Auburn-A&M headline week 4

Tremendously important game in College Station Saturday as the Auburn Tigers square off with the Texas A&M Aggies at 2:30 PM CT on CBS. The Tigers are the underdog and College Station is quite a home field advantage. I’ll tell you who I like below and why.

The Crimson Tide has another week off as it faces Southern Miss.

Some other key national matchups on the slate this week.

Here’s a look at the action.

Last Week: 20-4

Overall: 59-17

No.8 Auburn (3-0) @ No.17 Texas A&M (2-1)

2:30 PM CT

CBS

Carter Blackburn, Rick Neuheisel, Aaron Murray, John Schriffen

A&M by 3 1/2

Auburn rushed for 467 yards last Saturday against Kent State. Of course it was Kent State not the Aggies, so it’ll be a little tougher sledding against the A&M defense. I do think Bo Nix is getting better and better as he gets more confidence as a college quarterback. He’s got the tools and the intangibles to be terrific. I’m not a big believer in Kellen Mond. He’s good at times, but not so good at other times. Clemson made him look like a junior high quarterback. Auburn is pretty good on defense. I like the Tigers to do enough to get out of College Station with a major SEC West victory. It’s going to be quite a contest.

Auburn 28, A&M 27

Southern Miss (2-1) @No.2 Alabama (3-0)

11 AM CT

ESPN2

Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer, Lauren Sisler

Alabama by 38 1/2

Not much to say about this except this non-conference schedule is not too swift.

Alabama 52, Southern Miss 10

No.7 Notre Dame (2-0) @ No. 3 Georgia (3-0)

7 PM CT

CBS

Brad, Gary, Jamie

Dawgs by 14 1/2

Notre Dame and Brian Kelly are out of their league here.

Georgia 45, Notre Dame 24

No.4 LSU (3-0) @ Vanderbilt (0-2)

11 AM CT

SEC Network

Tom, JRodg, Cole

LSU by 24

Joe Burrow has completed 75-of-90 passes, 83.3%, for 1,122 yards 11 TDs and 2 Ints. He has just 4 less touchdowns than he has incompletions. That’s phenomenal. Vandy is an excellent school and excellent at baseball, but football’s not their thing.

LSU 49, Vanderbilt 17

Tennessee (1-2) @ No.9 Florida (3-0)

11 AM CT

ESPN

Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Allison Williams

Gators by 14

Tennessee’s been a disaster this season. Florida had a nice come from behind victory at Kentucky last Saturday. The Gators compound the Vols’ misery.

Florida 35, Tennessee 20

Kentucky (2-1) @ Mississippi State (2-1)

3 PM CT

SEC Network

Taylor Zarzour, Stinch, Alyssa Lang

State by 6 1/2

State lost to Kansas State last Saturday at home so that was disappointing. Kentucky let a double digit lead over Florida slip away in the 4th quarte. Both teams are pretty good. I guess give me State with the home field in a close game.

State 27, Kentucky 24

South Carolina (1-2) @ Missouri (2-1)

3 PM CT

SEC Alternate Network

Mike Morgan, Ray Bentley, Tera Talmedge

Missouri by 9 1/2

South Carolina played better last Saturday against Alabama even though they lost fairly handily. It was a competitive game in the first half. I’m going to take the upset here

South Carolina 31, Missouri 28

No. 23 California (3-0) @ Ole Miss (2-1)

11 AM CT

ESPNU

Clay Matvick, Ryan Leaf, Taylor Davis

Ole Miss by 2 1/2

I’m taking Cal in the slight upset.

Cal 24, Ole Miss 21

San Jose State (1-1) @ Arkansas (2-1)

6:30 PM CT

SEC Network

Dave, D.J., Dawn

Ark by 20 1/2

Arkansas played better last Saturday against Colorado State. Still far from where they want to be if they can ever get to be an upper echelon SEC West team, but they showed some spark on offense last Saturday.

Arkansas 52, San Jose State 24

No. 11 Michigan @ No. 13 Wisconsin

11 AM CT

FOX

Gus, Joel, Jenny

Wisconsin by 3 1/2

I like the Badgers a lot and not so bullish on Michigan. Wisconsin has a real shot at winning the Big Ten. They’ll have to go through Ohio State but that’s down the road. I like them in Camp Randall.

Wisconsin 30, Michigan 24

Charlotte @ No.1 Clemson

6:30 PM CT

ACC Network

Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George

Clemson by 41 1/2

Clemson gets a week off too.

Clemson 49, Charlotte 14

Miami (Ohio) @ No. 6 Ohio State

2:30 PM CT

Big Ten Network

Brandon Gaudin, James Laurinaitis, Elise Menaker

OSU by 39 1/2

Justin Fields is looking every bit of the superstar quarterback he was projected to be coming out of high school 2 years ago. The Buckeyes get a blow as well.

Ohio State 56, Miami Ohio 13

Oklahoma State @ No. 12 Texas

6:30 PM CT

ABC

Chris, Kirk, Maria

Texas by 6

Like the Hook’em Horns at home, but in a close shootout.

Texas 42, OK State 41

No. 16 Oregon @ Stanford

6 PM CT

ESPN

Sean, Todd, Holly

Oregon by 10

Oregon is an explosive team offensively that is starting to play better defense this season under Mario Cristobal and is a major contender in a pretty solid PAC 12. Stanford is dysfunctional.

Oregon 42, Stanford 30

Friday

No. 10 Utah @ USC

8 PM CT

Fox Sports 1

Joe Davis, Brock Huard, Bruce Feldman

Utah by 4

The Utes are a hard nosed, tough team. They’re just mentally and physically tougher than SC.

Utah 34, USC 27

Friday

Air Force @ No. 20 Boise State

8 PM CT

ESPN 2

Dave Flemming, Jim Mora, Paul Carcaterra

Boise State by 7 1/2

The Academy went into Boulder last Saturday and knocked off a Colorado team that was hot after defeating Nebraska the week before coming back from a 17-0 deficit. The Academy won in overtime. I like the Falcons to pull off the upset at Albertsons Stadium.

Air Force 30, Boise State 28

South Alabama @ UAB

2:30 PM CT

NFL Network

Rhett Lewis, Max Starks, Molly Sullivan

Blazers by 10 1/2

Quarterback Tyler Johnston is playing extremely well for the Blazers and the defense looks physical and athletic. UAB could be 7-0 heading into Knoxville in week 10 with a shot at winning there. They have had a bye already and will have one before they play the Vols.

UAB 35, South Alabama 24

SMU @ No. 25 TCU

2:30 PM CT

Fox Sports 1

Tim, Spencer, Coley Harvey

TCU by 9 1/2

My daughter, a sophomore at TCU, is pumped for this one. Kind of a matchup of the more understated versus the Mercedes Convertible types. Like the more blue collar mentality in football and in life.

TCU 37, SMU 24

No. 22 Washington @ BYU

2:30 PM CT

ABC or ESPN2

Steve Levy,. Grease, McShay, Molly

Wash by 6 1/2

BYU has knocked off Tennessee at Knoxville and USC at home in consecutive weeks. I still like Washington a lot. They could very well be the best team in the PAC 12. I’ll take Chris Peterson and the Huskies on the road in Provo.

Washington 34, BYU 27

West Virginia @ Kansas

3:30 PM CT

ESPN+

Dave LaMont, Mike Golic Jr., Lericia Harris

WVU by 4 1/2

I really like what Les Miles and Kansas did last Saturday going to Chestnut Hill and dominating Boston College 48-24. They’re an impressive team. Like Les and the Jayhawks in an upset.

Kansas 35, West Virginia 34

Colorado @ No. 24 Arizona State

9 PM CT

PAC 12 Network

Ted Robinson, Yogi Roth, Jill Savage

Zona State by 7 1/2

Even though the Buffaloes lost to Air Force in overtime last Saturday at home, I like what Mel Tucker is doing in Boulder. I’m going to take the Buffs in an upset on the road.

Colorado 31, Zona State 27

UCLA @ No. 19 Washington State

9:30 PM CT

ESPN

Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman

WSU by 18 1/2

Really bullish on MIke Leach and what he does in Corvallis. He’s phenomenal.

Washington State 48, UCLA 28

Michigan State @ Northwestern

11 AM CT

ABC

Dave, Gregory, Lugues

MSU by 9

I’m going to take another upset here. Like Pat Fitzgerald and his team to win at home.

Northwestern 21, Michigan State 17

Tonight

Houston @ Tulane

7 PM CT

ESPN

Adam Amin, Matt Hasselbeck, Pat McAfee, Molly McGrath

Tulane by 5

This line has been jumping from 1 to 5, but I like Dana Holgerson, quarterback D’Eriq King and the Cougars to pull off the upset. Houston is battle tested from playing Oklahoma (which is off this week, lost 49-31) and playing Washington State tough at home last week losing 31-24

Houston 35, Tulane 30

College Football Week 3

Not a lot of heavyweight matchups this week on the college schedule, but some solid games and there are always some twists and turns every weekend.

The No.2 Crimson Tide, coming off a 62-10 victory last Saturday over New Mexico State, travels to Columbia to face the South Carolina Gamecocks at 2:30 PM CT on CBS. The No.8 Auburn Tigers host Kent State as Auburn tries to rebound from a below average performance last Saturday Night against Tulane. Auburn-Kent State kicks off at 6 PM CT on ESPN2. Florida travels to Kentucky for a Saturday Night matchup at 6 PM on ESPN.

There are some pretty interesting national contests and some others involving SEC versus out of conference teams. Here’s a look at this week’s matchups.

Last week: 21-5

Overall: 39-13, 75%

No.2 Alabama (2-0) @ South Carolina (1-1)

Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia

2:30 PM CT

CBS

Bama by 25 1/2

With starting quarterback Jake Bentley now likely out for the season with a broken foot, Gamecocks freshman Ryan HIlinski stepped in last week and completed 24 of 30 passes for 282 yards with 2 TDs and 1 int in a 72-10 Gamecocks victory over Charleston Southern. This isn’t Charleston Southern. Tua and the receivers keep excelling for the Crimson Tide. Tua was 16 of 24 for 227 and 3 TDs last Saturday in the Tide’s 62-10 victory over New Mexico State. Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are the best receiving quartet in the country. The Crimson Tide looks like they’ve found a good kicker as well as Hoover freshman Will Reichard connected on field goals of 48 and 49 yards last Saturday. I like the Crimson Tide to roll here.

Alabama 49, South Carolina 10

Kent State @ No.8 Auburn

6 PM CT

ESPN2

Aubs by 36

For Auburn to even be in the conversation in the SEC, Bo Nix is going to have to get a lot better and JaTarvious Whitlow is going to have to stop fumbling. Nix can’t stay in the pocket. He starts running around and running backwards before there is much pressure. He needs to learn to stay in the pocket. Whitlow rushed for 96 yards last Saturday Night against Tulane but fumbled 3 times losing 2 of them. Auburn has to really clean up things if Gus and company think they have any chance at A&M next Saturday.

Auburn 45, Kent State 7

No.1 Clemson @ Syracuse

6:30 PM CT

ABC

Clemson by 27

The Clemson Tigers may be better on defense this season than they were last year even after losing their top 5 starting defensive lineman, 3 of which got drafted in the first round. Syracuse upset Clemson 2 years ago at the Carrier Dome and took the Tigers to the limit last season in Death Valley. But Trevor Lawrence wasn’t on the field for either of those games, not in the first one and he missed the entire second half of last year’s game with an injury. Clemson showed they’re as good as advertised in thoroughly dominating A&M last Saturday at home, 24-10. Kellen Mond had no clue against the Clemson defense. That’s the story to me right now with Clemson. We know Trevor Lawrence, Justyn Ross, Travis Etienne and Tee Higgins are super players, but now the Clemson defense looks better than ever under Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables. Syracuse got destroyed by Mike Locksley and Maryland last Saturday. I see Clemson having their way after some resistance in the first half.

Clemson 48, Syracuse 20

No. 9 Florida @ Kentucky

6 PM CT

ESPN

Florida by 8 1/2

Florida had defeated Kentucky 31 straight years before last season. Kentucky went into Florida and knocked off the Gators 27-16. Florida has a couple of key injuries with wide receiver and electric playmaker Kadarius Toney and super cornerback C.J. Henderson on the shelf with injuries. Kentucky starting quarterback Terry Wilson is out for the season after an injury last Saturday and Troy transfer Sawyer Smith takes over. That’s not all bad. Smith is a good player. I like the Gators to prevail in a hard fought contest.

Florida 28, Kentucky 24

Georgia 48, Arkansas State 13

11 AM CT

ESPN2

Dawgs by 33

Jake Fromm has found a new target in 5 star freshman George Pickens from Hoover who made a couple of acrobatic receptions last Saturday. Could really help their offense.

Mississippi State 31, Kansas State 28

11 AM CT

ESPN

State by 8

I like a close game here. State better watch themselves in this one. Kansas State has a new coach, Chris Klieman, who just won 2 straight FCS National Championships at North Dakota State and he’s brought in a lot of energy to the Little Apple. State gets by barely.

No.5 Oklahoma @ UCLA

7 PM CT

FOX

OU by 22
'

Jalen Hurts is thriving under Lincoln Riley and the electric Sooner offense. They keep it up against an abysmal Chip Kelly coached team.

OU 52, UCLA 24

No.19 Iowa @ Iowa State

3 PM CT

Fox Sports 1

Iowa by 1 1/2

The Hawkeyes look like a really solid team once again. The Cyclones are a solid team as well and good at home in Ames, but I’ll take the Hawkeyes here.

Iowa 34, Iowa State 31

No.24 USC @ BYU

2:30 PM CT

ABC

USC by 4 1/2

USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis completed 28 of 33 passes for 377 yards and 3 TDs in a 45-20 rout of Stanford last Saturday Night. Slovis has taken the place of JT Daniels who was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Slovis looks like he could be spectacular. BYU pulled off a huge upset at Knoxville. Jeremy Pruitt and a disastrous Tennessee team are another story, but that was quite a victory for the Cougars. But I like the Trojans to come out of Provo victorious.

USC 37, BYU 30

Arkansas 35, Colorado State 31

3 PM CT

SEC Network

Arkansas by 10

Chad Morris and the Hogs survive a scare.

LSU 48, Northwestern State 7

6:30 PM CT

SEC Network

No Line

Joe Burrow completed 31 of 39 passes for 471 yards 4 TDs and 1 int last Saturday in the Bengal Tigers tremendous 45-38 victory over Texas in Austin. O had been tipped off prior to the game that Texas turns off the air conditioning in the visitors locker room and it was a balmy 110 degrees in the stadium. O brought in fans to cool it off for his team, but a lot of the defensive players were cramping up. Still the Tigers prevailed in a terrific performance by Burrow and his receivers. I’m bullish on this team.

Texas A&M 59, Lamar 3

6 PM CT

ESPNU

A&M by 43 1/2

Kellen Mond couldn’t do anything against the Clemson defense last Saturday. He gets it together this Saturday and Jimbo gets his team prepared to face Auburn in a huge matchup next Saturday at 2:30 PM CT on CBS.

Tennessee 42, Chattanooga 17

11 AM CT

SEC Network

Tennessee by 28

Jeremy Pruitt is having a disastrous season so far. He needs to have a good game here to gain any kind of momentum he can get and not lose this team completely for the rest of the season.

Friday

Wake Forest 37, North Carolina 31

5 PM CT

ESPN

Wake by 3

I like the Demon Deacons to quell the Mack Brown hysteria this week.

Friday

Washington State 45, Houston 35

8:15 PM CT

ESPN

Wash State by 8

MIke Leach is one of the best coaches in the country. He’s a quirky guy, but winning 11 games at Washington State is quite an accomplishment, which he did last season including a 28-26 victory in the Valero Alamo Bowl over Iowa State. He has another stellar quarterback this season in redshirt senior Anthony Gordon who unusually waited his turn to get the start this season without transferring and the redshirt senior is excelling. The Cougars have a legitimate shot at winning the PAC 12.

Saturday

Virginia 38, Florida State 24

6:30 PM CT

ACC Network, 336 Charter, 612 DirecTV

UVA by 7 1/2

I’m pretty high on this UVA squad. Bronco Mendenhall has brought some serious toughness into the Cavaliers program. On the flip side, the Willie Taggert misery index keeps rising for FSU fans.

No.6 Ohio State 48, Indiana 24

11 AM CT

FOX

OSU by 15

I love what Coach Ryan Day and quarterback Justin Fields are doing in Columbus. The Buckeyes got a fresh start from Urb and it’s paying off. Justin Fields is what we thought he was and that’s one sensational quarterback.

No.17 UCF 42, Stanford 21

2:30 PM CT

ESPN

UCF by 7 1/2

The Golden Knights dominate a reeling Stanford team under David Shaw.

No. 13 Penn State 48, Pittsburgh 28

11 AM

ABC

Penn State by 17

Penn State has a good team, but not buying that James Franklin can defeat Ohio State, Wisconsin or Iowa for that matter.

Colorado 38, Air Force 34

12 PM

PAC 12 Network

Colorado by 3

Mel Tucker and his team are coming off a phenomenal 34-31 overtime victory over Nebraska. The Buffs were down 17-0 entering the second half and mounted a heroic, riveting comeback victory. The Falcons are always a tough opponent with their triple option offense and their mental toughness and discipline, but I like the Buffaloes to survive a tough challenge.

No. 18 Michigan State 38, Arizona State 21

3 PM CT

FOX

MSU by 14 1/2

Like Spartans to have a good day in East Lansing.

No. 11 Utah 38, Idaho State 14

3:15 PM CT

PAC 12 Network

Utah by 36 1/2

The Utes are a quality team with a shot at winning the PAC 12.

California 38, North Texas 20

3:15 PM CT

PAC !2 Bay Area

Cal by 14

Cal with an impressive 20-19 victory at No.23 Washington last Saturday. The Golden Bears play excellent defense.

No. 23 Washington 48, Hawaii 24

6:30 PM CT

PAC 12 Network

Washington by 21 1/2

The Huskies are still probably pretty upset that Cal came into Seattle and defeated them. They still have their sights set on winning the PAC 12. They might take it out on the Rainbow Warriors tomorrow night at home.

Couple of Blockbusters in Week 2, Bama, Auburn try to impr

This week looks pretty spectacular especially in Clemson and Austin. The No. 12 Texas A&M Aggies travel to Memorial Stadium to face No.1 Clemson with a 2:30 PM CT kickoff on ABC. The other major headliner happens in Austin, TX as the No.6 LSU Bengal Tigers lock horns with the No.9 Texas Longhorns. LSU is coming off an impressive 55-3 victory over Georgia Southern, a bowl team last season, while the Horns are coming off a 45-14 victory over LA Tech. The game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT and will also be televised by ABC.

The No. 10 Auburn Tigers, fresh off their riveting 27-21 victory over the then No.10 Oregon Ducks will host a pretty good opponent in the Tulane Green Wave, which is coming off a a 42-14 blasting of last year’s Bahamas Bowl victor Florida International. So the Tigers need to put last week behind them, even though it was quite spectacular, and focus on the business at hand Saturday Night at 6:30 on ESPN2.

The No.2 Crimson Tide hosts New Mexico State. S’s goals are to play well and get as many players as possible reps. That means giving the backups a shot.

Here’s a look at this week’s slate.

Last week: 18-8

Overall: 19-9, 68%

No. 12 Texas A&M (1-0) @ No.1 Clemson

2:30 PM CT

ABC

Sean McDonough, Todd, Holly

Clemson by 17

Clemson smashed Georgia Tech last Thursday Night 52-14 and A&M took care of business at College Station defeating Texas State 41-7. I like this to be a very hard fought, close contest. Kellen Mond has played in high pressure stadiums throughout the SEC and he’s battle tested. The running game looks strong, the perimeter looks good, the line is big and physical and the defense is very hard nosed, and intercepted 4 Texas State passes last week. I’ll take Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne (12 carries 205 yards 2 TDs last week) and Clemson barely, but I’m expecting a really tight, electric game. My man G Logic said before the season that this would be a very good game with A&M having a shot. He was almost leaning towards A&M to win. I’m not going to do that Logic, but I completely agree with your thinking.

Clemson 28, A&M 24

No.6 L-S-U @ No.9 Texas

6:30 PM CT

ABC

ABC Rece Davis, Kirk, Maria. (Chris Fowler is calling the U.S. Open this weekend.)

LSU by 6 1/2

Playing in Austin gives the Longhorns a real chance and so does quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Ehlinger was 28 for 38 last week for 276 yards and 4 TDs with no Ints. He’ll face a totally different defense this week with only 2 healthy running backs, one a converted quarterback who had minimal carries last Saturday. Linebackers Jacob Phillips and the reinstated Michael Divinity Jr (internal team discipline in week 1) will make it a lot tougher on Ehlinger this week as will possible top 5 pick in the 2020 draft, safety Grant Delpit. Joe Burrow was 23 of 27 for 278 yards, with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions against Georgia Southern last Saturday. Give me O, Joe and the LSU defense. The Tiguhs look for real this year.

LSU 28, Texas 17

Tulane @ No.10 Auburn

6:30 PM CT

ESPN2

Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich

Auburn by 17

Bo Nix looked locked in and ultra confident last Saturday Night on Auburn’s game winning drive and he fired a dart to Seth Williams from 41 yards for the winning TD. Bo’s going to be outstanding. The Auburn defense is spectacular. When Big Kat Bryant recovered that fumble deep in Auburn territory with Oregon driving in for a TD and raced down the field only to be caught at the 4 yard line by a 4.4 Oregon wide out, it was beyond impressive. That’s a 275 pound defensive end. I like the Tigers to play pretty well this week and for the defense to be lockdown. Bo Nix will get some more growth this week. Tulane is a pretty good team, but I like the Tigers to win comfortably.

Auburn 31, Tulane 7

New Mexico State @ No.2 Alabama

3 PM CT

SEC Network

Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb (Stinch, does classic Kirby Smart and Todd Blackledge impersonations) Alyssa Lang

Bama by 55

After a little bit of a slow start, the Crimson Tide settled in and played fantastically well in a 42-3 blasting of Duke. The concern with the loss of Dylan Moses and Josh McMillan at inside linebacker was alleviated by the play of freshman linebackers Shane Lee and Christian Harris who both tallied 8 tackles. The Crimson Tide also picked off 2 passes including a beauty by cornerback Trevon Diggs. I’m very bullish on this defense. Tua was 26 of 31 for 336 yards and 4 TDs. The only incompletions he had my wife was calling for PI. She’s in midseason form. Of course, I’m calling holding on every big play against my picks’ defenses, so it’s an active household on Saturdays. What I want to really see Saturday is for No.57 to get in the game. Joe Donald III was an star linebacker at Mountain Brook High School and he pays his dues every week on the scout team. He was scout team player of the week 3 weeks in a row last season. What an awesome young guy as well. Respectful, sharp and fun. If the Tide can get a big lead maybe S will take out Lee and Markail Benton at inside linebacker and give J3 a shot. I know his parents, our great friends Joe (a.k.a. Bama Golf) and Mary would be very pleased and proud. Pulling for my man to get in there. The Tide tunes up for a trip to Columbia next Saturday (2:30 PM CT, CBS) to face the South Carolina Gamecocks, which suffered a highly disappointing loss to North Carolina last Saturday in Charlotte.

Alabama 63, New Mexico State 3

Murray State @ No.3 Georgia

3 PM CT

ESPN2

No Line

What kind of opponent is this? The Dawgs looked OK in handling Vanderbilt 30-6. D’Andre Swift ran for 147 yards and Brian Herrien added 65 yards and a TD. But Jake Fromm looked decent not great. I’m still not convinced he’s a championship quarterback. After watching Justin Fields demolish the Florida Atlantic defense last Saturday, Georgia is probably regretting not giving the former 5 star a chance to fill in for Fromm when he struggled. Fields looked spectacular throwing for 4 touchdowns and running for another. I always thought Kirby Smart should have given him a chance when things were going south at LSU last season and the Dawgs needed a lift. I’m not totally discounting Fromm, but I like Fields better.

Georgia 52, Murray State 3

Arkansas @ Ole Miss

6:30 PM CT

SEC Network

Tom Hart, JRodg, Cole

Ole Miss by 6

Both teams struggled out of the gate with the Rebels losing to Memphis at Memphis 15-10 and Arkansas slipping by Portland State, 20-13 (are you kiddin me?). I guess Matt Luke and the Rebels get it kind of together this week. There was such a big deal made out of Rich Rod as offensive coordinator and Mike McIntyre as defensive coordinator, both former head coaches, but what they were leaving out is they’re both Fired head coaches. Not sure they’ll fix the dysfunction that much in Oxford. But they can defeat a more dysfunctional Chad Morris coached team.

Ole Miss 28, Arkansas 21

West Virginia @ Missouri

11 AM CT

ESPN 2

Missouri by 14

Missouri lost last week at Wyoming which looks bad at first glance, but Wyoming is a pretty good team at home. The Cowboys won 37-31. Pretty good performance by Kelly Bryant though he still shows signs of inaccuracy throwing the ball. West Virginia looks to be rebuilding under former Troy coach and first year coach Neal Brown. They defeated James Madison last Saturday 20-13, so it might take Brown a year to get his program in place. He’s an excellent coach though and I see him getting the Mountaineers right in the thick of things for the Big 12 championship with Oklahoma and Texas in the future. But I like the Mizzou Tigers here.

Missouri 35, West Virginia 20

BYU @ Tennessee

6 PM CT

ESPN

Vols by 4

I think, I repeat, think, Jeremy Pruitt is a good coach. I was pretty sure before the Georgia State game last Saturday that he was a good coach, but I’m not totally positive now after his team lost 38-30. Pruitt needs a good performance this week. I like him to get it.

Tennessee 42, BYU 21

Vanderbilt @ Purdue

11 AM CT

Big Ten Network

Purdue by 7

Vanderbilt looked pretty pitiful on offense last Saturday, and Purdue lost to Nevada on the road. So both teams HAVE to have this. I like the Commodores to come back and for Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the Mamba, to take some carries to the house and for the defense to do enough for the Commodores to pull off the upset.

Vanderbilt 31, Purdue 28


No. 11 Florida 55, UT Martin 7

6:30 PM CT

ESPNU

There is no line for this one for obvious reasons. Nice opponent Dan.

Mississippi State 45, Southern Miss 24

2:30 PM CT

Duh U

State by 17

I like Bullies running back Kylin Hill a lot. Tommy Stevens, the Penn State transfer quarterback, has a shot to be good. To be determined.

Kentucky 41, Eastern Michigan 14

6:30 PM CT

SEC Network

Kentucky by 15

I’m not totally sold on Terry Wilson at quarterback. His accuracy is questionable, but he can be good and he can run. Kentucky has a pretty good team this year. I don’t know if there is as good as last year when they won 10 games, but they look pretty solid. Young on defense.

Charleston Southern @ South Carolina

11 AM CT

SEC Network

No Line

Will Muschamp is firmly on the hot seat after an almost inexplicable loss to UNC last week, a team that went 2-10 last year, like Georgia State I might add. Muschamp has lost starting quarterback Jake Bentley for a while with a broken foot. Muschamp will start true freshman Ryan Hilinski. The good news is Hilinski is a 6.0 4 star according to Rivals. So he’ll have a shot to get ready for the Crimson Tide next week in this game.

South Carolina 35, Charleston Southern 0

No. 4 Oklahoma 59, South Dakota 10

6 PM CT

No line

Jalen Hurts looks to have settled in quite nicely under Lincoln Riley. Hurts played almost the perfect game for the Sooners last Sunday Night in a 49-31 victory over Houston. He went 20-of-23 for 332 yards, 3 TDs and 0 ints. He also ran for 176 yards and 3 more TDs. Wow. Hurts looks ready to take the Sooners to a national championship level, but the big question for OU is will first year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch turns this defense into a serious defense or will it be the same old leaky OU defense. That’s the key to their season.

No. 5 Ohio State 30, Cincinnati 24

11 AM CT

ABC

Buckeyes by 16

Ohio State fans are more than thrilled to have a new coach and a new quarterback though Dwayne Haskins was pretty good last year under center. Ryan Day seems a lot like LIncoln Riley to me in that he can really coach quarterbacks. Justin Fields is the real deal, but I like Luke Fickell and his Bearcats to give the Buckeyes trouble. Fickell was the defensive coordinator in 2016 before getting the Cincy job in 2017. That helps his team and they’re coming off a pretty impressive 24-14 home victory over UCLA. I like the Bearcats to make this a serious ballgame.

No.7 Michigan 28, Army 21

11 AM CT

FOX

Jim by 22

I’m not sure Jim has that great of a team like some are saying. Shea Patterson is not an elite quarterback, at least under Jim. Army won 10 games last season and Jeff Monken said after their Armed Forces Bowl victory over Houston last year, that he had his best team coming back. I give Army a shot to make this a really good game.

Miami 28, North Carolina 17

7 PM CT

ACC Network (336 Charter Spectrum, 612 DirecTV)

Miami by 5

Mack Brown somehow managed to beat South Carolina last week and cried about it afterwards. He struggles this week.

No.18 UCF 48, Florida Atlantic 14

6 PM CT

CBS Sports Network

UCF by 10 1/2

UCF makes life even more miserable for Lane Kiffin and FAU.

No. 23 Stanford 17, USC 14

9:30 PM CT

ESPN

SC by 2 1/2

Both teams’ quarterbacks got knocked out last week. USC’s JT Daniels tore his ACL and his meniscus last Saturday against Fresno State so he’s done this season and Stanford’s K.J. Costello suffered a concussion in Stanford’s 17-7 victory over Northwestern. It was a real cheap shot by the Northwestern defensive player who should have been ejected but nothing was called. USC was victorious over Fresno State 31-23 at the Coliseum. They’re at home here but I like former 5 star junior Davis Mills to lead Stanford to victory over USC’s 5.7, 3 star true freshman Kedon Slovis.

Tonight

No. 24 Boise State 38, Marshall 35

8 CT

ESPN2

Boise State by 12 1/2

Broncos true freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier, the highest rated quarterback to ever sign with Boise State( he’s a 4 star) completed 30 of 51 passes for 407 yards and a TD in a 36-31 amazing come from behind victory over Florida State in Tallahassee. That begs the question, what is Willie Taggert doing down there. Totally dysfunctional team. But Marshall is a quality team as well. They were 9-4 last year and defeated South Florida 38-20 in the Gasparilla Bowl and won last week over VMI, 56-17. So I expect a high quality game here with the Broncos just getting by at Albertson’s Stadium in Boise.

Saturday

No. 14 Washington 31, Cal 14

9:30 PM CT

Fox Sports 1

Wash by 13 1/2

I don’t know if Washington has an elite team, but Georgia transfer Jacob Eason looks pretty good at quarterback for them. They do have good talent, so I’m not counting them out to be a contender for the final 4. For sure the Rose Bowl. I like them in the PAC 12.

Colorado 31, No. 25 Nebraska 28

2:30 PM CT

FOX

Nebraska by 4

Like former SEC coach Mel Tucker and his Buffs to knock off slight favorite Scott Frost and the Huskers.

No. 13 Utah 30, Northern Illinois 7

12 PM CT

PAC 12 Network

Utah by 21 1/2

The Utes have another solid team under Kyle Whittingham. They could very well win the south division of the PAC 12 and play Washington for the PAC 12 championship and at least a trip to the Rose Bowl. I’m not buying Oregon to win the PAC 12.

No. 17 Wisconsin 45, Central Michigan 10

2:30 PM CT

Big Ten Network

Whisky by 34

I watched the Badgers dismantle Charlie Strong and South Florida 49-0 at USF and it was impressive. Jonathan Taylor is a high quality back., Certainly one of the top 3 in the country.

Minnesota 31, Fresno State 27

9:30 PM CT

CBS Sports Network

Minnesota by 3

I went back and forth on this one but after watching both teams, I give the Golden Gophers a slight victory here.

No. 15 Penn State 52, Buffalo 10

6:30 PM CT

FOX

Penn State ny 30

James Franklin beats up on another opponent classlessly like he did last week when he defeated Idaho, 73-7. Nice work, James. Why don’t you play somebody and we’ll see what kind of team you have. Hope you don’t make a player who has a concussion play like you’re prone to do, per ESPN. ESPN reported that Franklin fired the team doctor because he wouldn’t let players who were injured to get on the practice field.

Week 1 College Football

It doesn’t get any better than this. College Football cranks up tonight with several interesting contests and continues through Monday with excellent clashes that will make it almost impossible to leave the sofa. Can’t wait.

The No.2 Crimson Tide, which I’d debate with others as I like them at No.1, takes on the Duke Blue Devils at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. A lot happened in Tuscaloosa this August and especially this week, and not all of it was great. Still believe very much in this football team and I’ll tell you why below.

The No.16 Auburn Tigers square off with the No.11 Oregon Ducks Saturday Night in Arlington, Texas in what should be a fascinating game as Auburn breaks in 5 star freshman Bo Nix under center. He’s quite a talent. Can he handle the pressure he’ll be under in his first game in college football. I’d like to say yes on that. More on that below.

A key SEC contest kicks off in Nashvegas Saturday Night as the Vanderbilt Commodores host the No.3 Georgia Bulldogs, if you want to call it that, there’ll be more Georgia fans than Vandy. It’s a tall order for the Commodores. The Dawgs are loaded.

No.1 Clemson hosts the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and new coach Geoff Collins. The Ramblin Wreck has moved on from Paul Johnson’s (retired) triple option offense and will feature a pro style offense now. Like Vandy, Tech has their hands full.

Here’s a look at those key matchups along with many other key games involving SEC teams and national powers. Let’s get started.

Last week: 1-1

Florida 24, Miami 20

Florida is loaded with great athletes, but typically for a Gators team, they play sloppy football with a lot of undisciplined players. Two pass interference calls late in the game, both by Florida, one was on 4th and 33. You have got to be kidding me. Dan Mullen needs to figure out how to get his team from playing really stupid football quickly or it’s going to cost him in key games. On the other side, I thought Miami played a pretty good game to keep it very close. Dan Enos did throw his redshirt freshman quarterback, Jarren Williams, under the bus this week. It was really unbelievable what Enos said, pointing out that Williams didn’t play well at all. I heard that Jalen Hurts hated Enos and now I can see why. Pretty sloppy game overall, but there are athletes through the roof on both sides. Will see if Mullen or Manny Diaz can get their teams to play more disciplined football because if they can, their teams should have successful seasons.

Hawaii 45, Arizona 38

In an upset, Rainbow Warriors quarterback, Cole McDonald, threw 4 TDs, but was also picked off 4 times and was benched late in the game. Still, Kevin Sumlin proved once again that he can’t get it done most of the time.

This week

All games Saturday unless otherwise noted.

No.2 Alabama vs Duke

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, 71,000

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic

2:30 PM CT

ABC

Steve Levy, Grease, McShay, Molly McGrath

Bama by 34

A lot happened this month and particularly this week in Tuscaloosa and it wasn’t great stuff. First, earlier this month, inside linebacker Josh McMillan was lost for the season due to injury. 5 star freshman Trey Sanders, who was having an awesome camp, broke his foot and is also out indefinitely. Then this week, S suspended 4 key players for the Duke game. They’ll be out for a quarter I would suspect, maybe more, maybe less. The players suspended were starting running back Najee Harris, second string running back Brian Robinson, wide receiver DeVonta Smith, and outside linebacker Terrell Lewis. They missed a team function according to reports so S is going to sit them out for a little while. I thought S might be a little more understanding and just say as the great Doug Nedermeyer said, “Drop and give me 20” But he suspected these 4 needed a harsher punishment than Kent Dorfman got. So they’re out for a while in the game. Then, maybe the worst news happened Tuesday when Dylan Moses was lost indefinitely with a torn ACL in his knee.

But the good news for Crimson Tide fans is this is probably the best recruiting class S has landed in his 13 years at the helm. There are 5 stars and highly talented 4 stars. Two 4 star freshmen will be starting at inside linebacker for S and the Tide. 6.0, 4 star (Rivals) Shane Lee (6’0” 235) will start along with 5.8 4 star Christian Harris (6’2”, 225). So while the Tide will miss Moses’ play and his leadership, these 2 players and the depth behind them are pretty solid. I watched both Lee and Harris in the spring and they’re exceptional players. So all is not lost. Good game for the freshmen to get their bearings straight. Taking Harris and Robinson’s spot at running back temporarily will be redshirt freshman Jerome Ford and 4 star freshman Keilan Robinson. Both are talented. And they’ll be running behind an o line that features left tackle Alex Leatherwood (6’6”, 310), left guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. (6’3”, 339) center Chris Owens (6’3”, 315) right guard and Florida State transfer Landon Dickerson (6’6”, 325) and right tackle Jadrick Wills (6’5”, 316). So S and the Tide are still in good shape with those guys, Tua, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs iii on the outside. I like 4 star freshman John Metchie as well. He was awesome in the spring game. Looks like Metchie could be an outstanding player.

On defense, the Tide looks stout. First year defensive coordinator Pete Golding really looked astute coaching his defense in the spring, he’s got a highly talented secondary with All Americans all over that group. I would debate that free safety Xavier McKinney, strong safety Shyheim Carter, corner Trevon Diggs and corner Patrick Surtain Jr would start for every team in the country. They will form a fantastic secondary. Linebacker, with Lewis out, will rely on talented sophomores Jaylen Moody and Markail Benton for however long Lewis is out. Up front, LaBryan Ray, Raekwon Davis, and D.J. Dale, who (Dale) dominated in the spring game, will be a tough, physical group for the Duke O line to handle. The kicking game will be manned by freshman Will Reichard, who is considered an excellent talent. Punter will be Skyler DeLong, the electric Waddle will return punts and Ruggs III and Trevon Diggs will return kickoffs.

All in all looks like a pretty phenomenal group to me. Duke will start Quentin Harris at quarterback. Harris has some experience and success. While he played behind New York Giants high first round draft choice Daniel Jones, who is doing very well in the preseason, he completed 34 of 68 passes for 437 yards, 7 TDs and 1 int in his action last season. He also ran for 195 yards and 5 TDs. So he’s a threat.

But I like the Crimson Tide to have a big day in Mercedes-Benz. Tua and the offense will have their way and the defense, to me, could be as good or better than any defense the Crimson Tide has had in spite of the injuries. I do like younger brother Taulia to be the backup if Tua gets nicked up. He’s sensational and more trustworthy than Mac Jones. I guess they’ll go with Jones if Tua gets hurt, but there will be a short leash on him. Know Crimson Tide fans will hope it doesn’t come to that.

But at 2:30 PM Saturday, my wife is going to get ready to crank out several of her “Go Dudes!” for her Crimson Tide.

Alabama 42, Duke 7

No.16 Auburn vs. No. 11 Oregon

Advocare Classic

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Jerry’s presence will be felt.

6:30 PM CT

ABC

Chris, Kirk, Maria

Auburn by 3

The big news for Tigers fans is the emergence of 5 star freshman Bo Nix as the starting quarterback. I was surprised and impressed that Gus chose Bo. He’s a heckuva quarterback. Nix threw for over 12,000 yards and 161 TDs in high school at Pinson Valley. He was coached by his father, the renowned former Tiger quarterback Patrick Nix. There is chance Joey Gatewood, a talent, could come in for certain situations, but I would like to see Gus stick with Bo for the most part. One quarterback works a lot better than 2. You can’t worry about anybody’s feelings when you’re trying to win a football game.

While the line was 6 1/2 going in, it’s dropped to 3. Oregon was the preseason favorite to win the PAC 12, though I still like Washington, and quarterback Justin Herbert (240-of-404, 59%, 3,151 yards, 29 TDs, 8 ints) is a threat to the Auburn defense. He could have gone out for the draft. I don’t know how good he’s going to be against an excellent SEC defense though. I like Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe, that phenomenal Auburn front, and the rest of the Tigers defense to have their way with the Oregon offensive line. I like Bo to play well and the Tigers to emerge victorious in a key opening game for them.

Auburn 28, Oregon 20

No.3 Georgia @ Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville

6:30 PM CT

ESPN

***moved to ESPN from the SEC Network due to the Hurricane Dorian threat that has forced Boise State vs FSU to move their game to Saturday at 11 AM CT and play in Tallahassee instead of Jacksonville. The Boise State-FSU game will now be broadcast by ESPNews***

Tom Hart, JRodg, Cole

Dawgs by 22 1/2

Derek Mason is doing a fine job for the Commodores, but he needs to win 6 games this season and WIN a bowl game, not just show up. He’s got a good team led by running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who rushed for over 1,200 yards last year and 12 TDs, wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb who caught 87 passes for 916 yards and 9 TDs in 2018, and tight end Jared Pinkney, who caught 50 passes for 774 yards and 7 TDs. All 3 are NFL players. But they’ll have a new quarterback as 4 year starter Kyle Shurmur is now trying to make the Kansas City Chiefs roster. Deuce Wallace or Riley Neal will takeover. That won’t be announced till Saturday.

Vanderbilt has about 9 or 10 guys on their team who can play in the NFL. The problem for the Commodores is Georgia has around 20 to 25 who can play in the National Football League. Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift have their way with the Commodores.

Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 21

Tonight

Georgia Tech @ No.1 Clemson

Memorial Stadium, Clemson

7 PM CT

ACC Network, 336 on Charter Spectrum and 612 on AT&T DirecTV

Clemson by 37

Another long night for another team trying to scale Mt Everest in their respective conference. Tech, not known for their defense, will be chasing Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins, unsuccessfully, all night while those guys and Trevor Lawrence light up the scoreboard. Clemson seems hungry again.

Clemson 55, Georgia Tech 14

Georgia Southern @ No.6 L-S-U

Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge

6:30 PM CT

ESPNU

Tiguhs by 27 1/2

Another long night. Joe and O get started with their promising season.

LSU 41, Georgia Southern 7

South Carolina vs North Carolina

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

2:30 PM CT

ESPN

Gamecocks by 11

Will Muschamp says this is the best team he’s had at Columbia. He says that almost every year so I’m not sure if I trust that. Senior quarterback Jake Bentley is back and he can be really good at times and struggle at other times. I do like the Gamecocks to take care of business over aging first year coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heels.

South Carolina 28, North Carolina 10

Ole Miss @Memphis

Liberty Bowl

11 AM CT

ABC

Memphis by 5 1/2

I like the Rebs to pull off the upset here.

Ole Miss 34, Memphis 31

Tonight

Texas State @ No.12 Texas A&M

Kyle Field, College Station

7:30 PM CT

SEC Network

A&M by 33

Texas State, are you kiddin me? Sounds like a UAB opponent.

A&M 45, Texas State 3

Georgia State @Tennessee

Neyland Stadium

2:30 PM CT

ESPNU

UT by 26

Jeremy Pruitt will have a better team this season. Could very well win 7 possibly 8 games. He’s a good coach. There is a lot of potential in Knoxville with Pruitt in charge.

Tennessee 41, Georgia State 7

Mississippi State @ Louisiana

11 AM CT

ESPNU

State by 19 1/2

Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens takes over under center for Joe Moorhead and the Bulldogs. This team could be a sleeper in the SEC. I’m not saying they’re going to win it, but they’re a darkhorse to have a really successful season.

State 38, Louisiana 14

Toledo @ Kentucky

Kroger Stadium, Lexington

11 AM CT

SEC Network

KY by 11 1/2

Mark Stoops did an excellent job last season of leading his team to a 10-3 season and 5-3 in the SEC with a victory over Florida for the first time in 3 decades at the Swamp. That’s impressive. He’s got a younger group this season, but the talent is still good. Terry Wilson will be quarterback as he beat out Troy graduate transfer Sawyer Smith, who is a pretty good player. So if Wilson struggles, Smith could be called upon.

Kentucky 31, Toledo 14

Missouri @Wyoming

6:30 PM CT

CBS Sports Network

Mizzou by 18

Kelly Bryant will take over at quarterback for the Tigers. The Clemson transfer has impressive winning credentials from Clemson and looked very good in the spring game. Missouri can’t go to a bowl which is a shame because they have a good team (NCAA sanctions for tutor improperly completing course work for several football players), but they’ll have to make their regular season their postseason.

Mizzou 31, Wyoming 21

Portland State @Arkansas

3 PM CT

SEC Network

No line

This has got to be a joke, right Arkansas? This is worse than UAB’s opponents.

Arkansas 48, Portland State 10

Sunday

Houston @ No.4 Oklahoma

6:30 PM CT

ABC

OU by 23

This is a pretty electric Sunday Night matchup. Jalen Hurts gets the start for the Sooners so that’s exciting. Dana Holgerson has taken over at Houston and his offenses should be explosive. At OU, the offense is second to none, but it’s Always the defense that’s questionable. Alex Grinch came over from Washington State then Ohio State to take over the defense. He’s a good coach and will do a good job with the defense. But starting out, the Sooners will have to rely on their offense. The Cougars have a really good dual threat quarterback in D’Eriq King,

Oklahoma 45, Houston 34

Florida Atlantic at No.5 Ohio State

11 AM CT

FOX

Ohio State by 27 1/2

Another transfer takes over under center. Justin Fields, the 5 star transfer from Georgia, will lead the Buckeyes his sophomore year. It’ll be interesting to see how he does. Quite a contrast between Athens and Columbus. The culture could work there, we’ll see. Ryan Day takes over from Urb, thank God.

Ohio State 35, Florida Atlantic 21

Alabama State @ UAB

7 PM CT

ESPN+

No Line

What kind of game is this? If UAB wants to attract more fans they need to do better than this. Their first 7 games are this game, @Akron, off, South Alabama, @Western Kentucky, Rice, @Texas San Antonio, Old Dominion. They’re off a week, then they go to Knoxville, Saturday, Nov. 2nd. Before they go to Knoxville it’s a laughingstock of a schedule. If they want to be taken seriously, they need to schedule better opponents.

UAB 48, Alabama State 7

Boise State @FSU

11 AM CT

ESPNews

FSU by 6 1/2

This game has been moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian. I’m taking the upset here.

Boise State 28, FSU 24

Tonight

No. 14 Utah @BYU

9:15 PM CT

ESPN

Utah by 6 1/2

I like this game to be close. Zach Wilson is a really good quarterback for BYU. This is going to be a hard fought, physical game in Provo tonight.

Utah 23, BYU 20

Northwestern @ Stanford

3 PM CT

FOX

Stanford by 6 1/2

I’m taking an upset here as well. Northwestern won 9 games last season and hammered Utah in the Holiday Bowl, 31-20. The score didn’t indicate how dominant a victory that was for the Wildcats. I’m taking the tougher team here.

Northwestern 28, Stanford 27

Fresno State @USC

9:30 PM CT

ESPN

USC by 13 1/2

Fresno State went 12-2 last year, won the Mountain West title game at Boise State, where it’s next to impossible to win, then blasted Arizona State 31-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Give me Jeff Tedford and his Bulldogs over Clay Helton and USC any day.

Fresno State 30, USC 28

Other scores

Friday

Wake Forest 31, Utah State 24

7 PM CT, ACC Network

Wake by 5 1/2

Friday

Colorado State 30, Colorado 28

9 PM CT, ESPN

Colorado by 13 1/2

Friday

Wisconsin 28, South Florida 24

6 PM CT, ESPN

Whisky by 11

Friday

Oklahoma State 45, Oregon State 30

9:30 PM CT, Fox Sports 1

OK State by 14

Saturday

Virginia 35, Pittsburgh 24

6:30 PM CT, ACC Network

UVA by 2 1/2

Saturday

Virginia Tech 28, Boston College 23

3 PM CT, ACC Network

VA Tech by 4


.

College Football Week 0

The first Saturday of college football kicks off at 6 PM CT on ESPN with the No.8 Florida Gators squaring off with the Miami Hurricanes. Arizona will face Hawaii at 9:30 PM CT on CBS Sports Network for the nightcap.

Several questions emerge as we enter another phenomenal season in college football. Can the Crimson Tide regain their perch on the top level of college football as they’ve done so 5 times under Nick Saban. Or will Dabo Swinney, Trevor Lawrence and the preseason No.1 Clemson Tigers repeat as national champions. The No.2 Crimson Tide faces the Duke Blue Devils in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta a week from Saturday in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic at 2:30 PM CT on ABC. Clemson opens its season at home against Georgia Tech at 7 PM CT on the newly launched ACC Network next Thursday Night at 7. The ACC Network can be found on Channel 336 on Charter Spectrum and Channel 612 on DirecTV.

No. 16 Auburn breaks in 5 star freshman quarterback Bo NIx against the No.11 Oregon Ducks. Nix beat out redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood for the job. Nix was Mr Football in the state of Alabama in 2018, but this isn’t Pinson Valley anymore. However, some of the Alabama high school defenses may be tougher than the Oregon defense. That’s a testament to the quality of football in Alabama and the substandard defense that the PAC-12 usually plays. But Oregon has a top flight quarterback in Justin Herbert, who came back for his senior season forgoing the draft, and he’s an excellent player, so we’ll see how the 2 square off. Auburn’s defense should be formidable this year, so Herbert and his offensive teammates have their work cut out. Auburn plays Oregon at 6:30 PM CT next Saturday on ABC.

Another story is can No.3 Georgia break through with Jake Fromm and win it all this season. They’ve been close but Kirby Smart and Fromm have come up short the last 2 years. The Dawgs have talent all over their roster with the recruiting that Smart has done landing the top classes in 2018 and, according to Rivals, the No.1 class in 2019. While they are lacking a lot of experience at wide receiver, the young talent is there to evolve and excel and they have a couple of veterans in Tyler Simmons and Demetrius Robinson who can lead both with their play and with vocal leadership to get the young players locked in. There is talent all ove the field in Athens. Georgia plays at Vanderbilt on Saturday, August 31st at 6:30 PM CT on the SEC Network. Could be a long night for the Commodores.

Can No.6 LSU challenge the Crimson Tide in the west is another question. O and Joe are back to try and overcome what has been their Achilles Heel, the Crimson Tide. LSU will be at Alabama on Saturday, November 9th, in what could be a colossal showdown if both teams play up to expectations. LSU opens the season versus Georgia Southern at Tiger Stadium next Saturday at 6:30 PM CT on ESPNU.

No.4 Oklahoma hosts Houston and new coach Dana Holgerson, who is trying to recreate the offensive explosiveness he employed at West Virginia. Jalen Hurts will take his first snap as a Sooner. Should make for an interesting season for the Sooners and one that could be special if Jalen can be as accurate as he was last year at Alabama. The Sooners play Houston on Sunday, Sept. 1st at 6:30 PM CT on ABC.

The No.5 Ohio State Buckeyes and first year coach Ryan Day will host Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic next Saturday at 11 AM CT on FOX. Justin Fields, the transfer quarterback rom Georgia, will lead the Buckeyes. Georgia was not happy that Fields transferred, but he wanted to play so I don’t much blame him. He has a chance to be a spectacular quarterback for Ohio State.

A lot to look forward to as college football kicks off on Saturday. I’ll have a lot more on the Crimson Tide, Clemson, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State next week in my Thursday column. Here’s a look at the 2 games most people are interested in this week. There are a couple of other games, but not worth talking about. Villanova and somebody. That should be a basketball game. Samford’s playing too. That’s a big yawn.

2018 Record

Reg, 229-72, 76%

Bowls, 21-18

Overall, 250-90, 74%

Miami vs. No. 8 Florida

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, 65,000

6 PM CT

ESPN

Chris Fowler, Herbie, Maria Taylor

Gators by 7

Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks really came on in the last 4 games of the season. After an embarrassing 21 point home loss to Missouri, Dan Mullen challenged his team. He also had a discussion with the media after the Missouri game where he said, “You want to fight, come on up here. I’ll kick your XXX.” That’s real professional there, Dan. Picking a fight with the media. What up with that. While it sounded a little idiotic on the airwaves, it worked with his team and Franks as the Gators won their last 4 including a 41-15 blasting of Jim Harbaugh and his “vaunted” Michigan Wolverines. Franks accounted for 12 touchdowns, 8 passing 4 rushing, with 0 interceptions in that span. He finished the year completing 58% of his passes for 24 TDs against only 6 ints. He’s got numerous weapons around him this season with running back Lamical Perine (826 yards, 7 TDs), and wide receivers Van Jefferson (35-503, 6TDs), Trevon Grimes (26-364, 2), Freddie Swain (14-265, 5) and Tyrie Cleveland (18-217, 3). There is depth behind Perine at RB. The offensive line is lacking experience, so that’s an issue for the Gators. The only returning player with much experience s redshirt senior Nicholas Buchanan. A lot of youth up front for the Gators. The defense looks pretty solid led by linebacker David Reese (81 tackles in 2018) and cornerback C.J. Henderson.

Manny Diaz takes over at Miami from Mark Richt. He’s starting a redshirt freshman quarterback, Jarren Williams, who’s thrown 3 total passes in his college career. He’s also got a true freshman left tackle and a redshirt freshman right tackle. Miami’s defense is pretty good though, so that should keep them competitive for a while with the Gators.

But I like Florida to get their season started off on the right note with a victory in Orlando. I like Florida’s defense to pretty much handle Williams and his inexperienced tackles and I see Franks and the offense doing pretty well overall against the Miami defense.

Florida 28, Miami 10

Arizona at Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, 50,000

9:30 PM CT

CBS Sports Network

Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Rick Neuheisel, Jenny Dell

Zona by 11

Despite having 14 starters return, Kevin Sumlin had a below average first season last year for the Wildcats going 5-7 after being fired by A&M the year before.

Offense is the story in this game. Khalil Tate is a very good dual threat quarterback when he faces below average defenses. He threw for 2,530 yards and 26 TDs against 8 ints a year ago while rushing for 224 yards and 2 TDs in an injury plagued season. He did rush for 1,411 yards in 2017. JJ Taylor rushed for 1,485 yards last season, but they lost their 4 top receivers. But the Hawaii defense allowed 205 yards on the ground last year, so the Wildcats should have success running the football. Linebacker Colin Schooler leads an Arizona defense that allowed 32.6 points per game last year. Schooler posted 119 tackles including 18 for loss last year. Hawaii has 18 starters back from last season led by quarterback Cole McDonald who passed for 3,875 yards, 36 TDs and 10 ints last year. Hawaii finished 8-6 last season losing to LA Tech in the Hawaii Bowl, 31-14. McDonald has an excellent receiving corps led by Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward who combined for 1,835 yards and 18 TDs last season. The defense gave up 35 points per game last year, but does return 9 starters, so they could be improved. Forty year old coach Nick Rolovich enters his 4th season with an 18-22 mark and 10-14 in the Mountain West. He did go 5-3 last season in the MWC.

This is a tough place to play. Hawaii will give Arizona everything they want. I’ll take the Wildcats barely.

Zona 38, Hawaii 35

Yaz shined yesterday, VU MLBers

Mike "Yaz" Yastrzemski went 4 for 5 yesterday with 2 doubles, including a 2 run double to start the scoring for the SF Giants, 2 singles, 2 runs scored and a phenomenal leaping catch at the wall at Petco Park in San Diego to lead his team to a critical 7-6 victory over the Padres yesterday.

Yaz is now hitting .275 with 9 homers and 31 Ribeyes. With the victory, the Giants moved to 54-52 on the season and are 2 1/2 games back of the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals for the Top spot in the NL wild card race.

Madison "Mad Bum" Bumgarner earned the victory for the Giants.

Mike and the Giants now head to Philly for a 3 game set. Tyler is on the mound tomorrow night versus Drew Smiley of the Phils. Every game is crucial for the Giants now, so Tyler needs to have an excellent outing. I expect he will the way he's been pitching.

Walker got hit a little bit yesterday and took the loss for the Dodgers at the Nationals. Walker will rebound. 

Sonny Gray pitches tonight for the Reds versus the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park in Cincy. Sonny has been awesome lately. Will have a report on Sonny tomorrow.

David Price also pitches tomorrow night at Fenway versus Tampa Bay.

Mike MInor is on the hill Wednesday for the Rangers vs Seattle at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX.

Dansby is presently on the 10 day Injured List with a heel problem. Hoping Dans can come back very soon and give his super team some more of his superb play at short.
 

John Mayer singing a classic


Football season is getting closer and closer. Wanted to share an epic Tom Petty song performed by John Mayer. Will be in touch in the coming weeks with more previews of teams for the 2019 college football season. Have a great rest of your week.



VU baseball, football unplugged

Mike Yastrzemski and the Giants were victorious again, this time over the Cubs, 5-4, last night at Oracle Park.

Being a Giants fan can be tough if you live on the East Coast or in the Central Time Zone. Late nights, but you power through it for Yaz and Tyler.

Yaz went 2 for 4 with an RBI single and another single. He's now hitting .265 with 9 homers and 28 Ribeyes. The Giants have now won 16 of their last 19 and moved to 51-50 and just 2 back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second spot in the Wild Card standings. The Washington Nationals are only 2 1/2 ahead of the Gents for 1st place in the WC. The wild card game is a 1 game winner take all, so it's pretty important to get the home field if you finish 1st in the race, but it's not critical. The Giants have proven they can win anywhere, but they're especially tough at Oracle Park.

They are such a resilient team. They were down 4-2 in the bottom of the 8th and scored 3 times and closed the Cubbies out in the 9th for the victory. My daughter was there and sent me a photo. Wow, what a stadium. She was right behind home plate. Man, I wanted to be there with her, but maybe some other time. She had a blast.

Tyler pitches Wednesday vs the Cubs. Tyler, in his last outing vs the Mets last Friday Night, went 8, gave up 3 hits, 0 runs, with 1 walk and 5 K's. His 94-95 MPH heater was cookin and his breaking stuff was outstanding.

If Tyler is controlling the ball, he's a tough one to face. I really like what I'm seeing out of the man.

The great Madison Bumgarner (5-7, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 26 BBs, 127 K's) squares off with the Cubs Yu Darvish tonight at 8:45 at Oracle. Darvish is 3-4 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, but he's an electric talent, so he's dangerous. Gotta pitch well, defend, which the Giants do very well, and get some timely hitting. Can't wait.

Sonny Gray was spectacular for the Reds last night in their 6-5 victory over the Brewers last night at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Sonny went 6, gave up just 4 hits, 1 earned, with 2 walks and 7 K's. He was awesome. Sonny just battles. He left with a 4-1 lead, but the Brewers hit a grand salami in the bottom of the 8th. But the Reds hit a 2 run homer in the top of the 9th and held on for the victory. Sonny didn't get the victory, but he's pitching exceedingly well. Sonny is 5-6 with a 3.29 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning), 38 walks and 127 K's. Sonny is hitting 93-94 consistently and can get it to 95 sometimes. His 85 MPH slider and his low 80's curve are spectacular pitches. Really like what I'm seeing out of Sonny.

Walker Buehler was beyond sensational Sunday for the Dodgers in their 9-0 victory over the Marlins.

Walk went 7, gave up 5 hits, 0 runs, with 0 walks and 11 K's. Walker is now 9-1 with a 3.23 ERA and an 0.96 WHIP, which is superb. Walk has only issued 17 walks and struck out 131, so an incredible strikeout to walk ratio, almost 8:1 K's to walks. Wow. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball at 67-35, .657 ball. The Yankees are next at 64-35, .546. I know the Dodgers would like to finish with the best regular season record in MLB to secure home field for the playoffs and World Series. That's an important advantage in the postseason.

So awesome stuff from our players. Bryan Reynolds had an RBI double last night and is hitting .331 with 7 homers and 39 RBIs. BR has been spectacular this season. The Pirates unfortunately lost to the Cardinals last night, 6-5.

Will have more on our guys on Thursday, maybe a quick blast tomorrow. David Price pitches against the Rays Wednesday and Mike Minor (Rangers) goes against Seattle. Both David and Mike are on the road. And of course, Tyler pitches against the Cubs at Oracle Wednesday.

Will have a lot more coming up the rest of this week. Also, will talk about our 2020 baseball team. A lot of talent coming back headlined by Austin Martin, Kumar Rocker, Tyler Brown Mason Hickman and Harrison Ray. Will be using some new guys at positions, but they’re talented young guys and our pitching should be spectacular. Will have more on our Vandy Boys on Thursday. What a year in 2019. Just can’t get over what our guys accomplished. SEC regular season, SEC Tournament Championship, Regional, Super Regional, 13 players drafted, 59-12, 23-7 in the SEC, and to cap it off, the National Championship. Those guys led by our seniors, Ethan Paul, Stephen Scott, Julian Infante, Walker Gristanti and Patrick Raby were Just spectacular stuff. That’s a memory for a lifetime. Excited to see what 2020 holds for another ultra talented Tim Corbin team.

Our 13th commitment of the 2020 recruiting class is Diego LaMonica, a 5.7 and 87 high 3 star tight end out of Gulliver Prep in Miami. Diego chose the West End over offers from the likes of South Carolina, Georgia Tech, UVA, Wake Forest and South Florida. Diego is 6'5", 227 and is a load and an exceptional blocker and receiver. He can do a lot with the ball when he catches it.

So DMase is assembling an excellent class for 2020. Chad Bishop of Vandy 247 Sports has told me that we have a really good shot at landing 4 star linebacker Devyn Curtis out of Brentwood Academy in Nashville. That would be a huge addition. We don't have a lot of spots left, so we need to get Devyn in the fold. I've read and heard we're looking at 15-18 spots and we already have 13. Hoping we can get another running back. There are prospects out there who are very interested in us.

Will have more on football on Friday, more of an extensive piece.

More on Yaz, MLBers, VU football

The great Mike Yastrzemski launched a walk off 385 foot homer to left central at Oracle Park in San Francisco yesterday in the bottom of the 11th to lead the San Francisco Giants to a tremendously large 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.

Yaz hit a 3-2 pitch into the left central field stands and the crowd of 35,000+ passionate Giants fans, most of whom were still there, were sent home ecstatic.

Yaz, Tyler Beede, who is now pitching superbly and I will have more on Tyler tomorrow as well, and the Giants are now 50-50 and have won 15 of their last 18 contests. They are one of the hottest teams in baseball. For Yaz, that was his 9th home run and 27th Ribeye of the season. Mike was called up from triple A Sacramento in early June. The man is now hitting .259 and playing tremendous left and right field for the Giants.

The Giants are now just 2 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race in the National League, trailing only Milwaukee and a couple of other teams. The Giants host the Cubs in a 3 game set starting tonight at Oracle Park.

Great stuff from the man. The 28 year old from Andover, Mass. has paid his dues to reach the big leagues and is making the most of his opportunity. The Giants have become my favorite team in the majors. My daughter works and lives in SF and we want to a game at Oracle in May of 2018 and had a blast. What a beauty of a stadium with the San Francisco Bay as the background.

The Giants have a shot at getting one of the wild card spots for sure. Just gotta keep cookin.

Will have more on Yaz, Tyler and all our guys tomorrow on the blog. Will send out a notice.

Also, will have football stuff. DMase was beyond spectacular at Media Days last Thursday. More on Coach Mason and the team and our 13th commitment, a huge tight end pickup, who we landed on Friday.

Will check with you tomorrow.

Have a super day. 

Gus, Mason, Stoops cap off media days

Gus Malzahn says he has his best defense he’s had at Auburn in the 6 years he’s been at the helm. He thinks this could be the best team he’s had at Auburn. That’s if the quarterback comes through.

On defense, it starts up front with seniors Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe. Davidson and Brown are 300+ pounders and Coe is 260 and is a pass rushing savant. Brown, whom Malzahn said will be a first round draft pick in 2020, posted 10 1/2 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks in 2018. Davidson added 2 1/2 sacks and 4 1/2 tackles for loss. Coe finished the year with 13 1/2 TFLs and 7 sacks. This is a formidable group and one SEC offensive lines are going to have nightmares going up against .There is depth behind that trio as well. Auburn lost 4 linebackers off of last year’s team, but Malzahn is high on the group they have coming back led by K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten. The secondary looks strong with Daniel Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson returning at safeties and Javaris Davis back at corner. Kevin Steele has a lot of talent to work with and the 2019 recruiting class was the 11th ranked class in the country with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball for the Tigers. Anders Carlson returns to kick. He struggled some last season in his first year, but has the genes with his brother Daniel being a prolific kicker for the Tigers just a few years back. Punter is Arryn Siposs from Australia. Malzahn likes him as well. Return game looks fine with explosive Noah Igbinoghene returning kicks and the dynamic Anthony Schwartz returning punts. Schwartz is one of the fastest players in the country and Malzahn called him “just a football player.”

Quarterback is the really interesting position at Auburn. Redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood, out of Florida, a high 4 star, and true freshman Bo Nix, a 5 star, are 2 obviously talented players. It’ll be a battle for the job, but both have powerful arms, Gatewood has really good wheels, and Nix’s are pretty decent, and they’re both good leaders according to Malzahn. So it’ll be a major competition coming up in fall camp. Gatewood had an excellent spring game and Nix did some good things as well. As most coaches say, Malzahn wants to know who’ll run the offense best and inspire confidence in his teammates.

Boobie Whitlow, Kam Martin and Shaun Shivers return at running back. Whitlow ran for 787 yards and 6 TDs and was hurt some last year. He’s a real talent. I like both Martin and Shivers too. They’re not big guys, but both are tough and have excellent speed.

The wide receiver position is well manned with Schwartz, who caught 22 passes for 357 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 5 more, electric sophomore Seth Williams, who caught 26 passes for 534 yards and 6 touchdowns, and veterans Eli Stove and Will Hastings, who are both back from injury. They all look like NFL receivers and there is depth.

The offensive line, very importantly, returns all 5 starters and all are seniors. Left tackle Prince Wanogho is a stud. This should be really good news for the Tigers as they had trouble protecting Jarrett Stidham last year. So Gus feels really good about his guys up front on both sides of the ball. There is size, physicality and depth. What you need.

Auburn finished 8-5 last year and 3-5 in the SEC and that’s not good enough at Auburn. Malzahn knows that. He says Auburn wants to win championships and he understands the hot seat pressure that comes with a struggling season. He likes this team a lot though and thinks they can be special. The Tigers open up with Oregon at AT&T Stadium in the Advocare Classic in Arlington, TX on Saturday, August 31st. Quite an opener for the Tigers. Oregon has one of the top quarterbacks in the country returning in Justin Herbert and Coach Mario Cristobal had a top 10 recruiting class in 2019 and has brought back some excellent players. They’re picked to win the PAC-12 and will be quite a challenge for the Tigers. I know Auburn fans can’t emphasize enough how important that opening game is. The game will kickoff at 6:30 PM CT and be televised by ABC. After Tulane and Kent State at home, the Tigers go to A&M on Saturday, Sept. 21st for another massive tilt. Then Mississippi State at home, Saturday, Sept. 28th, another war, then @ Florida, Saturday, Oct. 5th, wow. Then the Tigers have an open date, then @ Arkansas, Saturday, Oct. 19th. The following week, Oct. 26th, the Tigers are @ LSU. Another whammy. Then Ole Miss at home, Saturday, 11-2, Open date, Georgia at home Saturday, Nov. 16th, Samford Nov. 23rd at home, then the Iron Bowl, Saturday, Nov. 30th.

What’ll it take for the Tigers to get to Atlanta. They’ve got a brutal schedule but are loaded with talent. Oregon, @ A&M, State at home, @ Florida @ LSU, Georgia and Alabama at home. With that kind of a schedule you just have to look at week 1 and try to win that one and go from there. it’s daunting, but I like this team if Gatewood or Nix comes through.

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

Derek Mason was as usual positive, optimistic and charismatic at media days. He likes his team. They have a three man arsenal on offense with running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 TDs last season and is as dynamic a running back as you’ll find in the country. Wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb caught 87 passes for 918 yards and 9 TDs last season. And tight end Jared Pinkney caught 50 passes for 774 yards and 7 TDs. They all came back for their senior years because they wanted to get their degrees, help their team get to another bowl game this season and win it, and improve their draft stock. Three very electric, explosive players. There is talent out wide along with Lipscomb too. The quarterback and the offensive line could be question marks. Deuce Wallace and Riley Neal will battle it out to start under center. Wallace has experience and can run it as well as throw it and Neal, a transfer from Ball State, threw for 7,393 yards there and 46 TDs and ran for 15 more in 4 years at Ball State.. Whoever starts will have talent around him, who he just needs to get the ball to. Backfield depth could be an issue. Vaughn needs to stay as healthy as he can.

The offensive line has some talent up front, with size and physicality, so if they can produce that would really help this offense.

On defense, Mason feels like he has the best defensive front he’s had, linebacker is good at starter, but needs to develop depth and secondary looks pretty strong.

Vanderbilt opens at home with Georgia on Saturday, August 31st at 6:30 PM CT on the SEC Network. Tough one to start the season, but Mason is optimistic about it. He and Kirby Smart are close friends. Mason said Smart is like a “brother” to him. Then the Dores are @Purdue at 11 AM CT, Saturday, Sept.7th on the Big Ten Network. Then an off week, then O and the Bengal Tigers of LSU come to Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21st. Key games are @ Ole Miss, Saturday, Oct.5th, Missouri at home, Saturday, Oct. 19th, @ South Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 2nd, @ Florida Saturday, Nov. 9th and @ Tennessee , Saturday, Nov. 30th.

It’s tough, but all the schedules are tough in this conference. Mason embraces it. He is just such a positive guy, and his players love him and would climb the Himalayas for him. That’s a powerful thing. It’s hard at Vanderbilt, but they certainly have the right man for the job who is building a quality program.

Kentucky, Mark Stoops

Mark Stoops put together an awesome 2018 campaign taking his Wildcats to a 10-3 record, defeating Florida for the first time in forever, close to 40 years, and defeating Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, 27-24. It was the first 10 win season for Kentucky since 1977. Stoops has recruited well and really coached his players up.

Terry Wilson returns at quarterback. He completed 180 of 268 passes, 67% for 1,889 yards, 11 TDs but 8 interceptions. He’s a good runner as he rushed for 547 yards and 4 TDs. But he will be challenged at quarterback by Troy transfer Sawyer Smith, who has 2 years left to play, and completed 62% of his passes for 1,669 yards 14 TDs against 6 ints in leading the awesome Troy team last year to a 10-3 record and a 42-32 victory over Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile. Their coach, Neal Brown, landed the job at West Virginia after the season when Dana Holgerson left Morgantown to coach the University of Houston, so Smith needed another spot. That’ll be a really interesting competition. Wilson has accuracy issues, so I like Smith better.

Benny Snell was an all world tailback for Kentucky for 3 years. He rushed for a conference leading 1,449 yards and added 16 TDs. He’s in the NFL, but A. J. Rose is a promising replacement. who ran for 442 yards and 5 TDs last season and Stoops likes his depth there. Wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. caught 67 passes for 745 yards and 5 TDs. He’ll be the leader of a receiving corps that Stoops likes.

The offensive line has great size, and Stoops feels very good about them as well.

The defense returns only 4 starters, but the emotional and talented linebacker Kash Daniel returns. He’ll be the leader on defense after posting 84 tackles last year with 7 for loss. Stoops likes his guys up front and in the secondary. He’s got some younger players on defense, so they’ll need to grow up quickly.

Kentucky’s first big game is Florida at home Saturday, Sept,. 14th, then they travel to Mississippi State to play the Bullies Saturday, Sept, 21st. Then they’re @ South Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 28th. After an off week, the Cats play Arkansas at home, Sat, 10-12. Then it’s @ Georgia, Sat. 10-19, Missouri at home Sat. 10-28, open date, then a big one at home versus Tennessee, Sat. 11-9. @Vanderbilt, Saturday, 11-16. After a home game against UT Martin, 11-23, The Cats host Louisville Saturday, 11-30, and the Cardinals new coach Scott Satterfield, who had so much success at App State the last several years.

Stoops liked the 10 wins but wants more. He’s recruited well, and Kentucky football is on the rise. Stoops has done an excellent job, and they should be a highly competitive team this season if their quarterback comes through and their young defense plays well as quickly as possible.

Day 3 Media Days, Saban, Muschamp, Joe Moorhead, Chad Morris, the 148th Open Championship prediction

Day 3 at Media Days was like a rock concert as it always is when Nick Saban walks through the door.

Quite a spectacle. Saban likes his team and he should. Tua is back after completing 245 0f 365 passes, 69%, for 3,966 yards and 43 TDs against 6 interceptions. He was phenomenal all the way up to the SEC Championship game against Georgia where he struggled and Jalen Hurts had to bail the team out, along with a Kirby Smart unconscionable fake punt decision, as the Crimson Tide won the SEC again, 35-28 over Georgia, and moved on to the playoff. Tua was good against Oklahoma, but struggled mightily against Clemson in a 44-16 loss. His opening pass was a pick 6 by Clemson which was just as shocking as the 44 yard TD pass he threw on 3rd and 26 to DeVonta Smith a year earlier to win the National Championship for the Crimson Tide against Georgia.

It wasn’t Tua’s night. It wasn’t Saban’s night. Saban pointed to the fact that his coaches were checked out and looking for other jobs and players were looking at the NFL draft. Those are excuses. Dabo simply, said,“the better team won,” and left it at that. There was no gray area on which team was the better team last year. Saban needs to get over it and concentrate on 2019. Because he probably has the best recruiting class he’s landed at Alabama and the talent returning is off the charts.

The wide receiving corps is the best in the country top to bottom. Clemson has the elite Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins, but the Crimson Tide has Bilenikoff winner Jerry Jeudy (68-1,315 yards, 14 TDs) Henry Ruggs III (46, 741 11 TDs), Jaylen Waddle (44, 710, 7) and DeVonta Smith (42-693, 6). It’s a phenomenal collection of receivers. And there is young depth that’s off the charts good. I look for freshman John Metchie to have a major impact. He had a heckuva spring game and he’ll be a factor. Jeudy is superb as are Ruggs, Smith and Waddle is as explosive as a shotgun shell shot out of a 12 gauge catching the ball and returning punts.

The offensive line looks 10-12 deep, big, physical and talented. Running back with Najee Harris and Brian Robinson looks solid. Not spectacular yet, but possible. It’s Najee’s time to step up. Robinson has his opportunity too.

In the spring game I saw the best collection of defensive players I’ve seen in a long time in college football. Raekwon McMillan will lead the front. Linebackers Dylan Moses, Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis, who is back from injury, should be forces. There is young talent there that looks terrific as well. One guy I forgot to mention up front is freshman D.J. Dale. He’ll be a dominator on the defensive line.

Secondary looks outstanding with Trevon Diggs back at corner and primed for a tremendous year. Jared Mayden and Patrick Surtain Jr look like potential stars as well. The kicking game should be better with freshman Will Reichard from Hoover now a specialist on the team as a freshman. I know Crimson Tide fans are happy to see him. But he needs to deliver. For some reason, Alabama kickers have really struggled while Saban has been in Tuscaloosa. Have to have a good kicker. Maybe Reichard is the answer. Punter looks like Mike Bernier or Skyler Delong. Kick returners could be Robinson and Ruggs III. There is good competition there according to Saban.

The Tide opens up with Duke on Saturday, August 31st at 2:30 PM CT on ABC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the Kickoff Classic. Duke has really improved under David Cutcliffe. He’s done a fantastic job with the team and the program in general. He’s a top flight coach. But that could be a long afternoon for the Blue Devils. New Mexico State at Bryant-Denny Saturday, Sept. 7th at 3 PM CT on SEC Network. @South Carolina Saturday, Sept. 14th at 2:30 OM CT on CBS in what could be a challenging game as quarterback Jake Bentley is back for his senior year for the Gamecocks. He’s been really good at times and maybe not as good at others. But he’ll have a good year this year. Will Muschamp thinks he has his best team yet in Columbia in his 4th season and that’s quite a home field advantage, so not an easy task for Bama. Southern Miiss at home Saturday, Sept. 21st. Ole Miss at home, Saturday, Sept. 28th. Open week, then a huge game @ Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 12th. Tennessee comes to Tuscaloosa, Saturday, Oct.19th, then Arkansas comes to Tuscaloosa for homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 26th. The Tide is off Nov. 2nd and then LSU comes to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9th for what should be a 7 PM CT kickoff on CBS. Could be major implications at that point both in the SEC West and nationally. @Mississippi State the next week Saturday, Nov. 16th and that’s no bargain. Western Carolina comes in Saturday, Nov. 23rd for their paycheck and their kill. Then it’s the Iron Bowl, Saturday, Nov. 30th @ Auburn. If Auburn has good quarterback play, they will be a highly formidable opponent.

This team can certainly win it all. Clemson will have a lot to say about that, LSU is getting better and better and becoming elite, Georgia, of course, is elite under Kirby Smart. Ohio State and Oklahoma with Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Jalen Hurts (OU) under center respectively should be contenders as well. Michigan and Texas are pretty highly thought of, but I’m not sure I’m buying either team yet. They haven’t proven it. Michigan was a disaster at the end of last season and Texas defeated a Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl that didn’t want to be there. They both could be very good teams, but I don’t know if I buy Jim Harbaugh and Tom Herman are elite coaches on the same level as Saban, Dabo and Kirby. I don’t see that right now.

Should be a spectacular season. Tua needs to stay healthy though younger brother Taulia looks like he’ll be terrific. Not sure if Mac Jones can get it done in big games and Paul Tyson is a project. But I really like Taulia. I see him as the backup and a highly capable one. He will be an excellent quarterback at Alabama and he could very competently replace Tua if Tua sustains an injury.

So this is another elite team. SEC Championship, Playoff, National Championship is certainly right there in in the team’s sights. They need to stay in the present though and not repeat the mistakes of last year though Clemson was the best team in the country last year. We’ll see this year. The talent is there to excel at the highest level.

Will Muschamp, Joe Moorhead and Chad Morris also spoke yesterday.

Muschamp has the toughest Strength of Schedule in the country according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). They open with North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday, August 31st at 2:30 PM CT on ESPN. Most people here will be watching Alabama-Duke, but this is a good interstate rivalry and Mack Brown is the new coach at North Carolina returning to a place where he had a lot of success in the late 80’s and 90’s. The Gamecocks will be tested in that game some. Alabama at home Sept. 14th, @ Missouri the next week, Sept. 21st, open week then @Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 13th. Florida at home Oct. 19th, @UT, Oct. 26th, Vanderbilt at home Nov. 2nd. App State at home Nov. 9th. @A&M on Nov. 16th. Open week then Clemson at home, Saturday, Nov. 30th. So it’s tough for Will and his group. Muschamp is funny and engaging. He’s an awesome interview. He likes that this is the toughest schedule in the country. He embraces it. He said his goals for his teams are to win the state, over Clemson, win the SEC East, win the SEC championship and then his team would be headed to the playoff. Like the confidence and optimism. I’m a Will Muschamp fan.

Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead did a good job as well. He got Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens at quarterback. Stevens will battle it out with returner Keytaon Thompson for the starting job. I’ve seen Stevens play. He’s for real. He can sling it and he’s got good wheels. He should be the guy. State lost all 4 defensive linemen, 2 of which, Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons, were first round picks in the NFL, so they’ll have to replace them. Offense should be pretty strong with Stevens under center and running back Kylin Hill, who rushed for 734 yards and 4 TDs last season while being hurt some. He’s a stud though. Moorhead really stressed throwing the ball down the field in his press conference and that gives me reason to think he’ll go with Stevens who is much more accurate and has a stronger arm than Thompson. Moorhead was offensive coordinator at Penn State and coached Stevens for 3 years there so he knows how good he can be. I look for this team to be very solid if some young guys on defense can step up.

Arkansas is still in the rebuilding stage in Chad Morris’s second year. They do have 2 transfer quarterbacks with good talent. Nick Starkel came up from Texas A&M and Ben Hicks, whom Morris coached at SMU, is coming up to Fayetteville as well. There’ll be good competition at that position. Without seeing Hicks play much, I’m not sure who will win this job. Starkel had his moments at A&M and Hicks threw for over 9,000 yards at SMU, so that might not be decided until 2 or 3 weeks into fall camp. Should be interesting.

148th Open Championship Prediction

Defending champion: Francesco Molinari at Carnoustie

Royal Portrush Golf Club Northern Ireland, 7,317 yards, par 72, first time there since 1951 only other time the Open was not in England or Scotland.

Players really like the track. 58 bunkers, not a massive amount, but they come into play off the tee. Rough is thick. Links course. No. 16 is a beast, a 235 yard par 3. Watch for some dramatics and some agony on this hole because if the player misses long right or short right, he’s going down a mountain onto the beach or in rough up to his waist.

Weather, Some rain, typical for Ireland. Wind anywhere from 9-18 depending on the day.

TV: Today-Friday, 12:30 AM-3 PM CT Golf Channel; Saturday, 3:30-6 AM CT Golf Channel. 6 AM-2 PM CT NBC. Sunday, 3:30-6 AM CT Golf Channel. 6 AM-1 PM NBC.

Winner

I’m going to take the 24 year old Spaniard. I haven’t seen a leaderboard today so I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve been bullish on this guy since he won the Irish Open 2 weeks ago. I like this young gun to break through and win his first major championship and hoist the Claret Jug on Sunday.

Jon Rahm

Day 2, Smart, Pruitt, Fisher and Luke

Day 2 of Media Days brought some of the heavyweights in the SEC. Kirby Smart and Jimbo Fisher are established names in the business. Jeremy Pruitt was a terrific defensive coordinator at Florida State and Alabama and is starting to make very good progress at Tennessee, though it is still a work in progress.. Matt Luke and Ole Miss are now eligible to play in a bowl game after not being able to participate for 2 years due to NCAA sanctions. Luke is charged up about the possibility and is building the Rebels program back.

Here is what the 4 coaches had to say about their respective programs on Tuesday.

Kirby Smart, Georgia

Kirby Smart is 24-5 in 3 seasons at Georgia. He said yesterday that’s not good enough. Smart brought up an interesting stat yesterday. He told the media at Media Days that Brooks Koepka had a .0005 better scoring average than Justin Thomas last year, and Koepka earned $5 million more than Thomas. While Paul Finebaum and Marcus Spears of the SEC Network were making fun of stat guys before Smart’s appearance, maybe they need to study the stats a little better. As Bill Parcells used to say, “the numbers don’t lie.” Some stats really matter.

Smart hasn’t seemed to have been able to get over the hump with Nick Saban. Saban owns a 16-0 mark against his former assistants, a stat that Smart is fully aware of. He knows he’s got to defeat Saban to win a national championship. That’s the goal. But he’s got a lot of games in front of him before he can get to Saban and Alabama.

Jake Fromm is back for his junior season and brings a pretty strong resume, though there are some holes in it. Fromm has outlasted Jacob Eason, who is now at Washington and is expected to start, and Justin Fields, who is now at Ohio State and is the presumed starter. Both were 5 star quarterbacks out of high school with immense talent. Fromm held both of them off for the starting job. Fromm had an excellent year last season completing 207 of 307 passe, 67%, for 2,761 yards, 30 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. He lost to LSU, Alabama and Texas, in the Sugar Bowl, so he still has more to prove. The major question for Fromm and Smart is can they get over the hump and win it all. That would mean winning the East, the SEC championship game against Alabama or possibly LSU, that’s an outside possibility, and then win it all.

Fromm has D’Andre Swift in the backfield which is a huge plus. Swift rushed for 1,049 yards and 10 TDs last season. He is strong, physical and fast. He’s a tremendous asset for Fromm and the offense. Brian Herrien, a dependable hard nosed senior running back, is also returning. 5 star sophomore James Cook is back as is 5 star Zamir White, who was injured before the season started last year. The wide receiving corps is inexperienced but talented. Jeremiah Holloman, who was expected to be a key piece in the passing game, was dismissed from the team for assault on a woman. He caught 24 passes for 418 yards and 5 TDs last season. Riley Ridley, Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman and tight end Isaac Nauta have left for the NFL. Demetrius Robinson, who was a 5 star out of high school and transferred from Cal in 2018, could be a key piece. Tyler Simmons caught only 9 passes for 138 yards and 2 TDs, but is a major talent and will be relied on also. Then there’s youth, but a lot of 4 star and a few 5 star talents. They’ll have to grow up quickly. One of the new wide receivers is Hoover 5 star George Pickens, who was committed to Auburn all the way up until the last day in February but flipped to Georgia.

The offensive line has great size and will be led by left tackle Andrew Thomas (Jr. 6’5”, 320). There is a lot of starting experience and physicality up front.

On defense, Georgia returns 6 starters and Smart feels really good about this group. Safeties J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte are back and linebackers Brenton Cox, Tae Crowder and Monty Rice will anchor a strong group there. 5 star freshman Nolan Smith (6’3”, 235) could be a factor this season at linebacker also. The defensive line has good size. Rodrigo Blackenship is back to kick for what seems like his 10th year. He’s very good and clutch.

The Dawgs finished 11-3 last season and 7-2 in the SEC. Jim Chaney left for Tennessee to coach their offense so James Coley takes over as Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach. Coley has been on the staff and Smart is confident in him. On defense, Mel Tucker, Smart’s defensive coordinator for the last 3 years, left to take the head coaching job at Colorado. Dan Lanning will take over the defense and Smart, as always, will be very involved.

The Dawgs open their season at Vanderbilt on Saturday, August 31st at 6:30 PM CT on the SEC Network. Could be a kill. Notre Dame comes to Athens on Saturday, Sept. 21st. Then the Dawgs are off, then @ Tennessee, Saturday, Oct. 5th, South Carolina and Kentucky come to Athens on Oct. 12th and Oct. 19th (both Saturdays) respectively. Then the Dawgs are off before playing Florida, Saturday, Nov. 2nd in Jacksonville. Apparently, the Florida fans are already dogging at Georgia on twitter. That’s dangerous. The Gators may have already lost the game. Then Missouri at home, Saturday, Nov. 9th, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry @ Auburn, Sat. Nov. 16th, A&M at home Sat, Nov. 23rd, then @ Georgia Tech, Sat. Nov. 30th.

Smart has expectations through the roof in Athens. He’ll deliver. It’s just a matter of if he can take it a step or 2 further and somehow figure out a way to defeat Nick Saban. That’s a tall order. But that’s the 43 year old from Montgomery’s goal.

Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee

Jeremy Pruitt’s key point was that last year he had 2 offensive linemen who weighed 300 pounds. Now he has 15. He is returning 17 starters from last year’s 5-7 team, and they’ll be a much improved team. And while Pruitt says he has a lot of talented players on the team and a lot of potentially talented players, it’s more potential this year. But ESPN’s FPI stats has UT winning almost 8 games this season. The 45 year old from Ashland, AL. is building a potential winner in Knoxville.

Another key point Pruitt made was that he has on his staff coaches who have been a part of 16 national championships as assistants. He’s excited to have Jim Chaney on his staff as offensive coordinator. Chaney was making $950,000 per year at Georgia last year. He’ll make $1.5 million this season, $1.6 M next season and $1.7 M in 2021 at Tennessee. Pruitt said that Chaney is pretty happy with his “pay grade at the end of the month.” Chaney is a solid coach, but I’m not sure he’s prolific. He can get too conservative at times in crucial 3rd and even 4th down situations, but he’s got a new opportunity and we’ll see how he fares. Pruitt also hired Tee Martin back as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Martin came from USC where he was OC there and had mixed results, but he was a 1998 national championship quarterback at Tennessee and will recruit well and probably be pretty good at a position. Derrick Ansley is defensive coordinator coming from Alabama, and Pruitt feels very good about him. So Pruitt is very high on his coaching staff.

He will have 40 players on his roster who have degrees, 11 of his 12 seniors will graduate in December, and his recruiting class averaged 27 on the ACT. Very impressive.

Jarrett Gurantano is back for his junior season after completing 153 of 246 passes, 62%, for 1,907 yards, 12 TDs and 3 ints. Pruitt said Guarantano has the players’ trust in the locker-room. If the junior quarterback can step it up this season, the Vols will be much improved. Ty Chandler is back at running back after rushing for 630 yards and 4 TDs last season. The wide receiver corps may be the strength of the team led by Marquez Callaway, who had 37 receptions for 592 yards and 2 TDs last year and Jauan Jennings who pulled in 30 passes for 438 yards and 3 TDs. Both could have huge seasons if Guarantano can get them the ball and the offensive line, which has been a question mark for a while now, can give Guarantano protection in the pocket.

The defense will be led by middle linebacker Daniel Bituli, who finished last season with a team leading 79 tackles with 7 for loss. Pruitt says Bituli speaks 3 languages, English, of course, French, and Congo dialect, he’s a native of the Congo. But Pruitt told him the only language he wants him to know is football.

The schedule features a big game on Saturday, Sept. 21st at Florida, off, then Georgia comes to Knoxvegas Oct. 5th, State comes to Knoxville the following week, Sat. Oct. 13th, then a difficult one @ Alabama, Sat. Oct. 19th. The Vols then host South Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 26th, UAB comes to Knoxville, Saturday Nov.2nd in what could be an interesting contest, though UAB lost a lot of seniors but have quarterback Tyler Johnston and running back Spencer Brown and some excellent young talent returning. @ Kentucky, Sat. Nov. 9th, @ Missouri Nov. 23rd (after an off week) then Vandy at home Saturday, Nov. 30th.

So there should be a lot of improvement in Knoxville. Pruitt is an excellent coach in my opinion. He is on the verge of putting the Vols back on the SEC and national radar.

Jimbo Fisher, A&M

The 53 year old from Clarksburg, West Virginia is coming off a successful 9-4 overall and 5-3 (SEC) campaign in 2018, his first season in College Station, including a 52-13 Gator Bowl victory over N.C. State. Fisher is changing the culture at A&M and looking for championships. He’s another Saban assistant who is looking for that elusive victory over his former mentor.

His 2019 recruiting class was 4th in the country, but 3rd in the SEC behind No.1 Alabama and No.2 Georgia, depending on if you’re looking at 247 sports or Rivals. Rivals had Georgia 1 and Bama 2. 247 had Bama then Georgia. Texas was 3rd in the rankings. So Jimbo is recruiting well with all that talent in Texas at his disposal, but a lot of competition in the state along with teams outside the borders.

Fisher has 11 returning starters, 7 on offense and 4 on defense. Kellen Mond comes into his junior season after showing immense improvement last season. In 2018, Mond completed 230 of 415 passes, 57%, for 3,107 yards, 24 TDs against 9 ints. Fisher is expecting even more improvement from his former high 4 star quarterback who he didn’t sign, but has coached up the last year and a half. The Aggies lost Trayveon Williams to the Cincinnati Bengals. Williams rushed for 1,760 yards and 18 TDs last season so that’s a lot of production to replace. Mond rushed for 474 yards and 7 TDs last season, and Jashaun Corbin will be the starter at running back this season. He rushed for 346 yards and a TD in 2018. The line is big and physical, the receivers are solid and the defense is young but talented under solid defensive coordinator Mike Elko.

But it’s the schedule that stands out. @ Clemson in week 3, Saturday, Sept. 7th with a 2:30 PM CT kickoff on ABC. Auburn comes to Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 21st, The Crimson Tide comes to College Station on Saturday, Oct. 12th. Then on Saturday, Nov. 23rd, A&M is @ Georgia, and on Saturday, Nov. 30th they’re @LSU. So very tough.

Fisher is firm in his commitment that winning championships is the only goal at A&M. With his $75 million contract, that’s what’s expected. This year will be tough, but Fisher is building a major winner.

Matt Luke, Ole Miss

Matt Luke wants his team to get to a bowl game this season, that would be successful year and he brought in a top 20 class in 2019 and has a top 20 class so far in 2020. He inherited a mess after Hugh Freeze got the program in trouble with the NCAA and Ole Miss was not allowed to play in the postseason in 2017 and ‘18 and lost scholarships. Last year the Rebels went 5-7 overall and 1-7 in the SEC.

Luke hired Rich Rodriguez to be his offensive coordinator and Mike McIntyre to be his defensive coordinator. Both had some success as head coaches, Rodriguez at West Virginia, not at Michigan or Arizona, and McIntyre had some success at Colorado. Both got fired though. But Luke hopes both men’s head coaching experience will help him.

Redshirt freshman Matt Corrall will be the starter at quarterback. He has thrown only 22 passes, completing 16 for 239 yards, 2 TDs and 1 int. But he’s got talent, He was a 4 star out of high school. Senior Scottie Phillips will return at running back after rushing for 928 yards and 12 TDs in 2018. They lost some highly talented wide receivers to the NFL, but return some young talent. The offensive line has good size, and they’ll be tested in the SEC. The defense returns 10 starters but was the worst defense in the SEC last year in points and yards allowed. So McIntyre will have his work cut out for him in changing the culture of this defense.

The Rebels open the season @ Memphis on Sat. Aug. 31st at 11 AM CT on ABC. Week 3 they host Arkansas at 6:30 PM CT on the SEC Network (week 0 is Florida-Miami August 24th). The Rebels go to Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 26th. Vanderbilt come to Oxford on Saturday, Oct.5th. @ Missouri Saturday, Oct. 12th. A&M comes to Oxford Saturday, Oct. 19th. The Rebels are off then play @ Auburn Saturday, Nov. 2nd. LSU comes to Vaught-Hemingway on Saturday, Nov. 16th. And, after an off week, Miss State comes to Oxford for the Egg Bowl on Thursday, Nov. 28th, Thanksgiving Night at 6:30 on ESPN.

So, like every other team, Ole Miss will be severely tested. Luke is hoping for the postseason, winning there and to continue building.

SEC Media Days kicks off with day 1

The unofficial start of football season commenced today in Hoover at the Wynfrey Hotel as SEC Media Days cranked up once again for its annual summer showcase. The big news from Commissioner Greg Sankey was that Media Days will be held in Atlanta next year and Nashville in 2021. Don’t know what that means for Hoover going forward. It’s been a great venue for the event, but the SEC is expanding the brand, I guess that’s what you’d call it, and Atlanta and Nashville are major cities in the South and nationally, so that was the decision. Still, a classic event today and going forward the next 3 days in Hoover.

Speakers today were Dan Mullen of Florida, Ed Orgeron of LSU and Barry Odom of Missouri. Here’s what each coach said about their respective teams.

Dan Mullen, Gators

The Gators finished the 2018 season 10-3 and blasted Jim Harbaugh and Michigan 41-15 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. So Mullen’s first year was a pretty resounding success after the struggles the program experienced under Jim McElwain.

The Gators kick off the 150th season of college football on Saturday, August 24th against Miami at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. That’s a phenomenal opener for the college football season. The game kicks off at 6 PM CT and will be broadcast by ESPN. The Gators are then off Sat, 8-31, host UT Martin, Sat. 9-7, @ Kentucky Sat. 9-14, host Tennessee, Saturday, 9-21, host Towson Saturday, 9-28 (No line), host Auburn for homecoming (interesting) on Saturday, 10-6, @LSU, Saturday, 10-12, @ South Carolina Saturday, 10-19, Off Saturday, 10-26, Georgia in Jacksonville Saturday 11-2, versus Vanderbilt Saturday, 11-9, @Missouri Saturday, 11-16, Off, versus Florida State, Saturday, 11-30.

This is a possible SEC Championship team. The FPI index produced by ESPN gives Florida a 19% chance to win the East behind Georgia’s 58%, but this team does return quite a lot of talent. Junior quarterback Feleipe Franks returns. After some up and down results for the first 9 games of the season, Franks finished the season throwing 12 TDs in his last 4 games against 0 interceptions. He’ 6’6”, 240 and can run. Mullen was asked how Franks was able to turn it around and Mullen said he started listening to quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and Mullen, and not Twitter. Mullen asked him towards the latter half of the season if he was going to listen to him and Johnson or to people on Twitter. Mullen told him if the Twitter people knew more about coaching quarterbacks than his coaches, that they should coach him. Franks got the message. He finished the season completing 188 of 322 passes (58%) for 2,457 yards 24 TDs against 6 ints. So a lot to build on off his performance from last year. Franks also rushed for 7 TDs. Mullen said Franks figured out with his size that if defenses are going to give him the middle of the field he’s going to run 20 yards for a TD.

Lamical Perine returns to lead the running game. He rushed for 826 yards and 7 TDS last season. Van Jefferson is a stellar wide receiver. He pulled in 35 passes for 503 yards and 6 TDs last year. The offensive line has been an issue for the Gators for several years now, so playing well up front is critical to the Gators taking a very good season last year and making it a great season this year.

D end Jabari Zuniga will anchor the defense. The senior is 6’3”, 295 pounds. He posted 11 tackles for loss and 6 sacks last season. Linebacker David Reese, a 6’0” 221 pound linebacker, was the second leading tackler on the team last year with 81 tackles.

Zuniga was at Media Days today and was asked about the wide assortment of shoes that Dan Mullen shows off. Zuniga said, “He’s definitely got a deep closet.”

Mullen had a hole in one this summer at Lake Oconee Golf Course at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia. He sank his 173 yard shot with a 7 iron. That’s probably just one less club than Dustin Johnson would have used. That’s pretty large.

Florida, which returns 13 starters, 7 on offense, 6 on defense, should have a very good team this season and their fortunes depend on the play of their offensive line and Franks.

Coach O, LSU

Coach O is pretty fired up about his team this season as the Bengal Tigers come off a 10-3 season and a hard fought Fiesta Bowl victory over UCF, 40-32. That was LSU’s first New Year’s Six/BCS bowl victory since 2007.

O hired Joe Brady as his quarterbacks coach. Brady comes to Baton Rouge from the New Orleans Saints and their prolific NFL offense. Brady will team up with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger as they implement a spread offense for the Tiguhs. Joe Burrow was a resounding success last year at quarterback for O and the Tigers. Joe completed 219 of 379 passes, 58%, for 2,894 yards, 16 TDs and 5 ints. He also ran for 399 yards and 7 TDs. Coach O said they’re going to give Burrow more chances to run the ball. O is confident in Burrow’s backup Myles Brennan who was a highly sought after recruit in high school, a high 4 star, so if Burrow gets hurt, they have a pretty solid backup. But I really hope Joe stays healthy. He’s an awesome guy and really good for college football. He’s a heckuva competitor too. O better not run him too much. That would be a mistake.

O brought in 99, 5 star running back John Emory Jr. and 94, 4 star Tyrion Davis to compete for the starting running back job with returners Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who ran for 658 yards and 7 TDs last season, and Lanard Fournette, Leonard Fournette’s younger brother, among others. So there is some real talent in the backfield for the Bengal Tigers.

Justin Jefferson is the leading returning wide receiver. He caught 54 passes for 875 yards and 6 TDs last season. There is talent and depth on the perimeter according to O.

4 of 5 offensive linemen return and the defense will be anchored by the secondary with projected top 5 NFL draft pick safety Grant Delpit, who had 5 ints last season, leading the D. Cornerback is in good shape with junior Kristian Fulton, whom O is very high on, and star 5 star freshman and 3rd ranked player in the country in 2019, Derek Stingley Jr. manning the corner positions. The defensive line will be anchored by Rashard Lawrence.

O wants his team to be more physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage and become better at stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. Key games include @ Texas, Saturday, 9-7, at 6:30 PM CT on ABC. Texas could be a top 10 team in the preseason poll though I’m not sure I’m buying that. It’ll be tough in Austin though. Florida comes to Baton Rouge Saturday, 10-12, @ Mississippi State the next week, 10-19, Auburn at home Saturday, 10-20, and after an off week, at the Crimson Tide, Saturday, 11-9, sure to be at 7 PM CT on CBS. @ Ole Miss, Saturday, 11-16, and home to A&M, Saturday, 11-30. That A&M game is going to have those Tiger fans charged up after last year’s 74-72, 7 overtime loss at College Station in which it looked like the Bengal Tigers had that game won 3 or 4 times only to be reversed by instant replay. It was a tough pill to swallow, so A&M better buckle up. The key for LSU is navigating this difficult schedule and somehow defeating Alabama, which is hard for any team to do. Clemson seems to have the best luck with that, but they’ve dropped a couple to the Crimson Tide as well. But the Alabama game isn’t the be all, end all for the Tiguhs. They have 11 other games and can have a highly successful season regardless of their result in Tuscaloosa. Looks like this team has a serious shot at winning 10 or 11 games and making another New Year’s Six Bowl. Could be even better with the talent on this roster.

Barry Odom, Missouri

Two major things happened for Odom and Missouri. Kelly Bryant decided to transfer from Clemson to Mizzou after deciding he wasn’t going to get a shot at quarterback with the prolific Trevor Lawrence taking over from him. That has really generated a lot of excitement in Columbia, MO.

But another thing happened and it’s not too good. Missouri received a bowl ban for the 2019 season due to a former tutor completing course work for several football players. It’s a tough thing to handle. Missouri is appealing the decision and will find out in August if the NCAA will lift the bowl ban. It’s tough on the players, but academic integrity matters.

This team has good talent with Bryant under center along with running back Larry Rountree III returning. Rountree rushed for 1,216 yards and 11 TDs in 2018. Wide receiver Johnathon Johnson returns after catching 59 passes for 737 yards and 5 TDs last season. The offensive line will be big and physical.

On defense, middle linebacker and leading tackler Cale Garrett returns. Garrett finished 3rd in the SEC in 2018 with 106 tackles. Cornerback DeMarkus Acy picked off 3 passes last year. He’ll be the leader in the secondary.

The Tigers open the season @ Wyoming on Saturday, 8-31, at 6:30 PM CT on CBS Sports Network. Wyoming should be a pretty good challenge on the road. Then the Tigers host West Virginia and new coach Neal Brown, who came to WVU from Troy where he had tremendous success. So 2 challenges right out of the gate. South Carolina comes to Mizzou on Saturday, 9-21. The Tigers are @ Kentucky, Saturday, 10-25, then they’re off, then @ Georgia, Saturday, 11-9, then Florida (10-16), and Tennessee (10-23) come to Faurot Field. The Tigers finish the season off @ Arkansas in Little Rock.

This team has a good talent and is coming off an 8-5 season in 2018 though they lost their bowl game to Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl, 38-33. How good this team will be depends on how Bryant can execute in Derek Dooley’s offense. The team has offensive weapons. They’ll need to play better defense to get themselves to the 9 win plateau this year.

Tomorrow

Kirby Smart, Georgia, Jimbo Fisher, A&M, Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee and Matt Luke, Ole Miss

Bama Golf nails the All Star game, thoughts on MLB, college football and the Open Championship

One of my best friends and loyal blog commenter Bama Golf correctly predicted the 90th All Star game with the AL defeating the NL, 4-3. Excellent work Bama.

I incorrectly predicted the NL to win and they looked like they had life in the top of the 8th when the Mets' Pete Alonso drove in 2 runs with a single. But the AL pitcher got the next NL batter out and then the Yankees' Aroldis Champman came in for the 9th, and I knew my prediction was in serious jeopardy. Chapman was bringin it a hunge and he was impossible to hit.

But it was an awesome spectacle with Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, putting on a superb show with great music, super fans and a terrific stadium in Progressive Field. The AL has now won 7 in a row and 25 out of the last 30. The NL really needs to get it together. From 2003-2016, the league winner of the Midsummer Classic had home field advantage for the World Series, but Commissioner Rob Manfred and the players union changed it back for the 2017 season to the team with the best record for the regular season having the home field, which is the way to do it. Regular season accomplishments should be rewarded and the All Star game should be just a fun night for the fans and the players. Right now, the Dodgers have the best record in MLB with the Yankees, Astros, Twins and Braves in hot pursuit. Should be an awesome second half.

Next week I'll have SEC Media Days which gets football season started pretty much. Not too long before we'll be kicking it off Saturday, August 24th, week 0, with the Florida Gators taking on the Miami Hurricanes at 6 PM CT on ESPN. The game will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando so no real home field. Should be a solid matchup, close to spectacular.

Manny Diaz takes over at Miami and former Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos will call plays for the Canes as their offensive coordinator. Dan Mullen enters his second season at the helm of the Gators ready to take the next step and have the Gators playing in the SEC Championship game if they can navigate their schedule and defeat Georgia in Jacksonville at that Cocktail deal.

Then on Saturday, Aug. 31st, the Crimson Tide opens its season versus the Duke Blue Devils at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with a 2:30 PM CT kickoff. The game will be televised by ABC. That spring game for the Tide was beyond impressive, so this will be a juggernaut team once again. SEC Championship, Playoff and National championship right in the Crimson Tide's scope once again.

The Auburn Tigers have a tough opener squaring off with Oregon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for a 6:30 PM CT kickoff on ABC. Want to hear Gus talk next week and check out more stuff on the Tigers before forming any opinions on the team. Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix will be battling it out for QB1 for the Tigers. Both are extremely talented and Auburn has a lot of talent on their roster. I'll let you know more about the Tigers in the next two weeks.

Should be a phenomenal week 1 in college football with some intriguing matchups and stirring action.

Also next week, the 148th Open Championship will commence on Thursday. The championship will be played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. Interesting venue. They had a Ryder Cup there several years ago, and the competition will be fierce for this coveted major championship. Jon Rahm won the Irish Open last weekend, so he's a factor to me. The Scottish Open is this weekend with guys like Rory, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler playing, so that's a tournament to keep an eye on.

Will have a lot of product coming up next week. Thanks.

U.S, women's team wins 4th World Cup, Predictions for the Home Run Derby and the All Star game

Great victory for the U.S. yesterday over the Netherlands by a score of 2-0. Megan Rapinoe won the Golden Boot award for most goals and assists in the competition. She also won the Golden Ball Award as the World Cup’s best player. Rapinoe scored 6 goals for the tournament and converted a penalty kick goal in the second half yesterday to put the U.S. up 1-0. Rose Lavelle converted an even better goal later in the second half launching a left footed boot 20 feet for the clinching goal. It wasn’t the total clincher, but the way the U.S. was playing defense led by back Crystal Dunn, the lead looked insurmountable.

Not a big fan of Megan Rapinoe because of her anti-American comments and her decision not to acknowledge the national anthem. But the U.S, team as a whole seemed patriotic. The women are now pushing hard for equal pay with the men.

Trump was asked about it after the victory. He said it depends on the crowd draw the women are getting in their games as opposed to the men. The women win $250,000 for winning the World Cup while the men get over a million. So that should be more equitable. But I think Trump had a good initial answer though he backtracked a little at the end and said they should get equal pay.

If the women’s game keeps growing and draws the attendance figures that rival the men, they certainly deserve an increase in pay equal to the men. But it should depend on the economics of each game. Now, with this World Cup victory, the women’s game could take off and they would have a very strong argument. But it should depend on the interest and the attendance they get for and at their professional games. Certainly the women’s pay for winning the World Cup should be equal to the men. There was as much interest in the Women’s World Cup this year as there was in the Men’s World Cup last year, particularly in the U.S.

So the women have a very good point for the World Cup where they should be compensated equally. But as far as professional soccer goes, the economics of the women’s game versus the men’s game should be the main consideration in determining pay for each respective game. If the women’s game can draw crowds like the men’s game, pay should be commensurate with that and the women deserve just as much pay as the men. But it shouldn’t be determined by emotion, but rather by the economics of each sport.

Regardless, this was a highly impressive performance by the U.S, women’s team.


Home Run Derby winner

Progressive Field, Cleveland

Tonight, 7 PM CT ESPN

This will be electric with some of the best power hitters in the game. One half of the draw features Pete Alonso of the Mets, Carlos Santana of the Indians, Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Ronald Acuna Jr of the Braves., while the other half of the bracket features Matt Chapman of the Oakland A’s, Vladamir Guerrero Jr of the Toronto Blue Jays, Alex Bregman of the Astros and Joc Pederson of the Dodgers.

Winner

Josh Bell over Alex Bregman

I like Bell of the Pirates to win it. He’s hit 27 homers, which is tied for 4th in the National League behind Milwaukee’s Christine Yelich (31), and the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Mets’ Pete Alonso who are tied in second with 30 apiece. Bell is tied with Hunter Renfroe of the Padres for fourth. Bell leads the majors with 84 RBIs.

Alonso is also in the Derby. Mike Trout leads the American League with 28 homers. The Angels centerfielder is having another sensational season. He is not in the field. The second leading home run hitter in the American League is Edwin Encarnacion, so the NL is hitting it out more than the AL.

The winning prize is $1,000,000 so it’s a big deal to a lot of these guys who are on early contracts and many of them are making $550,000 a year. A lot of youthful guys in the field. There’s still room for veterans as Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Freddie Freeman, Justin Verlander and David Price would attest to. I don’t like that all the “experts” are saying it’s a young person’s game now. There are plenty of veterans excelling and you can tell by the list above that the best pitchers are veterans. So both the veterans and the young guys are achieving great things. No age group is doing markedly better than the other.

Like Bell to capture the HR Derby tonight (Photo TribLive.com) .

Like Bell to capture the HR Derby tonight (Photo TribLive.com) .

Prediction for the Mid Summer Classic

Progressive Field Cleveland, 34,000+

7 PM CT FOX, Joe Buck, Smoltzie on the call.

I like Bell, Bellinger and the National League to get the job done this year. There will be some balls flying out of Progressive Field, but I like this LA Dodgers team and their players who are representing the NL. I predicted the Dodgers as my World Series winner over the Astros before the season started. The Yankees are looking tough in the American League as are the Twins and Indians, so there is competition for the ‘Stros, and the Braves look strong in the National League and you can’t count out the Nationals, the Brewers or the Cubs. The NL Central is pretty compelling this season with all 5 teams within 5 1/2 games of each other. I like the Dodgers players, the Braves players and the NL All Stars to prevail tomorrow night in what should be a fascinating All Star game.

I’ve got Cody Bellinger as the MVP.

National League 6, American League 5

Cody Bellinger and the “Senior Circuit” take the All Star game tomorrow night in Cleveland (Photo Dodgers Nation).

Cody Bellinger and the “Senior Circuit” take the All Star game tomorrow night in Cleveland (Photo Dodgers Nation).







Dans goes off, Sonny, David, Tyler superb, further thoughts on our terrific 2019 team

Young man, you had a night! Dansby Swanson was 3 for 5 last night against the Philadelphia Phillies with 2 homers, a double and 5 Ribeyes in a 12-6 Atlanta Braves victory.

With his team down 4-0 in the bottom of the 1st, the Braves shortstop launched one 404 feet over the right central field wall for a solo shot to get his team going. The Braves caught up to the Phillies and held a 9-6 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. During the comeback rally, Dans also doubled in the left field corner to knock in another run. The Braves had a 9-4 lead, but the Phillies made it interesting at 9-6 in the bottom of the 8th.

With one out and 2 runners on, the great Swanson crushed another ball over the left central field wall 391 feet to put the lead in comfortable shape at 12-6. The Braves got’em out in the 9th and moved to 52-36 on the season and in first place of the NL East by 6 games.

Dansby is now hitting .274, really getting that average up, he’s a .300 major league hitter to me the way he could hit at VU, and he now has 17 home runs and 57 Ribeyes. At this pace, Dans could hit 35 homers and drive in 110. It’s phenomenal what the great one is doing. Braves at home tonight versus the Marlins at Sun Trust Park. This is a loveable team. Everything about them is fun to watch. They’re becoming a serious factor to make a deep October run. Dans is a big part of it. Very proud of the man.

Sonny Gray pitched a spectacular game Wednesday Night in the Cincinnati Reds 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Sonny went 8 gave up just 4 hits, 0 runs with 1 walk and 12 K’s. Sonny threw 111 pitches with 76 for strikes against 35 balls, more than a 2:1 strike to ball ratio which is a baseline for winning games. Sonny was awesome hitting 93,94,95 and his breaking ball was very strong. He threw some good cutters as well. Sonny now 5-5 on the season with a 3.59 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, solid, 33 walks and 103 strikeouts. The Reds have just been a Fountain of Resurgence for Sonny. His pitching coach, Derek Johnson, was his pitching coach at Vanderbilt. And Coach Johnson is outstanding. Sonny is really in a good place. His team is pretty good too. The Reds, which took 3 of 4 from the NL Central leading Brewers, are 41-44 and just 4 games back of the Brewers and the Cubs in the NL Central. This team is making some noise. Derek Johnson has made a major impact on the pitching staff. The Reds can really pitch. Coach Johnson is a phenomenally talented coach. I could see him becoming a big league manager one day. It’s really working well for Sonny.

Tyler Beede pitched spectacularly well for the San Francisco Giants in their 10-4 victory at San Diego Tuesday Night. Tyler went 7, gave up just 4 hits, 1 run with 0 walks and 4 K’s. Tyler threw 100 pitches with 63 for strikes against 37 balls. He was hitting 95 routinely and didn’t walk anyone, which is huge for Tyler. Tyler and Sonny remind me of each other. They both have awesome stuff, and if they’ve got their control down during a game, they are tough. Tyler moved to 2-3 on the season with a 5.64 ERA, but 2 of his last 4 starts have been tremendous. Against the Dodgers on June 17th, Tyler went 6, gave up 3 hits, 1 run, with 5 walks and 7 K’s. But his control has been much better lately. Like where Tyler is trending and the Giants are playing better.

David Price had another outstanding night for the Red Sox, which are not playing their best baseball right now and trail the Yankees by 8 or 9 games in the AL East. But David keeps delivering. He just needs some help from the rest of the pitching staff. In a 10-6 victory @ Toronto Tuesday Night, Dave went 6, gave up 4 hits, 2 runs with 4 walks and 7 K’s. A lot more walks than David normally gives up, but he really settled down after some early trouble and helped pitch his team to victory. David is now 6-2 with a 3.33 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, 19 walks and 89 strikeouts. He’s been phenomenal for his team.

Mike Yaz and Bryan Reynolds are doing great things for the SF Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates respectively, and Mike Minor didn’t have his best outing on Monday, but he’s been spectacular this season. Walker Buehler got roughed up a little bit in Colorado, but that’s Colorado, a mile above sea level where a pop up to left becomes a homer. Walker did some good things in the game though. Trust the man completely. Tony Kemp still a key substitute for the Astros and Curt Casali playing a lot of catcher for the Reds. Curt doing a good job. Would like to see his bat get going some more though.

Our National Champions

A lot of fans and pundits have commented that this 2019 team is the best team we’ve ever had. By the results, SEC Regular season champions, SEC Tournament champions, Regional, Super Regional champions, 13 players drafted by MLB, and finishing the job and winning the national championship, this team makes a pretty strong case that it is and was the best team we’ve ever had. But I like what Corbs said at the Awards ceremony last Friday at McGugin. Corbs said that 2003, the first year we made it to the SEC Tourney in a while, led to 2005, our first super regional. 2005 led to the signing of David Price, a game changer for our program, and that led to 2007, where we won the SEC regular season and tournament titles with Price, Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty. Price was the first overall player selected in the MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays and I’d say he’s had a phenomenal big league career with more to come. He’s given so much back to Vanderbilt financially and emotionally. He’s been a stellar representative of the program.

2007 led to 2010, another super regional. 2010 led to 2011 our first trip to the CWS. 2011 led to 2013 when we finished 26-3 in the SEC and made another Super Regional. 2013 led to 2014, and our first national title. In 2015 we got there again only to lose heartbreakingly to Virginia, which we had defeated the year before for the national title. 2015-16 with Ethan Paul, Stephen Scott, Julian Infante, a number one recruiting class, had the devastating tragedy of losing the great Donny Everett. Despite the tragic and heartbreaking loss of a beloved teammate, Ethan, Stephen, Julian, Walker Grisanti and Patrick Raby hung in there, and with help from JJ Bleday, Austin Martin, Kumar Rocker, Tyler Brown, Mason Hickman, Pat DeMarco, Philip Clarke, Harrison Ray, Ty Duvall etc. this 2019 team put together one of the finest seasons in college baseball history. It was clearly a historically great team. So that’s my opinion. This may have well been the best team we’ve ever had and measuring them by their achievements, you’d have to say that. But so many great players and great teams led to this season. What a a run Tim Corbin has put together at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt baseball is the premiere program in the country, and it’s kind of by a fairly wide margin. Corbs has Austin, Kumar, Tyler, Mason, Harrison, the talented Ethan Smith and some good young talent returning next season, so we’ve got another shot at being really special. What an extraordinary coach and what extraordinary players we have had and have. It’s quite a ride we’re on and extraordinarily satisfying. This is something we can hang onto for a while. Forever actually. And our program is going to keep producing sensational results the way Corbs recruits and coaches. He’s got the No.1 class for 2019. If we can keep most of them from the Major Leagues, the freshman have until the first day of classes in August to decide if they want to sign a contract or play at Vanderbilt, then we’ll have an influx of more superb material setting us up for a tremendous 2020 season. We should have very strong pitching next season, and if some of the younger guys, who have elite talent, can play well, we’ve got a chance to be exceptional. Can’t wait for next season, but going to enjoy this one some more. Just deep satisfaction and contentment right now.

I’ll have some football stuff next week and more MLB guys stuff. Coach Mason is recruiting well for 2020 and we’ve got some graduate transfers who are going to be very good players for us this season. I’ll talk more about the team next week along with the 2019 freshman class along with the transfers and the guys in the 2020 class.

Have an awesome weekend.

Predictions for the 133rd Championships at Wimbledon

All England Courts, London

Defending champion Men: Novak Djokovic

Defending champion women: Angelique Kerber

ESPN coverage started today and lasts through the men’s final on July 14th

Women’s Final: Saturday, July 13th 7 AM CT ESPN

Men’s Final, Sunday, July 14th, 8 AM CT,ESPN

Winners

Men

I’ll take Rafa in the semis over Roger and Djoker over Kevin Anderson. I’ll take Rafa over Djoker as the superb Spaniard captures his 19th major. He has 1 Australian Open title in 2009, 2 Wimbledons (2008, 2010) 3 U.S. Opens (‘10, ‘13, ‘17) and 12 French Open championships. He’s hot right now and he carries that all the way to the championship on Sunday, July 14th. With the victory, Rafa will move 1 major championship behind Roger Federer who has 20, the most of all time.

Nadal over Djoker 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3

Women

I’m real bullish on 23 year old Aussie Ashleigh Barty. She just won the French and her court demeanor and mental toughness are spectacular.

I like Barty to capture her second major and set herself up for a very bright future in the game.

Ashleigh Barty over Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-2