Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The best and worst of a relatively boring first weekend

I admit, I was mistaken. Appalachian State didn't really "bring it" when they visited Baton Rouge this weekend. However, you have to admit, they looked pretty good on their first drive. Okay, they got taken to the woodshed, but who cares. LSU wasn't the only SEC team that put a hurtin' on their opponent this weekend. In fact, some of the performances were downright scary.
1 - Alabama: Yep, they did it. Their fans chanted "SEC" on College Gameday, which the Clemson fans tried to counter with chants of "ACC", but the two sound so similar that it didn't make much of a difference. Besides, Clemson fans had absolutely nothing to cheer about by the time 'Bama had made it 20-3. This is a team that was expected to be in the middle of the pack in the SEC absolutely trouncing a supposed national title contender. Things did not go well for the ACC.
2 - South Carolina: 34-zip in another ACC waxing, though this one was already discussed as it took place last Thursday.
3 - Kentucky: Both U of L and UK are rebuilding this year after losing their quarterbacks to the NFL draft, but I don't think anyone expected the 27-2 drubbing the Wildcats put on their in-state rival. That's two in a row for the folks in Lexington.
4 - Florida: June Jones isn't walking through that door. Colt Brennan isn't walking through that door. And if they were, it wouldn't matter. Florida is loaded.
5 - Ole Miss: The Houston Nutt era might be a good one. While Arkansas struggled with their FCS opponent, the Runnin' Rebels put up 40 points for the first time in almost five years in beating Memphis.
Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Auburn and LSU also had victories against lower-profile opponents on opening weekend. In all, the conference went 10-2 (though it should be mentioned that they were two baaaad losses) and dominated in almost all of their wins. It's also nice to see that one of the few schools that struggled was Arkansas and new coach Bobby Petrino. If they have a tough year, in what week will he quit? I'm putting the over-under at eight.

The game of the weekend (though can we really call it that when it ran from Thursday to Monday night?) was the last one, and one of the SEC's two losses. UCLA, which lost a game to woeful Notre Dame last year by turning the ball over seven times, overcame four first half interceptions to beat #18 Tennessee 27-24. This game had a lot of components to it, including several periods when Vols QB Jonathan Crompton looked completely incapable of hitting his receivers, either overthrowing or underthrowing by bizarre distances. Another was the play calling by Tennessee, who, despite being ahead for most of the second half, only handed the ball to Arian Foster thirteen times (he gained 96 yards on those 13 carries) while throwing 41 times (Crompton finished 19 for 41 for 189 yards and a pick). Nonetheless, it was an exciting game as each team took the lead once in the final two minutes before Tennessee sent her into overtime with no time on the clock. In the end, both teams played nauseatingly conservative football in OT, and UCLA won when UT missed a 34 yard field goal. Cheers to Rick Neuheisel, who has been unjustly criticized for his issues at Washington (fired over an NCAA office pool, are you kidding), and somewhat fairly criticized for what went on at Colorado, where he had some recruiting violations. He's not a bad guy, and it definitely a capable college football coach who will have UCLA back in the mix in no time.
In more important news, UMass beat NEC favorite Albany 28-16 behind 172 yards rushing from former Clemson commitment Tony Nelson. Up next: Holy Cross.

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