College Football Winners and Losers from Week 1
College football is finally back, and my, was it one exciting weekend.
We have the dawn of a new era at Ohio State and Penn State, some big-time matchups between BCS schools in the Top 25 and even Ireland gets into the mix.
And upsets? Oh yeah, college football brought us some of those as well.
Here, we take you through the winners and losers from Week 1.
Winner: Urban Meyer
Just like Jim Tressel's era began, Urban Meyer kicked off his Ohio State career with a win.
The two-time national champion at Florida was a big get for the Buckeye faithful this offseason, and it always feels good to win Game 1.
Sure, it was against the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks of the MAC, but we see these types of matchups every year.
A win feels good, and Meyer is back in action.
Loser: Penn State Fans
Nothing, not even Penn State football, can make us forget about the tragedy in Happy Valley.
People are unquestionably more important than any game; however, getting back on the field for the Nittany Lions is a small step toward moving forward.
Unfortunately, Penn State fell to the Ohio Bobcats of the MAC, and it's a tough loss for the fans.
After all, the Bobcats were expected to be one of those gimme wins. As we learned from a broader perspective in Week 1, though, the small schools are certainly improving.
Winner: The "Ohio" Schools
Ohio State gets a win over the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks to get Urban Meyer started in the right direction.
Ohio upsetting Penn State—on the road no less—was surprising and impressive.
That said, the Bobcats are a strong non-BCS school to watch for in 2012 after going 10-4 in 2011. Frank Solich has taken Ohio U to three straight bowl games and two MAC title games.
What a Saturday for the residents of Ohio.
Yay! Stanford's 1-0.
Too bad the Cardinal barely defeated San Jose State of the WAC by a score of 20-17 at home. They have a lot of proving to do this season.
Offensively, Stanford is basically starting over as Andrew Luck, David DeCastro, Jonathan Martin and Coby Fleener are now in the NFL. Ranked No. 18 in the coaches' poll, the Cardinal faced a Spartans team that finished 5-7 in 2011.
Stanford may have won, but this kind of performance against Pac-12 opponents won't go over so well.
Ireland had a nice showing at the 2012 Summer Olympics, and the college football season only enhanced the Irish.
For one, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Navy Midshipmen.
The 50-10 Notre Dame win was only the outcome, because you have two of college football's most historic traditions playing in Ireland.
In short, this was one of the coolest events we'll ever see from college football.
Loser: Stephen Stein
Bowling Green senior Stephen Stein missed two chip-shots of 31 and 29 yards versus the Florida Gators on Saturday.
Had Stein connected on both short attempts, the Falcons would have only been down 27-20 in the waning minutes before failing to convert a fourth down with less than four minutes to play.
Keeping the game against a much better opponent, especially on the road, is key, and Stein failed to connect. No, this did not entirely cost Bowling Green a huge Week 1 win, but missing out on six points doesn't help.
Instead, Florida kept its two-score lead and simply waited for time to expire.
Winner: The Big 12
With Nebraska in the Big Ten, Texas A&M in the SEC and Colorado in the Pac-12, the Big 12 needed to find some strong replacements.
Well, the West Virginia Mountaineers were coming off an enormous win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, and they kept the momentum rolling in 2012.
Getting a 69-34 win over Marshall for win one, it's obvious the Mountaineers will be a force in the Big 12.
And it's nice to see the Big 12 holding strong despite all the conference changes we've seen in recent years.
Loser: Wisconsin Pass Defense
The Wisconsin pass defense got torched in Week 1.
And not only did the Badgers get torched by Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen, but the kid is a freshman.
When Wisky faces anyone in the Big Ten, be sure to anticipate any offense trying to burn 'em deep. Kollmorgen only went 18-of-34; however, he compiled 265 yards and had three touchdowns to zero picks.
He also spread the field with six different players, and four of Kollmorgen's targets had three-plus receptions. If this youngster keeps slicing up defenses in his college career, watch for him over the next few years.
Winner: Marcus Lattimore
Folks, Marcus Lattimore is back and ready to eat some defenses.
After missing South Carolina's final six games of 2011 due to injury, Lattimore and the Gamecocks opened up against the much-improved Vanderbilt Commodores.
Fortunately, Lattimore's absence last season left literally no ill effects, as he gained 110 rushing yards on 23 carries against a strong defense. In addition, Lattimore scored both of Carolina's touchdowns and the No. 9 Gamecocks are 1-0.
If Lattimore remains consistent like in the beginning of 2011, he is a strong Heisman candidate.
Loser: The Byrd Stadium Scoreboard
If you watched the Maryland Terrapins' home opener against the William and Mary Tribe, I apologize.
Maryland won, 7-6, and all anyone saw were a bunch of kicks in this game.
William and Mary went 2-of-3 kicking field goals and was up, 6-0, in the first quarter, while Maryland went 0-of-1. This score lasted until the Terps finally crossed the goal line at the 9:52 mark in the fourth quarter.
The game featured six turnovers between the two schools and 10 combined punts. Only one fourth down was attempted, and each offense averaged less than three yards per rush.
Now you could also make a strong case like this regarding the Florida Atlantic-Wagner game. But this is Maryland (a BCS school) barely pulling out a win at home against a non-FBS school.
Winner: Anyone Who Attended Minnesota vs. UNLV
For those that don't like fun, then just keep moving.
Minnesota versus UNLV was the most exciting contest Week 1 of college football had to offer.
The game was tied at 13 when regulation concluded, and it took three overtimes to finish. Golden Gophers receiver A.J. Barker was the elite playmaker with three receptions; however, he made the most of each catch by totaling 101 yards.
Minnesota's ground game was also diverse as three players—Donnell Kirkwood with 13, Marqueis Gray with 17 and James Gillum with 14—were fed double-digit carries. UNLV, on the other hand, got a lot from running back Tim Cornett, who carried 25 times for 127 yards and two scores.
Yes, it was a defensive slugfest through regulation, but overtime made this game exhilarating.
Loser: Boise State Offense
In the post-Kellen Moore era, the Boise State Broncos have a lot to live up to offensively.
And although the Broncos were facing a sound defensive unit in Michigan State, Chris Petersen's offense failed to score a touchdown.
Unsurprisingly, Boise fell to the Spartans, 17-13, and getting knocked from the rankings seems inevitable.
This was no doubt a tough road test for the Broncos, but managing just 206 total yards and only having 20 minutes and 41 seconds time of possession hurts. Plus, Michigan State turned the rock over four times.
So, despite four additional possessions, Boise couldn't muster any legitimate production.
Winner: College Football
No scab referees in college football like we're getting in the NFL right now.
And it's only going to continue in pro football.
The NFL and its on-field referees union failed to reach an agreement when they met Saturday, and the league said it's proceeding with replacement officials.
The NFL locked out the referees in early June, then hired replacements, whose work in exhibition games has been heavily criticized.
So, be happy, college football fans, because this situation in the NFL is extremely unfortunate. The calls in college ball won't be as frustrating.
Loser: WVU-Marshall Chain Gang
It's all right to feel bad for the West Virginia-Marshall chain gang, because they were moving all game long.
Both offenses combined for 59 first downs, 103 points and exactly 1,200 total yards, and there were 16 penalties for 151 yards.
In other words, this chain crew never received a break and got a week's worth of exercise from one game.
Perhaps each school should consider hiring marathoner runners on the chain gang, or just get a better defense.
Winner: Mike Meyer
Had it not been for kicker Mike Meyer, Iowa wouldn't have won over Northern Illinois in Week 1.
The junior kicker connected on 4-of-5 field goals for the Hawkeyes, one of which was from 50 yards out.
Iowa's offense only gained 268 total yards; however, it didn't turn the rock over and possessed it for 38 minutes and 42 seconds. Still, scoring is what counts, and Myer did just that to keep the Hawkeyes alive.
Thanks to a Damon Bullock touchdown with less than three minutes to play, Iowa avoided the upset, 18-17.
Loser: Andre Parker
Anyone remember Jim Marshall from the Minnesota Vikings?
Well if not, meet his new protege in terms of running the wrong way.
Kent State's Andre Parker picked up a fumble on a punt and immensely changed the field position. For as angry as a coach could get, this play was so bad that it's good.
And to refresh the Jim Marshall memory, here's his wrong-way run in 1964.
Look at that picture. If we could put words into mouths, Alabama coach Nick Saban is probably saying, "It could have been worse." Michigan coach Brady Hoke is saying, "Thanks for not making it any worse."
Alabama proved it is still second to none. Oh, the Tide might be No. 2 in both major polls, but the BCS National Championship the team won last year is still very much theirs until somebody comes and takes it away.
At this point, just like last year, it appears only LSU might have that chance.
Face it: Bama is a monster. Again.
Winner: Youngstown State Penguins
Any time an FCS school gets a win over the FBS schools, we have to give them some love.
Well, the Youngstown State Penguins did just that on the road against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
After the game was tied at 7-7 through one quarter, YSU took a 14-7 second-quarter lead and never looked back. Winning 31-17, the Penguins finally get over the BCS hump after having gotten crushed by the bigger schools since 2007.
Running back Jamaine Cook led the way with 84 yards on 21 carries, and Andre Stubbs was ridiculously efficient with 71 yards and a touchdown on six rushes.
YSU also did work through the air. Cook threw a touchdown, and quarterback Kurt Hess went 13-of-23 for 154 yards and two scores.
Loser: Savannah State
Somehow, Savannah State lost 84-0 to Oklahoma State.
The game was over at the end of the first quarter, with the Cowboys leading 35-0, but you would think the Tigers could have at least gotten in position to attempt a field goal.
Managing only eight first downs, 139 total yards and getting 13 penalties for 69 yards, Savannah didn't have any chance. Hey, at least returner Jacobs Thomas produced 474 yards on 12 kickoffs to average almost 40 per return.
Oklahoma State gained 682 total yards, moved the chains 33 times and was 7-of-10 on third down.
I swear, Barry Sanders from 1988 made an appearance.
Winner: Oregon's Uniforms
It doesn't matter, these are the best uniforms the Oregon Ducks have ever displayed.
This combines a great element of Oregon's history from the old green and yellow with the newer shades.
The helmet doesn't lose its shiny glare that is seen on all other Ducks hats, and the facemask is quite unique. As for the jersey and pants, each give off the old-school vibe and the new-school attitude.
Oh yeah, those shoes sure are smooth.
Loser: Michigan Running Game
Denard Robinson's ability to scramble was supposed to play a factor against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Robinson was limited to 27 yards on 10 carries, and the Michigan Wolverines only finished with 68 on the ground. Considering that Michigan averaged 221 rushing yards per game in 2011, compiling near or even possibly over 100 was anticipated versus the Tide.
And because of the lack of attack in this area, Michigan's passing game never got going, and the 41-14 final doesn't surprise.
If this remains an issue for Michigan in Big Ten play, 2012 won't be nearly as successful as 2011.
Winner: Andre Ellington
Having an effective running game certainly helps any team increase the odds of winning.
Clemson's Andre Ellington was all that and more against the Auburn Tigers on Saturday evening.
Carrying the rock 26 times, Ellington bowled over Auburn for 231 yards and 8.9 yards per rush. The man was just impossible to tackle, and even when getting tripped up, Ellington kept from going down by utilizing his hands on multiple occasions.
To put Ellington's production in more perspective, Auburn's two top rushers—Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb—combined for 188 yards on 26 carries, which averages out to 7.23 yards per attempt.
Along with other running backs Marcus Lattimore and Montee Ball, Ellington is a solid early-season Heisman candidate.
Loser: Kansas State Outta the Gate
The Kansas State Wildcats aren't going to make any noise this season without starting strong.
Against the Missouri State Bears of the FCS, though, Bill Snyder's Wildcats scored just nine points through 2.5 quarters.
Fortunately for Kansas State fans, the Wildcats tossed a touchdown to take a 16-9 lead. They then blasted the Bears in the final quarter, 35-0, winning 51-9.
The Missouri State offense exploited Snyder's pass defense for 323 yards on 26 completions, and you know the Big 12 will bring much more in conference play.
So, until the Wildcats defense locks it down more consistently, the offense has to develop a potent attack. Although, that's not Snyder's philosophy, either, considering the 324 rushing yards on 40 attempts.
Nonetheless, K-State can't start out slow; otherwise, much tougher opponents will blow them away before halftime.
Winner: Taylor Martinez
As a freshman in 2010, Taylor Martinez threw 10 touchdowns to seven picks and ran for another 12 scores, compiling 1,631 passing yards and 965 rushing yards.
A year later in 2011, Martinez improved, albeit marginally, to 13 touchdown passes with eight picks and 2,089 yards. He amassed 874 yards with nine more scores on the ground.
His debut in 2012, however, was like a new quarterback was at the helm.
Against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Martinez went 26-of-34 for 354 yards and five touchdowns.
Never before did he put up these kind of numbers without being a rushing threat, and Martinez simply proved his development as a signal-caller.
Loser: Oklahoma-UTEP Special Teams
It was a rather awkward football game between No. 4 Oklahoma and UTEP.
The first score of the game came when UTEP blocked an Oklahoma punt and returned it for a touchdown.
The ensuing extra point by Miners kicker Dakota Warren was the only kick made by UTEP this game.
Warren missed from 45 and 31 yards out, and backup kicker Steven Valadez failed from 41 yards.
Sooners kicker Michael Hunnicutt had his first attempt blocked, but he did connect in the third quarter to put Oklahoma ahead.
Regardless, missing kicks and getting blocked is inexcusable. And for some reason, the Miners also tried a fake punt, which, unsurprisingly, failed miserably.
Winner: Le'Veon Bell
This guy is going to carry Michigan State all season long.
Running back Le'Veon Bell was fed the rock 44 times against Boise State. He finished with 248 yards and scored both of Sparty's touchdowns.
He outgained the Broncos by himself, and he was the sole offensive weapon that got Michigan State to overcome its turnovers. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw three interceptions.
Still, despite being down in the final quarter, Bell scored for the Spartans, and Michigan State survived at home.
Loser: Anyone Who Watched the Second Half of Oregon-Arkansas State
If you like watching a glorified scrimmage, then Oregon-Arkansas State was a great game.
At the half, Oregon was leading, 50-10, and this game was over before it started.
Sure, the new jersey designs are slick, but a picture lasts longer. The second half brought us a much closer game just because the Ducks hit cruise control, so there was literally no point in continuing to watch.
Yes, it certainly gives the backups a chance to see the field and check how the depth of Chip Kelly's crew performs. But when the Ducks face Pac-12 schools like USC and Stanford, we can reasonably presume a closer game.
In short, the starters remain on the field longer than roughly 1.5 quarters, and Puddles does more pushups.
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