Saturdays in Athens


Saturday, 21st October 2023

It’s the third week in October which means it’s time to revisit one of the SEC footballs greatest rivalries.  Yes, its time to get the cigars ready for Alabama vs Tennessee!

But before we get to the madness of Vols v Bama, its week 8 of SEC football with no room for error in anybody’s schedule! The season has got to the point where bowl eligibility is looking forlorn (for some) with others seeking that elusive place in the SEC Championship game.

It all adds up to as much excitement as you can cram into a tailgate at the Grove!

So, as usual before we get into the games lets check on the key stories hitting the headlines across SEC football this week!

Here are this weeks headlines….let’s get started y’all!

Brock Bowers injured

Photo Credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Athens, GA

Georgia football confirmed on Monday the news that all Bulldog fans didn’t want to hear – that superstar Tight end Brock Bowers injury required surgery which will keep him from playing at least the next four weeks and possibly longer.

Bowers limped off in the 2nd quarter of the game against Vanderbilt, a game which the Bulldogs won 37-20.

Bowers injury was confirmed by the School as a high ankle sprain with Bowers electing to have tightrope surgery on the injury in a bid to get him back fit and playing this season. Tightrope surgery which has become common for these types of injuries typically gets a player back within a 4-6 week period. Georgia tight-end Lawson Luckie suffered a similar injury back in mid-August and has just returned to practice. Right Tackle Amarius Mims had the surgery in mid September and has not yet returned.

In 2018, then Alabama QB Tua Tagavailoa had the same surgery for a high ankle sprain and returned after 4 weeks out. Georgia will be hoping for a similar recovery period with Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss and then Tennessee to face in their next four games.

Bowers continues his form from prior seasons remaining the Bulldogs leading receiver with 41 catches for 567 yards and 4touchdowns. Bowers recent form has been very impressive recording 3 straight 100+ yards receiving games and will be sorely missed at the stage of the season when the Bulldogs schedule gets tough.

4 star Georgia native, Oscar Delp is next man up, a player who Georgia recruited heavily and have high hopes for. Delp’s chance has come earlier than anticipated.


Bama breaks records

Photo Credit: University of Alabama Athletics

Tuscaloosa, AL

Alabama football recorded two notable statistics in the 24-21 win over Arkansas on Saturday.

First, Head coach Nick Saban recorded his 200th win of his time at Alabama. Saban joins legendary Alabama head coach, Bear Bryant as the only Alabama coaches to have achieved 200 wins during their time at Tuscaloosa. Bryant ended his time at Alabama with 232 wins meaning Saban has some catching up to do. Both coaches achieved 6 National titles at Alabama (noting Saban also has one Championship with LSU) meaning Saban has some work to do if he wishes to overtake the Great Bear in the Alabama record books.

Kicker Will Reichard also broke an SEC football record on Saturday with his one field goal and three extra points against Arkansas. The Alabama kicker is now the SEC All time points scorer with 489 points beating the previous record set by Auburn’s Daniel Carlson (480). Reichard is now 45 points away from being the NCAA’s leading point scorer of all time.

Of course this is rivalry week in Tuscaloosa as the Tennessee Vols roll into town on Saturday trying to win back to back games against the Crimson Tide.

Who could forget the wild scenes in Knoxville last year with the Vols winning with the last kick of the game. Alabama is out for revenge in this match up – a rivalry game that sees the winners crack open the cigars. A tradition that Nick Saban enjoys seeing  his players participate in.

“Well, I guess it’s fun when you get the opportunity to smoke a cigar,” Saban said on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “I don’t smoke, so I just kind of chew on one for a little bit.”


“I think games like this that have sort of special innuendos that go with them — it’s probably good for the players’ relationships with each other, to do things like that, so I don’t think there’s anything bad about it.”


Beamer breaks foot

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Columbia, SC

In the aftermath of South Carolina’s defeat to Florida, Gamecocks head coach, Shane Beamer broke his foot.

The injury was not obvious until Beamer’s Monday press conference when he updated the press on his injury status.

Beamer didn’t elaborate on how the injury occurred, other than saying that he had kicked something in the aftermath of the game.

Naturally then on Wednesday’s SEC football head coaches teleconference, Beamer was asked about how the injury occurred and more specifically what he had kicked. 

“It was a Gatorade cooler” Beamer told the SEC media.


“It was a Gatorade cooler. Wasn’t like I went in the locker room and just had some complete meltdown and went ballistic for five minutes of screaming and yelling and throwing and kicking things”.

Now I’m going to be honest here. At that point the line went dead and Beamer had been lost from the call. He did not pick up when they tried to reconnect, so we can make our own minds up if this was a technology fail or Beamer had enough talking about his foot. Hard to tell with Beamer some times…..


Runs in the family

Image Credit: Mississippi Today

Nashville, TN

I have written before about the incredible story of the 1899 Sewanee Tigers.  Yes, Sewanee. Now if you don’t know about this team, then you really should.

Sewanee or the University of the South was a founding member of the SEC and in 1899, the Iron Men of Sewanee went on a 2,500 mile road trip playing 5 games in only 6 days. During this marathon trip the Iron Men shut out Texas (in Austin), Texas A&M (in Houston), Tulane (in New Orleans), LSU (in Baton Rouge) and Ole Miss (in Memphis). During a 12 game season only Auburn scored against Sewanee, when the Iron Tigers defeated the Auburn Tigers 11-10.

The undefeated season went down in SEC history as one of, if not the greatest undefeated seasons of all time.

But why am I talking about the Iron Men now?

Well, the subject came up in conversation during this weeks SEC head coaches teleconference.  Manager of the Iron Tigers team, Luke Lea is in fact a distant relative of current Vanderbilt head coach, Clark Lea.

Lea was a little taken aback when a journalist from Alabama brought the subject up.

“I never expected to take a question on this! ” Lea told reporters midweek.


“Luke Lea was on that team and he’s kind of a local, historical figure here. We are related. There are streets that bear his name here that my kids think I’m a little more famous than I am…”


LSU pays tribute to service academies

Photo credit:Saturday Down South

Baton Rouge, LA

A most unusual fixture appears on this weeks SEC football schedule with Army travelling down into Baton Rouge to play LSU.

So unusual, that this is only the second time in LSU’s 130 year history that they have played against Army or any service academy for that matter.

The first occasion that the two teams faced off was in 1931 when Army won 20-0. Much has happened since then with the LSU Tigers becoming the powerhouse that we know today.

LSU are excited to entertain the Black Knights which throws up an opponent that they will have to prepare specifically for.

“Certainly, anytime you play a service academy, the respect that we have for the academies and certainly the great leaders that are playing collegiate football.  To have them and host them here at Tiger Stadium is a thrill.”

Brian Kelly told the media midweek during the SED head coaches teleconference.

“The pageantry of it, the cadets being at the game, singing the alma mater with Army or Navy or Air Force, whoever the academy is,” Kelly said, “all those things are, I think, memories that our players will have for the rest of their lives.”

LSU will pay tribute to Army by having camouflage painted end zones on Saturday. Let’s hope the Black Knights don’t go missing in action. 

This is going to be a fascinating match up and not to be missed if you can grab a screen to watch it on.