The first ‘weekend’ of college football began last Wednesday and finally came to an end Monday night when the Louisville Cardinals defeated the Miami Hurricanes in their first game as a member of the ACC. Even though the dust has somewhat settled from the first ‘weekend’, there are still a lot of questions still left unanswered. Here are a few of the winners and losers from Week 1:
Georgia Runningbacks: Junior runningback Todd Gurley gets most of the credit which he should after scoring four touchdowns and a career high in rushing yards (198 yards) against Clemson but true freshman Nick Chubb had 70 yards and a touchdown on just 4 carries. The other true freshman on the team, Sony Michel, had 33 yards on 6 carries. I think it’s safe to say that the Georgia runningbacks had a good night.
Texas A&M Quarterback Kenny Hill: You could argue that sophomore Aggie quarterback Kenny Hill had the best first week of any player in the country after his 511 yard Gamecock-shredding performance on opening night. Hill completed 44 passes for three touchdowns and never looked out of sorts on the road in a hostile environment. Hill got an always valuable road conference win while also capturing the Aggie single game passing yards record.
Mississippi State Defense: The defense has always been Mississippi State’s calling card but the Bulldogs pitched their first shutout since 1999 in their 49-0 victory over Southern Miss. The Bulldogs held the Golden Eagles to just 71 rushing yards and less than 300 total yards in the ballgame. This all coming in a year where there was a lot of preseason discussion of Mississippi State making noise in the SEC West. Well, this is certainly a good start.
California Bears: Good for Cal. The Bears went 1-11 in 2013 and weren’t given much of a shot in winning their season and home opener versus Northwestern. Well the Bears jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the arm of sophomore quarterback Jared Goff who finished the game with 281 yards and 3 touchdowns. California racked up 414 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers on their way to their first 1-0 start since 2011.
Memphis Tigers: Another team who hasn’t been above .500 in a while, the Tigers got a big win Saturday. Grant it, they were playing the Governors of Austin-Peay but Memphis hasn’t pitched a shutout since 2000. Memphis also put 60+ points on the board for the first time since 1992 when they put up 62 points on Tulane. I’m not waving the ‘Memphis-to-the-college-football-playoff’ banner but it’s been a while since the Tigers beat a team worse than they were expected to.
Vanderbilt Commodores: I just finished praising Cal and Memphis for their wins and Vanderbilt, who won 9 games in 2013, is my first loser after a pitiful loss to the Temple Owls last Thursday night: the same Temple Owls who won only 2 games in 2013. Grant it there was a short lightning delay, confusion over a new NCAA uniform rule and it was Commodore Head Coach Derek Mason’s first game as a head coach but none of those are reason enough to give Temple their first win over an SEC school since 1938. Seven turnovers didn’t help either.
UCLA Offensive Line: The Bruins came into the season with national championship aspirations with a star linebacker who goes both ways and a Heisman hopeful quarterback but none of that matters if the offensive line continues to perform the way they did in Charlottesville on Saturday. I will cut the Bruins a little slack because the game did kick off Noon Eastern Time which translated to a 9am kickoff Los Angeles time but there aren’t many excuses that will explain 5 sacks.
Houston Cougars: The Cougars lost to UCF and Louisville by a grand total of 12 points in back-to-back games in 2013 and had a lot of momentum heading into the 2014 season with one of those teams gone from the conference and the other in rebuilding mode. Well all that is out the window now after a 20 point thrashing by the Road Runners of the University of Texas at San Antonio. That is no slight on the Road Runners but if you want to win the AAC, you’ve got to beat a program that was just started back in 2010.
Clemson conditioning: Kudos to the Georgia offensive coaching staff for taking advantage of the tired Tigers with their overflowing stable of fresh runningbacks but Clemson did their best Clemson impression Saturday night in the 4th quarter. There is no statistic that can reflect what I saw Saturday night from the Clemson defense other than the three rushing touchdowns in the final quarter alone but anyone who watched the game couldn’t help but notice that the Tiger defense was dead on their feet late in that game.
Iowa State Cyclones: Apparently there are no college football history books in Ames, Iowa, because the Cyclones missed the memo and invited the reigning three-time FCS national champion Bison of North Dakota State to town last Saturday. Yes, they went undefeated last season with a win at Kansas State. Yes, they’ve beaten at least one FBS team in each of the last three years. Well make that four years in a row for the Bison. Silly Cyclones.
Tune in to the Southern Football Report this Saturday from 10am until Noon as we will recap the Friday night high school football action as well as preview all the top games on Saturday!