Coming off a thrilling Kentucky football victory at The Swamp, Coach Mark Stoops and the Wildcats have climbed up to No. 9 in this week’s AP college football poll, the highest ranking since 2007, as the Wildcats now look to go 3-0 on Saturday against Youngstown State at Kroger Field.
The victory in Gainesville was special in many ways as the Cats have now won two of the last three games at The Swamp, Stoops set the all-time record for wins with 61, and most importantly, an early season conference win means that Kentucky remains in prime position to compete for that elusive SEC East title.
Kentucky had things rolling in Gainesville - Brad White’s defense was outstanding, the offensive line finally gelled to kick-start the run game, and Will Levis was cool under pressure as a new group of receivers and some experienced tight ends have elevated the passing game. Now the Cats will have a couple of non-conference opponents come to town with a chance to get some more reps for players down the depth chart.
This week, Youngstown State rolls into Kroger Field for the unofficial Stoops Family Reunion as the 10th year head coach and his brother Mike, an assistant, are both Youngstown natives, along with Associate Head Coach Vince Marrow, who played basketball at Youngstown State. Marrow has estimated as many as 300 family members and friends with be in Lexington this weekend.
Be sure to get to the game early to get one of 10,000 commemorative posters to honor Stoops on breaking the all-time record for most wins by a UK football coach. Stoops won his 61st game last week at Florida to surpass the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant. Saturday is also Heroes Day at Kroger Field so active duty military, police, fire, and first responders and frontline healthcare workers get in for free.
Around the SEC, this should be another fun week as Texas A&M is looking to bounce back from an 17-14 loss to Appalachian State and Brian Kelly will try to avoid a 1-3 start as LSU’s head coach when the Tigers host Mississippi State.
Our Sea of Blue writers are in a dog fight to see who will claim the coveted Big Blue Pick ‘Em Award at the end of the season. (See our Week 3 picks below). Be sure to share your picks with us in the comments and on social media.
Game of the Week - (13) Miami at (24) Texas A&M
There’s no way to sugarcoat it - Texas A&M just got embarrassed last week against Appalachian State and Coach Jimbo Fisher is starting to feel the heat after securing the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class and signing a contract worth $75 million. The Aggies will now host 13th-ranked Miami who are off to a 2-0 start under new coach Mario Cristobal.
On Friday morning, it was announced that Fisher will make a change at quarterback this week, turning to LSU transfer Max Johnson who is expected to replace Haynes King. Johnson started all 12 games for the Tigers last season and threw for 2,815 yards and 27 touchdowns but left the program after the firing of Ed Orgeron last November. He lost the preseason quarterback battle to King, who threw for just 95 yards in last week’s loss.
Surely, Texas A&M won’t lose at home two weeks in a row, right?
Upset Special - (22) Penn State at Auburn
If you’re looking for a possible upset this week, you might want to drop some money on the Auburn Tigers as this Big 10/SEC matchup should come down to the wire at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Both teams are off to a 2-0 start with Penn State getting a scare in Week 1 with a 35-31 win over Purdue. The Tigers opened with a convincing win over Mercer before grinding one out last week in a 24-16 win over San Jose State.
Although it’s an early season matchup, both programs have something to prove as they hope to get back to national prominence after each finished with identical 6-7 records a year ago. While Auburn is led by second-year coach Bryan Harsin, Penn State has made some noise the past few years under head coach James Franklin, now in his ninth season in Happy Valley. Franklin has won 11 games on three different occasions (2016, 2017, 2019) but has not been able to get Penn State back into the conversation for a national title. The most glaring stat is that Franklin is 19-18 in road games so Auburn may have a real shot at pulling off the upset.
Things to Know for Week 3
The Great Escape: In case you missed it last week, a Texas kicker named Bert Auburn was the toast of the town for a brief moment, connecting on a 49-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining to give the Longhorns a lead over No. 1-ranked Alabama. In fact, everyone in college football was in on the same joke as “Auburn beats Alabama” was the popular take on social media. However, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young flipped the switch and showed why he’s the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, leading the Crimson Tide on a 61-yard drive that ended with a game-winning field goal by Alabama’s Will Reichard to escape with a 20-19 victory. The loss dropped Alabama to No. 2 in this week’s AP Poll and raised some new questions about just how good this Alabama defense is in 2022.
Air Raid: Despite leading Mississippi State to a pair of double-digit wins to start the season, quarterback Will Rogers has continued to fly under the radar despite leading the SEC in passing yards per game (381.5), total passing yards (763), touchdowns (9), and completion percentage (78.6%). Maybe it’s because Mississippi State has been hard to find on TV the past two weeks with the opener against Memphis on ESPNU or last week’s 11:00 pm ET game on the road at Arizona on Fox Sports 1. Rogers is also playing in a league full of future NFL Draft picks at quarterback, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But don’t be surprised if Rogers lights up the LSU defense this week to move the Bulldogs to 3-0.
Hot Seat: Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz appears to be the first SEC coach on the “hot seat” after the Tigers got blown out 40-12 last week by Kansas State. Through 25 games at Mizzou, Drinkwitz is 12-13 and is leading a program that has not won a Bowl Game since 2014. The good news is that Drinkwitz recently brought in Missouri’s best recruiting class in program history, The bad news is that Mizzou fans are growing impatient. Mizzou should get an easy win this week to bring some calm to Columbia.
SEC Football TV Schedule Week 3
- (1) Georgia at South Carolina (12:00 pm on ESPN)
- Youngstown St at (9) Kentucky (12:00 pm on SEC Network)
- Abilene Christian at Missouri (12:00 pm pm SEC Network+ | ESPN+)
- (20) Ole Miss at Georgia Tech (3:30 pm on ABC)
- (22) Penn State at Auburn (3:30 pm on CBS)
- Vanderbilt at N Illinois (3:30 pm on CBS Sports Network)
- UL Monroe at (2) Alabama (4:00 pm on SEC Network)
- Mississippi St at LSU (6:00 pm on ESPN)
- Missouri St at (10) Arkansas (7:00 pm on SEC Network+ | ESPN+)
- Akron at (15) Tennessee (7:00 pm on SEC Network+ | ESPN+)
- South Florida at (18) Florida (7:30 pm on SEC Network)
- (13) Miami at (24) Texas A&M (9:00 pm on ESPN)