SEC Week 4 Recap

First things first – I give Jarrett Lee all the credit in the world for hanging tough and leading the team to a win over Auburn after putting LSU in what seemed like an inescapable hole to end the first half. It was a true trial by fire – he had to step up and step in for the quite woozy Andrew Hatch. And he did it.

I just finished watching the TV version of the game (instead of the upper-deck live version I got last night), and I believe now as I did then that Lee still has a long way to go. He was capable the whole second half, but very sharp on a few throws, very lucky on a few throws and very bad on a few throws. The 39-yard touchdown pass to Chris Mitchell, for example, was a true Chucker toss that would have been an easy pick if Auburn had a safety in the neighborhood. Worked out great, though.

I don’t hold on to criticism of Lee to put down on him; but rather to keep proper perspective – he did a great job in leading LSU to a win, but that doesn’t mean he’s Matt Flynn all of a sudden. The win, though, has to give him and the offense a lot of confidence and Les Miles the opportunity to call him the starter. Mr. Hatch, thank you for helping us out. Here’s your clipboard.

The best thing about last night’s game was LSU’s running game. In its first three games, Auburn gave up 84, 37 and 38 yards on the ground. Charles Scott himself laid down 132 of LSU’s 178 yards against the War Eagles. The LSU offensive line is dominant, and Scott is exploiting that really well. Scott still leads the SEC in rushing yards per game and is 7th in the nation. That was huge last night and opened the door for Lee to get his gains with softer coverage and less pressure.

Defensively, LSU’s line was just as dominant. Two of the biggest swings in the game came when LSU crippled itself with personal fouls only to reclaim those yards with sacks and tackles in the backfield. Those series were critical to the win.

The problem for LSU came in several horribly blown coverages that led to big Auburn gains. Time and again Auburn receivers were standing alone deep down the field, and Chris Todd took advantage. In fact, LSU’s interception of a 4th-down Auburn pass late in the third quarter would have been another gimme broken coverage completion had Todd released the pass off before Curtis Taylor got in his face. Todd’s delay to shed Taylor gave Chris Hawkins time to race over to the completely-uncovered Tommy Trott and make the pick.

Auburn was only in the game because of horrendous blown coverages, and LSU was fortunate to have not given up another on that 4th-down play. LSU needs a lot of work on its coverage schemes, and I have a lot of concern about Danny McCray’s ability to stay with wide receivers. It didn’t seem last night that he had the speed, which may be the lingering effect of his ankle injury. Fortunately it’ll be Mississippi State LSU gets to work these problems out against next week.

So coming out of the Auburn game, I feel very good about the running game, good about Lee being able to manage the game, OK about Lee being able to revive the passing game. Defensively, I love the line play, feel OK with the linebackers and have concerns about the secondary.

But we’re still in the driver’s seat in the SEC West, have a good chance to hone things against Mississippi State next week and an off week before Florida. I’ll take it.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Yay for me with another week of 100% correct picks.

Obviously I didn’t watch the Georgia game, so I’m somewhat confused looking at the stats. Yes, the Dawgs were suitably impressive in dispatching Arizona State, but I’m not sure how 461 yards of offense, no interceptions and no fumbles lost equals just 27 points. I’m guessing the 12 penalties for 104 yards had a good bit to do with that, but the stats look like more of a blowout than 27 – 10. In any case, the Dawgs made the Devils totally one-dimensional (4 rushing yards allowed) and shut them down nicely.

The Florida / Tennessee game was over early, largely because Tennessee killed itself with mistakes and turnovers. The Gators ended with just 243 total yards (to the Vols’ 258 yards), with Tebow going under 100 passing yards. Yet another game Tennessee would like to forget, and I have to imagine Florida fans aren’t feeling great after this one, either.

Alabama rolled up Arkansas as expected. The Tide didn’t need to throw the ball considering they ran the ball almost unopposed (and scored twice on interception returns), but John Parker Wilson now has two games with fewer than 75 passing yards, which is notable as the Tide heads into a matchup with that team that gave up just 4 yards on the ground yesterday.

Vandy did me right and beat Ole Miss. This one was totally the Rebels’ fault, as they committed six turnovers while holding the Dores to 202 yards of offense and ran up 385 yards of their own. So Vandy didn’t deserve the win, but they got it.

I knew Georgia Tech would run all over the SEC’s worst run defense in Mississippi State, but 438 yards on the ground is still pretty shocking. And the Bulldogs managed 407 yards, but sealed the deal with four turnovers.

South Carolina beat Wofford, but just 23 – 13. A moral loss for the Cocks.

For the week: 7-0
For the season: 30-6

SEC Week 4 Predictions

Loyal Wisdom readers will recall that I could not bring myself to pick LSU to win the SEC West in my season preview. At the time I said Auburn’s uncertainty at quarterback seemed preferable to LSU’s uncertainty at quarterback, and thus I gave the pre-season edge to Auburn in both Saturday’s game and the SEC West race.

So here’s how I see things two games in for LSU and three games in for Auburn.

Auburn’s offense is underwhelming. They stand 11th in the SEC in passing and 5th in rushing. Quarterback Chris Todd is unspectacular, but has also not thrown an interception since his very bad opening effort against ULM.

LSU’s rushing offense looks very good on paper, putting up 241 yards a game to lead the SEC. But App State and North Texas are hardly benchmark opponents. There is, however, a lot of talent on the offensive line and at halfback; that can’t be denied.

At quarterback, Jarrett Lee is simply not ready to lead the team. Like Andrew Hatch, he seems capable of running the swing-pass offense, but when it comes to being a dropback QB, he’s had his chances to show something, and he’s failed. On the flip side, Hatch is never going to be a passer, but LSU isn’t asking him to be. Despite the lack of a real QB, though, LSU’s passing offense is actually producing more than Auburn (7th in the SEC), though Todd’s 248 yards against Southern Mississippi is more than the LSU tandem produced in either of its games.

Offensively, the edge goes to LSU. But having lost a game to Gustav and the quarterback play being what it is, I think it’s clear LSU will lead with the run and keep ‘em honest with quick hits on the edges. I wouldn’t expect a big game from Hatch or Lee, nor would I expect LSU to try for that.

I do expect this to be largely a ground game. Barring a blown coverage or something, this one will be close and ultimately won on the ground.

LSU has an edge in rush defense, but again with questionable opponents in the rearview for both teams. It’s worth noting, though, that LSU held Appy and NTU well below their rush totals in other games. In the case of Appy, LSU held them to 396 fewer yards than their other opponent – Jacksonville. The same can be said, though, about Auburn and their opponents.

I think, though, that LSU has clear advantages in overall execution and program maturity. The War Eagles have fumbled the ball eight times in the past two games and lost six of them. They have yet to come together under their new spread offense, and overall they seem clumsy and confused. LSU, on the other hand, is comfortable with its offense and executes it well. In what’s expected to be a defensive-driven game, execution will be key.

Therefore, assuming LSU goes with a gameplan that doesn’t ask too much of the quarterback (perhaps stay with Hatch the whole game) and lets Auburn be the team making the mistakes, I like our chances.

LSU 9 – 6

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 3 Georgia at No. 24 Arizona State: I’m tempted to go with Arizona State here. ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter averages 325 yards passing (9th in the nation) and Georgia’s secondary is generous, as the Dawgs hold the 86th-best pass defense in the country (236 yards a game). South Carolina put more passing yards on Georgia than they did on Vandy or N.C. State. Georgia Southern dropped more passing yards on Georgia than they put on Austin Peay.

If ASU can lay its passing power down to exploit Georgia’s pass defense, the potential exists for a high-scoring shootout or even an ASU romp.

But Georgia’s defensive problems tend to show up just in the second half. In the first half, Georgia has given up 113 yards and 4.7 points on average; that goes to 207 yards and 10.3 points in the second half. Dawg defenders point to the “young guys playing” effect in their patsy games, but Chris Smelley and Co. laid 185 4th-quarter yards on Georgia last Saturday, and Cock incompetence is all that kept the game from getting tied.

Whether it’s fatigue, poor reaction to halftime adjustments or whatever, it’s clear Georgia is best-served by not allowing Arizona State to be in the game late. And that should be doable.

The Dawg offense is nothing special; still 31st in total offense and 27th in scoring. But the Sun Devils sit at 39th in total defense and 43rd in scoring. I would expect Georgia to play ball-control and limit ASU’s touches.

So I think the potential exists for ASU (stung by the UNLV loss) to pull the upset here, but I have more faith in Georgia’s talent overall.

Dawgs 38 – 31

No. 4 Florida at No. 32 Tennessee: Dare I say it? There’s not a lot to like about Florida’s offense so far. They sit 8th in the SEC in rushing offense, and 6th in passing offense. Their top spot in SEC scoring offense is bolstered by three non-offensive touchdowns against Hawaii.

The Vols are sitting 8th in the SEC in both total and scoring defense. But the thing is, one bad game against UCLA (giving up 289 yards and 27 points) is enough to drop you below the middle of the pack when you’ve only played two games.

In Tebow v. Vols Defense, I look at things this way – UCLA exploited this defense and got blown out (and shut out) by BYU in their next game. So I think the indicators point to Florida playing above their stats and Tennessee living up to their poor reputation.

Offensively, the Vols are balanced (3rd in the SEC in both rushing and passing offense), but they put fewer points (35) on UAB than either Tulsa (45) or Florida Atlantic (49) managed. And, of course, they dropped 24 on UCLA before BYU put 59 on them. And the Gators’ defense (No. 1 in SEC total defense, No. 3 in scoring defense) should hold up to the Vol attack.

Florida 31 – 17

No. 13 Alabama at Arkansas: I’m ready to see Jackass’ team get torn apart. Casey Dick has strong passing numbers against bad teams, but the Hogs no longer have a ground game. Meanwhile, Fonzie has the defense clicking and the offense is coming along.

Alabama 41 – 17

No. 35 Vandy at Ole Miss: Hmm. A 3-0 Vandy going in to play Ole Miss. What sticks out to me here is the SEC’s second-best rushing offense (yes, Vandy) against the SEC’s worst rushing defense. I like how Ole Miss played against Wake Forest, but I’m gonna go Vandy here.

Dores 14 – 10

Mississippi State at No. 42 Georgia Tech: Kroom’s Kids are horrid on offense and average on defense. It might be a good thing for them that Tech will run a lot of clock.

Tech 13 – 6

Wofford at South Carolina: Let’s be done with the patsy games already.

Cocks 28 – 3

SEC schedule iPhone app – now with 12 teams!

Gearing up for the Auburn game this weekend, I wanted to make sure I had a good way to check scores on my iPhone. So I headed over to the iTunes store. Browsing around the Sports apps, I saw this awesome SEC Football Schedule app with a key update for version 2.0:

And only a buck! Sweet deal. Maybe version 3.0 will feature the removal of Auburn and Mississippi State as punishment for their 3-2 uglifest last week.

SEC Week 3 Recap

You could make a good case that the most significant event of LSU’s 41-3 win over North Texas last night came with just 1:10 remaining in the blowout and most fans closer to home than Tiger Stadium. That was the point at which Jordan Jefferson made his LSU debut.

Jefferson’s appearance (an incomplete pass, a 14-yard scramble and a handoff) means the freshman is officially a 2008 Tiger and won’t be able to redshirt. It’s a curious move by Les Miles, and if you discount the very real notion that Leslie simply doesn’t understand redshirting rules, you have to assume it means Miles is not pleased with the play of Andrew Hatch and/or Jarrett Lee.

Hatch’s play last night was pretty much as expected. He’s not a passer, he’s a game manager. Hatch went 10 of 17 for 125 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. In going back and watching each of his passes, a not-surprising pattern emerges. Of his 10 completions, three were thrown to or behind the line of scrimmage, four were thrown five yards or less, two were between five and 10 yards and only one was more than 10 yards – 13 to be exact.

In total, 76 of his 125 yards passing were gained by receivers after the catch. I imagine that’s a very high percentage of yards after the catch, but it’s not unexpected. His incompletions were one attempt behind the line, one batted ball that was going to a receiver three yards out and attempts to hit a receiver 23, 30, 30 and 42 yards downfield. The interception he threw was a pathetic attempt to hit a man 14 yards downfield.

But that’s Andrew Hatch. I don’t think LSU expects more than this from him. The trouble, it seems, is with Jarrett Lee.

Lee, of course, is the pocket passer; the old-school, big-armed thrower. Like Hatch, Lee completed 10 passes (on 18 attempts) last night, but racked up only 84 passing yards. Lee played only three series (to Hatch’s seven), and it’s clear he was being tested by the coaching staff. And I think he failed – badly.

Lee’s first pass was a 37-yard attempt that was badly overthrown on a third-and-four in the second quarter. He then led a mostly-effective two-minute drill to end the half (LSU settled for a field goal) that consisted of 10 consecutive pass plays and seven of his completions. His longest completion in that stretch, however, was an eight-yard toss (his longest all night), and he badly overthrew a ball thrown 15 yards. Hatch could have easily managed that drive.

All told, five of Lee’s completions were thrown to or behind the line of scrimmage, two were thrown less than five yards and three were thrown between five and 10 yards. That is not what LSU needs out of Jarrett Lee. The Tigers already get that with Hatch, and Hatch can run as well.

But the really telling drive was Lee’s last, which started with eight minutes to go in the fourth. Good work by his receivers and strong running by Richard Murphy turned a series of short tosses into a 56-yard drive that found Lee and the Tigers with a first down on the North Texas 14-yard-line.

Lee proceeded to badly overthrow a receiver in the back of the endzone from the 14 and have a pass batted down from the seven on third down with a Murphy run in between.

And then – up by 38 points with three minutes to play – Les Miles decides to go for it on fourth down. Setting aside the possibility that Leslie just didn’t realize what down it was, this seemed like an obvious final chance for Lee to show something. There is just no other reason to go for a touchdown there. Colt David needs practice too, you know.

The Tiger coaches called another crossing route toward the back of the endzone, and Lee chucked the ball through the goal posts into the hurricane fence that separates the crowd from the field. Miles sent Jordan Jefferson out to take the final snaps.

I don’t know if Jefferson’s appearance signals the last hurrah for Jarrett Lee or if burning the redshirt was just Leslie’s way of sending Lee a message, but I think it’s quite likely the Auburn game will be an all-Hatch affair. There’s just no evidence to suggest Lee adds anything to the gameplan. And with LSU/Auburn games always expected to be low-scoring defensive struggles, there’s no room for quarterback mistakes or on-the-job training.

Elsewhere in the SEC – I finally got all picks right:

Georgia was rightly punished in the poll for a pathetic display at South Carolina. The ugly win is being spun as “defense wins championships”, but the Dawgs were absolutely lucky to escape this game.

Yes, they held the Cocks to 18 yards rushing, which is very, very strong. South Carolina put up 191 yards on the ground against N.C. State and 120 against Vandy, so they are capable of running. And Georgia absolutely shut them down.

But, once again, the Georgia pass defense was largely absent in the fourth quarter. Whether it’s poor conditioning or a coverage scheme the opposition figures out and Georgia can’t adjust, the Dawgs just can’t stop anybody late in the game. And I assume these were not backups closing out the game this week, so please spare me that excuse.

Georgia gave up 164 yards on 10 completions in the fourth quarter – to a team that could not run on them. Only South Carolina’s mistakes (a goal-line fumble and two interceptions) kept the game from getting tied. The Cocks executed not one, not two, but three consecutive drives with little resistance (unless you count pass interference) from the Dawgs.

South Carolina’s lone touchdown came in the second quarter on a 63-yard drive that featured 20- and 34- yard hits on the Georgia secondary as well. All told, Georgia gave up 271 passing yards to South Carolina. The Cocks managed just 198 against 1-2 N.C. State and 233 against Vandy.

After three games, Georgia is sitting at No. 86 in passing defense. And they are traveling out west to meet the team with the No. 9 passing offense (after a very off game). That does not bode well.

And offensively, am I supposed to be impressed? Vandy put up more rushing yards on the Cocks than Knowshon and the Georgia boys did. Georgia’s rush offense is 30th, it’s passing offense 36th and in scoring offense they are ranked 27th. And that’s after the easy part of the schedule.

Offensively and defensively, Georgia is very much middle of the road. A number three ranking is generous.

Auburn nearly screwed itself with three turnovers and two missed field goals, but the underlying numbers show they’re coming along. Ben Tate cracked 100 yards rushing again, and the War Eagles totaled 161 yards on the ground. They’ll still not win any passing awards with 154 yards in the air, but Auburn lives on defense. The No. 10 ranking in total defense and No. 3 in scoring defense is what Auburn will count on maintaining for success in the SEC. Much stronger tests await, though.

Alabama woke its offense up for the game yesterday, and they took care of business against Western Kentucky. And sporting the No. 1 rush defense and No. 9 scoring defense is what Fonzie always wants to see. I doubt he expected that success this early.

Tennessee took care of UAB as expected, but man they must have hid out someplace today after seeing what BYU did to UCLA.

I loved seeing the almost-Bluegrass Miracle get snuffed out at the goal line by Kentucky. I guess they’ve learned something since 2002.

I was also happy to see Vandy continue to win, and of course Ole Miss beat the team that sounds like “Stanford”.

And thus, for the most part, concludes the patsy portion of the program. LSU/Auburn, Florida/Tennessee, Alabama/Arkansas and UGA/Arizona State will make for an awesome Saturday.

For the week: 8-0
For the season: 23-6

SEC Week 3 Predictions

I hear they’ll play football in Baton Rouge tomorrow night. At least I hope that’s the case. I also hope things aren’t as bad as the might be down on the Texas coast.

But to football.

The Mean Green – they are not good. LSU will win the game, but having lost a tune-up for the Auburn game, lord knows what we’ll see out of Leslie and the boys. Will this be another test of Hatch vs. Lee, or a tune-up to establish one of them as the clear starter going in to Auburn next week? I think the value probably lies in declaring us either a Hatch team or a Lee team and working on that game plan against North Texas.

And I think at this point we have to be a Hatch team. Rely on the run, don’t try to do too much with the passing game – which is perfect for Hatch, who lacks muscles in his arms. So give him a full game to manage the offense and hopefully things go well and build for the War Eagles. And it’ll likely be a sloppy, messy game.

LSU 24 – 10

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 2 Georgia at No. 46 South Carolina: The Cocks don’t have the offense to run with the Dawgs, but defensively they might slow them down. But this shouldn’t be Georgia’s weekend to fail. Dawgs 20 – 13

No. 9 Auburn at Mississippi State: Sly Croom has a lot to prove after being humiliated in Ruston. I’m not prepared to count the Bulldogs out, but there’s certainly not anything pointing to an MSU win here. And I think Auburn knows not to look past this game. Auburn 13 – 7

Western Kentucky at No. 16 Alabama: I get all those “Western” this and “Central” that teams confused, but I’m pretty sure Western Kentucky isn’t one of the “good” directional teams, which is good for Fonzie since his offense stunk up Tuscaloosa last week. Bama 31 – 9

UAB at No. 31 Tennessee: The Vols have had two weeks to stew over their blown game against UCLA. I feel bad for UAB, which sits at No. 117 in total defense and No. 114 in scoring defense. Vols 52 – 20

MTSU at No. 29 Kentucky: If I thought beating Maryland meant anything at all, I’d be intrigued by MTSU here. But Maryland sucks and Kentucky held Louisville scoreless on offense – then they rang up 51 the next week. I have to figure Kentucky isn’t horrible. Cats 31 – 17

Rice at No. 37 Vanderbilt: An intriguing game. Vandy is 2-0, having beaten supposedly-decent Miami (the other one) on the road and South Carolina at home. But their numbers are horrible – No. 96 in total offense and No. 60 in total defense. Meanwhile, Rice is also 2-0, having put up serious passing yards against the very bad SMU and Memphis. But their defense is horrible, at No. 94 in total defense. Lots of ugliness for a combined 4-0. But I’ll give the edge to Vandy. Dores 13 – 10

Samford at Ole Miss: The Rebels should have beaten Wake Forest, and Samford is a I-AA squad that plays teams like West Georgia and Faulkner. Ole Miss 48 – 7

The odd existence of

Three weeks ago, word came out that Scott Rabalais, the veteran LSU beat writer for The Advocate (The Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) was leaving the paper to join an unknown outfit called At the time, was little more than a “coming soon” page. As the football season crept closer and then kicked off, TigerGumbo remained in “coming soon” mode with Rabalais stories just pasted in to the sole page the site seemed to have.

I’ve been checking in (I doubt anybody else is – the momentum of adding Rabalais was lost when the season started without a viable site up) to see when the site might actually “launch”, and apparently it has now.

I think it was better in “coming soon” mode.

The site is befuddling horrible. Just bad. Real bad. Broken links, empty sections, a registration system that apparently has no purpose (and no Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, etc.) and a hideous design with tons of obnoxious scrolling elements and certain pages that render as black text on an almost-black background (in Firefox, at least). Awesome.

If this was just another stupid site put up by some self-important jackass (like The Wisdom is), I could understand the horribleness. But apparently TigerGumbo is “An Official ESPN Affiliate” that somehow attracted the most recognizable LSU sports writer to work for it. How can it be in such poor shape with football season underway?

I thought it might be fun to figure out what TigerGumbo is all about.

When Rabalais was hired, there was a mention of “Impact Sports” as being behind the site. A little digging turned up a connection between TigerGumbo and similar sites for Alabama and Auburn. And those sites are built-out enough to link them back to a guy in Mississippi named Jamie Sablich. He apparently runs an empire consisting of casino supplies, beverage systems, a cabinet-making shop, a restaurant supply business and a couple of restaurants – including Burger Burger in Biloxi. He also seems to have some kind of technology consulting shop, but there’s no mention of online publishing, college sports or anything of the sort on his sites.

Sablich formed Impact Sports LSU, LLC on August 13 (the Alabama and Auburn LLCs were formed in May, which is also when the domains were created), so I think it’s likely that he launched TigerGumbo based on closing a deal with Rabalais to join up. And, sure, they’ve had little time to ramp up and would probably prefer nobody find them just yet.

But it’s curious that Sablich would land this “ESPN Affiliate” designation for high-profile programs like Alabama, Auburn and LSU on his newly-created sites. All three schools, of course, have really active online communities, so how the casino equipment king of coastal Mississippi ends up with that relationship is a real head-scratcher. None of these sites have approached anything close to critical mass, and ESPN – well, they’re the leader in sports or whatever.

What, exactly, it means to be “An Official ESPN Affiliate” is a bit of an open question as well. If it’s something akin to Yahoo’s, that hasn’t become apparent on yet. There are scattered references online to team-oriented sites and sport-specific sites “becoming an ESPN affiliate”, and there are references to geographic “affiliate” sales across media in ESPN sales propaganda, so maybe it’s just an ad-sales network at this point.

In any case, Sablich was able to secure these affiliate relationships based on something other than having created successful sites for these programs. That just seems odd in the online world where reputations are everything and site loyalty is strong. And for a guy like Rabalais to sign on to work for a then-nonexistent site owned by a guy who had been in the online sports publishing world for three months is also curious. My guess there is he was probably offered early retirement from The Advocate and doesn’t have much to lose here.

Google Suggest and the Presidential candidates

As an adjunct to something else I’m working up, there are some interesting dynamics that come up when you start looking at how Google Suggest views the Presidential candidates and their running mates.

Putting in the first names (presumably one would start a search for a candidate by putting in their name) of the four ticket holders reveals hit counts and – more interestingly – relative “ownership” of their first names in the web world.

Barack Obama, of course, is the clear owner of “Barack”:

It’s all Obama, all the time with his name. The Muslim stuff, his biography, “Barack Roll” … it’s all there. And 57.5 million results for “Barack Obama” is pretty strong.

It’s a different story altogether for “John” and John McCain:

Oof. “John” is, of course, a really common name, but McCain can’t finish better than third. And my own Congressman John Lewis gets top billing? I’m not sure what that’s all about. And, yes, we live in a world where people are more likely seeking out John Mayer than John Lennon. But the old man does have 40 million results, which isn’t bad.

On the VP end, “Joe” is owned nicely by Joe Biden:

Satriani can’t hang with Joe Biden, man! I think (but I’m not sure) it says good things about the world that Joe Rogan beats out Girls Gone Wild dude Joe Francis, and it’s satisfying to see Joe Strummer making the cut – but below Joe Walsh? Please. Biden’s result count of just 3.1 million, however, shows you why he’s not at the top of the ticket.

And, finally, we have “Sarah”. I have some bad news for Gov. Palin here:

Wow. Behind both soprano Sarah Brightman and super-sassy Sarah Silverman. At least she beats Buffy and that Canadian singer. And just 357,000 results? Ouch – less than “Barack Obama Antichrist”.

It should be noted, though, that the result counts in Google Suggest lags what Google shows on its results pages. “Sarah Palin” returns 16.1 million results when you actually run the search. She’s come a long way, baby.

SEC Week 2 Recap

The second weekend of SEC football offered just enough crazy to make me really ready to get in to conference play. It also offered just enough upsets and near-but-not upsets to make my picks look really bad.

But I was damned close picking Ole Miss to win and Arkansas to lose, so I feel good about that. And I almost picked Vandy, so I have that going for me.

Things I took away from the week:

- Alabama managed just 99 passing yards and 172 total yards against Tulane and moved up in the polls? Obviously the humans who make those choices don’t actually watch the games. Sure, the Greenies were on the field a lot after giving up two special-team touchdowns, but still. That’s piss-poor and worthy of an Ohio State slide, not a move up.

- Georgia is sitting at No. 45 in total defense and No. 48 in scoring defense after their first two patsy games. That ain’t gonna cut it, even with the inevitable black-jersey-game and coordinated unsportsmanlike conduct stunt thrown in along the line. Florida is No. 12 in total defense and No. 8 in scoring defense after playing Hawaii and Miami (The Real One). Hell, Kentucky is No. 10 and No. 3 after the patsy stretch (yes, Louisville, I called you a patsy). Heck of a Knowshon show on Saturday, but the Dawgs aren’t winning the SEC East, much less the National Championship, with the defense they currently are playing.

- Auburn has their QB in Chris Todd, who went 21 for 31 for 248 yards against Southern Miss. And the War Eagle defense did OK against the pass-happy SoMiss offense. I really wish I had more LSU result data to compare the two teams. But you have to call Auburn solid but not provably exceptional at this point.

- Florida’s 26 – 3 win over Miami showed a lot of kinks in the Gator offense, but their defense looks strong. Urban’s boys will have to start executing better on offense as they move to SEC play, though.

- South Carolina – what can I say? I can’t imagine Vandy is any good, and you have to start thinking this might be Spurrier’s last go-round. Barring a massive change in gameplay, the Cocks will be in for a long season.

- Ole Miss should have beaten Wake Forest. I’m not a believer in Wake, but I was pretty impressed with the Rebels in this game. They may be more interesting than I thought to start the season.

- Arkansas will lose to Texas this weekend, which will make up somewhat for the fact that they had no business winning last weekend (again).

- Kentucky; hey, looking good. I can’t say I’ve paid much attention to their games, but I may have to start.

- Mississippi State has a long way to go and a short time to get there. The win over Southeastern Louisiana is pretty meaningless coming after a loss to La. Tech and with Auburn looming this weekend. I don’t see good things in Sly’s SEC future this season.

For the week – 6-3
For the season – 15-6

Ike may leave LSU ill-prepared for Auburn

The path and timing of Hurricane Ike’s trek to the gulf coast may well mean LSU loses a second-straight warmup game in preparation for Auburn Sept. 20.

Ike Path

Needless to say, this would not be good. The Tigers were expecting – and counting on – three low-key warmup games to get a new quarterback and a young defensive backfield ready for a major test against the War Eagles on the road. If the North Texas game also gets delayed, Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee will go in to Auburn having thrown 16 and 10 balls respectively in their college careers. Meanwhile, Auburn will have had its full three games to prepare and season its quarterbacks.

This doesn’t bode well.

Update: The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) says alternative sites are being considered for the game. Those alternatives – New Orleans and Dallas. New Orleans? Somehow I don’t see how moving the game closer to the hurricane to a city that would likely be under evacuation orders if Ike is close enough to cancel a Baton Rouge game makes sense. I guess Dallas is far enough inland to avoid a lot of trouble, but it could be that Dallas is getting tropical-storm-like conditions then.

This is, frankly, a tough spot no matter what. Moving the entire LSU football operation is no light task, and one would assume there would need to be a couple days’ lead time just to get that cool 18-wheeler loaded up and sent to a new site. Say a decision is made Wednesday – there will still be no certainty as to where Ike is going. If the game is moved to Dallas, you would also likely be asking LSU fans to drive through bad weather heading northwest to the site. Makes no sense.

Hey, it looks like the Georgia Dome is available. If you gotta move, moving far east away from the storm isn’t the worst idea ever.

SEC Week 2 Predictions

It’ll be a quick one to get in under the South Carolina / Vandy wire. And LSU is suddenly not playing this weekend, which takes the interest level down quite a lot.

No. 24 South Carolina at Vandy: I’ll go with the Cocks until they prove me wrong (or play somebody good) and avoid the ‘Dores until they beat somebody good. Cocks 24 – 20

Central Michigan at No. 2 Georgia: C. Mich didn’t do enough it its opener to make me think they can get over on the Dawgs; nor is there any reason to suspect Caleb King (the best thing since Hershel Walker, right?) can’t run all over them. Georgia 16 – 9

No. 48 Miami (The Real One) at No. 5 Florida: I didn’t have enough time this week to review who’s suspended, who’s injured and who’s in jail on both sides of the ball here, so I’ll go with the high-ranked team at home. Florida 49 – 35

Southern Miss at No. 10 Auburn: The Golden Eagles put 633 yards and 51 points up on ULL last week. Hmm. Might be an interesting test for the War Eagles. Auburn 28 – 27

Tulane at No. 17 Alabama: The Greenies have been on the run from Gustav and haven’t played a game yet. The Tide is coming home after a major win in Atlanta over Clemson. Bama 31 – 17

Norfolk State at No. 34 Kentucky: Cats. Kentucky 31 – 21

Ole Miss at No. 20 Wake Forest: I’d love to see more of the ACC collapse happening here, and I never think much of Wake Forest in football. I’ll go out on a limb. Ole Miss 17 – 13

SE Louisiana at Mississippi State: Croom’s boys are 0-1 against second-tier Louisiana schools this season. God help them if they can’t beat the former SLU. Mississippi State 13 – 9

Arkansas at UL-Monroe: I can dig an upset here. ULM 19 – 17

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