Ten Things - Week One
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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It’s been a long and trying offseason. More scandals, more sanctions, more bad press. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – a playoff was born. Never before have the games of the regular season been such a formality, a necessary event to progress to the next step of the game. That’s two years away though, and we have a lot of football to play between now and 2014. Join in for another season as Ten Things kicks off this year with the rundown of the best and worst of the week that was, with a watchful eye towards the future…
1 First Game, Seeds of Doubt Planted – One game into the season is usually too soon to start hitting the panic button. After all, the old axiom of football is that the biggest improvement comes between the first and second games. Several ranked teams started the season with high hopes that may have well been dashed in the first week. South Carolina, even with the win against Vanderbilt, looked nothing like its #9 ranking – and may have sacrificed its QB in the process. Michigan certainly didn’t have the matchups in their favor in the buzz saw that was Alabama. Oklahoma fell behind 7-0 on a blocked punt before coming back at UTEP. Even the defending Big Ten champ, Wisconsin, had its hands full with Northern Iowa. I know it’s just one game, but there should definitely be some improvement between now and Saturday.
2 Bama Flexes Reloading Muscles Against Michigan – Coming off the national title run in 2009, Alabama grew complacent, as evidenced in their three losses by season’s end. Two years later, it seemed like the hangover of celebration was a distant memory as a revamped defense and a loaded offense ran the field on the Wolverines. As for Michigan, just because they had some mismatches doesn’t alter the primary goal of winning the Big Ten and going to the RoseBowl. Some key players return over the next few weeks, but Denard Robinson’s psyche (and throwing ability) may be the biggest factor in whether or not Michigan makes it to Indianapolis.
3 Penn State Falls, Looks To Have A Long Season – If any school was looking toward football season as a beacon of hope, it was Penn State. Sadly, through a combination of a lack of execution and a formidable opponent, the Nittany Lions suffered its first home opener loss to a “non-AQ” school since before JoePa was head coach. That’s a long time. For now, Penn State will be lucky to go .500 this year and Ohio looks to cruise through its remaining schedule to reach 13-0, a MAC championship, and maybe even a BCS bowl bid.
4 First Year Coaches Make Their Mark – Obviously Bill O’Brien did not have as pleasant an opener as Urban Meyer. Charlie Weiss would’ve liked a better result against South Dakota State, and the competition level will rise slightly with Rice coming to town this week. Pittsburgh showed it’s going to be a long first year for Paul Crist. Though it’s still toosoon to pass judgment, it’s fair to say that certain coaches will have a fairly difficult first year (Mike Leach and RichRod) while others (Kevin Sumlin) maynot have such a rocky first year.
5 No Helmet Rule Goes Into Effect – Perhaps some of you witnessed the latest example of the NCAA overreacting. Starting this year, any time a player’s helmet comes off that player is required to take one down off and to be checked for concussion symptoms. It’s a ridiculous rule, considering that recent studies show football players to live longer, healthier lives than both their baseball counterparts as well as the general population. Even with the added focus on concussions, all this rule does is make it more likely that players in an up tempo offense will be slowed – and possibly missing a keyplayer for a play. In a game that can hinge on one dropped pass, one missed blocking assignment, or a bounce of the ball, it is only a matter of time before this rule alters a game. Just wait.
6 Va Tech Takes Control of Coastal – Since the ACC began a championship game in 2005, the winner of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game has represented the Coastal division. Monday night saw these two ACC powers squaring off in the first game of the season for the first time in that span. With the Hokies taking a close one in OT, it’ll be hard to imagine the Yellow jackets overtaking them in the standings. Frank Beamer’s bunch certainly alleviated some concerns about his team’s play early in the season (2009 opener loss against Alabama, 2010 loss against Boise State), and if they can avenge last year’s losses to Clemson may find themselves in the thick of the title race.
7 Player of the Week: Geno Smith - I don't think you can find a better performance than Smith's 89% passing day with 4 touchdowns in the rout of Marshall. Brandon Weeden showed remarkable after a year under Holgerson, and Smith looks like the next in line to benefit from his coaching. With Oklahoma showing some kinks in the armor early, and there not being any shoe-ins for the conference crown, don't be surprised if the Mountaineers are led by their senior QB's prolific numbers to a BCS birth.
8 Coach of the Week: Dennis Franchione - Say what you want about Frank Solich getting the upset in Happy Valley, but when a head coach can take a program in their first year as an FBS program against a team coming off a 13-1 season as a 361/2 point underdog and utterly whip them...well, that's pretty darn good. Even Stanford in 2007 needed some last minute heroics, but Coach Fran & Cowon 30-13 and wound up forcing the opposing teams OC to resign. Welcome back to the college game, Franchione. Hope you have more success here than your previous stops.
9 State of the SEC - Well, much like last year, it seems like a two team league - And Alabama seems to be a slight cut above LSU. Arkansas will get its first real test in the post-Petrino era in a couple weeks when Bama comes totown. Texas A&M lost their chance to test out new QB Johnny Manziel before hosting Florida, but as long as they are better than Bowling Green theAggies should be able to start 1-0. Auburn and the Mississippi schools seem to be looking up at the rest of the division at the moment, but never count out Gene Chizik, Dan Mullen, or a freshman coach (Hugh Freeze). In the East, Georgia had a time with Buffalo (no, not the Bills) and South Carolina and Vandy showed they aren't that far apart - which could be good or bad.
10 Top Three to See:
A. Georgia @ Missouri/Florida @ Texas A&M – Forgive the SEC bias, but I want to see how the newcomers do against conference competition. Also, I want to see if Georgia or Florida have what it takes to represent the East. I’m calling Georgia and Texas A&M as the victors, but that’s predicated on new Aggie starter knowing where the end zone is more than the white jerseys.
B. Air Force @ Michigan – I still think Michigan has a really good team and can contend in the Big Ten. How they handle the hangover of the loss with a decent Mountain West opponent will reveal more about how the rest of the season will play out.
C. USC @ Syracuse – USC is supposed to contend for a national title. Syracuse played a great game against Northwestern. Both teams can score. One of two things will happen – either USC’s defense proves it belongs in the discussion or this shootout will be decided in the fourth quarter. Either way, it’s a must watch.
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