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October 2017

Painter’s Points 10/31/17

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The Auburn Tigers travel to College Station this weekend. They compete against a Texas A&M team whose talent and focus seem sporadic every Saturday. While the two schools have played only a handful of games, mainly during the past five seasons with TAMU’s entrance into the SEC, the Aggies lead the overall record, 5-2. With exception to their first seasons Coach Sumlin and Coach Malzahn have struggled during November. Although Coach Sumlin’s job security seems further in peril both coaches entered 2017 on the hot seat. It appears the offensive-minded coaches will finish their seasons that way too with November games likely sealing their fate. Texas A&M hosts Auburn Saturday, November 4, at 11 a.m.

 

  • 0 Number of times the home team has won this series since Texas A&M moved to the SEC

  • 15 Current spread that favors Auburn. Auburn has yet to win against TAMU when favored

  • 67% Kevin Sumlin’s total win percentage at Texas A&M

  • 5 Heisman winners between Auburn and Texas A&M

  • 1 Heisman winner Malzahn and Sumlin have each coached at their respective schools

  • 11-8 Kevin Sumlin’s Head Coach record during November at Texas A&M (57%)

  • 10-7 Gus Malzahn’s Head Coach record during November at Auburn (58%)

  • 9,725,000 Combined dollar salary for one-year’s work as the TAMU and Auburn head coach

The SEC Report Players of the Week 10/30/17: Week 9

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Noah Gardner:

Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky, 29-26 W vs. Tennessee

27 CAR 180 YDS 6.7 AVG 3 TD

Just when everyone thought that the worthwhile football had already been played on Saturday in the afternoon timeslot, Benny Snell Jr. ran wild against Tennessee in an under the radar SEC rivalry game. With Stephen Johnson and the Wildcat passing game struggling, Snell put Kentucky’s offense on his back and carried it to three touchdowns and a 6.7 yard per carry average. Did I forget to mention he is only a sophomore?

 

Jordan Jones, LB, Kentucky, 29-26 W vs. Tennessee

13 TKL, 7 SOLO, 1 SKS, 2 TFL

Why not choose two players from Kentucky? Jordan Jones had a fantastic evening roaming the field and making plays against Tennessee. The junior linebacker was a key factor in Kentucky being able to hold Tennessee’s rushing attack to 3.7 yards per carry. He has a nose for the football, and his 13 tackles spelled bad luck for Butch Jones and Tennessee. Kentucky is now bowl eligible with four games remaining in the regular season.

 

 

JJ Jackson:

Sony Michel, RB, Georgia, 42-7 W vs. Florida

6 CAR 137 YDS 22.8 AVG 2 TD

Sony Michel ran for 137 yards on six carries and scored two touchdowns. Michel averaged over 20 yards per carry in Georgia’s 42-7 demolishing of Florida. Michel scored on touchdown runs of 45 and 74 yards. With the win on Saturday, Georgia is now 8-0 on the season and climbs to second in the latest Associated Press Top 25.

 

Santos Ramirez, DB, Arkansas, 38-37 W at Ole Miss

10 TKL, 4 SOLO, 1 PD, 1 FR

Ramirez had 10 tackles, had one pass breakup and recovered a fumble Saturday. Ramirez had a great game resulting in the Razorbacks first conference win of the season. Ramirez is now up to 48 tackles on the season to go along with an interception he had earlier in the year.

 

 

Painter Sharpless:

Jake Bentley, QB, South Carolina, 34-27 W vs. Vanderbilt

19-29 174 YDS 1 TD, 6 CAR 47 YDS 7.8 AVG 2 TD

Jake Bentley led the Gamecocks to bowl eligibility for the second straight season. His 65 percent completion percentage helped the Gamecocks outrun Vanderbilt 34-27. Bentley tossed 19 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown. He added two touchdowns on the ground while rushing for 47 yards. South Carolina will need Bentley’s best as they move forward with games against Georgia and Clemson in November.

 

Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss, 38-37 L vs. Arkansas

4 TKL, 4 SOLO, 1 SKS, 1 TFL, 1 FF

Marquis Haynes had four tackles, had a sack and forced one fumble during a tough loss to Arkansas. The Rebels have come up short throughout the 2017 season, particularly on defense, but Haynes has provided the reeling Ole Miss defense some stability. His presence was again felt Saturday versus the Razorbacks.

BEFORE THE GAME: WEEK 9

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Auburn is on its bye week, but we here at BTG believe in no weeks off.

The Tigers went up to Arkansas and did what they’ve done in every SEC game this season: they built a comfortable lead in the first half. However, in following a satisfactory half with a spectacular third quarter that put the game out of reach, Auburn was able to do against Arkansas what fans desperately wanted to see against LSU a week earlier. Instead of attempting to protect a lead and relying on the defense to be flawless, Auburn hungered for more points and continued to attack, turning a 17-6 lead into 38-6 before the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Arkansas is a team in the midst of a bad season, and a win over Auburn would have generated some much-needed positivity around the program. Auburn came to Arkansas vulnerable, having just lost a very disappointing game to LSU. What could have been a catastrophic loss for Auburn and a signature victory for Bret Bielema became a rout, reminding Auburn fans of its team’s impressive firepower.

The reemergence of running back and 2016 sensation Kamryn Pettway as an impact player on the Auburn offense was a welcome sight after seeing him struggle earlier in the season. Pettway’s rare combination of size, speed, shiftiness and brute strength – the talents that he used to rush for over 1200 yards last season – were on full display when Auburn turned to him in the third quarter against Arkansas. If Auburn can continue leaning on Pettway, particularly after giving defenses a steady diet of running back Kerryon Johnson, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Auburn’s chances down the stretch.

Auburn will enjoy the week off and allow its banged-up roster to heal. Its next opponent, Texas A&M, must first overcome a physical Mississippi State team. I’m interested to see if the A&M defense holds its own against the MSU running game; the Bulldogs struggle to get anything going if they’re forced to become one-dimensional. If Texas A&M is still showing the flaws on defense that were evident in its collapse against UCLA and high-scoring overtime win against Arkansas, Mississippi State could score a lot of points.

We’ll have more on Auburn @ Texas A&M next week.

PECK’S PICKS: (last week: 2-4, YTD: 24-21)

TCU -6.5 @ Iowa State: The Cyclones have become one of the best stories in college football, but they simply won’t be able to keep up with TCU’s offense.  PECK’S PICK: TCU -6.5

Duke +15.5 @ Virginia Tech: Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech’s head coach, will be one of the most sought-after coaches in the nation after the season; he’s played a key role in turning VT into one of the best offenses in the conference. PECK’S PICK: VT -15.5

Washington State -2.5 @ Arizona: Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez are a pair of mad scientists with quarterbacks who run their respective offenses to absolute perfection. Khalil Tate has had college football buzzing, and I expect the Wildcats to ride him to another improbable victory. PECK’S PICK: ARIZONA +2.5

Georgia -13.5 @ Florida (in Jacksonville): The Bulldogs have proven unstoppable in SEC play thus far; Florida had extremely close wins against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky, three teams Georgia smashed. Florida has done very well in this rivalry before, but they are simply outmanned this year. PECK’S PICK: GEORGIA -13.5

Penn State +6.5 @ Ohio State: Penn State has looked great, but betting against an Urban Meyer team playing at home, particularly in a conference game, is almost always unwise. PECK’S PICK: OHIO STATE -6.5

 

Enjoy the games!

Dan Peck
Co-Host, THE DRIVE (4-6PM, ESPN 106.7 FM,
ESPNAU.com)
Host, AFTER THE GAME (Immediately following Auburn University football games, Wings 94.3 FM,
WingsFM.com)
http://www.twitter.com/DanielAllenPeck
DPeck@aunetwork.com

Riley’s Ramblings: Astros Bats Coming Alive as the Series Moves to Houston

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Thanks for reading the first edition of Riley’s Ramblings! This column will appear each Friday here on espnau.com and on the ESPN 106.7 app.

 

Here are a few things on my mind:

 

MLB LogoMajor League Baseball:

The Astros did what they had to do as the road team in the first two games of the World Series- they got a split before coming back to Houston.

The pitching matchup in game one of the 2017 World Series did not disappoint Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw was every bit as good as advertised and really only made one bad pitch all game, the solo home run to Alex Bregman. Kershaw is proving to everybody that his playoff woes are way behind him. The Dodgers ace did an incredible job of mixing his pitches keeping hitters off balanced all game long. Specifically, his 12-6 curveball seemed unhittable, especially when he kept it down in the zone. In the end, Kershaw lit up the box score with 11 strikeouts through seven innings of one run ball, even though he looked like he could have gone the whole game.

 

After Chris Taylor hit a homer off Dallas Keuchel’s first pitch, I thought it might become a long game for him. But Keuchel settled in nicely and gave the Astros six and two thirds innings- unfortunately for him the Dodgers postseason hero struck once again and that was all Kershaw needed to win the game. Justin Turner’s postseason so far has been unbelievable. Turner’s home run in game one had a 96 mph exit velocity and a 37 degree launch angle- that is a hard hit ball. The way that he has gotten extension through the ball, I wouldn’t give him anything to hit for the rest of the series with runners in scoring position. Heck, the way he’s been swinging the bat he’s in scoring position the second he steps into the box.

 

In game two, Justin Verlander was the Astros’ best bet to get a split in Los Angeles. He didn’t pitch great, but he pitched well enough to keep his team in the game. For the Dodgers, Rich Hill was on a roll. He had given up one run on just three hits and had seven strikeouts through only four innings. Dave Roberts is an excellent manager, but I really questioned this decision to take out Hill after just four innings. As the game played out, Roberts was forced to try to give Kenley Jansan a six out save, and when that didn’t work he had to go through his entire bullpen which could have a major effect on the rest of the series.

 

One thing about the Astros on Wednesday night is that they did not give up, even against the best closer in baseball Kenley Jansan. Both Jose Altuve, who was just one for eight in the series, and Carlos Correa went deep. The Dodgers did not go down quietly either, as they put together a couple of long balls of their own. In the end, George Springer’s two run home run was too much to come back from and the Astros got the LA split they needed to have a chance. A World Series record eight home runs were hit in game two, which is absolutely unbelievable. Both teams have hot bats, but it will be interesting to see if this home run fest continues in Houston.

 

Friday night, we will have another good pitching matchup in Houston for game three as Yu Darvish gets the nod for the Dodgers and Lance McCullers goes for the Astros. McCullers is an extremely underrated pitcher with really good stuff and if his offence stays as hot as it was in the late innings in game two, he should be able to give the Astros a series lead. (First pitch 7:00 on ESPN 106.7).


 

ncaa-football-logoCollege Football:

Penn State looked great against Michigan, and Saquan Barkley’s Heisman stock went way up after his catch and a two touchdown night. If you don’t know which catch I’m referring to, here you go:

 

I was a bit skeptical at the beginning of the season on the Nittany Lions, but James Franklin’s crew looks like they deserve to be the number two team in the nation. We will find out just how legitimate of a contender they are this Saturday night against Ohio State (2:30 kick on FOX).

 

Speaking of legitimate contenders, Georgia is undoubtedly the second best team in the SEC right now. Out of all of the SEC teams, they have the most impressive win so far. Their 20-19 victory over Notre Dame. After the Fighting Irish’s 49-14 rout of USC on Saturday, they’re just making the Dawgs look even better.

 

220px-Florida–Georgia_football_rivalry_logoIf there was ever any doubts as to who was going to win the SEC East, Saturday’s Florida-Georgia game will most likely end those. Out of the East teams, Florida is the only one that could give the bulldogs a run for their money. Anything can happen in a rivalry game but I see Georgia pulling away in the second half. The Gators defense is going to have a tough time keeping Nick Cubb, Sony Michell, and Jake Fromm in check for too long. (2:30 kick on ESPN 106.7) I know that it is a long way out, but if the SEC Championship ends up being between Alabama and Georgia which it most likely will, it’s going to be one heck of a game (Sorry to any optimistic Auburn, Florida and LSU fans).


 

AHSAA_logoAHSAA:

In Wednesday’s Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, Auburn was again ranked sixth. Central-Phenix City is a clear number one and Hoover is a clear number two, but after that it gets complicated. Thompson is number three, Hewitt-Trussville is number four, and McGill-Toolen is number five. These guys have been playing great undefeated football, but I feel like the Tigers are stronger. Their only loss is to the number one team in the state by seven points, Jay Walker and Garrett Morris are leading an incredible rushing attack for Auburn, and their defense has been pretty lights out. If I got a vote, I would put Auburn in the fourth spot- maybe even the third.

 

The Auburn High Tigers also clinched the number two seed after their 27-0  victory over Jeff Davis on Thursday night. Auburn backs Jay Walker and Garrett Morris both had good nights against the Volunteers as Morris had 15 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown while Jay Walker had 15 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns.The biggest Friday night game to keep an eye on will be (3) Thompson at (2) Hoover. The Buccaneers have been a powerhouse in the state for years and have nine state championships, but Thompson is undefeated this year and is looking to knock off Hoover and take the number one seed in 7A region three. Click here to take a quick look at the 7A region standings. Keep in mind that the top four teams from each region will make the 7A playoffs.

 


 

PGA TourGolf:

Can anyone stop Justin Thomas? Apparently not because he just won again at Nine Bridges on Sunday. Thomas is emerging as yet another young star on the PGA Tour and his game looks unbeatable right now. The Louisville native finished the 2016-17 season third on the PGA Tour in scoring average with 69.359, second on the tour in driving distance, second on the tour in official money with $9,921,560, and also won the FedEx Cup and a major championship. Not a bad season if you ask me. To be able to watch Spieth, Thomas, Fowler, and Day play every weekend is a pleasure for golf fans. Unfortunately Justin went to Alabama but I can’t really argue that decision too much. He won a national championship there…

Milton, GA--06/02/13--Alabama defeated Illinois for the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.--(Photo by Tracy Wilcox/GOLFWEEK)

(Photo by Tracy Wilcox/GOLFWEEK)

In case you missed it, former Auburn golfer Blayne Barber was featured on this week’s Inside the PGA Tour on Golf Channel. Barber is a bit of a flying enthusiast, and he got a chance to fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels near his home town in Pensacola, Florida. Here’s a quick clip:


 

200px-NASCAR_logo_2017.svgNASCAR:

The Monster Energy Cup Series has moved into the round of eight which makes at least one race a round a must win for each driver. To me the bracket-style playoff is way better than the old points-style playoffs and it puts a lot more emphasis on winning races than just finishing well. The round of eight consists of a red-hot Martin Truex Jr., who just won for the third time in the 2017 playoffs at Kansas Speedway even after pitting with a vibration issue, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott. The fan favorites are definitely Elliott and Johnson, but as hot as Truex has been the odds are in his favor. Like I mentioned earlier, winning is everything if you want a shot at the Monster Energy Cup in Homestead.

 

This Sunday’s race at Martinsville will be very fun to watch. The short tracks cause a lot of beating and banging and I think we will see a fair share of cautions and pile ups. (2:00 green flag on NBCSN)

 

Riley Hubbard
ESPN 106.7
rhubbard@aunetwork.com

 

Painter’s Points 10/24/17

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This is the first edition of a weekly series called Painter’s Points. Each week Painter provides five points that examine the current status of Auburn sports, locally and nationally, with periodic pop culture tidbits. This week, a murmur lingers around Auburn after their heart wrenching loss against LSU and a strong rebound on the road at Arkansas.

 

  • 36 Points per game for Auburn during 2017 tied for 29th in the country

  • 4-1 Gus Malzahn’s head coach record versus Arkansas

  • 112 Number of points Auburn has outscored Arkansas since Malzahn became head coach

  • 58% Auburn football’s November record since 2013

  • 5-3 Auburn’s bowl record during previous decade (did not qualify in 2008 or 2012)