Stats lie A quick look at the box score and you'd think South Carolina would've been in the game. The Gamecocks actually out-gained the Volunteers 365-341 in total yards. A harder look would tell the whole story, as 300 yards of that total Carolina offense was through the air on 25 completions (50 attempts). Tennessee added 142 yards passing, but won the rushing battle 199 to 65. Only two more stats really matter in this game that explain the rest, 4 Carolina turnovers and 24 Tennessee points off those turnovers.
Papa Kiffin bringing home the bacon The Tennessee defense did a tremendous job early by creating turnovers by using the fundamental concept of putting a helmet on the ball. The first fumble by back-up TE Justice Cunningham at the time just seemed like a tough spot for the young guy, but then the team's leading rusher (Kenny Miles) and even Stephen Garcia fumbled to show it was the defense causing turnovers. Sure the Gamecocks could've held on to the ball better, but it was Tennessee's defense that caused the fumbles plain and simple.
Just slide I know Stephen Garcia prefers to fall forward rather than slide when running and I know Spurrier has endorsed the method as it doesn't lose yardage, but please slide. I know I've never played a down of organized football, but I know you can't fumble if you slide. That's just a fact so please do it.
This offense is not good enough to spot the other team points Quite simply this offense is far better than it has been in previous years, but that doesn't mean they can just gift-wrap 21 points to start the game and expect to come back. None of that even takes into account that Tennessee's defense was going to do a good job keeping Garcia & Co under control.
Always look on the bright side of life South Carolina did score the first offensive touchdown against Tennessee in 10 quarters for play.
The road ahead The next three games are all going to be tough for the Gamecocks, but will make the difference between another ho-hum season and something special to build on. Next week a early start in Fayetteville is the first step. The Hogs are coming off a 63-20 pasting of Eastern Michigan. Make no mistake, Ryan Mallett is the best quarterback our defense will see all year (although there is still that QB/FB/LB we play in a couple weeks).
Defending the computers
Shut up Craig James For the second week in a row I caught an ABC regional broadcast where Craig James and his play-by-play counterpart indicated that the computers were discounting Southern Cal's win at Ohio State due to what the Buckeyes had done since, basically arguing that you have to count the game as it was then not what we see it as now. The problem with that is simple: you are counting the game as you thought it would be based on the human biases of tradition and hype.
Computer formulas don't include hype The computer don't give a rat's behind that Ohio State has been to seven consecutive BCS bowl games or that they've won thirty-five Big Ten titles. The computers see a team that has no quality wins, and one that incidentally had just barely escaped Navy as their only game prior to their showdown with the Trojans. The computers are unbiased, and that's why I defend the computers, because they don't calculate hype, tradition, or the name on the front of the jerseys.
The real problem is the voters Each week the AP, Coach's, and Harris Interactive Poll are released, and each week we collectively scratch our heads. Take last week's Coach's Poll as just one example: After week 7 the top three were:
1. Florida: won at Mississippi State 29-19 (close game for three quarters)
2. Alabama: won vs Tennessee 12-10 (two blocked FGs, on missed)
3. Texas: won at Missouri 41-7
I know Missouri isn't a great team, but neither is Mississippi State or Tennessee. The problem is that the top three went unchanged for the Week 8 poll. What?
Iowa the new Silicon Valley Another problem the national media has with the computers is that 5 of the 6 computer polls had the Hawkeyes at #1. That would be a problem if not for the fact that the children of the corn are undefeated, and have beaten Penn State and also I'm sure their win over Iowa State (doing well, and beat Nebraska) to get their computer average that high. Here's the thing, the week before 4 of the 6 computer polls ranked Florida #1. This week, expect some other team to be loved by the computers, don't bang on the computers because they fluctuate. If people did the same thing we'd have a true poll, based on resume and how you look each week.
Second worst story of polls Last year when Oklahoma played at Oklahoma State a newspaper writer who holds an AP vote was asked who he thought would play for the national title. He said at that moment he'd say Alabama (undefeated at that time) and Penn State. The man asking him the question asked why Penn State, to which the writer said "because they're undefeated" (the Nittany Lions had lost two weeks earlier at Iowa).
Worst story of polls Earlier this year I was listening to ESPN Radio and they were talking to their "college insider" Joe Schad. They asked Schad about the idea that polls shouldn't be released until week 4 or something like that, but he said it was a stupid argument that held no merit. Later in the same interview he was asked about ranking Notre Dame so high, to which he argued that he ranked them that high because they would finish that high due to schedule. I spent the next 25 minutes screaming at the radio... "He should not be allow to vote!!! Fire him now!!!". You see, that's the reason people shouldn't vote on these things, because each voter votes a different way and almost none vote on what happened last week and how the team looks right now alone.
Three other stories from Saturday
Quack, quack, quack, quack For those who are unaware, the Oregon Ducks destroyed Pete Carroll's Trojan defense 47-20, scoring more points against Southern Cal then any team has since Carroll was hired. That makes four straight losses in the state of Oregon for the Trojans, and it also effectively ends the Southern Cal strangle-hold on the Pac-10. It may result in Pete Carroll not playing in a BCS bowl, but it's far too early to be sure. By the way, anyone playing better than Oregon right now? I think not.
Tebow's tainted record Tim Tebow scored his 50th and 51st rushing touchdown to set the new all-time SEC rushing TD record over Herschel Walker. Here's the problem, Herschel only played 3 seasons, only played 11 regular season games not 12, there was no SEC Championship game which also counts (Tebow will be playing in his 3rd this year), and bowl games did not count back then. End result, Herschel Walker remains the most prolific scorer on the ground in SEC history regardless of what the record books say.
In heaven there is no beer, because they drink it here every week heavily Iowa just keeps on winning, despite the kind of turnovers that kill many teams (*cough* Cocks *cough*). They just keep on playing and finding ways to win. I will say this now, if Iowa does find itself undefeated at season's end I dare not be the team playing them in a bowl game, because can anyone say for sure they won't win again? I think not.