The real season is here at last. We’re about to be thrown into a sea of simultaneous meets tomorrow, and I can’t wait. I’ll be live blogging the whole thing, so be sure to stop by at least 50 times.
There will be a ton of simultaneous action as Friday gets going with the likes of Michigan and LSU, but the standout meet of the day is Georgia @ Oklahoma. The meet will be broadcast on TV but on some nonsense network 16 people get, so the rest of us are out of luck. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t be interested in the scores we’re seeing, and keep an eye on what’s going on early because vault will be the key event for both teams, tomorrow and for the whole season. It should be Georgia’s best event this year, with three possible 9.9+ vaults, so a strong showing on that apparatus is critical if the Gymdogs have any shot at an upset. Both teams should be strong on bars this year, and Oklahoma looks better on beam and floor, so vault is Georgia’s possible asset event. If Oklahoma looks stronger than Georgia on vault tomorrow (regardless of score, it’s more about look at this point), that would be a vital sign for the Sooners in their ability to challenge with the best on all four events in 2014.
As the day progresses, we’ll also have Alabama and Missouri, which is less interesting for the result and more interesting for how Alabama looks at this point. The Tide rarely starts the season quickly, so don’t be surprised by a few issues in this meet, some 9.7s and some sloppiness. I’ll be watching for who makes the bars lineup and how their handstands look.
A packed Friday to be sure, but you can’t get rid of me that easily. The biggest meet of the weekend comes on Saturday night between Florida and UCLA, and I’ll be sure to blog that one as well since I know a lot of people don’t get the Pac-12 Network. I expect Florida to win this meet because the Gators are a deeper, stronger team at this point but also because this is going to be one of those UCLA seasons. It won’t come together until three seconds after the last minute, and even Val has said as much in interviews. I’ll be interested in how Peszek looks in her first meet back and what the Cipra situation is. There’s lots of chatter about her, but we need to see some gymnastics. Even if the team looks rough, it will be a fascinating rough. I’ve just seen the news about Mattie no longer appearing on UCLA’s roster but have no idea what the situation is there. Oh, Mattie. It could have been so great.
With Florida, I have fewer questions. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see all the major players on all their events right now, but for the most part we know what we’re going to get from this team. It obviously won’t look postseason-y yet, but I would be very surprised by any kind of poor showing.
But ack! There’s more. Georgia is back in action on Sunday in a streamed meet against Stanford. Georgia finishing a two-meet opening weekend against Stanford? How very 2008 of them. They’ll definitely need a speech about a fall on beam being like a cough before that meet. And if that weren’t enough, Washington opens the season on Monday against Minnesota in a meet also on the Pac-12 Network. We’re not allowed to complain about a lack of gymnastics anymore because now there’s too much.
Top 25 Schedule
Friday – 1/10/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Penn State, West Virginia, Ball State @  Kentucky
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Illinois @ Michigan State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Maryland @ Central Michigan
7:30 ET/4:30 PT –  Michigan, Illinois State @ Iowa State
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Georgia @  Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Centenary @  LSU
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Western Michigan, Bridgeport @  Arkansas
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Texas Woman’s @  Auburn
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Missouri @  Alabama
Saturday – 1/11/14
4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Oregon State, Bowling Green @  Ohio State
6:00 ET/3:00 PT –  Arizona @ Illinois-Chicago
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Northern Illinois @  Nebraska
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Lindenwood, Air Force @  Minnesota
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Cal @  Denver
9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  Boise State, Southern Utah, BYU @  Utah
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Sacramento State, San Jose State @  Arizona State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT –  Florida @  UCLA
Sunday – 1/12/14
5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  Georgia @  Stanford
Monday – 1/13/14
10:00 ET/7:00 PT –  Minnesota @  Washington