Darren McFadden is the real deal. Unless something totally shocking happens next week with Mississippi State, I can't wait to see what he does against LSU, and then against Florida. If Arkansas wins both of those games, they may still find themselves behind Texas (and should find themselves behind a one loss Southern Cal team no matter what)...but hats off to Houston Nutt, who was on his way out of town in August and now is on the threshold of something great, and for years to come.
Now, for the home team...where do we go from here? We're not assuming wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky, but if the Vols manage that and finish 9-3 and ranked somewhere in the Top 20, can they crack January 1? Florida and Arkansas - who should meet in Atlanta - will find the winner landing in New Orleans or Glendale, and the loser playing in a big bowl (Florida would go to Orlando, Arkansas would be a huge draw in Dallas). Then you've got LSU and Auburn - LSU may not get to Atlanta, but would probably get in the BCS at-large if they beat Arkansas. That's the best case scenario for the Vols, which would free up another spot on January 1. If LSU loses to Arkansas, the Tigers will still find their way to January 1 easily, which leaves the Vols and Auburn in the hunt for the Outback Bowl. And despite the collapse against Georgia today, winning the Iron Bowl might make the Tigers a more attractive pick than the Vols (Jacksonville and the Outback Bowl hate the Vols - last time we were there was January 1, 1993).
(That was a nice play by Bret Smith to score a TD)
Now regardless of the fact that UGA plays an hour from the Georgia Dome, and even if they beat Georgia Tech, there should be no excuse for the Chik-fil-A (old Peach) Bowl to pick them over us. Potential opponent? The dreaded Tennessee-Virginia Tech matchup that will likely get me fired for either taunting after a win, or punching someone in the face should they beat us. Still a chance for 10 wins and a good season if you win the next two and win your bowl game.
This one tonight hurts - and is causing flashbacks to Nebraska 97 and Kansas State 00 - but the Vols will live and learn.
(That was also a great replay shot on what should be the next to last play of the Arkansas DB leading with his head, getting hit, and instantly checking to see if he had feeling in his hands.)
Let's also say this - whether it's Crompton or Ainge next week, and despite this loss - we need to get payback against Vanderbilt. Big time. Period.