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Saturday Lessons: September 19

It was one of those weeks.

Every season, there's a week or two where we see top teams struggle. USC lost. BYU lost. Florida struggled with Tennessee. Cal struggled with Minnesota. I'm not ready to call this 2007 all over again, but there has been a lot of upheaval early on.

Florida is not the greatest team ever.

Even if the Gators run the table from here on out, you can forget about calling them the best team ever (got that, ESPN?). Without Deonte Thompson the Florida offense was dead of arrival, as the passing game was not able to do anything beyond 15 yards down field from the line of scrimmage. With everything being done up close to the line, Tennessee was able to crowd in close and limit greatly what Florida wanted to do.

The defense did its part, with the one touchdown allowed likely being a byproduct of having relaxed and assumed that Tim Tebow was not going to fumble it away in the red zone. This game was heading the way of the Florida-Arkansas game of a year ago, where UF lead 17-7 for most of it, scored right near the third/fourth quarter break, and pulled away for a nice final score. Instead. Tennessee never stopped fighting and kept it close. If Tennessee had Ryan Mallett, the Vols would have won.

I was wrong, wrong, wrong about Tennessee.

Tennessee did exactly what I thought it would, which is lean on the rushing game and not the passing game. What I did not expect was for the UT offensive line to repair itself so quickly and play an outstanding game.

Jonathan Crompton did his part fairly well, despite some bad throws and two basically inconsequential interceptions. If he could have been trusted, the Vols could have used the run to set up some down field passing and cause some real trouble for the Gator defense. This is why it is so critical for Lane Kiffin to find a quarterback for the future, whether it's Nick Stephens for part of this one and next, or current commit Tyler Bray or someone else. The running game should be set for years with Bryce Brown and David Oku. Without a quarterback though, they'll lose a lot of games in the same manner as this one.

I was right, right, right about USC.

I've been saying since the first week that I was not impressed by USC, even after they blew out San Jose State by 50. I said that there were Pac-10 losses out there because of the deficiencies of the passing game, and though I didn't call Washington to be the first one, I'm not as shocked as most everyone seems to be. I don't know that Matt Barkley would have made a difference, but someone who got the game in their area might be able to tell me. Anyway, this Trojan team is not done losing for the year.

BCS bustin' is down to three teams.

Boise State. TCU. Houston. That's pretty much it, and the Cougars are a major long shot. With BYU going down in flames and Oregon edging out Utah, the MWC took a shot. Oregon's win also helps out Boise State, as the Broncos need that first win of the year to stretch a loooooong way with the rest of their schedule.

Cal should stop playing noon ET games.

Everything will be covered up by the "OMG! Jahvid Best 5 TDs!!" hype parade, but Cal really didn't look that great against Minnesota. At least the Bears won this time, instead of staging a repeat of the giant egg they laid at Maryland last year. Of course, Best was fantastic. He really was, but the problem was that Best had three touches in three fourths of the the second half before Cal went back to feeding him consistently.

Georgia and Arkansas are applying to join the Big 12.

93 total points. 1,015 total yards. We knew that Arkansas would be all offense and no defense, but a 2-1 vote among early season games says that Georgia is too. That UGA-Oklahoma State game is really standing out as the bizarre score of the year so far, upsets aside. Neither team has played like that since, and neither appears likely to again. Arkansas meanwhile lived up to its billing offensively, as Mallett put on a show with his arm. He's the new Matthew Stafford.

Texas and Texas Tech will come back in the trade.

It was a defensive struggle for most of the game, and though Texas Tech kept giving Texas opportunities to break the game open, the Longhorns never could. Something is up with Colt McCoy, as he wasn't terribly sharp all night. Tech played a valiant game and could be close to as good as it was last year, even if they couldn't pull off a repeat of last year's win over UT. Given how Oklahoma State played against Rice this week (and how TTU did against Rice last week), I'm beginning to think that the Red Raiders are the third best team in the Big 12 South.

Auburn's rushing game might be human after all.

Anybody have Auburn throwing for 300 yards while rushing for only 100? Anyone? It was an important win to pick up over a pretty good West Virginia team, but it wasn't the most elegant. The Tigers were outgained by 109 yards, but they took advantage of six (!) WVU turnovers to take it by 11. While it is somewhat disappointing to see the leading rusher (Ben Tate) be held to 3.9 yards per carry, the passing game made up for it and that's an accomplishment in these parts.

Never doubt Brian Kelly.

Cincinnati picked up a nice win by going to Corvallis and beating Oregon State. I thought Cincy would be better than the experts think this year, to borrow Lee Corso's phrase, but I didn't expect them to look this good this early. Kelly is the best coach in the Big East, and the Bearcats will be right in the thick of the race again.

Kentucky is still a mystery.

I think we all can guess what expletive Rich Brooks thinks that almost giving away a game to Louisville is. The offense was nice, with Mike Hartline having a nice stat line even if his average was low. It concerning though that Louisville outgained the Wildcats and converted more than half of its third downs.

Mississippi State is not going winless in the conference.

The Bulldogs gave Dan Mullen his first win in an ugly one in Nashville. Ugly doesn't really describe the Vandy offense though, as it got only 157 yards and lost time of possession by an entire quarter. When your leading rusher has seven carries for 26 yards, that's a bad sign. MSU meanwhile rushed for 260 yards, led by Anthony Dixon, and picked up a conference win on the road.