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By god, college football is finally back, and since I have too many thoughts on this to just let marinate in my brain, this column is also back in all its glory(?) to recap this week of football. And man, week one was……something. Let’s get to the sports!
Once Again, Bo Knows down on The Plains
The No. 11 Auburn Tigers staved off an upset bid by the No. 16 Oregon Ducks with a late touchdown to win 27-21 in the marquee matchup of the weekend.
That’s the lead to the generic recap of this game, but this is no generic Associated Press recap. Because it’s still shocking to me that Auburn won this game.
The Tigers looked shakey to open up the game as Oregon’s speed poked holes through their defense. It’s rare that most SEC teams get outpaced by teams from other conferences — or at least that’s the perpetual perception — but the Ducks used short passes and great runs after the catch to keep Auburn off guard and hold a 21-6 lead halfway through the third quarter.
It kind of makes sense. Oregon’s quarterback Justin Herbert is a highly touted, experienced college quarterback who is projected by some NFL draft experts to be picked in the first round of next year’s draft. Meanwhile, Auburn was starting a true freshman quarterback named Bo Nix, the son of a former Auburn quarterback who dreamed for his whole life to be Auburn’s starting quarterback just like his daddy.
Most of the game, Nix looked like a true freshman. His final stat line was a pretty brutal 13-for-31 passing and he had two picks and faced constant pressure by a fearsome Ducks pass rush all night.
Then in the fourth quarter, Bo summoned the powerful Auburn energy that comes with his name (for all those uninitiated, Bo Jackson went to Auburn and is basically third place in most Auburn fan’s minds to God and then Jesus) and made his own legend. Two near miraculous touchdown passes including the game winner to Seth Williams with ten seconds to go saved Auburn’s blushes and put the pressure off head coach Gus Malzahan for now.
Nevermind that Oregon seemed to forget how to play offense in the second half. Nevermind that Auburn’s line got pushed around a bit, something that is sacrilegious for an SEC school playing one of them weak West Coast schools. Auburn indeed won the football game and that’s all that matters for now.
SEC! SEC! SEC!
While Auburn was able to come up with the big win in an inter-conference battle to prove once and again that the SEC is the best conference in the land, a lot of other SEC schools definitively did not do that.
It was an ugly weekend for a lot of teams down in the southeastern part of the country as four teams were shocked opening weekend, with three of those teams losing to “non-Power 5” teams.
First up, Ole Miss traveled up to Memphis to play the Memphis Tigers, where in an ugly game, the Tigers prevailed 15-10. I was personally taught that if you’re not gonna say anything nice, it’s best to say nothing at all. So I’ll do that.
The Missouri Tigers lost on the road to the Wyoming Cowboys 37-31 despite former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant throwing for over 400 yards on the day. The Cowboys played bad host in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 27-0 that including a 30-yard scoop and score by Wyoming’s C.J. Coldon to take a 27-17 lead at halftime. They also ran all over Mizzou to the tune of 297 and three total touchdowns and the home fans celebrated the beaut
The next victim in this sorry run was the South Carolina Gamecocks. In a neutral site game in Charlotte, they lost to the neighboring North Carolina Tarheels 24-20 after the Heels exploded for a 15-point fourth quarter. This is the same UNC team that won only two games last year and re-hired Mack Brown, a 68-year old who had been out of coaching for five seasons before getting hired last fall.
Gamecock quarterback Jake Bentley had only 142 passing yards and two picks, and UNC sacked him on a last ditch play for USC to add insult to a rough day.
Considering too that USC head coach Will Muschamp was supposed to be the heir aparent at Texas many years ago when Mack Brown was still coaching the ‘Horns, the game must add even more insult to injury to Muschamp, whose seat is probably heating up as we speak.
But I have to save the best for last. And that is Georgia State’s 38-30 stunner over the Tennessee Volunteers in Neyland Stadium, which might have been the best game of a really rough week one slate just for the sheer surprise of it.
The GSU Panthers had 213 rushing yards and shocked and stunned the home crowd to produce crowd reaction pictures that showcase every stage of the five stages of grief. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance are all there in what may have been the most stunned atmosphere of the college football weekend.
As a proud Atlantan — Georgia State is located in Atlanta and has a lovely downtown campus and burgeoning law school — I was thrilled to see Georgia State stake their claim to be the number two team in Georgia. Sure, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech have more history and national titles at various levels, but neither of them have wins this year over a Power 5 team. The Panthers do.
This is a program that was founded 10 years ago, and now has a win over an SEC program in their own stadium. Ludacris, a former GSU student and one of Atlanta’s finest, must be very proud.