florida State, Jim Smith – Chair of the school’s Board of Trustees (as powerful a position as exists in a public institution of higher learning) – called for Bobby Bowden to be replaced. Smith’s blindside was part of an avalanche of bad news for the man who has probably earned FSU more money than any single figure in the past quarter century. Some newspapers called for a coup, and Bowden’s wife even went public to defend her husband.

FSU fans, boosters, and those newspapermen are entitled to their opinions but should be ashamed. Let the man go out on his terms. Smith’s comments are particularly damaging because his leadership position demands a voice of reason … not simply being a fan. Late word by ESPN is that Bowden will not be forced to step down this season (his contract is up after 2010 but it seems doubtful he’ll make it that long).

Oregon also deserves a callout for climbing the folly scale. Seems the Ducks are contemplating allowing RB LaGarrette Blount (he of sucker-punching fame) to rejoin the team if he meets certain stipulations (he had been booted off permanently for his post-game behavior at Boise State).

Two aspects of this turnaround are fishier than the rivers in Oregon.

First, the campus newspaper published an apology from Blount. I’ve been a college professor for sixteen years, and if Blount actually penned that letter he ranks in the top 5% of students I’ve taught (more likely is that his laywers drafted it for him). So, when a legal team starts visiting with the school administration something is rotten in Eugene.

Secondly, have you noticed the Oregon won-loss record? That’s right the men in (too many shades of) green are legitimate Rose Bowl contenders. Coaches, fans, and administrators get selective memories when Tournament of Roses trips dance in their head.

New Mexico: Yes, Mike Locksley is a rookie head coach and deserves time to prove he is up to the task of leading the Lobos. Yes, Locksley is an African American, one of an embarrasingly low number currently leading major college teams.


If any other university employee punched a subordinate (as Locksley may have done with assistant coach J.B. Gerald) during official college work, that person would have been fired (and likely led off campus by security).

If any other university employee was hit with a sexual harrassment and age discrimination complaint by a subordinate, that person would at least be placed on administrative leave until the matter was cleared.

Locksley’s 0-5 start to the season does not help him either, but he’s gotten off pretty easy from my perspective.

Polls: Longtime readers of The Campus Game know I do not support a college football playoff. I’ve yet to see a plan that would not harm the bowl system or make the regular season less important.

However, I do believe there should be more consistency in the national polls. Some voters tend to lock in their votes early in the season; the only way someone moves up is when another team loses. This can result in strange circumstances where a team like USC defeats Ohio State on the road, but gets voted behind the Buckeyes by some voters a couple weeks later following a loss (teams with same record and one beat the other on the road … how could that happen).

Another issue with polls is lack of transparency. We have no idea who casts the votes for some of the coaches out there. Even publishing the votes of coaches does not give us a full picture of the process.

My thought is that the NCAA, the Football Writers Association, or some other knowledgeable body should develop more specific and consistent guidelines for voters to follow. Perhaps more space will be devoted in a later column.

Here are this week’s Top Ten lists.


Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 6)

1o. USC … Trojans are best of the major one-loss teams in my opinion.

9. Auburn … Plainsmen have feasted on relatively weak schedule (four of five games at home), but trip to Arkansas will be no picnic.

8. Missouri … Tigers have ripped apart outmanned opponents to this point, but host sound Nebraska Thursday night.

7. Wisconsin … how is this 5-0 squad not even in the Top 25 of major polls? Ohio State may show us at the Shoe this weekend.

6. Iowa … I like to stick with undefeated teams from BCS conferences (even after ugly performances) … Hawks host Michigan.

5. Cincinnati … Bearcats best be aware of trip to Tampa in two weeks.

4. LSU … Tigers survived against Georgia, now face Saturday night showdown with Gators on the bayou.

3. Texas … Longhorns are well-rested and await arrival of struggling Colorado.

2. Florida … will Tebow play? That’s the big question for the date with LSU.

1. Alabama … Tide faces biggest challenge to date with trip to Oxford.

Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 6)

10. Nebraska at Missouri … Big 12 North early leader will be determined on Thursday night.

9. Georgia Tech at FSU … Can Noles slow down Jackets (and Bowden’s exit)?

8. Georgia at Tennessee … Will Lane Kiffin finally surpass Urban Meyer (Kid has two wins and Meyer two national titles) against hard-luck Dogs?

7. TCU at Air Force … Horned Frogs remain in BCS-Buster contention.

6. Oregon at UCLA … 3-1 Bruins are getting little respect but might earn some with a win over Ducks.

5. Michigan at Iowa … Which Hawkeye team will show up – vanquishers of Penn State or pretenders barely beating Arkansas State?

4. Stanford at Oregon State … the Cardinal sit atop the PAC-10 and I really like the job Jim Harbaugh is doing. Mike Riley and Beavers will be a fine test.

3. Auburn at Arkansas … Two high-octane offenses in what could be a shootout.

2. Alabama at Ole Miss … Rebs represent biggest threat to a second straight undefeated Tide regular season.

1. Florida at LSU … all eyes will be on Tim Tebow. Gators have looked mortal even with Mr. Touchdown; without him trouble could be brewing on the bayou (along with plenty of other spirits for this night game).

See you at kickoff!

Professor’s Picks Week 5

Professor’s Picks
Week 5
by Bob Epling
The Campus Game

2009 Record
Overall: 45-19

Last Week: 11-4

Comment: Last week’s picks stayed in the solid B+ range, not stellar but above average. Still waiting on a breakout week with only one or two miscues.

Best Pick(s): Many people projected Ole Miss to be overrated, and South Carolina’s Thursday night victory over the Rebs justified that skepticism. Virginia Tech slowed Miami’s march back to national prominence as predicted in this spot last week.

Worst Pick(s): Florida State’s roller coaster season descended quickly when the Noles plunged to a home loss against South Florida. Iowa punctured Penn State’s potential Pasadena pilgrimage.

Here are this week’s SEC Picks and selected national games.


(All times Eastern)

SEC Picks

Alabama at Kentucky (12:21 SEC Network) … For a team ranked in the top five nearly all season, the Crimson Tide garnered little national attention for much of September, but expect that to change. Several pundits now call Bama the nation’s best team. The game at Lexington is a potential trap for the Tide as a West Division showdown with Ole Miss looms next week. The Red Elephant offense has been balanced (3rd in SEC in both passing and rushing), the play of QB Greg McElroy sound (7 TD-1 INT), and the emergence of freshman RB Trent Richardson gives the Tide one more playmaker. Kentucky is last in the conference against the rush, so expect Bama to pound a bit in this one. Enjoy two of the nation’s premier return men in Javier Arenas of UA and Derrick Locke of UK.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

LSU at Georgia (3:30 CBS) … The Amazing Kreskin would have a tough time figuring out these two squads. Georgia needs to stock defibrillators around Sanford Stadium because the Dogs keep playing heart-stoppers. One week QB Joe Cox and the offense light up Arkansas or South Carolina while the defense provides less resistance than the gentle current of the Oconee River rolling past Athens; other weeks the defense slows down a good Oklahoma State team or repeatedly stifles Arizona State to save the game after a late turnover by the UGA offense. LSU has been similarly confounding. Based on press reviews, we might guess the Tigers were ranked the fourth best team in Louisiana instead of fourth best in the whole of the good ole USA. Rangy receivers Brandon LeFell and Terrance Toliver could pose big issues for Georgia’s corners, but the same can be said of Georgia’s wideouts who are led by the terrific A.J. Green. The teams rank lower in league statistics than their combined 7-1 record would suggest … LSU is last in total offense, Georgia next to last in total defense. LSU is ninth in total defense, Georgia is ninth in total offense. Both have outstanding punt and kick teams. Tough call, but LSU has yet to play well … I think they do in this one and tame the Dogs in Athens.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (7:00 ESPNU) … The Rebels are licking wounds after the loss to South Carolina. While Ole Miss should have enough offensive firepower to outscore Vandy, the Commodores cannot be overlooked. The psychological state of the Rebs will be important because their entire season had been pointing to next week’s game against Alabama. Perhaps a somewhat risky pick, but let’s take Ole Miss.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

SC State at South Carolina (7:00 ESPN Classic) … a nice non-conference game for the Roosters in that the State Bulldogs should provide just enough competition to keep the game interesting for a while. SC State comes in 3-0, but the old ball coach and his Gamecocks should be riding high after handling Ole Miss last Thursday.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (7:30 ESPN2) … Two quarterbacks putting up huge numbers will play at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Undefeated A&M features Jerrod Johnson who passes for 320 yards a game and adds another 65 on the ground. Johnson is responsible for more points per game than any player in America (26). The 1-2 Hogs counter with big Ryan Mallet. He leads the SEC in passing (292 ypg) and has a 7-1 TD-INT ratio. Should be entertaining, but I like the Razorbacks due to their tougher schedule.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas

Georgia Tech at Miss State (7:30 CSS) … One of my favorite games of the weekend. MSU head coach Dan Mullen has brought new excitement to Starkville, and the Bully offense features solid running back Anthony Dixon (2nd in SEC rushing at 107 ypg). Tech counters with Paul Johnson’s quick-strike option offense and outstanding back Jonathan Dwyer, the ACC preseason player of the year. The Jackets are my pick to win the ACC and I originally liked them as a dark-horse national title contender (tough to swallow for a Georgia grad and SEC man) until they showed too many inconsistencies on both sides of the ball. MSU should know how to defend the option fairly well, but the Rambling Wreck ought to run past the Bulldogs.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia Tech

Auburn at Tennessee (7:45 ESPN) … An intriguing game between two new SEC coaches. The Auburn offense has surprised most everyone (including me) by putting up 45 points per game. QB Chris Todd has an outstanding 11-1 TD-INT ratio, and his passing is complemented by an excellent rush attack featuring Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb. On Rocky Top, Tennessee has its own nice tailback tandem in Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown. The big difference is at quarterback. UT’s Jonathan Crompton ranks 10th in the SEC in passing yards per game and has not provided any spark for the Vol offense. Both teams are solid on defense, so the only other mismatch might be on the sideline. It will be interesting to see how AU’s Gene Chizik fares against the more balleyhooed (and controversial) Lane Kiffin of Tennessee. In some ways, this is the first big game each team could reasonably be expected to win. I’ve been more impressed with Chizik than Kiffin, but after going back and forth the Neyland Stadium crowd leads me to the Big Orange.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee

Selected National Picks

Air Force at Navy: First round of commander’s cup; can AFA break Middie’s grip? Professor’s Pick: Navy

Pitt at Louisville: Winner moves into contention in Big East race for BCS. Professor’s Pick: Pitt

Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio): Upset alert for Bearcats against nearby rival? Nah. Professor’s Pick: Cincy

Wisconsin at Minnesota: Two pretty good Big Ten teams scrap for position; Gophers hand Bucky first loss. Professor’s Pick: Minnesota

Michigan at Michigan State: Rich Rod and Wolves will be taken seriously with a win … they get it. Professor’s Pick: Michigan

USC at Cal: Much still rides on the outcome … until someone knocks Tommy Trojan from perch astride PAC 10, I’m sticking with them. Professor’s Pick: USC

Oklahoma vs. Miami: Not quite the Barry Switzer-Jimmy Johnson teams of the 80s, but not bad. With or without Sam Bradford, I believe Sooner defensive pressure will prove too much for young Canes. Professor’s Pick: Oklahoma

College Football Television Schedule Week 5

College Football TV Schedule
Week 5
… all times Eastern
… courtesy National Football Foundation
… listed by conference member’s home game

Atlantic Coast (ACC)

Saturday, October 3

  • Clemson @ Maryland , ESPNU , 12 noon ; Clay Matvick, David Diaz-Infante
  • Virginia @ North Carolina, Raycom , 12 noon ; Steve Martim, Rick Walker, Mike Hogewood
  • (6)Virginia Tech @ Duke , ESPN360, 12 noon ; Dave Weekley, Danny Kanell
  • Florida State @ Boston College , ABC, 3:30 p.m.; Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe
  • NC State @ Wake Forest, ESPNU, 3:30 p.m. ; Todd Harris, Charles Arbuckle
  • (8)Oklahoma @ (21)Miami , ABC , 8 p.m.; Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters

Big East

Thursday, October 1

  • Colorado @ West Virginia , ESPN, 7:30 p.m.; Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer, Erin Andrews

Friday, October 2

  • Pittsburgh @ Louisville, ESPN2, 8 p.m.; Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore

Saturday, October 3

  • South Florida @ Syracuse , Big East Network , 12 noon ; Mike Gleason, John Congemi, Quint Kessenich
  • Texas Southern @ Rutgers , No TV, 12 noon

Big Ten

Saturday, October 3

  • Arkansas State @ (17)Iowa , ESPN2 , 12 noon ; Pam Ward, Ray Bentley
  • (20)Michigan @ Michigan State , Big Ten Network ,12 noon; Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin, Charissa Thompson
  • Northwestern @ Purdue, Big Ten Network, 12 noon; Ari Wolfe, Anthony Herron, Tony McGee
  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota, ESPN , 12 noon ; Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman
  • (13)Penn State @ Illinois, ABC , 3:30 p.m.; Mike Patrick, Craig James, Heather Cox
  • (9)Ohio State @ Indiana, Big Ten Network, 7:00 p.m; Craig Coshun, Glen Mason, Rebecca Haarlow

Big 12

Saturday, October 3

  • Kansas State @ Iowa State , FCS Central , 3 p.m.; Dan McLaughlin, Yogi Roth, Samantha Steele
  • New Mexico @ Texas Tech , FSN, 3:30 p.m.; Bill Land, Gary Reasons, Emily Jones
  • Kent State @ Baylor, FSN , 7 p.m. ; Joel Meyers, Dave Lapham, Jim Knox

Conference USA

Thursday, October 1

  • Southern Miss @ UAB, CBS College , 8 p.m.; Dave Ryan, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila

Saturday, October 3

  • East Carolina @ Marshall, CBS College , 12 noon; Tom Hart, Aaron Taylor
  • Memphis @ Central Florida , Bright House Network, 3:30 p.m.; Drew Fellios, Mark Royals, Dave Baumann
  • Tulsa @ Rice , CBS College , 7:30 p.m.; Jason Knapp, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila
  • (15)Houston @ UTEP , No TV , 9 p.m.


Saturday, October 3

  • Toledo @ Ball State, ESPN Plus , 12 noon ; Michael Reghi, Doug Chapman
  • (11)Cincinnati @ Miami(OH) , ESPN360, 1 p.m. ; Jim Barbar, Jerod Cherry
  • Temple @ Eastern Michigan, All-MACcess web stream, 1 p.m.
  • Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois, CSN Chicago, 3:30 p.m.; Dave Kaplan, Bob Chmiel
  • Central Michigan @ Buffalo , Time Warner-NY, 3:30 p.m. ; Howard Simon, Ruben Brown
  • Ohio @ Bowling Green, BCSN , 4 p.m.; Greg Franke, Tom Cole

Mountain West

Friday, October 2

  • Utah State @ (21)BYU, The Mtn. , 9 p.m.; Bill Doleman, Blaine Fowler, Toby Christensen

Saturday, October 3

  • New Mexico State @ San Diego State, No TV , 8 p.m.
  • SMU @ (10)TCU , The Mtn. , 8 p.m.; James Bates, Todd Christensen, Cash Sirois


Saturday, October 3

  • UCLA @ Stanford, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ; Dave Lamont, David Norrie
  • Oregon State @ Arizona State , Versus , 7:00 p.m.; Ron Thulin, Kelly Stouffer, Lewis Johnson
  • (7)USC @ (19)California, ABC , 8 p.m.; Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham
  • Washington State @ (25)Oregon, Oregon Sports Network, 9:15 p.m.; Joe Giansante, Anthony Newman


Saturday, October 3

  • (3)Alabama @ Kentucky , SEC Network , 12:21 p.m.; Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano
  • (4)LSU @ (14)Georgia, CBS , 3:30 p.m.; Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson
  • South Carolina State @ South Carolina , ESPN Classic, 7 p.m. ; Bob Wischusen, Brian Griese
  • (18)Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt , ESPNU, 7 p.m.; Eric Collins, Brock Huard
  • Georgia Tech @ Mississippi State, CSS, 7:30 p.m.; Doug Bell, Chris Doering
  • Arkansas vs. Texas A&M @ Arlington , ESPN2 , 7:30 p.m.; Mark Jones, Bob Davie
  • Auburn @ Tennessee , ESPN , 7:45 p.m.; Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Erin Andrews

Sun Belt

Saturday, October 3

  • Wyoming @ Florida Atlantic , No TV, 4 p.m.
  • Florida International @ Louisiana-Monroe, Sun Belt Network, 3:30 p.m.; Todd Kalas, Derek Rackley

Tuesday, October 6

  • Middle Tennessee State @ Troy , ESPN2 , 8 p.m. ; Eric Collins, Brock Huard


Saturday, October 3

  • UNLV @ Nevada , No TV, 4p.m.
  • UC Davis @ (5)Boise State , KTVB, 8 p.m.; Mark Johnson, Tom Scott, David Augusto
  • Colorado State @ Idaho, ESPNU, 10:30 p.m. ; Carter Blackburn, Jon Berger


Saturday, October 3

  • Tulane @ Army, CBS College , 12 noon ; Dave Ryan, Jason Sehorn, Cadet Kim Cowan
  • Air Force @ Navy, CBS College , 3:30 p.m.; Craig Bolerjack, Randy Cross
  • Washington @ Notre Dame , NBC, 3:30 p.m.; Tom Hammond, Pat Haden, Alex Flanagan


Saturday, October 3

  • Penn @ Dartmouth, Versus ,12 noon ; Mike Crispino, Ross Tucker
  • Lafayette @ Yale , LSN/MASN , 12 noon ; Gary Laubach, John Leone
  • Rhode Island @ Brown, No TV , 12:30 p.m.
  • Harvard @ Lehigh, Service Electric 2 Sports (live) /FCS Atlantic (delay), 12:30 p.m. ; Matt Kerr, Matt Markus, Tom Fallon
  • Cornell @ Colgate, No TV, 1 p.m.
  • Columbia @ Princeton,Verizion FIOS One, 3 p.m.