College Football

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Chomped From Inside

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Steve Spurrier created the Gator Standard, Urban Meyer exemplified this standard by taking the program to new heights, and after two failed coaching hires, and numerous embarrassing losses; Dan Mullen was the man hired to awaken the sleeping giant.

Year one under Mullen saw a quicker turnaround than any realistic fan could have expected (and could’ve asked for). Bad losses occurred, and red flags appeared, but they were excused due to the upward trajectory of the program in only one season.

Fast forward to year four, the bad losses and red flags remain; this time, Mullen has run out of excuses. I am no insider, and don’t claim to have any secret knowledge inside the University of Florida’s football program, but several things have made me scratch my head.

Mullen’s ego is disproportionate to his on-field accomplishments. What big game has he won? He has been extremely close twice versus Alabama but lost at both contests.

I would think he’d carry himself with a chip on his shoulder, but quite the contrary. Dan Mullen refuses to hold himself to the Gator Standard.

He does not hold himself accountable! After his second loss to Kentucky in four years, being the first Florida coach since Doug Dickey to lose multiple games to Kentucky (for reference on how long ago that was: Jimmy Carter was President), Mullen snapped at a reporter who asked if felt outcoached tonight.

Mullen’s quoted, “NO! But 382 yards, I guess that sputtering. I don’t know. We had 382. They had 211 yards. I wouldn’t think that would be the case. I think guys did some pretty good things right there, moving up and down. I think we got to really look at the penalties that we have and how to get ourselves in better situations that way. I got to do a better job coaching up the PAT/field goal group. They’re a physical group. We outrushed them. We outpassed. We out total gained them. The time of possession, we were better on third down.”

BUT COACH, AT THE END OF THE GAME, YOU DIDN’T OUT SCORE THEM! SOUNDS PRETTY OUTCOACHED TO ME!

Mullen has also refused to make changes to his coaching staff. He has selectively neglected staff incompetence, especially in recruiting SEC-level talent.

He has yet to win a game as an underdog in his tenure at Florida. Fans will calm down and Florida will finish the season with eight or nine wins. Dan Mullen isn’t going anywhere soon.

I am not one of those calmed down fans. The stench from the Gators’ loss to Kentucky is lingering like burnt popcorn after the worst movie ever. Another loss like the last one and noise will build in the program for an exit.

Mullen will be a name next to Zook, Muschamp and McElwain, and be another coach that can’t return Gainesville to glory.

Let’s not forget that most Gator fans (and I) are already miffed with him for not starting Anthony Richardson.

If Mullen wants to win championships, he is going to have to change.

First, he will have to make significant changes to his coaching staff. Next, he is going to have to give a Damn about recruiting. Finally, he is going to have to hold himself to the Gator Standard.

Mullen has steadied the program, and now, can he take them up to the next level?

It’s Game Day In Athens

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

ESPN announced that College GameDay will be headed to the Classic City for Arkansas versus Georgia. Dawg fans are complaining about the noon kick-off, but I like it. ESPN will have eyeballs from 10 am to midnight.

This isn’t College GameDay’s first visit to Athens. GameDay has been on Georgia’s campus five times. Here are those results.

October 10, 1998: #5 Tennessee vs #3 Georgia. Tee Martin and the Volunteers came “Between the Hedges” and dominated the Dawgs. Strolling out of Athens with a convincing 22-3 win en route to winning a National Championship.

September 27, 2009: #8 Alabama vs #3 Georgia. This was Georgia’s big Blackout game that wasn’t. This was one of the most anticipated games of 2008. The Tide opened the game by punching the Dawgs in the mouth. The game was over at halftime with a score of 31-0, Bama. The final score of 41-30 was more cosmetic than the result.

September 21, 2013: #6 LSU vs #9 Georgia. The battle between Murray and Mettenberger, both quarterbacks put on an offensive firework show.  Mettenberger had a career day 23 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Murray did not disappoint, completing 20 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns. One of the loudest days in Sanford Stadium’s history. Whoever had the ball last would win. Murray found Justin Scott Wesley for the game clinching touchdown with less than two minutes left in the 4th quarter. This, my friends, is a classic. If you are ever bored, pull this one up, sit back and enjoy.

September 21, 2019: #7 Notre Dame vs #3 Georgia. A perfect day in Athens to host the Fighting Irish in the Classic City.  Jake Fromm and Lawrence Cager didn’t show the same southern hospitality, Fromm threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Cager early in the fourth quarter and the Dawgs survived for a 23-17 victory. This was also the debut of the Celebrated Red Lights at Stanford Stadium to add to the already electric Light Up Stanford tradition at the close of the third quarter.

October 3, 2020.  #7 Auburn vs #3 Georgia. Stetson Bennett and The JunkYard Dawg’s Defense led Georgia to a 27-6 win over the Tigers in last year’s rendition of “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” GameDay was held inside Stanford Stadium with no fans due to COVID.

October 2, 2021. #8 Arkansas vs #2 Georgia. The Hogs come in 4-0 with wins over Texas and Texas A&M. It is important to emphasize that Arkansas is a good football team. Vegas book makers have installed them as a 19.5 underdog. That’s because Georgia is an elite football team. Kirby Smart has built a roster loaded with studs on both sides of the ball.

Georgia’s defense looks impermeable and the offense continues to stretch the field.  Georgia 44  Arkansas 13.

 

The Bright Sunshine

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It has been cloudy in The Sunshine State for the Big Four (UF, FSU, UCF & Miami). All four teams recently suffered setbacks and the storm clouds are building up around a couple programs.

Miami and Florida State are on the list of programs with a name that inspires nostalgia and memorable expectations, but with little or no reference to recent big-time success.

Manny Diaz and Mike Norvell may not be on the “hot seat” right now, but with recent performances their seat will be red hot in no time.

Speculation about Diaz and Norvell seems sure to start. Who could replace them in Coral Gables and Tallahassee? If fans had their way, both would be gone immediately.

Here’s a realistic list of replacements, so you won’t see James Franklin, Deion Sanders, Mario Cristobal, or Urban Meyer on this list.

  1. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota head coach: Fleck has a 27-20 record with two bowl game wins that includes an Outback Bowl win over Auburn.

Fleck is known for his motto Row the Boat. I could see Fleck leaving Minnesota for a high-end job like Florida State or Miami. In some respects (as bad as things are at UM and FSU), Fleck could be rowing his boat in Florida water next year.

  1. Mark Stoops, Kentucky head coach: In his ninth season, Stoops has a 52-50 record.

The Wildcats are a basketball school, but Stoops has made them somewhat respectable. Stoops has ties to the last of Miami’s glory days; he was the defensive back coach under Larry Coker from 2001-2003.

Both teams would prefer Mark’s brother Bob, but among realistic candidates, they’ll settle with Mark.

  1. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina head coach: Chadwell hit the national radar with an 11-1 record in 2020.

Chadwell has built his system quickly during his time as a head coach. Coastal Carolina went from three, to five, to 11 wins in Chadwell’s first three seasons.

Coastal Carolina couldn’t afford to keep Chadwell if either Florida State or Miami came calling. Chadwell’s track record of building a winner will bring Power 5 money, so watch out for his name.

  1. Lane Kiffen, Ole’ Miss head coach: Kiffen has been the head coach for the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, Florida Atlantic Owls and his current gig with Ole’ Miss.

Kiffen is a relentless recruiter and offensive mastermind. His name will be thrown into discussion for every job opening in 2021.

He would be a perfect fit with both programs, because he knows the terrain and he’s a fierce competitor.

1.Tony Elliott, Clemson Offensive Coordinator:  This OC has been in talks for several jobs in past years.

He has been waiting for the right job and most importantly, a big-time job.

Elliott has the best resumé and accolades for a non-head coach. He is a respected recruiter in the South Florida area, and that is essential to building a college football program. If Elliott is to become a head coach, it will likely be a blue blood.

Getting the hires right for Miami and Florida State is extremely important for the trajectory of these once dominant programs.

Contrarily, this article can be for nothing if Miami and Florida State turn it around on the field with their current Head Coaches.

Where’s The Buzz

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re a few games into the college football season, so we have a small sample size to evaluate teams.

The team we are going to examine is Georgia Tech. Geoff Collins is in his third season as head coach and I’m wondering has the program gotten any better?

The Yellow Jackets started the season with a loss at home to Northern Illinois, 22 – 21. Losing to a school outside of the Power 5 is embarrassing enough, but the Huskies were winless in 2020 (0-6). This game should have been an easy win before ACC play begins.

The one positive from that game is Jordan Yates came in to relieve an injured Jeff Sims at quarterback. I believed he was a better player and he has played like it so far.

The next game was against an FCS team, Kennesaw State. They won 45 – 17, which is expected.

The Jackets then went to #6 Clemson. Last season the Tigers humiliated Tech, 73 – 7. In 2019 they won 52 – 17. Clemson did have the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence playing quarterback in those games. They also had fellow first-round pick, running back Travis Etienne.

They are replacing a lot of talent and experience, but we expect a program like them to reload. Their offense looked anemic in the season opener, but they did play an elite Georgia defense.

The Tigers won, 14 – 8. This score was much closer than anyone would have predicted. Did Tech close the talent gap between the programs or is Clemson overrated?

I think the truth is closer to Clemson struggling on offense, led by sophomore quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. He completed 18 of 25 pass attempts for 126 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

Yates completed 20 of 34 passes for 203 yards, no touchdown and 1 interception.

Clemson had not been held under 20 points in an ACC game since losing 28-6 to Tech in 2014. Likewise, the Tigers’ 284 yards of total offense was their fewest since the same loss to Tech, when they gained 190 yards.

The Tech defense came out in a 3-3 (three defensive linemen, three linebackers) look for the first time this season after playing out of a 4-2-5 (four linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs) as its base defense. They worked on the 3-3 throughout the preseason but Collins did not feel they were ready for the first two games.

“And then once the guys were really confident in playing it, we rolled it out there (Saturday) and they did a really nice job with it,” Collins said.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said that Tech lined up in “absolutely nothing that we prepared for.”

This moral victory may give the team some confidence going forward. The question is will that translate to wins?

Looking at the rest of the schedule I think there are four games they have a chance to win; Duke, Virginia, Boston College and Miami.

Pitt, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Georgia are guaranteed loses. The Yellow Jackets are in for another losing season and missing a bowl appearance.

Fear The Spear?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It was a nightmare for Florida State football fans, it was their first EVER loss to an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) opponent, falling 20-17 to Jacksonville State, allowing a 59-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired.

It usually gets worse before it gets better, but Coach Mike Norvell has not shown anything on the field for me to suggest any upward trajectory. All Coach Norvell has done so far is apologize.

Coach Norvell said, “Did not have our team ready to play today.”  That was evident from the start of the game, UCF transfer McKenzie Milton had not one, but two touchdown throws dropped by Milik McClain and Keyshawn Helton.

The offense committed penalty after penalty and could not find a rhythm. For most of the game, Florida State’s defense was solid, but undisciplined; blown coverages literally cost them the W. Six days after the moral (losers) victory against Notre Dame, FSU suffered the worst loss in program history.

College football today is becoming the land of haves and have nots. Florida State: yes, the Florida State that was not far removed from being a dominant program in college football in the mid 2010s, finds itself a ‘have not’ in the early 2020s.

In truth, I don’t know where Florida State goes from here. If you feel they hit rock bottom, then up, but could the program fall into the lower ranks of ‘has beens’ such as Nebraska, Texas and Miami?

Since Jimbo Fisher departed from Tallahassee, Florida State has been in the dumps, both financially and on the field. FSU fired Wille Taggart near the end of his second season and have now made their bed with Mike Norvell, who has 3 wins in 11 games so far.

Can Florida State afford to even consider another change this early on in Norvell’s tenure? Mike Norvell’s buyout is $18 million. Most coaches are given at least three seasons before trajectory dictates job security, but Florida State has already set precedent with Willie Taggart that they are unafraid to pull the plug on a failing coach.

Florida State owes Willie Taggart about $17 million for his buyout. The next month is extremely important for Norvell if he wants to keep his job in Tallahassee.

I entered the season predicting Florida State would go 6-6, and I’m no longer convinced that 6-6 is attainable.

Florida State currently has the 10th ranked recruiting class in the country. Recruits are singing the right tune at this moment. Fans have to continue to hope this class sticks together. But I’ve heard this tune before and so has the transfer portal.

Is Florida State a victim of high expectations that are no longer realistic? Besides Clemson, the ACC is not a great conference; and winning 8-10 games a year shouldn’t be too tall of a task.

Due to economics, Norvell is not on the hot seat in 2021. Norvell is in his second of his six-year deal, and his buyout is 85% of his remaining base salary.

I fear that Florida State is entering a cycle where they’re going to be so deep in a hole that climbing out of it and returning to a consistently great standard is going to be an insurmountable task.

The Boys Are Back

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

College football is back and week one brought us some great games.

Seeing fans fill stadiums from Blacksburg to Charlotte to Madison, showing the love and passion for the game.

Not only did we see some of the top teams in the sport flex their muscles, but two teams from the same conference established themselves as favorites to win the College Football Playoffs.

There were some real surprises Saturday that will cause a domino effect with the College Football Playoffs.

Check out my top takeaways from what I saw on the gridiron this weekend.

1.The Georgia Bulldogs defense is very, very NASTY!

Coaches at every level preach 11 to the ball and on Saturday night it looked like 11 hungry Dawgs snapping at orange jerseys.

D.J. Uiagalelei was under siege for the entire contest. He attempted 37 passes and it felt like he was pressured on half of those throws. With good health and defensive play at this level, the Bulldogs should waltz into Atlanta 12-0 for the SEC Championship.

  1. The Alabama Crimson Tide seemed determined to defend their national title and preseason number one ranking by dismantling the Miami Hurricanes.

Even with Matt Jones, Jaylen Waddle, Najee Harris and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith drafted to the NFL, Bryce Young set a school record for a starting debut with 344 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air.

Even more impressive, Young is rolling with a new offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien.

  1. Never mind Notre Dame beating FSU in overtime, the hero of the game was McKenzie Milton.

Milton may provide the sports story of the year after just week one of the season. Just three years ago after leading UCF to a National Championship, Milton suffered one of the most gruesome knee injuries: dislocation, shredded ligaments and arterial damage.

Fast forward to Sunday night, Milton entered the game late in the fourth quarter trailing 38-28.  All he did was lead the Seminoles to 10 consecutive points to send the game into overtime.

  1. First year UCF head coach Gus Malzahn; it took the Knights and Malzahn two days to beat Boise State 36-31.

Weather delayed the start time four hours, and the Gus Bus started the game with flat tires.

The Knights dug a 21-0 deficit against the Broncos. Transfer running back Isaiah Bowser and quarterback Dillon Gabriel led the offensive comeback, but the defensive unit controlled the game in the second half.

Also, news broke Friday that UCF along with BYU, Cincinnati and Houston are planning to join the Big 12 Conference.

  1. The ACC had an awful Week 1. Let’s recap: Clemson lost to Georgia, Miami was throttled by Alabama, Georgia Tech lost to Northern Illinois; a MAC team, and North Carolina was upset by Virginia Tech.

The top three teams in the ACC and the league’s best playoff hopes are now holding an L after one week. That’s not a good look.

  1. Emory Jones’ starting debut for the Florida Gators was not smooth.

After leading the Gators on consecutive touchdown drives in the first quarter, Jones didn’t look the same after throwing an interception.

He finished 17 for 27 with 113 yards and a pair of interceptions in a 34-14 win over FAU.

Redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson stole the show with a 74 yards touchdown run and a leap over a defender for a first down.

I’m not suggesting there is quarterback controversy in Gainesville, but keep a close eye on this situation for any developments to unfold.

As I reflect on an amazing Week 1 of college football. I can’t help but think that for the first time in a long time we stopped yelling at each other, and started yelling for each other; if you’re rooting for the same teams at least.

The Crystal Ball Of The SEC

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Labor Day weekend is upon us and that means the greatest game of all, College Football kicks off.

I love many sports, but college football is just special. In this part of the world, you have SEC football; which is the best brand in college athletics.

Others try and duplicate it, but they simply come up short.

Oklahoma and Texas are moving over probably next season instead of 2025. Some critics say conference expansion is bad using excuses like geography, and any other reason they can find.

We live in a generation of participation trophies as it relates to sports, and quite frankly the SEC has an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of mentality and that keeps them ahead of the rest in the college football world.

Here are my 2021 SEC Predictions:

Most Overrated Team: Texas A&M: The 2021 hype train has the Aggies picked by some to knock of Alabama to win the West.

I don’t think defensively A&M is there yet, and will Jimbo Fisher open up the offense to the Alabama and LSU levels of the past two seasons?

I don’t think the Aggies have those types of weapons and will come up short in the West. What happens if they lose at home to Alabama? Well, they are and I think they end up losing to Ole Miss and possibly LSU.

Most Underrated Team: Ole Miss: Ole Miss may end up having the best offense in the conference. So, when you line up against this team you better be prepared to score a lot of points.

Everyone harps on the Ole Miss defense, but I ask the question they can’t be worse than they were last year, right? I expect improvement out of the unit in 2021. This team could sneak up into the double-digit win category.

SEC West:

Alabama: Until someone knocks them off, they are the pick here.

Nick Saban is the best head coach in the history of the conference and he has the national championships to prove it in the playoff era of college football.

Ole Miss: This team is dangerous. Sleep on them if you want to.

Texas A&M: I’m just not buying the hype. This team is too conservative on offense, and do they have enough defense to be championship elite? The answer is no.

LSU: Coach O it is starting to slip away. Fix it in 2021 or your seat is going to get very hot.

Auburn: New coaching staff that wants to go from a spread offense to more of a pro type offense. Going to take some time Aubbies.

Arkansas: I love how the Hogs are building this roster, but you are in the best division of the best conference in college football.

Mississippi State: Not a terrible team, but you have six bowl teams ahead of you.

SEC East:

Georgia: This is an elite football program that gets the underachiever label by folks who don’t hold everyone to the same standard they judge UGA by.

Could it be they know UGA is about to knock the National Title door down in the near future and what that may mean? Cue the 1980 jokes haters.

Florida: Gators will be good, but a different kind of good. One that starts with better defensive play. Florida lost 6,600 yards and 79 TDs to the NFL draft from last year.

Missouri: A much improved Tiger squad could challenge for 2nd in the East.

Kentucky: Nope, I’m not buying what you are selling Cats. Your offense is like watching paint dry.

Tennessee: Vols are building back the roster. It is going to take a couple of years.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are starting a Graduate Assistant at QB. Ouch!

Vanderbilt: We love the Dores during baseball season, but they are an instant win during the fall.

SEC Title game will be Alabama against Georgia.

Hurricane Force

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Miami Hurricanes are never short on swagger. Could this be the year they back it up on the field?

Miami cruised thru most of their 2020 schedule (save for the lopsided mid-season loss at Clemson) before the wheels fell off at the end.

Their regular season finale was an embarrassing 36-point loss in a shootout to North Carolina, and a 3-point loss to Oklahoma State in their bowl game. That left the Hurricanes with an 8-3 record on the season.

In the months since, Miami has been one of the more successful programs in the transfer portal, adding DE Deandre Johnson from Tennessee and CB Tyrique Stevenson from Georgia on defense, as well as quite possibly the best name currently in college football on offense in WR Charleston Rambo from Oklahoma.

In addition to the transfers, Head Coach Manny Diaz has also managed to keep several upperclassmen from testing the waters in the NFL, most notably QB D’Eriq King.

The signal caller had already announced his intention to stay for a final year in college before he tore his ACL in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State.

A Herculean rehab effort in the months between have landed King back among the ranks of the healthy, and back in the starting QB slot for the upcoming season.

He won’t have the luxury of easing into the season, though. The ‘Canes start off their 2021 campaign against the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Miami faithful, however, are cautiously hopeful going into the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against the defending National Champions, with many actually predicting an upset victory over the Tide. Their quarterback has a lot to do with that.

With the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to Covid, the sixth year senior King will arguably have an advantage over first year starter Bryce Young.

In addition to King, the ‘Canes also have a slew of returning talent on offense – RB Cam’Ron Harris, WRs Mike Harley and the previously mentioned Rambo, TE Will Mallory, and linemen Jarrid Williams, Navaughn Donaldson, and Center Corey Gaynor.

The Defensive side of the ball also seems to have reloaded effectively as well, with fourth year DBs Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall and CB DJ Ivey leading the way.

DTs Nesta Jade Silvera and Jon Ford are fourth year players as well, as are DEs Zach McCloud and Deandre Johnson.

In short, game experience is not something the 2021 Miami squad will be short on. Whether that experience will be enough to dethrone the champs in the season opener is yet to be seen, but should be entertaining at least.

After the season opener, the Hurricanes schedule looks to be manageable, thanks to the lack of quality competition in most of the rest of the ACC. Right now, the only games that the Hurricanes aren’t favored to win are North Carolina & Florida State.

The Tarheels will be a tough opponent again, and it would take a lot of things to go right for Miami to avenge their 62-26 loss.

Florida State, on the other hand, always seems to play down to their competition, especially against in-state rivals. If I had to pick an upset to go their way this year, the ‘Noles game would be the one.

While I would be giddy if Miami could knock off Bama in the season opener, I just don’t see it happening. My prediction for “The U” is to wrap up the regular season with a 10-2 record with losses to Alabama and North Carolina, and an upset victory against Florida State.

Whether this slight improvement over a less than impressive slate of opponents would be enough to put them in the National Championship discussion is doubtful. Starting the season 1-0 would go a long way towards improving those chances.

 

Blazing

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Valdosta State University Blazers are ready to get back into action in 2021.

The Covid-19 Pandemic caused the Blazers 2020 season to be suspended. The last football VSU played was an upset loss to West Florida at home in the Division II playoffs that ended a school record 25 game winning streak.

Gary Goff enters his third year at the helm of the Blazers with a 10-1 record. The Blazers are picked 2nd in the preseason Gulf South Coaches Poll, and picked 6th nationally in The American Football Coaches Association preseason poll.

VSU returns great talent across the board as they have 8 preseason first team all-conference selections.

Headlining the preseason all-conference team for the Blazers are 2019 first team all-conference running backs Jamar Thompkins and Seth McGill, along with wide outs Brian Saunds and Lio’undre Gallimore. Saunds also was named to the preseason all-conference team as a return specialist.

Blazer standout offensive tackle Ralph Singleton also earned a spot on the preseason team as he earned second team all-conference honors in 2019.

Defensively, the Blazers had selections at all three levels with Ja’Davien Williams earning a spot up front, while Nick Moss was selected as a linebacker and 2019 second team all-conference selection Cory Roberts earned a spot in the secondary on the preseason team.

VSU will be attempting to win their third straight Gulf South Conference football title this fall.

 

Gulf South Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll:

West Florida

Valdosta State

Delta State

West Alabama

West Georgia

Mississippi College

North Greenville

Shorter

 

Schedule/My Predictions:

Sep 4 vs. Savannah State: The Tigers will be looking for answers early in this one, but none will reveal themselves. Everyone with a Blazer uniform on plays. Blazers start 1-0 with a 52-7 win.

Sep 11 @ Virginia Union: Long road trip for the Blazers, but they shake off a first quarter hangover and end up pulling away for a 34-14 win to go to 2-0 on the season.

Sep 18 vs. Albany State: The Rams travel to Bazemore-Hyder and get a rude welcome. Blazers go to 3-0 on the season with a 38-17 win.

Oct 2 vs. Shorter: Shorter is not a very good football team, and they get blown out on the road 49-3. VSU goes to 4-0 on the season.

Oct 9 vs, Delta State: The Statesmen give the Blazers a test on the road, but come up short in a good contest 31-24. Blazers are 5-0 and ranked #2 in the nation.

Oct 16 @ West Alabama: Trips to Livingston, Alabama are never easy. Blazers pull one out against a very good Tiger team 27-23. VSU is 6-0 on the season.

Oct 23 @ Mississippi College: Back-to-back long conference road trips are never easy. MC is down and VSU whips the Choctaws 42-17. Blazers go to 7-0 on the season.

Oct 30 vs. West Georgia: Rivalry game at home. Wolves get hammered by the Blazers 49-20. Blazers are 8-0 on the season.

Nov 6 vs.  North Greenville: Homecoming week where folks like me show up and reminisce about our days at old Valdosta State College from the 1980’s while the Blazers rip the Crusaders just like the Delta Chi’s did the Kappa Alpha Order in anything considered athletic back in the day. VSU wins 42-0. VSU is 9-0 on the season.

Nov 13 @ West Florida: The Argos are preseason #1 in the county and defending national champions. This could be the Division II game of the century.

The Argos ended a 25 game Blazer winning streak in 2019. VSU has been looking forward to this game for two years and will go on the road and get it done in Pensacola with a hard fought 31-28 win, and win their third straight GSC title.

Valdosta State will enter the playoffs as the #1 seed and will be a strong pick to win another National Title for Winnersville, USA also known as Valdosta, Georgia.

Gator Chomp

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida will begin the 2021 season where they ended in 2020; ranked 13th by the AP.

Florida sits behind three SEC teams, two of which will appear on this year’s schedule.

Week 3 the number 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to Gainesville, and Halloween weekend, the annual cocktail party with number 5 Georgia.

Remember, it was just three years ago that the Gators were 4-7. Dan Mullen was hired and the turnaround began. The Gators have gone 21-5 the past three seasons.

Of course, the 8-4 record was disappointing, but beating Georgia and playing in the SEC Championship game were signs of the program heading in the right direction.

This year’s Gators have the potential and talent to challenge for the College Football Playoffs.

Sept 4 vs FAU: Willie Taggart will bring his Owls to the Swamp to be plucked. Florida 51 FAU 10.

Sept 11 at South Florida: USF brings back 15 total starters but that is not going to mean much as the Bulls get barbecued. Florida 49 USF 17.

Sept 18 vs Alabama: It is hard for me to believe that Florida or any other SEC team takes down the Tide this season. The fact the game is at the Swamp and it will be Bryce Young first SEC road start gives the Gators a puncher’s chance.

Alabama is one of the most talented and coached teams in the country. No SEC title game revenge. Alabama 34 Florida 27.

Sept 25 vs Tennessee: Tennessee is in total rebuild mode. Josh Heupel will have an up-tempo offense but the lack of talent will be apparent. Florida 49 Tennessee 20.

Oct 2 at Kentucky: The Cats have been a thorn in the side of the Gators for the last few years, but they have only won once against UF. This game is always close (other than last year’s blowout) but Florida will sneak out a win on the road. Florida 34 Kentucky 28.

Oct 9 vs Vanderbilt: Vandy is going to be bad, and I mean really bad. This may be the worst Vandy team in the last 10 years. New coach has the same results. Florida 58 Vandy 3.

Oct 16 at LSU: Everyone remembers the last year when an LSU’s player shoe was tossed and a flag followed. This event led to a game winning field goal. Florida wants revenge, but I think the Tigers are going to be much better than they were last season. In my opinion, revenge is Sweet this year for the Gators! Florida 27 LSU 24.

Oct 30 vs Georgia: I’m calling this the “What If Game.” All offseason. Georgia fans have been saying “What If JT Daniels was healthy?” Daniels will be full go this season, but who will he throw the ball to?

That answer is hard to find with the SEC’s best wide receiver George Pickens recovering from an ACL injury and Arik Gilbert leaving the team.

The winner of this game represents the SEC in the Championship. Gators’ defense gets a late sack from Georgia transfer Brenton Cox. Florida 34 Georgia 27.

Nov 6 at South Carolina: Trap game after an emotional win in Jacksonville, the Gamecocks will keep it close until the fourth quarter. Florida 27 South Carolina 17.

Nov 13 vs Samford: Another win over the Bulldogs. Florida 51 Samford 7.

Nov 20 at Missouri: Eli Drinkwitz is building a program in Columbia but the Tigers are not at the same level as the Gators. Florida 31 Missouri 21.

Nov 27 vs FSU: FSU hasn’t been relevant since Jimbo was in town. After not playing their instate rival in 2020, the Gators win big. Florida 48 FSU 13.

Mullen gets the Gators back to Atlanta with an 11-1 record.

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