Guerry Clegg commentary: Observations from college football's first week

sports@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 3, 2013 

Notre Dame-Michigan is getting the national hype. From a historical perspective, it's justified.

Michigan and Notre Dame rank first and second all-time in winning percentage (.743 for the Wolverines, .733 for the Irish).

Michigan ranks first all-time with 903 wins, and Notre Dame is third with 865, just two behind Texas.

But once again, the most important game this weekend involves Georgia.

Start with the most obvious. The Bulldogs' home opener Saturday against South Carolina is a conference game, with SEC championship ramifications.

The loser, especially if it is Georgia, will have a difficult chance of winning the Eastern division. The winner becomes the favorite to capture the Eastern Division.

So therefore, it also has potentially more national championship ramifications. If Georgia wins the rest of its games and wins the conference championship game, there's a good chance the Bulldogs will be playing for the national championship.

If South Carolina wins, the Gamecocks will certainly be a national championship contender. Again, they would have a lot of work to do as well. But this just might be the toughest game they play all season.

If they were to go undefeated, that would mean beating Florida and Clemson as well, plus winning SEC championship game. There is no doubt they would be in the national championship game if that were to happen.

Yes, those are major "if." But either scenario is more likely than Michigan or Notre Dame going undefeated to get into the BCS championship game.

• Georgia Tech: To analyze Tech's 70-0 win over Elon would be pointless. An intrasquad scrimmage would have been more revealing.

Elon? Really?

If the Yellow Jackets want national credibility, they need to stop playing these pitiful games. Here's a look at some non-conference opponents in recent years.

Presbyterian, Western Carolina, South Carolina State, Jacksonville State twice, Gardner-Webb, Samford twice, The Citadel. They've already scheduled Wofford for next year and Mercer for 2016.

Yeah, all the top teams play some paycheck games. (Clemson plays South Carolina State this week.)

And the Jackets have one built-in tough opponent having to finish the season against Georgia. Plus, they are playing Brigham Young.

Still, they are playing TWO FCS opponents, Alabama A&M being the other. Playing Elon doesn't help recruiting or sell tickets. Official attendance was 45,759.

• Alabama: It would be overreacting to read too much into the Crimson Tide's offensive struggles.

Sure, take away the three non-offensive touchdowns and it would have been a completely different game.

An offense that has perhaps the best overall collection of skill players in the post-Bear Bryant era failed to surpass 100 yards

rushing or 200 yards passing.

But it does serve as a reminder that replacing three All-America offensive lineman isn't as simple as plugging in new talented players. The 2009 team that won Nick Saban's first national championship at Alabama was not impressive offensively until after the Tennessee game, which the Tide almost lost at home.

• Auburn: It's still hard to read much into the Tigers' 31-24 win over Washington State. After all, how good is Washington State? But the atmosphere was electric. It's also clear that the Tigers do have some talent. They made plays on defense and ran the ball with speed and force. That combination will make them competitive against most teams.

It was puzzling to read Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday criticizing Auburn's Nick Marshall.

""If they could find a quarterback, they'd be a top-five team in the nation," Halliday said. "They just don't have a guy who can throw it."

This, from a guy whose team just lost in large part because he threw three interceptions. A more accurate statement, not to mention more tactful, would be to say that if Marshall develops into a playmaker, the Tigers could be pretty good. Top five nationally? That's a stretch.

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