It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year August 31, 2011Posted by Matt in Football, Razorbacks.
Tags: Alabama, arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi St., NCAA football, Ole Miss, predictions, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
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With wish lists in hand and hopes and dreams in our hearts and minds, we gather together with family and friends to usher in that magical time of year when all things seem possible, when optimism infects each and every one of us with a radical zeal that defies reality, when our belief in something greater than ourselves trumps all misconceptions. On this illustrious eve we wait with bated breath, our anticipation growing by the second as the time quickly approaches. What challenges, what joys, what agonies, what triumphs await us in the coming months.
Yes, college football season starts tomorrow.
Tomorrow evening, the iconic swine-covered orb will be kicked off, launched down the field with a jubilant yell like those first flights into outer space. The faithful will don their chosen colors, greet each other in a traditional manner, whether that be a “Roll Tide,” a “Hotty Toddy,” or, in our case, a “Woo Pig,” stand for their beloved fight song and cheer their team on to victory.
But all will not be victorious, for there are always some casualties along the way as each squad vies for dominance on 100 yard field of battle. Favorites will fall, heroes will rise, and the faithful believers will grasp tightly to each and every win, savoring the sweet taste of victory on the long march through the Fall season and into the frigid depths of winter. In the end only one team will stand as a champion, but today, on the precipice of another football season, we are all undefeated.
I sketched out my SEC predictions for my coworkers, so I thought I would share them with you as well. Let me know what you think.
Georgia 9-3 (6-2)
South Carolina 9-3 (5-3)
Florida 8-4 (5-3)
Tennessee 6-6 (2-6)
Kentucky 5-7 (1-7)
Vanderbilt 2-10 (0-8)
Alabama 11-1 (7-1)
LSU 10-2 (7-1)
Arkansas 10-2 (6-2)
Auburn 8-4 (4-4)
Mississippi St. 7-5 (3-5)
Ole Miss 5-7 (2-6)
Georgia: While many of their conference foes are starting off the year with what they deem to be surefire wins, the Bulldogs are launching their season with an always-tough Boise St. They have arguably the best quarterback in the league in Aaron Murray, and a favorable SEC schedule (their only away games are Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt, with Florida at a neutral site), but the SEC is a meat grinder and they are not of the elite caliber to keep them unscathed. Their week 2 home game against South Carolina will set the tone of the season.
South Carolina: Last year the Gamecocks advanced to their first SEC Championship game on the sturdy back of running back Marcus Lattimore, and his return is the key to success for Steve Spurrier’s team this season. Their schedule is tough, with away games at Georgia, Mississippi St., and Arkansas, but, like Georgia, I think the week 2 matchup will either put them on track for a second straight East title or for another decent, middle-of-the-pack season.
Florida: The Gators suffered some growing pains last season as they tried to emerge from the shadow of Tim Tebow, faltering to an 8-5 record, but this season, with the addition of new head coach Will Muschamp, could see them rejuvenated down in Gainesville. They have a tough schedule, with away dates at LSU, Auburn, and South Carolina, not to mention home games with SEC West foe Alabama and in-state rival Florida St. I can see them pulling off an upset win (I’m looking at you, Bama), but not showing a great improvement in the win column this season.
Tennessee: The Volunteers struggled mightily under the tutelage of head coach Derek Dooley in 2010 and I expect more of the same this season. They are quite talented, but wins will be hard to come by in the SEC, especially when they are facing road games at Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas. Look for Tennessee to struggle again in 2011 before maybe sneaking into a lower-tier bowl.
Kentucky: Second year head coach Joker Phillips will have his hands full with this year’s Wildcat squad, which lost the majority of its notable players from last year’s 6-7 crew. Facing off against a league full of Goliaths, Kentucky may be able to muster their inner David once or twice this season, but I don’t expect them to make much of an impact. On a positive note, at least they have Vanderbilt to keep them out of the cellar.
Vanderbilt: First year head coach James Franklin has one of the most daunting tasks before him of any signal caller in the SEC: turning the Vanderbilt Commodores into a winning program. The Vandy football team have long held the title of annual patsy in the SEC, the automatic “W” on everyone’s schedule and this year will probably be no different, but it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the team.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide are only two years from their last National Championship and once again they are locked and loaded for another title run. Losing a Heisman-winning running back and adept quarterback may seem like insurmountable odds to most teams, but this is Alabama, where football runs through veins and all-American players seem to spring from the ground itself. Running back Trent Richardson is set to be the star on this year’s squad, which has the good fortune of playing Arkansas and LSU at home, but the tough task of facing the Gators in The Swamp. I think they’ll drop at least one game and, though I wish it were to my beloved Razorbacks, it seems more likely to occur against Florida.
LSU: Tiger faithful may tremble at the thought of facing #3 Oregon in their opener without starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and the National Title implications held in that game, but the team is certainly talented enough to run the table. Always-entertaining coach Les Miles is certain to make some head-scratching tactical errors along the way that may lead to a few losses, but overall I expect the Tigers to fare fine in the SEC.
Arkansas: Coach Bobby Petrino has built a powerhouse in Fayetteville over the past three years and though last year’s 10 win squad set the bar high, hopes were in place that this would be the season when the Hogs would make an honest national push. That, of course, was prior to the season-ending injury suffered by star running back Kniles Davis in the first play of the first scrimmage game of the summer. Rushing has always been secondary in Petrino’s offensive plans, though, and this year’s passing attack looks to be one of the nation’s best. The Hogs face two tough road challenges in Alabama and LSU, as well as a resurgent Texas A&M in Dallas, but I expect them to win at least one of those games. Winning two could place them in the SEC Championship and that is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Auburn: The Tigers lost a host of great players, including Cam Newton, from last year’s National Champion team, and though that could cause feeling of foreboding among the Auburn faithful, they should again make some noise this season. Head Coach Gene Chizik and Offensive Coordinator extraordinaire Gus Malzahn return to lead one of the youngest teams in the conference. The role of underdog could prove to be just what is needed in Auburn. Perhaps more than anything, I’m looking forward to watching the ingenious playcalling of Malzahn again.
Mississippi State: Last year the Bulldogs took a big step forward under coach Dan Mullen, finishing the season with a 9-4 record and a resounding win over Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Though Mississippi State is quite good and should pull off a few big wins again in 2011, the SEC is awfully strong and more than 8 wins is most likely out of reach for a team that is on the road for Auburn, Georgia, and Arkansas. On a positive note, the Bulldogs kick off their season tomorrow night against our local team, the Memphis Tigers, who last year proved themselves to be among the worst in Division 1. It should be over by halftime.
Ole Miss: Times have gotten hard in the lovely town of Oxford, where coach Houston Nutt is wringing his hands and wondering how to succeed with the players he brought in. If the Rebels improve over last season’s 4-8 mark, it won’t be by much with the exceedingly difficult Western Division teams on their schedule. Their opener against BYU this Saturday should provide enough to know whether or not the Rebs will have a shot at postseason play.
What Will It Take… September 1, 2010Posted by Matt in Football, Razorbacks.
Tags: Arkansas Razorbacks, BCS Championship, predictions, SEC
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…For the Arkansas Razorbacks to win it all in 2010? What needs to happen for Woo Pig to be the clarion call of the BCS Champions?
The Razorbacks return 9 offensive starters, including probably Heisman trophy candidate QB Ryan Mallett, one of the best groups of receivers in the country and a good stable of running backs, and 7 defensive starters who should show some improvement after a difficult 2009. That being said, this could be a huge year for Bobby Petrino’s Hogs.
Let’s take a look at their schedule for the upcoming season:
Sept. 4 Tennessee Tech
Sept. 11 Louisiana – Monroe
Sept. 18 @ Georgia (23)
Sept. 25 Alabama (1)
Oct. 9 @ Texas A&M
Oct. 16 @ Auburn (22)
Oct. 23 Ole Miss
Oct. 30 Vanderbilt
Nov. 6 @ South Carolina
Nov. 13 UTEP
Nov. 20 @ Mississippi St
Nov. 27 LSU (21)
The Hogs should be able to take the first two games without much of a problem.
Playing at Georgia could prove difficult, but the Bulldogs are not as good as they have been in years past. If our defense is truly better than last year, we should prevail.
Alabama is the returning national champion, preseason number one and has last year’s Heisman winner. On the other hand, the game is in Fayetteville and Mark Ingram is starting off the year with a knee injury. If Ingram is not back to full speed by week 4, this could be a decent contest and the Razorbacks could give them a run for their money and maybe, just maybe, hand them a closely contested loss.
Texas A&M has an excellent offense, but I still think Mallett will pick them apart.
Auburn is another potential roadblock on the way to BCS glory. They finished 2009 at 8-5, should be even better this year and the game is at Auburn. But, don’t forget that these are the Razorbacks we’re talking about! Win.
Nobody denies that this season will be a struggle for Houston Nutt’s Ole Miss squad, but the loss of probable starting quarterback Masoli is a dagger in the heart of the Rebel faithful. Hopefully we’ll put up at least 50 on them.
Vanderbilt is an almost automatic win.
South Carolina is another team that may be tough to crack, particularly since the game is at their home, but the Hogs should walk out of Columbia as winners.
Mississippi State is poised to be the best team in the Magnolia State, but in reality that’s not saying much. Win.
LSU is overrated and Les Miles is an embarrassment to the coaching profession. Win.
If all goes according to plan, the Hogs will then finish the regular season 12-0, then face off against Florida in the SEC Championship, and waltz into Glendale, Arizona, undefeated. Yep, things are looking up for Hogs fans.
To tell the truth, I don’t really expect the Razorbacks to win out this season. My actual prediction for the regular season is 10-2, with a loss to Alabama and one more, probably to either Georgia or Auburn. Either way, I have high hopes that this will be a successful year for my Hogs.
Woo Pig Sooooiiiieeee!
So, you ask, what are my predictions for the entire SEC? Well, let’s take a quick look.
South Carolina 7-5
Mississippi St 7-5
Ole Miss 5-7
It’s Time for Some Football! September 1, 2009Posted by Matt in Football.
Tags: Alabama, arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Football, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, predictions, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
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The turning of the season from Summer to Fall brings with it a host of happenings – the leaves change colors, the temperatures cool, the holidays grow nearer, and, perhaps greatest of all, its time for football. There is no region of the country that reveres the game like the South, for it is here that mere men become gods and epic gridiron battle become pieces of cultural mythology passed down from generation to generation.
I’m a lifetime Arkansas Razorback fan, one who sticks with them through the good and the bad, so my attention usually remains focused on that greatest of football conferences, the SEC. Below you will find my predictions for the SEC in the coming season. Let me know what you think.
South Carolina 8-4
Ole Mis 10-2
Miss State 3-9
SEC Title Game: Florida def. Alabama
Florida – With QB Tim Tebow and all 12 starters returning on an incredible defense, the Gators look unbeatable…and they just might be. They are the favorites to repeat as national champions for a reason.
Georgia – Despite the losses of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, the Bulldogs will field another excellent squad in 2009. If they can effectively replace those two former stars and improve on defense, Georgia could make some noise this season.
South Carolina – Despite the fact that they have had one of the most highly touted coaches of the past 2 decades, the Gamecocks have not been able to raise themselves out of slightly-better-than-average mediocrity and I don’t expect that to change this season.
Vanderbilt – The Commodores came out of nowhere last season to earn their first bowl trip in more than two decades and, though they will not be an elite team by any stretch of the imagination, they should again play well enough to earn or at least come close to earning a lower-tier bowl invitation.
Tennessee – Lane Kiffin. There’s not much else to say and virtually nothing to be excited about in Knox-Vegas in 2009.
Kentucky – The Wildcats are perennial bottom-dweller in the SEC East and there is nothing that is going to change that this season.
Alabama – They may not do quite as well as last season, but make no mistake about it, the Crimson Tide are an excellent football team. Never doubt the dark powers of Nick Saban.
Ole Miss – It’s no secret that, as a longtime Arkansas fan, I have little regard for the coaching abilities of Houston Nutt. Though the Rebels have been granted one of the easiest schedules around, look for Nutt to mess it up along the way and lose a couple of games at least.
LSU – The Tigers have a good team and could definitely make some major noise this year in the SEC West, perhaps even challenging ‘Bama and Ole Miss for the division, but 8-9 wins seems much more realistic.
Arkansas – In their second season under offensive mastermind Bobby Petrino, the Hogs look to take a big step forward from last season’s underwhelming 5-7 finish. This time around the team will be led by heralded Michigan transfer Ryan Mallet and last year’s top rusher, Michael Smith. Write it down, the Hogs will be bowl game bound…even if its just the Independence Bowl.
Auburn – Head Coach Gene Chizik, along with his career 5-19 record, take the reins of the Tigers this season as Auburn attempts to revive its once-strong program. There isn’t much to cheer about player-wise and not much hope for 2009, but the hiring of offensive guru Gus Malzahn was a good move and could pay nice dividends in the future.
Mississippi State – Sorry State fans, the Bulldogs are just terrible. Again. And nothing is going to change that.
(Not So) Hog Wild September 8, 2008Posted by Matt in Football, Razorbacks.
Tags: Arkansas Razorbacks, Bobby Petrino, Football, SEC
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Well, the Bobby Petrino era has gotten off to a rough start for my Arkansas Razorbacks, which by nearly all accounts (except for Jimmy from Grapevine) was to be expected. While the team is 2-0, the fact that their two wins have come by a total of 5 points against those mighty football powerhouses of Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe, have me a bit concerned.
On the good side, quarterback Casey Dick is playing the best football of his career, having already thrown 75 passes (which is probably more than the past two seasons combined) and broken 300 yards in each of the two games. Seven different players have at least 4 total receptions, as well, showing that the offense is spreading the balla around more than in recent years. It was also nice to see the return of running back Michael Smith on Saturday as he racked up 157 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
On the other hand, did either of these wins even come against division 1 schools? Has anybody even heard of Western Illinois? Barring an unforeseen miracle, the Hogs will be lucky to win more than one or two additional games this season. Their next four contests are against ranked opponents – Texas (8), Alabama (11), Florida (4), and Auburn (9). Following that, they have games against a decent Kentucky team (who beat them last year when the Hogs had much better talent), Ole Miss (who have both superior talent to ours and Houston [boo!]), and Tulsa (one of the top offensive teams in the nation due to former Arkansas OC Gus Malzahn). Then there is a decent South Carolina team (don’t ever count out Spurrier), Mississippi St., and seventh-ranked defending national champions LSU.
Ouch. We made it through the atrocious Jack Crow and Danny Ford years, so I have no doubt that we can weather this season and, who knows, if Petrino sticks around longer than 1-2 seasons there should be better days around the corner.
Don’t Mess With the SEC September 20, 2007Posted by Matt in Football, Razorbacks.
Tags: Football, Razorbacks, SEC
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Orginally posted 9/20/07
As you probably all realize, I’m a huge football fan and an unabashed numbers geek, so naturally I love breaking down statistics to see who, at least statistically, is the best.
Last week, while eating lunch with some of my friends from church, the assertion was made that the SEC (Southeastern Conference for those of you who aren’t football fans), while consistently good, is vastly overrated by the media. I, of course, took great offense at this and this week vowed to prove my friend wrong.
So, I took the four arguably biggest football conferences – the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, and Pac-10 (I looked at including the Big East and ACC, but due to their swapping of teams with each other and Conference USA, I left them both out) – and broke down their numbers over the last 10 years to see just where each of them stand in the grand scheme of things.
The first two columns contain the total Win-Loss records for all of the teams in each conference along with a %. The next column gives the total number of teams that had at least 10 wins in a single season over the 10 years. Then we have the Win-Loss record for bowl games and a winning percentage. The Nat Champ column gives the number of national championships won by teams from each conference (If there was a split championship, each team was counted). The Top 10 column gives the number of teams that finished in the top 10 and the Top 25 gives the same. The last column gives the total number of players drafted by the NFL through 2005 (the 2006 stats weren’t included on the site I used for my research). The top conference in each category is highlighted in yellow.
|Tot||W||L||W-L%||10 W||Bowl W-L||Bowl %||Nat Champ||Top 10||Top 25||Drafted Players|
Then I took the four teams by conference with the highest winning percentage over the 10 years and calculated the same statistics.
|Top 4||W||L||W-L%||10 W||Bowl W-L||Bowl %||NatCh||Top 10||Top 25||Drafted Players|
Lastly I looked at the middle four teams by conference with the next highest winning percentages.
|Mid 4||W||L||W-L%||10 W||Bowl W-L||Bowl %||NatCh||Top 10||Top 25||Drafted Players|
The Pac 10 has been strong in recent years with the emergence of USC as a national power, but overall their conference contains far too many weak or mediocre teams to be considered at the top. The Big 10 has good players, as evidenced by the number of NFL draftees, but overall it has seen better days. The Big 12 is extremely top heavy, as can be seen by their excellent top 4, but after that they start to lag behind.
So, in my eyes, this solidifies the preeminence of the SEC in the NCAA. What do you think? Does this prove anything?