It was a day of "the first team to score 50 points wins" during the early hours of Saturday's college football games, with FSU doing what they do best by eviscerating the competition early. They were the first team to hang 50+ on an opponent, lambasting Wake Forest 59-3. They were joined by Auburn after their strong second-half effort against Tennessee earned a 55-26 road victory, with close efforts from Kansas State, who scored 49 on Texas Tech in a blowout-upset, Missouri, who handled Kentucky easily, 48-17, and Georgia, who beat App State 45-6.
It was partly a statement on the competition, with the haves flexing hard on the have-nots, though it was also a prelude of things to come. In between the must-see games on Thursday night, when Baylor and Stanford respectively began and ended reigns of superiority, and Alabama-LSU in the evening, these teams all stacked their chips for the holiday grind.
After the first quarter got off to a rough start, Auburn and Tennessee traded blows, accounting for six touchdowns between them in the second quarter. Tennessee couldn't hang, though. Auburn struck often with their speed and athleticism, running the ball down UT's throat and striking on big plays throughout the second half. Auburn will be pushed to the max in the next four games, assuming they keep winning. The Tigers welcome the Bulldogs to town next week in a game that will crush title dreams of the loser. After a week off, Alabama rolls in for the Iron Bowl, and what would be a berth in the SEC Championship, and with another win, a likely ticket to the final BCS National Championship.
Upstart Missouri didn't show any chinks in their armor as they get ready to battle for SEC legitimacy. They blew out an inept Kentucky team that couldn't capitalize on two Missouri fumbles. QB Maty Mauk was on-point again, throwing for 200 yards and 5 TDs (four to sophomore WR Dorial Green-Beckham). Now, it's crunch time for the only other team besides 'Bama that controls their own destiny in the SEC. The Tigers head south to Ole Miss, a team that continues to grow under coach Hugh Freeze, then face the Texas A&M Aggies during rivalry week. If they lose either game, Georgia will leapfrog them for the SEC East crown if they beat Auburn.
Missouri, Alabama, Georgia and Auburn will be all in, with long-term survival in mind. As my esteemed colleague DJ Dunson noted, however, mass extinction is coming for championship wannabes.
That may not be true for the Seminoles, though. With remaining games against Syracuse, Idaho and Florida (who lost to Vanderbilt, 34-17), their ACC title spot is locked up, with a potential rematch against Miami or Clemson, teams the 'Noles already dismissed easily. As long as they keep up their astonishing pace, FSU looks BCS-bound.
Still, all that domination may come back to bite them against all these battle-tested contenders vying for their shot. FSU's nerves haven't been tested all season long, and the game is much different under pressure.
But in the ACC, there isn't much they can do about that except keep blowing teams out. Though the Seminoles may not find out what they're made of until the final game, they'll have a lot more left in the tank than everybody else. Considering their offense puts the pedal to the floor every game, they're going to need it to have a chance.