The first Saturday of the 2008 NCAA football season is in the history books.
Even though a lot of big teams decide to take on absolute cream puffs in their first game, we were still able to learn quite a bit from the first game of the season.
Pittsburgh will not be crashing the BCS party
For the past couple of weeks, I've listened to analyst after analyst mention Pittsburgh as a possible BCS dark horse.
Those analysts might want to take back their predictions.
A 27-17 loss to a team from the MAC is no way to start your season if you hope to make it to a BCS game, especially if you still have to play Iowa, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia. You absolutely have to win the games that you are supposed to win.
So instead of being a potential BCS player, Pitt could potentially be looking at a six-loss season. Dave Wannstedt's seat has to be getting a little uncomfortable.
Michigan has some work to do
I know that Utah was the trendy upset pick for the week, but still...when was the last time Michigan lost consecutive openers at home? Oh yeah, 1950 and 1952. A long time.
Michigan looked absolutely lost out there for most of the game, which was not as close as its 25-23 scoreline would have you believe. Had Utah not committed an amazing 15 penalties, the game could have easily been a blowout, and the numbers back it up.
Utah passed for 305 yards compared to Michigan's 167. Neither Nick Sheridan or Steven Threet, Michigan's two quarterbacks for the game, managed to pass for more than 98 yards. Utah's leading rusher gained 77 yards on the ground compared to Brandon Minor's 21. And oh yeah, Michigan was out-possessed by over ten minutes.
The Rich Rodriguez era has started with a whimper, and it doesn't get any easier. Michigan has four ranked teams left on their schedule, including games at Penn State and Ohio State. As a Michigan State student, I couldn't be any happier.
Michigan State has some work to do
Just so I'm not accused of blatant homerism, I'd like to take a chance to analyze MSU's performance against Cal.
I'll start with the positives. Brian Hoyer passed for over 300 yards and was probably deprived of even better numbers by a bogus offensive pass interference call on BJ Cunningham early in the game.
Sophomore Mark Dell had 201 receiving yards, good for fifth on MSU's all-time single game list. Javon Ringer ran for two touchdowns. Otis Wiley had two interceptions, including one that he ran back for a touchdown.
Now the ugly.
Hoyer was 20/48 in passing for 322 yards. Those numbers weren't all his fault though, as several passes glanced off his receivers' hands. Mark Dell should have had one more catch, but bobbled a touchdown grab in the end zone.
Javon Ringer ran for 80 yards...on 27 carries (3.0 yards a carry won't get the job done.) Ringer's numbers would have been better had the new look offensive line not been so porous. Special teams let the Spartans down through a blocked punt and a missed field goal.
The good news for State is that testing themselves against a quality opponent early on will give them a lot of help later in the season. The defense also looked excellent in the first half, Otis Wiley especially.
If the offensive line can do a better job protecting Hoyer and Ringer, this team can still be the surprise in the Big Ten that many people think they will be.
The ACC isn't that great
Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina. How many of you can tell me which conference East Carolina play in? If you guessed Conference USA, you're right and I'm impressed.
Virginia Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but quickly let ECU back in the game. This was the first time in 18 games that Virginia Tech has lost when blocking a kick, and they lost at their own game. The deciding play was a blocked punt by ECU that was returned for a touchdown. Kudos to the pirates.
And Clemson...where do we start with Clemson? The Tigers got absolutely smoked by an Alabama team that finished last season at 7-6. Not terribly impressed.
How many seasons will Clemson start with high preseason expectations only to fall at some point during the season? Rather, how many times can Tommy Bowden get away with letting this happen?
Clemson's heralded "Thunder and Lightning" (a name which they stole from the Spartan tandem of Jehuu Caulcrick and Javon Ringer) rushed for only 20 yards. The whole offense managed only 188 yards.
These are the kind of numbers you expect out of Chattanooga when they face Oklahoma, not out of a supposed National Title contender in their first game of the season.
Chattanooga rushed for 16 yards on the day, in case you were wondering.