The passion of college football
It was one heck of a Saturday for college football and I spent much of the day and night in my recliner in front of the big screen. I keep my police scanner on low volume nearby.
I was switching back and forth between the lopsided Georgia-Vanderbilt game and the battle between Tennessee and Alabama when Lamar County dispatch sent a deputy to a home on Steele Road. The residents there were concerned about screaming coming from somewhere nearby. It sounded like a person screaming for help, they reported, wanting to stay anonymous.
A deputy arrived and he, too, heard the screaming. He pinpointed the home from which it emanated. He later reported back to dispatch, “Everything is okay out here. The man at the residence is watching the Tennessee-Alabama game and he is just really into it.”
It was that kind of day in the college football world.
Georgia was never threatened, cruising by Vandy 55-0.
On Rocky Top, the Vols got a last second, wobbly field goal to secure a 52-49 win over the Tide, their first in 15 years. Pandemonium ensued, the fans stormed the field, the goalposts came down and were thrown into the Tennessee River as a decade and a half of frustration came to an end.
This was not a crippled up Bama team. Bryce Young was back and played very well as did Vol quarterback Hendon Hooker.
My question as I watched the frantic last quarter was this: What has happened to Nick Saban’s defense? It is, particularly in the secondary, an absolute abomination.
UT was no great shakes on defense either. In fact, defense was virtually non-existent in the game. Alabama had 569 yards of total offense while Tennessee had 567.
Saban knew this. At the end of the game, he slung off his headset. Gray hair showed through the dye as did a big bald spot. He looked old. He looked defeated. He looked like a coach who knows his era is coming to an end.
I daresay the Georgia defense, which lost eight folks to the NFL draft off last year’s title team, five of them in the first round, is better than the Tide and Vol defenses combined and, as Saban preaches, defense wins games.
UGA remains ranked number one. Tennessee is third. Bama is sixth with Ole Miss ranked seventh.
It will all be settled on the field.
Georgia is off this weekend then goes to Jacksonville to take on the Gators in a game in which it will be a heavy favorite. Florida (4-3, 1-3) is out of the title race after losing at home to LSU (5-2, 3-1) 45-35.
Then Tennessee comes to town. UGA follows that up with trips to Mississippi State and Kentucky followed by the season finale against Georgia Tech in Athens.
The Vols host Tennessee-Martin this week then Kentucky and then the trip to Athens. They host Missouri then go to South Carolina and Vandy. So, the showdown in Athens Oct. 29 will likely decide the SEC East title.
Ole Miss is the only undefeated team left in the SEC West. They get Alabama Nov. 9 in Oxford. Right now, with the way Ole Miss is playing on offense and the Tide is struggling on defense, the pick would have to be Ole Miss.
Can Saban rally the troops? Yes, he can. He’s the master.
But, after Saturday, I wonder if he has another big game win in him.
That’s what makes college football, particularly SEC football, so damned exciting it will make you scream.