College football could not have gotten off to a a better start. Week one was hyped as the "best kickoff weekend ever." While such grandiose claims are difficult to quantify, week one certainly didn’t disappoint.
Football fans were reminded of just why their sport is king. No other sport can match its drama, and man, did week one have it in spades.
We saw Houston – perhaps on the same trajectory that took Miami to national prominence in the early 1980s – catapulting themselves into the Top 10 by way of dispatching the Oklahoma Sooners. Houston looks legit. Seems like a no brainer as a solid invite to the Big 12. But the Big 12 is the most inept run conference of all the power five so you just never know. Per reports, it will only take three dissenting votes to keep a potential invitee from admittance. There are plenty of schools in the current Big 12 more than a little scared of the recruiting juggernaut taking shape down in the fourth-largest city in the U.S.
Credit should be given to Oklahoma for agreeing to play the Cougars in the non-con. The Sooners title hopes aren't dashed. They've got plenty of talent and season left to play themselves back into the mix. Although, someone should remind Sooners offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley, that he has a couple of great running backs in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon that warrant more than six carries a game.
Speaking of National Title contenders, Alabama looked even better than they did last year in rolling over the Trojans. USC was feeling so good about themselves after taking a 3-0 lead into the second quarter. 38 unanswered points later, reality set in.
Outside of Bama's dominance and solid wins by Georgia and Texas A&M, the mighty SEC looked shaky as hell. Half of the SEC lost their openers, including Kentucky and Mississippi State getting dropped at home to Southern Miss, and South Alabama respectively. Add to that Ole Miss' implosion against Florida State, Florida's mediocre effort against UMass in Gainesville, and then #9 Tennessee's near disaster against Appalachian State in Knoxville, and all totaled the SEC could be set to come down a few pegs. Maybe. Lot of games left. As of right now though, week one was unkind to the SEC, and fans of all other conferences shed not a single tear.
After week one, there was the predictable overreacts from the pollsters. Most notable were the jumps made by Wisconsin and Texas, both unranked before the season, now sit at #10 and #11 respectively in the AP rankings. The Texas-v-Notre Dame game Sunday night was a classic, and it was a great win for both Texas and the Big 12. The Badgers came up big in the clutch against an LSU team that was ranked #5. But come on, Les Miles' belief that he can just run some warm body out at quarterback for LSU and call it good may finally cost him his job down in Baton Rouge by the end of this season. Brandon Harris' 6.9 QBR in that game is a stat line that would even make Dayne Crist blush. Meanwhile, down in Austin, both Notre Dame and Texas' defenses looked suspect, the ugly underline of a thrilling score fest. Plus, Texas did all that they could to give that game to the Irish after running out to a 31-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Both Wisconsin and Texas could be hovering around the Top 10 by season's end, who's to say at this point, but shooting them up the polls a week after these same voters didn't even think them worthy of a spot in the lower 25?
On to week two.
Friday, September 9
#13 Louisville Cardinals 1-0 at Syracuse Orange 1-0 @ 7 p.m. (CT) on ESPN 2
Cardinals coach, Bobby Petrino, is in the third year of his second stint in Louisville. It was 10 years ago that Petrino took the Cardinals all the way up to #3 in the nation (best in program history), flirting with a legit National Title shot. Petrino once again has his Cardinals primed for a memorable season. Large part of that is due to the play his QB Lamar Jackson who absolutely went off in Louisville's first game with 286 yards and 6 Tds through the air and 119 yards and 2 Tds on the ground.
Saturday, September 10
Central Michigan Chippewas 1-0 at #22 Oklahoma State Cowboys 1-0 @ 11 a.m. (CT) on Fox Sports 1
The Cowboys looked dominant in their tune up game as they bludgeoned the sacrificial lamb of Southeastern Louisiana 61-7. The Cowboys should be fine in game two. However, Central Michigan is at least a legitimate opponent and bowl team from last season. On an afternoon filled with matchup dogs by comparison to last week, the fact that this game involves two bowl teams makes it worth a watch in the early time slot.
Penn State Nittany Lions 1-0 at Pittsburgh Panthers 1-0 @ 11 a.m. (CT) on ESPN
For a hundred years, this Penn State-v-Pitt game was a regular occurrence, but his Saturday will mark the first time the Lions and Panthers have faced each other since September 16, 2000.
Ohio Bobcats 0-1 at Kansas Jayhawks 1-0 @ 1:30 p.m. (CT) on FSN
For the first time since November 8, 2014, the Kansas Jayhawks won a game. Any praise for the Jayhawks concerning that win over an atrocious Rhode Island has to be prefaced by the statement, "Taking Into Consideration the Opponent..." Or for the sake of brevity "TICO." TICO of course, Kansas showed flashes of much improved speed and talent in that first game the likes of which KU fans didn't see through 12 games last year. Kansas fans have to love the structure of their non-con schedule this season as well. An over glorified practice for game one. And now a struggling lower tier FBS school on their home field for game two. Talk about easing a toe into the waters. A win on Saturday will mark the first 2-0 start for the Jayhawks since 2011. That was back during the vaunted Turner Gill era!
Arkansas Razorbacks 1-0 at TCU Horned Frogs 1-0 @ 6 p.m. (CT) on ESPN
Here's a throwback to the days of the old Southwest Conference. Both of these teams have got to be better than what they showed in their underwhelming performances in week one. The Razorbacks came from behind late to down Louisiana Tech 21-20 while the Frogs got everything they could handle against a very game South Dakota State squad that was tied with TCU at half and within four points early in the fourth quarter. These two teams will find out a lot more about themselves in this game – good, bad or ugly.
BYU Cougars 1-0 at Utah Utes 1-0 @ 6:30 p.m. (CT) on FOX
The Cougars take on the Utes in the Holy War, one of the best rivalry names in the sport. This is a game that had been played every season between 1922 and 2013. After a year off, it's now been resurrected with both teams coming off a win in their respective openers.
Virginia Tech Hokies 1-0 vs #17 Tennessee Volunteers 1-0 @ 7 p.m. (CT) at Bristol Motor Speedway on ABC
The Hokies and Vols will face each other on the infield of Bristol, Tennessee's massive NASCAR motor speedway in an attempt to break an NCAA football single game attendance record. It's bad enough trying to watch a football game when an Olympic running track has the stands too far away from the field. Can you imagine trying to watch this game from the top deck of this giant speedway? You may as well be watching from a building across the street.
Texas Tech Red Raiders 1-0 at Arizona State Sun Devils 1-0 @ 9 p.m. (CT) on Fox Sports 1
Texas Tech's QB Pat Mahomes, if he can stay healthy, might end up as the Big 12 player of the year. Mahomes piled up 540 yards and 6 total Tds in the Red Raiders first game.
Washington State Cougars 0-1 at Boise State Broncos 1-0 @ 9:15 p.m. (CT) on ESPN 2
After leading the Cougars to their first nine win season since 2003, Washington State hoped to build on their steady improvement in Mike Leach's fourth season with the school. Then Washington State lost a shootout 45-42 to Eastern Washington in their opener.
Meanwhile, in Boise, the exit of Chris Petersen last season had Bronco fans fearing the worst. The same fears they had about losing Dirk Koetter, and Dan Hawkins before Petersen. Yet, just as the Broncos kept winning after Koetter and Hawkins, they kept winning without Petersen last season. Are they the most consistent mid-major power of all time? Given that BSU was a junior college as late as the mid 1960s, it's been a remarkable rise.
This Pacific Northwestern nightcapper should be a fun shootout on the blue turf in Boise.