College Football Fall Break

College Football Fall Break

Welcome back to campus.

Most colleges follow a semester course schedule which means this week – midpoint of the semester – includes the dreaded midterm exams but also the treasured Fall Break (a couple of days with no classes). Fall Break 2011 finds the college gridiron schedule a bit light on big-time games, so hopefully students allotted plenty of study time for tests, papers, and presentations (what – you don’t think so?).

This prof is knee-deep in grading such assignments, but still has made time to provide midterm grades and professor’s picks.

MIDTERM GRADES

Class Clown … Steve Spurrier. The ol’ head ball coach (shown below studying a new backfield formation) refused to hold his weekly press conference with columnist Ron Morris of The State newspaper in the room. Spurrier claimed he was upset over a 7-month old story Morris had written, but this seemed to be more a case of the ball coach throwing up a smokescreen so he wouldn’t have to answer questions about dismissing troubled QB Stephen Garcia. That’s an F in the professor’s gradebook.

Dean’s List … the top academic honor halfway through the season goes to “The Hat” and LSU. Les Miles may not wear a mortar board perched atop his head, but he and the Bengal Tigers are heading for Summa Cum Laude status for overcoming a preseason scandal that cost them starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson. The Tigers devoured solid competition including Oregon, Miss State, West Virginia, and Florida. With Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, and a potential SEC title game still to come, the Tigers would certainly earn their BCS championship game appearance by winning out (and maybe even with 1 loss).

Honor Roll … Alabama appears to play the nation’s best defense to this point of the season; Wisconsin’s offense has blended the talents of new QB Russell Wilson seamlessly into the Badger power run game; Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seemed destined to decide the Big 12 and perhaps a BCS title game berth; Boise State mashed Georgia in the Broncos one annual big game.

Incompletes with High Marks … the winner of Georgia Tech and Clemson has a really good shot at an undefeated regular season (they meet in Atlanta in late October). Clemson might deserve a higher rating, but I’m not sold on the Tigers just yet (nor on the Tech defense); Stanford and QB Andrew Luck look terrific, but have played a cupcake schedule; Michigan is off to yet another fast start but the Wolverines have gotten out of the gate in similar fashion the last few years only to stumble (however their schedule is favorable).

Failing … Ohio State fans can begin pooling their money to try and lure Urban Meyer or Chris Petersen to Columbus; the Arizona administration – yes Mike Stoops lost a bunch in a row but wasn’t the program in a mess when he took over?; Pitt, Syracuse, and the ACC – while the rest of college athletics is driven by football, ACC Commissioner John Swofford must have lent his ear to Coach K from Duke by bringing two basketball schools with mediocre football programs into a league full of schools with similar resumes. All he probably accomplished was to kill the Big East; Realignment – so would people in NYC really rather watch Rutgers play NC State than Alabama play Florida? This talk of expanding because of television markets seems awfully short-sighted to me … fans want to see good football programs (that’s why the Big 10 move to accept Nebraska was a fit). I realize academics play a larger role than many might imagine, but please spare me that conferences are inviting or decling membership based on a school’s academic reputation – not the case.

Professor’s Picks Week 7

2011 Overall Record: 49-11
Last Week’s Record: 11-2

AROUND THE NATION

Saturday Oct. 15 Games

12:00 PM ET No. 11 Michigan at No. 23 Michigan State (ESPN) … State stops Brady Hoke’s unbeaten string by controlling Denard Robinson. Professor’s Pick: Michigan State

12:00 PM ET No. 20 Baylor at No. 21 Texas A&M (FX) … The Aggies haven’t done much to excite SEC fans since garnering the coveted invite a few weeks ago; they get back on track against the Bears. Professor’s Pick: TAMU

12:30 PM ET Miami (FL) at North Carolina … Al Golden is a prof’s favorite although I’m not sure his Hurricanes can beat a pretty good NC team. Hey, he wears a shirt and tie on the sideline, that’s good enough for me. Professor’s Pick: Miami

3:30 PM ET No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Texas (ABC/ESPN) … Texas tries to recover from a massive beating at the hands of Oklahoma, and must do so against one of the nation’s highest scoring offenses. Cowboys lasso Bevo. Professor’s Pick: OK State

3:30 PM ET Ohio State at No. 16 Illinois (ABC/ESPN) … Can the Zooker keep it going another week? Ohio State is showing some signs of improvement but the Illini have a lot of confidence. Professor’s Pick: Illinois

10:15 PM ET No. 18 Arizona State at No. 9 Oregon (ESPN) … This could be a preview of the PAC-12 championship game because the Sun Devils almost assuredly will be there (the Ducks will settle the North when they face Stanford). Oregon makes a statement. Professor’s Pick: Oregon

AROUND THE SEC

SEC Headlines
(courtesy SECSportsMedia.com)

• SEC Players of the Week for games from Oct. 8 are Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina (offense); Mike Gilliard, ILB, Georgia (defense); Blair Walsh, PK, Georgia (special teams); Will Blackwell, OG, LSU (offensive lineman); Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State (defensive lineman); and, Tevin Mitchel, CB, Arkansas (freshman).

• Six different SEC teams are listed in the top 25 of the three major polls – USA Today Coaches, Harris Interactive and AP polls. In the USA Today poll, LSU and Alabama are second and third, followed by Arkansas 11th and South Carolina 13th. In the Harris Interactive poll, LSU and Alabama are 1-2, followed by Arkansas 11th, South Carolina 15th and Florida 25th. In the AP poll, LSU and Alabama are 1-2 followed by Arkansas 10th, South Carolina 15th and Auburn 24th.

• The SEC now has a 29-4 (.879) non-conference winning percentage this season, which is second to the Big 12 (26-3, .897). Since 1992, the SEC is 714-221-2 in all non-conference games (including bowls) for a 76.3 winning percentage.

• In five SEC home games last week (Week 6), the total attendance was 447,627, an average of 89,525 fans per game. The average capacity of the five games was 99.68 percent. In 40 SEC home games this season, the total attendance is 3,104,673, which is an average of 77,617 fans per game. The average capacity so far this season is 95.37 percent. 18 of 40 games have been sell-outs.

• Three of SEC’s 5 highest active players with most TDs scored have as many TDs as games played (Trent Richardson, UA – 31 games/31 TDs; Marcus Lattimore, USC – 29 games/19 TDs; Vick Ballard, Mississippi State – 25 TDs/18 games).

• Georgia and LSU are the only SEC teams to have scored first in all of its games this season.

• Florida has the SEC’s best mark against AP Top 25 teams since 1989. During that time, the Gators are 68-52-1 (.566) against AP Top 25. Alabama is second with a .519 winning mark (54-50-1).

GAMES OF SATURDAY, OCT. 15

South Carolina (5-1, 3-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (3-3, 0-3 SEC)
11:21 a.m. CT • SEC Network / ESPN3.com
Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (55,082)
Series Record: USC leads, 7-6
Last Meeting: Sept. 29, 2007 at Columbia (USC, 38-21)
Comment: The Gamecocks never got to enjoy their best performance of the season (a pasting of Kentucky) because of the dismissal of Stephen Garcia and the childishness of Steve Spurrier this week. They really cannot afford a loss with Georgia breathing down their neck in the East.
Professor’s Pick: SC

LSU (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at Tennessee (3-2, 0-2 SEC)
3:30 p.m. ET • CBS Sports
Neyland Stadium / Shields-Watkins Field (102,455)
Series Record: UT leads, 20-8-3
Last Meeting: Oct. 2, 2010 at Baton Rouge (LSU, 16-14)
Comment: Last year was a vintage crazy finish on the bayou, a game Tennessee should have won. This time around the Vols are struggling and the Tigers are rolling.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at Ole Miss (2-3, 0-2 SEC)
5 p.m. CT • ESPN2 / ESPN3.com
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium / Hollingsworth Field (60,580)
Series Record: UA leads, 44-9-3
Last Meeting: Oct. 16, 2010 at Tuscaloosa (UA, 23-10)
Comment: Look at the stat above … Ole Miss has only beaten Alabama 9 times in the history of the rivalry. Does anybody think the Rebs will make it into double digits this week? I agree with you.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Florida (4-2, 2-2 SEC) at Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC)
6 p.m. CT • ESPN / ESPN3.com
Jordan-Hare Stadium / Pat Dye Field (87,451)
Series Record: AU leads, 42-38-2
Last Meeting: Sept. 29, 2007 at Gainesville (AU, 20-17)
Comment: For my money the most intriguing SEC game this weekend. The Tigers finally got thumped a bit at Arkansas last weekend, while the Gators got steamrolled for a second consecutive week (first by Alabama and last week by LSU). Florida must be a beaten up team at this point and with all the problems on offense this season could get away from new coach Will Muschamp in a hurry. Auburn is clever enough to score some on the Gators and I think that will be the difference.
Professor’s Pick: Auburn

Georgia (4-2, 3-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (3-2, 1-2 SEC)
6 p.m. CT • FS South / ESPN3.com
Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Series Record: UGA leads, 51-18-2
Last Meeting: Oct. 16, 2010 at Athens (UGA, 43-0)
Comment: Regardless as to how terrible Georgia looked to open the season, many people now favor the Dogs in the East. I still give the edge to South Carolina, but Georgia should win at Vandy and then head into a bye week before the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia

OPEN: Arkansas (5-1, 1-1 SEC); Kentucky (2-4, 0-3 SEC)

See you at kickoff!

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