Ten Things - Week One
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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Ten Things, Week One
It was worth the wait. After roughly eight months of anticipation, the opening weekend of college football did not disappoint. We had big wins, monumental upsets, playoff-altering events. Bottom line, it was great to get past the off-field stories and see some actual football played. After months of prognostication, though, it’s only natural to overcorrect predictions that seemed to be undone and exaggerate the results into more predictions. That said Ten Things will go through a few of these overzealous reactions to the first week of action without regard to whether or not they will prove true.
1. Alabama is still the king of college football. Everyone one knew the Tide would struggle this year as they broke in a new backfield and three starters on the O-line. What no one knew is that they would struggle for only a quarter and a half. But are they as good as advertised? USC was dealing with their own issues on offense, and standout freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts had two turnovers in his 20 plays (11 pass, 9 run). There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but let’s see them beat Ole Miss for a change before we crown them with another championship.
2. Clemson is one and done. Clemson made school history last season by making it to the championship game for the first time in more than 30 years, and the best player in that game, quarterback Deshaun Watson, returned for another year. But after struggling to put away rebuilding Auburn, and only putting 19 points on the board, it’ll be a wonder if they even make it to the ACC Championship, much less contend for another national title. Again, it’s too soon to say for sure whether that is more indicative of Auburn’s defensive improvement or Clemson’s offensive concerns. Check back in a few weeks after some tune up games to see if they start clicking against Georgia Tech on Sep. 22nd.
3. The state of Texas is the capital of college football. Texas cemented itself as a bona fide contender with its double overtime win over tenth ranked Notre Dame. Texas A&M stole a win at home from UCLA. Houston demolished Oklahoma. Baylor, TCU, and even Texas Tech had wins at home. While it may not be surprising to see a conference champion or two come from this state, let’s see what happens when they start playing each other (except for Houston and A&M, of course). But for now, celebrate Lone Star style.
4. The ACC won’t have a team make the playoff. The conference began with four teams ranked in the top 25 – Clemson, Florida State, North Caroline, and Louisville. At the time of this writing, Clemson won close on the road, North Carolina lost, Louisville blew out the entire city of Charlotte (whoop-dee-doo), and Florida State needed to recover from a 21-3 deficit against Ole Miss. If the top tier of the conference can’t beat more than the dregs of their conference and second tier teams from other conferences, it’s going to be hard to imagine them producing one of the four best teams in the country.
5. J.T. Barrett will win the Heisman. Did you see that game? He torched Bowling Green for 349 yards and 6 touchdowns, adding another score on the ground. He really shined two years ago when he stepped in for injured Braxton Miller, and put himself in the Heisman conversation. So long as he remains healthy, he’ll bring the hardware to Columbus. That is, unless Greg Ward Jr leads Houston to an undefeated season and a playoff berth. Or Christian McCaffrey starts playing defense just to find new ways to score touchdowns. One record setting performance does not a Heisman make.
6. The Big Ten will dominate the 2016 season. With all the talk surrounding the decline of the SEC (more on that later), the Big Ten went 10-2 this past weekend including a solid win for unranked Wisconsin against #5 LSU. Just don’t mention Northwestern losing to Western Michigan from the MAC, or the fact that only two of those wins were against Power Five teams. The third game, Rutgers at Washington, was their other loss.
7. Houston is bound to be the playoff crasher. After a dominating outing to knock off Oklahoma 33-23, Houston is clearly the consensus to go undefeated. All the need is for the Sooners to rebound and win the Big Twelve and they’re in. After all, a 1-loss Big Twelve champ would be a shoe-in for the playoff. How much more true is it for the only team that beat them? Well, let’s first remember that Oklahoma might not even win ten games this year, much less win the conference. Will this win look so good after the season is done?
8. College football does not belong overseas. Sure, it was a good idea for Notre Dame to play in Ireland. They’re the Fighting *Irish* after all. But Hawaii and Cal in Australia? Boston College and Georgia Tech in Ireland? No thanks. The NCAA is not the NFL. Oxford isn’t going to put together a football team to come play a road game in the Carrier Dome or Memorial Stadium (any of them). Let it go, NCAA. Let it go.
9. This SEC is the most overrated conference, period. That initially might have considerable truth to it now. After all, Mississippi State lost to South Alabama, Ole Miss choked away a 28-13 lead, and Kentucky couldn’t get it done against Southern Miss. In all, six teams lost to non-conference opponents. That’s not exactly the start you want in a conference that prides itself on being the best. But it still might be too hasty. Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M all had solid wins against ranked opponents. If Ole Miss and LSU can figure out how to put it together for a full four quarters, there might be a solid core of the conference still poised to make waves nationally.
10. Three to See – Here are the best bets for solid programming for the second week of the season:
- Penn State at Pitt – With so many rivalries lost to conference realignment, it’s a pleasure to see this one pick back up. To add even more emotion, check out Pitt running back James Conner is continuing his comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The 2014 ACC Player of the Year was confirmed cancer free this past May. Panther win 24-20, no doubt sealed by a late Conner touchdown.
- Arkansas at TCU – The SEC has a couple chances to rebound from a not-so-pleasant week one. First up are the Razorbacks, who barely beat La. Tech last week. On the other side, however, TCU got all it could handle from South Dakota State. If both teams don’t improve, it’ll be a dud. If both improve, it could go down to the final possession. Arkansas pulls the upset in a thriller, 31-26.
- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee – The Volunteers did not look impressive in their opening win against Appalachian State, but the Hokies are still a relatively unknown having only played the FCS team Liberty. This won’t be a barn-burner by any stretch, but it will be a chance for both teams to notch a solid nonconference win. Tennessee, the touchdown and a half favorite, falter at home 27-20.
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