In Columbia, S.C., Saturday's sign of choice read, "PARTLY CLOWNEY WITH A CHANCE OF PAIN."
Multiple South Carolina fans held up the weather report for College Gameday cameras, sending a message around the country that sophomore Jadeveon Clowney, the baddest defensive end around, was out to obliterate the plans of fifth-ranked Georgia. He did just that. In one of the most hyped and pivotal games in the Gamecocks' history — the first-ever meeting of top-10 teams in Williams-Brice Stadium — Clowney stood out in a crowd of collegiate stars.
He notched two tackles for loss, including another sack of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, but the mere threat of the 6-foot-6, 256-pound terror threw off Georgia's offense the entire night. His coach, Steve Spurrier, dubbed him "very disruptive." South Carolina stifled a team that averaged more than 40 points per game en route to a 35-7 blowout.
Clowney has 6.5 sacks this season, tied for fifth nationally. He has seven tackles for loss against SEC opponents alone. His ethereal talents have led many NFL Draft pundits to suggest that he would be the No. 1 overall draft pick — if sophomores were eligible. As it stands, he still has another two years of college eligibility, so quarterbacks can expect painful weather for the distant future.
SO LONG, MIAMI
Georgia, Texas and Florida State were starting to taste it. The season had gone so well, but it all came crashing down Saturday.
Georgia ran into the buzz saw in Columbia. Texas has found its quarterback (David Ash) and just needed to get by then-No. 8 West Virginia to have the inside track to the Big 12 title. Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith ruined those plans in a 48-45 win.
Then, there's Florida State. The Seminoles (as usual) claimed to be back this preseason, provided evidence that they were and then, with a last-second loss to N.C. State, proved once and for all that they are far from back. The once-dominant program cannot shake the obstacle of the letdown — losing to Boston College twice, N.C. State twice and Wake Forest three times over the past six seasons. That's not going to cut it.
There is plenty of football left to be played — "Every Saturday Matters" — but much will need to happen to erase the memory of these losses.
WHO ARE YOU
Take a quick look at the AP Poll. Sure, there are the annual monsters (Alabama and Oregon at the top, naturally), but the rise of the relatively obscure creates an interesting national aesthetic this season.
Of the top-10 teams alone, West Virginia, Kansas State and Oregon State each own real estate. Try to find the last time that happened. Not surprisingly, all three teams are led by coaches — Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Bill Snyder (Kansas State) and Mike Riley (Oregon State) — who have a legitimate shot at Coach of the Year honors.
And with the way these teams are playing, don't expect the view from the top to change in the next few weeks.