Thoughts of the Day: October 28, 2019

DON'T GIVE THE GAME AWAY

A year ago the Florida Gators were certainly good enough to beat Georgia. After all, the same LSU team the Gators beat 27-19 hosed Georgia 36-16. Yet when the Gators faced Georgia in Jacksonville, the Poodles put together a 13-0 fourth quarter to win easily 36-17. There is a simple explanation for what happened.


Against LSU, the Gators didn't shoot themselves in the foot time and time again. Against Georgia, the Gators fumbled three times and lost two, threw an interception, averaged only 5.0 yards per pass attempt, committed seven penalties and converted only 4-12 on third down while allowing Georgia to keep the chains moving on eight of 14 third downs. In other words, the Gators gave the game away. Georgia really didn't go anything spectacular but the Poodles avoided the big mistakes, kept grinding away and wore the Gators down. In the fourth quarter, Georgia was pretty much unstoppable while Florida lacked the necessary energy to get the Poodles off the field.


All you have to do is look at what Florida did last year to understand exactly how the 6th-ranked Gators (7-1, 4-1 SEC) can put 7th-ranked Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC) out of its misery Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville – make the fewest mistakes, get stops on third down defensively, keep the chains moving on third down offensively and win the turnover battle. It sounds simple enough but those key points depend on Florida maintaining its poise throughout the football game.


Last year, it wasn't until that final four game winning streak that the Gators eliminated the emotional roller coaster rides by learning how to stay poised no matter the situation. Once the Gators figured the poise thing out, they outscored their final four opponents 49-12 in the fourth quarter. There has been carryover to 2019 where Florida has outscored opponents 85-21 in the fourth quarter and have scored two come-from-behind wins.


This is a very winnable game Saturday. A year ago the Gators were still learning how to handle the pressure of big games when they faced Georgia. This year, they know what to do. It's just a matter of putting it together.


GATORS MOVE UP TO #6; LSU TAKES OVER #1 IN AP

Losses by Oklahoma and Notre Dame enabled the Gators to move up to #6 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, their highest ranking this season. The biggest move, however, was by LSU, which leapt Alabama for the #1 spot. With Georgia occupying the #8 spot, the Southeastern Conference has four of the top eight teams in the country.


The Associated Press Top 25 Poll

(1) LSU 8-0; (2) Alabama 8-0; (3) Ohio State 8-0; (4) Clemson 8-0; (5) Penn State 8-0; (6) FLORIDA 7-1; (7) Oregon 7-1; (8) Georgia 6-1; (9) Utah 7-1; (10) Oklahoma 7-1; (11) Auburn 6-2; (12) Baylor 7-0; (13) Minnesota 8-0; (14) Michigan 6-2; (15) SMU 8-0; (16) Notre Dame 5-2; (17) Cincinnati 6-1; (18) Wisconsin 6-2; (19) Iowa 6-2; (20) Appalachian State 7-0; (21) Boise State 6-1; (22) Kansas State 5-2; (23) Wake Forest 6-1; (24) Memphis 7-1; (25) San Diego State 7-1


The Coaches Top 25 Poll

(1) Alabama 8-0; (2) LSU 8-0; (3) Clemson 8-0; (4) Ohio State 8-0; (5) Penn State 8-0; (6) FLORIDA 7-1; (7) Georgia 6-1; (8) Oregon 7-1; (9) Oklahoma 7-1; (10) Utah 7-1; (11) Baylor 7-0; (12) Auburn 6-2; (13) Minnesota 8-0; (14) SMU 8-0; (15) Michigan 6-2; (16) Notre Dame 6-2; (17) Wisconsin 6-2; (18) Cincinnati 6-1; (19) Iowa 6-2; (20) Appalachian State 7-0; (21) Boise State 6-1; (22) Wake Forest 6-1; (23) Memphis 7-1; (24) Texas 5-3; (25) Kansas State 5-2


RANKING THE SEC TOP TO BOTTOM

(1) Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC): No Tua, no problem. Of course it was Arkansas that Alabama was playing, but just the same, Mac Jones going 18-22 for 235 yards and three touchdowns was impressive. It's being reported that Tua will be back to practice by Wednesday. Next Saturday: Open

(2) LSU (8-0, 4-0 SEC): The win over Auburn was a total grind but it was LSU's third over a top ten opponent in eight games. That is impressive. So is an LSU defense that is just starting to round into the kind of shape that can carry it to a national championship. Next Saturday: Open

(3) FLORIDA (7-1, 4-1 SEC): The Gators will be healthier than they have all season with the return of bookend edge rushers Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga and deluxe playmaker Kadarius Toney. Next Saturday: vs. #8 Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC) in Jacksonville

(4) Auburn (6-2, 3-2 SEC): The baptism by fire of freshman QB Bo Nix continues. Although he struggled against LSU he made just enough really good plays to let people know that when he grows up he's going to be a force to be reckoned with. Next Saturday: vs. Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3 SEC)

(5) Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC): In his last two games (South Carolina and Kentucky), Jake Fromm has thrown for one TD, three picks and is averaging only 5.23 yards per attempt. Next Saturday: vs. #6 FLORIDA (7-1, 4-1 SEC) (6) Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2 SEC): When good Kellen Mond shows up, the Aggies look like a very good football team. Against Mississippi State Saturday, Mond threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 76 and two more scores. Next Saturday: vs. Texas-San Antonio (3-4) (7) Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 SEC): Converted wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 54 yards but punt Max Duffy was the unsung hero. He punted five times for a 52.4 average (longest 70 yards) and when Mizzou was threatening a comeback broke their backs by running 26 yards on an impromptu fake punt. Next Saturday: Open

(8) Missouri (5-3, 2-2 SEC): Wasn't Clemson grad transfer Kelly Bryant supposed to be the next great thing at Mizzou? He got benched in the second half of the Tigers' 29-7 loss to Kentucky Saturday. And that vaunted Mizzou defense was shredded for 297 rushing yards by the Wildcats. Even with eight in the box the Tigers couldn't stop Kentucky running the football. Next Saturday: Open

(9) Tennessee (3-5, 2-3 SEC): Last week's goat became this week's hero. Jarrett Guarantano came off the bench to throw for 229 yards and two touchdowns to help the Vols beat South Carolina. With four games to go, three are very winnable which means UT might actually go to a bowl game. Now that would be a real shocker. Next Saturday: vs. UAB (6-1)

(10) South Carolina (3-5, 2-4 SEC): How can a defense play so brilliantly against Georgia only to play so poorly two weeks later against a bad Tennessee team? This was the second very winnable game the Gamecocks have let slip through their fingers this year. Next Saturday: vs. Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-4 SEC)

(11) Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3 SEC): The Rebels need to win three of their last four to go bowling, a rather daunting task since they have to go on the road to face Auburn and have a game at home with LSU still on the agenda. Next Saturday: at #12 Auburn (6-2, 3-2 SEC)

(12) Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4 SEC): There is no question Joe Moorhead has lost the MSU fan base. He might have also lost his team. The Bulldogs bear a strong resemblance to a team that is ready to mail it in the last four games. Next Saturday: at Arkansas (2-6, 0-5 SEC)

(13) Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC): To save Derek Mason's job, the Commodores probably have to go 4-1 the rest of the way to become bowl eligible. Next Saturday: at South Carolina (3-5, 2-4 SEC)

(14) Arkansas (2-6, 0-5 SEC): As bad as the Hogs have been this year, they could actually win an SEC game next week when Mississippi State comes to Fayette Nam. Next Saturday: vs. Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4 SEC)


ELSEWHERE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

This guy is the best player in the country, period!: The Heisman Trophy is SUPPOSED to go to the best college football player in the country. The best player – and second place isn't even close – is Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, an absolute man among boys. Against Wisconsin he had four sacks, five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles, one of which a teammate ran back for a TD. This in spite of being double or triple teamed on every single play. He has 13-1/2 sacks, five forced fumbles and a blocked punt through eight games.

Bad day at Black Rock for the Big 12: The Big 12 began Saturday with four ranked teams and three of them – #5 Oklahoma, #15 Texas and #23 Iowa State – lost to unranked opponents. That leaves Baylor, which had an open date, as the only unbeaten team in the league.

Stick a fork in Notre Dame: The same Michigan Wolverines who were hammered by the same Wisconsin Badgers who got their doors blown off by Ohio State, exposed Notre Dame Saturday night. The 45-14 beatdown at the hands of Michigan not only eliminated Notre Dame from playoff and New Years Six contention, but diminishes Georgia's close call win over the Irish in Athens a few weeks ago. This was only the second time that Jim Harbaugh has beaten a top ten ranked team in his tenure at Michigan. As for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, he's 4-12 for his career against ranked teams on the road.

Lucky Les Strikes again: With the score tied at 34-34, Kansas lined up for a game-winning field goal only to have it blocked by Texas Tech. Tech's Douglas Coleman II scooped the loose ball up and tried to run it back, but for some reason elected to lateral to a teammate only to have Kansas recover with two seconds remaining. Given a second chance, Kansas kicker Liam Jones drilled a game-winning field goal giving “Lucky” Les Miles his first Big 12 win as KU's head coach.

Other than Clemson the ACC sucks: If you need proof consider the fact that the same Miami Hurricanes who lost to the same Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets who lost to The Citadel beat Pitt, 16-12. Miami torched the Pitt defense for 193 yards. When the second best team in the league is Wake Forest Gump you know the league is really bad top to bottom. In the ACC Coastal Division, four teams have two losses and three teams have three losses.

And speaking of Clemson: Beware of the Tigers. They've played bored the first seven weeks of the season but Saturday against Boston College they flipped the switches and were scary good. Trevor Lawrence averaged 14.5 yards per pass attempt and didn't throw a pick with three touchdown passes. Clemson ran for 302 yards and finished with 674 yards to go with 59 points while holding BC to seven points and 177 yards. The question now is can the Tigers sustain the motivation?


GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY:

From Marcus Spears of the SEC Network on what ails the Georgia offense: “You know what Georgia has become? Vanilla, offensively, that’s what they’ve become. The creativity has left. They’re leaning more on the fact that they have good players as opposed to schematically. Look where we are today (LSU). A scheme changed to get them to where they are today.”


From Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com on the dominance of Ohio State defensive end Chase Young in the Buckeyes' 38-7 win over Wisconsin: “Young shot himself not only into the Bednarik Award conversation (nation's best defender) but also Heisman Trophy consideration. It just wan'st his six tackles (five for loss), school-record tying four sacks and two forced fumbles that drew attention. It was his ability to seemingly affect every play.”


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Gator Jacoby Brissett is elbowing his way into AFC most valuable player talk as the NFL season nears the midway point. Brissett has led the Indianapolis Colts to a 5-2 record with 14 touchdown passes (just three interceptions) and a 101 quarterback rating. I still shake my head that he wasn't given an adequate chance to play while at UF … It was a day to forget for former Gator kicker Eddy Piniero. Although he had three field goals in the Chicago Bears 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers he missed a 33-yarder that hit the upright and then missed a 41-yarder that would have won the game … Former Gator defensive coordinator and Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn will have his status evaluated by team owner Arthur Blank this week although Blank says he has no plans to change coaches … Former UNLV offensive coordinator Barney Cotton had a heart transplant earlier in the week … With play suspended and seven holes to go in the ZoZo Championship in Japan, Tiger Woods holds a three-shot lead. If Woods wins the tournament he will tie Sam Snead for the most PGA wins of all time with 82 … The World Series is headed back to Houston with the Astros needing only one win to finish off the Washington Nationals after their 7-1 win Sunday night.

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