A Tale of Two Tigers

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Can LSU go into Auburn and get a win? Our editors debate.

Can LSU go into Auburn and get a win? Our editors debate.

Athlon editors Steven Lassan, Mitch Light and Braden Gall debate five burning questions about Week 8 in college football:

Follow us on twitter: @AthlonBraden / @AthlonSteven / @AthlonMitch

1. Which set of Tigers will be undefeated after this weekend?

Mitch: LSU will be the Tigers that remain undefeated after this weekend — not Auburn and not Missouri. Cam Newton has obviously been tremendous at Auburn, but LSU will be the toughest defense he has faced this season. I’m sure he will get his yards and Auburn will score some points, but this LSU defense is very, very good. And LSU turned the corner, to a degree, on the offensive end at Florida two weeks ago. The two-quarterback system worked well in Gainesville, and the running attack, led by the underrated Stevan Ridley, has been pretty good. Let’s go LSU in the upset.

Braden: The Mizzu-rah brand of Tiger will get beat at home by Oklahoma this weekend so that leaves the Bayou Bengals and the War Eagles to battle it out for striped supremacy down on the Plains. Cam Newton has been simply amazing and his defense has been simply atrocious. He will get his yards, but this will be by far the toughest defense he will have faced to date. There is only one head coach in America who could give up 700 yards of offense and still figure out a way to win. Geaux Tigers.

Steven: Auburn will be the only Tigers to emerge undefeated from this weekend. Missouri is playing solid defense and the offense can certainly score, but Oklahoma is simply the better team. LSU-Auburn is a tricky game to call. Auburn looks like the obvious choice, but it would not surprise me to see LSU win. The defense is outstanding and if Jarrett Lee/Jordan Jefferson doesn’t make the big mistake, LSU should be able to control the clock and keep the Auburn offense on the sidelines. However, with LSU's offensive question marks, Auburn’s Cameron Newton is the difference maker and that’s enough to pull out a close win.

2. Purdue, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Michigan State are still unbeaten in conference. Which one has the best chance of finishing unscathed?

Mitch: Michigan State. The Spartans are the best team of that group, and their remaining schedule isn’t overly taxing. They will likely be favored in four of their final five games, with the trip to Iowa being the exception. They end the season at Penn State, but Michigan State is the better team this year. I believe the other three teams on the list will all lose this week — O-State to Nebraska, Mizzou to Oklahoma and Purdue to Ohio State.

Braden: How about none? That list could very easily be trimmed to one by next week with all four getting big tests this weekend. Ohio State lost to Purdue last year and are coming off a loss — no chance there. Missouri and Okie State have brutal home games this weekend after playing very mild schedules. That leaves Michigan State. This weekend will be their first trip outside of the state of Michigan when they head to Evanston, Ill. Sparty is the best team and has the "easiest" schedule on this list, but my final answer is none of them finish unbeaten.

Steven: Michigan State will be the only unbeaten team from this mix in conference play after this weekend’s action. Northwestern is no pushover, especially with Iowa looming next week for the Spartans. However, the Spartans should move their record to 8-0. Although I think Michigan State escapes Evanston with a win, it’s hard to see all four teams finishing unbeaten in conference play, even if all win this weekend. Purdue is the biggest longshot on this list, as the injury bug took its toll on the team early in the year. It would be no shock to see Oklahoma State or Missouri win this weekend, but both have enough difficult games remaining to lose a Big 12 game or two before the season ends.

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Athlon's Editors give their take on five of the biggest issues around the college football world in this week's edition of 5 Burning Questions.

3. Was throwing the ball into the endzone from the 20 with :11 left on the clock, no timeouts and down by three the right call by Steve Spurrier?

Mitch: Yes, it was the correct call. The execution, however, was poor. On the road, I believe Steve Spurrier was right to go for the win, but Stephen Garcia simply has to make a better throw — and it would have been helpful if Alshon Jeffery was the intended target, not redshirt freshman Lamar Scruggs. Where South Carolina erred, I believe, is in its clock management. Spurrier should not have called the timeout with 11 seconds remaining. If you have a timeout left, you can work the entire field, but after he used that final timeout, he was forced to throw the ball to the end zone.

Braden: If there is a single head coach in American football who says they would have NOT gone for the win with that much time left, he should be fired immediately. It was absolutely the right call. You have to at least try for the win. What are we playing the game for? Having said that, you have to make a smarter throw. If you miss, miss high and outside to your stud receiver — not a freshman who is double-covered.

Steven: Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards stated “you play to win the game!” That logic is what Spurrier was simply following, but I do have a problem with the management of the clock and the play that was called. Why wasn’t Alshon Jeffery the target? Stephen Garcia has shown improvement this year, but he has to make a better throw. Tossing the ball into double coverage to an unproven receiver with the game on the line is generally not a good idea. Playing for the win is the right move, but the errors in the final 30 seconds cost South Carolina the game or a chance at overtime.

4. Minnesota fired head coach Tim Brewster, and North Texas removed Todd Dodge, this week in the first moves made by any FBS team, who will be next?

Mitch: Not sure if any other school will pull the trigger before the season ends, but you have to believe that Mike Locksley’s days at New Mexico are numbered. His short tenure (one-plus season) has been a complete and utter debacle, both on and off the field. Mike Sherman at Texas A&M and Paul Wulff at Washington State are two names that wouldn’t surprise me, either.

Braden: Since we can finally remove Mr. Richt from the hotseat, and beacuse I am guessing Mike Locksley will get plenty of votes from my counterparts, I will go Dan Hawkins at Colorado. He has Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and then a trip to Lawrence, Kan. If CU starts 0-5 in conference — with Kansas State, Nebraska and Iowa State still left to go — I could see the Buffs make a move. (Note: It is virtually impossible not to go with the abusive Locksley, who coaches one of three winless teams left in football.)

Steven: Now that we are halfway done with the 2010 season, it’s possible we will see more moves made between now and the end of the year, but I suspect the rest of the regular season will be pretty quiet with changes. If there is a change, Mike Locksley at New Mexico and Dan Hawkins at Colorado seem the most likely to get their walking papers. Locksley has been a disaster at New Mexico, and the Lobos may not win a game this year. Unless Colorado makes a run at the Big 12 North title, it’s hard to envision Hawkins coming back, especially with the school wanting to build some momentum going into the Pac-12 next year.

5. Who is your favorite color commentator in college football?

Mitch: Great question. We spend a lot of time around the office complaining about poor color commentators, so it’s nice to single out some of the good ones. There are three that I really like, and I would rank them in the following order — Kirk Herbstreit, Gary Danielson and Todd Blackledge. All three are very, very good.

Braden: We could have a field day with this one if the question had said 'play-by-play' announcer — see the weekly Pammy Awards. There are a lot of former linebackers who had been hit in the head too much to be in the booth. Don't forget about a few senile Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Or perhaps old coaches who can barely annunciate their words. What are we left with? Kirk Herbstreit and Gary Danielson. I will go Herbie because entire cheerleading squads don't fawn over Mr. Danielson. Boom goes the dynamite!

Steven: Certainly a lot of options to choose from, but I’ll go with Kirk Herbstreit. Gary Danielson is very good and there are some underrated ones out there too – David Norrie and Ed Cunningham. Mike Mayock has been a good addition for NBC on the Notre Dame broadcasts, but his solid contribution isn’t a surprise if you’ve watched him on NFL Network before. Although Mike Leach isn’t the most polished analyst in college football, he’s certainly an interesting personality to have in the booth.


Campus Challenge

Year Three of the Campus Challenge returns as Mitch returns to defend his championship. The rules: Each person picks a quarterback, running back and wide receiver to make up his "team" for the week in an effort to amass as many passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns as possible. Whoever has the best stats as the end of the year wins. All players selected must be from a BCS conference team playing an FBS opponent, and each editor can only use a player once during the season.

Note: Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Louisville's Bilal Powell are the only two players that have been used by all three editors.



Week 8 Selections
StevenMitchBraden
QuarterbackTerrelle Pryor, OSUAaron Murray, UGARobert Griffin, Bay.
Running backJordan Todman, UConnMikel LeShoure, Ill.LaMichael James, Ore.
ReceiverA.J. Green, UGARyan Broyles, Okla.Armon Binns, Cinn.

 

Week 7 ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards38271140
Rushing Yards6091396
Receiving Yards18921678
Touchdowns527

 

Cumulative ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards1,981 (1)1,713 (2)1,480 (3)
Rushing Yards1,246 (2)1,229 (3)1,300 (1)
Receiving Yards1,004 (1)643 (3)846 (2)
Touchdowns44 (1)28 (3)36 (2)