Georgia v Missouri

SEC Championship: Auburn, Missouri are even but took different roads to Atlanta


If there is one song that seems to sum up the recent wild ride the Auburn Tigers have taken the past few weeks, it may be Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer. At least, the title of the song seems to be most appropriate to describe Auburn’s journey to the SEC Championship Game this weekend in Atlanta. Missouri hasn’t exactly had to rely on a power from above as much as Auburn, but they will be lining up on the other side of the field of Auburn this weekend after a similar one-year turnaround in SEC play.

For as similar as these two teams appear to be when you start to look at the numbers, Auburn and Missouri could not have had much different paths to Atlanta. Auburn’s season started with a breath of fresh air with the hiring of head coach Gus Malzahn, who took over for his former boss Gene Chizik. Malzahn was previously one of the hottest assistants in the game while helping to lead Auburn to a BCS championship a few years ago. He picked up some head coaching experience last year at Arkansas State before rejoining the Tigers. The optimism was high for Malzahn at Auburn, but even the most loyal of Auburn supporters would probably admit they didn’t quite see this coming. Auburn was ranked 118th in total offense a year ago, but Malzahn quickly helped improve that. The Tigers enter this weekend with the nation’s 15th best offense in total offense. Much of that is a credit to the incredible running game the Tigers have relied on.

The SEC’s top rushing offense is grinding up 318.25 yards per game on the ground, which should make for a great battle with Missouri. Missouri ranks second in the SEC in rushing defense, but Auburn ran for 218 yards and a touchdown against the SEC’s top rushing defense (Alabama) last weekend. As if stopping Tre Mason is not a tough enough task for Missouri, focus must also be given to quarterback Nick Marshall, who is a threat to throw and run any time. He may not have impressive passing numbers, but Marshall proved last weekend he has a good eye and an ability to wait for a play to develop. Doing that against Missouri will be a key for Auburn.

All this talk about Auburn though and you might be thinking Missouri is a complete afterthought. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Missouri’s turnaround this season has been just as surprising as Auburn’s to most. In their first year in the SEC, while Texas A&M was enjoying the national spotlight, Missouri was slugging through their initiation in the new conference with a 5-7 record. Gary Pinkell‘s team missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2004, which helped to validate the criticisms some seemed to have about Missouri’s place in the SEC. The tables were turned this season though, as Auburn ripped through the SEC East except for an overtime setback at home against South Carolina. These Tigers managed to do it with two different quarterbacks leading the offense without losing much of a step along the way.

James Franklin got things rolling with a 6-0 start under center, throwing 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions as Missouri set the bar high for the rest of the season. A shoulder injury to the starting quarterback in a big win at Georgia, which made it clear Missouri was a serious contender in the division as opposed to a pretender, put the fortune of the season in limbo, but Maty Mauk stepped in to keep the Missouri Tigers roaring.Mauk calmed the nerves of Missouri fans for the most part by avoiding mistakes, throwing 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions in Franklin’s absence. That was highlighted by a five-touchdown performance against Kentucky. Mauk was in command for Missouri’s only loss of the season, but if Franklin should happen to be taken out the Tigers know they have a competent replacement ready to jump right in. Whoever ends up playing quarterback at any given time for Missouri, they will have one of the top targets in the SEC in Dorial Green-Beckham, the receiver who shocked the college football world by committing to Missouri a few years ago. Green-Beckham commands plenty of attention, which opens up the field for the complimentary L’Damian Washington. The two receivers combined for 20 touchdowns this season, so Auburn will have their work cut out for them in the secondary.

It is often turnovers that become the difference of a game. If that is going to be the case for the SEC Championship Game, the Missouri Tigers figure to have the advantage. Missouri has a turnover margin of +15 entering the championship game, which looms large over +1 owned by Auburn. Will Auburn have to rely on some improbable sequence to pick up one more win and an SEC championship?

War Eagle, Auburn’s half way there.

Bowling Green HC Dino Babers helps save woman from burning car

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Dino Babers of the Bowling Green Falcons watches the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 26, 2015 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

How about we start off the morning with something positive for a change?

As the Bowling Green caravan was driving back from Saturday’s game against Buffalo, a woman in front of the school’s four bus swerved and her vehicle hit the center divider on the Interstate in Northeast Ohio.  Shortly thereafter, the vehicle burst into flames.

That’s when Dino Babers, BGSU’s head coach, and trainer Chelsea Lowe jumped into action.  From the Toledo Blade:

The bus driver asked for permission to stop the bus, and I gave it to him — but I told him not to stop the other three buses,” Babers said. “Then he asked to go check out the car and see if the driver was hurt.

“I told him no, because if he was hurt there wouldn’t be anyone to drive the bus home.”

So that first BG bus, which was unaffected by the crash, stopped a short distance away, and Babers and Lowe went to the car.

“The closer we got to the car, the clearer we could see smoke billowing,” Lowe said. “We knew whoever was in the car wasn’t just going to walk away and have everything be OK.

Baber and Lowe were able to pull the 25-year-old woman away from the vehicle, and stayed with her until police and fire personnel arrived on the scene. The coach was even able to go back to the burning vehicle and retrieve the woman’s purse and keys.

As for Babers motivation in acting the way he did, read the Blade‘s account of the incident. It’ll be well worth your time.

UGA reaffirms commitment to Greyson Lambert as starting QB

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 03:  Greyson Lambert #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs is tackled by Minkah Fitzpatrick #29, Reggie Ragland #19 and Geno Matias-Smith #24 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Sanford Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

For those looking for a change under center Between the Hedges, think again.

In Georgia’s first loss Saturday, Alabama harassed and harangued Greyson Lambert into a miserable day.  The Virginia graduate transfer completed just 10-of-24 passes for 86 yards and an interception in the rain-soaked 38-10 home beatdown.

While some wondered whether UGA would pull the trigger and promote backup Brice Ramsey for the Week 6 game against Tennessee, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer indicated that no change at the position is on the horizon — and that Ramsey would still get his opportunities.

“It’s no secret we plan on playing Brice in every game,” Schottenheimer said. “Greyson doesn’t need to look over his shoulder because Brice is going to play. …

“We believe in competition. Greyson doesn’t need to go look over his shoulder in terms of who is starting the game. He needs to worry about moving the team. He knows Brice is going to come in at some point. Nothing has changed. The rotation is what it is.”

If you were just going off the most recent tape, Ramsey’s play actually made it an easy decision for the staff to stick with status quo. Inserted in an attempt to breathe some life into a limp offense, Ramsey completed 3-of-6 passes, although two of those completions went to Tide defenders.