Monday, November 29

Poll dancing, week 13: A fun weekend, and nobody died (despite their best efforts).

Well, we did Thanksgiving dinner, we did the Egg Bowl in Oxford, we came, we saw, we drank a lot, we saw some unbelievably gorgeous women . . . and oh, yeah, in the midst of all that we watched a little football. The writeup on the Egg Bowl weekend (and the Georgia game, what little I saw of it) is coming, but in the meantime . . .

Games watched: Parts of Texas A&M-Texas, Auburn-Alabama, parts of Oregon-Arizona, the first (and by far less interesting) half of Nevada-Boise State, Mississippi State-Ole Miss, the tail end of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State.

The next five: West Virginia, Arizona, North Carolina State, UCF, San Diego State.

· The action in the top 10 is set in motion by Boise State, LSU, and Alabama all suffering losses of fair degrees of stunning-ness over Thanksgiving weekend. None of them got blown out, but by the end of it none of them quite looked like national-championship material, either.

· I realize I've got Wisconsin as the top Big Ten team in these rankings, but here's a question: Michigan State beat Wisconsin; Wisconsin beat Ohio State; Ohio State hasn't beaten either of the other two (since they didn't play MSU). So how come Wisconsin is getting all the Rose Bowl love and Sparty has kind of turned into the odd man out in this little three-way?

· Probably dinged Oklahoma State too much for coming out on the wrong end of a wild shootout in Stillwater last week, but who do I put them above? Not Oklahoma or Nebraska, obviously.

· Arizona and North Carolina State get ushered out, with Maryland and Northern Illinois taking their place, and yes, I've watched NIU play this season. With a mobile QB and an offense that can score bushel baskets of points in the blink of an eye, they're almost like a poor man's Oregon, and they're gonna rip somebody a new one in a bowl game that precisely no one will watch.

On to the SEC Power Poll ballot:

1. Auburn -- Not sure whether to be amazed that they bounced back from a 24-0 deficit or puzzled at how they ended up in said deficit to begin with. All I'll say is this: Oregon doesn't strike me as the kind of team that'll take their foot off the gas the way Alabama seemed to in the second half.

2. Arkansas -- All reports seem to indicate that Ryan Mallett will get one more chance to impress the NFL scouts in the Sugar Bowl, and you can't say he hasn't earned it.

3. LSU -- Fitting that LSU would get effectively knocked out of a BCS bowl by a loss in which they were out-Miles'd. Guess we now know their good luck has a ceiling.

4. South Carolina -- If they can play ball control offense and get a couple late stops against the Tigers, they've got a chance to win in the Georgia Dome this weekend. But I'm still putting my money on Auburn, and I don't really care what the spread is.

5. Alabama -- Hard to pinpoint just exactly where they went wrong this year, but the running game sure underwhelmed down the stretch considering that it had a Heisman Trophy winner and a guy everyone said was better than him.

6. Mississippi State -- The flipside to an eight- (or perhaps nine-) win season in Starkville: Now they have to cross their fingers for the next two months and hope nobody poaches Dan Mullen.

7. Florida -- I'm loath to call the Urban Meyer dynasty over after one crappy season, but with the Gators having emphatically ceded in-state superiority back to FSU, a Gator Bowl berth on the horizon, and Steve Addazio appearing to be completely secure in Gainesville, you gotta hear the clock ticking.

8. Georgia -- If Bulldog Nation went to Sanford Stadium last Saturday night looking for signs that they're still the alpha dog in the state, they got 'em. But if they came looking for signs that 2011 is going to be a big turnaround year, they didn't find many.

9. Tennessee -- The season played out just exactly like everyone said it would, and now Derek Dooley has a chance to finish with the same record Lane Kiffin did in his lone season in Knoxville. (Kiffin: "All part of my master plan.")

10. Kentucky -- Earning a fifth straight bowl bid is nice, but other than the upset over South Carolina, there's not a lot you can point to as an indication that Joker Phillips is headed for breakout success in Lexington.

11. Ole Miss -- I watched the Rebels take a pretty good stab at making a stunning comeback against Missy State the other night in Oxford -- right up until the final drive, when Jeremiah Masoli had to lead the Rebs to the tying touchdown. The final two minutes were like a Benny Hill episode, and I'm now inclined to agree with those who think Houston Nutt is perhaps the most accomplished QB-killer in the country.

12. Vanderbilt -- Debated whether to put Vandy or Ole Miss in the bottom slot, but these stats ended that debate. As much as I like Robbie Caldwell's story, you can't exactly blame the Vandy administration for not having any interest in keeping him on.

Friday, November 26

The Friday Random Ten+5 is back, and it can't dance.

I know the Friday Random Ten+5 has been absent for a few weeks, and it's mainly because I just couldn't come up with any good ideas for +5s -- but a conversation I had with Holly the other day gave me one. We'll talk periodically about what we might plan, wedding-wise, if we ever decide to pull the trigger on this thing, and mainly it's just us coming up with outlandish ideas such as a Super Mario Brothers-themed ceremony where she comes down the aisle dressed like Bowser. (Her idea, not mine, which just makes it that much more awesome.) But we were talking about ideas for what song to play at our first dance, and we came up with some doozies. Hence, the Friday Randomness returns with Five Unbelievably Inappropriate Songs To Play As The First Dance At Our Wedding Reception.

Wu-Tang Clan, "Shame on a Nigga"
This is the song that inspired the entire conversation, and we've talked about it enough at this point that the chances we actually do it are probably right around 50-50. Which will make our parents so very proud of us, I'm sure.

Dead Kennedys, "Too Drunk to Fuck"
This would be appropriate since it describes quite a few people at the end of a wedding reception anyway. You go there to pick up some bridesmaids, you dance, you drink, and by the end of the evening you're in no position to do anything but puke on your nice clothes and cry in a cab on the way home. Or maybe that's just me.

Wham!, "Careless Whisper"
Hits the inappropriateness trifecta: references to infidelity, references to dancing . . . and five minutes' worth of pure, uncut, Colombian '80s cheese. Including '80s saxophone, which could make even "The Star-Spangled Banner" sound goofy.

Josh Groban, "You Raise Me Up"
I'm not including a YouTube here because this song is so godawful I can't even stand to have it on my blog. Yes, it's much worse than "Careless Whisper." Most of Groban's catalogue, if this song is any indication, makes "Careless Whisper" look like "Smells Like Teen Spirit." And to my ears, at least, it's way more offensive than "Too Drunk to Fuck." If we played this as our first dance, we'd have to play "Too Drunk to Fuck" or maybe Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" immediately afterward, just to demonstrate to everyone we didn't really mean it.

Nirvana/Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, "Rape Me"
Pretty self-explanatory, no? It's either this or the Beastie Boys' "Girls."

And now the Ten, whose appropriateness cannot be verified in advance:

1. Pet Shop Boys, "K-Hole"
2. Johnny Cash, "Give My Love to Rose"
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Scartissue"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Vampires"
5. Nanci Griffith, "I Don't Want to Talk About Love"
6. Tito Puente, "Mambo Gallego" (remix)
7. Fatboy Slim, "Going Out of My Head"
8. Underworld, "Ring Road"
9. Moby, "Bodyrock"
10. U.N.K.L.E., "Logan's Run"

Please welcome back the Ten+5 by putting your own Random Tens, and your ideas for utterly horrible wedding-reception numbers, in the comments.

Thursday, November 25

Manic-Depressive Preview: Servin' up a little bile and condescension for Thanksgiving.

The Manic-Depressive Previewers have had a week off to lick their wounds from the Auburn game -- well, Depressive Doug licked his wounds, Manic Doug got blazing drunk and loudly predicted to anyone who would listen how it's only a matter of time before Cam Newton gets declared ineligible and the NCAA blasts Auburn's football program back into the leather-helmet era. Either way, though, they've had some time off and are now tanned, rested, and ready to go full speed ahead for this weekend's clash of the titans -- or, perhaps more accurately, clash of the Titanics? -- between Georgia and Georgia Tech this weekend.

Manic Doug: Woohoooo!!!! Time for some Clean Old-Fashioned Hate, bro! Man, this is always my favorite time of the season, 'cause it means I get to whip out my best insults and give those pretentious, pasty-skinned, no-social-life-having dicklicks at Tech the carpet-bombing they deserve.

Depressive Doug: Yeah, and it's always my least favorite time of the season, because I have to sit here and cover my head while you jinx the crap out of us with your overconfidence.

MD: First of all, every time is your least favorite time of the year, from the looks of things. Second of all, how have I "jinxed" us, exactly? Oh, no, we've only won eight out of the last nine times! Clearly I'm the kiss of death!

DD: OK, so you got a pass for the Chan Gailey years. Between him and Patrick Nix, even your bad karma couldn't power them to a win. But even you have to admit that it's kind of a new ballgame with Paul Johnson as their head coach.

MD: Did we beat them last year or didn't we? Then clearly it isn't that new a ballgame.

DD: Maybe not, but you can't seriously sit there and call Tech a gimme win anymore. Even last year, they still managed to ring up more than 200 net rushing yards on us, and they came very close to erasing that two-touchdown lead we had at halftime on a number of occasions.

MD: "Came very close" still adds up to "lost" in my book. I mean, if even Willie Martinez can eventually figure out how to handle Paul Johnson's triple-option, I think Todd Grantham can probably pull it off.

DD: In a year when we're still trying to master the 3-4 defense in the twelfth game of the season? And still don't have a clue as to how to stop a mobile QB?

MD: OK, sit down a second, 'cause daddy's gonna tell you why this "mobile QB" thing everybody's been worrying about with respect to Georgia Tech is a load of bunk. The mobile quarterbacks we've had problems with this year have all been guys who could throw -- Tyler Hansen, Trey Burton, Cam Newton. But this Tech offense can't throw to save its life. Losing Demaryius Thomas to the NFL draft has completely taken away their only sure-fire deep threat; it's dropped their per-game passing yardage by more than 50 and their team pass efficiency from 12th in the nation to 110th. And that was even before their starting QB went out for the season with a wrist injury. With Josh Nesbitt gone, they're even less inclined to pass, meaning we can devote our full attention to loading up on the line and playing assignments against the triple-option.

DD: Yeah, which worked out just swell two years ago, when their passing game was just as much an afterthought as it is now and they still managed to roll us for 409 yards. While completing one pass the entire afternoon.

MD: Again, though, that was with Nesbitt, not to mention Jonathan Dwyer, who's also gone off to the NFL.

DD: Their leading rusher in that game was actually Roddy Jones, who went off on us for 214.

MD: And who barely has more than that for the entire 2010 season. I'm telling you, dude, people have started figuring out the Tech offense, just like I said they would. They're going to get some yards this weekend, but not nearly enough to matter.

DD: You don't think so?

MD: No, because a run-dominant, grind-it-out offense isn't gonna be able to keep up on the scoreboard with an offense that has as many weapons as we've got. Remember, Tech's trying to transition to a 3-4 front too, and they haven't mastered it any better than we have. They certainly don't have the personnel to cover A.J. Green, pressure Murray, and stack up against the run consistently.

DD: A.J. I'll grant you. The other two I wouldn't be quite so sure about -- you know how up-and-down our running game has been, and we haven't been all that consistent in pass protection, either.

MD: But Tech's pass rush has been practically nonexistent -- they've only got 16 sacks for the entire year. As for their ability to stop the run, you know how one of the biggest complaints about our defense this year is that we still don't have a dominant guy at nose tackle who can draw double-teams and plug up the middle? Tech's guy in the middle is Logan Walls, who's no bigger than any of our guys are. I'm not saying we're gonna out-rush them like we did last year -- though that'd be awesome -- but between Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, I'll bet cash money that at least one of them goes over 100 yards.

DD: Well, I can see you've been cured of your overconfidence regarding Tech. Bra-vo.

MD: You know, the more I think about this game the more I wonder what in the hell you're so worried about. Their offense is performing at a way lower level than it did in Paul Johnson's first years, and they're missing three of their most important playmakers from those teams. Again, it's not like we're going to completely dominate them in terms of rushing yards, but as long as we nail the fundamentals and wrap them up when we're tackling -- which seems a lot more likely given that we've been having full-pads, full-contact practices all week -- they're not going to be able to do to us what they did in 2008. And they're certainly not going to be able to match the speed with which we can put points on the board. A.J. is going to have another career day for the NFL scouts, Caleb and Washaun are going to clean up the rest, and we're going to win 42-20.

DD: Somehow I'm not the least bit surprised that you see a blowout happening this weekend. I, on the other hand, see a shootout. Full-contact practices or no, we're still crossing our fingers and hoping that our D-coordinator, talented though he may be, can hold down a triple-option offensive attack he never had to game-plan against in the NFL. I see the Techies being geeked up at a chance to get revenge for last year's game and win one for their injured QB, and I think they're going to win 34-30.

MD: You Judas. It's one thing for you to pick a team like Florida or Auburn to win, but Tech is the lowest of the low, the program that combines worthless football team and pissy, annoying fan base like no other program on our schedule. And you're going to pick them to deny us a bowl bid?

DD: If you want to talk obnoxious fans, I think you're really splitting hairs if you're trying to draw any distinction between Tech and Florida. But yes, I think we're staying home for bowl season this year.

MD: Unacceptable. I've keyed people's cars for less.

DD: Well, considering that we drive the same car, I hope you'll manage to maintain some semblance of self-control in this case. And considering that our predictions average out to what looks like a pretty convincing 36-27 Georgia win, maybe you can just let this one go.

MD: Maybe. I can forget. But I can't forgive.


DD: So . . . you're eventually going to forget we even had this disagreement, but you're going to hold a grudge against me anyway?

MD: I know what I said.

DD: Yeah, and the sad thing is, I wouldn't put something that ridiculous past you, either. How about instead of not making any sense you grace us all with the Associated Hottie so that we can get out of here and crush some turkey.

MD: Not falling for that one, G. You know there aren't any hot girls at Tech. Searching for an Associated Hottie to represent the Jackets would be like trying to find a college graduate at an Insane Clown Posse show.

DD: Perhaps, but I did manage to find this on the Web somewhere.

MD: Huh. Wow. Who's that?

DD: Jamie Eason, I think her name is -- a "fitness model" by trade, or some such.

MD: Interesting. You realize, of course, that there's no way in hell she went to Tech.

DD: Oh, of course not. Really the only question is how much they had to pay her to wear that shirt.

MD: At least four figures would be my guess. Can you imagine what would happen if an actual male Tech student was ever approached by a chick like that?

DD: Barely, but either way, I'd want to grab some popcorn and watch the show.

MD: Yeah. See, you're getting into this.

DD: Hey, while I may be a voice of doom and misery when it comes to our football team, you will never hear me speak of Tech fans as anything other than annoying, comically maladjusted, disgusting people.

MD: That's the spirit! And on this day of giving thanks, I think it's appropriate to express our undying gratitude that, whatever happens on the football field, we're not them.

DD: Indeed. God bless us, every one.

Tuesday, November 23

Poll dancing, week 12: A week that went through the motions.

Earth-shattering news in college football was few and far between this past weekend, at least in terms of on-the-field action, so I'll warn you that you're not going to see a lot of stunning insight in this week's ballot explanation. Instead, you get this.

You're welcome.

Games watched: Part of Ohio-Temple, bits of North Carolina State-UNC, the first half of Georgia Tech-Duke, LSU-Ole Miss, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, some of Arkansas-Mississippi State.

The next five: Iowa, Maryland, Miami, Baylor, Florida.

· After a weekend marked by a dearth of consequential games, the major news on the BlogPoll ballot front is sparse indeed. The biggest story would obviously be Nebraska plummeting down into the teens after losing to Texas A&M, and while in retrospect that punishment might be a little harsh -- there was definitely some home cookin' involved in some of those penalties against the 'Huskers -- the refs alone don't account for Nebraska only managing six measly points against a nothing-special A&M defense.

· LSU got docked a spot for getting played much closer than they should have by an awful Ole Miss team -- this is the same Rebel squad that basically did nothing but duck and cover for 60 minutes while Tennessee rained hellfire on them, remember. Stanford seems worthy of taking their place after whaling on Cal a lot worse than Oregon did. I don't know why Wisconsin dropped two spots after a win, but in my defense, the two teams above them, Alabama and Oklahoma State, are playing really well right now.

· Had a little trouble around the bottom of the rankings there -- in the very first draft of the ballot I did, without looking at the previous week's ballot at all, I had Iowa maintaining their #24 spot despite a loss. Thing is, nearly everyone immediately below them (as you can see from the "next five") lost last week too, and I couldn't elevate a new team into the top 25 after they'd just gotten pounded. So I went casting about for a new #25, and Air Force snagged the brass ring. By all means, let me know if you've got any better ideas.

And here's the SEC Power Poll Ballot, which, in keeping with the generally blah action over the weekend, appears to be in the exact same order as last week:

1. Auburn -- As excited as I am about the Iron Bowl, I'm almost more excited at the prospect of listening to Finebaum the following Monday, regardless of what the outcome of the game is.

2. LSU -- Giving up 36 points to a baaaad Ole Miss team sure doesn't bode well for this weekend's game against Arkansas, though knowing Les Miles, he might've done it on purpose as a smokescreen.

3. Alabama -- I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of "asterisk" talk out of Tuscaloosa if Auburn manages to knock off the Tide.

4. Arkansas -- I've been hearing that they may have an outside shot at an at-large BCS berth if they can beat LSU, and I'm not sure I buy it, but they'd still be a hell of a lot more deserving than whoever comes out of the Big East cripplefight with the conference crown.

5. South Carolina -- At the point in the second quarter when the Gamecocks went up over 50 against Troy, Steve Spurrier had to feel like he was back in the Swamp again.

6. Mississippi State -- The Bizarro Bulldogs have to be kicking themselves over the Arkansas game. A win wouldn't have put them in the BCS, but it still might've made for a nice little bump up in bowl prestige.

7. Florida -- I can't even remember who they played Saturday, but I'm pretty confident in the belief that it wasn't anyone good.

8. Georgia -- Three months ago, Dawg fans had a glimmer of hope that the UGA-GT game might put them over the top into a BCS bowl. Now we need a win just to get into any bowl.

9. Tennessee -- No one's going to call the Vandy classic, but I guess I can forgive the Vols a little if they were looking ahead to Kentucky. Though it's still weird to think of the Wildcats as a team you'd look ahead to.

10. Kentucky -- If the 'Cats can't finally get over the hump against Tennessee this weekend, then we may eventually see Notre Dame-Navy being eclipsed in the record for longest streak of rivalry futility.

11. Ole Miss -- They jump ahead of Vandy based on a performance at LSU that was far better than anyone could've predicted, but there's still ample opportunity for them to climb back down into the crevasse if they really tank it against Mississippi State this weekend.

12. Vanderbilt -- Looks like the Commodores are back to a level where putting a brief scare into someone is the best they can hope for.