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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/22/2007 11:59:00 PM

Saturday Observations Part II

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford made the big play when he needed to as Georgia beat Alabama in overtime.
AP
It’s Sept. 23, and Kentucky is suddenly no worse than the third-best team in the SEC. Is that a testament to the strength of Andre Woodson and the Wildcats, or a sign that the venerable conference isn’t quite the juggernaut we thought it would be?

You know the conventional line of thinking: The SEC is just so tough and so deep (as I argued as recently as two weeks ago) that the teams end up knocking each other off every week. That’s exactly what happened Saturday when LSU throttled South Carolina, which had previously beaten Georgia, which on Saturday knocked off Alabama, a week after the Tide knocked off Arkansas -- which lost Saturday to Kentucky.

Every one of those teams has been ranked at some point this season -- yet every one of them (with the exception of LSU) has at least one major flaw.

Georgia certainly deserves credit for pulling off an overtime victory at revved-up Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night -- and QB Matthew Stafford wound up the star with his stunning touchdown pass on his first play of overtime. Yet for most of the night, Stafford looked as erratic and unimpressive as he did two weeks earlier against South Carolina (whose offense has its own issues), going 19-of-35 for 221 yards, two TDs and two picks. It looked like the Dawgs might have to win in spite of him.

Meanwhile, the Tide’s last-second win against Arkansas the week before doesn’t seem quite as special now that Kentucky beat the Razorbacks more decisively and on the road. The Wildcats deserve major credit for surviving a potentially lethal momentum swing early in the fourth quarter, when Arkansas notched a safety, then returned the ensuing punt for a touchdown to go up 29-21. They promptly scored three straight touchdowns to close it out.

QB Andre Woodson is sensational, and Kentucky’s overlooked running game (175 yards Saturday night) gives them a truly dangerous balance. That said, nobody would ever mistake UK’s defense for LSU’s. The Wildcats survived against Arkansas thanks in large part to the presence of Razorbacks QB Casey Dick (13-of-28, 157 yards, two interception) – Arkansas’ unquestioned Achilles heel.

My take on the SEC at this point in the season: Two truly elite teams (LSU and Florida) and a whole bunch of good-but-not-great squads (Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee), any of whom could beat the other on any given night but would have a hard time hanging with the Tigers and Gators.

∙ It will be interesting to see where Darren McFadden shows up on the various Heisman Watch lists this week. McFadden’s stock was unaffected, and in fact improved, after last week’s Alabama loss because of his gargantuan effort in the Razorbacks’ near-comeback. McFadden was no less impressive than usual against Kentucky (29 carries, 173 yards), but now that his team is 1-2, McFadden is likely to begin suffering a related consequence. His team is going to fall into obscurity, which means he’s going to be out of the limelight while other candidates like Tim Tebow, Steve Slaton, Ray Rice, Pat White and Sam Bradford gain exposure by playing in some of the biggest games each week.

∙ This is why it’s so hard for Texas Tech quarterbacks to get their due. Red Raiders QB Graham Harrell put up the following stat line Saturday against Oklahoma State: 46-of-67, 646 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Even Colt Brennan would envy that. Only one problem: Harrell’s team lost, 49-45, which also puts a damper on the latest dazzling performance by freshman WR Michael Crabtree. With 14 catches for 237 yards and three TDs, Crabtree is averaging 194 yards per game.

∙ A week after riding its running game to a rout at Nebraska, I had a feeling USC would show off John David Booty this week against Washington State, and he did not disappoint, going 28-of-35 for 280 yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans moved the ball at will all night. The most interesting part was how, for all those touted USC receivers, Booty’s top target was tight end Fred Davis (nine catches, 125 yards, two TDs). It was reminiscent of how Matt Leinart – even with the likes of Steve Smithand Dwayne Jarrett at his disposal -- used to lean heavily at times on less heralded guys like TE Dominique Byrd and fullback David Kirtman.

Meanwhile, ‘SC had another strong running night – only with a completely different mix of tailbacks than the week before. This time senior Chauncy Washington was the main guy, while last week’s sensation, Stafon Johnson, and freshman Joe McKnight played second fiddle. Previous starter C.J. Gable got just one carry.

∙ Here’s all you need to know about the state of Big Ten football: The league’s highest ranked team in the coaches poll, Wisconsin, got all it could handle Saturday night in its own stadium against an Iowa team that lost the week before to Iowa State. The Cyclones on Saturday lost to Toledo -- to go with previous losses to Kent State and Northern Iowa.

The Badgers may be 4-0, but it’s pretty clear by now they’re not elite (though I will say Iowa’s defense is pretty impressive, allowing their first two touchdowns of the season Saturday). Neither, as we found out Saturday, is Penn State. Perhaps a currently unranked team like Purdue (4-0) or Illinois (3-1) will ultimately rise to the top, but as of now Ohio State is the only team in the league that should scare people.

∙ To wrap yp, I'd like to thank ESPN's Mike Patrick for providing quite possibly the strangest moment in recent college football broadcast history (and thanks to Allen for sending the link). If by chance the YouTube police have taken it down by the time you read this, Patrick went on an inexplicable tangent about Britney Spears ... right before Georgia's winning touchdown pass in overtime.

Remind me again why Ron Franklin got bumped from that slot?
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |

Comments:

Posted: 12:38 AM   by ben
how big of a mistake did houston nutt make when faced with 4th and 1 with 5 minutes left in the game he decided to punt? that's when UK took the lead. with mcfadden and jones and you don't go for a time killer 1st down with 5min left when your defense has been suspect at best? that shocked me. and don't forget mr powers (#41) who was responsible for the roughing the kicker penalty and another hit out of bounds that helped UK out big time. egad.
Posted: 12:47 AM   by Matthew
I'm a little surpised Stewart has annointed Kentucky "3rd best SEC team" after only winning one SEC game (against defense- and pass- challenged Arkansas). Their win over Louisville also looks less impressive after today's Syracuse debacle. Kentucky is very potent on offense this year, but why don't we let them play a few more SEC games to find out where they stand in the league.The defenses will they face will only get better, and they don't seem to have a strong defense themselves.

Matt
Posted: 1:15 AM   by bgault
I'm sure that SEC fans will take the events of today's games and use them to point out the great strength of their conference...i.e. - that any team can win on any given day. The fallacy of that logic is that these same people will then apply PSU's loss to Michigan as reason why the Big Ten sucks. I'm not saying that the Big Ten is on par with the SEC, but don't you find it ironic that the same principals can be applied two different ways? I do.

Conference teams are built to play other conference teams (DUH), and the playing style of one conference vs. another sometimes causes funny matchups. SEC pundits conveniently forget that the Big Ten went 2-1 vs. them last year in Bowl Games...so how bad is the state of affairs of the conference as a whole? Maybe the elite vs. elite is not on par right now, but to say an entire conference is inferior (when the stats keep saying otherwise) is silly and ignorant.
Posted: 1:15 AM   by Jason
Can you really put Florida in that category when they barely beat Ole Miss. Georgia will beat them by at least 3 touchdowns.
Hook Em
Posted: 1:16 AM   by TheAustin
Keep an eye on Purdue. Curtis Painter is putting up numbers at least equal to those of Colt Brennan and Brian Brohm. While I agree that Ohio State is probably the best team in the Big Ten, they have to come to West Lafayette in two weeks to face an undefeated Boilermaker squad (assuming of course they follow everyone else's example and beat Notre Dame next week). That game will be one to watch.
Posted: 1:32 AM   by Jamie
I think ol' Stew should stick with trying to give away his sausage to a bunch of sissies at Georgia Tech.

All he does is rip on the Dawgs, especially when they prove him wrong.
Posted: 1:39 AM   by blackertai
Amen, Jamie, Amen.

Thanks for nothing Stewie. Another week, another shot at the Dawgs. You know, there's a Varsity in Athens as well.
Posted: 1:43 AM   by Allen
This is all we need to know from the Bama game...

Mike Patrick loves Britney Spears
Georgia proved me wrong about what, Jamie? I picked them to win!
Posted: 1:51 AM   by BC
"I'm a little surpised Stewart has annointed Kentucky "3rd best SEC team" after only winning one SEC game" - Matt

I believe that Mr. Mandel is referring to their conference record. Granted, they only have one SEC win, BUT their win percentage is 1.000 in conference play. No one besides Florida & LSU can lay claim to that. Stop reading into things and look at the print in black and white. He isn't "annointing" anyone, he is simply stating facts. As of September 22, 2007, Kentucky is indeed the "3rd best SEC team".
Posted: 1:53 AM   by Anthony
I believe Stewart did predict the Dawgs winning. I partly agree with Stewart's assessment that there are two elite teams in the conference with a bunch of other good teams. But that is what makes the SEC so good. Take any of the SEC "good" teams and match them up with the third or fourth best team from another conference. The SEC's 3-7 would be Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas or Tennessee. The other five conferences number three's would probably be Oregon, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Penn State, and South Florida. You have to like the SEC's chances to win 4 out of the 5 in a matchup of its 3-7 against all the other conference's number three.
Posted: 1:57 AM   by Anthony
I see Stewart is staying up late. Also, one other obvious comment as to the SEC's strength of conference. All the myriad of good teams mentioned can easily knock off the two elite teams (or any elite team, you listening Trojans) any given Saturday if Florida or LSU don't come with their A-game (case in point Fl vs. Ole Miss...definitely not a good team).
Posted: 2:02 AM   by Rich
Stewart, do you realize that Ohio State has only one senior on Offense and one senior on Defense that each really matter much? Assuming Animal doesn't jump to the NFL (or anyone else for that matter), I can only dream of how potent OSU will be next year (especially considering both Hart and Henne will be gone from Michigan, and we will be playing them at home. Is OSU a top 5 team next year or what? :)

Obviously, a team like Wisconsin can play without real poise against Iowa one week only to face an OSU squad a few weeks later and be totally different. Assuming though that OSU does go undefeated, I honestly don't think they could beat USC, Florida, LSU, or Oklahoma, assuming none of the above teams suffers major injury to a key player.
Posted: 2:19 AM   by Ztrain
Do critics have to learn this every year? SEC teams play other SEC teams tough. Look at Florida last year - barely escape South Carolina, then go on to destroy Ohio State. Does that mean that Ohio State wasn't good? No. It means that South Carolina was better than people outside the SEC gave them credit for. That team had a tough SEC schedule, but won all of it's non-conference games. Now this year, they're a tough team again, but it's hard to look good (without offensive and defensive holes) when you have to play LSU (the best team in the country). I can't wait for after this years Championship game when the analysts are all saying how shocked they are about how USC got exposed by a superior LSU team.
Posted: 2:27 AM   by David
Well, I guess one need only go as far back as January to remind folks of just how much of a pushover the SEC is when it counts. Ohio State who?
Posted: 2:30 AM   by Matthew
Stewart, I hope you had a reflective holiday. And I also hope you reflect on the short thrift you have been giving Ohio State all season. It seems like you are still suffering from BCS hang over, refusing to give that program the benefit of the doubt. I am a buckeye fan, and I agree with Rich that I don't think Ohio State can hang with an LSU, USC, or Oklahoma this season; the experience and talent just isn't there. But they are coming into their own, and I think they make a good run at finishing as the 3rd best team in the country, behind the BCS champ winner and loser.
Posted: 2:38 AM   by VTHokie
I heard the comment Mike Patrick made about Britney Spears and thought it was a joke at first. At the most crucial point of the game, he tries to start a discussion about an overexposed celebrity that nobody cares about. It was a classic example of just how far down the toilet ESPN has gone with their choices of announcers. I miss Ron Franklin so bad on the Saturday night game that I almost can't stand to watch it, no matter who is playing. ESPN really screwed up when they dumped Franklin from the Saturday night slot and replaced him with the idiots who currently occupy the booth.
Posted: 2:38 AM   by Matthew
BC,

It's a little odd to point out the standings after a whopping 1 SEC game. It pretty much means nothing, as there are so many more conference games to go. So, by pointing out something so trivial (at this point in the season), it's not a far stretch to think Stewart is hyping Kentucky a bit prematurely before they play some tough SEC foes.

Sorry if you can't follow that logic.

Matt
Posted: 2:40 AM   by Ztrain
I think Ohio State is a good team with the stress on good. They're good but not great. Not great enough to warrant a finish in the top three. I mean honestly, what makes you look at that team and say wow, they could beat just about anybody? They've played nobody and won't until October. The Buckeyes will go 8-0 to start the season, then 2-2 to finish up. I would take just about any of the SEC's good teams against the Ohio State good team any day of the week.
Posted: 2:44 AM   by G.L.
Can we please get off the "My conference is better than your conference" crap? Please! I feel like I'm back on the playground in elementary school with the "my dad can beat up your dad" childish rhetoric. There was a time when the SEC teams HATED each other. UGA hated, with a passion, Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn. Now, my UGA friends, actually pulled for Florida last year in the championship game, simply because Florida was in the SEC. Did they forget how Florida, with "the Ol' Ballcoach", used to humiliate them? I know Spurrier is gone, but he just beat you..AGAIN and Tim Tebow is cocky and brash. Can't you UGA fans hate Tebow as much? Quit bragging on the conference and get back to the "good old fashioned hate". Please
Posted: 2:44 AM   by Ztrain
At this point, can't we just count Notre Dame as part of the Big Ten? I mean seriously, it's just ridiculous.
NBC is feeling real good about their contract right now I'm sure. You've got at two more years of crappy, bored football to look forward to, idiots.
Posted: 2:52 AM   by w.b.yeats
first, matthew, the phrase is "short shrift,," not "short thrift."

I say this only so you know. Your comment, in fact, was one of the few actually intelligent ones.
As for the rest of you yahoos, enough already with
the sec. yes they have several top teams, always. but mostly they have the most excitable, near-hysterical fans in football land.( And sports commentators are easily caught up in that madness.) The sec is not godly, or unconquerable -and we have much proof of that over the years.

Many SEC fans brag they" live for football ." I strongly suspect they have nothing else to live for.
Posted: 2:53 AM   by Ztrain
I would be more than glad to rekindle my abject hatred for other SEC teams when they change the BCS system. Right now, rank means everything and rank depends on how your team is viewed. And how your team is viewed has a lot to do with the conference they play in. If you're Ohio State, you not only have to hope your team beats your rivals, but that your rivals beat everybody else so that you look stronger. If you're Florida or LSU, chances are you're going to take a loss at some point in the season - your schedule is just too tough not to. So you've got to pray that your loss to a good SEC team is better than someone else's loss. And you've got to pray that the "experts" stop overrating the Big East and you don't lose out a shot at the Championship to a WVU team that can't play defense and only has to play Rutgers and Louisville all year. Sorry friend, it's all about conference now, so get used to these debates.
I'm as happy as can be that my team is 4-0 and will be 5-0 after spanking Fulane going into the Florida game. I have only one complaint, and I know that if Les Miles was listening, he'd ignore me. But in the silly media game going on WRT the #1 team in the land, style does matter. And it was clear that Matt Flynn's right ankle (pushoff foot for a righthanded thrower) was hurting. He underthrew clearly open receiver who were well within his range downfield and misfired in his timing on several crossing patterns. His inability to connect with clearly open receivers in the second half helped SoCar regain momentum and together with keeping that marvelous LSU defense on the field all 4th Q, made the game a lot closer than it should have been. Play Ryan Perrilloux all second half, tell Matt to take a break, give the ankle a rest, and the game is 42-7 easy. Style points. Watch the 1st place votes drop from the Tigers poll showing this week. I know Les could care less, and in the end, it won't matter spit. But IMHO, LSU is far and away the best team in the country -- speed, size, depth and talent wise -- and allowing USC to remain atop the polls just grates on me. Considering, there's not much to complain about when it comes to this team. GEAUX TIGERS !
Posted: 3:01 AM   by tiger45br
Love how Stewie comments on the losses of SEC teams against each to support his arguement about how the SEC isn't so strong this season, yet conveniently ignores how Ball St. almost upset (1POINT DIFFERENCE) Nebraska which really questions how impressive (NOT) USC's win was.
Posted: 3:06 AM   by hawgtruth
Yet another example of a sportswriter who only looks at stats and doesn't actually watch the games...

Casey Dick is a below average quarterback, to be sure, but he is NOT Arkansas' "unquestioned Achilles heel". No, that distinction goes to one Houston Dale Nutt, who along with his Murray State Mafia has botched things so badly the last two weeks (and the final 3 weeks of last year) that many Arkansas fans now don't mind losses so much because they hasten his inevitable departure.

It's a shame to watch the kids play so hard and have idiotic decisions and otherwise poor coaching cost them chances to win games. I feel bad for them, and McFadden in particular, because I think the Heisman is long gone now.

Arkansas's new slogan should be: "Razorback Football - Smell the Excrement! I mean, Excitement!"

Leave, Houston. Now. I mean it. I'll help you pack. Call Jack Crowe and ask his advice on what to do with the rest of your year. We don't want you here. See you later.
Posted: 3:10 AM   by JBET
Mr. Yeats,

We have a little saying that football in the SEC isn't a matter of life or death, it's way more important than that...and that's pretty much the truth. When our teams are winning everything tastes a little better, the sweet tea is a little sweeter and the fried food is a little more crispy. In other words, yes SEC fans are hysterical and we are proud of it. After all, every game means bragging rights for the next 365 days. We can't help college football is a passion and not a hobby to us. Guess Y'all wouldn't understand.
Posted: 3:14 AM   by Scooby
I thought the Britney Spears comment was hilarious. You've got to understand that those guys have been talking for probably four hours. They've exhausted every topic imaginable. Sure, it was wacky, but cut dude a break. I used to host a radio show, and towards the end, it's all you can do not to scream into the mike and run from the room.
Posted: 3:21 AM   by Ztrain
I agree with jbet. And as a SEC fan living in the Midwest, all I hear is about how great the Big Ten is. That is, that's all I heard until last January. Now all of those people are a little quieter now. But still, leading up to that game, I was forced to constantly defend the SEC, football in the South, and, of all things, the Florida Gators (a team that I used to hate, but now defend to the death. . .God, what a world -what a f-ed up system).
By the way, watching Michigan this year makes it all almost worth while. Thank you, Lloyd Carr. Would you believe that I still had Michigan fans telling me that they could have beaten Ohio State too? Even after they got dismantled by USC. Ridiculous. I'm sorry, but rooting for your conference is now becoming almost as fun as rooting for my team.
Posted: 3:23 AM   by Rich
For those of you arguing that the SEC is so much more powerful then other conferences, I want you to realize that it's not that the SEC conference is superior to all the other conferences, it's that the competitive level of the whole conference, within the conference itself is very evenly matched. To speculate that the SEC's #3 through #whatever teams would hang with any of the top 3 big ten teams is rather humorous. Such speculation is such a closed minded comment. Any team can beat any team on any given day. One only needs to bring up Michigan's first game or Florida's game today to prove this comment.

Incidentally, I find it mildly interesting that not one one Pro-SEC fan in the last 12 months has bothered to mention that Ohio State lost probably its most feared weapon after the opening play of the National Championship. If Ted was healthy, that game very well could have been a much different outcome. Remember, he scored on Florida on the kickoff. How many times did someone do that to Florida in the entire 2006 season?

Honestly, there was way too much time between the end of the Big 10 season and the final game. 45 days between matches is simply too long to expect a team to show up and compete well.
Posted: 3:24 AM   by rhymeister
To Ark fans who bashed Mustain...so how do you like your QB play now? If the Hogs had Andre Woodson at QB they'd probably win the SEC West. Why doensn't Felix Jones get any credit and attention? The kid continues to have one of the highest per-carry averages in the country, Ark is not only McFadden.

I don't think that the SEC isn't the top dog anymore, I think it's a case of being the part of a cycle and Kentucky has finally gotten some good athletes and a great QB and leader in Woodson. Give the kid more credit á la Felix Jones - thanks!
Posted: 3:30 AM   by Ztrain
Then maybe the you guys should have a Big Ten Championship to determine who exactly is your best team.

And your comment is ridiculous. Did Ted Ginn play defense? Because watching that game, your vaunted Ohio State Defense could stop anything. Did Ted Ginn play Offensive Line? Because I seem to remember your O-line just looking lost out there, completely missing assignments, and giving Troy Smith about 1.5 to release the ball.

Judging a game on what should have been from the first 7 seconds of a game is misguided at best. By your logic, the Bears should have won the Super Bowl.
Posted: 3:31 AM   by Amchop
So Stewart says the SEC isnt all that strong. Then he lists it with 2 elite teams and 6(!) good teams! Lol, name another conference with those numbers, Stew.
Posted: 3:31 AM   by Ztrain
Sorry. I meant to say couldn't stop anything.
Posted: 3:42 AM   by Ztrain
rich - to address your other point, which makes no sense. Yes, teams in the SEC are evenly matched. And they're good (just look at our bowl record and National Championships). So the SEC is loaded with good teams that are even matched whereas other conferences are top heavy with 3 or 4 good teams and not much else. I think that makes a strong argument in favor of the SEC being the strongest conference, wouldn't you say? IF not, name me another conference that will have two teams in the top 5, possibly 3 teams in the top 10, and 5 teams in the top 25 at the end of the season?
Posted: 3:48 AM   by rking
SEC is at best ava. with the exception of LSU. The pac 10 with USC, Oregon, and CAL, along with UCLA are a much stonger conf.
Posted: 3:53 AM   by Ian
To G.L. -- "Good Old Fashioned Hate" is actually "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate"...and it is a cross conference rivalry between UGA and Georgia Tech...

Just so you know
Posted: 3:56 AM   by Nathaniel
Honestly, in the BCS days I've decided to just worry about my team winning their own conference. It's so hard to determine "how good" a team is anymore. Is the 1 loss Florida team last year that won a national championship any better than the 1 loss Georgia team in 2002 that missed out on the national title game? I say, win your conference and if you're lucky you might win a national title.
Posted: 4:03 AM   by Ztrain
rking - Seriously? While I think USC is overrated given the media's collective hard-on for Pete Carroll, I'll give you USC and Cal being among the nation's best. But Oregon? Don't we hear this every year with Oregon - oh, they're going to be good, oh, they're going to surprise some people? What makes this year different? Because they beat Michigan? Appalachian State beat Michigan and showed Oregon how to do it. Isn't this pretty much the same team that imploded down the stretch last year? They lost to Arizona and Oregon State, right?

Also, I hope you were laughing to yourself when you included UCLA on your list. UCLA??? The team that got slaughtered by Utah? What was the score of that game, like 48-6? What a joke. I promise you, if a SEC team got destroyed by Utah, I would have the decency to leave them off my list. . .and I would still have more good teams that the PAC-10 on mine.
Posted: 4:08 AM   by Amchop
Lol ztrain. I cant type these rebuttals in as quick as you. I almost choked when I saw UCLA on that list. And Cal is good. So thats 1 elite team and 1 good team in the PAC 10. Oregon will have its usual meltdown.
Posted: 4:10 AM   by Ztrain
nathaniel - that's exactly why you have to worry about conference. That Georgia team got screwed because they weren't ranked high in the preseason rankings and even though they had a great year, they were never able to break into the championship discussion. Don't you think that would have been different if the were ranked in the top 5 in the preseason instead of outside the top 10 (if memory serves). And don't you think that their SEC wins would have been valued more (like Florida's were last year thanks to Tubberville, Myer, and other coaches getting on the media for undervaluing them)? But that was before the days when this discussion was in the forefront, so Georgia was left out. If that team was playing this year or last, they play for the championship. . .and probably win.
Posted: 4:18 AM   by Ztrain
Thanks amchop. UCLA. That's like saying the Big Ten is the best and then listing Michigan as proof. "Yeah they've been destroyed twice at home, but they beat Notre Dame and Penn State. Not, but really, Division I-AA is competitive. Appalachian state could beat anybody. And Notre Dame is crafty."
Bgault - Nice to see someone calling out the SEC maniacs for their opportunistic arguments. Teams like USC and Ohio State can emphatically take care of business against lower-tier conference opponents, while Florida struggles with a similar foe, and to the SEC fans this just shows how deep their conference is. If those three outcomes were reversed, though, the same fans would be crowing about the Gators' dominance while dismissively labeling the Trojans and Buckeyes as being exposed. And they have the nerve to call everyone else "homers!" But then, what would you expect from a group of people that actually think it's a good idea for a coach to take time away from preparing his team for the next game to whine about other people's opinions?
Posted: 5:40 AM   by Lance
Stewart, trust me. The Tide's last-second win against Arkansas is as special now as it was then. That's a game we would've lost last year and we got the W. Similarly, last night's game would've been a 2 TD debacle under Shula, but this time we made a pair of 10-point comebacks to force OT. Great game, great win for the Dawgs, but this Tide fan, while disappointed, can't really complain all that much about being 3-1 going into the FSU game.

Roll Tide.
Posted: 6:10 AM   by Dr Chuck
Once upon a time, I defended Mike Patrick and tried to tell people he wasn't that bad of a play-by-play guy.

Apparently, I chose the wrong guy to defend. I miss Ron Franklin too.
Posted: 6:45 AM   by dlb
When are you little girls going to quit with the useless prattle of "my conference is better than..."? You may as well be farting in the wind! Half of the smack being thrown around is irrational at best, pipe-dream at worst. There are good teams in every conference and then some not-so-good teams. EVERY YEAR. Occassionally, we get to see a truly great team. Never a great conference. Get over it.
Posted: 7:08 AM   by dlb
Here's some meat to chew on; we may as well go down this road so soon. The end of this seaon is going to find the ncaa with the probability of four undefeated teams all crowing about their right to the C-game. USC and OU are following a very comfortable path right now. The winner of the LSU/UF game is going to to make it three and then those pesky Mountain Men will toss their creds into the mix. Only two can play. Someone is going to be seriously questioning the family lineage of the bcs voters. The crowning of a 'champion' is very tainted in this age of big-time college $$$ bowl games. Only the players and their fans suffer, because member schools keep turning their backs on the only sensible solution of a playoff picture.
Posted: 7:15 AM   by Ztrain
Lock Ness - The fact that you equate Ole Miss and South Carolina with Northwestern is insulting to everyone involved. I say that and I went to Northwestern. But we're talking about a team that lost to Duke. Duke - the team that hadn't won in 22 attempts. Seriously, playing Northwestern shouldn't even count. It's like playing a highschool JV team.

As for your argument, I have to say, it's pretty specious reasoning: Because a team can handily beat far lesser opponents, it is a great team. So by your reasoning, Notre Dame should schedule an all cake schedule and then at the end of the season demand to be in the title game because they are undefeated. Believe me, they try that every year and it doesn't work. The only thing that matters is if you beat good teams. The more ranked teams you beat, the more you prove that you belong.

Let Ohio State and USC play somebody, and then start talking. At this point Ohio State is going to be lucky if they even play against 2 ranked teams (they're secretly hoping that Wisconsin and Penn State play better for the rest of the season). And USC will have Cal and Oregon and. . .nothing else.
So yeah, these teams can beat lesser teams. . .and that's all they play, lesser teams.

Just take a look at LSU and Florida's schedule. And now imagine that in addition to USC and OSU's "strenuous" schedule, that they had to play each other in the middle of the season. Then that would be an SEC schedule. #2 and #3 team have to play in the middle of the season and then again at the end. That's what make them better. That's what makes the SEC better.
Posted: 7:28 AM   by Ztrain
dlb - I agree that it's a retarded system and playoffs are the only way to go. That being said, until the NCAA changes the format, then this discussion of who has a better conference will inevitably continue. (See my prior post on the hatred)
Posted: 7:33 AM   by Matthew
What a twit. A conference's overall strenth can't be determined by it intra-conference games, especially inth efirst 3 weeks. With the overtime rule, someone has to win and someone has to lose, Stewart. A "good" conference should be deep enough so that the middle teams can do exactly what they are doing now.
Posted: 8:23 AM   by edahms
Here is the frustrating thing about College Football. You no longer get credit for winning. All Wisconsin has done in the past two years is go 16-1, and dropped in the polls because of less than impressive wins. Then of course there is the inevitable comparissons against schools they will most likely not play. Finally, their final rank along with their bowl placement will be dependant on how the teams they play do. If Wisconsin goes undefeated all the "experts" will do is point out that Michigan lost to App. State, PSU lost to Michigan, Iowa lost to Iowa State, etc... What would Vince Lombardi say? Winning isn't everything, winning by 50 is the only thing.
Posted: 8:25 AM   by Charles
UCLA bounced back, but Utah did not. Does anyone remember the last time a mid-major defeated a top program, and then won the following week? TCU beat OK two years ago, Texas Tech last year and played Texas strong for a half, but then immediately lost to weak teams these past three years. Boise St played Georgia two years ago, Fresno St played USC close, then both lost the following week. Playing a top school seems to take the life out of a mid-major and I couldn't remember the last time a big win was followed by anything but a big loss.
Note to someone - No one mentions losing Ted Ginn as explanation for the OSU loss because OSU was dominated on both sides of the ball. One player undoes that? Give me a break.
I had the UGA game on DVR and was fast forwarding to catch up and I stopped just as UGA came to the line. I missed what Mike Patrick said but caught Blackie ripping him just before the the game winning TD. I never went back to catch Patrick's comment.

I really miss Ron Franklin. To me, he is SEC football at night on ESPN.
Posted: 9:21 AM   by Charles
For Edahms - Ironic that you post the Lombardi quote. With Hawaii being voted into the Top 25 this year, and Boise St last year, winning obviously is the only thing and strength of competition nothing. Wisconsin is my alma mater but they have no quality wins outside the Big Ten (except a good, but close win over an SEC team in a bowl). The Big Ten must stop pointing to its domination of Notre Dame as evidence of greatness. It has several very strong teams which can go toe to toe with strong teams from other conferences, but no one elite to stay with Florida, USC, or LSU.
Posted: 9:26 AM   by mjthibo
I love the fan passion associated with college football. Games are so much more entertaining when you have someone to "pull" for, whatever the reason. I'm no Florida fan, but I pulled for them in the BCS because it made me feel better to know that one of LSU's losses was to the eventual Nat'l Champ. Last night, I did flip to the USC game a few times to check them out (defense looked plenty fast and tough on the few plays I saw), but my main attention was on Ala-Ga. I was pulling for Ala., why? Only because they have yet to play LSU and I wanted them as highly ranked as possible when they do play. LSU may get to play USC this year (which should be satisying to both camps), but a lot of things have to go right, and I'll have a month to savor that matchup if it comes to pass. Make no mistake, there is no love lost between SEC rivals on game day - there's always old scores to settle. I'm still satisfied with an LSU smackdown of Alabama for payback during the 60's and 70's when the Bear's teams spoiled mnore than one LSU season - it's so much more satisying to knock them off when they're nationally ranked. That's why Auburn is particularly disappointing this year. After they gut-punched LSU in close games in '06 and '04 in Auburn, I'd love little more than to see them shredded in Tiger stadium when they're ranked in the top ten as payback. Oh well, not this year. Anyway, SEC fans have plenty to be passionate about inside the conference without the "my conference is better than your conference" arguments. Those arguments go nowhere, but if the planets align, the team you support may play the team you rant about in a bowl game...pull for that and enjoy the experience! Enjoy your college football passion and indulge proudly. Leave the smack talk for the mercenary pro game.
Posted: 9:30 AM   by Charles
Please, listen up!! The wise w.b.yeats is in session.

WBT, lovely of you to join us, the SEC die-hards with nothing better to live for. How was that trip down from your Ivory Tower?

Some advice. You want to use 'nor' between godly and unconquerable, and I'd drop the comma unless you prefer the drama of a pause before the obvious: SEC teams do occasionally lose.

And what exactly are you doing slumming with us commoners? You should probably leave before you catch something.

GEAUX TIGERS!!!

WBT said -- "first, matthew, the phrase is "short shrift,," not "short thrift."

The sec is not godly, or unconquerable -and we have much proof of that over the years.

Many SEC fans brag they" live for football ." I strongly suspect they have nothing else to live for."
Posted: 10:00 AM   by NYCdore
You have to keep an eye on Vanderbilt when talking about the SEC - they will be good for at least one if not two upsets this year
Posted: 10:01 AM   by James
But you're missing the point. Does Britney like football? The world has to know!
Posted: 10:07 AM   by Mark
Jason, Georgia beats Florida by 3 touchdowns? What have you been smoking?
Posted: 10:19 AM   by cboyett
The SEC is the most dominant conference from top to bottom. We have the most talent and the hardest hitters in the land. The Big 10 has some good football, too. Pac 10 has some great speed for sure. But the SEC is the place to be for the most talent and the most exciting games in conference play. But, in the end, all college football is great and I really appreciate it all. I just pray for no injuries.
Posted: 10:44 AM   by Evan
You, along with everyone who feels USC is a powerhouse, will be blindly mistaken as they are ripped when they play anyone from the Southeastern Conference. But it is true that they are the least bad team in the scrub conference of the Pac-10...
Posted: 10:46 AM   by maverick
LET'S FACE THE MUSIC FOLKS. BITCH ALL YOU WANT, BUT DAMN... LET A DECENT TEAM HAVE THEIR GLORY. KY IS ON THE PATH TO BEAT MOST TEAMS IN THEIR CONFERENCE. EXCUSE ME,FLORIDA, GEORGIA, S CAROLINA;ETC NOW TN IS A TEAM THAT US FELLOW KENTUCKIANS(NO NOT YOU ESPN OR ANYONE WHO WHATCHES YOUR STATION) CAN BEAT. COLD DAY IN HELL IS WHAT I AM WAITING FOR.. I HATE FOOTBALL, BUT WHAT THE HELL ELSE IS ON TV HD DVD HDTV???
Posted: 10:49 AM   by Ivan
Hey Stew, instead of saying that maybe the SEC isn't so tough, wouldn't it just be more accurate to admit that neither you nor any of the other pundits have a clue as to how good anyone is right now?

USC stomps Nebraska, and then Ball State puts up a similar number of points on them in Lincoln. Before that, USC was so great for doing so well in Lincoln.

Few teams have actually played any of their tough games yet. So. . .

Sports writers and commentators have been looking pretty worthless all across the board this year. Granted, I think you're one of the best sportswriters covering college football, but considering how clueless the whole industry is that isn't saying much.
Hey Mandel.... How good is USC's rushing look now.. Ball State?
They just put up 200 yards on Nebraska. Get you head out of the tunnel and actually watch some games with an open opinion, which is what you are being paid to do.
MY TOP TEN
1 LSU
2 USC
3 FLORDIA
4 CAL
5 OKLA
6 CLEMSON
7 WV
8 BC
9 TEXAS
10 S CAROLINA
Posted: 10:56 AM   by thewretched
Ztrain, what's up man?
Posted: 11:05 AM   by Codefox
I don't care what any of these sports writers say about our conference anymore because I know that we'll just make them looks stupid again at the end of the year.
Posted: 11:07 AM   by Jayddrew
Gosh, don'tcha just love the Big 10 and PAC-10 hacks who say the Ohio States and USC's can take care of business against the weaker teams in their conferences? You know why? Because those lower tier teams are so godawful! And, gee, I do recall USC losing to UCLA last November. Would that e considered a choke because it was so late in the season? John Saunders calls those playoff games, so I guess ole SC couldn't take the pressure.
If the BCS has done one thing, it has made fans root for conferences as much as individual teams. But I can tell you, as much as I may "hate" the other SEC teams (I'm an LSU fan), when they're in the championship games, I'll still root for them.
Speaking of championship games, when was the last time someone other than USC from the PAC-1 or Ohio State/Michigan from the Big Two-North or Oklahoma/Texas from the Big Two-South even sniffed a championship game? Let's see, we've had LSU, Florida, Tennessee and an undefeated Auburn team who shoulda been there just in the last 8 years! Wisconsin? Iowa? UCLA? Cal? Gimme a break! Don'tcha love it?
Posted: 11:07 AM   by Niki
Stewie, did you even watch the Georgia-Alabama game last night? It looked like UGA won because of Matt Stafford and in spite of Tripp Chandler. It's easy to sit back and say that Stafford played erraticlly, but remember he was behind an offensive line playing 3 freshmen in their first SEC road game. And it was at Alabama, where Nick Saban's bronze statue has already been ordered. You can't expect Stafford to play perfectly under those conditions, and he's still only a true sophomore! I think he played well under the circumstances. Yes he threw two picks, but he had several passes dropped that hit his receiver in both hands which could have been big plays. And he also tossed a little 25 yarder to bring Bryant-Denny into a thunderous silence, except for the Dawg fans and the Redcoats.

As for the SEC, it is truly brilliant of you to say that LSU and Florida are the two elite teams. What an original statement. Did you look at the rankings or just come up with that all by yourself? Anyway, how could it not make the SEC the toughest conference if anybody can beat anybody. There are no Baylors or Dukes or Stanfords that are just miserable each year. Even Miss. State and Mississippi look like better teams this year. If you play in the SEC you have to play hard against every single conference opponent. That is why it is so interesting to watch.

Go ahead Big 11 fans, bring your comebacks and comments about logic and bowl games. Say whatever helps you sleep at night and deal with the fact that your conference is absolutely irrelevant this year. And Stewie, how did Northwestern do against Ohio St. this weekend?
Posted: 11:11 AM   by Charles
For Evan - Remember USC /Arkansas from last year? Say what you will about USC not holding its own with SEC teams the sad point is that we are losing elite matches like Texas/OSU. Is there another sport where teams are rewarded for weak schedules? Hawaii fans say they tried to schedule Michigan so give us credit. Then they say when the voting occurs we should pretend they beat Michigan. They want us to pretend that running up the score against a weaker team is the same as a close win over a top quality team. More than that they want us to pretend they also beat Pn St, Wisc at. al. so we should vote them to an elite status. And the saddest part is that voters will do just that. You watch.
P.S. USC is unlikely to play an SEC team this year. It is more likely that WV, OK or OSU (ugh!) goes undefeated than any SEC team.
Posted: 11:20 AM   by edahms
To Charles- You proved my point. We don't know how good any team truly is. What determines if a team is an elite team is all based on factors besides wins and losses. In the end of the season elite teams are going to have 0 or 1 loss, and then the debate begins. Is Wisconsin not an elite team because they win all of their games, but only win by a touchdown? Or are they an elite team because they win? Or is Oklahoma a better team if they have 1 loss but all the other wins are 30 point blowouts? Is a 1 loss LSU team better than an undefeated USC team because LSU played a so-called tougher schedule? Then we try to figure it all out in the end based on a game after a 6 week break. What happens if Wisconsin runs the table and wins their bowl game, but gets shut out of the national championship because the perception is the Big Ten is weak? Should a team be punished because of all the teams they beat happen to have bad years?
Posted: 11:39 AM   by Boomer
I'm going to have to disagree with Mandel here. I heard Britney Boy's comment too, and enjoyed the way the other announcer scrambled desperately for some way to make it relevant to the game.

Anyway, this:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=5VytIZZzee0
Was the strangest moment Saturday. And Gundy's team had just won.
Florida loses in the swamp next week to a sub-par Auburn team, 20-17.
Posted: 12:02 PM   by Alex
First off, thank you Stew for keeping me entertained throughout the work week with your Mailbag. I look forward to it every Wednesday. As far as the people who rip you day in and day out, i think its absolutely ridiculous. I guess people dont understand that its one mans opinion, and take it for what it is, your thoughts and observations on college football. People also need to understand that its impossible for him to watch every single game on Saturday. So don't rip him for only looking at stats. What else is he going to do, spend the next three days watching tivo'd games for 24 hours a day, before he can write his article, then you'd rip him for taking until next saturday to make his opinion. Get over yourselves, because he does an excellent job each week.

ANYWAYS.. I do think SEC fans can get a little over the top with the conference superiority, but you have to agree, no other conference has the depth of the SEC. When your fourth and fifth best teams are teams like georgia, alabama, south carolina, (and are ranked) the conference is pretty damn tough. You don't see any quality teams once you get past the top three teams, in ANY conference.

USC will not go undefeated, they will get a loss, and somehow manage to still be in the talk of the national championship game as always. Im sick of it. I cant wait for FL or LSU or OK to dismantle them in the title game.

oh yeah. GO GATORS!
(Tebow for Heisman)
Posted: 12:09 PM   by Charles
For Edahms - Most agree that the system is seriously flawed because there is no playoff. But when we reward teams with weak schedules we make it worse than it has to be. You raised good questions and I do not have a vote. But how do you explain what happened to Michigan & OSU? OSU was determined to crush Florida & Michigan was going to prove to the world that voters had erred. I do not root for USC, but year in and year out they play one of the most difficult non-conf schedules of anyone. Arkansas, Nebraska & Notre Dame (especially) may not be elite, but nor can you relax with them. USC wore itself down and lost close games to teams they should have beaten. After facing Alabama, Auburn, LSU & Georgia Florida had close games against teams they should have easily handled. What is the explanation for the results for USC & Florida if not a tough schedule? Who did Wisc beat last year before the close victory in a bowl? Who did Mich defeat other than the unofficial Commander-in-Chief's winner, ND. OSU had a good victory over a Texas team that struggled all year. Most importantly, who is the Big Ten playing this year?
Can we agree that challenges can toughen a team or break it? If so where were the challenges for OSU or Michigan last year to bring out the toughness? Okay, if last year has any lessons to teach, and the Big Ten is not demanding much of itself this year, then I take LSU, USC, or Florida with one loss over any undefeated team for the title. And I vote a team like Hawaii or Boise State into the Top 25 after they start beating some Top 25 teams. Until then losing to Florida and Georgia, but whipping everyone else puts Kentucky ahead of undefeated mid-majors.
Most discussions of the quality of play in the SEC miss the broader point. For instance, top to bottom face to face competition with the Pac-10 might well prove the Pac-10 to be not just the equal of the SEC, but the better (with USC being in a league of their own!). However, the SEC is different from other conferences in terms of institutional competitiveness and expectations. Since 1980 six different SEC teams have had at least a share of the mythical national championship (Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia), while the Pac-10 has had only two - USC and Washington (ref: ncaa.org/champadmin/ia_football_past_champs.html). In the SEC all six of those institutions are committed to winning the conference (add Arkansas and South Carolina to the mix as well), and expect to the return to the national championshpip pinnacle. Thus, these instituions allocate enormous resources to that end, and hold their coaches and players to incredibly high expecations -- and accountability. In the Big-10, nine coaches could reasonably expect to have long lived careers without ever beating Michigan or Ohio State. Similary, in the Pac-10, nine coaches need not fear for their jobs even though they prove unable to challenge USC for the conference title. Not so for the SEC. At least seven instituions expect their coaches to deliver hugely successful, attention getting championship seasons -- or else! Houston Nutt will probably be gone at the end of this year due largely to Arksansas's dismal performance in the Cotton Bowl and the disappointing losses to Alabama and Kentucky thus far this year -- despite an over-achieving ten win season last year. Further, the institional committment creates intensely competitive off the field scrutiny as well. In the Pac-10, Reggie Bush's popularity, visibilty and talented performances brought him and his family what I might consider well deserved benefits, but which were huge violations of NCAA rules (see Oklahoma). In the SEC, institutions gleefully (and relentlessly) ferret out compliance violations of others, report them, and hound out the evidence to hang 'em. In the Pac-10, no competitors are very interested in USC's players violations. In fact, they view USC's ascendance as a huge boon to their conference's visibility and in turn their own coffers. This is not to say that the SEC's intensely committed competition is a good thing, but I do think it is a reality that in the largest sense -- the SEC is the most competive conference.
Posted: 12:18 PM   by Larry
To everybody who just CAN'T stop talking about conference strength...what does it MATTER? Maybe some of you have...well..."shortcomings" in other areas so this can seemingly compensate for it, but in the end who cares? Is your self-esteem so fragile you have to have this to hold on? As terrible as 9/11 was, one of the beneficial outcomes was that football was put in perspective, and we were all on the "same team" for a while, and we could enjoy the games as games. And hey, SEC fans...get a clue...EVERY conference has the same fanatical fans (one more way that SEC fans have to think they're "best"). That kind of ridiculous, unfounded arrogance is usually a sign of perceptions of inferiority. How about you just relax, enjoy and discuss the GAMES like most other fans, and let the season play out?
Posted: 12:27 PM   by Chris
I was in Bama last night when Georgia won. So far this season we have moments of greatness. We get big plays when we need them, provided young Matthew doesn't choke. Our defense keeps things close. Everyone wants to say Georgia isn't that great...well, WRONG! If we are as bad as people have said we are, then South Carolina should've blown us out...and they didn't. Folks y'all had best get used to hearing "Glory, Glory to Old Georgia!" GO DAWGS! SIC 'EM! WOOF WOOF WOOF!
Posted: 12:45 PM   by skiw
I love it how the SEC tries to make an excuse in advance for a possible loss dropping them in the BCS rankings. A loss is a loss - if OU, Texas and USC are all undefeated then too bad for a one-loss LSU or Florida. Look at the NFL playoffs - you finish with the top record and you get ranked the highest. I think Les Miles was just covering his a** with his "USC has an easier road" statement in case the Tigers have one loss. Just take care of business and win, then you are in. Personally, I would be pissed if I were a player as it sounds like he is expecting a loss somewhere along the way.

BTW, after watching the LSU/SC game yesterday I will not be surprised if Florida beats them on the 6th. If Spurrier had recruited a half decent QB then the game might have been a loss for LSU.
Posted: 12:48 PM   by Charles
For Larry - If our discussions of conference strength and pride in our conferences are not so important then why did you comment on it? Do us all a favor and submit a list of topics you feel are important enough for us to discuss.
Posted: 12:56 PM   by Arathon
Oh man. The Britney Spears tangent *was* UNBELIEVABLE. I actually changed the channel a few seconds after "Spears!" (explaining what in the WORLD he was talking about). It was just too awkward to listen to anymore. I see some people who are saying that they sympathize with a guy who has run out of things to say. I understand what you're thinking, but here's the thing: I watched the Tennessee-Arkansas State game on ESPN360.com last night, and those announcers were not anywhere near "national-level" announcers - they were obviously Tennessee network guys. They said some things that national guys would never get away with. But they were still on-topic, and most everything they said was either good analysis or funny. So don't tell me that there was NOTHING else to talk about. =P
Posted: 1:14 PM   by Kristy
Who here thinks SEC fans have exposed themselves as the most obnoxious fans anywhere? They get an unexpected dominating performance in the national championship last year (and yes the game was a fluke, play it 10 times and you would never see that score against Ohio State again)and every other conference gets bashed to no end. USC is a fluke? Just ask Arkansas. I sincerely hope that an SEC team gets to find out about USC in this years NC game. And I hope Ohio State gets a crack at SEC #2 (Florida or LSU), as the outcome might just surprise some people.
Posted: 1:39 PM   by Charles
Hold on Kristy with what you are saying about SEC fans. I don't think any SEC fan ever called the trouncing of OSU an "unexpected dominating performance". Let's get our facts straight.
Posted: 1:56 PM   by mh3c
name me another conference that will have two teams in the top 5, possibly 3 teams in the top 10, and 5 teams in the top 25 at the end of the season?

The Pac-10.

USC, Cal/Oregon in the top five, UCLA, Arizona State.
Posted: 2:01 PM   by mh3c
" Speaking of championship games, when was the last time someone other than USC from the PAC-1 or Ohio State/Michigan from the Big Two-North or Oklahoma/Texas from the Big Two-South even sniffed a championship game?

in 2000, a one-loss UW team that beat Miami was screwed out of a title appearance by that one-loss Miami team. In 2001, a one-loss Oregon team was screwed by Nebraska, who lost by 30 to Colorado and got drubbed in the title game, while Oregon pounded Colorado in the Fiesta.

So, there's two in one conference alone.
Posted: 2:02 PM   by Roger
Okay, Stew, (LSU fan here), you devalue Bama's win over the Razorbacks because Arkanasas lost to Kentucky, but you (and everyone else) fawn over USC partly due to their "quality" win over Nebraska.

Why isn't USC's win over the Cornhuskers devalued by little Ball State scoring almost as many points on the 'Huskers as the Trojans did (while allowing only a few more points on defense)?
Posted: 2:02 PM   by Jayddrew
Gee, folks, I thought bashing the other conferences was what this blog was about?? Seriously, we shouldn't bash each others fans, I agree fans can be just as passionate or obnoxious in South Bend, Ann Arbor, or Los Angeles as they are in Baton Rouge. The only way we can prove there is a difference would probably be....a drinking contest!
And, remember, it's not about the schools, the fans or the coaches. It's all about the players. The real argument right now is do the SEC teams have the better plays. The answer is yes. Does it mean we had the better players ten years ago, or will have the better players next year? No, it doesn't. What it means is most (not all) non-SEC top ten teams over the last 5-8 years would not have finished in the top ten if they had played in the SEC.
The truth doesn't have to hurt!
signed,
A.O.S.F.
(another obnoxious SEC fan!)
Posted: 2:04 PM   by gingles
Okay, Stew, (LSU fan here), you devalue Bama's win over the Razorbacks because Arkanasas lost to Kentucky, but you (and everyone else) fawn over USC partly due to their "quality" win over Nebraska.

Why isn't USC's win over the Cornhuskers devalued by little Ball State scoring almost as many points on the 'Huskers as the Trojans did (while allowing only a few more points on defense)?
Posted: 2:15 PM   by mh3c
gingles, you do have a point...

But, you could devalue LSU's win over VT because they have no QB and were over-ranked. Then, who have they beat?

Florida ram-rodded Tennessee, which Cal also did, so just how strong is Florida?

My point is that discussions of strongest teams and conferences is debatable and laughable until a real playoff is put into place, but that will never happen as long as fans and presidents like to site bowl appearances as measures of success. I mean, if any average 6-6 team in america can make a bowl game, then by-God, lets flaunt our bowl game appearance record!
Posted: 2:18 PM   by gingles
Kristy you're in west coast dreamland...don't forget the SEC sent 8 teams to bowls (2/3 of the conference) and won five, while the Smack Ten was 3-3.
Posted: 2:23 PM   by Charles
For MH3C - You left Washington off your list of top 25 teams at season's end. Remember two weeks ago UW was being touted as another challenge for USC. You also left Ore St off. They've started slow as they did last season, but could still turn it around. Would it surprise you if they beat UCLA next? You placed UCLA on your list and they were just plastered by a Utah team that lost this week to a weak opponent. The PAC Ten is tough and it seems a bit early to be drawing too many conclusions about who will be left standing at the end.
Posted: 2:23 PM   by gingles
mh3c,I take your point, but in Baton Rouge, we tend to look at the visitor's side of the scoreboard--as in NOBODY scores 31 points on LSU, not VT, not Florida, not USC.

We've given up 23 points in our last 18 quarters (back to last season) and ten of those quarters were against top-12 opponents.

We'll take USC or Oklahoma if we get there and we'll have to beat (No. 3) Florida twice to even get there.
Posted: 2:31 PM   by Kristy
OK, maybe obonoxious was too strong a word! Look, the SEC is tough right now, no doubt. They are probably the best conference this year. I used to reallly like SEC teams until this year, because of how much the fans of the SEC bash the other conferences. You are having an up year or two, good on you! But don't pretend good football isn't played elsewhere. My prediction is the SEC won't even end this year on top!
Posted: 2:35 PM   by mh3c
Charles

I was basing my assessment on where those teams stand now. All the teams I listed are right now in the top 30, so realistically could end up in the top 25.

However, I do agree that OSU and UW could make a run at it and expose UCLA as another underachieving conference team, but I doubt they will beat the top four teams.

ASU could give the top three fits.
Posted: 2:41 PM   by mh3c
Gingles, i hear ya. I think LSU has a very good, maybe exceptional defense. But, I want to hold out judgement until they play a team with a potent offense. Who knows, that may not be until if/when they get to a nat'l title game. Because like it or not, if USC survives the Pac-10, they have more offensive talent than anybody. I mean they play SIX tailbacks.

It's all just speculation at this point.

But I would like to add that yes, LSU would have to beat Florida and potentially beat them again (assuming both win their division), but the Pac-10 plays everybody in the division so the champion is decided via head to head. Different system, but the champion is decided on the field and not by schedule. So, you don't get Auburn going 12-0 and skipping key teams in the conference, or Wisconsin going 11-1 but skipping Ohio State.
Posted: 2:51 PM   by Naya1123
I am sooooo sick of SEC fans talking about how superior their conference is to the Big 10.
Ok, I will be the first to say OSU sucked in the Championship game last year.
But yes, the loss of Ted Ginn Jr. DID have a major impact on that game. No doubt if Ginn were in there, Florida would have stuck their best 2 guys on Ted, thus opening up Gonzalez, Robiskoe, Nicol, or Hartline for Troy to make small (and quick) slot passes. The O-line would have been able to hold for that 1.5 seconds and Troy would have released the ball. But Teddy was out, and the defense repositioned. So yes, it did make a difference. Does that mean OSU would have won? Probably not. But it wouldn't have been the blowout it was.
And last I checked, Wisconsin defeated an Arkansas team that Florida had a bit of trouble defeating in their Conference Championship game...and Penn State beat another SEC team in their bowl game.
One win last season doesn't make your whole conference superior until the end of time. You have 2 very good teams in your conference this year. Good for you.
The Big 10 is admittedly down this year. They have 1 team that is good and getting better, despite having to rebuild their offense after losing a Heisman Trophy winner, 2 star receivers, and a good runningback. OSU will not make a run at the title this year, undefeated or not, but if Laurinaitis and Jenkins return and our players stay healthy, I wouldn't get too cocky down there in the south next season...
Posted: 2:57 PM   by Charles
For MH3C - I was really wondering if you were that impressed with ASU. They have won, but nearly let Ore St get away from them. I look at how they close out and I would not be surprised to see them wilt. Don't laugh, but the Ariz/ASU game may be the swan song for Stoops and if so I would not be surprised to see an upset. In fact even without the Stoops goodbye I could see an Ariz win.
For Kristy - You had it right the first time - obnoxious is the right word. But won't that be an added part of the pleasure later when the tables turn. After all OSU fans (and Michigan's) were pretty obnoxious about Florida before the game. It just makes it sweeter right?
Posted: 3:04 PM   by Naya1123
Charles -- don't judge all OSU fans by the ones you may have met. I wasn't cocky about the FLorida game at all. I was looking forward to playing a team from the SEC, and was happy that USC and UM got screwed out of the championship game. I didn't think Florida was a pushover -- far from it. SO don't say ALL OSU fans felt that way, because I know of a lot of fans in Columbus who didn't.
Posted: 3:17 PM   by mh3c
I wouldn't say impressed is the right word. I mean, they beat the water rodents who have one win over a D-1 team.

I doubt ASU will make much noise this year beyond a few surprises, but next year when DE gets all his convicts, er, recruits, he will win. Plus, recruiting to Tempe isn't exactly tough. But, they are 4-0 so far.

I do hope Stoops is on his way out. he is a scar on the entire conference.
Posted: 3:50 PM   by Charles
This post has been removed by the author.
Ztrain, way to prove my point by attempting to debunk an argument I didn't even make. Nowhere did I say anything about South Carolina being equal to Northwestern. I will grant you, though, that Ole Miss is also not. I realized at the time that it was a bit of hyperbole on my part to insinuate so, but the main comment I was trying to make (which you conveniently did not address) was that if a team like that rose up and gave a top-10 team a tough game and the two squads involved were from any conference other than the SEC, you wouldn't be saying that's what they're "supposed" to do, you'd be saying it's proof that the top-10 team really didn't deserve to be there in the first place. But, you're not responding to the meat of my argument because you know I'm right.

For the record, I also hate the "my conference is better than your conference" BS. But it makes me sick to see comments about the SEC being "disrespected" and their teams being ranked lower than they should be in the preseason when everybody and their brother in the national media kowtows to them on a weekly basis. I mean, seriously, you’re talking about beating ranked opponents? How many SEC teams started out ranked this year? Just because they started there doesn’t necessarily mean they should be there at the end. Right now, we know little about the strength of a lot of the SEC teams because so many of them always schedule cupcakes at the beginning of the year (to “rest up” for their “brutal” conference schedule, or so we’re told). Here’s what I mean about your conference’s circular logic; so many SEC teams begin the season ranked that if a team that was overrated to start with (such as Auburn and Arkansas this year), the previously unheralded SEC team fortunate enough to get them early in the schedule just takes their place in the rankings.

Look, SEC, enjoy your national championship from last year (Florida earned it), relish the fact that LSU and Florida are in the top 5 right now (they've earned it, too), but spare the rest of us your circular logic and unnecessary complaints. Save it for your weekly Whiners Anonymous sessions hosted by Tuberville, Miles and Meyer.
Posted: 3:52 PM   by bcsbusters
Sounds to me like your trying to suck up to SEC fans so you can sell more advertisements and news paper columns. You can use the same argument for the PAC-10 and the Big-East, who just like the SEC will likely have 3 or 4 teams in the Top-15, and yet have two and four less less respectively.

More Self-fulfilling hype for the SEC. It makes you wonder if all of these SEC teams who have gotten into NCAA violations numerous times before for paying off players, families and coaches are now paying off media pundits and writers as well.

Lost in the SEC elitism is the fact that South Florida beat Auburn, Missouri beat Mississippi, Cal beat Tennessee and Wisconsin and Penn State abused your conference last year as well.

Of course when you play Louisana-Lafayette, Temple, Tulane and the bottom end of your conference, while not even playing all of the teams within your own conference, your pretty much guaranteed 7 wins. Plus I forgot the fact that rarely do you have to travel, for Florida had 9 homes games out of 14 last year on the road to the national title.

But hey, lets give it up for the self-fulfilling prophecy of the SEC as it continues in spite of the results on the field.
Posted: 3:58 PM   by Charles
For MH3C- You may be too hard on Stoops. Bowden & Paterno were once geniuses but now they are not. Coker & Weis began on fire, and Weis may soon follow Coker. Look at Carr at Michigan. Spurrier did not win the title until Stoops became defensive coordinator. Stoops moves to OK, wins a title, but then can't beat Texas for several years. He loses to TCU & Boise St along the way. Brown was suddenly great, but now Texas stumbles when he loses key coordinators. Sometimes I think the coordinators matter more. Whoever follows Stoops at Az will have it tough. And whoever looks at how Ariz St closes out (Cal, UCLA, USC), thinks Az will be easy, and then tells us all this talk about conferences does not matter will one day be wealthy when brain transplants are perfected. They'll be able to advertise theirs as hardly used.
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