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Forget Alabama, a 52-28 blowout of South Carolina is Kevin Sumlin's best win at A&M

It didn't come with the tree-bending, house-splitting, hurricane-like force of Texas A&M's transcendent 2012 win over Alabama. No single victory can match that  sort of crashing-into-your-living-room kind of arrival short of winning a championship, SEC or national. But Thursday night's 52-28 destruction of No. 9 South Carolina was every bit the on-the-field accomplishment as that win over the Tide. Scratch that. It was better.

Before we get to tonight, let's add some context to what happened on Nov. 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa. No. 1 Alabama was seven days removed from an emotionally-draining, vertigo-inducing 21-17 comeback over No. 5 LSU. And they played like it. Texas A&M sprinted to a 20-0 first quarter lead and held on by their fingernail's fingernails for a 29-24 win. Alabama roared back non-existent first quarter (10 plays, 26 yards, two punts, one interception), outgained the Aggies and came within one errant A.J. McCarron pass from winning the game. Aside from that, the 2012 A&M team was a special group - a team I'll always maintain was playing the best football in America by year's end - coached by Kevin Sumlin, but built by Mike Sherman. It's not a knock on Sumlin, but an inevitable reality every first-year coach lives in. There's no doubt Sumlin drove that car better than his predecessor proved capable, but Sherman built the engine.

Two years later, that engine has been completely retooled. Two-thirds of Texas A&M's key contributors are Sumlin recruits. Quarterback Kenny Hill, he of the 511 passing yard (an school record for a first start, one of only six 500-yard efforts in SEC history), is a Sumlin recruit. Running backs Trey Williams, Brandon Williams and Tra Carson, who combined to produce 194 yards and four touchdowns on 34 total touchdowns, are Sumlin recruits. So are Edward Pope (four catches, 75 yards, one touchdown), Ricky Seals-Jones (five grabs, 67 yards, one touchdown), Speedy Noil (five catches, 55 yards), and nearly all of the dozen A&M pass catchers that turned the South Carolina back seven into a ninth-grade biology project. Six-hundred eighty-yards, a South Carolina opponent record, and a certain Mr. Football, a once-in-three-generations talent and Sherman's greatest recruit, had nothing to do with it. 

There was one point where South Carolina seemed a worthy opponent of Texas A&M tonight. The Gamecocks slimmed a 10-0 deficit to 17-14 on what effectively amounted to two solo home runs at the expense of A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett who, oddly enough, is one of the few Aggie defenders that is not a Sumlin recruit. The three stops Texas A&M had to have, a sternum-thumping hit that separating ball from South Carolina receiver in the Aggies' end zone and the ensuing sack-turned-intentional grounding of Dylan Thompson that allowed A&M to take its 31-14 lead into halftime, were turned in by true freshmen - Armani Watts and Myles Garrett, respectively. And the one moment when South Carolina appeared to have a modicum of momentum, trailing 45-28, with the ball near midfield after producing an elusive A&M punt, there was Watts again to intercept Thompson. 

Spurrier could not be reached for comment for this column, but this should sum up his thoughts on the night.

Spurrier toss

There is the possibility that tonight's result actually says more about South Carolina than Texas A&M, that those disgusted headset tosses will become a weekly occurrence on the South Carolina sideline. The Gamecocks could prove to be as awful as they appeared tonight, but I wouldn't bet on it. Before the Aggies' 24-point victory seemed so perfunctory, A&M was a 10.5-point underdog for a reason. Entering tonight, Spurrier was 24 for 25 in season openers as a head coach, and 7-0 on opening Thursdays at South Carolina. That's in addition to the Gamecocks' FBS-best 18-game home winning streak. A&M departing Columbia with a win seemed as likely as your dog leaving a piece of perfectly cooked bacon uneaten.

This isn't to deflect praise away from Sumlin's staff, either. Mark Snyder and the defensive staff clearly put their offseason to good use, especially up front - South Carolina rushed 22 times for 67 yards, with a long of 14. B.J. Anderson has injected his offensive line with some sort of serum that makes them immune to losing first-round draft picks. And Jake Spavital dazzled the media throughout the night, specifically after dialing up a 3rd-and-13 draw for 24 yards.

It's far too early to tell what any of this truly means. Dennis Green can keep his voice down, because nobody's duff is getting crowned tonight. There will be Saturdays where the Aggies' defense is there for the picking against more dangerous pickers than Dylan Thompson, and it's much more difficult for an offense relying on so many first-year players to perform week after week than it is to put together one perfect night. The schedule does open up for A&M now, with Lamar, Rice, SMU, Arkansas and a Mississippi State team the Aggies have manhandled two years running until No. 18 Ole Miss visits College Station on Oct. 11. The degree of difficulty rises significantly from there. It's anyone's guess what A&M looks like by then.

And that's the thing, isn't it? If I'm anyone else in the SEC, I'm not so sure I want to find out. 

Last night gave us another reminder of what makes college football special

Georgia State hadn't won a game in 638 days until last night. There's a very real chance it could be 365 days or more until they get to do it again. The team they beat was a Division II member the last time Georgia State tasted victory.

And, yet, none of that mattered.

Teams snap extended losing streaks in every sport, but something about college football makes it different. With so much attention this off-season diverted to court rooms and autonomy votes and everything that has nothing to do with why we all fell in love with college football in the first place, maybe it's fitting that a horrifically wonderful game between teams from the Sun Belt and Southland (seriously, Abilene Christian was gifted a game-winning roughing the kicker penalty before Georgia State's winning drive, but they aligned in an illegal formation and had to forfeit the first down) got this historic 2014 season off on the right foot.

Wil Lutz's right foot, to be specific. 

Video: ESPN's new College Football Playoff promo

In case you haven't noticed, ESPN is basically subsidizing the entire college football industry. In addition to the millions upon millions the Worldwide Leader heaps upon every FBS conference, it is also paying $470 million a year for the right to broadcast the College Football Playoff for the next dozen years. With more than 450 games on its docket, and a combined 189 million people watching those 450 games, ESPN has launched the "Who's In?" campaign to raise awareness of its CFP coverage. The spot you see below is the first of more than 23 hours of footage ESPN shot. 

"We’re holding up a mirror to the college football fan and the broad spectrum of fans around the country," said ESPN senior vice president of marketing Aaron Taylor told the Wall Street Journal. "By shooting the fans of 128 different schools, you’re going to get a broad spectrum of people. It’s the America we live in today and we sought to represent that America."

See it here before you see it on ESPN 48,403,093 times.

USC's bad week continues to get worse

Earlier today I wrote that Charlie Strong seemingly had the longest hiring day-to-game day wait of all new hires for the 2014 season. Steve Sarkisian probably has something to say about that. In fact, the last week has probably felt like three eternities stacked on top of each other for the brand new USC head coach.

One day after the Josh Shaw saga wrapped up with the captain admitting he'd made the entire thing up, and earning himself an indefinite suspension in the process, USC running back Anthony Brown has quit the team. Brown switched to running back from cornerback this spring, where he made 43 tackles in six career starts. Making matters worse, Brown accused Sarkisian of being a racist in an Instagram post, which has since been deleted. This appears to be nothing more than a grossly unfair swipe out the door by a disgruntled player, and has been strongly refuted by Brown's former teammates. 

In actual football impact, USC has now lost two players in two days, on a roster that lacked depth to begin with. 

USC opens its season versus Fresno State at 7:30 p.m. ET (televised by Fox). For Sarkisian and the rest of the USC football program, it can't come one moment too soon. 

A year away from launching football, Kennesaw State unveils its uniforms

A list of things a brand new football program absolutely needs to function would read something like this - a coaching staff, practice space, footballs, a weight room, practice equipment, and training materials. It probably would not include new game uniforms 12 months ahead of the program's official launch date, but here's one thing every new program definitely requires: money. Lots and lots of money.

That's where the uniforms come in.

In case you don't know by now, nothing jumpstarts excitement like new uniforms. In fact, scientists tell me a new uniform unveiling equates to 18 percent of one on field win. For a new program, a uniform is a tangible sign of progress, a signal that their money and support is creating something that is actually real. With opportunities for on-field victories still a full year away, a uniform is something fans can grab on to in a way that a new blocking sled doesn't provide.

With game one versus East Tennessee State still 371 days away, Kennesaw State unveiled three new uniform options on Thursday:

KennesawStateunis

KennesawStatehelmet

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