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Name: T. Kyle
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Interests: When not spending time with his family or concentrating on Georgia Bulldog football, T. Kyle King is actively involved with the Henry County Bar Association, the Hampton United Methodist Church, the Southlake Kiwanis Club, the South Metro Bulldog Club, and the Phi Kappa Literary Society.
Expertise: Kyle doesn't know as much about college football as he thinks he does, but he tries to make up for it by offering creative statistical observations and obscure cultural references---sort of Bill James meets Dennis Miller. Professionally, Kyle is engaged in the general practice of law with Hodges, McEachern & King in Jonesboro, where he concentrates in the areas of estate planning and probate matters, civil litigation, general business and family law, and real estate matters. Kyle has no official connection to the University of Georgia or its athletic association and the opinions expressed in his weblog reflect only his own views. Kyle retains the copyright on all original material contained herein.
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1. We are now 1/3 of the way through the season and things are starting to shake out. With that in mind, who are your picks to win each of the BCS conferences, as well as your choice for an at-large berth from a non-BCS league (none is an option)?
Below are my updated conference title predictions; the ones with an asterisk are the ones I called as the league champions prior to Labor Day weekend:
A.C.C.: Virginia Tech *
Big East: Louisville *
Big Ten: Ohio State
Big Twelve: Texas
Pac-10: Southern Cal *
S.E.C.: Georgia (heart pick) * / Florida (head pick) *
There will not be an at-large team from a non-B.C.S. league in a B.C.S. bowl game this season, but, if there is one, it will be Notre Dame, because the news media's infatuation with the Fighting Irish knows no bounds.
2. What team currently out of the Top 10 (AP or Coach's, doesn't really matter), has the best chance of ending up in the title game?
In my mind, the answer is "none of the above"; I don't believe any team not currently in the top ten has any shot of making it into the B.C.S. title game.
Accepting the premise of the question for the sake of argument, though, I like Arizona State's chances. If the Sun Devils can get by Southern Cal this weekend---admittedly, a gargantuan "if" that I predicted (http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=tkyleking&nextdate=9%2f28%2f2005+23%3a59%3a59.999) they would not pull off---they will skyrocket into the top five, waltz through their remaining schedule, and overcome an early season loss to a tough opponent in a close game.
As Paul Reiser used to say to Helen Hunt on "Mad About You," though: "Never gonna happen, my friend!"
3. When you're watching a game, what type of fan can you absolutely not tolerate being around?
There's always been at least one guy in the section of Sanford Stadium in which my season ticket seats are located who decided the day Vince Dooley retired from coaching that nothing the Bulldogs did would ever again be right.
This guy is Mr. Negativity; he's the one whose reaction to any play that is not an 80-yard touchdown pass or run is an enraged utterance of, "Come on!" If the coach calls two consecutive running plays without picking up a first down, Mr. Negativity bellows, "What are you doing? Throw the ball!" If the coach calls two consecutive pass plays without moving the chains, Mr. Negativity exclaims, "What are you doing? Run the ball!" He never admits when he's wrong, he just shuts up for one play whenever whatever he has just finished saying is refuted by the action on the field.
I'm there to support my team and I will do so whether Georgia is winning 56-0 or losing 56-0. I enjoy Saturdays in Athens in the autumn and I don't care to be around people who buy season tickets just so they can offer meanspirited criticism to teenagers from the safety of the stands.
Bonus: A sizable portion of Michigan fandom is in full meltdown mode (myself especially). Some have chosen to sequester themselves for this weekend's game against MSU to avoid scaring children, causing long-term psychological damage to those in the near vicinity, and most especially to avoid jail (I'm not saying this is me per se). Anyways, we need some help. Give us some ideas for replacements for LLLyd Carr (3 L's for the number of losses per year, and no O this year either). Assistant coaches, head coaches elsewhere, etc. Please, give us something to look forward to.
As usual, my Bulldog bias comes into play, so my recommendation for a replacement for Lloyd Carr would be the Jacksonville Jaguars' linebackers coach, Brian VanGorder.
First of all, he has ties to the state. Coach VanGorder is a native Michigander, having been born in Jackson, Mich. He graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit and he was the head coach at his alma mater from 1992 to 1994. Coach VanGorder later served as the defensive coordinator at Central Michigan.
Secondly, Coach VanGorder is young. Last April, he celebrated his 46th birthday. He would be able to guide the Michigan program for the next two decades.
Finally, Coach VanGorder has a stellar record of defensive success. During his four-year tenure as Georgia's defensive coordinator, Coach VanGorder was named the Valvoline Southern Sports Tonight Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002, received the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2003, and sent six players to the N.F.L. in the first two rounds of the draft.
Every time Michigan State scores another touchdown this Saturday, say to yourself: "In the 52 games in which Brian VanGorder was Georgia's defensive coordinator, the Bulldogs only once gave up more than 29 points in a game and, on 33 occasions, the Red and Black held the opposition to 17 or fewer points." That's a level of defensive success that could put the Wolverines back among the nation's elite, just as it put the 'Dawgs back among the nation's elite.
Offense sells tickets but defense wins games. Lloyd Carr should be replaced with Brian VanGorder, a Michigan native who possesses one of the finest defensive minds in the business.
I begin with a public service announcement.
Not only does the McDonough Loco's belong to the same family of restaurants as the Athens Loco's, but the Jonesboro Road establishment was home to "The Dawg Show" during the 2004 football season.
Current members of the South Metro Bulldog Club will have access to a "Dawgs only" spread and their food costs will be covered. (Your beverage expenses are your concern.)
Anyone interested in obtaining more information should call the club president, John Wadsworth, at (770) 957-9096.
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I take issue with him on one detail, however. Paulwesterdawg opines that the Evil Genius probably will beat Georgia "once every 4 or 5 years just like Carolina always has." This statement is true enough in the abstract, but it rests upon an unspoken premise that I believe to be demonstrably false.
South Carolina will continue to beat the Bulldogs from time to time, just as the Gamecocks have done in the past. For Steve Spurrier to beat the 'Dawgs every four or five years while at U.S.C., though, his tenure in Columbia would have to last at least four or five years. I don't think it will.
Darth Visor is already starting to show signs of frustration. When announcing the probable change of starting quarterbacks for this Saturday's game (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2173322), the Ol' Ball Coach grumbled, "The way our pass protection is right now, I don't know if Blake could last anyway."
During a recent gripe session (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2168303), Steve Superior said with disdain, "We're disappointed that we haven't improved as we've gone thus far. . . . I think it's now that we need to give some other players a chance and also, we've got to tell our players who have been playing that we've got to play with a better effort level. . . . I do apologize to our fans. I thought we'd be more competitive. . . . I don't understand it. . . . I've seen it on the other side, and I've seen it on my team now. And I don't like it very well and don't have the answer to that. . . . So that's where we are."
Bear in mind that Steve Spurrier is not a man accustomed to losing. He won in the U.S.F.L. He won at Duke. He won at Florida as no coach has ever won before.
He never won fewer than ten games in a season with the Tampa Bay Bandits. He never won fewer than nine games in a season with the Gators. In the 20th century, his only season with a losing record was his first year with the Blue Devils, when he went 5-6. Duke went 15-7-1 over the next two years.
Only once in his career as a head coach at any level has Steve Spurrier finished below .500 in back to back campaigns. That occurred during his first two seasons with the Washington Redskins.
There was no third season in the District of Columbia; rather than face such a prospect, the Evil Genius resigned.
The Gamecocks already have two losses, with games remaining against Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson. A losing record this year seems all but certain. By Thanksgiving, we could be halfway to having Steve Superior quit in a huff, hurling his visor to the ground for the final time and retiring to play golf in the Ol' Ball Coaches' home.
Steve Spurrier signed a seven-year contract to coach the South Carolina Gamecocks. Steve Spurrier will win some games along the way; he may even beat the Bulldogs at the Chicken Ranch (a/k/a Williams-Brice Stadium) next year. However, Steve Spurrier will not be the coach of the Palmetto State Poultry for five years.
My guess is that he'll have a three-year run before hanging it up for good. Four years is highly unlikely. Five years will not happen.
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The new BlogPoll has been released (http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/blogpoll-week-5.html) and my incessant lobbying for Vanderbilt may be paying off: the Commodores remain among "others receiving votes," but they occupy the position equivalent to No. 28, threatening to break into the top 25.
The 'Dawgs are ranked fifth in the BlogPoll, so my placement of Georgia at the edge of the top ten earned me this week's Straight Bangin' Award as the BlogPoll voter who gave his own team the least amount of credit, relative to the poll-wide average.
I also finished fifth (among 48 voters) in the race for the title "Mr. Manic-Depressive," which goes to the voter whose ballot changed most wildly from last week to this. I told you last weekend's action was going to shake things up quite a bit.
As for my having lowballed the Red and Black's ranking, I can only tell you that I call 'em like I see 'em and no citizen of Bulldog Nation is rooting harder than I am to see me proven wrong upon that point.
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In the latest A.P. poll (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/football/ncaa/09/25/top25.ap/index.html), Georgia is ranked seventh, behind No. 4 L.S.U. and No. 5 Florida among Southeastern Conference squads. (Obviously, the poll results antedated Monday night's meltdown in Baton Rouge.) Since two S.E.C. teams in the top five both would be likely to make into the B.C.S., this leaves the 'Dawgs Citrus Bowl-bound if the current rankings hold true throughout the season. (Granted, we already know that won't happen, but work with me here.)
Upon arriving in Orlando, the Red and Black would be matched against the Big Ten's best non-B.C.S. team. Currently, only one team from the Midwest is ranked in the Associated Press top ten; namely, eighth-ranked Ohio State. Accordingly, only one Big Ten team is apt to make it into the Bowl Championship Series, so Georgia's Citrus Bowl opponent would be the Big Ten runner-up. Currently, that team would be No. 11 Michigan State.
If Hairy Dawg and Sparty get the opportunity to square off at Epcot, it will offer college football fans a rematch of the 1989 Gator Bowl, in which Vince Dooley concluded his coaching career with his 201st victory. Such a clash would be well worth watching and I would be interested to see how the Red and Black stack up against Michigan State.
For the moment, though, we are here to engage in a little Advance Bowl Bashing, so join with me now as we give the Spartans the business, mocking and belittling Georgia's potential postseason opponent:
1. Michigan State is off to an excellent start this season, garnering national attention and generating fan enthusiasm. It is not surprising, therefore, that M.S.U. athletic director Ron Mason issued a communiqué (his word, not mine) directed at the Spartans' fans earlier today (http://msuspartans.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/092805aab.html). At this moment of success unparalleled in recent Michigan State history, what stirring words does Mason have to offer his fan base? These are they: "Under new guidelines this season, seat cushions are permissible in Spartan Stadium; however, portable seatbacks are strictly prohibited. Fans should note that the single-game sale of approved seatbacks inside the stadium has been discontinued for the remainder of the season because those seatbacks can't be properly secured on game day." I don't know about you, but that kind of inspirational message gives me goose bumps.
2. That is not to say, though, that everyone associated with M.S.U. athletics is as drab and dispassionate as Ron Mason; some Spartans, in fact, are downright bloodthirsty. Why, just consider this recent boast from the Michigan State athletic department (http://msuspartans.collegesports.com/sports/w-volley/spec-rel/092005aac.html): "Michigan State volleyball sophomore captain Katie Johnson is ranked first in the nation with 6.18 kills per game." I'm sorry, but that's just poor sportsmanship and I don't think that sort of thing ought to be encouraged. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there was a state law prohibiting the killing of 6.18 people per volleyball game, but, then, I'm only licensed to practice law in Georgia, so I really couldn't tell you whether that sort of thing was legal in Michigan.
3. If this is the Big Ten, there must be a lame victory trophy with a made-up history on the line. Sure enough, Michigan State plays four trophy games, against Indiana (for the Old Brass Spittoon), Michigan (for the Paul Bunyan Trophy), Notre Dame (for the Megaphone Trophy), and Penn State (for the Land-Grant Trophy). Say, here's a thought: how 'bout playing a football game for the reward of winning a football game. Where you spit, what fairy tales you believe, how you amplify your voice while hollaring, and where you stand on the Morrill Act of 1862 are your business.
4. As always, my efforts to find material for mocking and belittling an upcoming opponent include perusing the list of that team's game day traditions. In this respect, Michigan State did not disappoint, as the Spartans' football game day traditions (http://www.homefootball.msu.edu/spirit.asp) include eating lunch or dinner in a residence hall, watching the marching band go through its pre-game warm-ups, and viewing the fall colors along Red Cedar River. My thanks go out to the guy who designed M.S.U.'s website, but, really, I'm prepared to work a little bit to mine the humor in a school's traditions; I don't need it served up for me on a batting tee.
5. Naturally, no mocking and belittling of Michigan State would be complete without a few jabs at the Spartans' head coach, John L. Smith. I'm in no position to make fun of a guy for using a superfluous initial, but his profile on the M.S.U. website (http://msuspartans.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/smith_johnl00.html) contains such thoroughly mockable lines as: "Playing against a 2004 schedule that featured seven bowl participants, Smith's Spartans saw four of the 12 games decided by eight points or less. Unfortunately, Michigan State dropped all four." However, I am hesitant to give Coach Smith too tough a time because, well, the guy scares me. Follow the above link and take a look at John L. Smith's picture. Is anybody else getting a Keyser Sose hit off of this guy? I get the creepy feeling that, after his Spartans get done hanging half a hundred on most of the Big Ten---poof! He's gone. . . .
There's still a lot of football left to play, but, if Georgia and Michigan State happen to meet up in the postseason, you're all set, with plenty of material with which to insult and demean the Spartans. You can thank me later.
Before I get to this week's forecasts, I have some news and notes upon which to comment:
South Carolina starting quarterback Blake Mitchell likely will not play for the Gamecocks on Saturday (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2173322). Instead, freshman Antonio Heffner will get the nod, which requires some revamping of the U.S.C. offense. Heffner is more mobile than Mitchell and is less comfortable in the pocket. Also, Heffner wears pajamas instead of a football uniform and he likes his playbook with a centerfold.
Mitchell is out because of a high ankle sprain, but, really, that just gave Darth Visor an excuse. You know good and well Steve Spurrier has been itching for a chance to bench a quarterback and this was as good a reason as any. Of course, Mike Shula's approach would be to say, "High ankle sprain? Put him back in there against a low-tackling defense!"
Vanderbilt wide receiver George Smith received a real shot in the arm shortly after the Commodores' win over Richmond. No, really . . . he received a shot in the arm (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2172814). Smith was treated for a gunshot wound at Vanderbilt hospital and released.
Unfortunately, top-tier football programs have to deal with those sorts of issues. First, it was Oklahoma in the 1980s, then it was Miami in the 1990s. Now that they're 4-0, it's pretty clear that the Commodores are going to be the 21st century's bad boys of college football (http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/?p=1083).
It must have been five or six years ago now that the major league baseball season opened with a game between the Cubs and the Mets in Tokyo. E.S.P.N. The Magazine's coverage of the contest included a joke, the gist of which was this: "There was a bit of cultural confusion during the game. In the seventh inning, when tribute was paid to Chicago broadcaster Harry Caray, several Japanese fans in the stands misunderstood and committed ritual suicide."
My reaction to that joke was not laughter, it was disappointment---disappointment in myself for not coming up with the same joke first. That's how I felt when I saw the Les Miserable joke on Every Day Should Be Saturday (http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/?p=1092).
Now all we have to do is wrest the Gator Bowl back from the clutches of the abysmal Big East and set up an annual New Year's Day tussle between the A.C.C. and the S.E.C. in Jacksonville, site of the former's conference championship game and the latter's annual division showdown between Georgia and Florida.
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All right, at this point, I've stalled long enough. It's time to face the music.
Erroneous calls in a number of significant match-ups (Iowa-Ohio State, Michigan-Wisconsin, Boston College-Clemson, L.S.U.-Tennessee) left me with an 11-6 record in last week's picks and a ledger for the season of 53-24. Two out of three might not be bad if you're Meat Loaf, but it stinks if you're a college football prognosticator predicting games straight up, without even the stumbling block of a point spread in your way.
All of that is to say, I'm lousy at forecasting the outcomes of intercollegiate gridiron contests, so, please, enjoy the commentary, but, whatever you do . . . Don't Bet On It!
Around the S.E.C.:
South Carolina at Auburn - Steve Spurrier, Plucky the Chicken, and the fattest fan base in the Southeastern Conference travel to the Ugliest Village of the Plains to take on Tommy Tuberville, the cheatingest program in league history, and a group of boosters so obnoxious they manage to tarnish the already tattered reputation of orange and blue. In short, this is my "meteor game" (http://georgiasports.blogspot.com/2005/09/rooting-for-cataclysm-meteor-game.html). Assuming fiery asteroids do not rain down upon Jordan-Hare Stadium from space on Saturday (prompting Larry Munson to cry out: "Look at the meteors falling out of the sky!"), I feel for Antonio Heffner, a freshman quarterback getting his first start on the road against the Tigers' defense. You can bet there will be a moment at which the fans in the stands wonder whether the Gamecock quarterback is, in fact, dead (http://imarealist.blogspot.com/2005/09/ohsweet-sweet-hits.html). Welcome to S.E.C. football, Heffner; you ain't lounging around the Grotto with Barbi Benton anymore. Auburn chews up South Carolina's signal-caller, spits out his bones, and remarks, "Tastes like chicken!"
Ole Miss at Tennessee - If they gave names to college football games the way they give names to heavyweight boxing matches, the clash of the Rebels and the Volunteers might be christened "Desperately Seeking Cutcliffe" or "My Kingdom for a Manning." Instead, Tennessee has Randy "I Call Plays About as Well as Colonel" Sanders, Erik "I Couldn't be Deeper in the Doghouse if I Had Mange" Ainge, and Rick "Go Ahead and Start the Countdown to My Meltdown" Clausen, while Ole Miss has Ed "How Many Teams Are There in Tennessee, Anyway?" Orgeron and . . . um . . . give me a minute here . . . all right, I admit it, I don't have a clue who's quarterbacking the Rebs, which probably gives me something in common with the guy who's quarterbacking the Rebs. The Big Orange may have jet lag, an overtime hangover, and a short week, but they also escaped from the Bayou with a win, so none of that matters. By night, Phillip Fulmer and Ed Orgeron may be a tag-team wrestling duo from the W.W.F.'s sumo division competing under the names "The Great Pumpkin" and "The Ogre," but, by day, they're (nominally) college football coaches and Tennessee is going to get the better of Mississippi on Saturday.
Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt - If L.S.U. hadn't collapsed like a debutante with the vapors on Monday night, this game might have settled the Tennessee state championship. As it stands, the Blue Raiders will serve as the Commodores' latest victim on the road to bowl eligibility. Vanderbilt improves to 5-0 and S.E.C. football fans begin stockpiling canned goods in preparation for the coming Apocalypse.
Louisiana State at Mississippi State - How many L.S.U. fans do you reckon would agree to a straight-up trade, Les Miles for Sylvester Croom, right about now? The Western Division Bulldogs have shown steady improvement under Coach Croom and M.S.U.'s defeat of Florida last season demonstrated the team's ability to pull off an upset. The Bayou Bengals have been on an emotional roller coaster and have to be a little bit shell-shocked right about now (http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/?p=1087). It is a tall order for Louisiana State to go on the road five days after an overtime loss and play with any kind of passion or focus. I am sorely tempted to go out on a limb and pick the Bulldogs, but the Tigers' defensive front is just plain nasty and, by the end of last Saturday night's game, Mississippi State Q.B. Omarr Conner was limping like Dennis Weaver on "Gunsmoke." If coaching and heart were all that mattered, M.S.U. would emerge victorious, but, in this game, talent will tell and the Bayou Bengals will rebound.
Florida at Alabama - This fall marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of I'll Take My Stand, the Agrarian manifesto authored by Donald Davidson, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, and eight of their Fugitive colleagues. Although their movement failed, the critique they offered of the transition from an agricultural society to an industrial society remains as timely today as it was three-quarters of a century ago. Unfortunately, history will repeat itself this weekend as the Crimson Tide will suffer on Saturday the same fate that befell the Agrarians in the 1930s. Urban defeated rural then and Urban will defeat rural now. The Gators are getting better and working harder (http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/?p=1077) and the chasm separating Mike Shula from Urban Meyer is akin to the divide between Ray Goff and Steve Spurrier. Florida wins and probably wins big.
National Games of Interest:
Syracuse at Florida State - The home team thrust a flaming spear into the heart of the N.C.A.A.'s politically correct ban of Indian mascots by demanding and winning the right to retain its traditional nomenclature. The visiting team changed its nickname from "Orangemen" to "Orange," presumably after undergoing the same surgical procedure performed on Rex Reed at the beginning of "Myra Breckinridge," albeit with results significantly less appealing than Raquel Welch. This is a big name match-up in name only and the Seminoles will peel the Orange, winning a game that will read better in the record book than it lived on the football field.
South Florida at Miami - I don't quite know what to expect from this game. I've never before seen a Bull take on a Hurricane. In the Helen Hunt movie "Twister," I saw a cow take on a tornado, but that's not quite the same thing. The 'Canes are improving and playing in the Orange Bowl. U.S.F. just notched the biggest win in the program's brief history and the Bulls have to be sky-high coming into one of the sport's most daunting venues. Miami might just pick up the visiting team and sling them around a little. Actually, come to think of it, this may be exactly like the scene with the cow and the tornado in "Twister." Miami wins in a walk.
Arizona at Cal - Respect for Jeff Tedford and the memory of last season's ten-win campaign have won for the Golden Bears a stature they do not deserve. The People's Republic of Berkeley has built its 4-0 record against such victims as lowly Sacramento State, downtrodden Washington, Ron Zook-coached Illinois, and Hal Mumme-coached New Mexico State. The Wildcats are a scrappy squad coming off of an open date and it is tough to believe that Mike Stoops can be kept down for long. With 17 starters back from last year's team, Arizona is poised for a return to respectability and Cal is liable to overlook a team the Bears beat by a 38-0 final margin in 2004. With a road trip to U.C.L.A. upcoming, California will be caught gazing past the 'Cats. Expect Arizona to make the Golden Bears pay for their hubris. I'm calling the upset: 'Zona beats Cal.
Iowa State at Nebraska - The mere fact that this game is considered worthy of being picked is reason enough for firing Bill Callahan. As bad as it is to be the guy who replaces a legend (see: Goff, Ray; Perkins, Ray; Zook, Ron), it may be worse to be the guy whose predecessor is doing a better job of coaching someplace else. (Last weekend, while Chan Gailey's Yellow Jacket squad was losing 51-7, former Georgia Tech head coaches Bobby Ross of Army and George O'Leary of Central Florida led their teams to impressive performances. Given the grumbling among the Ramblin' Wreck faithful, there soon may be a move by Georgia Tech boosters to oust the incumbent and rehire a retread. Maybe Coaches Ross and O'Leary should start updating their resumes. Oops . . . sorry, George; it's just an expression.) Surely 'Husker fans have noticed how Frank Solich has perennial M.A.C. cellar-dweller Ohio playing well---or, if not exactly well, at least better than Nebraska, which is simply awful. On the opposite sideline stand Dan McCarney's Cyclones. Up until five years or so ago, Iowa State was nothing more to me than the answer to the trivia question, "Which member of the Big 12 am I most likely to forget if I am asked to name the members of the Big 12 and I draw a blank after naming eleven of them?" Other than an aberrational two-win season in 2003, though, the Cyclones have been a decent team for a while now. I.S.U. beat in-state rival Iowa like a yard dog, went on the road to scuffle with a scrappy Army team, and heads to Lincoln to face a Nebraska team the Cyclones beat in Ames last year. With 20 starters back from last year's Independence Bowl championship squad, Iowa State is poised to claim a second straight victory over Nebraska. The Force is not with the Cornhuskers and, even if Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson are standing on the sidelines for the Big Red, the squad from Lincoln will not survive the attack of the 'Clones.
Virginia at Maryland - Honestly, I only included this game in my picks as a sorbet, to clear the palate between "Star Wars" jokes. I remain unconvinced that the Cavaliers are worthy of a top 25 ranking, but I'm sure the Wahoos are good enough to throttle the terrible Terrapins. Yes, Virginia, there is a road victory.
Kansas State at Oklahoma - Bob Stoops takes on his old mentor, Bill Snyder, in a game reminiscent of Anakin Skywalker's confrontation with Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of "Star Wars," only, this time, they'll be using bad football teams instead of light sabers. Also, if Coach Stoops strikes down Coach Snyder, he won't become a part of the Force, he'll just continue to be stuck living in Manhattan, Kans. Surely O.U. will get back on track eventually and, with K-State coming to Norman, I have to think the turnaround will be Sooner rather than later.
Minnesota at Penn State - Will the bigger pretender please stand up? I remain skeptical of both squads' fast starts, although Laurence Maroney looks like he could run on most of the defensive fronts in college football. The Nittany Lions held the Golden Gophers to 16 points last season and, after being down 23-7 to Northwestern last Saturday, P.S.U. outscored the Wildcats 27-6 in the final 31 minutes of play. The only thing resembling a real quality win either contestant has achieved, however, was Minnesota's victory over Purdue in the Metrodome. Upon that basis alone, I am holding my nose and predicting a Golden Gopher win in Happy Valley in what narrowly missed being the national game of disinterest.
Utah at North Carolina - The Tar Heels are a tough team to figure. Just when you're ready to count out John Bunting's team, they go and play Georgia Tech just about even at Grant Field, acquit themselves respectably in a defensive struggle with Wisconsin, and upend N.C. State in Raleigh. I've never quite believed the hype where the Utes were concerned, so I'm taking the nation's second-oldest state-chartered university to beat the visitors from Salt Lake City in Chapel Hill. U.N.C. makes Utah cry U-N-C-L-E.
Notre Dame at Purdue - This almost qualified as the national game of disinterest, as well. No, I'm not kidding. Notre Dame's wins over Pitt and Michigan look less impressive with each passing week and the overhyped clash with Washington was closer than it should have been, given the talent differential between the two teams. Ironically, the Gold Domers' best win was a loss: taking Michigan State to overtime before losing was something of an achievement. I've never been a believer in the Boilermakers and Purdue's loss to the Golden Gophers confirmed my worst suspicions about Joe Tiller's squad. The Irish remember last year's 41-16 loss at South Bend and it's payback time for Notre Dame's cross-state rival. The Fighting Irish win big.
Virginia Tech at West Virginia - Break out the banjos and head down the Monongahela River in a canoe with Ned Beatty! The Hokies are invading Morgantown hoping for deliverance from whatever ties continue to bind V.P.I. to the embarrassment that is the Big East in this clash of the white trash. The boys from Blacksburg are going to take hold of West Virginia by their mountain ears and make the home team squeal like a pig. Virginia Tech keeps on rolling.
Michigan at Michigan State - I would have included this game, anyway, because it lends credence to my premise that Georgia should get the Georgia Tech game out of the way before mid-October rather than ending the regular season against the Yellow Jackets. The Bulldogs and the Wolverines are in analogous situations: the Maize and Blue play their in-state rival at mid-season because their biggest rival is a conference opponent from a neighboring state. The same should hold true for the Red and Black, whose series with Auburn is more important than their series with Georgia Tech. (If anything, the argument for getting the game for state bragging rights out of the way early is more applicable to Georgia than to Michigan, since Michigan State is a Big Ten team but Georgia Tech is no longer an S.E.C. school.) All that aside, though, this is a game worth picking on its own merits. The Wolverines lost a heartbreaker to the Badgers and buzzards have been spotted circling above Ann Arbor. Meanwhile, the Spartans are enjoying their best winning streak since the Peloponnesian War. There's going to be a smack-down in East Lansing as Michigan State lays claim to local bragging rights.
Southern Cal at Arizona State - The two-time defending national champs are in for a Devil of a time in the desert. A.S.U. boasts the most potent offense the Trojans will see all year . . . that is, unless Matt Leinart looks in the mirror, which I'm guessing he does a lot. The U.S.C. punter may as well stay in L.A. for all the work he's going to get this weekend. The Southern Cal D may only stop the Arizona State O once or twice, but that's once or twice more than the Arizona State D will stop the Southern Cal O. The Trojans win by a 70-56 final margin.
National Game of Disinterest:
Pitt at Rutgers (Friday, Sept. 30) - The Big East has become the college football equivalent of Manhattan in "Escape From New York": the dumping ground for the wretched refuse of the sport. When a league offers a conference contest between the teams from Pittsburgh and Piscataway as its Friday night showcase game, it's time for the B.C.S. to reconsider that automatic bid to a major bowl. Right now, the Big East is being legitimized by South Florida, a school that didn't even have a football team in 1996. I decline to offer an opinion whether the Panthers or the Scarlet Knights are the more awful football team.
Those are my predictions for this week, although you should know by now not to put the slightest bit of stock in any forecasts I have to offer. In case you have not yet learned your lesson, though, please trust me when I tell you . . . Don't Bet On It!
After my first full weekend of sitting on the couch watching football for most of the day on Saturday (more about which anon), I have had occasion to revise some parts of my ballot substantially while having some previous impressions further cemented.
Ere I get to the ballot itself, though, I will go ahead and tell you which games I watched this past week. I watched the Wednesday night E.S.P.N. game and the last quarter of the Thursday night E.S.P.N. game.
On Friday night, I watched the first and fourth quarters of the Iowa State-Army game. I missed the second and third quarters because Susan and I watched the remake of "The Longest Yard," which recently became available on D.V.D. I found it odd that Adam Sandler was cast in the leading role but I enjoyed the movie, nevertheless.
I would note that Burt Reynolds, having played Paul Crewe in the original and Nate Scarborough in the remake, deserves the kind of accolades previously heaped upon Patty Duke (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001157/bio), who won an Oscar for playing Helen Keller in the 1962 motion picture "The Miracle Worker" and won an Emmy for playing Anne Sullivan in the 1979 made-for-T.V. version of the story. Unfortunately, Burt Reynolds never gets the credit he deserves.
During the fourth quarter of the Iowa State-Army game, I had the Cal-New Mexico State game on the flip-back. It's been a while since he coached at Kentucky, so I had forgotten just how ridiculous Hal Mumme looks standing on the sidelines with that preposterous towel around his neck. He looks like a B-movie villain whose nefarious plot is foiled by, say, Raquel Welch in "Fathom."
On Saturday morning, Susan and I took Thomas to the Hampton fall festival at McBrayer Park and returned home around lunchtime, at which point I settled in to watch Alabama-Arkansas, with Miami-Colorado on the flip-back. Later, we went out grocery shopping and I listened to Auburn's tussle with Western Kentucky on the radio. When we got back to the house, I joined Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech shortly before halftime, with Florida-Kentucky on the flip-back.
Naturally, Georgia-Mississippi State had my undivided attention from 7:45 forward (except for the last couple of minutes of the Michigan-Wisconsin game), but, after Mark Richt shook hands with Sylvester Croom at midfield, I switched over to Arizona State and Oregon State, which I had on in the background until the end of the third quarter or so, at which time I went to bed.
On Monday night, I watched the L.S.U.-Tennessee game, as all good Americans should have done. Was it just me, or, during the split-screen shot of Rece Davis's halftime interview with Urban Meyer, did you get a separated-at-birth hit off of these two? Creepy. Anyway, I filled out my BlogPoll ballot at halftime of the contest in Baton Rouge, only to wad it up and throw it in the trash can before the end of regulation.
Here now, after much revision and reconsideration, my BlogPoll ballot:
1. Southern Cal: The Trojans were playing on the road in a hostile environment against a good team and they fell behind 13-0 . . . yet they won it in a rout. Any voter in any poll who doesn't think U.S.C. is the best team in the country and any voter in the Heisman Trophy balloting who doesn't think Reggie Bush is the best player in college football needs to put down the crack-pipe and join the rest of us here in reality. Seriously, the only guy who doesn't think Southern Cal is No. 1 is the bozo judge who had Mike Tyson ahead of Buster Douglas on his scorecard before the knockout, right?
2. Texas: I wrestled with this vote and decided it wasn't fair to punish the Longhorns for having an open date last Saturday. Based upon U.T.'s performance thus far, Mack Brown's squad was my clear No. 2 . . . clearly well behind top-ranked U.S.C., yet just as clearly well ahead of third-ranked Virginia Tech. However, the Hokies have closed the gap; V.P.I. isn't just beating teams, it's beating them up and the race for the second spot has narrowed as a result. A fundamental sense of fairness is the only thing that kept Texas at No. 2 on my ballot, so you should think of Frank Beamer's team less as No. 3 and more as No. 2A. The Longhorns are on notice: they must keep winning and looking good doing it or the Hokies will overtake them in the second spot on my ballot.
3. Virginia Tech: C.B.S.'s Gregg Doyel has already refuted any claims that Reggie Ball's recent illness was a significant factor in the Hokies' victory over the Yellow Jackets (http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/8887396). In the upgraded A.C.C., Virginia Tech presently appears to stand head and shoulders above its league coevals. Texas has more playmakers, but the Hokies are fundamentally more sound and substantially better coached. (Anyone who doubts that last statement should note this fact: Mack Brown has never won a conference championship. Now ask yourself this question: "If Frank Beamer had Longhorn-level talent and Texas-caliber facilities, how many rings would he have?") There's a very big gap between Nos. 1 and 2; there's a decent-sized gap between Nos. 3 and 4; but the gap between Nos. 2 and 3 is razor-thin.
4. Florida: The final score of the Kentucky game was as misleading as any you will ever see. All but seven of the Wildcats' points came in trash time after the Gators thoroughly dominated U.K. in Lexington. If L.S.U. could have held onto a 24-7 lead, the Bayou Bengals would have taken over this spot and Florida would have been ranked fifth, but the Fighting Tigers' meltdown allowed U.F. to retain possession of the No. 4 position.
5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes showed grit in a loss to the Longhorns and they redeemed themselves with a convincing win over a well-coached Iowa team. O.S.U. isn't flashy but the Buckeyes are solid. I shouldn't have dropped them after they faltered slightly in a sandwich game, so I am rectifying my previous error by elevating Ohio State to its proper position.
6. Florida State: The 'Noles are starting to look like the F.S.U. we used to know. They're not there yet, but they've shown steady improvement. Also, Burt Reynolds used to play for Florida State and, if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences isn't going to give him an Oscar, I'm at least going to give his alma mater the benefit of the doubt.
7. Arizona State: There is no shame in losing narrowly to a team like Louisiana State and the Sun Devils' offensive numbers cannot be ignored. A.S.U. has played its way into the top ten and a win against U.S.C. could vault the team from Tempe into national title contention.
8. Michigan State: Not only did the Spartans not have a letdown after their dramatic overtime win over the Irish, they took full advantage of the national attention they garnered and throttled Illinois. Yes, it was just Illinois, but M.S.U. earns points for remaining focused and winning impressively in a contest in which a loss of intensity might have been expected.
9. Tennessee: When you're down 21-0 at halftime and you come back to win a game against a national championship contender on the road, you're a top ten team. You are not, however, a top five team, because, well, you allowed yourself to get down 21-0 at halftime.
10. Georgia: I wasn't comfortable ranking the 'Dawgs as high as I had them last week and, after a penalty-plagued game in Starkville in which the Red and Black regularly got bogged down in the red zone, I had to drop the Bulldogs a couple or three notches. Georgia has the talent and the coaching to play with any team in the country outside of Southern Cal, but the execution has been lacking, so my alma mater has taken a hit on my ballot.
11. Miami (Florida): The win over Colorado was solid, if not spectacular. The Hurricanes didn't look a whole lot better or a whole lot worse than they did a week earlier, so Miami is staying put on my ballot, knocking on the door of the top ten.
12. Alabama: All right, I'm convinced. Mike Shula has all the coaching acumen of a baked potato without butter, but, unlike Les Miles, he has managed not to get in the way of his talented team and he has stopped making foolish decisions like, for instance, sending a quarterback with a separated shoulder into a football game against a fast-moving, hard-hitting defense that everyone in the stadium knows will re-separate his shoulder. The Crimson Tide are exceeding expectations and their wins over South Carolina and Arkansas have gotten them within spitting distance of the top ten.
13. Louisiana State: While watching the Bayou Bengals make their Monday night football debut, I kept having flashbacks to the 2003 S.E.C. championship game, which gave me nightmares for weeks. In the first half, the Fighting Tigers were downright scary and they were looking like a team that could challenge Texas or Virginia Tech for a shot at the champs. At the end of the second quarter, though, you began to get an inkling of the home team's vulnerability: poor decisionmaking by a heralded quarterback and abysmal clock management cost Louisiana State a shot at a field goal and it became apparent that something was rotten in Tiger Stadium when Les Miles proceeded to throw his signal-caller under the bus in the sideline interview on the way to the locker room, which was the most ill-considered slip of the tongue by a public figure since Leo McGarry answered the reporter's question about the education bill in the season premiere of "The West Wing." What followed wasn't quite "The Choke at Doak," but it came close. L.S.U.'s utter inability to maintain momentum cost the S.E.C. frontrunner dearly and the amount of talent on hand in Baton Rouge is the only thing that kept the Tigers in the top 15.
14. Boston College: The Eagles bounced back nicely from what was supposed to be a showcase game against F.S.U. and B.C. gets points for escaping Death Valley with a win. The road victory over Clemson partially restored my faith in Boston College, so the Eagles have sneaked back up in the standings.
15. Notre Dame: I don't like the fact that the Gold Domers have managed to creep back up on my ballot and I continue to wrestle with whether to give the Fighting Irish credit or criticism for the way they won at Washington. All I can say about Notre Dame is that this is where the media darlings landed this week and that's that. Wins over Pitt and Michigan count for less and less every week, but hanging tough with Michigan State looks better and better with each passing day. I'm just hoping the U.S.C. offense re-enacts the firebombing of Dresden against the Irish defense so I can justify dropping Notre Dame a few rungs.
16. Auburn: The Plainsmen have done little to distinguish themselves this season, neither excelling nor collapsing. Auburn is a good team, but not a stellar team, so a No. 16 ranking seemed about right.
17. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders keep on rolling, but they keep doing so against the likes of Florida International, Sam Houston State, and Indiana State. I'm keeping Texas Tech parked right about here until I'm given a good reason to move them one way or the other.
18. Wisconsin: It seems like I've picked against Barry Alvarez's squad every week, yet this team keeps on winning. Each time I sit down to compile my BlogPoll ballot, I cast a glance at the boys from Madtown and think to myself, "Badgers? We don't need no stinking Badgers!" Consecutive wins over North Carolina and Michigan vaulted U.W. into the top 25. Now, Wiscy river, don't run dry; don't let a victory torture me.
19. Cal: The Bears haven't made a believer out of me yet. I'm not the least bit comfortable with the fact that Cal has risen for reasons having little or nothing to do with the team's merits, but they looked good enough against New Mexico State to render me incapable of ranking U.C.-Berkeley any lower than this.
20. U.C.L.A.: The Bruins rose through attrition and I will be glad when the Pac-10 race starts to shake itself out a little bit. Southern Cal clearly is the class of the league; Arizona State just as clearly is the second-best team in the Pacific Coast conference; after that, it's a great big muddle to me. Maybe that's just my East Coast bias talking, but, honestly, I have a tough time telling U.C.L.A. from Cal. I mean, they're both the University of California, they both wear blue and yellow, and they both have ursine mascots, right? How am I supposed to be able to figure out which one is which?
21. Minnesota: I still am not sold on the Golden Gophers, who annually plow through a September full of patsies and get knocked on their fannies the first time they take a punch. An overtime victory over an overrated Purdue team in the Metrodome didn't impress me a great deal, but I'm giving Minnesota the benefit of the doubt and giving the Gophers a very shaky No. 21 ranking.
22. Louisville: Top ten teams don't lose to South Florida. Top 20 teams don't get blown out by South Florida. The Cardinals still have the firepower to hang with anyone, though, so they will remain ranked . . . for now.
23. Georgia Tech: I am too sold on Virginia Tech's quality as a team to discredit the Yellow Jackets entirely for losing to the Hokies in Blacksburg. A lot of good teams would lose to V.P.I. on the Hokies' home turf. The Ramblin' Wreck still boasts a tenacious defense, a talented offense, and a top 25 team that will make some noise in the A.C.C.; the only difference is that now that noise may be a bit muted.
24. Purdue: I'm not any happier about keeping the Boilermakers in the top 25 than you are. There's only so much I can punish a team for an overtime loss on the road to an undefeated conference rival, though. As soon as someone hangs a second loss on Purdue, they'll be out of the countdown quicker than Lou Bega after the novelty of "Mambo No. 5" wore off.
25. Vanderbilt: Yes, it was just Richmond, but the Commodores did what B.C.S. conference teams are supposed to do against lower-tier competition, winning 37-13. Vandy led the Spiders 17-6 at halftime and 31-13 after three quarters. Jay Cutler connected on 28 of his 40 passes for 263 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions, setting school career records for touchdowns (44) and total yardage (6,769) in the process. The Commodores held the ball for nearly 36 minutes of playing time, gained over 500 yards of total offense, and converted more than 70 per cent of their third-down attempts in front of the largest crowd to watch a game in Vanderbilt Stadium in four years. (Granted, it was just twenty people, but still. . . .) A win over Richmond isn't enough to move Vandy up on my ballot, but the margin of victory was sufficient to hold the Commodores steady at No. 25.
Iowa and Michigan fell out of my top 25 for the same reason Oklahoma dropped from the rankings earlier: two losses too soon.
There was a fair amount of movement on my ballot this week, and even in the last couple of hours, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of being a BlogPoll voter and, by mid-October, I expect to be at a point where I feel comfortable about the placement of every team in my top 25. Until then, we'll see whether I win any awards this week for being overly eccentric, erratic, or disrespectful of my own team's performance.
It was Georgia's first away game and the established rituals were followed to the letter.
I arose on Saturday morning and donned a white shirt with a Georgia logo, in commemoration of the fact that the 'Dawgs would be wearing white jerseys in the opposing squad's stadium.
I walked out onto the back porch and turned the concrete statue of Uga so that he was facing Starkville, directing his mojo at the venue in which the Red and Black would be playing.
Finally, just before kickoff, I placed the red Georgia cap upon the Uga statue's head, taking care not to allow the bill to fall over into his eyes and block his view of the contest.
All was in readiness.
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I am perfectly comfortable standing in Sanford Stadium for three hours and yelling like a lunatic in front of 92,000 total strangers, but nothing unnerves me more than watching the Bulldogs play a road game from the comfort of my own home.
I can't cheer (especially not with a sleeping toddler just down the hall) and I can't contribute, so I am left to pace back and forth across my living room, crouching rather than sitting to watch a play develop.
Statistically, it was no contest. D.J. Shockley set new high water marks for his career in attempts (36), completions (21), and passing yards (312). Georgia's senior signal-caller also threw a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Between them, Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin, and Danny Ware carried the ball 24 times for 100 yards. Mississippi State's leading rusher, Jerious Norwood, managed only 43 yards over the course of the game and he was held to negative yardage in the second half.
Mohamed Massaquoi once again snagged every pass thrown anywhere in his vicinity, hauling in four receptions for 42 yards. Bryan McClendon once again came up big when the 'Dawgs needed a first down.
Leonard Pope, returning from a one-game suspension, led all Georgia receivers with 55 yards, including a touchdown grab in which he dragged hapless M.S.U. defender DeMario Bobo (not to be confused with Georgia Tech receiver Damarius Bilbo or Georgia quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo) while extending his 6'7" frame into the end zone. It's like he's Lurch with soft hands.
Brandon Coutu connected on three field goals and a tenacious Georgia defense limited Mississippi State to 77 total yards in the first half and did not give up a touchdown until roughly the midpoint of the fourth quarter.
Georgia led M.S.U. in first downs (22-13), total yards (406-254), passing yards (312-205), rushing yards (94-49), and time of possession (35:22-24:38). It was a dominant performance, leading to a 13-point win over a conference opponent on the road in a notoriously difficult place to play.
So why was I nervous the whole time I was watching the game?
In many ways, the Mississippi State game was a repeat of the South Carolina game. The outcome remained at least somewhat in doubt late in the contest because Georgia failed to capitalize on opportunities to deliver a knockout blow.
Coutu missed two field goals. The 'Dawgs lost a fumble in the red zone, ending what had been a pretty solid drive. One of the field goals Coutu made only had to be kicked when the Red and Black were unable to punch the ball into the end zone after having first and goal inside the five. The 23-10 final score easily could have been 40-10. The difference between scoring 23 points and scoring 40 points doesn't matter against Mississippi State; it very well might matter against Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech.
It wasn't a bad game. In fact, D.J. Shockley was pretty impressive in his first start outside of Athens and the defense was outstanding for three and a half quarters. My joy at Georgia's 4-0 start, though, is tempered by concerns over too many penalties and too little ability to put teams away. You can't let opposing teams hang around for four quarters or, eventually, it's going to come back to bite you.
Still, a conference win on the road is a conference win on the road and there's no place that I'd rather be right now than 4-0.
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Naturally, this brings us to the best part of every weekend, the Mark Richt Victory Watch. The win in Starkville gave Coach Richt his 46th career victory, placing him just 155 wins shy of tying Vince Dooley's all-time school record for career victories.
At 46-10, Coach Richt has the best record after 56 games of any football coach in Georgia history. At the same point in their respective careers, W.A. Cunningham (37-13-6), Harry Mehre (34-19-3), Wally Butts (37-17-2), Vince Dooley (40-13-3), Ray Goff (33-23), and Jim Donnan (38-18) all had won-lost records less impressive than Coach Richt's.
The Red and Black's victory in Starkville also represents two other milestones for Coach Richt. First of all, the win over Mississippi State completes Mark Richt's collection: Georgia has now beaten every other S.E.C. squad at least once during Coach Richt's tenure. It took Coach Richt 56 games to notch victories over Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt; by way of comparison, Coach Dooley had not beaten all eleven of those opponents until his 276th contest as the Bulldogs' head football coach.
Secondly, Mark Richt has now tied Ray Goff for fourth place on the career wins list at Georgia. Coach Goff posted a record of 46-34-1 in seven seasons (1989-1995) as the head coach of the Bulldogs. Only Coach Dooley (201), Coach Butts (140), and Coach Mehre (59) won more games at Georgia than Coach Richt has won in his first four and a half seasons at the helm.
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Elsewhere in the world of college football, things were shaken up quite a bit and my BlogPoll ballot this week may look a lot different following Monday night's showdown in Baton Rouge.
My faith in the Iowa Hawkeyes proved misplaced and the Ohio State Buckeyes proved that their close contest against Texas was no fluke: O.S.U. legitimately belongs in the top ten.
The Buckeyes' fellow Big Ten contender, Purdue, does not deserve to be anywhere near the top ten after the Boilermakers lost to Minnesota in overtime. You can't spell "Purdue" without P-U and I plan to drop the Boilermakers quite a bit on my ballot. If the Golden Gophers want to make it into my top 25, they need to prove that this isn't another one of their early-season teases. Beat Michigan and you'll have my attention, Minnesota.
Speaking of beating Michigan, Wisconsin won a thriller against the Wolverines, which will affect both teams' poll position dramatically. The Maize and Blue could be in real trouble when they face their in-state rivals, as the Spartans hung 61 points on Illinois. I haven't given Michigan State its due and M.S.U. will move up on my ballot.
Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, and Virginia all did pretty much what was expected of them. Virginia Tech not only cemented its position as my No. 3 team by beating a ranked Georgia Tech squad by a 51-7 margin; the Hokies began making a case for the No. 2 spot in the countdown and the Longhorns will have to keep up the good work to prevent V.P.I. from overtaking Texas on my ballot.
The No. 1 ranking remains beyond dispute, however. Southern Cal was down by 13 points against the Oregon Ducks, yet the Trojans came roaring back to score 45 unanswered points. Mighty Louisville was not so fortunate, as the Cardinals failed to rise to the occasion as U.S.C. did. In the end, Louisville fell to South Florida (the alma mater of my parents-in-law, by the way), 45-14.
It's already been a topsy-turvy year in college football and one of the weekend's big games---the S.E.C. showdown between L.S.U. and Tennessee---remains unplayed. Given all the wackiness that's taking place on the field, I'm just grateful the 'Dawgs are 4-0.
Georgia isn't the only team to sport such a sparkling ledger, though: the Commodores ground the Spiders beneath their bootheels in Nashville by a 37-13 final margin, giving Vanderbilt a 4-0 record. The 'Dores have done nothing to dislodge themselves from the No. 25 position on my BlogPoll ballot.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, fell to Wyoming in Oxford by a ten-point margin. It is going to be a long year for Ed Orgeron.
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I wanted to see the Red and Black win this one going away. I wanted to see Georgia come out focused, disciplined, and determined to deliver the knockout punch. Although the Bulldogs were not lacking in intensity, the offensive miscues and inability to put the nail in the opposition's coffin are causes for concern.
Fortunately, the 'Dawgs have an open date next Saturday. Mark Richt, whose calm sideline demeanor ordinarily indicates that he is a man with the resting heart rate of a marathon runner or a jewel thief, delivered a fiery lecture to his first- and second-string offensive players, passionately expressing his displeasure with their lack of execution.
Georgia is undefeated, is heading into a bye week prior to a major division showdown, and has a head coach who isn't happy with the way his offense is playing.
I believe that combination is liable to produce a well-prepared, emotional, and disciplined squad ere the time comes to board the buses to Neyland Stadium.