On a somewhat soft SEC grid schedule this weekend, there are two top games, while the rest of the lineup falls into the interesting-only-if-you-are-a-fan-of-the-school category. The two big games are No. 9 Florida (6-1 overall, 4-1 in league play) at Georgia (6-2, 3-2) and No. 8 Tennessee (6-1, 2-1) at South Carolina (5-2, 3-2).
Most of the pre-game talk in Jacksonville, Fla., where the Florida-Georgia game has been played every season since 1926, has been about the nickname of the game rather than the game itself. In an attempt to spin the reputations of their schools and fans, the University of Georgia and the University of Florida requested the networks broadcasting Saturday’s battle for the Eastern Division lead not to use the games famous moniker – the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Amazingly, CBS and ESPN caved, promising their announcers would refrain from using the nickname and, apparently, to ignore or not mention the copious drinking going on at the famous and prolific tailgate parties prior, during and after the game.
The question at the Tennessee at South Carolina game is: Can Steve Spurrier make it two in a row? Before Spurrier arrived and the Vols lost to the Gamecocks last year, Tennessee owned South Carolina, having won all 12 of their meetings since S.C. joined the SEC. The matchup between the Vols’ pass-happy offense and the Cocks’ tough defense will be interesting to watch. Tennessee, behind AB Erik Ainge, ranks eighth nationally in passing offense, while S.C.’s secondary ranks eighth nationally in passing defense.
Other league games on tap this week include No. 7 Auburn (7-1, 4-1) at Ole Miss (2-6, 1-4), Florida International (0-7) at Alabama (5-3, 2-3), Vanderbilt (3-5) at Duke (0-7), Kentucky (3-4, 1-3) at Mississippi State (2-6, 0-4) and La.-Monroe (1-6) at Arkansas (6-1).
This week’s college football TV schedule kicks off tonight with Texas El-Paso at Tulsa at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Saturday’s weekend TV lineup, other than pay-for-view is as follows:
Oklahoma at Missouri, 11 a.m. (ABC)
Notre Dame at Navy, 11 a.m. (CBS)
N.C. State at Virginia, 11 a.m. (WB)
Michigan St. at Indiana, 11 a.m. (CSS)
Northwestern at Michigan, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Illinois at Wisconsin, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Northern Ill. at Iowa , 11 a.m. (ESPNU)
Auburn at Ole Miss,11:30 a.m. (JEFFERSON PILOT)
BYU at Air Force, 1 p.m. (VS)
Miami at Georgia Tech, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
Georgia at Florida, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
North Texas at Troy, 2:30 p.m. (CSS)
Southern Cal at Oregon, 2:30 p.m. (FSNS)
Wake Forest at N.C., 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Texas at Texas Tech, 6 p.m. (TBS)
Florida St. at Maryland, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
La.-Monroe at Arkansas, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Tennessee at South Carolina, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
The SEC spotlight will shine on Rocky Top this weekend as 5-2 (2-2 in league games) Alabama invades No. 7 (or 8 depending on which poll you like) Tennessee (5-1, 1-1).
Overall, it’s a ho-hum lineup for SEC teams, with no other league team facing a ranked opponent. But there’s enough intensity, rivalry and drama in the game in Knoxville for an entertaining Saturday.
The Tide and Vols first locked horns on Nov. 18, 1901, and after four quarters of play, nothing had been decided with that first meeting ending in a 0-0 tie and 2,000 fans on the field at Tuscaloosa fighting. The two teams have met on the third Saturday in October every year since 1928 except 1943 during World War II.
The game has always served as a measuring stick for the two teams. Legendary Tennessee coach Gen. Bob Neyland, for whom the stadium in which the game will be played Saturday is named, always said the stiffest test for his team was when it played Alabama. Bama’s Coach Bear Bryant said, “We never know what kind of team we have until we play Tennessee.”
That is the case this year with both teams coming into the game with winning records but many question marks. The rap on Alabama is that it wins against creampuff opponents but can’t beat quality foes. Tennessee has been erratic, looking good for parts of games and bad in others.
Tennessee comes into the game ranked eighth nationally in passing offense and Vol QB Erik Ainge’s passer efficiency rating leads the SEC and ranks seventh in the nation.
One interesting statistical anomaly that will be interesting to see how it plays out will come when Alabama gets a first down inside the Vol 20. Alabama has been miserable in red zone situations this year, having to settle for a field goal most of the time and often not making them. But Tennessee is just as futile in defending the red zone. Vol opponents have scored all 13 times they’ve reached the red zone – nine TDs, four field goals.
While everyone expects Tennessee to mount an aerial attack, the question is will Alabama go to its running game to try and melt the clock, shorten the game and keep the potent Tennessee offense off the field? Or will the Tide lean on its passing game to move the ball. Bama QB John Parker Wilson has racked up seven-straight 200-yard-plus passing games.
Other league games on tap this week include Tulane (2-4) at No. 8 Auburn, Ole Miss (2-5) at No. 15 Arkansas (5-1), Mississippi State (2-5) at Georgia (5-2), South Carolina (4-2) at Vanderbilt (3-4) and Fresno State (1-5) at No. 14 LSU (5-2).
This week’s college football TV schedule kicks off tonight, Friday, with
West Virginia at Connecticut at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Saturday’s weekend TV lineup, other than pay-for-view is as follows:
Texas at Nebraska, 11 a.m. (ABC)
North Carolina St. at Maryland, 11 a.m. (WB)
Michigan State at Northwestern, 11 a.m. (CSS)
Wisconsin at Purdue, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Illinois at Penn State, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Indiana at Ohio State, 11 a.m. (ESPNU)
UCLA at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m. (NBC)
Boston College at FSU, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
Alabama at Tennessee, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Tennessee State at Jacksonville State, 2:30 p.m. (CSS)
Washington at California, 2:30 p.m. (FSN)
TCU at Army, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
North Texas at Arkansas St., 6 p.m. (CSS)
Colorado at Oklahoma, 6 p.m. (FSN)
Rutgers at Pitt, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Southern Miss at Virginia Tech, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Georgia Tech at Clemson, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Fresno State at LSU, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
by Paul Rockne
When two of the top 10 teams in the nation, both undefeated, go head to head, it’s always a big game and that’s the case this Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla. In what is the showcase game of the SEC this week and one of the top games nationally as well, No. 9 LSU invades The Swamp to take on Coach Urban Meyers’ No. 5 Florida Gators.
LSU will be trying to beat Florida three straight seasons for the first time since 1980 and it will be counting on a stingy defense to get the job done. The Bayou Tigers are ranked No 1 in total defense and No. 2 in scoring defense – in the nation as well as the SEC.
Those ranking should be challenged by the Gators. Florida ranks first in the SEC in total offense, led by quarterback Chris Leak, who is now executing Meyer’s spread option offense with high efficiency.
LSU’s game plan will be to do what it did last year – put a hurtin’ on Leak, thus crippling the Gator offense. The Tigers came close to completely shutting Leak down in last year’s 21-17 LSU victory, sacking him four times and harassing him into an 11-for-30 passing day for a career-low 106 yards.
LSU has also vowed to be a little more air-minded on offense. With its offense somewhat limited in early games by Coach Les Miles’ stubbornness about running the ball regardless of the situation, the 7-3 loss to Auburn changed some minds – including Miles.
Miles said earlier this week that while it was a painful and costly way to learn, LSU had learned its lesson and it was a learning experience that will pay dividends down the road – in other words, if you’ve got a quarterback like JaMarcus Russell (who hails from Mobile), use him.
Another big game this week in the SEC pits No. 13 Tennessee against No. 10 Georgia in Athens. This game will keep Tennessee in the East Division picture with a win or eliminate the Vols early with a loss. Some good news for Tennessee: the Vols lead the series 7-5 when both teams are ranked in the top 25.
Alabama should easily improve to 4-2 Saturday as the Tide hosts inept Duke. The Tide is such a big favorite that the game is not on TV except for pay-for-view. Bama is a 28 point favorite.
This week’s college football TV schedule kicks off tonight, Friday, with Louisville vs. Middle Tennessee at 7 p.m. on ESPN2). Saturday’s weekend TV lineup, other than pay-for-view is as follows:
Arkansas at Auburn, 11 a.m. (CBS)
Clemson at Wake Forest, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Purdue at Iowa, 11 a.m. (ESPNU)
Texas A&M at Kansas, 11:30 a.m. (FOXSS)
VMI at Army, 11:30 a.m. (ESPNCLASSIC)
Stanford at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m. (NBC)
Washington at Southern Cal, 2:30 pp.m. (FOXSS)
Texas at Oklahoma, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
LSU at Florida, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Bowling Green at Ohio State, 2:20 p.m. (CSS)
Maryland at Georgia Tech, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Michigan State at Michigan, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Furman at Coastal Carolina, 6 p.m. (CSS)
South Carolina at Kentucky, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Central Michigan at Toledo, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Missouri at Texas Tech, 6 p.m. (TBS)
Tennessee at Georgia, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Oregon at California, 7 p.m. (ABC)