1. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia. UGA was down three defensive starters at Missouri due to suspension, but in the span of minutes in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs' reigning All-American effectively throttled Mizzou's offense all by himself. First: Georgia leads 27-20 midway through the fourth when Jones steps in front of an ill-advised throw by Missouri quarterback James Franklin, returning the pick to the goal line; the offense punches it in on the next play to extend the lead to 34-20. Next: Three plays into the Tigers' ensuing possession, Jones tracks Franklin down for his second sack of the night, knocking the ball loose in the process; a teammate pounces on the fumble at the Mizzou 5-yard-line, and two plays later Georgia leads 41-20. That's how it ended, presumably because Jarvis decided there was no need to run up the score.
When a strong contender that effectively earned 50 percent of the vote is rewarded with zero percent of the opportunity, the system has failed.
Murray's arm was calibrated to perfection, firing to the proper coordinates on 14 of 18 passes with four touchdowns to four different receivers in a 45-7 rout over Auburn. The machine-like display easily extended Murray's lead as the most efficient passer in the SEC, and left him with a new school record for touchdown passes in a season (27).
The 38-point win was also the most lopsided in the series by either side since 1946, and put UGA within a game of its first division title since 2005.
[I]f you're the sort of puritan who believes in that kind of monomaniacal infidelity to a sport, then sure. But that assumes one kind of sports fan. A doting, faithful fan whose eggs of loyalty lie in one basket, a basket that in the case of Will [Leitch] bears the logo of the St. Louis Cardinals. Your loves are trademarked, and every second away from them is a moment of longing abandon looking back toward them.
Good for you. I have my own faith, too: Florida football. Unfortunately, she's only around five months of the year at best, and a man like any man has serious needs. For seven months these eyes wander in search of spectacle, especially heart-stopping, violent, and often dangerous spectacle. Thus the appeal of the Olympics, and especially the World Cup—the stunning Brazilian in the short skirt that almost gets us fired every four years—which forces us to abandon home, family, and common sense in the name of soccer and incoherent international hullabaloo.
The same applies to MMA, or the Triple Crown, or to March Madness, the NBA playoffs, or to any ridiculousness that catches the eye and can reasonably be called sport. Which is why I'll be the one watching men betting on the first raindrop down the windowpane on ESPN 17 in ten years in April. For me, fandom can be ducking your head in every four years, because while life is not long it is certainly very wide, and covering that span is worth the effort.
The losses to Oklahoma State and LSU were unsettling, but understandable against two of the most highly-touted outfits in the country; survival in the fourth quarter against South Carolina, Arkansas and Arizona State was proof that this team "knew how to win" or something.
Tennessee, however, a lopsided loss to a mediocre, one-dimensional team on the brink of collapse itself after an 0-2 SEC start, was definitive proof that the Bulldogs don't really know how to do anything.