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Georgia Football

In September, College Football Proved It Must Have the SEC

September 20, 2020

ATHENS - Another weekend of college football has come and gone, but it was consequential off the field as much as on it. 

The Big Ten came out of hiatus over the weekend and scheduled the league’s entire fall slate - starting the Saturday before Halloween and ended the Saturday before Christmas. The move will have major implications for college football. 

Ohio State is to be taken very seriously. It is harder to say that about the rest of the Big Ten.

Meanwhile, the rest of the sport crawled forward with games that lacked any real meaning. Miami slapped Louisville around. Oklahoma State continued the Big 12’s trend of near or full disasters. Georgia Tech was taken to the woodshed after a nice afternoon of pre-game lifting. 

College football needs the SEC - and quick. 

The senseless ranking of teams like Louisville, Louisiana and App State will come to a merciful end this week. Rankings might not include Big Ten schools this coming week, but they won’t include teams that have losses to the likes of Georgia State and Marshall. 

Miami, we are now being led to believe, is a challenger to Clemson. I’ll hold off on that deal. The Tigers don’t look like they are missing a beat to me. Critics, of which there are very few, say the Tigers were held scoreless in the second half against the Military School of South Carolina (which I guess was formed for fear that North Carolina would invade?). 

Being held scoreless in one half after scoring 49 in another… most folks would take that in a game. Miami scored a pile, too. Maybe the Canes have a little something for Clemson, but I wouldn’t get too far ahead of myself. Clemson is clearly the best team to have snapped a football so far. 

Speaking of ACC newcomers, Notre Dame looked far better this week after slopping around with what looked like a solid Duke team a week ago. The Blue Devils were humbled by Boston College. 

Friday night showed us that we need to work on Coastal Carolina’s turf. The Chanticleers, which is some sort of freak “proud and fierce rooster” who “dominates the barnyard”, all but blended into their surroundings with teal jerseys on a teal turf. Coastal is 2-0 with a win over a Big 12 school. That’s more than a lot of teams can say… including a lot of teams from that league. 

The Big 12 looks like it is in a lot of trouble. Reggie Bush went “all in” and picked Oklahoma State to get to the playoffs last week. That seemed like a curious pick at the time. A week later it looks downright silly. 

Oklahoma State needed a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter to beat Tulsa Saturday. Now, Tulsa isn’t full-on garbage. They are a “solid” team in a so-called power 6 conference. But the No. 11 team in the country shouldn’t struggle to score an entire game against anyone.

It seemed possible we could dismiss the league’s rough start to the season a week ago. But two weeks in - no one seems in the same ball park as Oklahoma. Texas? You don’t look like the Sooners, either. But at least Texas isn’t embarrassing itself. Perhaps that will come later in the season if tradition holds. Meanwhile this conference is struggling to be relevant. 

The ACC is clearly better than the Big 12. Had Tulsa knocked off Oklahoma State it would be hard to justify saying the Big 12 was better than the AAC. Cincinnati is a solid team, and if you didn’t hear about it already UCF won the national title in 2017.

But the Big 12 is taking on a lot of water these days. The Ok. State-Tulsa contest was the only game in the league today. Next weekend conference play starts. It is hard to imagine that a one-loss Big 12 champion will get into the CFP over any undefeated conference champions, but the league could run into some real issues in the form of the No. 2 or even No. 3 team from the SEC without a clear winner coming out of the Big 12. 

(Camera quickly cuts to Mark Richt Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium)

The Jackets are lifting weights before the game with UCF - eager to build on last week’s well-watched win over Florida State. Tech (and this is probably going to be the only time in the next 50 years this is written) will probably be the most-watched football team of the season so far going into late September. 

This was Tech’s moment to build. Last week was about toughness and belief. But this weekend was about a return to normalcy on the Flats.

$3 Bills.

Money Down.

Sideline lifting.

404 Culture. 

Social Distancing during home games.

Tech, with all of the momentum necessary to turn a program around, took one step forward and face planted against No. 14 UCF. I’m not great at math, but even someone with a DeKalb County School System education knows that 49 minus 21 is four touchdowns. And that’s how many the Jackets lost by on Saturday. Tech turned the ball over five times. One in every three drives resulted in the Jackets giving the ball to the 2017 national champs. Add in a missed field goal and two turnovers on downs, and Tech just gave away too many opportunities. 

And that’s what bad teams do. Tech lost the ball at the UCF 8-yard line. It missed a FG with the ball at the UCF 10-yard line. It turned the ball over on downs at the UCF 24, and two drives later did the same thing on the UCF 37. The Jackets took the bullet; loaded it into the chamber; and shot itself in the corbicula over and over. 

And just when the Jackets held UCF’s fast-paced offense down long enough to make a run, the 2017 national champs ripped off three TD drives in a row to start the fourth quarter. Prolly should consider pumping the breaks on pumping them weights if the other guy is ripping you for 158 yards on 18 plays for 21 straight points when the game is on the line in the fourth. 

Mercifully the focus shifts to the SEC this week, but there aren’t many ideal matchups to start the season. Besides Georgia’s kick-ass throwbacks, what to watch for is pretty simple in the SEC. 

First, how good does Alabama look? We know the receivers are the best in the nation, but what about the whole team? Is the defense back to what we have been used to? How does Mac Jones look? 

Second, what about everyone’s dark horse the Gators? The game at Ole Miss should be a slight test for Dan Mullen and company, but not for long. I’m sure he will be well received in Oxford. The Gatos are now even with the Dawgs in terms of odds to win the national title at 16/1. Will that be the same after this weekend? The Gators should handle business at Ole Miss this weekend. 

Finally, Auburn’s game with Kentucky sticks out as the one to watch on the SEC slate this week. Kentucky is physical, and Auburn has missed a ton of practices. How much will that hurt the Tigers as they get ready for what very well could be a fight to start the season? “Really” early lines have the Tigers as a near two-touchdown favorite to win at home. That seems like too much.

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