A. Weekend schedule
|Friday, January 13
|6:30 ET/3:30 PT –  West Virginia @ Pitt||LINK||ACCN|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Kentucky @  Florida||LINK||SEC+|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Georgia @  Auburn||LINK||SECN|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT – UW-Whitewater @ UW-Stout||LINK||FREE|
|7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Oshkosh, Towson @ Iowa State||LINK||ISU TV|
|7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Hamline @ UW-La Crosse||FREE|
|7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Gustavus Adolphus @ Winona State||FREE|
|8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Missouri @  Arkansas||LINK||SEC+|
|8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Michigan State @  Iowa||LINK||UI TV|
|8:30 ET/5:30 PT –  LSU @  Alabama||LINK||SECN|
|9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  Utah @  BYU||LINK||FREE|
|9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  NC State, Bowling Green @ Utah State||LINK||FREE|
|10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Stanford, Boise State, Yale @ UC Davis||LINK|
|10:00 ET/7:00 PT –  Oregon State @ Seattle Pacific||LINK||FREE|
|10:00 ET/7:00 PT – San Jose State @  Sacramento State||LINK|
|Saturday, January 14||Scores||Watch|
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – North Carolina, Cornell, Penn @  George Washington||LINK|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Michigan, Washington, Kent State @  Ohio State||LINK||CSL $|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Minnesota, Arizona, Alaska @ Maryland||LINK||BTN+|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT – New Hampshire, Bridgeport @ Brown|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Eastern Michigan, Rutgers, Illinois-Chicago @  Illinois||LINK||FREE|
|8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Arizona State, TWU, Air Force @  Denver||LINK|
|8:00 ET/5:00 PT – That Ozone Thing (Illinois State, Temple, Centenary, UW-Eau Claire)|
|Sunday, January 15||Scores||Watch|
|12:00 ET/9:00 PT – Brockport, Springfield @ Rhode Island|
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Central Michigan @ Western Michigan||ESPN3|
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT –  Northern Illinois @ Ball State||LINK||FREE|
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – West Chester, Cortland @ Southern Connecticut||SCSU|
|2:00 ET/11:00 PT –  Penn State @ Nebraska||LINK|
|3:00 ET/12:00 PT –  Cal @  Iowa||UI TV|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Missouri, SEMO @ Lindenwood||LINK||FLOG|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  UCLA @  Oklahoma||LINK||FSN|
|Monday, January 16||Scores||Watch|
|2:00 ET/11:00 PT –  NC State @ Georgia||LINK||SEC+|
It’s a double-meet weekend for Missouri, NC State, Iowa, and Georgia. I have listed those four teams in the order in which they are ranked. This is the world we live in. Significant (as significant as we get in the second week of January) meets highlight Friday and Sunday. Saturday is a little sparse, but we’ll make do. I’ll have a live blog of that Ohio State quad with Michigan and Washington to keep things interesting. Here’s what I’m watching for:
- LSU’s vault edge
In the first week, LSU competed three 10.0 vaults to Alabama’s one (Brannan did not vault) and showed much more control on landings. Repeated, those week 1 results would give LSU a margin on vault that Alabama would be hard pressed to make up on the other pieces without the benefit of some falls.
- Alabama’s lineups
We know Alabama will play around with depth and switch people in and out over the next 78 months, but in the first meet we saw a B/B- floor lineup that went without Jetter, Bailey, and Brannan. We also didn’t see Desch on her most important events. There’s no way Alabama beats LSU this weekend without full-strength lineups. Now, a win may not be Alabama’s goal. They may be playing the long game and not worrying about the result here (because it doesn’t matter). But, if they do want to challenge LSU and get into the 197s, we need to see A lineups on every event.
The problem area for LSU in the first meet was bars. The Tigers had to use Gnat, who got 9.775 (but let’s be honest it should have been about 9.600), and the landings as a group made bars the most vulnerable-looking of the four pieces. Having Ruby Harrold in the lineup would help. We hope. As for Ruby’s status, either she’s sick, or they’re “taking it slowly with her,” or she has been replaced by a ghost. We don’t really know. It would be nice to see her on bars at the very least.
- Beam showdown
Looking surprisingly meh on beam was as close as Oklahoma came to a weakness in the first meet, but it’s still Oklahoma and beam. It’s also UCLA and beam. Beam is supposed to be brilliant when these two get together, so we should all grab the popcorn. Both teams will be looking for improvement, and the start-value and composition issues in UCLA’s opener have added some extra intrigue to this one. Have Meraz and Ross worked on their dance-element backup plans? Is Kyla still trying to connect out of a switch ring for some reason? Can Peng and Ohashi hit their difficulty? UCLA is not favored in this meet, but to have any chance, they’ll have to win beam with a score of a billion. If any team can…
- But also bars showdown
On talent, we should be looking at the #1 and #2 bars teams in the country in this meet. Oklahoma showed its ability with straight 9.9s in the first meet, but UCLA is one of the few teams that could challenge those scores if the big three hit their sets and stick their landings.
- Power events
UCLA vaulted pretty well in the first meet, but it was still a lineup of fulls, which will pale coming right after Oklahoma’s three 1.5s. As for floor, the Bruins looked unready to hit full routines in the opening meet, so I’m looking for a little more endurance and proficiency with landings another week into the season.
D. And the rest
Obviously, we’ll be putting on 20 antennae every time Georgia goes to beam again this year, and we get that pleasure twice this weekend. Georgia has two meets to get it right and erase the narrative. Lost in the beam shuffle, however, was the distinctly non-9.9 performance on the other events against LSU. Hitting beam is only part of the job. The rest of the events can’t just be Sydney Snead and her trained 9.7s either.
With two road meets coming up this weekend, we’ll get a better sense of whatever Missouri is for real.
- Season debuts
Don’t forget about Nebraska, even though you always do because we never see their meets. The Huskers will start their season Sunday with the usual amount of “who is in these lineups?” mystery. Washington also gets going this weekend in Elise Ray’s head-coaching debut, which fittingly sees her up against Michigan in the Wolverine Fan Sophie’s Choice Quad Meet. Not an easy first task.
Michigan will have its own burden on Saturday of trying to reverse that unfortunate first-meet bars rotation. I’ll be watching Karas’s continued progression (how’s her difficulty?) and whether Zaziski has settled in. Even though it didn’t seem a completely horrid performance, that 195.525 from last Saturday was Michigan’s worst score since March 2012.
- Stanford’s floor
I’m concerned. But I’m always concerned about that. Ebee to the rescue yet? Getting an actual win will be a test for Stanford because of the challenge posed by another team in its season debut, the UN. I mean Boise State. The official team of international cooperation. The meet is also hosted by Davis, who beat Stanford on Monday. So, yeah, tough times.
E. American Cup lineup
In elite news, USAG has (mostly) announced the roster for this year’s American Cup.
On the men’s side, Sam Mikulak will be in attendance representing the United Smiles of Tanning. Thankfully, Oleg Verniaiev has agreed to return to the competition this year to take some pressure off our fragile little dove. Literally no one is expecting Sam to win. Phew, because his performances have been a little American’t Cup lately. He fell on floor and horse in the first two rotations both of the last two years, so that’s the number to beat. Also attending are last year’s champion Ryohei Kato and Sam Oldham, whom I’m excited to see again. The second US man will be announced at a later date.
For the women, Ragan Smith has been anointed as the new Chosen One because…she’s the gymnast who’s still here. Congratulations! I’m hoping for a new senior in the other spot, sort of like in 2013 when Ebee pulled out and they had to replace her with that rando Simone Biles. Ellie Black will return for her 786th American Cup, but also Eythora. Praise be. Is it bad that I’m kind of hoping NBC skips over her floor routine, just for the gymternet freak out? That’s bad, right?
We’re back! This week, we broke down
ourselves emotionally all the NCAA action from the first week, with specific attention paid to what the hell was going on in those Georgia and UCLA beam rotations and the life importance of Maggie Nichols. We also discussed our gymnastics highlights, lowlights, and lessons from 2016 and all the news from the last month or so. Also, we solved every world problem. As always, you can listen in the box on this page.
And in August, Valentina is due to issue a press release saying the baby is fat and lazy and needs to retire and has been sent back to its home gym.
I hope Aliya doesn’t try to connect labor to a triple Y spin. That’s never getting credit, girl.
H. Beam routine of the week
This week’s beam routine belongs to the legend herself, Jenny Hansen. Back handspring + split 1/2.