Tag Archives: Smackdown Friday

To The State Of Michigan: Don’t Screw This Up

Originally this was going to be an article talking smack to Ohio State. Then it became an article talking smack to Michigan State. Then it started to bleed into saying things about University of Michigan and the matchup against Ohio State. Now it has all blended together and it’s come down to this.

State of Michigan: Do not screw this up.

Look, Michigan State and Michigan. We know that you don’t like each other and that’s fine. You don’t have to like each other. We can go back to hating one another after this weekend but for this weekend and probably only this weekend, we need to work together.

Everyone’s up to speed on what’s at stake here, correct?

If Michigan wins this Saturday in Columbus, the Wolverines are headed to the Big Ten Championship no matter what happens with Michigan State. If Ohio State wins and Michigan State loses, Penn State goes to the Big Ten Championship thanks to their tiebreaker. But if Ohio State wins and Michigan State wins… the Buckeyes go to the Big Ten Championship. We have to endure another year of THE Ohio State telling us how much better it is to be a Buckeye.

Do you want that hanging over your heads, Spartan fans?

That’s what I thought.

Look, we the Wolverine fans are going to do what we can but it’s not looking promising for our starting quarterback, Wilton Speight, to play. I honestly wouldn’t put it past Jim Harbaugh to have Speight doing minimal snaps just so Urban Meyer has to gameplan for him. Michigan’s going to do what it can to beat Ohio State but it might come down to Michigan State. The defense is still all there but man, that offense looked pretty bad last week. John O’Korn looked pretty rough against Indiana and that was at home.

So I’m going to put it all on the table here. Michigan State, this isn’t about sending Michigan to the Big Ten title game. If that happens, so be it but that’s not the point. The point is that we cannot allow Ohio State to go again. Can you fathom how annoying Buckeye fans will be if they win another national championship? You’ve already had a wasted season, so why bother winning one more game? Michigan State can’t go to a bowl game either way.

I know Spartan players don’t want to just take a knee and the fans don’t want to cheer against their team but that’s what needs to happen. I cheer for Michigan State when they don’t play Michigan and I’m going to be rooting like crazy for Penn State. Would I rather my team goes to the championship? Absolutely. I also don’t want my ultimate rival to go though.

But let’s back up a second here.

We can’t put this all on Michigan State.

Michigan fans, I know you’ve been talking an enormous amount of trash all season. You’ve been saying how great Harbaugh and his Wolverines are all season. Well, now it’s time to find out. Good teams win when things go their way. Great teams win when everything is against them. If Michigan is the title contender that we all like to hoist them up as, now’s the time for them to show it. They’ve looked subpar in their only road games this season so if they’re a great team, showing up big time in the Horseshoe is time.

So there it is. Your fate is in your own hands, Michigan. Don’t mess it up.

Michigan State, it’s up to you if Michigan fails.

Remember what they say: blood is thicker than water. Little brother, little sister, whatever. It’s time that we come together to hate the one, true enemy: Ohio State.

So remember Mitten State: don’t screw this up.

 

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Image courtesy Pixel Bay via Creative Commons

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Nebraska Finally Comes Back To Earth

So where we at now, Nebraska? You shot into the rankings, even checking into the top 10 for a little bit there. Man, the Cornhuskers had us all fooled. Well, I guess not all of us but certainly a lot of people. They beat Oregon before we realized the Ducks were bad and Northwestern before the Wildcats got hot. Everything was coming up roses for Nebraska because the timing was right.

Then reality hit.

Once the Cornhuskers finally ran into a good team, things fell apart. Sure, the game against Wisconsin went to overtime but man that Ohio State game? Things were out of hand even before Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong got hurt. The Buckeyes even took their foot off the gas and still dropped 60.

Basically, once Nebraska actually played a good team, it crumbled. You know, it’s ok. That happens to a lot of teams. Once they come up against some resistance they just fall apart. Ask Iowa. The Hawkeyes know how that goes. They’re in such bad shape that I didn’t even want to pick on them this week.

Quite frankly, the fact that Nebraska got this far is kind of impressive. When your leading rusher only has 600 yards and your second-leading rusher is your quarterback who only trails by 200 yards, that not usually a recipe for success.

Defense is usually the calling card of the Cornhuskers and head coach Mike Riley made a point to improve on defense, but they’re still letting in a lot of points. Even if you wipe off the massacre by Ohio State, they were letting in a lot of points. They couldn’t even hold anemic teams like Illinois and Purdue to less than double-digits. For comparison’s sake, Michigan held Illinois to a garbage-time eight points and Purdue to negative ten. Ok, the Wolverines didn’t play Purdue but judging by what they did to Rutgers, that’s not an inconceivable result.

Now, Nebraska’s on a skid and Minnesota is on a run, having won its last four games. Nebraska’s quarterback is coming back from an injury while Minnesota running back Rodney Smith is starting to heat up. Smith has gone over 100 yards in the last four games, including 144 against Maryland and 154 against Purdue. The Cornhuskers gave up over 200 yards rushing to both Wisconsin and Ohio State. You do the math.

Sure Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner isn’t great in third and long situations but if your running back can keep you out of them, suddenly that doesn’t matter, does it?

Let’s be honest, Nebraska was playing way above its level for the whole season because they were playing off of emotion. They were still trying to honor their fallen punter Sam Folz. Eventually, that emotion was going to fade and what you’re left with is a team that isn’t as good as everyone wanted to think that it was.

If this was any other team but Nebraska, we wouldn’t be talking about how far the Huskers fell in the polls because they wouldn’t have even been in the polls. Nebraska got the artificial boost in the AP Poll simply because everyone still remembers the days that the Huskers were good. Pretty soon those days are going to fade and those boosts are going to fade. Then everyone is going to realize that Nebraska is exactly what it turned out to be: a team that has higher expectations than talent.

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The SEC East, Where Even the Winners Are Losers

In case you’re just now joining us, we have weekly articles that we run for “Smackdown Friday” here at Campus Pressbox. I have happily smacked down many teams throughout the season, and I’ve had my fair share of fun doing so. But when I looked to this week, there was no smackdown piece I wanted to write; there was no more fun. And who is to blame for this? The SEC East. It has sucked the fun out of everything.

The SEC East has been struggling for years now to keep up with the formidable teams in the SEC West. That’s no secret. But this year, more than any year of late, I am especially disheartened by the play of all of the SEC East teams.

You see, I couldn’t write a smackdown about any of the SEC East games (or the one cross-divisional game in the SEC), because no matter who wins these games, the SEC East is still a bunch of losers.

Too harsh? No. Maybe not even harsh enough at this point. With the results of last week’s games, we are on track for the possibility of a six-way tie in the SEC East. No, this is not a joke. The SEC East, on the other hand, really is a joke.

In the spirit of smacking down a team (or seven), let me get to the fun part. Let me really explain how the SEC East teams lose this weekend, even if they do win. And no, there was no exaggeration there. I am actually going to smack down every team in the SEC East. Let’s face it; they all deserve this.

Florida hosts South Carolina this weekend. That means the seniors will be playing their last home game against the coach who recruited them, Will Muschamp. Crazy how things work out! What’s crazier: Either team winning this game does not change how awful the two teams have been (at times) this season.

Florida just had one of the most gut-wrenching losses at Arkansas last weekend. The Gators had almost no offensive production, and the defense (after being on the field most of the night) was exposed. This win would be nice to bounce back but at the end of the day, the Gators still have been incredibly disappointing.

South Carolina has done pretty well with its new quarterback. Yes, Will Muschamp has finally figured out what a good QB looks like. But, South Carolina is still nowhere near where they were earlier this decade. South Carolina could get this road win and satisfy its fans, but to the rest of us the Gamecocks will still be losers.

Georgia hosts Auburn this weekend. With the way the SEC East has been playing against the West, this game is almost guaranteed to be ugly for the Bulldogs.

Georgia narrowly beat Kentucky last weekend, couldn’t get anything going in a loss against Florida the weekend before and lost to Vanderbilt in its game before the bye week in October. What I’m saying is: Georgia has four losses and deserves to be ripped into for these losses. And even if by some miracle the Bulldogs do beat the Tigers, they still shouldn’t be ranked. They’re still going to be losers.

Kentucky pays Tennessee a visit this weekend, too. And the fact that there are a number of Vol fans who are concerned about possibly losing this game says almost all that I need to say.

Kentucky will always be a basketball school in the eyes of the rest of the SEC and probably even the rest of the country. Somehow, the Wildcats have managed to put together a season that’s actually pretty impressive by Kentucky football standards. If the Wildcats beat the Vols, they will be celebrating. But that would all but guarantee that Florida returns to the SEC Championship Game (if the Gators beat the Gamecocks). So Kentucky still loses.

And on the other side of this, Tennessee actually really needs this win. There are plenty of fans concerned that the Vols won’t get it either. My dad is one of those fans. And while Tennessee may very well win this game, after some of their recent losses (including injuries) the Vols will ultimately still be losers.

Missouri hosts Vanderbilt this weekend. This game is truly the battle of the two worst teams in the entire SEC, not even just in the SEC East. The Loser Bowl, perhaps?

Missouri has taken too many L’s too count this season. The Tigers have yet to win a conference game. And they have three of those left, including this one. Not to mention, they also lost to MTSU in October. Who even does that? Are you actually allowed to do that in the SEC? No victory could redeem Mizzou at this point. The Tigers will still be the biggest losers in the SEC this season.

Vanderbilt is only one conference win ahead of Missouri. That being said, the Commodores really have no room to talk here. They have had some “moral victories” in the numerous close games they have forced. But even those moral victories combined with an actual victory this weekend would not make Vanderbilt a winner. That record doesn’t lie.

No matter which way you look at things, every SEC East team will be a loser this weekend. That, my friends, is why I decided to smack down the entire SEC East. Bless their hearts.

Email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo: Joni Vanhoecke, Flickr

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Gator Defense Will Silence Austin Allen and Company

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another smackdown. Interestingly enough, I have only written one of these in favor of my Florida Gators. But fear not, because this week it’s time for another one.

The Gators beat the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend in the annual World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. While the offense may have been lackluster as always, the defense was scary good.

This weekend Florida travels to Fayetteville to play the Arkansas Razorbacks. The last time the Gators traveled to Arkansas was during the Meyer era, and they won that game by 31 points.

Overall, the Gators boast a 9-1 record over the Razorbacks. And after this weekend I fully expect that record to improve to 10-1.

It’s not that the Razorbacks can’t beat the Gators. It’s just that they won’t.

The season was actually going pretty well for Arkansas just a few weeks ago. It had only lost two games to two very good teams, and not by completely ridiculous margins. Then the Razorbacks traveled to Auburn and got absolutely blown out by the Tigers. They lost 56-3. Yes, that means it was a 53-point loss. Now that is an example of a completely ridiculous margin.

While Auburn is good, there’s no way the Tigers are that good. That’s the kind of score you expect when a major FBS team is playing some tiny FCS team. That’s not the kind of score you expect in conference play.

Arkansas did have two turnovers to Auburn’s none. But what really hurt most is its 215 totally yards on offense to Auburn’s 632.

No, Florida’s offense will probably not put up 632 yards (I can only dream of the day when it does). Actually, the Florida offense only had 231 yards in the win over Georgia. But after holding Georgia’s offense to 164 yards, that was more than enough for the Gators.

Arkansas may have an offense significantly better than that of Georgia. But it also has a defense that is much worse than Georgia’s. And because of that, this matchup favors the Gators.

My favorite game-predicting statistic, the ESPN FPI Matchup Rater, gives the Gators a 65.2% chance of winning this game. But if we dive deeper into the numbers from this season, you’ll see why the Gators are favored (and rightfully so).

The Razorbacks are averaging 30.9 points per game on offense but giving up an average of 31.4. They are gaining an average of 416.8 yards each game but allowing an average of 428.0. Furthermore, the Razorbacks average 256.4 passing yards per game while giving up an average of 206.3. And as far as rushing yards go, they average 160.4 yards per game but give up 221.8.

The Gators are averaging 29.4 points each game and only giving up an average of 11.7. They gain an average of 398.6 yards per game but only allow an average of 239.9. The Gators average 228.4 yards per game in the air but allow an average of only 134.3. They gain an average of 170.1 yards on the ground while allowing an average of only 105.6.

I’ll let all that sit for a minute. Read it again if you must.

But if you look at these numbers you’ll see an interesting pattern, a pattern that results in more W’s for the Gators and more L’s for the Razorbacks. The Gators put up more points and gain more yards than they allow. The Razorbacks put up fewer points and allow more yards than they gain, with the only exception being passing yards.

That one exception could be very significant in many games. But when you’re playing the Gators, you really can’t rely on success in the passing game. The Gators have a borderline erotic defense. Maybe even just erotic.

They have an incredibly strong defensive line, especially when the linemen are all healthy. They boast one of the best linebackers in the country in Jarrad Davis. The Gators also have Marcus Maye, who you really don’t want to throw the ball anywhere near, at safety. Not to mention they have the best cornerback duo in all of college football this season, Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor.

It comes down to this: Austin Allen is good. But he, along with the Arkansas O-line, should prove to be no match for this Gator defense. As long as this defense performs the way it has been for most of the season, the Razorbacks will end up on their knees begging for mercy, much like Bret Bielema in this lovely clip from a Hog Walk.

And just because I can’t talk about Arkansas without mentioning its first game of the season, let’s not forget that Arkansas almost lost to Louisiana Tech. No, the Gators didn’t blow out UMass, but they didn’t only win by a single point. So there’s that.

Go Gators! It’s only natural for gators to annihilate hogs anyways.

 

Email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo: Bryan McDonald, Flickr

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Iowa Has Been Downgraded To Dark Horse Status

Every year all the talking heads and us… writing heads… like to make predictions for the upcoming season. We proudly make a bold proclamation as to who we expect to win the Big Ten or whatever conference you pledge allegiance to. Then, after we make our declarations of what should be painfully obvious to everyone, we like to then whisper our next pick. We all think we’re pretty clever as we make our dark horse picks, those teams that we expect to come out of nowhere and shock everyone. Then we lean back and smugly cross our arms, impressed with our own brilliance.

This is what we have here: battle of the dark horse teams.

Oh, wait. No, that’s not right.

Iowa, weren’t you supposed to run away with the Big Ten West? Let me check my notes here, and… yes, yes you were! Penn State was a dark horse team but Iowa, not so much.

Man, what happened to you Iowa? Remember that time you had that up and coming, young quarterback? The one that you were so confident in that you let Jake Rudock transfer to a conference rival? C.J. Beathard has only thrown 11 touchdowns all season and only three of them against what I’d call a real team.

No, not Iowa State. I’m talking about the defending FCS champions in North Dakota State. Not much shame in losing to a team that’s won five consecutive national championships and has the coolest local sports guy in my cousin Mark. At least Beathard had a decent showing there. He no-showed against the other two real teams Iowa has played recently, throwing a combined total of 295 yards and two picks against Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Maybe Iowa should start taking notes from Penn State because they aren’t going to be favored to win their division again anytime soon. Penn State at least knows how to embrace that dark horse role and shock the world by upsetting something. See, that’s how it’s supposed to happen. You aren’t supposed to be the one getting shocked, Iowa. I know that’s difficult for your head coach to figure out but hopefully, someone can.  

Really, we shouldn’t be surprised that Iowa’s not very good because this is what Kirk Ferentz does at Iowa. Since the 2004 season, Iowa has basically gone back and forth from bad to average seasons and occasionally pops out a good one. It’s really our own fault that we let them be ranked so high to start the season.

Hopefully, Ferentz went back and watched some tape on Penn State to learn about how to be a dark horse, because that’s certainly what they are now. I’m not even sure you can call them a dark horse right now. Penn State is still rolling after inexplicably knocking off Ohio State. The Nittany Lions have looked good in almost every game except for a rather large bump in the road in Ann Arbor.

That’s what happens when you have a coach that’s not stale and is still fighting to get himself entrenched at a school. Ferentz is burned out at Iowa and for some reason, they continue to pay him for that one good season out of every five. It’s been 17 seasons and he’s delivered two Big Ten titles and one divisional championship. Cut him loose.

What we’ve got here is two schools trending in very different directions. Both are blocked by powerhouses at the top of their respective divisions but Penn State has shown that the ones in the East can be toppled. Iowa has just shown that the Hawkeyes are going to be a doormat.

 

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How Much Is Michigan State Going to Lose By?

Well, well, well. Look who we have here. How’ve you been Sparty? That record with the five losses tells me you haven’t been so good.

So I just want to rewind the clock a few years.

Mike Hart made what was essentially a harmless comment in a postgame conference about Michigan State being Michigan’s little brother and oh man, did Sparty Nation get all bent out of shape. You clung to it, letting the hate grow, and fester. It basically fed into everything that you did and stood for.

I live in Michigan so I’ve seen some of these things. Spartan fans got a billboard to declare that Michigan was now the “little sister” among other things. Fans chant it at the game, and if you listened to sports talk radio around here, oh man do you hear it all the time. It’s like they have nothing else, well except for the Michigan State PR group taking a shot at another Michigan tradition.

I warned you against this, Michigan State.

I told you that if you wanted to be the better team you had to act like the better team.

Well, well, well.

So Spartan fans, I want you to think back to all the times that you declared that Big Blue was done and that Michigan State was the new big dog. How you laughed at us when we were down and figured that you were destined to stay at the top of the standings forever.

Michigan fans learned that it doesn’t work that way. We learned that sometimes you’re going to have some down years and that you need to remember that you might have to take some lumps later on.

And we remember. We remember it all, Sparty.

We remember all the “little sister” comments.

We remember the big losses.

We remember the trouble with the snap last year.

And if the fans remember, you can bet the players remember. If the players remember… just think about what a coach who is obsessed with winning and will go for two against one of the worst teams in the nation basically just for kicks remembers.

The beast that is Jim Harbaugh has been awakened, and he is not happy. He’s never happy (but that’s beside the point).

One of the most punishing defensive fronts and one of the best secondaries in the nation are on their way to East Lansing. This is a defense that is allowing an average of ten points a game. That is the best in the nation. Where’s Sparty rank on scoring? Hang on, I’ve got to scroll a lot. Oh, there they are. Michigan State is scoring just over 23 points a game which is good for 110th in the nation.

Michigan State is 61st in passing yards per game. Michigan is first in passing yards allowed.

Michigan State is 86th in rushing yards per game. Michigan is fourth in rushing yards allowed per game.

If the season were only a couple weeks old, those numbers would be less impressive. We’re more than halfway through the season, though. Michigan has beat up on good teams like Wisconsin, Colorado, and Penn State. Wisconsin is the only team to stay within single-digits of the Wolverines and they’re ranked no. 11 in the nation.

Imagine what an angry Michigan team is going to do to a bad Michigan State team.

The question isn’t if Michigan is going to win, it’s how much is Michigan going to win by?

I have all the respect in the world for Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio, but even he can’t coach his way out of the slaughter that’s coming his way. Michigan State is not equipped to deal with the juggernaut that is this current Wolverines team. Heck, Michigan State might not be equipped to even get to a bowl game.

Maybe you’ll rebound and maybe you won’t. But this time Michigan State, beware that Michigan is going to remember these last few years for quite a while. If you rebound, the Wolverines are going to make sure that you have to work for it.

 

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Auburn Tigers and Malzahn Are More Fit to Win than Razorbacks and Bielema

This is not a team I usually write about, but I just couldn’t resist weighing in on this game. I know the Auburn Tigers are ranked a little below the Arkansas Razorbacks, but they’re going to beat them anyways. Plain and simple: Auburn is a more balanced team than Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks.

Before I get to pump up those Tigers, let me smack down these Razorbacks just a little bit.

Remember their first game of the season this year? I do. It was almost a borderline erotic upset win—for the other team. Arkansas hosted the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and only won by a single point. The Razorbacks were a 21.5-point favorite heading into that game and they beat the Bulldogs 21-20. That’s just plain embarrassing.

Speaking of embarrassing games, Arkansas got absolutely whooped by the Texas A&M Aggies almost a month ago now. I don’t care if they’ve proven to be a good team this year and they have the 12th Man, that’s just inexcusable. The 19-point loss at home against the Alabama Crimson Tide is far more excusable than that.

Really, the only thing the Razorbacks have going for them is their win over the Ole Miss Rebels last weekend. No, the double-overtime win over the TCU Horned Frogs is not that impressive. TCU is overrated once again. But somehow the Razorbacks are still ranked ahead of the Tigers. I just don’t understand.

Maybe the Razorbacks had more preseason optimism surrounding the team than the Tigers did, but the preseason is long gone now. What matters is what these teams have actually done on the football field so far. And Auburn definitely has the edge there.

Auburn has two losses this year: a 6-point loss to the Clemson Tigers and a 13-point loss to the Texas A&M Aggies. It’s worth noting that Auburn’s loss to the Aggies was less severe than that of Arkansas. And having a 6-point loss against a team that went to the National Championship Game last year is nothing to be ashamed of either.

If you’re like me and you need numbers to justify this clear advantage I say that the Tigers have, then you’ll love this part.

Arkansas has allowed 398.9 yards per game and 27.9 points per game. Auburn has allowed 346.8 yards per game and 16 points per game. The gap there undeniably favors Auburn’s defense. If you swear by ESPN’s statistical analyses then you’ll enjoy knowing that the Tigers are 13th in defensive efficiency while the Razorbacks are 60th.

Although Auburn has the advantage defensively, the two teams are pretty evenly matched offensively. They’re also pretty evenly matched as far as special teams go.

The difference here really does come from the defense. With a stronger defense and the home field advantage at Jordan-Hare Stadium, you’d be crazy to think that Auburn doesn’t have the upper hand.

Heck, even ESPN’s FPI gives Auburn an 84.7% chance of winning this game. Considering the Razorbacks are ranked no. 17 and the Tigers are ranked no. 21, I’d say that kind of margin is a pretty good sign for the Tigers.

And if you really want to get ugly about it, let me just remind you that the Arkansas head coach, Bret Bielema, looks like he ate Auburn’s head coach, Gus Malzahn. Low blow? Maybe. But come on, the Tigers are clearly more fit to win this game when you take everything into account. Plus Coach Malzahn can actually move around the sidelines with his team as they put points on the board over this unimpressive Razorback defense. You can’t beat that!

So let me leave you with two of the most recognizable words in all of college football: WAR EAGLE.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo courtesy of Organizedchaos02 on Wikimedia Commons.

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Florida Gators Will Beat Mizzou and Prove They Aren’t Afraid of Tigers

Contrary to what seems to be popular opinion lately, the Florida Gators are not scared of Tigers. They are not scared of the LSU Tigers and are definitely not scared of the Missouri Tigers.

Due to Mother Nature having a mind of her own, the Gators were not able to host the LSU Tigers last weekend. Because conspiracy theorists are everywhere nowadays, a hurricane postponement somehow morphed into the storyline of Florida being scared to play a football game. Ha. The internet trolls must’ve been incredibly bored last week.

The Florida Gators are in the AP Top 25. They have no reason to be scared of anybody.

Apparently losing one road game in an SEC East rivalry with the Tennessee Volunteers means that the Gators are just going to be scared from now on. Not only do the Vols get credit for being a top 10 team, this was also the first time they had beaten Florida since 2004. For some reason, I don’t think that all adds up to mean the Gators should be frightened by the remainder of their opponents. That moonshine up in Tennessee must be great, because countless Vol fans would disagree.

So, now that we know the Gators have no reason to be scared of the LSU Tigers, let’s talk about why they also have absolutely no reason whatsoever to be scared of the Missouri Tigers.

Last year Florida marched into Columbia, Missouri, and beat the Tigers 21-3. This year’s team seems pretty similar to last year’s except with far more potential on offense, especially now that Luke Del Rio is back at quarterback. This Florida team also now has a great kicker in social media sensation Eddy Pineiro.

The Tigers have been all over the place this season. They started out with a 15-point loss on the road to the West Virginia Mountaineers. The next week they hosted the Eastern Michigan Eagles and beat them by a whopping 40 points. After that, they hosted the Georgia Bulldogs and eventually lost that game by only a point. Not surprisingly, the Tigers then beat up on the Delaware State Hornets the next week, winning that one 79-0. Two weeks ago, the Tigers traveled to Baton Rouge and lost to some other “scary” Tigers, 42-7.

That puts the Missouri Tigers at 2-3 overall. Meanwhile, the Florida Gators are 4-1, even though they’ve been missing some of their defensive line as well as their starting quarterback for the last two games.

When you look at it that way, the Gators have absolutely nothing to be afraid of this weekend. There are a lot of other ways you can look at it that will support that same Gator confidence.

Missouri’s biggest strength is its passing game. Florida’s biggest strength is probably its group of defensive backs led by likely first-round draft picks Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor. No SEC team has more interceptions so far this season than the Gators. Georgia also has eight interceptions but has played one more game than Florida has. Only one SEC team has more sacks than Florida and unsurprisingly that team is Alabama. Texas A&M also has 19 sacks but, again, they have played an extra game comparatively.

By the way, as far as yardage goes, Florida has the fourth-best passing defense in the country. Do I hear a “DBU” chant starting?

Even though Missouri’s rushing attack hasn’t been its biggest strength, Florida is also ranked in the top ten in rushing defense. And even beyond that, Florida has only allowed an average of 11.6 points per game this season. With a defense like that, the Gators have nothing to be scared of when it comes to this Missouri team.

The Missouri defense, on the other hand, has been shaky at best. The Florida offense has performed similarly. But, now that Luke Del Rio will be starting again, I expect Florida’s offensive production to improve at least marginally.

Florida’s special teams? Well, kick returning hasn’t been great. Like I said before, Florida finally has a solid kicker in Pineiro. Florida also has a great punter in Johnny Townsend, who has averaged 50.2 yards per punt this season.

Basically, no matter which way you look at it, Missouri is the team that should be (and probably is) scared. I know that the last time Missouri came to town for homecoming, things didn’t go so well for Florida. But that was the Muschamp era and this is the McElwain era. Coach Muschamp is currently 2-4 at South Carolina, if you really needed any explanation on why the difference in head coaches is significant.

So, after a week off and a week of ridicule from LSU Tigers and Tennessee Vols fans alike, the Gators are going to remind everyone just why we aren’t scared of anybody. Championship teams often have one loss anyway, so you can’t count out the Gators just yet.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo of student ticket from Kristen Botica.

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It’s OK Tennessee, You’ll Probably Only Lose By 30

Hey look, you had a good run Tennessee. You made everyone think that you were legit and had a shot to win it all. It’s time now, though. It’s time that the Volunteers admit that they are frauds.

It’s our own fault, really. After Tennessee had to go to overtime to survive Appalachian State, we should’ve known. This year’s Appalachian State isn’t that same FCS-defending champion that knocked off Michigan in 2007 either. The Mountaineers are basically a middle of the road MAC team in 2016 (since no one knows what a good Sun Belt Conference team looks like). A team that wants people to think they can contend for a playoff berth shouldn’t have struggled with Appalachian State.

Sure, Tennessee beat Florida but so what? Florida might not even be that good either. Who have the Gators beat? Kentucky is only good at basketball and the University of Massachusetts is 1-5. Well, I guess Florida did destroy the powerhouse of Vanderbilt 13-6… oh wait, Vanderbilt is not very good either.

Let’s also not forget that it took a hail mary to defeat perennial disappointment Georgia. Georgia was Tennessee before Tennessee was Tennessee. Always a bunch of hype and a bunch of talent but never any results. I’m not sure there’s anything else that can be said about Georgia that hasn’t already been said.

Then the luck finally ran out against Texas A&M in double overtime. There was no dramatic come from behind win, no crying Butch Jones. Just your typical SEC “defensive struggle”. Can we stop pretending like the SEC is the gold standard for defense now? 28 to Florida, 31 to Georgia, and 45 points to A&M is a lot of points to give up.

And now you get… Alabama.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Nick Saban, but he isn’t going to allow a miracle to beat him. Auburn did that to him once and it hasn’t happened since. He might have had to sell a little more of his soul but hey, he’s got a statue and we don’t. A statue that someone was dumb enough to put a Tennessee flag on. Just ask USC how poking the bear went. Regardless, Nick Saban is going to be watching for a little miracle resurgence and he will squash it like he squashes everyone else’s SEC championship hopes.

Look here, Josh Dobbs. You can block everyone on Twitter that you want but it’s not going to help you against that Crimson Tide defense. Let me break it down for you:

You’re averaging 33 points a game against lesser teams.

Alabama is giving up just under 16 points a game and has defeated three ranked teams.

Tennessee is allowing almost 27 points a game and hasn’t shutout even the lowliest of opponents.

Alabama’s scoring almost 45 points a game. You can’t even pretend like that number’s inflated either because their highest scoring affair was against Arkansas.

Tennessee broke one streak this year after defeating Florida, so that should be good enough. No need to get your hopes up here, Volunteers. It’s not like a nine-game losing streak to Alabama is anything to be ashamed about. There are some teams that are probably jealous of only having lost nine times in a row to Alabama, or if they aren’t yet they will be soon.

Maybe next year, Tennessee. Well… maybe not. Your year will come eventually but it won’t be until you somehow don’t have to play Nick Saban.

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Image credit: Kyle Botica

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Huskies Ready to Go Duck Hunting

If you’re an Oregon Ducks fan, think about why you call yourself that before you read on and get all offended.  I’m betting most of you began rooting for them when Chip Kelly got there and won a Pac-12 title in 2009.  Spare me.

You had to know that stretch of success would come to an end.  When did you realize it was over?  Was it that bulldozing you took from Ohio State?  Or, maybe it was before that when Chip Kelly took off for the NFL and left you with Mark Helfrich.  Either way, you’re done.  It’s over.  I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted.

Power in college football is cyclical.  There are no exceptions.  Oregon thrived over the better part of the past decade because a lot of things started going well.  Nike took over uniform design and ran with it.  At the time, it was impossible to know this was the first layer of a new strategy that would go on to revolutionize the sportswear and college recruiting industries.

I don’t think Nike wants to create a whole new Oregon football uniform for every single game, but the expectation is there now.  This one here is my personal all-time favorite, by the way.  To roll out something the Ducks have already worn would be to disappoint those checking in to see what they’re wearing.  That’s all many of us will be doing this weekend.  Seeing the score, we’ll either turn it right back to the inevitably closer game we’re watching or stay tuned to enjoy the duck hunt.

Breaking news: Dakota Prukop is not Vernon Adams, who was not Marcus Mariota.  I smell a couple picks.  If he even starts, that is. Really, it won’t matter who starts behind center.  The Washington Huskies are going to make sure there are no smiling Ducks this weekend.

Did you see what Washington did to a good team last Friday?  Now imagine what’ll happen Saturday against an Oregon team that’s lost to Nebraska, Colorado and Washington State its last three times out.  I mean, the Huskies laid a beatdown on Stanford the likes of which we haven’t seen since 2014.  That was the last time this game was played in Eugene, when the Ducks blew out the Cardinal, 45-16, on their way to that lopsided national championship duel with the Buckeyes.  More breaking news: this isn’t 2014 and the Huskies aren’t pushovers anymore.

If there is a bright spot for the Ducks this weekend, it’s that they’ll be remembered as the second-best road win on Washington’s Playoff resume.  The Autzen Stadium crowd brings the noise and it’ll be fun for them to have at least this one big game this fall, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re so clearly overmatched on the field.

There’s a new top dog in the Pac-12 North and you’ll get your double confirmation when the Huskies wipe the turf with the Ducks, no matter what they’re wearing.  I hope you like Chinese turkey.

E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Great Gatzke

Photo: Wikipedia

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