Football Fireworks in Mississippi

nutshellWell, the State of Mississippi kept it going.

After the biggest week in the history of college football in the state of Mississippi, much of the nation felt like there would be a hangover. Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss made sure we knew there wasn’t.

One week after knocking off my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, the Ole Miss Rebels went on the road, as an underdog, and convincingly beat the Aggies of Texas A&M. Ole Miss jumped on the Aggies early and often, never looking back. With that victory, Ole Miss remained ranked 3rd in both the weekly coach’s poll and AP poll.

Back home in Starkville, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State took care of the then-ranked #2 Auburn Tigers. Mississippi State was taking Auburn behind the woodshed, up 21-0 at one time. Momentum then changed and Auburn was trying to play their way back into the game. However, Mississippi State, behind the leadership of QB Dak Prescott, was able to turn it back up in the 2nd half and hang on to a convincing victory at their on campus Davis Wade Stadium. With this victory, Mississippi State had beaten 3 top 10 teams in consecutive weeks, earning their first #1 ranking in school history. Well deserved, in my opinion.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, who were upset in Oxford, Mississippi the previous week, went on the road to face a much improved Arkansas team. To be honest, this was the worst performance of an Alabama team I had seen in years. The Crimson Tide escaped Fayetteville with a 14-13 victory over Bret Beliema’s Razorbacks. Thank God we can block extra points.

No Gurley, No problem. True freshman Nick Chubb ran wild on Faurot Field, home field of the Missouri Tigers, this past Saturday. Subbing for suspended running back Todd Gurley, Chubb made the most of his playing time, leading the Georgia Bulldogs to a convincing 34-0 victory.

Up the road in Knoxville, no one thought Chattanooga would give the Vols much of a game. Well, they were right. UT walked away with a convincing 42-10 victory over the Mocs. UT now faces Ole Miss at Oxford this week.

Les Miles may have put the nail in the coffin for Will Muschamp at Florida. With the game tied, Florida QB Jeff Driskel absolutely killed the Gators again. He threw another interception, setting up LSU to kick a game winning field goal in the Swamp. Muschamp’s days are number. Athletic Director Jeremy Foley looks 20 years older since Muschamp was hired, only a few years ago.

Fireworks at Charlotte

In the 2nd race of the 2nd segment of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Brad Keselowski managed to piss off just about every other driver on the circuit. After the race, Denny Hamlin slammed on his brakes with Keselowski behind him, he backed into Tony Stewart’s car, and rammed into Matt Kenseth’s car.

Kenseth and Keselowski tangled between the car trailers in the pit area. This incident has garnered a ton of attention. In fact, Talladega Superspeedway sold 10,000 tickets to the fall race this weekend this past Sunday, a day after the shenanigans at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s gonna be fun to see how this 3rd race of the 2nd segment goes this weekend. With cars dropping like flies at Talladega, and the certainty of “the big one”, who in the heck knows who will come away the victor at the 2.66 mile Superspeedway. We don’t know what car or driver will win, but we do know NASCAR and Talladega has already won.

Meeting Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is one of my idols. I realize that puts me on the bandwagon with about a million people. But over the summer, I had the opportunity to meet him.

No sweat. Or so I thought.

Peyton Manning
“It’s a please-ure to meet you.” Caught on film.

We were invited for an informal scholarship award ceremony inside the Peyton Manning Locker Complex in Neyland Stadium . (And after you finish this, you can read about that at here if you want to.) About 5 minutes before the event started, I realized I had left my camera back in the car. At UT every street is a hill, and parking is always sparse and far away. So I walked — well, trotted — 79 blocks back to the car and got the camera. On my way back, I had worked myself into a tizzy thinking the thing was probably already over, and His Manning-ness was back on a plane to Denver. So I turned that trot into a full-on sprint.

I had on an orange shirt; this is pertinent because orange is the color that hates moisture the most. Sweat sends orange into a fiery rage. When I got back, I was afraid to look down for fear that I was dripping orange sweat like a giant melting Creamsicle. Thank God I only bleed orange.

Peyton entered the room like any normal person would — shaking hands and making small talk from person to person. When he got to me, I wanted so desperately to be cool. But instead, I stood this awkward distance of probably 42 inches away from him. To reach his hand I had to contort into this awkward bow, like I was welcoming him to a traditional tea ceremony, or something.

It gets worse.

When he said, “Hi, I’m Peyton Manning,” I responded:

“It’s a please-ure to meet you.”

“Please-ure” rhymes with seizure, which is what I thought I was going to have in that one nano-second when the language that I have been speaking pretty dang effortlessly for nearly 50 years completely left my brain. Goo-goo, gah-gah, blah-blah, blah. Each of my teeth was suddenly wearing  a little sock.

Please-ure.

I’m a little surprised I didn’t tack on “wouldn’t want to be ya” just for good measure.

Thank God he didn’t ask me my name.

Instead I think he gave me a look like he does when he misses on 3rd and 8. You know: smirking, ripping the chin strap, slightly shaking his head, looking disgustedly at the Jumbo-tron replay, devising how to keep it from happening again.

Shortly, though, I was able to string together a few short sentences. Call it adjusting to the speed of the game, as rookie football players say. And after a few minutes, he escorted our group out onto Shields-Watkins field, and I saw him look up at the 100,000 seats. I watched him take it all in. I truly think he was back in orange for a moment, with Rocky Top blaring and the beaten-down opponent slumping back to the visitors’ locker room.

He truly seemed glad to be there — humbled, and maybe even a little awestruck at the whole spectacle.

Maybe it was a please-ure for him to be back. I hope so.

Georgia vs. LSU: not that big of a deal

Hogwash! Blasphemy! Treason, even! I can hear the Dawgs barking and the Tigers growling.

What do you mean, it’s not that big of a deal? Here you’ve got two top 10 teams with Championship implications on the line. What do you mean?

Let’s examine what’s on the line for Georgia. The Clemson loss knocked the Dawgs out of the NC hunt in week 1. Since that’s not happening, the goal is the SEC Championship. Okay Dawg fans, you’re already mad at me for my NC observation, so let’s just go on and say LSU invades Athens and takes care of business. That gives Georiga their only conference loss. The next three games are at Tennessee, home against Missouri and at Vanderbilt. Georgians have a better chance of getting a share of the Tennessee River than the Dawgs have at losing to either the Vols or Dores. And, Missouri at home will be a double-digit margin.

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Georgia’s only remaining test is at home against Florida. And even that will be an open-book test. Did you watch the Florida-Tennessee game? Florida is not through losing. I will go out on a limb right here and predict Georgia beats Florida worse than it beats Vandy. The match-ups are clearly in Georgia’s favor against the Gators. Then they finish up with Auburn and Kentucky. W and W. And boom, the ticket is punched to the SECCG, even with a loss to LSU. Maybe that guy who cried on the radio call-in show after the Clemson game can take some consolation in this.

The Tigers, on the other hand, come in with a perfect record, meaning they’re still in the hunt to play for the big crystal football. Well, maybe. Even an undefeated SEC team (besides current No. 1 Alabama) would still need two and maybe 3 of the current teams ranked ahead of them to stumble. Have you looked at the remaining schedules for Oregon, Ohio State, Clemson and Stanford? Probably not happening.

So, let’s say the Mad Hatter goes to Athens and runs out of tricks. There’s no reason to throw yourselves to the alligators, Tiger fans. Neither Texas A&M nor Alabama have great defenses, and Mettenberger is engineering more than 43 points a game. You’re going to get either ‘Bama or A&M, maybe both. Here’s the deal: you were the odd-man-out in the west before the season began. Beating Alabama and A&M is what gets you to Atlanta in December. It doesn’t really matter if the ride home from Athens is a long one, if you don’t TCB in the West, you’re out anyway.

But you won’t catch me saying that to an LSU fan late Saturday night.

Until next time, give me 20, slackers.
Coach Billy Jack Hoover
@coachbillyj

5 things I can’t believe after 3 weeks

  1. Missouri is the only unbeaten team (2-0) in the SEC East. Yes, they’ve played two slacker games while everybody else has actually broken a sweat. But, Missouri’s conference schedule is one that could play nicely in their favor as we move toward December. Georgia on the road is their toughest remaining game. But I won’t get ahead of myself. Let’s see what coach Gary Pinkel does on the road against Indiana Saturday.
  2. Nobody can figure out how to slow down Johnny Football. His most slippery move, of course, came before the season even started by making the NCAA whiff in the wake of the autograph scandal. Somebody called him Johnny Cash on twitter, and that was pretty funny, but I digress. Anyway, even though the Aggies fell to Alabama, Manziel still manufactured 628 yards of offense. If Saban can’t stop him, who can?
  3. Alabama has problems on defense. Virginia Tech moved the ball against the Tide in week 1, and we’ve already given Manziel enough ink. Of course, Saban has plenty of time to tinker and tweak (I almost typed twerk.)before their next test, which doesn’t happen until Nov. 6 against LSU.
  4. Auburn is 3-0. Of course all three of their games have come against schools with “State” after their name (Sorry Mississippi State). But still, nobody had the Tigers picked to be perfect after 25% of the season was in the books.
  5. Mississippi State is bad with their only win coming against Alcorn State. They will even it up after beating Troy on Saturday, but that just makes the game against LSU and the Mad Hatter that much closer. Mississippi State fans, go on and book that New Year’s Eve package. It’s not going to conflict with football.

 

Breaking down The Clowney Effect

Don’t be afraid. I promise not to make any bad puns using Jadeveon Clowney’s name. Of course that may or may not be because I can’t think of one that I haven’t already heard, but I digress. Instead, I’m going to get all original and coin a brand new phrase called the Clowney Effect.

Simply put, the Clowney Effect is when you have one of something when you really need two. For instance:

clackers

Clacker toy. Or should I say Slacker Toy?

  • Clackers (Are you old enough to remember clackers? Worst toy ever. Slacker toy.)
  • Shoes
  • Properly inflated bicycle tires
  • All-American linebackers

Consider this. Against Georgia, Clowney was on the field for 78 percent of the Gamecocks’ defensive plays. Yet, when he was in the game, Georgia averaged 8.3 yards per play, compared to 2.8 yards when he was on the sideline. Moreover, when he was on the field, the Bulldogs had 17 plays of more than 10 yards. When he was on the bench, they had two.

After the game, a frustrated Clowney exhibited shades of the Manziel Effect (running of the mouth) when he told reporters he had asked to be moved around where Georgia couldn’t continually run away from him. I’m sorry No. 7, your teammates on the other side have to keep that from happening. And on Saturday, they let you down.

So listen to me, young quarterbacks and aspiring coaches. When you see Jadeveon Clowney lined up on one side, you run the play to the other side every single time – every single stinking time. As in, “Hey defense, we’re going this-a-way, and Clowney can’t catch us on a motorcycle.” It makes coaching sound easy doesn’t it?

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a 4-wheel-drive truck at running back either. And that is what you call the Gurley Effect and not too many teams have that.

The SEC West in 2 minutes…

1. Alabama is going to win the West. There’s not much that could happen that could sidetrack that. I hate clichés, so I’m not going to say “they don’t rebuild, they reload.” But right now, that’s what they’re doing in Tuscaloosa. You know the names; I won’t bore you.

2. LSU has been the forgotten team this preseason with Bama’s dominance and Johnny Namath, uh I mean Manziel’s misgivings (which I will address in a minute). And I’m sure Les Miles loves it. He’s down there in Baton Rouge devising his diabolical plan to win it all. He can’t do it, because a bad case of graduation-itis struck his defense. But he’ll be good enough to finish second.

3. Over in College Station, things are going in a different direction with Johnny Manziel. Last year, we named him our @secpigskinpicks Player of the Year. Well, player of the year he was; but his high flying off-season shenanigans have soured me on him. Did he sell autographs? It sure looks that way. Will he ever step behind center for A&M again? Probably. A slap on the wrist is a likely scenario since the NCAA’s burden of proof goes way beyond reasonable doubt. And, A&M has hired a fancy law firm with NCAA investigation experience to keep him in an Aggie uniform. But he’s a target now, and we know Saban, the Mad Hatter and all the other SECW coaches have been keying on turning him from unstoppable to merely effective. And “effective” isn’t going to get it done in the SEC.

4. Last year, Mississippi State won their first seven games before a loss to Alabama forced the Bulldogs to implode. Tyler Russell still has plenty of weapons, but don’t look for them to get there this year. I’m seeing about a .500 conference record.

5. Ole Miss: heading in the right direction, but not there yet.

6. Arkansas: nope.

7. Auburn: look for the Tigers to be mainstays on their opponents’ highlight reels.

Whenever I’ve got 2 more minutes, I’ll preview the East. And remember to listen to @secpigskinpicks every Thursday night during football season during @thesportsdrive on 101.3 The Buzz!

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