Sunday 7: Florida-LSU rematch intrigues, but Saban in way
Oct. 21, 2007
By Dennis Dodd
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
Seven things we learned Sunday ...
Superman is back in his familiar cape and tights: Tim Tebow reasserted himself as the nation's best player with a four-touchdown performance at Kentucky.
Same old jab step into the line that freezes defenses. Same old jump pass that helped beat LSU last season. Same old, "get on my back, guys, I'll carry you" mentality. Kentucky tried, but the Man of Zeal made enough plays to get the Gators back in the SEC East race and burrow his way further into our hearts.
Please, please, please let there be an LSU-Florida rematch in the SEC Championship Game. Which reminds us ...
SEC commissioner Mike Slive is rubbing his hands together Monty Burns-style, muttering "Exxxxxcellent": Not only should LSU's Les Miles be being dunked in the Mississippi right about now, LSU fans would have paid his moving expenses to Ann Arbor if Saturday night's incredible gamble failed.
Matt Flynn's touchdown pass to Demetrius Byrd with one second left against Auburn not only saved LSU's season, but it saved the SEC's season. That's how close the league was to being eliminated from the national championship picture.
An Auburn victory would have given every SEC team at least two losses eight weeks in. It doesn't take a research assistant to realize no BCS title game has been played with a two-loss team. Don't ask Tommy Tuberville, who had his heart ripped out again. He won them all four years ago and was still left out.
For a guy who looks like he relaxes by memorizing nuclear launch codes, Miles sure does coach by "feel" a lot. First, there were the fourth downs against Florida. All five were successful, but any failure could have cost LSU the game.
Saturday, Byrd apparently signaled offensive coordinator Gary Crowton in the press box. Auburn was playing man-to-man press coverage. What better time to go for it than with eight seconds left (and counting) from Auburn's 22?
Ignoring the obvious field goal, Miles let the play get into the game like a virus into a hard drive. Byrd caught the pass with one second left, saving his team and the SEC.
"I saw there was one second left and I was like, 'Damn,'" Byrd told the Baton Rouge Advocate.
LSU has played three of the best games the nation has seen this season in succession: Florida, Kentucky and Auburn. Makes you wonder what the Tigers have left. They'd better have plenty because ...
There are two weeks to the Saban Bowl: The drumbeat for LSU-Alabama started the moment Nick Saban signed his contract in December. Now it's almost here, and it will mean something. Spit cups will be needed to catch all the drool coming from Baton Rouge and T-town until the Nov. 3 kickoff. How great is it that the teams are tied for the SEC West lead (4-1) and both quarterbacks (Flynn and John Parker Wilson) are coming off career highs?
Michigan lives! The team you loved to trash suddenly matters again. Michigan has won six in a row and is 4-0 in the Big Ten after winning at Illinois. We always knew the Wolverines had heart, but they won without Hart on Saturday. Sidelined by a leg injury, tailback Michael Hart watched for the bench as Chris Brown ran for more than 100 yards.
It surprises no one that it looks like the Big Ten race is coming down to -- surprise, surprise -- the Ohio State game on Nov. 17. Win that, and Michigan might be the first team to lose to Applachian State and play in the Rose Bowl in the same season. A rematch with Oregon in Pasadena wouldn't be bad either.
Vanderbilt is not just for losing anymore: Don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but it looks like that nasty 25-year bowl-less streak is about to end. The Commodores (4-3) won at South Carolina 17-6, beating Steve Spurrier for the first time in 15 tries.
"That's a misconception about Vanderbilt," coach Bobby Johnson said. "They do everything they possibly can to try to win."
We'll take your word for it, coach. Vandy still needs two more wins for bowl eligibility, three more to spend the first December in a quarter century away from the library.
South Carolina made it 11 top 10 teams that have fallen in the past six weeks. Only in Week 2 has the top 10 escaped an upset.
Nebraska quit: This is not written hastily or with malice, but just glancing at the highlights in Nebraska's 36-14 loss to Texas A&M suggests the once-proud Huskers have checked it in.
Lots of arm tackles. Lots of ho-hum effort. Bill Callahan has taken enough bullets to stop an elephant. He's gone, we know that. But after watching Nebraska the past two weeks, it's time to start putting some of this on the players. They deserve blame, too. It's one thing to play badly. It's another not to play at all.
The new coach is going to have a harder job than we initially thought.
Might as well call it the Big 10-AA: And you thought losing to App State was bad. Try North Dakota State beating Minnesota 27-21.
The Gophers (1-7) have shown a willingness to roll over this year, but the stink from this one will require more than one shower. The Bison have nowhere to go while transitioning from Division II to I-AA. They're in NCAA limbo. No playoffs, nothing. Coming into the game, Minnesota coach Tim Brewster called them "the little guys in green." The Greenies brought 30,000 fans to the Metrodome to embarrass understandably apathetic Gophers fans and make this their bowl game.
Some guy named Thor played for North Dakota State. No kidding. Tyler "He's On A" Roehl, rushed for 263 yards -- 200 of it on nine carries in the first half. Thirty-three native Minnesotans on the Bisons roster got revenge for last year's 10-9 loss.
There is a certain serendipity. North Dakota State's coach is Craig Bohl, who got run out of town as Nebraska's defensive coordinator. Think the Huskers might take him back now? The Bison are 7-0 and have the nation's longest Division I winning streak, 11 games.
"I think this is probably the worst of our losses, just morale-wise," Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber said. "You expect to win. They're a good football team, but when you're a Division I program and you're in the Big Ten, you have to win these types of games."
Tell it to Lloyd Carr, Adam.
Brewster? He needs a brewski after also losing to Florida Atlantic earlier this season.
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