bruces1g's Football Blog
"Better late than never" my Mom always said. So keeping that in mind, I am going to try to post at least an abbreviated version this week. Sorry that this is so late, but things were very hectic at work this week (yes, I actually have a REAL job) and this weekend the Wadester has contracted some type of stomach virus that has had him calling Roy on the big white telephone. So please forgive me.

Also, due to the hectic schedule, I didn't get to post the wrap-up blog. However, I did manage to post a nice 7-2 (3 of 3 in the NB3 picks).  I will have to confess that in most cases, the games were much closer than I had anticipated. But as Nick Saban says, a win is a win!

Week 9 has a  full slate of games, with the exception of Alabama (Hmmm, perhaps they can pick up a TD or two against "Bye"). As is the norm, the order of the picks are by kickoff times.

Ole Miss at Auburn: Ole Miss came out smoking last week as they gunned-down the Hogs.  And Auburn got smoked as LSU gave them a severe spanking. The questions are if the Rebs have truly regained their form and if the Tigers can mend their offense and find a way to stop the hemorrhaging on defense. Ole Miss demonstrated a strong defensive effort last week, and that is the last thing that an ailing Auburn offense needs to see.  Even though both teams have been on the yo-yo ride this season, it seems that the Rebels look a little more steady at this point. The home field might keep it close, but I think Auburn's defensive woes continue and they lose another.

Georgia at Florida: The Gator fans have been sweating from week to week this season, wondering if the offense will finally ignite. In spite of these sputters, the Gators have still managed to find a way to keep winning.  To me, this game is easy to dissect: Georgia's defense has been pathetic all year and Florida has too much talent (Tebow) on offense. Tebow has to be anxious to take his shots at the very porous Dawg pass defense, and I look for some big plays. To make matters worse for the Dawgs, the Gators are getting three starters back on the D this week and QB Cox is going to have a long day. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will turn into a dog roast.  Somebody call the SPCA!

E. Michigan at Arkansas: The Hogs have to be a little PO'd about the last weeks drubbing. A good cure for a bad loss is a sacrificial lamb, umm, eagle. Not much of a way to stir-up any real excitement for this one; it won't be pretty as the Hawgs win going away.

Mississippi State at Kentucky:
  The big question on my mind is if the Bulldogs have suddenly found themselves, or was the close game with Florida just an aberration? The Bulldog defense gave the Gators fits as they forced Tebow into tossing two pick-six's. And they had some success against a good Gator defense. So does that signal a change of fortune for the Bulldogs? Kentucky has their version of Tebow in all-around threat Randall Cobb - he runs, he throws, he catches, he returns punts, and probably sells programs before the game - and did not miss starting QB Mike Hartline one bit. Miss. St. really laid it out last week, and I feel that their tanks are going to be a little empty this week. Give this one to the Wildcats at home.

Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt:
You would think that the Commodores would be well familiar with the triple option and would have an answer for it on defense. However, the only thing that Vandy has been really good at this year is losing. The Jackets will run up and down on the field in this and rack up some big numbers in the win.

South Carolina at Tennessee:
This might be the best game in the SEC this week - especially if you like defensive slugging matches. The Vols defense looked good in stymieing Bama last week and QB Crompton showed some glimpses as well. Certainly they played well enough to win the game but just couldn't quite get over Mt. Cody. The Gamecocks have also been playing some inspired defense this season and their QB Garcia has also shown some improvement from week to week.

The big factor will be who can stop the running game and force one of the QBs to win it with their arms. Neither team has  overpowered opponents with punishing rushing attacks of late (TN scratched out 76-yards against Bama and SC managed a puny 119 against Vandy), and both teams have stout defenses, so negating the running game won't be a big challenge for either. Freshman Alshon Jeffery emerged last week as a premium receiver for Garcia. Tennessee WR Gerald Jones had a very good 72-yards receiving and one TD against a very good Bama defense.

So how to call this one? For SC to win, Garcia will have to play one of his best games and the Gamecock defense will have to get after Crompton early and often. Tennessee will need to get RB Montario Hardesty on track to slow down the pass rush.  I hate to think that Kiffin is a better coach than Spurrier, but in the end I think Tennessee is just a better team at this point, and I have to go with the Vols for the win. As a side note, it will be interesting to see which of these coaches earns the wrath of SEC Commissioner Slive and his newly installed suspension policy for griping about officiating.

Tulane at LSU:
OK, I know that this is as close as LSU has to an in-state rival, but this SEC-CUSA match-up is more like a death match for Tulane. The Green Wave has floundered 37 straight times against ranked teams and you would have to go back to 1982 for the last time they beat LSU. Since that time, the Tigers have piled up 17 in a row over the Wave and they should be able to make it an easy 18th.  The only real factor in this game will be whether or not LSU gets caught looking ahead to their big showdown with Bama next week, but that should only effect the winning margin, not the outcome.

Now for the Next Best Three. This weeks trio has a couple of important conference matchups and one very interesting storyline.

As usual, these games are chosen from suggestions by various FN posters.

Central Michigan at Boston College:
  How about those Chippewas? After dropping their season opener against Arizona, they have reeled-off 7 straight wins - including an impressive win at Michigan State. The dynamic duo of QB Dan LeFevour and WR/Utility man Anotonio Brown have been racking-up some impressive stats along the way as they lead the powerful Chippewa offense in all categories. The play of LeFevour and Brown usually draws the attention of most opponents, but the play of the defense is one of the main reasons why Central Michigan is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak. Central Michigan has done an impressive job limiting the opposition to just 113.8 rushing YPG on a mere 3.4 yards per attempt. However, not to be overlooked is the team's effort against the pass, as the Chippewas are holding teams to just 216.8 YPG through the air.

On the other hand, Boston College has not been nearly as impressive. The defense has played well in spots, but Notre Dame exposed a very shaky secondary as they torched the Eagles for 246-yards and two TDs. They are much better at stopping the run and they have been strong playing at home. If LeFevour can get adequate time to throw the ball on Saturday, I look for Central Michigan to pull off the semi-upset.

Texas at Oklahoma State:
At the beginning of the season, this game was pointed to as one of a gauntlet of games that the Horns would have to run through to get to the NCG. However, as the season has progressed, this appears to be a case of two teams heading in different directions. Last week, Colt McCoy and the Horns lit up the Mizzou Tigers and the defense absolutely stonewalled a prolific offense. To me the most impressive thing about Texas this year is the improved play of the defense and how they have controlled some pretty impressive offenses. The Horn's defense has looked like one of the top units in the nation (Boy, never thought I would be saying THAT about a Big 12 team!).  

The Cowboys have had their problems.  Their most impressive win this season was against what is now a suspect Georgia team, and they squandered away that  success and national recognition in a loss to Houston. Since then, they have pounded some really inferior teams (Rice, Grambling, Baylor) while struggling mightily against Texas A&M. Now they have to face a resurgent and battle tested Texas team with their best rusher hobbled (Kendall Hunter) and without all-world receiver Dez Bryant.  To top off the lack of offensive playmakers, the Hokies have to depend on a defensive unit that ranks 132nd in the NCAA.  I look for Texas to take control early and win going away.

USC at Oregon:  Could this signal the end of USC's run of PAC 10 crowns? Oregon brings a 4-0 conference record and lead into the game while riding a six game winning streak. After folding like a cheap tent on the Blue Rug in the season opener, the Ducks have been playing like an inspired and highly motivated team. QB Jeremiah Masoli is now healthy and has looked like he is really hitting his stride in past few weeks. The Ducks offense has clicked the last three games rolling up an average 484-yards and over 45 points.  Meanwhile the Quack attack defense has been playing pretty well, holding their last 4 opponents to 211 YPG or lower.  They are also a plus-19 in turnovers.

Defensively, the Trojans have had it rough the past few weeks. After narrowly escaping with a win at Notre Dame where they gave up 367-yards, they then allowed the Oregon State Beavers to roll them for 482-yards of total offense. With freshman QB Matt Barkley sporting a 7 TD to 5 INT ratio, this is not a good sign. Fortunately, RBs Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford have been a good tandem in the running game.

In order for USC to win this game, they are going to have to play ball-control and keep the Quack Attack on the sideline. This means McKnight and/or Bradford helping to pound out long, clock eating drives. If the Trojans defense spends too much time on the field, it is going to mean a lot more chances for Ducks to ring-up some big plays. I think that the Oregon defense is going to sell-out to stuff that running game and force Barkley to win the game. Conversely,  I just don't think that USC defense will be up to the challenge of stopping the wide-open Ducks offense all day and in the end Oregon wins this one fin front of a very boisterous home crowd.

So there it is, my choices for this week. Opinions and/or dissenting viewpoints are welcomed, but respect  the rule of no cheap smack without something to back it up.  Bring some facts. Bring some substance to your position. Demonstrate your football knowledge rather than lack of class.

Remember to go ahead and leave your nominations for your Next Best 3 choices for next week. The only rule is that no more than one game per conference. Otherwise, I try to choose games that could have national implications.

For more Big 10 action and a different slant on other games, be sure to check Norka's excellent "The Big 10 and Next Best 3" blog.

To all fans, of all teams: Enjoy the weekend. I wish your teams good luck. And let's all show some class and sportsmanship.


Remember to keep your posts clean. Profanity will get filtered, and offensive comments will be removed.

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