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Each week, we’ll talk to our reporters on the ground to get their thoughts on the biggest happenings during the college football season. This week, we look at what’s gone wrong with the Vols in Knoxville, visit Tuscaloosa to talk about the return of Tua, head to Madison to learn about the potential Heisman frontrunner and celebrate with the Tigers of Auburn.
Where does Tennessee turn?
The Volunteers suffered one of the most embarrassing losses in recent program history, falling 38-30 to Sun Belt program Georgia State, giving the Panthers their first-ever win against a Power Five program. Tennessee was outplayed in pretty much every facet of the game and needed a garbage-time touchdown with :02 on the clock to make the score somewhat respectable.
Volquest.com publisher Brent Hubbs weighs in on how the Vols have sunk so low and if they can salvage their season going forward:
“The bottom line in Tennessee’s 38-30 loss to Georgia State is that it wasn’t a fluke. Tennessee was beaten in the line of scrimmage giving up over 200 yards rushing to the Panthers. Tennessee’s defense struggled all afternoon with alignment issues.
“There were lots of times we were lined up in the game where how we lined up based off the schematic scheme they ran, we didn’t have a chance,” head coach Jeremy Pruitt admitted. “The first thing we have to do is get lined up.
“It’s always about how hard you play, but if you are playing really hard and you are running in the wrong direction that’s not good.”
Tennessee lost the line of scrimmage, they lost the turnover battle, and they settled for field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone.
The result is a bad loss that put the Vols’ backs against the wall this week as BYU comes to town.”
Tua’s revenge tour
While Alabama got off to a slow start against Duke, a fully healthy Tua Tagovailoa showed that his struggles to end last season are well behind him. As the Tide rolled Duke 42-3, Tagovailoa threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns before sitting out most of the fourth quarter. After leading the Heisman race for most of 2018, Tagovailoa is likely to be right back in the mix again this year. What does his promising start mean for the Tide’s redemption campaign?
BamaInsider.com’s Kyle Henderson shares his thoughts on Tua’s performance:
“During the Crimson Tide’s opener, junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was nearly flawless going 26 of 31 for 336 yards with four touchdowns and ended the night with a passer rating of 217.5. What could make Tagovailoa even more dangerous going forward this season is the addition of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and his short intermediate passing tree, which should create plenty of high-efficiency throwing opportunities for Tagovailoa who already has pin-point accuracy. Most importantly, Tagovailoa is 100 percent healthy and if the Crimson Tide’s offensive line can keep him upright this season, the chances of Alabama making another run into the College Football Playoff should be nearly a lock.”
Tigers top Ducks again
In a rematch of the 2011 national championship game, Auburn scored a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Oregon, erasing a 21-6 second-half deficit behind true freshman quarterback Bo Nix. The five-star freshman, who actually attended the last matchup against the Ducks as a fan, showed poise beyond his years while leading the game-winning drive. With Nix at the helm, can Guz Malzahn and the Tigers challenge for the SEC West title?
AuburnSports.com’s publisher Jay Tate gives his take on Nix’s heroics and what it means for the Tigers season.
“The situation seemed dire for Auburn during the early moments of the third quarter Saturday. Oregon had pieced together its third touchdown drive of the night, held a 15-point lead and there was no rational reason for the Tigers to feel empowered.
Yet those difficult circumstances brought out the best in some important parts of the operation. The defense, which struggled to manage the Ducks' run game during the first half, allocated more resources toward the run and severely curtailed that threat. Tailback Boobee Whitlow found slightly more room to maneuver and created some important gains. And quarterback Bo Nix, in the first college game of his life, used a few decent reads to catapult his confidence into the stratosphere. It doesn't take much when you're too young to fret.
Nix preserved the Tigers' final drive by converting a fourth-and-3 with a rollout run — leaving himself less than two inches of clearance. He then converted a third-and-10 with a 13-yard throw to Seth Williams. Just when it looked like Auburn was preparing to give its placekicker a chance to play the hero's role, the Tigers asked Nix to make one final throw. It went for a go-ahead touchdown to Williams.
Nix has a long way to go before coming an Auburn legend like his father, but he led a legendary drive Saturday. And that has the Tigers believing that his best, and indeed their best, is yet to come.”
Jonathan Taylor Tailback the Heisman front-runner?
While the games on Saturday will get the bulk of the attention, Wisconsin went down to steamy Florida on Friday night and absolutely destroyed USF, 49-0. The game was highlighted by the play of standout Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor, who continues to put up incredible offensive numbers. He finished the game with 135 yards rushing with two touchdowns and also displayed a new pass-catching wrinkle to his game, notching two receptions for 48 yards, both of which went for touchdowns. Is Taylor now in the early driver’s seat for the Heisman Trophy?
BadgerBlitz.com publisher Jon McNamara gives his take on Taylor’s impressive start to the year and what it might mean for the Badgers.
“A quarterback has captured the Heisman Trophy the past three years, but Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor certainly put himself in the early conversation to end that streak after his Week 1 performance against South Florida. Taylor, the Doak Walker Award winner in 2018, had four total touchdowns against the Bulls and totaled 135 yards on 16 carries. Having rushed for at least 100 yards in 23 out of his 28 career games, Taylor has consistently put up big-time numbers over the past two seasons. That said, his Heisman chances will likely revolve around Wisconsin’s success this season. If the Badgers can make it back to the Big Ten title game, Taylor will likely have, at the very least, a seat in the crowd when the award is announced in December.”