It seems as though I write this every year anymore, but this will likely be a little shorter version of CYS this week, due to yet another September hurricane. Dorian is bearing down on us here in South Carolina, and the entire southeast coast is on high alert.
To those of you potentially in harm’s way due to this storm, please be safe. To Mother Nature, I have nothing nice to say to you right now.
I’ll just let my man Greg say it better than can I.
September & October hurricane evacuations
A Tradition Unlike Any Other
— Greg Talbott (@GregTalbott) September 1, 2019
TRIVIA (answer at the end of the column): Tennessee’s loss to Georgia State last weekend was its first season-opening loss at Neyland Stadium since 10th-ranked Pittsburgh knocked off the Vols in 1983. When was the last time Tennessee lost its first two games of the year at home?
ROAST OF THE WEEK: After a weather delay in which some crazy storms rolled through Provo and delayed the end of The Holy War by over an hour, Utah eventually took the 30-12 result. The win marked the Utes’ ninth straight in the series, and the Utah sports information department took to Twitter shortly thereafter.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) August 30, 2019
Check out the (all things relative) sick burn from Utah! (Though, I’m admittedly wondering if the dude in the hot dog suit is more down about the outcome or his sartorial choices.)
If you’ve got the chance to drill your rival with a reference to a nearly 15-year-old song from a one-hit wonder, you wrap up that tackle. Every. Single. Time.
HILL-TOPPED: If you had fewer than five hours into the first night of “full” action for the first FCS-over-FBS victory, get to the pay window.
Nathan Brown’s Central Arkansas Bears went into Bowling Green Thursday night and took down Western Kentucky, 35-28. The Bears went 6-5 in Brown’s first season last year, and were ranked 25th in this year’s preseason poll. Breylin Smith tossed for 324 yards and three scores in the victory, with Lujuan Winningham snaring eight of those passes — and all three touchdowns — for 222 yards.
Gael Walker toted the rock 19 times for 152 yards and two scores of his own for Western, but this is certainly not the way the ‘Tops hoped to welcome new coach Tyson Helton. I’m sure our friends at Hilltopper Haven are responsibly reacting, though. Let’s check in with this fan’s opinion:
TOTAL BS WKU making FCS teams look like SEC Schools
WE have no quarterback
No halftime adjustments
Bull (yeah, let’s not include that word) play calling
No “no huddle” offense
NO money to buy this guy out!!!!!
Okay, I take that back.
Incredibly, C-USA almost had it happen again just minutes later, as UAB held off Alabama State, 24-19. UConn came dangerously close to perhaps the lowest point in an embarrassing few months in its program, fending off Wagner, 24-21. Minnesota also turned in a pretty impressive — albeit scary — win over an FCS school, using a late fumble recovery to hold off South Dakota State, 28-21.
S-E-C! S-E-C!: Woof. What a horrendous day for (parts of) the SEC on Saturday, with Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri all tumbling.
Without belaboring the points Eric will likely make in his piece, a tale of a few tweets:
— The SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo) August 31, 2019
Shawn Elliott with the killshot https://t.co/Nzb1GJI7K5
— Brian (@sportsmatters) August 31, 2019
Please don’t report me for child abuse for this https://t.co/TD0huqcGOV
— Nikki Burdine (@NikkiBurdine) August 31, 2019
— Erik Buchinger (@ImErikBuchinger) August 31, 2019
Yeah, a few pictures tell a thousand words.
THREE I WATCHED: I mentioned in last week’s piece three “under-the-radar” games to which I would be paying attention. Here’s how those turned out:
- West Virginia 20, JMU 13: The Dukes’ defense did a commendable job against a traditionally higher-powered West Virginia unit, limiting Austin Kendall (such as it was) to 27-for-42 for 260 yards and two scores. JMU only sacked Kendall once, but demonstrated the kind of sideline-to-sideline speed that will keep it as a contender in the Colonial and on the national stage at the FCS level in 2019. What it didn’t show was much offensive proclivity; quarterback Ben DiNucci was just 13-for-20 for 156 yards and a rip, while rushing for just 36 yards on 14 attempts. That’s something coach Curt Cignetti will need to clean up before continuing FCS play.
- North Carolina A&T 24, Elon 21: An outstanding game (as one might imagine) between two talented FCS squads came down to a 52-yard field goal from Noel Ruiz at the horn to spur an Aggie celebration in Greensboro. The Aggies kept Elon quarterback Davis Cheek somewhat under wraps, as we mentioned they would need to do. Cheek completed 16-of-27 throws for 202 yards and just one score, suffering five sacks. Aggie wideout Elijah Bell hauled in nine throws for 93 yards and a score in the victorious effort.
- Syracuse 24, Liberty 0: Flames quarterback Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert was severely limited, completing just north of 50 percent of his throws (20-for-39) for 224 yards and two picks. He was replaced by true freshman Johnathan Bennett in the fourth quarter. Liberty also struggled to gain any traction in the run game, posting a negative rushing total until early in the fourth quarter. The most memorable thing from that game, however, proved to be Hugh Freeze coaching from a hospital bed:
— no context college football (@nocontextcfb) August 31, 2019
THREE I’M WATCHING: This week’s three games I’ll be watching, assuming that they’re played and that I’m able to see them (all times Eastern and lines for informational purposes only, as of the time I wrote the piece):
- Kennesaw State (1-0) at Kent State (0-1), Noon, ESPN3: Kennesaw hammered Point over the weekend, 59-0, and we should probably take very little from that, except that quarterback Daniel David threw for 114 yards and two scores. He did this on just five throws (completing four), which brings up a bigger point. The Big South-favorite Owls run the triple option, which is a nightmare for which to plan. Kent will be up to the challenge, and playing at home will give the Golden Flashes a much-needed boost. Arizona State ran 46 times against Kent State last week for just 171 yards, but that was in a 30-7 blowout.
- South Florida (0-1) at Georgia Tech (0-1), 3:00pm, ACC Network: This contest features a couple of schools that got completely powdered in Week 1, and who will be looking to prove a point. The Bulls won last year’s tilt in Tampa, 49-38, but looked completely lost most of the time in a season-opening drubbing by Wisconsin. Tech, conversely, showed it’s still not ready for prime time through the air, though it admittedly tried to revamp its offense against the vaunted Clemson defense. Wisconsin trampled the Bulls for 234 rushing yards and four scores last week, so stopping Jerry Howard and Tech’s legion of rushers might pose a significant problem.
- BYU (0-1) at Tennessee (-4) (0-1), 7:00pm, ESPN: Speaking of teams that suffered gut-punch defeats in the first week, here are two more. We’ve already briefly touched on both of the first-week stumbles, so I’ll bring up a point of concern. Star Utah running back Zack Moss gashed BYU for 187 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, while Georgia State’s run-heavy offense plundered Tennessee for 213 yards and three scores on 53 carries. Both teams are in the bottom 20 among FBS run defenses after the first week, so whomever — if either — can establish a run game, that likely bodes well for its chances.
TRIVIA ANSWER: We asked earlier: Tennessee’s loss to Georgia State last weekend was its first season-opening loss at Neyland Stadium since 10th-ranked Pittsburgh knocked off the Vols in 1983. When was the last time Tennessee lost its first two games of the year at home?
Tennessee lost, 16-15, to 16th-ranked Georgia and 20-17 to fifth-ranked USC in the first two weeks of the 1980 season.