Good morning! How are we feeling today? Confident? Exuberant? Pessimistic? Blase? It has been hard to get a read on the fan base’s general consensus following the Tide’s first lost in 22 months. I’m not even certain that there is a consensus following last week’s everything-went-to-hell implosion in College Station, where just about every position group (and more than a few coaches) heaped shame upon their ancestors.
No time to mope, however, as No. 5 Alabama travels to Starkville today for a 6:00 p.m. (ESPN) contest against a Mississippi State team that plays just the right sort football that can give this iteration of the Crimson Tide fits: Davis-Wade is loud. CLANGA is coming off a bye. The Bulldogs are fourth in the SEC in offensive drive efficiency. Alabama is third-from-the-bottom in drive efficiency defense. State forces a lot of pressure up front and have athletes in the secondary. And Alabama has traditionally just played poorly overall in Starkville.
Hard to believe we’re at survive-and-advance just four weeks into the SEC slate, but this is truly a must-win for Alabama. Even more importantly, it is a game where the Tide needs to begin to put it all together — six games without an identity or leadership is practically alien for this program.
Will they emerge tonight? Must see television...for Alabama fans and the national picture.
Here is the rest of your schedule (God’s right and proper Central Time Zone), in what is shaping up to be a fairly light slate across the country.
|Auburn at Arkansas||11:00 am||CBS (cable)|
|Florida at LSU||11:00 am||ESPN: 206|
|Merrimack at LIU||11:00 am||ESPN Extra: 792|
|Michigan State at Indiana||11:00 am||FS1: 219 / 4K: 106|
|Nebraska at Minnesota||11:00 am||ESPN2: 209|
|Nicholls at UIW||11:00 am||ESPN Extra: 791|
|Oklahoma State at Texas||11:00 am||FOX (cable) / 4K: 105|
|Rutgers at Northwestern||11:00 am||BTN: 610|
|Texas A&M at Missouri||11:00 am||SEC Network: 611|
|Tulsa at South Florida||11:00 am||ESPNU: 208|
|UCF at Cincinnati||11:00 am||ABC (cable)|
|Yale at UConn||11:00 am||CBSSN: 221|
|Duke at Virginia||11:30 am||631,640,646,653,662,663,668,699,671,675,676,693,694,793|
|Dartmouth at New Hampshire||12:00 pm||NBCSB: 630 *1|
|Monmouth at Campbell||12:00 pm||ESPN Extra: 794|
|Penn at Columbia||12:30 pm||SNY: 639|
|James Madison at Richmond||1:00 pm||NBCSWA: 642 *1|
|Idaho at Eastern Washington||1:30 pm||ATT: (PI: 659 / RM: 683 / RMW: 684 / SW: 674) / RSNW: 687|
|North Dakota at SIU||2:00 pm||ESPN Extra: 791|
|NDSU at Illinois State||2:00 pm||MARQ: 664|
|BYU at Baylor||2:30 pm||ESPN: 206 / 4K: 108|
|Fresno State at Wyoming||2:30 pm||FS2: 618|
|Kent State at WMU||2:30 pm||ESPNU: 208|
|Kentucky at Georgia||2:30 pm||CBS (cable)|
|Miami at North Carolina||2:30 pm||ACC Network: 612|
|Morgan State at SC State||2:30 pm||ESPN Extra: 793|
|Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech||2:30 pm||ESPN2: 209|
|Purdue at Iowa||2:30 pm||ABC (cable)|
|Toledo at Central Michigan||2:30 pm||CBSSN: 221|
|WKU at Old Dominion||2:30 pm||ESPN Extra: 792|
|Vanderbilt at South Carolina||3:00 pm||SEC Network: 611|
|South Dakota at Northern Iowa||4:00 pm||NBCSCH+: 665-1 *1|
|The Citadel at Furman||5:00 pm||ESPN Extra: 794|
|Alabama at Mississippi State||6:00 pm||ESPN: 206|
|Colorado State at New Mexico||6:00 pm||MARQ: 664|
|Utah State at UNLV||6:00 pm||CBSSN: 221|
|Iowa State at Kansas State||6:30 pm||ESPN2: 209|
|NC State at Boston College||6:30 pm||ACC Network: 612|
|Ole Miss at Tennessee||6:30 pm||SEC Network: 611|
|Stanford at Washington State||6:30 pm||ESPNU: 208|
|TCU at Oklahoma||6:30 pm||ABC (cable)|
|Army at Wisconsin||7:00 pm||BTN: 610|
|UCLA at Washington||7:30 pm||FOX (cable)|
|Air Force at Boise State||8:00 pm||FS1: 219|
|Arizona State at Utah||9:00 pm||ESPN: 206|
|Hawaii at Nevada||9:30 pm||CBSSN: 221|
Must See TV
No. 13 Ole Miss at Tennessee (6:30, SECN) — The Vols are somehow sitting at 4-2, and aside from getting walloped in The Swamp, they’ve actually looked pretty good getting there. UT is keyed by a solid OL, a punishing commitment to running the ball, and a heedless abandon with the vertical pass. There’s a reason the spread on this is under a field goal — all of those things can give No. 13 Ole Miss serious trouble. But, one could say the same for Ole Miss. What the Rebels do well, are the things the Vawls have issues with, especially in the secondary. This will be a barn burner, especially given the state of the defenses here...and Lane Kiffin’s documented road woes. Probably the most entertaining game on the schedule.
No. 16 Arizona State at Utah (9:00 ESPN) — Along with the later UCLA-Utah game, this is one of the two remaining contests that will decide the Pac 12 South. The Sun Devils have looked great, the absolute class of the P12. But they’ve had road issues, and the Utes are the toughest home-out in the entire conference. If ASU is going to drop one, it will be here. Utah seems to have found its identity recently too: explosive offense. It’s a late game, but a great one.
Auburn at No. 24 Arkansas (11:00 CBS) — Mired in the midst of a two-game road losing streak, the Piggies get back to Fayetteville, where they have been an absolute machine this season. Auburn is fresh-off a shellacking at the hands the Georgia Bulldogs; and the Tigers can’t quite commit to the run, and can’t quite decide which of its two meh quarterbacks it wants to play — against the team that leads the SEC in interceptions forced. Auburn has the talent; Arkansas the heart. Who’s going to remain in play for the SEC West? Loser is eliminated by lunch time.
No. 21 NC State at Boston College (6:30 ACCN) — Sitting at a combined 10-2, these two are very much in play (alongside Wake Forest and Clemson) for the ACC Championship. No Miamis, no UNCs, no Florida States — the middle class has risen. NC State has looked pretty crappy on the road this year, so that may actually counterbalance the Eagles being without their starting QB and having to rely on defense...as an Air Raid team. It’s worked so far in Chestnut Hill, but it hasn’t always been pretty.
Maybe Worth Grabbing the Remote:
Army at Wisconsin (7:00 BTN) — You like defense and about 20 combined passing attempts? This old school slobberknocker is your jam.
Farmageddon (6:30 ESPN2) — ISU has played pretty awful on the road this season, and the K State Wildcats have been great at home. They should have knocked off Oklahoma two weeks ago. The talent disparity is tremendous, but venue may matter a great deal. Manhattan is a surprisingly hostile trip for a such sleepy little town.
TCU at Oklahoma (6:30 ABC) — After last week’s rally and win over Texas, and a new quarterback having been discovered, do the Sooners resemble the championship contender we suspected they might be? It’s one of the shakiest undefeateds in the country...or was until last week. Maybe.
Pitt at Virginia Tech (2:30 ESPN2) — Low-key very good game in the ACC. Second-in importance to only BC/NCSU...and may wind up being more important by season’s end. If you’ve not seen Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, do so now. He’s got oodles of arm talent
Okie State at Texas (11:00 Fox) — Which one of these demonstrable chokers gets it done? Sarkisian and Mullet will drive a man crazy. This game is a matter of who wants it least. That’ll the be the loser; because it’s hard to tell if anyone actually wants to win or is capable of closing a W out.
Air Force at Boise State (8:00 FS1) — Boise State is coming of their season’s biggest win. For that matter, so is Air Force. It’s on the Smurf Turf, so that helps the Broncos somewhat, but is it enough? They have traditionally struggled against the Falcons, who’ve knocked off BSU 3 of the last 5 years.
Florida at LSU (11:00 ESPN) — This would have been a good game a few years ago. For now, it’s two overpaid coaches with problems up and down their rosters, who’ve disappointed in recruiting, with despised coordinators, and yet have won just enough to stay relevant and off the hotseat...until now. Ed Orgeron is already 1-2 in the SEC, and this is the second of five-straight ranked teams the Tigers play. Stingley and Ricks are both out in the secondary. And their line play has been so soft that even Vandy may try and body-up LSU. Tune in for the schadenfreude! No matter who loses, we win.
No. 11 Kentucky at No. 1 Georgia (2:30 CBS)
I don’t care how many times you want to make Georgia Football exciting, it’s not. It’s sloppy, it’s erratic. It’s archaic. Unfortunately, it’s also working this year, when everyone has huge limitations.
And I don’t care how many times you want to make Kentucky football a thing, it’s just not going to be an enjoyable viewing product. Ever. And against the Bulldogs, it has been an even less palatable viewing experience. Four of the last five meetings have all been double-digit UGA wins, as the respective signal callers from each side flailed around and threw wounded duck after wounded duck.
The last time we were teased with a “great” Kentucky team, it was 21-0 Georgia by the end of the first quarter, and I suspect we see the same today too.
The dirtiest secret of all, is that despite these two teams both being undefeated and highly regarded defensively, neither have faced a passing offense yet worth a damn. And it won’t happen today.
We’re being sold another bill of goods. This game is going to be hyped and paraded about as a crucial contest in the national picture, when it’s plainly not. Kentucky is dead last in turnover margin, and has done so against a very soft schedule; they’ll be down 17-20 points before Gary even mispronounces three names.
Georgia is going to line up and kick the hell out of this smoke-and-mirrors Wildcats team that has been in fights for its life with the likes of South Carolina. The difference is, this wobbly UK team has to hit the road to Athens, where UGA has been a thresher maw of destruction against overranked opponents.
It’s just not worth watching. BYU at Baylor (2:30 ESPN), will be far more entertaining and a much better way to use your precious time.
Georgia is just plain boring. Kentucky is just boring, sloppy, and not that good.