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Deke Bellavia

Join Deke and the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert for live, local talk about the Saints, LSU, Pelicans and much more on "Sports Talk!" 

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Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com

Deke: NFL Top Ten, week 13

The AFC North is like the SEC West and all of those teams are real good! The Patriots are on a serious roll and the preview of the Super Bowl could be taking place this week in Lombardi Land. Here is my top ten for this week in the NFL.

1. New England Patriots (9-2) – Winners of seven straight games, and the Patriots hold the tiebreaker with everyone in the AFC. This team is on fire and this week's game at Green Bay could very well be a preview of the Super Bowl.

2. Arizona Cardinals (9-2) – Arizona is the class of the NFC right now but not too many folks (me included) truly consider this Red Birds team group a legit contender. Oh well it's been a feel good story so far this season.

3. Green Bay Packers (8-3) – Three straight wins have set up a Super Sunday showdown this week in Packer Town USA. Man what a QB battle this weekend between Aaron and Tom. The first of two meetings? Possibly? Probably? Maybe?

4. Denver Broncos (8-3) – Denver avoided back to back losses in their come from behind win over the Dolphins. Man I could be wrong but I got a feeling if Denver represents the AFC in the Super Bowl we all could be in store for another Super Bowl blowout. And I mean Denver would be getting blown out.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3) – Man Chip Kelly is one of the best QB coaches ever. First he made Nick Folse a star and now Mark Sanchez looks good. Dayum! The Eagles Defense has been the story this season. Two games against the Cowboys over the next handful of weeks will decide the East and perhaps the one of the NFC's top two seeds.

6. Dallas Cowboys (8-3) – Man all I know is that that brother Dez is a WR that if I had to have one play made it would be hard as hell for me NOT to call on #88. Dez and the Cowboys are for real people. I actually have more fun with these rankings when Dallas is relevant. I ain't lying yall.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) – Can the Steelers come out of the rugged AFC North? If Big Ben gets hot I'd say so. But if he's cold anyone including the NY Planes can beat the Steelers.

8. Baltimore Ravens (7-4) – After a road beat down of the Saints, the Ravens... Wait a damn minute... Don't everyone from the AFC North beat down the Saints? Well hell yes. Purple Birds will be a tough out in the AFC this post season.

9. Seattle Seahawks (7-4) – The defending champs will have a hard time even getting back to the playoffs. But if they do I still like their nastiness and QB to be able to get some playoff wins.

10. Detroit Lions (7-4) – The Lions ran up on a damn good Patriots team last weekend. Oh well the magic of the annual Turkey Day home game should heal the Lions. And with the Bears coming to town that should make for a good feast!
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Deke: CFB Top Six, week fourteen

OK and then there were two! Two weeks left until the newly appointed and first ever college football playoff committee has to give the world their first and historic four teams that make the first ever playoffs.

The main two questions I have is can Mississippi State get into the playoffs without even winning their own division? And can TCU really be in the playoffs over a team within their own conference that beat them head up?

I use caution still and reserve my final thoughts for the final four teams. So here's a look at this week's top SEVEN teams going into the final week of the regular season.

1. Oregon Ducks – Man the Pac 12 is not that good but the Ducks look like a lock to make the four-team playoffs. How nice would it be for everyone East of Oregon if Oregon State or someone in the Pac-12 title game knocked off the Ducks. Would that make the playoffs better or worse?

2. Florida State – Man the Noles keep getting disrespected and all they do is win. FSU is the lone undefeated team in the nation. The Noles own the nation's longest win streak and no one and I mean no one has been in and won more close games than FSU. The most disrespected defending champion in the history of sports. I'm starting to pull for these Noles now!

3. Alabama Crimson Tide – The Tide look good right now. But man could someone from the SEC East actually knock off the Tide? Or will the Tigers from the Plains do the honors this weekend? Not likely on either count by my own opinion.

4. Mississippi State Bulldogs – The Dogs could punch a ticket to the four team playoffs with a win in the annual Egg Bowl over the beat up and worn down Rebels. Oh man an upset loss to their rivals would spoil the schools best season ever!

5. Baylor Bears – Baylor could still sneak in if the committee decides to go with a one loss conference champion over a one loss team that not even win their own division. Hey if I'm Baylor and the Big XII that's what I am pushing.

6. TCU Horned Frogs – If I was on the CFB playoff selection committee there is no way I would put TCU over Baylor. I mean Baylor won the game head up. TCU still within striking distance of a playoff spot. Hey know one else thought they would be here right now. As I recall Oklahoma was the best team going into 2014 from the Big XII.

7. Ohio State Buckeyes – Oh how Jim Delany and the rest of the Big Ten will be pushing hard to get OSU into the playoffs. If I was the rest of the nation I would be worried especially if I was a one loss team without a conference title to their credit.
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Deke: Baltimore is good and the Saints are not

OK folks, the New Orleans Saints need a win, and more importantly, the Saints need to start feeling good about themselves like they did just three weeks ago. New Orleans has dropped two straight in a place that many felt is the most difficult place for an opposing team to win.

The loss to the 49ers was one of those could have, should have and would have games for the Saints and their fans that have seen far too many of those games and the wrong outcome in ten games this season.
But the loss last week was a good ole fashion beat down by the Bengals. Simply put, the Saints just should have burnt that game tape and focused on the Ravens. Folks the Saints are in a fortunate/unfortunate situation this season.

Sure the Saints aren't the Super Bowl looking team right now. And they don't have to be - that is, in the NFC South. The Saints picked the perfect season to have a bad record. Right now the Saints can take over first place in the South with a win, as Tampa and Atlanta both lost this weekend with the Panthers having the weekend off.

So it comes down to the final six games of the season. Or does it? I mean I have no reason to think that the NFC South Champion is just going to come out and get on fire. Four weeks ago I said that this 2014 South Race would be a win-one-lose-one type race and that's just what it is.

Ravens Offense versus Saints Defense
Ravens RB Justin Forsett has become the go-to guy rushing the football. Right now he's averaging 5.4 yards per rush which is best in the NFL. New Orleans will be tested early and often versus the Ravens rush.

The Saints are allowing nearly five yards per rush (4.8) and against the Packers, 49ers and Bengals the Saints are allowing on average 146 yards rushing to their last three foes. The Ravens are a physical offense and they will look to set the tone rushing the football.

In the NFL, certain players have big games against certain teams. Y'all know where I'm going with this? Yes Steve Smith is back in the Superdome against the Saints a team in which he has had a lot of success. After leaving Carolina, the savvy veteran is having a comeback-of-the-year type season, leading Baltimore with 728 yards on 49 grabs with 4 TD's. Torry Smith is having a big season with an average of 17 yards per grab in 2014.

And then of course there is QB Joe Flacco. One of the most successful QB's in post-season history is on schedule to get his team back to the post season again. Flacco has completed 219-of-351 passes for 2,521 yards with 17 TD's and eight interceptions.

Flacco has become a big gamer and he's a guy that will test a rather depleted and not so good Saints defensive backfield. And when you, the fans, see a new face in the secondary, you better know that Joe knows where that inexperience is too!

Saints Offense versus Ravens Defense
The Saints need to rush the football, but with the Ravens back end of their defense struggling to make plays, passing the football will be equally as important in this game. Baltimore was burned in two games by the Bengals passing attack and QB Big Ben Rothlisberger lit up the Purple Bird for six TD's a few weeks ago.

The question I have is who will step up from a pass catching standpoint. Will TE Jimmy Graham show up in primetime? Will someone like Nick Toon give the Saints some much needed production? Or could the Who Dat Nation get one of those vintage big games from Big Smooth Marques Colston?

The Saints will test the Ravens secondary but the time will be needed for Drew to get the ball off. Can the Saints O-Line give Brees enough time to get some decent looks downfield? That to me is the biggest key in this game.

The Big Chief Says
It's hard to imagine a team with a 4-6 record being less desperate than a team with a 6-4 mark. But that is the stark truth. With Atlanta and Tampa Bay both losing yesterday and the Saints still a full game ahead of the resting Cats from Carolina, New Orleans can lose and stil have the same record as the Falcons in first place of the NFC South.

On the Ravens side of things, Baltimore knows that just getting into a crowded AFC playoff field is hard enough, much less looking inside of their own division which everyone has a winning record.

The Bengals and Browns both won yesterday. And that puts more pressure on the Ravens to win this game tonight against the Saints. New Orleans has been magical far more times than not in the Dome in prime time. But to me, you have to look at where these teams are right now. Baltimore is good and the Saints are not. I think the four points that the Ravens are getting is far more than attractive to a team that has been to the playoffs in five of the last six seasons winning it all the last time there were in the post season.

To me it's rather simple for both teams here. If the Saints give Drew Brees time the Saints will win and probably win handily. But John Harbaugh knows that his best shot at winning in the Superdome is not letting #9 get relaxed in his own house. I expect the Ravens to bring the house early and often against the Saints.

The main thing is, will the Who Dat Nation see a Saints team that plays hard and has a chance, or will it be another hard handed defeat from another AFC North foe?

I'll have to take the other side in this one and say Baltimore 24, New Orleans 21.
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Deke: CFB Top Six, week thirteen

OK the Devils loss to the Beavers could keep the Mississippi State Bulldogs within the top four. To me, they still belong. Alabama is coasting, Florida State just wins, baby, and there is a good battle in the Lone Star State. What about Ohio State? What about them? Hey I'm telling you all if the SEC East Champ (Georgia) beats whoever comes out of the West that could block the SEC out of the playoffs! Oh how the white collar heavyweights in Birmingham will work Voodoo on dat one! Here's this week's Super 6.

1. Oregon Ducks – As much as I disdain to put them #1, the Ducks do belong at the top right now. Hey Oregon State derailed one Pac-12 Team. Could the Ducks be next? Quack, quack, quack. Last week off this week vs Colorado

2. Florida State – Say what you want about FSU you know some times the make up of a team is how they come from behind all the time. When Alabama did it a few years ago people called it brilliant. When the Noles do it people call it bad. Al I know is they are undefeated and the defending national champs. Who else can say that? Last week beat Miami 30-26 / this week vs Boston College.

3. Alabama – The Tide had enough pop in their schedule on the back end. However with LSU falling apart as well as Auburn one more loss in either the Iron Bowl or SEC Title Game and this team is done! Last week beat Mississippi State 25-20 / this week vs Western Carolina.

4. Mississippi State – Let's see do I put a TCU Team that barley beat a pitiful Kansas Team at #4 or a team that was down 0-19 and made a hard core comeback against a top 4 team. I'll go with the Bulldogs. Mississippi State could win out and be in the playoffs without even playing for the SEC Title! Last week lost to Alabama 25-20 / this week vs Vanderbilt.

5. TCU – The Horned Frogs got their scare last week and it was enough for me to bump them down a notch. Now TCU has to scoreboard watch and fend off the team that handed them their lone loss. Baylor! Last week beat Kansas 34-30 / this week @ Texas.

6. Baylor – It would be a shame that if the Bears only loss one game and did not get into the playoffs and TCU did. Hey it could very well happen.
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Deke: What does LSU have to play for now?

OK I know that it has been a season of up and downs to say the least for LSU Tigers fans. Just a little over a month ago the Tigers looked doom and gloom, giving up nearly 600 yards and 38 points per game versus their first two SEC foes in Mississippi State and Auburn.

And then, as Tigers fans had hoped, the real Tigers showed up making a big mid-season turnaround with a road win over Florida, a dominant win over a then red-hot Kentucky team followed by what looked to be a season saving win over Ole Miss. But then as the downs happened, followed by a few ups, things have gone downhill again.

Just over a week ago, the Tigers looked to be in control of everything from the SEC, and a good, and I mean good, outside shot at playing in the four-team playoff even with two losses. And now over a week later things have gotten real bad.

And I myself have to wonder even if LSU had beaten Alabama would they have been able to go to Arkansas and knock off the Razorbacks? Would that have been worse than things are now? I mean would the (if it would have happened) win over Alabama be for naught with an embarrassing loss to Arkansas? Or do you think that a win over Alabama would have given the Tigers a entirely different outlook on the rest of the season?

All I know is that I would not have liked the match-up regardless of what LSU did against Alabama. It's kind of like made for TV stuff. A team that had what many feel is the best team in the country on the ropes in primetime a week ago got beat by a team that was riding a 0-17 conference losing mark.

And to make things even worse, the Tigers lost to Arkansas 0-17 the same number of games that the Hogs had lost in SEC play before snapping that streak against LSU. So what's next? I mean to me LSU did have a lot to play for.

First and foremost another 10 win season with a ton of freshmen players was a high mark to make. And then jockey themselves for bowl position. I mean an LSU versus Wisconsin rematch in a bowl game would have me excited. But now all of that is back up in the air and out of the hands of a team that seemingly had control of what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go.

So what does LSU have to play for now? Well if they want to have some good momentum going into the bowl season they need a win over rival Texas A&M. But bottom line is LSU might have been ready to play against Arkansas. And Arkansas just flat out beat the Tigers down in every phase of the game. And as much as it hurts, Alabama had nothing to do with that Hog tied beat down!
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Deke: Saints should win against banged-up Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals (4-3-1) @ New Orleans Saints (4-5)
Sunday November 15 Noon Kickoff

Last week's results: Cleveland beat Cincinnati 24-3 and San Francisco beat New Orleans 27-24 in overtime.

Records: New Orleans 4-5 – Cincinnati 5-3-1

The Big Chief's Take
You know this time of year, to me it's rather simple. Ten games into a season, and basically teams are who they are. And when it comes to the Bengals well let's just say when they win they're good. But when the Bengals get beat they get beat down.

As good as the Saints have been at home, the Bengals have been equally as impressive until last week. The Bengals lost at home for the first time in 14 regular season games in a 24-3 beat down handed to them by rival Cleveland.

The Bengals are considered one of the better teams in the AFC, but this season in three losses, the Bengals have been anything but a good team. Prime time blowout losses on national TV against New England and Cleveland along with an embarrassing 27-0 loss to the Colts, some scratch their heads when breaking down the Cincinnati Bengals.

For the first time since 1935 a division has all of its teams above 500 this late in the season as the AFC North claims that honor. And on the flip side of the eight teams with a losing record in the NFC, four of the eight are from the NFC South including the 4-5 South Division leading New Orleans Saints.

The Saints have to be wondering what has happened to their defense and the ability to finish games? The Saints defense has clearly established a disturbing trend that has hampered them since last season.

The Saints could be one of the best teams in the league. Could be I say! The Saints have blown a fourth-quarter lead in four of their five losses, and they rank among the worst in the NFL with 18 turnovers.

"If we turn the ball over we will lose. We can't afford to turn the ball over against anyone," said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert. The Saints wrap up the month of November with three straight foes from the powerful AFC North. After a date with the Bengals the Saints host the Ravens and then head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers the last Sunday of the month.

Although the Saints are coming off a disappointing loss at home to the 49ers, New Orleans is catching the Bengals at the right time. Simply put the Bengals are hurting right now on both sides of the football.

A once proud defense has been hampered by injuries all season long. A year ago the Bengals as well as the Saints ranked towards the top of the league in just about all major defensive stats. And now a year later both find themselves towards the bottom of the league in many of the big stats.

The Bengals offense has left something to be desired especially from their 115 million dollar QB Andy Dalton. Dalton is coming off a game in which he posted a QB Rating of 2.0. That is flat out terrible.

Rookie RB and former LSU star Jeremy Hill is coming off two good games in which he is avenging nearly six yards per carry. Dalton will look to get the football to WR's A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu. Sanu has stepped up and filled the role of go to guy as Green has been out for three straight games.

The Big Chief Says
Ok it's been a few weeks since I've made a prediction. However the last time I did I told you that either the Saints were going to begin to get on a roll or the entire season would be win one, lose win, win two, lose two. That is what the Saints are and that is what the NFC South is about this season.

It's ok take a deep breath. Remember people all division winners host at least one playoff game and with one of the top four seeds there is also a chance to host the conference title game. New Orleans could lose this week, next week and the week after and beat Atlanta and Carolina and still win the South and host a playoff game.

But in order for the Saints to still be considered one of the toughest teams to beat at home they need to beat a team like the Bengals. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are better teams and they are healthier right now. That's why I think the Saints need this game.

Hey in my own opinion, I think the Saints need to beat Carolina again, Atlanta and Tampa Bay and they will win the NFC South. But I do think the Saints will hit the eight win total. Now I'm not saying that the Saints won't get on a late season roll and string three or four wins together. What I am saying is that I don't think that will happen.

But still I like the Saints to beat the Bengals and I like the Saints kind of big.

New Orleans 28 Cincinnati 16!
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Deke: NFL Top Ten, week eleven

The only team from the NFC West in my top ten is Arizona? Yes! Man the AFC is the far better conference right now. Only four of 16 teams in the AFC have a losing record whereas half of the NFC's teams are losers, including a team (Saints) that leads a division with a losing mark. There are some huge match-ups that could land big in the form of tiebreakers moving forward. Here is this week's top 10!

1. Arizona Cardinals (8-1) – Arizona just finds ways to win games. When you can play sound defense you can win. The Cards have a great defense. A preview of the NFC title game this weekend? Possibly! This week vs Detroit.

2. New England Patriots (7-2) – Five weeks ago people counted this team out. Why? Tom and the Hood are like P-Nut Butter and Jelly, hey they go together! I mean come on Tom without his Hood wearing coach would be like Corn Flakes without the Milk! Hollar back! This week @ Indianapolis

3. Denver Broncos (7-2) – The White Horses will win a lot of games we know this. But can they win it all? They are the only team that has the pressure on them to win it all. I ain't lyin! This week @ St. Louis

4. Detroit Lions (7-2) – The Lions are in control of the NFC North and with a win this week can have an important tie breaker that could land them the #1 seed. Megg – a-TRON! This week @ Arizona.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) – We know Skip Kelly can coach offense but it has been the play of the Eagles defense that has been salty! This team is good and if they can play solid defense they could contend in the NFC. This week @ Green Bay.

6. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – The Colts have a big time match-up this week against the Patriots. Could this be the passing of the torch from one great QB to the next? Maybe! This week vs New England.

7. Dallas Cowboys (7-2) – Dallas went to London and beat down Jacksonville. Now a week off happens so Tony and the Boys can rest up for a playoff run.

8. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – Green Bay already trails Detroit by a game in the North. Better hope the Card help the Pack out this weekend. Better yet Green Bay has their own headache to deal with in the Eagles! Last week vs Philadelphia.

9. Cleveland Browns (6-3) – Hey they could be 7-2. These young Browns are for real. And their best player did not take a snap this season. I'm telling you there could be four teams in the AFC this season that win 9 or more games that don't sniff the playoffs. This week vs Houston

10. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) – RB Jaamal Charles and the Chiefs Defense has been the reason for the midseason turnaround. Oh yes Coach Andy Reid is damn good too. A win this week would put the KC Chiefs in the mix as a legit contender in the AFC! This week vs Seattle
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Deke: CFB Top Six, week eleven

Oh what a tangled web they weave! Man, oh man, we were close! About two yards away from seeing both Alabama and Oregon have their playoff lives cut short…but, both pulled out hard fought road wins and are still on target to make the playoffs.

Those darn Aggies from the Lone Star State cleared things up for the Bulldogs of Starkville. And, the Noles of FSU can basically punch their ticket to the playoffs with wins over back to back rivals Miami and Florida. So without further ado...let's roll!

1. Mississippi State - The Bulldogs need just one win out of their last two big hurdles to land in the playoffs. A win over either Alabama or Ole Miss should clearly allow these Bulldogs to be one of four playoff teams. Hey, what if I told you that you play 12 games and make it to the national playoffs. Or you play 13 and you make it? What road would you take? I'm just saying a loss to Alabama may not be a bad thing! But then we're looking at a must win over rival Ole Miss!

2. Florida State - The Noles are on the nation's longest winning streak, but I think a loss is coming! And, it comes this week as rival Miami and the Duke of Coral Gables runs over the Noles and ends FSU's bid for a second straight title. Go CANES GO!

3. Alabama - I've always thought the Tide were still the best overall team in the nation. A loss last week would've been brutal, but not deadly. What a shame it would be for the 'Bama to beat #1 MSU then stay out of the playoffs with a loss to rival Auburn. Hey, it happens, don't it?

4. TCU - I know, I know…Baylor beat these stubborn Horned Frogs. But, TCU is red-hot after back to back wins over West Virginia and Kansas State. It would be a shame if a one=loss TCU team did not get into the playoffs over Oregon or Ohio State. A Darn shame I say!

5. Baylor - The Bears dismantled the Sooners 48-14 and they can still run the table and have a trump card win over TCU. How will the voters look at that one!

6. Oregon - The Ducks got lucky again last week, but hey, luck counts. Humm, let's see a one-loss Oregon Team, a one-loss TCU Team, a one-loss Baylor team, and a one-loss Ohio State team. Who do you pick? Anybody, but Ohio State! But watch the higher ups from way up North work their Northeast media magic and sneak in the poisonous nuts! I wouldn't put anything past the under the table mischief that I can only imagine doesn't happen with this committee!
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Deke: Saints, Tigers have shot to turn seasons around, big time!

Five weeks ago what looked doom and gloom has turned into a great opportunity for our home teams the Saints and Tigers.

Now when you look at the Saints, truthfully speaking, the Saints have never been quote-unquote "out of it" simply because the NFC South is so bad. Now as far as the Tigers are concerned, LSU had to pick themselves up off the mat before they were counted out of the fight. And here five weeks later not only are both the Saints and Tigers still in the fight, but both still have shot at titles!

New Orleans is getting set to host three straight home games in a place in which they average beating their foes by double digits. The Saints face San Fran, Cincy and Baltimore. Hey if the past has taught us anything New Orleans has a great shot to win all three of those games.

So let's say the Black and Gold continue their dominant ways at home and up their record to 7-4. That 7-4 record would indicate to me far more than just a five game win streak.

The Saints would have come up with wins against three teams that won their division a year ago (Cincy, Carolina and Green Bay), and two teams that played in the Super Bowl two seasons ago. And the other team has been in the NFC Title Game (49ers) the last three seasons.

I'm telling you the Saints are already beginning to reestablish that sense of fear into other teams. And a 3-0 mark at home the next three weeks would call more attention from the national media and that media would go back to their original predictions of the Saints being a legit contender. In other words the media (and me too) would politely say "I told you so."

LSU, man, the Tigers are somewhat amazing. After two SEC Games the Tigers were allowing 38 points per game, and over 500 yards of total offense. LSU was statistically one of the worst teams in the league after two SEC Games.

But now, the Tigers have not only gotten back their swagger, they can once again flip the CFB Playoff outlook with a win over #4 Alabama Saturday night in Death Valley.

I'm not looking ahead because anyone who thinks that LSU can beat Alabama and not lose to both A&M and Arkansas does not really understand the difficulty of being in the mighty SEC.

LSU would have won back-to-back games against teams that were ranked in the top four. And the Tigers would win a mix of several two loss teams that would be considered serious threats to be in the conversation of the four team playoff.

Now hold my own horse! I know that a lot of things have to happen for a two loss team to be among the four teams in the first ever playoffs. But my imagination is no more far off than LSU going from #6 to #2 in less than 24 hours in the 2007 season when the Bayou Bengals landed in the BCS Title Game to beat Ohio State.

So this weekend is huge in more ways than one. With a win over Alabama the Tigers could sky rocket close if not in the top 10. And the Saints would win another game in the most dangerous place in pro sports for an opposing team to play.

The road traveled is the real story. Now did any of us predict that this is how the Saints and Tigers would get to reach some of their preseason hype? Probably not. But like Grammy-winning singer Oleta Adams once sang "Just get there" it don't matter how you get there. Just get there! And it's right here, right now for the home team's. Can I get a Who Dat or a Geaux Tigers from the football congregation? I say Aaaaaamen!
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Deke: Ranking the SEC rivalries

Ok we know that every team in the SEC has a rival team to play. Now to some, the meaning of what one team or fan base considers "our biggest rival" may not necessarily have the same feel to another school.
For example, right now many LSU fans consider Alabama the Tigers biggest rival. Whereas to Alabama fans there is a pecking order when it comes to Tide rivals, with the Auburn Tigers sitting atop of that list.

I do believe that how rivalries are looked at coincides with what age you are. Example, older LSU fans would probably tell you that the Ole Miss Rebels. Some younger fans might claim that Auburn is the Tigers biggest rival due to the strange, drama filled and of course great games these set of Tigers went through from the late 1990's until 2006.

And then of course there are those (old and young alike) that think that its Alabama that is the Tigers chief rival. And there reason for that is, well there are several - but the main one and most obvious is Nick Saban.

Right now, from an SEC standpoint, LSU versus Alabama is one of the annual match-ups that is and should be considered the best rivalry in the league. Please remember that this all one man's opinion. Some schools and their fans look at and approach rivalries in different ways. I've listed the ones that I follow most and then come up with what I think are currently the top two rivalries in the SEC.

Tennessee versus Alabama – It's the second biggest rivalry for Tide fans. But at one time this match-up was one of the best in the country. Butch Jones looks like he has restored some pride back into Rocky Top. And of course this annual East versus West tilt needs to have both teams as contenders for the league title. And not just Alabama.

The Deep South's oldest rivalry, Auburn versus Georgia – To me this East (Georgia) versus West (Auburn) contest is second best among the East/West games in the SEC. The 2010 game with Cam Newton at the helm and without question last year's greatest ending ever in the series for the Tigers makes this a special game without a doubt.

The Egg Bowl, Mississippi State versus Ole Miss – Starkville versus Oxford. The hardworking folks from State against the higher-ups from Ole Miss clash each season in the final game on the schedule for both schools. I can remember getting more educated about this rivalry when I was going to school in Mississippi in the late 80's and early 90's. And now with the success that Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen have had has help thrust this battle as one of the better ones in the SEC. And this season it could be the highest ranked battle in the history of the series.

Texas A&M versus LSU – Next to facing in-state foe Texas, LSU is the Aggies biggest rival. The Tigers and Aggies have played each other more times than each had played among some other schools within their conference. And now that this game is for position in the SEC West and of course crucial in recruiting, if there is one rivalry is on the rise this is it.

Florida versus LSU – Ok the Gators are one of those schools that has a certain pecking order when it comes to rivals. The Gators rivals are Georgia, Florida State and Tennessee. With that said the constant East versus West match-up is as good if not better than any other cross division battle.

Florida versus Georgia – The world's largest cocktail party pits longtime rivals facing each year in Jacksonville. The Gators finally won one but over the last handful of games it has been the Dogs of UGA that had been in command.

Auburn versus LSU – The interception game in 1994, the bring back the magic game in Gerry Dinardo's first season in Baton Rouge that saw the upstart Bayou Bengals knock off #6 Auburn in Death Valley, the burning building game, the field goal game, the no call game, etc. You get the point. And the annual winner of this all Tigers battle has produced the SEC's Western Division Title winner more times than not.

The battle for the Boot, LSU versus Arkansas: It don't matter how good or bad these two teams are, whenever the Tigers and Hogs get on the gridiron it's always a real good battle. The 2011 meeting was the highest ranked match-up between these two in league play as LSU was #1 and Arkansas was #3.

Tennessee versus Florida -- In the 1990's this was the game that was the best in the SEC overall. Peyton Manning could never really get over the Gators. And of course the ole ball coach always added a little extra fuel to the fire when his Gators battled the Vols. Who will ever forget when Spurrier said that you can't spell Citrus without U-T. Coach meant the Vols were always destined for to play in the Citrus Bowl instead of the national title game.

Tennessee versus Kentucky – This game is probably the most intense and underrated rivalry in the SEC. I did not understand how much these two border state schools have a distain for each other until K-Dog and I traveled through Tennessee and Kentucky after the 2011 season. The Orange and Blue really don't like each other.

Ole Miss versus LSU – The legend of the famous Billy Cannon return on Halloween Night earmarked and set the tone for this great battle. The rivalry between the Rebels and Tigers looked like it was getting some steam back in the Eli Manning, Nick Saban days. But inconsistentcey on the Ole Miss side help down play the game some in my own opinion. Now over the last two years the game looks like one of the better ones in the SEC.

The Iron Bowl, Auburn versus Alabama -- I'm no historian but I've had the honor of attending this outstanding rivalry twice. The 2010 game in Tuscaloosa that had Cam and the Cats come back from a 24 point deficit to win and go on and win the SEC and national title made history even in this longtime great traditional battle. Then of course he 2013 game had everything in it that all great rivalries should have.

LSU versus Alabama – Its Saban versus Miles, Tigers versus Tide, Louisiana versus Alabama. The stretch of great battles since 2007 has been exceptional. And the first and only ever BCS Title Game among teams from the same league took place in January of 2012. In '07 LSU won a tight one and then went on to win the national title. In 2008 the Tide beat the Tigers in overtime to finish the season perfect before losing the SEC Title Game to Florida. Bama won again in 09 en-route to the national title, the Tigers won a thriller in 2010, two meetings took place in 2011, 2012 Alabama won to win another national title. And in 2013 Alabama beat LSU to set up and all state of Alabama winner take all in the SEC. Enough said you heard me!
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Deke: Les Miles is relishing every moment of Bama prep

Ok It's safe to say that over the course of the last 10 years and over 150 one on one interviews I can pretty much tell you what Coach Miles is going to say, when he's going to say something and how he's going to get his point across.

And when it comes to big games like the Tigers hosting #4 Alabama Saturday Night in Death Valley, I could almost tell you word for word what Les is going to say. True to form Coach Miles was on his regular tight-knit schedule Monday afternoon when I conducted my weekly interview.

"Deke let's go. You know I got a big game to prepare for," Coach Miles told me as he entered Michael Bonnette's (LSU SID) Office about 1:15PM Monday. Coach knows that this week is a very big week.

I had to make sure that I was (and I humbly always am) on time as I was just one of many people that Coach Miles had on his very busy schedule. After I interviewed coach he had another interview scheduled with ESPN/SEC Network and then he had to sit down and chat with the folks from CBS.

Coach was his usual self with signature Les Miles lingo. "Capable, quality, enjoy, prepare, offense defense, special teams, and want" were just a handful of the more known words that Coach generally uses in his interviews.

But I can tell you from past experience that Coach Miles really gets into prepping for big games like this. "The want to go out and learn your opponent and give them the utmost respect and prepare for them as best as you can is something that we enjoy," said Miles.

Coach told me that he and the Tigers were able to go back and review the Tigers first nine games of the season last week as #14 LSU had the weekend off. "We did some things on the field, we looked at film of past games and of our opponent and we were able to get in a little extra rest."

Coach Miles said that the Tigers have made a lot of strides since the season first began the last weekend in August in Houston. And the improvement his team has made over the last month has been something special to be a part of.

"Being able to tell a group of young men that they are improving is very important. And being able to tell them that and then to see that they have won some very big games the last three times we stepped on the field is something that the coaches look forward to do as these players have worked hard to get better each time we step on the field to play a game."

Coach said that Tiger Stadium is the perfect venue for what he calls a significant game in the SEC Western Division. "We understand the fact that both teams have put themselves into position to have a big game like this match-up has become. The game is very important to the outcome of how the remainder of each team's season could play out."

Coach told me that he expects the Fans in Death Valley to be loud and excited to see the Tigers play a game of this magnitude. The Tigers play host to Alabama Saturday night in prime-time on CBS. The Tigers last win over the Tide was back in November of 2011.

Since that LSU win in Tuscaloosa the Tide has won three straight meetings including the 2012 BCS Title Game.
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Deke: CFB Top Six, week ten

OK I'm on board with the rest of the country now. Finally! Since last week was the first ever in the new four-team playoff rankings. I figured well hell why not just go with who I think are the six best teams in the nation. So why six you say?

Well I'll give you the teams that I think should currently be in a four team playoff and add two more just in case you're wondering who else could sneak in. Simply put, why don't the rest of the nation just wave the white flag and let the SEC and Big XII duke it out. I mean, Oregon is who they are, and that is a team that can't win the big one. And who else deserves to be in a four team playoff? FSU is the only team outside of the SEC and Big 12 anyone that I would let in my four team playoff right now.

So let me quit bumping my gums and let's begin shall we?

1. Mississippi State - The Bulldogs have the best QB (and player) in Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs have the nation's best Red Zone Defense. Man I'm telling you, even if Mississippi State loses only one game this season. I think they belong in a four team playoff!

2. Alabama - A preview of the best two teams in the nation goes down in two weeks in Tuscaloosa. To me, the Tide are still the most complete and deepest team in the nation. With that said I do still think that Alabama will lose at least one more game. And it might happen this week in Baton Rouge!

3. Florida State - The Noles are here because they won it all last year and they are undefeated. Man I would love to see rival Miami knockoff FSU next week down in the MIA. Hey with Canes RB Duke Johnson within striking distance of becoming the U's all time leading rusher it could very well happen!

4. Auburn - The Tigers got a huge road win over Ole Miss last weekend and now have two more big hurdles. A date with UGA does not look as tough as it did a week ago and then the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa. Win those and back to the ATL these Tigers could go. But wait! What if Miss State goes undefeated? Well then if Auburn wins out and Mississippi State wins out then the Tigers from the Plains might get into the four team playoff without winning a conference title. And they should!

5. TCU - Hey the Frogs got a huge road win over a WVU Team that had only loss to Alabama prior to last weekend. The Horned Frogs can pad their resume this weekend with a big win over the Kansas State Wildcats.

6. Kansas State - These Wildcats lost one game this season. At home by six to Auburn. Need I say more? A win over the Horned Frogs this weekend could allow these Wildcats with their old school legendary coach to be in position to make the four team playoff!
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