Friday, October 26, 2007

SEC Preview - Week 9

Before we get to the SEC Preview, let's review the lessons from last night's Boston College vs. Virginia Tech matchup:
  • The "prevent" defense does nothing but prevent you from winning the game. When you have been absolutely dominantly defensively all game by rushing 4 and playing a tight matchup zone, why would you suddenly start dropping 9 and playing a soft deep, soft zone? Why do so many coaches change the formula that is giving them success just because they're ahead?
  • If you're losing late, it is never a good idea to give the other team the ball. I couldn't believe the announcers were even debating whether or not BC should kick an onside kick. Here's a hint: if Virginia Tech gets the ball and gets one first down, the game is over.
  • The center/QB exchange is very very important. I think one of the plays that made the difference in this game came with about 6 1/2 minutes to play in the 4th quarter. Virginia Tech was driving the ball, running effectively, and they had 2nd and 4. They lined up in the shotgun and the snap was wide to Glennon's left. He fell on it for a 10 yard loss, but it effectively ended that drive, and Virginia Tech didn't move the ball again the next time they went on offense (which was, incidentally, the last time they went on offense until they were losing).
OK, on to the SEC this week. It's a bit of a slow week this week because LSU and Bama are idle and Vandy and Arkansas are playing games out of conference. There are some decent games out there this week, including 3 on television, but honestly this week doesn't look nearly as exciting a some previous weeks.

Mississippi State at Kentucky, 11:30am Lincoln-Financial. It's a battle between tortoise and hare here. MSU plays 3 yards and a cloud of dust football and Kentucky has a big play, sophisticated offense. Kentucky has really proven a lot to me in the last two weeks. They are not at all the soft team I thought they were at the beginning of the season. They've matured as a team quite a lot, and they are a legitimate New Year's Day bowl-calibre team. MSU is not bad either. Their defense is going to have to play tight while also avoiding the big play and let their slow-and-steady offense put up a few points. I think Kentucky is superior, but I can't look at a game like this and say that MSU is out of it before the game starts. They can do too many good things, and this year no one is safe.

Here's what Kentucky needs to win the East:
  • win out
  • have Florida and South Carolina lose a game

Florida International at Arkansas and Miami (OH) at Vandy, both at 1:00pm, neither is televised. If Vandy wins their game, they're on the verge of bowl-eligibility. The same is true of Arkansas. This year, it is conceivable that the SEC could have 11 bowl-eligible teams. We only have 9 bowl tie-ins though. I really hope everyone who is bowl-eligible gets a bowl, but it seems like that's unlikely to happen. I don't know anything about these non-conference opponents, but it is my expectations that the SEC schools will win these two games.

Florida vs. Georgia, neutral site, 2:30pm on CBS. You know, I'm just not as excited about this matchup as a lot of people are. At this point, I just don't think Georgia is a very good team. Their offense is inconsistent and their defense is not particularly impressive. Matthew Stafford has not emerged as the force I expected this year, though he occasionally has a big game. They're going to need Stafford to play at his highest level if they're going to win this one, because Florida won't be holding Tebow back. Florida knows this game and the South Carolina game are the season for them. Tebow will carry the ball 15 times per game, at least. He can rest when he's dead. Georgia has looked pretty good at times, but their big win came a full month ago against Bama, and they've been pretty hit-and-miss ever since.

Of course, there have been plenty of games I've gotten exactly wrong this year.

What does Florida need to win the East: Win out.

What does Georgia need to win the East:
  • Win out
  • Have South Carolina and Tennessee lose a game
Ole Miss at Auburn, 5:00pm ESPN Gameplan. Ole Miss is a team with a little bit of talent, but they haven't been able to finish games. I think this game has the biggest potential for upset in the SEC this week. Ole Miss is more talented and more effective offensively than their poor record would suggest. They've played Florida, Bama, and Missouri tough so far this year. One of those teams still has a realistic shot at the National Championship. Auburn will be experiencing the "LSU Effect" wherein teams that play LSU struggle in the weeks following playing LSU due to being physically beaten up and emotionally exhausted. They're also coming off of a very disappointing last-minute loss in a game they probably thought they had won. There is the potential for a serious let-down game. Plus, Tuberville is known for losing to weaker teams.

Too bad this one isn't on television. Rumor has it that this could have been the LF game, but Auburn (having already had one LF game this year) turned it down.

South Carolina at Tennessee, 6:45pm ESPN. This is the best matchup of the week, I think, even though I think South Carolina is the far superior team. South Carolina has proven it's capable of laying an egg, and Tennessee has proven it's capable of playing over its head. SC's loss to Vandy last week was absolutely bewildering. I guess South Carolina just can't stand prosperity. The good news is that I still think South Carolina is the best or 2nd best team in the East, and they still control their destiny. As for Tennessee, I don't know what's up with them. They go out and dominate Georgia, and then they go and get dominated by Bama. I dont' see how that happens. This matchup is good for South Carolina because they're very good at countering what Tennessee does best, which is throw the ball. If South Carolina can do to Erik Ainge what they've done to other QBs this year, I don't think the Tennessee running game or defense can do enough damage to let Tennessee win.

What South Carolina needs to win the East: win out
What Tennessee needs to win the East:
  • win out
  • have Florida lose
The other thing is, while Tennessee is still very much mathematically in the race for the East if they win this one, they're also in danger of not making bowl-eligibility if they lose this game.


gerry dorsey said...

i noticed that about the sec's possible bowl eligible teams yesterday...could get interesting.

i would actually like to watch that auburn/ole miss game, probably more than usc/tenn. mainly b/c i know how much auburn likes to keep it close.

and uf is gonna roll.

Joe Blow said...

Too bad this one isn't on television. Rumor has it that this could have been the LF game, but Auburn (having already had one LF game this year) turned it down.

I'm not sure where you heard that rumor. I haven't heard it. Auburn and Ole Miss have been on LF twice already this year. They'll cover Ole Miss again in the Egg Bowl.

LF hasn't shown a Kentucky, Arkansas, or LSU game this year. They're contractually obligated to cover each SEC school at least once a season. Looking at the schedule, this is probably their best bet to cover Kentucky.

This is how I think the LF schedule will look the rest of the year:

Week 09 - UK/MSU
Week 10 - Vandy/Fla (already scheduled, could change)
Week 11 - Ark/UT
Week 12 - LSU/OM (LSU has only had 1 or 2 home games on LF b/c they play them at night, also Ark game is on a Friday - this is their only chance left)
Week 13 - Egg Bowl (already scheduled)

Richard Pittman said...

I may be completely wrong about this, but I think LF has the authority to force a team to move one home game per year down to the 11:30 slot. After they make you do one, they can't make you do more, but they can always ask. My understanding is that they asked Auburn to move this one, and Auburn refused. I think I heard that on the radio some time ago.

The reason LSU hasn't had home games on LF recently is because most of our home games get picked up by CBS or ESPN, which have first choice. So far this year, we've only had one game that didn't make it to television, and that was the Middle Tennessee State game.

I had never heard that every school was obligated to have at least one game on LF. All I'd ever heard was that if you have one home game on LF, they can't make you move more if you don't want. As it is, my understanding has been that our game with Ole Miss will be on one of the ESPN networks.

Joe Blow said...

I hate to post links to my blog, but you might want to read read this. An article I have linked in it says the following,

"LSU does not like playing early games at Tiger Stadium, which leaves Lincoln Financial (formerly Jefferson-Pilot) hamstrung. Since 1998, only two LSU home games have been televised by Lincoln Financial."

I'm not sure whether or not LF can ask a school to move their game time or not, but that quote makes it sound like they can't. The only time I can remember ever hearing a school rejecting TV was Arkansas a few years ago against Auburn, and it was PPV.

There should be another link in there that points to where I got the once per year information as well.

Richard Pittman said...

We definitely don't LIKE to have games on LF, but I think LF can tell us "tough noogies" if they want. LF's problem may be that they would prefer not to force a team to do it against their will. I don't know the definitive answer here.

Joe Blow said...

Hehe, who does? :) The quote I posted leads me to believe that maybe LF isn't able to do that. Either that, or they can only make a team change their starting time on the rare occasion where it's absolutely necessary.

I don't know the answer either. I do find it all fascinating, though. I'm weird, I know. I really hope the SEC will follow the Big Ten and create their own network. I'd send more of my money to DirecTV for that coverage.