1. That Les is More. LSU may have lost its quarterback (and his projected replacement) from last year's national championship team. It may have lost the defensive player of the year (Glenn Dorsey), its top runner (Jacob Hester), its top linebacker (Ali Highsmith) and three starting defensive backs. But the Tigers still have their one-of-a-kind coach, Les Miles, whose unmistakable philosophy on game management - aggressive/borderline maniacal -- reared its head again in Saturday night's huge road win at Auburn.
LSU in 2008 looks a whole lot like LSU '07, from the bruising runner (Charles Scott) to the clutch quarterback (Jarrett Lee) to yet another dramatic finish. Most importantly, Miles reminded us why the defending champs aren't going down without a fight. Few coaches go for the jugular quite like Miles, whose team rallied from an early 14-3 deficit thanks in part to an onside kick, a halfback touchdown pass (from Keiland Williams) and a stunning, game-winning touchdown pass when a field goal would have sufficed. It felt a whole lot like ... last year's LSU-Auburn game.
2. That Phillip Fulmer really misses David Cutcliffe. Three years ago, Tennessee suffered an inexplicable 5-6 season, after which the Vols' head man brought back his old offensive coordinator. With the Mannings' mentor calling the plays, Tennessee went 19-8 and reached last year's SEC title game. In a huge game against LSU late in the 2006 season, redshirt freshman QB Jonathan Crompton came in for the injured Erik Ainge and nearly led the Vols to victory. It gave reason to think Tennessee would be fine once the steady Ainge graduated.
But here we are in 2008, and the Vols' offense, to put it bluntly, stinks. Crompton has somehow regressed considerably. The UCLA loss was embarrassing; the Florida loss was emasculating. Is it any coincidence that Cutcliffe left for Duke over the offseason? Bringing in a fresh face, Richmond's Dave Clawson, seemed like a wonderful idea at the time -- except it's not working. Clawson, however, is not the guy who just got a new $3 million contract. Nor is he the guy whose program quite clearly will not win an SEC title for the 10th straight season. And it's only going to get worse before it gets better: Tennessee visits Auburn and Georgia over the next three weeks,
3. That the Terrelle Pryor-Vince Young comparisons weren't accurate. Pryor is a better passer -- already. Or at least he's a better passer four games into his true freshman season than the former Texas star was until about halfway through his redshirt sophomore season. Scary.
Yes, the opponent was only Troy, but it was hard not be impressed with the way Pryor so effortlessly lofted four touchdown passes Saturday. (Young, incidentally, did not throw four TDs in a game until the 10th contest of his final season.) He wasn't just standing in the pocket, either; some of his best throws came on the run. Pryor's ascension is hardly a cure-all for Ohio State -- the Buckeyes did not put away Troy until the fourth quarter -- but it's easy to see what the hype was all about. He's big, he's strong, he can run and -- most important -- the dude can pass.
4. That Florida State still doesn't have a quarterback. Welcome to Year Eight of Seminoles fans never-ending nightmare. You thought Chris Rix was bad? Shoot, they'd take him back in a heartbeat. You thought Drew Weatherford was mediocre? Well, apparently he was, because he got beaten out this fall by two guys who put up one of the ugliest stat lines I've ever seen Saturday against Wake Forest. Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson were a combined 12-of-36 for 118 yards and five interceptions in the 'Noles' 12-3 loss. (On the bright side: It was an improvement from their 30-0 loss the last time Wake visited in 2006.)
FSU's continuing quarterback woes are particularly vexing because QBs are the supposed forte of the man Bobby Bowden hired to replace embattled son Jeff -- the man who has already been appointed to succeed Bobby -- as offensive coordinator two years ago. Jimbo Fisher did wonders with JaMarcus Russell at LSU, but then again, Russell was a physical sensation. As it stands now, FSU's offense appears to have gotten worse since Fisher's arrival. He does have his own hand-picked QB, E.J. Manuel, waiting in the wings, but he's hardly the first savior-in-waiting to run through this ringer. Remember Adrian McPherson? Xavier Lee? Like I said: Nightmare.
5. That Baylor might not finish last this year. For 11 of the past 12 years, the Baylor Bears have taken up residence in the basement of the Big 12's South Division. It's become so second nature we've long since forgotten there was any other possibility ... but there is.
The Bears have exhibited an unexpected spark under first-year coach Art Briles. With the help of freshman QB Robert Griffin, Baylor throttled Pac-10 cellar dweller Washington State last week, then went to Connecticut on Friday and took the defending Big East co-champs right to the wire. The Bears certainly aren't going to win their division title -- but they're no longer its worst team, either. That distinction goes to rebuilding Texas A&M, which lost its opener to Arkansas State and, on Saturday, got run off its own field by Miami. The Aggies have to travel to Waco this season. It used to be a gimme; not anymore.