LSU vs. TA&M

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
8:30
PM ET


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LSU vs. TA&M
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Anthony Jennings run for 4 yds to the LSU 39 Anthony Jennings fumbled, recovered by LSU
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Colby Delahoussaye 22 yd FG MISSED
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Anthony Jennings pass complete to Trey Quinn for 3 yds to the TexAM 5
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Anthony Jennings run for 26 yds to the TexAM 11 for a 1ST down
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Travin Dural run for 14 yds to the TexAM 49 for a 1ST down
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Trey Williams run for 41 yds for a TD
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Anthony Jennings pass intercepted De'Vante Harris return for 5 yds to the LSU 49
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Anthony Jennings run for 2 yds to the TexAM 49 for a 1ST down
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Kyle Allen pass complete to Tra Carson for a loss of 4 yards to the TexAM 36

Things to be thankful for

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
2:39
PM ET


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SEC Now looked at what SEC football teams should be thankful for this season.

SEC Week 14 predictions

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
10:30
AM ET
After a quiet Week 13, the SEC closes out the 2014 regular season with a flourish. It starts with LSU vs. Texas A&M tomorrow and is followed by at least two rivalry games -- the Iron Bowl and Egg Bowl -- with playoff implications. Meanwhile, can Florida send Will Muschamp off with a huge upset of Florida State? Can Missouri win another East division crown? And will Arkansas ever lose again? Let's get on with the picks:

Why LSU wins: The game coming in College Station, Texas, worries me. So does that shutout at Arkansas two weeks ago. But in the end, I believe in John Chavis and the LSU defense. I think he's got Texas A&M's number. Without a strong inside running game, I expect the burden to fall on Kyle Allen's shoulders, and that's good news for an opportunistic LSU secondary. LSU 24, Texas A&M 20 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Texas A&M wins: Did you know Les Miles has never lost three straight games in his nine seasons at LSU? Crazy, right? Knowing that, the safe pick is the Tigers. But I simply don't trust this LSU offense. I haven't all season and I'm not about to now. Meanwhile, I think Texas A&M has too much firepower on offense, especially when you give Kevin Sumlin an extra couple of days to prepare. Texas A&M 27, LSU 24 -- Greg Ostendorf

Why Alabama wins big: Maybe if Auburn receiver Duke Williams plays -- and it sounds like he will -- Auburn can keep this thing competitive. But it's difficult to imagine this struggling team going into Tuscaloosa and finding a way to win. Not with a defense that seems to have regressed over the course of the season. With Auburn's offense slowing down a bit, too, it seems like Alabama will win comfortably. Alabama 38, Auburn 17 -- David Ching

Why Auburn keeps it close: It's the Iron Bowl. Just because Auburn hasn't played so hot recently doesn't mean we should expect the Tigers to roll over and play dead. Expect Auburn to put up a strong fight in hopes of spoiling the Tide's season. Alabama 28, Auburn 24 -- Sam Khan Jr.

Why Mississippi State wins big: One team won 51-0, the other lost 30-0. So it seems fairly obvious which is headed in the right direction. Ole Miss still seems to be reeling from the Auburn loss and the Laquon Treadwell injury, while Mississippi State has bounced back and has the look of a team still playing for a future. Mississippi State 35, Ole Miss 17 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Ole Miss keeps it close: This is the Egg Bowl. For as beaten down as Ole Miss is -- physically and mentally -- the Rebels will be fired up to ruin the Bulldogs' season. Bo Wallace is ready to erase the images of #Wallacing, and Hugh Freeze wants the Egg back in Oxford. Both quarterbacks will turn it over, but Mississippi State's power run game will be the difference. Mississippi State 27, Ole Miss 24 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Florida State wins big: Florida should have the emotional edge entering the game, wanting to send its coach out on the right note. But that's a short-term proposition. On the road in Tallahassee, Florida State might have to weather an early storm, but I expect the Noles to take control of the game late and run away for a double-digit lead before the fourth quarter ever begins. Florida State 40, Florida 14 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Florida keeps it close: Florida has nothing to lose in this one. This is Muschamp's last game with the Gators, and those players want to send him out on their shoulders, a la Ron Zook in 2004. Florida's running game will keep FSU's defense in check, but Jameis Winston will prove to be the difference late, yet again. Florida State 24, Florida 21 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Arkansas wins: While watching Missouri's last couple of games, it became apparent that running east and west against the Tigers is not a recipe for success. But north and south? Ask Georgia how that works. If Missouri can stop Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams and Arkansas' downhill running game, it will win -- especially if Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen is unable to play. Gary Pinkel deserves a ton of credit for dragging a mediocre team to another SEC East title if the Tigers win. Arkansas 30, Missouri 27 -- David Ching

Why Missouri wins: This was easily the toughest game to pick. Arkansas is another team with nothing to lose and no pressure, while EVERYTHING is on the line and there's a mountain of pressure for Mizzou. Arkansas is hot and Mizzou has forgotten how to lose. It doesn't matter who I picked in this one, I'll probably be wrong, but I'm going to assume Mizzou takes advantage of being at home this time. Missouri 20, Arkansas 17 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Georgia wins big: No offense to Georgia Tech, but if nobody in the SEC has been able to slow down Georgia this season, I don't see an ACC team doing it. The Bulldogs lead the conference, averaging 43.3 points per game, and they've done it primarily without star running back Todd Gurley. I expect another big day from his replacement Nick Chubb and this offense against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 28 -- Greg Ostendorf

Why Georgia Tech keeps it close: The frustration of having beaten Georgia just once over the past 13 seasons is without question a motivator for Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets are also playing their best football of the season -- and they can run the ball. Did you see Georgia's run defense against Florida? Georgia has too much firepower on offense to drop this one at home and has played better on defense the past few weeks, but Georgia Tech will keep it close with its option attack that gives everybody fits. Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 27 -- Chris Low

Why South Carolina wins: To be clear, I think Clemson has the better team here. I've thought that other times in the past five years, too, and South Carolina still won by double digits every time. Even home-field advantage hasn't helped the Tigers, as Steve Spurrier is 3-1 in Death Valley since taking over as the Gamecocks' coach in 2005. Until Dabo Swinney shakes his Spurrier curse, I'm riding with the HBC. South Carolina 31, Clemson 20 -- David Ching

Why Clemson wins: If the Tigers are going to end their losing streak to South Carolina, this is the team to do it against. South Carolina's defense has been its Achilles' heel all season and though it has had two good performances of late, they came against Florida and South Alabama. The health of Clemson QB Deshaun Watson is key here for the Tigers. Clemson 34, South Carolina 31 -- Sam Khan Jr.

More unanimous picks:

Louisville over Kentucky: This year's Governor's Cup features two teams trending in opposite directions. The Wildcats have lost five straight while their in-state rival has won three of its last four. Louisville 31, Kentucky 14

Tennessee over Vanderbilt: Tennessee's motto the "Power of One" has become the "Power of Six'" as in six wins and bowl eligibility. That's the goal now for the Volunteers. A win and they play in a bowl game. That's motivation enough. Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 10

Standings
Greg Ostendorf 84-18
Edward Aschoff 81-21
David Ching 80-22
Chris Low 80-22
Sam Khan Jr. 76-26
Alex Scarborough 76-26
On the day her son was set to make the biggest decision of his life, Lechelle Noil was nervous.

Speedy Noil -- only his mom and a few others close to him call him by his given name, Devante -- was a five-star prospect from New Orleans Edna Karr and was about to choose between Texas A&M and hometown LSU on national television at the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. Noil’s grandmother Monica made a joke that summed up what many were feeling.

"'If he doesn't pick LSU, I'm going to pass out,'" Lechelle recalls Monica saying. "I had to tell her, 'No, you're not.'"

Lechelle waited until the absolute last moment to reveal to the family that her son, the No. 7 player in the 2014 class, bypassed the home-state powerhouse in favor of SEC West foe Texas A&M. At that point, she had no choice but inform the family in hopes of avoiding a YouTube recruiting moment on national television a la Landon Collins.

“We felt a lot of pressure family-wise,” Lechelle said. “We had people in our family that said, 'It would be wrong if you don't go [to LSU].'"

More than 10 months later, Noil prepares to face the school he spurned for the first time when Texas A&M hosts LSU on Thanksgiving night at Kyle Field.

* * *

[+] EnlargeSpeedy Noil
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNSpeedy Noil turned heads with this spectacular one-handed grab in his first practice with the Aggies.
Noil, who’s enjoying a solid freshman season for the Aggies, is the type of player who is difficult for out-of-state schools to pull from Louisiana. LSU keeps almost all of the top-level Louisiana talent in-state.

"It was one-in-a-million for a kid like Devante to leave, to pass up playing for the home state,” said Louisiana Tech running backs coach Jabbar Juluke, who was Karr’s head coach through Noil’s junior season. “It certainly wasn't anything that LSU did not do. I thought they did an outstanding job of recruiting them.”

"I look at him every now and then and say, 'I can't believe he is here,'" Texas A&M receivers coach David Beaty said in February. "He was so unattainable. But with Kevin [Sumlin], I've learned that there's nothing unattainable."

LSU first offered Noil a scholarship as a sophomore. Growing up in Orleans Parish, he earned his nickname from dominating youth leagues at Cut-Off Park.

Sumlin and his staff overcame not only the natural pull LSU has over home-state prospects but also a family tie to the LSU coaching staff.

Lechelle noted that some schools stopped recruiting Noil when they discovered his cousin was LSU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson.

"It made some of the other coaches back away from him because they were like, 'It doesn't make no sense to go after him if he has his cousin as the recruiting coach [at LSU],'" she said.

Texas A&M didn’t back off. Sumlin, Beaty and then-defensive backs coach Marcel Yates (now at Boise State), who was the recruiter assigned to Louisiana, pressed on.

* * *

Noil zeroed in on five schools: Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas A&M and USC. LSU was always a factor, but the Aggies, with Sumlin, SEC membership, their high-powered spread offense, Johnny Manziel and a Heisman Trophy, held a certain appeal to Noil.

The Aggies’ presence in the SEC can’t be overstated.

“Kids down this way, they respect SEC football,” said Karr coach Nathaniel Jones, who was Noil’s head coach his senior season. “Other than that, everything else is secondary. If it's not SEC, it's secondary football as far as the college ranks are concerned.”

His official visit to Texas A&M -- the weekend of the Aggies’ 2013 showdown with Alabama -- blew him away, according to his mother. (Like all freshmen at Texas A&M, Noil is prohibited from speaking to the media by Sumlin.) He received ample one-on-one time with the coaching staff, including Sumlin. The Aggies laid out a clear, detailed plan on where they envisioned him fitting in on the field and on the depth chart.

Another critical factor was the fact that the Aggies signed one of his Karr teammates, Noel Ellis, in the 2013 class. Ellis served as his official visit host and gave Noil the comfort of having someone he trusted nearby.

“The official visit pretty much showed him that A&M gave him the opportunity that yes, A&M may be the best choice for him,” Noil’s mother said.

The visit went so well that Noil told his mom a month later he wanted to go to Texas A&M. Concerned he was rushing into the decision, she encouraged him to take more time.

He never took officials to Florida, USC or Oregon. That left LSU and his official visit in December 2013, which didn’t go quite as he had hoped.

[+] EnlargeKevin Sumlin
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesKevin Sumlin didn't give up in his pursuit of Speedy Noil and pulled a huge recruiting upset.
“The main thing Speedy stressed to everybody was that he didn't want to do an official visit [to LSU] with a lot of people,” Lechelle said. “But for LSU, I think the mistake was we did it with all their top recruiting players and we didn't have enough time. We had a limited time with Les Miles. We didn't even have much of a sitdown with the offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron. The wide receivers coach, whatever I threw at him, he pretty much agreed with. He didn't have the depth chart laid out, nothing. [Speedy] paid attention to that.”

* * *

When decision day arrived, Noil called his mom’s hotel room before the game. He needed either a hat or the gloves of the school he was going to choose.

“Tell me again, have you changed your mind?” Lechelle asked.

Noil told her he was sticking with the Aggies.

Since his arrival in College Station, Texas, Noil earned numerous fans. His confidence was clear from the first day of spring practice, donning a No. 2 jersey mere months after Manziel finished wearing it (Noil wore No. 2 at Karr High also) and catching a one-handed pass during his first Aggies practice. In 10 games, Noil leads the team with 1,225 all-purpose yards and has made his mark as both a receiver (513 yards, four touchdowns) and a returner (25 yards per kickoff return, 13.6 yards per punt return).

Noil is not yet where he wants to be as a player or where the Aggies expect him to be in time. Sumlin said Noil is still learning to run routes and read coverages since most of his prep career was spent behind center, not at receiver.

"He's an explosive player in the return game, but he's got to continue to improve as a route-runner and when that happens, it'll be something exciting to see," Sumlin said.

So far, things have worked out well. While he might not be wearing the colors some hoped he would, they’ve been supportive of him and his success in Aggieland.

"A lot of family didn't like it, but once they saw him doing what he's doing at A&M, they said, 'I think that was the best fit for him,'" Lechelle Noil said. "'He made a great decision.'"

Noil is definitely anxious for Thursday’s game, according to his position coach.

“He is quiet by nature, but I can see that he is focused,” Beaty said. “He always wants to play well, but I know this is a big game for him personally. He just wants to contribute and get the W.”

With a world of talent, the future is bright for Noil. Friends and family might have long thought that future was at LSU, but the Aggies turned out to be the right fit.

“I think it happened to be the perfect storm,” Jones said. “You have Kevin Sumlin, phenomenal coach, proven, making waves in the SEC. Another big factor is that Texas A&M went to the SEC. Having a teammate there already, having a system there already, Johnny Manziel, Heisman Trophy, it was just a perfect storm that came together at the right time. All things worked out for him. That played a big factor in him choosing Texas A&M.”
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Survivors of the Texas A&M University Bonfire collapse relive the moments of that fateful day that killed 12 and injured 27 in November 1999, and they share their thoughts on the current students carrying on the tradition off the university's campus.

SEC bowl projections: Week 13

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
8:00
PM ET
After taking care of business against teams they were favored against, Alabama and Mississippi State hung on to their No. 1 and No. 4 spots, respectively, in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

And the SEC got another team bowl eligible, as Arkansas earned its sixth win with a 30-0 victory over Ole Miss. So that's 11 bowl-eligible teams and counting in the SEC, including the entire SEC West.

As we head into the final week of regular-season play ahead of the SEC championship game, two teams have a shot at claiming bowl eligibility that haven't already: Kentucky and Tennessee. Kentucky's task is tough, going to No. 22 Louisville, Tennessee's is considerably more feasible, as the Volunteers travel to Vanderbilt.

Georgia, if it wins this weekend against Georgia Tech, looks to be in good position for a New Year's Six bid. There's still much to be decided, with the Egg Bowl and the Iron Bowl on deck. Alabama and Mississippi State must win to maintain their spots, if they don't, chaos will ensue.

But assuming the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs prevail, here's how we think it'll pan out as of today, with 12 SEC bowl-eligible teams projected:

College Football Playoff semifinal (Allstate Sugar Bowl): Alabama
College Football Playoff semifinal (Sugar Bowl): Mississippi State
Capital One Orange Bowl: Georgia
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Auburn
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: Ole Miss
TaxSlayer Bowl: Florida
Outback Bowl: Missouri
AdvoCare 100 Texas Bowl: Texas A&M
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Tennessee
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: LSU
Belk Bowl: South Carolina
Birmingham Bowl: Arkansas

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Fournette Runs Over Aggie On 22-Yd TD
LSU RB Leonard Fournette rushes 22 yards for a second-quarter touchdown in the Tigers' 23-17 win over Texas A&M.
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