So college football is back and it is safe to say it was quite an opening weekend! Uncle Sam’s NCAA correspondent Andy Turner looks back at the best of the action and the big stories to come out of week 1…
The trend in recent seasons for ranked teams to meet in prestige opening day fixtures has been a welcome development in college football. After all, how many times can you watch a giant U roll over little State in a glorified pre-season game,.
Week 1 saw number one ranked Alabama play number three Florida State. One of the theories behind these meetings is that the loser will have all the rest of the season to rebuild their standing and will get kudos in the polls for strength of schedule. Florida State, however, not only lost the game, they also lost their starting QB Deondre Francois for the season, they will have a real struggle to make the College Football Playoffs now.
If the Jets are tanking in order get the first pick in the draft and maybe get their QB of the future it looks like it could be a roller coaster season. Two of the favourites to be the no.1 QB in next year’s draft, Sam Darnold (USC) and Josh Allen (Wyoming) both struggled in their season openers.
Allen’s difficulties were more understandable as Wyoming took on Iowa, they stifled Allen and ground out an Iowa style victory. Darnold led USC Trojans to an unimpressive win against Western Michigan where he had more picks than TD’s. Next up for them is Stanford. who over the last few years have had the Trojans’ number and it is an early big game in the Pac-12.
In another one of the prestige early season games UCLA took on Texas A&M. At half time the press were writing the obituaries for the Jim Mora era at UCLA and were asking what had gone wrong with one time golden boy QB Josh Rosen. Mid way through the 3rd quarter the Bruins trailed 44-10, by full time they were celebrating a 45-44 victory and as I type this, senior figures at A&M are calling for coach Kevin Sumlin’s head. Who’d be a football coach, eh?
There are still teams, many teams, who choose to open their season by pummelling a minnow. Sometimes, gloriously, it can blow up spectacularly in your face. UNLV warmed up against FCS school and 45 point underdog Howard and lost, 43-40 to a team quarterbacked by Cam Newton’s brother!
Pride of place though goes to last season’s pantomime villains Baylor. Under new head coach Matt Rhule they lost to Liberty 48-45. It should be pointed out that in both cases the so called bigger team paid the minnow handsomely to come to their home stadium and humiliate them. *stifles loud guffaws*
My guess is if you heard any news about college football this weekend then it was probably about USC long snapper Jake Olson, who snapped the extra point kick on their last TD. The reason this was newsworthy is that Olson is blind. He has been since he was 12 and he even had his guide dog in the dressing room.
The cancer that took his eyes was treated at USC’s medical centre and a bond with the program was formed. Western Michigan were aware that Olson, now a student at USC, was coming into the game and classily did not rush the kick attempt.
USC coach Clay Helton was complimentary of Western Michigan coach Tim Lester for signing off on Olson’s debut. “Very special moment for us with a very special guy at the end of the game,” Helton said. “I commend and I thank Coach Lester and the entire Western Michigan family for the honour of getting what I think is a very special person in Jake Olson in.”
For the record it was a bloody good snap.
Texas Longhorns played their first game under Tom Herman, and they deserve credit for scheduling it against another power 5 team, the Maryland Terrapins rather than against some typical cupcake. They might be back to playing a small school next year though after the Terps put 55 points on them in Austin! Herman’s defence was dreadful and Oklahoma fans everywhere will be looking forward to this season’s Red River rivalry.
Maryland are a team on the rise though. You may or may not, be aware that Maryland have the same relationship with Under Armour that Nike and Oregon share, meaning their uniforms are funky and under HC DJ Durkin they are going to become a Big10 powerhouse.