Week 1 of the college football season is in the books and DAMN did some major SEC teams take a tumble — or, if you’re Butch Jones, nearly take tumble but still let’s call it taking a tumble — in 2016’s opening weekend.
Before we get to it, though, Monday’s Ole Miss-FSU kerfuffle in Orlando achieved a landmark milestone for the current college football zeitgeist: the heavily branded Camping World Kickoff at Camping World Stadium sponsored by the fine folks at Camping World RVs and outdoor gear set a new record for ESPN streaming viewers with 845,000 unique viewings. To put that number into perspective, almost a million people watched Ole Miss’ second half collapse on their desktop or laptop computers and other devices.
Coupled with those who tuned in via the antiquated method of flat screen television, the Rebs and Noles scrapped before a calculated audience of 8.58 million screens, which is roughly the population of Mexico City. Congratulations to everyone involved.
(We won’t be addressing LSU in this week’s SEC whip-around, but please take this time to recall that Les Miles’ Tigers were ranked No. 5 before losing to unranked Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on Saturday. LSU is currently ranked No. 21 and, presumably, Brandon Harris is still the starting quarterback. This concludes your LSU news and notes for the week.)
Tennessee hopes to remain relevant by playing football in a NASCAR stadium.
Whether through a lack or overabundance of self-awareness about what it means to be a Volunteers supporter, Tennessee insists on pulling this stunt at Bristol in a year they hope to play in Atlanta. The BATTLE AT BRISTOL has been in the works for three years now, with Tennessee’s and Virginia Tech’s athletic directors expressing unmitigated excitement at the prospect of playing atrocious football in front of a live audience numbering about 150,000 people.
Here’s the thing: Tennessee very nearly — but hilariously — shat the bed against Appalachian State last Thursday night, a wondrous start to a season in which many preseason opinions liked the Vols to win the SEC East. Of course, that pretty goal is still out there and available, but Georgia just bought a brand new Pontiac Firebird and has an older brother of legal drinking age.
Under a new coach this year, the Hokies are firmly confined to the rebuilding doghouse in the ACC, so Saturday’s clash at Bristol Motor Speedway holds very real pitfalls for Rocky Top’s 2016 aspirations to relevance, let alone even greatness. Win it, and everyone sits back with little to say. LOSE it, though, and that eight spot drop in the AP poll this week may very well turn into a 10 spot plummet out of the top 25.
Have fun out there, Butch.
Nick Chubb is back, and he’s a scary, scary man.
When Chubb savagely wrecked his knee on his first carry against Tennessee in 2015, the college football world collectively sighed in despair at losing one of the great ball-running talents not living and working in Baton Rouge.
Well, on Saturday Chubb vociferously declared his return to the gridiron by putting the Bulldogs on his back to lead them past a talented North Carolina club. Here’s what 32 carries for 222 yards and two touchdowns in your first game back from gruesome injury looks like:
Ole Miss fans are probably of two minds regarding Chubb’s resilience and return to football this year. On one hand, a talented and legitimately fun runner to watch has come back from crippling injury to continue doing what he does; on the other hand, that talented runner is coming to Oxford in two weeks to do some damage against a perimeter defense that just got roasted by a different talented runner and a first time quarterback. You do you, we’ll just be over here cracking another beer.
QB CONTROVERSY AT BAMA LOL Jalen Hurts is Roll Tide’s quarterback of the future.
How does this conversation come up every year? “Oh no, who’s going to take snaps and hand footballs off to this very large running back at Alabama? They’re done for.” Rubbish. Greg friggin’ McElroy won a title at Alabama.
Meet Jalen Hurts. What’s unique about Jalen Hurts over and against the usual crop of passable play callers at Bama? He’s versatile, he can throw, he can run a spread offense, and he’s a true freshman. In his limited time against USC — where he played heads and shoulders above named starter Blake Barnett — Hurts completed 6 of 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns; he also rushed for 32 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, he threw a pick, but USC couldn’t accomplish anything resembling the game of football against Bama’s defense, which looks just as good as ever.
Whatever. Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin get Western Kentucky this Saturday to iron out the Hurts-Barnett situation before that trip to Oxford. In the interim, it’d be unsurprising to see Hurts named the guy in Tuscaloosa for the foreseeable future.