The theory concerning a homecoming opponent is that you pick an easy opponent to get a lopsided win so the alumni go home happy.
Well, forget about it.
Homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, popularly known as “The Swamp,” should be anything but the offering of a sacrificial lamb when No. 7 Auburn visits No. 10 Florida at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Each team is 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC.
“College GameDay” will be at the site of an Auburn game for the second time this season. The ESPN show was on hand when the Tigers played – and beat – current No. 13 Oregon (then No. 11). It was the first game of a Murderers’ Row Auburn schedule that includes five Top 20 teams.
But Gus Malzahn doesn’t dwell on that, just the job at hand.
“The very first of the year, I looked at the schedule. I put it up there,” Malzahn said. “I told the guys, ‘Hey, here’s the big picture. That’s the last time we’re going to do that.’
“We’re going to Florida, and then we’ll come back and we’ll have an off week,” he said of possibly looking ahead in the schedule. “You can’t do that. You can’t think that way. There’s no reason to think that way. It’s good for y’all (media) to think that way, but we can’t think that way. We’ve got Florida and that’s the only one on our mind.”
Defending Conference USA champion UAB lost its first game of 2019, falling 20-13 to Western Kentucky in its CUSA opener. It was not the Blazers’ best effort.
The game was further complicated by the Hilltoppers losing their starting quarterback and going to a backup whose playing style didn’t match UAB’s preparation.
“They built the offense around things that fit him,” coach Bill Clark said. “It was different than what we’ve seen it. … Of course, we had Tyler (Johnston III, the UAB quarterback). He doesn’t have many off games and that was one for him. There’s a bunch of throws he’d want to take back because the No. 1 rule for us is, ‘Don’t turn it over.’ When we don’t turn it over, we’ve been very successful.”
The Blazers look to get back on track at 6 p.m. Saturday when they welcome the Rice Owls to Legion Field.
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In other college action:
Georgia Southern at South Alabama (Thursday): The Jaguars (1-4) hope to keep the Eagles from taking off at 6:30 p.m. The visitors are 1-3.
Clark Atlanta at Miles: The Golden Bears, bolstered by last week’s visit from Charles Barkley, outscored Lane 52-28 to improve to 3-1 in their Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener. The defending SIAC champion welcomes the Panthers – and their president, former Miles leader Dr. George T. French Jr. – at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Texas Southern at Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs (3-2) climbed over .500 last week with a 43-point win over Central State in Mobile. At 2 p.m. Saturday, they’ll look to send a homecoming crowd home happy.
Alcorn State at Alabama State: The Hornets have alternated losses and wins through four games this season. The aim for the “Beat Out Breast Cancer/Pink Game” at 2 p.m. Saturday is to end that trend and start a winning streak.
Furman at Samford: It took four overtimes for the Bulldogs to beat The Citadel, then-No. 25 in FCS, a week ago. The job is certainly no easier this week as they host the No. 14 Paladins at 2 p.m. Saturday.
North Alabama at Hampton: The Lions (2-3) travel to Hampton, Virginia, for a 1 p.m. Central matchup with the Pirates on Saturday.
Tennessee State at Jacksonville State: The Governors of Austin Peay battered the Gamecocks 52-33 a week ago in their Ohio Valley Conference opener. Their second OVC game is 6 p.m. Saturday as the Tigers come calling.
Tuskegee at Albany State: The Golden Tigers, perennial contenders in the SIAC, fell to 1-3 last week. That one win was against a conference opponent. They’ll try to notch conference win No. 2 at 4 p.m. Central on Saturday.
North Greenville at West Alabama: The Tigers (3-1) lost their Gulf South Conference opener a week before getting a 20-point win over Tuskegee. They return to GSC play at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Troy at Missouri: The Trojans (2-2) venture into SEC country at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Methodist at Huntingdon: The Hawks (1-2) are riding a two-game losing string, which they’ll try to snap at 1 p.m. Saturday for homecoming.
Class 7A: Vestavia Hills (4-1) is tied for third in Region 3, behind region No. 1s Thompson and Mountain Brook. The Rebels travel to Hewitt-Trussville (4-2), which is fifth in the region. Each wants to stay in strong playoff contention. The Huskies are No. 10 in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association; Thompson is No. 1, Hoover No. 4 and Mountain Brook No. 5.
— Solomon Crenshaw Jr. (@solcrenshawjr) September 28, 2019
Class 6A: No. 5 Pinson Valley (3-2) is the two-time defending state champion. The Indians travel to Region 6 rival Gardendale (6-0), ranked No. 8, with their sights on getting back to strengthening their playoff position and possibly reeling in the region-leading Rockets.
Class 5A: Mortimer Jordan (4-2) heads to No. 3 Central of Clay County (4-1) in Region 5.
Class 4A: Anniston (3-2) hosts No. 6 Jacksonville (4-2) in Region 6.
Class 3A: No. 4 Pike County (5-0) travels to No. 6 Providence Christian (6-0) in Region 2.
Class 2A: No. 2 Luverne welcomes Goshen in a battle of 5-0 teams in Region 3.
Class 1A: No. 5 South Lamar (5-0) ventures to No. 9 Pickens County (4-1) in Region 7.
AISA: Lowndes hosts No. 6 Macon-East.