NCAA Football Week 1: UCLA, East Carolina Impress; Clemson, Not So Much

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst ISeptember 3, 2008

I want to start off by saying that under normal circumstances, this article would have been written and published by Monday night after the TN/UCLA game.  Hurricane Gustav, however, presented extraordinary circumstances to me and other writers in Louisiana.  I hope that Hanna spares the East Coast of substantial damage.

Now, on to reflecting about Week 1 of college football. 

How's that humble pie taste, Clemson? 

I didn't drink the orange Kool-aid that was being served throughout the summer and leading up to the season opener.  No way did I (and still don't) think Tommy Bowden could lead the Tigers to a possible national championship game as many had suggested, but I didn't think they'd lose to a Crimson Tide team that threw much of its young talent into the fire of a season opener. 

Not only did Alabama win, but it was no contest.  Nick Saban's crew put on a 34-10 beat-down on a top ten team on a neutral field.

Welcome back, Rick Neuheisel!  Goodbye, Philip Fulmer?

After five years away from college football, Rick Neuheisel wins his debut against the Tennessee Volunteers. 

While a second half comeback keyed a 27-24 overtime victory, Phil Fulmer's Vols couldn't take advantage of two big statistical victories: rushing yardage and turnover margin.  Tennessee out-rushed UCLA by almost 150 yards and picked off four first half passes thrown by Kevin Craft.  Winning those two statistics are almost always mentioned as keys to victory, but Tennessee got in its own way with penalties, third down failures and the missed field goal at the end of the game.

This may be a sign of a long season for Vol fans and the last one for Coach Fulmer.

What in the name of maize and blue is going on here?!

First it was Appalachain State and Oregon.  Now, it's Utah.  Admittedly, Michigan recovered nicely after starting 0-2 last year by punctuating the year with a Capital One victory over Florida, but the start to the Rich Rod era didn't look good.

After trailing 10-6, Utah scored four times in the second quarter and once in the third to take a 25-10 lead.  Neither Wolverine quarterback passed for over 100 yards, and the ground attack managed less than 50 yards.

Michigan may struggle to reach a bowl game this season.

Buy: East Carolina

Sell: Illinois' special teams unit

Buy: Rick Neuheisel

Sell: The chances of the ACC receiving an at-large BCS invitation after the performances displayed by Virginia Tech and Clemson.

Top Ten

After one week, my top ten does not change from my pre-season rankings.  None of those teams lost, and it is hard to get an accurate read on a team after one game, especially when a team's third string takes over in the fourth quarter.

Team                     This Week                         Last Week

Ohio State                1                                     1 

Oklahoma                  2                                     2

USC                         3                                     3

Georgia                     4                                     4

Missouri                    5                                     5

Florida                      6                                     6

West Virginia              7                                     7

Arizona State             8                                     8

Texas Tech                9                                     9

LSU                          10                                   10


1) USC looked most impressive in its opening week win.  They trounced a BCS team on the road.

2) Ohio State should rest Wells so that he is ready for the showdown with the Trojans.

3) Missouri gets a pass this week for their lousy defense against a ranked opponent on the first week of the season.  That won't hold up against the big boys of the Big XII, though.

4) LSU is still searching for their quarterback.  In my opinion, Andrew Hatch looked more poised and ready than Jarrett Lee. 

Next Week: While a fairly dull Week 2 looms ahead, here are a few intriguing matchups:

Miami @ Florida - Florida will try to topple the Hurricanes for the first time in over two decades.

West Virginia @ East Carolina - While West Virginia has dominated East Carolina lately, the Mountaineers are in for a huge surprise if they take the Pirates lightly this year.

Tulane @ Alabama - The Tide look to avoid a huge letdown after upsetting Clemson and give Nick Saban his first win against a Louisiana school since he left LSU.


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