This lede for this wrap-up was going to be “Welcome to the SEC, Florida.” Sadly, the Gators weren’t going to have any of our tacky shenanigans.
So, we’ll reach into our bag of tricks and pull out a “50 Shades of Mike Sherman” reference to recap No. 24 Florida’s come-from-behind victory over the Aggies by a final score of 20-17.
A&M, which did not play Louisiana Tech last week thanks to Hurricane Isaac, got off to a good start and led the Gators 17-10 at halftime, highlighted by some awesome truck sticking and a Devin Smith-ish one-handed grab. But that’s when things started to fall apart. Quarterback Johnny Manziel, making his first start ever in college, couldn’t sustain a drive longer than seven plays. In fact, Florida’s defense held the Aggies to 49 yards in the second half and zero points.
Florida’s offense may have been equally so-so, but credit Will Muschamp and his coaching staff for making good second half adjustments on defense. This Gators team did not look good against Bowling Green last week and was knocked around early today in a tough environment. And they responded well.
There will be one or two more games this season — maybe more — where the defense is going to have to win the game for Florida because that offense doesn’t look like it’s going to get the job done.
UF has a huge game next weekend at Tennessee, which might be the best team in the East right now; the Vols are definitely playing the best football in that division (we’ll see how Georgia plays on the road against Missouri tonight). Getting a win on the road in a chaotic environment helps Florida heading into next week.
As for A&M, it’s a tough loss for what promises to be an even tougher year, but at least Kevin Sumlin can tell media hacks alike *ahem* that the Aggies can, in fact, compete in the SEC.
It’s hard to believe that prior to last season, UAB didn’t have a football team for two years. As successful as the Blazers re-launch in the sport has been though, the next step for the program to truly be competitive in the sports landscape might have just happened on the desk of the governor this week.
AL.com notes that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new tax law for Jefferson County that would provide a significant sum of money for a new UAB football stadium as well as other improvements to the sprawling Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) that already houses the arena for the program’s basketball teams.
Though there has been no contractual commitment to build the stadium just yet, the passing of the tax bill to provide some of the revenues needed is one of the first steps local leaders were hoping for. Current plans have the authorities responsible looking at building a 45,000-55,000 seat stadium for UAB football at an estimated cost of $175 million. The school is expected to chip in nearly $4 million a year toward the cost in lease payments.
It’s unclear as to the exact site of the potential stadium but it is expected to be in the downtown area somewhere near the current BJCC complex. It goes without saying that any new stadium, even an off campus such as this one, would be a massive upgrade from the Blazers current home Legion Field.
With the new law out of the way, the next steps appear to reside with local authorities to finalize plans and firmly commit to building the new venue. Construction on the new stadium is expected to begin in December of 2018 once the final green light is given.
Needless to say, UAB football is not only back but it certainly appears better than ever given this recent bit of news.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne seems to have shifted the Crimson Tide’s scheduling philosophy from having big neutral site openers for the football team to instead scheduling opponents the team has recently beat for a national title.
Following up their earlier report that said Alabama is looking to set up a home-and-home with historic power Notre Dame, the Tuscaloosa News says the school is also in discussions with Texas for a similar arrangement.
“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” a very coy Byrne told the paper.
The Irish lost to Nick Saban and the Tide in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game while the Longhorns fell out at the Rose Bowl to Alabama in the 2009 title game. The program is currently set to open with Louisville in Orlando for their 2018 opener while Duke (in 2019) and Miami (in 2021) are scheduled for games against the Tide in Atlanta. Outside of those three games and a handful of others against Group of Five opponents though, the schedule is otherwise wide open.
Texas is a different story on that front though as the Longhorns have games at Maryland and home against USC for the upcoming campaign and future dates with LSU (2019, 2020), Arkansas (2021), Ohio State (2022, 2023) and Michigan (2024, 2027). There is room for a home-and-home in 2025 and 2026 however.
Given this flurry of scheduling news and what looks to be a big change in philosophy, it seems like a home-and-home with Clemson is next up on the docket for Byrne and Saban to get done and really make beat-you-for-the-title-schedule-you-later thing an actual thing.
Tough news out of Western New York and it has nothing to do with basketball.
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper posted on Instagram Friday that cancer has spread to his abdomen following surgery but it is treatable and he is expected to return to the field after undergoing chemotherapy.
Culpepper did see action last season and completed 45 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore is once again expected to back up Eric Dungey once he returns to the team.
It goes without saying that the entire college football community is wishing the Orange signal-caller the best of luck and look forward to seeing him back out at the Carrier Dome next season.
Two of the most successful programs in all of college football may be set to renew their rivalry on the gridiron.
In a tidbit that can make every fan of the sport giddy with excitement, the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama is negotiating with Notre Dame about a potential home-and-home series in football. Nick Saban‘s program is also apparently pursuing a home-and-home with another big name as well in a somewhat stark scheduling philosophy change from the school after years of big neutral site games at places like AT&T Stadium in Texas and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” Crimson Tide athletic director Greg Byrne told the paper.
That’s not exactly denying the story…
Of course the Tide and Irish have a lengthy history in the sport, famously playing back in the 1970’s during several key bowl games and most recently contesting the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against each other (which both sides probably can’t forget about in two very different ways). Amazingly, Alabama has only played two home-and-home series since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa and let’s just say that a trip to Duke isn’t exactly the same as going to South Bend.
As for the Irish, they’ve shown an increased appetite toward playing SEC teams in recent years. Notre Dame hosted Georgia last season and has also recently added Arkansas and Texas A&M to the docket in future years. Given how schedules are locked in so far in advance it seems doubtful we’ll be able to stage a rematch between Saban and Brian Kelly but, either way, these two programs getting together is a welcome bit of offseason news.