Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Georgia vs Michigan State Preview and Prediction


Capital One Bowl
Georgia vs Michigan State

New Years Day 1PM ABC
Orlando, FL

Line: Georgia –7.5

Overview

A pair of Doak Walker Finalists, Knowshon Moreno and Javon Ringer, headline this SEC vs Big 10 clash in Orlando. Georgia is coming off a close loss to in-state rival Georgia Tech while Michigan State got thumped by Penn State in their final outing. The Bulldogs and Spartans will both be aiming for 10 win seasons in a bowl the Big 10 has won the last 4 years.

Keys to the Game:

1. One Trick Pony

Michigan State’s offense has been called a one trick pony by some, but that one trick is a pretty good one with Ringer. Some will look at the rushing yards amassed by Georgia Tech against Georgia and assume Ringer will have a big day. But the Ga Tech style of running is much different from the conventional style of the Spartans. However, tackling will be key for a banged up Bulldog defense that failed miserably in this category last time out. Ringer is the key to the entire Michigan State offense. As he goes, so goes Sparty.

2. Michigan State Pass Defense

Georgia arguably has their best trio of QB and starting WRs in their history. Both AJ Green and Mohamed Massaquoi could go over 1,000 yards receiving in this game. Last time out, QB Matt Stafford had the best game of his career passing for 407 yards against Georgia Tech. Michigan State ranks just 61st against the pass in a league known for running the ball. The Spartans can't play nickel mostly and leave out an extra defender against Knowshon Moreno, so expect to see a lot of man coverage from Mark Dantonio's club.

3. How Much Does Georgia Want This Game?

I am being serious here. I look at the talent level and see a clear advantage for Georgia. The 3 best teams Michigan State played all year they lost to and Ohio State and Penn State were blowouts. If Georgia shows up to play I think a rout could be on. If they are not prepared, then Michigan State will make it close.

Motivation

I already covered this one above. Georgia may be sulking a little after a disappointing season where they thought they would be playing for a BCS Championship. Michigan State is ecstatic to be in this game. I think Mark Richt remembers the last time his team was not ready to play (vs WV in 2006 Sugar) and that is still fresh enough in his mind to not let that happen this year.

Prediction

Pretty simple in this one I think. Javon Ringer has not fared very well against good teams . If Georgia shows up and doesn’t turn the ball over 4+ times, I think they win this one easily.

Georgia 34 Michigan State 14
Georgia Covers -7.5

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 34
My confidence ranking of a Georgia win.


Bowls: 3-3 ATS, 3-3 SU
Season: 34-33-3 ATS, 44-26 SU


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Clemson vs Nebraska Preview and Prediction


Gator Bowl
Clemson vs Nebraska

New Years Day 1PM CBS
Jacksonville, FL

Line: Clemson -2.5

Overview

The Cornhuskers and Tigers will tangle in a rematch of the 1982 Orange Bowl which gave Clemson its first and only national championship. Both teams come into the Gator Bowl on 3 game winning streaks. Also, both Bo Pellini and Dabo Swinney are in their first years as head coaches, but Pellini already has a bowl win under his belt with the 2003 Alamo Bowl as Nebraska’s interim coach.

Keys to the Game:

1. Turnovers

I looked around to see what changed around the time Dabo Swinney became Clemson’s interim coach because that is when Clemson got on the winning track (Dabo went 4-2 as interim coach) and it was turnovers. The Tigers are +5 in turnover margin in their last 5 games, winning 4 of those. In the last 3 games, Clemson is +7. If the Tigers can win the turnover battle, I really like their chances.

2. Style of Play

Anytime you have two contrasting styles, the team that imposes their style usually wins. Nebraska has a very good offense this year ranking 12th in the nation in total offense with 458 ypg, mostly through the air. Clemson has the 14th best defense in total yards and 9th best in points allowed. If this one turns into a shootout, you have to like Nebraska's firepower on offense. But if it is a grinder, then take Clemson.

Motivation

Nebraska has been down as a program the last few years and is hoping this bowl win would be a stepping stone to a return to prominence. While Clemson thought they would be playing in the Orange Bowl or better in 2009, their run down the stretch has to give them confidence and a desire to win for their coach. I think both teams will be ready in this one.

Prediction

While Nebraska’s offense has been better throughout the year, I think Clemson’s offense has improved since Swinney took over. The Tigers defense has remained stiff all year and will be the difference in this one.

Clemson 24 Nebraska 23
Nebraska Covers -2.5

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 18
My confidence ranking of a Clemson win.

Bowls: 3-3 ATS, 3-3 SU
Season: 34-33-3 ATS, 44-26 SU

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South Carolina vs Iowa Prediction


Outback Bowl
Iowa vs South Carolina

New Years Day 11AM ESPN
Tampa, FL

Line: Iowa -3.5

Overview

Iowa and South Carolina take the stage first on New Years Day in a Big 10 vs SEC clash. South Carolina finished the regular season on two bad losses and is looking to rebound with an 8th win for the season. While the Gamecocks were slumping, the Iowa Hawkeyes were surging with a win over previously undefeated Penn State followed up by victories over Purdue and 55-0 blanking of Minnesota.

Keys to the Game:

1. Pressure on the South Carolina QBs

The biggest reason Steve Spurrier has not had more success in Columbia is due to inconsistency at the QB position. The Gamecocks have gone back and forth with Chris Smelley and Stephen Garcia this year with neither one being able to win the job permanently (Garcia is starting the bowl game). Both of these QBs have struggled with accuracy (combined 55% on the season) and neither are very mobile. If Iowa can get pressure in the backfield, I think they can force some turnovers in the passing game.

2. Slow Down Shonn Greene

Iowa will trot out Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene and let him tote the ball about 25-30 times in this game. The Hawkeyes average nearly 190 ypg on the ground led by Greene. South Carolina is giving up 129 ypg good for 36th in the nation but has been grossly out gained in their last two games in the rushing category. The Gamecocks also need to get some semblance of ground game going themselves, but don’t count on it from the 109th rushing offense in the country.

Motivation

I don’t think motivation will be a problem for either team. South Carolina has to be ecstatic about playing on New Years Day with a 7-5 record. Iowa was really improving at the end of the year and can use the bowl win to kick off the off season.

Prediction

This is the only game the Big 10 is favored in for all of their bowls. I think South Carolina’s issues at QB and lack of a running game will be too much to overcome. I think Greene breaks out in the second half to pull Iowa away.

Iowa 27 South Carolina 20
Iowa Covers -3.5

Bowls: 3-3 ATS, 3-3 SU
Season: 34-33-3 ATS, 44-26 SU

Confidence Ranking (of34): 19
19 confidence points on an Iowa win

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

LSU vs Georgia Tech Prediction


Chick Fil A Bowl
Georgia Tech vs LSU


Wednesday, Dec 31 7:30 PM ESPN
Atlanta, GA

Line: Georgia Tech -4

Overview

The red hot Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets walk down the street to play the defending BCS Champion LSU Tigers in an ACC vs SEC bowl game. Georgia Tech is coming off a road win at Georgia while LSU stumbled down the stretch losing 3 of their last 4. The Yellow Jackets will be looking to go 3-0 vs the SEC and grab their first 10 win season win 10 years.

Keys to the Game:

1. Turnovers

So this seems redundant with the Vanderbilt – Boston College game but turnovers have been the biggest downfall in Georgia Tech’s losses. In those 3 losses, GT is -6 in turnover margin, but in 9 wins they are +11 in turnovers. Paul Johnson’s club is 8-1 in 2008 when they win the turnover battle. The one win without winning the turnover margin was a 3 pointer over Gardner-Webb. I said if Georgia Tech wins the turnover margin against UGA they would win and they did. So I will say it again here.

2. Can Charles Scott Carry LSU?

Like he has carried defenders in the SEC this year? Scott reminds me of Virginia’s Cedric Peerman who torched Tech back in October. I don’t think LSU can rely on freshman Jordan Jefferson to lead them to victory. Scott has to get going early to take pressure of the LSU passing game and to keep the ball away from an offense that has gone for 40+ in their last two games.

3. What Impact Does Preparation Time Have?

Some say that a big reason why the option is so hard to defend is because you have 1 week to get a scout team running an entirely new offense at a speed comparable to your opponent. Well LSU has had 4 weeks to prepare for this game. But the time off also works to Georgia Tech’s advantage because they have had time to put in new phases of the offense. Remember, this is Johnson’s first year at Tech. Don’t be surprised if you see LSU open in an unorthodox defense or Ga Tech open up with the pass.

Motivation

Both teams want to finish off their season with a win, but that extra win means more to Georgia Tech than it does to LSU. The Yellow Jackets are going for a 10 win season when many picked them not to even be in a bowl game this year. Also, expect a partisan Tech crowd with them playing just a few miles from their campus. LSU is playing for pride and an 8 win season and the Tigers didn’t envision themselves in the Chick Fil A Bowl back in August.

Prediction

I think LSU’s defense takes another beating in this one. The Tigers have good stats against the run, but the option is a totally different attack than what they saw in the SEC. Georgia Tech’s offensive attack may start out a little slow but it gets going by the 2nd quarter. LSU’s only chance for the upset is to create turnovers and win the turnover battle.

Georgia Tech 38 LSU 21
Georgia Tech Covers –4


Confidence Ranking (of 34): 32
My confidence ranking of a Georgia Tech win

Bowls: 2-2 ATS, 3-1 SU
Season: 33-32-3 ATS, 44-24 SU


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Boston College Vanderbilt Prediction


Music City Bowl
Vanderbilt vs Boston College

Nashville, TN
Wednesday Dec 31 3:30 PM ESPN

Line: Boston College -3.5

Overview

Vanderbilt and Boston College clash in the first of two ACC vs SEC bowl games. The Commodores are playing in a bowl for the first time since 1982 largely aided by a fast start in 2008. Vandy lost 6 of its last 7 games while the BC Eagles won 4 of their last 5 and played for the ACC title a few weeks back.

Keys to the Game:

1. Turnovers

Vanderbilt lives and dies by them. The Commodores are +6 on the year in takeaways but were -5 in their final 7 games. Vandy ranks 118th in total offense, 104th in points scored, and 113th in passing yards per game in the nation. If Vandy loses the turnover battle they are done. Boston College is pretty good in the turnover area at +6 on the season.

2. Can Vanderbilt Run on BC's Defense?

Vanderbilt's best form of offense is the running game where they rank 70th in the country at 138 ypg. But the problem is that BC's run defense is pretty good allowing just 92 ypg and only 70 ypg in their final 3 games. The strength of the defense is the interior with Ron Brace and BJ Raji manning the defensive tackle spots. Vanderbilt has to shorten this game by being able to run the ball consistently.

Motivation

If you are Vanderbilt you have to be motivated to play in this one. This senior class is the first class to go to a bowl game in a generation. Boston College fell to a lower bowl again this year after having lost the ACC Championship Game again, but they have a bowl streak of 9 straight wins to defend also. Still, I give a slight edge to Vandy with BC coming off a loss with a BCS berth on the line.

Prediction

Every statistic lines up in Boston College's favor. The only way I see Vandy winning is if they create turnovers and can control the clock. Boston College may come out a little flat, but they have not played like a jilted bride under 'Coach Jags' in his first two years despite getting no credit, so why start now? I like BC big in this one.

Boston College 28 Vanderbilt 13
Boston College Covers +3.5

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 33
My confidence ranking for a Boston College win.

Bowls: 3-2 ATS, 3-2 SU
Season: 34-32-3 ATS, 44-25 SU


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Monday, December 29, 2008

Maryland Nevada Preview and Prediction


Humanitarian Bowl
Boise, Idaho

Maryland vs Nevada
Tuesday 4:30 PM ESPN

Line: Nevada -2

Maryland and Nevada meet for the first time ever in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl on the smurf turf in Boise. The Wolfpack bring one of the nations best running attacks from the Pistol formation to face the 7-5 Terrapins who lost their final two games in the regular season.

Keys to the Game:

1. Just stack the box right?

It would seem that a Nevada opponent should just stack the box to try and slow down the running game averaging 290 ypg. Well, Nevada passes the ball pretty well to at a clip of 219 ypg. And they were even skewed towards the passing game down the stretch going for 277 per game versus 193 on the ground in their final three contests. Maryland is not very good at stopping the run allowing 150 ypg, and they didn't even play Georgia Tech this year in the ACC. I think the Terps have to come out aggressive on defense and try to get a big play early to keep this Nevada offense in check.

2. Chris Turner has a big game

You thought Maryland was bad against the run? You haven't seen the Nevada pass defense which gives up just a grass length over 321 ypg through the air. Turner has been up and down in '08 after seizing the starting job early in the season with 11 TD and 10 INT with a completion rate of 58%. Napoleon Dynamite needs to take advantage of the porous Nevada defense.

3. Maryland Turnovers

The Terps cannot afford to get behind big against a team with the 5th best offense in the country. Maryland has really struggled in the turnover department at -.67 margin per game, good for 99th in the country.

Motivation

Ticket Sales have not been brisk for this game for either team so don't expect a lot of Pack backers or Terp followers in Boise. Maryland had a potential Atlantic Division fall right through their hands with their poor performance over the final two and gets the West Coast Bowl Trip from the ACC offices (this is the last year for the ACC in Boise). Nevada gets a chance to defeat a team from a BCS conference so I have to give the edge to Nevada.

Prediction

I see Nevada's running game being able to have success against Maryland's run defense. The Terps really need to shorten the game as much as possible and create some turnovers on defense to pull the upset. I like Nevada by at least a touchdown here.

Nevada 38 Maryland 24
Nevada Covers -2

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 13
My confidence ranking of the 34 bowl games for a Nevada win.


Bowls: 2-2 ATS, 3-1 SU
Season: 33-32-3 ATS, 44-24 SU

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

NC State vs Rutgers Preview and Prediction


Papajohns.com Bowl
NC State vs Rutgers

Monday Dec 29 3PM ESPN
Birmingham, AL

Line: Rutgers -7

Overview

Outside of the BCS Championship Game, this bowl game arguably has the two hottest teams in the nation right now. NC State won their last four games to become bowl eligible while Rutgers has won their last six contests.

Keys to the Game:

1. Turnovers

Rutgers' QB Mike Teel's mid season turnaround also sparked the teams turnaround. Teel threw for 20 TDs in the Scarlet Knights six game winning streak and just three scores in their five losses. But the senior did have trouble with INT throwing 12 on the season. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Russell Wilson threw just 1 INT all year for the Wolfpack while tossing 16 passes into the end zone. The Pack is not overly great on offense or defense and has really relied on taking care of the ball and creating turnovers for their wins. Can State force enough turnovers to spring the upset?

2. Style of Play

Both of these offenses have exploded down the stretch, but in different ways. NC State prefers to run the ball and control the clock while Rutgers is airing it out at 367 ypg in their last 3 contests. If NC State can keep the ball away from Teel, then they have a chance with turnovers to win this game. If Rutgers is able to get ahead of State and force the Pack to pass then the Scarlet Knight defense allowing just 11ppg down the stretch can pin their ears back.

Motivation

When you are left for dead in early October and in December you are playing in a bowl game there should be no motivation issues. NC State's Tom O'Brien has won his last 6 bowl games including many where he passed over for other teams while at Boston College.

Prediction

Rutgers is one of the bigger favorites in this bowl season, but I think NC State has a real shot here. O'Brien knows how to prepare a team for a bowl game and has a heady QB in Russell Wilson. I think State gets a few turnovers and is able to pressure Teel in the second half to win in an upset. But as you can see from my confidence rating it is my least confident pick of all the bowl games.

NC State 30 Rutgers 27
NC State Covers +7

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 1
My confidence ranking of the 34 bowl games for a NC State win.


Bowls: 2-2 ATS, 3-1 SU
Season: 33-32-3 ATS, 44-24 SU


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Site Upgrade...Finally!

So I finally upgraded the site and cleaned it up a bit. Let me know what you think of the new design. Either leave me a comment below or you can email me at accsecblog at gmail.com

Thanks for visiting.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

North Carolina vs West Virginia Preview and Prediction



Meineke Car Care Bowl
North Carolina vs West Virginia

Saturday 1PM ESPN
Charlotte, NC

Line: West Virginia -1.5

Overview

This game should shape up to be one of the best during the bowl season with Pat White leading West Virginia for the last time. White is 3-0 in bowl games during his career as a Mountaineer and will leave Morgantown as the NCAA's all time leading rusher at the Quarterback position. But the Tar Heels will try to spoil White's farewell behind a partisan crowd in Charlotte.

Keys to the Game:

1. Slowing the Option

North Carolina has already played an option team this year and beat Georgia Tech soundly in early November. Although West Virginia's version is different, many of the same principles apply in stopping it. The Mountaineers have struggled on offense their last two scoring just 15 against Pitt and 13 against South Florida. If you slow Pat White, then you slow West Virginia.

2. Turnovers

The Mountaineers have done a very good job this year of holding onto the ball. UNC's biggest downfall down the stretch was turnovers. The Heels turned it over 6 times against the Wolfpack in a 41-10 thrashing. North Carolina's offense needs to generate turnovers from their opponents to put points on the board because they average just 317 yards of offense and give up close to 360 with their defense.

3. Coaching

Bill Stewart is 1-0 as a head coach in bowl games. But that Fiesta Bowl win last year was mainly on emotion. Stewart has really struggled in big coaching spots this year. Stewart even called North Carolina a tougher opponent than Oklahoma. Really? North Carolina's Butch Davis is an average game day coach, but he did pretty well in big ball games at Miami and I would take just about anyone over Stewart in a big spot. Which is sad because I have really enjoyed watching Pat White these last 4 years.

Motivation

West Virginia's spirits may be a little down playing in Charlotte after the New Years Bowls they have played in the last 3 years, but I think wanting to send Pat White out a winner is a big boost for their morale. North Carolina will be helped out by a large Tar Heel contingent in Charlotte. And with such a young team they can use this a springboard to a 2009 season.

Prediction

I think UNC's experience against the option will come in very handy. I think the Tar Heels get a key turnover late and seal the win with a short scoring drive.

North Carolina 23 West Virginia 21
North Carolina Covers +1.5

Check out Pat White Highlights from You Tube

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 7
My confidence ranking of the 34 bowl games for a North Carolina win.


Bowls: 1-0 ATS, 1-0 SU
Season: 32-30-3 ATS, 42-23 SU

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Florida State vs Wisconsin Preview and Prediction


Champs Sports Bowl
Florida State vs Wisconsin

Saturday 4:30 PM ESPN
Orlando, FL

Line: FSU -5

Overview

The Seminoles and Badgers will meet for the first time ever in the Champs Sports Bowl on Saturday. Both teams had disappointing seasons in 2008, but will look to this game to springboard the 2009 season. FSU and Wisconsin are led by their running games which both average at least 180 ypg on the ground.

Keys to the Game:

1. Size vs Speed on the Lines

Wisconsin's offensive line pushes 320 lbs on average leading the way for two big backs in PJ Hill and John Clay. FSU counters with a fast defensive line led by speed rusher Everett Brown. The Seminoles like to run as well on offense with a smaller, younger offensive line paving the way for Antone Smith and a speedy freshman named Jermaine Thomas. The key for Wisconsin's defense will be to keep FSU's back away from edge while FSU will want to string out Hill and Clay along the line.

2. Rushing Battle

This is an extension of key #1, but running the ball is how both of these teams move the ball. FSU has good WR, but has not found a QB who can consistently deliver the ball. The Noles rotate Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson and we even had a Drew Weatherford sighting in the Florida, but no one has been able to nail down the job. Wisconsin benched starter Allan Evridge for Dustin Sherer who basically has the same stats, but the Badgers have won more games under Sherer. If one of the defense can force the opposition to throw the ball then they have a big advantage.

Motivation

Despite both of these teams having disappointing seasons, I think both teams will be excited to play in this game considering the big name cache of their opponent. FSU will have more of a home field advantage playing in Orlando, but Wisconsin travels pretty well also.

Prediction

Wisconsin has done pretty well in bowl games of late despite being an underdog in many. I think FSU has a clear advantage in talent, but the Noles have been slipping down the stretch while Wisconsin has been surging. I think FSU pulls this one out, but it is a close one.

Florida State 28 Wisconsin 24
Wisconsin Covers +5

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 22
My confidence ranking of the 34 bowl games for a FSU win.

Bowls: 1-0 ATS, 1-0 SU

Season: 32-30-3 ATS, 42-23 SU


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Miami vs Cal Preview and Prediction


Emerald Bowl
Miami vs Cal

Saturday 8 PM ESPN
San Francisco, CA
Line: Cal -8

Overview

The Miami Hurricanes will try to reverse a two game losing streak in the Emerald Bowl against a surging Cal Bears team. Miami was in the ACC drivers' seat in mid-November before losing their final two and fell all the way to a West Coast Bowl. The Bears finished the season on a two game winning streak with blowout wins over Stanford and Washington and will be playing in front of a partisan crowd just across the Bay from their Berkeley campus.

Keys to the Game:

1. Can Miami slow Cal's Jahvid Best?

Best had two spectacular games running the ball in Cal's final two going for a combined 512 yards on the ground against Stanford and Washington. Miami's run defense has played pretty well all year until their final two where they gave up 472 yards rushing to Georgia Tech and another 219 to NC State. On the season, Miami allowed opponents just 144 ypg on the ground and held Florida to just 89 yards rushing back in September. In the 4 Cal losses, Best averaged just 70 ypg. Which Miami run defense will show up?

2. QB Managers

Miami suspended starter Robert Marve for the game leaving the starting duties to true freshman backup Jacory Harris. Harris has played in all 12 games for Miami this year but his best output was 190 yards against Charleston Southern. Cal will counter with Nate Longshore who threw just 10 passes in his last game against Washington and did not play in Cal's two games prior. The Senior was beat out by Kevin Riley at the beginning of the season after starting his sophomore and junior years. Harris won't have to deal with the pressure of looking over his shoulder like Longshore, but he is also in his firs t bowl game. Both teams like to use the run to set up the pass. This game may come down to the QB who can take care of the ball the best.

Motivation

Miami had dreams of an ACC title a few weeks ago after beating Virginia Tech, but with two straight losses has slipped to the Emerald Bowl where both teams stand on the same sideline. Cal was initially disappointed with the bowl selection due to the closeness of the site, but should have a partisan crowd to boost their spirits. I give the edge to Cal with the proximity to home and the familiarity to the Bay Area weather that the South Florida kids may not care for.

Prediction

Unless Miami can show they have shored up their run defense early then it could be a long game for the Hurricanes. I like Cal's momentum coming into this game. I think the Bears put this game away early in the 4th Quarter.

Cal 30 Miami 20
Cal Covers -8

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 22
My confidence ranking of the 34 bowl games for a Cal win.


Bowls: 1-0 ATS, 1-0 SU
Season: 32-30-3 ATS, 42-23 SU


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Monday, December 22, 2008

What is Andy Kennedy Doing Out At 1 AM?

Last week, Ole Miss Head Basketball Coach Andy Kennedy was arrested in Cincinnati at 1:15 AM for simple assault after an incident with a cab driver. Later that day, Kennedy's Ole Miss club was to play in the SEC/Big East Challenge against a formidable Louisville team, a game they lost. I have to ask - what is a Division I Head Coach doing out at 1 AM the night before a game?

Kennedy does have ties to the city of Cincinnati having spent 5 years as former Bearcats coach Bob Huggins top assistant and took over for Huggins after he resigned.
"I want to speak to that a little bit, because again, I know this is being portrayed as SEC coaches gone wild," Kennedy said. "I lived in Cincinnati for five years, I've got some friends in that area. We went — and the whole staff was not out the entire time — I went to meet some friends from the Cincinnati area. We had dinner. We then met some other friends at an establishment." The Ole Miss coach explains why he was out at such a time by saying who uses the word "establishment" for a place they should be at?

Andy Kennedy wants everyone to hold off on judgement
google.com

Kennedy is now suing the cab driver who pressed the charges as well as a valet who is a witness to the incident. I don't know what happened. I don't know if Kennedy is guilty or not. Right now he is innocent, until proven guilty. I just want to know why he is out at an "establishment" at 1 AM the night before a big game? Who was watching the players because evidently the entire staff was out with him? How does Kennedy go and tell his team about not breaking curfew and staying out of trouble when he is at bars at 1AM? I know Kennedy is entitled to a life and he can have fun like everyone else. But he has to realize he is a celebrity of sorts and a role model for 18-22 year old men.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thoughts on Auburn, Turner Gill, and Gene Chizik

Let me get this statement out there right away. I don't think the sole reason Turner Gill was not hired at Auburn because he is married to a white woman, but I definitely think it was a factor. Heck, I don't even think Auburn should have been making this decision since they shouldn't have fired Tommy Tuberville. But they did.

The hiring of Iowa State Gene Chizik at Auburn has brought much scrutiny are rightly so considering his 5-19 record in Ames, which Auburn's AD Jay Jacobs calls "irrelevant". Chizik took over a Cyclones program that had gone to bowl games in 5 of their last 6 seasons under Dan McCarney. The now Auburn coach managed to sink the program to a new low with just 3 wins in his first season and 2 in 2008, including an 0-8 conference mark and a 10 game losing streak to finish the season.


The scrutiny surrounding the hire largely comes from the fact that Buffalo coach Turner Gill appeared to be a leading candidate for the vacant job. Gill had just led Buffalo to the MAC title beating previously undefeated Ball State just a few weeks ago. It has been rumored that Gill even turned down the neighboring Syracuse job holding out for the Auburn gig.
At Chizik's press conference, Jacobs described Chizik as the "best fit" for Auburn. If the job did come down to Chizik
and Gill, then then best fit argument holds some water. ESPN's Mark Schlabach went on "Outside the Lines" and said two SEC coaches said Gill would never be hired at Auburn. Why? It turns Gill, who is black, is married to a woman who is white. Who could those coaches have been? My guesses are former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville (who else who know Auburn better) and former Miss State coach Sly Croom (who knows something about the SEC and being the first black coach in the conference).


Let me reiterate my opening statement. I don't think the sole reason Turner Gill was not hired at Auburn because he is married to a white woman, but I definitely think it was a factor. I don't know whether that says racism or not. Auburn is allowed to hire whomever they want. They will reap the rewards or pay the price either way. It is true that a black Auburn assistant coach is married to white woman, but that assistant is not the face of the program like the head coach is. If Auburn had hired TCU's Gary Patterson or Cincinnati's Brian Kelly or Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson then they wouldn't have heard a peep out of the media and their most famous and loud alum Charles Barkley. But Gene Chizik raises some eyebrows. Chizik was a great DC at Auburn and Texas, but he flopped as a head coach. And Auburn is hiring him to be their head coach, not the defensive coordinator.

I have also heard the argument of Chizik having ties to the South in recruiting as a reason for the choice. I don't buy that argument and I don't buy it with Lane Kiffin's hired at Tennessee. There is a coach at a very prominent school who didn't have any ties to his recruiting area when he was hired and he has done pretty well. His name? Pete Carroll. If you can recruit, then you can recruit. 17 and 18 year old kids are not that much different in Texas as they are in Ohio or Georgia or Florida. But Chizik is a tireless recruiter cry supporters. If you aren't a "tireless recruiter" in college football then you aren't a head coach for very long.

And now Iowa State has hired Auburn Defensive Coordinator Paul Rhoads to be there next head coach. Word is there is much joy in Ames...and not so much in Auburn.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wake Forest vs Navy Prediction


Eagle Bank Bowl
December 20 11AM ESPN
Wake Forest vs Navy
Line: Wake Forest -3

Navy and Wake Forest will kick off the bowl season this Saturday in a rematch of a September 27 game won by the Midshipmen. In that game, Wake turned the ball over 6 times to give Navy their first win over a ranked team since 1985. Navy ran for 292 yards led by Eric Kettani in the win. Wake Forest had just 43 yards rushing.

Keys to the Game

1. Turnover Battle

The Demon Deacons don't usually out gain their opponents by much depending mostly on playing sound, mistake free football. Navy is prone to turnovers with its option offense, but unless they turn the ball over the offense is very hard to stop.

2. The Play of Wake QB Riley Skinner

The junior QB has had a largely disappointing third season as a starter, including 4 INTs back in September. If he can keep the Navy defense off balance then they will have a tough time stopping an ACC offense.

Motivation

Many bowl games are determined by who is the more motivated of the two teams. Some times you have a matchup on one team who feels they were slighted by a higher against a team on the rise just happy to be in a bowl. I don't think either of these teams will have a problem with motivation in this game. Wake will want redemption for the loss in September, but Navy will be playing in front of a partisan Washington DC crowd at RFK Stadium.

Prediction

Wake has pretty unimpressive for most of this season after coming into the season with high expectations. I think the Deacons play better than their 6 turnover performance in September and eek out a win against a tough Navy team.

Wake Forest 27 Navy 21
Wake Forest Covers -3


Season: 31-30-3 ATS, 41-23 SU

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