By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. – This week at the SEC Digital Network, we are unveiling a new feature for Mondays. The column, titled Three and Out
, will be a myriad of observations as I attempt to recap action from Saturdays around the Southeastern Conference. Three notes, three stories and three takes as I sit on my couch and watch the schedule unfold.
This endeavor will come from yours truly, whose “job” it is to sit and watch the entire slate of games on Saturday. Tough job indeed, but hey, someone
has to do it.
I consider myself a fan, not unlike the million others who love the SEC, so why not unlock my brain after 12 hours of football on TV?
So, with that in mind, I introduce the first edition of “Three and Out”.
I. Auburn Fans, Where Are You Going?
Auburn is the defending National Champions. Whether you need to be reminded by Aubie running down the field with the crystal ball during pregame
, or by Cam Newton’s statue outside the stadium, the Tigers had a historic season in 2010. I find that funny, because if you were watching their opener Saturday, Utah State had pushed Auburn so close to the brink that their fans bailed on them.
Down 10 with just over two minutes left, Auburn fans began to file out of the stadium. The defending National Champions, losing in the first game of the season, and the Tiger faithful had seen enough. In a scene not often witnessed in this league, many an Auburn fan watched a miraculous finish from
the concourse of Jordan-Hare, as the Tigers pulled a Houdini and captured a 42-38 win over the Aggies.
My best friend is a HUGE Auburn fan, and like many others, he was ready to put this game in the “L” column for his beloved Tigers. I watched the final minutes with him on the phone, listening to his range of emotions as the game went from being “over”, to “very bleak”, to “Is this possible?” and finally to “MY GOD WE WON!”
It was fun to listen to him.
Down 10 with 3:38 to go, he told me the game was over. He was certain Auburn would lose to Mississippi State the following week. He was scanning Auburn’s schedule, trying to find six possible wins. He was worried if his team would even make a bowl game this year.
Then Auburn cut the lead to three, with Barrett Trotter finding Philip Lutzenkirchen for a 15-yard score. His tune changed slightly, as he told me an onside kick was a “must”. “Surely we don’t get this,” he stammered. “We haven’t stopped them all day, so if Utah State recovers this it’s over,” he uttered just moments before kickoff. Then toe met leather, and he nearly blew out my eardrums.
“WE GOT IT!”
“WE GOT IT!”
“I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!”
“HE’S GOING TO SCORE!”
So caught up in the moment, we both forgot the rules of college football. As Emory Blake snatched the bouncing kick, we saw him take off and thought the inevitable had happened. Not only did Auburn recover, but they were going to score and take the lead.
After a few minutes catching our breath, my friend still screaming in my ear, we realized that you cannot advance the ball on that particular play. Either way, his comments changed to “We can do this!”, while the looming specter of losing to Utah State was in his rear view mirror.
Trotter authored another drive down the field, spreading the ball beautifully as Auburn got in position to win. Those fans, which were so eager to beat the crowd out of Jordan-Hare, stood in shock from those concourses, watching their Tigers pull out a miracle moments before the whole world thought the defending National Champions were going to lose.
You know the rest. Michael Dyer scored, Auburn held on and head coach Gene Chizik escaped the field with a miraculous comeback win.
My friend was euphoric, not believing that what he’d seen actually happened. I playfully kidded with him that he had given up just three minutes ago, and we both enjoyed the comeback as the Tiger players ran off the field.
One day later, the media is referring to Auburn as “lucky”. Perhaps they were, but if there is one thing that the Tigers deserve going forward, it is hope. I mean, they haven’t lost in 15 games. Remember that Auburn fans. Stick around next time.
II. The Mad Hatter Strikes Again
When it comes to coaches in college football, there isn’t a bigger character than LSU head man Les Miles. He wears Chuck Taylors (that beard is killer)
, he eats grass
and he even gets lost on the field every now and then.
If you watch when LSU came out of the tunnel onto the field Saturday before their huge matchup with Oregon, Miles was so pumped he ran to the wrong sideline. It took him a few moments, but he made the correct U-turn and ended up where the Tigers would spend the night.
I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a truly hilarious moment. But then again, does anything surprise you with Les Miles?
Despite his peculiar antics, what shouldn’t surprise you about the “Mad Hatter” is his team’s ability to show up big in pressure situations. While you can make the argument that LSU had no business playing Oregon to start with, the Tigers took on the challenge in front of 80,000 people at Cowboys Stadium.
LSU and Oregon was the prime time game of the week, with two top five squads battling it out on the opening weekend of college action. You hardly ever see that now a days.
Again, there is a case to be made that no SEC team needs that kind of out of conference challenge early in the season. With the talent and depth of the league, and the way the schedule breaks out during the course of the year, any team that runs that gauntlet will be in the hunt for a National Championship.
That is guaranteed.
So, despite knowing that, LSU decided to take on Oregon anyway, putting themselves to the test the first time they stepped on the field in 2011.
Despite a litany of off field issues, the Tigers responded with an outstanding performance. From the opening kickoff, LSU meant business. They imposed their will. They pushed Oregon around. Even with their second string quarterback under center, they scored 40 points. In the end, they were too much for their Pac-12 counterpart, picking up a convincing win in front of the nation.
I found it very interesting that when asked why his team was ready for such a big game so early in the year, Miles credited the SEC and the focus needed in this league as the reason.
He mentioned having to come in ready every week in the conference, and not being surprised with any amount of talent the other team may have. In short, LSU sees a team with Oregon-type talent every week, and this time they were ready for it.
The conference had a solid 10-2 record in the opening week of play, but no win was bigger than LSU’s manhandling of top five Oregon in prime time.
“Hats off” to Les Miles, and let’s hope he found the right tunnel to exit out of after his team’s victory.
III. What’s With The Uniforms?
This weekend something happened. Whether it was Maryland
, Boise State
, everyone had new uniforms. You couldn’t turn the channel without seeing unfamiliar garb, with teams turning themselves into fashion statements all throughout the day.
Some of them, well they were really interesting
. I don’t know how else to describe it. Well I guess I can try.
Oregon, who is known for having new outfits five times a year, really pushed the envelope Saturday. The Ducks have served as Nike’s guinea pig for years now in this department, and well, last night might have topped it all.
Upon seeing the Ducks take the field, I was stunned. Not only did I need to immediately look away from the screen, but I could have sworn I needed a pair of 3-D glasses to see them. Lots of neon...everywhere.
Boise State and Georgia, who headlined the other key contest on Saturday’s schedule, one upped the Ducks, with both squads bringing new swag to the party. Georgia, well, it took me a few minutes to realize that it even was Georgia, was clad in red and black (another Nike creation).
Some really liked them, I guess, but most did not
. Seeing as how the Bulldogs didn’t pick up the victory in the Georgia Dome on Saturday, it might be a good idea to try something different next week against South Carolina. I'm a baseball player, always superstitious, so I'd move in another direction.
As for Boise, their uniform was ok with me for the most part. What I couldn’t stop staring at though, was the head gear the Broncos brought to Atlanta with them. I know those are supposed to be horses on your head, but a “Bronco” didn’t really appear to me. I saw a unicorn…or a dragon. I’m not really sure.
Maryland’s helmet is a turtle shell
. Arizona State (Nike again, see a theme here?)
, they have a trident. What’s next? I guess we’ll find out next week.
Three downs are complete, and now it is time to punt it off until next Saturday. See you then SEC Nation.