Back Nine: Good week for SEC


Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon (4) scores a fourth quarter touchdown against Michigan at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 1, 2012. (The Associated Press)

Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 3, 2012 at 10:49 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that pretty much lived up to expectations whether it was wings with the Fightin' Gator Touchdown Club on Thursday, a great party at the Dooley Dome on Friday, 17 hours of football on Saturday or a nice relaxing triple-header on Sunday.

10. It should come as no surprise that Will Muschamp names Jeff Driskel to be the starter for the Texas A&M game. As I mentioned in my Sunday column, Jacoby Brissett played only 11 plays on opening day and Muschamp talked Monday about just how important it is to get game reps for his quarterbacks. I had been told Driskel had moved ahead in practice last week, but the bottom line is this — neither quarterback has separated himself from the other, so if you're going to go with one it might as well be the one who adds options to your playbook with his running ability. While I think it's important to have a guy right now, this is far from over. Driskel can end it by playing well the rest of the way, but if he does not, well, as Muschamp said about Brissett, “He's a snap away from playing.”

11. Overall, it was a solid week for the SEC. Certainly, Alabama's win over Michigan was the big story, but Tennessee's win over N.C. State was another plus for the conference. That was a team perceived as maybe the sixth best team in the conference beating the ACC's third or fourth best and beating them soundly. Clemson, which I would think is the second or third best, beat Auburn in a close game, but Auburn is probably the seventh best team in this league. And Kentucky losing to Louisville was hardly a surprise. But the bottom line is that six weeks from now all we'll really remember — and all the voters will remember — is how Alabama handled Michigan. That's the game the conference needed to have for what could take place down the road.

12. Sam Durley. Now there's a name you didn't expect to see in the Back Nine. But after he threw for 736 yards for Eureka College, he had to make it. Most impressive was that this wasn't a case of trying to get a guy the record by throwing unnecessary passes. He led his team to a come-from-behind 62-55 win over Knox. Still, that wasn't the most remarkable thing over the weekend. Nor was the now infamous wrong way punt return by Kent State's Andre Parker (although it made me laugh). No, the most amazing thing was Texas State, a 34-point underdog, beating Houston 30-13. It was the biggest point spread to be beaten since Stanford beat Southern Cal in 2007. Texas State is coached by a familiar name — Dennis Franchione who coached at Alabama and Texas A&M. Texas State had a time of possession edge of 43 minutes to 17. Houston's offensive coordinator was so embarrassed he resigned. Sounds like current Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin might have left the cupboard bare at Houston.

13. Much was made about the number of empty seats at The Swamp last week which is funny, because we heard all week how there were going to be a bunch of empty seats, and, then when they were everybody seemed surprised. I give credit to the 84,000-plus who showed up, especially those of you who sat on the east side of the stadium and had fans going faster than a hummingbird's wings. It was brutally hot and humid and sent a lot of the students elsewhere (any place with air conditioning and jello shots) at halftime. This all goes back to something I wrote a few months ago — it's a lot easier to watch your HD television than it is to spend a lot of money to attend a game. If you're going to draw fans, you'd better be putting something special on the field.

14. So the NFL is back starting Wednesday, which means we are in a stretch of 12 days where we have had or will have football on the tube on 11 of those days. This is the only football-less day. I don't think we're far from getting to the point where there is a football game of some kind every day of the week. Actually, I think it should be a law.

15. Because The King is cranking back up and our fantasy leagues are taking shape, the Back Nine's fearless forecast can wait no longer. So here we go. NFC division winners — New York Giants, Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle with San Francisco and Atlanta as wild cards. AFC division winners — New England, Baltimore, Tennessee and Denver with Kansas City and Pittsburgh as wild cards. The Super Bowl will be played between the Packers and Ravens. How do I know all this? I watched parts of a couple of exhibition games. Take that to Vegas.

16. The really big question concerning the NFL isn't about replacement refs or Peyton Manning's neck or concussion issues, but about what round would it be smart to take Maurice Jones-Drew now that he has reported. My team — “Cold Beer On Ice” — had MJD last year and he was great but … oops, I just violated one of the Back Nine's commandments. (IV. There are three things nobody really wants to hear you talk about — how your fantasy team is doing, your hole-by-hole golf round or the cute thing your cat did today).

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from the Round Mound of Touchdowns Jared Lorenzen who I used to love to watch play the game — “I'll always be a UK fan but this is bad. I think I may turn this off and just enjoy a cold beverage.” Bro, you can do both. And yes, it was not good to be a Kentucky football fan Sunday.

18. I had a life-changing experience on Sunday when I became the last person older than 14 to get an iPhone. I feel like my life has changed. Try these downloads this week — “This Head I Hold” by Electric Guest, “No Tell” by Smoke and Jackal and for the old school in you “I'm Only Sleeping” by The Beatles. Very underrated song by the band who changed everything.

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