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.
Milton for Governor! August 5, 2010Posted by Matt in politics.
Tags: Basil Marceaux, governor, Milton, office space, Tennessee
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I live in the Memphis area and work in the city itself, so it stands to reason that I hear about the politics of both Memphis and the state of Tennessee. Today is primary day in the state, when voters from major political parties will choose their candidates to face off in the fall election. We’ve been inundated with ads for the various candidates, but there is one Republican gubernatorial candidate in particular that has caught my eye: Basil Marceaux.
I just wonder if he has a red swingline stapler…
I’m not a Republican and I don’t live in Tennessee, but if I did, I would definitely vote for this guy….at least in the primary…
2009 NFL Predictions September 9, 2009Posted by Matt in NFL.
Tags: 2009 predictions, AFC, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New York Jets, NFL, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Tennessee
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New England 12-4
New York Jets 6-10
San Diego 11-5
Kansas City 5-11
New England – The Patriots’ fortunes for 2009 hinge on the much-awaited return of QB Tom Brady. New England’s offense and defense are both stacked to the brim with talent and, despite being down a bit in 2008, they are the team to beat again and they should easily waltz into the postseason.
Miami – The Dolphins were a huge surprise in the 2008 season, head coach Tony Sparano’s first, improving from 1-15 the previous year to an improbable 11-5. Though they return most of their weapons from last season, I expect them to take a step back this time around.
Buffalo – The Bills made one of the most hyped moves of the offseason, bringing in volatile veteran receiver Terrell Owens to line up alongside Lee Evans. If Trent Edwards can come along as a quarterback and the defense plays well enough, Buffalo could make some noise in the NFC East.
New York Jets – New coach Rex Ryan and rookie QB Mark Sanchez will have their work cut out for them in 2009. With last season’s Brett Favre experiment now a thing of the past, the Jets will continue building for the future, so don’t expect much this season.
Pittsburgh – The returning Super Bowl champs are loaded and back for more in 2009. All of the Steelers’ offensive pieces remain in place and their top-notch defense, led by 2008 Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison and a host of other Pro Bowl players, should again be a dominant force.
Baltimore – The Ravens are another year older but their defense is still one of the most stifling to be found in the league. Second year quarterback Joe Flacco was impressive as a rookie and should be even better this time around. The Ravens should definitely be in the hunt for a playoff spot again in 2009.
Cincinnati – 2009 was a difficult year for the Bengal faithful, who watched their star quarterback Carson Palmer fall to injury early in the season. Though Palmer is healthy and returning this season, their lack of an offensive line and below average defense will again doom Cincy to mediocrity.
Cleveland – Bringing in new head coach Eric Mangini was a good move for a cellar-dwelling Browns franchise that is floundering to climb out of the basement, but I wouldn’t expect too much from them in 2009.
Tennessee – The Titans were impressive in 2009, rallying behind veteran quarterback Kerry Collins to win their division before falling in the playoffs. The running back duo of Chris Johnson and Lendale White proved to be one of the better tandems to be found in 2008 and they should again be the driving force behind Tennessee’s offense. The defense is full of experienced veterans and should be one of the best in the league. The Titan’s playoff spot is ready and waiting.
Houston – After two consecutive 8-8 seasons, it is time for the talented Texans to take another step forward. Though they may not be to the level of the Titans or a perennial favorite like the Colts, this squad is solid behind players like WR Andre Johnson and DE Mario Williams. Look for the Texans to finally challenge for a playoff spot.
Indianapolis – The Colts have been perennial picks for several years, always winning their customary 11-13 games each season riding on the arm of future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning. There has been a full change in the coaching staff for 2009, an event which I think will affect the team’s performance in the coming season. Add to that the unstoppable aging process and I expect to see a dip in the Colts’ performance for 2009. They will still challenge for a playoff spot and may even earn one, but it will be a tougher road than in the past.
Jacksonville – Fred Taylor is out of town, leaving the rushing duties squarely in the hands of the capable Maurice Jones-Drew, who I would expect to have a huge season. The rest of the cast is less than ideal, though, and will most likely struggle their way to a .500 or so season in 2009.
San Diego – The Chargers were a big letdown in 2008, only racking up an 8-8 record for the season, but I’m looking for a rebound this time around. The recent charges against defensive star Shawne Merriman will hurt if they stick, but the offense, led by QB Philip Rivers and the elite running back tandem of Ladanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, should again shine in a poor division.
Oakland – As a lifelong Razorback fan, I love Darren McFadden and I want to see him do great things, but I just cannot imagine his team reaching any level of respectability. If defensive great Richard Seymour, who was just acquired from New England, ever shows up, it will be a great boon to a poor unit, but besides that there is little to cheer for in Raider land.
Kansas City – The Chiefs’ biggest offseason pickup, former New England quarterback Matt Cassel, set the tone for the season when he was injured on his first pass play in the preseason. Yep, it’s going to be a long year in Kansas City.
Denver – In one of the most negatively scrutinized moves of the offseason, the Broncos sent star quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago for Kyle Orton. With a QB who defines mediocrity, a receiver (Brandon Marshall) who can’t stay out of trouble, and a repugnant defense, the Broncos are in good form to earn the number one draft pick for next season.
Next: The NFC
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.