Wow what a football weekend! One of the few where I actually got to stay home, calling two games in the span of about 17 hours and both were great. First I spent Friday night at Woodstock, GA High School calling one of the Wolverines biggest regular season wins in program history, knocking off ninth-ranked Newnan 28-16, and then working Georgia State's near-upset of fourth-ranked Jacksonville State in a 34-27 overtime thriller at the Georgia Dome Saturday afternoon.
Here's a few observations from both:
4 Jacksonville State 34, Georgia State 27 (OT)
Either the Gamecocks aren't as good as we thought they were or the Panthers are much better. And what does that say about the Ole Miss Rebels, who I will see this Saturday night when I call their game vs. Fresno State? I guess all of that will be sorted out in the coming weeks. Just two weeks after Jacksonville State shocked the nation and won 49-48 in overtime at Ole Miss, Georgia State, in just the third game in program history, nearly beat the Gamecocks.
Jacksonville State arrived at the Georgia Dome with their highest ever FCS ranking and just two weeks removed from becoming the first OVC team in 62 years to beat a team from the SEC. But what we saw was a Gamecocks team in desperate need of a running game, even more so without the injured Calvin Middleton. We also saw a JSU team that allowed big plays to a Panthers offense that just a week earlier had been bullied by NAIA's seventh-ranked Lambuth. And we also saw a Gamecocks team, that in the previous two weeks had pulled games out at the end, inexplicably botch the final 20 seconds of regulation, failing to get off a potential game-winning kick.
All that said, to their credit, we must add that the Gamecocks found a way to win and are now 3-0 and they've won all three games either on the final play or in the final minute. As for the Panthers, if you can lose and still win, they did that Saturday. In three short games Bill Curry's team has made incredible strides. Watching my alma mater for the first time was kind of surreal. Even calling the game on CSS, it was hard to sink in that after all these years GSU has a football program. But there is no denying the excitement that a football team can generate. I saw more cheering for the Panthers in that one football game than in 40 years of basketball.
So two questions...just how good is Jacksonville State? And could Bill Curry conceivably lead the Panthers to a winning record in year one?
Woodstock 28, 9 Newnan 16
Very similar to the Jacksonville State vs. Georgia State game in that I walked on the field before the game and watched the players for both teams and came away with the feeling that I might be getting ready to call a blow-out. Newnan certainly looked good in warm ups and of course they had all the tradition and history on their side. The Cougars had won 38 of their previous 43 games and while Woodstock is in the midst of their best run in school history, not many impartial observers would have given the Wolverines much of a chance. Shows you how much us impartial observers know.
Two things we did learn in this game: 1 - Just as Newnan Coach Mike McDonald feared, his team had trouble with Woodstock's veer offense. They never really knew when QB Kevin Bolak was going to keep it, hand it off to Mark Kimbro or pitch it to Tanner Skogen. As a result, Bolak totaled close to 180 yards of offense, running for a 38-yard TD and passing for another. 2 - the Cougars better get star RB Chris Robinson healthy. He had rushed for close to 300 yards in about a game-and-a-half before getting hurt vs. Peachtree Ridge. That high ankle sprain kept him out of the game vs. the Wolverines and Woodstock quickly loaded nine men in the box and dared Newnan to beat them through the air. They couldn't.
Questions for you - is Woodstock good enough to record their second-ever and second-straight 10 win season? And can Newnan, after losing only 4 games the last 3 years and now having lost two of the first three here in 2010, rebound to salvage their season?
Fresno State at Ole Miss
Well now that I've wrapped up this weekend, a new week starts with more SEC Football Presented by Regions Bank. It's off to Oxford, MS later this week where some Rebels fans are on suicide watch with Ole Miss off to a 1-2 start with losses to Jacksonville State and Vandy and one measly win over Tulane to their credit. And with 2-0 Fresno State, wins over Cincinnati and Utah State, coming to town, the pressure is on Houston Nutt to get things fixed in a hurry.
Should be another interesting week. So who wins...Fresno or Ole Miss?