College Football: Week 1 Recap

Josh Sachnoff@@JSachnov17Contributor IIISeptember 4, 2013

College Football: Week 1 Recap

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    There will likely be drama every week during the college football season, but the opening weekend for the 2013 season will be something worth remembering.

    There were seven FBS teams upset by FCS teams and three national spotlight games featuring national title and conference contenders. The most hyped game of Week 1 was No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson, where the Tigers won in a shootout 38-35 in their home of Death Valley. 

    With Week 1 in the books, it's time to look back at the best game from Week 1, pick results, what we learned and my final thought from opening weekend: 


Game of the Week: Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35

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    Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35

    The Thursday night game featured two SEC programs on the rise. With the Rebels and Dores’ having leads consisting of 10 or 11 points, both would make comebacks. It's the best game from Week 1 because of its dramatic ending. 

    With 4:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt started its way down the field and All-SEC wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught a 32-yard reception for a first down, but was hit hard causing him to leave the game.

    With many expecting Matthews to be done for the night, he came back in and four plays later on fourth down had a clutch 42-yard catch to put them in Ole Miss territory.

    One play later, quarterback Austyn Carter-Samuels threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Steven Scheu putting Vanderbilt up 35-32 with 1:30 remaining in the game. 

    Ole Miss looked to be finished, but on the second play from scrimmage junior running back Jeff Scott had a spectacular 75-yard touchdown run that iced the game at 39-35 and put the Rebels at 1-0 to start the season.

Week 1: Picks and Results from Top 10 Games

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    Overall Record: 9-1

    Note: Team in bold indicates author's pick.  



    Prediction: South Carolina 28, North Carolina 20

    Result: South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10


    South Carolina’s physical defense took care of business, and the receiving corps gave the North Carolina secondary all it could handle. This game wasn’t close, as the Gamecocks controlled the game from the start. 



    Prediction: Ole Miss 30, Vanderbilt 24

    Result: Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35


    This game could have gone either way and lived up to the hype. These two teams are going to continue to get better and better each year. 

    Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews proved why is one of the best in the nation, but it was Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott who stole the spotlight with his game-winning 75-yard touchdown run. You also couldn't help but notice the improvement of Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace as well.



    Prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Mississippi State 24

    Result: Oklahoma State 21, Mississippi State 3


    The outcome is what many expected, but the final score was not.

    The most surprising part was the Cowboy defense completely shutting down the Bulldog offense. Since when does Oklahoma State hold quality opponents to only three total points? With a lot of hype surrounding Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh proved himself and has been named the starter. 



    Prediction: Northern Illinois 26, Iowa 20

    Result: Northern Illinois 30, Iowa 27


    It’s only fitting that Jordan Lynch and company go into Kinnick Stadium and win in the last minute of the game. Northern Illinois came up just short a year ago from defeating Iowa in Chicago. With the Huskies coming in off a BCS bowl birth and the Hawkeyes starting a quarterback that had never taken a snap in college, it was time for Northern Illinois to finally take care of business. 



    Prediction: Alabama 38, Virginia Tech 17

    Result: Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10


    Not much thought went into this pick; the Crimson Tide were going to win this game. No one could have anticipated the Alabama offense not being as productive, but receiver/return man Christion Jones dazzled with his three touchdowns. The Hokies needed quarterback Logan Thomas to have an unbelievable performance, which he did not. 



    Prediction: Georgia 38, Clemson 28

    Result: Clemson 38, Georgia 35


    This was going to be a difficult pick, but decided to go with the Dawgs because of Aaron Murray, the running back unit and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who was injured and is now out for the rest of the season because of a torn ACL. Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins lived up to expectations and Roderick McDowell played a big part in the running game. 



    Prediction: LSU 38, TCU 24

    Result: LSU 37, TCU 27


    It's really no surprise that LSU would win its third straight game in JerryWorld, but TCU managed to stay in the game until late in the fourth quarter. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger looked impressive and Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry had over 100 yards of receiving.  



    Prediction: Washington 26, Boise State 23

    Result: Washington 38, Boise State 6


    It’s not any surprise that Washington knocked off Boise State in its first game back at a newly renovated Husky Stadium, but who could have anticipated such a blow out? Is Boise State not the team we thought they were? 

    After a disappointing 2012 campaign, Washington quarterback Keith Price threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Bishop Sankey continued to show that he is one the elite running backs in the nation with his 161 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 



    Prediction: Northwestern 31, California 20

    Result: Northwestern 44, California 30


    Sonny Dykes' Cal Bears put up a good fight against Northwestern. They were actually better offensively with true freshman Jared Goff than anticipated and it could translate into a better 2013 season. The Wildcats, though, took advantage of two interceptions in the second half that both went for touchdowns. That’s what hurt Cal from pulling off the upset.  



    Prediction: Florida State 24, Pittsburgh 17

    Result: Florida State 41, Pittsburgh 13


    So much for predicting a close game in Pittsburgh’s debut as a member of the ACC, Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston had an impressive coming out party as he had just two incompletions on 27 pass attempts, threw for 356 yards and scored five total touchdowns. The Seminoles looked solid and are going to be in a battle with Clemson for the ACC Atlantic Division title. 

What We Learned: Beware of FCS Teams

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    Sure, there was the Appalachian State upset at Michigan in 2007 and Virginia Tech’s heart-breaking loss to James Madison in 2010, but this year proved to be unlike any other year.

    There were seven total FCS upsets, with the addition of Samford over Georgia State. Georgia State is still transitioning from FCS to FBS. 

    Note: FCS is formally known as (Division I-AA)


    Here is a list of the seven FBS teams that fell to their FCS opponents:

    1. Eastern Washington 49, No. 25 Oregon State 46
    2. North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
    3. McNeese State 53, South Florida 21
    4. Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 19
    5. Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
    6. Towson 33, UConn 18
    7. Southern Utah 22, Southern Alabama 21

    The two biggest upsets of the weekend were easily Eastern Washington over Oregon State and North Dakota State over Kansas State. 

    The Beavers came into the season after a surprisingly successful 9-4 campaign in 2012, but ran into the No. 4 FCS team in the country. Eastern Washington scored a game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left in regulation, but Oregon State had one last chance to tie.

    Placekicker Trevor Romaine ended up failing to convert a 52-yard field goal attempt as time expired and it was soon upset city in Corvallis. 

    The Eagles put up 625 yards of offense with quarterback Vernon Adams passing for 411 yards, rushing for 107 yards and scoring six total touchdowns. 

    Oregon State has now lost to two FCS opponents in three seasons. The Beavers were upset at home by Sacramento State 29-28 in overtime back in 2011. 

    The other big upset was 2012 co-Big 12 champion and Fiesta Bowl participant Kansas State losing at home to FCS No. 1 North Dakota State. The Bison have won the FCS Title the last two years. 

    The Kansas State loss to North Dakota State seems oddly familiar to that off the Appalachian State-Michigan game in 2007. Appalachian State, of course, had won two championships in a row prior to knocking off Michigan in “The Big House.”

    Kansas State was unranked, unlike Michigan who entered the season as the No. 5 team in the nation, but both teams had similar seasons the year prior to losing their home openers to FCS opponents. 

    Last season, Kansas State came up one game shy of playing for the national title after losing to Baylor, while Michigan was undefeated as well before losing to hated rival Ohio State to go to the national title game. Both Kansas State and Michigan played in BCS bowl games and were beaten soundly by Pac-12 opponents Oregon and USC. 

    The Wildcats may not have the same talent as Michigan did in 2007, but the Wolverines ended up having a solid season by going 9-4. This almost gives Kansas State some hope for the rest of the 2013 season.    

What We Learned: Northern Illinois Could Be BCS Bowl Bound Again

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    New head coach, so what? Rod Carey and his Northern Illinois Huskies went into Kinnick Stadium and finally knocked off the Iowa Hawkeyes.

    After losing to Iowa in 2006, 2007 and 2012, quarterback Jordan Lynch, a Heisman dark horse candidate, and the Huskies pulled off an exciting last minute victory to win 30-27. 

    The Huskies managed to receive a BCS bid last season, even with their one loss to Iowa. With this season opening win though, they are in even better shape to receive their second consecutive BCS bowl bid.

    Of course, last year’s Big East Champion Louisville finished behind Northern Illinois in the final BCS Standings to give them an automatic BCS bowl bid because of its No. 15 ranking in the BCS Standings. That likely won’t happen this year, unless Louisville really falls apart. 

    Northern Illinois still has a non-conference game at Purdue, but the Boilermakers are worse than Iowa and were blown out this past Saturday by Cincinnati 42-7. The real challenges will be at Kent State (Oct. 5), home against Ball State (Nov. 13) and at Toledo (Nov. 20). 


What We Learned: Oklahoma State Can Play Defense

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    With many anticipating Mississippi State and Oklahoma State to be more of a shootout, defense ended up being a big factor, especially for Oklahoma State. 

    The Cowboy defense was not as talented last season giving up 28.2 points per game and 421.7 total yards per game.

    They did shutout FCS opponent Savannah State 84-0 in 2012, but have not held an FBS opponent to three points or less since 2005 when they defeated Florida Atlantic 23-3. 

    Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell threw for only 133 yards and was picked off once in about three quarters of play. The Cowboy defense held the Bulldog offense to 222 passing yards, 111 rushing yards and converted two interceptions. 

    It’s only the first game, but could the nation be witnessing a new and improved Oklahoma State defensive unit under first year coordinator Glenn Spencer? The first game where we’ll see if this defense is the real deal or not will be at home against TCU on Oct. 19. 


What We Learned: Alabama’s Christion Jones Will Be a Force to Be Reckoned with

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    The Alabama Crimson Tide opened up the season with a convincing 35-10 win over Virginia Tech in the Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game. The Crimson Tide did struggle offensively though, as they failed to rush for over 100 yards. 

    The biggest offensive threat for the Crimson Tide was junior wide receiver Christion Jones. Jones, who scored five total touchdowns including one kick return last season, almost matched that total on Saturday night. 

    He scored on a 72-yard punt return on the fourth play of the game, had an impressive 94-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, and topped it off with a 38-yard touchdown reception from AJ McCarron late in the third quarter. 

    Jones became the first Alabama player since the 1940s to have two touchdown returns in one game. 

    Expect a lot more explosive and dangerous play from Jones as the Crimson Tide move in on a third-consecutive BCS National Championship. 

What We Learned: The Dawgs Could Be in Trouble

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    Georgia did lose its first game of the season to a highly ranked Clemson squad that featured an elite offense led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, but the Dawgs suffered a key injury and must deal with the rest of their challenging September schedule. 

    Star running back Todd Gurley injured his quad in the first quarter on his 75-yard touchdown run and was able to return in the second quarter. Ironically enough, on the same play quarterback Aaron Murray’s main target wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell injured himself while celebrating in the end zone. The junior will now sit out for the rest of the 2013 season with an ACL injury on his right knee. 

    You have to take into consideration that this was an emotional game for Georgia and that having to recover quickly to play this upcoming Saturday against another Top 10 team in South Carolina is going to be difficult. The Dawgs have the toughest first two games in the nation, if not the hardest first month of games in the nation. 

    It was a botched snap on a chip-shot field goal in the third quarter that put Clemson up for good, but the penalties and blocking up front for Murray proved to be an issue that the Georgia offense needs to get cleaned up prior to hosting South Carolina. 

    This is almost a must win game against the Gamecocks on Saturday if Georgia wants to win a third-consecutive SEC East Division title and earn an SEC Championship game birth. 

    If Georgia were to lose, it would be similar to 2011 when it lost to Boise State and South Carolina to start the season. After losing those first two games, they went on to win their next ten games to clinch the SEC East Division and play LSU in the SEC Championship game. 

    The problem with relying on that scenario is South Carolina may at most lose one conference game, giving them the head-to-head win over the Dawgs and the SEC East Division title. 

    A win over the Gamecocks and a win at home against LSU on Sept. 28 would put Georgia back in good position to win its division race and be back in the BCS National Championship title hunt as well. 

Final Thought

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    It’s easy to go after Oregon State and Kansas State for losing to FCS teams and discussing how much they disappointed, but there were three teams that really underachieved and did play up to their potential in Week 1.

    Nebraska and USC both managed to win their games, but didn’t perform up to expectations. Boise State was blown out at Washington and failed to score a touchdown in a 38-6 loss. 

    Nebraska’s offense didn’t disappoint putting up 530 total yards, which included Imani Cross’ 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The “Blackshirt Defense,” on the other hand, is causing Big Red nation headaches. 

    The Husker defense gave up 115 points and 1,229 yards in its final two games last season and seem to be struggling again. A Wyoming team that went 4-8 last season racked up 602 yards on the Nebraska defense. Cowboy quarterback Brett Smith almost led his team to an upset win at Memorial Stadium, but failed to score on their final drive. Nebraska escaped with a 37-34 win. 

    The USC Trojans came into this season with revenge on their minds after going an unexpected 7-6 last season. 

    Unfortunately, Lane Kiffin’s Trojans didn’t look up to par against a Hawaii team on the road that won three games in 2012. USC is going through a quarterback transition with Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, but there is no reason they should struggle against the Warriors offensively.

    It’s not to say there won’t be improvement in the near future, but the offense will be under the microscope.

    The Trojan defense actually played well as it held Hawaii to just 13 points, 23 total rushing yards and returned one interception for a touchdown. USC ended up winning 30-13.

    Boise State still can be a BCS buster, but losing the way they did at Washington won’t help. 

    Last season, the Broncos had games where they had to rely heavily on their defense because they could not put the ball in the end zone. In their last two season openers at Michigan State and Washington, the Bronco offense led by quarterback Joe Southwick scored a total of 19 points. 

    Washington looks to be much improved from last season, but for Boise State’s standards this is unacceptable. They will have a chance to prove themselves again though, when they play at Mountain West title contender Fresno State on Sept. 20.