Pasquali's Pix: Bama to roll, Gators to escape in SEC head-to-head clashes

Pasquali's Pix: Bama to roll, Gators to escape in SEC head-to-head clashes

September 11th, 2019 by David Paschall in Sports - Columns

Associated Press photo by Bryan Woolston / Sawyer Smith, pictured, is set to start at quarterback for Kentucky on Saturday as the Wildcats host No. 9 Florida. Smith is a transfer from Troy who takes over for Terry Wilson, who is out for the season due to injury.

Having a men's basketball coach who can win 80% of his games is not a rare feat at the University of Kentucky, given the successful stints of Adolph Rupp, Rick Pitino and John Calipari.

Having a Wildcats quarterback who can win 80% of his starts is a bit more unique.

Such is the case with Terry Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 203-pound junior from Oklahoma City who helped guide the Wildcats to their memorable 10-3 campaign last season and started their opening wins this season against Toledo, 38-24, and Eastern Michigan, 38-17. Against Eastern Michigan, however, Wilson tore the patellar tendon in his left knee when he was brought down in the third quarter by a horse-collar tackle.

Wilson, who signed with Oregon in 2016 and played for Garden City (Kansas) Community College in 2017 before transferring into the Southeastern Conference, is out for the season.

"It's been a long time since somebody has helped us win 12 of the 15 starts that he had," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said in a news conference this week. "That is quite an accomplishment, and I believe that only Alabama has a better record over those 15 games than us.

OTHER PICKS

Mississippi State 38, Kansas State 19

Ole Miss 45, Southeastern Louisiana 16

Arkansas 29, Colorado State 28

LSU 66, Northwestern State 7

Texas A&M 52, Lamar 10

Missouri 64, Southeast Missouri State 15

North Carolina 27, Wake Forest 24

Ohio State 31, Indiana 12

Penn State 33, Pittsburgh 21

Virginia Tech 30, Furman 13

N.C. State 35, West Virginia 22

Notre Dame 48, New Mexico 17

USC 21, BYU 14

Memphis 42, South Alabama 9

Miami 56, Bethune-Cookman 6

Duke 37, Middle Tennessee 30

Clemson 40, Syracuse 23

"Terry was a big piece of that, so he is going to be missed."

Wilson's biggest wins were over Florida last season in the Swamp and against Penn State in January's Citrus Bowl. Kentucky's 27-16 surprise downing of the Gators ended a 31-year losing streak in that series, and the Wildcats are turning to graduate transfer Sawyer Smith to try to make it two straight.

Smith, a 6-3, 219-pounder from Cantonment, Florida, played in all 13 games last season at Troy as a redshirt sophomore and started the final seven. He threw for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns for the season, and he was named Dollar General Bowl MVP after Troy's victory over Buffalo.

"Sawyer has been through this," Stoops said. "He's played a lot, and he stepped in this past week and played well. We're excited about him, and we're confident in him."

When Smith starts against Florida and Nick Starkel of Arkansas starts against Colorado State on Saturday, that will give the SEC seven graduate transfer quarterbacks who will have started at least one game this season. The others are Joe Burrow at LSU, Kelly Bryant at Missouri, Tommy Stevens at Mississippi State, Riley Neal at Vanderbilt and Ben Hicks at Arkansas.

Pasquali's Pix

Arkansas State at Georgia: The Red Wolves are a favorite feast for SEC teams, with the league owning a 23-0 record over ASU the past 25 seasons. Bulldogs 45, Red Wolves 10.

UTC at Tennessee: Jeremy Pruitt is trying to push the Volunteers forward despite being unable to pronounce the word forward. Volunteers 40, Mocs 7.

The Citadel at Georgia Tech: This game would fly if both teams still had option offenses. Yellow Jackets 37, Bulldogs 16.

Alabama at South Carolina: In a few days, no SEC team will have won its most recent game against Alabama. Crimson Tide 38, Gamecocks 10.

Kent State at Auburn: The Tigers should use this week to enhance an offense that ranks 110th in yards per play. Tigers 41, Golden Flashes 9.

Florida at Kentucky: Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks hasn't exactly owned Kentucky, getting benched for Luke Del Rio two years ago and losing last season's matchup. Gators 26, Wildcats 24.

Oklahoma at UCLA: Talk about coaches going different directions. Lincoln Riley has a 26-4 record with the Sooners. Chip Kelly has a 3-11 mark with the Bruins. Sooners 42, Bruins 13.

Florida State at Virginia: The Seminoles have been outscored 48-14 during the second halves of their first two games, against Boise State and Louisiana-Monroe. Cavaliers 27, Seminoles 24.

Last week: Winners — 22; Saban student rants — 3.

Pasquali is 42-8 overall (84.0%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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