2010 SEC College Football Preview: Alabama still reigns supreme

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate with the BCS Championship trophy after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. The Crimson Tide defeated the Longhorns 37-21. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the SEC this season:

#1 Alabama
Led by head coach Nick Saban and Heisman winner Mark Ingram, this is by far the best team in the country. While they don’t come weakness-free, the Tide have the best combination of talent and coaching in all of college football. They play in the nation’s toughest conference so there’s always a chance that they could lose a game during the season, but this is your clear national title favorite. Their defense might be even better than it was a year ago.

#2 Florida
The Gators lost Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Maurkice Pouncey, Carlos Dunlap, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper, Joe Haden and Major Wright from their squad last season. In one word: Ouch. Outside of running back Jeff Demps, they lost their top player at nearly every position, which would usually destroy a program’s chances of competing the next year. But this is Florida – they reload every year. This year’s crop of starters has seen time in either part-time action or spot starts over the last couple of years, so the Gators will compete. Are they a top 5 team? We’ll find out soon.

#3 Arkansas
All right, so I might be drinking too much of the Ryan Mallett Kool-Aid by ranking the Razorbacks ahead of Georgia and LSU. But even though Bobby Petrino is a turd, the man knows how to run an offense (a college football offense, that is) and Arkansas will be explosive on that side of the ball again this year. The question is whether or not their defense will step up so that this team can reach its full potential. As it stands now, it’s probably safe to say that Arkansas is going to have issues slowing teams down this year, but I just can’t stop starring at that offense. It’s like a tractor beam of hotness.

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Three Tennessee football players arrested

University of Tennessee football players Janzen Jackson, Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards were arrested on Wednesday night for an attempted robbery outside a convenience store near campus. Ironically, head coach Lane Kiffin had praised his team earlier in the day at a SEC coaches teleconference for not having any off-field incidents.

From ESPN.com:

At least one of the players arrested was wearing some type of Tennessee gear during the attempted robbery, according to police.

A fourth suspect, a woman alleged to have been driving a car with the three players as passengers, was also arrested.
According to the police report, the victims of the robbery were in their car outside a Pilot convenience store, parked next to a Toyota Prius, when a black male approached wearing a hooded sweatshirt, brandishing what appeared to be a handgun, opened the driver’s side door and said “Give me everything you have.” A second black male also wearing a hooded sweatshirt then came around to the passenger side of the victims’ car, opened it and said, “Give us everything you’ve got.”

But when the victims opened their wallets and showed they had no money, a third black male approached the other two and said “we’ve got to go,” and all three got into the Prius and drove away, according to the police report.

Police said when they pulled over the Prius, they found a black air-powered pellet gun and a pair of hooded sweatshirts. Police also said they found a marijuana grinder, which the driver, Marie Montmarquet, said belonged to her, and a baggie containing what appeared to be marijuana in Montmarquet’s jacket.

According to police, the victims later identified Edwards and Richardson as the men who had approached them.

I wonder if this was just a hoax that went bad or if the players actually intended to rob the victims. I’m struggling to comprehend why three freshman football players would risk their careers and futures to rob somebody with a pellet gun but then again, these don’t seem to be the sharpest tools in the shed.

I find it mildly humorous that at least one of these geniuses was wearing Tennessee gear at the time of the attempted crime. Clearly these undeniable morons didn’t think this one through, which once again leads me to wonder if this just wasn’t a half-brained attempt at a joke.

Either way, it’s highly unlikely that these three play this weekend and there’s a real possibility that when more details emerge, Kiffin could kick them off the team for good. The fact that they’re all freshman could either hurt or help their chances of playing at UT in the future, depending on how you look at it.

What a stupid, stupid decision by these three players.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Alabama’s passing game continues to struggle

At the end of the day, winning games in college football is the only thing that matters. That’s why Alabama won’t apologize for its 12-10 victory over Tennessee at home on Saturday, even though it needed a blocked field goal as time expired to secure the win.

That said, Nick Saban better figure out a way for his team to move the ball through the air or else the Tide won’t find themselves playing for a national title this year.

The Alabama coaching staff showed little to no confidence in quarterback Greg McElroy today. Either that, or McElroy played too conservatively because he barely threw the ball vertically and his average pass went for a paltry 4.1 yards.

The playcalling was also highly questionable at times for Alabama, especially in on the Tide’s final drive before halftime. Their offensive line was blowing the Vols off the ball and Mark Ingram had gapping holes to run through. Yet when ‘Bama got inside the 10 yard line, Saban’s crew called two straight passes on second and third down, both of which fell incomplete and the Tide had to settle for a field goal.

Why, when you’re completely dominating the line of scrimmage and running the ball at will, would you call two straight pass plays? The calls made no sense and they probably cost ‘Bama six points. Granted, Monte Kiffin’s defense deserves a lot of credit for taking away the run and neutralizing Ingram (he had 99 yards on 18 carries) as much as possible, but the Tide coaching staff flat out blew it before half.

Outside of the final two minutes when they allowed Tennessee to get back into the game, the Tide defense played great. There were multiple times today when the Vols got on ‘Bama’s side of the field and the Tide defense knocked them backwards. Just as they’ve been all season, they were impressive.

But again, if this team wants to play for a national championship then Saban needs to figure out how to move the chains outside of handing the ball to Ingram every play.

College Football Picks & Predictions: Week 3

Tennessee (1-1) at No. 1 Florida (2-0), 3:30PM ET
Don’t think for a second that Urban Meyer won’t be extra motivated for this game after Lane Kiffin accused him of violating NCAA recruiting rules back in February. Kiffin better hope that his power running game will help keep this one close, because Florida’s defense is going to terrorize quarterback Jonathan Crompton if Tennessee becomes too one-dimensional. Crompton made several poor decisions last week in UT’s loss to UCLA, a game in which he threw three interceptions. If he turns the ball over against the Gators, this game will be out of reach by halftime. Of course, if Monte Kiffin’s defense can generate some pressure on Tim Tebow, the Vols could make things interesting. But so far, Kiffin hasn’t gotten much production out of his front four and it has forced him to blitz in order to get pressure. Tebow will recognize that and pick UT’s defense apart. This one could get ugly.
Odds: Florida -30
Prediction: Florida 41, Tennessee 10.

Texas Tech (2-0) at No. 2 Texas (2-0), 8:00PM ET
Mack Brown still has nightmares of Michael Crabtree scoring the winning touchdown in last year’s thriller in Lubbock. But Crabtree and Graham Harrell have both moved on and although Raiders quarterback Taylor Potts (861 yards, 9 TDs) is off to a great start this year, it’s hard to imagine that Tech will pull off the upset this year. Colt McCoy won’t allow Texas to lose at home and the Longhorn back seven is too good to let Potts to beat them for four quarters.
Odds: Texas -17.5
Prediction: Texas 52, Texas Tech 28.

No. 23 Georgia at Arkansas, 7:45PM ET
The last time these two teams met was back in October of 2005 when the Dawgs barely edged the Razorbacks 23-20 in Athens. Bobby Petrino’s team is fresh coming off a bye week (which followed an easy 48-10 victory over FCS foe Missouri State), while Georgia fought tooth and nail for their 41-37 win over South Carolina. Petrino admitted that the Razorbacks have been game planning for this matchup since August and he even held senior Michael Smith to only four carries in the win over Missouri State so that the running back would be fresh for this week’s matchup vs. UGA. The Dawgs have given up 61 points in their first two outings and considering Arkansas’s offense is starting to come together under Petrino, I see the Razorbacks securing a nice home win.
Odds: Arkansas -1
Prediction: Arkansas 31, Georgia 28.

West Virginia at Auburn, 7:45PM ET
The Tigers will be seeking a measure of revenge after the Mountaineers soundly beat them in Morgantown last year. Although both teams have started off the season on the right foot, West Virginia could have a hard time corralling Auburn running backs Brandon Tate and Onterio McCalebb. The duo has combined to rush for over 530 yards in two games and will provide a challenge that the Mountaineers’ run-defense didn’t receive in their first two games. As long as the Auburn defense can contain Noel Devine and senior quarterback Jarrett Brown, they should be able to get their revenge on West Virginia and start the ’09 season 3-0.
Odds: Auburn -7
Prediction: Auburn 38, West Virginia 24.

Couch Potato Alert: 1/23

Many football fans will be going through withdrawal this weekend; there are no scheduled games for the first time since the end of July. But there is enough sports on to help you make it through the weekend scot-free. Network coverage of the NBA will kick into full gear on ABC, as an attractive doubleheader (Mavericks/Celtics followed by Spurs/Lakers) will be broadcast starting at 1 PM this Sunday. Second week coverage of the Australian Open will continue on ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel, and do not forget the Golf Channel’s exclusive coverage of the Bob Hope Classic all weekend long.

All times ET…

Friday, 7 PM: Dallas Mavericks @ Detroit Pistons (ESPN)
Saturday, 7:30 PM: Orlando Magic @ Miami Heat (NBA TV)
Sunday, 1 PM: Dallas Mavericks @ Boston Celtics (ABC)
Sunday, 3:30 PM: San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Lakers (ABC)
Sunday, 6:30 PM: Houston Rockets @ Detroit Pistons (ESPN)

Sunday, 6 PM: The NHL All Star Game in Montreal (Versus)

College Basketball
Saturday, 12 PM: Maryland @ #2 Duke (ESPN)
Saturday, 3:30 PM: #24 Memphis @ Tennessee (CBS)
Saturday, 4 PM: #23 Baylor @ Oklahoma (ESPNU)
Saturday, 7 PM: #3 Connecticut @ #19 Notre Dame (ESPN)
Sunday, 12 PM: #12 Louisville @ #8 Syracuse (ESPN Full Court)
Sunday, 3:45 PM: #7 Michigan State @ Ohio State (CBS)

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