It’s the first weekend of college football – here are some quick thoughts and perceptions after the opening weekend:
Ducks – I knew they would blow out New Mexico (who is coming off of an 1-11 season) but I didn’t expect a 59-0 lead at halftime. No complaints with a 72-0 win – even against a very bad team. New Mexico may be the worst BCS team in country – but Washington State is giving them a run for their money. Better test for Ducks next week at Tennessee.
Beavers – Disappointing loss for Oregon State against TCU in Cowboys Stadium. The game was one of the best of the day and it was a well-played back-and-forth contest. But mistakes hurt Beavers and they again showed they couldn’t stop a team running the ball. New QB Ryan Katz had a mixed performance in his first start. He threw some nice balls on long TD passes but was very inconsistent. They’ll need a lot more from him if they want to contend – otherwise every team will stack the box to stop Rogers brothers.
Huskies – I only saw highlights of this game but was tracking it via my ESPN app on the iPhone. Listening to Seattle sports talk radio (as well as local fans), most thought this game offered the Huskies their best opportunity at ending a 2 season road losing streak but UW couldn’t pull it off and dropped a close game in Provo. Huskies fans can stop the Jake Locker Heisman Trophy talk already. He put up solid, but not spectacular, numbers and couldn’t pull out the win when given the opportunity on two late 4th quarter drives. Huskies are still Pac 10 pretenders until they figure out how to beat decent teams on the road.
Cougars – Oh poor WSU. Just when Coug fans probably thought things couldn’t get any worse after winning only 2 games against BCS teams the past 2 seasons, the Cougs suffer their worst-ever opening day loss, 65-17 to Oklahoma State (a team that is supposed to be rebuilding in the Big 12). Its hard to believe that as recently as 2006 and 2007 this was a competitive program that won 6 and 5 games in consecutive years – and that was bad enough to get previous coach Bill Doba canned. Hiring Paul Wulff as Doba’s replacement now looks to be a turn that might be a fatal blow to the WSU program. WSU has always faced recruiting challenges in the Pac 10 with their Pullman location. But the combination of on-field futility with poor facilities is leaving WSU hopelessly behind the rest of the conference. I don’t think they’ll ever recover and will be lucky to win a game this year.
Cal – The Golden Bears took care of business against UC-Davis as they were supposed to do – clubbing the Aggies 52-3. As was the case with Ducks, difficult to read much into an opening game blow out against an obviously over matched opponent. Still, UC-Davis did manage to pull off a major upset a few years ago when they went to Stanford Stadium and beat the Cardinal. Cal faces a tougher test next week when an improved Colorado Buffalo team comes to Berkeley. Speaking of Stanford…
Stanford – The Cardinal manhandled Sacramento State 52-17 in their home opening. Starting QB Andrew Luck had more than 300 passing yards in the first half alone. See above regarding the analysis. Stanford is a very good Pac 10 team and should roll over teams like Sac State. They will have a tougher test next week when they head to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA – but I think they will win that game as well. Speaking of UCLA..
UCLA – The Bruins traveled to Kansas State and lost to the Wildcats 31-22. Nobody expects KSU to do much this year so this is not a good sign for the Bruins – even though they almost came from behind to tie the game late in the 4th quarter. As noted above, they now get Stanford at home for a huge Pac 10 opener for both teams. If Stanford wins (as I predict), UCLA will be out the gate 0-2 and it’ll be hard to convince players who haven’t experienced a winning season for years that they can compete with the rest of the Pac 10. Bruins will be hard pressed to match last season’s 6 wins.
USC – The Trojans beat Hawaii 49-36 Thursday night and while their offense clicked – it was against a team that should have been totally overmatched when you consider the recruiting classes of USC vs. Hawaii. USC returned only 4 starters on a defense that already looked shaky last season (after giving up tons of yards and points to Oregon and Stanford) and Hawaii moved and scored nearly at will. Pac 10 teams with great offenses (and there are many) are already licking their chops.
Arizona – Played on the road Friday night against Toledo and demolished the MAC opponent 41-2. Arizona was in position to win the Pac 10 last year and blew it by losing key November games to Cal and Oregon but this is a very good team – especially on offense. They have lots of weapons and are confident in their ability to score. Not sure if their defense is strong enough to stop good teams and Toledo wasn’t much of a test there. We’re going to have to wait until week 3 when they play Big 10 power Iowa to learn how good Arizona really is this year.
Arizona State – Stop me if you’ve heard this before but they also rolled over an inferior opponent, beating Portland State (who is also traveling to Eugene week 3) 54-9. Nothing to add here – they should have blown out PSU and they did it. Their first real test arrives week 3 when they have to travel to Madison to play Wisconsin.
The game of the day was obviously Jacksonville State upsetting Ol’ Miss in double overtime. J-State scored a touchdown with less than 30 seconds left in regulation and tacked on a 2 point conversion to tie the game and send it to overtime. The game went to the 2nd overtime and it seemed that Ol’ Miss would hold on to win after they scored a TD with the first possession. But on a 4th and 15 from the 30 yard line, Jacksonville State’s QB delivered a perfect pass and the WR made a perfect reception in the back of the end zone for an incredible TD. J-State’s coach decided to go for the win on the road and they delivered with a 2 point conversion to shock the Rebels, 49-48.
A few other observations:
- Florida was unimpressive in their win vs. Miami (Ohio). They looked very sloppy and inefficient on offense. They have a lot of work to do before SEC season – otherwise I wouldn’t be surprised if they lose 4 games this year.
- Wisconsin is my sleeper team in the Big 10 and they won big on the road at UNLV 42-21. Their defense played especially well and this score could have easily been 50-7, had it not been for a couple of fluke Badger turnovers that UNLV converted into TDs to keep the game modestly close.
- Georgia is my sleeper team in the SEC and they won big (as expected) against Louisiana-Lafayette 55-7. They didn’t need their stud WR AJ Green but their new Freshman QB looked very solid in his debut. Look for the Dawgs to surprise in the SEC.
- Oklahoma struggled to beat Utah State at home 31-24. Are you kidding me? Utah State?? Maybe this will be a wake up call for the Sooners but I don’t think it bodes well for them having to barely hang on to come away with a win against the Aggies.
- And finally, kudos to Michigan for a very solid win against UConn. I thought this game would be closer (and actually thought the Huskies would win) but UM won handily. It makes next week’s game at Notre Dame (who had their own solid win against Purdue) very intriguing.
My college football ramblings will continue every Saturday night throughout the season. Until next week, good night!