In case you missed it, I was a guest on GymCastic this week, so you should give it a listen if you haven’t already. Jessica and I talked Florida/Alabama, UCLA/Utah, Georgia/Kentucky, and the greatness of Tabitha Yim.
Also earlier this week, Elizabeth Price recorded the seventh 10.0 of the young season, the sixth on vault. She continues to perform the full as she returns from injury (we’ll expect more difficulty eventually once she is 100%), but she has such crazy amplitude that pretty much whenever she sticks she’s going to be in line for a 10. Methinks this isn’t the last 10 we’ll see from her. Not much incentive to upgrade, is it?
Rounding out the discussion of things that have already happened, Oklahoma competed earlier today and continued to bolster their claim as the best team in the country with a 197.650. The Sooners currently own all three of the top scores recorded so far this season, and that trend can only be expected to continue as they head to Metroplex on Saturday, where everyone always gets an 11.
Friday is going to be a little different this week. Normally, Friday is the night of main events with most of the top teams in action, but this weekend relatively few of the top teams showing their wares. Still, I’ll be here blogging, and be sure to be ready right at the start because we do have a good one early on between Georgia and Florida. That will be a showdown. Florida enters as the favorite. Being the higher-ranked team, the stronger team, and the home team will usually do that for you. Plus, they will certainly be eager to erase the rancid taste of meh from their mouths coming off the disappointing loss to Alabama last weekend. No sucky handstands this time, deal? Deal. I fully expect a non-meh performance. That said, Georgia is in this thing and should come into town with optimism. They made huge strides against Kentucky by getting Rogers back in the lineup and hitting their least terrifying beam and floor rotations of the season. Recall last year, Georgia was leading this meet after three events and about to pull off the upset. Then, they had a beam fall and Florida had that infamous floor score. Does history repeat?
Alabama also goes back on the road on Friday. They’ve proved they can hit a strong meet at home. Now they just need to do it on the road. The ANGER BEAM COMEBACK statement last weekend was a big one, and they can’t allow a letdown now that the adrenaline of redemption has worn off. Also pay attention to that Oregon State quad meet. Washington is already a much better team this year than last year and is once again fielding full lineups and looking reasonably competitive with the middle of the Pac-12 pack. Welcome back. Oregon State has been quietly solid, putting up another hit meet on Monday for a mid 196 and landing around the back half of the top 10 while others falter.
But this weekend, Saturday is the big day for top teams. Two meets in particular stand out.
Metroplex should be a barn burner. Yes, I just wanted to use the expression barn burner. Oklahoma and LSU are going head to head. Just like you’ve always wanted. The meet will be available to view for subscribers to Gymnastike’s Arm And A Leg package. Last year, both Oklahoma and LSU recorded 10s at this meet, with Oklahoma edging LSU in the end 198.175 to 197.875. That’s the kind of meet I expect once again this year. We haven’t broken the 198 barrier yet, and if it happens this weekend, this meet seems the most likely. (Though Florida home meets are always competitive nominees. They’re like the Meryl Streep of getting 198s.) Given how well Oklahoma has started the season, with just that one beam blemish salting their perfection, LSU will have to bring the sticks. Over the last few weeks, they have left their vault landings at home too often, and the bars landings haven’t been as strong since that excellent first week performance. No resting on amplitude at this one. And it’s not just about winning the meet. This is a golden opportunity for a huge road score, and it would be a shame not to take advantage.
Also keep an eye on Nebraska and Michigan. The two best teams in the Big 10, and the two that should be squaring off for the conference title in a few months. This one is 50/50. Michigan has been the more reliable and consistent team, as reflected in the rankings, but Nebraska is capable of the bigger event scores. The Huskers are stronger on vault and will need to build a significant advantage there. Three or four tenths probably to make up for a greater tendency to throw a mistake or a weird 9.7 out there. Michigan needs to keep doing what they’re doing and trust that tightening up those landings a little from last week should bring them comfortably into the 197s.
The weekend will be rounded out by UCLA and Cal on Sunday, as UCLA tries to do what Alabama and Georgia did last weekend by erasing the memory of a painful implosion, and Cal tries to keep the ascent going on vault and floor while finally, maybe, hopefully, please solving a problem called beam so they can get into the 196s.
Below is the schedule for the top 25 teams, and as always, the full schedule can be found at the link at the top.
Top 25 Schedule
4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Michigan State, Brown, UW-Oshkosh @ Rutgers