I have to admit that this opening weekend of college football was pure fun for me. Our football Cats had to work for a victory but secured it in relatively sure fashion. It was the perfect opener in my mind. Plenty of flaws to fix, but plenty of positives to accentuate. I heard that some were still critical of Terry Wilson, but a quick perusal of the final numbers suggests he was just fine and so were his offensive teammates. 38 against a program that has nine straight bowl appearances certainly works for me.
Then, after the early start and finish I was able to sit back and enjoy the demolition of those three teams that always seem to be the media darlings. You know the trio, right? South Carolina, Missouri, and our old buddies down in Knoxville. Every year we hear it. Every year.
Kentucky meanwhile has solidified a football program that looks to have the depth and the continuity to continue to compete in the SEC. Is it Georgia? No. But as it is currently configured, it looks a whole lot better than the three amigos.
Yet the sportswriters and SEC analysts refuse to see it. But, this is what they saw Saturday:
Missouri was supposed to be the real deal this year (again) with a star transfer at QB and many returning starters. But a quick trip to Laramie already has folks in Missouri wanting this football to team to “Show Me.” The defense looked bad, the offense made costly mistakes, and the Cowboys took down Mizzou. But of the three teams folks inexplicably liked better than UK, Missouri is the one best positioned to rebound and still have a good year. Traveling to Wyoming was a gutsy scheduling move that backfired, but I can still see this team being decent.
And then there is South Carolina. Again, every year they are the sweet pick. Every year the results are the same. Let’s be clear. North Carolina is not good. Not good folks. South Carolina is worse. Jake Bentley is likely as good at QB as Dierks Bentley and neither can sing a country song. The Ole Ball Coach is long gone and glad of it. This is a bad football program. But don’t tell that to the people who vote on those atrociously inept pre-season polls.
But it could be worse for the Gamecocks. They could be Tennessee.
As a lifelong UK fan who grew up on the Tennessee line, nothing brings me more joy than watching the pastel orange clad Vols find their level in mediocrity. After Clay Travis and the gang staged a fan coup last time around, I revel in watching the results be exactly what you would expect. Perhaps after they fire Jeremy Pruitt they can hire the next coach with a Twitter Poll.
The Vols just lost to Sun Belt whipping post Georgia State. The program was founded just a few years ago as I-AA squad by none other than Bill Curry. It has six years in I-A. It went 2-10 last year and was picked last in the conference this year. But the GSU folks waltzed into Neyland, thoroughly dominated UT in every facet, and walked out $950,000 the richer for it.
Everyone’s favorite moron, Clay Travis has declared it the UT Alamo. Out of this, he says, UT will rise and become a dynasty again (not sure where this “again” thing comes from…). As with much of his ridiculous shtick I can’t fathom he believes it. Nobody else does. Because this team is bad. Again. Sadly for UT fans, they may as well take their years old trophies and go hang out with Nebraska and UCLA as relics of a bygone era. Indiana basketball can come too and we can make it an all sports party.
This is a program whose one shining moment last year was a home win over a superior ten win UK team. (Think on that statement for a minute.) In their last three games they have lost to Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Georgia State by a total of 66 points. Against the teams they would like to think they belong with they lost to Florida, Georgia, and Alabama by a combined 89 points. Vandy kept them ineligible for a bowl…again. And, they lost to South Carolina.
As I sit here writing this with a broad smile on my face, I do want to go back to the title of the piece and remind myself and everyone else that this is only Week 1. Who knows how all this may turn out? Any or all of the three SEC East teams who lost out of conference games to weak foes (the three teams who beat Mizzou, UT and SC last week won a combined 10 games a year ago) may bounce back and have fine years. Maybe.
UK on the other hand may go up or down from their Week 1 performance. It will be a few days before we find out anything really significant on the Cats. It is early folks. And so I write these words knowing they may come back to haunt me like a Jared Stillman tweet.
But still, the folks who felt like UK was being disrespected and snubbed with the pre-season polling sure have a leg to stand on right now. The SEC East looks like Georgia at the top. UK and UF fighting for second. And then some really mediocre squads fighting it out for bowl eligibility. I look forward to finding out if this is so.