John Clay's notes: Missouri poised to steal Auburn's thunder

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistDecember 4, 2013 

Random notes:

■ All this BCS title game debate about Ohio State and Auburn will be rendered moot Saturday night when Missouri beats Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.

The Tigers of Auburn won't be able to avoid a letdown after that miraculous win over Alabama. If not for a missed chip-shot field goal in overtime against South Carolina, the Tigers of Missouri would be undefeated right now.

Sunday morning, Urban Meyer will be sending a thank-you card to Gary Pinkel.

■ If this is 2014 with the College Football Playoff system, is Alabama already in the four-team format while Missouri and Auburn are playing for a spot?

■ Friday night's Kentucky-Baylor tilt deep in the heart of Texas is actually part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge which to this point has fallen in favor of the Big 12.

Vanderbilt lost to Texas. Auburn was obliterated by Iowa State. The SEC's lone win came last month when Alabama handled Tubby Smith and visiting Texas Tech.

Thursday night's Challenge card: West Virginia at Missouri; TCU at Mississippi State and Ole Miss at Kansas State.

■ Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin stands in the path of an opposing kick returner. Brooklyn Nets Coach Jason Kidd has one of his players run into him so he can spill a drink and stop play. Message: Winning at all costs.

■ It's bad luck that the UK volleyball team makes its ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance on Friday in a home match that goes up against the UK-Baylor women's and men's basketball doubleheader in Arlington.

■ What is the most dangerous job in sports? It might be a starting quarterback in the SEC.

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger tore his ACL against Arkansas in the season finale and won't play in the Tigers' bowl game. That means 11 of the SEC's 14 teams had their starting opening day quarterback miss time this season because of injury.

■ Did you know that Nebraska's Bo Pelini and Kentucky's Mark Stoops both got unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for arguing with officials during their losses last weekend — Nebraska to Iowa and Kentucky to Tennessee?

Did you know that Pelini and Stoops played together at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown?

That was probably one fiery team.

■ He won't get any Coach of the Year votes, but you have to admire the way Mark Richt kept Georgia together after a landslide of injuries and that heartbreaking loss to Auburn. The Bulldogs blasted Kentucky the next week, then without quarterback Aaron Murray (torn ACL) rallied from a 20-0 deficit to beat Georgia Tech in overtime last Saturday.

If only Will Muschamp could say the same at Florida.

■ Back to Alabama's epic loss to Auburn, Nick Saban did not exactly cover himself in post-game glory by continually blaming his kicker. According to the website STATS Football, there have been 10 field goal attempts of 57 yards or more this season in college football. All of them failed.

■ While everyone was fixating on the Florida basketball team bumping passengers off a flight so the Gators could make Monday night's game at Connecticut, Florida lost another player to injury.

Just back from suspension, Scottie Wilbekin went down with a high ankle sprain. Freshman point guard Kasey Hill has already been out almost a month with a high ankle sprain. And Billy Donovan says Rutgers transfer Eli Carter may redshirt this season because of his slow progress from a broken leg.

■ Considering that this year's SEC title game features two teams that finished with losing records the year before, the only way the 2014 SEC title game would follow the same scenario is if it's Arkansas vs. Tennessee, Florida or Kentucky.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

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