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Missouri lacking respect in SEC, so player sounds off in search of some

Missouri’s SheldRichards(34) said watching Georgiwas “like watching Big Ten football ... old-man football.” | L.G. Patterson~AP

Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson (34) said watching Georgia was “like watching Big Ten football ... old-man football.” | L.G. Patterson~AP

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SATURDAY’s Spotlight game

No. 7 Georgia at Missouri
6:45 p.m., ESPN2. Records: Georgia 1-0, Missouri 1-0. The line: Georgia by 31/2.. Gould’s pick: Missouri, 31-27.

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Updated: October 9, 2012 2:26PM

For many who care deeply about college football, Missouri and Texas A&M in the SEC makes about as much sense as herring and hummus on a corn tortilla.

The same goes for West Virginia in the Big 12. For the upcoming move of Boise State and San Diego State to the Big East, there’s no analogy fit for a family newspaper.

Yet it is upon us.

No. 7 Georgia travels to Missouri, and No. 24 Florida will play at Texas A&M in the new 14-team SEC. Which is worse, the geography or the unwieldy scheduling math? You make the call.

On the other hand, at least the SEC doesn’t have a Leaders Division in which two of the so-called leaders are banned from postseason play and three others will be dancing in the quad if they go .500 in the league.

In the midst of all the rah-rah hypocrisy, though, one voice stands out loud and clear.

Welcome to the SEC, Sheldon Richardson.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel made his blunt junior defensive tackle off-limits this week. But not before Richardson weighed in on Georgia’s 45-23 victory over Buffalo.

‘‘I watched that game. I turned it off, too,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘It’s like watching Big Ten football. It’s old-man football.’’

Richardson wasn’t finished.

‘‘They’re supposed to be fast. They’re supposed to be [good]. They’re supposed to win the SEC,” Richardson, a junior-college transfer from St. Louis, told reporters. ‘‘I do not care. They’ve got to line up and play Mizzou. And we got to line up and play Georgia. I don’t really care about the hype of the SEC at all. I feel like just because we’re switching conferences doesn’t mean this is a better conference. If we execute, nobody in [the SEC] can touch us. Period.’’

Pinkel and Georgia coach Mark Richt shrugged off the eruption.

‘‘[He] has great respect for Georgia, as I do,’’ Pinkel said. ‘‘We’ll learn the lessons and move on.’’

‘‘Did he say old man or old school?” Richt said. ‘‘Old-man football? I don’t know what he meant by that. Bottom line, we’ve got to get after it and do what we do well.’’

Richt also ran with the old-man line, saying, ‘‘I’ve been getting AARP stuff in the mail.’’

Jokes and trash-talking aside, there will be a lot at stake when the Dawgs and Tigers — who lost to Georgia 14-0 in the 1960 Orange Bowl, their only other meeting — bump helmets Saturday.

A year ago, Georgia started 0-2, and Richt was on the hot seat. This year, the Dawgs are a popular pick to win the SEC East and maybe even sneak into the national-championship picture.

Meanwhile, the Tigers, who are expected to be an SEC East also-ran, aren’t getting much respect in their new league. Spurned by the Big Ten, which liked Nebraska’s television demographic, but desperate to flee the Big 12, which Texas regards as its personal plantation, Missouri now risks being an SEC after-thought.

It’s no wonder Richardson decided to sound off.

With junior quarterback James Franklin at the helm, Mizzou just might have the athleticism to make up for Georgia’s old-school size-and-power advantages. That’s especially true because the Bulldogs are missing some pieces on defense and because Missouri has been countering Big 12 big boys for years with a high-octane spread offense that isn’t afraid to take risks.

As Richardson so directly put it, we’ll find out.


Purdue at No. 22 Notre Dame

The facts: 2:30 p.m., Ch. 5, 890-AM.

The records: ND 1-0, Purdue 1-0.

The story line: Purdue’s trio of quarterbacks and lockdown ­corners will pose a much sterner test than Navy did for ND’s inexperienced secondary and quarterback. The game should offer a better idea of whether the Irish can hang with Michigan State and Michigan the next two weeks.

The line: Notre Dame by 141/2.

Mark Lazerus’ pick: ND, 38-20.

Tennessee-Martin at N. Illinois

The facts: 6 p.m., ESPN3, 1160-AM.

The records: UT-Martin 1-0, NIU 0-1.

The story line: The Huskies look to bounce back from a tough loss to Iowa against an FCS ­opponent. The offense will need to find some consistency against an inferior foe.

The line: None.

Steve Nitz’s pick: NIU, 30-7.


The facts: 7 p.m. BTN, 1000-AM.

The records: NU 1-0, Vanderbilt 0-1.

The story line: Similar programs from rival conferences meet in Northwestern’s first prime-time home opener in 12 years.

The line: Vandy by 31/2.

Neil Hayes’ pick: Vandy, 31-27.

Illinois at Arizona State

The facts: 9:30 p.m., ESPN, 560-AM.

The records: Illinois 1-0, ASU 1-0.

The story line: In this matchup of teams with first-year ­coaches, one will make a big stride. Uncertainty about quarterback Nate Scheelhaase (sprained ankle) makes the Illini’s task tougher.

The line: ASU by 11/2.

Herb Gould’s pick: ASU, 21-17.


New Hampshire at Minnesota

The facts: 11 a.m., BTN.

The records: New Hampshire 1-0, Minnesota 1-0.

The story line: The Gophers are coming off a 30-27 triple-OT win at UNLV. New Hampshire won last week at Holy Cross 38-17.

The line: No line.

Gould’s pick: Minnesota, 37-14.

UCF at No. 14 Ohio State

The facts: 11 a.m., ESPN2.

The records: UCF 1-0, OSU 1-0.

The story line: Braxton Miller, who passed for 207 yards and two TDs and ran for 161 and one in a 56-10 rout of Miami (Ohio), leads the Buckeyes against UCF.

The line: Ohio State by 171/2.

Gould’s pick: Ohio State, 35-21.

Penn State at Virginia

The facts: 11 a.m., Ch. 7.

The records: PSU 0-1, UVA 1-0.

The story line: The Nittany Lions, who blew a 14-3 lead in a 24-14 loss to Ohio, try to give new coach Bill O’Brien his first win on the road. The Cavaliers beat Richmond 43-19.

The line: Virginia by 10.

Gould’s pick: Virginia, 24-10.

Indiana at UMass

The facts: 2:30 p.m., ESPN3.

The records: IU 1-0, UMass 0-1.

The story line: Playing at UMass, Hoosiers will see where Julius Erving played his college hoops — and stockpile another ‘‘W’’ before Big Ten reality sets in.

The line: Indiana by 131/2.

Gould’s pick: Indiana, 31-9.

Air Force at No. 19 Michigan

The facts: 2:30 p.m., Ch. 7.

The records: AF 1-0, Mich. 0-1.

The story line: After being humbled 41-14 by Alabama, the Wolverines return to the Big House, where they’ll be hungry against the Falcons.

The line: Michigan by 211/2.

Gould’s pick: Michigan, 45-14.

No. 11 Mich. State at Central Michigan

The facts: 2:30 p.m., ESPNU.

The records: Michigan State 1-0, Central Michigan 1-0.

The story line: The Spartans make the short trip to Mount Pleasant, their first in the CMU series, which they lead 5-3. RB Le’Veon Bell (210 yards, 2 TDs vs. Boise State) should remove any worry of it being close.

The line: MSU by 231/2.

Gould’s pick: MSU, 48-17.

Iowa State at Iowa

The facts: 2:30 p.m., BTN.

The records: Iowa State 1-0, Iowa 1-0.

The story line: The Cyclones, who took care of Tulsa 38-23, will be determined in this fierce series. The Hawkeyes, who escaped from NIU 18-17, know they need to pick it up.

The line: Iowa by 31/2.

Gould’s pick: Iowa, 20-14.

NO. 13 Wisconsin at Oregon State

The facts: 3 p.m., FX.

The records: Wisconsin 1-0, Oregon State 0-0.

The story line: Hurricane Isaac caused the Beavers’ opening opponent, Nicholls State, not to travel from Louisiana. So they’ll be rested, but untested, for the Badgers.

The line: Wisconsin by 8.

Gould’s pick: Wisconsin, 28-17.

No. 16 Nebraska at UCLA

The facts: 6:30 p.m., Fox-32.

The records: Neb. 1-0, UCLA 1-0.

The story line: Huskers stud RB Rex Burkhead, nursing a sprained knee, could face a limited role, but backup Ameer Abdullah is hardly chopped liver. Bruins won 49-24 in first game under Jim Mora.

The line: Nebraska by 5.

Gould’s pick: Nebraska, 23-20.

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