This will be an unusual weekend for me. It's a bye week for South Carolina so I'm not scheduled to cover anything, and once Miami at Clemson got scheduled for noon any chance of me going to that was gone (not doing a 7AM wakeup to drive a couple of hours and then fight notoriously awful game day traffic). It looks like I'll be having my first "home" Saturday during a college football season in years.
Thanks to Florida's visit to Alabama, at least I'll have something to focus on as the day unfolds. There's no logic based way to pick UF here. The Tide hasn't lost a regular season game since the end of 2007, beat UF on a neutral field in their last meeting and is playing a night game at home. Does that mean Florida has no shot? Not at all, but they'll have to play at a much higher level than I've seen them show they're capable of so far - last week included. This Gator squad has yet to put together sixty solid minutes of football against anyone. Without that type of performance, they're not winning in Tuscaloosa.
I suspect Alabama will look to throw the ball more than usual early knowing Florida's keying on the run - will Greg McElroy show any effects of his injured thigh when they do? Can Jeremy Brown reliably deal with Marquis Maze since Jenkins should do a reasonable job on the talented but highly overrated Julio Jones? UF can allow yards, but they have to make Alabama work the ball down the field instead of them hitting big plays. One of the biggest differences between this season's Bama and last year's edition is their red zone performance. Curiously, the 2009 Tide weren't very good at scoring TDs in that situation while this year's squad has been. Will the refs give Alabama the incredibly generous whistle they got in the last meeting (1 penalty called all game)? If so, that only makes UF's task that much more challenging.
For all the Trey Burton hype this week, the guy I think might be the key offensive player for UF this game is Carl Moore. The Gators need to move the sticks and keep the football - on third down, he can do that. John Brantley will have opportunities against the Tide secondary, especially if Marcell Dareus isn't right physically to bring pass rush heat. One place Florida's clearly better is special teams, and they need to maximize the value of that advantage. Winning this one would be one of Urban Meyer's most impressive moments - they've got a chance to make it happen.
LeBron James and his buddy/marketing guy Maverick Carter should be embarrassed for indicating their belief the backlash to their "Decision" stunt is related to race. LeBron's Q score did get twenty points worse with whites than it did with blacks. To conclude anything meaningful about the Q score numbers, we'd have to know whether a split turns up by age/education level/income as well. James was foolish to answer CNN's question about race playing a role in his public criticism with anything other than a no or a "no comment". His buddy Maverick was even stupider to assert media criticism of their actions was tied into race without a single example to cite to support that claim.
Major League Baseball and Fox have finally realized there's no benefit to playing World Series games later than necessary. As a result, all but one of this year's games are slated to begin by 8 PM. This isn't going to spur a mad rush of younger fans embracing baseball just because they have a better chance of seeing the endings of the most important games of the year, but it can't hurt. For those who have to work the next day in the east, the change makes it more likely they'll feel able to see the end of the game and actually take time to watch. This is one thing Bud Selig and company have to be given credit for getting right, although it's a shame it took them so long to figure it out.
Follow me on Twitter at heathradio for assorted thoughts on the football weekend and other stuff. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.