Top Teams Stumble Out of The Gate
UCLA started off our morning with the textbook definition of an "underwhelming" performance, topping Virginia 28-20. The Bruins had 358 yards of total offense but failed to convert both fourth down attempts, was 7/18 on third down, and fumbled the ball twice. If it weren't for the three defensive touchdowns this would have been ugly but two interception returns and a fumble return brought the game to 21-3 shortly before the end of the first half. The offensive line for the Bruins looked weak and Hundley never look comfortable in the pocket. This team was the trendy pick to win the PAC-12 and make the playoffs if you wanted to seem smarter than you really were and they have a lot questions to answer moving forward.
Alabama took on West Virginia and instead of the contest being comically one-sided, as is tradition, the Mountaineers were always within reach of winning. Having film with Saban the next day, who also is the defensive backs coach, must've been a temporary first ring of hell after Clint Trickett threw for 365 yards. The Tide bended but did not break while allowing only one offensive touchdown and three field goals. Quarterback Blake Sims got the start for Alabama and went 24/33 for 250 yards while making a few plays with his feet to extend drives. Running backs Derrick Henry and TJ Yeldon combined for 40 carries, 239 yards, and 3 touchdowns, begging the question, "Why didn't they get more carries?"
Joey Iosefa, a cult hero amongst the late night college football watchers, rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in a near 17-16 loss to the Washington Huskies. Chris Petersen's opening game as Husky head coach is hopefully forgettable as they were outgained 424-336, went 5/16 on third down, and barely got away from a team that lost to UNLV last year although was expected to be improved this season. How much of the Boise State magic was Chris Petersen and how much was Boise State? The Huskies get suspended quarterback Cyler Miles back next week when they take on Eastern Washington. The only way this past Saturday could have been better was if the Rainbow Warriors pulled off the win.
Reigning champion Florida State took on an inexperienced Oklahoma State team and escaped Dallas with a 37-31 win. Jameis Winston looked clearly rattled throughout, no matter how good his highlight reel touchdown run looked, and he threw two interceptions in one quarter of play. Tyreek Hill of the Cowboys made some huge plays to keep the game close. The takeaways are that Florida State isn't perfect, can be challenged, and that Oklahoma State has a lot more talent than we all expected.
Oregon blew out South Dakota 62-13 and some concerns exist over the run defense but those will be answered this Saturday against Michigan State. Michigan State pounded Jacksonville State 45-7 on Friday night. Both teams will use each other as a measuring stick and one will have one hell of a marquee win once playoff discussions occur.
Stanford handled UC-Davis 45-0, which prompts the response, "UC-Davis has a football team?" The Cardinal allowed only 2.3 yards per rush and 2.5 yards per pass, which will bring the immovable wall to the unstoppable force when they take on USC this Saturday. USC ran 102 plays in their 52-13 win over Fresno State and produced over 700 yards of offense in Steve Sarkisian's first game as the Trojan head coach.
Strong Matchups, and the Thankless Titans of Week 1
The season got off to a crazy start when Texas A&M throttled South Carolina 52-28 on Thursday night. Sumlin's offense apparently doesn't need Johnny Manziel or Mike Evans to run at top efficiency since they outgained South Carolina 680-433, resulting in Steve Spurrier openly criticizing the defense and defensive coordinator after thee game. Aggies quarterback Kenny Hill broke Manziel's passing record when he went 44/60 for 511 yards and 3 touchdowns, good for a QBR of 91.5.
If anyone needed more carries this past weekend it's Georgia's Todd Gurley who ran for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 15 carries. Add on the kick return touchdown he put together to tie the game in the second quarter and he single-handedly won the game for the Bulldogs. Granted, the Georgia offensive line opened holes you could drive a semi-truck through, but Gurley didn't touch the ball nearly enough. Clemson missed Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins but the real story is how well the Georgia defense played.
LSU and Wisconsin lined up for the most compelling matchup of the week. Les Miles has a winning record when trailing in the fourth quarter and he needed all the magic to erase a 24-7 Badger lead halfway through the third quarter. The Badger offense became the embodiment of futility only amassing 32 yards during the LSU surge. While many thought Leonard Fournette would break out and show us what the hype train was about, running back Kenny Hilliard broke the 100-yard barrier on 18 carries.
Players of the Week
Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State: The speedster gave a shock to Florida State. He racked up 278 all-purpose yards with 172 of those coming from kick and punt returns. He helped level the playing field with huge swings in momentum.
Todd Gurley, Georgia: Had 15 carries for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns. He averaged 13.2 yards per carry and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Why he only got 15 carries is beyond me.
Connor Halliday, Washington State: In a losing effort Halliday went 40/56 for 532 yards and 5 touchdowns with only 1 interception. The Cougars lost to Rutgers 41-38 when Rutgers scored a touchdown with 3:24 left in the game.
Dee Hart, Colorado State: The transfer running back from Alabama rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' win over in-state rival Colorado. Before the season Dave thought that Colorado hasn't hit rock bottom yet and he's looking to be pretty smart.