I say it every year but Saturday was just another example of why college football is the greatest sport on the planet. While it was weird to see all the historic stadiums so few in number yesterday, how beautiful it was just to have meaningful football!
The SEC joined the party this weekend with the ACC and Big 12 and boy was it a thrilling opener for the SEC. Overall, the day was nuts and had its share upsets, blowouts, shootouts, last minute finishes and yawn fest.
So glad to have you back, College Football. And I look forward to the Big Ten joining the fun in a few weeks followed by the Pac-12. That was one thing I truly missed yesterday….all those late night games with #Pac12AfterDark.
I’ve rambled enough so let’s take a quick dive through my pick six observations from an exciting and satisfying college football Saturday. Things got weird yesterday as I suspected it might. Let’s take a look!
Mississippi State airs it out over LSU
“They” said Mike Leach and his air raid wouldn’t work in the SEC. It’s only one game but BOY were “they” wrong! K.J. Costello, a senior, threw for a SEC record 623, yes, 623 yards passing on 36-of-60 attempts for five touchdowns. (THIS MAN THREW THE BALL 60 TIMES!!) Incredible first game and I guess when you do that you’re allowed a little grace for two interceptions and two fumbles…that’s assuming you win the game.
LSU looks a bit different with Myles Brennan under center. While the Tigers battled until the very end they couldn’t make the plays–especially defensively–when they needed it most. The Bulldogs took a 44-34 win in Tiger Stadium over the defending champions.
Leach and Kiffin both in the SEC going up against some of these aggressive and physical defenses is going to be very entertaining television. And the post-game pressers are going to be ELITE from Kiffin and Leach. I can’t wait!
As I mentioned a few days ago, Leach is a legend and someone who is always ready to provide a good soundbite or quote. He didn’t disappoint in that department on Saturday, either. It’s going to be a blast watching Leach go at it in the SEC west behind K.J. Costello.
Kansas State knocks off Oklahoma, again
Death, taxes, and Skylar Thompson having a day against Oklahoma en route to a high scoring thriller over the Sooners. After dropping the opener to Arkansas State, K-State made up for that and some knocking off the No. 3 Sooners in Norman, 38-35. Skylar Thompson and Spencer Rattler had quite the duel but after scoring four rushing touchdowns a season ago for the win, it was Thompson again a pain in Oklahoma’s side passing for over 300 yards and one touchdown while scoring three more with his feet.
It was a choke job for the Sooners who blew a 21-point third quarter lead in the game and have perhaps already eliminated themselves from playoff talks just two weeks into the season. There’s still a long way to go for OU with road trips to Iowa State, TCU and Texas Tech along with a neutral site showdown with Texas. Tom Herman and company went blow for blow with Texas Tech in a 63-56 track meet in Lubbock as the Longhorns scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime.
Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss
The Ole Miss Rebels couldn’t quite keep up in a shootout with Florida but for a season opener with a new head coach and offense in the first game, I was impressed with Ole Miss and their ability to move the football–against a talented team like Florida nonetheless. Unfortunately for Kiffin, Florida QB Kyle Trask kick started his Heisman trophy campaign with a six-touchdown performance. He was 30-of-42 for 416 yards and six touchdowns.
Rebel QB Matt Corral was 22-of-31 for 395 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Both teams gave up over 600 yards of total offense in the wild opener in Oxford. I was worried about Ole Miss having to face Florida in the first game with limited work this offseason with new head coach Lane Kiffin. Perhaps I was concerned with the wrong side of the ball for the Rebels who eventually fell to Florida, 51-35. It was a little more hospitable visit to “The Grove” for Dan Mullen, who coached at State from 2009-2017.
Virginia Tech overcomes incredible odds
The Justin Fuente experiment in Blacksburg hasn’t gone as the Hokies had hoped. The Hokies have had a rough few weeks and entered the game Saturday down 23 players and four coaches due to Covid-19, injuries and other reasons.
However, they still managed to humble NC State, 45-24 behind backup quarterback Quincy Patterson III. He took over and paced the Hokies with two passing scores and one on the ground. Tough, tough loss for the Wolfpack and Dave Doeren is surely creeping up on “put up or shut up’ time in Raleigh. Kudos to Virginia Tech for finding a way to get it done despite being heavily impacted by player and coach availability last night. With Louisville suffering its second loss Saturday, perhaps VT or Pittsburgh is the next team to watch in the ACC after Notre Dame, Miami and of course the frontrunner, Clemson.
Tennessee and South Carolina goes down to the wire, again
These two always seem to produce a nail bitter. Saturday was no different with the Vols hanging on for the 31-27 win. South Carolina took command early on Collin Hill’s first drive as a Gamecock but at times it was more of the same for SC who couldn’t quite get it going enough.
The Vols punted away with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, but the ball touched Cam Smith’s leg and Tennessee was able to recover and assume victory formation. Big win for the Vols but still have to be a bit concerned about Jarrett Guarantano and his inconsistency.
“We’ve got to go back and figure out where we are offensively and where we can create some consistency,” Jeremy Pruitt said. “But we put some drives together and finished the game off.”
Tennessee desperately needed the win Saturday night and thanks to a special teams gaff late in the fourth quarter, Jeremy Pruitt is all of the sudden riding a little wave of momentum from last season, the recruiting trail and now a season-opening win. The question is if he can build upon it.
UGA rides Stetson Bennett to win over Arkansas
While there is a long way to go, it appears right now the SEC East will run through Gainesville, not Athens. As a top five team, UGA looked pretty awful for most of the game against the Razorbacks. D’Wan Mathis was only 8-of-17 passing for 55 yards and one interception. Stetson Bennett stepped in and gave the offense a much-needed spark en route to the 37-10 final.
He ended the day 20-of-29 passing for 211 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs pulled away from a 7-5 deficit in the third with 22 points in the frame. Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC game in almost three years now but first year Razorback head coach Sam Pittman is hopeful his squad can build off of yesterday. Meanwhile, someone tell UGA the red pants and white uniforms were nice BUT the patch celebrating the last national championship 40 years ago…..that is brutal.