College football is not a world without stereotypes.
There’s the image of the SEC being better than all of the other leagues combined even though they rarely play non-conference road games west of the Mississippi or north of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers.
There’s the theory that 50 years after schools like Texas and Oklahoma dominated thanks to the triple-option wishbone, it’s now the defense that’s optional in the Big 12.
There have even been those who buy into the myth that Virginia games are populated by “Kippy & Buffy” with their popped collars and sundresses (some may even have wine and cheese lists dedicated to that myth). Meanwhile Virginia Tech fans are a little more “down to earth” — or at least a little more down to eating that smoked turkey leg at Lane Stadium.
Saturday’s action saw plenty of thrills and chills in the SEC and Big 12, with one notable spill in each conference.
Defending National Champion LSU learned that losing 17 starters is not ideal (although they did return their placekicker and punter/holder) and Mike Leach is working with a microwave instead of a slow-cooker at Mississippi State: The Bulldogs’ 44-34 win in Baton Rouge was the school’s third in the series this century. It also saw K.J. Costello throw for 623 (?!) yards.
The rest of the SEC is now on notice: Air Raid is already operational in Starkville.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 continues to live down to expectations as its best two schools’ D earned just that.
No. 3 Oklahoma blew a 35-14 second half lead in their 38-35 loss to Kansas State.
No. 8 Texas almost fell on the road to Texas Tech before prevailing 63-56 in overtime. A bit of the shine that usually accompanies the Longhorns’ annual October showdown with the Sooners is gone and once again the Big 12’s loss is the SEC’s gain.
Virginia (1-0) began the 2020 season with a 38-20 win over Duke. The defense stepped up in the second half with three interceptions, a fumble recovery, and holding on fourth down on the Blue Devils’ final five possessions.
- Cavalier Congrats: The D began with Z — and in Zane Zandier who notched 15 tackles. Brenton Nelson tallied two of the team’s five interceptions. Brennan Armstrong threw for two scores and ran for another in his first career start, and his top two targets stretched the field (Lavel Davis made four catches for 101 yards and two TD’s) and moved the chains (Billy Kemp IV caught seven passes for 70 yards). Wayne Taulapapa made his case to be the primary ball-carrier this fall with 16 carries for 95 yards and two scores.
- Cavalier Concerns: Three turnovers led to 10 Blue Devil points. The offense had issues moving the chains, converting just 6 of 17 third downs.
Next: Saturday night at 8 p.m. against No. 1 Clemson. I’ll talk this up as a rematch of last year’s ACC Championship Game.
No. 20 Virginia Tech (1-0) scored on its first three possessions en route to a 45-24 victory over N.C. State.
They did so minus starting quarterback Hendon Hooker and 22 other players who were sitting out due to testing positive for COVID-19, and that didn’t include new Defensive Coordinator Justin Hamilton who was also infected. One can only imagine how they’ll navigate the next few weeks of their season; they’re playing every Saturday until Thanksgiving week.
- Hokie Highlights: Head Coach Justin Fuente did a nice job patching together the quarterback position — Quincy Patterson completed four of six passes for 75 yards and two scores while running 10 times for 47 yards and another score. Kansas transfer Khalil Herbert ran for 104 yards and a TD. The defense notched six sacks and two interceptions. Punter Oscar Bradburn averaged 47.3 yards per punt while kicker Brian Johnson nailed all three field goal attempts and all four extra points.
- Hokie Humblings: The offense converted just two of nine third downs, and they won’t be facing teams like the Wolfpack that allow 40+ points per game all season. Another concern is the health of the players, was the 23 players who couldn’t play against N.C. State the beginning or the end of the outbreak in the program?
Next: Saturday at 4 p.m. on the road at Duke (0-3).