Tigers look to rebound in 2013

The LSU Tigers are coming off of a 10-3 season that was capped off by a loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-a bowl. They were stacked to return most of the team intact, but a few players ended up leaving early for the draft, which has only left them with 12 returning starter’s total. But Les Miles always seems to find a way to get the best out of his teams.

LSU has been able to win to win in recent years without stellar play from the quarterback position. This year Zach Mettenberger is a senior this year and is coming off a good year where he threw for 2,609 yards. Along with back up Stephen Rivers, this year looks to be one of the best years of quarterback play the Tigers have had in a while. Add in the fact they are returning running backs Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue. They should be able to take some of the pressure of Mettenberger to keep the Tigers moving down the field.

Also add in the fact the top 4 receivers return this year, led by Kadron Boon and Odell Beckham. The passing game has been weaker because of spotty quarterback play, but with some experience at QB and the experienced receivers, look for them to put up some big numbers this season. It will be tough for Mettenberger to just sit back and survey the field because the offensive line is less experienced this season and will probably have a tougher time preventing someone to slip through and get their hands on the QB. Overall the Tigers have a strong offensive unit and will be able to put points up in bunches.

The defense took the biggest hit with a lot of players leaving for the draft, there is no senior leadership on the defensive line, and it is basically three juniors and a sophomore. This unit will have to grow up fast to be able to make their mark in the grueling SEC. Luckily the linebackers have some experience returning and can hopefully pick up the slack for the d-line. Led by seniors Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones, they will need to be a big time unit because the offenses in the SEC will take every opportunity to exploit any and all weakness.

The secondary looks to be at least as strong as last year with two returning starters and will be lead by senior safety Craig Loston. I think this unit can be a game changer for the Tigers because LSU has had a history of good athletic corners and safeties. If that tradition holds true, then this unit could be the difference of one or two losses in conference play.

The LSU tigers have a fairly favorable schedule this year with most of their toughest games being at home in always dangerous Tiger stadium. There are only two games on the road the tigers have to really be careful about, that is one trip to Alabama and an early season trip to Georgia. If the Tigers can make it out of those venues with a win, then they may have a shot at the SEC and National Championship. But losses there could relegate them back to the Chick-fil-a bowl.

8/31-TCU – W
9/7-UAB- W
9/14-Kent St. – W
9/21-Auburn – W
9/28-At Georgia – W
10/5-At Miss St – W
10/12-Florida – W
10/19-At Mississippi – W
10/26-Furman – W
11/9-At Alabama – L
11/23-Texas A&M – W
11/30-Arkansas – W
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2013 Record: 11-1

Loss of Legendary figure: The passing of Joe Paterno

Upon hearing about the passing of Joe Paterno, I had to take some time to really get my thoughts and feelings into check. I have no association with Penn State or Joe Paterno in any way shape or form. But being a lifelong college football fan there have been very few figures that everyone could look up to and admire.  He was a true role model.

Joe Paterno, or “Joepa” as he has been affectionately called as long as anyone can remember, was the head coach at Penn State for 45 years. Some would occasionally say the game had passed him by and it was time for him to go. Then he would go out and have a stellar season and prove all the critics wrong. This season was supposed to be one of his best in over a decade and people wondered if he could win another championship.

Then the scandal broke in the media and it started a snow ball that even he couldn’t stop. It was unfortunate the scandal brought his coaching career to a tragic and unjust end. Joepa was a football coach first and foremost, and I doubt he truly understood the severity of what was happening at the school. He did what he felt was right. He followed the protocol he was supposed to. In the end, nobody really knows the truth except him and the administrators.

Not long after his firing, he was reported to have been stricken with cancer and it led to his passing. But much like the previous coaches who had long illustrious careers, it was only a short time before they passed on to the great coaching box in the sky. One of the finest coaches to ever coach has joined them to add his game plan to theirs.  It is entirely possible he died from a broken heart.

Joepa was a great coach, but it was the fact that he never got “famous”. Now what I mean by that is the simple fact that he didn’t buy a bigger house, or nicer cars. He didn’t wear flashy jewelry or try to make sure everyone knew how much money he had or how successful he was. He was one of the few coaches who did everything he could to improve the university, his players and bring more fame to the school and not just his football team.  He also leaves a legendary graduation rate of his players.  He showed time and time again his faith and support in his interactions with his players.

Joe Paterno was the last of a now dying breed. He coached football to change young men’s lives. He didn’t recruit players to help step them up to the NFL; he recruited players who wanted to win and wanted to obtain their degree. Maybe not all of them would earn it in their four years at the school, but many went back and completed it.

Joepa would donate most of his money back into the university over the later years of his career. I bet Nick Saban, Les Miles, Bob Stoops or Mack Brown wouldn’t do that. I am not saying those coaches aren’t great and change men’s lives, but they aren’t cut from the same mold as Joe Paterno. The world lost a great man, but college football lost a true legend. And for that, fans across the country will morn this loss.

Maybe I am just old school, and old fashioned.  I for one think College football needs more guys like Joe Paterno and a few less Nick Saban types.

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The Tussle in Tuscaloosa; LSU/Bama Preview

This weekend is going to be one of the biggest games of the season. It is being touted as “Armageddon in Alabama”, by news agencies and sports networks around the country. This is one of the rare, but very exciting “in season” matchups of a #1 team and a #2 team. This meeting though, will be an SEC battle between the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The LSU Tigers have easily looked like the best team in the country to this point of the season. They have rolled through their schedule to this point with no real major challenges. They had one game earlier in the season with Mississippi State that was probably closer than most would have expected; but this team with its dual quarterback threat has beaten highly ranked opponents like Oregon and West Virginia by double digit margins.

Les Miles will have his Tigers ready to play, and there will be thousands of fans in Bryant-Denny stadium, and a small few decked out in their purple and gold. This is going to be a big test for the Tigers as their foe, the Alabama Crimson Tide, coached by Nick Saban, will be the toughest opponent the Tigers have faced to date. This game is truly an irresistible force meeting an immoveable object.

The Alabama Crimson Tide have a chance to firmly plant their foot in the top spot and be an odds on favorite to play for the national championship if they beat LSU in Tuscaloosa. Much like the Tigers, Alabama has won most of their games this year with ease…having only one close call in Happy Valley in a game against Penn St. According to the “talking heads”, Alabama has been touted as the 2nd best team in the nation by most experts all season long. However, this will be their greatest challenge of the season.

Nick Saban coached the LSU Tigers to one of their earlier national championships before going to the NFL and ending up at Alabama. He has also coached Alabama to a national championship during his tenure there. No one really cares, but rest assured while most of the country won’t hold a grudge over all of this – the LSU Fan base will give Saban an ear full all day on Saturday if he gets within earshot. Other than this being a SEC conference game and probably the most important game of the year, there are many underlying stories to add to the drama.

Whether you have a rooting interest or not, this will be one of the biggest games of the season and it should live up to all the hype. Be prepared to watch the two best teams in the country battle it out, because whoever is victorious in this game will have a chance to stake their claim on a chance to play for a national championship.

I hope you’re ready America, because this will be the best 3 hours of television all weekend, or maybe even for the year. I don’t really know who to pick as a winner, but if you made me choose I would say LSU wins this game 17-14. It’s gonna be a donnybrook!

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Kody’s Sports Korner Bowl Preview; Part 3

If you  have missed the first two bowl previews I did, check out part 1 here and part 2 here

TicketCity Bowl:
Northwestern vs Texas Tech –
Sadly this New Year will begin with this lackluster bowl. In the inaugural Ticket City Bowl in Dallas, there will be a first time meeting between the Northwestern Wildcats and Texas Tech Red Raiders. While Northwestern is looking for it’s first bowl win since 1949, Texas Tech has some concerns if it’s coach will be around for next year. But all of that aside, there are a lot questions on how will Northwestern handle the pass heavy attack of the Red Raiders. Sadly to say, Northwestern will not get it’s first bowl win here. They will be lucky to stay within 21 points of the Red Raiders.
Prediction: Texas Tech 52 – Northwestern 21

Outback Bowl:
Florida vs Penn St
:
When this match up was announced, you figured there would be retirement talks from one coach. But the coach who is going to step down isn’t the 84 year old Joe Paterno, but the 46 year old Urban Meyer. While this is a shock to most, it isn’t that big of a shock after last years flip flop. The big question about this game will be whether or not Penn State can contain a good Florida team. After their struggles with an Alabama squad earlier in the year, I don’t see this one being pretty for the Nittany Lions.
Prediction: Florida 35 – Penn State 14

Capital One Bowl:
Alabama vs Michigan St
While most everybody will be expecting Alabama to roll in this game, I expect to see Michigan St give Alabama a run for their money and pull off a upset. Michigan State has been an underrated team all year and is probably the best team coming out of the Big Ten this season. Expect an exciting game, one that should give the Big Ten it’s few bowl wins this season.
Prediction: Michigan State 28 – Alabama 21

Gator Bowl:
Mississippi St vs Michigan
This is a very ho hum match up, there are a lot of better game to watch and I am sure Michigan won’t show up so they can assure to get rid of Rich Rod. That being said, Dan Mullen will have Mississippi State ready to play. Expect this one to be a blow out.
Prediction: Mississippi State 35 – Michigan 17

GoDaddy.com Bowl:
Middle Tennessee vs Miami(OH)
For a match up of two teams that nobody cares about outside of their respective cities. This could be a good game to watch for college football enthusiasts. Miami is going to be playing with a lot of momentum from their surprise win at the MAC championship. Meanwhile Middle Tennessee is trying to get one more win and finish with a winning record. Should be a good game and expect it to be a close one.
Prediction: Miami (OH) 24 – Middle Tennessee 21

Cotton Bowl:
LSU vs Texas A&M
In one of the more exciting bowl match ups, this game should be a lot of fun to watch. But don’t expect to see any surprises here as LSU should be able to find a way to win this game and put another notch in the belt for the SEC. Only question will be if Les Miles will have some Tiger Stadium grass available at this game.
Prediction: LSU 35 – Texas A&M 28

Compass Bowl:
Pittsburgh vs Kentucky
While everyone has Pitt as their favorite and expects them to win this game, Kentucky has been able to hang tough when least expected to. This could be a spring board into next season for the Wildcats and look for a very exciting game between these two teams.
Prediction: Kentucky 28 – Pitt 21

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:
Nevada vs Boston College
Expect Nevada to play with a lot of pride and be able to move the ball at will on Boston College. This is not going to be a pretty game for the Eagles, but it could be a very close game throughout if Boston College can contain the Pistol.
Prediction: Nevada 42 – Boston College 21

That is the last of the bowl previews for the lesser bowl games. Check back soon for the BCS Preview.