Week 1 of college football was a long one with a lot of good games but a whole lot beat downs of lesser teams. Every week we will hand out some awards as well as list what was hot and what was not from the previous week so here we go:
Conference USA – The weekend finished with the Conference USA going 8-4 with wins over the likes of Vanderbilt, Purdue and UCF and the only four losses were to Arkansas, Mississippi State, Tulsa in overtime & Arizona. Not too shabby of an opening weekend for the conference who added an FCS school this season in Charlotte who also earned their first FBS win over Georgia State 23-20. The two that figure to battle it out over the Eastern division, Marshall and Western Kentucky, got narrow wins over Power 5 opponents and FIU got the out-of-the-blue upset over UCF 15-14.
Mangum Family – If your last name happens to be Mangum, chances are you made a great play on Saturday. In Lincoln, Nebraska, the BYU Cougars played the Nebraska Cornhuskers and backup quarterback Tanner Mangum, fresh off of his two year Mormon mission, was forced into action after starting quarterback Taysom Hill left the game with what turned out to be his third season-ending injury. He came in and threw for 111 yards and a touchdown but the touchdown was a 42-yard Hail Mary pass for the win. Meanwhile, in Pocatello, Idaho, older brother Madison Mangum, a wide receiver for Idaho State, made an Odell Beckham Jr-esque one-handed touchdown catch to give the Bengals a 14-0 lead over Black Hills State. Later than night the brothers occupied the number 1 & 2 plays on Sportscenter’s Top Ten.
Home Openers – There is nothing quite like a season opener at an on-campus stadium and we got glimpses of that this weekend. Kudos are in order for places like Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium, Boise State’s newly named Albertson’s Stadium, Northwestern’s Ryan Field, Notre Dame’s Notre Dame Stadium, Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium and Marshall’s John C. Edwards Stadium for providing college football with the appropriate atmospheres for the great sport of college football.
Sun Belt Conference – Believe it or not, the Sun Belt actually had some pretty good teams last season but the conference as a whole took it on the chin in Week 1 of the 2015 season going 2-9 with their only wins coming against FCS opponents Gardner-Webb & Howard. Arkansas State showed a little fight in Los Angeles against USC but only managed a single touchdown in the contest. Most people’s favorite to win the conference, Georgia Southern, only managed 224 yards of offense at West Virginia and UL-Monroe couldn’t keep up with the Bulldogs between the hedges. Week 2 might be the same way with Sun Belt teams traveling to take on the likes of Clemson, Missouri, USC & Nebraska.
Christian Hackenberg – Social media had a field day Saturday afternoon at Hackenberg’s expense but that was nothing compared to the tail whooping that the Temple Owls defense put on him at Franklin Financial Field in the city of brotherly love. Hackenberg, who many believe could be the number one overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft, turned in a dud performance on Saturday where he only completed 11 of 25 passes for 103 yards and an interception. The Owls defense also sacked the junior quarterback 10 times in the game and at times Hackenberg looked completely lost and unable to get away from anything resembling a carbon based life form and earned the not-so-clever-but-appropriate nickname Christian Sackenberg.
Neutral Site Games – For people like you and me who spent Saturday afternoon and evening hanging out on the couch flipping back and forth between games, the neutral site games are great. Apparently, it’s quite the opposite for people who actually go to games because many chose to be like us; watching from home instead of at the stadium. Reports of tens of thousands and tickets remained unsold at venues in Charlotte, Arlington, Nashville, Atlanta and Houston. Neutral site openers are great for the sport but the game & site promoters have to figure out a way to get regular Joes out of the recliners and into the stadiums.
Game of the Week – Tulsa Golden Hurricanes over the FAU Owls 47-44-OT – In one of the Noon kickoff games on Saturday that actually turned out to be worth watching the resurgent Golden Hurricanes actually looked good which is something they haven’t in two or three years. The other surprising part was that they had to look good to beat Florida Atlantic, at team that hasn’t been very good ever. It was a track meet out in Tulsa where senior Hurricanes running back Zack Langer rushed for only 89 yards but three touchdowns including the game winner in overtime from three yards out. While other teams around the country were attempting to run the clock out on blowout wins over cupcakes, these two were slugging it out in Week 1 which is why this the Game of the Week.
Coach of the Week – Illinois Fightin Illini Head Coach Bill Cubit – A week before the season started the Illini had to make a tough call and fire embattled Head Coach Tim Beckman and named Cubit the interim head coach for the season. That in itself would be enough to send the stress level of any coach into the stratosphere. Then Illinois’s season opener against a pretty good Kent State team was postponed from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. Then on top of all of that, he had to coach the Illinois football team. Those are three scenarios most people wouldn’t wish on anyone. But Cubit, the 2005 MAC Coach of the Year, guided his Illini team to a convincing 52-3 win. Who knows, maybe Cubit can do enough to get the ‘interim’ tag lifted from his title.
Player of the Week – Marshall Safety Tiquan Lang – The Valdosta native and former Lowndes Viking was a thorn in the Purdue Boilermaker side all afternoon on Sunday after recording 17 total tackles including 6 solo stops. Lang wasn’t content in just tackling Boilermakers on Sunday, he also had two interceptions that he returned for touchdowns. One in the first quarter that was the first score of the game that Lang took back 30 yards for the touchdown and the second one for 55 yards and the final nail in the coffin for Purdue who fell to Marshall 41-31. I think it’s safe to say that the Thundering Herd couldn’t have done it without Lang.
Uniform of the Week – Army Black Knights – Anyone who knows me or has read anything I’ve written about uniforms knows my affinity for the service academies runs high and how they seldom do anything wrong in the football uniform department. Army went with the black jerseys and the no-nonsense gold helmets with the black stripe. Also kudos to Army for ditching the old knight, cape & ‘A’ logo and going for a more militarized look. The jerseys have the cadet’s last name on the front right of the jersey just like their fatigues and like last year, their division patch was on the uniform as well.
Dud Uniform of the Week – Bowling Green Falcons – It was hard to tell if the Falcons hideous color scheme was as bad as it seemed because they were up against the sleek new Tennessee uniforms or because that brown is just a terrible color to have on an athletic uniform. Either way the brown helmet with the goofy orange and white stripe is not a good look.
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