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All finally felt right in the world last Saturday as Week-1 of college football resumed. Traditionally, the first three weeks of football season are full of Power Team v Cupcake Team match-ups and leave us viewers unimpressed and still longing for real football. This season, the excitement is here on Week-2 and I don’t want anyone to miss it.
Kentucky and head coach Mark Stoops head to South Carolina on Saturday. But that’s not the only Stoops brother who will be in the SEC this weekend. Mark Stoop’s brother, Bob Stoops, who is the head coach of Oklahoma, is coming to Knoxville in an attempt to get an SEC win on his schedule. Both Stoops brothers are great guys and daggum good football coaches, but we only hope one of them wins.
#14 LSU is making the trip to Starkville for their “first game of the season” to line up against #25 MS State. The cowbells will be ringing for this early season SEC West matchup. Could we be more excited?
#10 Georgia @ Vanderbilt is high on our interest list for two reasons: 1) Vandy always shocks someone each season and I’m wondering if it isn’t SEC-East-Predicted-Winner Georgia; 2) Gridiron Belles is heading to Nashville for the game to tailgate and to take Vandy and UGA photos for the next book. Be sure to let me know where you’ll be tailgating so I can stop by!
Any way you slice it, it’s Week-2. Summer is over. It’s time to dedicate your Saturdays to the Gridiron. Here is your schedule for Saturday.
Auburn v Jacksonville State
Georgia #10 @ Vanderbilt
Fresno State @ #17 Ole Miss
Middle Tennessee @ #2 Alabama
Toledo @ # 18 Arkansas
#19 Oklahoma @ #23 Tennessee
Ball State @ #16 Texas A&M
#21 Missouri @ Arkansas State
East Carolina @ Florida
Kentucky @ South Carolina
#14 LSU @ #25 MS STATE
Without a cloud in the sky, the crisp 78 degree morning was perfect for Tiger fans setting up a pre-game breakfast tailgate before the Auburn v MsState game. In true Auburn fashion of well-mannered and tastefully dressed belles, Auburn fans were seen tailgating with State fans over large cups of coffee and stiff bloody Mary’s before kickoff.
The mood in the stadium was calm and eerily quiet. Maybe coffee should have been served in the concession stand, but even that would not have calmed the nerves that fans in blue and orange were experiencing. The Tiger’s first game of the season had ended in victory like so many did last year… in the last few minutes and by margins of 4 points or less.
The Plainsmen and women were well aware that Coach Mullen of Miss. State was going to bring some fired up bulldogs and a lot more cowbell.
Fast forward past 3 personal fouls in the form of excessive celebration in the first 6 minutes of the game, answered touch downs and last minute scores and Auburn fans have a 41-34 reason to roll Toomer’s corner. And I have a chance to show my mama, a first time roller, a two-ply covered intersection.
But more than the game was the win all fans in Jordan-Hare shared before kickoff.
A presentation of the Color Guard, a salute to Auburn veterans, an award-winning choir joining the marching band to perform God Bless America and the National Anthem. In a stadium full of 87,000 fans, there was a reverent period of silence, the most harmonious rendition of our National Anthem and not a single dry eye in a ten-mile radius.
This may have been a rival game full of division ranking implications, but for the 10 minutes before kickoff, we were one nation, one conference, under God, indivisible, for liberty and justice for all.
Xs and Os,
Mississippi State was the first of six SEC stadiums I will be visiting this fall as I complete my SEC Stadium Tour. As my kickoff stadium, I was looking for a big crowd of friends to accompany me to Starkville for the opening weekend of college football. Maybe a crowd was unrealistic. I just wanted someone to experience Mississippi State with me. Someone. Anyone.
Rumor in SEC world is that Starkville is less than ideal… for just about everything. STATE seems to be the redheaded step child. The odd man out. The boy among men. Of all of my SEC-loving-friends, I could not get a single person to join me on an all expenses paid trip to Starkville.
Alas, I headed to Starkville, MS expecting the worse. I was expecting the worse facilities, the dirtiest campus, the sorriest excuse for tailgating and the most embarrassing show of football east of the Mississippi. I was expecting to fully understand why The Grove at “that school up North” wins all of the prizes.
But I didn’t and I don’t. Everything was as it should be, if not better.
Much to my surprise, Starkville disproved all of the stereotypes that the country places on STATE.
There was a hush over every corner of Starkville that didn’t involve flat screen TVs, grills or cowbells. The entire town was involved in the game. (Good sign number one).
Upon my arrival, I was given a free ticket to the game, I was offered dinner at several different tailgates and was THOROUGHLY impressed by the organization, cleanliness and all together excitement displayed under, around and on top of each Maroon STATE tent. And there were lots of tents. (Hospitality and tents? Good sign number two).
Did I mention that STATE is following Ole Miss in the floral tradition? Countless STATE tailgates had silver, glass serving platters and maroon and white floral centerpieces. (Good sign number three).
Sure, Davis Wade stadium is rather quaint with a capacity at 55,082, but 54,999 fans wearing all white for the “white out” sure did create an intimidating atmosphere for those Memphis Tigers. (Team spirit is good sign number four). Just ask the visiting tigers what the score was. (49-7)
I’m not claiming that Lee Boulevard is as magical as The Grove, but I will say that I entered campus with serious doubts and left with a twinkle in my eye. I held my head a little higher. Another SEC school had made me proud. Another tradition of hospitality. Another haven for Saturdays.
Another chance to agree with Mr. Hank,“If heaven aint a lot like Dixie, I don’t want to go…” ( Good sign number five).