Ten Things - Week One
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After severe weather caused multiple game delays on opening weekend, it’s only fitting that power outages delay the first week of Ten Things. Fret not, though, as not even a local blackout can’t keep me from delivering the best nuggets of the week that was. Are you glad football’s back? As my friend Stacy would say, “Of COURSE!”. So without further delay, here are the highlights of Week 1.
1.Rain, Rain, Go Away: As stated before, weather played quite possibly its biggest role in a weekend of football ever. All total, five games were delayed or called early– most notably Michigan’s debut with coach Brady Hoke and Notre Dame, who needed every bit of time left in the game just to make the score respectable. Here’s hoping both of those teams can play in a bit of clear weather as the Wolverines host the Irish for the first ever night game in the Big House.
2. Cupcakes Aplenty: Ah, yes. The arrival of football season just wouldn’t be complete without the haves of the world beating up on the have nots. The ultimate double-edged sword – we are all thrilled to have football back, but often spend our day flipping back and forth between blowouts. Teams across the country schedule cream puffs to start the season with a guaranteed W, but don’t tell that to Auburn, Oregon State, or Duke. As familiar as seeing Boise in the BCS, it seems like every year there’s a bottom tier team ready to scare the mess out of the BCS teams that sign their paycheck.
3. SEC Dominance Challenged: The conference known for the last five national championships had a rocky start this weekend. Aside from LSU’s impressive win against Oregon, there are plenty of reasons to be suspect. Reigning champ Auburn found itself trailing Utah State 38-28 with just over a minute left in the game. Projected champ Alabama and their new starting quarterbacks coughed up five turnovers against Kent State. Reigning East winner South Carolina was down 17-0 with before starter Conner Shaw was pulled and Stephen Garcia showed how good he can be when sober. And Georgia seemed completely overmatched by Boise State.
4. Conference Re-Alignment: Like many college football fans across the nation, I rejoiced when the first opening kick-off sailed through the air last Thursday, signaling the end of one of the worst off-seasons ever. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it through one full weekend without new rumors. Aside from the SEC-Texas A&M drama, PAC-12 commish Larry Scott publicly stated that the conference has been in talks with Oklahoma and Texas. Can’t we just enjoy the game?
5. Underground Offensive Player of the Week: Chuckie Keeton, QB Utah State. Never before has a freshman made such an impact in his first start of the first game of his college career. He shredded the defense of the defending champs, going 21 of 30 and 213 yards and added two scores rushing. Oh yeah, and he did all of this in the Tiger’s back yard. Well done.
6. Underground Defensive Player of the Week: Brandon Herron, LB Michigan. Normally, a player on a high profile team like Michigan would be considered underground, but after the Wolverine defense took most of last season off, anyone on that unit that racks up two touchdowns in a game (one interception return, one fumble return) is deserving of a shout-out, regardless of the opponent.
7. Heisman Short List: Andrew Luck remains a fixture until he’s carried off the field in a stretcher. Kellen Moore is in hot pursuit after yet another high profile win. Landry Jones is another proven commodity that’s back for another round. After that, though, no real serious contenders exist. As the season gets into full swing with games not against cupcakes, rivalries, and the eventual dark horse explosion (Robert Griffin, maybe?), this section will be updated with the three leaders for the trophy. In my humble opinion, of course.
8. The Streak Likely Continues: Since the BCS expanded in 2006 to allow easier access to non-BCS conference teams into the mix, a team from the lower ranks has risen high enough to gain admittance – and every year but one (Hawaii ’07) has seen one of these teams win. With TCU’s loss to Baylor Friday night, Boise seemed the only team with the chance, and even they were headed into SEC country. One 35-21 rout later, the Broncos sit in the catbird’s seat for their third golden ticket.
9. SEC Corner: Since the Rundown will have the year off, I still want to be able to throw in various tidbits about the conference closest to home. Week one could’ve gone better. Overall record 10-2 with the most notable victory LSU over Oregon. Killer losses though, as Georgia got manhandled (a la Bama in the ’07 Sugar Bowl) and Ole Miss couldn’t help but fumble a two touchdown league at home (pun intended). Worrisome wins were Auburn’s narrow escape against Utah State and Kentucky’s closer-than-it-should-have-been win, 14-3, against Western Kentucky. Mississippi State looks very strong, though Memphis wasn’t exactly a juggernaut and South Carolina needs to put together a full game to be able to compete for their first SEC crown – waking up for second half comebacks only works for Auburn. Underrated game to watch next – Miss St at Auburn.
10. Games to Watch This Week: With the powder-puff matchups continuing for another week, there are a few hidden gems among the slate this weekend. Here’s three must-see games for the upcoming week
* Notre Dame @ Michigan – The first ever night game at the Big House is huge deal. Never mind the recent underperformances of the Wolverines’ recent years, and regardless of Notre Dame’s meltdown at home this week. This is a huge rivalry and a huge game – so much so that ticket prices and demand are approaching Ohio State-esque numbers.
* Alabama @ Penn State – Both teams looking to get back to the top. Both teams looking for a starting quarterback. The history of this matchup predates every coach in the game today save one, Coach JoePa himself. In what could be his final game against one of the most intense, yet amicable, rivals the Nittany Lions will be looking to prove themselves. The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, look to ride the wave of a suffocating defense to victory.
* BYU @ Texas – A game slightly under the radar. Both teams won home openers, though BYU’s 4th quarter comeback at Ole Miss last week was probably more impressive than the Longhorns scrimmage against Rice. A great way to start independence for the Cougars would be consecutive road wins against BCS conference foes. Texas could use a 2-0 start as well, after a 5-7 debacle last year.
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