As late Saturday night became early Sunday morning I kept getting the same text message from friends around the country:
“Have you ever seen anything like this?”
By “this” they meant college football’s first Saturday in October. And no, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it. Just to refresh:
- It was the biggest football Saturday ever in the state of Mississippi as Ole Miss stunned No. 3 Alabama (23-17) and Mississippi State just dominated No. 6 Texas A&M (48-31). The scene on those two campuses before and after the games will be talked about forever.
- Five of the top eight teams in the AP Poll lost (No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 6 Texas A&M, and No. 8 UCLA).
- Eleven of the Top 19 teams lost.
- And if you think what happened in the SEC was wild, go look at some of the scores in the Pac-12: Arizona 31, Oregon 24; Arizona State 38, USC 34 (46-yard Hail Mary on the last play of the game); Utah 30, UCLA 28 (Utah kicked a 29-yard field goal with 34 seconds left); California 60, Washington State 59 (Washington State’s Connor Halliday threw for 734 yards and lost when a chip-shot field goal attempt failed); Notre Dame 17, Stanford 14 (Notre Dame scored the winning TD with 61 seconds left).
Three takeaways from the day:
1) It will be interesting to see how the various media outlets adjust their First Four in the College Football Playoff. Mine will appear in this space on Wednesday. Hint: I’ve had Auburn at No. 1 for the past two weeks. The Tigers will stay there.
2) Trust me: As great as Saturday was, we are just getting started. It will be this way all season.
3) This proves once again that while the NFL has the best athletes in the world, the pro game can’t touch the college game when it comes to weekly drama. The NFL, as good as it is, doesn’t give you — and can’t give you — the kind of emotion and scene that we witnessed in Oxford and Starkville.
A few other things we learned over the weekend:
Four SEC teams are on bounce-back alert this week: It is tough to get a team ready to play after a big win or a big loss. Four SEC teams have to do it this week: After what may be the bigger home win in school history, Ole Miss (5-0, 2-0) has to go to Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1). Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0) has to come down from its cloud and host Auburn (5-0, 2-0). ESPN’s College Game Day will be there. Alabama (4-1, 1-1) goes to Arkansas (3-2, 0-2) where the Crimson Tide, which suddenly looks vulnerable, can expect a wild reception. Florida (3-1, 2-1), which had a major gut check with a 10-9 win at Tennessee, hosts a reeling team from LSU. The Gators and Will Muschamp cannot afford a letdown.
South Carolina’s defense is just bad: Two weeks ago the Gamecocks led 20-7 against Missouri with eight minutes left. They lost 21-20. Saturday night in Lexington, Ky., South Carolina led 38-24 with less than nine minutes left and lost 45-38. In the fourth quarter Kentucky just lined up in the Wildcat formation with Jojo Kemp. Everybody in Commonwealth Stadium knew what was coming and South Carolina still couldn’t stop it. Kemp had 131 yards on 17 carries as Kentucky won back-to-back games in the conference for the first time since 2009. South Carolina came into the game with the worst defense in the SEC (440 yards per game). It gave up 447 yards on just 66 plays (6.7 ypg) against Kentucky. The Gamecocks are now 2-3 in the SEC and Steve Spurrier has a difficult coaching job ahead of him.