I've got a confession, y'all: I am addicted to college football. Specifically, SEC football. I've never been the type to chant "ESS-EE-SEE, ESS-EE-SEE" or play the obnoxious SEC homer card, but I do tend to follow the happenings in our conference quite religiously.
Truly, there's something extra special about our
twelve fourteen member institutions on Saturdays in the fall. The culture, the atmosphere, the crowds, the camaraderie, the food - it's all awe-inspiring. I've been to a few other SEC schools for a game, and I could appreciate their buildings, rich histories, traditions, and cultures, even if I didn't care for their team. But beyond that, there's the gridiron action - the glue that brings it all together.
I know watching players like Aaron Murray, AJ Green, Todd Gurley, Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, and countless others during my time at UGA was an opportunity that I can (and will) treasure forever. There were heartbreakers at times, just because I loved my team so damn much, but there were SO many good memories to hold onto for the rest of my life. Bottom line?
It truly is great to be a Georgia Bulldog.
Tonight I introduce this write-up as a way to help us all get through the dreaded middle of the week, that awful period where there's no pigskin to speak of. It's long because it contains two parts - my predictions and picks for the upcoming week around the conference, and a recap of the previous week's results. And as always, feel free to comment, weigh in, leave feedback! (Also, if I make this a weekly thing, I need a good, catchy name for it, so suggestions are welcome!)
**WEEK FOUR - SEC ACTION**
Let's get this party started! Shockingly, I went 8-0 in SEC picks last week. (That's like Akron upsetting Michi-....oh wait, that didn't happen...!) In the interests of full disclosure, I'm not really a stats/numbers or Xs-and-Os kinda girl simply because I'm not as well-versed in those as other people are (it's a work in progress), but I do try to give a thoughtful and well-reasoned analysis when I talk football.
As far as picks, we'll see if I can replicate anything close to the 8-0, but knowing my generally awful track record in sports predictions, I'll give it a shot but focus on the commentary aspect. :)
1) Vanderbilt at UMass, 12PM, ESPNews.
AT UMass?! Someone mentioned this the other day, but it bears repeating: I'm more interested in why the 'Dores are traveling to Boston for this game instead of
paying playing them in Nashville. Scratching my head at this, but okay. Culture change FTW, I guess. Anyway, regarding the actual game, the 2013 Fulmer Cup winners shouldn't have a problem with the Minutemen. Despite their record and the distractions currently surrounding the team, Vandy is at least competitive, and they have playmakers (see: Jordan Matthews, my favorite guy to watch on that team).
DiemonDawg's Pick: Vanderbilt wins, should be a blowout. 30-40 points to the Minutemen's 7-14.
2) Arkansas at Rutgers, 3:30PM, ESPN.
I had trouble with this one, and here's why: we don't know how good or bad Arkansas actually is yet. It feels a little silly to term this a "trap game" for the Hogs, but it sure feels like one to me. Arkansas is 3-0 after a 34-14 win over LA-Lafayette, escaping an upset by Samford 31-21 in a game much closer than the score indicated, and a 24-3 win over Southern Mississippi. Rutgers ain't no Alabama, but they sure ain't no Southern Miss, either. This is a game that Bret Bielema needs to win simply to begin establishing some credibility for the rebuilding Razorbacks.
Man, the awkwardness of this never gets old. (via cdn2.sbnation.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: He's gonna make Bielemers out of all of y'all! All joking aside, I'm going to cautiously pick the Hogs in this one, by no more than 14.
3) Tennessee at Florida, 3:30PM, ESPN.
Both teams are coming off humiliating losses. Tennessee got decimated like a no-name cupcake in Eugene, and the Gators are suffering from a Hurricane hangover. A lot of interesting season storylines are in play for this one: how fast does it look like the Vols recover from the Kiffin-Dooley dumpster fire? How far will the Gators fall if they drop this one? Just how bad are both teams? It will be an ugly affair, but it's at least worth a look simply to assess our upcoming contests with both later in the season.
Worth the price of admission just for Muschamp rage. (via cdn.bleacherreport.net)
DiemonDawg's Pick: dammit, this is gonna be sloppy as hell, and a difficult pick for that very reason. You can't trust either team right now. I'm tempted to say Florida's D wins for them, but both offenses are going to struggle. The Gator defense could not save them against Miami. It may very well come down to mistakes and capitalizing on those mistakes. Honestly, it could go either way. Whatever. I'm more interested in the follow-up to come regarding this Vol girl's blind Craigslist date. (That's just wrong on so many levels, man.)
4) SMU at Texas A&M, 7:00PM, ESPNU.
This ain't your granddaddy's SMU of pre-Death Penalty fame. Johnny Craterface is going to have a field day running over the Mustangs. The only real question is, how many points does the Aggies' D give up?
DiemonDawg's Pick: Texas A&M, by a lot, barring some epic meltdown...or autograph scandal...wait, never mind that last bit.
5) Colorado State at Alabama, 7:00PM, ESPN2.
It would be funny for Colorado State to pull off the biggest upset in history, but reality says, HELL F'ING NO. Not a chance. Colorado State is the sacrificial
Sacrificial ram. Sorry, kid. (via gamedayr.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: Alabama destroys CSU, by a LOT. The question is whether the Armani Bear runs up the score to further the narrative. Bama fans rejoice (click at your own risk).
6) Troy at Mississippi State, 7:30PM, FSN.
The Bizarro Bulldogs look to even their record to 2-2 after narrowly missing the chance to notch an SEC win last week (more on that in the recap - you disappointed me, Miss State!). This one should be manageable, even for the Derpin' Dogs. Unfortunately for them, Dan Mullen is losing his luster quickly in Starkville.
DiemonDawg's Pick: Miss State by 3 scores, one of their few victories of the season.
7) Auburn at LSU, 7:45PM, ESPN.
Finally! An SEC match-up! After getting his signature win against Miss State last week (lulz), Gus Malzahn and his troupe of Tigers look to battle the Bayou Bengals in Death Valley. This one is worth watching to really figure out where LSU stands right now. There are several Tiger fans calling Mettenberger a potential Heisman candidate. However, with games against teams such as UAB, Kent State, and a weak TCU squad, it shouldn't prove too difficult for an upper-level SEC team to look impressive. Auburn will be a practice test; Georgia will be the real one.
DiemonDawg's Pick: Auburn could make it interesting, but LSU is too talented to play around with these Tigers. If Mississippi State can almost topple Auburn, I'll be a bit brash here and say the Bayou Bengals win by at least 20. (In the words of Kyle, "I hate Auburn." Well said, sir.)
And Gus was like, "SHUT. UP!" (via www.sportinglifearkansas.com)
8) Missouri at Indiana, 8:00PM, Big Ten Network.
I'm not gonna beat around the bush here. This should be a win for Mizzou; Indiana is a basketball school. Here's one of the few instances I'll be a conference homer: SEC > B1G. Take this down, Tigers. When you're in the SEC, it is unacceptable to lose to the B1G. (Yes, yes, I know. I was
pissed enraged furious livid at us at that one recent bowl game which shall not be named.)
DiemonDawg's Pick: Mizzou, by 10+.
And I saved the best for last:
9) North Texas at Georgia, 12:21PM, SEC TV.
The Dawgs got a well-deserved rest last week. It's time to get back to work though, and North Texas should be a good warm-up to our upcoming battle with the Bayou Bengals. I expect one half of starters on offense, and I hope to see our D get some good experience in. After facing the powerful offenses of Clemson and USCe, North Texas should be a breath of fresh air. Not to sound too positive, but I'm really proud of our team. They responded to adversity and showed a lot of growth and maturity between weeks one and two. If they continue to play with discipline, focus, and a good sense of team unity, I think those intangibles will prove invaluable as the season goes on.
But alas, we are doomed. North Texas is gonna cream us! They're gonna gash this young defense and tear 'em to shreds! They're gonna look for a signature win, at our house! The offensive line is going to crack under pressure! Mark Richt is gonna lose control......of something!
Keep an eye out throughout the rest of the week, as I'm sure the Dawgsports staff will provide you everything you need to know about North Texas. All I got is that they had Mean Joe Greene once upon a time. : ) And if I sit down and do another midweek SEC report next week, it should be much more exciting, as there are more SEC match-ups to ponder and break down, including our own exciting/heart-pounding contest against LSU.
**LAST WEEK'S RESULTS & RECAP**
In case you missed any SEC action last weekend, don't fret! I got you covered on this conference-wide recap with attitude, complete with all the necessary graphics and commentary from yours truly! Also included are my picks prior to each of these games, just to show you how [awesome/terrible/depends on the week] I am at picking games. Feel free to go over your prior picks, talk over these games, or make fun of me for my crappy predictions when those inevitably happen. It's the middle of the week...we need something football to get us through, after all! Now, without further ado...
1) Alabama at
Texas A&M Johnny [Insert Noun]. Well, that was quite an interesting game. We got to see a little bit of everything - the aspects that stuck out most to me? A (relatively) mortal Alabama defense, NCAA video game numbers, football god interventions, and somehow, a mind-blowing (read: soul-crushing) continuation on both the "Dynasty" and "Johnny Football" legends. (Kill me...)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Bama by at least 10" (Bonus: "the Aggies' D look awful, and I expect TJ Yeldon to be used quite a bit to pound them to exhaustion..." This came true.)
We all know I hate Bama as much as anybody, but seeing Yeldon show Manziel up like that was absolutely a guilty pleasure (and you thought so too!) (via cdn3.sbnation.com)
Final Score: Alabama 49, A&M 42
2) Vanderbilt at South Carolina. I didn't actually see this one, but it turned out a lot closer than I expected. Spurrier apparently got mad at various points throughout this game, which is always glorious for us.
DiemonDawg's Pick: "I got the Gamecocks by at least two scores, with limited Clowney action."
My favorite part of any USCe game (via cdn0.sbnation.com)
Final Score: USCe 35, Vandy 25. (Does TD + FG count as 2 scores? Show me the money!)
3) Ole Miss at Texas. Too bad this one was relegated to the Longhorn Network. After a competitive first half, the Rebels turned up the pressure on the lesser McCoy and served up some Texas Longhorn beef for dinner in front of the third-largest reported crowd in DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. The hopes and dreams of the burnt orange faithful for this season were all but dashed when Rebel RB Jeff Scott torched Texas on a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown, dodging seven Longhorn tackles in the process.
DiemonDawg's Pick: "close, but I'm gonna make the bold prediction that the Rebels will prevail by at least a score, their offense ultimately overpowering the Horns' D."
Wow, did that turn out to be an understatement. (via anyfootballfan.com)
These are dark days in Austin right now. (via scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net)
Score: Ole Miss 44, Texas 23, in the good SEC-(big conference) match-up of the weekend. (See #5 for, ahem, the bad one.)
4) Louisville at Kentucky. Thanks for getting our hopes up in the first half, Cats. Thanks for Kentucking it all up. Yes, Kentucky actually kept it close with the mighty Cards for a while, but on cue, they Kentucky'd it away. C'mon guys, it's your most bitter rival - rally for the (humiliating) upset of your bitter rival and the toppling of their potential Heisman candidate! Oh well. The up side is, we learned that the 'Ville may not be as tough as advertised, and this could come back to haunt them later in the season. Was it the "anything can happen in a rivalry" factor? Who knows? But to put it in perspective, Western Kentucky put more up on the Wildcats than Charlie Strong's boys did.
Trust us on this, Cats. Nothing good comes with bad Nike uniforms. (via c.o0bc.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "taking Louisville by a lot." (Does 13 points qualify as "a lot"?)
Final Score: Louisville 27, Kentucky 14.
5) Tennessee at Oregon. The bad SEC-(big conference) match-up. Let's just call it what it was: a massacre. Marcus Mariota and Oregon had their way with the hapless Vols and notched a win against the mighty SEC. Of course, much to our collective chagrin, this win coupled with Crimson Tide victory kicked off the official "Alabama-Oregon" BCS game campaign (c'mon guys, when will we learn...don't feed the Worldwide Leader!) But seriously, I didn't even watch...it was that bad from the get-go. But unlike Texas, who is heading into "dumpster fire" territory, Tennessee at least appears to be in recovery mode.
DiemonDawg's Pick: "After a physical match filled with highlighter yellow and Tennessee orange (click at your eyes' risk), the fabulous Ducks cruise by at least two TDs, and ESPN sings about the impending death of the SEC as an elite conference." (Yes, all of the above came true.)
Final Score: Oregon 59, Tennessee 14.
6) Miss State at Auburn. SIGNATURE WIN, y'all! But it almost wasn't. The Bizarro Bulldogs looked poised to take this one home with a 20-17 lead when QB Nick Marshall threw the game-winning TD pass with :10 left in the game, effectively ending the Plainsmen's 10-game SEC losing streak. Despite three Auburn turnovers, "Fail State" happened, and Gus Malzahn has his "signature win".
DiemonDawg's Pick: "At best, this is a sloppy slugfest. At worst, Auburn thumps the Bulldogs. In both cases, Auburn wins. Plainsmen by no more than 10."
Yup. State gonna State. (via www.cbssports.com)
As a bonus though, we did see that this particular game showcased the football equivalent to something you'd find here.
War Dumb Eagle! (via FoxSports)
Final Score: Auburn 24, Miss State 20
7) Southern Miss at Arkansas. The most entertaining part of this game was a Southern Miss player's helmet getting stuck to RB Alex Collins. Hilarity ensued, but that was about all the entertainment value this game had to offer.
Well, this is awkward...(via cdn2.sbnation.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Arkansas...2 TD victory"
Final Score: Arkansas 24, Southern Miss 3
8) Kent State at LSU. Like the Arkansas game, this one also turned out to be a snoozer. Also like the Arkansas game, a side story headline made for better entertainment, as the notorious LSU chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon made some noise with another tasteful sign for their visitors from Kent State.
Well, at least they apologized, right? (via cdn.ientry.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Tigers show them the bus by halftime, win by a lot, look ahead to pounding Auburn in Death Valley the next week."
Final Score: LSU 45, Kent St 13
9) The most important of all...we survived the bye week! No injuries, no arrests, no BS - just the way I like it. Everyone knows the worst enemy to lose to is one's own self, on and off the field. That being said, I am proud of our Dawgs for staying focused and disciplined as they prepare to close out the month of September. Time to focus on beating the "Mean" outta the "Green". Take care of business, boys. There's nothing like winning big for that "G" on your jersey.