Campus Corner

The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri

SEC newcomers feeling the hype

09/05/2012 3:51 PM

05/16/2014 7:37 PM

Elsewhere in historic conference debuts

Enthused as Missouri is for Saturday’s conference-life-changing contest against Georgia, the other SEC newcomer is equally stoked, and even had a few extra days to load up the emotion.

Because a hurricane postponed Texas A’s opener in Louisiana last Friday, the Aggies’ next opponent — Florida at Kyle Field — has become their first.

The Aggies were dispirited about sitting out of last week’s action, but it’s given them a few additional days to focus on the game their fans – like Missouri’s with Georgia – have had circled since the SEC schedules were announced.

“If anything, this has put us on the same page with our fans,” A coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Two weeks ago, it was about how do you keep your team focused going on the road to Louisiana Tech when all the fans were waiting to play Florida.”

The hype has been accelerated by the announcement that ESPN’s College GameDay, the network’s day-long pregame show, will set up at College Station.

And no big game is complete without some message-board smack. On Tuesday, it came in the form of a billboard in Gainesville.

It read:

“Howdy Gainesville;

You’ve been annexed by Aggie Nation

The Best Academics Cleanest Program in the SEC. Whoop!

Real Football. Real Tradition.”

Texas A officials quickly announced that the school had no connection to the sign, and the message was removed after a few hours.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said he heard about the sign but didn’t see it. What he really wanted to get his eyes on doesn’t exist — game film of Texas A and its new quarterback Johnny Manziel.

“I was hoping Kevin would send me a couple of reels of practice,” joked Muschamp.

Manziel, a redshirt freshman, emerged from a three-way battle to replace Ryan Tannehill. The Aggies’ offense was in good hands with Tannehill, who has been named the Dolphins’ starting quarterback.

But the A attack under Sumlin has a chance to be more productive. At Houston, where he went 35-17 in four seasons, Sumlin oversaw one of the nation’s most productive offenses, with quarterback Case Keenum averaging 5,440 yards and 46 touchdown passes in each of his three years as a starter.

Florida’s quarterback situation got definition this week when Jeff Driskel was named the starter after sharing snaps with Jacoby Brissett in last weekend’s 27-14 victory over Bowling Green. Driskel’s mobility gave him the edge.

“It was a tough decision because both were deserving,” Muschamp said. “They’re both outstanding competitors that we can win with.”

Two quotes

“So far, what we do best is run the tailback and quarterback. We’re hoping we can do more than that as the season progresses.”

— South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier

“There’s nothing more important to recruiting than winning.”

— Tennessee coach Derek Dooley Ranking the SEC

1. Alabama (1) vs. Western Kentucky: Who’s better than Bama?

2. LSU (2) vs. Washington: Huskies step up in class

3. Georgia (3) at Missouri: Will suspended players play?

4. Arkansas (4) vs. Louisiana-Monroe: Should be a breeze

5. South Carolina (5) vs. East Carolina: Shaw’s shoulder a concern

6. Florida (6) at Texas A Not much punch vs. Bowling Green

7. Missouri (8) vs. Georgia: Biggest home game since?

8. Mississippi State (9) vs. Auburn: Early division showdown

9. Tennessee (10) vs. Georgia State: East’s most impressive week one W

10. Auburn (7) at Mississippi St.: Four straight W’s over Bulldogs

11. Vanderbilt (11) at Northwestern: Should be annual opponents

12. Texas A (12) vs. Florida: Kyle Field will be swaying

13. Mississippi (14) vs. UTEP: Miners impressive vs. OU

14. Kentucky (13) vs. Kent State: Wildcats need a bounce back

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