published Monday, November 14th, 2011

5 at 10: Tennessee Vols, Georgia Bulldogs and a possible LSU/Bama rematch

From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...



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    LSU head coach Les Miles, center left, sings the LSU fight song with linebacker Josh Johns (39) and cornerback Ron Brooks (13) after their NCAA college football game against Western Kentucky in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. LSU won 42-9. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

College football Monday morning quarterback

— It's hard to remember the SEC ever being this top heavy. There are two elite teams: Alabama and LSU. There are two very good to great teams: Arkansas and Georgia. Everyone else is blah, and each is capable of producing a stink-bomb performance that is so unwatchable, even the most devout fans start clicking the remote and looking for something else to do. (Yes, we're talking about you Auburn. And you Tennessee. And you Florida.) Auburn's complete collapse Saturday against Georgia was so bad, that it calls for a quick history revision. Not unlike Peyton Manning's MVP candidacy as an injured by-stander (here's the football definition of "value" — with Manning, the Colts are always among the teams capable of reaching the Super Bowl, without him they are 0-10), Auburn's offensive level of incompetence makes what Cam Newton did last year even more incredible and quite possibly the single greatest season in college football history.

— It's hard to imagine a better weekend for Johnny Alabama Fan. His two tradition bitter rivals — Tennessee (more on that below) and Auburn — were trounced. The Tide made easy work of Mississippi State. Two more teams — Stanford and Boise State — fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. Alabama sits third in all the polls that matter, waiting for Oklahoma State to pull an Oklahoma State and trip up somewhere. Four weeks ago, it looked like there could be a true BCS disaster with as many as six unbeaten teams. Now, there are but three — LSU, OSU and Houston — and it looks very possible Alabama will get a rematch against LSU in the title game.

— OK, let's stroll back to right before Week 3, when the two SEC coaches on the hottest seats were, in order, Georgia's Mark Richt and Ole Miss's Houston Nutt. Since then, Richt's Bulldogs have circled the wagons, won eight straight games and are a win against hapless Kentucky from booking a spot in the SEC title game. Well played indeed. Nutt's Rebels have collapsed, lost seven of eight and were thumped by Louisiana Tech by 20. At home. On homecoming last Saturday. Ouch-standing. That said, with the win over Ole Miss, La. Tech — UT coach Derek Dooley's former program — now has more SEC wins this season than Dooley's current program. Ouch-of-sight.

— Fab 4 (plus-1) went 2-3 last week, including the easy-money pick that was Arkansas. We're 33-19-1 overall against the spread. That's pretty good, but we've been scuffling in recent weeks, especially when you consider that we started 14-3-1 (that's 17-16 since). The lesson here, as the season goes on, the lines makers get better.



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    Tennessee wide receiver Zach Rogers (83) makes a catch as he is pressured by Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel (8) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/April L Brown)

Now this has happened, broseph

One of the best moments of "Anchorman" was when Jack Black punted Ron Burgandy's beloved dog, Baxter, off the bridge. Relax, PETA folks, it was not a real dog.

Johnny Vols Fans everywhere know the exact feeling Burgandy experienced as they are watching their beloved UT Vols get punted off the bridge week after week.

Arkansas thumped the Vols 49-7 and finished 3 feet short of 500 yards of offense. It was not pretty — although the new checker board sleeves were quite fetching. On the field, the Vols held the ball for more than 37 minutes and managed just one touchdown. (Although there was a Rajion Neal sighting, so that's good right?) Defensively, the Vols held Arkansas to a less-than-impressive 8.7 yards per play — and that's not counting the 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Joe Adams.

The lists of firsts is not good Johnny Vols fan. This is UT's first 0-6 start in SEC play ever. Only one of those six SEC losses by single digits (although that 20-12 loss to Georgia looks a lot better this morning after what the Bulldogs did to Auburn on Saturday). A sweep of its final two games would get UT in a bowl game as our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here, but an 0-2 finish would result in the first eight-loss season in program history.

Depending on your point of view on the Vols in general and Dooley in particular you know the common topics and can recite them chapter and verse — the familiar refrain of depth, injuries, third coach in four years, full moons and werewolves, the fact that they even made Caddyshack 2 devalues Caddyshack, and the list seems to grow each week. Are they reasons or excuses? Probably some of both, but hold on to your Smokey T-shirt for the following stat:

Vandy is a 1-point favorite against UT this week. In Neyland Stadium. Read that again.

Is everyone OK?



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    Kasey Kahne celebrates his win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

NASCAR makes final turn

OK, the 5-at-10 is big enough to admit when we possibly may have gone a touch over the top on some heckles.

NASCAR, take a bow, the new points system has created drama all the way down to the end. And that's a good thing.

Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart finished 1-2-3 in Sunday's race at Phoenix, and Edwards leads Stewart by three points heading into Sunday's season finale at Homestead, Fla.

The possibilities are wide and far-reaching. Stewart and Edwards are locked in a points race so tight, that it will almost come down to a one-on-one showdown. And that's a good thing.

So as everyone is driving for the checkered flag, Stewart vs. Edwards will decide the title. Somewhere, there's a NASCAR official hatching a dream scenario where Dale Jr. wins Sunday's race and Stewart and Edwards are door-to-door — whether it's racing for 40th or fourth, it doesn't matter — until the very end. That would be a great thing.



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    Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick walks onto the field before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

This and that

— Gambling in the NFL has become about picking winners. According to friend of the show, RJ Bell at pregame.com, the point spread has been meaningless in 28 of the last 29. That means the favorites have won by more than spread and the underdogs won outright, including Sunday's win by the Arizona Cardinals, who were 14-point underdogs in their 21-17 win over Philadelphia.

— Speaking of Philadelphia, the Eagles — a trendy Super Bowl pick two months ago — fell to 3-6 with the loss and proved yet again that using the slogan "Dream Team," which renowned deep-thinker and renaissance shoulder pad thrower Vince Young used to describe the Eagles, is never a good play.

— Baseball free agency is starting to pick up steam, and Braves fans have cause for concern. First, the Phillies were willing to spend big bucks for former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon (a smart move considering the Phillies' window to win it all is starting to shrink as that lineup ages). Second, the Florida Marlins are courting the biggest names on the market and reportedly have made an offer to Albert Pujols.

— College hoops started in earnest this weekend, and the Lady Mocs notched a nice win against UAB on Friday, the Vols won in Cuonzo Martin's debut and the Lady Vols rolled over Pepperdine on Sunday. The Mocs lost at Indiana. Two things that jumped out from the weekend: Cleveland State (the one in Ohio) stunned No. 7-ranked Vandy — apparently Vandy has adopted the SEC traditional stance that the 'Dores are a football school — and there's actually a story on the ESPN.com that there are "big bracket games" for teams this weekend. Please. Stop it. It's November, the only brackets that matter are those in the holiday tournaments that end in places like Maui or Puerto Rico or wherever.



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    Alabama head coach Nick Saban is seen with his team during the first half against LSU Saturday.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Today's question

We asked it last week, but it's looking more and more possible after another crazy week of college football.

If Oklahoma State loses, it's looks like Alabama will get a rematch in the BCS.

Does Alabama deserve a title shot, and should a team that does not win its conference championship get a chance to play for the national championship?

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
tigerdawg said...

don't forget that LSU still hasn't won the SEC yet... With Jefferson starting at QB now their offense is extremely 1 dimensional and even Tyga fans are wondering if it will hold up

November 14, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
Redlegs11 said...

Sorry...no team not playing for your conference's championship should be allowed to play for a national title. Just sayin. And good call on the Cam Newton deal. How eerily similar have the paths Texas and Auburn have followed. Between VY and Cam, you have arguably the two greatest single-season performances in college football history (apologies to Barry Sanders), and to see how those two programs have fallen and continue to fall lends even greater credence to that fact.

Which brings us to another good point: Auburn canned Tommy Tuberville because he gave up recruiting for duck hunting, and because when he lost a ball game it was never close. He would beat a top 10 team and then get drilled by 21(you think Texas Tech fans are starting to see a pattern here). Certainly Chizik has a lot of well-earned rope after last year, but I don't think the same can be said for Ted Roof. They won a title last year despite its defense. And lets forget about 4 and 5 star recruits....how about recruiting someone who can make a tackle. Has Auburn had a good linebacker since Spikes? (and no, Karlos Dansby doesn't count, he was an end).

November 14, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.
jgreeson said...

T-Dawg —

Have not forgotten that the LSU Tigers still have to finish the drill. And their offense does have some question marks, but the Tigers resume — beating Oregon, West Virginia and Alabama away from home — is outstanding.

Redlegs —

Concur. If you can't say you're the conference champ, how can you say you're the national champ?

Great point about VY, too.

Chizik will almost assuredly have to make some changes. Saturday was brutal. Tackling was awful and apparently Georgia broke out this awesome new play called the forward pass and throwing it when the DB is not looking. Sweet goodness, Georgia just completed another 32-yard pass over an Auburn DB. Maybe the Auburn corners need glasses — we have never seen a group that bad with the ball in the air.

The Tuberville thing may need its whole entry.

— 5-at-10

November 14, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.
Cjoyner said...

Tough year for Auburn, Jay. No. 22 Southern Miss has some open dates in 2013 if you want to toughen your non-conference schedule ...

November 14, 2011 at noon
chas9 said...

Lay the one and smile all the way to the bank.

TN just don't get no respect. No respect at all.

There was a Caddyshack 2? Really?

November 14, 2011 at 12:11 p.m.
Cjoyner said...

0-6 in the SEC? With a record like that, I bet you get a free bowl of soup. Oh, it looks good on UT, though.

November 14, 2011 at 12:28 p.m.
Blueoval said...

Vandy a 1 point favorite over UT in Neyland? Gen. Neyland and George Cafego must be turning over in their graves. That hurts but I pick Vandy too.

Jay, haven't you heard??? Nascar is coming out with a new rule starting in 2012. Dale Jr gets 900 hp to everyone else’s 800 hp. It wouldn't surprise me but he probably still couldn't drive it to the front. Normally I catch bits and pieces of the races but I watched the whole things yesterday. For once the end of the season is actually pretty exciting.

November 14, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Does the Crimson Stain deserve a spot opposite LSU in the title game if OSU loses to Oklahoma? Absolutely, as the rule is the unbeaten that was beaten first always finishes ahead of the unbeaten in front of them that is beaten last.

Some say that a one-loss conference winner should finish ahead of Bama. Sorry, there's no affirmative action in the BCS for a team like Boise State on the justification that the Broncos won a title in the relatively lame Mountain West should be counted ahead of Bama.

Vandy -1 against a Vol Team hitting the rockiest bottom in the SEC ever in Rocky Top history. Each of these teams will try to win themselves into bowl eligible. Tennessee hasn't run the ball all year. Don't expect anything different now.

November 14, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.

Just a thought.

If Alabama finishes the season as the #2 ranked team in the country. And if they are (in most minds) the second best team in the country....THEN a) Is not the purpose of the National Championship game to put the #1 and #2 on the field, regardless of the fact they played in the regular season. Isn't that why we don't have a playoff system that links the regular season to the bowl games in that manner. Take the two best teams period. b) Why should Bama be penalized for being the 2nd best team in the country that just happens to be in the same division in the same conference as the #1 team. The fact that the SEC has a championship game (unlike some conferences) is a plus to us fans, but it should not diminish Bama's status as the #2 team. c) Would you really rather see a lesser team take a much greater pounding in the National Championship, than to see a team that lost in OT by 3 points get a rematch if they deserve to be there. Personally I would love to see the two great coaches lock and load for LSU/BAMA 2 (likened to Ali/Frazier 2).

Keep in mind, I am a Bulldog fan and would rather see Ga run the table and go to the Sugar Bowl and watch the "game-makers" scramble to figure out where to put LSU and Bama. As well as, who to put in the National Championship. Now that would be fun right there. We all have dreams.....It could happen.

November 14, 2011 at 1:20 p.m.
memphisexile said...

If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, I fully expect to see them jump to #2. No one wants to see a rematch in the NC, and unfortunately the teams ranked 3 and 4 in the BCS have both already lost to LSU. Somebody behind the scenes will give those computers a kick and it will all work out. Personally, like the other fine commenters, I think if you don't win your conference, you shouldn't be eligible for the NC game. What would be really odd would be if LSU lost to Arkansas (hoping they don't because they are my team) and Oklohoma State loses, you get Oregon and Alabama in the NC, both of whom would be then ranked ahead of LSU even though they both lost to LSU in the regular season. Madness! Say what you want about the BCS, it keeps things interesting even though it is not always "fair".

November 14, 2011 at 1:25 p.m.

Just a thought.

If Alabama finishes the season as the #2 ranked team in the country. And if they are (in most minds) the second best team in the country....THEN a) Is not the purpose of the National Championship game to put the #1 and #2 on the field, regardless of the fact they played in the regular season. Isn't that why we don't have a playoff system that links the regular season to the bowl games in that manner. Take the two best teams period. b) Why should Bama be penalized for being the 2nd best team in the country that just happens to be in the same division in the same conference as the #1 team. The fact that the SEC has a championship game (unlike some conferences) is a plus to us fans, but it should not diminish Bama's status as the #2 team. c) Would you really rather see a lesser team take a much greater pounding in the National Championship, than to see a team that lost in OT by 3 points get a rematch if they deserve to be there. Personally I would love to see the two great coaches lock and load for LSU/BAMA 2 (likened to Ali/Frazier 2). I think the hype, would exceed the first one and be greater than a LSU/OK State or LSU/Oregon (REMATCH....by the way).

Keep in mind, I am a Bulldog fan and would rather see Ga run the table and go to the Sugar Bowl and watch the "game-makers" scramble to figure out where to put LSU and Bama. As well as, who to put in the National Championship. Now that would be fun right there. We all have dreams.....It could happen.

November 14, 2011 at 1:25 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Had a speaking engagement and had a blast at the UTC QB club. But on to the responses with a bonus Caddyshack quote on each (great idea CJ).

CJ —

Tigers are struggling, but the strength of schedule is the one thing that the Tigers don’t need help. Auburn’s four losses are to teams ranked in the top 15. Granted they were each a pretty bad spanking, but so it goes.

“Hey you scratched my anchor.”

9er —

We’ve been told that there was a Caddyshack 2, we just choose not to believe it.

“World needs ditch diggers, too.”

Oval —

This has been the best NASCAR season in at least five years, and Sunday is the most anticipated race for the 5-at-10 since Dale Sr. was still alive and driving 200 mph with one arm on the wheel.

And yes, the General and George are spinning, but if you believe the Vols are going to score more than three touchdowns, raise your hand.

"Pool or pond... Pond would be good for you."

FE to the C —

We concur that LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country, we just feel that a team has to win its conference (nevermind its division) to play for the whole thing. As for BSU, they are not going to win its conference. And yes, there’s no affirmative action in the BCS, even though that has not stopped ESPN from trying to force it down our throats.

"Put me down for a 5."

Chalupa —

If they are ranked No. 2 then they’ll get their shot because there is not a rule against it right now. So it goes, and it will probably be an absolutel slugfest. (Although the hype of the first game was over the top and it was just two weeks, can you imagine how much build up the game will have if we have to wait 50-plus days?)

And you are spot on — if UGA crashes the party and beats LSU, it could very be Alabama vs. who knows with LSU being relegated to the Cotton Bowl.

"You wore green so you could hide."

Exile —

If some surprises happen, a BCS title game of Oregon-Alabama even though each lost to LSU, could be as damaging to the BCS as five unbeaten teams.

"Hey Lama, how about something for the effort?"

— 5-at-10

November 14, 2011 at 1:53 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Phillies overpaid. Way overpaid for a closer about to hit the downside of his career.

Auburn surrendered so fast Saturday even the French army is weeping.

November 14, 2011 at 7:18 p.m.
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