SEC takes center stage; Big Ten gets a MAC-tastic reprieve

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Certainly the schedule says the Big Ten will be out in full force — minus Illinois — and engaging in gridiron “competition” this weekend, but they will be facing the same number of schools from BcS conferences as I will — zero.

Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, N. Colorado, Bowling Green, Austin Peay, Ball State, Toledo, Akron, Northern Illinois.  Those are nine of the ten schools gearing up to face Big Ten squads, with seven of them calling the Mid-American Conference home.  Perhaps the only intriguing on-paper match-up before conference play begins involves yet another MAC school that beat up on a Big East school last week.

Then there’s the SEC.

Four conference games and one non-conference contest — previewed HERE — highlight this week’s slate for the league, with a top-ten tilt between Alabama and Arkansas looking as arguably the game of the week in college football (apologies to Boise State-Oregon State go here).

Below is a brief glimpse of a few of the more intriguing games involving the two conferences this weekend.  And, for the degenerates in the audience, the record versus the spread that appears at the end of this piece should serve as a warning if you’re looking for a cheat sheet in your gambling endeavors.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

No. 1 Alabama at N0. 10 Arkansas (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: Alabama -7

THE PLOT: With easy wins over San Jose State, Penn State and Duke to open the season, Alabama’s revamped defense, replete with nine new starters, has yet to face it’s first real test of the season.  With Ryan Mallett and a cadre of talented receivers on this weekend’s agenda, that will change in short order.  Or, at least, it should.  Not only was the secondary’s inexperience a major concern throughout the Tide’s summer camp, but the lack of depth in that unit did nothing but add to the worries.  With Mallett in charge of the Razorbacks’ pass-happy offense, we’ll know one way or the other whether there was any validity to those preseason concerns.

Of course, the Razorbacks will also be forced to do something about the law firm of McElroy, Ingram, Richardson & Jones when they don’t have the ball.  As Yoda would say, a pretty picture this is not. 

THE PICK: Even given some of the “question marks” that pockmark the untested defense, and the fact that they are playing on the road, there’s simply no way I could in good conscience go against the Tide.  At least straight up.  In the end, ‘Bama will prove to be the better team… but not by much in a thriller of a game.

THE SCORE: Alabama 27, Arkansas 24

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Temple at No. 23 Penn State (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: Penn State -14

THE PLOT: Well, we had to throw a Big Ten game in here somewhere, and this seems to be the most compelling as far as upset potential is concerned. The Owls overwhelmed UConn 30-16 last Saturday in one of the biggest wins in recent school history.  The Nittany Lions are starting a freshman quarterback and, remarkably, have yet to give up a sack, the only school in the nation that can make that claim three weeks in.  You might be chuckling right now, but this is actually a fairly big game for both sides.

THE PICK: Al Golden is a helluva football coach, and will be at a BcS school — hell, maybe even Happy Valley — sooner rather than later, but his program is not to the point yet where it can realistically expect to upend a school like Penn State on the road.  That said, I look for the Owls to cover in a game that’s closer than some might expect.  On any given Saturday though…

THE SCORE: Penn State 24, Temple 14

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Kentucky at No. 9 Florida (7:00 ET)

THE LINE: Florida -14

THE PLOT: If you were told that this game included the second-leading offense in the SEC, it probably wouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  It might raise some eyebrows, however, if it was the Wildcats and not the Gators that’s holding the lofty early-season offensive perch.  While it’s a credit to what Joker Phillips is doing in Lexington, it’s also a telling sign of what’s been the overriding theme of the first three games of the season — a limp Florida offense that’s done more spitting and sputtering than Dr. Lou.  The Gators showed some positive signs of breaking out of their offensive malaise last weekend; whether it was nothing more than a tease remains to be seen.  This should be a solid test of where the Gators stand on that side of the ball as Kentucky is ranked No. 13 nationally in yards allowed and No. 34 in scoring defense.

THE PICK: At some point this year, the Gators will put it all together offensively and match the level where their defense and special teams are currently residing.  This will be that week and unfortunately for the Wildcats, Florida will not be looking ahead to their rematch of the last two SEC title games next week.

THE SCORE: Florida 41, Kentucky 17

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Georgia at Mississippi State (7:00 ET)

THE LINE: Mississippi State -1

THE PLOT: If Georgia loses this game, they will start the season 0-3 in SEC play.  The sale of pitchforks and torches in the greater Athens area will go through the roof with a loss.  Mark Richt will elbow his way to the front of the coaching hot seat line with a loss  There is your overriding plot for this game.

THE PICK: How much will the loss of A.J. Green mean for UGA in this game?  Coupled with the way the road Bulldogs have started the season, enough to take the home Bulldogs outright.

THE SCORE: Mississippi State 23, Georgia 21

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No. 12 South Carolina at No. 17 Auburn (7:45 ET)

THE LINE: Auburn -3

THE PLOT: South Carolina has struggled on the road of late in SEC play, but this is not your nephew’s Gamecocks.  With a punishing defense and a punch-you-square-in-the-face running game, the East Coast USC has seemingly overhauled their style of play in less than a calendar year, making any attempts at predictions based on the past futile.  Auburn thus far has been a bit of a head-scratcher, at least to me.  I was high on the Tigers in the preseason, but they’ve merely been “meh” in the first three games.  Certainly the talent is there on The Plains; now it’s a matter of deciphering whether they’ve merely been idling or coasting through the quarter pole of the season, or if people such as myself had a false sense of what they could be in Year Two of Gene Chizik‘s tenure.

THE PICK: Whatever it is Steve Spurrier‘s selling this year, I’m buying even if I have to pay retail.  Outright on the road, thy name is “Gamecock”.

THE SCORE: South Carolina 26, Auburn 20

LAST WEEKStraight up: 3-2Vs. spread: 1-3-1

OVERALLStraight up: 10-3Vs. spread: 5-7-1

(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBC Sports.com)

Leading returning tackler among three dismissed by Texas Tech

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Shock Linwood #32 of the Baylor Bears runs the ball against Dakota Allen #40 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Not long after wrapping up spring practice, Texas Tech’s defense has a significant body blow.

In a press release, Tech announced that three football players, sophomore offensive lineman Robert Castaneda, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Trace Ellison and sophomore linebacker Dakota Allen, have been dismissed from the football program by head coach Kliff Kingsbury.  The dismissals are “due to a failure to uphold student-athlete expectations.”

The most noteworthy — and damaging — of the trio of dismissals is Allen.

Last season, Allen was the Red Raiders’ second-leading tackler with 87.  With Micah Awe (126 tackles) departed, Allen would’ve been Tech’s leading returning tackler.

Allen, who had six tackles for loss and two interceptions for good measure, started five of the 12 games in which he played last season.

Castaneda played in 13 games last season as a reserve lineman, while Ellison took a redshirt as a true freshman.

A&M assistant throws hissy fit after five-star QB decommits

LONDON - DECEMBER 09:  In this photo illustration a baby suckles a dummy whilst resting in her cot on December 09, 2005 in London, England. A recent US study has shown that cot deaths can be reduced by 90 percent if a baby sleeps with a dummy.  (Photo illustration by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
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Somebody needs a nap.  Or his binky.  Or both.

Quite the imbroglio was kicked up on the recruiting trail late Wednesday night when five-star 2017 quarterback Tate Martell announced that he had decided to decommit from Texas A&M and reopen his recruitment.  Martell, who had once committed to Washington as an eighth grader, made the decision after a recent trip to Ohio State, although he has yet to commit to the Buckeyes or anyone else for that matter.

While big news for A&M and its next recruiting class, Martell’s decommitment likely would’ve been given its 15 minutes of fame and then everyone would’ve moved on… and then Aaron Moorehead happened.

Moorehead is A&M’s wide receivers coach who apparently didn’t appreciate Martell’s “disloyalty” as, six minutes after the quarterback posted his tweet, the assistant threw a Twitter hissy fit.

“Scared for this next group of kids. There is no accountability and no sense of positivity when it comes to adversity. #selfish #allaboutme,” the coach wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted. Moorehead then attempted to cram the toothpaste back into the tube, but stepped even further into it with a subsequent tweet.

“People talk about leadership and this generation flip flops like its nothing. That’s a real issue. My dad would have whipped my ass,” another deleted tweet read.

Loyalty and flip-flop talk from a coach who abruptly left Virginia Tech for the same job at A&M? That’s rich.

They say you reap what you sow, though, and…

That would be Mannie Netherly, a four-star wide receiver who had been committed to the Aggies, with the key word there being “had” as the Texas high school recruit decommitted as well. But wait, there’s more.

“I would like to say thank you to TAMU & fans but due to some tweets subtweeted towards my brother, I will no longer be looking at A&M,” Tyjon Lindsey wrote in a tweet that, yes, has since been deleted. Lindsey is a five-star receiver who had been considering A&M, with the key word there being “had.”  Again.

Reaping and sowing, y’all.  Reaping and sowing.

UPDATED 11:31 p.m. ET: Right around the time I was hitting “publish” on this post, Moorehead posted an apology on his Twitter account.

Last night, I made some impromptu comments on social media out of frustration and out of a true love for Texas A&M Football.  I want to apologize to all of the young men in high school who work so hard to achieve their dreams of playing college football & I wish them all well wherever they end up.  I would also like to apologize to Coach Sumlin and the Aggie Family for not representing our university the right way.  I need to do better & I will.

Former K-State S Kaleb Prewett appears headed to Mizzou

MANHATTAN, KS - NOVEMBER 05:  Wide receiver Jay Lee #4 of the Baylor Bears catches a pass as defensive back Kaleb Prewett #4 of the Kansas State Wildcats defends during the game at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Manhattan, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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In early February, Bill Snyder confirmed that Kaleb Prewett was no longer a member of the Kansas State football team.  Fastforward three months, and it appears the former Big 12 defensive back has found himself a new home at a former former Big 12 school.

While the school has yet to announce it, Prewett’s Twitter profile now indicates that he is a member of the Missouri Tigers. “Former Kansas State safety. Current Mizzou safety,” the bio now reads.

A couple of tweets from the former Missouri high school player seemed to hint at the development as well.

Prewett started eight of the first nine games at free safety, with the only game he missed being due to a concussion. He lost his job for the final three games, however, and then was kept away from K-State’s bowl game because of an alcohol-related arrest.

Prewett, a three-star 2014 recruit, played in six games as a true freshman.

Barring the unforeseen, Prewett will be forced to sit out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. The defensive back would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Little-used Vols TE Neiko Creamer to transfer, look elsewhere for playing time

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Failing to make much of a dent during his first two-plus years in Knoxville, Neiko Creamer has decided to ply his football wares elsewhere.

Wednesday evening, UT head coach Butch Jones confirmed that Creamer has decided to leave the Volunteers football program and will transfer out.  According to Jones, he and his staff will help the tight end find the right fit at a new home.

No reason was given for Creamer’s decision to look elsewhere, although the opportunity for more playing time would be a good place to start.

A three-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Creamer, whose father, Andre, played for the Vols in the eighties, was rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Maryland.  After redshirting as a true freshman, and working as both a linebacker and tight end, Creamer played in one game during the 2015 season.