Gators Add Kicker; Brooks Abbott to Transfer to Florida

There may be one position on the Gators’ roster that is open to all competition more so than all others heading into the 2014 season. That position is, of course, kicker, and the competition is growing with the news that Brooks Abbott will transfer to Florida.

Brooks Abbott, Florida Gators

From Jacksonville, FL (Bolles), Abbott was one of the nation’s better high school kickers. He would commit to Virginia Tech after a senior season that saw him named an Army All-American. Abbott appeared in seven games for the Hokies in 2012, serving as a kickoff specialist. He spent the last year not playing football.

Because he already sat out a year while attending Florida State College at Jacksonville, Abbott will be eligible to play for the Gators immediately upon his arrival in Gainesville following the spring semester. Technically a preferred walk-on, Abbott can earn a scholarship if he wins the starting job.

The transfer gives the Gators two kickers that participated in national high school All-American games. Many will remember Austin Hardin’s appearance at the Under Armour All-American game. As stated, the competition is truly wide open and it’s anyone’s guess which kicker will come out on top.

Dorian Finney-Smith Transfers To Florida; Gators Add Former Virginia Tech Forward

While the Florida Gators may have trouble convincing forwards to sign with the program out of high school, the transfer market seems to be wide open to Billy Donovan. Virginia Tech forward Dorian Finney-Smith has chosen to transfer to Florida over Iowa State, Louisville and Marquette. The 6’8″ forward was a Florida target during the 2011 recruiting cycle, but decided to stay in his home state and join the Hokies. He had a productive freshman season during which he appeared in all 33 of VT’s games, starting 30 of them. Finney-Smith averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds during his only season with the Hokies.

Finney-Smith is the second forward to transfer to Florida this offseason. He joins former South Carolina forward Damontre Harris as one of the newest Gators. Like Harris, Finney-Smith will sit out the 2012-13 season. He will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after using a redshirt during the season he must sit out.

Although the Gators weren’t able to add big bodies to help during the upcoming season, both Harris and Finney-Smith will be vital pieces of Florida’s success when they’re eligible. They’re both proven commodities that have faced good competition at the college level. While Donovan is having some trouble convincing larger forwards to come to Florida during the recruiting process, maybe future prospects will see the transfers coming in and realize there’s a place for them in the Gators’ system after all.

Week 14 BlogPoll Top 25: Alabama, Take Your Seat At The Table

We have one team set to play in the national championship game and another needing one final victory. At this point, you better get used to the idea of a rematch if you haven’t already, because the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide are on their way to one. Additional comments below.

There you have it. One half of the national championship game has been all but determined. It will take a BCS miracle – or debacle depending on how you look at it – to knock Alabama out of the no. 2 spot, so that’s where they sit in my poll as well.

No. 3 is up for debate. Both the BCS Standings and AP Top 25 put the Oklahoma State Cowboys in that spot, but I’m in line with the USA Today Poll and have them at no. 5. Look, I was all for the Cowboys playing for the title, but then they lost to the Iowa State Cyclones in a game they were leading 17-7 early and turned over the ball five times. If they can rebound against the rival Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, then we can discuss their ranking again, but for now, they have the harder climb in my opinion.

Not that no. 3 really matters. It all may be said and done for anyone other than LSU and Bama. The risers of the week – the Virginia Tech Hokies – are in that spot in my poll and, like Oklahoma State and the Stanford Cardinal, will be cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday. Cheer all you want; I don’t see an upset happenining.

The Arkansas Razorbacks were tied for the drop of the week, but win the honor outright because of what they may have lost. It’s all over for Arkansas, but you can be proud of a season in which you only lost to no. 1 and no. 2. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the SEC West gave no free passes this season.

On to conference championship weekend and one final BlogPoll before the bowl games are decided.

Week 13 BlogPoll Top 25: Where The SEC Rules

This week’s SB Nation BlogPoll takes an AP Top 25 approach to it by ranking the USC Trojans. And not only ranking those probationary warriors, but putting them just outside the top 10 looking in. More hard-hitting analysis follows the ballot.

What do you do when you find yourself very late in the college football season with three teams from not only one conference, but one division in that conference, in the top three? You give up. You come to the realization that sometimes it is okay to quit and you give up. There’s no shame in that; chaos can have that effect on things. So you give up and move on, but before doing so, you beat the discussion to death.

The LSU Tigers are the no. 1 team in the nation and rightfully so, but their path to keeping that spot isn’t easy. A game against the no. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks is followed up by (if the Tigers win) a matchup with the no. 13 Georgia Bulldogs. LSU may still be no. 1 in two weeks, or they may be hoping to find a way to back into the BCS National Championship Game. If the Tigers do win out, who they play is anyone’s guess. If the season were to end today it would be the Alabama Crimson Tide, again, but it doesn’t end today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Let’s move on from this before our headache intensifies.

The Michigan State Spartans are this week’s big climber, up five spots from last week, but the most important jumper may be the Virginia Tech Hokies. The no. 6 Hokies have only one loss – to the no. 16 Clemson Tigers – and are doing everything in their power to make a push for a title game appearance. If voters rule out the possibility of a rematch, Virginia Tech might look like a good alternative when all is said and done.

The biggest losers of the week are the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, which were of course the team I told you to keep an eye on only a week earlier. Although Southern Miss takes home the title by falling 13 spots, the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ drop was the most painful. The Cowboys all but eliminated themselves from championship contention and their instate rivals – the Oklahoma Sooners – did so as well (even if their odds of making it were unbelievably slim). The Oregon Ducks? Well, their right there as well as another team that fell out of the discussion.

We now move to another week of games and what will almost surely be more of that unwanted (but secretly desired) chaos.

Morning Reading: Now Utah Really Can Become National Power

The non-BCS program everyone loves to cheer for has a real chance to do some national damage.  When Utah was going undefeated and winning BCS bowl games, the story was nice, but in the end it was just that, a story.
It didn’t really mean too much other than that a smaller conference team could compete with the big boys.  It could hold its own against the bigger programs and get through a season unscathed.
Each time the Utes put together a perfect season, the talk intensified.  Why didn’t they get a realistic shot at the national title?  Why were they (and Boise State) getting left out of the biggest game of them all?
It mostly came down to scheduling.  Utah performed well against some of the tougher teams on their slate, but overall the schedule just wasn’t good enough.  You couldn’t seriously justify selecting the Utes for the title game over a Big 12 or SEC team even if it did have one loss.
Utah will finally get its chance and it may make more of it than any of the other schools that recently switched conferences.  Since joining the ACC, Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech haven’t competed for a title.  The same can be said for the teams that replaced them in the Big East.  But in 2011, when the Utes join the Pac-10, they become a contender immediately.  They have a chance to get more out of expansion that any other team in recent memory.

Morning Reading: A Look at the Rankings

My weekends have become black and white.  Night and day.  Ying and yang.  On Saturdays, I get to watch the #1 team in the nation squeak out wins left and right to get to their current 6-0 record.  On Sundays, I get to watch one of the worst teams in the NFL squander opportunities to fall to 0-6.  I have a theory with NFL teams.  Being that there’s so much parity in the NFL, even the best of worst teams can split their remaining games.  Injuries, flukes, or just plain luck (good or bad) can lead any team to go .500 over whatever remaining amount of games they have on their schedule.  But when you’re 0-6, splitting the final 10 games ain’t so hot.  I didn’t have high expectations for the Bucs at the beginning of the year; now I have none at all.  Thank goodness for Saturdays.

Alabama continued its rise up the AP Poll, but that doesn’t matter anymore.  What matters are the BCS Standings.  Since the AP doesn’t figure into the BCS, it’s time we big adieu to the media poll and move on to what determines who will play for the national championship.
Florida grabbed the top spot in the first incarnation of the BCS thanks to a #1 ranking in both the Coaches and Harris polls and a #1 computer average.  The Gators were the top team in four of the six computers with the top spot going to Alabama and Iowa in the other two.
Texas fans may be a little peeved their Longhorns came in at #3, but fear not.  With two SEC teams holding the first two spots, third is a very desirable position at the moment.
With the BCS Standings always comes the fun of the computer polls.  For the most part, you could make an argument about the Coaches and Harris polls having it right.  You may disagree slightly, but you can usually see where they’re coming from.  The computer polls on the other hand…
Texas is actually all the way down at #14 in one of the computer polls and outside of the top six in two more.  Three polls believe Boise State is better than the Longhorns and five (!) believe Iowa is better than Texas.  Among the teams ranked higher than #14 Texas: 2-loss Arizona.
Speaking of Arizona, the Wildcats and Wisconsin are wild cards.  Both teams rank in the 30s or 40s of the Coaches and Harris polls, but both have a computer average of #14.
Virginia Tech’s loss to Georgia Tech hurt Miami the most.  The Hurricanes are in the top 10 of both polls (and the BCS overall), but a computer average of #13 puts them quite a jump behind the #9 team, LSU.
And finally, ladies and gentlemen, Ohio State.  The Buckeyes come in at #19 thanks to the human ballots.  The computers, on the other hand, hate Ohio State.  Two put the Buckeyes at #25 and the other four left them out completely.

College Football Pick ‘Em – Week 7

If you need a rules refresher, click here.  I’ll post my picks in the comments section today.  Your picks are due by Friday.  Post them here or email me.
Week 7 Games
Oklahoma vs. Texas (-3.5) – O/U: 51
Arkansas @ Florida (-24.5) – O/U: 55
USC (-10) @ Notre Dame – O/U: 48.5
Virginia Tech (-3) @ Georgia Tech – O/U: 51.5
South Carolina @ Alabama (-17) – O/U: 46
Current Standings and Leaders
1. Gatrmike – 50
2. One Eyed Willy – 45
3. KP – 42
4. The Bull Gator – 40
Winners: Gatrmike/The Bull Gator – 63%
Point Spread: One Eyed Willy – 50%
Over/Under: Gatrmike – 57%
High Week: Gatrmike (Week 2) – 11
Low Week: The Bull Gator (Week 3) – 4 BlogPoll – Week 6

Rank Team
1 Alabama
2 Florida
3 Texas
4 Virginia Tech
5 Southern Cal
6 Ohio State
7 Boise State
8 Cincinnati
10 Miami (Florida)
11 TCU
12 Oregon
13 Iowa
14 Kansas
15 Penn State
16 Nebraska
17 Oklahoma State
18 South Florida
19 Georgia Tech
20 South Carolina
21 Brigham Young
22 Oklahoma
23 Utah
24 Notre Dame
25 Wisconsin BlogPoll – Week 6 – First Take

Some movement this week, especially around the bottom half. As the season progresses, this gets easier and harder. Easier in the respect there are more results to base it off of. Harder in the respect that you have to weigh what a better win or better loss is when comparing two teams. For example, maybe this is the bias in me, but I have USF higher than BYU and Oklahoma despite the fact both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll have them lower than both teams. My math was simple (maybe too simple): USF beat FSU which beat BYU which beat Oklahoma. Oh yeah, and the Bulls are the only one of those teams without a loss.

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. Virginia Tech
5. USC
6. Ohio State
7. Boise State
8. Cincinnati
9. LSU
10. Miami
11. TCU
12. Oregon
13. Iowa
14. Kansas
15. Penn State
16. Nebraska
17. Oklahoma State
18. USF
19. Georgia Tech
20. South Carolina
21. BYU
22. Oklahoma
23. Utah
24. Notre Dame
25. Wisconsin

Morning Reading: A Look at the Rankings

Happy Columbus Day. And for those of you that hail from that glorious country to the north, Happy Thanksgiving. One would think it sad that I had to look up the meaning of Canada’s Thanksgiving being that I’m from there, but I would venture to guess I’ve lived in the U.S. for more or as many years as a lot of people who are reading this have been alive. I can’t sing the Canadian anthem, I can’t tell you who the Prime Minister is, and I didn’t know what Thanksgiving was for. Sad? Maybe, but as long as the college football down here remains superior, I don’t plan on learning those things. I’ve decided to enjoy my life and that means I’ll determine what’s important for me to know and not know. Important, Omarius Hines’ high school statistics. Not important, who the county commissioner is. Call it ignorant. I call it following my interests.

Alabama and Texas switched places in the latest AP Poll. News that gets a big “SO WHAT?” The SEC holds the top two spots which may be good for bragging rights, but since it’s a virtual impossibility that happens in the final BCS Standings, we can move right on from it.

Virginia Tech kept Boise State at bay and the Broncos’ chances took another hit in the Coaches Poll where USC passed the Smurfs without even playing. As the season progresses, we could see an undefeated Boise State team drop somewhere into the 7-9 region. Something fans of schools from BCS conferences will love.

Losing to the #1 team in the nation never hurts too much. You lick your wounds and move on. LSU is doing just that after dropping to only #10 in both polls. The Tigers have a rough road ahead, but could find themselves right in the thick of it if they rebound from the loss. Of course that entails finding an offense somewhere along the way.

There are four undefeated teams outside of the top 10. 6-0 Iowa has November 14th and a trip to Ohio State circled. 5-0 TCU has an easier road ahead, but a matchup with Utah on that same day could be a speed bump. 5-0 Kansas has virtually no shot at making it through the season unscathed. Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas are all on the schedule. And finally, 5-0 USF (the lowest ranked undefeated team) takes on 5-0 Cincinnati this Thursday in what will be the defining game of the season for the Bulls (yes, I know USF beat FSU, but there’s a lot of season ahead).

And for the fun of it, think about this. BYU and Oklahoma are ahead of USF in both polls. The Bulls beat FSU by 10 points, FSU beat BYU by 26 points, and BYU beat Oklahoma by 1 point. Based on results, should USF be ranked higher than both those teams? Maybe.

Teams to look out for. Nebraska doesn’t have Texas on the schedule and has only a close loss to Virginia Tech as a red mark on their resume at the moment. Georgia Tech has a defense that has opposing teams dreaming of putting up 50+ on the Yellow Jackets, but after Virginia Tech this weekend, they may have smooth sailing to the end of the regular season. And Notre Dame is back in the polls at #25 with USC on the horizon.