Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky, Louisville and SEC football links for Sunday

Florida coach Jim McElwain had to be held back by his players after the Gators’ quarterback Luke Del Rio was injured in Saturday’s win over North Texas.
Florida coach Jim McElwain had to be held back by his players after the Gators’ quarterback Luke Del Rio was injured in Saturday’s win over North Texas. Associated Press

Big Blue and SEC links for Sunday:

Kentucky wins a wild one at Commonwealth Stadium,. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “If you’re a Kentucky fan and your glass is half empty, there’s the 500 yards given up to New Mexico State, one of the nation’s worst offenses this season playing without its star running back. If you’re a Kentucky fan and your glass is half full, the Cats won their first game of the season 62-42 at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday and found some important playmakers in the process. “

Kentucky finds firepower in unexpected places in win over New Mexico State. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “The first couple of possessions couldn’t have gone much worse for the Kentucky offense Saturday. The Wildcats earned 1 yard on each of their first two plays from scrimmage. On the third, Drew Barker threw an interception and immediately went to the trainer’s table with an injury that kept him out for the rest of the game. The second series featured a 1-yard run by backup quarterback Stephen Johnson II, who then threw two consecutive passes that didn’t get anywhere close to their intended targets. “

Is Stephen Johnson now the starting quarterback? Mark Story of the Herald-Leader writes, “Taking over for an injured Drew Barker (back) after Kentucky’s first offensive series, the 6-foot-3, 183-pound Johnson II delivered a head-turning performance. Johnson boosted Kentucky with his arm, completing 17 of 22 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He gave UK an extra dimension with his legs, running 10 times for 51 yards.”

Kentucky’s defense still needs fixing. I write, “And yet we have to question whether it was enough of a step — especially on one side of the football. The same unit that continued its poor play from the second half of the season-opening 44-35 loss to Southern Miss right on through last week’s 45-7 smackdown at the Swamp against Florida, again had its struggles. “

Louisville’s big national splash soaks Florida State. Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader reports, “In more ways than one, fans were wise to bring towels, rain slickers and other stay-dry paraphernalia to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Saturday. That’s because No. 10 Louisville made a big splash that surely sent a tsunami across the college football scene. Louisville washed away No. 2 Florida State 63-20.”

It’s all in play for Louisville now. Rick Bozich of WDRB writes, “Everything is in play now for the University of Louisville football team. Everything. Use as much imagination as Lamar Jackson every time he crackles between linebackers and safeties into end zone after end zone. Another appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay Show? Sure, perhaps in only two weeks when the Cardinals visit Clemson Oct. 1.”

Bobby Petrino’s return looking like a stroke of genius. Pat Forde of Yahoo writes, “If you want to know why Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich took the flak and controversially brought back Bobby Petrino as his football coach in 2014, you saw the jaw-dropping answer Saturday. Because Petrino is a guy capable of competing for a national title and molding a Heisman Trophy winner, at a place that has never done either and never come terribly close. Until now.”

South Carolina survives East Carolina. Josh Kendall of The State reports, “South Carolina started freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain on Saturday against East Carolina, but the story of the game was how the Gamecocks finished. Namely, by making McIlwain’s fast start hold up with remarkably opportunistic red zone defense. South Carolina (2-1) beat the Pirates 20-15 in front of 80,384 fans in Williams-Brice Stadium despite being outgained 519 yards to 312 yards. “

Jacob Eason leads Georgia to dramatic win at Missouri. Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph reports, “He’s sure to have his share of struggles throughout the remainder of his true freshman season. He’s sure to have moments that don’t live up to leading his team on a game-winning 80-yard drive. But what Jacob Eason displayed in Saturday’s 28-27 win over Missouri is that he’s ready for the big stage many anticipated he would step on soon after arriving to Georgia. “

Turnovers kill Mizzou. Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star reports, “Five turnovers, including four in the second half, proved too much for Missouri to overcome Saturday against No. 16 Georgia at Memorial Stadium. Bidding for their first home win against a ranked opponent since the 2013 regular-season finale against Texas A&M, first-year coach Barry Odom’s Tigers came up less than 90 seconds shy of the goal in a 28-27 loss. “

Luke Del Rio injured in Florida win. Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald reports, “Luke Del Rio was down on his back motionless. The crowd was silent. The quarterback grimaced in pain, his left leg injured after being hit late by North Texas defensive end Joshua Wheeler in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game. “

Alabama finds its footing in win over Ole Miss. Terrin Waack of the Tuscaloosa News reports, “True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts was the University of Alabama’s leading rusher Saturday, finishing with 18 carries for 146 yards as No. 1 Alabama defeated No. 19 Ole Miss, 48-43, in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.”

It was a Les Miles kind of win for LSU. Scott Rabalais of The Advocate writes, “A rainbow appeared over Tiger Stadium during the second quarter Saturday. By the time the LSU-Mississippi State game ended late Saturday night, the darkness once again had the Tigers by the throat. This one had all the elements that have made LSU football under Les Miles so maddening and magical.”

Auburn stumbles again in loss to Texas A&M. Mike Niziolek of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports, “Nothing came easy Saturday night for a pair of SEC offenses used to lighting up the scoreboard. Texas A&M got just enough in its third-ever visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium from graduate transfer quarterback Trevor Knight to escape back to College Station with a 29-16 win. Knight finished the game with modest numbers but came through in key situations throughout the game. “

Georgia Tech drills Vanderbilt. Adam Sparks of the Tennessean reports, “The Commodores fell to 1-10 on the road under Mason. Granted, Vanderbilt has not played any gimme games away from home over the past three seasons. Eight of its 11 road games under Mason were SEC contests. In non-conference road games, the Commodores beat MTSU in 2015 and lost to Houston and Georgia Tech. Nevertheless, winning on the road is still a big hurdle for Vanderbilt, which gets another opportunity next week at Western Kentucky.”

Arkansas rolls over Texas State. Tom Murphy of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes, “Arkansas dispatched underdog Texas State in dominating fashion by throttling its up-tempo attack and scoring another defensive touchdown en route to a 42-3 victory Saturday. The No. 24 Razorbacks (3-0) outgained the Bobcats (1-1) 467-105 in total yards and received touchdowns from five different players before a crowd of 72,114 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.”

Butch Jones pulling his hair out at Tennessee. Jonathan Toye of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. “The penalties and fumbles made Tennessee coach Butch Jones want to pull his hair out. The No. 15 Vols committed nine penalties for 94 yards, and fumbled the football five times in a 28-19 win over Ohio Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The miscues helped Ohio stay within striking distance for most of the game.”

Saturday’s SEC scores

  • Alabama 48, Ole Miss 43
  • Tennessee 28, Ohio 19
  • Georgia 28, Missouri 27
  • Texas A&M 29, Auburn 16
  • LSU 23, Miss State 20
  • Florida 32, North Texas 0
  • Arkansas 42, Texas State 3
  • Georgia Tech 38, Vanderbilt 7
  • South Carolina 20, East Carolina 15
  • Kentucky 62, New Mexico State 42

This Saturday’s games

  • Florida at Tennessee
  • Kent State at Alabama
  • Georgia at Ole Miss
  • Mississippi State at UMass
  • Delaware State at Missouri
  • Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky
  • LSU at Auburn
  • South Carolina at Kentucky
  • Arkansas at Texas A&M

SEC football standings

East

SEC

Overall

Florida

1-0

3-0

Georgia

1-0

3-0

Tennessee

0-0

3-0

South Carolina

1-1

2-1

Kentucky

0-1

1-2

Vanderbilt

0-1

1-2

Missouri

0-1

1-2

West

SEC

Overall

Alabama

1-0

3-0

Texas A&M

1-0

3-0

LSU

1-0

2-1

Arkansas

0-0

3-0

Miss State

1-1

1-2

Ole Miss

0-1

1-2

Auburn

0-1

1-2

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