As we look at the upcoming games on today’s schedule in the SEC all our thoughts and prayers go out to those people affected by Hurricane Ian. Believe me, we people here in Louisiana know all about hurricanes and the destruction they can cause. Again, our thoughts are with y’all.
As there’s not much of a way to segue between that and the SEC football schedule. Let’s just jump right in, starting on the biggest matchup on today’s list…
And for that, let’s get the eggs Benedict and mimosas ready, because we’re headed down to Oxford, Mississippi and an 11 o’clock kickoff between the number 14 Ole Miss Rebels and the number 7 Kentucky Wildcats. I couldn’t believe the fact this game is the early morning tilt as it features two top 15 teams! To have this game so early in the morning is atrocious. We all know next week LSU and Tennessee will also get stuck in this abyss of a time slot, but to have two highly-ranked teams this early in the morning is ridiculous. As for the game, both teams have high aspirations of joining the upper echelon of their respective divisions of the SEC and a win here could help propel the victor into that conversation. Both Kentucky and Ole Miss had 10-win seasons last year and are hoping to challenge Georgia and Alabama, respectfully, for the top of the conference. The Wildcats already had a nice statement win this season, beating then-number 12 Florida while the Rebels are still seeking that trademark victory for this season. The key matchup in this game is the Ole Miss running game against the Wildcats’ defense. The Rebels lead the SEC and are number four in the country in rushing offense, averaging an amazing 280.8 yards a game. However, Kentucky ranks fifth in the SEC and 33rd overall nationally, only giving up an average of 108 yards per game. Something will have to give in this one. This game is the first time both teams have played when both teams were ranked since 1958. That’s saying something. The other impressive thing is how Kentucky’s head coach Mark Stoops has made the Wildcats into a force to be reckoned with in the SEC. For years, UK was only known for their men’s basketball prowess and it always seemed like the football team was an afterthought. Well, Stoops has helped make the once “Mild-cats” wild once again. The Wildcats will prove their top ten ranking this morning and beat the Rebels today…
The other matchup of two ranked opponents on the SEC dance card is the game between the number two Alabama Crimson Tide and the number 20 Arkansas Razorbacks. Alabama is coming off the complete dismantling of the Vanderbilt Commodores last week, 55-3 while the Red Hogs are hoping to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Texas A&M, 23-21. The Razorbacks were ranked number 10 at the time, but the loss dropped them ten spots to their current place in the polls this week. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has never lost to the Razorbacks as the last time Arkansas beat the Crimson Tide, Saban was coaching the Miami Dolphins back in 2006. Arkansas has lost fifteen straight to Alabama, the longest streak of losses against any opponent. Saban has mentioned not overlooking the Razorbacks who had the Red Elephants on the ropes last year in Tuscaloosa, with Alabama narrowly escaping, 42 to 35. This game will feature a matchup of great quarterbacks with Alabama’s Heisman hopeful, Bryce Young and Arkansas’ dual threat KJ Jefferson. Young, last year’s Heisman winner, already has more than one thousand yards passing with thirteen touchdowns. The Razorbacks’ Jefferson has an impressive 941 yards and eight scores through the air to couple with 274 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The troubling statistic for this one is that Arkansas’ defense, especially against the pass, is quite suspect. The Razorbacks are ranked 105th in the country in opponent’s passing yards per game, giving up 284 yards per game. This is definitely music to the ears of all Alabama fans. Young and his talented group of wide receivers will carve up the Red Hogs like a spiral ham and win their sixteenth straight against Arkansas this afternoon…
Last but not least, I wanted to chime in and give my two cents on the LSU game this evening. Now, I will one thing perfectly clear. I despise “that team on the Plains” more than any other team in the Southeastern Conference. I mean it. More than “that team in Tuscaloosa”, “that team in the Swamp” and “that snooty school in Oxford”. Combined. Why, you might ask? Let’s look a little deeper.
Depending on how old you are, you have a certain team that you consider LSU’s rival. If you are a grandfather or lived through World War II or are of that age, first of all, God bless you. Secondly, you probably feel like Tulane or Ole Miss is the true rival of our Fighting Tigers. If you are a fan of the Purple and Gold from the 1960s to the end of the 1970s, I’d assume that you were a fan of the “Cholly Mac” era Bayou Bengals and therefore, our nemesis was “the Bear” and the Alabama Crimson Tide. And most young fans of LSU also consider Alabama our rival, especially now that former LSU coach Nick Saban prowls the sidelines in T-town. However, if you are my age and grew up in the 1980 and 1990s, no rivalry was bigger than the one with “those fake Tigers”. Look back and see that all those games had something extra to go with it; some extra drama, if you will. Just off the top of my head, I think of the Earthquake Game, the Interception Game, the Bring Back the Magic game, the Night the Barn Burned, the Cigar Game and the Eye of the Tiger Game to go along with the more modern Les Miles Time Management Debacle Game (don’t know what to call that one) and the Comeback Game. Every single one of those games is etched in the minds of LSU fans of *any* generation. Several of them are regaled and retold year in and year out. Is there any wonder why a young me would develop so much hatred for that team? Forget Alabama and Florida, this is the game that I circle each year as the team I want to see lose so badly. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see all of LSU’s opponents lose badly, but this specific team is the absolute worst, in my opinion.
And that brings us back to tonight’s game. This rivalry, which dates back to 1901, will have a new chapter to add to the illustrious history of the so-called “Tiger Bowl”. Call this one the “Pack a U-Haul for Harsin Game” because by the end of the night, the Fighting Tigers will rip the imitation ones to shreds and cost that team’s head coach, Bryan Harsin, his job. It’s going to happen, so let’s just help the process happen a little bit quicker, perhaps? Six years ago, a loss to “that team” cost our coach his job. Why not return the favor today?
As for the rest of the SEC slate:
#17 Texas A&M @ Mississippi State
#1 Georgia @ Missouri
Eastern Washington @ Florida
South Carolina already played their game against South Carolina State on Thursday due to the landfall of Hurricane Ian and Florida’s game against Eastern Washington was pushed back to Sunday morning. The Gamecocks took care of the overmatched Bulldogs, 50 to 10. Expect the same kind of outcome with the UF-EWU game. I also figure Texas A&M and Georgia will be big winners in their games this week as well.
Lastly, one thing I wanted to do while still on the subject of this rivalry game, that I haven’t done before is ask the loyal readers of And The Valley Shook their opinion on something. Which game against “that school on the Plains” is the most memorable to you? Which one do you remember with the greatest fondness or in the case of the “Interception Game”, the most disdain? Let me know in the comments below.
As always, Geaux Tigers!