The first couple of weeks of the NCAA football season usually doesn’t tell us much. These are the weeks of top schools are playing smaller schools. Football Championship Subdivision, also known as FCS or lower level conference schools gets a payday by heading to high ranked schools and getting thumped. It is usually the pre-season for FBS teams prior to heading into conference play.
So far this year this hasn’t been the case. Teams have come into opposing “Big School” stadiums and punched the teams in the mouth. Not all were wins, but some have me asking the question “What happened?”
The Fall of the Mighty
When I lived down in Auburn Alabama, the University of Alabama was not a top program. They were fighting coaching changes and really became irrelevant in the National picture. It really states what a few bad coaching hires can do. Also during this time frame, the top programs in the country were Florida State, Tennessee, Southern Cal. Now those three teams are not ranked and struggling. This isn’t new in college football.
Let’s start With Tennessee
The Vols are a bad football team that has been highlighted by the multiple changes in the past ten years. There has been no continuity in charge. Vol Nation has struggled to put together a program with any talent. Not one Volunteer player was drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft. This from the home of Reggie White and Peyton Manning.
It amazes me to see how this team has fallen. From watching Auburn play Tennessee in very hard-fought football games, to this. Week one Tennessee hosted Georgia State of the Sun Belt Conference. The Panthers, who won only two games last year, when into Neyland Stadium and beat the Vols, 38-30.
Week 2 and The Vols followed that game up by hosting BYU and holding a 16-13 lead. BYU had the ball on their own 20 with 20 seconds left. Two plays later the game was tied and BYU won it in double overtime 29-26. The Vols start their season with two home losses. Could it signal another coaching change in Knoxville?
Other SEC Teams
LSU is good. They just went to Austin Texas and beat the #9 ranked Longhorns in an amazing game. LSU QB is one of the best in the nation in Joe Burrow. The Athens Ohio native threw for 471 yards and 4 TD against a top ten team. The SEC has 4 top ten ranked teams, three of which are in the SEC West. UGA may have the east locked, although Florida is a top ten team. I’m just not seeing the Gators take down the Dawgs. The Largest Cocktail Party in the world will be a fun game to watch. It is going to be fun to see the West play out with Bama, Auburn, and LSU. Florida is a top ten team, but I am not seeing them as threatening to UGA. The SEC has 5 of the top ten teams.
Auburn has a true freshman quarterback starting for the first time since the 1940s. In the first game of the season, Nix, a legacy at Auburn, grew up on National TV. They took down the #11 ranked Oregon Ducks on a last-minute TD pass. Not bad for your first career start.
Fall of FSU
Jimbo Fisher took the helm of FSU shortly after Bobby Bowden retired. It isn’t easy to follow a legend like Bowden. Fisher won a National Title in 2013 but left the Noles in 2017 to take over the head coaching job at Texas A&M.
There was speculation of a culture problem at FSU. The Bleacher Report Article this year claimed that FSU lost its drive after winning the National Championship. It was also reported that FSU had the worst Academic Progress Rate of any Power 5 program. Enter new Head Coach Willie Taggart.
Unlike Tennessee, Taggart certainly has the talent to complete. It may take a while for FSU to turn this around. The Noles lost a tough contest to 22 ranked Boise State to open the season. FSU then followed that game up with an overtime 45-44 win over Lousiana Monroe.
Week three will show us more of the same, however, there are no ranked teams facing each other. I will be keeping an eye on the Penn State game, as Pitt can give them a challenge. Other games to watch will be Clemson vs. Syracuse, although that shouldn’t be close, and Oklahoma vs. UCLA. Can Chip Kelly shock the Sooners? Who is your upset of the week?
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay