This weekend has been all about the real start of the College Football season. Here’s the Inside Zone’s roundup of the Week 1 action.
Cupcake start for main contenders
Reigning champions Alabama looked in ominous form defeating Louisville 51-14. Tua Tagovailoa started at QB, adding a new dimension to a usually run-dependent offense. Running back Josh Jacobs grabbed two scores while safety Deionte Thompson combines physicality and ball-hawking in a rebuilt defense.
Both Clemson and Georgia had QB battles over the summer and it was the senior players Kelly Bryant and Jake Froom who won out. Both helped their teams overcome Furman (48-7) and Austin Peay (45-0) respectively but Bryant was put on notice by freshman Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence stepped in and threw three TDs for Clemson and made an early claim for the QB spot.
Urban Meyer’s suspension had little impact on Ohio State’s game against Oregon State who they defeated 77-31. QB Dwayne Haskins threw for 5 TDs while experienced back Mike Weber ran for three. Prospective first rounders Nick Bosa and Dremont Jones combined for four sacks in a solid opening day.
Early loss means backs to the wall for Washington, Michigan
The two big games of the day were Washington v Auburn (16-21) and Michigan v Notre Dame (17-24). Washington are favourite to take the Pac-12 division but now have little margin for error if they wish to make the playoffs. Auburn needed the victory with Alabama and Georgia still on their schedule. On this showing their defense should give pause for thought for the two National Championship sides from last year.
Jim Harbaugh is now on the hot seat at Michigan. Shea Patterson was billed as the savior at QB but not much changed for the Wolverines. In Harbaugh’s fourth year in charge, the team shows little progression and it’s difficult to see them making a tilt at the playoffs on this showing.
Future Pro QBs start well
The NFL Draft may be months down the road but scouts will be pleased to see three of the top QBs play so well in Week 1. Will Grier lived up to his hype against Tennessee, posting numbers of 25/34, 429 yds, 5 TDs in a 40-14 win. Drew Lock’s Missouri defeated Tennessee-Martin thanks to Lock’s 4 TD effort while Oregon’s Justin Herbert was up and down but hit 5 TD strikes including some impressive deep ball throws.
Outside of the quarterbacks, Heisman-watch is focused on running backs. Stanford’s Bryce Love was shut down against San Diego State. He will have to get used to heavily stacked boxes if he is to repeat his previous year’s success. Wisconsin’s sophomore Jonathan Taylor will be key for the Badgers’ playoff push and he recorded 2 touchdowns and 145 yards in Wisconsin’s win over Western Kentucky. Oklahoma continues their run of impressive backs with Rodney Anderson averaging over 20 yard per carry in a 100 yard, 2 TD game against FAU (63-14).
It isn’t often defensive players are in with a shout of the Heisman, but Ed Oliver was his usual disruptive self registering 13 tackles (5 solo), 3 ½ for loss and 2 QB pressures; crazy numbers for a defensive tackle.
Early upsets and close calls
There were Week 1 upsets for Texas, as they went down to Maryland, with QB Sam Ehlinger throwing a pair of picks in a 34-29 defeat. Ole Miss turned over Texas Tech 47-27. Their offensive talent, which includes assured QB Jordan Ta’amu and wideouts D.K. Metcalf and AJ Brown, could surprise a few teams in the SEC.
Penn State nearly came to regret scheduling Appalachian State in the opener, having to wait until overtime, where a Miles Sanders TD and interception on defense meant they avoided the shock loss. Michigan State had to overcome a late deficit against Utah State after a Brian Lewerke pick six let the Aggies back into the game, the Spartans avoiding defeat with a 38-31 score.
Performer of the week
This honour goes to Purdue’s true freshman Rondale Moore. The diminutive receiver put up a fantastic display in his debut college game despite the Boilermakers going down to Northwestern. He posted 313 all purpose yards and two TD’s having recovered from an early drop.
Sunday night sees LSU face Miami. Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow will look to give LSU some consistent QB play but will face a big test against a loaded Miami secondary looking to get the turnover chain out early. Miami cornerback Michael Jackson and opposite number Greedy Williams are the pro prospects to keep an eye on.
On Monday, Virginia Tech take on Florida State in an intriguing ACC matchup. The key battle will be between the quarterbacks. FSU’s Deondre Francois returns after a season ending injury and will need to knock off the rust quickly. The Hokies are led by Josh Jackson, who was impressive as a redshirt freshman. Florida State also have electric running back Cam Akers, while draft fans will be eager to watch defensive tackle DeMarcus Christmas.