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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com

LSU looks to squash Rebel alliance; week 12 in the SEC

So far, November has lived up to its promise of playing a key role in deciding who will qualify for the College Football Playoff, but there's still two regular season games to go. To find out who will propel themselves up in the rankings or spiral downward, let's go "Inside the SEC" for Saturday November 21st:

Florida Atlantic at #8 Florida – 11am kickoff
The Owls are one of the most anemic offensive teams in the country this year, scoring more than 19 points in only 4 of their 10 games. However, the Gators are not much better since QB Will Grier was suspended for PED use. Florida has stumbled the last two weeks, nearly losing to Vanderbilt and then beating South Carolina in ho-hum fashion. The Gators defense will be the difference in this one, as Florida Atlantic could struggle to cross even midfield.

The Citadel at South Carolina – 11am kickoff
The Gamecocks continue to play better in the post-Spurrier era. While bowl eligibility is off the table, South Carolina is playing for pride. It's possible they could drop this game, but it would take the Gamecocks playing their worst game of the year for it to happen.

#15 LSU at #22 Ole Miss – 2:30pm kickoff
The Tigers looked like they had forgotten how to play defense against Arkansas, meanwhile RB Leonard Fournette was underutilized in the offensive gameplan. Ole Miss has the talent to beat LSU and the Rebel offense has better balance. The problem is that the Rebs' defense has betrayed them. I know the Bayou Benglas aren't a premier passing team by any measure, but their wide receivers are a bad matchup for Ole Miss' corners. It should be close, but I see a wounded Tiger team coming out on top to support their head coach.

Idaho at Auburn – 3pm kickoff
Thank goodness for the Vandals; otherwise, Auburn might not make it to a bowl this year. Idaho has traditionally been one of the worst teams in Division-IA football and this year is no different. Tigers win easy.

Charleston Southern at #2 Alabama – 3pm kickoff
This game shouldn't be close. It's hard to see how Charleston Southern can be competitive unless Alabama simply doesn't show up to play on defense. That is a very unlikely scenario given the man who is the de facto coordinator of the Crimson Tide D is Nick Saban.

Mississippi State at Arkansas – 6pm kickoff
The Bulldogs are next in line to suffer from the post-Bama hangover. Mississippi State's running game has proven to be vaporware, so if Arkansas can even halfway shut down Dak Prescott, the Hogs can improve their bowl position

Georgia Southern at Georgia – 6pm kickoff
Now this might actually be a game. Georgia kept upset-minded Auburn at bay last week, but the Bulldogs haven't been able to consistently put forth good efforts. Georgia Southern is 7-2 and coming off a 45-10 trouncing of Troy. Depending on whether the Bulldogs are looking forward to next week's game against rival Georgia Tech, the Eagles could make this game very uncomfortable for embattled coach Mark Richt and his team

Tennessee at Missouri – 6:15pm kickoff
As much as emotion matters in college football, it's hard to understand how or why Missouri was able to funnel the turmoil of last week into an upset of BYU. Not only did their campus erupt into protests, but coach Gary Pinkel is resigning due to a cancer diagnosis. So who knows what kind of Tiger team shows up for this one. Tennessee was unimpressive in a win over a horrid North Texas, and frankly if the Vols play the same way this week, Mizzou will win. The Tigers may win anyway, since they are a team that plays with its heart on its sleeve, however; the Vols should win by two scores.

Texas A&M at Vanderbilt – 6:30pm kickoff
The Commodores used their defense to beat Kentucky and kept slim bowl eligibility hopes alive. Vandy must now notch wins against Texas A&M and Tennessee in the last two weeks to make a bowl, which would have seemed completely impossible a month ago but doesn't look as bleak now. The Aggies are playing terrible football at the moment and there are rumors that Kevin Sumlin has lost the locker room. But Vanderbilt is ill-equipped to take advantage of the situation unless their defense can do it almost by itself. Look for the A&M to get a scare, but pull out the W.

Charlotte at Kentucky – 6:30pm kickoff
Charlotte is just 2-8 with wins over woeful Georgia State and Presbyterian. But those two wins came in the first two weeks of the season. Since then the 49ers are riding an 8-game losing streak. Kentucky choked against Vanderbilt and in doing so, probably cost itself a bowl trip. While the Wildcats should romp in this game, they have Louisville to close out the season and it's hard to imagine the Cats winning that game.
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Steve: LSU rooting for MSU to beat Bama

With the regular season in its final three weeks, the Western Division in the Southeastern Conference is still up for grabs. Alabama took control, but as we've learned through the years, anything is certainly possible in this final stretch of games.

Idle this week is Ole Miss. Time to go "Inside the SEC" for Saturday, November 13th!

Georgia at Auburn – 11am kickoff
If Auburn can continue to get some balance out of its running back group and QB Jeremy Johnson, the Tigers will be hard to beat. Georgia has more talent, but it's hard to evaluate the Bulldogs these days given their erratic field behavior. Don't be surprised if Auburn pulls this one off at home.

#11 Florida at South Carolina – 11am kickoff
The pressure of winning the SEC East is off Florida's chest, but that may have been the problem against Vandy last week. QB Treon Harris has to improve, quickly, or the Gators will sputter at the end of what has been a fairly magical season thus far.

North Texas at Tennessee – 11am kickoff
North Texas is 1-8 and the Mean Green are in the middle of a coaching change, so they likely don't want to even be in this game. The only way Tennessee doesn't win it is if the Volunteers don't show up at game time. And I mean they literally don't come to the stadium.

#2 Alabama at #17 Mississippi State – 2:30pm kickoff
This game comes down to what Bulldogs QB Dak Prescott can or can't do. If he has a career day, State could very well win the game. If he has an average day or worse, they stand very little chance of victory. If Alabama doesn't turn over the football and contains Prescott, the Crimson Tide will get a comfortable victory in what could be its most difficult game left before the College Football Playoffs.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt – 3pm kickoff
Kentucky comes into this one having laid down in front of Georgia last week, while Vandy put up yet another heartbreaking, almost-there performance against Florida before falling to a long field goal in the final minutes. If Kentucky can solve the riddle of the Commodore defense, which is capable of causing problems even for good teams, the Wildcats should pull this one off. Vanderbilt simply can't score consistently.

Western Carolina at Texas A&M – 6pm kickoff
The Aggies laid an egg against Auburn on Saturday, and there are winds of discontent starting to swirl around Coach Kevin Sumlin. Fortunately, the Catamounts come to town at the right time. Texas A&M needs a scrimmage-type game where it can work out some kinks, and this certainly qualifies.

Arkansas at #9 LSU – 6:15pm kickoff
Teams playing the week after facing Alabama this season have not found the next game easy pickings. The fact that Arkansas is a physical team coming off an emotional, leave-it-all-on-the-field kind victory over Ole Miss doesn't help LSU any either. This one comes down to the Razorbacks' ability to stop Leonard Fournette. If the Tigers running back wants to salvage his Heisman Trophy campaign, he needs to hang about 200 yards on the Hogs. But with Brandon Allen peaking at the right time, it wouldn't be a huge shock to me if Arkansas found a way to win this game. Tigers beware.

BYU vs. Missouri at Kansas City, Mo – 6:30pm kickoff
Mizzou doesn't have much on offense at the moment, with our without the contingent of "striking" players. BYU has dropped off the radar somewhat after its first loss of the season back in Week 3, and is coming off a one-point win over San Jose State. But the Cougars have at least shown a pulse on offense and because of that should win here.
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Steve: Washington waits their turn to carve up Saints defense

Sunday, November 15th, 12pm on 870AM / 105.3FM
FedEx Field in Landover, MD
Saints -1 Under / Over: 50.5

Boy, I sure do wish Junior Galette wasn't out for the season. It would be the cherry on top of this dramatic NFC bout between a 4-5 Saints team that threw away a victory last week and a 3-5 Redskins ballclub trying to find their groove as they've lost 3 of their last 4. Washington is 3-1 at home though, while the Black & Gold are just 1-3 away from the Superdome.

The 'Skins defense comes into week 10 with a defense ranked 21st overall (9th vs. the pass / 29th vs. the run) and allows 24.4 points per game. They've only been able to sack the quarterback 13 times, which makes it surprising that they've been solid through the air. They haven't been picking off passes left and right as the team total is 4, but are good at forcing fumbles, with a total of 10 on the season.

Defensive back Dashon Goldson leads the team in tackles with 66, while D-tackle Chris Baker and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan are tied for the team lead in sacks with 3.5 each.

Kerrigan was Washington's 1st round pick in 2011. The 16th overall selection out of Purdue has never missed a game and already has 41.5 career sacks.

Meanwhile, the Redskins 4th round pick from year ago, Bashaud Breeland, is atop the teams' interception leaderboard while safety Trenton Robinson and linebacker Keenan Robinson have the only other picks for them.

The keys to the offense have been handed over to Kirk Cousins this year, as the franchise's 2nd overall pick in 2012, Robert Griffin III, has taken NO snaps during the regular season. With Cousins leading the unit they are only scoring 19.8 point per game and are ranked 29th in the league (20th passing / 27th rushing).

The Redskins drafted Cousins the same year they selected RGIII; he was taken in round 4 coming out of Michigan State. This season Cousins is completing 67% of his passes for 1,953 yards, 10 TDs and 9 INTs. He flashes moments from time to time but just hasn't been able to produce positively game in and game out.

His leading receiver is 29 year old Pierre Garcon who has caught 41 passes for 420 yards and 3 scores. The Skins, however, have gotten DeSean Jackson back. He has appeared in only 2 games all year as a lingering hamstring injury has been an issue, so his "speed factor" might be missing from his game right now.

Jordan Reed is a name to watch out for as the Saints defense has had a lot of difficulties defending the tight end position. He's got 28 catches and 4 TDs.

Running the football has been a huge issue for Washington since backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones has both struggled to move the chains. Both average under 4 yards per carry, and only Jones has found the endzone, scoring 3 times.

I have been going back and forth with who I think is going to win this one all week. Just when I get settled in on a pick I think, "HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU PICK THEM!?" The Saints are the better team, with the better quarterback and the better coach; but man that defense scares me. The Fleur Di Lis D gives up yards galore and seem to make every QB they face look like a future Hall-Of-Famer.

My gut says to still roll with the Black & Gold though. There are Drew Brees "haters" but I think the Saints have a chance in every single game because of that guy. Less of Drew will be more this weekend though. Mark Ingram should …SHOULD…have a solid outing versus a Redskins D that surrenders 4.8 yards per carry!

Saints 31 Redskins 27
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Steve: Defensive woes loom large as Saints head to DC

It may be 2015, but it's the same ole Saints defense. Last year the unit finished ranked 31st overall in the NFL and this season they are currently 31st out of 32 teams. Way to be consistently awful.

Obviously this is a major issue and if the team wants any shot of winning consistently, something has to change.

"We've got to keep looking at; what are the things that are hurting us defensively?", said Sean Payton on his AM conference call with the media. "Are we getting off the field on 3rd down? Is it chunk plays? You know, right now our red-zone defense isn't very good. What I mean by that is the ability to just to force some field goals."

"So, we're going to have to play a lot better this week, based on who we're playing. This is a team that has some skill outside, they're not afraid to get the ball down the field and they've played very well at home."

The Saints head coach is speaking of the Washington Redskins, who are 3-1 in FedEx Field where the Black & Gold will travel to this Sunday.

The 'Skins offense isn't lighting up the scoreboard; they only average 20 points and 329 yards per game. But those numbers are right on par with what the Tennessee Titans do and we know how that tuned out last week.
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Steve: Tussle in Tuscaloosa headlines week 10 in SEC

This is the week we all had circled before the season even started. LSU at Alabama proves to be another epic clash of SEC West juggernauts. Two teams enter; one team leaves as the leader in the Western division.

There are some juicy morsels of football to keep up with leading up to the "Tussle in Tuscaloosa." Time to go "Inside the SEC" for Saturday, November 7th!

Vanderbilt at #10 Florida – 11am kickoff
If Vandy continues to regress, head coach Derek Mason may not get a third year there. For the second consecutive season, he is cycling through his QB depth chart in a move that screams desperation. Florida, on the other hand, clinches the SEC East with a win in this game. The Gators have an outside chance to play for a national championship if they keep winning.

Kentucky at Georgia – 11am kickoff
Kentucky has improved under the Mark Stoops regime, but the Wildcats are still mediocre on their best day. Georgia would happily settle for mediocrity at this point. The wheels are off in Athens as the Bulldogs' program is celebrating its third straight decade of middling results. If Kentucky does find a way to get this win "Between the Hedges," forget next year, Mark Richt night not have a job next week.

Arkansas at #18 Ole Miss – 2:30pm kickoff
Ole Miss is playing better, as they have earned back-to-back wins over Texas A&M and Auburn giving the Rebel alliance something to build on for the stretch run. I don't think the Hogs defense has enough juice to stop the Ole Miss run game, and the Razorback offense cannot keep up with the Rebs if thing develops into a shootout.

South Carolina at Tennessee – 3pm kickoff
The Gamecocks seemed to have perked up a bit in the weeks following Steve Spurrier's abrupt retirement. It wouldn't necessarily be a shock to me to see the Gamecocks pull this upset. Vols coach Butch Jones is good for a couple of head-scratchers every year. But the way Tennessee is playing at the moment, they might not lose again in the regular season.

Auburn at #19 Texas A&M – 6pm kickoff
TAMU is looking for their first win over Auburn at Kyle Field and are hoping to keep a struggling Tigers team from gaining positive traction. Auburn needs this win if they want to take an easier path to securing a bowl berth while A&M has an easy stretch with Western Carolina and Vanderbilt coming up before traveling to Baton Rouge to end the regular season. I feel like all the momentum and energy is backing the Aggies.

#2 LSU at #4 Alabama – 7pm kickoff
I'm sure you've heard or read every stat imaginable about this game, so I won't regurgitate all of that to you. The one that influences my pick in this one: Alabama has yielded 131 points in 2015, while LSU has given up 158. But Bama has given up 57 points in the first half and 74 in the second. Looking at the Tigers, they've held opponents to 51 points in the first half, but have allowed 107 in the second. Simply put, as the game goes on, LSU's defense gets worse while the Tide are able to maintain. It will be close, but I think Saban's boys spoil the Bayou Bengals unbeaten run.
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Steve: Can Titans snap 6-game skid and beat the Saints?

Sunday, November 8, 12pm on 870AM / 105.3FM
Mercedes Benz Superdome
Saints -7 Under / Over: 48

Ken Whisenhunt is going to miss out on all the good New Orleans grub this Sunday. He just couldn't not make it to week 9 with the Tennessee Titans, who fired the head coach back on Monday after losing six straight and the team owning a 1-6 record on the season. In steps assistant head coach / tight ends coach Mike Mularkey as the interim coach.

He inherits the reigns to a ballclub that is really good defensively, but has an offense that is, well… offensive. Tennessee is ranked 2nd to last in the NFL scoring a mere 18 points per contest and the offense as a whole is ranked 31st (19th rushing / 29th passing).

Growing pains were expected, as the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Marcus Mariota, is their guy under center. So far the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback out of Oregon has played in 5 games and is completing 64% of his passes for 1,239, 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Delanie Walker and Kendall Wright are his top wide receivers. Looks like Wright could be out this week as he's been seen with a knee brace on at practice. Walker leads the team with 35 receptions and 361 yards but only 1 TD. Justin Hunter and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham round out the group. Green-Beckham has a ton of upside, but the 6ft5, 237 lbs. product from Oklahoma has played sparingly and had just 7 catches - but 2 were touchdowns.

There is also veteran tight end Anthony Fasano who has 13 grabs for 159 yards and a score.

The Titans running game is led Antonio Andrews. The 2nd year RB is just averaging 3.7 yards per carry and has 2 TDs. Dexter McCluster and Bishop Sankey will also get some touches, but Mularkey has called Andrews the "workhorse" in the offense.

If Tennessee's offense could just be mediocre, this team could be dangerous, as the defense is one of the best in the league. The unit is ranked 5th overall (3rd vs. the pass / 21st vs. the run) and allows on average 23 points per game.

Leading the pack in tackles is linebacker Zach Brown. He has 46 tackles, half a sack and 1 interception. The Tennessee sack attack is a combination of LB Derrick Morgan (4.5), LB Derrick Morgan (4), and LB Brian Orakpo (3).

The other hard hitting LBs are Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson who combined have 3 sacks , 1 INT and a forced fumble.

Coty Sesabaugh is having a breakout year in the secondary. The former Clemson cornerback has 2 picks in his 4th NFL season, including one he took all the way to the house in week 1.

If you're worried about this being a "trap" game for the Saints, I will put your mind at ease. From what I gather from the players, everyone is really dialed in and knows they cannot afford ANY slipups the rest for the way if they truly want to vie for a spot in the postseason this year. Drew Brees gushes on how great the locker room is this season, and you can feel it. The youth Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton brought in this season has meshed well, and has even inspired the vets. A win Sunday and the Black & Gold improve to 5-4 and make it 4 straight victories. My money is on the home team - there will be no "win one for Mularkey" in New Orleans.

Saints 30 Titans 20
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Steve: Saints sign former Texans linebacker

Word on the street is that the Saints have added a new linebacker to the defense:

Mohamed was a 6th round pick by the Broncos in 2011. The 27 year old out of Cal has spent time in Denver, Jacksonville and Houston. He has not played a single snap this season, but appeared in 14 games for the Texans last year tallying 68 tackles, 6 passes defended and 1 interception.

You can check out some of Mohamed's college highlights here:

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Steve: Former Saints WR Joe Morgan picked up by Ravens

Joe Morgan, who spent training camp with the Saints and was cut then signed then cut again, has found a new suitor.

Besides being down Perriman, Baltimore also just lost Steve Smith for the season after he tore his Achillies on Sunday.

Morgan caught a total of 14 passes for 471 and 3 TDs in his career with the Saints. He did not see any action this season. His last catch in Black and Gold came 12/7/14 against the Panthers.

I'll always remember Morgan for this play...best of luck Joe!

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Steve: Pierre Thomas heads to 49ers to replace Reggie Bush

Pierre Thomas is finally off the market. After former Saint Reggie Bush suffered a season-ending torn MCL, the 49ers have opted to bring in another long time Black & Gold alumni.

San Fran has been decimated at running back, as Carlos Hyde is dealing with a stress fracture in his foot and Mike Davis needed surgery on a broken hand.

Thomas worked out for San Francisco earlier this month and was likely one of the first names on their emergency list. PT is a former undrafted free agent from Illinois who spent 2007-2014 in New Orleans.

He rushed for over 2,545 yards with 20 TDs for the Saints. The versatile back also tacked on 1495 yards and 3 scores receiving.

Thomas was released from the Saints back in March and has been in search of a new home ever since.
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Steve: A quiet week 9 in the SEC before the big storm

Not too much is going on in-conference this weekend, and it’s not just because the Bayou Bengals have a bye. It really is a calm before the great storm of November. Idle this week is LSU, Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi State.  Time to go “Inside the SEC” for Saturday October 31st!
#19 Ole Miss at Auburn – 11am kickoff
Ole Miss has stepped forward to claim the mantle of most unpredictable team in the SEC this year. The Rebels lost to Memphis two weeks ago, but then crushed Texas A&M this past Saturday. This might be a tougher test, though - Auburn’s front seven is potentially better than the Aggies and this match-up is on the road.  Auburn is struggling, but is still a dangerous team with quite a bit of talent. If they get a hero-level effort from QB Sean White, it’s not unfathomable to see the Tigers pulling the upset here. 

South Carolina at Texas A&M – 11am kickoff
Texas A&M may have unofficially quit on the season, judging by its performance against Ole Miss and the subsequent reports out of College Station that there is a growing rift between the players and the coaching staff. If the Aggies have quit, they will at least have company this week. South Carolina’s season is in the dumpster after opening to a slow start, having its starting quarterback get injured and then Steve Spurrier retiring in the middle of the season. The difference in this game will probably come down to offensive explosiveness. Texas A&M at least has the potential for it.

Georgia vs. #11 Florida at Jacksonville, Fla. – 2:30pm kickoff
The Bulldogs are flailing badly at the moment, coming off a three-game stretch where they lost twice and barely beat Missouri. Florida, meanwhile, stayed within a touchdown of LSU and is 6-1 on the year. If Treon Harris can continue to play well, Florida has an outside chance of winning the SEC. This looked like a sure Georgia win in the preseason, but with the Bulldogs’ own quarterback play a bit of a mess, look for the Gators to come out on top. 

Tennessee-Martin at Arkansas – 3pm kickoff
Oh boy... honestly, UT-Martin’s best hope is that the Arkansas players, still exhausted from a quadruple overtime win over Auburn last week, sleep through their alarms. Expect the Hogs to chow down on the slop that is Skyhawks football.

Vanderbilt at #18 Houston – 6pm kickoff
The Cougars are 7-0 and looking to force their way into the college football playoff. If Houston defeats Vanderbilt there are only a couple of competitive games left on their slate. They don’t stop the pass very well, but Vanderbilt can’t throw it very well. The Commodores problem is that if Houston gets up by two or more scores, Vandy has virtually no comeback ability.

Tennessee at Kentucky – 6:30pm kickoff
Tennessee doesn’t lose to Kentucky often. In fact, the last time was in 2011. The Cats have been better this year, but a loss to Florida followed by a beating from Mississippi State at home last week solidified their standing as non-SEC East champions yet again. The Vols should take care of business in dominant fashion in Lexington as they prepare for a strong November finish.
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