SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/07/2006 11:37:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part V: Closing Thoughts
Erik Ainge and Tennessee are the first team since 1995 (Florida) to put up 50 on Georgia in Athens.
Dale Zanine/US PRESSWIRE
Three things I never thought I'd see in my lifetime:
1) Patrick Dempsey becoming the biggest star in prime-time television. 2) A pop artist using "London Bridge" as a sexual metaphor. 3) Tennessee going into Sanford Stadium and putting up 51 points.
Watching Tennessee this season is like walking into a bizarro universe. The head coach is the same, the uniforms are still orange but it's as if the offense secretly morphed into USC's over the offseason. I couldn't be more impressed with Erik Ainge right now. He and his team walked into a hostile atmosphere against a notoriously stingy defense, fell behind 24-7 -- and proceeded to brush it off like lint. Ainge looks like a seasoned vet, and receivers Robert Meachem and Bret Smith are playing as well as any tandem in the country.
The Vols' win also helps me as I attempt to reconfigure my AP ballot this week. In addition to speaking well for them, it speaks even more highly of two previous Tennessee opponents that scored big wins Saturday, Florida (whose 21-20 win at Neyland looks even better now) and Cal (whose 35-17 loss opening weekend doesn't look nearly as bad).
∙ ABC showed a great stat about Cal WR DeSean Jackson during the Bears' rout of Oregon: He's now scored a touchdown of 27 or more yards in all six games, two of them on punt returns. Cal is now looking every bit as dangerous as we anticipated going into the season; the Ducks' defense isn't so hot.
∙ Hats off to Missouri. I admittedly had my doubts about the Tigers, but they went into Lubbock and flat out whooped Texas Tech to earn their first 6-0 start since 1973. Mizzou's highly ranked defense did give up a lot of yards to the Red Raiders (449) but they also sacked Tech QB Graham Harrell four times and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
∙ We knew Virginia was bad, but good Lord. Al Groh's team was never in the game against East Carolina, losing 31-21 to fall to 2-4. What happened to all those vaunted recruiting classes?
∙ Smaller story, but I'm sure you're following it: Poor Colorado could be looking at 0-12 after falling 34-31 to Baylor in triple overtime. The Buffs are now 0-6 and have lost a school-record 10 straight dating to last season. Unreal.
∙ Smaller story part II: Big night for Kansas State's new all-freshman backfield. QB Josh Freeman made the game-winning 21-yard touchdown run and RB Leon Patton ran for 151 yards as Ron Prince's team beat Oklahoma State 31-27.
I really don't know what to think. The UGA defense has shown thAt they are good and can hold their own, it is the offense that has been struggling. They showed tonight that they as well can put up some numbers. I don't feel like Tennessee beat an exposed team. I think that UGA is a good team but was beaten by a better one. I think Tennessee is playing as good as anyone in the country right now.
Cal is rolling on all cylinders with awesome balance on defense and offense. Time for the rest of the country to take notice not only of players like Lynch, Longshore, and Jackson...backups such as Forsett are just as capable on the first team as well...GOOO BEARS!
I don't think it's fair or right to rank an SEC team above West Virginia. Remember, West Virginia shellacked the SEC's "champion" in the Sugar Bowl last year, and they're the same team this year except those two freshmen you've heard of are now a year older. At this point West Virginia owns the SEC in and should be ranked above them always as long as they're still winning. Plus, until their bye last Saturday, West Virginia shared the nation's longest winning streak with Ohio State. The SEC teams are playing in a vacuum, but when they face the likes of a West Virginia or USC or Ohio State, the truth is readily apparent. There's not a single team in the SEC right now who could hold off the offensive blitzkrieg of a West Virginia or Louisville, their so-called "great defenses" be damned.
What teams have the most defensive speed at the major college level? Look at Clemson and Georgia Tech making such dramatic comebacks - was it an overachieving team finally yielding to superior athletic talent, coaching genius (WFU and Maryland are both extremely well coached), or defensive speed rapidly capitallizing on any mistake and demoralizing the other team? Or something else entirely?
I can only follow the games in print or on the internet from overseas, so some things I have to see through the eyes of people like yourself.
Thanks for your continued fine coverage of college football.
Watching the Cal-Oregon game I was amazed at Herbstreit talking about another Pac-10 shootout and how much better the defenses are in the SEC--did he miss that Tennessee-Georgia game?
And for those who keep saying the SEC is the best, check out the records of each BCS conference in games played by conference members against schools in the other BCS conferences: Big East: 10-7 Big-10: 6-4 Pac-10: 6-4 SEC: 5-6 ACC: 4-5 Big-12: 3-8
If the SEC teams are the best, why can't they beat teams from the other BCS conferences?
The talent has always been there at Tennessee, and when they focus and execute, they look awesome. When they don't, they look incredibly average. Expect at least one or two more lackluster efforts before the season is out.
God the SEC is overrated. Who cares if they beat each other? The only good non-conference win belongs to Tennesee. If LSU or Georgia had different names on their jersey's they wouldn't be ranked. What a freakin joke.
Stewart, I think you missed something with Georgia. Georgia simply isn't that good. Recall a few weeks ago when the pulled out a close game at home against Colorado. You made the observation this week that Colorado may be looking at 0-12. One poor performance can be seen as an oddity. After Strugling against a Colorado team that has a 10 game loosing streak and being blown out by Tennesse I would say it is a safe call that UGA was badly over rated.
I still can't say that Tenessee is the real deal either. They pulled out a 1 point victory over Air Force earlier in the season. Top 10 teams don't have 1 point margins with teams like AirForce. Look for Tenessee to loose a couple more games this season.
Nice to see Georgia get exposed... Don't be so stupid. Georgia got coached... badly. Defensive Coordinator Willie Martinez is a true let down after losing Van Gorder to the NFL. Georgia has only lost one game which can be blamed on the offense since Van Gorder left, a 14-10 loss to Florida. 14 First Half Points / 37 Second Half Points... BAD BAD BAD COACHING.
Georgia has sucked all season. If UT could have played some special teams it would have been 51-19. The SEC is by far the best conference. The schedule is so tough it is impossible to get through though Florida has a shot. It would be nice if we could play 1 or 2 tough games a year like the Big Eleven or the weak, weak Pac-10 and get into the national championship game. One more reason we need a playoff.
anonymous, can i get the bears are over rated, over hyped to start the year and play in the PAC joke 10. Your right top ten teams shouldnt beat airforce by one, but it happens every year to top teams and will continue to happen. By the way, top ten teams should not get WHIPPED in their season opener when they are suppose to be national title contenders. Good luck against UCLA, Arizona and the rest of the PAC 10 boys. Stay out WEST!!!
WV hasnt even had and won't have a game against a currently ranked team until they meet louisville in a few weeks while fl and usc has each had at least one statement win (ND, UT, LSU) so of the unranked teams that arent OSU, WV has the least to back up a top 2 ranking right now. Lets see how the next few weeks play out before we judge too much..
As for joe in Boulder, last year was last year - we play football in the current year, hthank you very much..
Now that Patrick Dempsey is such a big star (what happened to network TV), perhaps 'Loverboy' and 'Run' will get the critical acclaim they always deserved...especially 'Run' (well, it also has Kelly Preston)...anyone know why Boise State only beat Hawaii 41-34 on the blue turf?
Ainge and the Vols are looking awesome..still some tough games left with LSU and Arkansas. If UT had beaten UF Ainge might be a top Heisman contender. If he continues this trend, he will be a lock for Heisman 2007! GO VOLS!!!!!