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LCB Picks: SEC/VA Games of the Week

November 24, 2011

Editors Note: This season, on top of the usual SEC picks, we will be picking the best games on the Virginia D-1 slate. We, as in the LCB, all spent our formative years in Virginia. So, we probably should have been doing this all along. 

Last weekend, around 22:00 EST, for the first time in my life I was joyous due to a UT win over Vandy. Over the years, the game was a mortal lock. The hiring of James Franklin appeared to have ended all of that. Vandy started turning teams over, hitting harder and playing four quarters; they finally started making teams earn a W over them. They thumped Ole Miss, Kentucky and all of their OOC opponents. But more importantly, they took Arkansas, Georgia and Florida down to the wire; inspiring many to claim that Vandy had surpassed the Volunteers. It even led Clay Travis to gather his followers, pitchfork in hand, to come for Derek Dooley's head (a man he claimed just last year would lead the Big Orange back to the promise land), so he could be replaced by Franklin.

This reasoning is clearly idiotic and the reason Tennessee got itself where it is today. The "time is now" attitude is what led UT to fire Phil Fulmer and hire Lane Kiffin. Which, of course, led UT to brash statements, back-alley dealings and even more resentment throughout the SEC. Even worse, that hire jeopardized the very future of the program. It's also why they hired Derek Dooley. Saddled with an uncertain future and a recent history of voluminous player arrests, the program needed cleansing. Derek Dooley has succeeded in that aspect in just under two seasons. They've dropped off the radar of the AP rankers, but, they too, have dropped from the Fulmer Cup standings. Now, that the tarnish is finally starting to dissolve, Clay Travis wants to fire Derek Dooley, who hasn't even finished his second season. To jump the gun and fire him now would be a bigger mistake than hiring Lane Kiffin ever was. It would set a precedent in Knoxville, one Raider and Redskins fans have become accustomed too; win today or you're out. We all know how well that mentality has treated both teams over the past decade.

Mark my words; the Vols will be back. It might not be under Dooley, but he will have a hand in their resurgence. Four years is what he deserves and what he must get. If he doesn't, the gap will continue to shrink between Nashville and Knoxville. And, for someone who is finally glad UT beat Vandy, I can't think of a worse thing. Now that I got that off of my chest, lets get to the picks.

SEC
(3) Arkansas v (1) LSU @ 2:30, Friday on CBS:
As a fan, there are two ways to look at this game. You can root for Arkansas to win, in order to create a three-way tie in the SEC West. This would, I believe, send Alabama to the SEC Championship, thanks to the weird tiebreaker rules in the SEC. This would end with the SEC possibly definitely sending three schools to BCS games, causing the ADs of non-SEC schools into a mode of jealousy driven panic and hopefully it would be the final straw to bring the playoff system we all desire. Or you can root for LSU to win, go to Atlanta, beat the Dawgs, and play Bama in the BCS title game. It all depends on how much chaos you'd like the BCS to deal with. For me, chaos reigns supreme and I'll be pulling for the upset. Arkansas 20, LSU 17.

VA
(6) Virginia Tech v (24) UVA @ 3:30 on ABC/ESPN2:
I spent Thanksgiving with my fiancee's family in Charlottesville. The main topic was, of course, this game. I asked them what they thought were the keys to the game. The answers I got were well thought out, concise and thoroughly pessimistic. The keys according to her family, who have been to every home UVA game this season, are as follows: UVA needs to shorten the field/win the field position battle, protect the ball, score on the few opportunities they will get from Tech, keep it a low scoring affair and find a way to make Logan Thomas uncomfortable. These are of course important to every team (outside of Arkansas and the low scoring aspect), every game. But these keys are even more important when it comes to this game, as UVA is clearly outmatched talent-wise (Directly attributed to the Al Groh era). If they can keep VT on the right side of the 50 and maybe even turn them over, UVA stands a shot. I hope. I'll be pulling for the upset. I'm just not sure how much faith I can put in a team that needed OT to beat Idaho and lost to Southern Miss at home. VT 24, UVA 17.



Elsewhere in the Commonwealth:
The 17th ranked Norfolk State Spartans travel the six miles to play the 9th Old Dominion Monarchs at the Spartans old stomping grounds and ODU's home field (Foreman Field). They'll bring the Legion and 1600 of their fans. The Monarchs will be hosting with 17,500 of their fans and the best mascot in all the land. It's going to be loud. It's going to be fun. It's even being referred to as the "Battle of Norfolk" and is clearly a rivalry in the making. This will be the first FCS playoff game for both teams, though it's taken NSU much longer to make it than it has the 3 y/o Monarchs. The game is sold out and should be a dandy. I'll be there, clad in blue and silver. I won't pick a winner. But I will say this, a MEAC team hasn't won a playoff game since 1999 (knock on wood).

Also, JMU (for some reason) travels to Richmond, Kentucky, to play EKU. The Dukes should roll, but they should also be hosting this game. So, who knows what'll happen? You can watch this one on ESPNU (the rest of the FCS games will be on ESPN3). Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend, everyone.

5 comments:

Teach said...

Richmond, KY may have birthed me, but JMU made me--Go Dukes!

November 25, 2011 at 10:15 AM
Langston said...

Very interesting, I didn't know you were born there.

I'm still shocked JMU didn't win the bid. I know they probably went low thinking they would host NSU (who didn't bid at all), since ODU was expected to receive a bye. But I'm still not sure how you get outbid by a team who only averages 7k in attendance when you average 25k. Either EKU is happy losing money, or JMU just didn't do correct calculations (I read an article quoting Bourne, where he said they only expected 12k to show up at BFS this weekend).

November 25, 2011 at 2:15 PM
Langston said...

I barely mentioned them, but I'm pretty stoked to finally see the Legion in person. For those uninitiated, click here

November 25, 2011 at 3:38 PM
Langston said...

Maybe I spoke too soon. Kentucky, really? With a WR playing QB, really?

November 26, 2011 at 7:13 PM
Teach said...

Watched most of the JMU-EKU game's 2nd half on the plane today (flipping from it to the UGA game) and the EKU stands were pretty much empty, except for a few JMU faithful

November 26, 2011 at 8:16 PM

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