Having just crushed Cincinnati 45-23 Saturday afternoon, but with his eyes already on this week's trip to No. 18 Florida, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said, "Now it's time for Big-Boy Ball."
Big-Boy Ball was in evidence for other teams from the South on Saturday, even if Dooley didn't necessarily view his Volunteers improving to 2-0 for the first time since 2006 as part of that phenomenon.
"There are a lot of things Florida is going to be looking at on film," he said of the Vols' two lost fumbles and 63 penalty yards. "And they're going to be licking their chops."
Perhaps, but the Gators may be the only ones itching to play the South's big winners Saturday, beginning with defending national champion but unranked Auburn, which held off No. 16 Mississippi State 41-34 with a last-play goal-line stand at Auburn.
Third-ranked Alabama went on the road to defeat No. 23 Penn State 27-11 as 84-year-old Nittany Lions legend Joe Paterno coached from the press box following an injury. PSU's 107,846 fans were the most ever to watch a Crimson Tide game.
But No. 12 South Carolina won the biggest Southern showdown of the day, rallying in the final minutes to knock off host Georgia 45-42 between the hedges, a loss sure to heighten UGA coach Mark Richt's job insecurities, since the Bulldogs fell to 0-2.
Much closer to home, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga rode the golden arm of senior quarterback B.J. Coleman and golden hands of wideout Joel Bradford to a big victory over Jacksonville State, the 10th-ranked team in the FCS division.
Similar to Bradford and Coleman, UT wideouts Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers each caught 10 passes and quarterback Tyler Bray threw for four touchdowns and more than 400 yards against the Bearcats. Peyton Manning is the only other UT QB to pass for 400 yards in a game.
Nevertheless, Dooley cautioned, "Before we say we're good, let's play some of these SEC teams."
Starting with the Gators.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...