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VOL. 128 | NO. 209 | Friday, October 25, 2013

College Football Notebook: Oct. 25, 2013

By DON WADE

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The Mad Hatter is not happy. LSU coach Les Miles spent his offseason complaining at the crossover schedule his team got – tough – and the crossover schedule Alabama got – not so tough.

LSU and quarterback Zach Mettenberger are not happy about the season.

(Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

This week, in the wake of his team being upset at Ole Miss and falling to 3-2 in league play, 6-2 overall – bye-bye national championship dreams, bye-bye SEC championship dreams – Miles opened his weekly press conference with this gem:

“Good afternoon. We went into nine straight weeks of playing. We’re the only BCS major college conference team to do that. The only time we exceeded that number was in 2005, 11 straight weeks in a row. We’re looking forward to a break in the future.”

Nothing like leading with the excuses, huh? Miles did go on to heap much blame on himself for his coaching in the Ole Miss game. But he was a little late. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was intercepted a career-high three times, said after the game: “Obviously, you can’t go anywhere in this conference turning the ball over. This game is really on me. I’ve got to be smarter.”

So does the Mad Hatter.

SEC attendance has been a topic of discussion the last couple of years, as even the most successful college football conference in the land has had to face the reality that it’s increasingly tempting for even the most rabid fans to stay home in front of the flat screen, the refrigerator just steps away.

But this week the league reported that attendance this season has been at 98.98 percent capacity, up 2 percent from a year ago. Five of the six games last week were played in front of 100 percent capacity crowds (or more), and 53 percent of all games played this season were played before sellout crowds.

Tennessee, one of five schools to have had five home games, leads in total attendance with 469,409 at Neyland Stadium. Texas A&M leads in percent of capacity, at 104.77. And Alabama leads in average attendance through four home games at 101,679. Tennessee’s capacity of 102,455 tops the SEC; Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa is second at 101,679.

Tennessee’s Michael Palardy was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after kicking the game-winning 19-yard field goal in the Vols’ upset of South Carolina. He also punted eight times for a 40.4-yard average and leads the league with 16 punts downed inside the 20 this season.

South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney finally played more like himself in the UT game, registering five tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. But Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley might be the league’s top defensive player. The leader of the nation’s best defense, Mosley had 10 tackles in the 52-0 win over Arkansas last week, plus two tackles for loss, two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. His 58 tackles ranks first on Alabama and fourth in the league.

“He has us opening our eyes to the process of the game and doing everything right,” DB Landon Collins said of Mosley’s leadership.

Georgia, like LSU, figured to compete for SEC and national titles. But the Bulldogs have been hit with a slew of injuries and after the upset loss at Vanderbilt, sit at 3-2 in the SEC, 4-3 overall.

“We got to figure this out,” said quarterback Aaron Murray. “Do some soul searching … keep grinding.”

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