Oklahoma enters the weekend as the nation's top-ranked team, and with a comfortable .500 advantage over everyone else, the Sooners look like a strong bet to stay #1. To make it competitive, they would probably have to drop back into the 196s this weekend to give LSU or Alabama a chance to pass, and even then it would large a huge score from either of those teams to do it. Oklahoma has a second-straight home meet this weekend against Iowa State, and all eyes will be on the score to see if they can keep up the pace set last Friday.
The headline meet this Friday, however, will be LSU visiting Georgia. That's the one I'll be watching most intently, and given the rosters these two teams have put together this year, the Tigers enter as the favorite. LSU beat Georgia about 160 times last season and look to continue the streak as Jay Clark returns to Stegeman for the first time since being loudly removed from Georgia's head coach position in 2012. Bars is the one area where Georgia appears to hold an advantage over LSU, so if the Gym Dogs are going to win this one and avoid starting the year 0-3, they'll need to build up a multi-tenth edge on bars and probably win beam as well because we can expect LSU to be quite a bit stronger on floor.
Also on Friday, Florida will be in action at Auburn, Michigan visits NC State, and Utah goes to Cal trying to show they can get some of those big homes scores from last weekend on the road, so don't forget to watch those scores/meets as well. If you're looking for free broadcast options this weekend, the Michigan/NC State meet is your choice. Saturday features Alabama, Nebraska, and Kentucky in the Flipfest tri-meet in Tennessee. Kentucky's schedule says the meet is at 7:00 Eastern, Nebraska says 8:00 Central, and Alabama says 8:00 Eastern, so apparently it's happening inside a time vortex.
I'll be back on Sunday to blog the UCLA and Oregon State meet (on TV on the Pac-12 Network). The Bruins will need to work out what a tight mess that beam rotation was last weekend, so keep an eye on whether they can perform an acro series without turning to dust this time (and whether Angi Cipra gets in that lineup). The Beavs were under par in their opening meet on three events, recording just two 9.8s across vault, beam, and floor and receiving seven scores under 9.700. They can't hope to beat UCLA (or many teams) if they're continuing to get 9.6s and 9.7s on vault and floor, so we'll need to see those landings begin to come into line.
Enjoy the meets!
Top 25 Schedule
Friday – 1/17/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Michigan, North Carolina, Towson @ NC State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Rutgers, Eastern Michigan, George Washington @  Kent State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – William & Mary @  Central Michigan
7:30 ET/4:30 PT –  LSU @  Georgia
7:30 ET/4:30 PT –  Arkansas @ Missouri
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa State @  Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Florida @  Auburn
9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  Denver,  BYU @  Boise State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT –  Utah @ Cal
Saturday – 1/18/14
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Pittsburgh @  Michigan State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Centenary, UW-Eau Claire @  Illinois
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Alabama,  Nebraska,  Kentucky @ Ozone Classic, Tennessee
Sunday – 1/19/14
1:00 ET/10:00 PT –  Minnesota, Brown, Yale @ New Hampshire
2:00 ET/11:00 PT –  Rutgers @  Ohio State
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – NC State @  Kent State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  Arizona,  BYU, Sacramento State @  Stanford
9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  Oregon State @  UCLA
Monday – 1/20/14
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Iowa @  Georgia