A month ago, Alabama football coach Nick Saban admonished the media for virtually anointing the Crimson Tide national champions two games into the season. As the national landscape has changed considerably each week, one of the remaining constants has been the Tides air of invincibility.
Here's the irony of that: As each weekend brings more upsets, it validates Saban's point that it's a long season. It's the ultimate reality TV. Yet each weekend leaves us with only one conclusion:
There's Alabama, then there's everybody else. This was confirmed Sunday night by the release of the first BCS rankings of the season.
Oh, there are some worthy pursuers. Oregon has an abundance of speed and plays a relatively manageable schedule. Florida gets better every week. Kansas State and Notre Dame are undefeated. LSU will be a threat if the Tigers ever can find some offense. South Carolina is still dangerous even after losing to LSU.
We've reached the unofficial halfway point of the season. Here's what we have learned, or have been reminded of, so far:
Home field still matters. Just look at South Carolina and LSU the past two weekends. The Gamecocks' home game against Georgia was probably the most electrifying night in school history. That's saying much considering their bitter history with Clemson and that just two years ago, the Gamecocks stunned No. 1 Alabama at home.
But this was bigger because first place in the SEC East was on the line. Many recruits considering Carolina and Georgia were in attendance.
The Gamecocks clearly were the better team and probably are today. But there's no question that their 35-7 victory was aided by atmosphere.
Just hours earlier, LSU visited Florida in The Swamp -- arguably the Gators' biggest home game since their fall from dominance. The Tigers never got anything going and lost 14-6.
The tables were turned Saturday night in Baton Rouge. It was South Carolina's offensive line that couldn't hear the snap count. It was Carolina's Connor Shaw who was out of sorts. It was LSU that was lifted by the crowd, just enough for a 23-21 victory.
The Paul Johnson Era at Georgia Tech could be nearing an end. Firing defensive coordinator Al Groh in the middle of the season was a move Johnson termed "inevitable." That's hard to argue considering that Tech gave up 138 points in three games. But what about the man who hired Groh? Johnson had fired Dave Wommack to hire Groh. Wommack has enjoyed a rebirth of sorts at Ole Miss.
Firing a coordinator in midseason is an act of desperation.
Johnson brought a refreshing measure of arrogance to Tech. He refused to concede state superiority to Georgia. But the Yellow Jackets, 2-4 and riding a three-game losing streak, are out of the ACC championship picture. A fourth consecutive loss to Georgia seems likely. That would mean the best the Jackets can finish is 7-5 in the regular season. If it plays out that way -- or worse -- keeping Johnson would be a concession that Georgia Tech is not capable of doing better.
Georgia's defense is missing something. Leadership? Chemistry? Game-planning? Discipline? What it's not missing is talent. The Bulldogs have as many as seven players who would be on an NFL roster right now. They've had suspensions and Jarvis Jones (Carver High) is playing hurt. But those are flimsy excuses for players being out of position and missing tackles.
If they get it together, this unit could be among the best in the country. They could beat anybody in the country anywhere. Yes, even Alabama. But if they don't, these Bulldogs will go down as underachievers.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. Write to him at email@example.com.