A few weeks ago, I posted on social media that, upon seeing the Top 25 rankings of college football teams, I wasn’t sure how good anybody was.
This past weekend cemented my beliefs.
Oct. 1 must have been one of those “any given Saturdays” we are always warned about. Oklahoma got bludgeoned by Texas Christian. Mississippi State repudiated Texas A&M. Ole Miss turned away No. 7 Kentucky. LSU scored 21 unanswered to defeat Auburn on the Plains. Missouri gave Georgia a fright before relenting to the then-No. 1 Bulldogs. There were other head-tilting games out there, but those are a few that made me sigh and go “hmmmm?”
Kentucky was one of those teams that I think was oversold at the beginning of the season. Yes, the Wildcats won 10 games last year. Yes, Mark Stoops has elevated that program to consistent heights generally not seen when it comes to UK football. Basketball, as we all well know, is a different story. Ole Miss stopped a pretty heady Wildcat offense and showed some moxy running the football.
I just had a feeling that Kentucky might have been ranked a bit too high. I sometimes get the idea that Tennessee might be in that same boat (I’m speaking objectively as a columnist, not a fan, so don’t hurl barbs in my direction). We’re going to find out soon how realistic Tennessee’s rating is. Tennessee has a lot of positive aspects to its team, but it’s a flawed team as well. But I feel the Vols will maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses as move on.
Georgia is a curious observation. There is some disconnection within the program somehow. The Bulldogs were unimpressive against Kent State the week before and were lucky to get out of Columbia with their skin. Missouri essentially gave it back to them. I knew when Georgia closed the gap late in the third that Missouri was doomed. I wonder when the axe will drop on Mizzou coach Eliah Drinkwitz.
Speaking of unhappy campers, Auburn looked like it had LSU beat, but LSU is a second-half team, as we saw against Florida State. Auburn jumped to a 17-0 lead only to see it evaporate. It’s hard to win the Southeastern Conference when you turn the ball over four times. Besides there’s a lot of noise going on in Lower Alabama about firing Auburn coach Bryan Harsin. Auburn folks have been trying to run him off since the day he got hired. But here he is, 3-2 and a few minutes away from 4-1.
Meanwhile, LSU seems to have a few issues moving the football. There is plenty of talent down there, but something doesn’t seem right. I point to head coach Brian Kelly, whom I think is fool’s gold when it comes to coaching, but LSU will figure that out soon enough. I’ve put this in Tennessee’s win column going back to last January. I haven’t changed my mind.
How do you explain Texas A&M? I give you a hint. It’s spelled J-I-M-B-0. The Aggies are on the hook for $100 million dollars for Jimbo Fisher’s services, the same guy that ran Florida State into the cesspool. A&M was 8-4 last year, had a suspect nine-win season the COVID year and was 8-5 in 2019. His record is worse than Kevin Sumlin’s mark for this same span. And Sumlin was the guy A&M fired to get Fisher. The Aggies have two losses, one of them in the SEC. They have Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and Florida upcoming, not that order. It’s reasonable to expect A&M to go 8-4 again, or possibly 6-6. Money well spent?
Credit Mississippi State for sending the Aggies off on skates. Bulldog coach Mike Leach is unpredictable and capable of making folks look bad when you least expect it.
I remember the 2007 season being a crazy campaign that made getting up on Saturday mornings to read the papers/websites/blogs and then watch Game Day worthwhile. This is shaping up to be one of those seasons. We’re not even halfway through the season yet and I dare say there will be more surprises upcoming.
With Tennessee sitting there are No. 8 in both wire-service polls, could they be the hot babe jumping out of the cake this year? We’re going to find out soon.
Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m. CT, Monday-Thursday on 95.9 FM, WRJB, Camden, Tenn.