John Clay

Here’s how Kentucky could win the SEC East; plus more random notes

Random notes:

▪ If you are a dreamer, and crazy as it might sound, here’s how Kentucky could actually win the SEC East:

Currently all alone in second place in the division, the Cats would have to win out and finish 6-2 in conference play. In doing so, UK would hand Tennessee its third league loss. Meanwhile, Florida loses two of its four remaining league games. The Gators get South Carolina at home, but they play Georgia in Jacksonville and are on the road at Arkansas and LSU.

Of course, Kentucky hasn’t won at Tennessee since 1984. And UK is 0-2 in Columbia since Missouri joined the SEC.

▪ I don’t see fifth-ranked Louisville football losing the rest of the way. I do see one of the teams in front of the Cards in the AP poll losing between now and season’s end. But if Clemson doesn’t lose, still not sure Louisville will move into the top four.

▪ One thing that stuck out at SEC basketball media day last week in Nashville, the conference has some media-friendly coaches, which is a plus for basketball in a league known for football. Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, Alabama’s Avery Johnson are all veterans and excellent with the media. Relative newcomers Mike White of Florida and Bryce Drew of Vanderbilt are also media-friendly.

Then there’s John Calipari, who during his session probably had twice as much media gathered at his table for questions and answers than any other coach.

▪ Wherever Tony Franklin goes, his teams score points. The former UK assistant is back at Middle Tennessee after stops at Auburn, Louisiana Tech and California. After Middle’s 51-45 win at Missouri last Saturday, the Blue Raiders are fifth in the nation in total offense, averaging 548.9 yards per game.

▪ An interesting note: Even though Missouri did lose last Saturday, the Tigers outgained Middle Tennessee 629-584.

▪ Remember, Benny Snell was rated as a three-star recruit, ranked as the 58th-best player in the state of Ohio by Rivals.com.

▪ Interestingly enough, Cincinnati was 125th nationally in turnover margin last year with Eddie Gran as offensive coordinator. This year, Kentucky is 125th in turnover margin with Gran as offensive coordinator.

Not blaming Gran. In fact, I think it’s coincidence. In 2014, with Gran as offensive coordinator, Cincinnati was 54th nationally in turnover margin. And Kentucky has lost as many fumbles this year (11) as Cincinnati did all of last season.

Actually, I think Gran deserves kudos for changing Kentucky’s identity on offense from the beginning of the season. Then, it appeared to be a big-play, chunk-yard attack. Now, it’s a ball-control attack.

▪ Missouri ran 104 offensive plays in the loss to Middle Tennessee last Saturday. That was without overtimes. In the past 20 years, the most plays Kentucky has run in a game is 95, all the way back on Nov. 1, 1997 against LSU when Hal Mumme was the coach and Tim Couch the quarterback.

▪ We’ve written about this previously, but the NFL TV ratings trend continues downward. According to Michael Mulvihill of Fox Sports, ratings for “Monday Night Football” are down 24 percent from last year; “Sunday Night Football” is down 19 percent; “Thursday Night Football” is down 18 percent.

▪ The “Thursday Night Football” matchups have been as bad as those color rush uniforms.

▪ As the great Bob Ryan pointed out Tuesday on Twitter, two basketball greats, Dave Cowens and Dan Issel, were born on Oct. 25, 1948. Cowens was born in Newport but made his claim to fame with the NBA’s Boston Celtics. Issel was born in Batavia, Ill., but made his claim to fame first at UK under Adolph Rupp and then with the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels and NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

SEC football standings

East

SEC

Overall

Saturday

Florida

3-1

5-1

vs. Georgia

Kentucky

3-2

4-3

at Missouri

Tennessee

2-2

5-2

at South Carolina

Georgia

2-3

4-3

vs. Florida

Vanderbilt

1-3

4-4

off

South Carolina

1-4

3-4

vs. Tennessee

Missouri

0-3

2-5

vs. Kentucky

West

SEC

Overall

Saturday

Alabama

5-0

8-0

off

Texas A&M

4-1

6-1

vs. New Mexico St

Auburn

3-1

5-2

at Ole Miss

LSU

3-1

5-2

off

Arkansas

1-3

5-3

off

Ole Miss

1-3

3-4

vs. Auburn

Miss State

1-3

2-5

vs. Samford

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