Alabama's Mark Ingram
The SEC Championship game tickets are printed and in the mail - Florida versus Alabama. So the rest of the SEC season is (yawn) over, right? Could be, but as in years past just when you think the rest of the season is set in stone, well, USC loses to an unranked Stanford.
Urban Meyer and Florida passed the first test by playing on the road as a heavy favorite against Vandy to clinch the SEC East. Now, Nick Saban and Alabama must follow suit by going into Starkville and try to avoid one of two possible trap games remaining on their schedule.
Florida has another tough road task this weekend against a desperate Gamecock team. It shouldn't take much to motivate them and the crowd when the No. 1 Gators hit town. This game could be every bit as tough as the Arkansas game for Florida.
Mississippi State is usually good for at least one upset a season. In recent years, the Bulldogs have enjoyed taking down the Tide. I don't see Alabama losing unless the Western Division crown celebration carries over to this weekend. Coach Saban usually does a good job keeping his team focused, so hopefully they will set their sights on this week's canines and not the future reptile opponent.
One little note to the SEC officials and the burden they carry throughout the season, the current instant replay system has applied more pressure to you guys than you were already under. The games are no longer controlled by the guys on the field. It is controlled by the invisible big brother in the booth. If anyone had to work under such a quality control system, failure would be inevitable.
The current system needs to be changed to allow the coaches three challenges throughout the game. These coaches get paid big bucks to make big decisions so put the decision of when to use the challenges back in their hands. Does the coach choose to use one early in the game or hold them until the fourth quarter and possibly take them to the locker room?
I know as a fan there is nothing more frustrating than waiting on the replay booth on the third play of a game over a incomplete pass in a zero to zero game so I know it must be frustrating to the players, coaches and referees.
Let the refs call the game as THEY see it on the FIELD and give the coaches the ability to challenge when they see fit. But enough of the big brother replay system where the refs are so worried about missing a call, they miss the call.
Nick Saban said it best when he said the referees don't get paid enough to carry the burden of a whole game, but the coaches sure do.
YRATINGS.COM POWER RANKINGS thru Week #11 (using all games)
1. (122.5) FLORIDA - 0.4 drop, but still on top for the 2nd week in row
2. (121.1) ALABAMA - No change, last week picked to win by 9 and won by 9
3. (113.7) TENNESSEE - Steady improvment up 0.7 points
4. (111.8) LSU. - The loss to Bama cost 1.0 rating points but no drop in ranking
5. (108.4) OLE MISS - no change after playing down last week
6. (108.4) ARKANSAS - plus 0.9 points, enough to jump up one spot past AU
7. (107.9) AUBURN - no change after playing down last week
8. (103.1) KENTUCKY - no change after playing down last week
9. (101.1) MISSISSIPPI STATE - 0.1 drop in points and up one in rankings all on a bye week
10.( 99.8) GEORGIA - no change in points but up one in the rankings due to USC dropping
11.( 99.7) SO.CAROLINA - lost 1.7 points and two positions due to last week's loss
12.( 89.4) VANDERBILT - no where to go but still lost 0.4 points
POWER RANKINGS (based on SEC games only)
1. (114.9) FLORIDA - up one
2. (114.4) ALABAMA - down one
3. (107.4) TENNESSEE - no change
4. (104.9) LSU - no change
5. ( 98.5) ARKANSAS - up five
6. ( 98.4) AUBURN - down one
7. ( 97.3) GEORGIA - down one
8. ( 97.1) OLE MISS - down one
9. ( 95.4) MISS STATE - down one
10.( 93.4) SOUTH CAROLINA - down one
11.( 90.8) KENTUCKY - no change
12.( 84.6) VANDERBILT - no change
Arkansas was the big winner last weekend moving into the top-six of the overall ratings and jumping five spots to No. 5 in the SEC-game only ratings. The top four match in both sets of rankings and other than last place the rankings differ in opinion on 5 thru 11 only.
Here's the top ranked teams in other conferences using all games:
ACC: No. 12 Virginia Tech (6-3) - No. 4 ranked schedule is probably a big help
BIG EAST: No. 7 Cincinnati (9-0) - No. 5 in scoring differential but 85th in schedule
BIG TEN: No. 6 Ohio State (8-2) - No. 7 in scoring differential while 74th in schedule
BIG-12: No. 1 Texas (9-0) - #1 in scoring differential and #58 in schedule
C-USA: No. 35 Houston (8-1) - 25th in scoring differential and 83rd in schedule
MAC: No. 31 No.Illinois (6-3) - 16th in scoring differential but 120th in schedule (last)
MTN-WEST: No. 2 TCU (9-0) - #2 in scoring differential and 68th in schedule
PAC-10: No. 8 Oregon (7-2) - #12 in scoring differential and 30th in schedule
SUN BELT: No. 50 Troy (7-2) - #54 in scoring differential and 110th in schedule
WAC: No. 3 Boise State (9-0) - No. 3 in scoring differential and 104th in schedule
Independents: No. 30 Notre Dame (6-3) - No. 44 in scoring diff and 46th in schedule
Last week's predictions were a perfect 8-0, even though four games were against lower division schools. The numbers for the season are 40-9 (82%). Alabama over LSU and Arkansas over South Carolina were the toughest of the bunch while the others were almost a given. Let's see what the numbers do this week and don't forget to visit WWW.YRATINGS.COM to see how all the NCAA teams rank versus the SEC.
No. 14 TENNESSEE (5-4) AT No. 27 OLE MISS (6-3)
Tennessee will win because: #16 total defense (295.1 yds/game), #16 pass efficiency defense, #23 scoring offense (32.1 pts/game) and Montario Hardesty (#25, 100.1 yds/game)
Ole Miss will win because: #12 scoring defense (15.8 pts/game), #14 pass efficiency defense, #16 kickoff returns (25.0 yds/kick) and Jesse Gandy (#11, 30.1 yds/kick)
Tennessee is one of the hottest SEC teams over the second half of the season while Ole Miss is a Jeckyll and Hyde type of team. Home field will be an advantage but if the Vols still have their MoJo this game could get out of hand. With both teams being defense oriented I expect a low twenties type of game. PREDICTION: TENNESSEE BY 5 POINTS
No. 4 FLORIDA (9-0) AT No. 63 SOUTH CAROLINA (6-4)
Florida will win because: #1 scoring defense (10.1 pts/game), #2 total defense (232.4 yds/game), #8 rushing offense (240.7 yds/game) and Tim Tebow #8 in pass efficiency.
South Carolina will win because: #7 pass defense (160.1 yds/game), #19 total defense (305.7 yds/game), #37 passing offense (246.0 yds/game) and Stephen Garcia's offensive production.
This road test is the last of the SEC trap games remaining for Florida. South Carolina would love to add a blemish to the Gator's perfect season. South Carolina's last two weeks on the road haven't gone as planned, but nothing like the green-green grass of home. Unfortunately, the grass in the endzone might be inviting to the visiting QB - you know his name. PREDICTION: FLORIDA BY 23 POINTS
No. 29 AUBURN (7-3) AT No. 61 GEORGIA (5-4)
Auburn will win because: #10 rushing offense (230.0 yds/game), #12 total offense (450.3 yds/game), #11 scoring offense (35.0 pts/game) and the ground game of Ben Tate (114.2 yds/game).
Georgia will win because: Auburn's #93 rushing defense (169.8 yds/game), #1 net punting (44.0 yds/punt), #36 total defense (332.0 yds/game) and SEC leading reciever A.J. Green (91.5 yds/game).
The oldest rivalry in the south usually produces a good show. And this season, neither defense is their strong suit so the scoreboard may rollover before the end of the game. Auburn's offense is more capable of putting up the big numbers while Georgia has struggled at times. Home field is not a factor in this series so the offensive edge goes to Auburn. Keep in mind Auburn has fooled the ratings four weeks in a row so we will just have to wait and see if the streak will end. PREDICTION: AUBURN BY 8 POINTS
No. 45 KENTUCKY (5-4) AT No. 99 VANDERBILT (2-8)
Kentucky will win because: #22 rushing offense (191.9 yds/game), #21 pass efficiency defense, #14 pass defense (169.9 yds/game) and the return specialists of Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.
Vanderbilt will win because: Kentucky's #108 rushing defense (188.2 yds/game), #41 rushing offense (171.5 yds/game), #10 pass defense (166.7 yds/game) and all-purpose Warren Norman (#11, 169.6 yds/game).
Vanderbilt and Kentucky should be able to move the ball on the ground since both teams struggle defending the ground game. The difference may be in the air where the Wildcats have the edge. Vandy is at home but Kentucky has played some consistent ball on the road. PREDICTION: KENTUCKY BY 14 POINTS
No. 5 ALABAMA (9-0) AT No. 56 MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-5)
Alabama will win because: #2 rushing defense (68.2 yds/game), #4 total defense (242.2 yds/game), #14 rushing offense (213.0 yds/game) and Heisman candidate and SEC leading rusher Mark Ingram (127.6 yds/game).
Mississippi State will win because: Alabama's #94 net punting (33.4 yds/punt), #12 rushing offense (219.2 yds/game), #40 pass defense (204.4 yds/game) and Anothy Dixon's 125 yards per game on the ground.
Alabama must be focused and not slip up to keep their BCS championship hopes alive. Mississippi State is coming off a bye-week and showed great potential against Kentucky. Can it carry over against Bama? If Alabama plays their typical game the first half will be close (within 10) and then the Tide will pull away with a strong finish. PREDICTION: ALABAMA BY 20 POINTS
No. 74 LOUISIANA TECH (3-6) AT No. 18 LSU (7-2)
La.Tech will win because: #39 rushing offense (173.6 yds/game), #4 punt returns (17.3 yds/punt), #45 pass defense (208.8 yds/game) and return man Phillip Livas (29.3 yds/KOR).
LSU will win because: #10 scoring defense (13.4 pts/game), #20 total defense (310.7 yds/game), #29 pass defense (189.4 yds/game) and Trindan Holliday's punt returns (14.6 yds/punt).
LSU must recover from last week's tough loss and prepare for a fired up in-state opponent. Louisiana Tech is on a three-game skid and nothing would end it better than to bump off LSU in Death Valley. Is it possible? Yes. Will it happen? Probably not. PREDICTION: LSU BY 14 POINTS
No. 50 TROY (7-2) AT No. 28 ARKANSAS (5-4)
Troy will win because: #7 passing offense (315.9 yds/game), #10 total offense (458.1 yds/game), #27 scoring offense (31.3 pts/game) and #5 total offense leader Levi Brown (310.1 yds/game).
Arkansas will win because: #9 scoring offense (35.6 pts/game), #12 passing offense (299.4 yds/game), #10 pass efficiency, #9 kickoff returns (26 yds/KO) and #7 pass efficiency of Ryan Mallett.
The football will stay in the air in this game long enough to fly from Fayetteville to Troy. Both teams love to air it out and I wouldn't expect anything less. I suspect a high scoring affair with Arkansas pulling it out late or holding on after a big lead slips away. PREDICTION: ARKANSAS BY 6 POINTS