Week One: Random Thoughts From a Crazy Weekend
There aren't many words that could truly describe an opening weekend of college football that featured improbable upsets, several breakout performances, and one fantastic final play to the best game of the weekend. I'll be going over some of the best parts of the weekend as well as the most surprising aspects of the games and which teams may have to worry about rough and uninspiring performances.
Life After Tebow For Florida: Why Was The Offense So Offensive?
You've likely heard by now about how unimpressive Florida was in their 34-12 victory over Miami (Ohio). Let me show you how bad it really was:
- 25 offensive yards through three quarters
- -16 rushing yards through three quarters
- Taking an interception returned for a touchdown and a possession starting at Miami's four-yard line out of the mix, Florida really only scored seven offensive points through three quarters
- Florida scored their final touchdown on a lucky bounce on a Hail Mary-style pass
If Miami had offense of any kind in the first half, Florida would have been on an extreme upset alert. I don't expect them to play this badly next week against South Florida at home, but I also expected them to beat Miami by at least thirty points if not a lot more.
The Big Least: What Went Wrong?
It wasn't a pretty day for the Big East on Saturday. For that matter, it wasn't a pretty weekend.
Connecticut failed to show up on defense against a revitalized Michigan team. Cincinnati collapsed on the road against Fresno State after taking a 14-0 lead in the first half. Although it was expected, Louisville lost their annual rivalry game to Kentucky. Pittsburgh blew a huge chance to start strong on Thursday by losing in overtime to Utah.
At least Pittsburgh played an opponent that, realistically, could start 8-0. Cincinnati, unless they put up loads of points, will not be a very good team this season. Louisville was going to be very bad regardless of the Kentucky result. Connecticut, a team that was a chic pick before the season to be a Top 25 team and have a possible shot at winning the Big East, massively disappointed everyone that believed in them to have a strong start.
Remember when Randy Edsall, Connecticut's head coach, said the Big East was as strong as any other conference in the country? Maybe he was thinking of basketball when he said that.
Blind Sided By an FCS School: Did That Just Happen?
For all the hype Ole Miss football has been getting over the past year, you would think they have been a long-time SEC power.
First came the #8 preseason ranking last year, after which Ole Miss rose as high as fourth in the polls before finishing at 9-3 on the season (a disappointment to most) and winning a terrible Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma State thanks to the Cowboys losing the ball seven times.
Inadvertently, the Blind Side came out that fall, giving Ole Miss football a little more exposure due to the utterly amazing story of Michael Oher.
Before the season this year, Jeremiah Masoli, the ex-Oregon quarterback who was kicked off of the team thanks to numerous arrests, decided to transfer to Ole Miss. In doing this for Masoli, Houston Nutt essentially gave up every moral he had to gain the following: a problem player who gave Oregon some good games, some bad ones, and a lot of off-the-field issues.
So was it worth it, Houston?
Was it worth it to lose to an FCS school for the first time in Ole Miss history? To an FCS school that's essentially a mid-major in FCS terms?
Nope, didn't think so.
(This is not knocking the effort by Jacksonville State at all; to come back from 21 down at the half to a team with far superior talent is absolutely incredible. Well done. I hope you guys can pull off another one in the future.)
Ole Miss Was Not The Only One, Though
You're not going to be left out, Kansas.
What was that? You call that showing up for your first game with a brand new coach? If that's showing up, then maybe Tennessee losing to Wyoming in 2008 wasn't that bad after all.
If nothing else, Ole Miss was good on offense against Jacksonville State. Three points is all you could muster, Kansas?
Somewhere, Mark Mangino uttered "miss me yet?" during the game last night. You know he did this while eating three Snickers bars at once.
Les Miles Is No Longer Defendable
30-10 at halftime. That was the score between an LSU team that had looked fantastic in the first half and a North Carolina team horribly depleted by suspensions of eight starters, seven of those on the defense.
But then it all fell apart.
First, a 97 yard touchdown pass to make it 30-17 with around seven minutes left.
Then, a 14 yard touchdown pass on third and goal by TJ Yates to Aaron Highsmith with 2:32 left. 30-24, LSU.
Wait, that wasn't enough for you? How about North Carolina recovering the onside kick and then driving to LSU's six-yard line before faltering on the final two plays to fall short?
That, almost, was an all-time great in the world of chokery. It all starts with Les Miles. These stunts have been pulled on LSU fans for six seasons now. Unless he has a very successful season this year, it might be time to say goodbye to the man who can't manage time.
There Are Times to Not Rush Five Players On a Hail Mary Situation
The best game of the weekend, quality-wise, of course had to end with the best play of the season so far.
Dominique Davis, the East Carolina quarterback, drops back in the pocket on the final play of the game. Avoiding the rush by moving to his left, he tosses a desperation heave into the end zone...right to his six-foot-eight receiver, Justin Jones, for the game-winning touchdown.
Boom. Game over. 51-49, East Carolina wins in a classic. An unforgettable game with an unforgettable finish.
Blowouts, Like Always, Still Suck
This is not new or anything, but it's still depressing to look through the schedule for the first week of football and see terrible games such as (but not limited to) Florida State vs. Samford, Tennessee vs. Tennessee-Martin, Oregon-New Mexico, etc.
At least there were teams to go out and schedule tough, though. TCU vs. Oregon State was a high-quality game, and the better team came out on top. LSU vs. North Carolina looked like a blowout, but turned into an extremely disappointing game for LSU despite the victory. Boise State vs. Virginia Tech may determine whether Boise will end up in the National Championship game this season.
Is It Time to Panic About The USC Defense?
36 points. 588 yards, many of those through the air. And one very disappointed fan base.
Let's put it this way: if USC's offense wasn't so good, there would be a lot of very angry Trojans fans right now.
Monte Kiffin's defensive gameplan and structure just doesn't seem to translate very well to college football. I know it won't be this bad for them the entire year, but it really looks like they'll be losing at least two and possibly three Pac-10 games this season. If the defense continues to give off a strong whiff of suck like this, it could be even worse.
Trick Plays Are Still In Style
What you see above is essentially my favorite trick play of all time. When executed well, it's so much fun to watch the play be successful against a stunned defense.
Presbyterian ran this play to perfection. Well done, Blue Hose.
It's Just Great For Football to Be Back
There are no words for how bad it is to go without college football for eight months. Everyone's glad to have it back and so am I.
As we enter into the final two games of the weekend with one of those being the best matchup of the weekend, here are some other notable items:
- Mark Ingram, Heisman winner in 2009, sits out against San Jose State due to injury
- Officials, at times, are still awful (see Northwestern-Vanderbilt)
- UCLA isn't making progress under Rick Neuheisel. Surely, by now, you can beat a Kansas State team that at best will be .500
- Oklahoma's secondary needs a lot of work; if they cannot rectify their awful coverage versus Utah State, Christian Ponder will have a field day
- If New Mexico wins more than one game this year, it will be truly amazing
- All FCS teams that played FBS teams lost to their opponents by less than New Mexico
- Illinois won't be good. Again. Ron Zook is a very bad coach
- Denard Robinson might just be the answer at Michigan; based on the performance against UConn and keeping predictions realistic, 8-4 is not out of the question
- What could possibly top Jacksonville State's upset of Ole Miss? J-Ville was a four-touchdown underdog. It'll take an upset of large proportions to top that.