Saturday, July 29, 2006

10 Biggest Conference Games

Every year, the ACC and SEC shape the national title race with some of the most thrilling games of the year. This year should be especially good in the SEC where East favorites Florida must play Auburn, LSU, and Alabama from the West. With the season a little more than a month away, I take a look at the conference games having the biggest impact on the season.

10. Georgia Tech @ Clemson October 21
You will not find two more evenly matched teams over the last 10 years in the ACC. One team will get a boost to their season and have visions of Jacksonville after this game while the other will begin wondering if they will be playing in a bowl or not this season.

9. Georgia @ South Carolina September 9
After comfortably defeating Western Kentucky in their opener, Georgia will have to travel to Columbia for an important East Division battle with South Carolina. South Carolina has played Georgia very tough at home recently and this year should be no different. This game will let us know in Week 2 whether South Carolina can compete for the SEC East Title and how confident Georgia can be in their QB. Even though Spurrier’s Fun n’ Gun will be in year 2 of deployment; I expect this game to be low scoring with a late turnover deciding the outcome.

8. Clemson @ Florida State September 16
Bowden Bowl VII will shape the Atlantic Division of the ACC very early in the season. Clemson is receiving lots of praise coming in this season after another one of their late season runs including a stomping of FSU in November. However, Clemson has not beaten FSU in Tallahassee since the Seminoles joined the ACC.

7. Florida State @ Miami September 4
The ACC does not waste any time in showcasing their two best teams in what could be a rematch in the ACC Championship. The Hurricanes were a very young team last year and Kyle Wright now has a full year under his belt. Miami’s big question lies on the offensive line and whether or not they can protect Wright. FSU lost a lot of talent on defense and…. oh who am I kidding; this game is going to be a low scoring, defensive slobber knocker with speed all over the field. The beauty of this game is that the loser is not out of the ACC or even national title race.

6. Florida @ Tennessee September 16
This is round 1 of the SEC East elimination derby. The loser has an uphill battle to make the Championship Game. Urban Meyer’s club cannot afford an early season loss with UGA, South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, and Alabama all on the schedule later on in the season. The Vols need this game to regain their footing near the top of the SEC East.

5. Virginia Tech @ Miami November 4
This November match up will likely decide the representative for the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship. Both teams will be coming off tough games the week before with Miami having to play at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech meeting Clemson.

4. LSU @ Florida October 7
The Gators will play the Tigers the week after Alabama and the week before Auburn. Both teams will need this game to maintain their hopes of winning their own division. If Florida makes it out this game and is still undefeated they have to be considered a serious national title contender.

3. Florida @ Auburn October 14
The third game in the row versus the West for Florida and a possible preview of the SEC Championship between the
SEC East and West favorites. These two have not met since the days when Terry Bowden roamed the Auburn sidelines. If Auburn makes it through this game and is still undefeated then they make be able to make a run at a national title.

2. Florida vs Georgia October 28
The Game
formerly known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will more than likely decide the SEC East. Once again, Florida will have a bye week before this game while Georgia will not (they play Mississippi St). Could Georgia reverse their fortune and beat the Gators while the likely underdogs?

1. LSU @ Auburn September 16
The last two games between these teams have been epics. The 2004 edition saw a late Auburn comeback and a re-try of the extra point for the winning score. 2005 saw another kicking mishap, this time by Auburn though. Last year, was also the coming out party for Kenny Irons as he ran wild in Baton Rouge. Both teams have potent offenses and solid defenses. This game may ultimately decide the SEC West Title. I expect this game to provide some scoring and may come down to kicking for the third straight year.


Just off the list....
Georgia @ Auburn November 11
This game is huge in bragging rights, but as we saw last year usually does not have a huge impact on the standings as Georgia was still able to win the East despite a loss.

South Carolina @ Florida November 11
Spurrier returns to the stadium he nicknamed the Swamp for the first time. Check out the ticket prices on eBay the week of the game.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Just a Few Weeks Away...

and college football will kickoff again. Most of the preseason magazines are out now and not suprisingly Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Ohio State are the preseason favorites to win the MNC.
Stassen.com has done an excellent job once again in the rankings analysis and compiled predictions from most of the major college football annuals into an average Top 25 and conference finish. Auburn, Florida, and LSU are ranked 7, 8, 9 respectively on average leading the SEC while the top rated ACC team is Florida State at 11. You will find 5 SEC teams in the Top 25 (add Georgia, Tennessee to above) and 4 ACC teams (Miami, VT, Clemson).

The ACC predictions ran very close to those of the coaches at the ACC Football Kickoff this week. The only significant difference was that Virginia predicted to finish 5th in the Coastal instead of 4th (North Carolina). Many people are high on Clemson this year as an upset to win their division, but only one magazine annointed them number one in the Atlantic Division surprisingly. Boston College should be an interesting team to watch this year because they did lose some key talent on the offensive and defensive lines last year, but always seem to surprise the analysts by playing solid football all year.

Miami was not surprisingly the favorite in the Coastal Division receiving all but one first place vote from the magazines. The Coastal may be a better division top to bottom with 4 legitimate bowl teams, but both Miami and Virginia Tech have serious questions to be answered (Miami - new offensive stafff, VT- new QB) that Georgia Tech just might be able to snatch the top spot. Of course that would mean throwing the ball to preseason player of the year Calvin Johnson, )who Coach Chan Gailey insists they do not forget about (Reg reqd).

The SEC race in the West will come down to LSU @ Auburn. Tommy Tuberville's Auburn team is the odds on favorite to win the West receiving 7 out of 9 first place votes. I was a little surprised LSU did not get more recognition despite a possible QB controversy (I guess it is not better to have two capable people than zero). More shocking is that Alabama takes a nose dive to #4 in the SEC West. Houston Nutt has some serious pressure on him at Arkansas and will need to make a bowl this year to take some heat off. I wonder if he wishes he should have gotten on that plane to Lincoln, NE a couple of years ago? The Eastern Division will be a dogfight despite everyone and their cousing praising Urban Meyer and the Gators after their strong finish to last season. If Georgia can find a somewhat consistent QB, then they will be tough to handle with the talent they have back. You know Tennessee will rebound and play in a bowl this year and you never know what the ol' ball coach will have up his sleeve in Columbia. We should find out pretty soon who is for real in the East this year at Georgia travels to South Carolina in Week 2 and the Gators play in Knoxville the following week. Don't forget, Florida has to play LSU, Auburn, and Alabama this year from the West - ouch!

This season should be as exciting as any yet with the new BCS bowl game and the ACC instituting an improved bowl selection process, which will prevent Boston College being sent to Boise with 9 wins.

The SEC looks to be the better conference right now as the ACC doesn't have any top notch teams it appears this year.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Best Of the ACC and SEC

Another list to pass the endless summer until football season started. I saw a poll recently on ESPN.com polling readers on the best things about college football, so I decided to make a list for the great schools of the ACC and SEC.

Best Mascot: Uga-Georgia
Any mascot, who attacks an opposing team’s player (Auburn 1996), must be a pretty good mascot.
Uga is one of the few mascots who can run onto the field with their teamHonorable Mention: War Eagle-Auburn; Ramblin’ Wreck-Georgia Tech; Chief Osceola-FSU

Best Stadium (football):“The Swamp”-Florida
The stadium is designed geometrically to keep noise in. The Gators had a nearly unblemished record under Steve Spurrier and were also undefeated at home last year under first year coach Urban Meyer.
Honorable Mention: Tiger Stadium-LSU, “Death Valley”- Clemson, Neyland Stadium- Tennessee

Best Stadium (basketball): Cameron Indoor Stadium-Duke
With the Cameron Crazies right on top of you in a building that is kept at about 80 (it seems) it makes a very tough visit to Durham (and that is without the refs against you too)
Honorable Mention: Dean Dome-UNC; Rupp Arena-Kentucky

Best Coach (football): Frank Beamer-Virginia Tech
Beamer took the Hokies from essentially nothing to a National Championship Game in 1999. His affinity for special teams play created the word “Beamer Ball”
Honorable Mention: Mark Richt-Georgia, Bobby Bowden-FSU, Tommy Tuberville-Auburn

Best Coach (basketball): Mike Kryzewski-Duke
Three National Titles and Six ACC Tournament Titles in a row. Check back in a few years though as Roy Williams may have passed him.
Honorable Mention: Roy Williams-UNC; Billy Donovan-Florida

Best NFL Pedigree: Miami
This was a very tough one here, but I went more with quality than quantity.The “U” has put many players in the NFL and most have turned out to be very good. FSU, Georgia, and Tennessee have also put a great deal of the players in the pros.
Honorable Mention: FSU, Georgia, Tennessee

Best NBA Pedigree: North Carolina
I don’t think this needs any explanation, but does Michael Jordan, Vince Carter or James Worthy ring a bell?
Honorable Mention: Duke, Wake Forest

Best College Town: Athens, GA
35,000 football mad students in a town with 50+bars where the town revolves around the University. Thrown in a 60% female student population and you get the idea. I really could have put about three or four towns on here because I there are so many in the ACC and SEC.
Honorable Mention: Chapel Hill, NC; Gainesville, FL; Tallahassee, FL

Best Fans (football): South Carolina
Every year Gamecocks fans sell out Williams-Brice Stadium, which is not in the best part of town, and cheer loudly for their team, which is not always the best either.
Honorable Mention: LSU, Virginia Tech

Best Fans (basketball): Duke
Students sign up for fall classes on Monday and begin camping out for tickets on Wednesday.
Honorable Mention: North Carolina, Kentucky

Best Fight Song: “Ramblin Wreck”-Georgia Tech
Football and liquor. Two things that are synonymous with college football and Ramblin Wreck combines both of them. I don't think there are any bad fights songs out there, so I don't have an Honorable Mention list.

Best Chant: “Woo Pig Sooey”-Arkansas
No one else has a chant that is even remotely close to this one. I don't think there are any bad chants out there, so I don't have an Honorable Mention list.

Best Tradition (football): Alabama
11 National Titles, 25 Conference Championships
Honorable Mention: Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee

Best Tradition (basketball): Kentucky
7 National Titles (#2 All Time), 46 Tournament Appearances (#1 All Time), 98 Tournament Victories (#1 All Time)
Honorable Mention: North Carolina, Duke