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Hot Reads: Unhidden talent in Auburn and a road trip to Starkville

There is no shortage of people who want to pin Auburn's woes on Gene Chizik. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University Athletic Department) There is no shortage of people who want to pin Auburn's woes on Gene Chizik. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University Athletic Department)

(RNN) – Here are eight reasons why people should stop talking about Gene Chizik losing his job: L-O-E-F-F-L-E-R.

We know everything that happens falls back on the head coach, and really, Chiz, we appreciate your heartfelt apology after your team stunk it up Saturday. But it's not your fault. We'll talk more about that later.

By show of hands, who thought the Bulldogs from the Magnolia State were going to be undefeated this late into the season? Thank you, that's a lovely shot of the armpits of every person that lives in east-central Mississippi.

And finally, we're going to learn why Kentucky and Arkansas is the best SEC matchup this weekend. No we're just kidding. But with enough beer, anything is possible.

Headset hot seat

We have what we believe is a satisfying alternative to "Fire Gene Chizik."  Let's get rid of the offensive coordinator instead. "Fire Scot Loeffler" bumper stickers, anyone?

Normally, Hot Reads is not a fan of people losing their means of gainful employment, especially in this tough economy. But a greater principle is at stake here: If your gameplan don't work, you don't eat.

Seriously, what's wrong with running the football? It's what people did before the rules allowed renegades to go wild with that whole forward pass thingy.

The final stats say that Arkansas's 3.9 yards per-carry-average whipped Auburn more than threefold. But if you take out the 80 yards Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier lost on eight sacks, the Tigers gained more than five yards per carry.

When you look at the entire season, Auburn's top three running backs all have rushing averages higher than five yards per carry. Hello? Helloooo?

LSU and Georgia are the only other SEC teams with three running backs that have at least 20 carries and an average higher than five yards. Read that again. Think. Repeat, if necessary.

This is an exact Hot Reads quote from three weeks ago: "Although (Tre) Mason hasn't totally overshadowed Onterio McCalebb, he does a lot more things that will be crucial for Auburn down the stretch. Auburn needs a strong running game to remain respectable and keep Kiehl Frazier from getting killed."

Mason leads the team in rushing yards, McCalebb is still one of the SEC's biggest home run threats and Mike Blakely will be amazing once he figures out he's not supposed to drop the ball until the whistle blows. No one realizes that Frazier and Moseley are also weapons when they scramble because the only things they're running for are their lives.

Maybe Loeffler was going off the fact that Arkansas is dead last in the SEC in passing defense. Who knows? The point is Chizik doesn't deserve to take the fall for a hardheaded coordinator that fails to make adjustments.

Oh by the way, Ole Miss is giving up an average of 255 rushing yards against teams not named Central Arkansas, UTEP or Tulane. Go get ‘em, boys.

Johnny "The Man" Manziel

That nickname is way better than Johnny "Football," and he's going to wear it proudly when he makes Louisiana Tech look like a JV squad.

No really, people, this will not be that great of a game.

Louisiana Tech is not that good. Yep, you heard it here first. They're undefeated, they're an offensive juggernaut, blah blah blah. Seriously, the butt kicking is coming, and it's probably coming at the hands of the Aggies.

The Techsters have played teams with a combined 6-17 record this season, and their defense has given up more points than Barack Obama during a debate.

La. Tech beat UNLV, and UNLV lost to Northern Arizona. NAU plays football on a level that has a playoff system, which is not a positive thing in the context of this particular conversation. Be honest, you don't even know where Northern Arizona is located, and saying "in north Arizona" does not count.

Ole Miss shut Manziel down for 95 percent of their game last weekend – and he still beat them.

Against a quarterback that rolled out of bed and into Heisman contention and a defense that is remarkably better than anything they've seen all year, the Techsters are going to lose all the hype and that pretty little top 25 ranking.

And don't bother emailing and telling us that Techsters is the name the school's female teams carry. The writer of our What We Learned column is an alum.

How did we get to Starkville?

Excuse me, we must have gotten lost. You see, our bus tour was supposed to take us to cities that have undefeated SEC teams, and we need to know how to get to Baton Rouge … Oh, really? That's interesting.

Well then, how about Athens? The one in Georgia, not Alabama … Stop playing! Really?

So you mean our driver actually drove us to the Mississippi State campus on purpose? OK, well since we're here, tell us about your team. We see you guys got these nifty new uniforms. It's hard to do anything with the blood red look, but these are pretty neat. Oh, it's maroon? Sorry.

Hey, is it true you guys are third in the nation in defensive interceptions and second in turnover margin? Wow, that's pretty impressive, especially since those guys over in Tuscaloosa won championships with that kind of defensive formula … Oh yeah, we've visited there already. The coach had a stomach ulcer or something, and he was pretty grumpy.

We like your defense a lot, but your offense is sort of mediocre … Whoa, calm down. We're just stating facts. Besides, we hear good things about your pass protection. That's going to be important during that three-game stretch against Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU.

Just don't overlook Tennessee or Middle Tennessee – really, stop laughing – and you should be fine. The Volunteers can throw the ball if they can do nothing else, and that Rajion Neal guy is pretty good toting the rock, too … Oh no, don't worry about Derek Dooley's pants. He's going to be in the box because of hip surgery, so the Orange Crush hip huggers won't be a distraction.

Hey, one more thing. Didn't the guys from Hootie and the Blowfish go to school here? Oh really, that's South Carolina? Our bad. We'll be leaving now.


And the NFL Lite game of the weeks is – South Carolina at LSU.

You're saying, "Duh," but we picked this game begrudgingly.

Hot Reads was counting on Tennessee carrying a little more swagger into its game against Mississippi State, but since Florida and Georgia actually decided to be good that didn't happen.

We could have picked Auburn and Ole Miss, but we don't want you to fall asleep while reading this.

The Gamecocks have more to prove this week than last week. Despite Steve Spurrier's meandering attempt at "aw shucks" humility, it is glaringly obvious he has everything necessary for a national title run – bruising running game, efficient quarterback and freakishly dominant defense. Anything more than a one-score loss to LSU should be considered a blowout.

The Gamecocks quite literally own the fourth quarter. Their average time of possession this season is more than two minutes longer than their opponents. That's basically one extra drive, which in a game like this, will make the difference.

But here's the thing with LSU. Very few stadiums support the home field advantage theory like Death Valley. The Tigers haven't lost a game in Baton Rouge since 2009, a nation-leading streak of 21 games, and they have won 47 of 53 since 2005. Les Miles has lost one night game at home as the coach of LSU, and kickoff for this contest is 8 p.m. ET.

The other thing you have to understand about LSU is the gap between their first four games of the season to The Swamp is like a man who is dying of starvation trying to eat a four-course meal. It just won't work.

The Tigers' previous competition did not adequately prepare them for Florida. That's not the case this time. There is no way Miles will put the game in Zach Mettenberger's hands with the stable of running backs he has, and there is plenty of muscle on the defensive side to disrupt Carolina's rhythm. Besides, LSU only gave up 237 yards and two scores in a game in which it committed three turnovers.

It's been a nice season so far, South Carolina. You can still make it to the SEC Championship game, but you will not get through Baton Rough on your way there.

This week's unique stat

451: The SEC has been more visible in the BCS standings than any other conference in the country. Using conference alignment before this season, 11 teams have combined to make 451 appearances since BCS polls began in 1998. Texas A&M and Missouri combined for 62 appearances before joining the SEC, and Vanderbilt has never held a BCS ranking.

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