Once again, I revel in the fact that I can spend most Saturdays watching college football all day, and today was one of those special days when the whole College Football World went to Hell and back.
Skies turning to blood, the rivers running red, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
I watched as the 12th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs ran roughshod all over #6 Texas A&M Aggies, then as #11 Ole Miss somehow, someway knocked off #3 Alabama, which was followed by the 5th ranked Auburn Tigers throttling the 15th ranked LSU Tigers, in a game that wasn't as close as the 41-7 score may seem.
25th ranked TCU edged out 4th ranked Oklahoma, then unranked Kentucky came storming back to tie South Carolina, then let them blow the Wildcats out, then came storming back again to win the game.
In a Hail Mary last second pass to the end zone, Arizona State beat the 16th ranked USC Trojans--a few days after their state-counterpart Arizona knocked off the #2 team, Oregon.
And now, I just finished watching the 10th ranked Michigan State Spartans hold off a furious 4th quarter rally by the 19th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, a rally that saw the Huskers score three touchdowns in 10 minutes, and were it not for the interception thrown in the last 30 seconds, would have had a real shot of beating Sparty.
This is why I love college football... so here are my observations, before the new rankings come out, before Utah and #8 UCLA finish their game, where Utah is up by 10 in the 3rd quarter.
First... We Don't Know Anything
We thought we knew that Florida State, Oregon and Alabama were in the Football Final Four, and that fourth spot would either go to either another SEC team like Texas A&M or even Auburn, or probably Oklahoma would win the Big XII and take it.
But now? Florida State struggles to beat EVERYONE... sure, they blew out Wake Forest today, but they started slow, Jameis Winston had a rough first few possessions, and FSU has been lucky to play against teams that would let them catch back up and win. And they play in the ACC, which might as bad as the Big Ten.
And now, Oklahoma, Alabama and Oregon all have a loss. It's not the end of the world for either, as if any of them win out, they'll likely find themselves in a position to win their conferences anyway. But it got a lot tougher.
Second... Ole Miss is LUCKY and Mississippi State is GOOD
We watched the Ole Miss/Alabama game, and it reminded me of the FSU/Clemson game, where the Noles gave the Clemson Tigers every chance in the world to win, and Clemson refused to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Today, Ole Miss took that victory, as Alabama played... well, like crap. Ole Miss wasn't much better, as they dropped passes, missed opportunities and could have scored twice... but Bama played a game full of penalties and stupid mistakes. Alabama is a better team, but Ole Miss snagged the win.
Mississippi State, however, is solid. Perhaps it's that A&M is also not as good as we thought, and QB Kenny Hill isn't as Heismany as we thought, but State controlled that game from start to finish. They had their way with the Aggies like it was a prison shower... it was ridiculous.
Third... Gary & Verne are Crazy
CBS longtime college commentators Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson are perhaps the most annoying announcers on the television today. If you watch college football, specifically the SEC coverage, you'll know this, so no need to dwell.
However, here's what I didn't like... CBS uses the Coaches Poll for their rankings, perhaps one of the only places that does. This is a big deal because in the Coaches Poll and AP Poll (the more used), Ole Miss is ranked 11th... but Alabama is 3rd in the AP and 1st in the Coaches. So, when Gary and Verne talk about how long it's been since Ole Miss beat a #1 team, it's just false. Perhaps having Alabama ranked 1st makes for a better story than if they were ranked 3rd.
Fourth... Florida is Still Terrible
My team, the Florida Gators, are now 3-1 after getting by Tennessee 10-9 today. The Gators also had to take multiple overtimes to get past Kentucky, who isn't as bad as we thought (we'll get to that next), and needed a miracle to beat the better-than-last-year-but-still-not-good Volunteers team.. after Gators QB Jeff Driskol was finally benched. We'll find out next week what the Gators will do, when LSU comes to town, but right now, I think Florida is the worst 3-1 team in the country not in the Big Ten.
Fifth... Kentucky Can Win the SEC East
They won't. But who thought they'd even be in contention in October?
Sixth... The Big Ten is a Cluster Muffin
Thru the first three quarters, as I flipped back and saw snippets of Michigan State's beatdown on Nebraska, I thought to myself "The Spartans might actually be the shining star of the Big Ten Conference... like FSU, they may be the one team a cut above the rest, and could make the Football Final Four". Then, Nebraska roared back in the 4th quarter and nearly beat the Spartans, all because Michigan State just fell apart and couldn't close. And then I remembered why no team from the Big Ten will make the Football Final Four.
Seventh... In a Sick Joke of the Football Gods, Alabama Needs to Root For Auburn
Here's how Alabama makes it back to the SEC Championship game... Auburn needs to win out (including beating Mississippi State and Ole Miss) and Alabama needs to win the rest of their games (including beating State). At some point, they have to hope Ole Miss will lose another along the way.
The Iron Bowl needs to be what it was last year--winner goes to the SEC Title Game. And to impress voters, it would serve the Crimson Tide well to be 11-1, taking on a 12-0 Auburn team, and to beat them. Let's say Alabama loses the SEC Title game to Georgia... there is still a chance Alabama can get that 4th spot in the Football Final Four, if they have beaten a team like 12-0 Auburn. Sure, it would make Alabama happy to play a 9-3 Auburn team, but they'd have to win the SEC outright to get a shot. Make sense?
Georgia is a solid team... but I think Auburn, Mississippi State and even Alabama could beat them, especially if they contained Todd Gurley.
By the way, I think this loss for Alabama might not be a bad thing... it's relatively early in the season, and it makes me think of the New England Patriots in '07 ('08?) who had run to 15-0, taking on the NYGiants in the last week of the season. They struggled to beat the Giants, rolled thru the playoffs, then lost a close one due to mistakes and sloppy play in the Super Bowl... to the NYGiants.
I have always contended that had the Pats lost the last game, gone 15-1, they would have won the Super Bowl. The "undefeated" would have been off their shoulders, and they would have realized they were not invincible. Bama is similar... they realize now that they are not invincible, that their sloppy play finally caught up to them, and now that "we are the best" is off their shoulders... playing catch up might not be a bad thing for the Tide.
Eighth... We Still Don't Know ANYTHING
It's college football. Next week, Baylor, who is leading the Big XII and looking strong, takes on TCU, who beat Oklahoma today. Baylor hasn't really played anyone of substance, so this game is huge. So suddenly, TCU has to play explosive Baylor, and later Oklahoma State and then Kansas State... Baylor has OK State and K-State too. So if TCU or Baylor comes out undefeated, they are in. But if Baylor beats TCU, then loses to Oklahoma big, Kansas State is like "What about us?"
If Auburn rolls up to Mississippi State, gets blown out, then beats up on Ole Miss, who then turn around and beats Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, Alabama is like "Hey, we are still here!"
Florida State will likely lose one. They are playing too loose and clumsy. What happens then?
Utah is beating UCLA right now, which was the unbeaten left in the Pac 12... and they still have to play Oregon. So like, what happens?
We don't know jack.
That's why I love college football.
(My current prediction for the Football Final Four is 1-Auburn, 2-UCLA, 3-Baylor and... crap, I dunno... 4-Mississippi State)