Sweet Baby Jesus…unlike Texas, college football is back!
Week 1 is alllllmost in the books. We still have a couple big’uns on Sunday (West Virginia/Virginia Tech, Texas A&M/UCLA), and Monday (Georgia Tech/Tennessee), but every Sunday I’ll be here for your one-stop-shop with the biggest takeaways from the weekend in college football.
Coming later on Sunday, I’ll have a new episode of the CFB Country podcast. Why haven’t you subscribed yet? Go. Go now.
Here are your Week 1 takes. My Top 10 is at the bottom. That ought to be fun to read.
‘Bama will always ‘Bama
Nick Saban is now 10-1 against the spread in season openers at Alabama. He’s now 11-0 against former assistants. Why the hell do we keep even remotely doubting him in these spots? Seven points was never enough of a spread against Florida State. By the end of the third quarter, the Crimson Tide had ripped the Seminoles’ hearts out. A blocked punt, a fumbled kick return, and a pair of interceptions all took place in about a 15 real-life minute span. It was honestly painful to watch.
Florida State still has a ton of talent. I was especially impressed with the ‘Noles defense, which was repeatedly put into tough spots and kept Alabama out of the end zone countless times. That’s not easy to do when you’re trying to slow down a Damien Harris/Bo Scarborough combo in the backfield. The Seminoles deserve credit for that.
The obviously bigger storyline after this game is Deondre Francois’ health. If the knee injury he suffered late in the game is as bad as it looks, Florida State is screwed. There’s no depth behind Francois, and in a very tough division, this could derail the Seminoles’ season. Francois was that important to them.
People slept on Michigan
One of the most overrated stats in college football is “returning starters”. Preseason polls use them to a fault. On the surface, it makes sense – after all, how can we rank a team like Michigan, with only a handful of players who we’ve seen play meaningful snaps – ahead of a team like USC, with so many returning players that we’ve seen play in big games before? It’s reason #15933953 why preseason polls are dumb.
It’s amazing to me that people expected Michigan to be a step behind Ohio State and Penn State this season. Jim Harbaugh has put together back-to-back top ten recruiting classes at Michigan, and many of those young players are already seeing the field. Also, let’s not forget…Jim Harbaugh has done more with MUCH less at prior stops than what he has right now at Michigan. He’s won big at San Diego, Stanford, the 49ers…hell, even his first year at Michigan. He’s yet to have the wealth of talent that Urban Meyer has at his disposal. Can you imagine how good the Wolverines will be once he does?
Michigan’s young defense dominated Florida so badly that I saw fans calling for Jim McElwain’s job afterwards…yet before the game, a decent contingent of national media wondered if McElwain was a better coach than Harbaugh! The Wolverines’ front seven made Florida look awful in every facet of the game. Michigan is a legitimate national title contender.
Georgia needs to pick a QB and stick with it
I had high hopes for Jacob Eason this season. I think everyone around Georgia did. The former #1 QB recruit in the country threw for 2400 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman last season, and seemed poised for a breakout sophomore year. I picked Georgia to win the SEC East in large part because of Eason’s potential. Less than a quarter into the season opener, things have DRAMATICALLY changed.
Eason went down with a knee injury against Appalachian State. In three drives with Eason under center, the Bulldogs punted three times. After the injury, true freshman Jake Fromm stepped in and immediately sparked the Bulldogs. They jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead, and eventually lead 31-0 before emptying the bench.
Georgia was 4-5 plays away from an 11-win season in 2016. Kirby Smart is a year wiser, and the talent is as good as anyone in the league outside of Alabama. Now, Fromm’s emergence was a welcome sign for Bulldog fans after the sluggish start under Eason, but Smart may have a bigger problem on his hands now. The last thing Georgia needs is a quarterback controversy to derail what could be a special season. Smart needs to squash it right now. Pick one QB or the other, and stick with them. Both are highly talented.
If it was me, I’d go with Fromm. He’s more mobile, and having spent time around both of them, I like Fromm’s demeanor better. He’s a more natural leader than Eason from what I’ve seen. Georgia’s ceiling is high either way. It’s higher with Fromm.
Well, that Tom Herman Honeymoon ended awfully quick. Maryland jumped on Texas from the get-go, and the rebuild in Austin looks like it’ll take much longer than the Longhorn faithful hoped.
I’ll say this much – Tom Herman will turn it around at Texas. I’m stunned they came out as flat as they did on Saturday. I consider Herman one of the best motivators in college football, and I thought we’d see a jacked-up Longhorns club Saturday. Give Herman a year or two to assemble the roster he wants, and I think Texas takes off.
The USC game in two weeks is critical. The Trojans didn’t look like world-beaters, either. If Texas can knock them off on September 16, the wind will come right back into the Longhorns’ sails.
The “ACC is the Best Conference” nonsense can stop now
Every single radio/TV/podcast appearance I made this summer, I was asked if the ACC was really the best conference. Jimbo Fisher said it during media days, and no one else around the league distanced themselves from it either. With the defending national champions and the defending Heisman Trophy winner, plus a top-three preseason team in Florida State, expectations were through the roof for the ACC.
Well, that’s over now.
Florida State was completely outclassed by Alabama. Louisville barely scraped by a Purdue team that lost just about every meaningful game it played last season by 50. North Carolina lost to an awful Cal team – at home! Pittsburgh needed overtime to beat Youngstown State – also at home! Darkhorse contender NC State lost by a touchdown to South Carolina despite coming in as five-point favorites.
The SEC might not be what it used to be, but the ACC has a long way to go to catch up with the depth that league has to offer.
Meanwhile, say hello to the Big Ten! Michigan dominates Florida. Maryland embarrasses Texas. Iowa obliterates arguably the top quarterback prospect in America. Wisconsin boatraces Utah State. Ohio State starts slow but finishes strong against Indiana. Penn State blanked Akron.
If you ask me right now who the best conference in college football is right now, it’s the Big Ten.
Feel-Good Video of the Week
If you’ve followed college football for a long time, you probably remember Jake Olson. During the Pete Carroll era at USC, Olson was a young superfan who also happened to be blind. The team welcomed him to practices and games all the time. It became one of the best feel-good stories of the decade. Jake is now a long snapper for the Trojans, and Saturday he entered the game after the Trojans’ final touchdown. This is awesome.
Turnover belts are the new trend everywhere. Alabama did it first. Many teams followed. Miami just changed the game forever. Whoever recovers a fumble or intercepts a pass gets a damn CHAIN.
The only thing that would be more Miami than this is if they installed stripper poles on the sidelines.
Now I’ve Seen Everything
When you think of the best tailgates in college football…you don’t think of Louisville. I’m not sure if this helps or hurts the cause…but…just watch:
If this didn’t make her puke, barely beating Purdue probably did.
Before everyone freaks out. Here’s how I come up with my rankings: It is a snapshot, not a projection.
These are the 10 teams who have impressed me the most so far this season. There will be a TON of fluctuation in these rankings early in the season. By the middle of October, these will probably look much closer to what you see in the other polls. I don’t make preseason polls. I wait until I’ve seen every team play actual games before I evaluate anyone.
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- Notre Dame
- Penn State
Check back all week for more college football analysis and opinion, each and every day. And go subscribe to the podcast.