Welcome to the second edition of the sophomore season of The Hangover, where I recap the previous weekend in college football. This week, The Hangover comes from Columbia, South Carolina, where I watched Georgia come in and slaughter the Gamecocks in front of a hostile crowd. I still feel really good about my national championship pick (although that’s about the only pick I feel good about). A lot of things happened this weekend, so let’s dive right in.

I have Aggie blood. Everybody on my Mom’s side of the family either attended or grew up a Texas A&M fan, so I’ve been immersed in the Maroon and White culture for most of my life. Every Christmas, I go see the grandparents and am greeted with an Aggie War Hymn Doorbell, Texas A&M Christmas decorations covering the tree, and maroon everywhere. I like Texas A&M and the quirky traditions and basically everything about the school. I like A&M, but I wasn’t buying in on immediate success for Jimbo Fisher this year. 

Consider me a changed man.

I got to watch most of Clemson-Texas A&M game on Saturday thanks to a relatively quick Georgia-South Carolina game, and I was blown out of my chair. Kellen Mond looked like a superstar, going 23/40 for 430 yards and three scores. His composure in the pocket was miraculous, especially considering the stark contrast from the Mond that I saw last year under center. The defense was tenacious (despite giving up a few key big plays), holding Clemson to 115 rushing yards on 32 carries, a 3.5 yard average per rush. The receivers were unbelievable; Kendrick Rogers is a budding All-American, and some of the grabs he collected on Saturday night were mind-boggling. Most importantly, though, I realized that, for the most part, Texas A&M looked like the better team all evening long. They executed on offense and were very consistent on defense. A team shouldn’t miss two field goals (including a 26-yarder), have a minus-2 turnover margin, and have a shot to beat the number-two team in the country. That rarely happens. A&M’s heart, fight, and passion almost (and you could argue should’ve) beat Clemson. I was impressed.

I write all of that to say that I still consider a 7-5 record likely for the Aggies this season. Road games against Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Alabama will be tough. LSU comes to Kyle Field, but the Aggies haven’t beaten the Tigers since joining the league. Even Kentucky and Ole Miss, while at home, could be challenges. The schedule is too hard for the record to reflect the quality of this team.

The on-field performance? That’s a different story. Last year, an Aggie team down 15 in the fourth quarter to a Top Five squad would’ve folded. Not anymore. While the record may not be what Texas A&M fans want right now, the future is bright. The Aggies are close, and I think they’ll upset somebody this season. Be patient, Ags, because the best is yet to come.

Gray’s Top 10

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Auburn
  4. Clemson
  5. Ohio State
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Stanford
  9. LSU
  10. Penn State

A few changes this week. Alabama stays at the top because, well, they’ve looked like the best team in the country through two weeks. This weekend’s game at Ole Miss will be very interesting; how does Alabama’s secondary do against the best receiving corps in America? Georgia bumps up to the second slot because of the Dawgs’ impressive road victory against South Carolina. I was at Williams-Brice on Saturday, and the energy through that stadium was palpable. It was also hotter than Hades, and Kirby Smart’s squad looked unaffected. As I said earlier, I still feel very good about my national championship pick. Auburn is third, still collecting from the win over Washington. A match-up this weekend with LSU, who I ranked ninth, will give one of those two teams the best resume in all of college football. Clemson slides to fourth; I feel like Texas A&M exposed some problems with the Tigers’ secondary. The question is, who in the ACC has a group of receivers that can take advantage of that weakness? I’m not sure any team in the ACC, other than Clemson, has the same-caliber receivers as Texas A&M. Ohio State and Oklahoma impressed again, putting on offensive showcases. Wisconsin shook off the rust early against New Mexico to win with ease, and now I think Jonathan Taylor may be the Heisman frontrunner as of today. Stanford smothered USC in a game that never felt as close as 17-3 may indicate. Finally, Penn State jumps into my Top Ten. If I could have a do-over, I’d have put the Nittany Lions in my preseason playoff instead of Michigan State (because I’m still convinced Ohio State will lose twice this year). James Franklin’s squad looked impressive in a complete throttling of Pittsburgh in absolutely horrible weather. The looming game in Happy Valley against the Buckeyes in a few weeks should decide the Big Ten frontrunner.

Coach of the Week

I would highlight Jimbo Fisher’s gameplan and ability to put the Aggies in a position to beat Clemson, but I did that in the opener. So, I’ll hand this week’s COTW to the biggest wild card of 2018–Arizona State’s Herm Edwards. For the record, I wasn’t one of those that immediately panned the hire of Edwards, who hasn’t coached college kids since the 80’s. I found the move interesting, and I wanted to wait and see how he did before lambasting athletic director Ray Anderson. Well, this past weekend, Edwards showed the country (and me, in a roundabout way) that this crazy experiment just might work. The Sun Devils fought back from a 13-3 deficit going into the fourth quarter to (probably) crush Michigan State’s playoff dreams. Edwards’ “CEO” model seems to be working, and suddenly Arizona State looks like a legitimate contender Pac-12 South Contender. Do I think they’ll win it? No. But Herm Edwards has proven us all wrong once already this season, so don’t be surprised if he does it again.

Idiot of the Week

How do I not give this one to Dan Mullen? Losing to a team for the first time in 31-years, even in your first season on the job, gives you an automatic slot as IOTW. Look, I don’t think Mullen’s gameplan was awful, and the offense kept possession and moved the ball decently, despite what the stats may say. Half of Florida’s ten possessions went for nine plays or more, which should usually mean success. The issue? Those five drives led to two punts, a made field goal, a missed field goal, and a touchdown. That isn’t good enough. And allowing Kentucky to rush for 303 yards? On a Florida defense? Inexcusable.

Random Rankings

As I watched the crew at South Carolina losing their minds to Sandstorm, I mentally began comparing the various SEC atmospheres. Then, it hit me how perfect that question is for this week’s Random Rankings. Here are my Top Five Non-Alabama Atmospheres in the SEC. *Disclaimer*: per usual, once Random Rankings are posted, they aren’t changing. So don’t get any ideas. I’m very stubborn. If you have comments or questions, shoot me a tweet at @gray_robertson. No explanations this week; instead, I’ve decided to include videos for each selection. Enjoy.

1. Texas A&M

2. South Carolina

3. LSU

4. Mississippi State

5. Georgia

SEC Power Rankings

I’m an SEC guy through and through, so I have to include my SEC Power Rankings. The top teams looked good, particularly Mississippi State in a blowout win on the road against a tough, physical Kansas State team. This will continue to change, but I feel good about where these teams are now.

  1. Alabama (LW: 1)
  2. Georgia (4)
  3. Auburn (2)
  4. LSU (3)
  5. Mississippi State (6)
  6. Ole Miss (5)
  7. Texas A&M (8)
  8. Kentucky (11)
  9. Missouri (10)
  10. South Carolina (7)
  11. Vanderbilt (14)
  12. Florida (9)
  13. Tennessee (13)
  14. Arkansas (14)

So Who’s Ready for Week Three?

Lots of great match-ups coming up. Here’s what we have to look forward to this weekend:

Boston College at Wake Forest (Thursday)

#5 Oklahoma at Iowa State

#21 Miami at Toledo

Vanderbilt at #8 Notre Dame

#12 LSU at #7 Auburn

#14 West Virginia at NC State

#17 Boise State at #24 Oklahoma State

#1 Alabama at Ole Miss

#4 Ohio State at #15 TCU

#22 USC at Texas

#10 Washington at Utah

It’ll be an action-packed weekend of football, and I cannot wait! I’ll be in Auburn for the Tiger Battle between LSU and Auburn, and I’ll report back what happens down on the Plains next week. Until then, thanks for reading The Hangover!

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