There is usually a lot on the line when LSU and Arkansas meet up on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The battle for the Golden Boot typically carries major post season ramifications. National title hopes have been shattered and bowl bids have been gained or bettered in this border state rivalry.
This year, however, carries a little different meaning for both teams.
Ole Miss is sitting at 5-5 heading into its Saturday afternoon face-off against No. 8 LSU in Death Valley, which means they need just one more victory to become bowl eligible. An upset of LSU would be shocking. The fact that Ole Miss went from a dismal 2-10 campaign a year ago to being on the verge of bowl eligible is beyond shocking. The job Hugh Freeze and his staff have done in less than one year in Oxford is as impressive a coaching performance as any around the country.
It should come to no surprise when you hear Freeze talk.
Referring to not being happy with six wins and bowl eligibility, Freeze stated this week, "It's something you wish wasn't talked about as much. It would be nice to have that out of the way, but we don't. There's still a lot to play for. You want it so badly for the fans, but also for the few seniors that we do have. You want the young ones to experience what that is like because we need the extra practices. We need that badly, to start building our program."
The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to be thankful. In order to be thankful for what you have, it is important to remember where you have been.
So I’d like to remind you of a few things. Remember last week when this writer said there was no way Johnny Manziel and his maniacal style of QB play could dethrone the mighty Tide? Remember when this writer said there would be no way the Tide would have a letdown after the epic battle against LSU? Remember when this writer said Texas A&M would not be able to move the ball because they struggled at the hands of LSU and Florida?
Okay, enough remembering. I’m thankful for a new week and a new opponent.
Alabama's conquest to repeat as national champions almost came to a halt last Saturday night at LSU, before escaping with an emotional 21-17 victory in the waning seconds of the game. Quarterback AJ McCarron was visibly overcome with emotions on the sideline as the clock expired, and it definitely was a huge win for Nick Saban and his football team. But Saban cautioned his team to not celebrate the win past Sunday, because Texas A&M and their prolific offense will be coming to Tuscaloosa.
Texas A&M surely has been an interesting team to follow this season. They have scored 30 or more points in seven out of the nine games they have played this year. The Aggies lost to conference rivals Florida and LSU by a combined eight points, and should figure to be a roadblock to Alabama's championship aspirations. First year coach Kevin Sumlin, who left his post in Houston after leading them to a blowout win over Penn State last year in a bowl win, has installed his fast-paced, no huddle offense to confuse defenses.
If you have been paying attention to anything I’ve been saying for the past 8 weeks then you already know how I feel about Johnny Manziel. Having first watched Manziel play week 4 vs Arkansas, it was clear to me as to how and why and he was simply the best QB on the field that day, which is saying a lot considering Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson was projected to be one of the best QBs not just in the SEC but in the entire nation.
Manziel exploded onto the college football scene this season, leading the SEC in total offense with 383.2 YPG and rushing with 102.4 YPG and guiding Texas A&M to a 7-2 record and a 4-2 record in SEC play. Manziel is currently completing 66.6% of his passes and has thrown for 2,527 passing yards, that’s good for 2nd in the SEC while he ranks 3rd in the conference in passing yards per game averaging 280.8 per game.