It looked like it was going to be an uneventful weekend. Then the games started. No. 4 Iowa lost. No. 8 Oregon lost. No. 9 LSU lost but moved up to No. 8. Georgia Tech won in overtime and jumped from No. 10 to No. 7. No. 5 Cincinnati almost lost (47-45 to UConn). Ditto for No. 6 Boise State, that beat Derek Dooley’s Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 45-35.
So what did we learn?
1. There will be an SEC team in the BCS championship game. Before the weekend there was a possibility that if No. 4 Iowa finished 12-0, it could jump a one-loss SEC champion and get into the BCS title game. But with Iowa’s 17-10 loss to Northwestern, that question is now moot. With Alabama rallying to beat LSU on Saturday, I don’t think we’re stepping out on a limb to say that both Florida and Alabama will get to Atlanta undefeated. Now some will argue that if either No. 4 TCU (9-0) or No. 5 Cincinnati (9-0), who have tough games remaining, finish 12-0 they should go ahead of a 12-1 Florida or Alabama. I’m not buying it. But hey, I could be wrong. If you think I’m wrong, tell me why.
2. Paul Johnson is a ball coach. Here is what I mean by that. When Johnson got the job at Georgia Tech I received phone calls from all over the country from media asking me if he could win in the ACC with an option offense. I told several of them to forget what offense Johnson was running. He was a “ball coach.” He knew how to win. What more proof do you need than Saturday’s win over Wake Forest? At least 90 percent of coaches would have kicked a field goal and sent the game into its second overtime. You’re at home. You’re moving the ball. That’s what it says to do in the coaching manual. But Johnson looked at his options with a fourth and less than one near the Wake Forest five-yard line. Of all the options he had, his offense was the best. Josh Nesbitt gets the first down and then on the next play Nesbitt gets the win. People had better stop looking at this guy as a “system” coach. He’s a damn good coach, period.
3. The SEC can’t get a break on officiating. The SEC has had to suspend officials, sign off on the suspension of players, and fine coaches because of calls (some of them bad) made on the field. After Florida’s suspension of Brandon Spikes and the SEC’s fining Florida’s coach (Urban Meyer) $30,000 last week, you would have thought that the SEC was due for a break from officiating controversy. Wrong. Trailing 24-15 with a little less than six minutes to play, LSU’s Patrick Peterson had apparently intercepted a pass from Alabama Greg McElroy near the LSU 32-yard line. The ruling on the field was an incomplete pass but television replays, just like the play, were very close. The replay official in the booth did not overturn the call. You must assume that there was simply not enough conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field. But given what has happened this season, it was inevitable that the conspiracy theorists would once again emerge. Hey, it was a close call. It could have gone either way. Based on what I saw I leaned toward calling it an interception. I’ll bet there are a lot of people in the SEC office who are looking forward to basketball season.
4. Tennessee is getting better. You may not like Lane Kiffin’s methods, but you have to be impressed with the results. Since a 26-22 loss to Auburn on Oct. 3, Tennessee has played better each week. The Vols destroyed Georgia (45-19), outplayed Alabama in the second half before losing 12-10 in Tuscaloosa, took advantage of turnovers to beat South Carolina (31-13), and then built a 49-7 lead over Memphis on the way to winning 56-28. I am also convinced that aliens have invaded Jonathan Crompton’s body. When he left Saturday’s game, Crompton had thrown for a career-high 331 yards and five touchdowns. In his last four games Crompton has completed 74 of 114 passes (64.9 percent) for 1,048 yards, 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
5. South Carolina is not. It is shaping up to be another difficult finish for Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks appeared to be heading in the right direction when they played Alabama tough in Tuscaloosa before losing 20-6. South Carolina has lost three of its last four games including back-to-back beatings by Tennessee (31-13) and Arkansas (33-16). With No. 1 Florida coming to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday and a finale against surging Clemson on Nov. 28, the Gamecocks (6-4) are looking at the very real possibility of finishing 6-6. “We’re just not real good right now,” Spurrier told The State newspaper of Columbia. “Coaches are coaching their butts off. We’re just not getting results right now.” Depth has always been a problem at South Carolina and the Gamecocks were without four injured starters on defense against Arkansas. But Gamecock fans are getting frustrated because they see other teams in the league getting better this time of year and their team is not. It will be interesting to see what Spurrier does if he finishes 6-6. He likes his recruiting going into this February. Will that be enough to keep the Head Ball Coach in Columbia?
Please follow me on Twitter: