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Bret Bielema On Mississippi State: “Should Be An Interesting Game”

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema previews Mississippi State ahead of Saturday’s game in Little Rock.

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SEC Game Previews – 9/6/13

mrsec game previewOne week is history and now it’s on to Week #2 in the SEC.  Below you’ll find all of this week’s MrSEC game preview capsules.

Good luck to your favorite team on Saturday!

 

Miami (OH) (0-1) at Kentucky (0-1)

TV:  Fox Sports Net, 12:00pm ET

Opening Line:  UK – 13.5

Current Line:  UK -17

One To Watch:  Quarterback Max Smith.  His Week One effort wasn’t a thing of beauty, but he did throw the ball better than Jalen Whitlow.  If Neal Brown’s Air Raid offense is going to be consistent this year, Smith needs to claim the starting job for good.

This And That:

1.  Kentucky’s loss to Western Kentucky last week should’ve served as a wake-up call for anyone who thought Mark Stoops could turn the Wildcats around quickly.  If UK somehow finds a way to lose this one, Stoops’ job will become even tougher as some of the first-year excitement his program has benefited from will surely evaporate.

2.  Most depressing from last week’s loss was Western Kentucky’s ability to run on Kentucky.  Stoops’ new defense was bullied up front to the tune of 216 yards.  Miami doesn’t appear to be the same threat that WKU was, however.  The RedHawks managed just 74 rushing yards in a 52-14 defeat to Marshall last week.

3.  One positive for UK in its opener was its own ground game.  Like the Hilltoppers, the Wildcats also pounded out 216 yards on the ground.  Expect more of the same from Kentucky as Miami allowed Marshall to rush for 304 yards on 57 carries in its opener.

Prediction:  Kentucky 28, Miami (OH) 17

 

#12 Florida (1-0) at Miami (FL) (1-0)

TV:  ESPN, 12:00pm ET

Opening Line:  UF -2

Current Line:  UF -3

One To Watch:  Hurricane RB Duke Johnson.  Johnson rushed for 186 yards on 19 carries last week against Florida Atlantic.  He’s the man that makes the Miami offense go and if Florida shuts him down, the Canes’ won’t have much chance of springing the upset.

This And That:

1.  A lot has been made over the fact that these in-state rivals aren’t likely to see one another for a long time after tomorrow’s game.  Technically, it’s been a long time since their last meeting back in 2003.  Like football fans everywhere, we feel it’s sad to see this rivalry go.  But the reality is that it actually went a long time ago.

2.  Florida’s offense was its meat-grinder self last week against Toledo.  The Gators ran the ball 48 times and passed it just 22.  That’s not surprising.  UF threw just 288 passes a year ago which ranked 13th in the SEC.  Expect Brent Pease to follow Will Muschamp’s script once again on Saturday — run the football, control the clock, win with defense.  And this week, the Gators will get a boost with the return of starting running back Matt Jones.

3.  Miami churned out 303 yards on the ground against Florida Atlantic last week.  They won’t have that kind of success against Florida (Atlantic and Gulf) tomorrow.  The Gators held a decent Toledo team to just 50 yards on the ground last weekend.  Only one opponent has gained more than 150 yards rushing against UF in its last 16 games (Kentucky, 159, last September).

Prediction:  Florida 24, Miami (FL) 13

 

Western Kentucky (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)

TV:  SEC Network, 12:21pm ET

Opening Line:  UT -13.5

Current Line:  UT -13.5

One To Watch:  WKU coach Bobby Petrino.  The Hilltoppers’ new coach continues his 2013 Revenge Tour with a trip to Knoxville.  Last week he showed Kentucky what they missed out on by passing on him.  This week he’ll try to do the same to the decision-makers at Tennessee.

This And That:

1.  Western Kentucky will be a much trickier test for the Vols than Austin Peay was a week ago.  UT kept things pretty vanilla in its opening day win, but the drop off between the first- and second-teams was apparent.  Anyone thinking that Tennessee has a “depth” advantage on WKU needs to realize that Butch Jones has been dealt a thin roster that’s still trying to recover from the attrition associated with multiple coaching changes in a short span of years.

2.  The best way to keep Petrino’s potent offense off the field is for the Volunteers to control the clock and the ball via their run game.  In its loss to the Hilltoppers, Kentucky managed to gallop for 216 yards on 32 rushing attempts.  Expect the Vols to take a run-first approach on Saturday in an effort to move the ball, chew the clock, and protect a somewhat green defense.  Don’t be surprised to see UT slow down its no-huddle offense a bit, either.

3.  Tennessee’s defensive line will be tested by a stronger-than-expected WKU rushing attack.  Unfortunately for the Vols, they will not have injured D-linemen Jacques Smith or Corey Vereen back for this one.  Linebacker Curt Maggitt will be back in action but if Antonio Andrews (99 yards vs UK) and Leon Allen (92 yards vs UK) are getting to Maggitt and the second level consistently, that won’t be a good sign.

Prediction:  Tennessee 27, Western Kentucky 24

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Bowl Games In Dublin And Dubai? There Must Be Plenty Of Cash On The Table

dubaiAh, there’s just nothing like Christmas in Dubai.

It should be obvious to all fans these days that big-time college athletics — at least football and men’s basketball — is all about money, cash, bread, loot, simoleons.  For those few remaining dullards who’ve yet to grasp that fact, a news story from ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy this morning should help pound the message home.

With a new bowl cycle set to begin next season, the five smallest FBS conferences are looking to create their own new bowl games.  That’s because the five largest FBS conferences are planning to play one another in most of the existing bowls.  And where might these new bowls be located?

According to McMurphy, in Miami, Orlando, Little Rock, Boca Raton, Montgomery, Los Angeles, Ireland, Dubai, and either Toronto or Nassau (the Bahamas).

Miami, Orlando and the LA area already have bowls.  Little Rock, Boca Raton and Montgomery aren’t exactly top o’ mind when it comes to holiday football, but if Shreveport can pull it off, why not those three cities?

As for Ireland, Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin last September.  Toronto hosted the International Bowl from 2007 through 2010.  Nassau would be the first Carribean-based bowl since the Bacardi Bowl was last played in Havana in 1946.

Dubai, well, that’s another story.  The city has become a desert playground for millionaires and billionaires.  One would suspect that the people pouring money into the Dubai’s growth are willing to pour a lot of money into a small conference football game if it means three-plus hours worth of advertising on American television.

Granted, there’s something to be said for the life experience the players would gain from traveling abroad for bowl games.  But how many fans will travel to Dublin or Dubai or Nassau?  This is about cash, pure and simple.  The smaller conferences feel themselves being squeezed further and further out of the football picture by the five ever-growing power conferences.

Further proof that a new line of division between the haves and have-nots is imminent.  Further proof that college athletics is all about the Benjamins.

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Hogs’ Smith Needs To Stop Talking

Pity John L. Smith.  He took over a program with dreams of beating Alabama and LSU… though said program has no defense to call its own.  He caught a bad break when his starting quarterback was lost for a game-and-a-half to a concussion.  He’s had his bankruptcy turned into a national story.  Last week, his brother died and on the same day got shredded for making a bizarre request that media members smile at a press conference.

Now he’s slipped up and called the state of “Arkansas” the state of “Alabama” in front of a Little Rock booster group and the whole world is laughing and pointing fingers again.

 

 

“Don’t give up on us,” Smith told the crowd.  “It’s our program, it’s a state of Alabama program.  It’s not one individual’s program.”

Ouch.

Making matters worse, Smith was asked if he could see Bobby Petrino coaching at Kentucky or Auburn next year and he said the following:

 

“Kentucky or Auburn.  I don’t know that Kentucky might be in there.  Auburn probably is a better guess if I were to guess, to be perfectly honest with you.”

 

Gotta wonder what Gene Chizik will think about that.

I guess I’m the only bleeding heart left in the world, but I feel sorry for Smith.  So could someone at Arkansas just cancel Smith’s future speaking engagements?  Please?

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UGA’s McGarity Explains Decision Not To Bring Visitors To UF-UGA Game

At last week’s SEC Spring Meetings, Arkansas and Texas A&M worked together to push through a new piece of legislation.  With those schools planning to take their football series back to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas in a couple of years, they wanted the designated “home” team each year to be able to bring recruits to the game.  (Arkansas also plays game in Little Rock, as well.)  The SEC agreed to the schools’ proposal.

But this week, Florida and Georgia officials announced that they had agreed not to bring recruits to their annual neutral site tilt in Jacksonville.  That left more than a few fans of both schools bewildered and/or ticked as hell.

Yesterday, UGA AD Greg McGarity explained the decision to The Macon Telegraph:

 

“Here’s the thing, and it’s probably educating the general public: The only thing we could do down there (in Jacksonville) is provide (a recruit) and two friends (or) family members tickets to the game. My coaches can’t interact, support staff can’t.  Once we’re off campus, we can have no contact with those unofficial recruits.  So they are there getting a ticket from our operations staff or our compliance staff and going in the stadium.

“As opposed to an official or unofficial visit on campus, we’re able to entertain them, show them around the campus, we’re able to give them access to the field, to the locker room, all these things…

There’s just so many factors involved that it’s just not worth your bang for your buck there.”

 

But there is enough bang for the buck for Arkansas and Texas A&M to do it in Arlington?  That’s the question a lot of Dawg and Gator fans will be asking now.

On a sidenote, McGarity also revealed that the UGA board is expected to approve Mark Richt’s new contract extension tomorrow.

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SEC Headlines – 5/3/12

1.  Virginia officially welcomed ex-Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims into its fold yesterday.  (No word on whether he’ll try to get an NCAA hardship waiver.)

2.  Receiver Quinta Funderburk is also reportedly headed to UVA after being granted a release from Arkansas.

3.  The Razorback players who passed on early NFL entry say they have no regrets.

4.  While this year’s LSU-Arkansas game is back on the Friday after Thanksgiving, it will shift from Little Rock to Fayetteville for the first time in nearly two decades.

5.  Here’s a quickie, post-spring look at Mississippi State’s pass-catchers.

6.  Rick Ray is set to make a million bucks a year at MSU and his assistants will makes $155,000 apiece.

7.  The Texas A&M board or regents will consider simply buying out the rest of AD Bill Byrne’s contract when they meet today and tomorrow.  (We told you two weeks ago that we didn’t see anyway he’d “transition” into any new role other than that of a non-A&M employee.)

8.  Kevin Sumlin says Aggie running back Ben Malena “is one of the guys we can count on.”

9.  After a mediocre first season in Gainesville, Will Muschamp is still popular among many Florida fans.  (It says something about our microwave insta-culture that this fact actually needs to be made.)

10.  One of most powerful, most outspoken, and most influential presidents in the NCAA — Georgia’s Michael Adams — has announced that he will retire next June after 16 years on the job…

11.  But what will athletics legacy be for the man who forced out Jim Donnan and Vince Dooley, who hired Mark Richt and Jim Harrick, and who long ago for a college football playoff system?  Adams has been a controversial figure to say the least.

12.  Another day, another possible transfer into Kentucky’s transient, yet uber-succesful basketball program.

13.  Ex-Cat Anthony Davis could find himself on the US Olympic Team this summer.

14.  South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney hopes to get his off-field act together in the coming months.

15.  Vanderbilt hoops assistant Dan Muller is expected to interview for the head coaching job at Illinois State, his alma mater.  (Muller was briefly mentioned in connection with the Mississippi State job this offseason.)

16.  Missouri might need to start finding a few more pro-caliber offensive lineman as the school enters the SEC.

17.  The healing process from shoulder surgery has been “so far, so good” for Mizzou quarterback James Franklin.  (But sadly things don’t look so good for running back Henry Josey.)

18.  This writer has LSU #1 and Alabama #3 in his post-spring rankings.

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Little Rock Might Upgrade War Memorial Stadium To Keep Hog Football

The University of Arkansas is spending $40 million on a brand new football complex in Fayetteville.  The school is also planning to expand Razorback Stadium. 

People in Little Rock are paying attention.

Afraid they might lose the two games played annually by the Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium, there’s now discussion to upgrade and expand the 63-year-old venue.  The school and the War Memorial Stadium Commission currently have a deal that runs through 2016.

Arkansas is the only school at the FBS level that plays multiple “home” games away from its campus each season.  As Bobby Petrino has improved the Razorback program, ticket demands have gone up.  And Razorback Stadium can seat about 22,000 more Hog fans than War Memorial Stadium.  For that reason, there’s already speculation that the season finale between Arkansas and LSU could be moved to Fayetteville this fall.

Obviously the folks in Little Rock can see the writing on the wall.

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SEC Headlines – 11/29/11 AM Edition

1.  Alabama’s Nick Saban wants BCS voters to be fair when picking the two best teams in the country.  (Sidenote: Even Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy said he’d have a hard time voting his Cowboys ahead of Bama.)

2.  Auburn went to 4-0 last night, but Tony Barbee says he’s “not enjoying coaching their group right now.”

3.  The University of Arkansas football team said their goodbyes as former teammate Garrett Uekman was laid to rest yesterday in Little Rock.

4.  Les Miles believes safety Eric Reid will be ready to play when LSU faces Georgia on Saturday.

5.  Gunter Brewer is Ole Miss’ one-man recruiting staff at the moment.

6.  Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox says he plans “on coming back” for his senior season.

7.  Florida’s Billy Donovan locked up his 400th career victory last night.

8.  Georgia’s assistants will be receiving bonuses for winning the SEC East… just weeks after an 0-2 start had folks thinking they’d be receiving pink slips instead.

9.  John Calipari says Kentucky’s #1 ranking just puts a bigger target on the Wildcats’ backs.

10.  Receiver Alshon Jeffery and guard Terrence Campbell both broke bones on Saturday, but they’re expected to be A-OK by the time South Carolina goes bowling.

11.  This writer says Tennessee has become a bottom-tier SEC football program.

12.  A Vanderbilt transfer led his new team — #11 Xavier — to an overtime win at #20 Vandy last night.

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Big Blow: Hogs Lose Leading Scorer Powell To Knee Injury

The up-and-down career of Marshawn Powell is down again thanks to a knee injury that will serve as big blow to Mike Anderson’s first Arkansas basketball team.

Powell — the Razorbacks’ leading scorer — is out for the season with torn ligaments in his knee.  The injury occurred during practice on Thursday.  The Hogs are left with just nine scholarship players on their roster, just four in the frontcourt.

“This is a big blow to Marshawn and our basketball team,” Anderson said in a press release.  “He has been working hard on and off the court this year and was in the best shape of his career.  This is definitely a setback, but I told him that sometimes you have to have setbacks in order to have a great comeback.  He is in good spirits and looking forward to helping this team in any way that he can.”

Powell had averaged 19.5 points and 6 rebounds in Arkansas’ first two games.  Without the preseason All-SEC forward, the Hogs lost in Little Rock to Houston, 87-78.

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Arkansas Mourning The Death Of TE Uekman

The Arkansas football family is mourning today the death of 19-year-old freshman tight end Garrett Uekman.  Uekman was found “unconscious and unresponsive” yesterday morning in his dorm room.  The cause of death is not known and the body will be sent to the Arkansas state medical examiner for autopsy.

Bobby Petrino released the following statement to the press yesterday:


“Garrett Uekman was a special member of our family, and we are all saddened by his passing.  His loss is a terrible shock, and it makes you realize how precious life is.  Garrett was a great teammate and loved being a Razorback.  My sympathies are with his entire family during this incredibly trying time, and I share in their grief.

Our team will honor and show our respect to Garrett.”


He also spoke of Uekman while fighting back tears to read another short statement:


“Garrett was a special member of our family.  The team and I were shocked today when we learned of his tragic passing.  The entire football program is grieving his loss. 

Last night he was very proud of the win in Little Rock, which came on the same field that he played his high school football on.  He truly loved being a Razorback and was loved by his teammates.

I am proud of the way he represented our program.  He did everything right and had one of our high GPAs on the football team.  There was nothing Garrett loved more than competing.”




Arkansas AD Jeff Long released this statement:


“Garrett’s loss is a terrible shock for the University of Arkansas and the Rezorback program.  Our sincere condolences got out to his family and to all of those who knew him.  He will be missed by many friends, teammates and others throughout campus.  The well-being of our student-athletes is at the very core of our mission and when a tragedy like this happens it is a tremendous loss to the entire campus community.  We will work with various campus services to provide support for the Uekman family, our student-athletes, coaches and staff during this difficult time.”


Uekman played in nine games for Arkansas this season.  He played on Saturday against Mississippi State in his hometown of Little Rock.

The UA team was told of their teammate’s death in a team meeting yesterday afternoon.

From a football perspective — which is admittedly much less important than a player’s life — the Razorbacks will have to regroup quickly for Friday’s showdown with LSU.  Uekman’s death came on the same day that Arkansas learned it had moved to #3 in the BCS standings. 
 
Along with Mississippi State’s Nick Bell and Alabama’s Aaron Douglas, Uekman is the third SEC football player to pass away since last fall.  (If we’ve missed someone else, we apologize in advance.)

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