QB 2 wars at Alabama and Clemson may be over

Among the many questions being asked in the preseason, two of the most prominent involved quarterbacks at No.1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson.

markblaudschun

In Tuscaloosa, after you uttered you're customary ""Roll Tide'' greeting,the next question asked: Jalen or Tua? That would be Jalen Hurts, the Tide's incumbent quarterback until the second half of last season's national championship game against Georgia and Tua Tagovailoa, the hero of the Tide's overtime win over the Dawgs.

So confident were some football fans and experts that he would be the starter for Saturday night's opener against Louisville in Orlando, that 6-foot-1, 218 pound sophomore was a preseason favorite to win the Heisman (even though he had yet to start a game in college).]

Bama coach Nick Saban, secretly enjoying the turmoil, even went into a pre-game chat on ESPN and refused to divulge his choice.

[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The suspense soon was over. Tua started, led the Tide on an opening TD march, threw for two 2 TDs and ran for another in 51-16 rout of Louisville.

As promised, Hurts did play, completed 5 of 9 passes for 70 yards, but didn't throw a TD.

""I still like them both,'' said Saban after the game. "I think both guys can help our team win.''

True that. But just as the Tide is No.1, Tua looks like the man--until proven otherwise

The situation at Clemson is not as mysterious.

Veteran Kelly Bryant started for the Tigers in their 48-7 win over Furman, but it didn't take long for highly touted freshman Trevor Lawrence (labeled as the next Deshaun Watson) to establish his turf.

All Lawrence did was throw for three TDs, run for another and be the quarterback on five scoring drives.

Bryant, who played the first quarter and two series in the second half, was not as spectacular with only 1 TD pass.

Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney remained in neutral. "Both QBs missed some passes and both made some passes,'' said Sweeney who will have to be more definitive on Saturday when Clemson travels to Texas A&M.

***

The next time a Big Ten team wants to schedule Appalachian State it should think twice. Eleven years ago, the Mountaineers went to Ann Arbor and stunned the Wolverines, 34-32 in the Big House. On Saturday, Penn State had to go to overtime to beat App State, 45-38 in Happy Valley...Tough debut for two high profile Pac-12 coaches, Chip Kelly lost his debut at home against Cincinnati, 26-17, while Kevin Sumlin's Arizona team came up short against BYU in Tucson, 28-23.

What's going on at Texas? For the second straight season, the Longhorns, under the guidance of Tom Herman, lost their opener to---Maryland. The Terps were playing were without their coach DJ Durkin, who is under administrative leave while school investigates the death of Maryland football player from heat stroke after an off season workout. 'Texas, which was ranked No. 23 in pre-season has now lost four straight games as a ranked team.

Weather issues always come up during the season. On Saturday lightning in the area created delays at several cfb venues, but it also caused the cancellation of South Dakota State at Iowa and Akron at Nebraska...Will Grier got his Heisman race off to a nice start. The West Virginia QB threw five touchdown passes for 429 yards in the Mountaineers' 40-14 win over Tennessee...Missouri QB Drew Lock, another Heisman hopeful, opened with 4 TD passes for 289 yards in Missouri's 51-14 win over Tennessee-Martin....

***

Let's give UCF its proper respect. The Knights went 13-0 last season and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl. The chatter about them being "national champions'' was nice at first, but then it became and has become annoying. They weren't the best team in the country and beat a "disinterested'' Auburn team in a bowl game.

It's a new season. UCF has a new coach in Josh Huepel, who replaced Scott Frost, who went home to Nebraska. The Knights opened their season with a 56-17 rout of UConn on Thursday night, which extended their winning streak to (nation's best) 14 games.

Quarterback McKenzie Milton is the real deal. He threw 5 TD passes for 346 yards against UConn, which is not like putting up those numbers against Alabama or Clemson but Milton is a legitimate Heisman candidate. And UCF is a legitimate contender to be the best Group of 5 team and get into another New Year's Six bowl game.

But until the Knights can put back to back wins over Clemson and Georgia on their resume, let's drop the national champion talk. Let UCF start by proving its the best team in the American Athletic Conference and go from there.

***

Don't look now, but Northwestern is on a 9-game winning streak. The Wildcats had a decent 31-27 road win at Purdue on Thursday night and now have their longest winning streak since the 1995 team which made it to the Rose Bowl...Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson had a dilemma at QB in Thursday's opener at Tulane since projected starter Kendall Hilton had been suspended for the first three games of the season. All Clawson did was go to true freshman Sam Hartman who threw a pair of TDS and compiled 378 passing yards in Wake's 23-17 OT win.

***

Florida State opens its season on Monday night against Virginia Tech and the Seminoles, who fell off the Top 20 map last season (7-6), are showing signs they are back--at ;east off the field. They will come out in all black uniforms at Doak Campbell Stadium on Monday night. "We're bringing our swagger back,'' said the Seminoles sophomore running back Cam Akers....It's not even Labor Day and New Mexico State is already 0-2, following a 48-10 loss at Minnesota on Thursday. The Aggies lost their season opener, 29-7 to Wyoming last week.

***

Tough opening day for the service academies: Air Force, wisely scheduled a Cup Cake and posted a 38-0 win over FCS opponent Stony Brook. But Army and Navy took to the road and were spanked. Army lost a 34-14 decision to Duke, while Navy traveled across the Pacific and lost to Hawaii, 59-41.

***

Quote of the Week: ''I don't know what's in the water in Boone, North Carolina, but it seems like they've been doing this for a long time against whoever they play. I started the game at 46 years old and ended it a 51."--Penn State coach James Franklin after his team's 45-38 overtime win over. Appalachian State...Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray had no problems replacing Heisman winner Baker Mayfield in the Sooners, 63-14 opening win vs. Florida Atlantic. Murray threw a pair of Td passes and a pair of touchdowns, completing 9 of 11 passes while playing just one half.

***

Say What: Villanova 29-17 over Temple. Nova beating Temple in basketball is not a headline grabber, but in football between fCS over FBS between two rival schools. Yes, that's a big deal.. Is it too early to start a Coach's Hot Seat corner for Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, who received a home town (he is a former Tech QB) reprieve fter last season's 5-7 season. The (literally) defenseless Red Raiders were overwhelmed by Ole Miss, 47-27 on Saturday.

Play it Forward

Games of interest next week.

Clemson at Texas A&M--A legitimate test for Clemson, a "break through'' into Top 20 for Texas A&M

Penn State at Pitt--Old fashioned Eastern rivalry which has been dormant for too long.

USC at Stanford--Preview of Pa-12 title game, if Washington stumbles?

Final Four

  1.  Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Georgia 4. Wisconsin[/membership]
Comments