A Few Week 5 Thoughts

Week five brings an off week for the Tide, but there are a few other games of note today.

Tennessee travels to Georgia in a game that, on paper, doesn’t appear to be close.  The Vols are weak along the line of scrimmage and I doubt they’ll be able to contain Todd Gurley; no one else really has.  The Vols aren’t into moral victories, I’m sure, but they’ll be looking for more progress, a few baby steps forward in Butch Jones’ second year.

Missouri travels to South Carolina in a key SEC East battle.  The Tigers stubbed their toe against Indiana last week, so look for them to play better against the Gamecocks. If they Tigers win, they take a big step forward in the East race.  They’ll own a key tie-breaker against the ‘Cocks, plus, they’ll stay ahead in the loss column.  A win for Carolina means another key tie-breaker in the bag, much like they have against Georgia.

Kentucky hosts Vanderbilt this week as these two teams race for the bottom of the league.  Wins are tough to come by for these two programs, so the winner needs to savor the moment.

Arkansas will meet Texas A&M at the Jerry Dome in the best game of the day for the SEC.  The Aggies have been very impressive this year, but really haven’t played anyone since their week one beat down of South Carolina.  The Hogs are a beefed-up smash-mouth team on the way up.  My guess is they aren’t far enough along in the rebuilding process to knock out the Aggies.  But if the Hog defense can get a few stops and let their offense grind on the A&M defense, you never know.

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Tide Bits Power Poll – Week 3

This thing is clear as mud right now…

1) Auburn Tigers (Overall 2-0, Conference 1-0) [Last week 1]– The defending conference champs stay in the lead spot again this week, but they’ll be tested this week with a trip to Manhattan, KS to face Kansas State.  The Tigers continue to do what they do and that’s run the ball and score points.

2) Texas A&M Aggies (2-0, 1-0) [2] – It’s so impressive to score 73 on some dude named Lamar.  Apparently Lamar’s buddies play defense about like South Carolina.  

3) Georgia Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0) [3] – The Dawgs enjoyed an off week in the pen after their beat down of Clemson and now look forward to Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks.  The trip to Columbia should tell us whether or not UGA is the real deal or not in the SEC East.

4) Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0, 0-0) [4] – The two new Tide quarterbacks are operating the offense rather effectively so far, and that’s nothing but a good sign.  But we really won’t know what type of team this is until two weeks from now against Florida.  My guess is that this team, right now would struggle to beat Texas A&M and Auburn because questions on defense.  

5) LSU Tigers (2-0, 0-0) [5] – The Tigers smashed a non-conference opponent this past week, like most other teams in the league.  They put up some impressive rushing numbers, but then we remind ourselves that the numbers came against the state of Sam Houston and then we don’t know whether or not to be impressed.  Like Alabama, LSU has question marks at quarterback that remain to be answered.

6) Florida Gators (1-0, 0-0) [10] – The Gators ended their long losing streak with a bang by knocking out Eastern Michigan.  Any port in the storm, right?  But the Gators did take care of business and in the process looked better than most other East teams.  

7) Missouri Tigers (2-0, 0-0) [6] – Another ho-hum win for the Tigers.  They’ll be tested this week against Central Florida and we’ll start to see if they are for real or not.

8) Ole Miss Rebels (2-0, 1-0) [7] – The Rebel Black Bears hammered Vanderbilt, but fell a spot in the poll.  What gives?  Well, they didn’t hammer much of a nail when they hammered Vandy.  

9) Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-0, 0-0) [8] – The Dogs also fell a spot, but their fall was, perhaps, more justified after struggling a bit with UAB.  In my book, anybody that struggles with UAB should fall a bit.

10) South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1) [12] – South Carolina stunk it up in the opener against A&M and didn’t look like world-beaters in a win over a decent East Carolina team.  This week, the season hangs in the balance as they hosted Georgia.  

11) Tennessee Volunteers (2-0, 0-0) [9] – Opening 2-0 is nothing new for the Vols and doesn’t guarantee a successful season.  But, as they say, it’s better than 0-2 or 1-1.  This week brings a trip to Oklahoma and we’ll see just how much progress Butch Jones’ team has made.  Something tells me Sooner coach Bob Stoops would like to deliver another beat down to an SEC opponent.

12) Arkansas Razorbacks (1-1, 0-1) [13] – The Razorbacks beat the crap out of Nichols State and tasted sweet victory once again.  The remaining three non-conference games aren’t gimmes.  A visit to Texas Tech is next week, followed by the Huskies of Northern Illinois, so if the Hogs hope to go bowling this season, it’s time to do work.

13) Kentucky Wildcats (2-0, 0-0) [11] – There is a wide gap between teams #13 and #14 in the SEC.  Mark Stoops has this team headed in the right direction, but it may take a while to get “there” and it most likely won’t be this season.  The ‘Cats travel to Gainesville this week and will likely receive a dose of reality.

14) Vanderbilt Commodores (0-2, 0-1) [14] – Inept.  Ugly.  Barely functional.  These are the words used to describe Vandy football this year.  Either James Franklin was a miracle worker or the new guy isn’t a good fit.

Tide Bits Power Poll – Week 2

We’re one day later with this baby thanks to Tennessee scheduling their season opener on a Sunday.  Thanks, Vols.  Anyways, here we go…

1) Auburn Tigers (Overall 1-0, Conference 1-0) – The Tigers are the defending conference champs and there’s no good reason to move them out of the top spot until some cracks start to show.  There were none last Saturday against Arkansas as the Tigers pulled away in the second half.  After one game, Cameron Artis-Payne looks like a worthy successor to Tre Mason in the Auburn backfield.

2) Texas A&M Aggies (1-0, 1-0) – It was tempting to put the Aggies in the top spot after their beat down of South Carolina, but since these two teams will play later in the year, things will sort themselves out.  After Kenny Hill’s bust out performance on the road against Carolina, I’m for sure giving Kevin Sumlin’s system more credit than I have in the past.

3) Georgia Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0) – The Dawgs mealey-mouthed around with Clemson for one half Saturday night and then played like world beaters in the last two quarters.  Are Georgia’s defensive problems solved?  I’m not sure that the contest against against Clemson proves anything.  Georgia also may have some quarterbacking issues, but they for sure have a stable of running backs, led by Todd Gurley.

4) Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0, 0-0) – Overall, I wasn’t pleased with Alabama’s play on Saturday and they look like a team that will lose a couple three games this year.  But that’s not necessarily because of new quarterback Blake Sims.  That’s because of sub par defensive play from a unit Nick Saban labeled as soft at half time.  Without a better pass rush and without better corner play, several teams on the schedule will give this Tide defense fits.  

5) LSU Tigers (1-0, 0-0) – It wasn’t pretty, but LSU pulled out a win against a fired-up Wisconsin team.  We’ll see later just how impressive the win was, or not.  The Tigers have a stable of running backs, but have a major question mark at QB.  Anthony Jennings won the job and made a couple of impressive passes, but overall his play wasn’t at the level to win in the SEC.  Like Alabama, LSU may be labeled as one-dimensional and may have a tough time keeping up with or out-scoring several teams on their schedule.

6) Missouri Tigers (1-0, 0-0) – These Tigers posted a ho-hum 38-18 win over FCS division South Dakota State.  In the process, I don’t think very many questions were answered about Mizzou.  Maty Mauk played well and the defense was average, I suppose.  The Tigers have another cream puff this week (Toledo) and then we’ll find out more in week three when they host Central Florida.

7) Ole Miss Rebels (1-0, 0-0) – The Rebels helped kick off the 2014 season with a Thursday night win over Boise, 35-13.  The Broncos were clearly out matched, but Ole Miss did their best to help Boise stay in the game.  Quarterback Bo Wallace struggled in the first half with turnovers, but played like one of the Mannings on a couple of second half occasions.  And therein lies the rub.  This team will ultimately go no farther than Wallace can take them.  So how far can he take them?  First-half Wallace will take them to 6-6.  Second-half Wallace could take them to 8-10 wins.

8) Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0) – It’s always good to see your team take care of business in early season out of conference games and that’s exactly what Dan Mullen got with his team’s win over Southern Miss.  They didn’t beat a very good team, but they got a shut out, played well offensively and got the season off to a great start.  The Bulldogs have two more out of conference games (UAB, South Alabama) before traveling to LSU in week four.  That’s when we’ll find out more about these Dogs.

9) Tennessee Volunteers (1-0, 0-0) – The Vols actually looked like a decent football team as they ran way from Utah State 38-7.  Despite returning no starters on both sides of the line of scrimmage, UT handled the Aggies with no problems.  If the Vols can avoid a let down against Arkansas State this week, Sunday’s win makes the trip to Oklahoma in week three a little more interesting.

10) Florida Gators (0-0, 0-0) – Well, at least the Gators got to get dressed up for a game and return one kickoff.  After finishing 4-8, I’m sure they’ll take anything over another loss.  The Gators are likely to be better this season, we just don’t know how much yet.  Next up for Florida is Eastern Michigan.

11) Kentucky Wildcats (1-0, 0-0) – Mark Stoops’ gang picked up a nice win against UT-Martin in week one.  Yes, they were only playing UT-Martin, but they did what they were supposed to do when an SEC team plays an OVC team.  That hasn’t been the case recently for Kentucky football.  The ‘Cats look improved this season, but it’s too early to tell how much.

12) South Carolina Gamecocks (0-1, 0-1) – Carolina is probably better than the 11th-best team in the SEC, but they for sure didn’t look like it in the opener against the Aggies.  Both sides of the ball need major work in Columbia.  This week’s game against East Carolina will give us a gauge as to how bad the ‘Cocks really are.

13) Arkansas Razorbacks (0-1, 0-1) – The first game is for sure too small of a sample size by which to judge the Hogs this year.  They went on the road to face the defending conference champions and had to play in some nasty weather.  The final score, in my opinion, wasn’t a surprise.  There was no way Arkansas could hang with Auburn.  Are they better than the dregs of the league this year?  We’ll I have to wait and see.

14) Vanderbilt Commodores (0-1, 0-0) – Really no question here.  The Dores stumbled hard against the Owls in a game most expected them to win.  Wins were already hard to come by this year, so things could get ugly again in Nashville.

Week 1 Review

What a weird week of games and results, or in Florida’s case, no results.  So far, the tally for week one is 6-4, which is, in a word, brutal.  This is probably the worst week for picks in the history of this blog, but at least Bama won.

1) Florida, Idaho – suspended, whatever that means [Prediction: Florida 45, Idaho 6]

  • Pre-game: “Look for the new Gator offense to get off to a good start against the Vandals.”
  • Post-game:  Not sure yet how or when this one will be resolved.

2) Georgia 45, Clemson 21 [Prediction: Georgia 33, Clemson 28]

  • Pre-game: “Hutson Mason and Todd Gurley get the Dawgs off to a hot start.”
  • Post-game: Gurley ran wild and the Dawg defense stiffened in the second half.

3) Kentucky 59, UT-Martin 14 [Prediction: Kentucky 27, UT-Martin 14]

  • Pre-game: “Mark Stoops gets the Wildcats off to a good start with a not-as-easy-as-it-looks win against the Skyhawks.”
  • Post-game: A good start for the Wildcats as they didn’t mess around with UT-Martin.

4) Texas A&M 52, South Carolina 28 [Prediction: South Carolina 35, Texas A&M 34]

  • Pre-game: “The post-Johnny Manziel era is off to a losing start for Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies.”
  • Post-game:  The post-Johnny Manziel era may be better than the actually Johnny Manziel era.

5) Tennessee  38, Utah State 7 [Prediction: Tennessee 28, Utah State 27]

  • Pre-game: “This isn’t an easy out for the Volunteers, but then again, there haven’t been a lot of those lately anyway.”
  • Post-game: The Vols win impressively over a Utah State team that is supposed to be decent.

6) Temple 37, Vanderbilt 7 [Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, Temple 23]

  • Pre-game: “The Derrick Mason regime begins with a win over the Owls.”
  • Post-game: The Mason era is off to an abysmal start.

7) Alabama 33, West Virginia 23 [Prediction: Alabama 27, West Virginia 13]

  • Pre-game: “This game won’t be as close as the score, but the Tide offense will struggle a bit.”
  • Post-game: The Tide needed all that Blake Sims and the offense could muster as the defense looked soft.

8) Auburn 45, Arkansas 21 [Prediction: Auburn 44, Arkansas 28]

  • Pre-game: “Different year, same song for the Hogs.”
  • Post-game: Pretty much what I thought.

9) LSU 28, Wisconsin 24 [Prediction: Wisconsin 27, LSU 24]

  • Pre-game: “A tough opener for the Tigers means a tough loss in Houston.”
  • Post-game: For LSU, I suppose an ugly win is better than a pretty loss.

10) Mississippi State 49, Southern Miss 0 [Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Southern Miss 17]

  • Pre-game: “Dan Mullen’s Dogs get an easy win over the Golden Eagles.”
  • Post-game: Mullen’s Dogs cruise against a very bad Southern Miss squad.

11) Ole Miss 35, Boise State 13 [Prediction: Boise State 31, Ole Miss 30]

  • Pre-game: “A rough start to the season for Hugh Freeze’s Rebel Black Bears.”
  • Post-game: The Black Bears finished strong against over matched Boise.

 

Week 1 Picks

Well, here we are.  Finally.  Week one.  On to the picks…

1) Florida 45, Idaho 6 – Look for the new Gator offense to get off to a good start against the Vandals.

2) Georgia 33, Clemson 28 – Hutson Mason and Todd Gurley get the Dawgs off to a hot start.

3) Kentucky 27, UT-Martin 14 – Mark Stoops gets the Wildcats off to a good start with a not-as-easy-as-it-looks win against the Skyhawks.

4) South Carolina 35, Texas A&M 34 – The post-Johnny Manziel era is off to a losing start for Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies.

5) Tennessee 28, Utah State 27 – This isn’t an easy out for the Volunteers, but then again, there haven’t been a lot of those lately anyway.

6) Vanderbilt 24, Temple 23 – The Derrick Mason regime begins with a win over the Owls.

7) Alabama 27, West Virginia 13 – This game won’t be as close as the score, but the Tide offense will struggle a bit.

8) Auburn 44, Arkansas 28 – Different year, same song for the Hogs.

9) Wisconsin 27, LSU 24 – A tough opener for the Tigers means a tough loss in Houston.

10) Mississippi State 31, Southern Miss 17 – Dan Mullen’s Dogs get an easy win over the Golden Eagles.

11) Boise State 31, Ole Miss 30 – A rough start to the season for Hugh Freeze’s Rebel Black Bears.

 

 

He Has More Faith Than Me

Can Arkansas hang with Auburn in the season opener?  Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, thinks so:

“Now, because I’ve been in meetings the last 36 hours, anything I say can and will be used against me,” Schiano said, according to ArkansasNews.com. “So you’re going to have to wait. Next Saturday you’re going to see. I’ve got faith. I’ve got faith in the Razorback defense.”

I find it interesting that Schiano was in meetings with the Hog staff for 36 hours.

Does he have a point?  I dunno.  What else is he going to say?

 

ATVS SEC West Prediction

If you’re looking for interesting pre-season SEC West predictions, And the Valley Shook has one right here.

Their prediction model uses recruiting rankings plus games played by returning players to fashion a pretty interesting result:

Alabama ranks first in overall talent of roster and 3rd and 4th respectively in experience returning on offense and defense. Here’s the final tallies with each team ranked from 1st – 7th in each category (Composite Star, Composite Rating, Offensive Experience and Defensive Experience):

Team Score
Bama 9
Auburn 13
State 14
A&M 16
LSU 16
Ole Miss 16
Arkansas 28

So, there you have it. Alabama will claim the West, Auburn will finish 2nd and State 3rd, while A&M, LSU, and Ole Miss battle for 4th.

No one would argue a whole lot with predicting Alabama or Auburn to finish either first or second in the league, but not many folks are lining up to pick State at third.  And really, lumping three teams together at spots 4-6 isn’t going out on much of a pre-season limb.

The analysis itself is interesting, though.  Alabama ranks at the top of most every position group (as determined by recruiting rankings) which isn’t a surprise and, interestingly, Mississippi State returns the most games played on offense and defense of any team in the West.