The Oklahoma Sooners remain #1 in the country for a second week but bled much of their lead with a mid-196 at the last meet, so the top spot is in a moderate amount of jeopardy entering this weekend. LSU is the closest contender, and if the Tigers outscore the Sooners by .325 or more this weekend, they will jump ahead. Other teams also have outside shots at #1, but LSU’s margin the most attainable. That #3-#9 section with Florida, Utah, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, UCLA, and Nebraska is so tightly packed so early in the season that these teams could end up in any order come Monday.
Be sure to be on point with the punctuality tomorrow because the showcase meet, Georgia visiting Florida, begins at 7:00 ET. There’s no dawdling around refreshing scores from some ratty little tri-meet meet to start the day this week; it’s action-packed, right from the start. I expect this home opener to be Florida’s breakout meet where the big scores begin flying for the whole team at the same time, and while Georgia is just coming off the second-highest team score in the country, beating Florida in Florida is another issue. If the Gym Dogs are going to keep things interesting, they’ll need to do it through the landings (sticking more vaults, controlling more floor passes) and deliver the same ridiculous bars rotation from Monday.
Later in the day, LSU is hosting Auburn and looking for the kind of score that could push them past Oklahoma. To do that, the control of the floor tumbling will have to be far stronger than it was last week. At the same time, Alabama will be trying to rebound from last week’s flatline of 9.7s and will hope to have full lineups out there that can recapture some of the controlled power we saw in their season opener.
Disappointing realization of the week: Kelly Garrison’s married name is not, in fact, Kelly Garrison-Thunderbird. That’s a shame.
We also have a fancy little Saturday for ourselves this weekend with Michigan and Oklahoma both in early action. This is Oklahoma’s road debut, so I’ll be watching to see how their routines are interpreted outside of Norman and whether any of that bumpiness from last weekend filters into this week. Michigan is also quietly making an assault on the rankings, scoring a 196.800 last weekend for a performance that was just sort of fine by their standards. Sampson definitely arrived in that meet, but if the Wolverines can get a high 196 even when Natalie Beilstein is just sort of 9.800ish and they’re counting a 9.5 on beam, 197s seem exceptionally attainable.
In night action, UCLA and Utah square off in what I’m currently calling “The Rumble Where Everyone Gets an 11,” but I’ll hold off bestowing that title until after the meet, just in case. Maybe I’ll be surprised. It has happened before. Both of these teams need to stop counting falls, like now, so that’s the main focus of this meet. Normally I would be saying things like, “If they can get a 49.400 on bars, then it means that the other team blah, blah, blah,” but no. Just hit beam. Please.
Top 25 Schedule
Friday – 1/24/14
6:30 ET/3:30 PT – Brown @  Rutgers
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Georgia @  Florida
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Kent State @ Western Michigan
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Cal @  Arizona State
7:30 ET/4:30 PT –  Kentucky @ Missouri
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Auburn @  LSU
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Nebraska @ Iowa
8:30 ET/5:30 PT –  Arkansas @  Alabama
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Southern Utah @  Boise State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT –  Washington @ Seattle Pacific
Saturday – 1/25/14
4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Ohio State @  Michigan
6:00 ET/3:00 PT –  Oklahoma @  Arizona
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Illinois @  Minnesota
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Air Force @  Denver
9:30 ET/6:30 PT –  UCLA @  Utah
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Iowa State @  Oregon State
Sunday – 1/26/14
4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Stanford, San Jose State, Utah State @ UC Davis