Missouri officially accepts bid to join SEC

Just yesterday the Missouri Tigers officially joined the SEC, bringing the number of member institutions to 14.  The announcement was made at a press conference held at the Missouri Student Center.  The excited crowd was busy chanting S-E-C right up until school Chancellor Brady Deaton took the podium.  Other speakers included Mizzou AD Mike Alden, SEC Board President Bernie Machen, and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.

The new SEC logo, with additions for Texas A&M and Missouri

Missouri will join the SEC, leaving the Big 12, just as Texas A&M did only a month ago.  It appears that in 2012, Mizzou’s first season, that they will be a part of the Eastern Division.  Nevermind that Columbia is the third most westerly school location.  Putting Missouri in the East keeps Alabama and Auburn in the same division and preserves the annual end of the year showdown known as the Iron Bowl.  Plans for future realignment could still be seen later down the road.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to both Missouri and Texas A&M.  Glad to have these two institutions as part of the best conference in college football.  But now gentlemen, you will now need to up your game.  Losing to the likes of Baylor, Kansas St, and Arizona St (Missouri), and getting beaten by Oklahoma by 16 (Texas A&M) might fly in the Big 12 but you will be representing the SEC next season and that will not cut it.


Keys to the Game

So, Jeff has given you a couple of key matchups leading into the big game tonight and the two matchups that he highlighted are definitely two of the biggest storylines to watch tonight.  What I’m going to try and do, however, is give you some Keys to the Game to watch for, some specific examples of things that I think could swing the score one way or the other.  I’m not Gary Danielson and these aren’t sponsored by Home Depot but my guess is that at least one of these things is going to completely decide the outcome.


Alabama and LSU both are known for their ability to hold onto the football and not make the crucial mistakes.  Alabama’s runningbacks have gone something like 295 carries without a fumble and LSU is +15 in turnover margin on the season.  One turnover could take one of these teams from a win to a loss.

Field Position

It’s pretty inevitable that in a game with as much defensive hype as this game, you’re going to hear how the field position battle is crucial.   Alabama’s special teams have been a weakness for the team from a coverage perspective but they also have one of the best return men in the SEC in Marquis Maze.  Watch for Alabama to give up big yards on kickoffs but also watch for Maze to potentially switch field position back with a big punt return or two.

The Return of “Pick Six”

Jarrett Lee has been spectacular this year in relief of Jordan Jefferson following his controversy in the offseason.  Lee has been efficient to the tune of 13 touchdowns and only 1 interception on the season.  He hasn’t played a defensive backfield like Bama’s yet, though.  In case you’ve forgotten, Jarrett Lee is the same person who was notorious for doing a lot of this:

Trent Richardson’s Heisman Moment

People talk about this being Trent’s Heisman moment:

While an amazing highlight like that is definitely something that will look spectacular if Richardson wins the Heisman, a big game against lowly Ole Miss is not going to win it for him.  A big game against the #1 team in the country?  That will.

Rueben Randle

My guess is that this is going to be the biggest Key to the Game.  While Alabama has some talented receivers in Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and DeAndrew White, they don’t have a guy with the ability of Randle.  Randle caught two huge touchdown passes in the blowout against Auburn and he is the most talented receiver on the field tonight.

The truth of the matter, like I said here, is that this game is going to be broken down continuously leading up to the kickoff but in all reality, nobody really knows what is going to happen.  Whatever ends up happening, something is going to go incredibly right or incredibly wrong for one team in one of the key phases of the game.


Its go time. LSU @ Alabama is upon us.

Since the anticipation for this game kept me from sleeping anyway, I thought why not put together a little pre-game packet for all our dedicated readers (all both of you).  Get caught up on the pertinent information before kick-off.  Come here, let us educate you.

Our key match ups…

Bama’s rushing attack vs LSU’s front 7                                                                   

LSU’s passing attack vs Bama’s secondary



Keys to the Game

Can’t remember why you hate these two teams, or looking for a new reason.  We’ve got you covered…

Everybody hates LSU 

Everybody hates Alabama

And last but not least, embrace the hype…                                                           


LSU @ Bama key match up: LSU’s passing attack vs Bama’s secondary

Sr Jarrett Lee has been exactly what LSU needed this season.  When Jordan Jefferson went through his pre-season legal troubles, many (including myself) wrote off Jarrett Lee and LSU’s national title hopes as a whole.  In that post I said, “Lee has a career stat line that has more interceptions than tds and a completion percentage close to 50”.  But for this season Lee has been on fire.  On the year Lee has 13 touchdowns passing (3rd in SEC) compared to only 1 interception (best among SEC starters); as well as a completion percentage of 63.2% (3rd in SEC).  He has a passer rating of 157.4 which is good enough for 13th nationally (2nd in SEC) and has only been sacked 4 times all season.  No one outside of Louisiana thought that Lee would be this good.  If you knew this was coming then either A) you need to take a little trip with me to Vegas, or B) you are a liar.

But lets not also forget that LSU has the winningest and most dangerous backup QB in the entire country, and a head coach that will definitely be putting both of them to use in this game.  Jordan Jefferson in his limited playing time since being back from suspension has only thrown 10 passes, but has completed 6 of them, 2 for touchdowns.  On top of Jefferson’s passing ability, he is a threat to run (111 yards on 26 carries, 2 tds).  The hat will give the Tide defense large doses of both quarterbacks, but do not be surprised if this is the most playing time Jefferson has seen all year (20+ snaps).

Lee has been accurate and done well protecting the football, and Jefferson adds the threat of running with the ball as well as big game experience.  Neither QB shys away from hitting multiple receivers in crucial situations as 8 different receivers have caught touchdown passes this season.

As stated, LSU has no shortage of talented receivers, but the big play maker out wide for the Tigers this season has been Rueben Randle.  Randle has caught 7 of 16 receiving touchdowns and has proven that he can score from anywhere on the field. Of those tds, 4 have come from in the red zone, the other 3 have all been from over 40 yards out.  Randle leads the team in touchdowns but also receptions with 33 and yards with 638, and averages nearly 20 yards a catch, 80 yards a game.  He is also coming off his biggest game of the year two weeks ago vs Auburn; his stat line is an impressive 5 receptions for 106 yards (21.2 avg) and 2 tds.

Other talented wide outs in the Tigers stable include Odell Beckham Jr (27 rec, 334 yds, 2 tds), TE Deangelo Peterson (12 rec, 137 yds, 1td), and last years leading receiver Russell Shepard (9 rec, 116 yds, 2 tds) who had to sit out the first three games due to NCAA rules violations.

Looking to stop this dangerous LSU passing game will be the stout Alabama secondary that ranks 2nd nationally in completion percentage against (48.15%), total passing yards (1085), passing yards per game (135.63), and 1st in passing tds allowed (4).  These stats are even more impressive when you factor in that most teams were forced to throw in second halves of games because they were down by so much.  In only 3 games this season has Bama not been up by 14 at the half, tied with Tennessee, and up by 10 on both Arkansas and Ole Miss.  By the end of the 3rd quarters of those games the Alabama leads had grown to 21 (Tenn), 24 (Ark), and 38 (Miss).  Basically there has not been a game that wasn’t out of hand by the 4th, so teams have been looking to complete passes, they just haven’t.

The veteran defensive backfield is led by first team all-American Sr safety Mark Barron.  Barron is in his third year as a starter and has been one of the best defensive backs in the country in his time at Alabama, racking up first team all-SEC honors for both previous seasons.  If LSU was looking to stay away from Barron, they will not find a much easier battle against Bama’s other safety, Jr Robert Lester.  Lester was himself a first team all-SEC preseason selection.  Head coach Nick Saban likes to mix up his coverages and the safeties could be anywhere on the field for any given play.  Their job descriptions include everything from playing deep coverage, tight man coverage, to gap assignments and blitzes.  The safeties are Saban’s most versatile and therefore unpredictable defensive weapons.  If you have any questions about their play-making abilities, please refer to the pictures provided.

Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie will have the duties on the outside for the Tide.  Both are capable corners that excel at man coverage, but also play well as part of a zone.  Both are physical players and they will be looking to disrupt the LSU receivers at the line of scrimmage.  LSU’s receivers will have to be just as physical to get a clean release if they want to be able to find soft spots in the Alabama defense before the pass rush finds the quarterback.

As good as the Alabama defensive backfield has been, the main priority in Tuscaloosa is and always will be stopping the run.  Many plays will see one or both safeties up near the line of scrimmage.  Look for LSU to try deep throws early and often, especially off of play action to try and open the field up and keep those safeties in coverage.  Odds are that at some point the hat will get Randle loose at least once, and the Tigers will capitalize.  Edge to Louisiana State.


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Hype Videos!!

I don’t know about you but one thing that I’ve been doing for the last two weeks is watching countless hype videos before this Saturday’s “Game of the Century”.  In an effort to get everyone just as amped as I am for Saturday night, I’ve linked a couple of my favorites below.

LSU @ Bama key matchup: Bama’s rushing attack vs. LSU’s front 7



You cannot understate the importance of this weeks game between LSU and Alabama, especially here in the South.  Not only is it #1 vs #2, but the winner of this game has gone on to play for the SEC championship 4 out of the last 6 years.  No doubt both teams will be ready with both teams coming off of bye weeks.  This will be an epic game, and the key match ups will help determine the outcome.  This will be the first in a short series on those key match ups.  First up, Bama’s rushing attack vs. LSU’s front seven.

Leading the Tide’s rushing attack is Heisman Trophy candidate Trent Richardson.  Currently, Richardson is ranked 8th nationally (1st in SEC) in total yards (989), ranked 3rd nationally (1st in SEC) in touchdowns (17), and averages 6.6 yards a carry.  The combination of power, speed, and elusiveness that Richardson brings is seldom seen.  The first tackler rarely gets him to the ground, and he is always falling forward for that extra yard or two.

Things will not get much easier for the LSU D when Richardson needs a breather.  Second string runner Eddie Lacy is a load himself and is ranked 3rd nationally in average yards per carry (8.0).  Overall the Bama running game is quite formidable.  They have two quality running backs that have the strength to run inside and the quickness to get to the edge.

Also, the big boys in the trenches love clearing the way for whoever is in the backfield.  The line is led by three year starter, senior center William Vlachos.  Joining him are guards Chance Warmack (Jr) and Anthony Steen (So), and tackles Barrett Jones (Jr) and D.J. Fluker (So).  Together they make for one of the nations top run blocking units. Bama is ranked 14th nationally in rushing yards per game with 229.3.  That number gets them a #1 ranking in the SEC.  Other rushing stats that Alabama ranks first in the SEC are yards (1834), touchdowns (27), and yards per carry (5.8).

Obviously the LSU defense has their work cut out for themselves, but Les Miles knows what he is up against as he himself recruited Trent Richardson out of high school.  Oh, and that LSU defense of his is ranked 3rd nationally in rushing defense. LSU runs a 4-3 with undersized but speedy players.  It seems to be doing the trick this season, as a unit LSU only allows a 2.5 yard per carry average, good enough for 4th nationally (2nd in SEC) and has only given up 5 rushing touchdowns through 8 games, 6th nationally (2nd in SEC).

LSU’s front four, are constantly substituting to keep players fresh.  They use as many as ten D lineman in any game, with minimal drop in talent from 1-10.  This strategy should do well against the larger Bama O line.  Fresh players with differing styles will keep Bama’s line off-balance and could cause some confusion up front, and you cannot understate the importance of being fresh in the fourth quarter in a game such as this.  The front four’s main job will be to penetrate into the backfield and keep Bama’s big lineman off the linebackers so they can flow to holes and stop the ball carrier.

LSU’s linebacking corps is also more of a speed and agility group then most SEC defensive units.  Led by senior weak-side (Will) linebacker Ryan Baker, the backers (with help from a secondary that also comes up to stop the run) have done a remarkable job this season.  Coming into the year the LB position was the biggest question on the team, but has held its own.  The strength of the team is its secondary and it helps free up the linebackers to focus on stopping the run.

There will be many key match ups or games-within-the-game in this one, but this match up will go a long way in proving who will prevail.  If Bama’s line can continue to open up holes for Richardson and Lacy then it will be a long day for the LSU front 7, but if they can rise to the challenge then it will be tough for Alabama to emerge the victor.  Edge to Alabama.


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3 Days of Hype

We here at the Dweller are not oblivious to what is going on this weekend.  That’s right, it’s Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Week!  Ok, ok. . . . it’s Tennessee-Martin at Mississippi State Week!?  Fine, I’ll get serious. . . the only game that anyone cares about this weekend and a game with more hype than many in recent memory (outside of possibly the Florida/Alabama SEC Championships of ’08 and ’09), is this weekends #1 vs. #2 matchup in Tuscaloosa.  In anticipation of the matchup, we’re going to give you what we’re calling 3 Days of Hype.

LSU and Alabama come into this weekend being two of the most dominant SEC teams that I can remember in my lifetime.  Fans of other teams can get mad at that statement all they want but it’s the truth.  Alabama, for example, has won every matchup this season by at least 16 points, while LSU has won all of their matchups by no less than 13 points.  LSU beat defending National Champion Auburn 45-10 two weeks ago while Alabama beat the current #7 team in the nation Arkansas by 24 points.

Tyrann Mathieu and the LSU secondary will look to swing momentum

While some will argue that the league is in a down year (and they are right, to a point), there is no denying the dominance that both of these teams have shown through the season’s first eight games.  Both teams feature defenses with multiple players who will start in the NFL next year and offenses that are efficient and meticulous.  While LSU may have the edge at wide receiver, Alabama has the edge at runningback and while LSU may have the most talented secondary in the country, Alabama puts possibly the nation’s most talented linebacker group on the field each week.

One of the game's big questions is whether LSU can slow down Heisman contender Trent Richardson

People can try all they want to break down this matchup (and we will also over the next couple of days) but the fact of the matter is that no one really knows which way this game is going to go.  If Trent Richardson ran for 2 touchdowns and the Tide won by 10 points, no one would really be all that surprised.  If Tyrann Mathieu and the LSU secondary returned two pick-sixes and won by 10 points, no one would be surprised, either.  What I can say for certain, though, is that this game has the makings of one of the most epic games the SEC has ever seen, so get your mind right.