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Deke Bellavia

"Sports Talk" Co-Host
Weekdays 4-8pm

Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com
Posts from November 2013


Deke Bellavia: Prep Playoffs 3rd Round - Quarters for some, semis for others
Remember when I told you four weeks ago that this post season would be a very different one?  Well, this is where things get a little awkward.  This week some teams are playing quarter-final games while others are in the state semi-finals.  

There are five classes and four divisions in the LHSAA playoffs.  This week three of the four divisions all have semi-final match-ups.  

In Division I--the St. Augustine Purple Knights take on the Rummel Raiders, while the Byrd Yellow Jackets come to the Big Easy to battle the Holy Cross Tigers.  Down in Division II--John Curtis battles post season rival Evangel, and there's a rematch between defending 3A champs Parkview and the U-High Cubs.  And in Division III--#1 seed Episcopal Knights entertain #4 Archbishop Hannan, and Catholic New Iberia battles Calvary Baptist.  The winners of these semi-final games all have two weeks to get ready for the title games.

A coach once told me it's tougher to play Thanksgiving week because there is no school.  That same coach told me a lot of other teams wish they could play during the holiday break.

Other big match-ups:  the Covington Lions take on the Central Wildcats.  And, in Class 4A you could blindfold anyone and let them pick a game and they'd choose a great match-up.  We are a week away from a possible rematch between Edna Karr and Landry Walker.

The Cougars and Charging Bucs would face each other in the semi-finals next week, if Landry/Walker can get by Plaquemine...and if the Cougars get past the team that beat them in the 2010 Class 4A Finals--the Franklinton Demons.

The E.J. Warriors battle the Warren Easton Eagles and the powerful Neville Tigers entertain the DeRidder Dragons.  And I'll be back home Friday night for a big game in Amite.  It'll be a long day...early to rise (6am)...I've got to be on my way to LSU/ by 7am to get in place for our WWL Tiger Tailgate Show with  the Cajun Cannon that starts at 9.  Then, I'll watch the LSU/Arkansas ....host a brief "Purple & Gold Point After"...then it's off to R.W. Russell Memorial Stadium in Amite as the mighty Warriors entertain the North Webster Knights.  It's always good to be home.  And I'm proud to say I'm a Warrior.

Amite is trying to get back to the 3A Finals for the second time in three years.  My childhood friend, former teammate and Southern Jaguars star, Alden "Poochie" Foster is having another good season as head coach of the Amite Warriors.  

The Warriors lost the 3A Title game 9-8 to St. Charles in 2011, and last season the Warriors fell off by not making the playoffs for the first time in 30 years.  "Let's just say we had a lot of motivation this off season.  We lost six games in which we had a lead in the fourth quarter.  This season we have been able to win the close games," said Amite Coach Alden Foster.

The Warriors are led by their massive O-Line and sophomore running back Kenner Harrell.  Warriors offensive tackle Devon "Fat Baby" Johnson is one of the top offensive linemen in the state.  Johnson, affectionately known as "Fat Baby" has already received scholarship offers from several schools including Tulane, helped pave the way for Harrell's 187 yards rushing in the Warriors 28-6 win over West Feliciana last weekend.  

So folks, eat up, dress warm and enjoy a cold Friday night of great prep football action here in Louisiana!  



 
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Deke Bellavia: Turkey Week NFL Top 10 - Week #13
Three huge match-ups headline this week's NFL Top 10.  First place in the NFC and AFC are on the line, the battle of the Birds takes place between the Cardinals and Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love.  And no one has won more games in a row right now that those Cats from Carolina.  Here's my Turkey Week NFL Top 10!  So weather you shake ‘n bake or buy and fry, I wish everyone a good Thanksgiving!

1. Seattle Seahawks (9-1) – The Seabirds are set to host the Saints in the biggest game of the season thus far.  If Seattle wins this one, they can sit back and possibly chill for a few weeks before the second season begins. Last week Seattle had a bye / this week vs New Orleans.  

2. New Orleans Saints (9-2) – Man, the Saints are kind of in playoff mode already.  If this team wants to land one of the top two seeds in the NFC, they may have to win out.  Isn't that the same mindset in the playoffs?  Win out!  Last week New Orleans beat Atlanta 17-13 / this week @ Seattle.

3. Carolina Panthers (8-3) – They are feeling hot, hot, hot down in Charlotte.  The Cats from Carolina are for real.  They've won seven straight and now are in a heated battle with the Saints and Seahawks for all the marbles in the NFC.  The red hot Panthers could very easily be 9-1!  Last week Carolina beat Miami 20-16 / this week vs Tampa Bay.  

4. New England Patriots (8-3) – Man, in all of the great meetings between Peyton and Tom last Sunday's come from behind might have been the best.  For the pretty one, that is.  What a win!  Last week New England beat Denver 34-31 / this week @ Houston.    

5. Denver Broncos (9-2) – Did that really just happen?  How could the White Horses let the Patriots come back and win?  They didn't.  New England took that one, baby!  Oh well, can't cry over sour milk. The division title is on the line this week with a trip to Arrowhead.  Last week Denver lost to New England 34-31 / this week @ Kansas City.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) –The Chiefs found some offense.  Too bad they didn't play defense.  Better get it right or else! Last week KC lost San Diego 41-38 / this week vs Denver.  

7. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) – You know of all the 7-4 teams in the NFL only one won four straight games.  Guess who?  These Red Birds from the Desert are playing good football right now and they are one of four reasons why the NFC West is by far the best division in the NFL right now.  Last week Arizona beat Indianapolis 40-11 / this week @ Philadelphia.  

8. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – The Cats from C Town once had a comfortable lead in the rather inconsistent AFC North.  Now the suddenly once left for dead boys from the Steel City are alive.  Look out!  A tough road trip this week as the Bolts are ready and waiting. Last week Cinci had a bye / this week @ San Diego.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) – Yes, I could have another team here, but the one thing that intrigues me about the Birds from the City of Brotherly Love is that they have the best road record in the NFL (5-1).  Damn, they also have one of the worst at home (1-4).  Even it out and the Eagles could take the NFC East.  A monster match-up this weekend as the red hot Birds from the West are in town.  Last week Phili had a bye/ this week vs Arizona.

10. Detroit Lions (6-5) – Yes, I could go with the 49ers here, but the Lions have the better QB and a far greater WR.  And, they're in a much weaker division.  So there you have it.  My rationale about why Detroit rounds out my top ten.  Hail to the team that made the NFL relevant on Turkey Day!  Last week Detroit had a bye / this week vs Green Bay.    

 
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Deke Bellavia: CFB Top 10 - Week #13
A lot of Iron is on the line this week on the plains, can “Hail to the Victors” (Michigan) knock off the Poisonous Nuts from Columbus (Ohio State)?  The Tigers (Clemson) and Cocks (South Carolina) battle it out in the Palmetto State (South Carolina).  And, the sunshine is bright on two Florida teams and I’m not talking about the Gators or Canes, instead the Noles (Florida State) and Knights (Central Florida).  Man oh man, its rivalry week.  Let’s get it on!  Here’s my TOP 10 for the 13th week of college football.

1.      Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) – It’s the Iron Bowl.  A lot of hype is forthcoming.  Will the game live up to expectation?  Don’t think Alabama can’t go over there and hand those Tigers their lunch.  They sure can.  And the real bettors will put money on Roll Tide!  Last week Bama beat Chattanooga 49-0/ this week @ that other team in our state!

2.      Florida State Seminoles  - (11-0) – They scored 80 on I-Dah-Ho!  The Noles will score at least half that much against the toothless Gators.  Last week Florida State beat Idaho 80-14 / this week @ Florida.

3   Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0) – Time is running out for these Buckeyes.  All I hear is how the Buckeyes are going to get left out of the BCS Title game.  Who thinks they are a lock to beat those Spartans from East Lansing?  I don’t!  Last week Ohio State beat Indiana 42-14 / this week @ Michigan.

4.     Auburn Tigers (10-1) – Great season or great program?  Can you tell the difference?  You will see the difference this week and into next season.  The good thing about a game like this--the Tigers can do what they’ve been doing all season long--prove the world wrong!  Last week Auburn was off / this week versus that other team in the state we hate but want to be like.

5.  Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-1) – The Pokes can land in a nice BCS Bowl and finish with a possible top 5 ranking.  Mike Gundy has done well, since all those preseason SI reports on how bad things are in Stillwater.  Last week Oklahoma State beat Baylor 49-10 / next vs Oklahoma on Dec 7th.  

6.  Clemson Tigers (9-1) –  The Tigers manhandled the Citadel and now will look to beat the team they love to hate…that happens to be from the same state.  Last week Clemson beat the Citadel 52-6 / this week @ South Carolina.

7.    Missouri Tigers (10-1) – The Tigers jumped a huge hurdle last week with a big road win over the Rebels.  Now the Tigers can advance to the SEC Title game with a win over Texas A&M.  Last week Missouri beat Ole Miss 24-10 / this week vs Texas A&M.

8.  South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2) – South Cack-A-Lacka scored 70 on Coastal Carolina.  Now the Cocks can improve their ranking with a win over the Tigers from Clemson.  Man these teams hate each other.  Last week South Carolina beat Coastal Carolina 70-12 / this week vs Clemson.

9.  Michigan State Spartans (10-1) – The most overlooked team in all of college football can really prove their worth with a win over Ohio State. For the last 12 weeks all we’ve heard is how Ohio State is going to get left out of the National Title game.  That’s a slap in the face to a team that is good on defense as anyone (with 12.1 points per game allowed).  I’ve got to be honest…I’m for the Spartans this week.  And my favorite all time MSU players are the late great Bubba Smith and Percy Snow.  Google it!  Don’t fall asleep against a good Minnesota team this week.  Last week Michigan State beat Northwestern 30-6 / this week vs Minnesota.

10.  Baylor Bears (9-1) – Did the real Bears stand up last week?  Or, shall I say sit down?  And Baylor’s supposedly unstoppable offense was shut down when they lost to Oklahoma State 49-17 / this week @ TCU.
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Deke: Prep Playoffs Week #2 - Welcome to the Party!

The LHSAA’S unique, new playoff format got off to a good start last week.  Heck, our game of the week (Haughton @ Ponchatoula) went into overtime with the Green Wave victorious in a high scoring affair, coming away with a 56-55 win.

Although last week was the first week of the playoffs, this week we welcome teams fortunate enough to have the week off.  Yes, there were several.  Truth is, far more than several… 21 teams enjoyed an extra week of rest. Now, this week, we’ll see if the additional week of rest or preparation helps them win or if that week off disrupted momentum and hurt their chances.  

If you’re looking for a Cinderella team that’s still alive, there are several.  Down in Class 3A, the biggest upset took place when 25th seeded Donaldsonville beat #8 South Beauregard 32-21.  The Tigers were the lowest seed team in all of the playoffs to advance to the regional round of the playoffs.

Up in Class 5A the #21 John Ehret stunned Mandeville 21-14.  The Patriots knocked off the Skippers, who were hoping to get back to the semi-finals for a third straight season.  

Now, we focus on our game of the week.  It’s always a treat to visit the schools in the River parishes, and this Friday night the All-State Sugar Bowl Prep Football Round-up will come to you live from Hahnville High School.  
Give it up for the Tigers of Hahnville! Hahnville is the #24 seed, and last week this team had to travel all the way up to North Louisiana to take on Ouachita.  The Tigers won convincingly 42-25.  And, now, Hahnville High takes on last year’s state runner-up, Barbe.  Can’t wait to witness this elite prep action live!  

The Barbe Bucs have a high-scoring offense that features a record-breaking receiver. Trey Quinn will go down as one of the best prep football players in the history of high school football.  Last week in their 42-16 win over South Lafourche, Quinn hauled in 197 yards receiving.  Quinn broke Dorial Green-Beckham’s national record of 6,356 career receiving yards and set the new record to 6,376.  Quinn also set the state record for career receiving yards with 5,881 receiving yards, and was named to play in the 2014 U.S. Army All American Bowl.  Quinn has a verbal commitment to play for the LSU Tigers.  

Hahnville’s strength this season has been their defense.  I think it’s safe to say the Tigers defense will have their hands full this Friday night.  

Other games to keep an eye on:  #2 Parkway @ #15 East St. John and #14 Covington is at #3 East Ascension. Down in Class 4A, #5 Warren Easton hosts #12 Belle Chase in a rematch from earlier this season.
The Eagles took care of Belle Chase 52-24 in a District 9-4A game.  This time around the prize is much greater as the winner moves on to a possible showdown with the undefeated East Jefferson Warriors.  Division II has a rematch of last season’s Class 3A Title game.  #3 Notre Dame will look to avenge last year’s title game loss to Parkview Baptist.  The Eagles won Class 3A last season and they are the #6 seed.  

I’m really looking forward to the biggest game in Division I this weekend.  #3 Catholic High of Baton Rouge plays host to #6 Holy Cross.  Both teams had a bye last week.  The winner of this game will face the winner of the Shaw versus Byrd game.  

Folks, what started in August now comes down to just four more weeks.  Get out and enjoy some great prep football…what a party!

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Deke Bellavia: Look out LSU - Here's Johnny
Not since Tim Tebow and the powerful Florida Gators came to town has a team with a big time player roared through Tiger stadium.  Yes, folks in the Capital City will get their first and perhaps only look in person at one of the all-time greats in the history of college football...Johnny Manziel, "Johnny Football!"

The 9th ranked Texas A&M Aggies are still very much alive for a BCS Bowl bid with their final two games against ranked teams.  A&M battles LSU on the road this week, then the Aggies wrap up the regular season against the Missouri Tigers. 

Both LSU and Texas A&Mare coming off bye weeks.  A&M beat Mississippi State 51-41 two weeks ago; LSU was beaten soundly in the 38-17 loss handed to them by the #1 ranked Crimson Tide.  Both teams, however, are clearly fired up for this game.

The Tigers and Aggies have played 51 times.  The Bayou Bengals hold a 28-20-1 edge.  The Tigers won the last two meetings including last season's 24-19 win over Texas A&M in College Station.That 19 point output by the Aggies offense was the second lowest total points scored in a game under QB Johnny Manziel.  (The Aggies lost 20-17 last season to Florida.)  The rivalry between these two schools is one of the best in all of college football.

Texas A&Mfootball IS JohnnyManziel.  Last year's Heisman trophy winner put up even better numbers this season.  In week two "Johnny Football" ran through Alabama's defense... reducing the Crimson Tide to just average.  Johnny Football gashed the Tide for over 550 yards of total offense. 

And to those who preached thatManziel is just a college athlete and his play may not do well on the professional level, well Johnny upped his passing game this season.So far"Mr. Football" has passed for 3,313 yards with 31 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.  Manzielalso rushed for 611 yards and eight more scores giving him a total 39 TDs. 

If LSU has a shot at beating A&M, they need to...at the very least...get the Tigers offense a couple more possessions than A&M.

Yes,Johnny is a little cocky...somewhat arrogant at times...but he's good.  "Damn good, I say," said Bobby Hebert.  "Manziel is one of those special players who just has the ability to score anytime he has the football.  It's going to be hard for LSU to slow him down," observed the Cajun Cannon.

Texas A&M scores on average 49 points per game.  In their two losses the Aggies scored 42 and 41 points...a 49-42 loss to Alabama followed by a 44-41 loss to Auburn.  The A&M offense is one of the most efficient and best offensive units in the country.

Texas A&M averages 379 passing yards per game to go along with 198 rushing yards.   That's nearly 600 yards...(577) yards every game.  And the Aggies have produced with such strong utput against the very best opponents.

The most exciting home game of the season presents the biggest challenge for an LSU defense, that hasn't done well for most of the season.  And, when the Tigers' D has faced a top tier QB, they've faired far worse.

This QB, Johnny Football, is the best of the best.  Saturday should be downright fun.  Who has the most fun is yet to be determined.  But, I'd bet win or lose...Johnny will have his numbers.  Will those numbers put his Aggies over the top against the Tigers?  Tune in Saturday to find out. 

Our coverage on WWL (870am and 105.3fm) starts at 10am.  Join Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia for the "Fleur de Lanes Tiger Tailgating Show" live from LSU's campus in front the ticket office on North Stadium Drive.  Pre-game with Jim Hawthorne at 12:30...kick-off 2:30pm ...then after the game—"The Purple & Gold Point After" with the Big Chief live from Bayou Burger, 503 Bourbon Street in the world famous French Quarter ...on TIGERradio WWL!

 
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Deke Bellavia: Saints-Falcons Game Day Preview
The road to landing one of the top two NFC seeds begins to get a little rougher for the Black & Gold.  The Saints are 8-2 with a perfect 6-0 mark at home.  The Saints are 2-2 on the road.  And four of the last six games are away from the Superdome for the Saints.

If the Saints are going to win the NFC South and land one of those first round byes as either the #1 or #2 seed, they will have to play well on the road and there is very little room for error.

This week's challenge is not as tough as it looked back in the first week of the season.  Or, at least it seems that way on paper.  After holding off the Falcons late in the game way back in week one, these rivals have gone in different directions.

Since the Saints 23-17 win over the Birds, the Saints have posted a 7-2 mark, while the Falcons have gone 2-7.  I'm quite sure many of you would not have been surprised if Atlanta wasn't deep in the playoff mix this season after landing the #1 seed in the NFC last year. 

But, I'm equally sure not many thought Atlanta would be this bad.  I mean let's be real!   Right now the only thing the Falcons have a chance to be is #1 in is the 2014 NFL Draft.  Yes, right now Atlanta is in the running for the #1 overall pick.

Atlanta has nothing going for them.  They are 2-8 and the only thing the Falcons are halfway excited about is the fact that by winning this week they could very well hurt the Saints chances at being one of the top two seeds in the NFC.

When you're a bad team, you do bad things.  The Falcons do a lot of things badly.  Atlanta is a horrible team when it comes to rushing the football and stopping the run.  Atlanta averages 73.1 yards rushing per game (31st) and the Birds allow 132.7 rushing yards per game on average which is 30th in the NFL.

Just because one team has a weakness does not necessarily mean the opposing team will take advantage of that weakness.  But in this case, tempered by the way the Saints have been rushing the football the last two weeks, I feel the Saints will be able to expose the Falcons rush defense.

And, don't let the Falcons point total (28) from last week fool you!  Atlanta was down against the Bucs 24-3 at one point in the game and then 38-6.  So, as you can tell, the Bucs called off the dogs on Atlanta with the Birds getting 22 of their 28 points well after the game was decided.

New Orleans is on the verge of proving they have solved their running game struggles.  New Orleans gained just 92 yards last week in their 23-20 win over the 49ers.  But the Black & Gold were effective when they needed to be.

As much as the Saints offense has done over the course of time during the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era, it's the Saints defense that leads me to believe this team can be in any type game and come out on top.

If we still believe that defense wins championships (which I do), the Saints have that caliber of defensive unit.  In the last two games the Saints defense has been salty.  The Cowboys were 0-9 on third down against the Saints.  And Coach Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme kicked it up a notch higher in the 23-20 win over the 49ers.

The Saints defense faced 10 offensive possessions from the 49ers offense.  Six of those 10 possessions ended in punts including five three and outs.  The Saints did a bang up job in limiting RB Frank Gore last week.  And this Saints defense is playing with a lot of confidence.

The challenge now is dealing with the loss of the best CB--veteran Jabari Greer.  CB Corey White will start in place of Greer and you best expect Falcons QB Matt Ryan will test White early and often. 

Other than White's ability to check Falcons WR Harry Douglas throughout the game, I'm confident the Saints defense can limit the Falcons offense.  I'm not saying White can't cover Douglas, I just think it is a match-up everybody's interested in.

I like the way the Saints are playing.  New Orleans is playing sound football on offense, defense and special teams.  Kicker Garrett Hartley looked very confident last week nailing three fourth quarter field goals.

On the flip side, what is there to like about the way the Falcons are playing?  Okay, Who Dat Nation, I know y'all are happy about how the Falcons are playing, I get that.  But regardless, the Falcons are not good.

The Saints are a veteran team led by one no-nonsense type guy in Sean Payton.  There is a lot on the line for the Saints.  The chanceof playing in the Super Bowl is far greater for the Saints, if they have some home playoff games. 

The Saints have everything in front of them including the top seed in the conference.  A win here gives the Saints a lot of momentum going into a huge MNF game against Seattle early next month.

Look for the Birds to play hard for a while, but the Saints are the far better team.  Rivalry or not, you answer me this.  If I gave each of you 100 dollars, would you take the Falcons with eight points or bet on the Saints giving the eight?  I thought so!

The Big Chief Says: New Orleans 33 Atlanta 21

What They Are Saying

Atlanta Coach Mike Smith on why the Falcons have struggled this season

"I think where we stand is we have not won the close games in the early part of the season and a number of games came down to the final possession.  (We) didn't win them and we've not played very good football in the last four weeks.  We've done numerous things across the board that have stopped us from playing well. We have not been very good in the turnover ratio.  We are not creating turnovers.  We are not protecting the football.  We have not been good on third down on defense.  When you don't win situationally it is hard to win…and we've done it across the board, offensively, defensively and special teams.  That is my synopsis."

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White on the Falcons Offense not having WR Julio Jones

"It's tough he's out and not playing with us. For the first two or three games of the season he was rolling.  He (Julio Jones) was doing a heck of a job of making plays; getting us big plays in the passing game and things like that. It's tough anytime you don't have that guy out there, especially when you're used to having him out there.  It's just tough for our offense, because we pride ourselves in our skill players and our ability to make plays. When one guy's absent, the next guy isn't there, Tony (Gonzalez) isn't there, it's tough because defenses guard you a different way. That's probably been the toughest thing, because he draws so much attention in the passing game that it makes it easy for everybody else."


Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan on losing CB Jabari Greer for the season and his replacement Corey White
 
"Jabari (Greer) was having such a great year.  He is great person.  We will miss him in the locker room most.  But he was having a great year.  He was doing everything we asked him to do and then some.  This Corey White has really been an ascending player.  He has been outstanding.  He is a physical player.  He is a smart kid.  He is getting better and better.  We've lost some great players along the way and we are so fortunate to have excellent players behind him and that is what this Corey White has been doing, begging for an opportunity.  He is going to be great when he gets in there."
 

Saints Coach Sean Payton on the Falcons 2-8 season

"I think in our league there is such a fine line that you deal with, especially when it comes to injuries.  We could point to a number of seasons where you play in a number of games and you are able to win close games maybe as opposed to not.  I don't know if that that would be the correct word, because I know how difficult it is to win in our league and I know how often these games come down to the final plays, making a play in the end and having a chance to win a game.  I think when you add the injury element to it, it obviously is that much more difficult."

Saints QB Drew Brees on the success the Saints had rushing the football the last two games.

 "Yeah, obviously it's extremely beneficial when you talk about balance and controlling the clock and establishing the line of scrimmage in a game and also the way it opens up the play-action and opportunities for big plays."


New Orleans Saints (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-8)
Thursday, November 21st in Georgiadome
7:25pm Kickoff on WWL Radio - 870AM/FM 105.3


Last week's results:  New Orleans beat San Francisco 23-20; Tampa Bay beat Atlanta 41-28

Series History:  Atlanta leads the series 46-42.  But the Saints have owned the Falcons as of late.  New Orleans won 12 of the last 15 meetings between the two rivals. 
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Big Chief's College Football Diary: Who might slip & fall
Call it a diary if you want, but my notes are written on napkins, sticky squares, in my phone and iPad, and I oftentimes write things down on my hands.  But, what I write down is major.  Folks, I'd like to think I've seen some of the best football at all levels.

If I had to choose which level I would watch, if I had only one to view...that question would be the hardest ever for me.  I love high school, college and professional football; each one is special in its own right.  But, there is something awesome about what goes down on Saturday afternoons.  

This past weekend Jumbo (Steve Korte) and I went to an historic game...where the SLU Lions won their first conference title in 52 years.  The Lions knocked off the powerful Sam Houston State Bearkats 34-21.  It was a very good game with an even better atmosphere.

While at the Lions game, I was able to keep up with other games on my mobile devices and by way of the television monitors in the SLU stadium.  Man, what a day for CFB (college football).  So, here are some of the high points from my football diary this past weekend.

Is this hoops or football?  

How about this?  Last year the U won the ACC basketball title.  And this season the Duke Blue Devils could very well play for the ACC Title in football.  Is this right?  How does that happen?  Well, Coach David Cutcliff, who is now without question a lead candidate for coach of the year, can lead the Duke Blue Devils to the ACC title game, if they win their last two games against Wake Forest and UNC.  The FSU Seminoles will be waiting in the ACC title game.

The Devilish Blue Guys are now 8-2, ranked in the Top 25 and I'm not talking about Coach K and his team!

He loves L.A. & Louisiana too!

Out West, give it up for a man who is not taking for granted a second chance.  The late great Luther Vandross once sang, "love is better the second time around."  Well, second chances sometimes produce better outcomes and results.

After a disappointing stint in Oxford as the Ole Miss Rebels head football coach, Ed Ogeron, is now in a position to become the full time head coach of the USC Trojans.  One of the greatest programs in all of sports needed a breath of fresh air.  They got one in Coach O.

All the hype about who the next coach of the mighty USC program will be could be just that... hype.  If interim Coach Ed "BaeBae" Ogeron continues to win, he will be hard pressed not to have that interim tag removed and replaced with just plain Head Coach.  

Since taking over in early October, Ogeron has guided the Trojans to a 5-1 mark with their only loss a 14-10 setback to Notre Dame.  The Trojans just knocked off #5 Stanford 20-17, and now if they win out, can land in the Pac 12 Title game.

What USC A.D. Pat Haden knows is that the Trojans love their coach and if Ogeron stays, look for him to land one of the best recruiting classes in the Pac 12.  He could very well pull off a few big nationally ranked players too.  So I hear!

Right place right time for Ricardo  

No one ever would have thought a team that lost their last 10 conference games going into the season could win the SEC...did they?  Before the start of the 2013 CFB season, the Auburn Tigers were riding a 10 game SEC losing streak including a 0-8 SEC mark last year.

This past Saturday in the deep South's oldest rivalry, the Tigers almost had their ruby slipper taken off.  But in the Nick Marshall of time, Auburn remained alive.  QB Nick Marshall threw up a prayer on fourth and 18. That prayer was answered after two Georgia defenders tried to make a play on the football.The ball was tipped and low and behold WR Ricardo Louis trailed the play only to catch the tip and take the ball in for a 73 yard reception.  

The prayer on the plains has the Tigers in position to host one of the biggest games ever between Auburn and that other team from the same state.  Man oh man, what a game that one should be.

Slip and fall?

Well, for some two teams it's all about a few more wins.  For others they must win and hope someone slips and falls.  The #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide has two possibly three more games...and so do the FSU Seminoles.  Simply put, if they win out, they'll play for the final BCS Title.Should one of them slip up, the door would open up.  But, which team walks through that opened door remains unclear.  

Ohio State is facing the reality that they could win 25 straight games and not play for the National Title.

If the high powered Baylor Bears run the table, could they be the team that sneaks in the title game, should either Bama or Florida State slip up?  And, what if it comes down to a few one-loss teams?  What about a 12-1 SEC Title winning Auburn team?  Or, what about a Big 12 one-loss Oklahoma State team?

Hang on, college football lovers.  It's 'bout to get real up in here!  

 
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Big Chief's College Football Diary: Who might slip & fall
Call it a diary if you want, but my notes are written on napkins, sticky squares, in my phone and iPad, and I oftentimes write things down on my hands.  But, what I write down is major.  Folks, I'd like to think I've seen some of the best football at all levels.

If I had to choose which level I would watch, if I had only one to view...that question would be the hardest ever for me.  I love high school, college and professional football; each one is special in its own right.  But, there is something awesome about what goes down on Saturday afternoons.  

This past weekend Jumbo (Steve Korte) and I went to an historic game...where the SLU Lions won their first conference title in 52 years.  The Lions knocked off the powerful Sam Houston State Bearkats 34-21.  It was a very good game with an even better atmosphere.

While at the Lions game, I was able to keep up with other games on my mobile devices and by way of the television monitors in the SLU stadium.  Man, what a day for CFB (college football).  So, here are some of the high points from my football diary this past weekend.

Is this hoops or football?  

How about this?  Last year the U won the ACC basketball title.  And this season the Duke Blue Devils could very well play for the ACC Title in football.  Is this right?  How does that happen?  Well, Coach David Cutcliff, who is now without question a lead candidate for coach of the year, can lead the Duke Blue Devils to the ACC title game, if they win their last two games against Wake Forest and UNC.  The FSU Seminoles will be waiting in the ACC title game.

The Devilish Blue Guys are now 8-2, ranked in the Top 25 and I'm not talking about Coach K and his team!

He loves L.A. & Louisiana too!

Out West, give it up for a man who is not taking for granted a second chance.  The late great Luther Vandross once sang, "love is better the second time around."  Well, second chances sometimes produce better outcomes and results.

After a disappointing stint in Oxford as the Ole Miss Rebels head football coach, Ed Ogeron, is now in a position to become the full time head coach of the USC Trojans.  One of the greatest programs in all of sports needed a breath of fresh air.  They got one in Coach O.

All the hype about who the next coach of the mighty USC program will be could be just that... hype.  If interim Coach Ed "BaeBae" Ogeron continues to win, he will be hard pressed not to have that interim tag removed and replaced with just plain Head Coach.  

Since taking over in early October, Ogeron has guided the Trojans to a 5-1 mark with their only loss a 14-10 setback to Notre Dame.  The Trojans just knocked off #5 Stanford 20-17, and now if they win out, can land in the Pac 12 Title game.

What USC A.D. Pat Haden knows is that the Trojans love their coach and if Ogeron stays, look for him to land one of the best recruiting classes in the Pac 12.  He could very well pull off a few big nationally ranked players too.  So I hear!

Right place right time for Ricardo  

No one ever would have thought a team that lost their last 10 conference games going into the season could win the SEC...did they?  Before the start of the 2013 CFB season, the Auburn Tigers were riding a 10 game SEC losing streak including a 0-8 SEC mark last year.

This past Saturday in the deep South's oldest rivalry, the Tigers almost had their ruby slipper taken off.  But in the Nick Marshall of time, Auburn remained alive.  QB Nick Marshall threw up a prayer on fourth and 18. That prayer was answered after two Georgia defenders tried to make a play on the football.The ball was tipped and low and behold WR Ricardo Louis trailed the play only to catch the tip and take the ball in for a 73 yard reception.  

The prayer on the plains has the Tigers in position to host one of the biggest games ever between Auburn and that other team from the same state.  Man oh man, what a game that one should be.

Slip and fall?

Well, for some two teams it's all about a few more wins.  For others they must win and hope someone slips and falls.  The #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide has two possibly three more games...and so do the FSU Seminoles.  Simply put, if they win out, they'll play for the final BCS Title.Should one of them slip up, the door would open up.  But, which team walks through that opened door remains unclear.  

Ohio State is facing the reality that they could win 25 straight games and not play for the National Title.

If the high powered Baylor Bears run the table, could they be the team that sneaks in the title game, should either Bama or Florida State slip up?  And, what if it comes down to a few one-loss teams?  What about a 12-1 SEC Title winning Auburn team?  Or, what about a Big 12 one-loss Oklahoma State team?

Hang on, college football lovers.  It's 'bout to get real up in here!  

 
 


 
Deke: ​NFL Top 10 Week #12

The Birds from out West are the best, the Horses have two more tough races to run, the Chiefs are still in good shape, and the Saints are becoming a more complete team each week.  And give it up for the NFC South!  The Saints and the Panthers are two of the best teams in the NFC and the NFL.  Please believe it!  

1.    Seattle Seahawks (9-1) – The Seabirds now have two weeks to get ready for their biggest game of the season as they host the New Orleans Saints with the #1 seed in the NFC on the line.  Last week beat Minnesota 41-20 / this week Bye.  

2.    Denver Broncos (9-1) – Denver did what the experts thought they would, beating the Chiefs by more than eight points. But will two tough road trips to NE and KC in a short span tell us how good Denver really is?  I think it will.  Last week Kansas City 27-17 / this week @ New England. 

3.    Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) – The Chiefs proved to a lot of so-called experts that they are a legit AFC Title Contender with their loss to Denver.  This team has a strong, physical defense and maybe just enough offense to carry then all the way to New York in February.  Last week lost to Denver 27-17 / this week vs San Diego.  

4.    New Orleans Saints (8-2) – The Saints have proven for the last ten weeks of the season that they are a complete team.  Honestly, to me the two most complete teams will battle it out in two weeks for the #1 seed in the NFC when these complete Saints travel to take on a very complete Seattle team.  Last week San Francisco 23-20 /this week at Atlanta. 

5.    Carolina Panthers (7-3) – They are for real, they are legit, and they are on a six game win streak.  May I remind you all that these Cats lost by one to Buffalo and they were down to the Seattle 8-yard line in week one before fumbling away a shot to win that one.  What am I saying?  The red hot Panthers could very easily be 9-1! Last week beat New England / this week at Miami. 

6.    Indianapolis Colts (7-3) – The Colts used a come-from-behind road win over the Titans to take control of the AFC South and remain in the home field hunt.  Now, a trip to the desert takes place against a very good Cardinals team.  Last week beat Tennessee 30-27 / this week at Arizona.  

7.    New England Patriots (7-3) – By losing to Carolina and facing the prospects of back to back losses with Denver coming to town, could Tom B and the Pats actually be in a heated race in the AFC?  If only Miami and the Jets could get their acts together.  Last week lost Carolina 24-20 / this week vs Denver.   

8.  San Francisco 49ers (6-4) – The 49ers have gone from being in the running for the NFC West Title to trying to hold off divisional foe Arizona for a Wild Card spot.  It’s hard being the champ ain’t it?  Last week lost to New Orleans 23-20 / this week vs Washington.   

9.  Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – The Cats from C-Town are better than their 7-4 record.  The Bengals snapped a two game losing streak and are now comfortably ahead of the rest of the AFC North Division.  Last week beat Cleveland 41-20 / this week bye. 

10.  Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) – Ok, you can argue who deserves to be here, but the Eagles are impressive as five of their six wins have been away from home this season.  The Eagles however are a dismal 1-4 at home!  If the Birds from the City of Brotherly Love can win some at home, they could walk away from the rest of the mediocre teams in a rather weak NFC East.  Last week beat Washington 24-18 / this week bye.  

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Deke: Fast start, strong finish for the Saints defense

More times than not this season, Saints fans have not had to hold their breath when their beloved Black and Gold defense is on the field with the game on the line.  Simply put, the Saints defense is for real, and they have been that way since they stopped the Falcons from scoring late during the first game of the season.


Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan has transformed one of the worst defense units in the history of the NFL into a legit, hard nose physical defense.  “If Coach Rob Ryan is not the assistant coach of the year, I would like to see someone that has done a better job than Coach Ryan has done,” said Bobby Hebert.

The Saints improved to 8-2 on the season and remained perfect at home in the Superdome with a 23-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers.  The defense set the tone from the first snap of the game, and then finished with a flurry in the final quarter.

San Francisco ran 11 plays in the first quarter of the game for a total of 18 yards.  Then, on their final two drives of the game, the Saints defense shut down the 49ers.  San Francisco got the ball with 7:50 left in the game, protecting a 20-17 lead.

The Saints forced a three-and-out as the 49ers gained just one yard and were forced to punt.  New Orleans then got the ball back and went on to tie the game at 20-20 on a 42-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley.    

The Saints defense then came up big again. With the score tied at 20-20, the Saints defense held the 49ers to seven yards on three plays, forcing another three-and-out.  On that drive, Junior Gallette sacked San Fran QB Colin Kaepernick for a nine yard loss.

So if you add that up, the 49ers last two drives netted them 8 yards of offense on six plays with two punts.  And if you subtract the nine yard loss caused by Gallette’s sack then San Fran was minus 1 in yards on their last two drives of the game!

Once the Saints defense gave the ball back to their offense, New Orleans went on a game-winning drive as Garrett Hartley nailed a 31-yard field goal to give the Saints a 23-20 win. Coach Sean Payton talked about his team playing complementary football before training camp began back in late July; right now, the Saints are playing good in all phases of the game.

The numbers are even prettier for the Black and Gold defense.  San Francisco averaged 148 yards rushing per game through nine games this season.  The Saints held the 49ers to just 81 yards in the game.

San Francisco had 10 offensive possessions.  Six of those 10 possessions ended in punts, including five three-and-outs.  RB Frank Gore gained 48 yards on 13 carries.  But I’ll break down the numbers for you like the coaches do in their team meetings: Mr. Gore had one carry for 24 yards.  So, on his other 12 carries Gore gained just 24 yards for an average of just two yards per rush.  People, that is damn good defense, and if you still believe that defense wins championships, then this Black and Gold defense is that caliber.

On seven of the 49ers ten offensive possessions, the Saints defense limited their foes to 12 yards or less, including five drives where the Saints defense held the 49ers to five yards or less.  Sure, you can point out a bad play here or there on defense, but the overall body of work produced another win.  And it was another win in which the Saints defense dominated the team on the other side of the football.  

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Big Chief's CFB Top 10 Week #12

OK, does Baylor have a shot to leapfrog Ohio State?  Baylor has two big tests left, and they could finish undefeated.  Now Baylor, Ohio State could be in the right place at the right time, should Auburn knock off Alabama in two weeks.  This week, two big ones have a big impact on the top ten as those upstart newer Tigers from the SEC head South to face the Rebels, while the Bears from Waco go to Stillwater for a battle with the Pokes.  Folks, trust me, there is a whole lot of football left in the last three weeks of this season.


1.      Alabama (10-0) – So they only beat Mississippi State 20-7...  so what? They won!  Now, the Tide have two weeks to get ready for their archrivals.  Man, I’ll bet Stub Hub is going to make a killing on those Iron Bowl Tickets!  Last week beat Mississippi State 20-7 / this week vs Chattanooga   

2.      Florida State (10-0) – The Noles are in good shape.  Can they win their last three games?  I think they will!  Last week beat Syrcause 59-3 / this week vs Idaho.


3    Ohio State (10-0) – The Buckeyes now have to hope for Baylor and Florida State to lose to get in the national title game.  Last week beat Illinois 60-35 / this week vs Indiana.

4.     Baylor Bears (9-0) – Baylor has played nine games.  The Bears have scored 60 or more points in six games and 59 in one.  Now a big hurdle in the form of a good Cowboys team in Stillwater.  Last week beat Texas Tech 63-34 / this week @ Oklahoma State.   


5.  Auburn Tigers (10-1) – The Tigers nearly blew an SEC and national title shot in a fourth quarter collapse against the Bulldogs, but the Tigers came back for a win and now have two weeks to get ready for the biggest Iron Bowl Game ever.  Last week beat Georgia 43-38 / this week off. 

 
6.  Oregon Ducks (9-1) – The Ducks are now back in control of their fate to land in the Pac 12 Title Game.  I mean, who knows?  An undefeated Buckeyes Team as an opponent in the Rose Bowl ain’t too bad!   Last week got beat Utah / this week @ Arizona.

7.     Clemson (8-1) – Clemson can only hope for a BCS at-large bid.  The Tigers should be alive to get one.  Last week beat Georgia Tech 55-31 / this week vs Citadel.

8.    Missouri Tigers (9-1) – Missouri is an overtime win away from being right in the thick of the national title hunt.  With that said, these Tigers may have to win their last two games to get to Atlanta.  That will be a hard feat to accomplish going to Oxford and then College Station.  Last week off / this week @ Ole Miss.

9.  South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2) – The Ole Ball Coach beat his old team and now can sit back and watch the Tigers of Missouri lose one of their last two, and then SC would get back to Atlanta.  Last week beat Florida 19-14 / this week vs Coastal Carolina.

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-1) – The Cowboys can now be in a good conversation as the best one-loss team in the nation should they run the table.  I’m not sure if that means a whole lot this season, but it could if a lot of teams lose!  Last week beat Texas 38-21 / this week vs Baylor. 

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Deke Bellavia: Saints vs 49ers Game Day Preview
New Orleans Saints (7-2) versus San Francisco 49ers (6-3)  
Sunday..November 17, 2013 Mercedes Benz Superdome
3:25pm Kickoff WWL 870AM / FM 105.3

Series History:  The 49ers lead the series 46-24-2.  The Saints have won six of the last seven meetings in the regular season. 

Last week’s results:  New Orleans beat Dallas 49-17; Carolina beat San Francisco 10-9
 
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:
Saints Coach Sean Payton on the Read Option Offensive Scheme
“I think it just depends on who you are looking at.  I think it starts with a talented quarterback like San Francisco has.  He (Colin Kaepernick) is very athletic and we’ve seen plenty of evidence where he can create the long run.  It is one thing, if that position can run it just to keep you honest…it’s another thing when he’s the ball carrier and he becomes the running back.  I think he’s got that skillset, but equally impressive is his arm strength off of play action.  He’s right at the top of the league with big plays both in the running game and the passing game and it kind of sets one up from the other.  There are certain things they want to do defensively to stop it and you might give up some things in the coverage end…and that is when he is able to take advantage of the looks he is seeing.  It is challenging to simulate in practice to give the defense a realistic look of how it is on game day, so it presents a ton of challenges.”
 
Saints Quarterback #9 Drew Brees on the 49ers
“As good as they’ve ever been. There’s an expectation level every time you play those guys. They’re extremely disciplined and very talented…a lot of individually great players. Obviously, when you put them in there as a unit, they play very, very well together.  There’s a definite style, a definite scheme that they just execute to perfection.”

San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh on the job Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan is doing
“Yeah, I think that as always, the job you do speaks for itself, and he has coached a lot of players (on the defense).  He has coached a lot of guys, put them in a lot of different positions and they understand what he is trying to get done as a coordinator of the defense.  That speaks volumes, when you can teach that many people…that well to play…that many different spots and roles.  I think that speaks volumes right there.”
 
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis
Okay, folks, last year was last year.  But, when we look back on the 2012 season, the end of the season started, when the Saints hosted the 49ers.  After a dismal 0-4 start, the Black & Gold won five of their next six games to get to 5-5.
San Francisco was up next on the schedule with the Saints back in the NFC playoff hunt.  New Orleans took a 14-7 lead with 7:53 left in the first half.  The dome was rocking and things were looking good.  Then, disaster stuck.
A pick six late in the first half began a 24-7 run for the visiting 49ers as they beat the Saints 31-21.  This sent New Orleans on a three game losing streak that would eventually end the Saints hopes for staying in the NFC Wildcard race.
The Saints are in much better shape this time around.  And both clubs are in the midst of good divisional races.  The 49ers are looking up at the NFC West, leading Seattle Seahawks.  While the Saints are one step ahead of the surging, red hot Carolina Panthers.

Yes, this is just one game, but when the regular season is all said and done, the result of this game could weigh heavily on playoff positioning as well as which team has home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

San Francisco has a tenacious defense and the 49ers love to run the football.  The 6-3 49ers take control of games by rushing the football and winning the turnover battle.  After starting the season 1-2, the 49ers went on a five game win streak.
During that win streak San Francisco moved the ball on the ground at will against their opponents.  The 49ers gained 919 rushing yards in that five game win streak, averaging 183.8 yards per contest.  In their three losses this season SF averaged only 107 yards.
San Fran scored on average 34.3 points per game during that five game win streak, while in three losses the 49ers average only 6.3 points per game.  And, of course,  as we say each week, the turnover battle will be huge.
When the 49ers lose, they don’t fare well in the takeaway department.  San Francisco is a combined minus (– 6) in the turnover battle in their three losses.  Last week, in a 10-9 loss to the Panthers, the 49ers were even in takeaways.
In my opinion, it’s rather simple to breakdown the 49ers offense.  Follow RB Frank Gore and TE Vernon Davis and you will easily see the success or lack-their-of…on the field for San Francisco.  Gore is coming off a game in which he carried the ball 16 times for 82 yards in a 10-9 loss to Carolina.  San Francisco will try to get Gore the ball more times than not this week in the Superdome against the Black & Gold.  So pay close attention to RB Frank Gore. 

And then there’s TE Vernon Davis.  When Davis is in the game, QB Colin Kaepernick does well.  And when Davis is not, well you get the picture.  According to ESPN stats, Colin Kaepernick completes over 60 percent of his passes when Vernon Davis is in the game compared to just 43 percent, when Davis is on the sidelines.  There is without question a feeling of comfort and security for Kaeperick when Gore does well and when TE Vernon Davis is in the game. 

On the other side of the football, the 49ers defense is the real deal.  Not often in the NFL will you find a team lose a game, when their defense has held its opponent to 10 points and 250 yards of total offense.  That was the rare case last week when the 49ers fell to Carolina 10-9 even with a tremendous defensive effort against Panthers QB Cam Newton and the rest of the Cats offense.

New Orleans is coming off their best rushing output of the season.  The Saints had 242 yards on the ground on 38 carries.  But, that type of output won’t be needed to consider the running game a success.

Like Coach Payton says, each game takes a shape of their own and the Saints need to be effective at times against the 49ers, not all the time.  San Francisco is 11th in the league in rush defense, allowing a little over 100 yards per game. 
Getting to 100 yards or more on the ground would be considered a win for the Saints in my opinion.  Defenses are having more success against the 49ers offense this season.  And right now the Saints defense is playing well.

New Orleans is a different team, when they play at home in the Superdome.  The Saints are a perfect 5-0 at home this season with a 20.2 average margin of victory.  In fact, none of the Saints first five home foes have scored more than 17 points.
People, let’s keep it simple here.  If I were in another part of the world, and I saw that a team was winning by 20 or more points…had not allowed more than 17 to each of their opponents…and were just a three point favorite, what would I predict?  Duh?
The smart play here is to lay the three points and go with the Saints.  Look for New Orleans to continue their dominant ways at home.  

The Big Chief says New Orleans 28 San Francisco 17.
 
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Deke Bellavia: Prep Football - The One and Done Season Begins
All those weights lifted during the summer, the seven on seven competitions and extra hours spent laying it all on the line for a better season takes on a new meaning for all high school football teams beginning this week.

Yes, folks, each game can now be the last game as the 2013 LHSAA state playoffs begin.  If you lose, you’re out.  We embark on historic playoffs this post season, as we will have a record nine state champions in football.

Five classes and four divisions will each produce a champion in football.  Some teams in some classes and divisions have bye weeks this week.  Moving forward we’ll see if that extra time to prepare, rest and heal helps teams that are trying to make it to the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

In the first round of the playoffs I try and find the best match-up.  Now if you go by seeds, the best possible match-up among the 32 teams is #16 versus #17.  That leads me to the swamp down in Ponchatoula this Friday.

The Strawberry Capital of the world also has a very good football team as the legendary Hank Tierney has another playoff team.  The former Shaw and West Jeff coach has been at the helm in Ponchatoula several seasons now.  And the Green Wave have pulled out some big post season wins

The Green Wave will entertain #17 Haughton with the winner moving on to take on the #1 seed in the state next week—the Acadiana Rams. No disrespect to the Tigers of Slidell, but a #32 seed rarely beats the #1 seed.

Other big games--the Brother Martin Crusaders battle the Jesuit Blue Jays; St. Paul entertains the Shaw Eagles in Division I action, while Mandeville hosts the John Ehret Patriots.  In Class 4A the #4 seeded East Jefferson Warriors will try and pick up their first playoff win for the first time in many moons.  EJ hosts #35—the McDonough #35 Roneagles.

In Division III, #8 Riverside entertains #9 St. Thomas Aquinas; and #7 Newman hosts #10 Opelousas.  Should Newman win, they would play at Calvary Baptist next week. 
So the road to the Superdome begins Friday night and each week it’s all about survival.  There are basically two kinds of teams now—those who move forward and those who see their seasons come to an abrupt end.  Both build character…beneath Friday night lights.
 
 
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Deke Bellavia: Saints run game - has the tide turned?
Looking at the 2013 New Orleans Saints, last week would have to be considered a breakout game for the Saints running game.  Prior to their Sunday night beat down of Dallas, the Saints ranked 26th in rushing yards per game with a 79.8 yards per game average. 

The Saints brought a full lunch pail to the Mercedes Benz Superdome Sunday night, gashing the Silver Stars by gaining 242 yards on the ground on 38 carries.  As a team, New Orleans averaged 6.4 rushing yards each time they carried the football.

Now I think all of us realize those numbers will not be obtained each week.  Weekly improvement is a more realistic goal.  Entering the Dallas game, the Saints had rushed for over 100 yards just twice this season.  And in their other six games, New Orleans failed to reach 80 yards rushing.

New Orleans picked up 162 yards more than their previous average of 79.8 yards.  And, the most important factor--the Saints ability to be more balanced on offense.  Coach Sean Payton says balance is a weekly goal for his offense. 

"We hope so.  Each game, each week kind of takes a little shape of it's on.  It (Dallas game) was one of those games that I thought we blocked them (Cowboys) well.  I thought Jed (Collins) did a very good job blocking.  And, I thought our receivers blocked well also," Payton said after the Saints reached a season high in rushing yards.

Simply put, when the Saints are balanced on offense they are unstoppable.  Before the Dallas game the Saints averaged 40.3 passing attempts per game to go along with 23.9 rushes.  Against Dallas the offensive balance was nearly perfect.  "Each week we try to pay attention to it (running the football) and we want to have balance," said Sean Payton.

The Saints had 41 pass attempts and 38 rushing attempts.  "You know we were able to run the ball maybe more than we thought against the Cowboys.  The team we are getting ready to play Sunday (San Francisco) is outstanding in their run fronts and run fits.  And over all they have a very good defense. 

And then, of course, there's running back Mark Ingram, Jr..  Was Ingram's first big game in a Saints uniform a sign of things to come, or an aberration?  Ingram seems to be healthy.  And, his numbers show an upward trend.  Ingram had 145 yards on 14 carries versus the Cowboys.  Coach Sean Payton was happy to see his RB have a breakout game.

"All these crazy reports about a trade and just garbage in the newspaper and garbage on the radio about what he (Ingram) can and can't do.  Mark was professional and he hung in there.  I'm pleased for him," Payton said of his 2011 1st round draft pick.

Before the Dallas game, RB Mark Ingram played in just three of the Saints first eight games of the 2013 season.  Against the Falcons Ingram had 11 yards on nine carries with a dismal 1.2 yards per rush.  Ingram didn't do much better against Tampa Bay, carrying the ball eight times for 20 yards with a 2.5 per carry average.  But, in his last two games, the numbers show Ingram moving in the right direction.

Against the New York Jets, the third year player from Alabama averaged 4.8 yards per attempt.  And against Dallas, Ingram had fantasy type output.  Mark carried the ball 14 times for 145 yards and scored a touchdown.  Ingram averaged a whopping 10.5 yards per carry.

So, let's dig a little deeper.  Ingram has rushed the football in four games this season.  Overall Mark has 35 rushing attempts for 195 yards with5.6 yards per carry average.

In his first two games against Atlanta and Tampa, #22 carried the ball a combined 17 times for 31 yards with a poor average of just 1.8 yard per rush. 

Now, let's look at the last two outings for the former Crimson Tide standout.Ingram has carried the ball a total of 18 times in his last two games for a total of 164
yards.  Folks, that's an average of 9.1 yards per carry…quite impressive.  Please don't expect those numbers to be showing up in the stat sheet each week.

If Ingram can average what his current overall season average is (5.6 yards), the Saints offense will continue to be balanced and become more and more difficult to defend. 

WHO DAT!

 
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Deke: NFL Top 10 Week #11
The biggest game of the season (so far) takes place this week in Denver, the second biggest game in Carolina history happens this week also, and old NFC West Rivals square off the in the Superdome with a lot on the line.  Here is my top ten for this week.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) –The Chiefs defense is for real.  They will get their toughest test of the season facing Denver on the road.  Time of possession and ball security will be the main keys for the Chiefs this weekend against Denver.  Last week off  / this week @ Denver.
  
2. Seattle Seahawks (9-1) – A team that was once labeled a club that could not win a big game on the road is now 5-1 away from home this season with just two road trips left.  Folks, I'm calling it early like an election.  Say hello to the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs!  Seattle is balanced on offense, they can physically over power you on defense.  They are invincible at home.  Last week beat Tampa Bay 27-24 / this week @ Atlanta.
  
3. Denver Broncos (8-1) – The Horses from Mile High got a big divisional win over a decent Chargers team last week.  Now a huge showdown happens as the defensive minded Chiefs come to town.  This is a big one my people!  Last week beat San Diego 28-20/ this week vs Kansas City.  

4. New England Patriots (7-2) – The Patriots got some good rest and now fly south to take on one of the best teams in the league in the red hot Panthers.  I can sense a beat down this week as there will be no tea party in Charlotte.  Last week beat Pittsburgh 55-31 / this week off.

5. New Orleans Saints (7-2) –  A record number of first downs, yards and a good ole fashion ACE whipping was hand crafted for dem Cowboys.  Hey NFC, if you want to go to the Super Bowl you best not play in the Superdome this post season.  Last week beat Dallas 49-17 / this week vs San Francisco.

6. Carolina Panthers (6-3) – I told you a week ago that this Carolina team is damn good.  Now with a long road trip under their belts, that yielded a win, it sets up perhaps as the biggest regular season game in Panthers history.  The Panthers held the 49ers to less than three yards per play and 151 yards of total offense last week.  Win this week, and the Cats are without question Super Bowl caliber.  They may be already!  I ain't lying y'all.  Did I mention that Carolina has won five straight?  Last week beat San Francisco 10-9 / this week vs New England.

7. Detroit Lions (6-3) –The Lions have put themselves in position to contend for the NFC North title.  Reggie Bush is playing well, Meggatron is doing his thing and with the Bears and Packers QB's not feeling so well, the Lions could be peaking at the right time. Last week beat Chicago 21-19 / this week @ Pittsburgh.

8. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – Well the biggest slice of humble pie was served to the Colts last weekend.  Indy got beat down in their stadium and now has to hit the road to take on an embarrassed Titans team that lost to the Jaguars last week.  Uh oh!  Last week got beat down by St. Louis 38-8/ this week @ Tennessee.

9. San Francisco 49ers (6-3) – The 49ers got beat at their own game in their own back yard last week.  Now the boys from Frisco will need some extra help in order to catch divisional foe Seattle.  Last week lost to Carolina 10-9 / this week @ New Orleans.  

10. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) – By default I'll put the Bengals at #10.  The Bengals have dropped two straight (each in overtime) after having a chance to pretty much sew up the AFC North.  Now a nearly must win situation takes place this week against rival Cleveland.  Being swept by the Browns would be downright bad!  Last week lost to Baltimore 20-17 OT/ this week this week vs Cleveland. 
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Deke: Tiger fans know LSU just got beat!
A majority of LSU fans have apparently come to the harsh reality that their beloved Tigers flat out got beat in Alabama.  

As we review the phone calls to WWL AM & FM, we find most realize they got a good dose of the truth Saturday.  The truth is that LSU just got beat by the better team.

Sure everyone pulling for LSU had hope as the Tigers got off to a decent start in the game versus Alabama, but the same things that have plagued LSU this season once again came back to bite them in the you know what.

LSU squandered, or if you prefer, Alabama stopped LSU from getting points on their first two possessions.   On the Tigers first two drives the end result was two turnovers and no points.  

More mistakes would doom LSU.

After seemingly stopping the Tide, and forcing Alabama to punt, LSU's Rashard Robinson was flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Tide a first down.  Instead of getting off the field and giving the ball back to the LSU offense, on the very next play the Tide would cash in and hit the big play for a 52 yard scoring strike from QB A.J. McCarron to O.J. Howard.

LSU's defense did more than expected in the first half of the game as they held the Tide to just 42 yards after the first quarter, and Alabama walked into the locker room with just 193 yards at the break.  The Tide, however, still led 17-14.

Then in the second half, the big Crimson machine blew up LSU's defense, and they made it look easy.  With 12:01 left to play in the third quarter of the game, the Tigers had to feel pretty good about their position as they were tied with the champs at 17-17.  Then just a little over three minutes later, after a timeout, the game changed.

The Tide came out of that timeout and were successful on a fake punt attempt converting on a fourth and 2.  So when you look back on it, and remember what I have said all week long, is that Alabama's greatest strength to me is that they do not beat themselves.

That level of play is achieved by constant focus on being disciplined, paying attention to detail and execution.  Alabama is the best at it.  LSU is not.  Alabama would go on to capitalize on that converted fake punt and eventually score a TD later in that very same drive.

In fact, three of the Crimson Tide's four possessions were long, physical beat downs of an LSU defense that was in far over its head.  Alabama mounted touchdown drives of 14 plays for 79 yards, 10 plays 71 yards and 8 plays 78 yards.  That would be the difference in the game.

Last season LSU did not play four full quarters and lost.  In this seasons match-up, the Tigers played as hard as they could; and then the Tide took control.  While the Alabama offense was churning like a well oiled machine, the LSU offensive players could not get out of their own way.

After having 232 yards of total offense and 14 points in the first half, LSU was shut down to the tune of 21 plays, 52 yards and three points after that.  

Folks there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting beat by the better team.  The hardest thing is sometimes to admit that is what took place.

Alabama's team, program, players and coaches are on another level right now.  Not only LSU, but the rest of the entire field of NCAA Teams can only hope to once get to that level.  

Yes, Alabama is that good.  If LSU is their toughest foe this season, which many of the best experts in the game today very well think, then Alabama whipped their stiffest competition.

Now let's focus on the positives for the Tigers.  

LSU has three games left this season.  The two home games are against Johnny Football and the Aggies, followed by their Turkey Day weekend game against the Hogs from Arkansas.  Then there will be a bowl game.

If the Tigers win those three games, they would finish the season 10-3.  That 10-3 would feel a lot better than a year ago when LSU was 10-3.  Same record but a different feel.  LSU needs to finish out this season strong.

But as far as the battle with Alabama, LSU just got beat.  It's over, move on.  Alabama has! 
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Big Chief's CFB Top 10 Week #11
The Big Crimson machine gets better and better, the Noles are good friends of Stanford, the Bears are not whacko - they are alive and well in Waco, can the Poisonous nuts sneak in the title game?  And hold that Tiger, that Auburn Tiger. 

Question: What happens if there are three one loss teams up for one National Title Game spot?  And those three teams are Auburn, Stanford and Alabama?  Who would you go with?  Aw snap, it's getting good y'all!  It always does.  Here is my top ten for this week.

1.  Alabama (9-0) – The big Crimson machine battered perhaps their last tough hurdle en route to a third straight title.  The greatest strength of Alabama may very well be that they rarely beat themselves.  Last week beat LSU 38-17/ this week @ Mississippi State.

2.  Florida State - (8-0) – The Noles look as if they are on their way to the BCS Title Game.  I can't see anyone beating FSU.  Last week beat Wake Forest 59-3 this week vs Syrcause.

3. Ohio State (10-0) – The Buckeyes got a bump in the polls with the Ducks falling to Stanford.  Can OSU possibly land in the National Title Game?  Last week off / this week vs Illinois.

4. Baylor Bears (8-0) – Baylor was up 3-2 over Oklahoma is the second quarter before outscoring the Sooners 38-9 the rest of the game.  Baylor just has to keep on winning and hope for the best.  Last week beat Oklahoma 41-12 / this week vs Texas Tech.  

5. Stanford Cardinal (8-1) – The Cardinal can beat your pants off on the field, and beat your brains out in the classroom.  This is an old school team.  Stanford rushed the ball 66 times in their beat down of the Ducks.  David Shaw is one hell of a coach.  Now a dangerous road trip takes place to face the Men of Troy.  Last week beat Oregon 26-20 / this week @ USC.

6. Auburn Tigers (9-1) – It's ok everyone was wrong about Auburn.  People there is nothing wrong with being wrong.  But admit when you are!  This team is damn good.  QB Nick Marshall gashed the Vols Defense by averaging 15.3 yards per carry and Auburn rushed for 444 yards.  Now a win over the Bulldogs in the Deep South's oldest rivalry separates the Tigers from hosting the biggest and most hyped Iron Bowl ever!  Last week beat Tennessee 55-23 / this week vs Georgia.

7. Oregon Ducks (8-1) – How does that humble pie taste.  For the last two seasons the Ducks have been cooked by Stanford and kept from the National Title Game.  Oh well Oregon can always hope for another Cardinal loss and a trip to the Rose Bowl to face an undefeated Ohio State Team.  Maybe!  Last week got beat by Stanford 26-20 / this week vs Utah.

8. Clemson (7-1) – Clemson can only hope for a BCS at large bid.  The Tigers could have a great season by finishing up with wins over Ga. Tech and rival South Carolina.  Last week off/ this week vs Georgia Tech.

9. Missouri Tigers (9-1) – Missouri is an overtime win away from being right in the thick of the national title hunt.  With that said, these Tigers may have to win their last two games to get to Atlanta.  That will be a hard feat to accomplish going to Oxford and then College Station.  Last week beat Kentucky 48-17/ this week off.

10 - TIE.  South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2) – Boy these Cocks sure could mess up a lot over the next few weeks.  Don't sleep on the Ole Ball Coach.  Last week off / this week vs Florida.

10 - TIE. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-1) – OSU still has all of their season goals very much in front of them with games against Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma.  If the Pokes win those, at the very least they will be in the Fiesta Bowl.  Last week beat Kansas 42-6 / this week @ Texas.
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The Big Chief's Final Analysis of the Saints and Cowboys
The next two weeks are very important to the New Orleans Saints.  After having a once seemingly comfortable four game lead in the NFC South, the Saints now have the red hot Carolina Panthers right on their heels.

Carolina is now just a game back at 5-3.  The key here is that the next two weeks the Cats take on San Francisco and then New England.  With a little help from the 49ers and Patriots, the Saints could widen the gap between them and Carolina over the next two games.

Now none of that really matters if the Saints don't handle their own business starting this week with the Dallas Cowboys.  Dallas is 5-4 with two closes losses (17-6 to KC & 51-48 to Denver), and you could argue that the Cowboys are a little better than their record indicates.

One thing the Saints and Cowboys have in common is their poor rushing attacks.  The Dallas Cowboys have the 27th ranked rushing attack, with an average of 75.7 yards per game.  The Saints are 26th averaging 79.8.  Numbers can be somewhat deceiving as the Saints have rushed for over 100 yards just twice this season.  In their other six games, New Orleans failed to reach 80 yards rushing. So, their average is a little better than they actually have been this season.

Looking at how each team has struggled to run the football leads me to believe that both of these teams will be patient in trying to establish the run as long as they can, but I expect both Dallas and New Orleans to throw the ball much more than they pass it.

Let's be real. When you're struggling to run the football; and you have QB's like Brees and Romo along with pass catchers like Graham, Moore, Bryant and Witten, the reward of getting the ball in those players hands is pretty good.

I believe in the human element of sports.  To think that the Saints Players don't want to go out and play harder for their new defensive coordinator would be incorrect of me.  I do believe that Coach Rob  Ryan wants to have a good showing against Dallas (the team that fired him), and I fully expect the Saints to come with more blitz packages this week to try and make Mr. Romo uncomfortable when he's trying to pass the football.

The Saints still own the Dome, and I like the Black and Gold to roll over the Cowboys Sunday Night.  Take the Saints and go to the bank Monday morning.  Take make a deposit that is.  My prediction: New Orleans 28 - Dallas 17

What they are saying

Dallas Cowboys QB #9 Tony Romo on being familiar with what Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan does...

 "I think you have to take everything into account.  They are going to have a plan against us and we have to have a plan against them.  We have to go out and execute that.  It will be a great test for everybody.  They are playing great football.  Rob (Ryan) puts them in a great situation and you can see they are flying around and they are very difficult to deal with. It is going to be an unbelievable difficult test this week.”

Saints QB #9 Drew Brees on the Saints Offense trying to be more balanced...

"Well you focus on it.  You commit to it.  I think the big thing is, something we have been very very good at maybe up until last week was just sticking to the plan throughout the game and just knowing that hey, even though maybe you are only getting two to three yards a rush early on, keep plugging away, plugging away and by the fourth quarter those numbers go up.  It just takes a toll on the defense.  I think coming out of that game after you step away from it you say, gosh we got pretty one dimensional.  We were throwing the ball quite a bit there at the end.  Granted we were down by two possessions before that second half so you are kind of in a situation where you have to somewhat, but still to maintain some level of balance.  Listen, we still have to get more efficient both in the passing game and the running game and then understand how those complement one another and just how that helps us overall as an offense.  It opens up the big play opportunities.  It helps with protection, time of possession, complementary football, their defense, all those things.”

Saints Coach Sean Payton on if he has to force himself to call running plays...

"I need to…absolutely. It's not even force yourself. It's just paying attention. The efficiency level we operated at last week when we ran it was pretty good, so that's something you look closely at and (also you look at) how the game is unfolding. I thought that when it came to running the ball, we blocked that front pretty well. Certainly that takes a little bit of pressure off of the offensive linemen. I know I said this earlier in the week, when you're throwing it that many times, that formula is often times not good. Especially on the road against a good rush team like that.”

Dallas Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett on facing the Saints and former Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan...

"I think they're a really good football team in all three phases. Obviously they've been a really good team on offense for a number of years. They've got an outstanding quarterback (Drew Brees), (and) a lot of great weapons around him. The system of football they believe in has been really good for them. They're explosive. They can drive the ball, they can score points, and they're a very dangerous offense. Defensively they're playing well, there's no question about that. Rob's doing a great job for them. They've got a lot of pieces in place. They've got some very good players up front. The linebackers are solid – veteran guys. On the back end, they're really playing well. It's a good football team through and through. They've got a lot of good playmakers and they play good, sound, fundamental football.”

Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at New Orleans Saints (6-2)

Sunday, November 10, 7:30PM Kickoff Mercedes Benz Superdome

Last week's results:  NY Jets beat New Orleans 26-20 and Dallas beat Minnesota 27-23

Series History:  The Cowboys and Saints have met 25 times, with the Cowboys leading the series 15-10.  As of late it has been all Saints as New Orleans has won seven of the last eight games between the two.
 
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Deke: Can the Tigers bring some heat against Bama?
Alabama does not beat Alabama...we know this.  So, for LSU to try and force the Tide offense to make mistakes, the Tigers defense will need to do something they've had trouble doing all season long...apply pressure to the opposing QB.

In three of the Tigers five SEC games, LSU failed to get good pressure on the opposing QB.  I think you would all agree the best three QB's in conference play that the Tigers faced so far have been Auburn's Nick Marshall, UGA's Aaron Murray and the Ole Miss Rebel signal caller Bo Wallace.

Against the Tigers of Auburn, LSU's defense faced 37 pass attempts.  LSU was able to get one sack and only two QB hurries.  The following week against UGA it got worse.  The Tigers had zero sacks, zero hurries and zero tackles for a loss.

And, against Bo Wallace, the Rebels passed the ball 41 times.  LSU got better pressure on Wallace compared than they did on Marshall and Murray.  The Tigers
defense came up with three sacks and one QB hurry.

But, overall in those three games, two in which the Tigers lost, LSU failed to get consistent pressure on the opposing QB's.  Let's add all those numbers up.  

And, please remember, it's not that the QB sacks are the most important thing, it's the ability to rush the passer and make the QB uncomfortable back in the pocket.

LSU's defense faced a total of 112 pass attempts combined against Auburn, Georgia and Ole Miss.  The Tigers picked up four sacks and three QB hurries.  The lack of sacks is one thing, but the lack of hurrying the opposing QB is far more troubling.

LSU hurried the opposing QB only three times in those three games.  Folks, if that pattern continues this week, it's going to be a long night for the Bayou Bengals.  Alabama does not and has not made many mistakes.

So, the Tigers need to force Alabama into some third and long situations and get pressure on QB A.J. McCarron.  McCarron has only thrown three picks all season long.  And, if he has time, A.J. can place the ball where he wants to.

At the very least, LSU's defense has to make Alabama attempt to throw the ball when they don't want to.  The Tigers can't allow the Tide to dictate the passing game.  The lone game Alabama had no control in four quarters was against Texas A&M.  But after the Tide fell behind 14-0, they regained composure and took control of the second and third quarters, before A&M made a comeback.

If LSU can disguise some blitzes and put some heat on McCarron, Alabama would be in unfamiliar territory.  I'm not saying LSU has to sack A.J. McCarron five times.  The Tigers do, however, definitely need to force him to throw the ball quicker than he likes to.
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Big Chief: Prep Football - Week #10: The Regular Season Comes to an End
It’s come down to this.  The regular season is coming to an end, and next week we’ll embark on an historic playoff season…many of us don’t know what to expect.  Until then, there are several district titles on the line this week as well as playoff positioning.
I have the pleasure of broadcasting WWL Prep Football Roundup live from the Wildcats battle between East St. John and Destrehan.  After starting the season a disappointing 0-3, Coach Phil Banko and his ESJ Wildcats won six straight games and can win the district 7-5A Title with a win over Destrehan.

“I’m very proud of the way the entire team has responded.  The coaches and players all stuck together and have worked hard to put us in this situation,” Banko told me earlier this week.  The Wildcats are currently #15 in the 5A Class power ratings and are currently in position to host a first round playoff game.

On the flip side, the Destrehan Wildcats are the real deal.  The Wildcats are led by their senior QB Donovan Isom.  Isom is approaching the 2,000 yard passing mark.  But, what’s most impressive--his TD to interception ratio.  Isom has thrown 25 TD’s this season and just one interception.  And, his lone interception came by way of a tipped ball.  The Wildcats of DHS are #5 in the Class 5A power ratings. 

Another huge game--the Edna Karr Cougars take on the Eagles of Warren Easton.
Karr can win yet another district 9-4A title with a win over Warren Easton.  The high flying Eagles offense was grounded somewhat last week, when WE suffered their first loss of the season in a 13-12 setback to the Charging Bucs of Landry Walker.

The New Orleans Metro Area has dominated 4A this season, and currently six of the top 10 teams in the Class 4A power ratings are from Greater New Orleans.  Karr is #2 behind only Neville.  Landry Walker is #3, Easton is #4, East Jefferson #5, Franklinton #7 and Belle Chase #9.  Man, the 4A playoffs are going to be off the chain!
The West Bank game of the week pits the West Jeff Bucs against rival John Ehret.  Ehret is currently seeded #23; West Jeff is #26. 

And, the 6-5 Title is on the line as Covington battles Mandeville.  The Lions are currently #13, while the Skippers are #12. 

Folks, the weather should be great and the games are going to be awesome. Get out and have fun!  There’s nothing like high school football!
 
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Big Chief's CFB Top 10 - Week #10
Five of the top ten teams are in heated battles.  We get a good start to the weekend with two monster Thursday night games.  The Bears from Waco, Texas entertain the Boomer Sooners, while the Ducks look to extract some revenge from Stanford.  Then, Saturday the Champs battle the Boys from the Bayou at night in T-Town.  Here is my TOP 10 for week 10:

1. Alabama (8-0) –Alabama is the last hope for the SEC to land in the BCS Title Game.  The Crimson Tide is well rested for two more tough games.  Two sets of Tigers will try to keep Bama from winning three straight titles.  Last week Bamawas off / this week vs LSU. 

2. Florida State - (8-0) – The Noles had a tougher battle than expected in their rival game versus the U.  The game was much closer than the score.  The biggest difference was the Noles converting 11 of 15 third down attempts.  The two shall meet again. Last week Florida State beat Miami 41-14/ this week @ Wake Forest.

3. Oregon (8-0) – Okay, here it is.  The team that kept the Ducks from quacking into the title game a year ago is next.  Can Oregon win on the road at Stanford?  This could be the last hurdle for the Ducks!  Last week Oregon was off / this week vs Stanford. 

4. Ohio State (9 -0) – The Buckeyes outscored their last two foes a combined 119-14.  Look for the points to continue to pile up as Urban Meyer knows his only shot against the other undefeated teams is good stats!  Last week Ohio State beat Purdue 56-0 / this week @ Illinois. 

5. Baylor Bears (7-0) – The Bears can add a little bit of good information to their BCS resume' with a win over a respected Sooners program.  If Baylor keeps winning, they could very well leap frog Ohio State and pass the other teams.  That's if those other teams lose, of course.  Last week Baylor was off / this week Oklahoma. 
    
6. Stanford Cardinal (7-1) – The Cardinal do not intentionally fake injuries to slow down opposing offensive units.  No!  The Cardinal players are just so much smarter than their opponents that they know how to make those very same offenses slow down!  Think about it.  Last week Stanford was off / this week vs Oregon.

7. Auburn Tigers (8-1) – The Tigers faced a trap game against Arkansas.  It would be the Tigers doing all the trapping.  Literally!  Auburn rushed the ball 46 times for 233 yards in their big win over the Pigs.  RB Trae Mason gashed the Hogs rushing for 168 yards and 4 TD's.  Up next--another dangerous road trip before back-to-back huge ones against UGA and the other team from the same state.  Last week Auburn beat Arkansas 35-14 / this week @ Tennessee.

8. Clemson (7-1) – Clemson had 677 yards of total offense in a blowout road win over Virginia.  WR Slippery Sammy Watkins had a hug day with eight receptions for 169 yards and 2 TD's.  Last week Clemson beat Virginia 59-10/ this week vs Georgia Tech. 

9. Oklahoma (7-1) – The Sooners can assume the role as the top one-loss team with a shot at the title with a win over Baylor and a little help from the Ducks.  Oklahoma can quietly climb higher with a win over the Bears this Thursday night.  Last week Oklahoma was off / this week @ Baylor. 

10. Missouri Tigers (8-1) – Y'all do realize the Tigers have enough pop left in their schedule that if a pool of one-loss teams were in a battle to get the final spot in the title game, the Tigers resume' would be far more impressive.  Just think about it!  Last week Missouri beat Tennessee 31-3/ this week vs Kentucky. 
 
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Deke Bellavia: LSU/Alabama - Big plays vs Big Mistakes!
Yes, we all know everybody's breaking down this big game between LSU and Alabama.  Everywhere you look, listen, read or watch...someone, somewhere is telling you what's going to happen Saturday night, when the Tigers and the Tide get it on.

I, on the other hand, try to take a simple, common sense approach.  Sure, I could sit here and tell you who I think is going to have to make a big play....which team has the edge...who's QB will make the clutch throw, etc...

Ultimately, big plays will happen.  But, whoever avoids making the big mistake may come out on top!  For example, Tide QB A.J. McCarron threw three interceptions this season.  Tigers QB Zach Mettenberger threw four picks in the last two games, including one for a TD against Furman.

A big run in a game like this can easily be negated by a big fumble, turnover or penalty.  LSU averages 6.3 penalties per game and 51.3 penalty yards.  Alabama is flagged five times per contest and 41.7 yards.

And then, of course, there is the ever so talked about and utterly important turnover battle.  LSU fumbled the ball away seven times, and the Tigers were intercepted seven times for a grand total of 14 turnovers.

The Tide protected the ball much better.  Alabama fumbled the ball away four times, and QB A.J. McCarron threw three interceptions for a total of seven turnovers.

The little things add up in good ways and bad.  When breaking down teams statistically, you really don't get a good feel for what really happened in a season.

For example, Alabama allows their opponents on average a little over 8 points per game.  But, in their last six games, Bama foes averaged no more than 4.3 points per game.
And, check this one out...regardless of what you may or may not think of Alabama's schedule, the Tide have been all business no matter who they played!  Alabama allowed opponents to score 24 points on them in the first half of all eight games.  All 24 of those points were in the first two games, when Virginia Tech got 10 points and Texas A&M scored 14. 

No team has scored on Alabama in the first half of their last six games.  Alabama's strongest quarter is the second quarter, where they outscored their foes 120-3.

On the flip side, the Tigers best stanza is the first quarter.  LSU out scored their foes 103-42 in the first quarter of games this season.  Now, many of you may dismiss some of these numbers.  But, when I do my Purple & Gold Point After show in the wee hours Sunday morning, I can almost guarantee you these very same numbers will impact this game in some way, shape or form. 

As much as people need to make big plays...the safe plays, that don't yield a flag at a crucial time or a turnover, could very well be the difference in a game like this.  It most certainly has in the past.  I'll tweet my thoughts and notes this week and during the game @dekebigchief.

And, folks, please don't forget that the college football Top 10 will be shaken up this week with the two biggies Thursday night when Oregon hosts Stanford, while the Baylor Bears entertain Oklahoma.  And, of course, our big game Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.  LSU at Alabama; Les Miles versus Nick Saban...it's going to be fun! 
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Deke Bellavia: If all else fails, Bama can come right at LSU!
As we inch closer to the biggest weekend in college football, everyone is taking their turn analyzing the big game between Les Miles and LSU and Nick Saban and Alabama.  They all have theories about why one team will win and the other will lose. 
 
Let’s break it down.  When it comes to the Tigers and Tide, to me it's quite simple.  LSU's defense has to do something they haven’t been able to do this season.  Stop an opposing team!
 
Sure, the Tigers put a halt to the Gators offense, but who hasn't?  Folks, sometimes the truth hurts.  Unless LSU does something we haven’t seen this season against a good team, it ain't going to happen.  Yes, I said, “AIN’T!”
 
Alabama QB A.J. McCarron could throw three picks.  The Tide could lose the turnover battle and have terrible field position.  But, if all else fails, Alabama can line up and come right at the Tigers and have their way.
 
With a stable of three salty running backs that all average over six yards per rushing attempt, the Tigers can only ask themselves to try and slow down the “Tide Machine” somehow.
 
If Anthony Johnson is the once called “LeBron James of high school football,” then he needs to turn in a LeBron like game against Bama.  The LSU D-line is not that bad.  But, they are not on the level they were a year ago, when the Tigers defense put the clamps down on Alabama in the second half of last season’s meeting in Baton Rouge.
 
Mr. Johnson, ego and the rest of the D-Line need to have the games of their lives in Tuscaloosa.  Can it happen?  Sure!  Will it happen?  It hasn't yet!
 
Tide running backs T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry all bring a little something special to the table.  Yeldon averages 6.3 yards per rush; Drake is a 7.8; and Henry gets nearly a first down every time he carries the ball averaging 9.8 yards per rush.
 
To hope for a shootout is not a good thing.  LSU's offense will face their stiffest challenge yet.  And, the Tigers defense is going to have to give LSU some extra possessions.  
 
But in reality, if nothing else is working for the Alabama offense, the Tide can line up in two tights, I -formation and just hand it off to one of those horses in the backfield.
 
And Alabama is powerful enough to tell LSU what they are going to do.  And, we’ll see if the Tigers can do anything about it!  
 
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Deke's NFL Top 10 Week #10
The Chiefs are 9-0 with two weeks to get ready for the Mile High Horses, the Seabirds have held on but still won in each of the last two weeks, the Colts have a strong hold on the AFC South.  And the once four game lead the Saints had is now down to one!  Let's take a look at this week's top 10!

1.  Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) -The Chiefs defense is most certainly good enough to lead them to a title.  Last week KC was plus three in the turnover battle and got an 11 yard scoop and score from DE Tamba Hali.  Now two weeks to get ready for a huge trip to Denver to see the White Horses!  Last week beat Buffalo 23-13 / this week off.

2.  Seattle Seahawks (8-1) -This is the NFL, not College Football.  It's not how you win, it's if you win.  Seattle almost blew two games in back to back weeks, but they still won those games.  After falling behind 21-0, the Seabirds closed the game on a 27-3 run.  Now a trip to the ATL to face another set of Birds!  Last week beat Tampa Bay 27-24 / this week @ Atlanta.

3.  Indianapolis Colts (6-2) - The Horseshoes spotted the Texans a 21-3 lead and then stormed back to steal one on the road.  Now the Colts return home to take on the St. Louis Rams.  Or should I say Lambs?   Last week beat Houston 27-24 / this week vs St. Louis.

4.   Denver Broncos (6-1) - The Horses have a week to get rested and prepare for the rest of the season.  Can you imagine winning 14 games and not being able to host a playoff game?  It could very well happen to the loser of the 2nd place team of the AFC West this season.  Last week beat Washington / this week off.

5.  San Francisco 49ers (6-2) -Frisco is well rested, and now the 49ers take on the best from the NFC South.  First up Cam and the Cats from Carolina followed by a trip to face the Saints down in the Big Easy!   Last week off / this week vs Carolina.

6.  New England Patriots (7-2) - Tom Brady tossed four TD's & RB Steven Ridley rushed for over 100 yards and three, count them, three pass catchers each hauled in more than 100 yards in receiving.  N.E. scored 55 points!  Last week beat Pittsburgh 55-31 / this week off.

7.  New Orleans Saints (6-2) - I'm slipping, I'm falling, will I get up?  The Saints are facing a part of their schedule that can put them in a heated battle to stay alive in their own division.  The Cats are closing fast.  In eight games this season the Saints have rushed for over 100 yards two times.  They failed to hit 80 yards in each of the other six games.  Folks that's not good!  Here come those Damn Cowboys!  Last week lost to NY Jets 26-20 /this week vs Dallas.

8.  Green Bay Packers (5-3) - I told you two weeks ago that the Pack could win all nine of their remaining games.  But with QB Aaron Rodgers injured, all bets are off.  Now we will find out how much the Packers value Matt Flynn.  He's available!  Weeee!  Last week lost to Chicago 27-20 / this week vs Philadelphia.

9.  Detroit Lions (5-3) - The Lions have back to back road games before a big showdown against the Packers.  How big that game is depends on how the Lions do against the Bears and Steelers the next two weeks!  Last week off / this week @ Chicago.

10.  Carolina Panthers (5-3) - The only thing that had been keeping Carolina from making a run the last two seasons was their slow start.  Now Carolina is 5-3, and they have a tenacious defense.  With back to back games against elite teams, Carolina can open even more eyes around the league.  Win the next two, and Carolina is a serious, "Super" serious contender!  Last week beat Atlanta 34-10 / this week @ San Francisco.
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Deke Bellavia: Saints running on empty
We have officially hit the half way point of the 2013 NFL regular season.  The New Orleans Saints are clearly in the thick of things in the NFC...6-2 and in first place of their NFC South division.

But how good are the 6-2 Saints?  You are what your record says according to most in the NFL.  So, the Saints are first in the South and still in the hunt for every top prize in the game today.  But, if the Black & Gold don't get better at rushing the football that pretty 6-2 record can get ugly in a hurry!

In eight games this season the Saints rushed the ball 191 times for 638 yards.  That is an average of 24 rushing attempts per contest with 80 yards per game.  But those two averages actually look a little bit better than the numbers inside the numbers...so to speak.

In eight games the Saints rushed for 100 yards or more just two times.  The Saints had a season high of 131 yards against the Patriots, and New Orleans earned 104 yards on the ground in their win over the Cardinals.

In their other six games the Saints failed to rush for at least 80 yards.  The Saints rushed for 78 yards against Atlanta, 75 versus the Bucs, 68 yards against the Dolphins, 64 against the Bears , 75 versus the Bills and a dismal season low of 41 yards against the NY Jets.

Teams are making New Orleans one dimensional without having to try.  You see, the opposing teams look at the numbers just like our coaches look at their numbers.  And our record reflects the facts...the Saints can't rush the football.  Teams don't have to game plan to make the Saints one dimensional; they know the Saints have difficulty running the football.

Is it doom and gloom for the Saints?  I would say there is still time to get better.  But time is ticking faster and faster as the Black & Gold enter the second half of the season.

So, to fix something you have to know what's broken.  What is the problem with the Saints rushing attack?  Is it the offensive line?  Is it the running backs?  Or, could it be the Saints game plans are not patient enough when it comes to running the football?  Well, not to take an easy way out from answering that question, but coaches and players have all said the running game woes are a combination of all of those issues.

So, as the Saints begin to get ready for their 9th game, we know based on the current rushing numbers, the Saints will struggle in more games, if they can't run the ball more effectively.  Time to change dat.
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Deke Bellavia: Safe or sorry - what's it going to be for the Tigers?
Okay, let's forget political correctness and get to the truth.  So far, the 2013 season is disappointing to most Tiger fans.  LSU is 7-2 through nine games.  The Tigers are ranked higher than their preseason mark of #13, but LSU fans would be the first to tell you this season hasn't been a good one so far.

Who would have thought back in August that the Tigers best win would be a 35-21 win over the Auburn Tigers?  Think about it...a 44-41 loss to the not so good UGA Bulldogs... and an even worse set back to the injury riddled Rebels from Oxford.  Is it no winder Tiger fans feeling a little bluer than normal with not as much on the line this week, when LSU visits #1 Alabama.

The last time the Tigers went to Tuscaloosa they beat the Tide 9-6 in overtime.  Since that meeting, the programs have gone in different directions.  Since November of 2011 Alabama lost just one time and the Tide won back to back national titles.  LSU, on the other hand, lost five games and two bowl games.

And this year's battle between the Tigers and Tide does not have as much on the line for the teams.  Or does it?  Alabama can win out, go to the BCS Title game for the third straight season, and the Tide can make history by winning three straight titles. 

On the flip side, LSU still has an outside shot at landing in the SEC Title Game.  LSU would need to win out, have Tennessee or UGA upset Auburn; Auburn beat Alabama and then the Tigers could kind of back their way into the SEC Title Game.  Like I said, a lot has to happen, but it's not out of the question.

But to me, there is more on the line for the Tigers than most would think.  Let's break it down.  Should LSU win out, the Tigers would be 10-2, in line for a possible berth in a BCS Bowl...and the Tigers would have big wins over Alabama and Texas A&M.  Also, LSU would have beaten everyone in the SEC west with the exception of Ole Miss.

In addition, winning out would make it a lot easier for LSU higher ups to ask for a ticket increase from their loyal fan base.  Winning out would help make the transition into 2014 a lot better.  And, winning out could help the Tigers close the deal on some of the nation's best high school players, who happen to be residents of Louisiana.  Winning their remaining games would be a huge help to LSU.

But let's look on the flip side.  Let's say the Tigers drop two of their last three games.  That would give LSU a 8-4 record in 12 regular season games.  It would also give the a Tigers a lower tier bowl bid, that would more than likely once again produce record low bowl ticket sales.   The result?  A long, difficult off season with LSU coaches having to work extra overtime to try and land those remaining uncommitted recruits from Louisiana.

Yes, as of right now it does not look like there's a lot on the line for the Bayou Bengals, but when you examine the potential reality closely, the remaining three games are huge for this fighting Tiger football team, and for the immediate future of LSU.

Folks, let's be real here.  Teams measure themselves by the best teams in their division, their conference and in the nation.  All three of those factors point to the big, red elephant in the room.  That would be the Crimson Tide.

So, over the course of the next four weeks, the Tigers can either save their season and turn it into one of the better finishes in the Les Miles era.  Or, with a 7-5 record going into what will most certainly be a bowl that is not enticing to Tiger fans, the season will be sorry.  Sorry in more ways than one. 
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Deke: Saints @ Jets Preview
New Orleans Saints (6-1) vs New York Jets (4-4)

Sunday, November 3rd Noon Kickoff; WWL Radio

Last week’s results:  New Orleans beat Buffalo 35-17 and Cincinnati beat New York 49-9.

Series History:  The Saints lead the series 6-5 in the eleven games played between the teams.

 What they are saying:

Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan on facing his brother Rob

 “Usually we talk a little noise to each other, things like that.  It really is a special thing when you consider how fortunate we both are to be in this league.  There are a lot of great coaches that are coaching football and yet here are two of us, twin brothers.  I don’t know how many twin brother combinations there have been in the league, but certainly to make it this far and have the success that we’ve had throughout our careers and things (is special).  As Rob will quickly point out, he has two Super Bowl rings and I have one.  I understand that. But it’s really great.  I certainly appreciate the kind of coach my brother is.  He is outstanding.  I think New Orleans probably sees that also, the job that he has done and really his (entire defensive coaching) staff, not just him, obviously you have a great coach with him in Joe Vitt, (and then)) you got the crime dog (Wesley McGriff) with him in the secondary.  It is a great combination there, and to go from historically being a bad defense to where they are now.  I think they are ranked 12th in total, but fourth in scoring.  They are creating turnovers.  They are getting sacks on the quarterback. It’s an outstanding defense in preventing points and everything else.  But the job that they have done has been outstanding and it doesn’t surprise me, because I know my brother.  And then you have the combination of...oh by the way...then Sean Payton over there on offense, that’s a combination.”

 NY Jets Running Back Chris Ivory on facing his former team:

 “No, no extra motivation. I’ll treat it like any other game. I was with New Orleans; loved it there, but I think I’ll treat it like any other game, any more or any less. I’m treating it like any other game.”


 Saints Coach Sean Payton on NY Jets Rookie QB Geno Smith:

“Well the one impressive statistic is his finishes.  He’s had four of these come from behind or game-winning drives.  I think for a young quarterback, that’s a big thing to build on.  He has a strong arm and you can see that in the confidence in his teammates.  I think you can see on film when they are late in games and it is close.  He has been able to deliver there and I think that is a pretty good trait.”


 The Big Chief’s Final Analysis

 Okay, its real simple, when you get beat down, you’re more motivated to play better.  If that’s the case, this Sunday the Saints have a big time battle on their hands.  The Jets got flat out embarrassed last week in a 49-9 drubbing by the Bengals.

 The Jets were not expected to win the four games they've already won.  And now as NY enters the second half of the season they are in position to hang around a while and make things interesting in the AFC East.

 New York has not lost back to back games this season.  And, after a loss, the Jets have bounced back with big wins including two weeks ago, when NY knocked off New England at Met Life Stadium.  When New York wins, they run the ball well, play sound defense and they don’t turn the ball over.  When they lose, they do the complete opposite.

 I fully expect NY to come out and play much better this week.  The Saints on the other hand are also coming off a game in which they wish they had played better.  Although New Orleans won handily 35-17 over the Bills, players and Coach Sean Payton were not at all satisfied with the team’s performance.

The Saints squandered two opportunities to score, when kicker Garrett Hartley missed two field goals.  The Saints once again struggled in the running game gaining only three yards per rush.  And, the Black & Gold played sloppy at times, getting flagged eight times for 59 yards.  On top of that, the Saints "red zone" woes continued last week... going 3 for 5 in the scoring area.

 To me, this is a dangerous game for the Saints.  The Jets have the ability to keep the pace of a game to their liking, and if New York rushes the ball well, I expect them to be close in the fourth quarter.  Against New England two weeks ago, New York set an early tone by forging a 12 play 80 yard drive that lasted over five minutes.  The end result?  A touchdown pass from QB Geno Smith to WR Jeremy Kerley.

 I’m quite sure, if the Saints can get out to an early 10-14 point lead, it will put greater pressure on Jets QB Geno Smith.  When he is under pressure to make "must have"  throws, he is not nearly as effective as when he can dictate when to pass.   So far this season seven of Geno Smith's interceptions were due to an overthrown or underthrown pass, which is tops in the NFL.

 I look for the Saints defense to keep Smith uncomfortable.  I also look for Drew Brees to have his fair share of good passing plays against a NY secondary that was scorched last week by the Bengals.  The Jets defense will play much better, but the Saints will get enough offense to win.

I think this will be a close game.  I’ll go with the Saints to win, but I’ll take the Jets with 5 ½ points.  New Orleans 20 New York 16.

WHO DAT!
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Deke Bellavia: Week #9 - Down to two games!
Can you believe it?  The 2013 prep football regular season has just two games left.  This week and next week… then the payoffs begin.  We’ve seen some amazing play so far, and the next two weeks are crucial for many teams trying to win district titles and earn home playoff games.

I get to stay close to home tonight; that’s always nice to watch area teams close to the crib.  The #4 ranked EJ Warriors travel to Washington Parish to face the #9 ranked Franklinton Demons.  This is a huge match-up in District 8-4A. 
I’m very excited to finally check out the East Jefferson Warriors. They’ve blown out everyone they’ve played.  EJ climbed to #4 in the 4A top ten and the Warriors look to be a solid contender in the post season.

EJ scored an amazing 391 points for an average of 49 points per game.  But the Warriors defense is far more impressive, shutting out six of their eight foes.  And, EJ allowed just 24 points all season long.  The Warriors’ average margin of victory is 46 points per game. 

Franklinton is 7-1 and the Demons won six straight after suffering their lone loss in a 34-12 setback to 5A Covington back in week two.  The Demons average 34.3 points per game scoring and allow only 10 points per game on defense.  The teams are good.  The folks are great.  And, the weather is going to be cool.  I can’t wait to be back in Washington Parish. 

Other big games:  the Karr Cougars take on the McDonough #35 Roneagles.  Karr has a huge week 10 showdown with Warren Easton, which could decide the District 9-4A title.  But both Karr and Warren Easton have some business to take care of this weekend before we can hype that possible showdown.

Ponchatoula visits St. Paul’s in a key District 6-5A match-up.  The Green Wave are 6-2 overall and 4-1 in district play, while the Wolves are 5-3 and 4-1.  Ponchatoula is coming off a 69-51 win over Fontainebleau and the Wave won four straight games.
The Wolves had something happen to them last week for the first time since 2008.  St. Paul’s lost their first District 6-5A game in five seasons in a 38-7 loss to Covington.  St. Paul’s can still win the district with a win over the Green Wave.  And, the Wave can do the same by knocking off the Wolves.  This should be a real good game. 

Up in Baton Rouge there are several big games this weekend.   In a key District 7-3A tilt, the #1 ranked 3A University High Cubs entertain the West Feliciana Saints.  And, in a big 5A match-up the East Ascension Spartans entertain the St. Amant Gators.
So as the coaches say, the games only get bigger.  And, now with just two weeks left and the playoffs nearing, the time is now for some teams, or there may not be a later!  Get out and enjoy prep football this weekend.  Gotta love it!
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