If you go back to SEC Media Days, Kentucky running back JoJo Kemp, a native of DeLand, talked openly about how cool it would be to beat Florida in Gainesville to end the longest losing streak in college football at 29 games (last Kentucky win over UF was 1986 and last win in Gainesville was 1979). It sounded so good back then since this was SUPPOSED to be a year in which Kentucky finally played football like it belongs in the SEC. If you look at what the Wildcats did in the first half against Southern Miss last week, they certainly played like they belong in the SEC.
Well, then came the second half and by the time the clock struck zero Kentucky was looking like the Kentucky we all know and love once again and Wildcat fans were already asking who has extra tickets to sell for Midnight Madness. Nothing fires up Kentucky fans for basketball season quite like Kentucky football.
Now that’s not to say Kentucky can’t beat Florida Saturday afternoon at Steve Spurrier Florida Field. Anything is possible. Back in 1978 Leon Spinks Jr. beat Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight championship of the world. In 1980 the USA beat the Russians in hockey for Olympic gold. John Daly won not one, but two (1991 PGA, 1995 British Open) majors. Appalachian State beat Michigan at the Big House in 2007 and the Gators lost to Georgia Southern in 2013.
There is a reason we play the games on the field instead of on paper, but this is not one of those games. Florida wins on paper. Florida also wins on the field. Handily. The offense will look 100 times better than it did last week and the O-line will look decent, in part because the Kentucky defensive line okays like it took lessons on the internet and the system crashed on the index page. Florida’s defense will give up some passing yards but isn’t going to break.
THE SAYER SAYS SOOTH: It might be close for the first 15-20 minutes of the game, but will grind away at that very thin Kentucky defense and midway through the second quarter the holes will be big enough to drive a truck through and Luke Del Rio will have time to order pizza from the pocket. Florida wins it 42-17.
This week’s games:
Last week: 6-7 (.462)
#1 Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC) 49, Western Kentucky (1-0) 14: Western Kentucky is good enough to beat several teams in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama, however, is not one of them. Consider Alabama a meat grinder. Consider Western Kentucky the meat. You get the picture and it isn’t pretty.
#9 Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC) 56, Nicholls (0-0) 0: The only questions about this game are (1) will Nick Chubb get his 200 yards in the first half because you can bet the farm he won’t play beyond the second quarter and (2) how much will the coaching staff hold back freshman QB Jacob Eason. Chubb is healthy and hasn’t lost a step after last year’s gruesome knee injury. That’s scary. Eason probably needs to air it out about 30 times but might not get the chance if Kirby Smart feels sorry for his D1AA opponent.
#14 Tennessee (1-0, 0-0 SEC) 27, Virginia Tech (1-0) 24: By all rights, Tennessee should be 0-1. The only reason the Vols are still unbeaten and still in the top 25 is because Appalachian State lacked a decent kicker. Virginia Tech is a huge step up in competition and if the Hokies can hold onto the football (4 lost fumbles last week), they figure to make this a lot closer than the -11.5-point spread. There are all sorts of rumors that UT quarterback Josh Dobbs is hurt but if he plays and is 100%, Tennessee’s talent should account for a white knuckles win before 150,000 fans at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
#18 Ole Miss (0-1, 0-0 SEC) 44, Wofford (1-0) 7: In the first half against FSU Monday, we saw what Ole Miss can do when the offense gets going and the secondary actually covers somebody. In the second half we saw what happens when the offense turns the ball over and the guys in the secondary need a GPS to find a receiver to cover. After that debacle with those nasty Seminoles, the Rebels need a break. Hello Wofford.
#22 LSU (0-1, 0-0 SEC) 31, Jacksonville State (1-0) 14: LSU really can’t afford the nearly $13 million it would take to buy out the contract of Les Miles, but if the Tigers find a way to struggle against a Jax State team that should have beaten Auburn last year and made it all the way to the D1AA national championship game, folks in Tiger Nation will be pawning the family heirlooms to help pay for the Lexit. The only way Les is going to come out of this game a winner – even if the Tigers win the game – is if a passing game somehow materializes. To do that, Les might have to once and for all end this grand experiment at QB with Brandon Harris and allow Danny Etling to take over.
#24 Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0 SEC) 61, Prairie View A&M (0-0) 10: No matter how many points the Aggies score Saturday, the folks at Prairie View will be smiling. They get a great big paycheck that will go a long way toward balancing the athletic department books and the only real expenses they have will be the charter buses that take them 65.3 miles from their campus just outside Houston to Kyle Field. When you’re living on the fringe in D1AA, it doesn’t get better than this financially.
#15 TCU (1-0) 37, Arkansas (1-0, 0-0 SEC) 30: The Hogs are doing what they’ve done the last three years and that’s starting slow. This is not a game that calls for a slow starting team. TCU can light it up offensively and to win, Arkansas has to match the Horned Frogs TD pass for TD pass and hope they have the ball last with a chance to win. TCU gets the nod since the game is in Fort Worth.
Mississippi State (0-1, 0-0 SEC) 21, South Carolina (1-0, 1-0 SEC) 13: The winning formula this season for Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks will be to make the game as ugly as possible and keep it close enough that Elliot Fry can have a chance to win the game with his foot. If Mississippi State can get its offense together, it should win this game. Emphasis on should. If Dan Mullen gets lured into a who can play the ugliest contest, South Carolina could win this game.
Middle Tennessee (1-0) 28, Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1 SEC) 13: The buzzards are perched in a big oak tree on the Vandy campus just waiting for the next time Derek Mason snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. They will be circling over the football complex Sunday. MTSU QB Brent Stockstill is good enough for the Blue Raiders to win this game. Figure Mason will occupy a spot On Life Support on next week’s Countdown to Firing Day list.
Auburn (0-1, 0-0 SEC) 36, Arkansas State (0-1) 13: Sean White will start his second straight game at QB for Auburn which makes you wonder if aliens abducted Gus Malzahn and the replacement Gus knows absolutely zilch about football. Whatever happened to Gus the offensive genius who could turn a defensive back like Nick Marshall into a QB capable of taking the Tigers to within 13 seconds of a national title? That Gus has either been abducted or taken leave of his senses. Sean White? Surely you jest. Auburn will win this game but unless Gus turns QB over to John Franklin III, it’s going to be really, really ugly.
Missouri (0-1, 0-0 SEC) 38, Eastern Michigan (1-0) 17: Tiger fans should savor this one. They are going to win this game, perhaps handily. Wins will be in short supply this year and handy wins as rare as lips on chickens.
SEAHAWKS PLAN TO SIT OUT NATIONAL ANTHEM
The Seattle Seahawks say they will make a “powerful statement of unity” Sunday when the entire team (or most of them) sit or kneel during the National Anthem as a show of support for Colin Kaepernick. There is no law that says they have to stand at attention and they certainly have a constitutional right to protest whatever they wish to protest – in this case police brutality against African Americans – in a peaceful way.
But is this the right way to go about it?
I have no problem with people exercising their right to protest. There wouldn’t be such a thing as the United States of America if folks hadn’t elected to protest excessive taxation. It led to the American Revolution and that set in motion the greatest experiment in government ever attempted.
I do have a problem with what’s being protested, however. If you listen to Kaepernick and all the folks jumping in to support him, you would think every policeman in the country can’t wait to split somebody’s head open with a night stick or whip out his Glock and fire away at some pure as the driven snow innocent soul. That’s not the case.
Are there bad policemen out there? No doubt about it. Are the majority of all policemen in this country bad? The answer to that is a resounding no. I could bore you do death with stat after stat about who does the shooting when an African American is shot by a policeman and that really wouldn’t prove a thing because one bad cop using his gun or excessive force when it isn’t necessary is one too many and somehow, someway, it’s got to stop.
I have two problems with the escalating protests. First, nobody is acknowledging the many thousands of good and decent policemen who put their lives on the line to protect us every day. The way these protests are coming off, you’d think that ALL policemen are brutalizing thousands upon thousands of African Americans on a daily basis and that’s not the case. Second, in the case of the Seattle Seahawks, their protest will come on 9/11, a day when we should be honoring all the police and other first responders who truly put their lives on the line at the World Trade Center.
I recognize the right for Kaepernick, the Seahawks and all the others who are speaking up to protest, but I think the message they are sending about police in general is a bad one. Protest the bad cops all you want, but find a way to honor the ones who don’t hesitate to step in harm’s way to protect us from the truly bad guys.
Both FSU and Ole Miss play teams from D1AA Saturday but you have to ask why the NCAA is letting them play with such a short turnaround? The NCAA tries to sound like it’s so concerned about player safety by implementing targeting rules and trying to cut down on contact on kickoffs, but how can the organization claim it’s looking out for the players when games are played five days apart?
If I’m athletic director Mack Rhoades at Baylor, I’m focusing on the following coaches to take over the football program next year: (1) Tom Herman, Houston; (2) Larry Fedora, North Carolina; (3) Dino Babers, Syracuse; (4) Phillip Montgomery, Tulsa; and (5) Chad Morris, SMU. I think Herman stays at Houston, which should be in the Big 12 next year, so Fedora would be ideal. He is a native Texan who is a former Baylor assistant and his offense isn’t much of a departure from what Art Briles used to run.
There is a report from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio that former Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is contemplating ending his retirement. Before he retired, Lynch was scheduled to make $9 million in 2016. Just guessing here, but he might not have had much luck finding a day job that pays that well since leaving the NFL.
The honeymoon is over for James Franklin at Penn State. If the Nittany Lions find a way to lose to Pitt on Saturday, Franklin is going to start feeling the heat.
Rumor has it that Alabama is about to give OC Lane Kiffin a hefty raise. He made $844,000 last year when he was still getting buyout money from Southern Cal.
Serena Williams, playing on a knee she said she injured in her second round match, lost in the US Open semifinals to Karolina Pliskova in straight sets. Without Serena, you can almost bet the TV ratings for the women’s final will tank.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Should Roger Goodell step in and do something before countless NFL players turn the National Anthem into the weekly political protest?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Today’s music is for Doug Wedgworth, a truly great Gator from Palm Beach County, who’s trying to get a rare, aggressive form of cancer in a spinning toe hold, atomic elbow drop and figure four leglock combo. This is a July 27 concert by Mingo Fishtrap, one of the favorite bands for Dougie and his completely outkicked his coverage wife, Teresa. When you have a spare moment, say a prayer for him.