Week One News & Notes
All summer there was talk about how Taylor Martinez was a much improved passer having attended a couple of passing camps over the summer. In the opener he hit 26-34-354. Southern Miss head coach Ellis Johnson said “the biggest thing was they manhandled us on the line. I thought that was obvious the whole game.” Nebraska had a 632-260 yard edge with Southern Miss getting a 100 yard KR td and gaining 73 of their yards on the final 3 drives. A concern was that Rex Burkhead got injured and he is actually doubtful for this week’s game vs UCLA.
Connecticut’s defense dominated, holding Massachusetts to just 3 FD’s and 59 yards offense in their 37-0 opening day win vs their new regional rival. It was the 72nd meeting between the two programs but the first since 1999 when both were in IAA. Mass QB Kellen Pagel might not play this year and Mike Wegzyn got his first start and hit just 9-22-56 and had -8 yards rushing.
New Mexico St reminds me a lot of Eastern Michigan last year. They were coming off a poor season and lost a lot of returning starters, just like the Eagles did but after going through Coach English’s team with him last year, I thought they had a shot at being bowl eligible. The same could be said for NMSt and they opened up strong with a 49-19 win over Sacramento St. The most impressive player watching the game was #4 Austin Franklin who had 236 yards on just 8 rec including 52, 50 and 84 yard catches in the 1H. Sac St did move the ball for 397 yards vs them and NMSt did get a td with :23 left for the final 49-19 margin but could be a surprise team this year.
Arizona St has a bevy of talented RB’s and vs Northern Arizona they rushed for 305 yards on 51 carries as ASU rolled up 554 yards offense and led 42-0 at the half. Their defense knocked out NAU’s QB and top rusher in the 1H. ASU even suspended their top WR Jamal Miles and RB James Morrison for the game.
If WKU has an Achilles’ heel it’s at K. LY their kickers hit just 5-20 FG’s and vs Austin Peay they would have won by much more but they were 0-3 on FG’s. WKU had a 596-154 yard edge and coach Taggert really needs to address the K position, not that he hasn’t thought of that all offseason. They had a missed 22 yard FG at the end of a 70/8pl drive and a missed 34 yard FG at the end of a 70/12pl drive and a missed 36 yard FG at the end of a 49/7pl drive.
Many wondered who would win the Utah St starting QB job but Chuckie Keeton not only won it, he looked great vs Southern Utah hitting 22-26-304 yards. SUU QB Brad Sorensen hit 12-31-153 as Utah St rolled up a 581-209 yard edge.
Throughout the 1Q of Miami, Oh/Ohio St you would think that Miami was the superior team. They had 182 yards on their first 5 poss and could have easily had led 14-0. Their 2nd poss went 62/8pl but they settled for a 24 yard FG and missed it. Their 3rd poss was 64/5pl but they settled for a 22 yard FG. OSU’s first 4 poss netted 2 FD’s and 46 yards. The Buckeyes then took over after that. It was 35-10 after 3Q’s when OSU got an IR 17 yards to the 8 setting up a td and the Bucks even tacked on a td with :44 left on 2&3 for the 56-10 final.
East Carolina only led Appalachian St 14-13 with 2:19 left in the 3Q when they got a 90 yard KR td. They then drove 59/7pl and 76/9pl for td’s to extend the margin. ASU went 72/7pl but was SOD on 4th & 3 at the EC3 and the Pirates got 2 FD’s running out the clock in their 35-13 win. App St had a 419-390 yard edge.
Many wondered if Philip Sims would beat out Michael Rocco for the Virginia starting QB job but Rocco hit 25-37-311. Virginia had a 149-7 yard edge in the 1Q and 291-105 at the half but only led 22-7 with Richmond putting together an 88/10pl drive for a td with 2:55 left in the half. UVA got a td with 5:28 left to lead 43-12 and Richmond then went 65/12pl for a garbage td with :38 left.
A surprising stat from this past week was that Buffalo had a 243-188 yard edge at the half vs #6 Georgia. For the game UGA finished with a 485-347 yard edge and ended up winning by 22. Very impressive was true frosh Todd Gurley who rushed for 100 yards (Keith Marshall had 46) and Gurley also had a 100 yard KR td. Remember last year their starting RB was also a true frosh.
Missouri had 2 PR td’s and 2 defensive td’s in their 62-10 win over SE Louisiana. Their PR td’s were of 72 and 70 yards, they had a 20 yard IR td and a 7 yard FR td with both turnover td’s coming in the 1Q and both PR td’s coming in the 2H. After gaining 207 yards in the 1Q, Missouri had just 53 yards in the 2Q so Pinkel kept his starting offense in until the 4Q. The last time Missouri had 2 kick/punt scoring returns in game was back in 1965.
North Carolina got its first shutout since 1999 but suffered a big injury when Giovanni Bernard went out in the 2Q. He had a 59 yard td run, caught a 6 yard td pass and returned a punt 70 yards for a td spurring UNC to a 41-0 lead over Elon at the half with a 336-92 yard edge. The Tar Heels extended it to 62-0 after 3Q’s and ran the ball 10 of 10 plays in the 4Q which was scoreless.
EJ Manuel had a streak of 128 consecutive passes without an interception stopped. As expected, Florida St mauled Murray St 69-3. Jimbo Fisher has now taken on 3 FCS schools and won those by a combined 190-19 and they have Savannah St on deck, a team that just lost to Oklahoma St 84-0. FSU finished with a 606-156 yard edge.
Last year when UTSA and South Alabama got together it went to 3OT. This year it was down to the wire again with SA trailing most of the game but getting a td with 2:46 left to lead 31-30. UTSA converted on 3rd & 10 for a FD then nailed a 51 yard Sean Ianno FG with :16 left to allow UTSA to pull out the upset, 33-31.
Air Force had a big game vs Michigan on deck and did roll up 626 yards offense but 484 yards rushing vs one of the weakest defenses in the NCAA. They did lead 28-0 at the half with a 360-140 yard edge. Idaho St’s pass-happy offense chipped away with a 75/10pl, 75/13pl and 75/10pl drives on the first 3 possessions of the 2H to pull within 42-21. They still got a comfortable 28 pt win despite allowing 431 yards.
Troy RB Shawn Southward ran for a career-high 204 yards but UAB QB Jonathan Perry threw for 307. Troy appeared on their way to a route leading 17-0 but UAB battled back to within 25-23 with a td and a missed 2 pt conversion with 12:16 left. UAB had the ball on the Troy side of the field when they were intercepted at the 31 with 7:25 left. Troy then went 69/2pl for a td and after a fumble, got a 5 yard td run to blow it open 39-23. UAB went 78/8pl getting a td with 3:45 left allowing them to have the yardage edge for the game.
West Virginia only had a 31-28 FD edge vs Marshall but Marshall did have 135 yards on their last 2 drives of the game as WV led 69-20 after a td with 13:04 left and MU went 75/9pl and 72/16pl vs the backups. Gino Smith hit 32-36-323 yards and WV almost matched their bowl total of 70 points.
Many overreacted when Tennessee lost WR Da’Rick Rogers to injury. Yes, he was the team’s #1 receiver statistically last year and a dynamic 1st round potential threat but their leading WR at the start of last year was actually Justin Hunter who had 18 rec in the first 2 games prior to injury. They also added exciting JUCO Cordarrelle Patterson. Tyler Bray hit Patterson with a 41 yard td pass and Patterson also ran 67 yards for a td while Hunter had 73 yards in 9 rec’s and Zach Rogers was impressive with 87 yards on 2 rec’s including a 72 yard td catch. UT had a 524-407 yard edge and NC State gained 47 of their yards on the final drive taking over with 1:44 left down 35-21. I called for the Vols to have the 3rd most improved rush attack in the country and while Patterson’s numbers helped the stats, they rushed for 191 yards and 5.0 ypc.
Notre Dame was playing without suspended starting RB Cierre Wood but still rushed for 293 yards on 46 carries vs Navy. ND has a lot of bigger, stronger, faster athletes than do the Midshipmen and they had extra time to prepare for Navy’s option. Everett Golson in his first start hit 12-18-144 but surprisingly only had 1 rush attempt for 8 yards. I was very impressed with DT Tuitt who at 6’6” 300 lbs scooped up a fumble and outran Navy’s smaller slotbacks 77 yards for a td. Navy QB Trey Miller was injured early and not 100% but gutted it out hitting 14-19-192. ND missed 2 PAT’s and have concerns at K and at CB.
Michigan St had a commanding 461-206 yard edge vs Boise St. In fact, for the first time since 1997, Boise was held without an offensive td and after averaging 500+ yards offense the last 2 years, Boise was held to less than half of that here. MSU RB Bell was the most impressive player on the field getting the ball 44 times for 210 yards. MSU missed 2 FG’s and at the end of the game, had a FD at the Boise 14 threatening to win by double digits but opted to take a knee after a 1st & gl at the 4 yard line. I was impressed with Boise’s D and anytime your leading tackler LY has just 66 tackles, it means the backups play a lot and they were less inexperienced than you would think despite losing their entire defensive front 7. The Spartans did have 461 yards after Boise allowed just 296 ypg the last 4 years.
Carl Pelini was extremely happy that FAU escaped with a win over Wagner. They did have a 17-11 FD and 226-215 yard edge but trailed 3-0 after 1Q and Wagner missed a 43 yard FG and was intercepted in the EZ in the 1H. Wagner was SOD at the FAU36 but FAU missed a 39 yard FG. FAU fumbled at the Wagner 6 with 12:50 left but FAU got a 39 yard td pass with 11:36 left to take the lead and then went on a 76/18pl drive. They had a 4th & gl at the 1 but fumbled with :20 left in their 7-3 win.
Unexpected Suspensions. A key to the Idaho loss to Eastern Washington was the fact they suspended their starting QB, Dominique Blackman. Logan Bushnell started and hit just 10-24-123 yards and an int. SMU transfer Kyle Padron only hit 13-33 passes but it was for 260 yards as EW got their first win vs an FBS school since 2003. EW finished with a 412-327 yard edge and 17-10 FD edge…California surprisingly benched QB Maynard for the first 3 series vs Nevada and found themselves in a 7-0 hole with just 2 FD’s on the first 3 drives and when Maynard came in they punted on each of his first 2 drives and they were down 14-0. Cal had a 32/7pl drive end in a missed 31 yard FG and trailed 31-7 at the half. Tied 24-24 Nevada took over with 3:24 left and went 61/10pl getting a 2 yard td run with :36 left to pull the upset on the road spoiling Cal’s reopening of Memorial Stadium. Stephon Jefferson rushed for 145 yards while Cody Fajardo rushed for 97 and hit 25-32-230…A late announcement was that Purdue suspended Caleb TerBush for the game vs Eastern Kentucky. Robert Marve hit 30-38-295 yards and Purdue crushed EKU 48-6. Danny Hope used to coach EKU and is an EKU grad. Purdue had a 325-138 yard edge at the half leading 34-6 and on 2&9 from the EK15 with 1:54 left, they tacked on a 15 yard td pass for the 48-6 final.
Don’t overreact to slow starts. There were some teams that were very unimpressive in the opener and a lot of folks are going to overreact. Look at Kansas St as an example from last year where the Wildcats barely got past an FCS foe in their opening game of the season. They went on to a very successful 10-2 season. Here’s a look at some of the teams that started slow that might not be as bad as you would think after watching their games…Central Michigan actually trailed SE Missouri St 24-10 in the 2Q but would rally for a 38-27 win. CM finished with a 495-308 yard edge surviving a 3-0 TO deficit and I was impressed with RB Tipton who rushed for a career-high 180 yards and 3 td’s on 17 carries…South Carolina did not look like the #9 ranked team in the country but the bottom line is they went into a hostile situation vs a Vanderbilt team that plays SEC teams very tough at home and were without their starting QB for a few series. When Conner Shaw returned from his shoulder injury, he still was not 100% but led them to the comeback win. Vanderbilt finished with a 276-272 yard edge and it was actually 259-157 after 3Q’s. SC outgained VU 115-17 in the 4Q. Marcus Lattimore rushed for 110 yards in his first game back from injury. There was a controversial no-call at the end of the game as VU went for it on 4&7 and the DB ripped the WR’s left arm down and the 1-armed WR couldn’t catch the pass but no pass interference was called. With a healthy Lattimore and Shaw, DE’s Clowney and Taylor, SC should get batter weekly… Will Muschamp said he wanted Florida to come out strong as they had lost their last game at The Swamp last year but they actually gave a lethargic performance vs Bowling Green. UF had a 203-134 yard edge at the half and only led 14-7 and BG tied it early 3Q. BG had a 31 yard FG hit the upright and missed a 29 yard FG. UF did miss a 27 yard FG that hit the upright with :24 left in their 27-14 win but figure to put on a better performance vs A&M this week.
New Coach Debuts. Bob Davie’s debut at New Mexico was solid as they pounded Southern U 66-21. In fact, it was 45-6 at the half and they led 66-13 with Southern going 75/13pl and 30/7pl gaining 105 yards on their final 2 drives getting 1 garbage td. That’s why statistically NM only had a 417-320 yard edge.
Close Escapes. Maryland is a very banged up football team and barely got past William & Mary but they played a little better than the final score. In fact, at the end of the 1H, MD had a 132-88 yard edge but trailed 6-0. W&M had a 32 yard IR to the 9 setting up a FG and MD went on a 63/13pl drive but missed a 25 yard FG. MD was intercepted on the first drive of the 3Q and punted on the 2nd and with Terps fans getting nervous, W&M missed a 48 yard FG with 14:55 left and MD went 69/10pl for a td to take the lead 7-6. W&M’s final drive got to the 42 where they fumbled and Maryland returned it to the 6 and took a knee. New starting QB Perry Hills hit 16-24-145 and had 3 costly int’s…Iowa had a 23-12 FD edge vs Northern Illinois and if you take away Jordan Lynch’s QB draw which went 73 yards for a td, they held NIU to 138 yards offense. Things were scary for Iowa fans when they trailed 17-9 in the 4Q. Iowa got a crucial 50 yard FG with 9:33 left to pull within 5 then after punting with 5:36 left, they got a 43 yard punt pinning NIU at the 1. They forced a 3&out after an 11 yard PR they started at the NI24 and on 3&8 Bullock got a 22 yard td run and Iowa took the lead 18-17 with just 2:15 left. NIU was then SOD on 4&7 at their own 24 and the Hawkeyes escaped. Bullock rushed for 150 yards on 30 carries and while much was expected from the talented true frosh signees for Iowa, Greg Garmon (PS#16) had just 8 yards on 4 carries.
Poor FCS teams get hammered. Northern Colorado had lost 19 of its last 20 games and was 0-11 last season. Versus Utah they never crossed midfield managing only 114 yards offense. Jordan Wynn, coming off an injury, hit 19-27-200 and actually played until the start of the 4Q when a td made it 34-0. Backup Travis Wilson got in 2 passes after that.
FCS Upsets. McNeese St got its first win over an FBS school since 2001 when they stuffed Middle Tenn, placing coach Stockstill on the hotseat list for the rest of the year. McNeese had a 244-146 yard edge at the half and led 24-6 after 3Q’s with MTSU getting a td pass with 5:01 left to pull within 6 but McNeese got 2 FD’s to basically run out the clock punting 36 yards to the 2 with :06 left…If you get my FCS Magazine, you know that I picked Youngstown St as one of the top teams in the FCS this year. I nearly picked them to win the national title. They lived up to that advanced billing by upsetting Pitt on the road 31-17 and there was nothing fluky about the game. YSU led 14-7 in the 2Q and 28-10 in the 4Q. Paul Chryst did suspend 6 players prior to KO for disciplinary reasons including frosh RB Russell Shell. The good news is Ray Graham was questionable to play but got back in the lineup and rushed for 71 yards on 14 carries. YSU’s first 2 drives of the game went 79 and 92 yards for td’s.
Misleading box scores. A check of the final score shows Duke beating FIU 46-26 but if you look at a box score, FIU had 29-16 FD and 513-420 yard edges. While Duke was fortunate, as they only led 30-14 when they blocked a FG on the final play of the half and returned it 75 yards for a td, instead of only leading 30-17 they extended the lead to 37-14. They led the game 46-13 when FIU took over with 6:06 left. FIU gained 182 of their yards in the final 6:06 and scored 2 td’s in the final 1:19 after recovering an onside kick to give them the yardage edge for the game but that came vs the backups.
Narrow escapes. Wake Forest trailed Liberty 14-0 in the 3Q when they got a 39 yard IR td to tie. Liberty had a 178-145 yard edge a the half. WF took their first lead of the game with 13:34 left. Liberty got a 49 yard FG with 9:30 left to pull within 3 punting with 5:55 left and Liberty got to their own 44 but their 4th & 9 pass was incomplete with 1:31 left. Liberty finished with a 363-293 yard edge.
Misleading Stats. Kent St was actually outFD’d by Towson 19-15 and outgained 316-267 but they were in control of this game thanks in part to turning two TO’s into 10 points early and also had a 98 yard KR td. Kent St led 41-7 at the start of the 4Q and Towson would outgain Kent St 125-4 in the final 14:48 giving them the yardage edge and also scoring 2 td’s. As I mentioned, it was 41-7 and Kent St had a 263-191 yard edge…On paper UCF was actually outFD’d by Akron 19-18 and only outgained them 386-325. The final score was a little more reflective of the game as UCF won 56-14. Yes, UA turned the ball over 4 times but that set up a short field for UCF or they would have gained more yards. UCF brought in their backups with 4:43 left 3Q and led 49-7 after 3Q’s. UA gained 100 of their yards in the 4Q. UCF LaTavius Murray gained 108 yards on 14 carries but exited the game after just 1Q as he has a sore shoulder and they just wanted him to get healthy. Terry Bowden was most pleased with the fact that Akron was able to run 81 plays in his up-tempo offense…BYU’s D was very impressive holding BYU grad Mike Leach’s offense to 224 yards. They actually gave up 57 yards on the first poss but an int ended that drive. BYU was dominant at home piling up 426 yards and led 24-6 at half and 30-6 after 3Q’s with Washington St gaining 63 of their yards on the final 2 drives. Riley Nelson looks like an improved passer hitting 25-36-285. Overall Leach wasn’t too beat up despite the lopsided score as he said “I think as a team we’re a lot closer than we realize because the good stuff’s great, but then also out of the blue you’ll see street ball out there.” …A lot of folks will look at the Minnesota/UNLV game and think it was a shoot out at 30-27 but this game actually went to 3OT. In fact, with 3:00 left, Minn led 13-10 with UNLV getting a 35 yard FG with 2:30 left to force OT. After combining for 26 pts in regulation, the 2 teams each scored td’s in the first 2OT’s and a FG in the 3rd made it 31 OT points. UNLV was intercepted in that 3rd OT and Minn got the 32 yard FG for the win…Mississippi St only had a 377-265 yard edge vs Jackson St but won the game 56-9. They did not punt until the final minute of the 3Q and led 35-6 at half. They had 2 IR td’s, just the 4th time in school history MSU returned 2 IR for td’s. JSU’s final 2 drives ate up 19 plays and they gained 101 after having 164 yards in the first 3Q’s. Tyler Russell hit 15-23-175…Savannah St’s coach was actually thankful that Oklahoma St did not try to run up the score. In fact, OSU pulled their starters with 6:56 left in the 1Q up 21-0. It’s unfortunate since they have a true frosh QB in Wes Lunt but he was a perfect 11-11-129. His backup JW Walsh hit 13-21-149 and Clint Chelf hit 2-5-9. It was 49-0 at the half with a 424-52 yard edge and OSU scored a 10 yard td run with 1:20 left for the 84-0 final. SSU is just 4-72 vs FCS teams and one of the weakest teams in that category. OSU broke a school record with 9 rushing td’s.
Late Scores. Eastern Michigan led 13-10 and Ball St went 65/10pl and got a 29 yard FG with :03 left in the half. Did that give them momentum in the 2H? How about an Edwards’ 75 yard td run on their 2nd offensive play, a 97/9pl drive and 50/16pl drive followed by a 73/8 pl drive on their first four 2H possessions as they surged to a 37-13 lead in a very impressive win. Ball St’s had 596-366 yard edge. RB Edwards rushed for 200 yards on 20 carries.
Different games. Penn St appeared in control vs Ohio. They led 14-3 in a solid 1H rolling up 237 yards offense and appeared on their way to a comfortable win over Ohio. Two key plays of the game happened. The first, OU faced a 3&7 at the PSU43 and Tettleton threw a pass that should have been intercepted but it bounced off the DB’s hands and into Landon Smith’s who took it for a 43 yard td. PSU was then SOD on 4&5 at the OU30 on their next drive and OU rolled up 301 yards offense in the 2H in their 24-14 win. Tettleton finished 31-41-324…Northwestern did get a couple of key plays in an 82 yard PR td and then a backwards Syracuse pass that the WR gave up on, was scooped up by a Northwestern DL who returned it 37 yards for a td. With 7:37 left 3Q, NU led 35-13 but Syracuse scored the next 28 pts with td drives of 77/14, 91/3, 86/10 and 72/6pl and actually led 41-35 with 2:30 left. NU with backup QB Trevor Siemian (better passer) went 75/10pl getting a 9 yard td pass with :44 left to escape with the win. Nassib hit 44-65-470 yards…Wisconsin was in control vs Northern Iowa leading 26-7 in the 4Q with 12:31 to go but UNI got a 55 yard td pass, then forced a 3&out, went 62/7pl for a td, forced another 3&out and actually had the ball at the Wisc 41 down 5 points with 2:46 left when their 4&1 pass was incomplete and UW escaped. The Badgers did have a 387-306 yard edge with UNI having 130 yards when they trailed 26-7…Tulsa appeared in control vs Iowa St leading 16-7 after 1Q but ISU had a 24-0 edge in the 2Q and 3Q leading 24-16 at the half with a 301-187 yard edge and extending it to 31-16 after 3Q’s. Tulsa got a 77 yard run by Watts with 9:12 to go to pull within 8 and then in a key play of the game, down 8 with 2:04 left, went for it on 4&10 and were intercepted and returned 51 yards to the TU5 setting up an ISU td where it looked like an easy 38-23 win.
Late Scores. I was talking to Gil Brandt recently and he had commented on the fact that teams that get a big score late in the 1H generally have big 2H’s. This past weekend was a pretty good indication of that. Brent Hundley’s first touch as a UCLA QB was a 72 yard td run as UCLA piled up 651 yards vs Rice in the opener. RB Jonathan Franklin became the first player in UCLA history to have a least 2 rushes with 72 yards in a game with 74 and 78 yard td runs. UCLA led 29-14 but got a 44 yard FR td with :17 left to extend it to 35-24. The Bruins would outscore Rice 14-0 in the 2H in their 49-24 win…Colorado was pretty much in control of Colorado St. They led 14-3 with a 175-107 yard edge. With 1:19 left in the half, they fumbled at the CSU39. They still forced CSU to punt but with :33 left in the half, CU fumbled the punt at their own 20 and CSU got a 28 yard td pass to shockingly pull within 14-10. Using that momentum, CSU came out and opened the 2H with an 89/8pl drive for a td and would go on to win it, 22-17. CU’s last gasp ended on 4th & 2 at the CSU39 with their pass gaining -1 yards. Kansas transfer Jordan Webb hit 22-41-187 and CSU finished with a 298-245 yard edge.
Misleading Finals. Temple blew out Villanova 41-10 but the game was not as dominant as the score would indicate. VU actually had a 365-362 yard edge and 18-15 FD edge. The Wildcats went on an 85/12pl drive and settled for a 21 yard FG, gave up a 58 yard IR td and a 24 yard td drive after a fumble. At the half, Temple led 28-10 but only a 221-195 yard edge. VU was SOD at the TU29 but gained 62 of their yards on the game’s final 12 plays getting to the Temple 13. Matt Brown rushed 19 times for 145 yards and Boston College transfer Montel Harris had just 12 yards on 5 attempts….Stanford appeared on their way to a blow out vs San Jose St. They took their opening drive 81/13pl for a td and their 2nd 50/6pl for a td to lead 14-0. It was 17-3 at the half with Stanford having a 222-97 yard edge but SJSt actually went 78/9pl and 82/12pl on their first two 2H poss to tie it at 17. SJSt had the ball but fumbled at their own 38 setting up a Stanford 20 yard FG with 14:15 left. SU was SOD at the SJS15 with 6:40 left and SJSt’s last drive got to their 30 but a 4th & 10 pass was intercepted. Josh Nunez hit 16-26-125 yards in his first start replacing Andrew Luck while SJSt QB David Fales 24-35-216…Western Michigan actually had a 259-248 yard edge. Illinois’ offense took a hit when Nathan Scheelhaase went out with injury. At the time, without Scheelhaase the Illini managed 15 yards offense on 5 poss. WM was threatening as they were down 17-7 and had the ball across midfield when QB Alex Carder threw an out pass that Ashante Williams intercepted and returned 60 yards for a td giving Illinois some breathing margin. WM finished with a 259-248 yard edge but lost by 17 points. Van Tubbergen came in at QB and almost led the team to a FG with 2:04 left. Interestingly, UI took over with 2:04 left at their own 28 and WM had 2 time-outs but Cubit opted not to use them and despite holding UI to 2 yards on 3 plays, which would have forced a punt, they allowed the clock to run out…It seemed like every day in practice in August players and/or coaches commented about Duke Johnson and what an outstanding true frosh he was. Johnson lived up to that billing with 135 yards rushing on 7 attempts in Miami’s 41-32 win at Boston College. Chase Rettig hit 32-51-441 but BC kept settling for short FG’s after long drives and also gave up a 41 yard IR td which may have been the key play of the game. BC had jumped out to a 14-0 lead going 75/7pl and 70/9pl when that IR td allowed Miami to tie it. BC had a 293-195 yard edge at the half but trailed 21-20. For the game BC had a 542-415 yard edge and 29-22 FD edge and there was controversy at the end when down by 9 pts, they appeared to score a td twice; once on 3rd & gl and once on 4th & gl but both times they were stopped short and the 2nd time the officials upheld the call.
On the first play of the season, Heisman candidate Matt Barkley threw to All-American WR Marquise Lee who Coach Kiffin feels may be one of their best WR’s of all-time at USC and Lee took a short pass 75 yards for a td. He had a great game statistically with 197 yards receiving and an additional 100 yard KR td. USC led 35-0 at the half with a 328-83 yard edge and ended the game at the Hawaii 16 yard line being stopped on 4&18 on a 16 yard run with 2:11 left.
LSU jumped out to a 24-0 lead vs North Texas but gave up an 80 yard td pass with 1:55 left in the half and only led 24-7. LSU punted on their first 2H possession but then went 74, 71 and 75 yards for td’s. They did allow NT a 66/13pl td drive with 7:28 left which trimmed it to 14 in LSU’s 41-14 win. QB Mettenberger was briefly knocked out of the game and finished 19-26-192 yards as LSU’s powerful run game rushed for 316 yards.
Louisiana kicker Brett Baer, who led the NCAA in FG accuracy last year (18-20), hit FG’s of 32, 39, 30 and 52 yards and led his streak to 15 FG’s made. Louisiana only had a 15-13 FD edge and 346-194 yard edge but took advantage of 2 TO’s and a 29 yard punt to set up 34, 2 and 26 yard scoring drives. They led Lamar 40-0 at the half with a 239-89 yard edge and punted on all four 2H poss.
In the 1H Central Arkansas actually had a 237-231 yard edge. That was interesting because Ole Miss HC Hugh Freeze had prepped for CA the previous year when HC of Arkansas St. It was undetermined as who would start between Wallace and Bruretti but Wallace started and hit 20-24-254. CA led 20-14 at the half but after UM punted on their first 3Q possession, they went 77/10pl, 75/5pl, 70/9pl and 25/2pl (after interception) and 58/7pl for td’s on their next 5 possessions to lead 49-20 with 5:57 left before allowing a 75/11pl drive for a late CA td.
Tyler Wilson set an Arkansas school record for passing yards in the season opener hitting 19-27-367 yards. Jacksonville St HC Jack Crowe was a HC at Arkansas back in ‘92 and he was fired by the Hogs after a 10-3 loss to a FCS team in The Citadel. Arkansas was playing without their top returning receiver, Cobi Hamilton who was injured in the 1H and converted QB Brandon Mitchell led with 122 yards and 4 rec’s. Knile Davis only had 70 yards rushing on 18 carries in his first game back from injury. The Hogs actually trailed 14-7 early 2Q before scoring td’s on the next 4 poss and led 35-14 but JSU went 75/10pl and got a td with :08 left in the half, 55-21. It was 35-24 and Ark finally got some breathing room late 3Q with a 49/3pl drive for a td following a fumble to lead 39-24 and JSU had a 13pl drive where they were SOD at the Hog 8 with 8:48 left.
This past week I debuted writing an ESPN Insider article and the headline article had Alabama controlling the line of scrimmage vs Michigan and that they did. The Tide finished with a 20-11 FD and 451-269 yard edges. In fact, in the 1H Bama had a 279-119 yard edge and that included Michigan driving 75/3pl for a td with 2:20 left in the half trailing 31-0. Denard Robinson hit 11-26-200 and was limited to 27 yards rushing on 10 carries. The Wolverines were playing without their top RB Toussaint and Vincent Smith led the RB’s with 33 yards on 11 carries. The defending National Champs looked very strong in their opener.
Two key players were missing for the Clemson/Auburn game that was played between a split crowd at the Georgia Dome. Sammy Watkins, Clemson’s star WR was out and for Auburn they were missing starting center Reese Dismukes. The game turned into a FG battle with the 2 teams combining for 3 td’s and 7 FG’s. Andre Ellington rushed for 231 yards on 26 carries. Auburn led 19-16 in the 4Q when Clemson got a td with 9:17 left then forced a punt and went on a 79/11pl drive for an 18 yard FG with 1:24 left. Auburn only got to its own 42 but was sacked and fired incomplete on the final play. Clemson did finish with a 528-374 yard edge and 28-17 FD edge.
Tulane ran its losing streak to 11 consecutive games, their longest streak since 1963. They trailed just 10-6 at the start of the 4Q when Rutgers got 2 big plays, a 14 yard IR td by Jones and then a 43 yard td pass to Coleman made it 24-6. Tulane went 65/5pl for a td with 5:07 left but was SOD on its own 26 with 2:06 left. RU only had a 309-262 yard edge.
It was one of the bigger upsets in college football history this past weekend when Texas St, which was about a 5 td underdog, playing their first game as an FBS member, stunned Houston – a team that finished #18 last year (13-1). Houston had a new coaching staff and was replacing Keenum but did have a veteran QB in David Piland who hit just 17-44-211 yards. There’s nothing fluky about the win as Texas St had a 444-326 yard edge and 23-15 FD edge and with a 73 yard run by Marcus Curry, they led 14-3 mid 1Q and never trailed. TSU led 27-10 at the half with a 300-194 yard edge. Houston trailed 30-13 and got the ball 3 more times and were SOD at their own 35 and their own 41 twice.
When I spoke to Indiana coach Kevin Wilson in the offseason, he had talked about the emphasis on making QB Tre Roberson more of a passer and less of a runner. Things appeared to work out pretty well in the opener as Roberson hit 26-36-280 yards and ran just 7 times for 19 yards. Indiana St RB Shakir Bell who was a runner-up for LY’s Walter Payton Award rushed for 192 yards on 24 carries for the Sycamores. IU fans could never breathe easily with the game tied at 7, running into the K on a 34 yard FG had them go for it on 4&1 and Indiana got a td and they would lead 24-10 at the half. Indy had a 42 yard FG hit the upright and a 46 yard FG blocked with 3:32 left only leading 24-17 and ISU on 4&12 at the Indy43 was SOD with 2:02 left. ISU got it back, down 7, and got to the Indy36 but their Hail Mary fell incomplete.
Last year Kansas St opened the season with a poor effort in the opener vs an FCS team. They struggled again despite the final score of 51-9. In fact, it was just 9-6 at the half with KSU getting a 25 yard FG with :18 left for that lead. Missouri St had a 70/10pl drive in the half but fumbled into the EZ for a TB. It was just 16-9 into the 4Q when KSU got a 43 yard PR setting up a 32 yard drive for a td, a 95 yard td run by RB Hubert, an 8 yard drive for a td after an interception and then a roughing the K gave them a FD and they got a 46 yard td run on the next play with 3:43 left. They closed the scoring with an 89 yard PR td with 1:56 left and only had a 493-418 yard edge and 21-19 fd edge despite the lopsided score.
The UT Martin/Memphis game had a 2.5 hour weather delay. When they came back, UTM went for it (trailing 10-7) on 4&10 and converted and got a td 5pl later for a 14-10 lead. Memphis got a td with :52 left to apparently force OT and then forced a punt by UTM but fumbled the punt with just :17 left at their own 27 and UTM would cash in with a 43 yard FG to pull the upset. UTM did have a 392-39 yard edge and 25-20 FD edge.
Weber St’s HC Todd McBride retired prior to the season and John L. Smith took over but left for the Arkansas job so they were led by DC Jody Sears who is the interim HC this year. Fresno St opened with 97 and 74 yard drives for td’s and a quick 14-0 lead and it was 24-3 at the half with a 289-122 yard edge. It was just 24-10 when Fresno got a 38/1pl td pass after an interception to go up 30-10 then went 69/10pl for another td with 3:31 left to extend the margin to 37-10. They did have a 515-274 yard edge and Derek Carr hit a very efficient 20-25-298 yards.
The Oregon Ducks could have topped 100 points vs Arkansas St had they kept the 1st stringers in. An amazing stat to me was that with 7:06 left in the 2Q, the Ducks led 50-3 and then pulled their starters. It was 50-10 at the half and Ark St would do most of their damage in the 2H. The Ducks had a 417-228 yard edge at the half and ASU would get 55, 71 and 75 yard drives all for td’s on their final 3 possessions trailing 50-13 late in the 3Q. It appears Chip Kelly made the right choice at QB as Marcus Mariota hit 18-22-200 and Bryan Bennett, who played the rest of the game was just 10-17-108.
Oklahoma was on upset alert after UTEP had blocked a punt for a td early in the game and actually it was 7-7 at the half and OU only led 10-7 after 3Q’s. At half OU had a slim 168-129 yard edge. UTEP was SOD at its own 41 with 13:33 left and the Sooners, 7pl later, got a td. OU punted then got a 65 yard td run by Williams with 2:55 left to extend the margin.
Washington only had a 328-327 yard edge vs San Diego St. After an interception UW went 35/7pl for a td and took their 2nd drive 62/9pl for a td to lead 14-0 but it was 14-6 at the half. A 44 yard FR td gave UW a 21-6 lead. The Aztecs closed to 21-12 with 12:06 left then were SOD on 4&6 at the UW9 with 4:44 left.
Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown each rushed for over 100 yards for the Texas Longhorns. Texas finished with only a 436-345 yard edge and a key play was when a short pass to Robert Herron saw him break 3 tackles and race 82 yards for a td giving Wyoming about 25% of its offense for the day. At the half Texas led 24-9 and extended it to 31-9. David Ash hit 20-27-156.
The Toledo/Arizona game was an amazing offensive game. The two combined for 57 FD’s with Arizona having a 33-24 edge and UA had a 624-358 yard edge and the two teams almost got 1,000 yards offense. Combined they ran 182 plays in the game. Amazingly, at the end of regulation the score stood 17-17 as both left a lot of points off the board. UA had a 71/12pl drive and settled for a 26 yard FG and UT went on a 16 play drive but missed a FG. UA fumbled at the UT26 and only led 14-10 at the half despite the fact the two teams had combined for 559 yards. UA later had a 24 yard FG at the end of a drive that hit the upright and missed a 25 yard FG at the end of regulation but won it in OT.
Texas Tech did dominate Northwestern St with a 37-6 FD and 500-84 yard edges. The most impressive player to me was actually backup QB Michael Brewer. Seth Doege hit 23-34-199 but Brewer was brought into the lineup at the start of the 4Q with the game just 27-6. Brewer led a 55/7pl, 63/12pl and 53/7pl drive for a 37 yard FG and 2 td’s in his 3 poss. He hit 10-13-122. Eric Stephens, coming back from last year’s injury, rushed 16 times for 58 yards.
Louisville had a 466-373 yard edge with Kentucky blowing some scoring opportunities. UK fumbled at the UL22 with 3:15 to go in the 2Q, missed a 42 yard FG and were tackled on a fake punt which allowed UL a 38 yard td drive. The Cards still dominated the game and they brought in backup QB Stein for the final 4 series. While UL did not score, UK fumbled on 2nd & gl from the 5 at the 3, was SOD on 4&9 at the UL12 then SOD on 4&2 at their own 41 on the final 3 poss.
SMU blew some scoring opportunities vs Baylor or could have made a game of it. In the 1H they went on a 51/9pl drive but missed a 43 yard FG, went 66/16pl but settled for a 22 yard FG. Trailing 14-3 they had a chance to get back in it when at the end of a 73/13pl drive on 2&gl from the 9 they were intercepted at the 2 with just 2:41 left in the half. BU would get a 50 yard td pass with 2:02 left then after a punt drove 50 yards and added a 44 yard FG on the half’s final play for a 24-3 lead at the half with a 314-197 yard edge. SMU fumbled and it was returned 66 yards for a td, was intercepted setting up a 60 yard td drive by BU and it got out of hand. BU led 52-10 with backup QB Petty directing a 25 yard td drive after a 37 yard PR. SMU would actually get a td with 4:49 left and after a BU td, SMU went 72/4pl for a 40 yard td pass with backup QB Preston with 2:25 left.