Labor Day College Football Report
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT:
The Sunday night thrill-a-minute finishes in both LA and DC really put a major exclamation point on a great first full weekend of College Football but the fun-and-games ain't over yet!
There's a big game in Hot-lanta this evening - our #25 Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech preview is straight ahead for your viewing pleasure -- but first just a few words on UCLA's 45-44 non-cover win against Texas A&M and then on Virginia Tech's hang-on-for-dear-life 31-24 triumph over West Virginia:
Fake Spike II from Uclan slinger Josh Rosen is getting all the rave reviews today but how about the fact the Bruins didn't quit when down 44-10 with four fourth-quarter TDs winning it as TE Caleb Wilson was all-world with 15 catches for 208 yards and one pair of steely-tough hands;
Then there's that new Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson who didn't commit a single turnover in the renewal of the "Black Diamond" game. Jackson threw for 235 yards and rushed for another 101 yards - he's a keeper plus this VT defense will only get better after that late-game stand.
As far as Saturday's gridiron action, the $64,000 question is will anyone out there kayo Alabama from the #1 spot for the rest of this 2017 season?
The Crimson Tide - these days hunting for its fifth college football national championship in nine years - turned up the heat in last Saturday's 24-7 win/cover against 7.5-point underdog (and third-ranked) Florida State with a dazzling defense and super special teams but you saw 'Bama boss-man Nick Saban afterwards looking a tad distraught because his team's offense appeared flat - let's give a very active FSU defense some credit for great sideline-to-sideline play - and alleged Heisman Trophy contender QB Jalen Hurts was below par, if you must know!
Still, this was one of those highly unusual #1 vs. fellow high ranking squad with much on the line right out of the proverbial starting gate and Saban's team had the grit and the guile to strike up the winning pose.
Tonight, it's ...
#25 TENNESSEE vs. GEORGIA TECH - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hey, guys, it's been awhile, eh? Some 30 years since the last time the Volunteers squared off against the Yellow Jackets/Ramblin' Wreck these old-fashioned southern rivals battle in Chick-fil-A Classic Part Deux and take note the pointspread's been sitting there at Tennessee minus a FG for days now and that's interesting because missed FGs were kind of a theme in Saturday's Alabama-Florida State game played right here at this brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Volunteers - facing their own pressure this year to become "elite" again under head coach Butch Jones - need RB John Kelly (630 yards rushing last year with 5 TDs) to bust a couple of big ones while the G-Tech triple-option attack is all revved up though blustery head coach Paul Johnson has kept his quarterback choice under wraps although we say TaQuon Marshall (took most of snaps in the spring) will be the main man.
Quick note: Tennessee started off last season 5-0 SU (straight-up) en route to a somewhat dissatisfying 9-4 SU season.
Here's some College Football weekend re-caps ...
Back to Alabama, for a quick moment, as the Tide defense yielded a mere 65 yards to Florida State in the second half of Saturday night's game and 'Bama kayoed QB Deondre Francois in the process.
As you now know, Francois is done for the year with a severe knee injury - kid is as tough as nails and everyone should feel bad he's a goner - while the above-mentioned Hurts (96 yards passing and 55 yards rushing) wasn't nearly as explosive with his arm or his legs as Saban would have liked. Perhaps brand-new Tide OC Brian Daboll needs Hurts to think "pocket pass" less and be more of a free-roaming sort. Watch for that in Alabama's next game this Saturday versus visiting Fresno State ...
The Texas Longhorns received a real shock to the system with last Saturday's 51-41 home loss versus 18.5-poit dog Maryland. Hey, things started off great in the new Tom Herman Era with a pick-six just three plays into the game but the 'Horns - who registered three non-offensive TDs of their own - couldn't get a handle on Maryland QB Tyrell Pigrome (two passing TDs, one rushing score before leaving with an injury) and overall the Terrapins blasted their way to 263 rushing yards and appeared more athletic than Herman's troops. Could be a sign of what's straight ahead for both squads ...
And so much for that premature Heisman Trophy talk surrounding Wyoming QB Josh Allen. The Iowa defense stuffed the future NFL first-rounder big-time in the Hawkeyes' 24-3 win/cover last weekend. Allen threw for only 174 yards on 23-of-40 passing with 0 TDs and 2 INTs - and he didn't complete any aerial beyond 15 yards - but before we all crucify the Cowpokes slinger do keep in mind this Iowa defense could be "real deal" stuff and might allow Kirk Ferentz's team to be dreaming about a January bowl game.