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Kicking Off Week 2 with Good Sportmanship and Uncertainty // 09.07.09

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Even Lou Holtz concedes that the Gators will "upset" Notre Dame for the national title. Meanwhile, a competitor for BCS game (Oklahoma) loses to BYU and the biggest threat in the SEC East (Georgia) looks like it's unable to score points.

A look at who's going which way in college football

Takeup_medium DAN MULLEN
Guides Mississippi State to largest point total in seven years. Next up: Auburn and a sequel to 3-2.

Takeup_medium RICH RODRIGUEZ
What scandal? It might have been Western Michigan out of the MAC, but Saturday's game was the second-highest point total for Michigan under Rodriguez and the highest margin of victory. Oh, and Michigan beat a mid-major or FCS in its home opener for a change.

Takeside_medium SEC QUARTERBACKS
Greg McElroy, Jevan Snead overcome slow starts to look impressive. Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton looks light years ahead of last year's imitation of Evil Erik Ainge. Now, about Georgia's Joe Cox, South Carolina's Stephen Garcia ...

Dubbed the first weekend "Sportsmanship Week," asked for teams to shake hands at midfield. How'd that work out for you?

Latest example of bad behavior in sports. Upside: Closest anyone came on Thursday night to landing a knockout blow.

Takedown_medium ACC
When does basketball season begin?

A few things to think about

The first week means nothing -- sometimes
It's easy to get wrapped up in the first weekend of college football. It is, after all, the first time we've seen any of these teams, and it's the only basis we have for any analysis at all.

Take, for example, South Carolina's woeful performance on offense. No, not Thursday's; the season opener back in 2006, when the Gamecocks scored just 15 points and produced just 274 yards of offense, until this week the worst offensive output of any Spurrier-era South Carolina team. That 2006 squad ended up as Spurriers best so far in terms of points per game (26.6), rushing yardage per game (144) and total yardage per game (395). It fell 21 points short of going 11-1 overall, 7-1 SEC and came within Jarvis Moss' fingertips of upsetting eventual national champion Florida.

That was two days before Arkansas got crushed 50-14 at home by Southern Cal. The Hogs would reel off 10 straight wins until losing to LSU in their final regular season game. Arkansas ended up winning the SEC West crown and were ranked 15th or 16th in the polls when the year ended.

You might remember last year's victory by UCLA against Tennessee. That was good enough for the Bruins to show up at No. 23 in the AP poll and just outside the Top 25 in the USA Today poll. That is, until BYU waxed UCLA 59-0 the next week; the Bruins would win just three more games all year.

Of course, sometimes season openers let us know exactly what a team is. Also last year, Mississippi State lost to Louisiana Tech in the season opener. The Western Division Bulldogs would win just three games against FBS foes the rest of the way and Sylvester Croom "resigned" at the end of the season.

So it might be that Georgia and South Carolina are as awful as they look or that Alabama will cruise to its second straight SEC West title. Excuse me if I wait a bit longer to pass judgment.

Where can I go to get my reputation back? Week 2
This could mark a redemption weekend of sorts for the SEC. Tennessee will have an opportunity to prove that it's turned things around since last year when UCLA comes to Knoxville after last  year's 27-24 loss in overtime marked the point at which the wheels essentially began to come off of the Fulmer Era.

Meanwhile, Auburn will take on Mississippi State in a repeat of the infamous "baseball game" of last  year, which say the teams combine for 431 yards of offense, 20 first downs and five points.

Can we start over again?
Perhaps no conference had a Saturday as bad as the ACC. The newest "superconference" went 0-2 against the CAA -- Colonial Athletic Association -- with losses by Virginia to William & Mary and Duke to Richmond. The conference also lost all four of its five games against other teams in the FBS (excluding Monday's intraconference game between Florida State and Miami, which one of the teams presumably must win). [C&F: Clemson beat Middle Tennessee State, after which all of its fans went on a cow-tipping spree. The sentence has been edited to reflect this.]

This was a significant step backwards for the SEC's closest neighbor, which also had an embarrassing outing last year but won all its first-week games against FCS schools and saw its worst losses in blowouts by Southern Cal at Virginia and Alabama against Clemson and a close East Carolina victory against Virginia Tech.

At some point, this could have severe consequences for the ACC. If it falls too far in the public eye, the rankings of its champion will begin to fall, and the league could join the Big East in hoping that it avoids getting axed under the BCS rules for letting one of the major conferences go. That is, assuming anyone really considers the ACC a major conference anymore.


Game recap of the week
The obituary of Manic Kyle is also a hilarious and devoted recounting of the Mayor's disappointing trip to Stillwater. Anyone who has ever seen his team lose a heartbreaking game will empathize.

I know one game he didn't watch
Spurrier knocks his own gameplan for N.C. State, which might be considered a bold move by anyone who didn't watch the game. "We certainly can’t bring that game plan to beat Georgia on offense." Coach, I'm not sure about that one, but it is best not to tempt fate.

Well, it was his first game
Auburn talks up the win by Gene Chisek.

Makiri Pugh has swine flu
No joke here, because it's actually a case of swine flue. Here's hoping Pugh recovers quickly.

And then there are the important things
It's easy to hate puff pieces, but anyone who finishes fighting in Iraq and makes three attempts to get on a football team before making it deserves an article or two.

Jesse Mahelona dies
Thoughts and prayers to his young family.

John Parker Wilson a Falcon
But another former SEC quarterback, ex-Dawg D.J. Shockley, is gone as a result. Shockley did sign with the practice squad.

Injury Report

Trinton Sturdivant (Georgia)
ACL, season-ending.

Permit me a side note. This sucks. I don't care who you cheer for -- and as a Gamecock fan, I'm no devotee of the Dawgs -- but it seems unfair for any player, particularly one as apparently talented as Sturdivant, to have to overcome this twice.

Rodney Paulk (South Carolina)
ACL, season-ending

Carl Johnson (Florida)
Bone bruise, probable.

Lawrence Marsh (Florida)
Ankle, probable.

Larry Smith (Vanderbilt)
Arm, not serious.


Blount apologizes to Boise State
I still wonder why Byron Hout hasn't been suspended for at least a game. Let's be honest -- Hout's antics are no excuse for what LeGarrette Blount did, but it's not too difficult to believe that if Hout had kept his mount shut, Blount might still have a football future and this whole ugly situation could have been avoided.

In fact, one could argue that Hout should have been suspended even if Blount didn't punch him. To say something after you've lost is bad enough. To do so after you've won is completely classless.

At least he had an insurance policy
No telling how much he took it out for, but Sam Bradford appears to have covered his bases before returning to college. The question for the Sooners, of course, is whether they have enough insurance behind Bradford to keep their Big XII and national title hopes alive until he returns.