Kentucky Wildcats

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 01:  Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes against Marcus McWilson #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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As expected, No. 1 Alabama rolls over Kentucky to stay undefeated

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At one point Saturday night, Kentucky led No. 1 Alabama 3-0.

Then reality returned to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Tide scored 34 in a row as they overwhelmed the Wildcats in just about every way on their way to a 34-6 victory that was one of the most expected results of the season.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts was 20-of-33 for 262 yards and two touchdowns. The outing wasn’t the sharpest for the Alabama signal-caller but he was able to hit several quality throws down field in the second half before turning things over to new backup Cooper Bateman.

Receiver Calvin Ridley (11 catches, 174 yards and two scores) busted out with another All-American caliber performance against a secondary that was supposed to be a strong point for the Kentucky defense. In a big of a surprise however, freshman Joshua Jacobs was the Tide’s most productive back and hit the century mark on the ground on 6.3 yards per carry while finding the end zone once.

The offense having just a so-so outing was one reason why the score was only as lopsided as it was and not worse. The Tide’s defense was swarming in limiting the Wildcats to 161 yards and collected their seventh non-offensive touchdown of the season in the second quarter thanks to a scoop and score 55-yard fumble return by Ronnie Harrison.

Not everything was rosy for the defense however. Alabama linebacker Tim Williams did miss the first half due to a suspension after being arrested on Thursday for carrying a weapon without a permit. On the very first third down of the second half, he made his return felt thanks to a quarterback pressure that helped force a punt.

There wasn’t a ton of positives for Kentucky to take away but the defense flashed occasionally despite being overmatched and quarterback Stephen Johnson was able to scramble out a few near sacks.

The win for the Tide does setup an interesting game at Arkansas next week. The Razorbacks have given Alabama all they can handle recently and it could be a good road test for the top team in the country ahead of their annual rivalry game against Tennessee on the third Saturday of October.

Back injury will cost Kentucky QB Drew Barker ‘significant time’

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Drew Barker #7 of the Kentucky Wildcats passes during a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Aside from starter Drew Barker, Kentucky knew coming into the 2016 season that they were very green at the quarterback position.  If the Wildcats are to bounce back from a 1-2 start to go bowling, and potentially save their head coach’s job in the process, they’ll need that position to ripen in a hurry.

Mark Stoops announced Wednesday that Barker “will be out for a significant amount of time” because of a back injury.  According to the school, the issue flared up this summer, then was aggravated in the Week 2 loss to Florida and further aggravated in the Week 3 win over New Mexico State.  Barker lasted just one series in the latter game.

After seeing a specialist, it was recommended that Barker rest the next three weeks.  At that point in time, he’ll be reevaluated.

Right now, surgery is not required.

“His mother, his father, Drew, Jim Madaleno and our doctors are all on the same page, and they believe the best treatment is rest right now and some treatment, and the best idea for him is non-operative at this point in time,” the coach said in quotes distributed by the school. “If that changes, I’ll let you know. When he gets back out on the field, I’ll let you know. But he is out for a significant amount of time.”

Barker, at least statistically, began the season with promise, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to Southern Miss.  The following week however, he completed just two of his 10 passes for 10 yards in a 38-point bating at the hands of the “rival” Gators.

With Barker out for the foreseeable future, the Wildcats will turn to Stephen Johnson II.  In relief of Barker, the junior college transfer completed 17-of-22 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Johnson II will make his first career FBS start against South Carolina in Lexington this weekend.  Should the new starter go down, no other quarterback on the roster has attempted a pass at this level.

Barker took over for Patrick Towles as the starter in the latter part of the 2015 season, with the then-freshman being named the starter in spring practice.  By that time, Towles had already transferred to Boston College and is now the Eagles’ starter as a graduate transfer.

SEC rebounds from putrid Week 1 with perfect non-conference Week 2

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07:  An 'SEC' logo is seen on an end zone pylon before the Missouri Tigers take on the Auburn Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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The obituaries for the mighty SEC flowed fast and free following Week 1, with The Big Football Conference That Suddenly Couldn’t watching as half of its team went down in defeat.  The last time seven of the current SEC teams lost the same opening weekend, the conference had just added Arkansas and South Carolina as members in 1992 and Missouri and Texas A&M weren’t even in the league.

As noted Southern football historian Mark Twain once opined, though, the SEC’s death may have been greatly exaggerated.  Possibly.

In Week 2, the 14-team SEC went a collective 12-2.  The two losses?  Mississippi State of the SEC West dropping South Carolina of the SEC East and Florida, yet again, embarrassing divisional “rival” Kentucky.  In other words, the league went unbeaten in non-conference play.

If you’d like — why do I get the feeling many will take advantage of this generosity? — you can attach a giant asterisk or caveat or whatever big-sounding word you want to the undefeated bounce-back.

Of the 10 non-conference wins, four came against FCS teams — a two-point escape for Georgia in one of those — while another four came against Group of Five programs.  Tennessee handling Virginia Tech and Arkansas stunning TCU in double overtime marked the lone “signature” wins for the conference.

Still, after the pabulum that was Week 1, the SEC needed something like this in Week 2 to right a national perception ship that had been listing mightily.

Florida swamps Kentucky for 30th straight win over Mildcats

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Antonio Callaway #81 of the Florida Gators makes a catch for a touchdown during a game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Death, taxes and a Gator chewing up and spitting out a Wildcat?  Yep, those are a couple of the certainties in a football life.

Saturday afternoon on The Swamp, Florida had little problem in dispatching Kentucky, rolling through, over and around the hapless ‘Cats in a 45-7 win that wasn’t even that close.  The Gators have now won 30 straight games over the Wildcats, with the latter’s last win coming in 1986.

For perspective, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, a gallon of gas would set you back roughly 90 cents and the SEC had just 10 members the last time UK claimed a victory in the series.  The 30-game losing streak is the longest in SEC history and the longest active streak in the FBS, but still lags behind the longest such streak at this level — Notre Dame’s 43-game stretch over Navy that ended a decade ago.

Of the 30 losses, a whopping 21 of them have come by 10 or more points.

UK gave up over 500 yards of offense in this latest embarrassing loss, while managing just 149 themselves.  They shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions, turning the ball over four times to UF’s one.

Luke Del Rio threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the win.  Antonio Callaway was on the receiving end of 129 of those yards, including a 78-yard touchdown catch.

If Mark Stoops wasn’t on the hot seat entering the season, he certainly should be now.  After taking a 35-10 lead on Southern Miss in the opener last Saturday, the Wildcats had been outscored 79-0 before a meaningless touchdown with four and a half minutes remaining ended the ignominious streak this evening.

Regardless, the Wildcats are 0-2 and, while it may not be hot quite yet, Stoops’ seat is certainly getting warmer.

Get ready for the Week 2 hangover: Five games to watch this week

Battle At Bristol
AP Photo/The Bristol Herald-Courier, David Crigger

After Florida State and Texas helped close out the greatest opening weekend in college football history the past two nights, all eyes have now shifted to what’s ahead for an encore in Week 2. Unfortunately for fans, the college football scheduling gods have not been as kind to us in the second week of the season, which is to be expected when we have been so spoiled out of the gate this fall.

The five most intriguing games of Week 2 to follow are listed below:

Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech: The Battle at Bristol will pit Tennessee against Virginia Tech on the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway. The Vols escaped an upset bid by Appalachian State on Thursday night, while the Justin Fuente Era in Blacksburg got off to decent start by pulling away from Liberty. The Vols must play a sharper game on offense, because the Hokies will be feeding off the film they got from Thursday night’s game.

TCU vs. Arkansas: Both the Horned Frogs and Razorbacks opened the season with a win this past weekend, but neither did so in a fashion that inspires a tremendous amount of confidence. Were they each saving a little something for this matchup between the Big 12 and SEC, or are there some concerns that need to be addressed by Gary Patterson and Bret Bielema. This matchup in Fort Worth should provide some energy.

Pittsburgh vs. Penn State: For the first time in 16 years, these in-state rivals are set to renew their rivalry. It is difficult to comprehend the idea that a generation of college football fans in Pennsylvania have yet to experience a game between the Panthers and Nittany Lions, but they finally get their first taste of it this Saturday in western PA. It is the first of a four-game scheduling arrangement over the next four seasons. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has shut his team off from the media to avoid distractions this week.

Florida vs. Kentucky: The Gators were sluggish on offense in their opener before starting to pull away from UMass. Kentucky let one slip away at home last week against Southern Miss. The Gators have won 29 straight in this series dating back to 1987 and have lost just once to the Wildcats since 1980. Kentucky has not won in The Swamp since 1979. With this being the SEC opener for each, getting a jump on the division race is key, and Kentucky is already on thin ice for making postseason play after dropping last week’s game.

Utah vs. BYU: The Holy War always is worth watching because these two schools hate each other with a wild passion. Both teams enter with 1-0 records after Utah handled Southern Utah and BYU clipped Arizona in the opener. Can the Cougars go 2-0 against the Pac-12 out of the gates?


Baylor vs. SMU: SMU still has a long way to go but could put up some offense against Baylor.

Texas vs. UTEP: After a thriller against the Irish, can Charlie Strong’s team avoid a letdown?

Boise State vs. Washington State: The Broncos were impressive last week while Mike Leach’s Cougars took a home loss against Eastern Washington.

South Florida vs. NIU: With NIU taking a loss on the road last week at Wyoming, the Huskies need a win to remain in the Group of Five hunt before it pulls away from them entirely.

Oregon vs. Virginia: The Cavaliers were trounced at home by Richmond in Bronco Mendenhall’s Virginia debut. Now they fly to Oregon? Uh-oh.

Arizona State vs. Texas Tech: Offense on offense on offense.

Illinois vs. UNC: Lovie Smith’s Illini played well in its opener and they host UNC coming off a loss.


Wofford: The FCS program travels to Ole Miss this week. You think the Rebels will be ready to unload some pent-up frustration after losing to Florida State Monday night?


Illinois State vs. Northwestern: Though one should logically assume Northwestern bounces back at home this week after dropping one to Western Michigan, Illinois State is coming in as one of the top FCS programs there is. Don’t be surprised if No. 9 Illinois State hangs around longer than Northwestern fans would be comfortable seeing.

Also, No. 5 Jacksonville State is visiting LSU, who lost last week in Green Bay. The Jaguars pushed Auburn to the limit last season and we know LSU’s passing game is a concern. You just never know!