Saturdays in Athens
18th September 2021
Welcome to our weekly round up of life in the Southeastern Conference.
We are now well underway and the Conference is galloping along at full speed. Meaning we have a packed SIA this week! We visit the spectacle of the White Out at Beaver Stadium, some bad luck in College Station, more trouble in Baton Rouge, the Razorbacks get over excited, Saban gets funny and the Green Wave is back in the SEC.
It’s all happening in Saturdays in Athens this week!
Let’s get started y’all…
Facing The White Out!
As much as I think that the SEC clash between Alabama and Florida in the Swamp this Saturday is the standout game of the week, there is another game involving Bama’s near neighbours which I think is more intriguing.
The Auburn Tigers visit Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley to face the Penn State Nittany Lions. And if that wasn’t enough Penn State are rolling out the red carpet. Well; a white carpet. Because Auburn will face one of the most spectacular scenes in College sports – the White Out.
ABC/ESPN will be covering the game on Saturday night. Ahead of the game, ESPN’s Chris Fowler -who will be in the booth calling the game alongside Kirk Herbstreit – answered questions from the media as part of the build up. Fowler, the college game’s pre-eminent game day caller, is also a Penn State alumni.
I asked Chris about the comparison in atmosphere between the White Out and the Iron Bowl – a big game that some of the Auburn side will have experienced. How would the atmosphere impact the outcome of the final result? This is what Chris had to say:
“What they can draw on, is the experience of playing in the Iron Bowl when it’s in Tuscaloosa. The experience of playing in the big cathedrals of football in the South Eastern Conference and that’s a good comparison to this.
The White Out is still a unique experience and the Auburn players that have frankly, not always delivered in these big road games in the same way that they do at home have to learn how to manage it”.
Fowler went on to talk about the pressures of playing this game on a national stage:
“A lot of the success of their season is defined by what you do away from home. I wouldn’t say that it’s a tune-up for the SEC, but it’s a serious test before they go into places like LSU, A&M and Arkansas because -again – their season is going to be defined by how they perform in those environments and how they grow up as a team on the road. And how Bo Nix plays away from Jordan Hare stadium.
The experienced guys have been through tough environments, but that doesn’t mean you downplay this environment”.
Chris put this season and the pressure that comes with it, into perspective,
“And something else worth remembering is these guys weren’t really in hostile environments with full stadiums all of last year. So early this season, we’ve seen the re-adjustment to it.
The first game in Charlotte – neutral – but a very energised environment for Georgia & Clemson and there were some false starts, some mental mistakes. We had to remind ourselves – oh yes, these guys really haven’t done this in, I don’t know, 16 months? Or however long it’s been since the end of the ’19 season. So I don’t take that for granted either.
You can simulate it, they’ve cranked up practice noise to 120 decibels, which makes attending practice uncomfortable …but it’s not like the real thing”.
On the atmosphere of the game and the impact that the crowd will have on the outcome of the game, Chris had this to say,
“I think the crowd in this Penn State White Out is always a key component in the game. So whether they can draw on past experience and execute? If they can execute, it probably gets quiet. We’ve seen teams go in there and win but it takes a really poised quarterback to do that. There is so much on the quarterback to direct the offense, to get them to be efficient. But it takes frankly pretty elite quarterback play to win in there as a visitor. We’ll see. I know Bo Nix is excited about the challenge. We’ll see if he can do it”.
Listen to George speak to Chris Fowler here:
Another Tough Break
College Station, TX.
Football can be a cruel game. One minute riding high, on top of the world. The next, your season comes to a screeching halt.
Texas A&M, much fancied by the general population for not just the SEC title but also a National Championship appearance and dare I say it, a Championship ring, found this out on Saturday in Colorado.
All was going well with QB wunderkind Haynes King catching the imagination of an Aggie Nation. Things were looking good.
Until Saturday, when King went down under a heavy challenge in the first quarter of Saturday’s game with Colorado. This was quicky followed by concerned faces all around the Aggies sideline as King was helped off the field with a suspected foot injury.
Later, Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed that the young Quarterback had suffered a “crack in his lower leg”, later confirmed as a fractured tibia which has since been operated on. Per ESPN’s Chris Low, the Aggies expect King to be out 4 to 7 weeks.
Up until this point Haynes King had completed 22 of 35 pass attempts for 300y ards with two touchdowns and three interceptions and was looking very impressive. As were the Aggies…
Sophomore Zach Calzada replaced King, leading Texas A&M to an unconvincing 10-7 win over Colorado. Calzada is expected to start against New Mexico this coming Saturday. No pressure Zach.
From Bad To Worse
Baton Rouge, LA
The LSU Tigers have not got off to the flying start that head coach Ed Orgeron so deeply wished for.
The program has been plagued with a number of off the field issues which are fast becoming a distraction for Orgeron and his staff.
And I suspect at the point where Coach O thought, “what else can go wrong”, we get news that running back John Emery will miss this season due to academic ineligibility. The what, I hear you say?
Yes, Emery will miss the football season because he has missed class. Per Brody Miller of The Athletic, both Emery and LSU were aware of the issue and had thought that Emery had done enough to resolve the issue. However, by the end of summer classes this was not the case, and Emery was denied the chance to play against UCLA in the Tiger’s season opener.
It is understood that LSU had applied for a waiver on behalf of Emery to allow him to play this season, however this waiver was not approved. Emery’s family have since sought legal advice to pursue an appeal.
Not what Coach O needs. Not at all.
They're On The Field!
You might be forgiven for being happy for the Razorback fans who stormed the field following their emphatic 40-21 victory over soon to be SEC neighbours, the Texas Longhorns.
But. It seems Razorback fans are an excitable bunch and have previous for these types of antics. Turns out the Razorback fans were still on SEC probation and this overzealousness broke the terms of their probation.
As a result of this indiscretion the SEC fined the University of Arkansas $100,000. Should a further violation occur then the fine will increase to $250,000.
While it’s a lot of money, anyone who watched the Arkansas fans on Saturday could see how much the victory over Texas meant. I don’t blame them.
Arkansas football is on the up. Sam Pittman is a genius.
When we listen to Nick Saban’s rants or his castigating of journalists or his general no nonsense demeanour, you would be forgiven that life around Bryant Denny is all work and no play.
But today Jordan Battle let slip that there is room for humour in amongst all of the serious stuff.
As Alabama players had passed through the media commitments, Al.com’s Michael Casagrande had taken to ask the senior player’s for their favourite Saban sayings or motivations. Up until this point, the answers had been predictable and dare I say, a little bland. Safety Jordan Battle decided to go a different way.
When asked the same question, Battle said
“Not that I can think of right now because he has so many…….but there are a few I like.”
Jordan smiled before saying,
“He’s always talking about ‘touch deez’ or ‘suck on deez.’ All that.”
Unsurprisingly the room descended into chaos after that. What Saban had to say to Battle on his return to the locker room…..I don’t think we will find this out.
The Green Wave
Tulane is bringing back a throwback helmet — from the team's time in the SEC — for Saturday's game against Ole Miss.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 17, 2021
◽️ Greenie, the team's former mascot, is featured on side of helmet
◽️ SEC Championships decal on back of helmet
📸 @GreenWaveFB pic.twitter.com/77vtqhKHqw
New Orleans, LA
Without doubt one of the greatest things about college football is the tradition – and the creativity that goes into keeping these traditions alive.
Ahead of Tulane’s trip to Oxford to play the Ole Miss Rebels this weekend, the Tulane Green Wave is bringing back some old school uni’s and have revived Greenie, their old mascot for the game. Greenie appears on the helmets along with stickers showing the years that the School won their three SEC titles – 1934, 1939 & 1949.
I admit to having a real soft spot for the Green Wave, being the first college team I saw play live. But regardless of my misty eye look back to NOLA, these are awesome.
#GreenWave #Tulane #RollWave #NolaBuilt
A GLASWEGIAN LIVING IN LONDON, GEORGE IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN WHO FOLLOWS THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE. HE PROVIDES CFB CONTENT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN AND IS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.