Updated: Sep 14, 2019
A GET EVEN KIND OF GAME
Dan Mullen has been telling us the 9th-ranked Florida Gators (2-0, 0-0 SEC) aren't looking at Saturday night's close encounter of the Southeastern Conference kind up in Lexington, Kentucky has nothing whatsoever to do with getting even for what the Kentucky (2-0, 0-0 SEC) did last year in Gainesville. In case you have forgotten, the Wildcats outscored the Gators 20-6 in the second half, ran practically at will (303 rushing yards) and scored a convincing 27-16 win that broke Florida's 31-year winning streak over the Wildcats.
So, are you buying that Mullen isn't looking for a little revenge?
He might not say the word revenge and he might not talk openly about getting even but that's because he wants his team focusing on what they have to do to win their SEC opener. You can bet the farm that during practice this week Mullen has made it abundantly clear that he remembers all too well what the Wildcats did at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium last year. You can also count on the fact he's let the Gators know without perhaps saying it outright that by going up to Lexington and giving the Wildcats a beatdown it will go a long way toward erasing the bad memories of 2018.
Make no mistake about it, this is a game the Gators need to win and the more convincing they can be in winning, the better it will be for the rest of the season. When this game is complete, 25% of the regular season will be in the books. What Mullen wants and needs is a confident team that is building momentum from one week to the next. Obviously, it's important to win even if it's by a single point, but a win by two or more touchdowns sends out messages loud and clear that the Gators are a very dangerous team moving forward.
The Sayer Says Sooth:It might be close for a half, but by the time the band cranks up “We Are the Boys” at the end of the third quarter, UK quarterback Sawyer Smith will think his body is a continuous bruise from the tips of his toesies all the way to the upper extremeties. The Gators get seven sacks, Feleipe Franks throws for three, runs for one and the final is something like FLORIDA 31, Kentucky 14.
THE SEC SOOTHSAYER
#2 Alabama (2-0, 0-0 SEC) 35, South Carolina (1-1, 0-0 SEC) 7: Ryan Hilinski is about to discover how the Christians felt when they released the lions in the old Roman Colosseum.
#3 Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC) 42, Arkansas State (1-1) 10: To honor the late wife of Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (she died of cancer about three weeks ago), they've asked everyone at Sanford Stadium to make this a pink out. It's a lovely gesture but it won't help Arkansas State make this game any closer.
#4 LSU (2-0) 59, Northwestern State (0-2) 0: This could be worse except that Northwestern State is Coach O's alma mammy so he'll let the tuba section and the Golden Girls take all the fourth quarter snaps.
#8 Auburn (2-0, 0-0 SEC) 49, Kent State (1-1) 3: Call this the cure for the freshman quarterback (Bo Nix). At least Clark Kent State is a Division I team.
#16 Texas A&M (1-1, 0-0 SEC) 41, Lamar (2-0) 10: There's nothing like a game against Hedley Lamar to take the sting out of butt stomping at Climpson.
Mississippi State (2-0, 0-0 SEC) 24, Kansas State (2-0) 21: You can flip this script if it turns out that Tommy Stevens can't go and MSU is forced to play a backup QB.
Ole Miss (1-1, 1-0 SEC) 38, Southeastern Louisiana 13 (1-0): By halftime most of the alums will be back in The Grove seeing if MoJo Pork goes well with sour mash.
Missouri (1-1, 0-0 SEC) 55, Southeast Missouri State (1-1): Mizzou people will be clamoring for every all too early Heisman poll to include Kelly Bryant after he throws for about 400 yards and 4-5 touchdowns against a D1AA team.
Arkansas (1-1, 0-1 SEC) 20, Colorado State (1-1) 17: If the Hogs find a way to blow this one, Chad Morris might want to have his wife start interviewing real estate agents for a faster exit when firing day arrives.
Tennessee (0-2, 0-0 SEC) 35, Chattanooga (1-1) 20:If Jeremy Pruitt figures out a way to lose this one will he claim the Vols were looking ahead to playing the Gators in Gainesville next week?
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY: EDITION THREE
ON LIFE SUPPORT
Phil Montgomery, Tulsa: If he had lost to San Jose State last week, he'd be gone already. Will they forgive him after he gets his doors blown off by Okie State this week?
Bob Davie, New Mexico:He has heart issues. He won't make the trip to Notre Dame this week and there is no telling when or even if he coaches again. Expect the New Mexico administration to avoid firing by announcing Bob will take a position in the athletic department.
Lovie Smith, Illinois: Lovie could be gone Saturday evening if the Illini lose to Eastern Michigan but even if he wins, there's only one other winning game (Rutgers) on the schedule.
Chris Ash, Rutgers: Open dates are wonderful things for a coach whose seat is so hot his fanny is on fire.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee:Pruitt was talking about the Titanic at his Monday press conference, something that you don't do when you have Phattus Maximus believing that only he can save Tennessee football. If the Vols are 1-5 or 1-6 out the gate, it will be buyouts be damned and Phil to the rescue.
Brent Brennan, San Jose State:Nobody in San Jose has quite figured out that poorly paid coaches, rotten facilities and a lousy recruiting budget have everything to do with why this is a graveyard.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST
Clay Helton, Southern Cal: Lynn Swann “resigned” as the athletic director and the first thing the interim AD did was a vote of confidence for Clay, who, by the way, is 2-0 after obliterating Stanford, which was ranked and coached by Willie Shaw. The USC prez and boosters are desperate to try to lure Urban Meyer out of retirement. The cool thing here would be for Clay to go 10-2 or better. It would be like giving the finger to the people who want him gone.
Randy Edsall, UConn: They won't have Randy Edsall to kick around this week! No, they didn't fire him although they would like to. The Huskies don't play. That's why.
Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech:The Hokies get a game with Paycheck Tech (Furman) this week so nobody will be talking about firing Fuente. That is, unless, the impossible happens and they lose.
Mike Bobo, Colorado State:These are the country cousins of Colorado, which is off to a 2-0 start. If Colorado does well, the folks in Fort Collins feel obligated to do well, too. The Fighting Bobos need to go at least 6-6, which might be a tall task.
Tony Sanchez, UNLV: Given what's ahead for UNLV, Sanchez is probably a defibrillator away from On Life Support. After Northwestern, it's Wyoming, Boise State, Vanderbilt, Fresno State and San Diego State. It will be a small miracle if he's still gainfully employed in November.
Matt Luke, Ole Miss:The win over Arkansas last week was a reprieve from all the criticism from the season opening loss to Memphis. There will be no good will if the Rebels somehow find a way to lose to D1AA Southeastern Louisiana this week.
BEADS OF SWEAT FORMING
Charlie Strong, South Florida:If the Bulls somehow manage to lose to South Carolina State this weekend, Charlie is all but a goner.
Kalani Sitake, Brigham Young: The win over Tennessee buys him time, but he still needs some good wins to make people forget he got hosed by Utah.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: Firing is so distasteful at a school where white wine, brie and grapes are standard fare for tailgates. Mason probably doesn't have to worry until November but if he can't do better than four wins, he might be encouraged to find a new place to work.
SAVED BY THE BUYOUT
Willie Taggart, Florida State:Did you see Willie celebrate when FSU got a win over Lousy Monroe in overtime thanks to a missed extra point? You do those kind of things when you know you've got a $17 million buyout and not enough rich boosters to pony up the cash.
Chad Morris, Arkansas: If he goes 2-10 or 3-9, one of their megarich boosters might elect to write the $12.25 million check it will take to send him back to Assistant Coachville.
Chip Kelly, UCLA: The Chipster will be 3-12 after Oklahoma lays waste to UCLA and leaves the Bruins in a heap in the weeds on the side of the road this weekend. As if that matters. UCLA is a basketball school and couldn't afford the $8 million it would have taken to buy out Jamie Dixon. They darn sure don't have the more than $9 million it will take to ask Mr. Kelly if he'd like to try running a convenience store or a Dunkin Donuts rather than coach football.
Will Muschamp, South Carolina:His job is safe but having an $18 million buyout doesn't hurt.
GOOD QUOTES FOR FRIDAY
From Dana O'Neill of The Athletic on the latest revelations regarding Arizona, its head coach Sean Miller and the college basketball corruption scandal:
“There should be outrage. There will be no outrage, not from the general public that has been numbed to the nonsense of college athletics; not from coaches, who have no problem verbally undressing a manager if the clipboard doesn’t materialize during a timeout but who go Marcel Marceau when it’s time to castigate their own; and not, most assuredly, from the University of Arizona. The school has dug its heels in deeper than the desert sand, denying, distancing, rebuking and rebutting any and all accusations that have threatened to unseat its head coach, Sean Miller. While the university’s reputation flails in the wind with each new accusation, the administration refuses not only to budge but also to acknowledge anything.”
From Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic on the remarkable first week performance by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson:
“Let’s put his performance (17 for 20 for 324 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions) into context. Jackson averaged 16.2 yards per attempt (YPA). That’s the highest mark of any quarterback in a single game over the last 10(!) seasons. Yes, I am aware the Dolphins stink, but this was still an epic performance by the second-year QB. There have been a lot of bad defenses over the past 10 years, and still no quarterback ever averaged 16.2 YPA. It’s not like every receiver was wide open either.”
From Jenna West of Sports Illustrated talking with Urban Meyer about how he misses waking up in the morning when he doesn't have that daily “fight” to prepare for practice, games and recruiting:
“The morning is the hardest time of day. You're not in a fight. I've been in a fight for 33 years, and now you're not in that fight. So how do you fulfill that fight? And I feel that every morning. Every morning … It's all about a win and a loss for 33 years. I mean every day was. Not just you're getting ready for a game. No, no, no, no. You're recruiting every day. You're going against Alabama and Clemson every day, The Team Up North every day. Now you're not. That’s the number one void, is you're not in a fight."
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Gator Pete Alonso, who hit two home runs Monday for the Major League lead (47), is 0-13 since. Thursday afternoon, after a bad third at bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Alonso shaved his mustache in a gesture of superstition. He struck out and grounded out in his next two at bats … Florida State, which is an 8-1/2 point underdog for Saturday's game at Virginia, ranks near the bottom of every NCAA defensive category. This week the Seminoles will have to stop UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins, who threw for 2,640 yards and 25 touchdowns last year while rushing for 923 and nine more … Tonight's non-conference matchup between 20th-ranked Washington State (2-0) and Houston (1-1) pits Mike Leach against his protege Dana Holgorsen.