With a week and change remaining in college football’s regular season, it is time for the first official AP Top 25 Poll of the year. The big name-brand teams are still unbeatable, but there have been some surprises along the way that could shake up how these rankings look come playoff time.
The “college football season” is a time where the best of the best compete for a national championship. This year, there have been 7 weeks of rain and golf balls falling from the sky. In week 7, only Georgia appeared to be immune to 2021 college football chaos.
Fans of Georgia are well aware of the dangers of tempting destiny. There have been far too many years when everything should have worked out, but instead the world has dealt you a gut hit. See the year 1982. See the year 2002. Observe the year 2007. See the year 2012. See the year 2017. To be familiar with Georgia is to be familiar with suffering. At least three R.E.M. albums have been influenced by it.
This Georgia squad, on the other hand, is unique this year. It needs to be that way.
On Saturday, Georgia defeated previously undefeated Kentucky 30-13. Stetson Bennett, the backup quarterback, took over and delivered three touchdown passes. Against a Wildcats defense that allowed just 3.4 yards per run this season, the backfield committee rushed for 166 yards. The defense, headed by Heisman candidate Jordan Davis, limited Kentucky to just 243 yards of offense, almost half of which came on the Wildcats’ last two drives, when the game was already decided.
The obvious question in the aftermath is: who could possible stop Georgia now?
It definitely isn’t Florida, which was defeated 49-42 by a depleted LSU squad in a game best described as Dan Mullen wanting to annoy Tigers supporters who had hoped to replace Ed Orgeron this week.
Mullen enjoys playing Darth Vader, but his recent Florida football performance has shown him to be nothing more than Wile E. Coyote. Mullen walked directly into a tunnel painted on the side of a mountain by Orgeron. He’s turned into a pathetic villain who would rather have an anvil fall on his head than pursue after the roadrunner. (It’s worth noting that UTSA is still unbeaten.) Meep, meep, meep, meep, meep, meep, me
LSU’s best receiver and two cornerbacks were gone, while Orgeron’s crawfish delivery man smashed his Honda. The Tigers didn’t stand a chance, but Florida found a way to win. Four interceptions were combined by Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. Todd Grantham, who is a fan favorite in every SEC town but Gainesville, directed a defense that gave up 321 rushing yards. Tyrion Davis-Price rushed for 287 yards and three touchdowns on his own, shattering Herschel Walker’s record of 287 yards and three touchdowns against a Florida defense. Allowing someone to shatter a Herschel Walker record by 50 yards requires a unique type of evil. Richardson looked great on the most of his offensive drives, but there’s a twist: the Gators’ backup quarterback indicated after the game that he couldn’t rule out the prospect of transferring.
Fans concerned that he would transfer or depart were questioned by Anthony Richardson: “I’m afraid I’m not qualified to comment on that. The only thing that can tell is time. I’m currently a Gator.”
October 16, 2021 — Nick de la Torre (@delatorre)
Through and through, I am a Florida Gator. Sorry if my answer was unclear, but right now all I care about is making the most of my chance! Don’t write us off… pic.twitter.com/zE5BeKCaTK #GVO #GatorGang
October 17, 2021 — Anthony Richardson (@GVOaant)
No one, on the other hand, tossed a shoe.
Georgia and Florida will compete in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in two weeks, but Florida supporters should start drinking now. The less memories people have, the better.
Since last year, Florida has dropped six of its previous eight games versus Power 5 opponents. Of course, Mullen has previously explained that the last game of the 2020 season occurred before a rout in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma, and to be fair, he’s never said when the 2021 season would begin. We’ll go with Samford this week.
So keep an eye out for Georgia. Missouri, Tennessee, Charleston Southern, and Georgia Tech follow the Gators. Even the most pessimistic Dawgs fan would find it difficult to see their season going awry on the road.
Then it’s on to the SEC championship game. On Saturday, Alabama trounced Mississippi State, and the Crimson Tide seem to be headed to Atlanta for a confrontation with the Dawgs. It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for, but if Georgia wins, it won’t matter in terms of the Dawgs’ playoff chances.
But there’s that word again: if. Fans of Georgia despise the term. They’ve lived through far too many seasons in which “if” is preceded by “what” or “only,” and this year, more than any other, it seems that the more convinced we are of the results, the more likely we are to be wrong.
Even so, this would be the cruelest of all the cruel twists of destiny. This Georgia squad isn’t simply excellent; it’s exceptional. It has a lot of skill, is led by a second-string quarterback, and wins with a defense that never gives up without a fight.
Darth Vader is waiting for you. This time, though, the evil seems helpless, the hero wields all of the weapons, and the narrative merits a happy conclusion.
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