5-at-10: SEC questions and answers, NFL power poll, NCAA change

5-at-10: SEC questions and answers, NFL power poll, NCAA change

September 24th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks too much" studios, me fail English, unpossible.

SEC asked and answered

1) Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC)

Alabama coach Nick Saban

Alabama coach Nick Saban

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Was it injury or indifference that slowed Alabama in a sluggish 31-6 win over Colorado State? It was some of each. Without receivers Kevin Norwood and Amari Cooper, Tide quarterback AJ McCarron was blah-tastic during the game and downright grumpy after it. Side note: This is where we are with Alabama and its atmospheric level of expected excellence. Think of it this way, the Tide are the No. 1 team in the country with two 25-plus-point blowouts and a road win over a top-10 conference rival and all we can see is Alabama's flaws. Somewhere Nick Saban just smiled.

Saturday: vs. Ole Miss, 6:30 (ESPN)

2) LSU (4-0, 1-0)

How young is too young? LSU landed a commitment from Dylan Moses, who is still three-plus years from graduating high school. The 15-year-old, 6-foot-1, 211-pound linebacker with 4.46 speed in the 40 picked LSU over a host of the nation's power programs. He was first offered before he started the eighth grade and said at the time playing for LSU was his lifelong dream. What were some of the others, getting his braces off and getting a learner's permit? Egads.

Saturday: at Georgia, 3:30 (CBS)

3) Georgia (2-1, 1-0)

Is Georgia - and Aaron Murray in particular - ready for the national stage and the chance to get back into the national title picture? ESPN College GameDay is in town for the first time since Alabama visited Athens and trounced the Bulldogs in 2008. (It was so bad that before Alabama, the last visitor to Georgia to inflict that much damage was Gen. Sherman.) Fairly or not, Murray has been nagged by the "can he win the big one" question throughout his record-setting time in Athens. He can end those whispers for good Saturday, because this is definitely a big one. Plus, if Georgia wins and runs the table, this one would make them the most attractive one-loss in the country.

Saturday: vs. LSU, 3:30 (CBS)

4) Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1)

How is this just a 3-point spread? Johnny Football is rolling - he threw for 244 and ran for 102 in last week's cruise-control win over SMU - and the Aggies have scored 40 or more in each of their four games this season.

Saturday: at Arkansas, 7 (ESPN2)

5) South Carolina (2-1, 0-1)

Will the Gamecocks be ready for a potential upset special Saturday? Following a bye week, South Carolina visits an unbeaten Central Florida team for a noon kick in the bright Florida sun. The Knights have a big-time offensive player in power back Storm Johnson, who averages more than 100 yards per game, and an underrated quarterback in junior Blake Bortles, who has completed 50-of-70 throws for 816 yards with seven TDs and only one pick.

Saturday: at Central Florida, noon (ABC)

6) Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0)

Are the Rebels ready for prime time? They certainly have embraced every challenge so far, considering Ole Miss has road wins at Vandy and at Texas (and when did we enter the bizarro world where the win at Vandy is likely more impressive than the win at Texas - Mack Brown it's time to go). Bonus question: Which of the talented freshmen will make the biggest splash against the top-ranked Tide? We'll go with Laquan Treadwell, the tall wide receiver who faces an Alabama secondary that has had trouble against tall wide receivers. Well-played Hugh Freeze, you actually have us excited about Ole Miss-Alabama.

Saturday: at Alabama, 6:30 (ESPN)

7) Florida (2-1, 1-0)

Is Jeff Driskel this college football generation's Wally Pipp? Quick history lesson: Wally Pipp was the starting first baseman for the New York Yankees and was feeling under the weather. He sat out one afternoon and was replaced by some young go-getter named Lou Gehrig, who started and starred in the next 2,100-plus consecutive games. Flash forward to last Saturday when Driskel was hurt early against Tennessee. Enter Travis Murphy, who certainly looked the part and will have his chance to prove his merit since Driskel is done for the season with a broken leg.

Saturday: at Kentucky, 7 (ESPNU)

8) Missouri (3-0,0-0)

How good is the Tigers offense? Pretty stout so far as the Tigers conclude their preconference drills this weekend. Missouri is in the top 25 in passing yards per game and rushing yards per game and ranks No. 8 nationally in points per game at 47.0. Plus, former super recruit Dorial Green-Beckham is becoming a current super receiver with 17 catches for 239 yards so far.

Saturday: vs. Arkansas State, 7:30 (CSS)

9) Auburn (3-1, 0-1)

Is there a better time for a bye week? After the physical toll that a trip to LSU can present, Auburn gets an off week in advance of the Oct. 5 game against Ole Miss, which has to play Alabama on Saturday. This is the Jadeveon Clowney of off-weeks.

Saturday: Open

10) Arkansas (3-1, 0-0)

What was that Arkansas? The Hogs were up 24-7 late in the third quarter at Rutgers and left the Garden State with a 28-24 loss. Some one get Bret Bielema on the blower and let him know this is the SEC and SEC teams put games like that away. How many Badgers fans tweeted 'karma' to Coach Bielema's wife after this one?

Saturday: vs. Texas A&M, 7 (ESPN2)

11) Tennessee (2-2, 0-1)

Did the UT coaching staff treat the video of the first-half debacle against Florida like the 'Wolfpack guys' in "Hangover" viewed the photos from the Vegas trip? Here's hoping that they looked at it. Discussed it. Then burned it. Ouch-standing. The only thing worse than the Tennessee offense on Saturday was Verne Lundquist, who was determined that Butch Davis coaches the Vols and that the teams' rosters were apparently just suggestions about which player was wearing which uniform. Bonus question: How bad must freshman Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson been in practice last week for Nathan Peterman to be the choice? Wow.

Saturday: vs. South Alabama, 12:21 (WDSI)

12) Vandy (2-2, 0-2)

Can the offense find its way? Amid turmoil and distractions, the Commodores needed a monster fourth quarter last week to put UMass away. Vandy led 10-7 and had less than 250 yards of total offense entering the final quarter before pulling away against the Minutemen. Maybe if they were the 60 Minutemen they would have fared better.

Saturday: vs. UAB, 7:30 (FSN)

13) Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1)

How does Mississippi State have two quarterbacks better than anyone on Tennessee's roster? After Tyler Russell was injured, Dak Prescott has stepped and looked the part of a future star for the Bulldogs. Dude is a hoss in the run game. Russell was cleared for contact last week; Prescott however appears to have little intention to make this an easy decision.

Saturday: Open

14) Kentucky (1-2, 0-0)

How is Kentucky attracting a nationally ranked recruiting class? Great question, and Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Jennifer Smith looked into that very issue last weekend and reported that a big part of it is assistant coach Vince Marrow, who is a lifelong friend of head coach Mark Stoops and apparently is a world-class charmer on the recruiting trail.

Saturday: vs. Florida, 7 (ESPNU)


NFL Power Poll

1) Seattle: The Seahawks have the league's best defense, the league's best home-field advantage and the league's best scoring differential. Add that up and you're starting at a team that's going to be tough to keep out of the Super Bowl.

2) Denver: Tuesday night ESPN debuted its documentary on the Manning family, football's first family. Through the first three weeks of the season, Peyton Manning has been putting on a weekly clinic, throwing for 12 TDs and leading the Broncos to a perfect start.

3) New Orleans: This bunch looks motivated after last year's wasted season because of BountyGate. The Saints welcome Miami to the Superdome for a Monday night game that looked like a stinker before the season but is a match-up of 3-0 teams.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

4) New England: Tom Brady's band of merry receivers and collection of can-you-name-that-guy is staggering. OK, can you name the colleges of New England's top four receivers, the unimpressive quartet of Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins? If you guessed Kent State, Marshall, Texas Tech and Cincinnati, respectively, you were correct.

5) Chicago: The Bears have a top-10 defense against the run, but will have to do without defensive tackle Henry Melton, who tore his ACL against the Steelers on Sunday night. Side note: There has not been a lot of Jay Cutler belly-aching lately, which tells us the uniform baseline truth in sports - winning cures everything.

Bottom five

28) Pittsburgh: Let the record show that the Steelers are bad. And, while we are quick to say you can't win in the NFL without a good quarterback, you can't win in the NFL with only a good quarterback either. That's magnified by the Steelers and the Giants - teams with multiple-Super-Bowl-winning QBs - being among the league's dregs.

29) Tampa Bay: This is like the Yankees and the Celtics being good. Sports just seems more in balance when the Tampa Bay Bucs stink.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18). (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18). (AP Photo/Steven...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

30) Giants: The debut of Manning documentary shows all three of the Manning brothers growing up in New Orleans. We know that Peyton is putting on a clinic. Well, little brother Eli's play so far ranks somewhere between a noogie and a wet willie on the enjoyment scale. We're one more stink bomb from getting into wedgie territory.

31) Minnesota: Granted the Jags are the worst team in the league, but the Vikings are not going down without a fight. Consider the following: The Vikings lost at home to a Cleveland team that was reeling after management pulled a Rachel Phelps and dealt their best player. Also, how bad must Christian Ponder be if he is completing less than 60 percent of his throws with five picks and only two TDs through three games considering he is throwing with every defensive player in the building looking at stud duck running back Adrian Peterson? Seriously, can we practice a play-action pass?

32) Jacksonville: Want to know the most misleading team stat in the NFL? How about passing yards allowed? The Jags are in the top 10 against the pass because they are 0-3 and have lost by an average of 21.3 points per game. So, teams do not need to pass against the Jags, a fact made even more clear because the Jags are dead last against the run.


NCAA change

We all know the NCAA is broken.

Be it the paying players discussion or safety or enforcement or what have you, the model must be changed.

It's so obvious that even the master of the obvious - NCAA president Mark Emmert - is expecting an overhaul.

"I think the board anticipates a lot of change," he told reporters Monday night in Texas. "They're going into their October and January meetings expecting to look at a whole different governance model for Division I. So it will be significantly different."

Change for change's sake can be a reckless proposition. That said, the current model is no longer acceptable to almost everyone invovled.

Where it goes from here will shape college sports as we know it. It also certainly will lean toward giving the bigger programs whatever they desire for an agreement to stay within the fold.

For the first time, the NCAA needs the power programs more than they need the NCAA and that sets up for a one-sided negotiation.

It will be interesting.

This and that

- The Pirates clinched a playoff spot Monday night in Chicago. The Braves also clinched their postseason bid at Wrigley. If Les Miles is to be believed, and LSU's Death Valley is the place where opponents' dreams go to die, then Wrigley Field is the place where opponents' come to flourish.

- Wow, Pacman Jones is back in trouble. No way. Sure it's just a disorderly conduct misdemeanor, but man, this cat may be the thickest-skulled guy in town.

- Nice update on B.J. Coleman from TFP ace Johnny Frierson here. Enjoy.

- As the QB turns for the Vols, as Downtown Patrick Brown shares here. Justin Worley is back in the starting role for South Alabama, and with Nathan Peterman having hand surgery, the back-up job will be on one of the true freshmen, Josh Dobbs or Riley Ferguson.

- Did you see where a North California youth football league has put into its rules that coaches could get fined by as much as$200 for beating foes by more than 35 points? Wow.

Coach: "Take a knee boys."

QB: "But coach, it's the first quarter."

Coach: "Yep. We need to run some clock before we start scoring."

Today's question

Feel free to weigh in on any of the above. That's how we roll.

If you need an extra talking point, well, OK:

The Manning documentary does not appear to be in the 30-for-30 series - it's an SEC film - but that still gives us a chance to discuss the best of the 30s. Thoughts?

Also, if you were elected NCAA czar, what's the very first thing you are changing? Can be huge can be small, but what is the one pet peeve from an institution that is infested with pet peeves?

And don't forget Friday's mailbag.