It’s the middle of maybe the most important bye week in recent Florida football history, a time for the Florida Gators to put the dreadful memory of Alabama out of their minds and focus in on Tennessee in Knoxville. When the season started fans and media talking heads alike called this an “ain’t no way” game, meaning no way Tennessee stood a chance to beat Florida. Now that Florida has been trampled by Alabama and Tennessee made #4 Oklahoma blink before going down in Norman, this looks anything like a game you can almost automatically place in the Florida win column.
This has the feel of a crossroads game for both the Vols and the Gators. Tennessee hasn’t beaten the Gators since 2004 and has posted only one winning season – by Lane Kiffin no less – since 2008. The Vols need this game desperately to climb the next rung on the ladder back to relevance.
Florida, on the other hand, desperately needs this game to remain relevant. While a loss wouldn’t guarantee the Gators would wind up on the not so sunny side of .500 for a second straight year, it would certainly dig a hole that would be difficult to climb out of with games looming against the likes of LSU, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State.
At this point, the advantage belongs to the Gators. They get a week off while Tennessee has to go to Athens to face a Georgia team that knows what a second loss in SEC play would do for its chances of winning the SEC East. If Georgia turns Saturday’s game with the Vols into a romp, it could do severe psychological damage to a team that plays more than 45 true freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores.
The Gators are in no position to take anything for granted, however. Even if the Vols get stomped by Georgia, they still have the incentive of ending the 10-game losing streak to Florida at home in Knoxville. That means the Gators have to spend this week healing the wounds of the Alabama loss and getting assignments down pat prior to starting their game week preparations Sunday evening when the team regroups from a long weekend.
The game is going to be so important for both teams, but especially the Gators. Calling the fourth game of the season a “must win” might seem a bit dramatic, but it is the SEC where every conference game – even those pitting unranked teams – takes on bigger than life proportions. Win, and new life is breathed back into the Florida program. Lose and it might not be the end of the world, but it will seem that way.
#3 Alabama: Quarterback Blake Sims (bruised shoulder) will benefit most from the off week. He is practicing but isn’t throwing any passes.
Arkansas: Several injured players should return Saturday when the Razorbacks face Texas A&M. Linebackers Randy Ramsey and Brooks Ellis and safety Rohan Gaines are expected to practice and play against Texas A&M. Also expected to return are wide receiver Demetrius Wilson (ankle) and safety Dayvon “Sleepy” McKinney (foot).
#5 Auburn: Safety Jermaine Whitehead, suspended for last Thursday’s game at Kansas State for disrespecting a coach, will miss his second game in a row when the Tigers host Louisiana Tech which means Josh Holsey will start for the second straight week. Holsey played corner the first two games of the season.
#12 Georgia: The Bulldogs will be minus three receivers for Saturday’s game with Tennessee. Malcolm Mitchell (knee), Jonathan Rumph (hamstring) and Justin Scott-Wesley (disciplinary) will all sit for the fourth consecutive week.
Kentucky: The Wildcats might not ever have a better chance to end their SEC losing streak than Saturday when they host Vanderbilt in Lexington. Kentucky has lost 17 straight in league play. The last time they won an SEC game was in 2011 when they broke their 26-game losing streak to Tennessee.
#17 LSU: Brandon Harris is taking more snaps in practice this week. Although Les Miles hasn’t made an announcement regarding who will start at quarterback Saturday against New Mexico State, head coach Les Miles says Harris has “earned some more playing time without question.”
#14 Mississippi State: Starting center Dillon Day has been suspended for the Bulldogs’ October 4 game with Texas A&M for what the SEC deemed “multiple flagrant and unsportsmanlike acts” against LSU. Video caught Day stomping on LSU corner Rashard Robinson’s groin and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux’s stomach. He also was flagged for a personal foul when he hit safety Ronald Martin from behind.
Missouri: Left guard Anthony Gatti tore an ACL against Indiana, ending his season and his collegiate career. Brad McNulty moves to left guard to replace Gatti while Conner McGovern will move from right tackle to right guard and Taylr Chappell earns the start at right tackle with the Tigers travel to Columbia to face South Carolina. Starting wide receiver Darius White will miss the South Carolina game with a strained groin.
#13 South Carolina: A couple of days after taking his team to task for a poor effort in beating Vanderbilt, Steve Spurrier sounded a bit more benevolent. “We do believe our players can play better on defense and on special teams and even offensively,” Spurrier said. “So we believe it and if we can get it out of them we’ll have a chance for a big year. If we can’t get it out of them, we’re going to be very, very average.”
Tennessee: Freshman running back Derrell Scott, who has been sidelined with a foot injury, will be traveling with the Vols when they go to Athens to face Georgia. Tennessee would like to redshirt him but with Treyvon Paulk no longer on the team, he might be pressed into action.
#6 Texas A&M: Texas A&M won’t know if wide receiver Speedy Noil (knee) will be available for Saturday’s game with Arkansas until later in the week. Center Mike Matthews and linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni, both held out of the SMU game for precautionary reasons, are expected to be 100% Saturday.
Vanderbilt: Running back Brian Kinbrow has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. Quarterback Patton Robinette is questionable for Saturday’s game at Kentucky because of a concussion.
A week ago, ESPN.com had the Florida Gators projected to either the Outback Bowl against Ohio State or the Liberty Bowl against Oklahoma State. Both of the site’s experts still project the Gators to play in a bowl game but their projections have indeed changed after the 42-21 loss to Alabama last Saturday.
Here are the bowls projected for SEC teams:Music City Bowl: Florida vs. Louisville or Tennessee vs. Iowa
Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Florida or Clemson vs. Missouri
Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas
Peach Bowl: Auburn vs. East Carolina
Fiesta Bowl: South Carolina vs. Michigan State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Texas A&M or Florida State vs. Georgia
Outback Bowl: Ohio State vs. Ole Miss or Nebraska vs. LSU
Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs. Georgia
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Mississippi State or Ohio State vs. Mississippi State
Gator Bowl: LSU vs. Louisville or Ole Miss vs. Penn State
Birmingham Bowl: UCF vs. Tennessee
Sugar Bowl (national semifinal): Florida State vs. Alabama or Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
Rose Bowl (National semifinal): Oregon vs. Alabama
CBSSports.com’s expert agrees with one of the experts from ESPN.com and has the Gators going to the Belk Bowl.Belk Bowl: Duke vs. Florida
Music City Bowl: Louisville vs. LSU
Liberty Bowl: TCU vs. Missouri
Gator Bowl: Iowa vs. Mississippi State
Outback Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Ole Miss
Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs. USC
Capital One Bowl: Ohio State vs. South Carolina
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Auburn
Peach Bowl: Georgia vs. Cincinnati Sugar Bowl (national semifinal): Alabama vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl (national semifinal): Florida State vs. Oklahoma
Tony Barnhart has Alabama and Auburn both in the final four along with Oregon and Florida State. His second four are Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Michigan State and Baylor. His last four are Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
Michigan State coach Mark D’Antonio believes only conference champions should be allowed in college football’s playoff. It’s not a novel idea, but it’s a bit funny that he is talking conference champs only since the SEC has three of the top six ranked teams in the country (#3 Alabama, #5 Auburn and #6 Texas A&M) and the Big 12 has two of the top seven (#4 Oklahoma and #7 Baylor). The Big Ten has only Michigan State in the top ten (#9) and Wisconsin (#19) is the only other team from that league in the top 25 which obviously diminishes the chances of getting even one team in the playoff.
Dufresne says “pond scum” is among the nicer things FSU fans are calling him since he tweeted “David Ash must give up the game he loves and Jameis Winston gets to keep playing a game he embarrasses.” Ash is the Texas quarterback who has been forced to quit college football due to multiple concussions. In his Times column, Dufresne defended himself, saying “Ash would do anything to play but can’t, was my point, yet Winston doesn’t seem to get how lucky he is … I do believe Winston has embarrassed the game and his school, and I’m surprised so many Florida State fans defend his indefensible behavior.”
Charlie Strong kicked offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle off the team. He’s the ninth player Strong has dismissed in his first year on the job … Starting defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample is done for the year at FSU with a torn pectoral muscle … As if taking a cue from Steve Spurrier, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer says the Hokies “are not a good football team right now” … Former Southern Cal football player Brian Baucham filed a suit against former USC head coach and current Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, claiming Kiffin force him to play in a game when he was ill … Former Aggie QB and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel might use his bye week with the Cleveland Browns to attend Saturday’s Texas A&M-Arkansas game in Fayetteville … Charlie Weis called out Kansas students, who tend to avoid Jayhawk football games like the plague, tweeting, “By 6:30 you’re free. Give us from 3 to 6:30” … Now this is taking things too far. Clemson fans, upset with center Ryan Norton whose bad snap cost the Tigers a chance at what might have been a game-deciding field goal, have sent threatening messages on social media.
How critical is it for the Gators to score a win in Knoxville on October 4?
Motown’s heyday was the 1960s when the Supremes, Four Tops and Temptations were cranking out the hits. In the 1970s, it was the sound of Philadelphia that gained equal footing with their Detroit musical brethren. Groups like The Spinners, The Delfonics, O’Jays and Stylistics cranked out one hit after another and Don Cornelius became the Dick Clark of soul music. Over on the rock charts, Hall and Oates became the best selling duo in the history of rock and roll. It was during the 1970s that I got addicted to the music of The Stylistics, who I still listen to on a regular basis. This is “You Make Me Feel Brand New” from their “Let’s Put It All Together” album of 1974 that reached #14 on the Billboard charts and #4 on the R&B.