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The SEC Power Rankings: Back to Football After Last Week


After dipping into some light SEC trolling last week (seriously, the three SEC network games had an AVERAGE spread of 43.3 points), we’re back to ranking the SEC’s teams for one last regular season hurrah. Since we last did this, Arkansas has beaten the brakes off of two SEC West foes, Missouri has continued to B.S. its way into ‘do we take them seriously’ mode, the West has continued to eat itself, and the East has remained a joke outside of Athens and the Midwestern regional office.

SECweek14

 

1) Alabama: I have to admit: it’s been fun watching this Tide team evolve, but that view has made it difficult to envision them as the invincible foe they have represented the past six years. Their D has returned as the class of the SEC with Ole Miss’ fall, and their O will be just fine as long as Amari Cooper can play in the Iron Bowl this weekend.

2) Mississippi State: I don’t think the Bulldogs deserve to be in the playoff, as their best wins all happened to come at the peak of their opponents’ ranking. If they win the natty, they will do so with me picking them to lose each game from here on out. As such, I expect this trend to correct itself in Oxford this week.

3) Georgia: It’s going to be a real shame to watch this team come so far, chokeslam a ton of adversity, and miss out on a shot at the SEC because of two ill-timed and inexplicable losses to inferior rivals. Sigh.

4) Auburn: There was a time earlier in the season where it was genuinely tough to separate the top five or six teams, but that time is gone. Auburn is officially on the next tier down thanks to getting throttled by Georgia and their “God really does love Auburn” streak of good luck seeming to be over– which sets up perfectly for an upset in Tuscaloosa this week, right? Nah, but maybe.

5) Missouri: Hats off to Gary Pinkel. Coming into the season, all I really knew about the Tigers was that Shane Ray and Markus Golden would be able to come close to replicating the production of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. I didn’t think they would exceed it and carry this team. I am now prepared for an inevitable invasion of Midwesterners to Atlanta next weekend…

6) Arkansas: …UNLESS MY HOGS TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS! Good gracious, I expected them to break the seal and win an SEC game, but what they’ve done in the past two weeks indicates they could be a problem as soon as 2015. Let’s get them one more regular season win and push them to a meaningful bowl game. Also, Bret Bieliema is quickly moving up the ranks of candid and fun SEC coach interviews. I’d put him on the tier right behind the OBC and the Mad Hatter. (Can we call him the Mad Fatter?)

7) Ole Miss: Daniel and I eulogized Bad Dr. Bo on the podcast about a month ago, when I thought the Black Bears were going to win the SEC. Oops. Bad Dr. Bo is really, REALLY bad still.

8) LSU: Weird coach, weird people, weird year. They need a QB. Also, with Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham, and Alfred Blue all showing out in the NFL, can we now start to wonder if they’re underachieving under Les Miles?

9) Texas A&M: Their in-conference point differential is -64, yet one is led to believe that they’d be nipping at Georgia and Missouri’s heels in the East. Football is strange.

10) Florida: I said it last week and I’ll say it again:
– Muschamp beats FSU.
– Jeremy Foley realizes that there aren’t many great candidates fitting his publicly-outlined parameters.
– Muschamp is re-hired.

This is a world in which I want to live.

11-13) South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky: As high as we were on Kentucky going into their game against Georgia, they’ve really underwhelmed. Tennessee is probably playing the best of these three teams, but got fat on … South Carolina and Kentucky. And I have nothing to say about South Carolina except that I love seeing them regress back towards historical South Carolina.

14) Vanderbilt: Opponents 259, Commodores 85. That is what the SEC has done to them. Yes, the average SEC opponent is beating these guys 37-12. So much for riding James Franklin’s success, Derek Mason.

Want Georgia highlights and access to some other great exclusive content at your fingertips? Download The UGA Vault! (There’s also an Auburn Vault, lurkers.)

Know Your Enemy, Tech Hate Week Edition: How Are The Yellow Jackets 9-2?


This year’s iteration of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets is the most vexing of the Paul Johnson era. Upon his arrival, he was handed talent perfect for his system in the forms of Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer, and Demaryius Thomas, and his early success, in retrospect, was no surprise. As Nesbitt became Tevin Washington, Dwyer and Thomas were replaced by more and more anonymous guys, and defensive standouts such as Darrick Morgan and Morgan Burnett departed, Tech, unsurprisingly, returned to mediocrity.

This was supposed to be the make-or-break year for Paul Johnson’s program, or at least the one where Tech boosters could finally swallow his insane buyout. Via his most balanced offense to date (and ironically, his worst defense), Johnson and the Jackets have gotten to 9-2 in a weak division mostly on smoke and mirrors. Or have they?

Defense

I saw the Jackets play at UNC back in October, and the thing that struck me was how inept their defense looked against a good, but not formidable Carolina offense. The Heels had their way with Ted Roof’s D on that night, and that is not an isolated incident. Georgia Southern and Virginia Tech both probably should have come away with wins against the Jackets, and both exceeded their season averages in offensive output in those games. Both lost the game late on offensive miscues. Pitt’s James Connor ran all over them, but three early fumbles buried the Panthers in a 56-28 loss. Two defensive touchdowns turned a close game at N.C. State into a blowout.

Personnel-wise, I would advise you to watch out for Paul Davis and Quayshawn Nealy at the linebacker position, and Jamal Golden as a corner/returner. Nobody has done anything exceptional, but they are the playmakers on this (not great) defense.

While, to their credit, their D has put together three very solid performances (all at home, mind you) against pro-style attacks in Miami and Virginia, and held Clemson to 6 points, what I’m saying is this: their D is not very good and has not seen talent approaching the caliber of Georgia’s. Barring an uncharacteristic barrage of turnovers from surehanded Hutson Mason, Georgia should be able to do what they want on O this week.

Offense

Offense is where Tech has made hay in the CPJ era, and that sucks for the Tech hater because it is so infuriating to watch. This is Johnson’s highest-scoring offense at Tech, and its evolved with a (finally) competent passing game.

thomas

Besides Tevin Washington’s 2012 season, QB Justin Thomas is the first CPJ quarterback to complete over half of his passes. His passer rating of 164 far trumps anything anyone else has done in this offense, as for the first time the Jackets are actually utilizing two receivers effectively (along with backs on wheel routes, which will always be open against such a run-heavy approach). DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller are both in the Thomas/Stephen Hill mold, fast guys with tight end size. Both average over a catch and a half per game, which, as I said, is formidable in their offense. While Waller only has 15 catches, he has missed three games due to injury, and at 6’5 240 is a problem in man coverage (which, again, their run dictates). Smelter is the ‘go-to’ guy, and is a worthy one at over 20 YPC and 7 TD.

Tech’s Vad Lee threw for a career-high 232 yards against Georgia last year (and was actually their first 200-yard passer since Western Carolina in 2011). Thomas has exceeded that number twice this year, and Tech’s offense poses a never-before-seen threat to Jeremy Pruitt’s hybridization of the secondary. If they’re going to match Georgia on the scoreboard, they will do so through the air.

The ground attack is what it is. Only in 2008 and 2010 did a running back lead the Jackets in rush attempts. True to form Thomas leads the Jackets with 153 totes this year. His 5.4 yards per rush best any previous CPJ quarterback, so again: he is the common denominator in Johnson’s best attack to date.

The ‘B’ back, essentially the fullback (where Dwyer and Anthony Allen both excelled) is Zach Laskey, and he is the least formidable to come through the system thus far. Think Brendan Douglas (who was actually a Tech commit before a late Georgia offer). He only poses a threat if Tech starts gashing the Dawgs on the outside, which (see Florida game) is not an impossible task.

Their wing backs are as by-committee as they have been in the Johnson era, which allows the Jackets to throw a lot of looks from a pretty homogeneous offensive system. Synjyn Days is the bellcow with 101 totes at a decent six yards per clip. The guy to watch is senior Charles Perkins, who represents the most explosive threat in both the running and passing games. He’s missed some action, but is running for over 10 yards a carry and 23 per completion. Tony Zenon and Deon Hill are predominately pass-catchers, and each sit around 20 yards per catch on about one per game.

To effectively sum up the last six paragraphs, I’ll say this: Tech’s offense is the same basic high school attack that it has been. However, effective quarterback play and balance between playmakers mean the nerds will have five threats (including Thomas) on the field to be accounted for on any given play, and that spells trouble against such a run-heavy attack.

We at DudeYouCrazy.net never overlook special teams play, as it has cost Georgia more times than we care to count. We can go into this game knowing that CPJ is desperate for a win over the Dawgs, and something kitchen sink-like will come from their special teams unit.

Overall, like I said, the Dawgs should have no issues scoring on the Tech defense. Get them down early, and it should be a Georgia win going away. However, I expect the teams to trade scores for much of the game with Georgia pulling away late.

Georgia 49, Nerds 38. 

Want Georgia highlights and access to some other great exclusive content at your fingertips? Download The UGA Vault! (There’s also an Auburn Vault, lurkers.)

The DudeYouCrazy Week 13 Viewing Guide: Telling You Up Front That I’m Mailing This One In


Weeks like this cheapen the sport of college football. I hope you got your DVR recordin’ like I told you to last week, because this is brutal.

Thursday is the Best Timeslot All Week

Two games of light intrigue takes the cake for…whatever award we can possibly give this week.

1) #12 K-State at West Virginia (7, FS1): Bill Snyder, Dana Holgerson, and the likelihood of couches being set on fire? Sign me up.
2) North Carolina at Duke (7:30, ESPN): Ok, bear with me here. Duke is playing for an ACC Coastal championship, UNC QB Marquise Williams is quickly reaching ‘best player you’ve never heard of’ status, and UNC has both scored AND allowed 40 points five times this season! That’s preposterous.

Noon: Go Dawgs.

1) Charleston Southern at #10 Georgia (noon, SECN): Familiarize yourself with the young players, or something.
2) Indiana at #6 Ohio State (noon, B1G): Yeah, none of us in the Atlanta area get B1G network, but now that Notre Dame is done we need to get rid of the other stupid Midwest teams.
3) Welp, you techincally have a ranked-vs-ranked in #25 Minnesota at #23 Nebraska, but that’s an exercise in masochism or snowporn.

3:30 Slate (Not even coming up with names for this)

1) #8 Ole Miss at Arkansas (3:30, CBS): An SEC/national contender who could actually lose a game (which I say with more confidence after Arkansas’ win last week). Also, what an SEC home slate for Arky this year: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss. Not bad.
2) Boston College at #3 Florida State (3:30, ABC): Getting frustrating watching FSU squeak by every week. My dream scenario involves them losing to Florida, who rehires Will Muschamp.
3) #16 Wisconsin at Iowa (3:30, ESPN2): Melvin Gordon is now must-watch football. 408 against children of the corn team A, now another shot!
4) #15 Arizona at #17 Utah (3:30, ESPN): It’s #PACtion so this should probably be #1. Catch the highlights of last week’s Zona/Washington game if you don’t believe me.

Night Games, Where You’re Already Asleep on the Couch

1) #19 USC at #9 UCLA (8, ABC): The Battle of Los Angeles is always compelling to me. Odds of a fight exceed even South Carolina/Clemson. That, my friends, is beautiful.
2) #20 Mizzou at Tennessee (8, ESPN): Go Vols.
3) Vanderbilt at #4 Mississippi State (7:30, SECN): ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Enjoy the games, if possible folks!

SEC Power Rankings, Based on Strength of This Week’s Opponent


Devil’s advocate me has long felt that a major reason for the SEC’s dominance in the polls is that it does a great job of boosting itself by avoiding nonconference losses. “Oh, Texas A&M was 5-0 (with wins over Rice, SMU, and Lamar, mind you) and Mississippi State beat them? BETTER MOVE THEM FROM 15 to 6!” The league has created a model for itself where it can’t lose for…losing.

This week, moreso than any other week, is a demonstration of that system at play. I’m not faulting it, I’m just amazed nobody has ever called the league out on it.

In fact, I generally hear the opposite. Just this morning, Tim Brando was on his XM show with one of the EP’s of the SEC Network. As if trolling us all, he called this week’s slate of games ‘compelling’. To prove his point, this week the league is ranked in order of strength of opposition (Vanderbilt finally leaves the gutter!)

SECweek13

 

1) Vanderbilt (plays Mississippi State): They got a conference game in SEC bye week. This just ain’t Vandy’s year.

2) Arkansas (plays Ole Miss): So, teams we generally don’t care about, plus the state of Mississippi (see: teams we don’t generally care about) play conference games this week. Neat.

3) Ole Miss (plays Arkansas): Arkansas shut out LSU, is who I thought they were for much of the season, and Bieliemaball is now upon us. Just don’t let them get a Melvin Gordon.

4) Tennessee (plays Mizzou): Teams we don’t care about, 2007-present. Other than the little factor of Georgia’s SEC chances.

5) Mizzou (plays Tennessee): My disdain for Mizzou has gone from “not a good fit in the conference” to “but seriously, f*** these guys” this year. I’m not convinced they’d even escape the quagmire that is the ACC Coastal more than once or twice in ten tries this year. Unfortunately, the season is only played once.

6) Florida (plays Eastern Kentucky): How fitting would it be for Bobby Petrino’s old team to beat Bobby Petrino’s NEXT team? EKU is 9-2 and 6-2 in the Sun Belt, so one can’t objectively say they’re that bad. Easily the toughest nonconference opponent for this week’s SEC.

7) Mississippi State (plays Vanderbilt): Mississippi State gets credit for a conference win during SEC bye week. Great hustle, Mississippi State.

8) LSU (bye): Tougher than any of the games available for public consumption this week.

9) Texas A&M (bye): Same as LSU, except not as physical, so less chance for injury.

10) Kentucky (bye): Same as LSU and Texas A&M, except not as good, compelling, or bowl-eligible.

11) South Carolina (plays South Alabama): There’s a Bowden at USA I think, and their ESPN score box acronym is USA. BOWDENS AND AMERICA: TWO THINGS THAT HAVE SOUTH CAROLINA’S NUMBER! (That was a secession joke too, kindof, if it didn’t land.)

12) Auburn (plays Samford): Facts about Samford: Coming in on a four-game win streak. Team nickname is Bulldogs (against whom Auburn is 0-2 this year). GO DAWGS!

13) Georgia (plays Charleston Southern): CMR/EMR’s comments about not limiting snaps for Nick Chubb “because that’s how you get beat” are why I hate coachspeak.

14) Alabama (plays Western Carolina): WCU is not ECU. It is a collection of mountain men from the 828 area code that coaches couldn’t recruit because of bad roads and worse cell reception.

And that, my friends, is how you exercise futility.

Georgia Football: A Quick Primer on Georgia’s Chances to Win the SEC


At 6-2, Georgia has done its part to position itself as well as possible for a trip to the SEC title game in Atlanta. Due to the rarity of mollywoppings of top 10 rivals, it was difficult to accurately gauge Georgia’s title chances without feeling like some kind of jinx would be in order.

With no more SEC tilts on the schedule, however, it’s time to see what needs to happen for Georgia to win the conference, and who the Dawgs could see in Atlanta.

Winning the East

This Missouri thing has gone on long enough. In conference play, their total scoring margin is plus-23 points. Take away the strange aberration that was the Florida game, and they’re actually being outscored in SEC play. Hell, take away the Georgia game and their average margin of victory in six wins is a pedestrian 9.5. Missouri is so across the board unimpressive that it is incomprehensible that they could go 7-1.

Missouri Georgia
Scoring Margin 29.3-20.1 42.1-21.6
Strength of Schedule 29th 16th
Rushing Yards Per Att 4.61 6.09
Passer Rating 118.15 154.73

*Bangs head against wall*

Coming up for Mizzou are two interesting opponents, both of whom are peaking (in the most liberal interpretation of the word) at the right time. A trip to Rocky Top looms this Saturday, where Tennessee has won two in row following a brutal stretch of schedule that saw them go 0-for-October. Josh Dobbs has saved the Butch Jones honeymoon in Tennessee, and the Vols will be playing for their first bowl appearance since 2010. These are all positive developments for Georgia’s chances.

This should be a low-scoring game in Knoxville, and Maty Mauk’s propensity to turn the ball over will face off with his propensity to inexplicably win on the road (where he is now 6-0, 5-0 in SEC play). Something’s gotta give.

Failing a Tennessee win, Georgia’s last chance to go to the title game is via an Arkansas win the Friday after Thanksgiving. For a team who, until last Saturday, had lost 17 straight SEC games, I’ve been pretty high on the Hogs this year. Their 17-0 win over LSU vindicated that feeling.

Arkansas’ gameplan is to lean on you with the run until you break, which only works if you have a competent defense. Well, since the Georgia game, the ‘Backs have given up 34 points in 3 contests, moving to 27th overall in scoring defense at 22.2 points a game. Without going too in-depth, the two-headed monster of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins should be able to amass more than 22 points.

Beating the West

With the river card to be played, Alabama holds by far the best hand in the SEC West. Additionally, Alabama is playing like 2008-2013 Alabama again, and that is not the best news for anyone hoping to romp through the SEC Championship.

The Tide plays host to Western Carolina this week as a tuneup before the Iron Bowl against an Auburn team whom I personally believe has been figured out by the SEC in the past two weeks (reverse jinx alert).

As it stands, Alabama is my pick for the national champion from where we sit today.

If the inexplicable happens and Auburn beats Alabama again, one needs to start prepping for Mississippians to invade Atlanta.

With an Alabama loss in the Iron Bowl, the best-case scenario for the SEC, Georgia, and both entities’ playoff chances is for Mississippi State to win out. For the SEC, a two-loss champion (with recent losses) does itself no favors in the eyes of the playoff committee. For Georgia, a quality win over a team that would be ranked #2 or #3 going in could boost them into said playoff.

Ole Miss has a tricky road game at Arkansas before the Egg Bowl, but winning out provides them the head-to-head tiebreaker over 6-2 Alabama and Mississippi State (this, of course, assumes Mississippi State beats Vanderbilt this Saturday. I LIKE THEIR CHANCES.) What’s funny is this is the chaos scenario I wrote about three weeks ago, and we sit here today with it looking a LOT more likely than it did then.

We’ll break this down in more detail once Mizzou clinches us the East. Failing a Missouri loss, the last six paragraphs are irrelevant, as the SEC would play its least exciting championship game in over a decade. Nobody got time for that.

 

 

 

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