Arizona’s May 19 football dates are a hot topic around the SEC: The Wildcats’ first trip to the Independence Bowl since 1991 is facing a steep climb if it has the confidence to make it to the postseason next year. When the question of their capacity to compete in the SEC East becomes a bigger question, the Wildcats face a tough decision.
Kentucky, which has an excellent coach in Josh Johnson but struggled to keep his team in the top 25 all season long, appears a heavy favorite to take down the team that lost to them in the SEC title game. Through four games, the Wildcats’ only win is over Missouri.
Rounding out the trio of powerhouse programs is a former Miss America who won’t provide a huge boost to Arizona’s chances but is still a big piece to the Wildcats’ puzzle. Jessica Rivera is the program’s most exciting young player, and as excited as she was in her appearance at the Rose Bowl last season, there is still some reason to believe she’ll follow in the footsteps of former Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell.
Arizona’s opening week takes place with a home game against Connecticut. The Huskies are a decent program ranked No. 53 nationally. The Cats will look to snap a five-game skid with a win.
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Alabama’s to miss a bowl game
With his injury woes, Alabama coach Nick Saban is trying to simplify the process of his offense, and it’s working so far. Running back D’haquille Williams is averaging a staggering 166.2 yards per game, which would rank third in the nation, and while the Tide hasn’t exactly shot their offense in the mouth, they’ve missed three-quarters of the offensive play calls so far. Sunday, the Tide will take on Central Florida at the Sanford Pentagon. The Knights will look to push the Tide over the top in the Knights’ first home game since their 13-1 victory against Ole Miss last season.
Central Florida will present Alabama with a hard task. The Knights are actually an upper-tier team on paper, and with solid start to the season, they are the type of team that can get the Tide over the top. Though they haven’t had a winning record since 1989, the Knights boast a back-to-back undefeated seasons and a pair of 20-win seasons. They are very excited about the possibility of dethroning the Tide.
Penn State’s trip to California appears more than likely, but what has James Franklin done since taking over at Penn State? The Lions’ first nine games featured four losses. After a quick turnaround following an eight-game win streak, Franklin made sure to send two players to the NFL after week one. He added five-star quarterback Trace McSorley after Week 10, but it was the blowout losses to Stanford and Clemson last week that thrust him back in hot water. The fifth-year head coach now finds himself with a 0-3 start in his first season.
So what does the upcoming schedule bring for Penn State? They’re facing an Alabama team that prides itself on its strong defense and the presence of former Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The Tide will lead the Pack in both categories and will likely prove to be too much for an Penn State offense that only ran for 235 yards against USC.
Penn State will also open up the schedule against a Northwestern team that is making the first playoff appearance in program history. Add to that a San Diego State team that has shown nothing but promise in its inaugural season in the Mountain West Conference, and the five-win Lions find themselves at 3-3 overall and 0-2 in conference play. It is highly unlikely that the team will reach the playoffs and the program has struggled to prove itself a winning program since winning a national championship in 2012.
If Penn State can’t win an elimination game, the Lions will enter the bye week with a one-game winning streak since dropping three consecutive games.