Things We Learned In College Week One

collegeThrow your rankings out the window. When was the last time there were this many upsets and near-upsets during the first week of action? I don’t think it’s ever happened. If any of the college football decision-maker people are reading this, more Week Ones like this, PLEASE. (There may be several clunkers next week, but why look ahead just yet?)

Things We Learned In College: Week One

Let’s start with Thursday’s action. Tennessee will almost certainly drop a few spots after needing overtime to get past Appalachian State. (Breathe, Michigan fans). The Vols have a lot of things to clean up, but I think they’ll be able to. The talent is certainly there. Might they have been looking past App State a little bit? Entirely possible.

Another team with things to clean up? Minnesota, after having three players ejected for targeting fouls against Oregon State, they need to clean up their tackling in a hurry. You can read the full story about their opener and lack of discipline here.

Christian McCaffrey got his Heisman campaign off to a nice start against Kansas State with 22 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

SEC Struggles

Every year I buy into the “LSU‘s quarterback has really improved/new quarterback is better than the old one” hype and every year I look as baffled as the quarterback in the face of a pass rush. Every. Single. Year. I’m like Charlie Brown, and Les Miles is Lucy holding the football. So far, 2016 Brandon Harris looks basically identical to 2015 Brandon Harris.

Alabama‘s beatdown of USC notwithstanding, this was not the greatest of weekends for the SEC. In addition to the Tennessee squeaker and whatever that was from LSU, Mississippi State lost to South Alabama, Kentucky lost to Southern Miss, Missouri lost to West Virginia, Arkansas beat Louisiana Tech by one, and Ole Miss blew a 28-6 lead to lose to Florida State. Georgia and Texas A&M came close to being added to that list. The last time the SEC had six losses in Week One was, according to my game notes, 1995. They went one better, as the conference took seven losses this week.

I was shocked to get up this morning and find out Ole Miss lost that game. I went to bed at halftime (sorry, but I’m long out of college and a third late night was beyond me at this point) and the Rebels were basically dominating. At one point late in the first quarter, the ‘Noles had the same amount of yardage in total offense that they did in penalties.


Houston looked good, to say the least, in their upset of Oklahoma. I was very impressed with Cougars’ freshman Ed Oliver, a 6’2″, 290-lb. defensive lineman. There is no way a guy that big should be able to cut and stop and start the way he does, especially not as a freshman.

As for Oklahoma, how does a team with Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon manage only 70 yards rushing in an entire game? That Houston front is something else.

The win against Oklahoma capped Houston’s first ever set of back-to-back wins against AP Top 10 teams. Their last victory of 2015 was over #9 Florida State in the Peach Bowl.

A year ago, Texas finished the season ranked 106th in total defense. Sunday night, they knocked off #10 Notre Dame. While the numbers aren’t great (444 yards of total offense for the Irish, albeit with overtimes), the Longhorns looked good- at times, very good.

Shane Buechele became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Texas in a long time. Like, a really long time. The last one? Bobby Layne, in 1944.

One amusing note from the weekend: Kansas broke a losing streak of fifteen games, dating back, obviously, to the 2014 season. After beating FCS Rhode Island 55-6, the Jayhawks fans stormed the field. Yes, there is something pathetic about this, but whatever- let the kids have their fun.

James Conner

Finally, my favorite story of Week One: Pitt running back James Conner‘s return to the field. Conner, you’ll remember, was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2015. He rushed for two touchdowns against Villanova on Saturday. You can see his first touchdown, with a really sweet stiff-arm, here. From a football perspective, I remember watching Conner in a late season game (a bowl game maybe? I can’t remember) as a freshman and being impressed with how hard he runs. He’s a big guy, listed at 6’2″ and 235 lbs, and he doesn’t go around you, he goes through you. I love watching backs like that.

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