It's a little after 8:00 pm, and Georgia Tech is helluv-an-engineering a fairly convincing first-half beatdown on Clemson by running, tricking, and even throwing a few times. Most of all, though, the Tech defense looks half-way respectable against the Spiller/Parker duo that many expected to be (and still may turn out) pretty darn electric.
And it is more than fitting that Paul Johnson abused the Country Gentlemen to prove that he ain't been figured out, yet. Of course, then again, Dabo might not qualify as a high-grade "figurerer," either. Clemson in 2008 was the standard-bearer for the long college football tradition of some emerging/reemerging dark horse conference/national title contender. In 2007, it was California or, alternatively, newly-Kragthorped Louisville. In 2006, it was Iowa, coming off its last-second 2005 bowl-win against LSU. And before that, there was a string of SEC teams - preseason #3 Tennessee in 2005, #6 Auburn in 2003, and #3 Alabama in 2000.
The game will finish after press time, which for the amateur journalist who has no social life is the same thing as "bedtime," but the way the Bobby Dodd Bugs dominated Clemson in the first half is proof enough to me that Georgia Tech in 2009 will not be Clemson in 2008.
So who will it be?
Back in June, the CFN roundtable discussed this very issue. Believe it or not, Ole Miss was prominently featured.
When it comes to overrateds, hindsight is 20/20. This year, however, seemed especially ripe for some team to be grossly embarrassed with respect to their expectations, largely because the preseason Top 25 was chock full of "emerging" teams - Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss. Heck, half the Mountain West Conference. Meanwhile, the Cup is not alone in its love for "reemerging" programs like Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Miami.
The obvious answer after Week 1 is Oregon. Chip Kelly has his work cut out for him just to convince his club that the season is not already over. And outside Oxford, surely many will point to 45 minutes of lackluster football in the Bluff City as evidence that the Rebels are the culprits.
But isn't it possible that this year the meme just won't play out this year? Sure, it's possible. Oklahoma State did a lot against Georgia to remove itself from contention in this dubious category. Ole Miss, on the other hand, might just need to get used to being on folks' "upset alert" lists for ... well, forever.
And, even as I write this, with 14:03 left in the fourth, Josh Nesbit has just thrown another interception, mere seconds after Clemson kicked a field goal to tie it up. So maybe the whole premise of this piece - that all the up-and-comers of 2009 appear to be on the up-and-up - is completely flawed. And its not like ARPNERDS have a Sunday afternoon stroll of a schedule. They will be on ESPN next Thursday, as well, traveling to re-emergent Miami.
Clemson just kicked a 50+ field goal to take the lead for the first time.
So, maybe the storyline is true. Maybe college football is the same thing happening over and over again. There will be a sexy emerging team that will screw up everything. Play that role, Tech.