Kiffin & Air Raid Debuts, The SEC Is Back & FSU-Miami Is Wide Right (Or Is It Wide Left?)
We usually have to wait until about November for the word “crazy” to describe the college football season, but in 2020 it’s been used long before the first kickoff.
The coronavirus pandemic, combined with the “we won’t play, oh wait we will play after all” of some conferences to a sudden switch to conference-only schedules – let alone hardly any fans in the stands, bands on the field or even pre-game tailgating and coaches pulling down masks to talk to players and pulling them up to argue with officials – has created a different kind of bonkers in the sport.
But now with the SEC being back and ready to take the field, here is the 2020 debut of the Pigskin Prognosticator, predictions of the weekend’s biggest games, from a slightly different point of view.
All times Pacific because the Prognosticator lives in San Diego.
• Kansas State at Oklahoma (9 a.m., FOX)
Quarterback Spencer is not likely to get rattled when the OU takes on the KSU, so the Boomers are likely to lower the boom on their visitors from the Sunflower State. The Cats have been more concerned about coronavirus cases Oklahoma, tho once on the field they may put up a catfight to show they are no kitty cats after losing to Arkansas State. Winner: Oklahoma
• Florida at Mississippi (9 a.m., ESPN)
The Kiffin Corner kicks off with Lane trying to show he’s not lame as a head coach after all and Gator Mullen mulling over how good his team might be this season. The biggest setback for Ole Miss fans is the fact there will be no tailgating in The Grove, a tougher pill to swallow than getting chomped up by the Gators. Winner: Florida
• Kentucky at Auburn (9 a.m., SEC Network)
The key to the season for the Eagles – as well as the sanity of the Gus Bus – rests on these early-season games. Win, and it’s the start of another season filled with last-minute miracles. Lose, tho, and the fans will get restless in a hurry. This is the case each year, and traditionally Auburn does better when it has the least amount of expectations. The Bluegrass Cats are themselves having high expectations and while the rest of the league – and Charles Barkley – scoff at UK being just “a basketball school,” a dominant running game will run down the hosts. Without having the most rabid fans in the SEC filling the stadium to pick the team up when it is down, this is going to be a quiet afternoon on the Plains. Winner: Kentucky
• Mississippi State at LSU (12:30 p.m., CBS)
The defending National Champions make their debut in the daylight, but they might have preferred to have unveiled this team under the cover of darkness, considering how many players are coaches are gone from last year’s title Tigers. Still, they have more than enough bite to make raw meat out of the Stark Dogs, who didn’t exactly get a bone thrown their way by the SEC schedule makers in Mike Leach’s first game. Winner: LSU
• Texas at Texas Tech (12:30 p.m., FOX)
The Red Raiders have been doing some racing this year, but whether or not they can do it on the football field rather than in the streets – running back SaRodorick Thompson was charged with street racing earlier this week – remains to be seen. The Steers have their horns locked in to be national contenders this year and but they won’t go anywhere unless they can get out of Lubbock with the “W.” Winner: Texas
• Georgia at Arkansas (1 p.m., SEC Network)
The disparity in talent is so huge between these two schools that the Dawgs could school the Hogs with their 2021 recruit commitments. It’s the first of many times Arkansas will be hog-tied this season. Winner: Georgia.
• Alabama at Missouri (4 p.m., ESPN)
The Red Elephants stomp into Mizzou territory looking to erase last year’s 11-2 record, which in Tuscaloosa is a big black mark by the standards of Nick Saban’s teams. And the Tide has the talent to cause a tidal wave in Columbia. The Cats may be seeking higher ground well before the first period comes to an end. Bama fans are anxious to watch QB Mac Jones play well but are also itching to see top recruit Bryce Young show his stuff. That’s the kind of dilemma facing this this multi-talented team, while the hosts are just hoping to survive the inevitable flood of points from the visitors. Winner: Alabama
• Florida State at Miami (4:30 p.m., ABC)
If you don’t think this is still a big rivalry in the Sunshine State, then you don’t know your Wide Right from your Wide Left. The Canes come in showing the swagger that was their trademark in the series’ high times a few decades ago, but beating UAB and Louisville doesn’t exactly bring back memories of the Warren Saap and Michael Irvin teams. The Spears, meanwhile, are trying to get straightened out under first-year coach Mike Norvell after getting all bent out of the shape in losing to Georgia Tech. The good news for FSU fans is this likely won’t come down to a field goal. Winner: Miami
• Tennessee at South Carolina (4:30 p.m., SEC Network)
Things are more rocky for the coach in Columbia than they are on Rocky Top and if there’s any Will-power to turn the Columbia head man from Mus-chump to Mus-champ, it has to start here. This is a do-it-or-disappear year for the ‘Cocks’ coach, whose teams have been less than game with a 26-25 record in his four previous years. Jeremy Pruitt signed a three-year extension just prior to kickoff so his future is solid in Knoxville, at least as long as there are no more Georgia States on the schedule. Winner: Tennessee