At least we're playing football. Not well, at times, but it beats the hell out of suspensions and conference realignment.
Two coaches with national championships on their resumes were at either end of the heartbreak spectrum on opening night. Steve Spurrier and South Carolina posted a decisive victory over Southern Miss while Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt lost his third consecutive regular-season game over two seasons, this time to Utah.
"Put it on me."
That's what Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri told the sideline as the Panthers drove for the tying field goal against Utah late in the fourth quarter.
Panther fans wanted to put something else on him after Pittsburgh's redshirt sophomore quarterback threw a crippling interception in overtime. Utah's 27-24 victory over No. 15 Pittsburgh was the biggest "upset" of opening night. (Utah was favored by three but was ranked only in the coaches', tied for 24th.) Wannstedt, who won his title as an assistant with Miami in 1987, is trying to break through with his first Big East title.
The Panthers had rallied from a 24-13 deficit in the fourth quarter to tie on Frank Hutchins' 30-yard field goal. On the first play of overtime, Sunseri spotted receiver Mike Shanahan near the sideline but threw behind him. Utah freshman Brian Blechen intercepted setting up an easy win on Utah's first possession. Coach Kyle Whittingham merely centered the ball for kicker Joe Phillips to kick the game winner.
Utah has now won 18 consecutive home games.
Meanwhile, Spurrier won his 18th straight college opener, 41-13 over Southern Miss. The only disappointment for the Spur Dog was that all there was only one passing touchdown.
Spurrier basically said so. That was the South Carolina's coach of masking his glee. Otherwise it might have been the most significant season opener of Spurrier's six seasons with the Gamecocks. The win showed South Carolina had skill, style and brawn -- characteristics they've often lacked under Spur Dog.
Beating a quality Conference USA opponent doesn't exactly announce that Spurrier is back. But it does mean that he hasn't chucked it in, something a lot of us thought we was near at the SEC media days. It was one of the most complete games of the Spurrier era. The Ol' Ball Coach found a quarterback and a tailback.
Much-criticized Stephen Garcia threw for 193 yards. True freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore had 54 yards rushing and two touchdowns in his debut.
No Weslye Saunders, no problem. South Carolina's tight end, suspended for the opener, was not needed. Alshon Jeffrey caught seven passes for 106 yards.