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Around the SEC

Dear Starkville…

Dear Starkville…

Dear Starkville,

In the spirit of KSR Kindness Day, I owe you an apology. As you know, I’ve been very cruel to you over the years. Most recently, I was told to stop making fun of you while filling in on The Paul Finebaum Show. Trashing SEC campuses is against the network’s policy, apparently. Who knew?

Before that, you were the butt of many jokes. For instance, I called you the asshole of America on Twitter. I once referred to your sororities as cattle. I also wrote the following description of your university in a game preview of Mississippi State:

Founded in 1878 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi, today Mississippi State University is best known for producing Dak Prescott, the current starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys; and for the prominent smell of cow manure steaming from the bottoms of boots, the mud-flaps of trucks, and on the used condoms around campus.

Oh yeah… I’m also sorry for saying Mississippi State’s school motto is Couldn’t Afford Ole Miss. I completely made that up. Mississippi State’s motto is actually Learning, Service, Research. Just wanted to clear that up.

Needless to say, I was way out of line for my past statements regarding Starkville, a city I’ve visited many times. Will I go back? Unlikely. Actually, no; I will not go back. But that doesn’t give me the right to trash your community online and on air, which I have done far too often.

So, please, accept my apology. I was out of line and there is no excuse for my actions. I’m sure there are many people who consider Starkville a lovely place in the Golden Triangle region of Mississippi. It’s a city with so much to offer; from the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library to the Cullis & Gladys Wade Clock Museum to the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum to some other stuff that’s probably cool. It’s also home to my favorite coffeeshop in America, Strange Brew Coffeehouse, and, until recently, my favorite spot for a good cinnamon roll, Marti’s Bakery. You’re going to miss that place.

Moving forward, I hope we can come together and put our contentious past behind us. I want to live a life of being on great terms with Starkville and I hope you feel the same way about me, too. It’s unfortunate it took a kindness holiday for me to extend this apology, but it’s better than never and I’m truly sorry for my actions. You didn’t deserve the slander. You’re a good city. You’ve got good people.

You may not be for me, Starkville, but, hey, at least you’re not Knoxville. That place is trash. I wouldn’t even breathe the oxygen in that sh*t hole of a city if I needed it to survive.

 

Love,

Drew Franklin


Texas A&M will Wear Throwback Uniforms vs. Kentucky

adidas

Just like the Kentucky basketball team, the Kentucky football team is turning into everyone’s Super Bowl.

Last year South Carolina used the blackout gimmick against UK to rally their fans, only to fall short.  This year Florida honored the 25th anniversary of their 1993 SEC Championship team when Kentucky came to town, but left The Swamp disappointed.  When Texas A&M hosts UK for the first time as a member of the SEC, the Aggies will honor the 1998 Big XII Champions with throwback uniforms.

A&M’s uniforms have remained the same over the years.  The only change is the technology of the clothing.  Adidas uses the new stuff, but will make it look like the old mesh that was popular in the 90s.

adidas

Mark Stoops’ first matchup against his mentor just got a little more interesting.

[Adidas]


Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WATCH: North Texas fools Arkansas with fake fair catch TD

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It only took three weeks of college football for the play of the year to emerge.

The SEC’s own Arkansas Razorbacks are currently getting outplayed by the North Texas Mean Green. That’s right folks, don’t be fooled by the respectable looking eagle logos on the helmets, this team’s actual mascot is the Mean Green.

Nevertheless, UNT absolutely got one over on the Pig Sooie faithful today. A typical punt that should’ve pinned North Texas near their own ten yard line wound up with their returner in the end zone.

Too bad UK doesn’t take on Arkansas this season. I’m sure Lynn Bowden could pull off a similar stunt.

@JayWinkKSR


SEC Storylines of Week 3: Upset Weekend?

Sep 9, 2017; Clemson, SC, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) warms up prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The college football season gets another week older, and many eyes will be focused on the SEC. Here is a rundown of the key storylines to watch for around the conference as Kentucky will faceoff with Murray State in Lexington.

1. Will Jarrett Stidham Prove His Worth?

In the biggest SEC game of the year so far, No. 12 LSU travels to Auburn to take on the No. 7 Tigers. It will be a contest with huge SEC West implications so let’s get right down to the matchups.

Without a doubt, how Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham will play against such a tough LSU defense will determine who wins this game. In a weak quarterback class, I believe that Stidham has the best chance to be a consistent starting quarterback in the NFL.

And I’m not the only one who is starting to take notice.

However, despite the hype behind Stidham’s arm, he might just face a wakeup call against an incredibly stout LSU defense led by linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams.

Despite being the underdog and being the road team, I really think LSU has a shot in this game. I believe that Auburn is straight up the better team. However, LSU matches up well with them. Auburn loves to run the ball and LSU’s defense specializes in stopping the run.

No matter who wins, I foresee this being a close contest. Stay away from betting on this one.

2. Ole Miss Tries for Another Upset Bid of Alabama

The Rebels have a strong recent history of giving the Crimson Tide absolute headaches as an underdog and this could be another year in which that happens.

Ole Miss has what might be the strongest wide receiving core in the nation led by future NFL star A.J. Brown. Considering that Alabama’s secondary is still incredibly young, this is a real matchup advantage for the Rebels.

That and the fact that Ole Miss will be playing at home are giving many people confidence that this huge upset may just happen.

However, that will not be the case. Remember, a huge reason why those past upsets happened was because the Rebels had a defense that could consistently hold back the Crimson Tide.

That is not the case this season. Plus, Alabama has its most talented quarterback in Nick Saban’s time in Tuscaloosa. The spread is currently at 21 points for Alabama and it should be higher. Alabama will for sure cover and comfortably beat a surprisingly good Ole Miss team.

3. Vanderbilt’s Tough Task

Derek Mason has the Commodores at 2-0 after defeating two lesser opponents. This week they get a whole other monster when they take on the mighty Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Before I go any further with the post, I do have a disclaimer alert. I have been a huge Notre Dame football fan for most of my life so there may or may not be some bias here for the Irish.

Anyways, yea I don’t think Vanderbilt stands a chance here. They just don’t have the talent level that the future 2019 National Champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish has. Not everyone can that be perfect and amazing. That’s just too bad.

And oh yea, Kyle Shurmur is having a nice year for the Commodores (167.7 quarterback rating). He will keep Vanderbilt in this game for a little while.

4. Can Purdue Slow Down Missouri’s Offense?

Missouri has had a fantastic start to their season and it has everything to do with their offense….and the fact that they haven’t played anyone.

However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Tigers have come out and performed excellently in 2018. In two games they have scored a total of 91 points which speaks for itself.

Quarterback Drew Lock has looked nothing short of amazing so far. He is the biggest reason why Missouri is on such a hot streak right now. Through two games he has 687 passing yards, 8 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

We will get a pretty good challenge this week against Purdue from the Big 10. This is a weird matchup, mostly because the Boilermakers are a good football team that just had a terrible start to its season.

This will be a high scoring, fun-to-watch game so tune into this one. Purdue has an insanely creative head coach in Jeff Brohm so expect fireworks early. If for some reason Missouri doesn’t come ready to play, they will fall to a sneakily talented football team.

5. Kentucky Looks to Make a Statement at Home

It’s an amazing time to be a Kentucky football fan to say the least. This week should carry on the amazing feeling that so many people in the Bluegrass have towards the Wildcats now.

Murray State comes to town in what should be a reasonably easy victory for Kentucky and Mark Stoops. That would put the Wildcats at 3-0 to start the season and who knows the might be ranked in the top 25 next week (I doubt it).

Kentucky will win on Saturday, but I’m looking for them to make a huge statement in this contest. Plus, they will really need all the momentum they can muster when Mississippi State comes to Lexington next weekend.

After getting some amazing Heisman Trophy talk this week, I’m also looking forward to Benny Snell to have a huge game on the ground in this one. I want to see an absolute beatdown take place today and that will happen if Snell gets what he wants.

UK’s game against Murray State may not seem like much of a storyline, but after their win over Florida the rest of the SEC has officially been out on notice. Kentucky controls their own fate for now, so they should be a storyline to watch every weekend. It would be quite story if they make a magical run.


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

SEC Football Week 3 Schedule and Spreads

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Week three in the SEC will be dominated by two huge matchups: No. 12 LSU at No. 7 Auburn and No. 1 Alabama at Ole Miss. Also of interest: Vanderbilt at Notre Dame and Missouri at Purdue. Is Derek Mason’s squad legit or will they get embarrassed in front of Touchdown Jesus? I can’t wait to find out.

Here’s the schedule along with the latest point spreads from VegasInsider.com so you can plan your Saturday.

Noon Middle Tennessee State #3 Georgia (-33) ESPN News
Noon* Murray State Kentucky SEC Network Alternate
Noon UTEP Tennessee (-31) SEC Network
2:30 PM Vanderbilt #8 Notre Dame (-14) NBC
3:30 PM #12 LSU #7 Auburn (-10.5) CBS
4:00 PM Colorado State Florida (-20) SEC Network
4:00 PM North Texas Arkansas (-7) SEC Network
7:00 PM #1 Alabama (-21.5) Ole Miss ESPN
7:30 PM Louisiana #16 Mississippi State (-33) ESPN 2
7:30 PM Missouri (-6) Purdue BTN
7:30 PM UL Monroe Texas A&M (-27) SEC Network

*No spread available

Let’s hear your picks in the comments.


SEC Storylines of Week 2: “The Streak”

The college football season gets another week older, and many eyes will be focused on the SEC. Here is a rundown of the key storylines to watch for around the conference as Kentucky will face-off with the Florida Gators in Gainesville.

1. Will the Streak be Broken? 

In 31 straight meetings, the Florida Gators have defeated the Kentucky Wildcats. It’s one of the longest such streaks in the nation, and it has been agonizing to say the least for Big Blue Nation to watch.

In so many ways the Wildcats have completely blown it time and time again to a program that just always seems to have the edge. From mental mistakes, to bad calls, to a lack of talent, or just plain bad luck, it has always been a certainty that in this game Kentucky would be a receiving a loss.

So how much of a chance does Kentucky have this season? Well, my short answer is that their chances are reasonably slim.

I’ve already written about how much I’m all in on the Florida Gators this season, and their season opener against a bad team did not raise any doubts for me. Yes, Charleston Southern ran the ball for 222 rushing yards on the Gators which is giving some people a lot of optimism heading into this matchup.

That optimism is misplaced. Let’s look at that entire game and not just one stat to make us feel better. Charleston Southern only had 225 total yards of offense, 3 (!) yards passing, just nine first downs, and six total points.

I take no positives away from that. To be clear, I think that Kentucky will have success running the ball today. I really do. Benny Snell will go over 100 yards and look great. However, it’s going to take more than some good runs to end this streak.

The Wildcats must find balance with good-to-great play from one of their quarterbacks. If Terry Wilson or Gunnar Hoak can crank out a that kind of performance, then UK will have a good chance at winning.

But after a terrible performance from Wilson and an average one from Hoak against a team from the MAC Conference, I just don’t see the streak ending this season.

2. A Showdown in Columbia

The biggest game in college football this weekend is undoubtedly No. 3 Georgia against No. 24 South Carolina as it is the only ranked matchup in week two.

The Bulldogs are currently 10.5-point favorites heading into the matchup after essentially taking a week off against Austin Peay University. The Gamecocks can also say the same after annihilating Coastal Carolina in a game that saw quarterback Jake Bentley throw four touchdowns.

This game is also very important because a win for South Carolina would incredibly change the entire climate in the SEC East. That’s the kind of upset that changes the course of a season.

Personally, the fact that this game is at South Carolina is the only reason why the spread isn’t larger in favor of Georgia. The Bulldogs are straight-up more talented at almost every single position than South Carolina is, plus Georgia has far more depth.

Don’t forget that Bentley also does not play well against truly talented defenses. His lack of velocity on the ball has always been a red flag in the eyes of NFL Scouts, and he will be going up against a team will NFL-level talent.

Maybe the Gamecocks would cover the spread against a Bulldog team still coached by Mark Richt. However, this is a different animal with Kirby Smart at the helm. I expect Georgia to cover the spread easily here, and I can see this game getting out of hand quickly. Don’t overthink this one.

3. Can Texas A&M Keep Things Close?

In what I believe is the second biggest game of the week, No. 2 Clemson will travel to Aggieland to face unranked Texas A&M. After such a dominant week for the SEC in week one, just imagine what people would be saying if the fifth-best team in the SEC West took down arguably the best team in the country.

But let’s not play the what-if game. Do the Aggies stand a chance? The answer isn’t so easy as like with Georgia-South Carolina the underdog team is playing at home which makes the spread a bit more even.

There is no question that A&M’s defense is nowhere even close to where Clemson’s is at talent-wise. I can’t name a single Aggie defender off the top of my head while the Tiger’s entire defensive line might go in the top 10 of the next NFL Draft.

On the other side of the football, I’ve been a huge fan of running back Trayveon Williams who led Texas A&M with 240 rushing yards and three touchdowns last weekend. He has true gamebreaker potential.

Another storyline to watch will be how much playing time quarterbacks Kelly Bryant and Hunter Lawrence receive for Clemson.

Is there a doomsday scenario where Bryant plays bad on the road and then Lawrence gets rattled in a tough environment as a freshman? Possibly.

However, the Aggies have even bigger questions at quarterback as Kellen Mond is far from being reliable. The spread is currently at 12 points in favor of Clemson, and I think that’s about right. Even if the Tigers’ quarterbacks get rattled, their talent will win out.

But never count out a Jimbo Fisher-led team at home. I think this one will be close deep in the third quarter, and Clemson pulls away at the end.

4. Mississippi State Looks to Make a Statement

Last week I made the guarantee that West Virginia would easily cover the spread and destroy Tennessee and I was right. I think this week’s matchup between No. 18 Mississippi State and unranked Kansas State is extremely similar.

Talent-wise Kansas State and Tennessee are in the same ballpark while the Bulldogs have more talent than the Mountaineers. And believe it or not, the spread for this game is even smaller than the one for the UT-WVU matchup.

Miss. State is just favored by 7.5 points in this matchup which just makes no sense to me. Sure, the Wildcats are playing at home, but when there is a talent disparity like this home field advantage only matters so much.

Nick Fitzgerald returns this week after serving a one game suspension so look for him to make a big statement along with the rest of the Bulldogs. With his talent back on the field I guarantee that Mississippi State covers the spread here and beats Kansas State. This is an easy one.

5. The Embarrassing Volunteers

Speaking of Tennessee….wow are they an embarrassment.

In one of the best weeks for the SEC I’ve seen in a long time, they were the only team from the conference to lose last weekend. Not only did they lose but they lost terribly at the hands of West Virginia.

To see such a clear talent disparity against a team with an average defense is very alarming. New Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt received quite the rude welcoming in his first game at the helm, however that will change this week.

In their easiest game of the season, they welcome East Tennessee State to Neyland Stadium. There just isn’t much to talk about here. Surely Tennessee can’t screw this up….right?? I’m having flashbacks to last seasons near disaster against Massachusetts.

Look for Pruitt to get his first win this week at home. I really do like this guy as a head coach and I think this will be the start of a successful career in Knoxville.


Tennessee gives Rick Barnes a contract extension

Kentucky’s assistants aren’t the only coaches who got contract extensions today. According to 247 SportsRick Barnes just signed a new 6-year $21 million deal that will keep him at Tennessee through the 2023-24 season.

Since taking over in Knoxville three years ago, Barnes has turned the Volunteers into one of the toughest teams not only in the league, but the country. Even though the media picked Tennessee to finish 13th in the conference last year, the Vols tied with Auburn for the regular season crown, earning Barnes SEC Coach of the Year honors.

Under Barnes’ reign, Tennessee is 3-0 vs. Kentucky at Thompson-Boling Arena and considered a top five team heading into the 2018-19 season. Barnes is now the 10th highest paid coach in college basketball and second in the SEC to only — you guessed it — John Calipari, who makes $8 million annually.

Smart move by the Vols. Dangit.


Nov 21, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn celebrates after his team scored a touchdown against the Idaho Vandals during the second quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Storylines of Week 1

Nov 21, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn celebrates after his team scored a touchdown against the Idaho Vandals during the second quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The college football season is officially here! I am excited to bring back my weekly SEC Storylines Column which will be posted every Saturday morning before all the action starts! With that said, let’s get to the biggest storylines around the conference in Week 1.

1. The Implications of Auburn vs. Washington

The biggest game in all of college football this weekend features the ninth-ranked Auburn Tigers as they faceoff with the sixth-ranked Washington Huskies in Atlanta.

This game will have huge playoff implications.

If the Huskies win, they would have defeated the best team on their schedule. A win over one of the best teams from the supposed best conference in football would do a lot in the selection committee’s eyes. In fact, Washington would be favored to go undefeated throughout the rest of the season.

On the flipside, this is a must win for the Tigers. They still have Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama left on their schedule which means they cannot afford to drop a non-conference game before SEC play begins.

The Pac-12 also badly needs a big-time victory on the national stage after the conference embarrassingly went 1-8 in bowl games last season. If the Huskies lose, I just don’t see the Pac-12 getting a team in the playoff this year which means the odds would increase for two SEC teams to do so once again.

Of course, a lot can happen in the next four months. But for the time being this game will help determine how the 2018 college football season will play out. You will not want to miss out on what should be a great matchup. Also, Expect either Jarret Stidham or Jake Browning to start their Heisman candidacy on Saturday.

2. Alabama’s Quarterback Battle

Every college football fan has annoyingly been hearing about the Crimson Tide’s quarterback controversy all summer long. And yeaaaaaaaaaa…that is not going to change on Saturday night when Alabama takes on Louisville.

The real story is not the game as the Crimson Tide should very handily take care of the Cardinals. Anything less than a 25-point win would be a surprise to me. The story will be who will get the most reps at quarterback: Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts?

Because Head Coach Nick Saban let this competition drag all the way into the season, that’s what everyone will be watching. Quite frankly, I think that Tagovailoa is by far the better overall quarterback. However, he would completely change the way Alabama plays football.

I’m just not sure that Saban is ready for that kind of change especially since his current system has worked so well for him. Conservative, run-based football has been the name of the game for most of his time in Tuscaloosa, and Tagovailoa would be anything but a conservative quarterback.

Hurts is a great kid who has represented the Crimson Tide well. However, I really do think that its Tua’s time to shine. It really will be a shame if Saban doesn’t allow his brightest star to shine just because he is different.

3. Can LSU’s New Offense Pull Off the Upset?

Auburn/Washington isn’t the only top-25 matchup featuring an SEC team this weekend. The 25th ranked LSU Tigers will do everything they can to get a victory against the eighth-ranked Miami Hurricanes on Sunday.

Despite being picked to win, odds makers have Miami as just a 3.5 favorite over the Tigers. This wouldn’t necessarily be a huge upset, but I think that’s an extremely kind spread for LSU. I really think Miami should win this game by double digits even if it will be a low scoring affair.

I’m not that down on LSU, however. They absolutely have the defense to win this game with players like Greedy Williams and Devin White on that side of the ball. However, the offense is in complete rebuilding mode.

Gone is quarterback Danny Etling. Gone is Derrius Guice. And gone is D.J. Chark. Head Coach Ed Orgeron will need more than one offensive player to emerge and have a huge game if they want this victory.

The bad news is that the Hurricanes have a completely revamped and dangerous defense that will make LSU fight for every yard.

If new starting quarterback Joe Burrow can find a groove early and get settled down against the “Turnover Chain” defense of Miami, then LSU might just pull off the upset. However, that might just be easier said than done.

4. Does Tennessee Stand a Chance Against No. 17 West Virginia?

No. No they do not.

In all seriousness, can we talk about the line on this game? The Mountaineers are only favored by 9.5 against a team that went 4-8 overall and 0-8 in the SEC last season. And oh yea, the Volunteers also only return 12 of 22 starters from 2017.

How on earth is West Virginia not a bigger favorite??? I get that their defense isn’t all that great, but their offense is outstanding. And why is Tennessee’s defense being talked about as being “stout?” They gave up an average of 413 yards and 29 points per game in 2017.

Heisman Trophy candidate Will Grier will demolish the Volunteers on Saturday. I guarantee it.

I’m really high on new Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt. I think he will do some good things in Knoxville. However, this is just a brutal first game. I’ll take West Virginia 42-17.

5. Upset Alert from the Mid-Majors?

I’m looking at two games in particular on Saturday in which mid-major programs can realistically sneak up and defeat their SEC opponents. These matchups are Vanderbilt vs. Middle Tennessee State and Kentucky vs. Central Michigan. Let’s go over the Kentucky/Central Michigan matchup first before you all go crazy on me.

For the record, I’m picking the Wildcats to win on Saturday. I just think that this game will be more competitive than everyone thinks.

This has everything to do with the Chippewas being undervalued. Vegas has them as a 17-point underdog which I think is a bit high for a team that returns a 1,000-yard rusher, most of its defense, and will feature an athletic quarterback.

Kentucky has struggled mightily against Southern Miss the past two years early in the season, and they are pretty similar talent-wise to Central Michigan as far as mid-majors go.

I don’t think the Chippewas pull off the upset. However, I expect them to cover the spread as the Wildcat offense will spend most of the game finding its groove under new quarterback Terry Wilson.

When it comes to the Vandy vs. MTSU game, I think that the mid-major here has a much, much better chance at winning. With quarterback Brent Stockstill back, the Blue Raiders should be the second-best team in Conference-USA.

Besides their quarterback, nothing in particular stand out on Vanderbilt’s team. The fact that this is being played in Nashville isn’t even a huge advantage considering that no one really shows up for the Commodores’ games, and MTSU is just a short drive down the road.

This will be a very close game that should come down to the final minutes. For Derek Mason’s sake, he better hope his team can pull off the victory or his team will be in for a very long season in the SEC.


The TV timeout is getting its own clock

Have you ever been sitting in the stands of your favorite SEC football stadium, watching your favorite SEC football team with three or four of your closest friends, and thought to yourself, “Man, it sure would be nice to know how much longer we have in this TV timeout”?

Well you better sit down and listen up because I have some good news for you: The TV timeout is getting its own clock!!!!

The league announced today that a visible television timeout countdown clock will be on the field for all 14 SEC on-campus venues this upcoming season. The clock, which will look like your old alarm clock on top of a pole, will allow fans, game officials and both teams to view the remaining time during each TV commercial stoppage throughout the game.

The on-field display will be operated by an official in a red hat and will only be used during TV timeouts. Once it strikes zero, team will be required to be back on the field and the TV crew will come back from break.

It’s genius, really.