College Football Week 1: On Execution, Upsets, and Mayonnaise
The first weekend may have quenched the thirst for a certain crowd, but most of us were left wanting more. Like you, I dutifully slogged through lopsided games and took in the abomination of an Illinois “upset” over Nebraska among other indignities.
It was an acceptable, albeit low-calorie opening weekend with the good stuff slated for the week after. Several of the most-hyped games featured at least one team getting a preseason rankings bump to goose ad sales on TV. This yielded a fine Virginia Tech upset of No. 10 North Carolina, No. 9 Notre Dame snuck past FSU in the most glorious and bizarre fashion possible, plus a weird rock fight in primetime between Clemson and Georgia.
There were quite a few great moments and a great deal more mayonnaise than you might expect, but college is weird and college football even more so.
McKenzie Milton's parents told me they were expecting 75 people today with them - family friends, doctors who helped him along the way ... Their emotions must be just be a puddle right now.— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) September 6, 2021
Watching McKenzie Milton on the field was incredible, but I definitely felt a bit like his poor mother. Her tears were flowing and nerves visible as the family watched their miracle lead an FSU comeback which fell just short in overtime. My own anxiety ratcheted up to 11 when he first trotted on to the field but began to settle as Milton calmly scrambled for yards and moved around the pocket as if nothing much was happening.
It was a great series of moments amplified by the general atmosphere of the game. Yes they were honoring Bobby Bowden and hosting a top ten team in primetime, but the current coaches stole the show.
Mike Norvell made several inspired and deranged choices throughout the night. This culminated with a timeout on a 50-yard field goal —which split the uprights— followed by a challenge which moved the ball closer, increased the angle on the kick, iced his kicker, and yielded a ‘wide left’ effort truly fitting of a Florida State instant classic.
Brian Kelly meanwhile was up to his usual red-faced sideline antics but we had to wait until postgame for the good stuff.
Legendary coach John McKay when asked how he felt about his historically bad Tampa Bay squad’s execution once snappily replied, “I’m in favor of it.”
Kelly went for a clunkier version of this, delivered in a passively annoyed deadpan mastered by cranky coaches and people in the Starbucks drive-thru.
I got the reference immediately but knew how the Internet was going to handle it. Folks did not disappoint and it was mostly in good fun. Some were genuinely bothered by his comments, but there was a far larger contingent of people angry about a backlash that didn't really exist. Personally, I don’t care that he said a thing poorly. I mean, it’s decidedly on brand for Notre Dame to reference some obscure thing from 45 years ago to blank stares and laughter from the general public. Way to stay on brand.
I will say however that I side with the great Mike Birbiglia when it comes to tossing a dud like that out there, on national TV no less.
There were plenty of other great and weird moments this past weekend. Here's a quick rundown of some highs, lows, and plenty of stuff in between. Indiana kicks things off with an embarrassing lack of quality control on the uniforms that should hit home with Nationals fans. They then proceeded to get taken behind the woodshed by Iowa.
Apparently there is a lot of “I” in Indiana football pic.twitter.com/kThFhjG7Mu— McNeil (@Reflog_18) September 5, 2021
As for the aforementioned mayonnaise, well, if you didn't see it on Saturday here are some clips. I think it's reasonable to say if you aren't a fan of the stuff you may not want to watch. It's pretty gross. Life's all about choices.
Well, that’s one way to savor the delicious flavor of Duke’s Mayo… pic.twitter.com/vUz61SLVDH— Duke's Mayo Classic (@DukesMayoBowl) September 5, 2021
It's hard to pick a favorite moment from five consecutive days of college football but Mack Brown looking generally baffled and, you know, like the old CEO coach he is certainly warmed the hearts of many non-Tar Heels. The Hokies' 17-10 win over Carolina set a great tone for the weekend...unless you're a proponent of the importance of preseason rankings in which case, you're wrong.
Mack Brown needs a nap pic.twitter.com/QcB2SK9sb8— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) September 4, 2021
That's it for now. Enjoy the short week and we'll see you back here to recap another great weekend of college football.