The game flow is not given enough consideration in football. It’s the way the game is going—consider it the vibe, tempo and general state of things over the four quarters. It can often dictate how and why decisions are made by certain teams and it guides why some production ends up looking the way it does at game’s end. In Florida’s 29–16 win over Tennessee, the way the Gators managed the game tells the story of how they won it, especially in the first half.

Tennessee scored in its typical lightning-quick pace on its first drive of the game, but the bulk of the first two quarters saw the Volunteers’ offense literally sidelined, with only 22 plays ran as Florida attempted—and succeeded—to run the ball effectively and chew clock from the very beginning of the game, instead of just entering that mode later in the game. It’s evidence of a team who came in with a clear plan and was able to execute it. The Gators played a game of keep-away with their two-headed running attack, Montrell and Trevor Etienne. This prevented Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton from showing off his rocket arm. Florida went into the break with a 26–7 lead and just sat on it in the second half, throwing the ball four times in the second stanza (in part due to injuries to both of quarterback Graham Mertz’s hands) and leaning on a defense that is clearly improved from last year’s squad.

Johnson (2) and Trevor Étienne led a rushing assault that helped Florida win the game.

Kim Klement Neitzel/USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee’s flags gave Florida a little life after a season-opening defeat to Utah. Florida had two penalties on the first offensive drive and then didn’t have another one on offense or defense until the fourth quarter. Tennessee on the other had penalties during key situations. This included a questionable blindside blocking call and a brutal penalty for offsides with around seven minutes remaining when Florida was clearly baiting it to jump. To avoid any procedural errors, the Vols had to use their timeouts in the early third quarter. Tennessee clearly missed center Cooper Mays who has yet to return after undergoing surgery last month.

This Tennessee offense seems a far cry from last year’s, as Joe Milton is still trying to get his sea legs under him as a complete quarterback. A fatal flaw of his remains what happens when things break down and he can’t launch the ball. According to the broadcast, he’s never thrown a TD while moving outside of the pocket. The Vols would have certainly cracked our top 10 had they won, but they didn’t. Here’s how things stack up without them.

SI Top 10 (of the Week)

1. Washington

There’s a notion out there that there aren’t any dominant teams this year. Don’t tell that to the Huskies, who absolutely dismantled Michigan State, 41–7, in a game the Spartans didn’t score in for the first 54 minutes. Washington’s deep passing game is nothing short of devastating and the yardage of its 12 explosive passing plays deserve to be listed out in order:

15, 16, 23, 24, 30 (a touchdown to Ja’Lynn Polk), 30, 34, 38, 39, 39, 50, 57.

If you’ve got the Huskies on the schedule, better have your secondary right.

2. Ohio State

Kyle McCord was finally named QB1 and the Buckeyes scored 63 points. Marvin Harrison Jr.’s 126 yards, a touchdown and the rest of the OSU offense contributed to 35 points scored in the second period. WKU’s roster includes QB Austin Reed, WR Malachi Coley and other future NFL players. Ohio State’s defense held them to 10 points, and showed some teeth of its own. It’s notable because next week the Buckeyes play …

3. Notre Dame

The Irish had some trouble early and pulled away late against Central Michigan to win 41–17. Sam Hartman’s 330 yard performance was the only thing missing from this offense. Audric Estime was responsible for 176 yards of ground play. We can’t wait for next week’s matchup.

4. Texas

It took Texas a while, but eventually it proved that it could kick the hangover after beating Alabama as it pulled away from Wyoming late to win 31–10. Quinn Ewers was held to only 131 yards through the air, but Texas’s running game was able to give the Longhorns enough with 164 Jonathan Brooks yards on the ground.

5. Georgia

UGA also took a little bit to get going, but the Dawgs eventually were able to hold South Carolina down to get just enough going to grind out a 24–14 win at home. The Gamecocks were prepared to hit the Dawgs in the perimeter. It worked to send them to halftime with a lead, but Georgia’s quality rose to the top in the end as it flexed its muscles to stymie the Gamecocks in the second half.

6. Michigan

Blame first-half turnovers for the reason the Wolverines didn’t drop the hammer down on Bowling Green until late in their 31–6 win. Jim Harbaugh’s suspension ends without incident as the Wolverines beat three overmatched opponents while he was away.

7. USC—idle

8. Florida State

Penalties proved to be the reason why the Noles weren’t ever in serious jeopardy against Boston College despite what the scoreline indicated in the 31–29 closer-than-you’d-think victory. BC had 18 penalties on the day, which make it near impossible to win when you’re overmatched. FSU’s win was due to the fact that Clemson is next week.

9. Penn State

The Nittany Lions downed Illinois, 30–13, thanks to four Luke Altmyer interceptions that rendered basically any and all Illini threat to win this game moot. Illinois’s defense made it tough on Penn State, in large part thanks to Jer’Zhan Newton’s stellar play on the inside.

10. Oregon

The Ducks certainly weren’t overlooking Hawaii with the Colorado game coming up next weekend. They were all over the Warriors from the beginning of the game with a 55–10 blowout victory.

Daquan Evans and Michael Penix are the SI players of this week. Honorable mention goes to Harrison Mevis from Missouri.

  • Penix had an absolutely outlandish day throwing the ball with 473 yards through the air, four touchdowns and—crucially—a 77% completion percentage. It’s even more impressive considering all the deep balls he threw. Washington’s Washington signal-caller leads the most electrifying offense in college soccer right now.
  • Eventually USF’s defense broke and allowed Alabama to score 17 points and win the game with a backup quarterback, but Evans did his part to frustrate the Tide all day with “exotic” pressure packages, in the words of Nick Saban. It’s not every day a defensive back registers a QB hurry, three sacks and another tackle for loss against an offensive line that looks like this:
  • We don’t always highlight special teams players, but when we do you know they must have done something special to deserve it. Harrison Mevis, the Missouri kicker who scored a 61 yard field goal just before the buzzer to win the game. Mevis was preparing to kick a 56-yard field from the Tigers’ goal line when they took a harsh delay of game and pushed him back. It didn’t matter, and he likely would have hit the kick from 65 yards if not more.

You must have seen it.

Matt Campbell nearly had an argument with a supporter on his way out of the stadium before staffers held him off: 

There was a lot going on in Alabama’s win over USF, including a tremendous weather delay knocking some cameras out of commission. ABC was forced to use a wide angle for the majority of the game. 

Tulsa’s Kevin WIlson showed that it’s important to stay in the coaches box: 

That’s a Whoops From this Iowa cheerleader. Get a belt next time young fella! 

Portland State got decimated last week against Oregon, but that’s old news after they absolutely demolished NAIA North American: 

Portland State scored 42 in the second quarter, and on their first 11 offensive possessions before a punt return and pick-six brought them close to 100. 

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