It’s hard not to feel a little bad for LSU’s seniors. They sat on the bench while LSU won a national title a few years ago, and they obviously wanted one of their own. They’d already lost once as the number one team in the country this season and all they had to do Saturday was beat a struggling Arkansas team, win the SEC title game and go win their own national championship.
But it didn’t work out that way, as it hasn’t for most of the season for the LSU Tigers. Did we overestimate how good they were? Maybe. Are they banged up? Yes. But what really happened Friday night is the coup de grace of the Les Miles era. I’m sure he’s a good guy and he’s good at his job for the most part; he seems like a good motivator for his kids. However, he’s a terrible game coach. He doesn’t use his personnel well and he doesn’t manage the clock well. The guy needs a separate assistant to make all his in-game decisions, the most egregious of which is his overuse of Jacob Hester and the criminal under-use of Keiland Williams.
Williams is only a sophomore, but he’s already 226 pounds and has 4.40 speed. As a freshman, he averaged 5.7 yards per carry, despite only getting 73 carries. This year, after the Arkansas game, he has 63 carries for 424 yards. That’s a 6.7 yards per carry average this season. Jacob Hester, a talented fullback, is averaging 4.95 yards per carry this season and I mentioned the key word in the last sentence: fullback. Jacob Hester is a fullback, yet Les Miles and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton seem to think he is a halfback.
I’m not saying Hester should never get the ball; he’s great at getting those very tough yards for the Tigers. He also catches and blocks extremely well, but he’s still just a talented fullback. Keiland Williams is exactly the kind of back that teams would kill for. The LSU offense has been lacking a big play threat all season. They’ve been forced to grind it out in close games because they don’t have anyone that terrifies opposing defense. Except Keiland Williams, that is. If he starts, who knows how their games turn out?
This is exactly like the Oregon offense before they started using Jonathan Stewart more. Stewart is strikingly similar to Williams. They’re both athletic, big backs who are clearly the best offensive players on their teams, and yet they’re under appreciated. At least Stewart WAS under appreciated. I knew all along about him and it’s just as obvious with Keiland Williams: the kid should be playing more. Then again, Gary Crowton is the same OC under whom Dennis Dixon and Stewart suffered last season. Pattern? I think so. Free Keiland Williams!
In other news, I’m 5 – 2 this weekend so far and now it’s Rivalry Saturday!
(8) Virginia Tech (9-2) at (16) Virginia (9-2) (+3.5)
Virginia is the first house of cards to play on Saturday and I just can’t see them playing well enough to handle the Hokies. Neither team is going to blow you away statistically, but Virginia Tech is better at finding ways to score points. They’ve always played Beamer Ball, Virginia just got into this game and saved Al Groh’s job. I like that UVA has gotten good again, but there’s just too much on the line in this game for Va Tech to not show up.
Pick: Virginia Tech
Update: Virginia Tech 33 Virginia 21. I can’t say I’m surprised by the outcome, though how they got there was pretty interesting. Ore finally made it off the bus for a game this season and that two-headed monster turned out pretty well. The announcers kept mentioning how Spurrier-esque it was, but Spurrier’s Florida team in 97 was terrible, so that makes no sense. Howie Long’s kid is pretty good too, though for the first time ever, the announcers didn’t mention his famous dad 500 times. There were more shots of Bruce Smith than Howie Long.
Utah (8-3) at (25) Brigham Young (8-2) (-4.5)
Ah, the Holy War. And this year it features a couple of teams who have won seven straight games. BYU seems to be back to “offensive juggernaut” status based on the last couple of years, so there’s no reason to think Utah’s defense is going to be up to the task. This one should be a nice shoot out before BYU pulls away. Utah seems just happy to be there while all week, BYU has been talking about reaching their potential and achieving greater things. They’re not satisfied with finally being ranked this season, and that’s got to count for something.
Update: BYU 17 Utah 10. WHEW! When it was 10-9 Utah and BYU was driving down with little time left, I was convinced this would be a win for the Cougars, but there was no way in hell they were covering. Then they ran the ball and some huge Samoan (or something like that) dude named Tonga or Unga ran it in for 6. Then Bronco Mendenhall showed he loved me because they went for two and got it. One of the greatest gambling moments ever. Thank you Joseph Smith. Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum.
(9) Oregon (8-2) at UCLA (5-5) (+1)
I feel Oregon’s pain in this game. They’re playing a must-win game with a Leaf running the offense. Ryan Leaf was also on the sidelines for last week’s lost to Arizona that belatedly ended Dennis Dixon’s season and showed everyone how terrible his brother Brady is. Ironically, UCLA is just breaking in their own mobile quarterback in this game, Osaar Rasshan. It’ll be worth watching just to see whether Oregon can overcome their injuries or if they’ll continue collapsing and ending a very depressing season in the Sun Bowl or some other awful destination.
UCLA Oregon. I’ve been convinced by Booter, our legal adviser, that the very future of UCLA football depends upon the Bruins losing these last games and getting Karl Dorrell fired. Who am I to go against destiny? And I quote:
“A win against Oregon nearly guarantees at least three more years of Karl Dorrell’s bumbling idiocy, a new OC every season, and more race baiting by idiots who write for the LA Times. The time is now for Coach Laterrian (from Road Rules) to fall on his sword and lose.”
We are all Oregon fans on Saturday.
Update: UCLA 16 Oregon 0. This was definitely the ugliest game of the season, if not ever. Phillips, Booter, and I spent a good 45 minutes dissecting the statistics from this one just because they were so awful. We decided it’s probably going to require a separate post tomorrow, so check back for that. Suffice to say, this was an awful, awful game and by no means should it mean that Karl Dorrell automatically gets to keep his job.
(7) Georgia (9-2) at Georgia Tech (7-4) (+3.5)
Georgia might know by the time this game kicks off whether they’ll be playing in the SEC title game or not. Hopefully for all you gamblers out there, the Kentucky/Tennessee game will still be close so that the Bulldogs will try against Georgia Tech and cover the 3.5 points. Georgia Tech has some tools to give Georgia problems, but it’s hard to see them having an answer for both Knowshon Moreno AND Matt Stafford and the passing game. They’ll probably be able to stop one, but not both. The big question mark for me is Georgia’s coach, Mark Richt. I’ve never been totally impressed with him as a head coach and this is an important game. Should Tennessee go down, Georgia still has to win a rivalry game. Then again, the Vols aren’t going down to Kentucky, who they’ve beaten 22 straight times.
Update: Georgia 31 Georgia Tech 17. Not much to say about this one because both teams were totally, completely unremarkable. Georgia had some nice rushing numbers, though Knowshon Moreno didn’t have a great game. Matt Stafford still is not developing as a passer. He’s not accurate and it’s beginning to become questionable whether he’ll be a 60% passer. What’s not questionable is Mark Richt’s descent from offensive mastermind to nondescript SEC coach that takes no chances and does nothing interesting. Enjoy, Georgia fan.
Oklahoma State (6-5) at (10) Oklahoma (9-2) (-13.5)
Oklahoma is already in the Big 12 title game because Texas lost to Texas A&M in Dennis Franchione’s last game, so this game is now just a pure rivalry with nothing on the line but pride. OU’s DeMarco Murray won’t play, but Sam Bradford will be ready to go against the Cowboys. Even though Oklahoma State has severely underachieved this season, it’s hard to see a rivalry game this intense being a 13.5 point blowout for one of the teams. OU is talented, but they also play down to their competition.
Pick: Oklahoma State
Update: Oklahoma 49 OSU 17. Okay, so maybe I should have looked a little more closely at this one. It may come as a shock to you that I don’t exhaustively research all of my picks from week to week. I’m not making any excuses, however. I’m a man! I’m not 40! Come after me!
(20) UConn (9-2) at (3) West Virginia (9-1) (-18.5)
Whatever it is UConn did to win 9 games this season, they’ll need to do it better than ever against West Virginia. Normally, it’d be easy to predict this game to be a shoot out that the Mountaineers would eventually win, but the WVU defense is much better this season. Not such a good sign for the Huskies, given their lack of a true offensive identity. However, I do think their defense will do enough to stop the West Virginia offense at least a few times. The real question is: will Pat White be able to concentrate on football instead of Erin Andrews. We’d sure find that difficult.
Update: West Virginia 66 UConn 21. Way to get off the bus, UConn. Christ. I guess I should have seen this one coming, but UConn just kept not getting exposed and getting away with limiting turnovers and playing defense. Well, today they turned the ball over and didn’t play any defense. Enough said.
8-5 with the night games just starting and the Florida game about to end.
Florida State (7-4) at (12) Florida (8-3) (-14)
I like how FSU has been playing lately, they seem to really get Jimbo Fisher’s offense after years of crappiness. However, this should be a three touchdown win for Florida and an extra-motivated Tim Tebow. Florida State defenders have been calling him out all week, talking about how they’re going to stop him and knock him out of the game. Florida’s defense is their weakness, but they’re still good and there’s no reason they should have trouble stopping the Seminoles. Besides, I had to take some one to beat a huge spread at some point this weekend.
Update: Florida 45 Florida State 12. Urban Meyer is now 3-0 against Bobby Bowden and Florida State. That’s enough to keep Florida fan happy this season considering the Gators have three losses and no big bowl prospects. Tim Tebow did nothing to dissuade people from voting for him for the Heisman, though I would argue that his biggest games tend to come against weaker teams. In any case, it seems as though Florida State will never be good again until Bobby Bowden retires and lets some one else run the program. Whatever it is they do just isn’t working anymore and hasn’t for a while. They simply aren’t a major program anymore. It’s kinda sad, since they were really fun to hate for a long time. Kind of like Florida is now.
In other news, I’m 9-5 with three games to go. Guaranteed over .500 for the week! Do you believe in miracles? Yes!
(22) Clemson (8-3) at South Carolina (6-5) (+3)
Normally, I’d say that Steve Spurrier would have something ready for Clemson in this rivalry game, but his South Carolina team this year just isn’t very good. Clemson is also extremely hot and, though Cullen Harper is drawing the most praise, that offense doesn’t function without James Davis and CJ Spiller, though neither is having a spectacular season a la Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Usually, I’d rant about how much I hate Clemson, but in this game, South Carolina is in much worse shape.
Update: Clemson 23 South Carolina 21. I’ve been totally distracted by Kansas’ slow death on ABC, so I missed how this game got close. I probably should have figured that Spurrier would be able to come back on a Bowden-coached team. But in the end, Clemson managed a field goal as time expired, and South Carolina is officially 6-6. That’s right, Indiana had a better record than Steve Spurrier’s team. As for South Carolina, I predict they’ll win nine games next season because Blake Mitchell will no longer be the quarterback. There hasn’t been a program-killer like him since Zach Mills was at Penn State a few years back.
Alabama (6-5) at Auburn (7-4) (-4.5)
That sure was a funny looking win last week for Alabama against UL Monroe. There’s also not a whole lot to like in terms of talent on either team too. Auburn just isn’t very good and I wouldn’t let John Parker Wilson quarterback a high school science project, let alone my football team (thanks to Phillips for letting me paraphrase that one, his was about Matt Flynn). It kind of stinks that the Iron Bowl is meaningless, but in truth, it’s never meaningless. These two schools absolutely hate each other. They’re natural enemies like Englishmen and Scots, or Welshmen and Scots, or Scottish women and Scottish men (clearly I’ve been watching the Simpsons)! In the end, I trust Alabama more than I trust Auburn and Tommy Tuberville at anything.
Update: Auburn 17 Alabama 10. Well, I hope all that money for Nick Saban this year feels worth it to Crimson Tide fans. 6-6 sure looks familiar from the Shula era, doesn’t it? I can already hear Tide fan using the Ty Willingham/You can’t shine s**t excuse. Yes, Shula’s players aren’t great, especially John Parker Wilson. But .500 football ain’t great. Something tells me Saban is gonna kick some ass this offseason and clean house.
(4) Missouri (10-1) at (2) Kansas (11-0) (-1.5)
Finally, the big game of the night. This is an absolutely fascinating game given the rivalry between the states and schools and how neither team is anything resembling a football power. Whoever wins this game still needs to beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, so no one gets to step right into the National Title game just yet. Then again, we’re only a couple of games from hearing, “Mountaineers! Jayhawks! You heard that right, it’s the BCS National Championship game on Fox!” At least I think the game’s on Fox. Whatever. Missouri is more talented at pretty much every position on the field. I like Kansas’s running backs a little more than Missouri’s, but I’d take Chase Daniel over Todd Reesing every day. I just don’t think Kansas has the firepower to win this one. Then again, Missouri has bitten me in the ass before when I thought they’d win, so…
Update: Missouri 36 Kansas 28. Much like the sacking of Lawrence, Missouri really took it to Kansas tonight. I really have to give the Tigers credit. They really played well on both sides of the ball, especially in the first half. Kansas wasn’t in this game until very late and it showed. Missouri disrupted the Jayhawk offense from the very beginning and looked excellent on offense themselves. I’m impressed all the way around, even though this game makes me finish 9-8 for the weekend. Kansas had to be exposed as a house of cards eventually, and when I made my prediction, I based it solely on the fact that you can’t trust Missouri in games like this. You might as well put Ohio State into the title game against West Virginia because there’s no way Missouri is beating Oklahoma next week. Then again, I don’t trust Oklahoma in games like this either. Maybe I just won’t pick the Big 12 title game at all. Ugh. Again, thank you to Missouri for allowing more BCS chaos to occur so that we have an underwhelming title game and move one step closer to a playoff, as it should be. It’s been an excellent weekend of football, and let’s never speak of this again. Good night.
This Week: 9-8