Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day August 20

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning...

WILL THIS BE A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER FOR THE GATORS?

Oh, if every month could be as kind as September for the Florida Gators. In Will Muschamp’s three seasons on the job, the Gators are 11-1 in September with a sparkling 7-0 against the SEC. There is only one SEC game on this year’s September slate, however, and that is #2 Alabama, which hosts the Gators in Tuscaloosa on September 20. By the time the Gators get to that game, they should have three wins under their belts, all of them homers (Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky).

The Alabama game is the only tough one on this year’s September schedule and while Florida should be very competitive – at least through the first three quarters – a win is unlikely. Alabama is 16-1 at home in September since Nick Saban became head coach back in 2007 with the only loss to Georgia (2007). Overall, Alabama is 29-2 in September in the Saban era.

Watch that game three closely for the Gators. If they struggle in any way offensively against Kentucky or have problems shutting down Kentucky’s running game, that will not be a good omen since Alabama has perhaps the best stable of running backs in the country and starter T.J. Yeldon, who has gained more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, might not be the best back on the team.

Prediction: The Gators got three of their only four wins last season in the month of September. They’ll do the same thing this year but they will play Alabama tough into the fourth quarter.

AROUND THE SEC

Predicting the first month of the season:

#2 ALABAMA: West Virginia, August 30 (Atlanta); Florida Atlantic, September 6; Southern Miss, September 13; Florida, September 20.

Schedule assessment: West Virginia will put up some resistance but if this game goes white knuckles, either Alabama is vastly overrated or overconfident. Next two games are dial-a-score variety. Florida is the first game that will make the Crimson Tide sweat. If this game were in Gainesville, the Gators might have a chance to spring the upset, but it’s in Tuscaloosa where the home field is worth about 18 points.

Prediction: A 4-0 start for an Alabama team that will be very good, just maybe not as good as some have predicted.

Arkansas: At Auburn, August 30, Nicholls State, September 6; at Texas Tech, September 13; Northern Illinois, September 20; at Texas A&M, September 27 (Arlington).

Schedule assessment: The road opener at Auburn will be the 10th straight loss for the Hogs. They’ll beat Nicholls State but so would a good Class 8A high school in Florida. Texas Tech on the road will be no picnic. Kliff Kingsbury will probably remember how Bret Bielema lobbied against hurry-up, no-huddle offenses and use that as incentive to run up the score. If Jordan Lynch were still under center at Northern Illinois, you’d be tempted to take the Huskies. The Texas A&M game has the makings of an 0-2 start in the SEC.

Prediction: A 2-3 start with no chance of another win until October 25 when UAB is the designated loser at Homecoming.

#6 AUBURN: Arkansas, August 30; San Jose State, September 6; at Kansas State, September 18; Louisiana Tech, September 27.

Schedule assessment: Arkansas might play the Tigers tough ... for a half. Then it will be curtains. San Jose State is a cruise control win. K-State is the one that should make Auburn fans nervous. Playing at Silo Tech on a Thursday night is not a recipe for a win. By the time the first quarter of the Louisiana Tech game is over, buzzards will probably be circling Skip Holtz, who has two chances of being the head coach in Ruston next year – no way and no how.

Prediction: Auburn will start the season 4-0 but will need a Houdini to get past K-State on the road.

#12 GEORGIA: Clemson, August 30; at South Carolina, September 13; Troy, September 20; Tennessee, September 27.

Schedule assessment: If the Clemson game were in Death Valley, you’d have to go with the Tigers, but since it’s in Athens, Georgia will have the advantage. The last time the Bulldogs beat South Carolina in Columbia was 2005, Spurrier’s first year and that was only by two points. Troy and Tennessee will simply be outclassed.

Prediction: Georgia could start the season 0-2, but probably finds a way to beat Clemson. South Carolina? No way. Not in Columbia. So a 3-1 start but down a game in the SEC East.

KENTUCKY: UT-Martin, August 30, Ohio, September 6; at Florida, September 13; Vanderbilt, September 27.

Schedule assessment: UT-Martin and Ohio U are the only gimmes on the schedule and they’re in the first two weeks. After that it’s a trip to Florida and then a homer with Vanderbilt on September 27. Kentucky fans are circling the Vandy game on their schedules as the game that will tell them just how far the Wildcats have to go before they are competitive again.

Prediction: The Wildcats will win the first two and then they’ll have only October 11 (Louisiana Monroe) as a potential win. Some prognosticators say the Wildcats will be 100% improved this year. Okay, they win four games overall but emerge from September 2-2.

#13 LSU: Wisconsin, August 30 (Houston); Sam Houston State, September 6; Louisiana-Monroe, September 13; Mississippi State, September 20; New Mexico State, September 27.

Schedule assessment: On paper Wisconsin’s running game against an LSU defense with newbies at tackle is an upset just waiting to be sprung but even though LSU’s tackles will be young, there is no lack of talent. Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe are sacrificial lambs. Mississippi State will be a gut check game. New Mexico State will consider dropping football after the Tigers blow them out in front of 102,000 fans in Tiger Stadium.

Prediction: If the Mississippi State game were in Starkville, the prediction would be a 4-1 first month. Since that one is in Baton Rouge, it will be 5-0 for LSU.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Southern Miss, August 30; UAB, September 6; at South Alabama, September 13; at LSU, September 30.

Schedule assessment: Dan Mullen will have the Bulldogs halfway to the six wins they need for a fifth straight bowl trip by the end of September. The LSU game could be the defining game of the Mullen era in Starkville. If this game were in Starkville, you’d have to like Mississippi State’s chances. In Baton Rouge? The Bulldogs may make the Tigers sweat but that’s about it.

Prediction: It’s a 3-1 start for a Mississippi State team that should win eight game and be the equivalent of a colon cleanse for every defensive coordinator on the schedule even beyond September.

#24 Missouri: South Dakota State, August 30; at Toledo, September 6; UCF, September 13; Indiana, September 20; at South Carolina, September 27.

Schedule assessment: The only gimme on the schedule is South Dakota State in game one. The Tigers are more than capable of an oh-fer the rest of September. The AD must have been nuts to schedule Toledo in Toledo. Why? Indiana could light up the Tigers for 40. South Carolina will be facing a battered and bruised Mizzou in game five.

Prediction: The Tigers will go 3-2, winning the first two then losing two of the next three. Indiana, sandwiched between Indiana and UCF, could be the last chance for a win until November.

#18 Ole Miss: Boise State, August 28 (Atlanta); at Vanderbilt (September 6); Louisiana-Lafayette, September 13; Memphis, September 27.

Schedule assessment: The Rebels won’t be facing Boise State’s reputation, which is a good thing. The Broncos aren’t nearly as tough these days as their reputation earned in years past. Vanderbilt might actually prove to be a tougher game for Ole Miss than Boise. Louisiana-Lafayette will come to Oxford thinking upset and with the team that is capable of pulling it off. Memphis is a get well game.

Prediction: The game to circle is Vanderbilt in Nashville. That’s got upset written all over it. Figure Ole Miss emerges from September 3-1 and 0-1 in the SEC.

#9 SOUTH CAROLINA: Texas A&M, August 28; East Carolina, September 6; Georgia, September 13; at Vanderbilt, September 20; Missouri September 27.

Schedule assessment: Texas A&M will present a challenge – for about three quarters. East Carolina can move the ball but can’t win. Stevie Wonder is already in Mark Richt’s head. The Vandy game could be a trap since it’s the week after Georgia and it’s on the road. Missouri is capable of playing the Gamecocks tough but not tough enough since it’s a road game for the Tigers.

Prediction: A battle-tested South Carolina emerges from September 5-0 and with a two-game lead in the SEC East.

TENNESSEE: Utah State, August 31; Arkansas State, September 6; at Oklahoma, September 13; at Georgia, September 27.

Schedule assessment: The Vols are quite capable of starting the season 0-5 but figure they’ll win the opener. Arkansas State could be a challenge with one day less to prepare. Oklahoma and Georgia are going to be bloodbaths.

#21 TEXAS A&M: at South Carolina, August 28; Lamar, September 6; Rice, September 13; at SMU, September 20; Arkansas, September 28 (Arlington).

Schedule assessment: All hopes of an undefeated season will go down the drain as the SEC Network kicks off its football schedule a week from Thursday. Lamar, Rice and SMU are such cupcakes that they should wear sprinkles on their helmets. By game five, the Aggies should have their offense going and Arkansas fans will be ponying up the bucks to buy out Bret Bielema.

Prediction: A 4-1 start isn’t bad considering Johnny Football is no longer around to bail the Aggies out.

VANDERBILT: Temple, August 28; Ole Miss, September 6; UMass, September 13; South Carolina, September 20; at Kentucky, September 27.

Schedule assessment: This is a first year head coach’s dream – two tough games and three weenies. Temple, UMass and Kentucky will get Derek Mason halfway to a bowl in his first season. Ole Miss is winnable considering the Rebels will be playing on the road in game two. UMass and Kentucky will give the Commodores winnables to surround South Carolina.

Prediction: The Commodores will need only two more wins to get bowl eligible after a 4-1 start.

PEACE, LOVE AND HARMONY IN Louisville

A day after Sports Illustrated reported that Bobby Petrino has feuded so often with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham that he would have fired him except for that teensy problem of a five-year, $5 million guaranteed contract, Granthan denied the charges. Talking to Scott Rousell of FootballScoop.com, Grantham laughed off the report and said that not only is he happy as your basic clam, but Louisville has just gone through “one of the best camps I’ve ever been in.” That runs contrary to an SI source that says Petrino is “stuck with him [Grantham].”

SI also said that there is dissension in the ranks among the players. Said former Louisville defensive tackle Jamaine Brooks, who bolted the program in the spring, “He’s [Petrino] a mean guy. He cusses you out. You’re never doing enough. He’s still Bobby Mother$#%@ Petrino.”

GUARANTEED SCHOLARSHIPS AT Maryland

Such a deal. Sign with Maryland (any sport) and your scholarship is guaranteed until you graduate, regardless of injury or contributions to the team. There has been a lot of talk about the schools in the power five conferences (plus Notre Dame) guaranteeing scholarships for revenue producing sports such as football and basketball but Maryland is taking a step further by guaranteeing the scholarship for any athlete in any sport.

Braxton Miller OUT FOR THE SEASON

Miller reinjured his surgically repaired throwing shoulder on Monday. Tuesday it was confirmed that he’s out for the season. With Miller, Ohio State figured to run the Big Ten table and while the conference as a whole isn’t very good, it would be very difficult to leave an unbeaten Ohio State out of college football’s final four. With Miller gone, the Big Ten looks very pedestrian and the conference most likely to be odd man out on selection Sunday for the teams that will make the playoff.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Which SEC team has the toughest September schedule? Which one has the easiest?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Ivory Deville is a Los Angeles band that was brought together by the Jam in the Van people, who put them together at Joshua Tree. Their first full album will come out in the fall, but their free download “Joshua Tree Recordings” offer up a nice intro to the kind of music they play. This is pure rock and roll that would have fit well in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s until the disco plague. The band is fronted by Johnny Elkins, whose made a nice living throughout the years writing songs for other people. Wolf Ramirez offers a strong bass presence and the background vocals and harmony are provided by Tia Simone and Laura Marion.

Ivory Deville


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