The sights and sounds this weekend made my senses come alive. Fireworks after a Labor Day Weekend ballgame? No. A great family barbecue? No.
Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit are back on Saturday night. College football is here!
There is absolutely nothing that compares to the pageantry of college football. The sights and sounds are invigorating. The stories are compelling. Let’s take a look at what stood out for me from the first weekend.
The Oregon uniforms have become must-see television. With Nike Chairman Phil Knight as a backer, the Ducks are the fashionistas of the sports world. With 1,027 combinations—that’s an estimate—one never knows what the team will be wearing. The designs are fascinating, and the colors are vibrant. Don’t for one second think that the colorful togs haven’t had an impact on recruiting. Gear is a big deal to 17- and 18-year-old kids.
The ACC and SEC played a couple of football games in the Georgia Dome to open the season. On Friday night Tennessee beat North Carolina State with the ACC rebounding Saturday night as Clemson beat Auburn. The memorable part for me? The fact that no one wore white in either game. I thought the colors were so cool as orange beat red on Friday and then beat blue on Saturday.
There was a football game at Beaver Stadium on the campus of Penn State University. More than 97,000 fans showed up to support this year’s Nittany Lions. Let’s make something clear. The fact that those 97,186 fans cheered for their team does not mean they are unsympathetic to the victims of the horrific abuse that Jerry Sandusky committed.
I commend Bill O’Brien for what appears to be an outstanding job of dealing with this very difficult situation. The Lions lost 24-14 to Ohio University—not the Urban Meyer-led Ohio State Buckeyes—and don’t seem likely to win more than three games this year. And that’s okay. It will be what it will be in State College for a while. Time to let it go and let the victims heal and the team move on.
There’s been a fairly significant rule change this year as the kickoffs have been moved from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line. The college rule differs from the NFL rule in that touchbacks have been moved from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line. I would expect teams to try to kick high and short to pin teams inside of the 25.
Michigan opened the season with an unbelievably tough game, taking on the defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide. In Ann Arbor they talk about being a “Michigan Man,” defined as a man of integrity. Wolverines Coach Brady Hoke is a true “Michigan Man.” Michigan faced Alabama shorthanded as starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was suspended for a DUI arrest and defensive end Frank Clark was suspended for allegedly breaking into a dorm room and stealing a MacBook.
It has been a tough time lately for college football with a ton of legal issues and suspensions, including a team’s radio analyst. Players have generally been led to believe they are above rules and even laws. It’s time for that to stop.
Matt Barkley’s return to the USC Trojans for his senior season should prove to be an enjoyable decision for him. A BCS Championship and Heisman Trophy are within his reach.
How did that season kick off for Barkley? A 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage of the season as USC trounced Hawaii 49-10. Barkley got a great start on his Heisman quest hitting on 23-of-38 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
The other Michigan team, the Spartans of Michigan State, also opened with a tough game. They beat Boise State 17-13 and introduced us to their Heisman candidate, running back Le’Veon Bell. The 6’2”, 245-pound Bell pounded the Broncos with 44 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He looked like he was running in a different gear than the defense.
West Virginia opened its first season as members of the Big 12 by trouncing Marshall 69-34. The Mountaineers' Heisman candidate, quarterback Geno Smith, was ridiculous. Smith completed 32-of-36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. You shouldn’t be able to complete 32-of-36 in practice against no defense. Ridiculous.
It’s a new era in Lincoln as Nebraska crushed Southern Mississippi 49-20. Did the Cornhuskers pound the ball on the ground behind those massive offensive linemen? Nope. Quarterback Taylor Martinez—a running quarterback?—completed 26-of-34 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. The Cornhusker nation is rubbing its eyes.
While there was a lot of games between two really good teams in Week 1, there also were some stereotypical mismatches. None more so than Oklahoma State being a 67.5-point favorite over Savannah State. The Cowboys covered by winning 84-0. At least the Tigers picked up $350,000 for the experience.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly believes in fast-break offense. All game long. No huddle. Snap that ball as quickly as you can. It’s quite a sight to watch the Ducks run plays so fast. Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota is the latest to benefit from the Ducks’ frenetic pace.
Week 1 is done. Love seeing Brent and Herbie again.
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