Sidelines with John Clay

SEC football hits important middle as basketball celebrates its start

Saturday links:

Big Blue Madness celebrates UK basketball past, present and future, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Players representing UK’s first three national championship teams (1948, 1949 and 1951) took a bow at center court during Friday night’s festivities. Future championships, perhaps as soon as next spring, were understood if not boldly proclaimed.”

North Carolina held its “Late Night with Roy” scrimmage, reports Jonathan Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer. “Freshman wing Nassir Little, who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, showed why he was highly touted. He was hands down the most athletic player on the floor. He stole passes and got into passing lanes. He chased a player and nearly blocked his shot, but he was slightly late and it was called a goal-tending. The one negative about Little was his outside shot. He did not shoot the ball well from behind the three-point line. Otherwise, he’ll be an impact player.”

Florida expecting stiff test at Vanderbilt, reports Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun. “Only six games into the Dan Mullen era, the Florida Gators have already worked their way back to being ranked and relevant in the SEC. Now comes the hard part. Staying ranked and relevant.”

Gators not taking Commodores for granted, reports Alanis Thames of the Miami Herald. “David Reese doesn’t believe in trap games. But the Florida inside linebacker knows they do exist. That’s why No. 14 Florida won’t look past its 3-3 opponent Vanderbilt on Saturday, despite riding a four-game win streak and a two-game win streak over ranked teams.”

Georgia travels to Baton Rouge for a showdown with LSU, reports Brandon Sudge of the Macon Telegraph. “Georgia (6-0, 4-0 SEC) has played one ranked opponent at the season’s midway mark, but this begins a stretch of four consecutive games against ranked teams. LSU and Georgia face off for the first time since 2013.”

LSU will have to overcome Georgia’s defense, reports Brooks Kubena of The Advocate. “LSU has not beaten a team ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the regular season since the Tigers beat No. 2 Alabama in 2011. In order for LSU to beat No. 2 Georgia at Tiger Stadium on Saturday, the Tigers offense will have to crack through a defense that has a style it hasn’t seen thus far this season.”

Missouri’s 1968 romp over Alabama helped break the color barrier, writes Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star. “Chances are Missouri Tigers fans know what happened the first time MU played Alabama, nearly 50 years ago in the 1968 Gator Bowl: Mizzou vaporized Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide 35-10, rushing for 402 yards and sacking Scott Hunter 12 times to leave ‘Bama with minus-45 yards rushing and 32 yards of total offense.”

Former Auburn coach Pat Dye says Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is better than Joe Namath or Ken Stabler, reports Greg Stephenson of “Sure he is,” Dye said. “He’s better than both of them. He’s got to ... do what they’ve done. Tua’s got that future in front of him. Have you seen him doing anything wrong?”

South Carolina plays host to Texas A&M, reports Josh Kendall of The State. “Can South Carolina stop the Aggies run game? Texas A&M is fifth in the SEC in rushing with 220.8 yards per game. Aggies running back Trayveon Williams leads the league with 720 yards, and that’s with 40 percent of his snaps coming against Alabama and Clemson. Last year, Williams had 14 carries for 98 yards against the Gamecocks, and the USC rush defense was better last year.”

Louisville football attendance is dropping, reports Jake Lourim of the Courier-Journal. “While the announced attendance in the first four home games of the season has averaged 50,975 fans, the average number of tickets scanned has been 34,968, according to figures obtained by the Courier Journal via open-records request.”

Tennessee fans could celebrate another good loss, says John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “All 26-point losses aren’t the same. Tennessee fans can vouch for that. Some probably were convinced the Tennessee Vols wouldn’t win an SEC game after a 47-21 loss to Florida in which they turned the ball over at a staggering rate.”

Ole Miss aiming for discipline against Arkansas, reports Parrish Alford of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal. “An improving Arkansas offense will show a lot of bells and whistles meant to distract Ole Miss players tonight at War Memorial Stadium. It was a tactic that worked quite well against No. 1 Alabama.”

SEC games Oct. 13

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