Tag Archives: Nick Saban

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.

Turnovers

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.

-Sadler

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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.

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.

Week 6 Recap

This weekend did little to add any clarity to the SEC title chase, at least not in the West.  LSU and Alabama still appear to be headed on a collision course to one of the better regular season games in the conference within recent memory.

Alabama looked bored by Vanderbilt for the first half and only mustered 14 measly points while allowing a few big plays before bowing up in the redzone and getting lucky with a couple of Vanderbilt missed field goals.  The Tide continues

Alabama knocked yet another QB out

to absolutely dominate on the defensive side of the ball, to the point that I told my wife this weekend that I’m not sure it’s possible to have that many good athletes on one defense without cheating.   Here’s hoping I’m wrong.  They managed to knock out a third quarterback in two weeks and Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray decided to go ahead and get hurt this week to avoid the inevitable.

The Honeybadger don't care

LSU and Tyrann “the honeybadger” Mathieu were opportunistic again but owe the Tide a little thank you card for knocking Florida’s first two quarterbacks out.  The Tigers would have dominated this game even if John Brantley had played but it certainly didn’t hurt that he didn’t play.  Trey Burton was asked following the game who had the better defense, Alabama or LSU, and he said that it was Alabama’s.  LSU fans can be mad about this but the guy did just play both teams in consecutive weeks, so there’s probably some legitimacy to his comments.

In other news, Arkansas let Auburn score 14 first quarter points and then shut them down for the rest of the game and came away with a dominating

Kiehl Frazier is probably the guy going forward at Auburn

performance.  Auburn has found ways to win consistently but their youth finally caught up with them in this one.  Kiehl Frazier will more than likely be a quality player in the future but if he becomes the starter right now, Auburn fans can most likely expect some growing pains over the next couple of months.

Georgia and Tennessee played a mediocre game that could well decide the SEC East and it’s only fitting that the game was nothing spectacular.  Georgia won and in the process returned themselves into the discussion of teams that could win the East but South Carolina, behind Connor Shaw, blew past Kentucky and re-asserted themselves as the favorite.  Kentucky is nothing special, obviously, but I’d be surprised to see Shaw replaced by Stephen Garcia in the near future.  Who knows, though, Steve Spurrier apparently has a weakness for Garcia’s impeccable hair and beard.

Games of Week 4: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I think I’m officially going to change the name of my picks column from Games of the Week to “I Curse You”.  Over the first three weeks of the season, I have kept my record afloat by correctly picking the worst games of the week with amazing accuracy.  On Alabama games that I’ve picked, in particular, I’ve been within about 3 points of the actual score every week.  On the games that actually matter, though, I’ve managed to go a whopping 1-5 so far.  If I pick your team to win, I apologize ahead of time because odds are that I’ve given them the kiss of death.

That being said, I feel pretty good about my picks this week and think that you should probably put any and all money in your name on all of them.

On to this week’s picks:

Best of the Week:

#2 LSU at #16 West Virginia

West Virginia fans aren't scared to burn a couch

Roughly a week after word came out that the Mountaineers had been rejected by the SEC as a potential 14th member, they will have the chance to prove their worth against possibly the best team in the conference (or the country for that matter).  West Virginia is coming off a 37-31 win over Maryland last week and while Maryland looked good against Miami earlier in the season, they aren’t LSU.  West Virginia will have trouble moving the ball against LSU’s smothering defense.

After this game, LSU will have played 3 ranked opponents, on the road, in the first four weeks of the season.  In a time where teams are loading up on cupcakes early, this is an impressive stat and one that will most likely benefit the Tigers once they get to the meat of their conference schedule.  Jarrett Lee looked in control against Mississippi State last week and they’ll need him to do the same this week.

Pick:  LSU 27  West Virginia 7

Tyler Wilson leads Arkansas' high powered offense into Tuscaloosa

#14 Arkansas at #3 Alabama

You’ve heard plenty about last year’s collapse by the Hogs at home against the Tide.  Ryan Mallett self-destructed in the final quarter to let the Tide steal a game that Arkansas should have won.  Much like last year’s Iron Bowl is bulletin board material for the Alabama, this one is for the Hogs.  Tyler Wilson has looked good early and no one has forgotten his performance against Auburn in relief last year.  He is more than capable of carrying the Arkansas offense against the Tide’s stingy defense.

Much has been made of Alabama’s defense versus Arkansas’ offense but this game will most likely come down to the other matchup:  Arkansas’ defense versus the Alabama offense.  Alabama hasn’t looked incredibly explosive in their first three weeks but anyone who has watched the Tide since Nick Saban took over knows that’s not his teams’ strength.  Alabama wants to grind the ball and wind the clock down to keep Arkansas off the field.

This one will be close but I think the Tide will control the clock just enough to keep their defense fresh against the high-powered Hog offense.

Pick:  Arkansas 17  Alabama 24

Dry Games of the Week

Georgia at Ole Miss

How could you fire this guy?

Should Mississippi State versus Louisiana Tech be in this place instead?  Probably, but there’s something about a horrible SEC on SEC matchup in Week 4 that got my attention.  Many are calling this the “Hot Seat Bowl”, including us during our Week 4 preview earlier this week and to me that says all I need to know about this game.  Any time there are two coaches facing off against one another that are both fighting for their jobs, I’m not going to be too interested in watching.

Houston Nutt claimed this week that he’s not listening to all the noise surrounding his job security but I’m guessing that he’s seen the writing on the wall.  Mark Richt, on the other hand, has been on the hot seat for about 14 years it seems like.  The winner of this one will do nothing to help their job security but we’ll act like this is a must-win to try and turn it into an actually interesting game.  On the field, Georgia is a much better football team and should roll.

Pick:  Georgia 41  Ole Miss 14

FAU at Auburn

Hopefully Ted Roof taught Auburn how to tackle this week

Nothing like a nice cream puff to follow up your first loss in 18 games.  Auburn’s defense has been horrible this season but fear not Auburn fans, FAU ranks 120th in the FBS in points scored AND they rank 115th in points scored.  All that tells me is this:  FAU might be the worst team in college football.  Auburn’s defense is bad but they’re not THAT bad.  You don’t back Ted Roof into a corner!  Auburn would win this one with nine guys on the field.

Pick:  FAU 10  Auburn 54

SEC Week 4 Preview

Week 4, for many teams, represents the start of some brutal SEC schedules.  I know, we’ve already had some SEC matchups but this week is when you start to get into the “meat” of the schedule.  Games mean more.  Wins mean everything.

Here is a look at this weekend’s slate of games for the SEC….

11:21AM CT  Georgia (1-2, 0-1 SEC) at Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1 SEC) – We are dubbing this as the “Hot Seat Bowl”.  Both coaches are feeling the heat this year after early conference losses.  Ole Miss fans have the most to complain about after shelling out a hefty contract to Houston Nutt.  Richt has been here before and a win, in Oxford, is a must if the Dawgs are going to try and compete against South Carolina and Florida this year.

2:30PM CT No. 14 Arkansas (3-0, 0-0 SEC) at No. 3 Alabama (3-0, 0-0 SEC) – By far the biggest conference game this weekend.  The Hogs will try and avenge a heart breaking loss from last year but will have to do it on the road – a daunting task.  Look for both teams to open the playbooks in this one as the SEC’s best offense squares off against it’s best defense.

6:00PM CT Vanderbilt (3-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 12 South Carolina (3-0, 1-0 SEC) – Vandy looks for another signature SEC win after embarrassing Ole Miss 30-7 last week while USC looks to further solidify itself as the top team in the East.  Vandy has looked impressive, thus far, but will have to win on the road against one of the most talented teams in the conference to be considered a contender.

6:00PM CT No. 15 Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC) at Kentucky (2,-1, 0-0 SEC) – Kentucky will try and slow down what appears to be another fast Florida team when these division foes face off in Commonwealth Stadium.  Kentucky’s rushing attack will look to burn some clock and keep Florida’s playmakers off the field.  A win at home would be huge for the Wildcats but that won’t be easy.

6:00PM CT Florida Atlantic (0-2) at Auburn (2-1, 1-0 SEC) – After beating Mississippi State, Auburn dropped a tough game against Clemson last week.  The Tigers will look to score early and often against an opponent allowing 42.5 pts a game.  Auburn needs a confidence booster heading into a matchup with No. 12 South Carolina next week and get it against an over-matched Florida Atlantic team.

6:00PM CT Louisiana Tech (1-2) at Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2 SEC) – After playing Auburn and LSU, the past two weeks, MSU gets a break from SEC play and squares off against a LaTech squad scoring 33 pts a game.  Already down 0-2 in conference play, Dan Mullen’s squad needs to regroup, get a win at home, and get ready for next week’s road trip to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs.

7:00PM CT No. 2 LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 16 West Virginia (3-0) – A win against West Virginia would give the LSU Tigers 3 wins over Top 25 teams in the first 4 weeks.  An impressive feat.  College Gameday will be at Mountaineer Field for the matchup but we don’t see this being too close.  LSU’s defense is looking stout and the offense is starting to come together….slowly.  A win here will put LSU on the fast track to Atlanta until November, when they face Alabama and Arkansas.

– Hasley

Games of the Week: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

So far for the season, I’m fairing pretty well on the worst games of the week, where I have an undefeated record.  Of course, most of those games have been huge blowouts so it’s not much of an accomplishment on my end.  So far I am 5-4 on my picks but I plan on changing that this week.

I have to admit right here that I continue to underestimate God’s love for the Auburn Tigers (how else can you explain them) and once again they proved me wrong by beating a team that many had proclaimed to be vastly superior.  Cough, cough, including myself.  So in the spirit of giving, I am finally going to give the Tigers some love this week.  On to this week’s games of the week:

#21 Auburn at Clemson

Auburn continues to test fate and win

This game is mainly high on appeal because of the way that it went last year.  Clemson had a chance to shut up the “War Cam Eagle” chants pretty early on in the season but failed to do so.  This year Clemson has struggled against Wofford and beat Troy pretty handily.  The narrow win against Wofford, especially, doesn’t bode well for Clemson.

As for Auburn, as I mentioned, they obviously have some sort of deal with either God or the Devil considering the way that they are winning games during their current 17 game winning streak.  I have finally given in and will refuse to pick against them until they finally lose.

Pick:  Auburn 38  Clemson 31

Tennessee at #16 Florida

Tyler Bray will show no respect to the Gators defensive backfield

Before this season, this game had kind of lost its’ appeal in recent years.  Tyler Bray, however, has finally got Vol fans talking again and with good reason.  So far on the year Bray has a 78.5% completion rate with 7 touchdowns and no interceptions to go along with nearly 700 yards passing.  Pretty gaudy numbers for 2 weeks, no matter who you’re playing.  Bray has Tennessee buzzing and I’ve even heard some talk that he may be the best UT quarterback since Peyton Manning.  I’m not willing to go there yet but let’s give it some time and see how it turns out.

The Gators, on the other hand are quietly looking pretty solid so far this season.  Their defense has only given up 3 points on the season, albeit to Florida Atlantic and UAB, and the offense has looked good enough, as well.  Surprisingly, I think this game may actually have a chance to decide the East.

Upset Special:  Tennessee 24  Florida 17

Dry Games of the Week

Coastal Carolina at Georgia

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Pick:  Georgia 41  CC 10

North Texas at #2 Alabama

Look for Trent Richardson to finally break out this week

Bama continues their streak of making the picks column but twice it’s not been for the right reasons.  Yet again the Tide is playing a cupcake and yet again they will Roll by halftime.  Next week Arkansas and the beginning of true SEC play for the Tide.

Pick:  Alabama 45  North Texas 3