I’m going to start a new segment of the blog this week. This will be a weekly report covering the world of college football. Why college and not pro, you ask? Well the answer is two-parted and quite simple:. A. I’m a college student. B. I like the passion that college players play with as opposed to my perception of “going through the motions” that pro players seem to have. Bottom line, to each his own.
This segment will cover two distinctive sectors of college football: the Top 25 teams, and then Michigan teams and any other notable matchups of the week. I hope to have this segment up by Monday of each week, but since there was a Monday night game this week, it’s a little late.
On to the Top 25:
I will first admit that I didn’t get to watch many of these games. My own football Saturday activities took precedent, and will for most of the season. So, with few exceptions, this part will be very short and sweet.
(1) Alabama – 48 vs. San Jose St. – 3
This game wasn’t expected to be close, and it wasn’t. The injury to Mark Ingram had absolutely zero effect on the outcome here. The Crimson Tide look to be as strong as last year. I’ll wait and see until they start the SEC schedule to put a real barometer on them.
(2) Ohio State – 45 vs. Marshall – 7
One of the few games I did actually watch, because it was on Thursday night. Ohio State looks very good. Terrelle Pryor is an exceptional quarterback, no two ways about it. I thought he missed some reads at times, but against the Marshall defense, you couldn’t tell. The Thundering Herd made it a close game – for about 6 minutes. After that, it was lights out.
(3) Boise State – 33 vs. (10) Virginia Tech – 30 (@ Fedex Field, Landover, MD)
The marquee game of the weekend certainly lived up to its hype. Two teams expected to do well this season matched up in a game that had National Championship implications – not something you say in the first week of the season very often. The jury was certainly out about Boise State – could they keep up with a BCS-conference powerhouse? Could they pull the upset? (Even though they were ranked higher.)
The answer was a resounding yes. In fact, the Broncos came out and kicked the Hokies in the mouth from the very first snap. After getting out to a quick 10-0 leade, the Broncos had a bit of a relapse, letting Va Tech back into the game. After the quick lead, the game went back and forth, with both teams making big plays on each side of the ball. Quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor (VT) and Kellen Moore (BSU) impressed both with their arm and legs. Both were able to move around inside and out of the pocket and complete passes or make plays when nothing was available. Both are on the watch list for the Davey O’Brien trophy as college football’s top QB, and they showed why. I thought Boise’s linemen, on both sides, were impressive. The offensive line made holes that allowed for big runs. The defensive line disrupted much of what VT tried to do. This game really opened my eyes and proved that maybe Boise is for real. With their easy schedule, there’s really no choice but to include them in the National Title talk. As for the Hokies, they came out slow, and that’s ultimately what cost them the game. They should do well in their conference.
(4) Florida – 34 vs. Miami(OH) – 12
Not really the blowout some Gators fans may have been hoping for. New center Mike Pouncey had a bit of trouble with his shotgun snaps, hurting the Gators’ field position on a few drives. Florida still has the athletes to compete with anyone. Jeffrey Demps is a speedster and a gamechanger. Look for them to shake off the rust and put up a lot of points almost every week. Should contend for the SEC Championship.
(5)Texas – 34 vs. Rice – 17 (@ Houston, TX)
Nothing real notable here, other than the fact that Rice came out early and….dare I say….stunned the Longhorns by taking a 3-0 lead into the second quarter. After that, it was pretty much no contest. New QB Garrett Gilbert showed he has what it takes to lead the Longhorns to the promised land in last year National Championship game. He’ll have to do it without stalwart WR Jordan Shipley this year. Texas should contend for the Big-12 Championship.
(6)TCU – 30 vs. (24)Oregon State – 21 (@ Dallas, TX)
This one really did impress, and not simply because it was hosted at Jerry Jones’ mammoth Cowboys Stadium. Both teams looked good, although I’m partial to the Rodgers brothers of OSU simply due to their stature and how they play. A pretty back-and-forth affair, TCU locked up the game after forcing a fumble and making one Beaver (I can’t remember who it was and I’m too lazy to look it up) kicking the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety with a little under 2 minutes to go. Perhaps the most impressive part of the game, though, were TCU’s new uniforms. The Horned Frogs came out in pants and a helmet that resembled lizard skin. Very cool.
(7)Oklahoma – 31 vs. Utah State – 24
This one pretty much came down to the wire. OU got out to a lead but the Aggies just wouldn’t go away. A scoreless 4th quarter sealed USU’s fate. Oklahoma should be a Big-12 powerhouse yet again.
(8)Nebraska – 44 vs. Western Kentucky – 10
Honestly don’t know much about this game other than the score. The Cornhuskers handled the Western Kentucky __________s (help?), and as well they should have. After a Big-12 revival last year, Nebraska is looking to return to prominence in the conference this year.
(9)Iowa – 37 vs. Eastern Illinois – 7
Iowa comes into this year returning its star quarterback, Ricky Stanzi. Hopes of the Rose Bowl dance in their heads. This was a pretty good start. No question they should have won this game with plenty of room to spare. They have a tough schedule ahead of them. I’m skeptical as to the early-season high ranking, but will give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
(11)Oregon – 72 vs. New Mexico – 0
Ouch. Not really much to say here. Either Oregon is really good or New Mexico is really bad. Or a little of both, I suppose. The final score shocked me, but shocked me less than the halftime score: 45-0. Putting up 45 points in one half is insane. The two-headed running attack of LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner shone brightly. They won the Pac-10 last year, and with USC bowl-ineligible this year, there’s no reason they can’t go to another BCS bowl this year. In addition, my favorite part about the Ducks is their myriad uniform combinations.
(12)Wisconsin – 41 @ University of Nevada Las Vegas – 21
Wisconsin is led by resident freight train John Clay. The running attack was on full force as they pretty much steamrolled the Rebels. Their offense did seem a bit shaky at times, but most teams had those periods in this first week. They could compete for the Big 10 Championship.
(13)Miami – 45 vs. Florida A&M – 0
No real surprise here, other than perhaps the score. Miami had a pretty good team last year, and returned a number of players including quarterback Jacory Harris, but I don’t think a lot of people expected them to come out and smash FAM like they did. Harris is turning into a real good QB. They are still missing RB Graig Cooper, who is recovering from offseason surgery. This team could be even better if and when he comes back.
(14)USC – 49 @ Hawai’i – 36
This one was probably a little closer than most Trojan faithful would have guessed, but I’m willing to blame that on the islands. Have you ever been out there? How could you possibly focus on a football game when the weather is so perfect? The time change didn’t help either, I’m sure. The bowl-ineligible team still has the weapons to win. They won’t get the gratification of going bowling, so they might want to come out and stomp on everyone this season.
(15)Pittsburgh – 24 @ Utah – 27 (in OT)
Full disclosure – this was a Utah home game. However, if you want to be a nationally-ranked team at the end of the year, you have to go into other the team’s house and win games. Dave “The Moustache” Wannstedt didn’t get the job done. Utah is no slouch, though, and credit should be given where credit is deserved. They’ve competed with the big boys before, this really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
(16)Georgia Tech – 41 vs. South Carolina State – 10
I didn’t pay much attention to this game. The only thing I know about it is that Josh Nesbitt has requested he now be called Joshua Nesbitt. And that he put up some pretty solid numbers. Which should shock exactly nobody.
(17)Arkansas – 44 vs. Tennessee Tech – 3
First off…who did Arkansas play this week? They may as well have played the Little Sisters of the Poor. The 44 points shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Or perhaps it should – as in, they should have put up more. University of Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett is a Heisman candidate. Look for him to lead the Razorbacks and possibly sneak up on a few teams this year.
(18)North Carolina - 24 vs. (21) LSU – 30 (@ Atlanta, Georgia)
This game was noteworthy – not because both teams were ranked, but rather because UNC had so many key players ineligible or suspended or left home. When all was said and done, most in the Georgia Dome were probably surprised at the outcome. Not due to the fact that LSU had won, but rather because UNC kept it so close, and actually had a chance to win it at the end. Kudos to the Tar Heels. If everything gets ironed out and they get their players back, they should be a solid team in the ACC. LSU could be a dark horse in the SEC behind QB Jordan Jefferson.
(19)Penn State – 44 vs. Youngstown State – 14
Joe Paterno set yet another first in his illustrious career – for the first time, he started a true freshman quarterback, Robert Bolden. Bolden, who is from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School, a rival of my alma mater, Detroit Catholic Central, showed that he deserved to be on the field. He made plays both with his arm and legs. Evan Royster is still one of the most electrifying players in college football, and should help Bolden acclimate. This team is ranked so low simply because of losing Daryl Clark. Look for them to move up steadily throughout the year.
(20)Florida State – 59 vs. Samford – 6
Who the hell is Samford? Jimbo Fisher made his mark in his coaching debut after taking over for Bobby Bowden, even if it was against a school a large number of Americans had never heard of before. FSU has some sick uniforms, too.
(22)Auburn – 52 vs. Arkansas State – 26
Auburn lost a lot in running back Ben Tate. Despite that, the fact that they gave up 26 points and only doubled up Arkansas State has to be a bit disappointing for the Tigers. They should be a tier-II SEC team.
(23)Georgia – 55 vs. Lousiana Lafayette – 7
Even without standout WR AJ Green, the Bulldogs had no trouble this week. In the same tier with Auburn, they could end up surprising a team or two.
(25)West Virginia – 31 vs. Coastal Carolina – 0
The Mountaineers came out and shut out the Chanticleers (yes, that is CC’s nickname). I don’t have much of a read on WVU yet, but Noel Devine should continue to be the force that drives them.
Michigan State – 38 vs. Western Michigan – 14
Michigan State is coming off a disappointing season marred by season-ending suspensions for 12 players following an on-campus brawl. The Alamo Bowl, dubbed “The Suspension Bowl” by some in homage to both MSU's and Texas Tech’s transgressions, was a bit of foreshadowing with position changes and new players emerging. The Spartans return a number of key players across the board. The offense looked pretty good, but nothing spectacular. The defense was porous, as usual. Hopefully that can be shored up with the help of some new talent like Isaiah Lewis. Special teams, specifically kicker, will be a question mark for the first time in 3 years after losing the automatic Brett Swenson. The team has a lot of promise, but they have to show up for 60 minutes and finish games, something they didn’t do last year.
Michigan – 30 vs. Connecticut – 10
The official unveiling of the new Big House went as planned for Rich Rodriguez. In what is sure to be a pressure year for him, he came out and did what he had to do – win by the largest margin possible. Denard Robinson took exclusive snaps under center, with the exception of the few plays the freshman Devin Gardner came in after Robinson was shaken up. (I think Tate Forcier, last year's wunderkid, will transfer in the next couple weeks. He knows he's not in the plans, and made it very evident with his antics during the game.) Their offense was electric. However, UConn’s defense didn’t have a clue. Randy Edsall, UConn’s coach, didn’t seem to have his defensive gameplan ready. The whole stadium knew Michigan was going to run the ball down after down, but UConn still prepared for the pass. Notre Dame should be a much better barometer for how good, or bad, this Michigan team is. Speaking of the Irish…
Notre Dame – 23 vs. Purdue – 12
Purdue is a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team. Transfer quarterback Robert Marve looked good. And that’s about it. Nothing special from anyone else, nothing really stood out. Both teams looked shaky, and really it could have, and probably should have, been a closer game than it actually was.
Mississippi – 48 vs. Jacksonville State – 49 (in 2OT)
Jeremiah Masoli’s victory in the courtoom didn’t lead to his first victory on the field. The Running Rebels were shocked by an NCAA FBS (formerly Div. 1-AA) team on their home field, just as Michigan was by Appalachian State a couple years ago. No doubt the upset of the week, and possibly upset of the year.
Kansas – 3 vs. North Dakota State – 6
Holy inept offenses, Batman! Kansas is, or was, a legitimate Big 12 team. They lost to a school that I didn’t even know had a football team. What’s worse is they only scored a field goal. In 4 quarters. What!? I guess their defense is alright, but you can’t score a TD against a team from the Missouri Valley Conference!? Come on. Embarrassing.
Maryland – 17 vs. Navy – 14 (@ Baltimore, MD)
Navy fumbled 3 times at the Maryland 1-yard line. That’s all you need to know, right there.
Finally, my Top 25 for this week:
2. Ohio State
3. Boise State
12. Miami (FL)
14. Virginia Tech
15. Georgia Tech
17. Penn State
18. Florida State
22. Oregon State
23. West Virginia