Live from Knoxville, where "It's....GAME...DAY!"
- The fine line in the SEC is sometimes exploited by special teams. In Nashville, where Vanderbilt and Alabama are playing in what appears to be a mostly even game, with two quarterbacks that are making more than a handful of poor decisions, the Tide get a huge punt return to setup a touchdown, and the Dores get an incredible punt return called back for a mythical facemask penalty that I never saw. That's the most animated I've ever seen Bobby Johnson, by far - they should run that GameDay piece on Johnson not allowing cussing from his team from 2005 at least once a year. Alabama leads 13-3 in the second quarter.
- In 2005, Lee Corso said on the first Thursday night of the season, live from Columbia, that Steve Spurrier and South Carolina would never win a National or SEC Championship. On GameDay this morning, they showed a South Carolina video package that intercuts Corso's comments with highlights of Carolina beating Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson over the last two years (the three teams Corso specifically mentioned that Carolina couldn't recruit to beat), followed by The Ballcoach Himself making comments about building new facilities to continue the process (to borrow a phrase from Coach "Legs" Saban). Cut back to Corso, who's more than a little steamed about the whole thing, who immediately says "Alright, let's talk football." before picking Georgia to beat Carolina today. When Herbstreit pressed him on it after he finished, Corso made a comment about not dignifying something like that. Excellent.
- I'm a Titans fan, and I was driving into Knoxville on Thursday night so I didn't see it...but you have to feel a little bit good about the Colts' 41-10 woodshed beating of the Super Bowl "contenders" from New Orleans. It just goes to show - especially with a questioned defense that played so well against an explosive offense - that there is no ceiling for Peyton Manning and whatever team he's playing for.
- Speaking of the Titans, this is a big one right away for them (at Jacksonville, Sunday at 1:00 EST). Mike Keith was on SportsTalk in Knoxville earlier this week, and said that Jacksonville was the team that Steve McNair had to solve to become a superstar, and he believes it'll be the same thing for Vince Young. All this love being thrown towards LenDale White can vanish quickly if the Titans can't solve John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. With games against the aforementioned Colts and Saints in the following weeks, getting any win - and getting one over your divisional rival - would be huge out of the gate.
- Don't give up on the Braves. Maybe we'll come back to this once they head towards Shea on Monday, but in shades of a 2004 game where they made a huge late rally to beat Baltimore in an interleague game that sparked a division championship run, the Braves fell behind 8-2 in a Tim Hudson start to the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon. This was after getting broomed at home by the Mets and splitting the first two games of the Phillies series. I committed the ultimate sin and turned the game off. Then the Braves scored four in the 8th, and three in the 9th (with two outs) by getting every bounce imagineable, winning 9-8. In the next game back last night, John Smoltz almost pitched a no hitter. The Braves have two more at home with the Nationals before heading to Shea, and at this point they're still 7.5 back of the hot Mets with only three weeks to play. But they're just 4.5 out of the wild card, and after they get past the Mets, they don't have the world's most difficult schedule down the stretch. It's not probable right now, but it's also not over. Stay tuned.
- It's interesting what losing the first game can do to you. The Southern Miss game tonight has a different feel to it (and wasn't a sellout as of yesterday, which is stunning). But losses like the Cal game make you appreciate each individual game more. You really want to see something from the Vols tonight. And I still love me some college football, sitting here flipping between Vanderbilt and Alabama (still 13-3 as Leigh Tiffin had the distance but missed wide left on a 59 yarder, 2:00 left in the first half), Oklahoma and Miami (Sooners routing the Canes currently), and Nebraska and Wake Forest (13-10 Huskers last I checked). They're calling the West Virginia/Marshall game the Friends of Coal Bowl...ehhh...though I'm sure Marshall likes that better than "The Beatdown in Morgantown" from last year's encounter. In fact, I know they do - they're playing step-for-step with WVA, or at least they were thru the first half. Mountaineers currently lead 34-23 in the 4th.
UPDATE - 3:17 PM
- Alabama is Alabama and Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt because when the game is relatively even, one team makes plays and the other one doesn't. The Tide just kept leaning, leaning, leaning on Vanderbilt, and the points kept piling up - field goal here, turnover there, and all of a sudden you look up and the Tide are up 21 points.
- Credit NC State early for answering the bell right out of the gate, and getting to a 10-7 lead on Boston College even after an early interception, and trying to shake the cobwebs of losing to Central Florida last week.
- Ron Franklin calling a game before sunset may not be something that's ever happened in my lifetime. But he's in Norman, and the Sooners might be the best looking early season team, torching North Texas last week, and currently up 44-13 on The U halfway thru the fourth quarter. Ron Franklin is the man. And Sam Bradford will be soon.
- Wake Forest just got a h-u-g-e 4th down stop on Nebraska to get the ball back, 1:54 to play and down 20-17. Those looking for reasons to pick the Huskers over USC (read: me) next week aren't feeling so hot right now. Wake can still win this.
- Wake is going to come up short after getting an interception call overturned, then not getting a questionable pass interference call on 4th down. That's a tough 0-2 start for the Demon Deacons.
- I can't see it from my parents' house here in Knoxville, but the score at halftime from Fort Collins, Colorado is California 17 - Colorado State 14. Not exactly what we had in mind if we're wanting to make ourselves feel better.
- Oklahoma is rolling 51-13, Vandy has lost Chris Nickson and Earl Bennett to injury, but has gotten encourgaing play from its backups in a game they still trail 24-10, and we're moving towards the afternoon games, where I've got Oregon over Michigan in the upset pick of the day.
- If you like offense, I'd tune it to your local ABC station. With 3:00 left in the first quarter, Oregon leads Michigan 11-7 in a game that's already seen two Michigan turnovers, a "faked" extra point for an Oregon two point conversion, a failed Oregon onside kick, and Mike Hart once again trying to do everything humanly possible to make up for the Michigan defense, which has yet to give any proof that they can stop anyone. Oregon wearing simple all-white uniforms is the best they've looked this millenium.
- Thank you very much, Will, for telling us about Washington QB Jake Locker. UDub leads Boise State 14-0 in the first quarter.
- Cal continues to be unimpressive in a game I've seen no highlights of, leading Colorado State 20-14 late in the 3rd quarter.
- The good news: Oregon 32 - Michigan 7. Are you really that surprised? My heart, no pun intended, goes out to Mike Hart, who's on pace to run for 200 yards, despite the (presumed) loss.
- The bad news: Cal is trying to run out the clock and preserve a 34-28 win over Colorado State.
- Final thoughts on the way to Neyland Stadium: stopping Damion Fletcher is key. Points should be there, and a downfield threat would be nice, but if the defense can stop the run, especially up front, all should be well. Let's win one.