With each passing week, college football seems to get a little crazier. This past Saturday was certainly no exception as four of the top 10 teams in
The Game of the Year is right around the corner –
Media days are upon us. Of course, if you look at the news feed you will think that the SEC is the only conference to have one of them. Media day is the chance for coaches and players to answer a few questions and give fans something to look forward to in the fall. Sometimes you might even get a little bulletin board material after a coach or player talks. After hearing what came out of the SEC this past week, I think we could be in for a real treat as other conferences hold their media days.
Bret Bielema did not waste any time at SEC media day with his quote of the year. Apparently he has a thing for defensive linemen and big butts. He says it helps when a defensive linemen has a big butt … okay? Imagine the field day fans are going to have with making signs when they play Arkansas. Like the article says … he might make a recruiting pitch to Kim Kardashian in the near future.
On top of that, there have been rumors that Texas was going to “Roll” out the red carpet for Nick Saban. The rumor reported that Texas would have paid him $100 million for his contract and given him the State of Texas. First part is true, but I’m sure if he went to Texas and won, then the second part would be true too, as well. Crazy to think if that rumor is true. It shows how desperate Texas is to get back on track to be a national title contender. Texas probably also realized if you can’t beat Saban … hire him!
On another front, Randy Edsall is glad Maryland has made the move from the ACC to the B1G. He likes the idea of being in a football conference instead of a basketball conference. Last time I checked the “Football” National Champion Seminoles and Orange Bowl winner Clemson are in the ACC. I think he is just trying to get the media to focus on something other than his football team. Does he realize that he will have to play Michigan State (Rose Bowl Champs), Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every year instead of some easy ACC foes? Why do you think Notre Dame made a deal with the ACC instead of the B1G?
The O’Bannon vs NCAA trial is over and we are still awaiting the decision. Very soon we’ll see the results and how college athletics will be changed forever. One analyst for the trial stated that a PAC-12 basketball player could make $1.2 million over his career if they were to get paid, while an SEC football player can make about $325,000 during his entire career. Looks like more players are gonna go play basketball in the PAC-12 than football in the SEC if schools start paying players.
Don’t pay them … just restructure the scholarship to make sure all athletes are covered so we can avoid hearing stories like this. Remember, whatever you do for men’s basketball or football, you will have to do the same for women’s soccer and golf. Did we all forget about the D-II and D-III schools? They barely make any money … will this make those sports irrelevant? We are looking at a massive change in the college model if athletes were to be paid. I hope the judge sees the down side of paying players but rules that they can compensate them in other ways rather than just in their bank accounts.
On yet another front, we might have to wait two years, but we are finally getting Alabama to take on a PAC-12 team as one of their non-conference games. Most fans want to see Alabama play Oregon — they should have met in the Sugar Bowl last year – but in 2016 USC will meet Alabama in the “Cowboys Classic.” This match-up will be a great one … maybe … it’s two years away … so who knows?! I do know one thing, college football fans can expect more games like this to be scheduled now that we have a playoff.
College football fans, enjoy your conference’s media day. It will be filled with many fun thoughts and speculations about the upcoming season. If I were you, I would spend the rest of the summer figuring out how this playoff thing works, cross your fingers that the NCAA wins the trial and hope that your favorite player stays out of trouble for at least one more month.
1. SEC MEDIA DAY winners
2. Best week night games of 2014
3. Comcast and DirecTV going SEC
4. Tennessee wanted Kiffin
5. Hot seat coaches
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Those from the lower right corner of the country would have us believe that the fabled SEC gauntlet provides no rest for the weary warriors, as they battle their way through one formidable SEC foe after another. Top to bottom, the SEC is just the toughest thing going in college sports, or so the story goes.
The SEC’s recent decision to keep their teams’ schedules open to accommodate at least three out of conference cupcakes, reaffirms their determination to maintain this myth. But is the SEC really that tough, top-to-bottom?
To measure the validity of the argument, FishDuck.com decided to compare the bottom third of the SEC to the bottom third of the Pac-12. Here are our observations on the ‘gauntlet’ theory based upon 2013, starting at the top of the bottom third for each conference:
#4 — Washington State (6 – 7) vs Florida (4 – 8) or Tennessee (5 – 7)
Washington State had an impressive 10 – 7 win against Lane Kiffin’s USC Trojans. This dominant offensive output by the Trojans against one of the Pac’s weaker teams apparently led to his landing the position of offensive coordinator at SEC powerhouse Alabama. The Cougars also took eventual SEC champion Auburn deep into the fourth quarter, before finally losing by a single touchdown.
Florida, on the other hand, had wins over Toledo, Tennessee (see below) and Arkansas (see below) before losing seven in a row. Tennessee pulled off an impressive win against South Carolina to add to their victories over Austin Peay (yawn), Western Kentucky (yawn), South Alabama (zzzzzzz) and Kentucky (see below).
But they also lost to Oregon, a top-tier Pac-12 team, 59 – 14, in a game that was not nearly as close as the final score would indicate — not quite the show Wazzu put up against SEC top-tiger Auburn.
Nod goes to: Pac-12. Washington State played the top of the SEC tough. Tennessee did not return serve against the Pac. Florida — seven losses in a row?
#3 — Utah (5 – 7) vs Arkansas (3 – 9)
Utah had a signature win against Pac-12 Champion Stanford and lost only in overtime to a tough Oregon State team, missing bowl eligibility by that single OT loss. Arkansas beat Louisiana – Lafeyette, BCS Stamford (Note: That’s StaMford, not StaNford) and 1 -11 Southern Miss, before losing nine in a row.
What was Bret Bielema thinking when he left Wisconsin for that? Was it the opportunity to buddy up with Nick Saban to find help in trying to slow down the game to where he could keep up with it?
Nod goes to: Pac-12. Nine losses in a row vs upending Stanford and missing a bowl game by an overtime loss? Not even close.
#2 — Colorado (4 – 8) vs Kentucky (2 – 10)
Colorado didn’t exactly light ‘em up (even if it is legal to do so in that state now), but it did beat a respectable (and bowl-bound) Colorado State team, to go along with wins over Central Arkansas,
Charleston Southern and California (see below). Though a step up from their performance in 2012, it was not an impressive outing, but it was still better than …
Kentucky beat 0 – 12 Miami of Ohio and BCS Alabama State. Period.
Nod goes to: Pac-12. Neither team would strike gauntlet-level fear in the hearts of top-dwellers, but Colorado’s win over Colorado State was more impressive than anything Kentucky did.
#1 — California (1 – 11) vs Little Siblings of the Poor
We are being politically correct leaving the Little Sisters out of this, and that’s important to do when anything relates to Berkeley. Even still, SEC fans may scream about including the Little Siblings of the Poor in their gauntlet. But the simple fact is this: The Pac-12 schedules nine conference games per year while the SEC schedules eight.
Based upon the SEC’s decision to retain an eight-game conference schedule, it’s obvious that they ain’t about to change. It’s not just that they schedule one more patsy than the Pac-12 — they routinely schedule them strategically toward the end of their ‘gauntlets’ where they are most needed to provide a breather.
By this, I mean Alabama’s November 23 showdown against Chattanooga; Auburn vs Florida Atlantic and LSU vs Furman on October 26; Georgia vs Appalachian State on November 9; and South Carolina taking a breather against Coastal Carolina on November 23.
While we’re at it, Florida State is not in this power conference, but they’re geographically close enough to learn from them and take advantage of the ACC’s eight-game conference schedule to feast on the nobody-wants-us-in-their-conference Idaho Vandals (1 – 11, yes, they beat Temple!) on November 23.
California was not a tough draw in 2013, but two things can be said for the Bears. First, they were not a deliberate soft spot in the schedule, as was the case for the Little Siblings of the Poor for the SEC. Second, in their one win, they did pull out a win over Portland State (6 – 6).
Nod goes to: Pac-12, based upon California’s 1 – 0 record against the Little Siblings of the Poor.
Final Results of Our Evaluation: Pac-12 – 4, SEC – 0. The SEC gauntlet has some sharp uppers, but the teeth for the lower gums are in the jar on the night stand.
Main photo by dentalcarematters.com
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First off, it has been a busy week for me. Not so much with National Signing day and paying attention to recruiting but more on the family aspect. My wife and I welcomed our 2nd child on February 1st. I know she will be a great child because she was born before the Super Bowl allowing me to not miss any of the game! Welcome to the world Taylor Lauren Hostetler.
Signing day has come and gone! Many coaches’,fans’, and recruits’ dreams have been fulfilled or shattered all in one short day. Signing day is the one time a year where the records do not matter, and it gives hope to a fan base about things to come in the fall. You might be reading my title and go, “Oh boy, another SEC homer here tooting his horn!” Well, YES!!!!! and no. Our main focus of the week is to look back at signing day, and really, outside the SEC what do we have to talk about…. Southern California and their recruiting class? Signing day not only gives all teams hope for the upcoming season, but it also re-enforces the fact that the SEC gets it done. 7 out of the Top-10 teams were the SEC. Alabama has once again gotten the #1 recruiting class for the hundredth time in a row… or so it seems. Yes the SEC lost the title game vs. FSU and has been “dethroned” in that aspect, but come signing day, you would think every top recruit is required to go to an SEC school! So I am sure the comment board will blow up with that paragraph, but when another conference can even get 3 or 4 teams in the top-10 of the recruiting ranking… then you will have something to talk about. Let’s get into some of the news and highlights from Signing Day.
1) One surprise on signing day was at Texas A&M. Yes, they landed a top class but that is not what I am talking about. Cedric Collins was committed to Texas A&M and ready to go. Unfortunately he had a career ending injury and will never play football again. Most coaches would move onto the next recruit and go from there. If you can’t play then you can’t help the team. Texas A&M coach, Kevin Sumlin, looked past that and is still honoring his scholarship. I think that is great! We all know the business of college football, but Sumlin was able to look past that and still do the right thing. Collins committed to Texas A&M and they still committed to him even after the injury. I enjoy seeing stories like this. It gives me hope that people still realize there is more to life than football.
2) No matter who your team gets, there will always be winners and losers. What really surprised me was Tennessee doing so well on the recruiting trail. People forget that Tennessee has top rated facilities, a huge fan base, and a giant stadium to pack them all in. Look for Tennessee to be on the up while other top schools that had way better seasons than Tennessee did not do so well. If Butch Jones can turn around Tennessee like he did Cincinnati, then look out, Alabama. He has proven he can get it done on the recruiting trail, so now it is time to prove it on the field!
3) If you are a Florida State fan (I AM NOT) then rejoice this week. Your school landed a Top-5 recruiting class, but more importantly got an even bigger commit when it was reported that Jameis Winston will not be headed to the NFL DRAFT first chance he gets but instead, play out all of his college years. Looks like FSU fans can plan for great things for the next few years. It always helps a coach rest at ease when he has a quarterback like Winston committing to him for the next couple years and can groom the predecessor properly.
So there you have it. Signing Day has proven the SEC still dominates while the rest of the country plays catch up. I would talk about Oregon and their recruiting class but the website will take of that. Really, is there anything to get excited for with Oregon’s recruiting class? For a program doing as well as them, they did not even crack the Top-20 or Top-25…all depending on where you are looking. [Editor’s note: Jeff, if you are going to make a big deal out of Winston coming back, throw in a few recruiting points for Marcus Mariota, Hroniss Grasu and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu for the Ducks while you are at it!] With all the resources made available to Oregon and all of the support they get, I expected more from them. I am sure I will hear all about that last sentence I typed. Enjoy the off season and now it’s back to watching ESPN CLASSIC REPLAYS from this past season until spring ball gets here.
1. ACC wants a piece of the SEC
2. Oklahoma QB situation changing
3. Florida loses another
4. Nick Saban gets it done
5. Tennessee war room
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Before kickoff between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Oregon Ducks football team, the EDN Sports team gives their analysis and predictions.
Kickoff: Saturday, September 14th @ 12:30 p.m. PST
Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Oregon)
Spread: Oregon -27.5 (Vegas Insider)
After two tuneup games in Nicholls and Virginia, the Ducks will finally receive an actual test. At least comparatively.
This will be the second time these two teams have met with the first in 2010 when the Ducks clobbered the Vols to the tune of a 48-13 victory in Knoxville. While few members of either team are still in college football, Vols fans still want vengeance. However, the Ducks are just too loaded and I would be shocked if Oregon wins by less than three touchdowns.
Even with the Ducks offense struggling at times to move the football, particularly with the aerial struggles of quarterback Marcus Mariota, running back Byron Marshall and tight end Colt Lyerla, the weapons of De’Anthony Thomas, Josh Huff and more will create matchup nightmares for the Vols’ defenders.
I expect this game to be close going into halftime, but mid-way through the third quarter the Ducks will begin to pull away. Tennessee will be forced to beat the Ducks through the air to conserve time, allowing a situation like last week where a Dior Mathis can bring an interception back 97 yards.
Oregon’s ballhawks should be flying around the field forcing turnovers all game. Don’t be surprised if Oregon finishes the game with three or more interceptions.
For more on my expectations of the game, click HERE and listen to the audio beginning 11:00 minutes into the clip.
Score Prediction: Oregon 45, Virginia 20
Game MVP: Josh Huff
You could say the script is a little bit flipped. Tennessee, hailing from the mighty Southeastern Conference, is the team looking for an upset win against a Pac-12 school. And while the Ducks are favorites entering the game, Tennessee is confident they can get the upset.
“All we know is we’re the only people who think we’re going to win,” Tennessee senior offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James said. “That’s all we need.”
Beating the Ducks means slowing down Mark Helfrich‘s offense. With Scott Frost calling plays and Marcus Mariota running the show, the Ducks have ran a play once every 17 seconds this season. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said of the Ducks offense after the opening day win over Nicholls that it’s either three-and-out or three-and-in.
And more often than not, it’s been the latter. The Ducks have seven touchdown drives of less than two minutes.
Lining up against that Duck offense is a Tennessee defense that has allowed 20 points on the season. The Vols have allowed just over 300 yards per game this season, slightly better than Oregon’s 320, but the Vols are tied with Northwestern for the national lead in interceptions.
If Tennessee’s defensive backs can pester Mariota into making uncharacteristic mistakes in the first quarter, Tennessee may have a chance–but that’s a big if.
Score Prediction: Oregon 42, Virginia 27
Game MVP: Marcus Mariota
The Oregon Ducks will attempt to finish off its preseason schedule unscathed against the undefeated Tennessee Volunteers Saturday afternoon. The Volunteers have bounced back well from a disappointing 5-7 season last year, first holding Austin Peay scoreless and then causing seven Western Kentucky turnovers last week.
So far the Vols have adequately replaced longtime quarterback Tyler Bray with junior quarterback Justin Worley. Though Worley has only thrown for 123 yards per game this year, he has a 4-1 touchdown to interception ratio. But if Worley can’t handle the deafening Autzen Stadium crowd and the Ducks uber-fast defense, the Vols could go back to Knoxville with their tail between their legs.
Once again, Thomas Tyner will be on the mind of Duck fans worldwide. Gary Campbell announced this week that he considers Tyner option 2b on the depth chart. It will be interesting to see how many carries he takes away from Byron Marshall and the effect a little competition has on both backs.
But the Ducks won’t be the only team on the field with multiple productive backs. Tennessee running backs Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane both come into the game averaging over six yards per carry and have led the Vols to a ranking of 23rd in the nation in rush yards.
The blemish of Tennessee’s game against Western Kentucky was being outgained, but when you force seven turnovers, yards are rendered meaningless. In order to beat Oregon, lightening might have to strike twice for the Vols D. But I have a funny feeling it won’t.
Score Prediction: Oregon 55, Tennessee 13
Game MVP: Josh Huff
Hey rabid Vols fans, you’re right! Justin Worley is the second coming of Peyton Manning in college football. The Tennessee lines, despite not being in the upper echelons of the SEC’s best big boys, are going to rip in through the hippies up front and disrupt all those gimmicks that we all know Oregon likes to pull. And that offensive line is going to open up several holes for Rajion Neal.
The Ducks are going to punt a couple times and all the haters will admit that the days of Tennessee being a joke are over. And then the first quarter is going to end.
Not going to lie, the Nicholls game was scary to anyone watching it with a long game in mind. The offense didn’t look good, Tyner didn’t play, the defense didn’t break — but it sure did bend. But the Ducks looked very strong in the second half against Virginia and will probably carry a lot of momentum into this contest.
The Ducks face the biggest question mark of this early season in Tennessee’s defense. The Vols have picked up nine turnovers from their opponents this year and hold a +7 turnover margin this season, and they have a very experienced front seven featuring five seniors and two juniors. They didn’t give up a point to Austin Peay and only surrendered 20 points to the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky — despite those Hilltoppers outgaining them in offensive yards.
The serious point I made earlier is still true. This will probably be a competitive football contest for one quarter. The Ducks will likely trail at one point and I project the score will be 10-7 Vols after one. I feel like it’s going to be one big defensive play (think Dior Mathis last week or Cliff Harris against Tennessee in 2010) though that turns the tides and the second half will be, once again, all Oregon.
Score Prediction: Oregon 52, Tennessee 17
Game MVP: Marcus Mariota