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CFB Insider: The Wild SEC West

How A Six-Way Tie is Possible

College football in November has always had one certainty: an inevitable helping of chaos as the game wraps up its final regular season month. Should the unprecedented happen, rivalries could cut even deeper at the Thanksgiving dinner table this year. Looming around is the possibility, though unlikely, of a six-way SEC West tie as teams trudge on to week eleven.

Read on to realize the possibilities of the wild SEC west heading into the end of conference and make sure to check out our latest @TexasBowl Twitter post to give us YOUR opinion.

Every team besides LSU could stake a claim at the top of college football’s most competitive division with a 5-3 conference record. Here’s the complete breakdown to what creates college football pandemonium and resolving who would set a date with Georgia on December 4 in the SEC Championship:

Arkansas and Mississippi State win out

The Bulldogs and Razorbacks had perhaps the most exciting match-up in the SEC this past weekend. A back-and-forth affair saw a last-minute go-ahead touchdown and a heartbreaking miss on a game-winning field goal attempt as time expired, letting the Hogs emerge victorious.

Arkansas (6-3, 2-3), and in the CFP rankings for the first time at No. 25, needs to beat LSU, Alabama, and Missouri to close their schedule. Meanwhile, Mississippi State (5-4, 3-3), must take care of business against Auburn and Ole Miss.

First up: The Golden Boot. LSU is mathematically eliminated from contention after falling short of a blindside win against Alabama in a scrapy effort from the Tigers this past weekend. They’ve proven tough all year long and could be a challenge for Sam Pittman’s Hogs. As LSU and Texas A&M revealed, Alabama is beatable. A trip to Tuscaloosa isn’t the lost cause that it has seemed in years past. Finally, Arkansas wraps up the season in the Battle Line Rivalry against SEC East bottom-dweller Missouri. 

Mike Leach’s air raid attack has been ether high-flying or grounded and canceled with little in-between this season. They face an Auburn squad who didn’t manage to step foot in the endzone last week against Texas A&M but is hungry and always dangerous with Bo Nix behind center. The Bulldogs wrap up the season on Thanksgiving night in one of college football’s most under-rated rivalries, the Egg Bowl. The Egg Bowl always manages to surprise, but even more so now with two of the most creative minds in charge with Leach and Lane Kiffin. 

Auburn and Ole Miss win two and lose one

Considering the scenarios above, No. 17 Auburn (6-3, 3-2), needs to beat South Carolina and Alabama after losing to Mississippi State. South Carolina shocked the Gators last weekend and will be more of a test than anyone assumed earlier this season. Then, the Iron Bowl. There are few things Alabama fans dislike more than facing the Tigers in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn has won three-of-the-last-four on the Plains and will have an opportunity to take another victory against an Alabama team that has largely underperformed as of late.

Ole Miss (7-2, 3-2), must beat Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. ESPN’s College Gameday returns to Oxford this weekend as No. 11 Texas A&M takes on No. 15 Ole Miss. The trip marks the crew’s first time back in the Magnolia State since October 2014, when the college football landscape was rattled by a pair of upsets featuring Ole Miss and Mississippi State in back-to-back weeks. Katy Perry will need to come ready to compete to beat a Texas A&M team who seems to have figured it out in recent weeks. After this week, don’t expect the Rebels to have much trouble with Vandy.

Texas A&M needs one more win

Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2) concludes their season in Baton Rouge, in what will be Coach Orgeron’s last game in Death Valley at the helm for the team he led to a national championship just two years ago. The Aggies will need to make a statement in that game to make the 5-3 conference mark.

Alabama loses their final two

The Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1), have come out with sluggish starts in back-to-back weeks against Tennessee and LSU. If the Tide can’t get back to their usual course of routing opponents, losing to Arkansas and Auburn, though a longshot, isn’t out of the realm of possibility. 

So, who wins?

If the SEC West has six teams with a 5-3 record conference record, they would enter the Conference’s tie-breaking procedure.

Step One: Combined head-to-head record among tied teams. This step would look at how each team faired against the other 5-3 contenders. In this scenario, Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State would remain candidates with 3-2 records against the other five tied-up opponents. On the flip side, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M would be eliminated with their 2-3 records. 

Step Two: Record of the tied teams in within the division. This step looks at how each team performed in the SEC West. Both Arkansas and Auburn would sit at 4-2, while Mississippi State would be eliminated via their 3-3 division mark. 

Step Three: With two teams remaining, the two-team conference tie-breaker is used. Simply, the head-to-head result. With six teams tied atop the SEC West, the division’s fate is decided by an October 16 trip to Fayetteville, where the 38-23 Auburn victory sends them to Atlanta.

Absurd? Yes. Possible? Not Likely. Everything we want from college football in November? Absolutely. Regardless of if we get to bear witness to circumstances unseen in the SEC before, the remaining three weeks will have enormous implications on the postseason landscape. It is far more plausible to see Alabama or A&M take on Georgia in the SEC Championship, but here’s hoping the spectacle in the west is bigger than any other feast by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

 

CFB Insider

Scary Good Matchups in Week 9

Forget trick-or-treating, Week 9 is bringing us some scary good matchups for our Top 25 contenders in preparation for the College Football Playoff rankings debuting on Nov. 2. Who should be haunted by this weekend’s competition and who has the upper hand?

Read on to see which teams should be ready for fright night this Halloween weekend. Don’t forget to check out our latest @TexasBowl Twitter post to give us your opinion.

Michigan vs Michigan State: This Top-10 thriller headlines the weekend. Not only with a wicked rivalry but these two 7-0 teams are playing to stay undefeated in the Big 10.

Auburn vs Ole Miss: Both teams are still riding high off big wins last week and will compete to see who Alabama’s top foe in the SEC West will be.

Florida vs Georgia: Georgia is the heavy favorite for this game, but they can’t look past the Gators this weekend. With the thrill of a rivalry and a Florida squad that’s proven they can compete (flashback to their two-point loss to Alabama) the Bulldogs will need to put their best foot forward.

Texas vs Baylor: The Bears and the Longhorns are both fighting for hopes of competing in the Big 12 Championship. Thus far, Baylor has been more consistent but with the Longhorns hanging on to playoff hopes by a thread, they may be scary good on the field this weekend.

Mississippi State vs Kentucky: Kentucky’s record says that they should take the win this weekend but Mississippi State’s impressive offensive showing against Vanderbilt last week says this game should be a thriller.

Houston vs SMU: The Mustangs barrrrrely edge out the Cougars as the favorite this weekend. With SMU snubbed on the Big 12 transition and Houston with Big 12 shoes to fill, this will be a fun faceoff.

CFB Insider

CFB Insider: What Did Week 6 Do to Bowl Projections??

Let the Postseason Debate Begin!

Week 6 brought some unexpected upsets *cough* Alabama *cough* but how much does one week of wins and losses really mix up Bowl Season projections? Honestly, it depends on who you ask.

Read on to see which experts are predicting the predictable and who is expecting an upset for Big 12 and SEC matchups. Don’t forget to check out our latest @TexasBowl Twitter post to give us your opinion and enter to win some fun prizes.

 

CFP Series

Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal)
USA Today: Alabama vs Ohio State
Athlon Sports: Georgia vs Cincinnati
CBS Sports: Georgia vs Cincinnati
247Sports: Georgia vs Cincinnati

Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal)
USA Today: Oklahoma vs Georgia
Athlon Sports: Iowa vs Alabama
CBS Sports: Iowa vs Oklahoma
247 Sports: Iowa vs Alabama

CFP Title Game
USA Today: Alabama vs Georgia
Athlon Sports: Alabama vs Georgia

Big 12 and SEC Bowl Games

Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC)
USA Today: Texas vs Kentucky
Athlon Sports: Ole Miss vs Oklahoma
CBS Sports: Alabama vs Texas
247Sports: Ole Miss vs Oklahoma

Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs SEC)
USA Today: Baylor vs Mississippi State
Athlon Sports: Baylor vs LSU
CBS Sports: Baylor vs Texas A&M
247Sports: Baylor vs Texas A&M

Outback Bowl (Big Ten/ACC vs SEC)
USA Today: Michigan vs Mississippi
Athlon Sports: Wisconsin vs Arkansas
CBS Sports: Nebraska vs Arkansas
247Sports: Nebraska vs Arkansas

Citrus Bowl (Big Ten vs SEC)
USA Today: Michigan State vs Florida
Athlon Sports: Michigan State vs Florida
CBS Sports: Michigan State vs Kentucky
247Sports: Michigan State vs Arkansas

Gator Bowl (ACC vs SEC)
USA Today: Clemson vs Texas A&M
Athlon Sports: Clemson vs Texas A&M
CBS Sports: Pittsburgh vs Florida
247Sports: Florida vs Clemson

Duke’s Mayo (ACC vs SEC)
USA Today: Virginia vs Arkansas
Athlon Sports: North Carolina State vs Auburn
CBS Sports: Virginia Tech vs Auburn
247Sports: Virginia Tech vs Auburn

Music City Bowl (Big Ten vs SEC)
USA Today: Wisconsin vs Tennessee
Athlon Sports: Minnesota vs Tennessee
CBS Sports: Minnesota vs Ole Miss
247Sports: Minnesota vs Ole Miss

Cheez-It Bowl (ACC vs Big 12)
USA Today: Wake Forest vs Iowa State
Athlon Sports: Notre Dame vs Texas
CBS Sports: Clemson vs Kansas State
247Sports: Pittsburgh vs Kansas State

Alamo Bowl (Big 12 vs Pac-12)
USA Today: Oklahoma State vs Oregon
Athlon Sports: Oklahoma State vs Arizona State
CBS Sports: Oklahoma State vs Arizona State
247Sports: Oklahoma State vs Arizona State

Guaranteed Rate (Big 12 vs Big Ten)
USA Today: Texas Tech vs Purdue
Athlon Sports: Kansas State vs Purdue
CBS Sports: West Virginia vs Wisconsin
247Sports: Iowa State vs Wisconsin

Gasparilla Bowl (ACC/American/SEC)
USA Today: Georgia Tech vs Central Florida
Athlon Sports: Miami vs Air Force
CBS Sports: Miami vs Air Force
247Sports: Miami vs Air Force

Soccer

Houston 2026 Launches ‘Spirit of Houston’ Campaign

HOUSTON (October 6, 2021) – The Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee today launched the Spirit of Houston campaign, underlining the city’s united, community-driven and innovative approach that sets it apart from other candidate cities. Coinciding with the reveal, at 10 a.m. CT, organizations and individuals from around Houston participated in a Spirit of Houston social ‘roadblock’ by sharing the campaign launch video on their digital channels.

Inspired by Houston’s unique spirit, the campaign is aimed at showcasing that the weight of the entire community is passionately rallying together to deliver future-focused initiatives in support of the city’s bid to host the most popular sporting event in the world.

That spirit has already brought several programs to life:

  • Grow the Game initiative: forged a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation on a fundraising campaign to build 30 mini-pitches; launched two grassroots programs – FreeKicks Soccer and Girls’ Intro to Soccer – with financial backing from Houston Dynamo and Dash owner Ted Segal
  • Art of Soccer campaign: raised nearly $500,000 from more than 50 local businesses, which purchased and painted oversized ceramic soccer balls for display around the city
  • Gateway to the World mural: seven local artists painted a 10,000-square-foot mural at one of Houston’s two international airports, with support from the Houston Airports and City of Houston
  • Human Rights Committee: created a committee to oversee issues and opportunities around human rights around the World Cup, holding a series of workshops where input and ideas were conveyed from nearly 100 local human rights stakeholders
  • Sustainability Committee: worked with many of Houston’s leading energy companies to develop concepts for sustainability and carbon reduction in 2026

Another marquee project under the Spirit of Houston banner will be unveiled next week, which will further harness Houston’s spirit of innovation with a creative and modern approach to legacy.

Houston 2026 President Chris Canetti said: “Houston is not only a great city with a proud history of hosting major sporting events and has full operational capabilities for the FIFA World Cup, we are a city with spirit. Through our deliberate actions, that spirit is already shining through, highlighting our region’s collective enthusiasm, commitment and investment in serving as a host city in 2026. We believe Houston’s unique spirit sets it apart from any other candidate city and ensures we will deliver a World Cup of the Future, in America's City of the Future.”

About the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee
The Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee is leading the South Texas region’s efforts to host the FIFA World Cup 2026™. It is a subsidiary of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority. The FIFA World Cup 2026™ will be played in 16 cities across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Houston is among 17 cities vying to become a U.S. host city. A final decision is expected in the first half of 2022.

Media Contacts
US: Lala Ismailova / Lala@jtapacific.sport / +1 323 246 1110
International: Nick Dawes / nick@jta.sport / +44 7557 435851

Video: Spirit of Houston Website: Houston2026.sport

Twitter: @Hou2026WorldCup
LinkedIn: Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee
Facebook: Houston 2026 World Cup
Instagram: @Houston2026WorldCup

#SpiritofHouston #Houston2026

CFB Insider

2021 Battle of the Piney Woods Preview

Sideline reporter Deepi Sidhu takes a deep dive into what to expect from this year's Match-up.

“I don’t know if you can get this game any more intense than it has been.” – K.C. Keeler

The 95th Battle of the Piney Woods presented by H-E-B, featuring the top-ranked Sam Houston Bearkats and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, is back at NRG Stadium on Saturday. Known as one of the oldest college football rivalries in Texas, this matchup again promises to be one of the top FCS games of the 2021 season. 

This is the first time in the series history that either team has entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation (at any level). 

The defending national FCS champion Bearkats are ranked No.1 in the nation following a 3-0 start to their season. Head Coach K.C. Keeler’s team currently leads the WAC in scoring offense (46.3), total offense (533.0), rushing offense (259.0), rushing defense (77.33), third down conversions (.500) and sacks against (3). 

This spring, Sam Houston wrapped up its final season in the Southland Conference as FCS national champions. The 10-0 Kats won the program’s first FCS national title with a dramatic 23-21 win over top-seeded South Dakota State in the 2020 FCS Championship game in Frisco. All 11 starters on offense and defense, in addition to specialists, from the Bearkats championship roster are back for the 2021 season. 

Colby Carthel, now in his third season as head coach at SFA, has turned the Lumberjacks program around from a 3-9 finish in 2019 to a 6-4 record in 2020. This season, the Lumberjacks are 3-1 entering this matchup and have won eight straight games at Homer Bryce Stadium. The 2021 SFA team leads the league in a number of defensive and special teams categories, including total defense (266.5), scoring defense (16.0), defensive pass efficiency (86.2), passing offense (287.0), field goals made (9), net yards per punt (52.5), punt return average (22.1), punt return TDs (3), interceptions (8), turnover margin (+1.3), fourth-down conversions (.571), sacks by (14) and time of possession (31:42). 

Last week against a nationally-ranked Central Arkansas team, Sam Houston QB Eric Schmid was named Western Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. The redshirt junior quarterback from the Woodlands completed 19-of-37 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns, all before halftime. He also rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries. Seth Morgan, a freshman from Houston, earns his second WAC Special Teams Player of the Week honor after going 3-for-3 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points in a 45-35 win over nationally-ranked Central Arkansas. Now a perfect 17-for-17 on extra points and 4-for-4 on field goals, his scores against UCA came from twice from 22 yards and once from 32 yards. 

Stephen F. Austin has outscored its opponents 119-26 in the past two weeks following a hard-fought 28-22 loss to Texas Tech. The Lumberjacks forced four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles), including pick returned for a touchdown in their only loss of the season. In last week’s 61-13 win over Lincoln (California), Lenard Lemonds had a 67-yard punt return for a TD and 23 yards on kick returns. Rayshad Nichols recorded seven tackles, including three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

Individually, Bearkats RB Ramon Jefferson is the WAC’s leader in rushing yards per game (133.3) and has scored four touchdowns, while Schmid is the leader in total offense (288.0) and passing yards per game (267.0).  Sam Houston DB Jaylen Thomas and Stephen F. Austin CB Myles Brooks are tied for the lead in interceptions with three each.

The Texas rivalry dates back to 1923 with Sam Houston winning the last nine meetings and holding a 57-35-2 record over Stephen F. Austin. Nine of the past 11 BOTPW winners have gone on to advance to the NCAA postseason playoffs.

Kickoff for the Battle of the Piney Woods presented by H-E-B takes place Saturday 4 p.m. CT from NRG Stadium. The game will be televised on Bally Sports Southwest and ESPN Plus.