Lang's World: What to expect when your expectations are a bit too high for your favorite college football team
MEMPHIS – On Saturday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina, just a few minutes into the third quarter, it was suddenly over.
Sure, the Georgia Bulldogs had been mostly dominant in the first half, leading South Carolina 20-10. But the Dawgs flipped some sort of a switch at halftime, then came out and punched in two quick scores. Just like that, with nine minutes left in the third, UGA was up 34-10.
That’s when reality seemed to set in. The CBS cameras panned through the stands and gave us a shot of several South Carolina fans right as reality bit. They looked stunned, disappointed, upset, even sanguine, as they processed what they were coming to understand. Their season was over. Well, it wasn’t really over. But man, it sure can feel like it when you must all of a sudden fend off the truth.
By the end of the night, a similar feeling visited Memphis, as the Tigers lost a winnable game to Navy, ending hopes of an undefeated season. And it probably felt similarly in Gainesville, where the new-look Florida Gators lost to the Kentucky Wildcats for the first time in 31 years.
Fans of all of these teams were having to deal with the reality that their teams were not going to be as good as they previously believed. That’s a tough pill to swallow for any fan, but particularly a fan of college football, where it’s basically become a one-loss-and-done race for a title. While one loss in some conferences might slow your roll, in the Power 5 it basically puts you on life support the rest of the way.
On Sunday, a Florida fan texted me, “Like I said, I’m not sure what to think about our team.” I responded, “I’m pretty sure you know what to think about your team.”
Because the only way to really deal with it is to be honest. You can point to recruiting ratings and incoming freshmen and new coordinators all you want. But at the end of the week, teams are what they are. If you want to compete for a title, you don’t have a chance unless you can reel off win after win.
Hope is the most seductive drug for any sports fan, and the long college football offseason gives everyone a chance to indulge, to let their mind run wild. The truth is, every team can’t be a contender every year. If someone’s going to be on top, someone else has to be at the bottom. In this case, maybe it’s just Florida’s turn, or Memphis’s turn, or South Carolina’s turn.
All college football fans want is to know that they have a chance. And until they lose, they do. But the college season is here, and losses have come along as well. Prepare to be disappointed.
Until then, let your mind run wild and enjoy it for all it’s worth.
2.All that being said, I love the reaction to the win over Florida from Kentucky’s Kash Daniel. The Cats hit them with the stunner.
3.Almost every college team these days puts three guys in on punt plays with the job of standing guard just in front of the punter, basically blocking any direct approach. They’re like bouncers, building a wall to keep people out. Add in that you’re not allowed to jump over those three guys, and it seems like a relatively foolproof way to ensure your punter has the time and space to get a kick away.
But leave it up to ‘The U’ to figure out how to get through this defense. Can’t go around it? Can’t go over it? Just go straight through it.
4.Speaking of ‘The U,’ the turnover chain that Miami debuted a year ago was a cool idea. But this year it looks like they actually called Jacob the Jeweler and got a real iced-out chain.
5.This week’s best tackle by a referee came in the South Carolina-Georgia game, when the back judge stepped up to get involved in a big tackle.
Gotta admire his willingness to make that play.
6.Texas A&M celebrated the start of their game against Clemson by firing off a cannon, and they somehow figured out some way to make the cannon shoot out a ring of smoke, which traveled clear across the stadium.
Maybe they should’ve fired it again toward the end of the game, because they fell just short against Clemson, losing 28-26.
7.This reminds me, my country uncle once told me a story about some buddies of his in Alabama who got hired to shoot off a cannon at the start of a high school football game. They somehow got a cannon, this being the South and all, and put some gunpowder in there, then decided to shove in a 50-pound sack of flour to give it some visual impact. So when the players ran out on the field they fired the thing off, and the cannon went BOOM! And the flour went all over the place, and they ended up having to delay the start of the game because there was so much flour all over everything – the players, the band, the field itself.
They were never asked to fire the cannon again.
8.Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy not only has a sweet mullet, he’s got a smoothie, too, which he really seems to enjoy. For some reason, his drinking this smoothie during this press conference reminded me of Brad Pitt snacking throughout Oceans 11 – Gundy must have really been thirsty. Gundy also has some interesting ideas about ways he can make that smoothie even better.
9.For my money, this week’s catch of the week came in that TAMU-Clemson game from Tee Higgins, who snatched this ball out of the air like it was nothing, then ran into the end zone untouched.
10.Each week I want to highlight one of those college commercials that airs during games, but I’d like to feature ads that are actually good. Here is a UGA ad from a few years ago that features music from Athens’ own R.E.M. The only bad thing about this ad is that they replaced it after one season. Ring that bell!
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