Yesterday, we previewed the first half of the SEC schedule. Since the LSU game was going to be on the 2nd half, that means that the 2nd half is going to be a little shorter than it was expected to be. Well, let's just get started.
UL-Monroe vs. Arkansas, at Little Rock, AR, Saturday at 6:00pm, no television except Gameplan.
UL-Monroe, fresh off of being soundly thrashed by Auburn despite playing some excellent pass defense, gets another shot at an SEC team. Of course, this is the team that shocked the country by beating Bama last year, but heck they might actually be favored in this game. Arkansas, of course, had to stage a dramatic comeback led by Casey Dick of all people to beat a not-very-good FCS team last week. The War Hawks might be a significant step up in competition. It makes me feel bad for players like Jonathan Luigs, the senior center for the Razorbacks, who could have declared for the NFL draft earlier this year and would currently be preparing to play for a lot of money this Sunday. He came back for this?
Tulane vs. Alabama, Saturday at 6:00pm, no television except Gameplan.
Tulane has evacuated New Orleans and is practicing for this game at Samford in Birmingham. Smart move. Tulane, in a move that always perplexes me whenever I see any team do it*, scheduled an open date for the first week of the season, and therefore this is their season opener. They will be facing the team that, of course, is coming off a big emotional win, and that will be playing its home opener. I think if they keep the margin of defeat under 20 points, that would be a significant achievement.
Southeastern Louisiana vs. Mississippi State, Saturday at 6:00pm, no television (period).
What? This game isn't being played in Hammond? Is this the Starkville end of the home-and-home?
Sorry. I can't help but mock the fact that MSU played an AWAY game in Ruston against Louisiana Tech. That, to me, is actually funnier than the fact that they lost. Heck, losing to LaTech validates the idea of playing them on the road.
SLU (pronounced "slew" to those in the know) opened the season with a narrow 6-point win against Alcorn State, a small traditionally African-American university in rural Mississippi. Beating them by only 6 points means you're not playing at this level yet. However, to steal a line from T. Kyle King:
As for the student-athletes from Hammond, they represent the last, best hope for the Western Division Bulldogs to claim victory over a team from Louisiana this season, so M.S.U. will make the most---well, O.K., not quite "the most"; more like "just enough"---of its opportunity.
As an aside, for those of you who don't read DawgSports, you should. T. Kyle is the most consistently entertaining, informative, and frankly prolific writer I've run into on this network. No offense to the many other fine blogs around. A man who can write
Sports Illustrated doesn't send [Stewart Mandel] to cover golf because he weeps for his banished sister every time he hears the word "caddy."
is a man who will appeal to my sense of humor.
Anyway, on to the last game.
Miami vs. Florida, Saturday 7:00pm, ESPN
The headliner game of the day is a good one. Miami is one of few ACC teams to actually look impressive last week, dutifully dispatching Charleston Southern 52-7. OK, it was Charleston Southern, and we can only be so effusive in our praise of beating them, no matter how lopsided it was.
Miami is famously coming off of a year that was as dismal and disappointing for them as the 2007 season was for Bama, if not moreso. They finished the season losing 6 of their last 7, missed a bowl game, and had their toughness and dedication publicly ridiculed by at least one big-time recruit who should, by all rights, have been a Miami lock (he was a legacy) but instead went to Florida.
This is to say, despite starting the season strong, Florida still looks like the stronger team, until Miami proves otherwise.
* Really, why? Why, when you have a long 12-game season and only 1 open date, would you deliberately schedule it to come in the FIRST WEEK OF THE SEASON? Do you not think you will need a rest period at some point in the middle of the season? A chance to take a break and catch your breath? A chance to let some nagging injuries heal?
What's worse is, while I can't confirm this, I believe practice schedules are keyed to the first game of the season, not to the first "week" of the season. Meaning, you get only so many practices before your first game, whoever you are and whenever you play, so scheduling an open date to start your season just means, if I am not mistaken, that you also have to delay the start of your Fall Camp and you get to practice less than other teams over the course of the season. But, maybe I'm wrong about that.