Monthly Archives: November 2012

Georgia vs. Alabama: I expect Georgia to Win because Georgia Expects to Win


I’ve made the observation before that when voting in a college football poll there are three possible sets of qualities to explore and combine to form an educated placement:

  1. The résumé: What has this team done this year?  Who have they defeated?  Who have the lost to?  How have those games come to pass?  And, how do the answers to those questions relate to the answers for other teams.
  2. The momentum: How good do I think this team is right now?  Are they moving up or down in my mind?  Are they getting better or worse?
  3. The head-to-head guess: Would team A beat team B.  Or, as I’ve put it would I prefer my team to play team A or team B?

When I make a prediction for a game base the prediction on some combination of the factors above.  I incorrectly picked Georgia to beat South Carolina because I felt that Georgia’s 45-point win over Vanderbilt (who South Carolina squeaked by) carried more weight than Georgia’s struggles against Tennessee – it didn’t.  Furthermore, I didn’t think South Carolina had enough offense to keep up with Georgia if Connor Shaw was under center and running around like a chicken with his head cut off – that day, he didI picked Georgia over Florida for similar reasons: at its most simplistic I liked Georgia’s offense against Florida’s defense a lot more than I liked Florida’s offense against Georgia’s defense (which I expected to show up alert).  I was impressed with Florida’s résumé, but I also thought the daunting task of LSU and South Carolina in the first half of the year might wear them down, and they certainly seemed worn down in the Vanderbilt game that split up the Tigers and the Cocks.  I was right about that game.

So, you have every right to think that I’m crazy and I even claim to be, but I think Georgia can win this game for the similar reasons.

Résumés 

Frankly, I don’t know that Alabama’s résumé is that much more impressive on a pure wins/losses basis, which in December is all that matters.  Alabama throttled a Michigan team that has lost four games this year.  Alabama defeated an LSU team that struggles to score thanks to Les Miles out-Les-Milesing Les Miles.  Alabama defeated Mississippi State – who was ranked at the time – but has since dropped out of the rankings and lost to Ole Miss.  Those are Alabama’s best wins.  The Tide has defeated one more ranked team than Georgia this year and it is Michigan.  I don’t think there’s reason to believe Georgia would not also beat the Wolverines.  I think the odds of Georgia beating Michigan are the same as Alabama beating Georgia Tech: 1.000.

Alabama and Georgia have both squared off against and defeated Florida Atlantic, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Auburn.  Alabama defeated Western Kentucky while Georgia beat Buffalo.  Both teams took down an FCS opponent.  Georgia beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky.  Alabama also beat Arkansas.  The wins aren’t to eschewed one way or the other.   Which, of course brings us to losses.

People seem to remember two specific things and forget two specific things when looking at the résumés of Alabama and Georgia.  People seem to remember that Georgia didn’t play the elite teams from the SEC West (Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M).  But, people seem to forget that Alabama didn’t play the elite teams from SEC East (Georgia, Florida and South Carolina).  And people seem to remember that Georgia lost on the road to then 6th ranked South Carolina eight weeks ago.  But, people seem to forget that Alabama lost at home to then 15th ranked Texas A&M three weeks ago.

As far as wins and losses go, it’s pretty darn even.

Momentum

This Alabama team has supposedly returned to invincible status since losing at home just three weeks ago against Texas A&M.  That is the public’s perception.  But there is no evidence to support such a claim as back-to-back 49-0 wins against Western Carolina and Auburn – both at home – account for little to no merit.

Georgia, however, has improved since their loss.  That much is undeniable. Georgia followed the loss to Carolina with an off week and a sluggish game against Kentucky.  They followed that with an upset of #2 Florida and four FBS games that saw opposition score a total of 29 points.

How has Alabama faired over the past four games?  Well, they’re 3-1, not 4-0 for starters.  And, if we’re going to praise Texas A&M we should mention that this Aggies team lost at home to Florida.

If there is a team in the nation playing better than Georgia right now (I’m sure this is where Gators Eric will chime in), I’m not sure who it is.  But I’m certainly not sold on Alabama. In that regard.

 

Conclusion 

I’m no eternal optimist when it comes to the Georgia Bulldogs.  If you’d asked me to rank this team using the same criteria listed above I would have had them open 10th and hover for a few weeks before dropping sharply after the loss to South Carolina.  But the Bulldogs are climbing steadily every week.  And I can’t say the same about Alabama.  I can’t ignore the loss a few weeks ago like so many other people.

I think Georgia will put more pressure on A.J. McCarron than he has felt this side of the tattoo parlor that put the curse on his chest.  I think Alec Ogletree and the slew of middle-backers Grantham has farmed will control the run.  I think Damian “Black” Swann will make a play when he’s called upon to do so.

I think Gurshall will continue to run effectively on first downs and give Mike Bobo playcalling options.  I think Aaron Murray will play with a level of poise in the pocket that parallels his preparation.

I think Georgia can go to the National Championship if these things happen.  And I expect them to happen.  And for the first time in quite a while, I think the Georgia Bulldogs expect them to as well.

But I might be crazy.

Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Georgia vs. Alabama: Tomorrow’s Game in One Beautiful Photo


I couldn’t let a game of this magnitude come and go without spending 7 minutes using the Paint program on my computer and dropping some knowledge.

I must warn Alabama fans that this photo is gruesome.  It features A.J. McCarron’s chest tattoo.

Georgia fans, enjoy.

Click to enlarge. It’s totally worth it.

 

AlabamaBe Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Weekend Preview: We are the Champions


If you don’t have a Conference Championship, I don’t know how you can really know who the best team in your conference is.  And if you don’t know who the best team in your conference is, then I assume that you don’t have one.  And if you don’t have a best team in your conference then I’m not going to waste time this weekend watching you.  So if you want insights on the Big 12, the Big East, the WAC or some other sham of a conference go elsewhere.  I’ll talk about Championships only this week.

MAC 

The Most Awful Conference gets things rolling for Championship Week on Friday night with a highly anticipated matchup between two ranked MAC teams, Northern Illinois and Kent “State.”  I can respect Northern Illinois for what they are: an 8-0 MAC team with a win over Army, Kansas and an FCS foe as well as a one point, season-opening loss to Iowa.  I can’t respect Kent State at all because they lost to the Kentucky Wildcats and gave UK their lone FBS win of the season – a 33 point win for the ‘Cats.  If you lose by 33 to Kentucky you don’t go to a BCS Bowl.  And if Kent State wins, moves up to 16th and remains ahead of the Big East champion (which there apparently isn’t since there isn’t a game) then they qualify for a BCS Bowl.  Wow.

 

Pac 12 

The Pac 12 also squares off Friday night in an attempt to get fans of real football to watch as a “warmup” for Saturday.  I’m not going to spend time on this, because this game was just played.  Seriously it has to be weird losing to the same team twice – once at home and once away – within six days.  But that’s what UCLA is about to experience as Stanford wins.

 

Conference USA 

The Conference USA Championship pits UCF (9-3 overall, 7-1 in C-USA) against Tulsa (9-3, 7-1) in a game between two Fairley evenly matched squads.  Both teams come into the game averaging just over 35 points per game, but I give the offensive edge to the Knights given a slightly higher level of competition.  And, unlike most C-USA squads these guys actually play a little bit of defense.  Tulsa ranks 38th in the nation in scoring defense against FBS squads while UCF comes in at 24th.

Central Florida has been on a nice little run over the past few years (with last year being a bit down) and were bolstered by a bowl win over a struggling Georgia team in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.  I’d expect the Knights to take this one, and with Tulsa favored by one point in Las Vegas I’d be tempted to throw some dough at the moneyline.

And that was me writing two paragraphs about Conference USA football.

The ACC 

I don’t think you’ll get as much verbiage from me on this game because it doesn’t deserve words.  Georgia Tech is a terrible football team and might be worse than their 6-6 record implies, but quality wins Prebyterian and Duke have the Jackets poised to make BCS run.  True story.  Unfortunately Florida State will beat the Jackets and drop them below .500 thus ending the fairy tale story of the team that lost to Middle Tennessee State by 21 points and unranked BYU by 24 – both at home – a cautionary, but fictitious, tale of the dangers of automatic conference bids.  If I had to bet I’d expect the Seminoles to cover this 13 point spread.

The Big 10 

The Wisconsin Badgers weaseled their way into the Big 10 Championship Game by being in the same division as a bunch of delinquents – Ohio State and Penn State.  So the third place finisher in the “Leaders” Division is now slate to take on the most legendary winner of the “Legends” division, Nebraska.  Everything indicates a Nebraska win, but this matchup was close when the two squads met back in late September with the Huskers winning by three at home.  I really want Wisconsin to win because I’m running out of times to say, “You can’t spell ‘Montee Ball’ without ‘Tee Ball.’”  So I’m taking the Badgers (a 2.5 point underdog in Vegas).

The National Championship 

Whoever wins the SEC will win the National Championship.  I think everyone in the world – even in Ireland – knows that.  Accordingly I have more thoughts than I can share in this space, so keep reading all my Georgia/Alabama write-ups.

Must-Miss YouTube 

I mentioned earlier that Kent State could become the least qualified BCS team ever – which is quite a bold statement.  Here is videographic proof.

Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Georgia’s Offensive Weapons Can Beat Alabama: Why I’m not Terrified of the Tide Defense


Alabama’s Defense

The Crimson Tide’s defense is pretty good.  They rank first in the nation in scoring defense.  They rank first in the nation in yards allowed.  They rank second in the nation in rushing defense.  They drop way down to fourth in the nation in passing defense, but they’ve intercepted 17 passes.  They are stout.

Are they scary? Yes.  Terrifying?  Surprisingly, no.  And I say that for three reasons.  First and foremost: Georgia managed to defeat a team with an almost equally stout defense in Jacksonville this year.  Florida’s defense ranks third in the nation in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed, and the Gators have played much more difficult opposition (Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida State) than Alabama (Michigan, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M).  Georgia’s offense didn’t perform well against the Gators – the first half set football back 45 year – but they got things done on the scoreboard.  And, I think Georgia’s offense is clicking much more efficiently than it was in October.

Secondly, and in line with the last comment I made, I think Georgia has more weapons on the offensive side of the ball than Alabama.  Malcolm Mitchell will be the best big-play threat on the field and he opens things up nicely for Tavarres King who is quietly leading the conference in yards per catch by over three full yards (his 20.7 mark ranks 4th in the nation).  I think Gurshall can match wits with Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.  And, I’d take Aaron Murray over A.J. McCarron.  I’ll detail this further in a few moments but in short I think Georgia has more weapons than any team Alabama has faced.

Thirdly, I’m not terrified – though I’m rightfully concerned – by the Alabama Crimson Tide defense because I do think Georgia’s defense is playing better right now.  Over the last four FBS games Georgia has surrendered a normalized (opponent scoring average vs. outside opposition adjusted to equal the national average and multiplied by points scored against Georgia – as explained here) total of 27.48 points.  In other words if those four offenses (Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn and Tech) had been exactly normal the Dawgs would have surrendered just under 7 points per game.  Over the same stretch Alabama has surrendered a normalized scoring total of 43.1 points – or just under 11 points per game.  Alabama’s defense may not scare Georgia’s offense because it might not be as fierce as what they see at practice.

 

So, how exactly are the offensive units shaping up?

 

Offensive Line 

Georgia’s offensive line has been a real highpoint for the Dawgs.  Yeah, I said it.  Sure, Murray has been sacked a lot but Richt has stated several times that he didn’t know if the offensive line would be cohesive enough to achieve the success that Georgia wanted to attain.  It obviously has been.

In pass protection Murray has been sacked 21 times, but a lot of that is a reflection of slow developing plays (Fire Bobo! Georgia’s offense sucks!!!).  Another large portion of that figure can be attributed to an offensive line that is still developing.  Granted, Georgia Tech and Auburn aren’t known for the defensive pressure, but Murray has only been sacked twice in the last two games FBS games.  Not bad for a team that saw him sacked 15 times in the other eight such outings.

And as I’ll address in a few moments, Murray’s passing has improved drastically with a little more time.

The running backs are talented, patient and hard-nosed (more on that soon as well), but it’s hard to blame an offensive line that opens up 1850 yards of rushing for two true freshmen who average 6.6 yards per carry.

Alabama’s offensive line gets a lot of credit, but let’s not forget that Georgia has racked up 5564 yards of offense this season against Alabama’s 5196.  And, if every play begins at the line of scrimmage it’s hard to hate on Georgia’s efforts along the line.  Has Alabama played better defenses?  Maybe, but if so it is a negligible difference.  Georgia’s 11 FBS opponents this year allowed a combined average of 27.04 points per game this season – that would rank 54th in the nation if it were an individual unit.  Alabama’s opponents allowed 26.44 points – which would rank 52nd.

 

Running Backs 

I believe in Gurshall.  Man, oh man, do I believe!  When those guys can combine for over 100 yards in eight of eleven FBS outings, while combining for 10 individual 100-yard outings and two games in which they both surpass 100, it’s hard not to feel good about your running game.

I also feel good about the fact that Alabama has only faced one offense this season with a better running game than Georgia (statistically, measured by yards per game), and that was Texas A&M.  And I think we remember how that one went down.

 

Receivers 

If you had told me before the season that Georgia would lose Michael Bennett after he established himself as Georgia’s leading receiver through five games and that four weeks later we would lose Marlon Brown and his three 100+ yard receiving games, I would have had some concerns for the pass catchers.  To that point: Bennett and Brown still rank fourth and third respectively on the team in receiving yards and they’re tied for second in TD catches despite missing a combined 11 games.

But, somehow Mike Bobo and company have gotten things done.  Malcolm Mitchell has made plays repeatedly and Tavarres King has continued to sneak behind the secondary.  Meanwhile, Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome who combined for just one catch and fifteen yards in the Bulldogs first two games have come on strong.  Rome seems to make a big catch down field just about every game – typically in high-flying acrobatic form that defies his 265 pound frame.  Lynch had 73 yards receiving against FAU, 75 more against Tennessee and 68 yards worth of damage against Georgia Southern.

Murray has plenty of options to throw to.

 

Quarterback 

Folks don’t know what to think about Aaron Murray.  On one hand he’s hot right now.  Since the fourth quarter of the Florida game the Murr-Man has hit on nearly 73% of his passes for over 1200 yards, 14 TDs, 0 INTs and a QB Efficiency of 213.42.  That’s incredible.

On the other hand, while he has won a big game – the Florida game qualifies, folks – he hasn’t been decisive in earning a big win yet.  We haven’t seen him play well and lead his team to victory for four quarters against an elite team.

I think an important factor in this game will be Murray’s future.  His draft stock is rising dramatically right now, and a big game against the Tide’s stout defense could catapult him as high as the first round – something I never would have anticipated given his smallish stature.  Georgia’s defensive studs (Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo, Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Jon Jenkins, etc.) have been jockeying for position all year on NFL Draft boards, but perhaps it is Murray’s turn to do it.

So how will he perform in the tryout?  Everything we know about Murray indicates that he is a dedicated student (both in the classroom and in the filmroom), a relentless preparer and a pleaser.  And no matter how you try to paint those qualities – Gary Danielson who is an idiot tried to say this week that Murray tries to hard to please his coaches, and that is a bad thing – they seem to play out well in most professional careers.  I’m optimistic that Murray will get a start on his career this Saturday.  As a guy I had lunch with said yesterday, there are millions of dollars to be won in this game.

 

Conclusion 

I don’t expect Georgia to score 40.  In fact, I know they won’t.  If they do I might leave the dome early to beat the traffic and avoid hurting the feelings of Alabama fans (juuuuuust kidding).  But I do think they are capable of moving the ball against the Tide – the same way I felt they could against Florida.

And frankly, as I’ll discuss at length tomorrow and Saturday morning, I do think the Bulldogs are capable of winning – the same way I thought they were against Florida.  I hope I’m not crazy.

 

Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

 

Breaking Down the Heisman Candidates: It’s About to get Ugly


As promised, today I’m going to break down the candidates for the Heisman Trophy. I’ll use ESPN’s Heisman Watch order as a guide.

;

Johnny Manziel

 

  1. The first thing I’ll point out about Manziel is not his butt. It’s his wallet. That’s where he hides his fake I.D. for when he gets into fights. You won’t find Johnny Football’s drivers license there but you will find one belonging to Donny Hockey.
  2. Pink represents breast cancer awareness. Johnny’s ankles are very aware of breast cancer.
  3. Some wonder why Johnny is so gutty on the field. The answer lies in his gut. It is jam packed with the best cheap beer football can buy in College Station.
  4. This is Johnny’s arm cannon. It has thrown for over 3400 yards this year – over half of which came against five really good teams: SMU (118th ranked D in the nation), Arkansas (75th), Louisiana Tech (112th), Sam Houston State (FCS) and Missouri (68th).
  5. These are Johnny’s money-makin’ legs. Even though he is supposed to throw the ball, Johnny has run for almost 1200 yards! All of which came against Alabama.
  6. This is Johnny’s head. What’s going on up there? We’re not sure, but we hope it’s an audio track of Cam Newton’s Heisman speech.
  7. This is Johnny’s hug. It is a warm embrace – unless you’re a defender or the guy he got into a fist fight with this summer or the cops (but who wants to mention that?).

 

Manti Te’o

 

  1. This is Manti Te’o’s head. It is trying to properly understand how to incorporate two apostrophes in the possessive proper noun “Te’o’s” without it looking like gibberish.
  2. This is Manti’s jersey number, 5. This must be why he is a Heisman Trophy candidate. His defensive statistics are good – but not noteworthy by any stretch in and of themselves. So he must be on the list because analysts confuse him with Notre Dame’s other player wearing Jersey number 5, quarterback Everett Golson. Admittedly if Manti combined his real statline with 16 offensive TDs, I’d be impressed.
  3. These are Manti’s legs. They are too light in color to be deemed traditionally fast and thus he was not heavily recruited in the SEC (only Tennessee offered him).
  4. This is Manti’s arm tattoo. It guarantees that if football doesn’t work out he can always get a job at an island resort or at a Hollister store.

Collin Klein

 

  1. These are Collin Klein’s legs. They are 66% as effective as Johnny Manziel at attaining rushing yards.
  2. This is Collin Klein’s throwing arm. It is 67% as effective as Johnny Manziel at attaining passing yards.
  3. This is Collin’s scared face as he realizes he is only 2/3 of the player Johnny Manziel is and thus only 2/3 of the street fighter Donny Hockey is.
  4. This is Collin Klein running like a punter and still picking up yards because Big 12 defenses don’t play defense.

Braxton Miller

;

 

  1. This is Braxton’s tattoo. He got it for free. Well, not for free. There’s no such thing as a tattoo. Not even in Columbus, Ohio. He had to do a lot to get the tattoo. He had to write his name. In cursive. Or at least write his initials and follow them with squiggly lines.
  2. This is Braxton’s jersey number. It reminds people that he is not Terrell Pryor. Terrelle Pryor was number 2. 2 looks like a 5 in the mirror. But Braxton doesn’t mirror Pryor’s playing style – he’s the opposite. Right, Buckeye fans? Right? He’s nothing like Terrelle.
  3. This is Braxton’s throwing arm. It has thrown for over 2000 yards and over 200 yards in four games! He is a real quarterback! Not like that Pryor guy.
  4. This is Braxton’s hip towel. Shakira’s hips don’t lie and neither do Braxton’s. They are very breast cancer aware.

 

Marquis Lee

 

  1. This is Marquis’s determination. It has resulted in him being the second leading receiver in the nation. And since the guy with more yards than him plays at Baylore Lee gets the love, because nobody from Baylor could win a Heisman.
  2. These are Marquis’s hands. They have caught 14 TD passes which ranks third in the nation behind a dude from West Virginia (21) and a dude from Clemson (17). But, since Marquis plays for the preseason favorite who has lived up to the hype by winning seven football games he is a Heisman candidate.
  3. These are Marquis’s legs. They are fast. How fast? Fast enough to garner Marquise 15.0 yards per catch. How good is that? It’s 91st in the nation.
  4. These are Marquise’s opposition. They give up 20% more points than SEC defenses. So he’s playing elite teams.

 

Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32,731 other followers

%d bloggers like this: