The bad news Saturday night was that it took three overtimes for the Florida Gators to eke out a 36-30 win over the Kentucky Wildcats. That is actually the good news. With Alabama in Tuscaloosa on the schedule for Saturday (3:30 p.m., Bryant-Denny Stadium, CBS), it’s good that the Gators have been tested and handled some adversity because facing Alabama on the road is a recipe for adversity.
Kentucky’s defense was certainly better than the one the Gators faced the week before against Eastern Michigan, but Florida balanced things out with 50 rushing plays for 237 yards and 43 pass plays for 295 yards. This is the first time in the Will Muschamp era at the University of Florida that the Gators have done 500-plus yards in consecutive games so that is a positive moving forward. Heading into the season, there were concerns that the Gators lacked playmakers, but the first two games have produced three for sure – running backs Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson.
Ranked #3 in both the AP and Coaches polls, Alabama is the highest ranked September opponent the Gators have faced in the Muschamp era. The early line out of Las Vegas has established Alabama as a 15-point favorite. It won’t take a miracle of parting the Red Sea proportions for Florida to win this game, but the margin for error is extremely small. For Florida to win, the Gators have to make very few errors and the final score will be close. For Alabama, the Tide has a significant home field advantage and the ability to win whether it’s close or by two or three touchdowns.
The Southeastern Conference issued the following statement about the no delay of game call on fourth down in the first overtime of Florida’s 36-30 three overtime win over Kentucky:
“At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called.”
1. Auburn (2-0, 1-0 SEC): The Tigers hold at the top might be precarious. They have K-State on the road on a Thursday night and that’s never good for any team. Auburn will have to get ahead early because Bill Snyder has the best record in all of college football when he’s leading at the half.
2. Alabama (3-0, 0-0 SEC): Three tune-up games against non-conference opponents have gotten Bama ready for the SEC schedule, which begins Saturday with Florida coming to town. Alabama’s offense has gone over the 500 yard mark three straight games and the defense is starting to play at a very high level or intensity.
3. Texas A&M (3-0, 1-0 SEC): The Aggies get another cupcake (SMU) this week so we really don’t know how they are going to react when they face a team that plays well on both sides of the ball. What we know is that Kenny Hill can flat out throw the ball and he has an emerging star in Speedy Noil.
4. LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC): The Tigers haven’t given up a point in nine quarters. Now they get to face a very real and very good offense with a quarterback who can make things happen. If LSU shuts down Mississippi State’s offense Saturday night the rest of the league better take notice that the Tigers are for real.
5. Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0 SEC): The running game is starting to come around which means the Rebels are as dangerous as any team in the SEC on the offensive side of the ball. Through three games, Bo Wallace is the best QB in the SEC.
6. Missouri (3-0, 0-0 SEC): The Tigers are a work in progress but they are making nice strides defensively every week. The pass rush is ferocious with Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Now that the tackles are starting to make plays against the run, you have to figure Mizzou could be on a return track to Atlanta.
8. Georgia (1-1, 0-1 SEC): We all bought the hype about Georgia. Again. And we were all wrong about Georgia. Again. There are issues at quarterback for sure, but that secondary is horrible. They can’t cover anybody.
9. Mississippi State (3-0, 0-0 SEC): The Bulldogs think they can move the ball on anyone in the country. They’ll find out how good they are this week at LSU. They will also find out if their defense is good enough to stop an LSU offense that really hasn’t cut loose all its weapons yet.
10. Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC): Either Kentucky is much better than what anyone thought or Florida still has some kinks to work out. We’ll have a better idea after this weekend at Alabama.
12. Arkansas (2-1, 0-1 SEC): The Razorbacks can line up and knock these non-conference defenses off the blocks. They better figure out how to throw the ball effectively before they start playing SEC defenses every week.
13. Kentucky (2-1, 0-1 SEC): The Wildcats are good enough to give every SEC East team fits. With a schedule that includes Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Monroe, Tennessee and Louisville, making it to a bowl game doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea.
14. Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1 SEC): Smart money says the Dores won’t win an SEC game so their only chances to win again are Charleston Southern (D1AA) and Old Dominion, which was D1AA just a couple of years ago.
Florida State remains in first place but got one fewer first place vote. Oregon got 17 first place votes and is only 42 points behind the Seminoles. Alabama (#3) is the top rated team from the SEC. There are five SEC teams in the top 10 and eight in the top 18. The top 25 looks like this:
(1) Florida State; (2) Oregon; (3) Alabama; (4) Oklahoma; (5) Auburn; (6) Texas A&M; (7) Baylor; (8) LSU; (9) Notre Dame; (10) Ole Miss; (11) Michigan State; (12) UCLA; (13) Georgia; (14) South Carolina; (15) Arizona State; (16) Stanford; (17) USC; (18) Missouri; (19) Wisconsin; (20) Kansas State; (21) BYU; (22) Clemson; (23) Ohio State; (24) Nebraska; (25).
Upon seeing this week’s poll, my first thought was how can the voters pick Georgia ahead of South Carolina. Didn’t they see South Carolina beat Georgia Saturday? I also can’t believe that Michigan State is rated that high or that Nebraska is a top 25 team. If I had a vote it would go like this:
(1) Florida State; (2) Auburn; (3) Alabama; (4) Oklahoma; (5) Oregon; (6) Texas A&M; (7) LSU; (8) Baylor; (9) Ole Miss; (10) Notre Dame; (11) Stanford; (12) Missouri; (13) South Carolina; (14) Arizona State; (15) Georgia; (16) UCLA; (17) Michigan State; (18) Oklahoma State; (19) North Carolina; (20) BYU; (21) Mississippi State; (22) Clemson; (23) East Carolina; (24) Wisconsin; (25) Ohio State.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, this is how I would rank the five power conferences plus Notre Dame:1. SEC
2. Big 12
3. Notre Dame
6. Big Ten
Here is a burning question for all 14 SEC teams this week:
#3 ALABAMA: As well as Alabama has moved the ball so far – 568.3 yards and 42 points per game – you get the feeling the offense really isn’t clicking on all cylinders yet. Is Blake Sims a good enough QB to crank up the Bama offense to a higher level?
ARKANSAS: The Hogs play Northern Illinois so it will be tempting to line up and run, run and run some more, but with seven SEC games still on the schedule will Bret Bielema try to air it out a little bit more in anticipation for what he’s going to see down the road?
#5 AUBURN: Thursday nights in Manhattan, Kansas have trap written all over them. Can Auburn make the adjustments it will take to overcome what promises to be an exotic defense by Bill Snyder and K-State?
#13 GEORGIA: Will Mark Richt figure out that he’s got the best running back in all of college football and 20 carries a game just aren’t enough for Todd Gurley?
KENTUCKY: The good showing at Florida has to be a boost in confidence for the Wildcats. With an open date this week and Vanderbilt in two, can Mark Stoops keep his team from getting overconfident?
#8 LSU: The Tigers have the horses to field a dynamic offense but can they be dynamic against an SEC schedule with Anthony Jennings at quarterback?
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs are usually outstanding against non-conference opponents. Now they face a gauntlet of (at) LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and (at) Kentucky. Can they even break even against these four?
#18 MISSOURI: Missouri is 3-0 against a not-so-strong non-conference schedule and they’re got Indiana next. Will this very weak non-conference schedule prepare the Tigers adequately for an SEC schedule that begins with (at) South Carolina, Georgia and (at) Florida?
#10 OLE MISS: The Ole Miss secondary has been rather hawkish – eight picks so far – but opponents have moved the ball well on the ground so far (only 4.4 per pass attempt but a very good 4.39 per rush). Can the Rebels shore up the run defense between now and their October 4 SEC West showdown with Alabama?
#14 SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks can score (33 per game) but they still haven’t stopped anyone yet (36.7 points and 513.7 yards per game). Can the Gamecocks at least get the defense to slow people down?
TENNESSEE: The defense played well enough to win at Oklahoma but Justin Worley threw a pick that was run back for a TD and he fumbled the ball that led to a second touchdown. Can the Vols win against SEC opponents with Worley at QB?
#6 TEXAS A&M: Now that they have three games under their belts, the element of surprise no longer exists. Will the Aggies be just as explosive when they start facing SEC defenses that have a month of film to dissect?
VANDERBILT: In their only SEC game, the Commodores were blown out by Ole Miss and they lost in a blowout to Temple. Vandy is averaging 251 offensive yards per game. Is there any chance they win an SEC game this year?
When former Gator Bill Horschel walked off the 18th green after winning the Fed Ex Cup and the $10 million prize Sunday in Atlanta, he chomped Georgia fans and was booed. The one who probably ought to be booed is US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson. Watson made his three picks for the Ryder Cup team a couple of weeks ago after Horschel finished second in Denver. Since then Horschel has won two in a row, stared down Rory McIlroy on consecutive weekends and is now ranked 10th in the world.
Is there a team from the SEC East capable of competing with the top teams from the SEC West?
Count Sam Cooke as one of those musical geniuses who died way too early. From 1957-64, Cooke had 30 songs that hit the top 40 charts. He was known as the King of Soul and his influence on musicians such as Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Arthetha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding and James Brown can’t be understated. Cookie died in 1964, fatally shot by the manager of a Los Angeles motel in what was ruled a justifiable homicide although later evidence seemed to say otherwise. This is “Nothing Can Change This Love” which made it to #12 on the Billboard charts and #2 on the R&B charts.