SEC: Texas Longhorns
Longtime instate rivals Texas and Texas A&M haven't faced each other on the football field since the Aggies bolted for the SEC in 2012. That, however, hasn't stopped the two sides from trading barbs on Twitter.
With the NFL draft coming up, new Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford riled up Texas A&M fans with his Twitter views on the pro prospects of former Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Bedford started out general then he got specific:
Seriously, what do we do to get the Longhorns and the Aggies on the same field again?
We threw out a few dream possibilities involving SEC teams a week ago in our SportsNation poll. These were potential nonconference matchups.
With more than 11,200 votes cast, the winner was Alabama vs. Oregon. That was certainly the game I wanted to see last season in the BCS National Championship Game. I think it's the game most college football fans wanted to see -- the classic high-octane, speed-of-light offense versus a suffocating defense that's been in the top 5 nationally in most major statistical categories for five years running.
The Alabama-Oregon matchup received 31 percent of the vote. A close second was Texas vs. Texas A&M, which received 28 percent of the vote. Surely, the Longhorns and Aggies will play again at some point. I guess we'll have to wait until Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds decides the time is right since Texas "gets to decide" when the two old rivals will meet again.
The way Kevin Sumlin has it going in College Station, Dodds might want to wait a long while.
Coming in third place in our poll was Florida vs. Ohio State, which got 18 percent of the vote. We could dub it the Urban Meyer Bowl.
Fourth place in the voting was South Carolina vs. USC (15 percent), while fifth place was LSU vs. Notre Dame (8 percent).
What are some other dream nonconference matchups?
A few that come to mind: Alabama vs. USC, South Carolina vs. Oklahoma (Steve Spurrier vs. Bob Stoops), Georgia vs. Florida State, LSU vs. Michigan, Texas A&M vs. Oregon, Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech, Florida vs. Texas and Arkansas vs. Wisconsin (the Bret Bielema Bowl).
No offense, Notre Dame fans, but seeing that high-octane Oregon offense go up against Alabama's defense would have made for much better theater than what we ended up getting in South Florida in January.
We've come up with five such matchups and want you to select which one would be the most attractive by voting in our SportsNation poll.
Alabama versus Oregon is one of the choices. Who knows? Maybe we'll finally get to see the Ducks and Tide square off in the final BCS National Championship before we go to a playoff in 2014.
Think Florida versus Ohio State would stir a few emotions with Urban Meyer taking on his old team? It would be the battle of Meyer's two dream jobs. Come to think of it, is it possible to have two dream jobs? In Meyer's world, you can.
I realize that Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, in all of his arrogance, said recently that Texas gets to decide when Texas and Texas A&M play again. Ask anybody in that state, and it can't be soon enough. Surely we'll see those two old rivals playing again sooner rather than later.
Here's one for you: South Carolina and Steve Spurrier going up against Lane Kiffin and the West Coast version of USC. Spurrier's not the biggest Kiffin fan. Then again, who in the SEC is? Something says the buildup to that game could be as entertaining as the game itself.
Finally, LSU and Notre Dame played 10 times between 1970 and 2006 and are all knotted up, 5-5. It's time to break the tie. Talk about two of the best fight songs in all of college sports and two programs steeped in tradition.
Well, you have the rundown. Tell us which matchup you'd most like to see, and we'll go over results next week.
The AP No. 1 team has faced a Top-20 opponent on the road the week after a home win against another Top-20 opponent nine previous times. The AP No. 1 team is just 2-7 in those games, including the Crimson Tide, who lost in that situation at South Carolina two years ago.
Some of these games are defining moments in the history of at least one of the schools involved.
Here’s a summary of each game since 2000 that fits the same description as Alabama’s game at LSU this Saturday.
2010: 19 South Carolina def. 1 Alabama, 35-21
The Gamecocks came out firing, opening up a 21-3 lead that couldn’t be overcome en route to a 35-21 victory behind three touchdown passes from Stephen Garcia and three scores from freshman running back Marcus Lattimore.
The defense limited future NFL first-rounders Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to just 64 yards on the ground, allowing South Carolina to earn the school’s first victory vs a No. 1-ranked opponent.
2008: 6 Texas Tech def. 1 Texas, 39-33
Texas was a play away from winning before Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell found Michael Crabtree on the sideline for the dramatic game-winning touchdown with one second left.
That loss would be the Longhorns’ only defeat of the season, but was enough to leave them (controversially) out of the BCS national title game that season.
2007: 17 Kentucky def. 1 LSU, 43-37 (3 OT)
The Wildcats, who hadn’t beaten a top-ranked opponent since taking down Ole Miss in 1964, rallied from a 13-point third-quarter deficit to force overtime.
In the third extra period, Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson found Steve Johnson for a 7-yard touchdown pass, and LSU was unable to pick up a first down on its possession, setting off a wild celebration at Commonwealth Stadium.
Though it seemed like the loss dashed the Tigers’ national title hopes, they actually went on to lose another triple-overtime game later that season (50-48 to Arkansas), but still would end up playing for and winning the national title that season.
2001: 1 Miami (FL) def. 14 Virginia Tech, 26-24
The Hurricanes appeared to have the game under control after taking a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Virginia Tech rallied for two touchdowns, including one off a blocked punt.
A failed two-point conversion by the Hokies and a late interception by Ed Reed (his second of the day) helped the Hurricanes ward off the comeback, giving them a two-point win that was their only single-digit margin of the season. Miami went on to crush Nebraska in the Rose Bowl and win the national title.
Mack Brown likes what he sees in terms of the quality of coaching in the SEC.
Who in the SEC hasn’t the Texas head coach reached out to, talked to or tried to woo to Austin to be a part of the Longhorns’ staff?
Texas might play in the Big 12, but the Longhorns’ staff will have a distinct SEC flavor next season.
And they’re paying some serious cash.
Georgia’s Stacy Searels is reportedly getting more than $400,000 to coach Texas’ offensive line. As recently as two years ago, that would have been considered a handsome salary for an offensive or defensive coordinator.
Of course, nobody in the SEC can say anything about paying outrageous salaries to assistants. Five of the 12 defensive coordinators in the league are poised to make $700,000 or more next season, and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will rake in a cool $1.3 million.
Still, think about all the coaches in the SEC that Brown has come after since the end of the Longhorns’ disappointing 2010 season.
He hired Manny Diaz away from Mississippi State to be his defensive coordinator. That’s after LSU’s John Chavis said thanks, but no thanks. Tennessee’s Justin Wilcox was also in play for the Texas defensive coordinator’s job before withdrawing his name from consideration, and there were reports that Florida’s Teryl Austin was part of that whole process, too.
Unless there’s some late snag, it looks like Searels will leave Georgia to coach the offensive line at Texas. That’s after Auburn’s Jeff Grimes interviewed for that same job last week, but elected to stay on the Plains.
Brown also hired Bennie Wylie away from Tennessee to be his strength and conditioning coach and hired Bo Davis away from Alabama to be his defensive tackles coach.
If you throw in Major Applewhite, who went from Alabama to Texas following the 2007 season, that means five of the Longhorns’ assistants next season will have come from the SEC.
Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em away.
Our topic: No. 1 Oregon and No. 2 Auburn. Who's better and why?
Both are unbeaten, and if the season ended today, they'd play for the national title.
We've got lots of football left, and probably many more plot twists in the hunt for the national title, but there's no reason we can't engage in a hypothetical, is there?
So the Pac-10 blog -- Ted Miller -- and the SEC blog -- Chris Low -- have decided to meet for some civilized debate on Auburn versus Oregon.
Ted Miller: Chris, since things are so quiet in the sleepy SEC, I think we should spice things up with a Pac-10-SEC blogger debate! It seems like a long time since we last had a debate between our two conferences. How’d that one go? Let’s see I championed Taylor Mays and you celebrated Eric Berry. Wait. Why did I bring that up?
Anyway, our topic is Oregon and Auburn: Who’s better and why.
You get first blood. Tell me about Auburn. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago that Jay Jacobs was getting hounded for hiring Gene Chizik. Guessing that’s died down a wee-bit.
Chris Low: No doubt, Ted. I wonder where that obnoxious guy is now, the one yelling at Jacobs as he was leaving the airport after finalizing the deal with Chizik? Maybe Jacobs knew what he was doing after all. The guy with the 5-19 record at Iowa State has done all right by himself on the Plains. He has a Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterback and the SEC's leading rusher in Cam Newton, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound freak of nature who runs like Bo Jackson and also has an NFL arm. Keep your eyes, too, on freshman running back Mike Dyer, who they haven't had to lean on much this season, but is oozing with talent and has fresh legs for this stretch run. The Tigers' defensive numbers are nothing to write home about, but they do have the kind of dominant interior defensive lineman, Nick Fairley, who can take over games. Georgia coach Mark Richt said Fairley's the closest thing he's seen to Warren Sapp. Auburn's calling card defensively has been making plays at key times in the fourth quarter. The Tigers have been a serviceable defense through three quarters this season, but they've been a championship-caliber defense in the fourth quarter -- which is why they're 10-0.
So tell me about Oregon?
Obviously, we're talking about two very good teams that have done impressive things on their way to remaining unbeaten. I know we both have Oregon ahead of Auburn in our power rankings, but give me the case for Auburn.
Chris Low: Ted, I think what separates Auburn is Newton. Nobody has been able to stop him. If you commit to taking away the run, he's proved he can beat people throwing the ball. And if you come after him and/or don't have enough people in the box, he's been magic running the ball. Keep in mind, too, that we're not talking about a 220-pound guy running the ball. We're talking about a 250-pound guy who's physical, tough and doesn't run out of bounds. In the red zone, he's the great equalizer, because he gains 3 yards when he falls forward and has the size and the strength to push the pile. On top of it all, he's always a threat to throw the ball. Similar to Oregon, Auburn doesn't flinch if somebody puts 30-plus points on the board, because the Tigers' mentality is that they're going to score 50. Their offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, will make you defend everything -- reverses, throwback passes, passes to the backs, even passes to Newton. He caught a touchdown pass two weeks ago against Ole Miss. The Tigers also play at a tempo on offense that has opposing defenses gasping for air in the fourth quarter. But when they have to, they can put teams away and finish games by running the ball. They're fourth nationally (one spot ahead of Oregon) this week in rushing offense with an average of 307.2 yards per game. Auburn's top four rushers -- Newton, Dyer, Onterio McCalebb and Mario Fannin -- are all averaging at least 6.4 yards per carry. Do the Ducks have any answers for that running game?
Obviously, two very good teams that have done impressive things on their way to remaining unbeaten. I know we both have Oregon ahead of Auburn in our power rankings, but give me the case for Auburn if it played Oregon in the national title game. How do you see it going?
Chris Low: Well, if that happens, the first thing we all better make sure we have is a calculator. That and make sure there's no danger of a power surge to the scoreboard. You're right about Oregon. Nobody in the country has been better in the second half. The Ducks' ability to score points in bunches is amazing, but the Tigers are equally adept at going on head-spinning scoring sprees. Just ask Arkansas, which saw Auburn roll up 28 points in the fourth quarter in Xbox-like fashion. I have no doubt that an Auburn-Oregon matchup would be played in the 40s. I think the difference, though, would be Auburn's ability to put the breaks on the track meet and run the football in the fourth quarter, especially with Newton being so good at converting on third down. So I'm going Auburn 45, Oregon 41 in a game that rates up there with the Texas-USC classic to decide the 2005 national title.
Ted Miller: That's clearly something we can all agree on: This likely would be a highly entertaining, offensively driven national title game if these two teams manage to get themselves there. Further, I think, after never getting a USC-SEC title game, folks on both coasts would enjoy an SEC-Pac-10 matchup. No trash-talking there, right? And I do see a clear advantage for Auburn: It has been tested. It's played five games decided by eight points or fewer, and three decided by a field goal. The Ducks closest game? An 11-point win at Arizona State. But that's also why I'd pick Oregon in this one. Oregon beat the No. 6 team in the nation, Stanford, by 21 points. It shut Andrew Luck out in the second half. And I look at all of Auburn's close games: Mississippi State, Clemson, South Carolina, Kentucky and LSU, and think: None of them would be within 10 points of the Ducks. Maybe LSU, because any game Les Miles touches is surprising. And I think Vegas would agree with me. So if we ended up with an Oregon-Auburn national title game, my guess is the Tigers would go TD for TD with the Ducks in the first half, then the Ducks would pour it on late for a 50-35 win. But I reserve the right to change my mind, particularly because I think the Tigers' toughest test -- Alabama -- is ahead.
Moreover, both teams should be advised: You probably should get to the Jan. 10 date in Glendale before you start trash-talking each other. At least before you use your best stuff.
Pete Carroll could make a claim. So could Urban Meyer.
Don’t forget, though, about the winning coaching Thursday in the Citi BCS National Championship Game.
If Texas wins, that would be Mack Brown’s second national title in the last five years and his fourth BCS bowl victory this decade. Brown’s first national title came in 2005 in the epic showdown with Southern California.
If Alabama wins, Nick Saban would become the first coach in the AP poll era (since 1936) to win a national championship at two different schools – both this decade. He also won one at LSU in 2003.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Imagine if somebody had proclaimed following the Vanderbilt game a year ago that Ole Miss' Jevan Snead would enter this season as one of the top handful of quarterbacks in college football.
Snead had more interceptions (seven) than touchdown passes (six) at that point and was coming of a horrid four-interception performance against the Commodores in which the Rebels didn't score an offensive touchdown in a 23-17 loss.
|Rebels quarterback Jevan Snead has matured into one of the top quarterbacks in college football.|
"Fortunately, I was able to grow in the system, but that's what you should do when you gain a little experience," said Snead, who ended the season by throwing 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions during the Rebels' six-game winning streak.
Chances are his start will be a lot better this season, although Snead is taking nothing for granted.
If anything, he's worked even harder this past offseason and knows nothing will come easy for the Rebels, who will be the last SEC team to open preseason camp when they hit the practice fields Monday night.
The 6-3, 215-pound junior worked the Manning Passing Academy for the second straight year, dug a little deeper into the Ole Miss playbook and did his best to set the tone for the rest of the team, not so much by what he said, but by what he did.
"I feel like I'm ready to take more of the offense on my shoulders and be able to do a lot more than last year," said Snead, who dons an easy smile when anybody mentions him in the same breath as Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy.
After all, it was McCoy who beat out Snead at Texas during the 2006 season, precipitating Snead's transfer to Ole Miss.
He's never looked back.
"Any time you're in a situation like that, it's tough to see the big picture," Snead said. "I just knew my chances of it happening there weren't too good, so I knew I had to get out of that situation. I feel like God has a plan for all of us, and it truly worked out the best it could."
The Rebels would sure say so.
Snead proved time and time again a year ago that he's as good as there is in college football when it comes to making throws under duress. He has that sixth sense about him to be able to feel pressure, get out of the pocket, keep his eyes on his targets and make throws on the move.
He's certainly a different kind of quarterback than Tebow and not nearly as accomplished on the college level, but many in the NFL ranks think Snead will be drafted higher than Tebow.
Snead doesn't even want to begin to go there. After all, he's only a junior. Plus, Tebow has a Heisman Trophy on his mantle and a pair of BCS national championship rings.
But to say that Tebow and the Gators haven't crossed Snead's mind at all wouldn't be completely true. In their only head-to-head matchup, Snead came out on top a year ago.
"It's just a great honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as Tebow," Snead said. "He's a heck of an athlete and a great person as well."
And as Snead notes, the Rebels and Gators don't play this year ... in the regular season.
"We're going to do everything we can to be able to play them when the time comes," Snead said.
As in Dec. 5 in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
While my esteemed blogging colleague Chris Low recharges for a few days, I've jumped in to contribute a few links today.
Hopefully, these will go down as smoothly with your lunches as an icy pitcher of sweet tea on a sweltering summer afternoon.
- The Mobile Press-Register's Paul Finebaum opines on the long-term status of Urban Meyer at Florida.
- Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong has received zero interviews for a head coaching job after helping lead the Gators to their second national championship in the past three seasons, the Tampa Tribune's Joey Johnston reports.
- Chris Gay of the Augusta Chronicle writes about the diminished national expectations for Georgia in preseason magazines.
- The College Football News' Pete Fiutak analyzes Kentucky in his extensive preseason preview. And The New York Times' Paul Myerberg also breaks down the Wildcats in his wonderful "Quad Countdown."
- Arkansas defensive lineman Lavunce Askew will not face felony charges in connection to an incident in which a laptop computer was allegedly stolen. Alex Abrams of the Northwest Arkansas Times reports the victim does not want to press charges against Askew.
- Wes Rucker of the Chattanooga Times Free-Press writes about the experience that new Tennessee secondary coach Willie Mack Garza has developed over the years playing against Southeastern Conference teams.
- ESPN radio and television host Colin Cowherd tells Edward Aschoff of the Gainesville Sun that he expects Florida and Texas to meet for the national championship. Cowherd also is intrigued by the intense competition that permeates the Southeastern Conference:
"The sign the SEC is really great is that everybody hates everybody," Cowherd said.
- Ten more signees from Mississippi State's 2009 recruiting class have arrived at school to take part in coach Dan Mullen's summer conditioning program, Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.
- David Helman of the LSU Daily Reveille reports about a fashion change on the front of LSU's football uniforms.
- The positives and negatives of more night games for Georgia are analyzed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Tim Ellerbee.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
All the Heisman Trophy ballots had to be in by 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, so the numbers I'm about to give you are not a push to get anybody to vote a certain way.
They're simply something to consider as we await word on Saturday on who among Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow (listed in alphabetical order) wins college football's most coveted individual award.
Anyway, here we go.
Tebow faced six of the top 25 defenses in college football this season. Bradford faced one and McCoy none.
Tebow faced 10 top 50 defenses. Bradford faced three and McCoy none.
McCoy faced 11 defenses that were ranked lower than 70th. Bradford faced eight and Tebow one.
In Tebow's eight games against defenses ranked in the top 30 this season, he passed for a total of 18 touchdowns and no interceptions and rushed for nine touchdowns.
Here's a look at all the defenses Bradford, McCoy and Tebow faced this season and where those defenses were ranked nationally, using the rankings as of Dec. 6:
No. 2 TCU
No. 26 Cincinnati
No. 50 Texas
No. 66 Nebraska
No. 72 Texas Tech
No. 86 Oklahoma State
No. 87 Baylor
No. 94 Kansas
No. 99 Missouri
No. 110 Washington
No. 113 Texas A&M
No. 117 Kansas State
No. 65 Oklahoma
No. 72 Texas Tech
No. 73 Arkansas
No. 79 Colorado
No. 86 Oklahoma State
No. 91 Missouri
No. 93 Florida Atlantic
No. 94 Kansas
No. 99 Missouri
No. 113 Texas A&M
No. 114 Rice
No. 115 UTEP
No. 3 Alabama
No. 4 Tennessee
No. 11 South Carolina
No. 13 Florida State
No. 15 Ole Miss
No. 25 Miami
No. 28 Georgia
No. 29 Vanderbilt
No. 36 LSU
No. 37 Kentucky
No. 59 Hawaii
No. 73 Arkansas