gymnastics-women-nc flag | February 14, 2014

Top 10 Preview: Big Ten battle set for Friday as No. 7 Nebraska takes on No. 8 Michigan

No. 7 Nebraska vs. No. 8 Michigan

Nebraska returns to action Feb. 14 when the Huskers host their toughest home opponent in Michigan for a Big Ten battle that features two undefeated teams. Action from the Devaney Center is set to begin at 7 p.m.

The Huskers (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) and the Wolverines (8-0, 3-0 Big Ten) are the top-two teams in the Big Ten with Michigan as the preseason favorite to earn the conference crown. On Friday the two teams will go head-to-head in what could be the determining meet for the Big Ten regular-season title. Nebraska leads Michigan all-time in the series holding a 22-19-1 edge. The two teams last met at the 2013 Morgantown Regional, where Michigan took home a 196.725-195.875 victory and the regional crown.  

No. 1 Florida vs. Arkansas

Florida returns home to face No. 11 Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Florida returns home after opening February action with a win at Kentucky on Feb. 7. The Gators turned in a 197.175-195.45 win against the Wildcats. Sophomore Bridget Sloan, the defending NCAA balance beam champion, earned a 10.0 on that event, joining Kristen Stucky (2004) as the only two Gators to earn the perfect mark on beam. Sloan, who earned a 10.0 for her floor exercise routine on Jan. 24, is the first Gator to post 10.0 marks in multiple events. She won her fourth consecutive all-around title at 39.675. She also used a 9.90 to share the uneven bars title with senior Mackenzie Caquatto. Junior Kytra Hunter used 9.925s to win both vault and floor exercise. She has won floor in each of Florida’s five meets this season and the vault win was her second consecutive.

Arkansas comes into Friday’s meet after posting its season-best of 196.275 in its Feb. 7 home loss to No. 3 LSU (197.225). Senior All-American Katherine Grable took her fifth consecutive all-around title with a season-best total of 39.625 versus the Tigers. Grable is currently ranked No. 2 nationally in the all-around behind Florida’s Sloan. She has also won the floor title in each of Arkansas’ five meets this season.

No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 LSU at Metroplex Challenge

It’s a rematch weekend for Oklahoma as it prepares to face LSU and Arizona for the second time this season alongside Kentucky at the annual Metroplex Challenge. The Sooners are 1-1 against Metroplex foes this season, with a 197.575-196.925 road win against Arizona in January and a narrow 197.650-197.325 loss to the Tigers last weekend. OU will enter the meet looking to put its best foot forward after posting outstanding efforts on three of four events last Sunday, but coming up uncharacteristically short on beam. Oklahoma earned season-high scores of 49.525 on vault, 49.475 on bars and 49.525 against LSU; the Sooners’ season-high of 49.525 on beam came in January against Arizona.

No. 4 Utah vs. No. 10 Stanford

Up next up for Utah (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) is a Presidents' Day showdown at Stanford (11-1, 3-1 Pac-12) in Maples Pavilion at 5 p.m. ET on Monday. 

Utah is off to a 7-0 start for the first time since its NCAA runner-up season in 2008. The 2008 Utes won their first 10 meets before losing at Florida for their only regular season loss. 

Utah's 197.825 score against Arizona last week is the third-best score in the country this year and Utah's 10th-best score ever.

Stanford's only loss was to then No. 15 Oregon State (197.100-195.750) in Corvallis on Feb. 3.

No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 12 Auburn 

Alabama takes to the road this week, traveling to Auburn, Ala. to take on Auburn at 7 p.m. on in Auburn Arena.

It will be the Crimson Tide’s sixth meet of the season and third away meet. Alabama is coming off a win against Southeastern Conference rival Georgia last Friday when the Tide posted its highest score of the season, 197.500, along with its fourth-best floor exercise score in school history, a 49.625.

Auburn is coming off of back-to-back road wins, including its first win in program history at Arkansas. Overall, the Tigers are 3-2 with a 1-1 record at home. Auburn is led by fourth-year head coach Jeff Graba along with junior Bri Guy and sophomore Caitlin Atkinson - who are ranked 16th and 19th, respectively, in the all-around - along with Megan Walker who is ranked 9th on balance beam.

No. 9 UCLA vs. Washington 

UCLA (3-2, 3-1 in the Pac-12) hits the road for a 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon matchup at Washington at in Alaska Airlines Arena.

UCLA earned a season-high 196.925 in a nearly two-point lead against Arizona State, who scored 194.950. Redshirt junior Samantha Peszek scored her first career perfect 10 on the uneven bars and tied her career-best on beam with a 9.95. The Bruins opened a large lead on the Sun Devils after scoring a season-high 49.525 on bars. 

Washington is coming off a season-best performance against Stanford, scoring 196.2 in a .625 home loss to the Cardinal. The Huskies had three gymnasts score more than 39.0 in the all-around - Aliza Vaccher and Allison Northey (39.275) and Janae Janik (39.125).

Note: Georgia's meet against Missouri has been cancelled due to inclement weather. The meet will not be rescheduled. 

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