Mark Twain is, of course, a national treasure.
And for all his iconic literary works, Twain's popularization of the idiom about lies – “There are lies, damned lies and statistics” – merits inclusion this week in the FootballScoop Roundup.
Deep into the third quarter Saturday in Music City, where Georgia's rabid fans had turned the home of the Southeastern Conference's resident laughingstock into Athens Northwest, the Bulldogs had 55 points on the scoreboard.
And the host Commodores, who returned one of the largest collections of starters of any Power 5 program? Well, they had 43.
As in, 43 yards of total offense. Let's repeat: Georgia had 55 points, and host Vanderbilt had 43 yards.
It took the Bulldogs' indifference, like a baserunner taking second base in the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball game that even Rob Manfred's absurd rules cannot wreck, to see the Commodores rally past their guests: 77 yards' offense to 62 Georgia points.
“This is a delicate ecosystem,” first-year Vandy coach Clark Lea said after the game. “We're young and we're in the infancy of our program.
Vanderbilt already has lost – at home, no less – to Football Championship Subdivision program ETSU, which just relaunched football six years ago, and now the Bulldogs by a combined score of 85-3.
MORE SUBPLOTS THAN A SOAP OPERA
This weekend's slate of college football games might rival that of the 2021 season's opening weekend, and quite honestly it probably supersedes that collection of matchups.
Georgia hosts Arkansas in a battle of top-10 residents; Alabama entertains Ole Miss in a game featuring the nation's top-ranked team and its defending champion against Nick Saban's former offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, and his high-octane Rebels.
But those games feature one overarching storyline – Sam Pittman was Kirby Smart's offensive line coach at Georgia before taking over at Arkansas; Kiffin ran the Tide's offense a few years ago, ushering in a new explosive era for Saban before turning around Florida Atlantic and now Ole Miss.
Inside Notre Dame Stadium Saturday afternoon, Cincinnati – Group of 5 darling, employer of arguably the sport's hottest commodity in coach Luke Fickell – visits the Fighting Irish for the first time in 121 years.
Oh, the Bearcats have been installed by Vegas oddsmakers as the gambling favorite, and, depending the poll, own a higher ranking than the 4-0 Irish.
Notre Dame, of course, is coming off two College Football Playoffs appearances in the previous three seasons and is 4-0 on this young season, fresh off a 41-13 euthanizing of the Wisconsin Badgers.
In that game? Well, first-year Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman saw his unit outscore the Wisconsin offense. Notre Dame had a pair of pick-six interceptions and set up a mid-range field goal with another pick.
Freeman, of course, helped Cincy last year to a Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl berth opposite Georgia and then accepted the Irish's offer to replace Lea, ahead of myriad opportunities – and more money at LSU, among others.
Notre Dame's cornerbacks coach is Mike Mickens, the rising young coaching star and former standout Bearcats player. He left the Cincy staff after the 2019 season to join the Irish staff.
For the Bearcats, offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock is a former Notre Dame play-caller and one of Irish coach Brian Kelly's steepest friends in the profession.
Oh, and of course, Kelly led Cincy to an undefeated season and New Years Six appearance before he accepted the Notre Dame job after the 2009 season.
A couple more notes: Irish starting left guard Zeke Correll and reigning Freshman All-America tight end Michael Mayer both are Cincinnati-area natives.
The nation's fifth-ranked scoring offense at the FCS level belongs to an Ivy League program with one of the game's youngest offensive coordinators at any level.
That's right. The Princeton Tigers, through a pair of blowout-wins at Lehigh and home against Stetson, are averaging 47.5 points per game.
The Princeton offense, guided by former Tigers' standout Mike Willis, has scored a dozen touchdowns through two games.
Willis, some eight years removed from his playing days for at Princeton, has further enhanced the Tigers' player-friendly offense that's predicated on pushing – shoving? – the ball downfield and maximizing matchups.
Watch the Tigers, either somehow for a full game or highlights online. They're worth the effort.
Led by former Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida State key assistant Randy Sanders, who grew up barely an hour from Johnson City, East Tennessee State University owns more Southeastern Conference wins – one, to none – than either the Volunteers or Commodores.
The Bucs shellacked host Vanderbilt in the season opener.
Now ETSU is nationally ranked and has FCS' leading rusher – Quay Holmes – in the process.
The Bucs are coming off a scintillating 55-48 overtime-win against Samford.
Up next for ETSU is reigning (spring season) Southern Conference champion Virginia Military Institute. The Keydets dismissed Wofford this past weekend and, while early, this game could be the contest that sets the stage for the path to the SoCon title.
The Keydets now are 3-0 against FCS foes.
PROPS TO JASON SIMPSON
UT-Martin coach Jason Simpson is one the division's longest-tenured head coaches, and his coaching tree – worth a story all its own – is rather impressive, spanning from big-time college programs all the way to the NFL.
Simpson's Skyhawks are off to one of their best starts in his 16 years atop the program and could be poised for their 10th winning season.
Most recently UTM dispatched resident Ohio Valley Conference kingpin Jacksonville State which, of course, was coming off an upset-win at Florida State.
The Skyhawks now are 3-1, own 34-31 and 33-27 wins against Jacksonville State and Samford, respectively, and have four of their next five games at home.