The first week of college football did not disappoint.
Jacksonville State gave us a memorable upset by outlasting Ole Miss 49-48 in a great double overtime game down in Oxford. Confirming once again that David can beat Goliath no matter what the pundits might think. Is there any doubt that Jeremiah Masoli is going to start next week?
The Mountain West saw the best and worst of times. No. 6 TCU beat No. 24 Oregon State 30-21 and No. 24 Utah defeated No. 15 Pittsburgh 24-21; however New Mexico failed to get off the proverbial bus in losing 70-0 to No. 11 Oregon.
The holiday weekend ended in style as the much anticipated game between No. 3 Boise State and No. 10 Virginia Tech lived up to the pre-game hype as the Broncos needed a drive without any timeouts in the last two minutes of the game to win 33-30. While there is still a lot of football to be played, the Broncos have staked a claim to the BCS title game.
The record from last week was a modest 3-2; hopefully we will do better this week. If week two of the college football season is as exciting as week one we should be fine.
No. 21 Auburn v. Mississippi State
Are the Tigers for real? Cam Newton, SEC’s offensive player of the week, ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 186 yards and three more scores in putting away Arkansas State 52-26. Newton, who led Blinn College to the junior college national championship in 2009 and started his career at Florida, made quite an impression on all those in attendance including Arkansas State Coach Steve Roberts. “I don’t know if I have seen an individual performance better than Cam Newton’s. He is the best player I have ever seen live,” said Roberts.
The Bulldogs will be looking for revenge after last year’s lopsided 49-24 loss. Mississippi State beat Memphis 41-7 through the air passing for 372 yards and five touchdowns. The Bulldogs will likely attempt to pass on Auburn as the Tigers defense surrendered 323 passing yards to Arkansas State. Starter Chris Relf and redshirt freshman Tyler Russell split snaps for Bulldogs Coach Dan Mullen last week and both should expect to see some time against Auburn.
This game is in prime time and kicks off the college football week. The rivalry should prove to be a good way to get things started.
Prediction—Auburn in a close game 20-14.
South Florida v. No. 8 Florida
Saying that the Gators offense struggled last week against Miami of Ohio would be a huge understatement. The vaunted Gators converted only 3 of 12 third down plays. Florida had eight fumbles and lost three. The Gators only accounted for 212 yards, 187 of those yards came in the final 13 minutes of the game. Florida ran the ball 31 times for 99 yards and 72 yards came on a run by Jeffery Demps touchdown dash well into the fourth quarter. Was the game against the Red Hawks an aberration or are the Gators overrated?
If Florida lays an egg against the Bulls, South Florida will be more than happy to give Coach Urban Meyer reasons to ponder retirement. Expect Meyer to have his game face on early as he said on his television show on Sunday, “This will probably be as critical a week as we’ve ever had as far as getting ready.” Coach Skip Holtz got off to a good start in South Florida as his Bulls put away Stony Brook 59-14.
Prediction—Gators get back on track and put away South Florida 35-14.
No. 25 Stanford v. UCLA
Stanford crept back into the Top 25 this week but in order to stay the Cardinal will need to beat UCLA to end a six-game road losing streak to the Bruins in the Pac-10 opener for both teams Saturday night. In two of the last three visits to the Rose Bowl, Stanford has been shut out.
Stanford won last year 24-16 in Palo Alto last year riding the coattails of Toby Gerhart, this year they will need more Luck. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck padded his stats nicely with a huge opening day with 316 passing yards and four touchdowns. If the Cardinal are going to make some noise in the Pac-10, Luck is going to have to emerge as the top quarterback in the quarterback rich conference.
Coach Rick Neuheisel and his new pistol offense never really got on track last week as UCLA stumbled in Manhattan losing to Kansas State 31-22. Stanford has installed a new 3-4 defense and it will be interesting to see which team is best able to adjust to the new wrinkles presented by their opponent. If the Bruins lose to the Cardinal, they may go 0-4 in September as they have Houston and Texas next on the schedule.
Prediction—Stanford wins but it is a nail-bitter, 21-20 over UCLA.
No. 22 Georgia v. No. 24 South Carolina
The winner of this game becomes the favorite to challenge Florida for supremacy in the SEC East division. Both teams were impressive in week one and both teams would like to make an equally impressive statement in their SEC opening game especially in light of Florida struggling in its opening game.
The Gamecocks have two talented freshman in receiver Ace Sanders and tailback Marcus Lattimore. South Carolina has more weapons and Coach Spurrier appears to like what he sees, “I was thinking for the first time ever here we might score 50.”
If there is anything that can spoil this game from being special it is the number of players who may miss this game because due to school or NCAA investigations. Players that are likely to miss the game because of an investigation conducted by the NCAA are Georgia WR A.J. Green and South Carolina Weslye Saunders. Players that may miss the game because of an investigation conducted by the NCAA are South Carolina CB Chris Culliver and OT Jarriel King. Georgia has suspended RB Washaun Ealey, S Alec Ogletree and WR Tavarres King; Coach Mark Richt appeared to be hopeful that King would be cleared to play by Saturday.
Prediction—South Carolina 27-20 over Georgia, I’m not quite ready to get on the Aaron Murray bandwagon quite yet but who knows the Georgia Freshman quarterback may open some eyes this week.
No. 7 Oregon v. Tennessee
Everybody is aware that Oregon beat New Mexico 70-0 but how many fans are aware that Tennessee beat Tennessee-Martin 50-0?
Tennessee looked impressive getting a safety from Austin Johnson, a 54-yard interception return from Prentiss Wagner and having Tauren Poole rush for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Unfortunately, Tennessee did not come away from the game without suffering injuries.
Volunteers leading receiver from last year senior Gerald Jones broke a bone in his hand and will miss the next two to three weeks. Also likely to miss the game is receiver Denarius Moore and Guard Jerrod Shaw who both suffered ankle injuries and are questionable for the game against Oregon. The injuries mean that Tennessee will be relying on freshmen to come in and make an impact this season which appears to be a theme for the Volunteers.
"The freshman, yeah, we're going to have to bring them along a little quicker than we probably anticipated. But that's why we signed them, because we don't have a lot of depth," Dooley said. "That's kind of where we are at that position. It's really sort of a microcosm of a lot of other positions. We have some seniors, and we have some freshmen. That's where we are."
It could be a baptism by fire for the youngsters.
All-American Candidate LaMicheal James returns to the Oregon lineup this week from suspension after Kenjon Barner, the Ducks primary punt returner, rushed for 147 yards and five touchdowns last week. James and Barner will form one of the best running back duos in the Nation. Oregon will likely run the ball 45 plus times against the Volunteers.
Of course that is if they don’t score on special teams. Cliff Harris, who substituted for Barner last week, returned two punts for touchdowns last week.
Prediction—Oregon should roll over the injured and inexperienced Volunteers 35-10.
Michigan v. Notre Dame
The winner of this game will be ranked among the top 25 teams next week. My how things have changed, of course a return to prominence could be just around the corner.
Has Rich Rodriquez found his quarterback in Denard Robinson? Denard aka Shoelace put on a show last weekend against Connecticut throwing for 186 yards, passing for 197 yards and scoring two touchdowns on his way to earning Big 10 Offensive player of the week honors. If Robinson puts up similar numbers this week expect last year’s early season Tate Forcier to consider his options to transfer if he has not already begun to do so.
Most people don’t doubt the ability of Notre Dame to score. The question concerning the Irish this year is whether their defense can rise to the occasion and stop people on a consistent basis. Notre Dame’s defense will get a stern test this week with Denard’s speed at quarterback. The defense of the Irish played well for the first three quarters against Purdue they will likely need all four quarters to complete the job this week.
Prediction—The game goes down to the wire with Notre Dame winning with a last minute field goal, 24-21.
Iowa State v. No. 9 Iowa
Are the Hawkeyes ripe for an upset against their cross-state rival the Iowa State Cyclones? The Cyclones looked impressive in beating Northern Illinois 27-10 in their home opener.
Of course, if they are to upset the Hawkeyes the Cyclones will have to figure out how to score a touchdown. Iowa State’s Austen Arnaud, not surprisingly, has struggled in his last two starts against Iowa throwing six interceptions.
Iowa State has not scored a touchdown against Iowa since 2006. The Cyclones did however get creative in 2007 kicking five field goals to beat the Hawks 15-13.
A bright spot for Iowa State last year was running back Alexander Robinson’s performance where he ran for 100 yards on 19 carries. Robinson was one of only two running backs to have a 100 yard game against Iowa.
Iowa looked good in is opener beating Eastern Illinois 37-7 with sophomore running back Adam Robinson rushing 24 times for 109 and three first half touchdowns. This week Robinson will be joined in the backfield by Jewel Hampton.
Hampton scored seven touchdowns backing up Shonn Greene in 2008, missed all of last year with a torn ACL. Hampton in conjunction with Robinson may give Iowa one of the best running back duos in the country.
Prediction—Iowa wins big against Iowa State 31-10 and the BCS bandwagon for the Hawks begins to build momentum.
No. 17 Florida State v. No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners
The Oklahoma Sooners in their 31-24 win over Utah State looked incredibly flat in their home opener. The Sooners failed to score in the fourth quarter and needed an interception late to seal the victory. Oklahoma’s secondary gave up more than 341 yards through the air. Many pollsters agreed Oklahoma looked flat and dropped the Sooners three spots this week.
On the other hand, the Seminoles looked better than advertised in dispatching Samford 59-6. Florida State ran at will and had a balanced passing attack. If not for two turnovers, the Seminoles might have scored 70 points. Pollsters were impressed and they moved Florida State three spots up in the rankings.
The over/under on how many times the announcers make mention that Mark Stoops, Defensive Coordinator of Florida State, is the brother of Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops is six. Drinking game participants make sure you have a designated driver.
Prediction—Oklahoma is slightly more than a touchdown favorite but this seems like a good time for an upset. Florida State wins a close one 28-27.
No. 12 Miami (Fla.) v. No. 2 Ohio State
Last year in early September, Ohio State believed it was ready to play for the BCS Championship. The Buckeyes in their second game of the season faced a formidable foe in the No. 3 USC Trojans. Ohio State fell short and never got back on track to get to the BCS Championship.
The question in Columbus this week is will it be déjà vu against No. 12 Miami or will the Buckeyes exorcise last year’s demons.
Of course, the Canes are also looking to exorcise demons of their own.
Since Ohio State’s upset over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the Canes have since been to only one BCS Bowl game. In contrast, the Buckeyes in the same time period have played in two BCS Championship games and six BCS Bowl games.
“All the alumni who comes back to train, they all leave us with that note,” Miami cornerback Brandon Harris said. “Go get’em for us. We owe them one. So we feel this game isn’t just for us. It’s going to be for the fans and the former players who played in that game.”
This should be a high scoring affair with two dual threat quarterbacks in Terrelle Pryor leading Ohio State and Jacory Harris leading the Canes.
Prediction—Ohio State appears to be a very confident team and their depth and experience should be too much for the Canes to overcome, Buckeyes win 38-24 over the Canes.
No. 19 Penn State v. No. 1 Alabama
The Nittany Lions and Tide will have to put on a show to top the performance Boise State and Virginia Tech gave us last week.
Alabama will be out with All-American talent defensive end Marcell Dareus who is serving the final game of a suspension for receiving improper benefits and will also likely be without Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
No worries for the Tide as Trent Richardson stepped in and put himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated for his two touchdown effort in week one. Freshman Eddie Lacy also rushed for two touchdowns and 113 yards and third-stringer Demetrius Goode tallied an additional 66 yards.
Penn State has Evan Royster who is a talented tailback and only 440 yards away from passing Curt Warner as the school’s all-time leading rusher. Royster had a pedestrian game against Youngstown State running for only 40 yards on 11 carries; he will need to have a big game if the Nittany Lions are to have a chance of upsetting the Tide.
At first glance, the Tide appears to have a huge advantage over Penn State at quarterback. The Nittany Lions will start Robert Bolden a true freshman whereas the Tide will have one of the most successful quarterback’s in NCAA history in Senior Greg McElroy behind Center. First glances however can be deceiving as McElroy threw as many interceptions as he did touchdowns against top 25 teams last year.
Prediction—Too much to ask of the 18 year old Bolden in game two of his career, the Tide should win 28-14.