Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Chris Low will stop by to talk some college football.
Low joined ESPN.com in 2007 after 10 years with The (Nashville) Tennessean covering the University of Tennessee and SEC. The Rock Hill, S.C., native lives with his wife in Knoxville and has three sons.
Send your questions now and join Low Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (1:03 PM)
Welcome to Week 8 of the college football season.
James (Versailles, KY)
How would you grade Mark Stoops after his first 6 games? I know it may not show up in the W/L column, but I think he has done a fairly good job thus far considering the talent. It at least seems as though his team is more prepared/competitive to Joker Phillips' last team.
Chris Low (1:06 PM)
To be honest, it's hard to fairly evaluate him, period, until he gets two full recruiting classes in there of his guys and his kind of guys. They are so thin and inexperienced on the back end on defense that stopping anybody is a challenge. I thought it said somebody about the toughness he's instilled in that team that the Wildcats fought back against South Carolina on the road. They just need to win. The Thursday night game at Miss. State next week will be a big one.
billy matherne (new orleans)
Since Mariotta was given the Heisman before the season and 4 weeks before he started the fall semester, is it too early to give the next one out? LSU"s BBall team could be the cannon fodder along with Nichols State.
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast. Lot of football left. On my Heisman watch this week, I had Manziel first, Mariota second and Boyd third. All three of those guys have big tests and big stages upcoming. Lot can change. Somebody else could sneak in, too, although I doubt it. Winston would be the one to watch.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Chris, you're a really smart guy so I know you'll have the answer. How does a team like Texas A&M go from a record of 33-31 in the 5 years prior to joining the SEC to a current record of 16-3 in just 1.5 years of SEC play? the Texas A
Chris Low (1:11 PM)
The Aggies are actually 8-3 in SEC games since joining the league, which is still very good. But my answer would be that Manziel has been off-the-charts good, better than anyone could have envisioned, and let's give Kevin Sumlin credit for coming in there and instilling an attitude and putting in an offensive system that the rest of the SEC has had trouble stopping. Their offensive line has also been excellent the last two years. The problem this year is that the Aggies can't stop anybody, and I think that's going to catch up with them.
Scratches (B'more, MD)
What's your take on Amari Cooper's less-than-amazing performance so far this season?
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
I'm not sure he's pushed through a few of his injuries as hard as he's needed to. Still a very talented player and more than capable of closing the season the way he did a year ago.
MikeDaTiger (Baton Rouge)
Best interview in the SEC: Les Miles or Steve Spurrier?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
Pretty much a dead heat, although Les says things sometimes that are just plain weird. Spurrier has no filter and says whatever's on his mind. Sometimes that gets him in trouble, like the Clowney dust-up a few weeks ago.
ho do you see winning the SEC east
Chris Low (1:15 PM)
Right now, I would say South Carolina. A lot of it depends on Todd Gurley and when he comes back and how healthy he is when he does return. Mizzou has the toughest schedule remaining, and losing James Franklin was a killer.
The Analysts are giving Oregon a lot of credit for winning in Seattle. Some suggesting that they should jump the Tide in the Polls. So when did UW in Seattle become a more difficult opponent than TAMU in College Station?
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
I have Oregon No. 1 in my ESPN.com power rankings. The Ducks are the most impressive team I've seen this season. That doesn't mean Alabama wouldn't beat them (especially with five weeks to prepare). But at this point, Oregon is the best team I've seen.
My son a grad of UK (yeah they still play football there) and I are debating if a one loss SEC team will play in BCS national championship game if Oregon and Ohio State remain undefeated? I saw no and he drinks all of the SEC Kool-Aid (though the success of SEC over the last decade is strong evidence that he may be right)
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
No, I don't see any way a one-loss SEC team jumps an unbeaten Oregon or Ohio State this season and plays in the BCS title game. There will be a lot of debate about Ohio State's schedule if that happens, and I don't think the Buckeyes are one of the best five teams in the country. But if they're unbeaten, I bet they finish above a one-loss SEC team in the final BCS standings. Obviously, next year, the playoff kicks in, and we'll have four teams.
Michael Martin (Washington, DC)
If South Carolina wins out, what do you put their chances of making the National Title Game at? (This would include Clemson and, presumably, Alabama in the SEC Title game)
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
Everybody would have to lose. For instance, you'd need Clemson to beat FSU and then the Gamecocks would have to beat Clemson. You'd need Ohio State to lose and for Alabama to beat LSU and then the Gamecocks would probably need to beat an unbeaten and No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship game to get the kind of pop they would need with the voters in that last poll. I think Baylor would have to lose somewhere along the way, too. A 12-1 South Carolina team and SEC champion would probably get in over unbeaten Louisville.
Mark (Pt. Clear, AL)
Looking ahead and knowing what we all have seen up to now...Who do you think will win the Stanford vs Oregon game?
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
I still think Stanford can "muddy" up that game and turn it into more of slugfest like last year. But Oregon would have to turn it over multiple times for the Cardinal to win it.
Worried A LITTLE about Mizzou's offense with the JF1 injury... But, Mauk showed the confidence to launch a jumpball down field to DGB last week when the pressure was on... Mizzou's WRs might be the best in that situation... Against smallish DBs from UF, could that be enough to generate 21 or so point? Shouldn't need much more than that...
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
Remember, that was Bud Sasser who threw that ball on the double pass, but I do think it helps Mauk that he at least played in that game in the fourth quarter with the game on the line and has that experience heading into the Florida game. The Gators' cornerbacks are the best the Mizzou receivers will face all season. If the Tigers can score 24 or more, I think they win. They have to play solid on defense and not give the Gators anything easy, nothing in special teams, either.
Worst luck? UGA? or Mizzou?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
I'd throw Florida in that group, too.
What do think Tennessee can do with the rest of there schedule. I think they win out.
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
I'm not even sure Butch Jones, down deep, think the Vols will win out. I do think they have a chance to win at least three more and get to a bowl, which would be a huge accomplishment for Jones and this staff in their first year. Will be interesting to see how the Vols play coming off a bye week and a heck of a performance in the second half two weeks ago against Georgia.
Clemson vs. FSU??
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
I'm going with the Tigers. Just think it's their year.
Michael Martin (Washington, DC)
(I know this won't get posted, but it's my response; I understand that we would need certain teams to lose; that's why I specifically mentioned the fact that we'd have to play Clemson and the West Champion (meaning we wouldn't have to worry about having another SEC team above us). At 12-1, with wins over presumably two top 5 teams in the last couple of weeks of the season, AND the SEC champion, I think I'd have a hard time putting Ohio State in over them. (Obviously I'm a bit of a homer here and a lot of things would need to go right, but if we can't hope as football fans why do we watch?)
Chris Low (1:29 PM)
A lot of people would agree with you, including me, but no way does an unbeaten Ohio State team that's already ranked in the top 4 get left out over a once-beaten team from any conference.
LSU plays their best ball rest of season. Give me the W-L for the rest of regular season.
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
If LSU continues to grow up on defense, I think the Tigers have the best shot of anybody to beat Alabama. So 12-1 and an SEC championship aren't out of the realm. Texas A&M and Johnny Football also come to Baton Rouge two weeks after LSU plays in Tuscaloosa.
Sasser threw it to L'Damian, not DGB... Mauk threw jumpball to DGB...Anyway, Love the blog, and thanks for throwing some good Mizzou posts in there!
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
My bad. We're talking about two different plays. You're talking about Mizzou's final TD drive. And, yes, that was a big throw to sort of seal the deal. Something else to consider is that Pinkel kept that competition open between Franklin and Mauk for a while. Mauk was pushing, so obviously they liked what they saw in the redshirt freshman in the spring and preseason.
You chickened out. I asked you to call the Wins and losses...go out on a limb. BEST BALL!
Chris Low (1:34 PM)
Since you insist, 11-2 (including a bowl win)
Bujo (St. Louis)
I understand that losing James Franklin (who might have snuck into the heisman voting if he kept up the clip he was at into the heart of SEC play) is painful. But are we forgetting that Mizzou's running attack is one of the best in the conference? Not to mention how anemic Florida's offense has looked this year. The game this weekend wont be a shootout, but I fully expect it to be gritty and close. Losing Franklin does not take away from Mizzou athleticism on both sides of the ball. Expect Michael Sam to post two sacks and at least one interception from the Mizzou Secondary. Mizzou has everything to win at this point, and not much to lose. Expect them to play like it.
Chris Low (1:35 PM)
I'll say this. I was in Athens last week and had a chance to talk with several of the Mizzou players afterward. A very confident bunch, very driven and very aware that this is their chance to prove emphatically that they belong in the SEC.
Will muschamp hire a real Oc in the future or is pease not the problem? Part of me thinks maybe muschamp is overriding some calls but no matter what it looks like the gator coaching staff has a hard time identifying offensive talent.
Chris Low (1:37 PM)
I don't think Muschamp is meddling as much as people think in the offense. They want to commit to running the ball. That's a fact, but their inability to get big-play receivers -- recruit them, develop them, whatever -- is really stunting what they're able to do. And to be fair, they did lose their starting QB and starting RB this year. Not a lot of teams could weather injuries like that and not have it affect them.
Do you see Mike Davis keeping up the pace of over 100/yards a game? Is he the biggest surprise player this year? Who else might be in the same category?
Chris Low (1:40 PM)
Davis has been the best RB in the SEC, period, to this point. He's an every-down back who can catch it, run with power and break big plays. I knew he was going to be a good player, but not this good. Other surprise players in the league would be Mizzou DE Michael Sam, Alabama S Vinnie Sunseri and Georgia DE Ray Drew.
Gamecock Fan (Chicago)
Chris, which do you see being a tougher game for my Gamecocks, UT or Mizzou? UT has been close to beating SC for the last few years, and I know Tiny Richardson is itching for his re-match with Clowney and Neyland is always scary, but if Mizzou beats Florida this week, their confidence will be sky high.
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
On paper, Mizzou appears tougher. But this is a game Tennessee has pointing to, the kind of signature game the Vols haven't won since 2009. The game being at noon, though, I think helps South Carolina.
Andrew S (Columbia, SC)
Great article on Connor Shaw. The kid has heart doesnt he? Think he has any shot at NFL?
Chris Low (1:44 PM)
Connor Shaw is easily one my favorite players that I have covered in the SEC, just the way he plays through injuries, leads by example and does everything with the team in mind. He's a great example for young kids playing sports about what being a team guy is all about. And, yes, I think he's a good enough athlete -- and would have to get in the right system -- that he'll get a shot in the NFL.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Did I just read Chris Low say that an undefeated Ohio State team would push a 1-loss SEC team out of the championship game? May the Gods be merciful.... ;-)
Chris Low (1:44 PM)
That's pretty good. Would you disagree?
Mike Davis is better than Jeremy Hill?
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
He's been better through the first half of this season.
By how much will LSU have to beat Alabama to insure that we do not see another rematch in the BCS?
Chris Low (1:46 PM)
There's a better chance that Nick Saban is coaching high school ball in Tuscaloosa next year than Alabama and LSU playing in a rematch for the BCS title.
What do you think will happen when LSU beats Alabama and TAMU beats LSU then who is your pick to head to the BCS game?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
In that scenario, Alabama would still go to the SEC championship game because the Tide and Aggies would be tied with SEC loss apiece, and the Tide would get the nod based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
At this point in the season (considering strength of schedule too) who are your the top 3 running backs in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
Mike Davis, Jeremy Hill and Todd Gurley.
David mathias (Irmo SC)
Do you think Texas has a shot at the big12 CHampionship game?
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
No, my pick in the Big 12 is Baylor.
WHAT ABOUT MY MIAMI.. NO LOVE FOR US.
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
Funny you should ask. Writing a columnn for tomorrow about giving the ACC some love, and I'm mentioning that Miami's rise this season makes it that much stronger a league. Three ACC teams ranked in the top 10, which matches the SEC.
I'd like your take on how the SEC is ranked. LSU jumped 4 spots in the top 10 for beating a poor Florida sqad, aTm is ranked in the top 10 without beating a ranked apponent, Gergia has played 3 ranked teams and lost to 2 of them and are 15 and Florida also has not beaten a ranked team. It seems that some of these teams are ranked a bit high for their resumes.
Chris Low (1:52 PM)
I'd say there's something to that. But my next question would be: Who else are you going to rank ahead of them? Who has Louisville beaten? Who has Baylor beaten? Ultimately, it will all work itself out.
ted (cape cod)
How would Baylor's offense fair in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
Not sure, but I'd love to see the Bears going at it each week in this league. I had one coach tell me he's never seen a team play as fast as Baylor is this year.
Scratches (B'more, MD)
Does Auburn has a legit shot at beating A&M this weekend? They would need to put up a lot of points, and I don't see their D slowing Manziel enough to get a W.
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
I'm not sure anybody will hold the Aggies under 35 points the rest of the way. Now, that said, will the Aggies be able to hold many teams under 30? They are really bad on defense. On the road, I just don't see Auburn being able to get it done.
If Worley plays with the confidence he had in the second half against Georgia, does Tennessee have much of a chance against South Carolina?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
Yep, especially if he doesn't turn it over. He's going to need his receivers to play well around him and make some plays. In the end, if the Vols are going to win, they will have to force some turnovers because Connor Shaw and that South Carolina offense are playing as well as they have maybe ever under Spurrier. Also, if you're going to the game, I hear your old room at East Stadium Hall is available this weekend.
Chris-- If Mushchamp loses the UGA for a 3rd yeard in a row and ends up 3rd in the SEC East, is he on the hot seat at UF?
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
Absolutely, and he knows that. Don't see any way he would or should be shown the door this year. But his fourth season in Gainesville would be critical.
Devin (Columbia, SC)
What do you think about South Carolina's defense? Defensive Line and secondary?
Chris Low (1:59 PM)
Secondary is pretty average at best. The defensive line hadn't played as well as I thought they would until last weekend.
Gamecock Fan (Chicago)
Chris, I read that opposing QBs are only taking 2.15 seconds to throw the ball when facing Clowney. That's a ridiculously short amount of time. Do you think one reason his sack stats aren't where he thought they'd be is because he gets 20% less time to reach the QB? How would the sack numbers of the nations leaders look if we removed any sack not recorded within 2.15 seconds?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
Everybody is playing against him the same way, using backs and TEs to help, making him chase and throwing quickly. The whole Kentucky deal was unfortunate on all fronts, but all the NFL people I talk to who have watched his tape say he's playing hard and playing well. Guys around him have to start making more plays, and they did last week.
What will auburns record be at the end of the season?
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
8-4 in the regular season.
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
I'm heading out now. Appreciate the questions. It's always fun talking a little college football. Have a great week!