Wasn’t that a fun weekend of college football? Just as folks were ready to write off reigning national champions Clemson, the Tigers go on the road to face reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and an explosive Louisville team and thumps the Cardinals. Texas gave top four ranked USC a huge scare but the Trojans managed to thwart late penetration into the end zone by the Longhorns and pulled out the win in overtime. Sorry, couldn’t resist. San Diego State pulled the big upset knocking off Stanford 20-17. But my personal favorite was the Florida win over Tennessee. It was a great ending to a brutally ugly football game. The teams combined for a total of nine points in the first three quarters but put up thirty-seven points in the fourth quarter culminating with the 63-yard pass from Felipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland for the win on the final play of the game. That is the kind of play that makes college football the greatest sport on earth. Conference play is in full swing now and there are some important games for the southeast this week.
Georgia Tech vs Pitt: The Yellow Jackets are 1-1 after an overtime loss to Tennessee and a throttling of Jacksonville State. This game should give some indication of what kind of season awaits Tech fans. Pitt is a conference opponent but is not a great football team. If Tech is an upper tier team, they should win this game handily. Anything less and it will not bode well for games down the road against the likes of Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech or Georgia. I think Paul Johnson will have his team ready to get this win.
Alabama vs Vanderbilt: Vandy is the talk of the town right now at 3-0. If the town is Nashville that is. In fact, Vandy, Kentucky and Miss State are all 3-0 at the same time which has not happened in 106 years. Maybe that biblical mathematician is right about Saturday being the beginning of the end days. I bet he isn’t. Vandy is actually talking trash about the Crimson Tide leading up to this game. That’s cute. Fans were calling for coach Derek Mason’s head not long ago. Funny what a few good games can do for coach. The Commodore defense has only given up 13 points in three games. Two of those games were against much lesser competition but the third was top 25 (at the time) ranked Kansas State. Vandy should be feeling good about themselves. Not this good, Bama will win by more than two touchdowns.
Mississippi State vs Georgia: This game suddenly got interesting when Miss State thrashed what is believed to be a very good LSU team. Georgia is playing true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm with sophomore Jacob Eason still out with an injury. Fromm has held his own so far but, based on what we saw from Miss State last week, this will be his biggest test to date. I believe this game rides on the shoulders of Nick Chubb. Miss State held LSU’s much-heralded Derrius Guice to 76 yards rushing and quarterback Danny Etling to a 10.2 QBR. If former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has his unit ready to play at the level again, Miss State can pull the road upset. I think Georgia will win a hard-fought close game.
Florida vs Kentucky: Now, here is a team that is feeling their oats. Coming off a big win over South Carolina, the Wildcats believe in their heart of hearts that this is the year they break the 30-year losing streak to the Gators. In all honesty, if they do not do it this year, will they ever end the streak? This is a road game for Florida and the Gators are relying on a lot of young players this season. The Florida offense is still struggling although it seemed to find itself somewhat in the fourth quarter last week. Nine players are still suspended including two of the Gators best offensive weapons. Gator head coach Jim McElwain appears to have an elite recruiting class on the way and the talent gap between these two teams will not be this small again in the near future. Kentucky desperately needs to take advantage of this opportunity. A lot of “experts” think they will. But, most of those same people said Kentucky would win this game last season as well. The Gators thumped the Wildcats 45-7. I do not expect that kind of blowout this year. But, I don’t expect a Kentucky win either. I realize it will happen eventually. A streak like this cannot last forever but I think it will last at least one more season. Gators win.
I cannot move past last week’s football without mentioning what transpired in the Penn State-Georgia State game Saturday. Penn State, who is playing great football by the way, whipped Georgia State 56-0. However, with 11 seconds left in the game Georgia State lined up to kick a field goal. Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin called a time-out. Franklin gave a cheesy explanation for the time-out but we all know he did it to ice the kid kicking the field goal. A lot of folks are up in arms about that decision. Get over it. Teams like to get a shutout. The field goal was relevant enough for Panthers head coach Shawn Elliot to try for it even though it did not help his cause. Why shouldn’t it be relevant enough for Franklin to want to prevent it? And remember, Penn State won the Big 10 conference last season but the powers that be put Ohio State in the playoff instead. Don’t tell James Franklin that margin of victory and style points do not matter. As Steve Spurrier said, if people are complaining about how badly you beat your opponent, you are doing something right.