Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bosco's Beat: This Week In SEC Hoops Plus News And Notes From Around The Nation

SEC fans, the 'Beat is back and as expected some conference teams are steppin' out in front of others. Can Georgia mens' coach Dennis Felton hold on much longer as the Dogs struggle? And will Georgia women's coach Andy Landers' 800th win finally get him the respect he deserves? Wait no longer, here comes the Bosco'sBeat with all the answers!

Who's Hot?

In our opinion, the two top teams in the SEC are the Kentucky Wildcats and the Auburn Lady Tigers. The Beat taps Kentucky's Jodie Meeks as mid-season MVP after scoring a school-record 54 points in Kentucky's win over No. 24 Tennessee last week. Since then, the 14-and-4 Wildcats have been red-hot, most recently leaving the Georgia Bulldogs in the dust, coasting to a 68-45 win in Athens. On the women's side, the Auburn Lady Tigers are undefeated and number 6 in the nation, handling Arkansas on the road, 70-61 on Sunday. The Lady Tigers have scored 80 or more points in two back-to-back wins, at South Carolina and home versus Florida. Key game alert sounding for a home-stand versus the Lady Vols on the 25th of January.......Another exciting team to watch is the Florida Gators, currently 3-and-0 in conference play following a crushing defeat over Arkansas, 80-65. Super-stud Nick Calathes scored 28 points on Saturday helping his team to a 10 game win streak. Current Arkansas coach John Pelphrey is a former assistant at Florida. Key game alert: Gators at Vanderbilt, with CBS coverage from Nashville Sunday afternoon at 1:30 PM.

Makin' Some Noise

At 3-and-0 (12-and-5 overall), Mississippi State's men's team sits atop the SEC West after a 73-66 win over Vandy Saturday night last week. Last week's win over Alabama is the 10th home opening win in 11 seasons for the Bulldogs. Key game alert: at Kentucky on February 3rd, tip-off set for 6 PM......Number 18 Vanderbilt Lady Commodores are 2-and-0 in conference play so far, getting past LSU 75-67 over the weekend in Nashville and beating the Lady Vols, 74-58 last week. A road trip to Athens, Georgia is set for the 22nd......The Tennessee Vols men's AND women's teams are barely hanging on to Top 25 spots after a shaky couple of weeks. The men, losers to Kentucky in week one of conference play, let a 17 point lead slip away in a 82-79 win at home versus South Carolina Saturday night. The Number 24 Vols avoided a first-ever three losses in a row under Coach Bruce Pearl with the win over the 'Cocks. Key Game Alert: A CBS telecast versus state-rivals Memphis Tigers at Knoxville on the 24th. The Lady Vols are for now Number 15 in the nation, but are clearly not the dominant force fans are used to, getting a slow start before handling the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks 68-56 on Sunday. The win is the 36th straight over South Carolina, winless in conference play (0-and-4) and dead last in the SEC. Key Game Alert: Now this is a Pat Summitt special, a road trip to Number 6 and undefeated Auburn Lady Tigers on the 25th of this month.

Too Early To Tell, But We Like What We See

One team used to reaching Final Fours semi-regularly, the LSU Lady Tigers, are a bit down this year. The 2-and-1 squad has lost alot some heavyweights, including Sylvia Fowles, but junior Alliston Hightower and freshmen Ayana Dunning and LaSondra Barrett combined for 56 points in this weekend's loss to Number 18 Vandy. The Lady Tigers kick off February with a big test at home versus undefeated Auburn......The LSU men's team is off to a good start at 2-and-1 in conference play after thumping Ole Miss 83-51 at Oxford, Mississippi over the weekend. The Tigers led at halftime 41-18 and never looked back. Key Game Alert: At Number 24 Tennessee on the 28th......The Florida Lady Gators are 2-and-1 in conference play after dominating a disappointing Lady Georgia Bulldogs 61-45 on Sunday, ending a 9 game losing streak in the series. The Lady Gators led for good after going on a 24-and-6 run early in the second half. Home games versus Ole Miss, Kentucky and a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas are the next three games for these ladies......The Kentucky Lady Wildcats are off to a promising start, 2-and-2 in conference play, dropping a disappointing home loss versus Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs on Sunday. This one went back-and-forth before MSU went on a game-deciding 8-and-1 run, sealing it up at Memorial Coliseum 52-45. We'd normally be disappointed at the low score, but something tells us this Kentucky ladies squad is on the rise. Key Game Alert: at Auburn on February 12th. The 2-and-2 MSU Lady Bulldogs travel to Kentucky, host LSU and Arkansas for their next three games......Congratulations to the Ole Miss Lady Rebels, getting their 700th all-time victory, becoming the 23rd school in NCAA Division I history to accomplish that feat. Only Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn and LSU have more all-time wins. That history-making win came on Sunday over Alabama 73-43, getting these ladies to 2-and-1 in the SEC so far this season.

They've Got Some Catching Up To Do

South Carolina's men's team is 1-and-2 so far in conference play, getting close before losing to Tennessee 82-79 over the weekend. Key Game Alert: a road game at Kentucky on January 31st.....Alabama men's squad was supposed to be swimming in talent this season, but some injuries leave the 'Tide at 1-and-2 in the SEC, losing to a struggling Auburn Tigers (1-2, 11-6 overall) 85-71 over the weekend. Key Game Alert: The Tide will be hosting the red-hot Kentucky Wildcats from T-Town on the 24th, tip-off set for 2 PM. Meanwhile, the Auburn Tigers travel to Lexington, Kentucky for their shot at the 'Cats Wednesday night at 8 PM......On the women's side, the Lady Dogs are 1-and-2 in the SEC, disappointing for a squad used to a place in the national spotlight. The team's two top scorers, Ashley Houts and Angel Robinson fouled out late in Sunday's loss to the Florida Gators, with Houts scoring only five points. Key Game Alert: Georgia hosts Auburn at 7 PM on the 29th......On the men's side, the Vanderbilt Commodores are struggling, at 1-and-2 in conference play. The best these boys could do was to pull within 6 Saturday night before losing to Mississippi State. Turnovers were only part of the problem for this struggling squad. Key Game Alert(s): versus Tennessee on ESPN on Tuesday night, followed by CBS coverage versus Florida from Nashville on the 25th......The Ole Miss Rebels are behind 1-and-2 in the SEC after the most lopsided loss since 2000 to the LSU Tigers on Saturday. Key Game Alert: versus Kentucky on ESPN on the 27th, tip-off set for 6 PM CST.

Can't Wait For Football Season

Among the few winless SEC women's team is Arkansas, 0-and-3 in the SEC. The Lady Razorbacks tied it up at 34 on Sunday before falling to undefeated Auburn at Fayetteville. Key Game Alert sounding for Thursday night, 7 PM versus the Lady Vols from Fayetteville.....The ladies of Alabama are reeling after and 0-and-3 conference start and an embarrassing loss to Ole Miss 73-43. This is the third straight loss for the Lady Rebs headed towards a tough road trip to Auburn, home versus Georgia and on the road to Vandy by the first of next month......And last but not least (except for the least part), the South Carolina Gamecocks are at the bottom of the SEC women's teams, at 0-and-3, getting to within 7 points in Sunday's loss to the Lady Vols. If you want to put a positive spin on this one, you can count USC as one of six SEC teams without a victory in Knoxville, so at least they're in good company. Upcoming games include at Ole Miss and home versus Vandy and LSU. On the men's side, the Georgia Bulldogs are struggling, leading Sunday's AJC to speculate on how long Dennis Felton can remain with a program that has lost five straight, after winning last season's conference tournament. Upcoming games include ESPN 2 coverage versus Mississippi State on Saturday at 6 PM and Key Game Alert: at Florida on Wednesday the 28th at 8 PM.....And my, how Arkansas has fallen, to 0-and-3 in the league. We'll call this a rebuilding year for the 'Hogs, who take on Auburn, Alabama and LSU to round out January.

Notables From Around The League

Congratulations to Georgia Lady Dogs coach Andy Landers, getting his 800th win after a 74-28 victory over Savannah State last week. His girls are a bit down this year, but Coach Landers is a class act and very well respected around the nation.....Breaking News: A judge has delayed the assault trial of Mississippi basketball coach Andy Kennedy until after the NCAA tournament. Also, on Friday the cab driver who accused Kennedy of hitting him and using ethnic slurs filed a lawsuit against the coach in response to Kennedy's defamation lawsuit, according to the AP......Arkansas freshman forward Brandon Moore is suspended indefinately after his arrest early Sunday on charges of drunken driving, reckless driving, failure to provide proof of insurance, failure to register a vehicle and unlawful use of dealer tags. (We won't ask)

News and Notes From Around The Nation

UConn Lady Huskies freshman guard Caroline Doty is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL during Saturday's win over Syracuse......And Louisiana Tech forward Kenny Cooper is out for the remainder of the season for repeatedly violating team rules.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bosco's Beat: This Week In SEC Hoops, Plus News And Notes From Around The Nation

The SEC stepped it up over the weekend, showing the nation it can play with the best in basketball. Here are the highlights from those big games the rest of the week in SEC Hoops.

Games Of The Week

Biggest game of the week was a loss in the SEC, but boy was it ever big. Number 1 uconn lady huskies beat our LSU Tigers 83-76, who pulled to within two before uconn's big run to the end. Arkansas and Vandy are two big road games in the next few weeks.....They'll be talking about Saturday in Piscataway, New Jersey for some time as Number 12 Tennessee Lady Vols come back from 20 points and left for dead at the half to beat Number 14 rutgers 55-51. Six games away from her thousandth win, Coach Pat Summit says with all those comebacks, this was the most special. Tennessee never took a lead until 1:30 left in the game. A road trip to Nashville comes next Sunday.....Number 18 Tennessee made some history over on the men's side Saturday, the first ever match-up with national champs kansas, who upset the Vols 92-85 at Allen Fieldhouse. Bruce Pearl, whose boys have lost just twice in the last 31 games, says the loss will be good for the team in the long run. Before the month is out, the 11-2 Vols get Gonzaga, Kentucky and Memphis.....Another big upset, this one in Ames, Iowa as 11-2 iowa state beat Number 19 Vanderbilt Lady Commodores 55-51 on Saturday. The 'Dores went 8 minutes and change without scoring a single point, committing a season-high 27 turnovers. They'll shake it off headed into conference play this month where Tennessee and LSU come calling in the next two weeks....Neither team is ranked, but on a good day an Alabama Crimson Tide win over traditional power georgia tech on the hardwood might make some news. The Tide dominated the 88-77 win at T-Town, getting out to a 19 point halftime lead. The Jackets would rally late, but in the end had no answer to all-conference big man Ronald Steele, who scored 23 points for 'Bama. Bama could rack up some wins down the stretch, with January's biggest tests at Clemson, and home against LSU and Kentucky in the next three weeks.....The 8-and-5 Lady Gamecocks Of USC win a thriller in Raleigh, North Caroina on Sunday, 56-55 over nc state. The lead changed five times in the final minute. The Wolfpack overcame a double-digit South Carolina lead midway through the second half. A tough conference schedule includes road trips to Athens and Knoxville and home games against Vandy and LSU all by the end of the month.

Other Games Of Note

The Kentucky Wildcats rallied to a 71-71 tie with 23 seconds left, but it was not enough as the boys in blue fall to arch-rivals louisville 74-71 over the weekend. SEC Player of the Week Jodie Meeks led Kentucky with 28 points. The 'Cats head to Knoxville to take on nationally ranked Tennessee on January 13th. That game will be televised on ESPN......We would have put this one up a little higher, but its still impressive that legendary Nell Fortner and her Auburn Lady Tigers are ranked 10th in the nation, undefeated after a 79-56 win over stephen f. austin (79-56) over the weekend. Big conference games in the month ahead include Florida, Tennessee and road trips to Georgia and LSU....The Florida Gators get a good rally-win over 9-3 nc state on Saturday, 68-66 in Gainesville. The 12-2 men Gators have won six in a row headed to conference play, including CBS coverage at Vanderbilt, and nationally televised games at Tennessee and at Kentucky by early February....Nationally ranked Lady Florida Gators (#20) broke open the 74-56 win over ohio with a 9-and-0 run in the second half in Athens, Ohio Saturday night. Since a season-opening loss at Florida Gulf Coast, the Gators have won 14 in a row headed towards a trip to Auburn and home versus Georgia and Tennessee by early February.....The Ole Miss Lady Rebels are off to an 11-4 start with an impressive win over traditional power old dominion on Friday night, 79-72. The Lady Rebels travel to Mississippi State, Florida and Tennessee headed towards the end of the month.....

Elsewhere In The League

LSU beat southeastern louisiana 90-61 Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Marcus Thornton scored a season-high 33 points in the 74th consecutive home win against in-state opponents. The Tigers host Xavier on national TV in the middle of a conference run that includes road games at Alabama and Tennessee all by the end of the month.....Sticking with mens' hoops, the Arkansas Razorbacks went on a 21-2 second-half run to beat north texas 86-75 on Saturday. The 'Hogs have won nine straight headed towards conference play, including match-ups at Florida and LSU and versus Tennessee in Fayetteville.....Over on the women's side, Mississippi State beat uab 87-46, then lost to xavier 51-42 at Starkville Sunday afternoon. These lady Bulldogs are off to a great start, at 12-and-2 and are so far 4-and-0 against Conference USA opponents this season. MSU gets road trips to Florida and Kentucky and faces the Lady Vols in Starkville on January 15th.....The South Carolina Gamecocks get past wofford 78-61 Monday night before beginning SEC play against Auburn on January 10th. Road trips to LSU and Tennessee, then at Kentucky and at Florida will be real tests for these boys heading into early February......The Mississippi State men beat western kentucky 95-67 Monday night. The Bulldogs hit 14 3-pointers to tie a school record. The 'Dogs begin conference play January 10th at Auburn. A trip to Athens gets ESPN2 coverage on January 24th....The Georgia Bulldogs let a 13 point lead disappear in Tuesday night's 67-62 loss to in-state rival georgia tech. Tech outscored the Dogs 35-17 in the last 16-minutes-26 seconds of the game. Tech has taken 31 of the last 39 games the two teams have played. It won't get any easier from the Dogs, who face Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida all before the end of the month.....Sticking with the SEC Eastern Division, 11-and-3 Vanderbilt beat massachusetts 78-48 over the weekend, opening up a huge lead in the second half. The closest the game ever got was a 28-23 Vandy lead at the half. A big road trip for the 'Dores comes this weekend at Kentucky. A match-up with Tennessee (ESPN) comes on January 20th at 8 PM from Nashville.....Over on the women's side, the Kentucky Wildcats had little trouble beating miami of ohio 80-55 at Oxford, Ohio. Kentucky, playing its third game in five days, placed five players in double-figure scoring for the third consecutive time. The 10-and-5 'Cats take get a big test at Knoxville for their conference opener against the Lady Vols Thursday night....The Lady Georgia Bulldogs are headed in the opposite direction, having lost two straight to xavier (56-44) and at virginia (62-60). The 9-and-5 'Dogs hit the road at Florida, at home against Vandy and on the road to Bama in the next two weeks.....The 11-4 Lady Razorbacks of Arkansas got a road loss to texas tech 75-60 headed into conference play, opening this weekend with LSU. Road trips to up-and-coming Kentucky and Vanderbilt and at home versus Tennessee all come this month.....The Auburn Tigers men's team is off to a 10-and-4 start with a 78-53 win over tulane on Saturday. The Tigers outscored the Green Wave 28-to-10 in the final 12 minutes of the game. Auburn begins conference play at South Carolina this weekend, followed at home by a visit from the Florida Gators on January 14th.....Staying in the SEC Western Division, the Ole Miss Rebels open conference play at Florida on January 10th.

News From Around The League

Conference woman's player of the week is Kentucky's Victoria Dunlap, averaging a double-double and 15 point-5 points with 13-and-a-half rebounds as her team gets five wins in a row.....The men's SEC player of the week is Michael Washington of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Washington is averaging 29 points and 11 rebounds in victories over Oklahoma and North Texas.

News and Notes From Around The Nation

Congratulations to the new Number 1 men's basketball team in the country - the Pittsburgh Panthers, making an historic jump from third in the USA Today/ESPN coach's poll after losses by North Carolina and UCONN.....And from the world of women's college basketball, NC State coach Kay Yow will miss the rest of the season to focus on her fight against cancer, first diagnosed two decades ago. Yow, who missed the past four games, says she does not have the energy to coach her team the way she always has before. We wish her well in her recovery.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

BOSCO'S BEAT: This Week In SEC College Football Plus News And Notes From 'Round The Nation

Weeks 1 And 2

Winning And Loving It:

Here it is college football fans -- only weeks before kick-off and fans are already talkin' about a possible repeat of a national championship for the Florida Gators. Can the Gators repeat? Or will they even compete for the Eastern Division of the SEC? What about LSU who some feel could have a legitimate shot at the top spot? And even more bizarre is the buzz about Vanderbilt, who some believe may be fielding the most talented team that school has seen in years! Let's break it down for you in the SEC College Football Preview in this fresh edition of Bosco's Beat, the official source for SEC Fans who want to be in the know! That's what I'm sayin'!

Cream Of The Crop: There will automatically be argument that Florida should be a good bet to repeat as SEC Champs, but most pre-season publications pick LSU to represent the SEC. Lindy's, Athlon, FoxSports and Rivals-dot-com all have the Tigers in their Top 3 with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution picking them at number 6. The 2007 Sugar Bowl champs kick off the third season under Les Miles with a road trip to Mississippi State on August 30th. A favorable schedule includes home games against Florida, Auburn and Arkansas. An early test could come September 8th as the Tigers host non-conference Virginia Tech. Player to watch: Senior QB Matt Flynn who replaces JaMarcus Russell, taken as the number 1 pick in the NFL Draft......It's general consensus among those in the know that the Florida Gators should be a legitimate Top 10 team with the Gators ranking in pre-season polls from the Number 11 spot (Lindy's) to Number 4 (FoxSports). The Gators will lose most of their defensive starters but will most likely get their 20th consecutive winning season under the leadership of starting QB Tim Tebow. A 15 game home streak is likely to continue with early games against Western Kentucky and Troy, but the Tennessee Vols come calling on Sept. 15th as the Gators' first test. Away games at LSU and South Carolina are probably the biggest challenges on an otherwise easy schedule which includes home games against Auburn and Florida State.

Representin': Returning QB Brandon Cox, among 10 upperclassmen on Auburn's offense is one reason why the Tigers could compete for a spot atop the Western Division of the SEC, but a tough road schedule (at Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia) could derail those hopes. Pre-season polls put Auburn as high as No. 14 (AJC,, FoxSports) and as low as No. 23 (Lindys), probably due to the 'road hazards' the Tigers will face. All four of these road teams were at one time or another in the Top 10 during the 2006 season, but Auburn comes into the season with an SEC best 11-and-1 road mark over the last three years......Positives for the Georgia Bulldogs include the return of Groza Award and All-America candidate Brandon Coutu for placekicking duties and two strong defensive ends, Marcus Howard and Rod Battle, replacing Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson who left for the NFL. But bad news for the Dogs include a slew of arrests and suspensions during the off-season. Those suspensions are likely to come during the first game of the season against an upstart Oklahoma State team that could be a scary one for the Dogs. Key games for the Dogs include at home versus South Carolina, at Knoxville and versus Auburn in Athens......Tennessee gets leadership back at the quarterback spot with the return of Eric Ainge who was the bright spot in what Vol fans would consider a down year with four losses and a humiliating defeat at the hands of Penn State in the Outback Bowl. Thanks to Ainge, Tennessee ended the 2006 season number 2 in the SEC in passing offense, 12th in the NCAA. Four losses on offense include two big names, wide receivers Jayson Swain and Robert Meachem. Key away games for the Vols include visits to the Cal Bears out west, a scary trip to Gainesville, Florida and at T-Town to face Nick Saban and Alabama. Mark Bradley of the AJC has UT losing at Kentucky and Fulmer getting fired. But I wouldn't believe all that!.....Arkansas lost talented QB Mitch Mustain and got a nasty fan-driven storm in its place, so some analysts say the 'Hogs could be a disappointment from last year's runner-ups in the SEC Championship Game. The good news is they get talented TB Darren McFadden back as a junior and 2006 SEC Offensive Player of the Year. The Hogs open with what I believe will be a scary visit from Troy. Then comes an early bye to get ready for September 15th's road trip to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama. A brutal November schedule will determine perhaps the fate of head-coach Houston Nutt with a visit from South Carolina, a trip to Knoxville and a trip to Baton Rouge.....South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier believes his 'Cocks could contend for an eastern division title, but of course he'd have to beat three premiere teams in the league- Tennessee, Georgia and Florida and that's a tall order! But USC's running game is improved and nearly all the defensive unit will be back with the exception of corner Fred Bennett. South Carolina opens with a visit from UL Lafayette, but travels the next week to Georgia for a September 8th matchup and its first big test. Other key games include road trips to LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas.....Imagine the possibilities of how huge the Alabama - Florida State game is gonna be on September 29th. Both storied programs are expected to turn around and this is a key year for both. Legendary Bobby Bowden's 'Noles are being called the surprise team of the league coming into the season. After staff shake-ups, there's an awful lot of expectations here. Even more is expected of coaching guru Nick Saban, sent in to roll the tide from two conference wins all season into a restoration of national prominence. Now, which team of the two do you think has more expectations? After season opener Western Carolina and a road trip to Vandy, UA hosts Arkansas and Georgia back-to-back before heading to Florida to play FSU.

...And The Rest: You can put Rich Brooks' talented Kentucky squad at the top of the best of the rest, lead by QB Andre Woodson, who some call the best player to have ever played at UK. The QB's decision to come back to school for his senior year will spark an offense already loaded with power players like receiver Keenan Burton and versitile back Rafael Little. A big test for the 'Cats will come September 15th with a visit from state-rivals Louisville followed by a trip to Fayetteville to face the scrappy 'Hogs. Key home games include LSU and Florida in consecutive weeks and a visit from the 'Vols on November 24th.....Mississippi's got a little 'D goin under new defensive coordinator John Thompson and is getting praises from head coach Ed Orgeron. Some pretty big road-games will test that defense with trips to hated rivals Memphis, to Vandy, on the road to Athens, Georgia, at Auburn and at Mississippi State. Home games versus Florida and LSU are also in the mix. Just my two cents: Mississippi will upset one of the big boys, maybe Arkansas or Auburn. Hmmmm....They say Vandy could very well be the best 1-and-7 team in the south. That's the overall record versus the SEC from the 2006 season, losing to Alabama and Arkansas by a combined five points. And they made Michigan sweat a little for a whileas well. This season, talented QB Chris Nickson returns after throwing for more than 2,000 yards, running for another 694 during last season. The problem with Vandy is that between a trip to Auburn on October 6th and a trip I-40 eastbound to Knoxville on November 17, the 'Dores play Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. That's pretty tough for anyone, much less Vandy....The Mississippi State Bulldogs are expected by some sports pundits to be 3-and-9 by the end of the upcoming season. Strengths include a 'kickin' Special Teams unit, with Adam Cralson back in place to handle placekicking duties. And watch for junior college transfer Tony Burks who, on only 35 catches, totaled 850 yards and five touchdowns on the 2006 season. The weaknesses include a Defensive squad that has to replace six starters from last season. The schedule is brutal, season opener versus LSU followed two weeks later by a trip to Auburn. Other key games include visits from Tennessee, and trips to South Carolina and Arkansas.

Last Minute News: Alabama star cornerback Simeon Castille was arrested on Sunday, August 19th for disorderly conduct near an entertainment district in Tuscaloosa. Castille is the fourth high-profile Alabama football player arrested in the past two months.....Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom has announced the suspension of back-up QB Josh Riddell for what is believed to be a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.....South Carolina QB Blake Mitchell is appealing his suspension from the team due to missing summer school classes. The ol' ball coach says if the suspension sticks, back-ups Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher would see action against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 1st.....Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt says QB Casey Dick's little brother Nathan will back up his big bro this season.

News 'N Notes From 'Round The Nation: Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis says he has decided on a starting QB for the season opener against Georgia Tech, but won't say if it will be Evan Sharpley, Demetrius Jones or Jimmy Clausen.....Drew Weatherford gets the nod as starter over Xavier Lee as the FSU Noles open at Clemson on Sept. 3rd.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Trip To The 2007 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament In Duluth, Georgia

You can feel the excitement in the air throughout the southeast as basketball is headed for tournament time, baby! The men are finishing up the regular season games this week headed toward the Georgia Dome on March 8th - 11th for the SEC Championships. The women are ready to rumble at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia where big crowds are expected at the biggest sporting event yet to be held at the arena! Well i just happen to have my press pass in hand, headed Friday morning up to day 2 of the tourney.

First Round Byes:

Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and Vandy get byes on Thursday's first round games. All four teams had regular season winning percentages of .800 or better and are all nationally ranked.

Thursday's Early Round Summary:

South Carolina came from behind to beat #9 seed Auburn 65-63 in game 1. The Gamecocks meet up with Tennessee on Friday afternoon. Kentucky gets a red hot Georgia Lady Dogs on Friday after clawing the Arkansas Razorbacks 72-57. Ole Miss advances after beating Alabama 78-49. The Rebs get the LSU Tigers on Friday. Vanderbilt takes on Florida after a rare Gator win, beating Mississippi State 67-60 on Thursday.

In a side note, there is another women's basketball tournament being held this month in Georgia - down in Warm Springs - as the 33rd Annual National Women's Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute began on March 1st. Congratulations, girls.

My journey to the SEC Women's Tournament began on Friday with a trip to the Arena at Gwinnett Center. If you didn't already know, watching four basketball games in a row is exhausting! But I will say the staff at the Arena took good care of us media types with a nice food spread and pretty comfortable surroundings. After picking up my credentials, I leisurely walked into the Tennessee/South Carolina game, surrounded by orange-clad fans makin' some noise. The Lady Vols were up 40 to 28 at the half and would go on to win, advancing to the next round early Saturday evening. I quickly found a great seat, beside the USC pep band, right on the floor at the foot of all the action. I decided that I would sit there as much as I could. Occasionally, I would be gently nudged from my spot to make room for the next team's pep band, so I moved to a nearby seat, right in front of a nice older couple, Vanderbilt fans from Nashville. They were nice and I must give it up to them, for a couple in their 60's, they were at every game whether or not their 'Dores played. And the funny thing was, due to seeding schedules, Vandy always played the late games. But they didn't complain despite getting to bed well after 1 o'clock in the morning. Sure enough, they were back the next day, ready for some action. While I was sitting close to my folks, sure enough Georgia Coach Andy Landers took a seat across the aisle only a few feet from me. I must say, he is the most relaxed head coach I think I've ever seen when he's not on the court coaching, slamming his fists into his forehead in anguish for one reason or another, usually when his team is not making their shots. Other coaches literally within my reach included a smartly-dressed Mickey DeMoss. The Kentucky coach was looking good dressed in a dark blue pin-striped suit. She's a little more high-strung than coach Landers, but considering what she has done with a formerly dormant Wildcat team, I think she can be forgiven. Kentucky, way far behind (53-20) with a little over nine minutes left, would fall to Georgia 72-40.

The next game in the session was probably the most exciting game of the weekend when scrappy Ole Miss took it to mammoth LSU, cooling off toward the end of the first half, but staging a major come-back in the last ten minutes, down by only five with 7:52 left in the game. I've never heard Mississippi sports fans as loud as they were in the last three minutes of the game, seeing their girls lose a heartbreaker to the Lady Tigers 52-46 after the Rebs tied it up with free-throws with one minute remaining in the game. What a thriller! Ole Miss Coach and alum Carol Ross called the last three minutes of the game a "classic", straight from her lips to my notepad. The next game on tap was a little uglier, due in part to a technical called on Florida coach Carolyn Peck. If you didn't already know, the embattled coaching legend was fired earlier in the season after producing only three SEC wins this season. Down by 20 to Vandy at the half, the imposing and beautiful Peck ran down to my end of the floor and let loose a profanity-laced tirade, using the 'F' word repeatedly on a referee who called the technical. That sparked a bit of a rally by the Gators in the last 13 minutes of the game, but wound up getting schooled by the lady 'Dores 105-77. Can I just say that I believe coach Peck is one of the classiest, tallest and most beautiful coaches I've ever seen. She teared up when I asked her at the press conference why she couldn't produce a championship caliber team at Florida like she did when her Perdue Boilermakers won the national championship a few years back. She did not lay the blame on anyone, but did give herself proper credit for cleaning up a program in complete disarray. I believe Florida has a bright future because of Coach Peck and we wish her the best.

Semi-final action began on Saturday with a packed house! Yes, the crowd was largely clad in Tennessee orange, but LSU fans were their typically rowdy selves as the Lady Vols and the LSU Tigers took the court in early evening action. LSU knew they had to minimize Candace Parker, which they did. LSU's Sylvia Fowles got her 60th double-double in the 63-54 victory, advancing LSU to the championship final on Sunday. Most Tennessee fans remained for the Georgia/Vandy game later that night. Georgia looked flatter than a pancake in the first half- only scoring 18 points, down 37-18 at the half, only to lose 81-56. During the game, the entire LSU Lady Tigers squad, including their assistant coach surrounded me at my seat on the floor. I was nervous at first, but soon felt comfortable chatting it up with the ladies. Sylvia Fowles, the team's biggest star, sat right next to me, texting and eating with her teammates, fending off autograph hounds from nearby. I don't blame her for not wanting to be bothered. She was nice about it, but she was right in wanting some down time before the team had to go back to their hotel.

So it was Vandy and LSU for Sunday's finals, set for 7:30 PM. The crowd was a bit smaller, but was still loud. One thing I learned about LSU fans is that they're very loud and rowdy, much like they are at football games. It's nice that SEC women's basketball teams are drawing not only large crowds, but vocal ones as well. It was a little surprising how excited these fans got, enthusiastically pulling for their gals. Major shouts to all the fans who showed up, supporting their schools. Thanks to the great, friendly and helpful staff of the SEC, the NCAA and the staff of the Gwinnett arena for a great tournament. And congratulations to Vanderbilt, who beat LSU, the number one defensive team heading into the tournament, 51-45. Vandy gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney in March.

The Good: Beginning with the tournament champions Vanderbilt Commodores, at first glance they're arguably the smallest girls in the SEC, but they're fast and likely to score 100 on you after quick, explosive starts. I believe Vandy, with their rock solid defense will surprise many in their run through the NCAAs.....One of the most amazing stats of the weekend - 73 percent three-point shot completions by Vanderbilt heading into Sunday's victory. Wow!......I found it particularly classy that during halftime of the first rounds Thursday and Friday, they honored some of each school's legendary players, such as former Georgia star Bernadette Maddox...... The award for rowdiest pep band has to go to Florida whose band and cheerleaders never lost their spirit or their smiles despite their Gators getting ROCKED late Friday night. (Runner-up, Mississippi)......The award for hottest dance team goes to Kentucky who looked good in a powder-blue sweats and t-shirt combo, doin' their thing! (Runner-up, Georgia)......Tennessee fans filled the Gwinnett arena nearly all weekend, prompting arena officials to openly hope the Lady Vols advanced to Sunday's finals. They didn't make it, but fan support of one of the nation's best women's teams is impressive anywhere they go......I was impressed by Georgia coach Andy Landers, who posed for pictures while relaxing in the stands before his game. He brought smiles to several star-struck little girls who got a souveneir picture to keep......The food spread was great. We were treated to a Mexican fiesta Friday night and had snacks and beverages all weekend.

The Bad: One of the only celebrity-types that was not particularly nice to me was former WNBA and college coach Van Chancellor, whose game-calling and color-commentaries can be seen on Fox Sports Net during the season. I said hello to him. He snubbed me and moved on......I saw fans from every team at the tournament except Mississippi State. Bulldogs fans - if you want your team to win, it would help if you showed up to cheer them on!.....The arena was nearly empty at the half of the Vandy/Florida game. Yes it was late and the game was very one-sided, but it takes alot away from the atmosphere when no one is there to see it.

The Ugly: During the tournament, one of the sponsors - Chick-fil-A, gave away prizes to person's sitting in certain seats of the arena. When it was announced that someone sitting in the LSU section had won a prize, the over-sized Chick-fil-A Cow made a scary trip down the steps of the upper decks through the rowdy crowd. He survived, but I had my doubts for a moment or two.

Well that's my trip to the SEC Women's tournament. It was a blast. I would have actually had to really work had home-town Georgia advanced to the finals. But they didn't, so I got enjoy myself. Next year's tournament is at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville. But stay tuned, as Bosco's Beat heads for the NCAAs later this month! See you then.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bosco's Beat: This Week In SEC College Football, Plus News and Notes From 'Round the Nation

Here it is, the twilight of another great SEC football season, bowls selected, a cold chill in the air over Dixie as we prepare for another Christmas season of kinfolk, yuletide and bowl games! Congratulations to the Florida Gators, selected to play Number 1 Ohio State for all the marbles of college football on Monday night, January 8th, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona. The Gators have played in two previous title games, claiming a national championship in 1996 after beating Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl. The first ever meeting with the Ohio State Buckeyes kicks off at 8 PM Eastern.

Sugar Bowl Bound: That would be the LSU Tigers, wrapping up a 10-and-2 season with key wins at Tennessee and Arkansas after losing their first two road games of the season to Auburn and Florida. The 4th ranked Tigers will face number 11 Notre Dame for the third Sugar Bowl appearance this decade, beating Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl and getting a 21-14 win over Oklahoma in 2004, taking the 2003 BCS National Championship. The last meeting between the two teams was a 1998 regular season loss to Notre Dame, 39-36 at South Bend. Kickoff from the Super Dome set for 7:30 PM Wednesday night January 3rd, 2007.

Bowlin' On New Years Day: Originally, head coach Houston Nutt wanted his Razorbacks to play at the Cotton Bowl for the fans in case of an SEC Championship Game loss, but the selection of Florida to play Ohio State in the BCS Championship switched Arkansas to the prime spot in the Capital One bowl versus Wisconsin on New Years Day. This is the second Capitol One Bowl invitation to the 'Hogs in school history. The first one resulted in a 45-31 Michigan win on January 1st, 1999, following the 1998 season. Wisconsin and Arkansas have met once in 94 years. Kickoff set for 1 PM New Years Day....The Cotton Bowl will get the 10-and-2 Auburn Tigers and the 9-and-4 Nebraska Cornhuskers on January 1st, kickoff set for 11:30 AM. Tuberville has taken his Tigers to seven consecutive bowl games, three of those have come on the coveted New Years Day. Last time Auburn played in the Cotton Bowl was to a 36-16 loss to Texas A&M in 1986. The Tigers are winless (0-and-3) against Nebraska all-time, losing in 1964, 1981 and in 1982....Tennessee is headed for the Outback Bowl on January 1st to play 8-and-4 Penn State. All seven combined losses from the two storied teams this year all came from teams ranked in the top twelve according to the latest AP rankings. The 9-and-3 Vols lost the last two times they played PSU in bowl games - the 1992 Fiesta Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1994. The Vols are 2-and-0 against the Nittany Lions in regular season games in 1971 and 1972. Kickoff from Tampa is set for 11 AM Eastern Standard Time.

Bowling For The Holidays: Georgia finishes it's season 8-and-4 after what fans would consider a disappointing season. But the 'Dogs finished strong, beating Auburn and in-state rivals Georgia Tech heading into the Chick-fil-A Bowl on December 30th. They'll take on 10-and-2 Virginia Tech for only the second time since 1931. The Dogs have played in the Atlanta bowl game four times, beating Maryland and Virginia in 1973 and 1998 respectively, and losing to Syracuse and Virginia in 1989 and 1995. This will be Georgia's 43rd bowl game, six most in the country. Kickoff from the Georgia Dome set for approximately 8 PM....The Gamecocks of South Carolina will play the 10-and-3 Conference USA champion Houston Cougars in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Friday, December 29th. The 7-and-5 Gamecocks ended the regular season with a dramatic 31-28 win over Clemson heading into the second straight bowl game under head coach Steve Spurrier. The 'Cocks lost to Missouri last year 38-31 in the Independence Bowl. The Gamecocks are 0-and-2 against the Cougars after two losses in a row in 1973 and 1974. Kickoff from the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is set for 4:30 PM....Kentucky will be bowling for the first time in seven years when the 'Cats meet up at the Music City Bowl, presented by Bridgestone against the Clemson Tigers of the ACC on Friday, December 29th at 1 PM. Kentucky rounded out the regular season on a roll -- winning four of their last five games, including a shocking victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Cats last post-season appearance came at the Music City Bowl in 1999 when Kentucky fans helped set a then-record attendance of just over 59-thousand for the Nashville bowl. Kentucky holds a 7-and-4 record all-time over the Clemson Tigers....Alabama is set to make an NCAA-leading 54th bowl appearance when the Tide meets up with Oklahoma State at the PetroSun Independence Bowl on Thursday, December 28th in Shreveport, Louisiana. The 6-and-6 Tide meet the 6-and-6 Cowboys for the very first time in either school's history. Noticably absent will be former Tide head coach Mike Shula, fired after winning only two conference games this season, one of those wins not being in-state rival Auburn. Kickoff from Shreveport is set for 4:30 PM.

Conference Call: Ole Miss has announced it's star linebacker and leading tackler Patrick Willis will not be returning in the fall. Another leading tackler for Ole Miss, Rory Johnson has hired an agent and plans to avail himself to the NFL Draft as an underclassman....Mississippi State senior inside linebacker Quinton Culberson was named first team, all-SEC by the league's coaches announced on Tuesday....Vanderbilt wide-receiver Earl Bennett was named First Team All-SEC by the AP, announced today....Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt was named AFCA Region 2 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association announced on Monday.

News And Notes From 'Round The Nation: West Virginia coach Rich Rodriquez met Tuesday with Mal Moore, AD at Alabama about the head coaching position open there....NC State is looking at Navy's Paul Johnson to replace fired coach Chuck Amato....Former Miami QB Bernie Kosar says he is interested in the head coaching position there, according to the Miami Herald.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Bosco's Beat. We'll see you next year when we take up the basketball season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Greetings, SEC fans! Here it is the end of the regular football season and it's no surprise to anyone that Florida will be facing Arkansas this weekend at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Unfortunately for Arkansas, a win over the Gators will still leave them competing with LSU for a BCS at-large bid instead of a shot at a national title. For Florida, a win on Saturday guarantees a Sugar Bowl invitation at the very least. I believe I can speak for any true red-blooded SEC fan when I say that Florida has represented the conference very well and has run through a schedule arguably as hard as any in the nation, deserving of a chance at a national title shot. Good job Florida and congratulations to the rest of the SEC on a great season representing the good 'ol south! Now let's break all this football down this week on Bosco's Beat!

Playin' For Some Sugar!: After it's third straight win over in-state rival Florida State, Florida is preparing for Saturday's SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and remains in the hunt for a possible shot at a national title. The 21-14 win is the third straight over the Gators' main three rivals Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State in Urban Meyer's two seasons. QB Chris Leak threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, completing 21-of-34 passes and was 7-of-8 for 81 yards on a crucial game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Up next for the Gators, a meetin' with Houston Nutt's 'Hogs on Saturday. Kick-off from Atlanta set for approximately 6 p.m....There is no question Arkansas is the surprise of the SEC this season, winning 10 straight games between losses to Southern Cal in week 1 and a 31-26 loss to LSU on Friday. The loss puts Arkansas out of national title contention after the 'Hogs pulled to within' five points after Felix Jones' 5-yard TD run with 5 minutes remaining before QB Casey Dick was intercepted again for the fourth time. Darren McFadden remains a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The 'Hogs and the Gators meet this Saturday in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome beginning at 6 p.m.

Honorable Mentions: LSU can earn a BCS at-large bid after beating Arkansas on Friday 31-26. Friday's game was rife with action, including an incredible three touchdowns in a 45 second stretch, including a 92 yard kickoff return by LSU's Trindon Holliday after an 80 yard Darren McFadden touchdown putting the 'Hogs within 5, at 24-19. LSU QB JaMarcus Russell threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Friday's game was for the Golden Boot, a trophy LSU has won four straight seasons. The only two losses Arkansas has had at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium under coach Nutt came against LSU....Tennessee clinched 2nd place in the SEC East at the close of the regular season, beating Kentucky 17-12 in Knoxville on Saturday. The Vols defense held off a Kentucky threat at the goal line in the final minutes of the game after being down 12-10 at the half. Coach Fulmer reunited with an old friend at Saturday's game, Randy Sanders, who is now quarterbacks coach for the 'Cats after resigning as UT's offensive coordinator following last year's losing season. Tony Barnhart, sports writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes the 9-and-3 Vols could play Penn State in the Outback Bowl set for New Year's Day....Auburn's regular season ended with a win over Alabama last weekend. The 10-and-2 Tigers are preparing for what would most likely be a New Year's day bowl, possibly the Capitol One Bowl against Wisconsin which has already accepted a bid. Wins over Florida and LSU would help Auburn's case for a trip to Orlando. Last year, Wisconsin beat Auburn at the Capitol One Bowl 24-10. Senior kicker John Vaughn has been named one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award presented to the nation's top kicker.

Bowling, And Loving It: Georgia ended it's regular season with a 15-12 victory over in-state rival Georgia Tech, who will play Wake Forest in the ACC Championship on Saturday. The Bulldogs will most likely take an invitation to what has become their home turf over the last few years, the Georgia Dome's Chick-Fil-a Bowl later next month. The impressive freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford's 4-yard TD pass to Mohamed Massaquoi put the 'Dogs up on Georgia Tech 15-12. Tech's futile attempt at a last-chance heave from QB Reggie Ball was intercepted with a minute and change left, sealing up the win and an 8-and-4 season for Mark Richt's crew....Kentucky wraps up it's regular season with a 17-12 loss at Knoxville following a devastating delay of game penalty on a second-and-goal at the three yard line ending with two consecutive incomplete passes. The Vols took over with 3 minutes left and ran out the clock, denying the 'Cats' first 8 win season since 1984. 7-and-5 Kentucky appear headed for the Independence Bowl on December 28th with a possible matchup with Oklahoma State. Kentucky has not gone to a bowl game since 1999....South Carolina clawed it's way to a 31-28 victory at Clemson on Saturday on a Ryan Succop go-ahead 35 yard field goal, ending a four game losing streak to it's in-state rival Tigers. The 'Cocks finish 7-and-5 and appear headed to Nashville for the Music City Bowl on December 29th, possibly matching up with Boston College. An impending bowl would be Steve Spurrier's second in a row with his Gamecocks....Alabama ended it's regular season at 6-and-6 overall, getting just two conference wins this season. The season-ending loss to state-rival Auburn sealed the fate of head coach Mike Shula, officially fired as of Monday's press conference. Shula led the Tide to a 26-23 record overall during his four years as head coach. Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Joe Kines will assume interim head coaching duties. The Tide is most likely headed for the Liberty Bowl to play Houston.

'Home For The Holidays': Vanderbilt ended it's season with losses in a row to Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee at 4-and-8 overall, 1-and-7 in the SEC. But here's some good news for 'Dores fans -- two of the state of Tennessee's best high school senior football players, linebacker Chris Marve and linebacker/defensive end John Stokes, both from Memphis, have verbally committed to Vanderbilt's 2007 recruiting class....Ole Miss ended it's season at 4-and-8 overall, 2-and-6 in the SEC with a win over Mississippi State 20-17 on Saturday. The Rebels' Marshay Adams returned a punt 47 yards for the winning TD late in the fourth quarter in the annual 'Egg Bowl', this year featuring two of the worst teams in the SEC. This year's trophy returns to Oxford for the fourth time in the past five years. Ole Miss leads the in-state series all-time 59-38-6....That leaves Mississippi State as dead last in a conference where nine teams are bowl eligible. The Bulldogs finished this season at 3-and-9 overall, only 1-and-7 in the SEC having won no more than three games a season in the last five years. MSU lost to Ole Miss in Saturday's Egg Bowl 20-17. Better luck next year, boys!

Conference Call: Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt has been named one of nine finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, announced by the Football Writers Association of America on Monday....The SEC has announced two conference offensive players of the week. Congratulations to Florida QB Chris Leak and Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden, two deserving players that have represented the conference very well. The SEC Defensive Player of the Week is Georgia cornerback Paul Oliver for his four tackles, one forced fumble and one interception in his team's 15-12 win over Georgia Tech.

News and Notes From 'Round the Nation: Michigan State has hired University of Cincinnati's Mark Dantonio as the new Spartans' head coach. Dantonio was an assistant with MSU from 1995 to 2000 and coached the Bearcats for the past three seasons....Arizona State has fired head football coach Dirk Koetter after Koetter led the Sun Devils to bowls the last three seasons.

Sadly, week 12 of SEC football was overshadowed on the national stage by the thrilling Michigan/Ohio State showdown on Saturday. Now, rumor has it that the two will play in the title game for a national championship. Not so fast my friend! I believe there are two SEC teams -Florida and Arkansas- that deserve to play for a top spot if it comes down to it. There is still some football left though and we'll see what happens. So what do you think about it? Will the SEC be represented when the nation's best come to play? Get back to me on that if you can, and in the meantime let's break down week 12 action on this weeks beat!

At The Top In No Particular Order: Arkansas remains the only unbeaten team in conference play with a win over Mississippi State 28-14 in Starkville on Saturday. The win gets the 'Hogs the SEC Western Division title heading into Friday's matchup with LSU at Little Rock over the Thanksgiving weekend. Arkansas has won 10 straight games and remains in the hunt for the national championship. Good luck, 'Hogs!....Congratulations are in order for the Florida Gators, winners over Western Carolina 62-0 on Saturday, "Senior Day" for the Eastern Division champions. The gators have won 15 straight home games and are the third team in school history to win 10 regular season games. Florida can stay in the national title hunt by beating Florida State in Tallahasee on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff set for 12 noon. The Gators will also play at the Georgia Dome on Saturday December 2nd in Atlanta.

Next In Line, Going Bowling: It's been a while since Auburn won five iron bowls in a row- 1958 to be exact, so this Saturday's 22-15 win over Alabama was historic in the bitter rivalry's 80th meeting all-time. The coach in 1958 was of course the legendary Paul 'Bear' Bryant in his first season. Alabama's current coach, Mike Shula has yet to win an 'Iron Bowl' and is on the hot seat. But Auburn is flying high this season, sealing this weekend's win after picking off a 'Bama QB John Parker Wilson pass with just over a minute left. The 10-and-2 Tigers will likely land in a prime spot on or near New Year's Day, most likely in the Cotton Bowl versus Oklahoma, according to FoxSports bowl projections....LSU won a thriller over rival Ole Miss on Saturday 23-20 at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Colt David kicked a 26 yard field goal to get the win after a fourth down conversion pass from JaMarcus Russell to Dwayne Bow, sending the game into overtime late Saturday night. LSU trailed 20-7 in the second half with just over 11 minutes to play. The score tightened to 20-14 after a Russell to Doucet four yarder into the end zone a little over two minutes later. Arguably one of the biggest games of the weekend will be LSU and Arkansas set for Friday afternoon from Little Rock, Arkansas....Tennessee appears headed for a number 2 spot in the SEC Eastern Division, 8-and-3 after a 39-10 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville on Saturday. Of course, they have to beat Kentucky this Saturday in Knoxville. Eric Ainge and the Vols seemed to get back on track this weekend after a rare sluggish November, losing to LSU and Arkansas in consecutive weeks. Ainge racked up 266 yards in the air for two touchdowns as the Vols caught fire after a sluggish start, settling for two field goals on early drives. LaMarcus Coker ran for two touchdowns, helping put his Vols at 78-9 all-time over in-state rival Commodores, losing only five times to Vandy since 1954. Kickoff versus the 'Cats is set for 12:30 pm Saturday....Kentucky gets a 42-40 win over Louisiana Monroe off Keenan Burton's school- history- making three scoring catches in four straight games. Dicky Lyons Jr. had the previous record with three scoring catches in his season's first three games. More importantly, the 'Cats now have their first winning season since 2002, their first bowl eligibility since 1999 and can clinch 2nd place in the SEC East with a win over Tennessee this Saturday, 12:30 p.m. kickoff....Georgia had a much needed week off to prepare for bitter rival Georgia Tech in Athens this Saturday. The Dogs upset the Auburn Tigers back in week 10 while Georgia Tech beat Duke on Saturday and will play in the ACC Championship game on December 2nd. Georgia coach Mark Richt, not one to trash talk or bad mouth anyone because he's a class act, had nothing but compliments for Tech's season, calling it fantastic, with their chances for a conference championship very good. Georgia's seniors will be captains for the game and will be honored in a ceremony prior to kickoff on Saturday, set for 3:30 p.m.

Hanging In The Balance: South Carolina beat Middle Tennessee 52-7 largely on QB Blake Mitchell's 21-of-28 completed passes for 388 yards with a career high four touchdowns and no interceptions. The 6-and-5 Gamecocks are bowl-qualified in a conference where nine teams are bowl-eligible, so finding a bowl for USC could be difficult. If it happens, it'll be the first time a South Carolina coach (Spurrier) would play in a postseason game in the first two years of coaching there. Sparky Woods was eligible in his first two years in 1989 and 1990 with 6-win seasons each but the team did not play in bowl either year. South Carolina could bolster their chances for a post-season invite with a win at Clemson on Saturday, kickoff set for 12 noon.....Alabama head coach Mike Shula would've taken a win over arch-rival Auburn last weekend for his Tide heading out of what has been considered a disappointing season with only two SEC wins at 6-and-6 overall. But it was not to be, the Tide dropping Saturday's matchup at Tuscaloosa 22-15. CBS Sportsline predicts the Tide will be in the Independence Bowl against Oklahoma State on December 28th. The talk has already begun on what is to happen to coach Shula. The general consensus 'round the SEC is that he will have next year to field a team that can compete in the SEC West before the school begins a search for his replacement.

Better Luck Next Year: Vanderbilt has ended it's season at 4-and-8 overall; 4-and-3 in the SEC after losing at home to Tennessee 39-10 on Saturday. A win would've been the first time a Vandy team would end a season with five wins since the 1974 and 1975 seasons. A win might have been easier to get had the team not made public a video shot after the 'Dores beat the Vols last year titled 'Victory in Knoxville' which of course motivated an already improved Vols team playing at a stadium in Nashville half-filled with big orange fans. Note for Georgia Bulldogs- a video has already been edited for the off-season titled 'Victory in Athens'. Coming into Saturday's game, Vandy had been 5th in the conference averaging 363.1 yards per game of offense. Oh, well better luck next year, guys!....Ole Miss tried to make a game of it on Saturday losing to LSU 23-20 in overtime at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Rebs got the ball first in overtime after blocking an LSU extra point attempt following a JaMarcus Russell-to-Dwayne Bowe TD at the end of regulation. But QB Brent Schaeffer fumbled to LSU's Tyson Jackson on the opening drive, ending any hope for the 'Rebs who were 27 point underdogs coming into Saturday's game. Let's hope the 'Egg Bowl' provides us with some entertainment as Ole Miss hosts Mississippi on Saturday....Mississippi State shut down Arkansas' Darren McFadden until the final drives of the game which accounted for the most of the superstar's 100 yards, getting a 28-14 loss to the Razorbacks in Starkville, Mississippi on Saturday. The Bulldogs had two chances to score in the fourth quarter, but special teams and defense helped the 'Hogs fend off the 'Dogs on a fourth down and an interception in the end zone. But the good news here is braggin' rights are up for grabs on Saturday as in-state rivals Mississippi host the 'Egg' Bowl, kickoff set for early Saturday afternoon.

Conference Call: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says he is "not a candidate" for the head coaching job at the University of Miami, ending speculation that he could take over the head coaching duties of embattled Miami coach Larry Coker....South Carolina's QB Blake Mitchell is the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after racking up 388 yards against MTSU this weekend....The SEC Defensive Player of the Week is Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston for his four tackles, two interceptions and a pass deflection in the 'Hogs win over Mississippi State on Saturday.

News and Notes From 'Round the Nation: Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops says a broken collarbone will keep star tailback Adrian Peterson out of the Oklahoma State game this weekend. Peterson's collarbone snapped during a TD run against Iowa State on October 14th....The all-important BCS standings out this week have Ohio State at number 1, Michigan at number 2, followed by USC, Florida and Notre Dame in the 3-5 slots.

Have a great and safe Thanksgiving and we'll see y'all next week!

After 11 weeks of SEC football, the conference picture is in full focus, with Florida and Arkansas atop the conference divisions. SEC unbeaten Arkansas can clinch a spot in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta by beating Mississippi State on Saturday. Florida, by beating South Carolina, is still alive in the national championship hunt. In the meantime, there's still some football left to play as we roll up to the final weeks of college football, let's review and preview some SEC football, shall we?

High and Mighty!: That would be the Arkansas Razorbacks, large and in charge of the SEC Western Division after beating the Tennessee Vols on Saturday 31-14. The win is the ninth straight for the 'Hogs since the first week's loss to USC Trojans and is the longest streak since 1988. Darren McFadden ran for 181 yards, getting two touchdowns and is now a legitimate Heisman candidate on a team who could be in contention for a national title. Way to go 'Hogs! Arkansas travels to Starkville, Mississippi to take on the Bulldogs, kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time....Florida came from a 16-10 deficit to steal a win away from former Gator coach Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks on a blocked 48 yard field goal attempt as time ran out, getting a 17-16 win at Gainesville on Saturday. The blocked kick was the third one for the Gators in the game, the second for Jarvis Moss who, earlier in the game, blocked Ryan Succop's extra point attempt, keeping the score 16-10 and setting up a Leak/Tebow combo touchdown with the extra point attempt good, sealing the win and keeping Florida in contention for a national title. Western Carolina comes to the Swamp on Saturday, kickoff set for noon from Gainesville.

The Rest Of The Best: LSU helped it's slim hopes of an SEC playoff berth with a 28-14 win over Alabama Saturday night. QB JaMarcus Russell threw three TD passes and was 18-of-21 passing for 207 yards, taking only one sack. The 8-and-2 Tigers preserved a 21-14 lead at the half after Daniel Francis stripped the ball from Tide QB John Parker Wilson. LSU then recovered with 19 seconds left in the second quarter. Later in the fourth quarter, LSU's fourth sack forced Bama to settle for a 40 yard field goal attempt that went wide. The Tigers welcome Ole Miss to Baton Rouge, kickoff set for 8 p.m....With Saturday's loss to unranked Georgia, Auburn's national title and conference championship game hopes are all but dashed, losing 37-15 at Jordan-Hare stadium. Auburn came into Saturday's game nearly a two touchdown favorite and in consideration of a BCS title shot. Georgia jumped to a 30-7 halftime lead against an Auburn defense ranked number 4 in the nation. QB Brandon Cox was sacked four times and Auburn was outscored by the most points since a 38-17 loss to Arkansas in 2002. The 9-and-2 Tigers travel to T-Town to roll with the Tide on Saturday, kickoff of the 'Iron Bowl' comes at 3:30 p.m.

Still Alive: A 31-14 loss to Arkansas on Saturday night keeps Tennessee just out of reach of BCS bowl-bid consideration, but going from a bowl-less losing season of 2005 to the possibility of an upcoming New Years Day bowl is heading in the right direction for Phil Fulmer and his Vols, 7-and-3 overall and .500 in SEC play (3-and-3) thanks to the losing effort in Fayetteville. Redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton started for injured Eric Ainge, finishing with 174 yards, two TD passes to Robert Meachem and Bret Smith, but was pressured relentlessly by the 'Hogs. The Vols travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt, kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday....I'm just a little thrilled that Kentucky is not sitting at the bottom of the heap of the SEC. The Wildcats are in second place in the SEC East with a 4-and-3 conference record. Only Florida has a better record in the division with 7 conference wins. Kentucky can stake this claim after a 38-26 win over Vanderbilt in Lexington on Saturday. Coming from behind, 20-17 at the half, the 'Cats picked off Vandy's QB Chris Nickson on fourth-and-goal on the Kentucky 2 yard line, then a Kentucky QB Andre Woodson-to-DeMoreo Ford 27 yard TD pass put Kentucky in front headed for a win, witnessed by representatives from five bowl games. Wow. Good job, fellas....Georgia was well on it's way to it's first losing conference record in this decade before shocking the nation with a stunning 37-15 win over conference power-house Auburn. The win at Auburn, Alabama puts the Dogs at 4-and-4 in the SEC. With 7 wins overall, the Dogs are virtually assured of a bowl bid, and a win over Georgia Tech in two weeks gets them bragging rights for the year and an 8 win season. Not bad, but it's much less than the Dogs had hoped for coming into this season as the SEC champion. They'll get the week off before hosting the 'Bees between the hedges on November 25th, kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m....South Carolina ould very well become bowl eligible and then some with a win over Middle Tennessee at home and a road win over Clemson in two weeks. The 5-and-5 overall, 3-and-5 conference Gamecocks got a hard luck loss at Gainesville over the weekend, losing 17-16 to Florida after a blocked kick from Ryan Succop that would have won the game. Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier coached 12 years in Gainesville, leading the Florida Gators to a national championship and national prominence in the 90s. Kickoff versus Middle Tennessee on Saturday is at 12:30 pm....With six wins, Alabama is bowl eligible, but is heading into the Iron Bowl on Saturday with a woeful 2-and-5 conference record after losing to LSU 28-14 largely on missed opportunities and mistakes. The Tide struggled in the running game, gaining only 78 yards on the ground. QB John Parker Wilson was sacked sacked four times by the fourth quarter and was 22-of-35, getting 291 yards, one interception. Good times this weekend as Auburn comes callin' to T-Town, bring your mama and yer daddy, kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Try Again Next Season: Vanderbilt was hoping to sneak in a bowl game beginning with a win over Kentucky, but alas it didn't happen, getting a 38-26 loss in Lexington on Saturday. Vandy hasn't appeared in a bowl game since 1982. The 'Dores were leading 20-17 headed for the fourth quarter, but Kentucky scored shortly thereafter on a 2 yard TD. Vandy QB Chris Nickson was picked off on a fourth-and-goal at the Kentucky 2 and later was intercepted near the end zone on a later drive. Tennessee comes calling on Saturday, 12:30 p.m. kickoff....Mississippi State would like nothing more than to put an awful season behind them, but that doesn't mean they don't have anything to look forward to. has named 'State's true freshman running back Anthony Dixon as National Freshman of the Week announced last Wednesday. MSU took this week off, but the freshman rushed 25 times for 121 yards in week 9's win over Alabama. For the season, Dixon has gained 454 yards on 127 attempts heading into Saturday's matchup with SEC leader Arkansas, kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. EST....Mississippi ranks dead last in the SEC in scoring, passing and total offense, but have shown some signs of progress heading into this week's matchup with LSU. The 3and-7Rebs' running game has improved, up to sixth in the conference with 134.6 rushing yards per game, that's up from dead last (73.3 ypg) from 2005. Kickoff at Baton Rouge is set for 9 p.m. Ole Miss closes out it's season home versus Mississippi State on November 25th.

Conference Call: Breaking News....Conference Commissioner Mike Slive has officially reprimanded South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier for violations of the SEC Code of Ethics for public comments regarding officiating after Saturday's loss to Florida....Congrats to SEC Offensive Player of the Week Andre' Woodson. The Kentucky quarterback completed 29-of-42 passes for 450 yards, four touchdowns at Saturday's win against Vandy....Georgia's Tra Battle is the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, tying a school record with three interceptions versus Auburn. The senior also had four tackles and a pass deflection.

News and Notes From 'Round the Nation: Former Miami Hurricanes head coach Butch Davis has been named new head coach of the North Carolina Tarheels....The nation's touchdown leader, Boise State running back Ian Johnson is in the hospital with a partially collapsed left lung.

Greetings SEC football fans! Week 9 has come and gone and the division races to the Georgia Dome appear to be a bit clearer this week, but it ain't over yet as they say with Tennessee and Florida still in the race for the Eastern Division and Arkansas and Auburn as the frontrunners over on the West Siiiiide! Tennessee's win over South Carolina and Florida's win over Georgia effectively put the Dogs and the 'Cocks out of the race in the East, but Arkansas and Auburn are still in the thick of it in the West, with LSU hoping someone stumbles, maybe a couple of times. But there's still some ball to play yet, so let's get to it!

Risin' To The Top: Arkansas beat Louisiana-Monroe 44-10 Saturday, getting head coach Houston Nutt his 100th coaching victory, keeping his 'Hogs unbeaten in SEC play. Louisiana-Monroe took an early 7-0 lead before Darren McFadden, subbing as QB for Mitch Mustain, ran for 129 yards and a touchdown, sealing the win at Little Rock. Guard Stephen Parker had a season-high 8 knockdown blocks and is this week's SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. The 'Hogs travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina, kickoff set for 7:45 p.m....Cocktails and fun were had (on the low-low) in Jacksonville Saturday as the Florida Gators beat the Georgia Bulldogs 21-14, forcing two fumbles and intercepting two passes, keeping the Gators atop the Eastern Division. The Gators need wins over Vandy and South Carolina to make it to the conference championship game for the first time since 2000. Saturday's win makes 15 of the last 17 games Florida has won over Georgia while the Dogs have lost three of their last four games they've played this season. Urban Meyer's squad heads for Nashville to take on Vandy, kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday....It was the epic battle of the coaches, Steve Spurrier versus Phil Fulmer on Saturday night in Columbia as Tennessee beat South Carolina 31-24, getting a little revenge from last year's loss in Knoxville. It was Eric Ainge to Bret Smith for two touchdowns that sealed the victory for the 8th ranked Vols, who were down 17-14 in the third quarter. Saturday's win pushes Fulmer one win ahead of Mr. Spurrier in SEC games, 135 to 134. The Vols host the LSU Tigers for a 3:30 pm kickoff on Saturday....After trailing twice to unranked Mississippi, Auburn slipped by the Rebs on Saturday 23-17 at Oxford. QB Brandon Cox had a season-high 253 passing yards and John Vaughn sealed it with a 20 yard field goal with just under 8 minutes left and a 29 yarder with only 35 seconds left to get the win. The win was a costly one for the Tigers, flagged for nine penalties for 84 yards, both season highs. Auburn gets a visit from Arkansas State on Saturday, kickoff set for 2:30 pm.

Middle Of The Pack: LSU took Saturday off but still climbed up a notch to Number 13 on the AP Top 25. The Tigers lead the SEC in red zone defense, limiting teams to only four TDs from inside the 20. LSU has scored on its first possession in seven of it's last 8 games and has outscored its opponents 160-9 in the first quarter this season. Impressive stats, boys! The Bengal Tigers head to Knoxville to take on the Vols Saturday....Alabama had a fairly easy time of it on Saturday, beating Florida International 38-3. Despite missing 9 starters and 9 reserves from a brawl against Miami two week, FIU kept it close for a while, taking a 3-0 lead, then trailing only 10-3 at halftime. But then the Tide got to rollin' on a Javier Arenas punt return for 65 yards and a TD. Ramzee Robinson scored on a 34 yard interception leading to the blowout at T-Town. Bama welcomes the Bulldogs of Mississippi State on Saturday, kickoff set for 12:30 p.m.

Other Wins In The SEC: Vanderbilt beat Duke on Saturday 45-28, getting sophomore quarterback Chris Nickson the SEC Offensive Player of the Week with 5, that's five touchdowns, accounting for 400 yards of total offense for the 'Dores in a sixth straight victory over the Devils of Duke. Nickson is the first Vandy QB since Jay Cutler to run for more than 100 yards in a game, getting 150 rushing yards in Saturday's win at Durham. Nice job, boys! The Commodores are 4-and-5 heading into Saturday's matchup with the Florida Gators in Nashville, kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. EST....Kentucky comes up with a conference win- their third one of the season with a victory over Mississippi State 34-31 on Saturday. Big Andre Woodson threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns, getting his team it's first conference road win since last season at Vanderbilt. The 'Cats scored on four of its first five possessions in the second half heading to a 31-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Next up for the 'Cats is a matchup with the Dogs in Lexington on Saturday.

On The Wane: That would be the Georgia Bulldogs, expected to be contenders in the SEC Eastern Division at the beginning of the season, dropping one in Jacksonville to the division leading Gators 21-14. After fumbling on the opening play of the second half, the Gators got out to a 21-0 lead. But Georgia was not done yet, intercepting Florida's Chris Leak then taking five plays for 52 yards to score on a 13 yard run by freshman QB Matthew Stafford to make it 21-7. Next series and Florida was forced to punt, but the punt hit the back of Kelin Johnson's leg only to go back to the Gators. A missed FG gave it back to the Dogs, who gave it back to the Gators and so on and so on. The Dogs welcome Kentucky to Athens, hoping for an easy win over the Cats, a 1 p.m. kickoff set for Saturday....South Carolina needed a key conference win on Saturday to stay over .500 but instead are 3-and-3 in the SEC after dropping one to the Vols in Columbia 31-24. The loss was particularly ugly for Spurrier's 'Cocks after last year's last minute victory in Knoxville, a win even the evil genius himself called a "miracle." QB Syvelle Newton completed 16-of-29 passes for 230 yards and two TDs, also rushing for 85 yards against the Vols. Next up for USC -- here come the Hogs in a nationally televised broadcast on ESPN, kickoff set for 7:45 p.m. Saturday.

Skid Row: Mississippi led the Auburn Tigers for a bit on Saturday before the Tigers converted two third quarter interceptions into 10 points, breaking out the game for good, Ole Miss on the losing end of a 23-17 score in Oxford on Saturday. Auburn mistakes kept the 'Rebs in the game, including turnovers, dropped passes and penalties. A Brent Schaffer 3 yard TD pass to tight end Lawrence Lilly tied the score 17-all in the fourth quarter. Up next for Ole Miss, a chance for win number 3 on Saturday against Northwestern State, kickoff set for Noon Eastern....Winless in the SEC, Mississippi State got season best performances from QB Michael Henig and wide receiver Tony Burks, but it was not enough as the western division Bulldogs drop another one- this time to Kentucky 34-31. Henig finished with 384 yards and three touchdowns, but a poor running game (only 35 yards) spelled doom for State who faces a rising Tide on Saturday at T-Town.

Conference Call: The Associated Press says it's possible that Florida QB Chris Leak might have played with a concussion against Georgia on Saturday. Leak says that he did not sustain a concussion but it is believed that he may have suffered a severe headache and blurred vision during Saturday's win at Jacksonville....Tennessee QB Eric Ainge will play against No. 13 LSU on Saturday but it is not certain how much he will practice this week after hurting his right ankle late in the win at South Carolina on Saturday night. X-rays and an MRI came up negative. Likely the injury is a sprain....Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt says he believes linebacker Sam Olajubutu is expected to return for Saturday night's game at Columbia, SC after suffering a bruised bone and sprained ligament in his left knee two weeks ago.

News and Notes From 'Round the Nation: Michigan's wide receiver Mario Manningham may be back for Saturday's game against Ball State after missing the past three games from knee surgery....West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez is openly discussing reports that he is being considered as a replacement for North Carolina's outgoing head coach John Bunting who is stepping down at season's end.


Hi SEC fans! What a crazy week 7 it was, capped by a surprising Auburn comeback against Florida at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night. The BCS standings are out, so what does conference unbeaten Arkansas have to say about being ranked lower than Auburn after beating them at Jordan Hare? I'd say this would be a great time to break it all down for you in this week's 'Beat. So let's kick it!

A Shuffle Up At The Top: Auburn floats back up to the top with a Number 4 BCS ranking, released on Sunday and a 27-17 defensive handling of the Florida Gators Saturday night. The Tigers, without an offensive touchdown, dominated on the defense, capitalizing on a Chris Leak fumble keeping the Gators from scoring a go-ahead field goal. The win makes six home game victories in a row for the Tigers against top 10 opponents. Auburn welcomes Tulane this Saturday, 2:30 pm kickoff....Arkansas remains unbeaten in SEC play, getting a 63-7 win over Division I-AA Southeast Missouri State on Saturday in Fayetteville. Darren McFadden ran 52 yards for a TD on Arkansas' first offensive play on the way to a 42-0 halftime lead. The 'Hogs are the nation's Number 15 team in the AP Top 25 heading into Saturday's matchup with Ole Miss. Kickoff in Fayetteville set for 12:30 p.m. EST....Florida got it's first loss of the season in Auburn 27-17 Saturday night. The loss culminates a half-season of surprises for SEC front-runners with Auburn beating LSU; Arkansas beating Auburn and Florida beating Tennessee. As exciting as that sounds, the results could leave the SEC without a possible contender for a national championship. Florida was ready to retake the lead early in the fourth quarter before Auburn's Tray Blackmon recovered a Chris Leak fumble. An earlier Urban Meyer challenge left the Gators without a timeout with Florida managing only 85 yards and five first downs in the entire second half. The World's Largest Cocktail party is up next as the Gators and the Dogs take it up in Jacksonville on October 28th, kickoff set for 3:30 pm....Tennessee went up to AP Number 7 without playing on Saturday, but some Vols fans are surprised to see their team so low in the BCS standings at Number 11, behind California, a team they beat in the first week of the season. The Vols' only loss came in Knoxville to Florida early in the season which some analysts believe will ultimately help them get BCS bowl-bid consideration as early losses are better than losing late in the season. Of course the Vols will have to beat Alabama in Knoxville this Saturday, kickoff set for 3:30 pm.

Honorable Mentions: LSU is still alive after whipping Kentucky 49-0 Saturday night at Baton Rouge. Dwayne Bowe caught three touchdown passes, second best all-time at LSU, catching six total for 111 yards. LSU had been having some problems of late, losing to Florida last weekend and a forgettable 7-3 sputter at Auburn earlier this season, but got it crankin' on Saturday with four straight touchdowns on their first four possessions, getting out to a 28-0 halftime lead. Fresno State comes calling for an ESPN broadcast Saturday night, kickoff set for 9:00 pm....Alabama got the job done Saturday, beating Ole Miss once again this year with an overtime touchdown, 26-23 in Tuscaloosa. Le'Ron McClain sealed it for the Tide grabbing a 2 yard TD pass from Tide QB John Parker Wilson in OT to steal another win, that's two in a row versus the 'Rebs on last second plays. Last year, a last second field goal eeked out a win for the Tide in Fayetteville. Alabama had not won an overtime game since beating Florida 40-29 seven years ago. The 'Tide travels to Knoxville on Saturday to face the Vols, kickoff set for 3:30 pm....South Carolina had the week off between a 24-17 win at Kentucky last week and a scary trip to Nashville this Saturday to take on scrappy Vanderbilt who beat Georgia 24-22 this past Saturday. USC is 2-and-2 in the conference, 4-and-2 overall. The 'Cocks have won their last four SEC road games including last year's wins at Tennessee and at Arkansas. This season, Spurrier's boys have won at Mississippi State and at Kentucky....Speaking of Vanderbilt, Saturday's 24-22 win over Georgia was the school's first victory over a ranked opponent since 1992. The last time Vandy beat a ranked team on the road was 1950. Vandy's last win over Georgia came in 1994 when they beat the 'Dogs 43-30 in Athens. Congrats to Earl Bennett, Cassen Jackson-Garrison and true freshman D.J. Moore- all getting career-best performances in Saturday's win. South Carolina hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday, kickoff set for 3 pm from Vanderbilt Stadium.

Down But Not Out: Georgia has lost back-t0-back games for just the third time under current head coach Mark Richt after dropping Saturday's game to Vanderbilt 24-22, and are 11-3 overall following a loss. Here's more good news for the Dogs- they remain one of the best defensive units in the nation, ranked second in the SEC and 13th nationally allowing 263 yards per game. Here's the bad news -- Top running back Thomas Brown's season is over after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday's game. The Dogs welcome the Mississippi State Bulldogs for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday....On paper, a 2-and-5 overall, 1-and-3 conference record might seem a bit dismal, but Saturday's loss to division foe Alabama could be a bit of a moral victory for Ole Miss- with QB Brent Schaeffer completing 13 passes to 8 different receivers and RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis once again leading the 'Rebs in rushing for the seventh time this season, 56 yards on 21 carries on Saturday. And a 55 yard pass to sophomore Mike Wallace for a TD was the longest play from scrimmage this season for the 'Rebs. Mississippi travels to Arkansas to take on the 'Hogs, 12:30 pm kickoff from Fayetteville.

Bottom Dwellers: Once again, despite a win over IAA Jacksonville State (35-3), I think we can all agree that Mississippi State is perhaps the worst team in the SEC this season, winless in the SEC. State's only wins have come against UAB in overtime and against JSU on Saturday. Always thinking positively though, the 35 points scored against the Division IAA Gamecocks is the most points scored by MSU all season. The 308 yards of offense and 125 yards rushing were 'States second most against an opponent this season. The western division 'Dogs get the 'Dogs of the eastern division in Athens on Saturday, kickoff set for 1 p.m....We would have put Kentucky up a little higher this week except for the fact that they were shut out in an ugly loss at LSU on Saturday, 49-0. A number of injuries at the defensive tackle positions weakened the 'Cats but on the offensive side of the ball, QB Andre Woodson threw for 151 yards, seventh place on Kentucky's all time career passing list with 3,773 yards. Kentucky gets an open date this week to rest up and get healthy for an October 28th trip to Mississippi State.

Conference Call: LSU's QB JaMarcus Russell has been named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after rollin' up 226 yards and two touchdown passes in the win over Kentucky on Saturday....The SEC Defensive Player of the Week is Auburn DE Quentin Groves, accounting for four tackles and 3 quarterback sacks against Florida....Other SEC standouts include Mississippi State DB Derek Pegues - the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week; Vandy's Chris Williams, SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week and Arkansas tackle Keith Jackson chosen as the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week....breaking news.....Georgia coach Mark Richt says he will start freshman qb Matthew Stafford on Saturday versus Mississippi State.

News and Notes From 'Round the Nation: More casualties from Saturday's Miami/Florida International brawl as TV analyst and former Miami wide receiver Lamar Thomas is fired from his broadcast position for urging on the brawl in comments made on Saturday. One of 13 Hurricanes suspended Sunday was Anthony Reddick, suspended indefinately for raising a helmet over his head, them slamming it into an FIU player during the brawl....Washington QB Isiah Stanback is likely out for the rest of the season after injuring his right foot against Oregon State.

Greetings SEC fans! We're trusting everyone survived Week 6, Showdown Saturday, Part 1 where it's becomming a bit clearer that Florida is the team to beat in the East. In the race for the Western Division, Arkansas now leads the pack, remaining undefeated in conference play. Of course at the halfway mark there is still lots of football to be played and more questions to be answered. Can Georgia or Tennessee stay in the race for the SEC Eastern Division Championship? With one loss against a division opponent, what does Auburn have to do to stay in the race for the top spot in the West? So let's break down Week 6 of SEC College football, what do you say?

Alone At The Top: That would be the Florida Gators, number 2 in the AP rankings this week after getting a 23-10 win over No. 9 LSU on Saturday. The win was one for the record books, extending the Gator's home winning streak to 13 games. At 6-and-0 on the season, it's the best start for Florida since 1996, the year Florida won the national championship. Head coach Urban Meyer seems to shuffle two quarterbacks with ease with Chris Leak (17-of-26 for 155 yards) and Tim Tebow (2-for-2, 36 yards) seeing action on Saturday. Next up for the Gators is a road trip to Auburn for a 7:45 pm kickoff to be broadcast on ESPN on Saturday.

Still Alive And Kicking: Arkansas is undefeated in the SEC after a stunning 27-10 victory at Auburn, Alabama on Saturday. The Number 17 'Hogs rushed Darren McFadden 145 yards and sacked Tigers QB Brandon Cox five times, limiting Auburn to just 213 total yards to Arkansas' 366. All this from a 15 point underdog, an Arkansas team that hadn't beaten a team ranked so high since 1981 when they beat Texas, the Number 1 team. They'll likely handle Southeast Missouri State this Saturday, gametime to be determined....Thanks to a 51-33 win over Georgia Saturday night, Tennessee is still alive in the East and is the nation's new Number 8 team this week. The Vols, falling behind 24-7 with less than 5 minutes left in the first half, rolled up 383 yards of offense on a Georgia team that had the nation's number one defense, allowing an average of 6.8 points per game all season. After Antwan Stewart picked off a Bulldogs pass at the 19, Eric Ainge dove into the end zone for a one yard TD, cutting the Georgia lead to 24-21, sparking a Big Orange roll between the hedges. A bye week preceeds a visit from the Tide on October 21st....Despite Saturday's loss, Georgia is still alive in the SEC east with only one conference loss, and that would be to Tennessee Saturday night in Athens, 51-33. With a straight-up loss to the Vols, the 'Dogs have to hope Tennessee slips up against South Carolina later in the season and they must beat Florida in Jacksonville to remain a viable possibility for a spot in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome in December. Saturday night, Georgia had the second most points scored on them in Athens since Florida ran it up 52-17 in 1995. The Dogs should rebound though, enough to beat Vanderbilt on Saturday, kickoff set for 12:30 pm....Auburn survived two close calls against South Carolina and LSU in previous weeks before falling hard on Saturday to upstart Arkansas 27-10 at Jordan Hare Stadium and were on their way to a second undefeated season in three years, having won 20 of their last 21 games. Perhaps the most amazing stat was the one where Auburn's Kenny Irons was held to only 75 yards on 15 carries. Like Georgia and Tennessee, Auburn is still holding on to hopes for a chance at the SEC Western Division title heading into Saturday's matchup with the visiting Florida Gators, game time set for a 7:45 pm start.

Hangin' On: LSU is 1-and-2 in the SEC after losing to Florida 23-10 on Saturday, mostly at the hands of Florida phenom Tim Tebow against a Tiger squad's top rated defense. Mistakes proved costly as well with a fumbled punt, snap and kickoff and a missed 41 yard field goal. Here's a bright spot -- free safety LaRon Landry had 9 solo tackles for a total of 12 and a blocked punt for LSU on Saturday. The Tigers welcome the Kentucky Wildcats for an 8 pm kickoff on Saturday....Alabama's John Parker Wilson threw a 9 yard pass to Keith Brown late in the third quarter, putting away Duke 30-14 Saturday night after being behind 14-10 at the half. Winless Duke scored more points in the first half against the Tide than they have scored in a single game all season, holding 'Bama to just 17 first half rushing yards while gaining 158 yards of their own. Wilson went 18-for-30 with 220 yards passing and an interception. The Tide take on Ole Miss at 3:30 on Saturday in T-Town....South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is now 14-0 against Kentucky after beating the 'Cats 24-17 on Saturday. It was the master himself that called a fourth quarter reverse, sending QB Syvelle Newton into the end zone, breaking the game open for the 'Cocks and getting the team's 7th straight win over Kentucky. South Carolina travels to Nashville to visit the Commodores on Saturday the 21st....We keep Kentucky hangin' on only because of how impressive QB Andre Woodson has been, coming into Saturday's game tied for second in the country with 14 touchdown passes, but only got one on Saturday, a 9-yarder to Dicky Lyons, Jr. late in the game. A third quarter interception proved costly for the 'Cats, leading to a Carolina touchdown. A road trip to Baton Rouge comes this Saturday, kickoff set for 8 pm....Mississippi got a win on Saturday, beating Vandy 17-10 in Oxford and snapping a six game conference losing streak. BenJarvis Green-Ellis accumulated 102 yards rushing for two scores, but it was defensive end Rory Johnson who was the star of the show, stripping the ball from Vandy back-up QB Mackenzi Adams, recovering the fumble and preventing Vandy from scoring at the end of a drive to the Ole Miss 5 yard line. Next up is a visit to Alabama to take on the Tide, 3:30 pm kickoff.

Hittin' The Skids: Vanderbilt dropped Saturday's game to Ole Miss 17-10 and lost starting quarterback Chris Nickson to an ankle injury late in the first half of the game. Back-up Mackenzi Adams was good for 176 yards, completing 10-of-20 passing attempts but managed only a field goal in the relief role. Nickson was 11-for-13 for 95 yards. Vandy gets Georgia on Saturday, 12:30 pm kickoff....Mississippi State is 1-and-5 on the season, dropping Saturday's game to the visiting and undefeated Mountaineers of West Virginia 42-14 after being behind 14-7 at the half. Starting QB Omarr Conner was injured late in the third quarter and was replaced by Michael Henig, originally the team's starter before breaking his collarbone in the first game of the season. A chance for win number 2 comes this weekend when Jacksonville State comes calling for a 2:30 pm kickoff. Good luck, Bulldogs!

Conference Call: Congratulations to Arkansas for being selected as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week after shocking the nation by beating Auburn 27-10....Tennessee quarterback Eric Ainge is the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after rolling up 268 yards on the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend....The SEC Defensive Player of the Week is Ole Miss linebacker Rory Johnson setting a record 16 stops, the most for an Ole Miss defender since 1996....Six SEC teams are in this week's AP Top 25 including Florida (2), Tennessee (8), Auburn (11), LSU (14), Georgia (16) and Arkansas (17)....Kentucky's top rusher Rafael Little will miss Saturday's game against LSU due to a knee injury.

News and Notes From 'Round the Nation: Michigan's star receiver Mario Manningham will likely miss Saturday's shootout at Happy Valley after scheduled surgery early this week to repair a partially torn meniscus in his knee.