A second look at what happened in college football this weekend
The Pac 12 --Much was made about the newly found dominance of the ACC last season, with the league producing the national champion (Clemson), but the Heisman Trophy winner (Louisville's Lamar Jackson). But the first week has already shown some slippage in the ACC. FSU lost to Alabama (not unexpected), but North Carolina State lost to South Carolina, California knocked off North Carolina and Louisville struggled to overcome Purdue.
Conversely, the Pac-12 has gone through the first two weeks of games this season with only one loss (Oregon State vs. Colorado State). The league topped off the effort with UCLA's stunning 45-44 come-from behind (44-10 in the third quarter) win over Texas A&M on Sunday night, capping an 11-0 weekend..
Howard University--If Cupcake U had a picture, it might look like the Howard University football team. The Bison were everyone's ""bye'' game among college football's FBS members. A year ago Howard lost to two of the Big Ten's worst teams, Maryland and Rutgers, by a combined 77 points. Two years ago, Howard lost to Appalachian State and Boston College by a combined score of 125-0. BC's 76-0 win was so one sided, the game was shortened to a pair of 10 minute quarters in the second half.
Small wonder that Howard traveled to Nevada-Las Vegas for its opener on Saturday as a 45-point underdog.
Well, as many folks know anything--both good and bad--can happen in Vegas, which was the site o Howard's 43-40 point victory, which has now been labeled as the '"biggest upset in college football history. For some perspective, a $100 bet on Howard would have brought back $55,000.
Adding spice to the story, is Howard's freshman QB Caylin Newton, whose big brother is indeed the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton.
""I mean, coming to Howard, it's not a football school right now,'' Newton told the Washington Post in the pre-season. ""It will be.''
Adding to the pleasure of the weekend, Howard received a guaranteed payout of $600,000 for playing in the game, something that is routinely done by FBS schools to get FCS schools on their schedule.
Lamar Jackson--The Heisman Trophy winning QB wasn't getting a whole lot of love or respect in the off season in the eyes of his supporters. Other QBs such as USC's Sam Darnold, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Ohio State's J.T. Barrett seemed to be regarded as more viable Heisman picks. Adding to that list is UCLA QB Josh Rosen, who had a game for the ages in the comeback over Texas A&M. All Rosen did was throw for 4 TD passes in the fourth quarter.
Well, Jackson wants you to know that he is not ready to give up the Heisman without a fight. The Louisville' QB opened his season on Saturday with a 35-28 victory over Purdue. All Jackson did was throw for 378 yards and a pair of touchdowns and pick up another 107 yards on 21 carries.
Now players like Mayfield, who threw for 329 yards and 3 Tds' in the Sooners 56-7 romp over UTEP, had strong opening games as well, but the feeling here is that Jackson will have a legitimate chance to become the first repeat Heisman winner since Archie Griffin did it in 1974-75.
Jake Olson--A long snapper at USC who made the last long snap of the day for the Trojans in their 49-31 win over Western Michigan. What's the big deal, you say? Jake Olson lost sight in both of his eyes eight years ago after suffering retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer. He joined the Trojan program three years ago as a walk on.
The moment was set up by USC coach Clay Helton and Western Michigan coach Tim Lester, who exchanged "no rush'' moments on one extra point, which would allow Olson to have his moment of glory.
The snap was perfect, so was the moment.
Texas-- When Longhorn officials fired Charlie Strong after 3 consecutive losing seasons, they brought in Houston coach Tom Herman and paid him 5 million a year to fix things in Austin. The chatter all spring and summer was that the talent was there and Herman would make the difference. As candy, Texas upgraded the Longhorns locker room with a 10 million dollar renovation project.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
The party was going to begin on Saturday when Big Ten bottom feeder Maryland came to town for the season opener. The Terps were a three touchdown underdog.
Final score: Maryland 51, Texas 41. The 51 points were the most points ever allowed by the Longhorns--who looked inept and clueless at times on defense--in an opener.
""I told our guys to never get used to this feeling,''said Herman. "But if we thought that we were going to come here and in nine months sprinkle some fairy dust on this team and think that we've arrived, then we're wrong.''
Herman is right, of course. But that's the reason that Texas is paying him 5 million a year.--to not only make the Longhorns play better, but to give them a sense of reality so that over confidence doesn't have a chance of entering the locker room.
There is danger ahead for Texas--a game at USC in two weeks and a Big 12 stretch in October in which the Longhorns face Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, all of which the Longhorns could lose.
Texas had a bad day on Saturday, but so did Tom Herman.
Florida State--The Seminoles went into Saturday night's opening game against Alabama, feeling that a loss would not be a deal breaker in their goal of making it into the Final Four playoffs. Barring a repeat of something like a repeat of last season's 63-20 loss to Louisville, the consensus of opinion was that the Seminoles could survive a loss to Alabama.
FSU did lose, dropping a 24-7 decision to the Tide, but with just under 6 minutes left in a game which had basically been decided, QB Robert Francois went down with what turned into a season-ending knee knee injury. The Seminoles awaited word on Sunday of the extent of Francois' injury and received word late Sunday afternoon that Francois had suffered tendon damage which would require surgery.
FSU has the depth to cover most injuries, but QB is a much more sensitive issue. With Francois sidelined, back up QB James Blackman, a true freshman looks like the choice.
Whether Blackman can handle handling games against Miami, Louisville and Clemson is obviously a prime concern of FSU coach Jimbo Fisher.
What is even more troubling is the status of Francois, who last season as a redshirt freshman thrrew for 3,350 yards and 20 TD passes and was expected to be even better this season.
Said Fisher after the game, "I still think we have a great football team. We have to clean some things up.''
UMass--This was supposed to be a season in which there would be signs of life in a UMass football program that had been going through severe growing pains as a FBS school--10 wins in five years. Coach Mark Whipple's Minutemen opened their season last week with a last minute 38-35 loss to Hawaii.
They hoped that things would be better with a road win against Coastal Carolina, a transitional FBS team which had won 51 games in the past four seasons. UMass was even made a 2-point favorite by the boys from Vegas.
UMass's problems were on defense--they had none. It appears that problem still exists following a 38-28 loss to the Chanticleers.
Whipple had hoped that his team could start out 2-0, which would have last year's victory total. With a home game against Old Dominion next week and back to back road games at Ohio and at Tennessee, the clouds again are hovering over a UMass football program which is struggling for survival.
Did You Know
That: the 18 FBS coaches in new jobs were 8-10 in their debuts. Oregon's Willie Taggart had the the quickest rush when he watched Tony Brooks James take the opening kickoff and go 100 yards for a TD in Oregon's 77-21 victory over Southern Utah. Baylor's Matt Ruhle may have matched Tom Herman's angst at Texas after watching his team drop a 48-45 decision to Liberty. Ruhle also learned that his running back JaMychal Hasty might be out a month with a knee sprain.
New coaches at FIU and a FAU in South Florida, Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin, had rough debuts. Davis's Florida International team lost to UCF 61-17. Kiffins Florida Atlantic team lost to Navy 42-19 in a game which had three lightning delays and ended well past midnight.
"That was pretty embarrassing,'conceded Kiffin of the game which finally ended at 1:44 a.m. a five hour and 44 minute marathon which was the longest football game in school history.
That: Army beat Fordham 64-6 on Saturday and piled up 513 yards in offense--all on the ground. The Cadets were 0-2 in pass attempts.
That: Fresno State opened its season with a 66-0 win over Incarnate Word. Its next two games: at Washington and at Alabama. Whoops
That:: A game with the caliber of the players in No. 1 Alabama's 24-7 win over No. 3 FSU, produced a sequence in which the punters for the two schools exchanged kicks for a total of 21 yards.
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma State
Play it Forward
Games to watch next week
Georgia at Notre Dame--First visit by Dawgs to South Bend
Auburn at Clemson--Winner could be in national championship mix
Oklahoma at Ohio State--Must win for the Sooners.[/membership]