Starting 11: Georgia Thumps Clemson Edition

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Aug 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles and Wisconsin Badgers head coach Gary Andersen talk before a game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina USA TODAY Sports

Every Monday all season long we bring you the Starting 11. So prepare to not work. Here we go with week one:

1. Georgia, my god, Georgia was amazing.

Confession: I root for Mark Richt and would like to see him win a national title. Richt’s like the incredibly nice Sunday school teacher everybody had when they were teenagers. He basically has no hope to keep you out of trouble, but he’s always there, the nicest guy in the SEC.

Every Sunday morning I picture him reading the Bulldog arrest record, calling the players into his office and saying. “Golly, I can’t believe you guys (insert arrest record here.) You promise not to do it again? Okay, get outta here.”

Two stats that tell you how dominant Georgia was on both sides of the ball: a. Todd Gurley averaged 13.5 yards a carry b. the Georgia defense held Clemson to 15 total yards in the second half. Clemson! That’s like a million dollars a yard for offensive coordinator Chad Morris.  

By the way, remember last year when Clemson beat Georgia and their fans reacted like they’d won the SEC title? Boy are they quiet now. 

2. I predicted Texas A&M’s win at South Carolina was the start of a College Station dynasty.

That’s bold, but the win at South Carolina was that impressive to me. No top ten team gets beat that badly at home in the SEC. No one. (You can argue that South Carolina’s not a top ten team, but I don’t think there’s any doubt they are, at worst, a top 25 team). That’s why the clearest comparison to me was the Alabama at Georgia blackout game in 2008, when the Tide rolled into Athens and was up 31-0 at the half.

A&M’s program isn’t a sleeping giant any longer, it’s just a giant.  

3. LSU with the most LSU win possible over Wisconsin.

This game just personified why the SEC and the Big Ten isn’t a rivalry anymore. Wisconsin’s like the kid arm wrestling with the dad. You know how the dad pretends the kid is really strong and lets his arm get immediately pushed back to the edge of the table and pretends to be straining and fighting for all he’s worth. Then at some point the dad just decides to win and the arm wrestling match ends.

LSU’s like this with every non-top tier SEC team it plays.  

I’m convinced that in their pregame midfield meeting, the Les Miles and Gary Andersen talk went like this:

Andersen: “Boy, you’ve got so many weapons. We had a hell of a time coming up with a game plan.”

Miles: “You do a game plan?” 

LSU looked woeful for three quarters. Yet, anyone who has watched them play felt like, remarkably, the Tigers had Wisconsin right where they wanted them.

They did. 

If this game had gone five quarters LSU would have won by 17.  

4. Todd Fuhrman and Matt Leinart made a Michigan State at Oregon bet on our podcast.

Todd gave Matt Michigan State -17. The stakes? If Todd wins, Leinart has agreed to take him out with him the next time he goes out in Vegas. If Matt wins then Todd has to put on a full football uniform and get decked in studio, Johnny Knoxville returning punts style. 

Yesterday Leinart Tweeted that he’d just bought tights.  

We have a really fun crew for our Friday night show. I’d encourage you to check it out. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this video podcast with Petros, Matt Leinart, Todd Fuhrman and me talking college football, shark attacks, whether Todd has a soul, and the USC-Texas BCS title game.

5. No one talks about the balls on the Colorado State mascot, but they are spectacular.

I mean, these things almost touch the ground when he walks or runs. In fact, if the Colorado State ram was in the SEC, his balls would have their own wildly popular Twitter account. Someone needs to create the Twitter account right now and start running it. And, yes, I just linked to a Google image of the Colorado State ram mascot’s balls. What’s even funnier is that all of you clicked on the link to go look at the ram’s balls. And now all of you are going to email and text your friends about the ram’s balls too.

Aren’t they incredible?  

The most impressive things I saw this weekend in college football:

1. Georgia

2. Baylor

3. The ram’s balls. 

4. Texas A&M

Not even kidding. 

6. Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin are the Real Housewives of the SEC.

This is going to be the most analyzed coordinator head coach relationship in college football history. Every time Nick Saban looks disgusted, which is basically 95% of the time he’s on the field, Lane Kiffin is getting blamed.

Only Kiffin could be ridiculed after Alabama started a brand new quarterback, put up over 530 yards of offense, perfectly balanced between rushing and passing, and posted a double digit neutral site win over a Big 12 team.

Now, about that defense… 

7. USC, Nebraska, Stanford, Auburn and Michigan State all looked spectacular.

On the flip side, Florida State, UCLA, and Alabama both looked pedestrian in their openers.

Some say you can’t overreact to week one, but I think that’s not true, we only get 12 weeks to react. Over eight percent of the season is finished. Sure, your team will look much different by late November — witness Auburn last year — but how you start matters.  

8. Tennessee played its best game since 2009.

In 2009 Tennessee dominated two good opponents, crushing Georgia and South Carolina at Neyland Stadium. Sunday’s Utah State win was the best game played since then. (I know the team beat top ten opponent South Carolina last year, but that was a bit of smoke and mirrors.) 

I think Tennessee’s still a year away from legitimately contending in the SEC east, but based on the way he played Saturday Justin Worley is a top half quarterback in the SEC. Would it shock me if the Vols won seven or eight games this year? Nope.

The schedule’s brutal, but the Vols are going to be rolling to Oklahoma in two weeks with nothing to lose. Can they keep it somewhat close? It will be fascinating to see.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that year two is typically when a coach shows marked improvement if he’s going to be highly successful at his new job. Don’t believe me? Every single coach who has won an SEC title in the conference title game era has won at least nine games by his second season.  

9. Baylor is just killing time until the Bears play Oklahoma.

Back in 2011 the LSU at Alabama game was the black hole of the SEC. That’s a term coined by my buddy Cole Cubelic, a former Auburn lineman. His point was simple, try as you might you couldn’t escape talking about that game. No matter what your football topic in the South was, eventually you got draw into the black hole of LSU at Alabama. 

The Big 12’s the same way this year. 

Baylor at Oklahoma on November 8th is the Big 12 title game. That’s it, all that really matters in the conference from a national perspective. Whoever wins that game will win the Big 12 and stand a great chance of advancing to the playoff.  

10. Outick’s top ten is released every Sunday.

Here’s our updated top ten after Sunday’s games (I’ve updated it to include Baylor’s beat down of SMU). Again, we do something radical here at Outkick, we toss out preseason expectations and rank teams entirely based on their performance on the field:

1. Georgia

2. Baylor

3. Texas A&M

4. Oklahoma

5. USC

6. Auburn

7. LSU

8. Nebraska

9. Stanford

10. Oregon

11. Michigan State

11. Here are our SEC power rankings for the week. Again, these power rankings are predicated on what we saw on the field this week, nothing about what we expected to see in the preseason:

1. Georgia

2. Texas A&M

3. Auburn

4. LSU

5. Alabama

6. Ole Miss

7. Tennesssee

8. Mississippi State

9. Kentucky

10. Missouri

11. Arkansas

12. South Carolina

13. Vanderbilt

Not ranked: Florida, whose game was postponed. 

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.