That’s the way Florida linebacker Michael Taylor sees it. The Gators were lathered and ready to put a stomping on Idaho last week before Mother Nature took over, rendering The Swamp unplayable. Idaho didn’t have much of a chance to beat the Gators in Gainesville, but the Vandals were actually given a slightly better chance than this week’s visitors. Idaho was a 36-point road dog. The Eagles from Ypsilanti, Michigan are 38-point underdogs.
That Florida didn’t play last week was frustrating for Taylor, who said he felt the anger boiling inside at practice Tuesday.
“Out at practice I got mad,” Taylor said. “I’m like, ‘Dang, I can’t take anyone to the ground.’ You don’t want to unleash on your teammates. When I finally get out there, pray for them. That’s how we all feel because we’ve got some stuff to let out. It’s been awhile, so we’re just ready to take the field.”
Whether this is game one or game two, the Gators need to play like a team possessed Saturday. They need to play with pent up fury, not because that’s what it will take to beat Eastern Michigan – there probably isn’t a player on the EMU roster that even got a recruiting sniff from the Gators – but because the best way to put the nightmare of 4-8 behind them is to play every single play bell to bell with a high measure of focus and intensity.
Next week the Kentucky Wildcats will come to The Swamp and if the Wildcats beat Ohio U Saturday, they’ll have a 2-0 record and ooze confidence that they can end a losing streak to Florida that dates back to 1986. By playing hard every play and putting a first class beatdown on Eastern Michigan, Florida can ensure that doubt will creep into the Wildcats’ collective thought process. This is no time for the Gators to feel sorry for Eastern Michigan, whose entire athletic department operates on a budget of $17 million. These are the Little Sisters of the Poor but that’s no reason to ease up on the gas pedal.
The Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County State Attorney might not have been able to produce evidence to prove that Florida State Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston raped an FSU co-ed back in 2012, but that doesn’t mean Winston is off the hook. Title IX now has the case and it has begun an investigation into the incident. According to USAToday, Title IX attorney John Clune says his client (the alleged victim in this case) was able to give the university more information that it received from the TPD. Clune seems optimistic that Winston is going to have to face the music for the incident.
“We expect that there will be code of conduct charges that will be brought,” Clune said. “There’s no basis not to bring those charges now.”
As you might expect, Winston’s lawyer thinks this is much ado about nothing. Said attorney David Cornwell, “It doesn’t matter because we expect this process to have the same results as the prior ones did, which is no wrongdoing.”
Winston didn’t miss a game last year when the TPD and State Attorney were deciding whether or not he would be criminally charged with some sort of sexual assault. He won’t miss Saturday’s game against The Citadel either.
Last week’s record: 8-0.
Florida (0-0) over Eastern Michigan (1-0): Eastern Michigan gave up 472 yards of offense including 210 on the ground to Morgan State, which was picked by the coaches in the MidEastern Athletic Conference to finish ninth in the league this year. There are only nine teams in the MEAC, so what does that tell you about the EMU defense?
#2 Alabama (1-0) over Florida Atlantic (0-1): Blake Sims didn’t exactly overwhelm anyone last week. Nor did he underwhelm. So maybe he just whelmed. This week he will be splitting time with Jacob Coker. Maybe by the time this one is over we’ll see if Sims is really better than Coker or if maybe Nick Saban give Sims a lifetime achievement start last week against West Virginia.
Arkansas (0-1, 0-1 SEC) over Nicholls State (0-1): We still won’t know if the Hogs are anything more than slightly improved over last year by the time this is over, but at least the 10-game losing streak will be a thing of the past.
#5 Auburn (1-0, 1-0 SEC) over San Jose State (1-0): What to do, what to do if you are Gus Malzahn. Do you pick the visiting Spartans apart with a passing game that was good for 13.3 yards per pass attempt last week or do you pound away with a ground game that was good for 302 yards and 6.3 yards per carry? This will be ugly early.
Kentucky (1-0) over Ohio U (1-0): This is a step up in competition for the Wildcats, who flattened UT-Martin (D1AA) last week. Ohio has enough weapons in the passing game to make this interesting but Kentucky should win and get folks in Lexington thinking that maybe, just maybe, this is the year the Wildcats beat Florida (hasn’t been done since 1986).
#12 LSU (1-0) over Sam Houston State (1-1): Les Miles is going to play two quarterbacks (Anthony Jennings, Brandon Harris) and three tailbacks (Kenny Hilliard, Terrence Magee, Leonard Fournette), By the time this one is over Miles still won’t know who his go-to guy is at either position.
Mississippi State (1-0) over UAB (0-1): UAB ran for 338 yards last week against Troy. The Blazers will be very fortunate to get 138 this week against Mississippi State. The Blazers will also be quite fortunate to keep Mississippi State below 40 points and 500 yards.
#24 Missouri (1-0) over Toledo (1-0): Phillip Ely, the one-time Tampa Plant superstar who once threw a touchdown pass for Alabama (back in 2012), now throws the ball for Toledo. Last week he threw four touchdown passes. This week he gets to throw against Missouri, coached by one-time Toledo coach Gary Pinkel, who succeeded Nick Saban as the Toledo head coach back in 1991 and who once played in the Kent State secondary with Saban. This game might be white knuckles heading into the fourth quarter but Mizzou SHOULD win. Emphasis on should.
#15 Ole Miss (1-0) over Vanderbilt (0-1): Since 2000, Vanderbilt is 6-8 against Ole Miss. For some reason the Commodores always play Ole Miss tough and this year should be no different. The game is in Nashville at the Tennessee Titans’ stadium so it will actually have a real SEC atmosphere. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, it doesn’t have an SEC offense to play in the SEC atmosphere. Figure it will be reasonably close, but Ole Miss wins.
#21 South Carolina (0-1, 0-1 SEC) over East Carolina (1-0): There is that old adage that the most improvement a college football team shows in a season is from week one to week two. Steve Spurrier really needs that to hold true this week. His defense got worn out by Texas A&M’s no huddle, up tempo attack last week. The folks at East Carolina think Texas A&M plays at a rather leisurely pace. The Gamecocks could get upset if they haven’t made the week one to week two improvements.
Tennessee (1-0) over Arkansas State (0-1): The Vols looked very much improved when they beat Utah State last week. Will that same Tennessee team show up this week? You never know what’s going to happen when you play 46 kids who are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores and when your already young offensive line (no returning starters) is already down a starter. Arkansas State has an offense good enough to make the Vols sweat. If the young Vols aren’t fully focused, this could get interesting.
#9 Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 SEC) over Lamar (1-0): Kenny Hill threw for 511 yards last week against an SEC defense. He probably only throws for half that this week but that’s because he won’t play more than a couple of quarters against this team from D1AA.
You would think the players Charlie Strong inherited at Texas would have gotten the message that the country club is no longer and entitlement is a thing of the past when the new head coach started cleaning house in the spring and didn’t stop until fall camp began. Apparently some of these guys are clueless because they keep testing Strong’s resolve. When Strong’s starting offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Ezelle broke unspecified rules earlier in the week, they got suspended for the BYU game which means Texas will take the field Saturday with the nation’s youngest starting offensive line with five career starts. The Longhorns were already down a center – Dominic Espinosa broke his ankle last week against North Texas – and a quarterback since David Ash is suffering from concussion-like symptoms prior to Harrison and Ezelle testing Strong’s patience.
To avoid a showdown with Team USA, Australia tanked against Angola at the FIBA World Cup by benching two of its better players – Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles – and hardly playing two other starters. By losing a game that Australia should have won handily (lost, 93-81), the Aussies finished third in their group and avoided a potential quarterfinal showdown with Team USA. Had the Aussies won, they would have finished second in their group. Instead, Slovenia finished second and will face Team USA if both win their round of 16 games Saturday.
Maybe the best game of the week on the entire college football slate is #14 Southern Cal at #13 Stanford. From what I saw last week, I like Southern Cal’s chances ... No conference needs a big win more than the Big Ten, which desperately needs #7 Michigan State to knock off #3 Oregon in Eugene ... A healthy Percy Harvin gives Seattle’s offense a rather scary element ... Former Miami All-American Phillip Buchanon filled the Twitterverse with his fixes for the Hurricanes, who were taken out by Louisville, 31-13, on Monday night. When former UM players are offering unsolicited advice about how to fix the Canes then you know Al Golden is starting to feel some heat ... Louisville basketball got a commitment out of Antonio Blakeney (6-4, 180, Orlando, FL Oak Ridge) to nobody’s surprise. Blakeney has been a Louisville lean since last November ... One game into the season, Iowa State’s starting right tackle Jacob Gannon quit the team. Teammates cite “burnout” ... The hottest team in baseball is the Baltimore Orloles, who have a 9-1/2 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Former Gator Darren O’Day has a 4-1 record and a 1.34 ERA pitching middle relief for the Orioles.
Do you think Jameis Winston has anything to fear from the Title IX lawyers who are investigating his alleged rape of a Florida State coed? Are you surprised that Winston continues to play?
From 1964-72 The Four Tops were one of Motown Records’ most bankable acts. Lead singer Levi Stubbs started the group in 1953 and the group stayed together without a personnel change for 44 years. They hit the charts running with “Baby I Need Your Loving” in 1964 and for the next eight years produced an average of four songs per year that hit the charts including a couple of number ones and more than 12 that cracked the top ten. My favorite was “I Can’t Help Myself” which is one of the great radio sing-along songs in history. I still sing along whenever I hear it.