Ten Things from Week one
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne, Birmingham, AL Tags:
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Well, the college football season is back, and what an opening weekend. For the second straight year, two different BCS conference schools lost to FCS opponents. Some of the top teams in the country were tested by unranked and overmatched opponents. The BCS and Heisman pictures are just as cloudy as they were before, and will need at least a few more weeks before coming into focus. Without further ado, here are 10 things from the first week of college football...
1. Boise State isn't the only potential BCS buster.
The first week of the season marked not only the biggest victory in Boise's history since the '07 Fiesta Bowl. There were a few teams that flew (relatively) under the radar given the Broncos' dominance in recent years. For starters, Utah proved they aren't far off, knocking off Pitt at home in overtime. Meanwhile, in-state rival BYU hosted the Washington Huskies, and media/NFL darling Jake Locker, and shut them out in the second half en route to a 23-17 win. TCU hosted (kinda) Oregon State and beat the Beavers by 11, yet still seemed to be overshadowed by the Broncos. Even had a statement win. And yes, after the past few years, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish officially qualify as BCS busters until they can find consistency.
2. An undefeated Boise State should play for the national title.
Love them or hate them, Boise State has won. They have beaten teams they should and teams they shouldn't have. When it all boils down to it, though, the Broncos have found a way to dominate in a system designed to keep the little guy out. In a sport where a non-mainstream hasn't won the title in more than 25 years, Boise has found themselves headed towards the pinnacle of college football. And they have done it just like the mainstream powers have - winning consistently. That's right, read that statement again and let it sink in. Boise State has won and won big more consistently than any other college program since the USC Trojans ran the BCS. They have established themselves as a player on the national scale and have been rewarded. Love them or hate them, they're not going anywhere until they lose. Get behind them or get out of their way. If they make it past Oregon State in two weeks, they'll effectively punch their ticket to the title game located where their rise to national prominence began...Tempe, Arizona.
3. Once proud programs are relevant again...for now.
Michigan and coach Rich Rodriguez have been on a roller coaster the past couple years. From NCAA trouble to back-to-back losing seasons, not to mention RichRod was at the helm when Michigan's 34 year bowl trips streak was broken. Saturday brought forth a win in convincing fashion - and against a competent opponent, no less. Their 30-10 win over UConn showed they can play both sides of the ball and come out on top. Notre Dame also opened up 2010 on a high note, topping Purdue 23-12. Both teams won at home, and will have tougher tests as the season wears on. In 2007, these teams met with a combined record of 0-4. Michigan was two games removed of a loss at home to Appalachian State, while Notre Dame was en route to a 3-9 season (the worst of Weis' tenure). When they met, it was assumed that the winner would springboard into a more successful season, while the loser would fall into obscurity. Michigan won 38-0 and went on to a 9-4 season and bowl win over Florida. This year figures to be very similar - the winning team will springboard to new heights, while the losing team will wind up wondering what if.
4. Disappointing Start
Any discussion of disappointing losses this year begins and ends with the Ole Miss Rebels, who inexplicably lost a 31-10 halftime lead and fell 49-48 in double overtime to Jacksonville State. That's right, the same team that was criticized for picking up Ryan Perriloux, the LSU outcast quarterback and the 2007 SEC Championship Game MVP, went to the grove and knocked off a team in the mighty SEC. Not only did they beat an SEC team, but they came back from a 31-10 halftime deficit with a three touchdown 4th quarter performance to force overtime. Each of the two Gamecock quarterbacks threw a touchdown in overtime, with Coty Blanchard connecting on a 4th-and-15 strike in the back of the end zone in the second overtime period, followed up by the two point conversion pass to seal the victory. Not exactly how the Rebel faithful hoped to start the Jeremiah Masoli year.
5. Heisman Hopefuls
A few players etched a place for themselves in the Heisman race over the weekend. Likely contenders include Denard Robinson, who ran for almost 200 yards in the Wolverines defeat of UConn and Kellen Moore, who engineered probably the best overall game performance against Virginia Tech Monday night. Others include Terelle Pryor, Jacory Harris, Ryan Mallet, and Andrew Luck, who will all have their skills tested much more as the year progresses. It's now a long shot for Dion Lewis, Ricky Dobbs, Jake Locker, and Jacquizz Rogers - all played on teams who lost and had less than stellar stat lines. Dark horse candidate Patrick Peterson of LSU electrified Atlanta Saturday, returning kicks and punts for over 250 yards, a touchdown, and 5 1/2 tackles. If he keeps up that kind of pace, he may get a trip to New York come December.
6. Auburn will not make it to the SEC Championship Game
For the past five months, there has been a great deal of talk about how Auburn is back and ready to contend for the state and conference dominance. This stems from last year, when the Tigers led Alabama until the final drive of the game and was kicked into high gear when the Tigers nabbed transfer Cam Newton and kept their entire coaching staff intact. Everything looked promising for the Tigers...until Arkansas State came along. Sure the Red Wolves are far from a threat even in the Sun Belt and never truly threatened Auburn on the scoreboard. But the biggest question mark going into the season for Aubey was the defense - the same defense who allowed 26 points to a team that went 4-8 last year. For all the passing ability that Cam Newton supposedly has, he was more of a threat to run. And for all the offensive firepower, Auburn fumbled on three straight possessions in the third quarter, though the third one wound up being overturned. There are still a lot of questions to be answered for the Tigers, but the dreams of playing an undefeated and untied Iron Bowl will have to wait another year.
7. Conference Trends
After a very disappointing weekend, the SEC has to be the down trend favorite. Ole Miss lost to Jack State. Vanderbilt lost to Northwestern. LSU, Florida, and Kentucky all left a lot of points on the field and came too close in some cases to losing. If it wasn't for South Carolina's dominant performance over a decent team, there wouldn't have been much to be happy about besides actually wining a few games it could've lost. Out of all twelve SEC teams in action, only two were against BCS conference schools (Louisville and North Carolina). I'd be hard pressed to say that the Tarheels were the toughest opponent given their nine starters out.
The Mountain West, on the other hand, had a very strong showing. Utah topped Pitt in OT. BYU outlasted Washington. TCU smacked Oregon St. in the mouth. If it weren't for New Mexico's egg against Oregon, it kinda felt like last season's bowl showing by the MWC. It seemed like all the big teams were winning, especially against their PAC-10 neighbors.
8. Transfer Watch
For all who saw the Michigan game, you also say last year's primary signal caller, Tate Forcier, ride the pine all game. Don't be surprised if he decides that RichRod's system isn't the best fit for him (a la Ryan Mallet). Expect a transfer to another FBS school, and possibly a starting gig as early as 2011 (a la Jeremiah Masoli).
9. Game of the Week Review
Boise State-Virginia Tech. A better script couldn't have been written for the Broncos. Traveling across the country to start the season against a BCS conference foe (and one favored to win the ACC by many) and a chance to show the whole country what they can do. What they did was get off to a 17-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, and lead by a touchdown at the half. Oh yeah, and when Virginia Tech started to kick into gear and take the lead in the third quarter, Boise didn't fall over like an overmatched non-AQ team. They fought back and took the lead back - twice. The final time with less than two minutes remaining and Kellen Moore leading his team down the field in 38 seconds for the game winning touchdown. It was the game of the year, and may still be the game of the year come December.
10. Game of the Week Preview
Ohio State-Miami. Both teams want to prove that they are back and ready to compete on a national level. The Buckeyes are coming off their first win in the Rose Bowl since 1997, and their first BCS bowl game since losing back-to-back national championship games in embarrassing fashion. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are still trying to prove the ACC was not mistaken in adding them to the conference in 2005. Miami has not made it to the ACC Championship Game once since becoming a member, but this could be their year. Look for a great fight as two Heisman hopefuls get their first true test of the season. The edge goes to the home team and the more experienced quarterback. OSU wins 31-17.
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