SMT: Southeastern Conference News, Views and Notes

Amari Cooper is the Best WR in Crimson Tide History? After his two touchdown, nine reception, 224 receiving yard campaign against Tennessee, Amari Cooper is making the case that he is the best wide receiver in Alabama prestigious history. Cooper cleared 200 receiving yards for the second time this season and set an Alabama single-game record with his 224 yards against the Volunteers. Moreover, Cooper is single handily rewriting Julio Jones from the record books as he is now one yard away from surpassing the single season receiving record. Next,  Cooper is just 55 yards away from Alabama’s all-time career receiving record, which was also previously held by Julio Jones.

The Georgia Defense is Improving Under Pruitt: Moving into the first weekend of November the Bulldog’s currently rank 20th nationally in scoring defense, the fourth best unit statistically in the SEC, allowing 20 points per game. This is a much improved defensive statistic from last season, as Georgia was ranked 79th nationally in that category, and 11th overall in the conference. Yet this is not the only statistical improvement in defense from the 2013 season. When discussing yards allowed per contest, Georgia ranks 16th nationally and fifth in the SEC, holding opponents to 320.6 yards per game. Last season the Bulldogs were 45th nationally allowing 375.5 yards per game. Moreover, through seven games the Bulldogs have already forced more turnovers than last year (17 takeaways), forcing seven fumbles recoveries and ten interceptions.

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SMT: How the SEC Gets Only One Team in the Playoff

Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1)
Projected wins: LSU, Mississippi State, Western Carolina, Auburn
Projected losses: None
Projected Finish: 11-1, 7-1 (SEC West 1st) – Defeats UGA in SEC Title Game

Projection: Four Team Playoff

Arkansas Razorbacks (4-4, 0-4)
Projected wins: Missouri
Projected losses: Mississippi State, LSU, Ole Miss
Projected finish: 5-7, 1-7 (SEC West 7th)

Projection: No Bowl Game

Auburn Tigers (6-1, 3-1)
Projected wins: Texas A&M, Georgia, Samford, Ole Miss
Projected losses: Alabama
Projected Finish: 10-2, 6-2 (SEC West Tied 2nd)

Projection: Citrus Bowl -  Auburn vs. Nebraska

LSU Tigers (7-2, 3-2)
Projected wins: Arkansas, Texas A&M
Projected losses: Alabama
Projected Finish: 9-3, 5-3 (SEC West 5th)

Projection: Outback Bowl - LSU vs. Wisconsin

Ole Miss Rebels (7-1, 4-1)
Projected wins: Presbyterian, Arkansas, Mississippi State
Projected losses: Auburn
Projected Finish: 10-2, 6-2 (SEC West Tied 2nd)

Projection: Orange Bowl – Ole Miss vs. Notre Dame

Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0)
Projected wins: Arkansas, UT Martin, Vanderbilt
Projected losses: Alabama, Ole Miss
Projected Finish: 10-2, 6-2 (SEC West Tied 2nd)

Projection: Cotton Bowl – Mississippi State vs. Baylor

Texas A&M Aggies (5-3, 2-3)
Projected wins: Louisiana-Monroe, Missouri
Projected losses: Auburn, LSU
Projected Finish: 7-5, 3-5 (SEC West 6th)

Projection: Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs West Virginia

Four Team Playoff: Oregon, Florida State and TCU/Baylor/KSU win out.

Key Remaining Games Outside the SEC: The Big 12 Scenario

Baylor – Oklahoma & Kansas State
Kansas State – West Virginia, TCU & Baylor
TCU – West Virginia & Kansas State

Wildcard: Michigan State defeats Ohio State & Nebraska/Wisconsin (Big 10 Title Game)

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Saturday Morning Tailgate: SEC Week 10 – TV Times

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 –  SEC Week 10 – TV Times

Louisiana Monroe at Texas A&M – 12:00 p.m. EST – SEC Network
Florida at Georgia (in Jacksonville) – 3:30 p.m. EST – CBS
Kentucky at Missouri – 4:00 p.m. EST – SEC Network
Old Dominion at Vanderbilt – 7:00 p.m. EST – ESPNU
Auburn at Ole Miss – 7:00 p.m. EST – ESPN
Arkansas at Mississippi State – 7:15 p.m. EST – ESPN2
Tennessee at South Carolina – 7:30 p.m. EST – SEC Network

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SMT: SEC Dominate the CFB Playoffs Rankings

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SMT: Will Muschamp’s Time at Florida is Over

House For Sale in Gainesville? No matter the outcome of Saturday’s contest against arch-rival Georgia (The World’s Largest Tailgate Party), the rein of Will Muschamp at Florida has come to an end. With Florida’s embarrassing 42-13 home loss to Missouri two weekends ago, it is time to face reality. Will Muschamp will not be the coach next season, this union can not be salvaged and it is time to file the divorce paperwork. Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley has gone on record stating Muschamp will not be fired during the season and will be evaluated at year’s end. Yet, with this now foregone conclusion (at least to this website), it is more productive to rally the distressed Gator fan base and begin the search for a new head coach. After all, the Florida football program demands Southeastern Conference and National Titles and coaches of this caliber are far and few between. Moreover, this decision could be expedited with an embarrassing showing against the Bulldogs this Saturday. One has to ask if it might be in the best interest of the Gator program to get destroyed by the Georgia Bulldogs, pull this lingering band-aid off and start a new era on Sunday morning.

The Muschamp Timeline? It is hard to pinpoint exactly where the Muschamp administration went astray. Rescuing a program left in shambles by Urban Meyer, filled with arrest and dismissals, Muschamp provided discipline, authority and high level recruiting to a program missing these elements after two national titles earlier in the decade. And for this achievements alone Muschamp must be applauded. Moreover, after leading the Gators to an 11-1 regular season record and a Sugar Bowl appearance, Muschamp looked to be one of the brightest young head coaches in college football. Then the floor fell out from under him. Florida got completely man-handled in said Sugar Bowl and it has been all downhill for Muschamp and the Gators since. Finally, then the 2013 season happened and the program began to unravel quickly. Leaving most SEC spectators asking, how did it all go so wrong, so fast?

The 2013 Florida Season. How did it go so wrong, so fast? The answer is the 2013 season. The 2013 season turned out to be one of the most disappointing in the history of the program and many Florida diehards still argue that Muschamp should have been fired after the 2013 season. And those fans may very well have been correct, given the state of the program in late October 2014. Still, last season was full if odd circumstances not traditionally witnessed at any college football program and athletic director Jeremy Foley has continued to support Will Muschamp. This 4-8 campaign, which included a home loss to FBS powerhouse Georgia Southern, occurred with seventeen scholarship players suffering season-ending injuries, most of which were projected starters. Given this issue, the question must be discussed. Should a head coach be judged in these unusual circumstances given they are ultimately responsible for building the depth of a team? At this juncture and given the recent decline of the Gator program, Muschamp should be held accountable for becoming a afterthought in the SEC East. Muschamp can not fall on the “injuries” sword in 2014, as he has done in previous seasons, as this Gators team has continued to under-preform without massive losses to his depth chart or uncanny dismissal and suspensions.

The Offense is Muschamp’s the Achilles Heel. Muschamp has fired two offensive coordinators during his tenure in Gainesville. Charlie Weis (although departed to become head coach of Kansas) and Brent Pease both got their walking papers as the offensive production lacked and SEC victories declined. It has been an easy scapegoat of the Muschamp tenure, as his defenses have always been ranked nationally. Blame the offensive coordinator. But as any head coach will tell you, the man at the helm is responsible for the entire performance of his team. And no matter the struggles of former five-star quarterback Jeff Drickel, the lack of a receiving core and bad depth at offensive line, the Gator offense is simply not working. Furthermore, in today’s game, a college football team can not compete nationally without at least an above average offensive attack. Next, when Muschamp hired Kurt Roper this offseason, it was the team’s third offensive coordinator in four years. And though the coach calling the plays has changed, the Florida’s offense hasn’t gotten better. Charlie Weis (pass-oriented pro style), Brent Pease (run-oriented pro style) and Kurt Roper (up-tempo spread) all have entered Gainesville as the savior to the Florida program, tried their offensive schemes and failed. At this point Muschamp must get the blame. Even during the 11-2 season, the offense was mediocre at best. For this reason alone Muschamp will not survive this season and will be collecting a buyout package from Florida this offseason.

The Conclusion. Florida will have a new head football coach come December 2014.

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SMT: SEC Team Total Yards Per Game Leaders – Week 9

School – TYPG – Passing Yards Per Game – Rushing Yards Per Game

  1. Mississippi State – 531.4 total yards – 258.3 passing yards – 273.1 rushing yards
  2. Texas A&M – 515.7 total yards – 364.1 passing yards – 151.6 rushing yards
  3. Alabama – 508.9 total yards – 290.3 passing yards – 218.6 rushing yards
  4. Auburn – 496.9 total yards – 215.9 passing yards – 281.0 rushing yards
  5. South Carolina – 461.4 total yards – 284.3 passing yards – 177.1 rushing yards

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SMT: The Wannabe Possum Goes to Auburn

The Scene: Auburn University
By Wannabe Possum

As part of an ongoing series, SMT special correspondent Wannabe Possum is investigating tailgating, drinking, and partying across the Southeastern Conference.  This week, WP reports from Auburn University where the Tigers took down the South Carolina Gamecocks.

AUBURN, AL – Rolling into the “Loveliest Village on the Plains” late Thursday night, Auburn lives up to its slogan.  By Friday afternoon the town is transforming.  By Saturday it is a thriving SEC football metropolis fueled by pride, tradition, epic tailgates, a seemingly endless supply of cold beer, and a lust for blood on the field.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the passion of their rabid fan base did not translate into the blowout victory predicted by many.  The Tigers looked as sloppy as George Jones on a Monday morning circa 1981.  But a win’s a win.  And like ole’ George, I suspect the Tigers will be back for the long-haul.

Fortunately for your’s truly, the scene in town and before the game did not disappoint.  Here’s how to make the best of your Auburn football Saturday – Wannabe Possum style.

Wake up early.  Even though the game doesn’t start until 6 pm, you are expected to be tailgating no later than noon, and preferably by 9 am.

Start drinking.  Ease the hangover and jumpstart the day with a local delicacy, the “Sara Beth Special.” Recipe as follows:

In a styrofoam War Eagle cup, pour leftover coffee (preferably left out overnight) over ice. Add 2 teaspoons Splenda, 1 jigger Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1 jigger Kettle One Vodka (or substitute Patron Tequila), splash of half & half to taste.  Stir to mix well.  Garnish with Kahlua.

Eat Breakfast. Big Blue Bagel is a local favorite. Get your cajun breakfast on an everything bagel to go, and get to the tailgate.

Make friends. Chips and salsa, and a 12-pack out of the trunk of your rented Ford C-max just isn’t going to cut it here.  Auburn hosts perhaps the most elaborate tailgates of the SEC.  Groups of families join forces to host over-the-top parties in anticipation of the game, and you don’t want to miss out.  Don’t have Auburn friends?  Don’t worry, they are also among the most welcoming of SEC fans – even to opposing teams.  Just say hello, and don’t be surprised to be invited in.

Pre-game. I attended two tailgates.  The first with a group of fraternity alums on the lawn near their former frat house, which sponsored a band blaring out country and classic rock hits.  The tailgate (I use that term very loosely as it was more like a small wedding reception) was held under about 14 tailgate tents strewn together and featured two flat screen tv’s with satellite; a large spread of appetizers, fried chicken, ribs, dips, and finger sandwiches; full bar, and a bottle of Fireball which was passed around and referred to as the “firetruck.”  There were even healthy options such as vegetables, grilled chick-fil-a chicken strips, and hummus for the ladies.

Unlike other schools, most of the tailgates at Auburn are much more spread out across campus.  This allows each tent to be larger, and each group more space.  The drawback is that is takes away some of the atmosphere and community developed at other institutions – think The Grove at Ole’ Miss.

An exception to this rule is in the mostly corporate tents set up near the stadium. This is where I attended a second pre-game party.  The benefit here is mostly to the sponsors of said tailgates, who have their events fully set up and cleaned up.  All they have to do is show up.  These tents, while a bit cookie-cutter, especially compared to the elaborate spreads set up by other groups of students and alumni, do have the feel of a more traditional tailgate.  Crowds of people packed together, long bathroom lines, and folks getting rowdy before the game.

Celebrate the Win.  Now on a 14-0 winning streak at home, it is a safe bet the Tigers will pull out the W.  Celebrate the victory by heading to Toomer’s Corner.  The massive oak trees are gone but the tradition lives on as toilet paper covers trees, power lines, the streets, and sidewalks.

Party late.  A short walk from the corner is the legendary Sky Bar.  A $5 cover (unless you are on the list – and you know Wannabe Possum is on the list) will transport you back to college with cheap well drinks, a rocking band, and co-eds dancing promiscuously on tables.

Late Night Eats.  On the way home, there were a number of late night food options.  The line at Domino’s Pizza was out the door.  However, this can be shortened by claiming the onion pizza for Alex is your’s, even if your name is Hoke.  We went with Mama Goldberg’s, a local institution now franchised in 4 states, featuring steamed sandwiches and world famous Mama’s Nachos. Recipe as follows:

Place small bag of Doritos in a single layer on a plate.  Tear slices of deli pepper jack cheeses to cover Doritos.  Chop pickled jalepenos and scatter over nachos. Steam until cheese is melted.  If you don’t have a steamer, use microwave.

Sleep. After a long day of drinking and eating your body will need the rest and the Mama Goldberg’s will help lull you into a carbohydrate and sodium filled slumber.

GET! On Sunday, Auburn will return to the loveliest village on the plains, and it is therefore time for you to go.  Certainly, you will leave with a smile on your face and a new appreciation for the War Eagle nation.

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SMT: SEC Individual Leaders Through Week 9

Southeastern Conference Passing Yards Leaders of Week 9:

  1. Kenny Hill (TAMU) – 2,649 yards –  214/321 (comp/atts) –  23 TDs, 8 Ints
  2. Dylan Thompson (USC) – 2,241 yards – 175/288 (comp/atts) – 20 TDs, 9 Ints
  3. Patrick Towles (UK) – 2,077 yards – 163/271 (comp/atts) – 12 TDs, 4 Ints
  4. Bo Wallace (OM) – 2,075 yards – 151/242 (comp/atts) –  18 TDs, 7 Ints
  5. Blake Sims (UA) – 2,034 yards – 131/200 (comp/atts) – 15 TDs, 3 Ints

Southeastern Conference Rushing Yards Leaders of Week 9:

  1. Josh Robinson (MSU) – 887 yards – 121 atts (7.3 ypc) – 10 TDs
  2. Cameron Artis-Payne (AU) – 831 yards – 151 atts (5.5 ypc) – 6 TDs
  3. Jonathan Williams (Ark.) – 830 yards – 122 atts (6.8 ypc) – 10 TDs
  4. Todd Gurley (UGA) – 773 yards – 94 atts (8.2 ypc) – 8 TDs
  5. Mike Davis (USC) – 750 yards – 142 atts (5.3 ypc) – 8 TDs

Southeastern Conference Receiving Yards Leaders of Week 9:

  1. Amari Cooper (UA) – 1,132 yards – 71 rec – 15.9 ypc – 9 TDs
  2. Travin Dural (LSU) – 676 yards – 27 rec – 25.1 ypc – 7 TDs
  3. Pharoh Cooper (USC) – 553 yards – 40 rec – 13.8 ypc – 6 TDs
  4. Bud Sasser (MU) – 551 yards – 40 rec – 13.8 ypc – 6 TDs
  5. Laquon Treadwell (OM) – 529 yards – 38 rec – 13.9 ypc – 4 TDs

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