The hits just keep on coming from the SEC. The nation’s premier conference — and it ain’t even close, folks — was showcased in all its glory Saturday during No. 9 Georgia’s 47-44 nonstop thrill ride over No. 6 LSU.
And if you ever wanted a foreigner to get a slice of Americana, college football style, the perfect hangout was Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. The ear-splitting noise from 92,746 between the hedges was incredible, even if you were watching from the living-room couch. High voltage, all the way.
Remember several years ago when the SEC had superb defenses and few good quarterbacks? The league still plays strong D for the most part, but now it also has the best group of QBs in the country. Georgia’s Aaron Murray … LSU’s Zach Mettenberger … Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel … Alabama’s AJ McCarron … Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace. And on and on.
Dawg-gone good: Georgia faced three top-10 teams in September, one of the most difficult opening schedules in NCAA history, and went 2-1, beating LSU and South Carolina and losing a tight one to Clemson. The Bulldogs should get a well-deserved breather at Tennessee next Saturday, and then it gets testy again with Missouri, Vanderbilt and Florida.
Tiger beat: LSU won’t drop much in the polls after such an impressive showing on the road. Definitely still a strong national title contender. Mettenberger, now a senior, has finally delivered on his vast potential under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the former Miami Dolphins head coach. And does anyone have better starting wideouts in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry?
Tidal wave: Two-time national champion Alabama has this innate ability to crank it up whenever and however necessary. Against Johnny Football and Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide needed 49 points to win. Against Ole Miss, the Tide defense, vulnerable in recent weeks, delivered a suffocating, old-school performance in a 25-0 shutout. Consider that the Rebels, held to 46 yards rushing and 205 yards total, came in with one of the nation’s most explosive offenses.
Bama faces only one more serious challenge before the SEC title game: Nov. 9 vs. LSU. The next four are against 0-4 Georgia State, 1-3 Kentucky, 3-2 Arkansas and 3-2 Tennessee. The last three are against 2-2 Mississippi State, 2-2 Chattanooga and 3-1 Auburn.
Sooner uprising: Pencil in Oklahoma as a national title contender — the only one from the Big 12 unless Baylor proves to be for real. The No. 14 Sooners, known more for speed and finesse than physicality, slugged it out with No. 22 Notre Dame in South Bend and came away a solid 35-21 winner.
OU obviously has found its quarterback in Blake Bell, who was 22 of 30 for 232 yards with two TDs and zero picks and Bell-dozed for 59 yards in a hostile environment. But the Sooners’ 212 rushing yards and toughness in the trenches were even more telling.
Irish lullaby: OU did most college football fans a service by knocking Notre Dame out of the big picture. With Arizona State, USC and Stanford still ahead, the Irish (3-2) won’t be laying an egg in any BCS bowl this season.
Roped: The other Big 12 team from Oklahoma might be a fraud. No. 11 Oklahoma State, the preseason league favorite, lost its Big 12 opener 30-21 at West Virginia, a team that barely beat William & Mary and was routed 37-0 by Maryland. The Cowboys had terrible special teams, made three turnovers, had 10 penalties and dropped a bunch of passes.
The previously punchless Mountaineers, who’ve already played three QBs, might have found their man in Florida State transfer Clint Trickett.
Newbies: Former Georgetown High star Colten Shea caught three touchdown passes, but it wasn’t enough for Southwestern to win a battle of first-year programs with Hendrix College. The Pirates (0-4) lost 48-29 to the Warriors (2-1) in Conway, Ark. Shea nabbed 13 balls for 175 yards.
Extra points …
- Washington stayed unbeaten with its 31-13 win over Arizona — Bishop Sankey had a school-record 40 carries for the Huskies. We’ll find out much more with a trip to No. 5 Stanford next, then a home game vs. No. 2 Oregon.
- In a battle of FCS national powers, Sam Houston outscored Eastern Washington 49-34 as star running back Tim Flanders rushed for 280 yards to reach 5,000 for his career.
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden accounted for six TDs as the Pirates beat North Carolina 55-31 for their first win in Chapel Hill in nearly four decades.