“You don’t tug on Superman’s Cape, you don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim” – Jim Croce, 1972
The last thing in the world Kentucky needs is to add extra incentive to the Florida Gators, who have beaten the Wildcats 27 consecutive seasons, but that’s what DeLand native and Kentucky tailback JoJo Kemp did earlier in the week when he said, “It’s going to be fun walking out [of The Swamp] with a victory and rubbing their [Gators he knows] faces in it.”
Those comments became instant bulletin board material in the Florida locker room – they’re in big print on a poster featuring a photo of Kemp – and it’s not exactly like the Gators need motivation. Last year’s 4-8 gave them all the motivation they need to play angry and with serious intensity this season. When you’re a program with the traditions and expectations of Florida, it only takes one bad season to put a gigantic chip on your shoulder and it doesn’t take much trash talk to motivate.
Any time you step on the field there is always that chance you can win, but Kemp’s comments certainly removed any element of surprise the Wildcats were hoping to have. Instead of sneaking out of Gainesville with a win against a Florida team that might have been looking ahead to a showdown in Tuscaloosa with Alabama, Kemp ensured that the Kentucky Wildcats have the undivided attention of the entire Florida team, but especially the defense.
JoJo Kemp will find out Saturday that the Florida Gators tend to run a little faster and hit quite a bit harder than either UT-Martin and Ohio U, the teams Kentucky beat in the first two weeks of the season. Florida’s defense might be the best in all of the SEC and that’s not exactly the kind of team you want to rile up.
Florida (1-0, 0-0 SEC) over Kentucky (2-0, 0-0 SEC): Not a single player on either Florida or Kentucky was alive the last time Kentucky beat Florida. That was in 1986 when Kentucky was at full strength and Florida was feeling the pinch of NCAA sanctions and scholarship restrictions. This is the most confident a Kentucky team has felt going against Florida since 2007 and before that, 2001. Those games were close. This one might be closer than the 19 points that Vegas says separates the two teams but Florida is still going to win the game.
#3 Alabama (2-0, 0-0 SEC) over Southern Miss (1-1): Southern Miss, which got its doors blown off by Mississippi State and barely squeaked by a bad D1AA team, needs to take a look at the scoreboard just before the ball is kicked off. That 0-0 the Golden Eagles see on the scoreboard is as close as it’s going to get. Within five minutes it will be dial-a-score. Bama is favored by 49 and the only way it stays that close is if Nick Saban takes pity on Todd Monken, who is 2-12 as a head coach.
Arkansas (1-1, 0-1 SEC) over Texas Tech (2-0): This is a jury is still out game. If Arkansas wins, it’s not like the Hogs have beaten anyone special. If they lose, then it’s proof positive that they still have a long, long way to go before they are relevant in the SEC West again. If Texas Tech has any success running the football, Arkansas will most likely lose this game. Texas Tech is a shaky 1-point favorite but only because the Raiders play this one at home.
#6 Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC) over #24 South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC): It’s very hard to pick Mark Richt over Steve Spurrier in Columbia, but then again, having watched South Carolina try to play defense the last two weeks, it’s very hard to imagine the Gamecocks can stop Todd Gurley. If they can’t stop Gurley, they have absolutely zero chance. The pick is Georgia, but I hope I’m wrong. If South Carolina is 0-2 straight out of the SEC chute, then the Gamecocks are rotisserie. Georgia is a 7-point favorite on the road.
#12 LSU (2-0, 0-0 SEC) over Louisiana-Monroe (2-0): Last week, Louisiana-Monroe moved to 2-0 on the season by squeaking by those same zany Idaho Vandals who escaped Gainesville with a paycheck 38-31. If the Vandals could hang 31 on the War Hawks’ defense, then imagine what is going to happen when LSU gets its running game going. LSU is favored to win by 31. I’d be shocked if it’s that close.
Mississippi State (2-0, 0-0 SEC) over South Alabama (1-0): This is Mississippi State’s final tune up before the games get real and serious. Next week it’s LSU in Baton Rouge, so it’s important for Dan Mullen’s team to play a whole lot better than they did last week when they played bored and disinterested against a UAB team they should have beaten by 50 points. Obviously Las Vegas wonders which Mississippi State team will show up. The Bulldogs are only favored by 14.
#20 Missouri (2-0, 0-0 SEC) over UCF (0-1): For a defense that is soft up the middle, Missouri must be happy as a clam to see UCF coming to town. Against Penn State, the Golden Knights averaged less than 1.0 per carry. If this game were played in Orlando, you’d have to figure UCF would have a real shot to knock off a ranked team. It’s in Columbia and the Tigers are favored by 10. It should be close but Mizzou should win.
#13 Ole Miss (2-0, 1-0 SEC) over Louisiana-Lafayette (1-1): This should tell you everything you need to know. Last week Louisiana-Lafayette gave up 48 points to a team (Louisiana Tech) coached by Skip Holtz. The only fear the Rebels have is that Bo Wallace will drool so much when he sees the Rajin Cajuns’ secondary that the ball will slip out of his hands before he throws it. Vegas has Ole Miss as a 28-point favorite. The Rebels should be embarrassed if they don’t win by 40.
#4 Oklahoma (2-0) over Tennessee (2-0, 0-0 SEC): Greg McElroy of the SEC Network was predicting Tennessee to spring an upset last weekend. And you wondered why he never stuck in the NFL. The Vols are going to lose this one and the only question is by how much. Oklahoma is favored to win the game by 21 and it’s surprising that Vegas thinks it will be that close. Bobby Stoops has been making some disparaging remarks about the SEC so he’s going to try to inflict as much pain as possible on the Vols to make his point.
#7 Texas A&M (2-0, 1-0 SEC) over Rice (0-1): The Aggies are favored by 31. They should have that many points by halftime. Rice is all about the offense. Defense? What’s that? This is another stats-padder for Kenny Hill.
Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1 SEC) over UMass (0-2): The folks in Vegas believe in Vandy a lot more than people who have watched the Commodores hang one offensive touchdown and a field goal on two opponents so far. Vegas says the Dores are 16 point faves over UMass. This is the same UMass team that scored 38 and passed for 414 yards on Colorado in Boulder last week. I’m going with Vandy only because the Dores are from the SEC. If they lose to a team from the MAC, then buzzards will start circling in Nashville where folks got used to winning when James Franklin was the coach. Derek Mason better win this one or else his seat is going to be scorching on Monday.
Extinct Species List:
June Jones, SMU: He quit two games into the season.
On Life Support:Ron Turner, Florida International: Next loss Pitt.
Norm Chow, Hawaii: Potential win against D1AA Northern Iowa.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue: Next loss Notre Dame.
Mike London, Virginia: Next loss Louisville.
Charlie Weis, Kansas: Next loss Duke.
Endangered Species List:Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: Potential win against Iowa.
Brady Hoke, Michigan: Will beat Miami of Ohio.
Tim Beckman, Illinois: Next loss Washington.
Bob Davie, New Mexico: Open date.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana: Potential win against Bowling Green.
Irregular Heartbeat:Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Tossup against Maryland.
Randy Edsall, Maryland: Tossup against West Virginia.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska: Should beat Fresno State
Willie Taggart, South Florida: Next loss North Carolina State
Bobby Hauck, UNLV: Next loss Northern Illinois
Ignorance is no excuse is the message NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent when he suspended New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton an entire season for a bounty program that allegedly went on in the Saints’ locker room. Payton said he didn’t know what was going on but Goodell held him responsible. Now the shoe is on the other foot and Goodell is feeling the heat. Goodell says he hadn’t seen and didn’t know about the Ray Rice video until last week but there are reports that the video that shows Rice cold cocking his then fiancée was delivered to NFL offices months ago and ESPN’s Outside the Lines says four different sources say that Rice told Goodell back in June that he had indeed hit the woman. If these allegations are true, Goodell certainly isn’t going to be able to hide behind the ignorance excuse. Goodell makes $44 million a year which is nice work if you can get it. He might not be making it much longer.
Former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt says he would take the SMU job if offered. Of course he would. He doesn’t have a coaching gig now. That being said, he couldn’t be any worse than June Jones, who bailed two games into what is going to be a very bad season … Harvey Updike, the idiotic Bama fan who poised the oaks at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, is supposed to pay the school $800,000 in $500 increments. He’s paid $99 so far. At $500 a month it would only take Updike 198 years to pay off the judgment … The Steelers’ Antonio Brown got an $8,250 fine for delivering a karate-like kick to the Cleveland Browns’ punter last Sunday … Harold Baines has a statue at the Chicago White Sox stadium. He was a good player, but good enough to have his own statue? … Since both Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech run that funky option offense where the ball is rarely thrown, Saturday’s matchup in Atlanta could be over in less than three hours. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson coached GSU to two NCAA Division IAA titles ... With Paul Pierce and Justin Forsett running the ball, it certainly didn’t look like the Baltimore Ravens are going to miss Ray Rice. The two combined for 30 carries and 152 rushing yards in Baltimore’s 26-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If allegations that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell knew about the video showing Ray Rice hitting his then fiancée are true, should he be fired instantly?
Kentucky comes to Gainesville this weekend hoping and praying it can break the 27-game losing streak to the Florida Gators. Mark Stoops has the Wildcats playing with a lot of confidence, but they’ve been confident before and it really didn’t do them a lot of good. Because they will show up to play and anything can happen once the whistle is blown to start the game, the Wildcats do have a chance, but Aretha Franklin said it best with her 1968 single from the album “Lady Soul.” As the Queen of Soul put it, “Ain’t No Way.” It might be close but close doesn’t count.