Hess: College football’s tame first week (column)
So what can we take from the first week of college football? Well, not much.
The marquee matchup of Auburn and Washington didn’t disappoint. Both teams could still make the playoffs and I wouldn’t be surprised and it also wouldn’t surprise me if both teams finished third in their respective conferences.
Perception, expectations and preseason polls cloud the realities of each team in the first couple of weeks. So let’s see if we can wave away that cloud and see what can be gleaned from the first full week of college football, if anything.
If you were able to find the Rocky Mountain Showdown on your channel guide, then you saw the Buffs make quick work of the Rams.
Is Colorado for real or are those helmets made of fool’s gold? The Buffs 596 yards on offense Friday, Aug. 31, is more than they gained in any game in 2017. So, it is nothing to scoff at even if it was against a trial-by-fire team like the Colorado State. The farther we get from 2016’s 10-4 record the more it feels like an anomaly.
The Buffs can prove Friday’s 45-13 win wasn’t an anomaly as they travel to former Big 12 opponent Nebraska’s home turf. The Huskers have been down, but it should be a good game. However, we will really learn what the Buffs are made of when they travel to Southern California and Washington on back-to-back weeks in October.
Just after “Week 1” the Rams have two games under their belt and it hasn’t looked good. Colorado State appeared to be a second half team against Hawaii, but the offense never got clicking against the Buffs Friday night.
It’s early and the Rams are still earning experience. In 2017, Colorado State seniors accounted for 69.6 percent of starts, which led the nation. So, they have a lot of holes to fill, however it isn’t going to get any easier. The Rams have two SEC opponents (Arkansas on Sept. 9, Florida on Sept. 15) due up next. Despite both Southern foes having brand new coaches leading the way, they have enough to make a bad start worse for the Rams. An 0-4 start looks inevitable and the five-year bowl streak is definitely in jeopardy.
All four playoff teams from last season (Bama, Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma) rolled through their competition by a combined score of 211-35. You got to think the coaches are excited to start the season like that, well except for Nick Saban. Don’t ask him about the quarterbacks.
Opeaking of quarterbacks, Alabama, Clemson and Georgia all have two elite signal callers each. Freshmen Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and Justin Fields (Georgia) showed that they will make immediate impacts in Clemson, South Carolina and Athens, Georgia. All six quarterbacks on those three teams (Kelly Bryant, Jake Fromm, Fields, Lawrence, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa) could start on over 100 FBS teams.
Other games across the country
The 24-17 Notre Dame-Michigan score feels a little misleading. The Fighting Irish controlled the entire game from start to finish. The gold domes looked unphased after losing two offensive lineman to the first round of the NFL Draft.
Michigan’s quarterback play looked much improved over last year, but that doesn’t take much. The Wolverines are still going to struggle to compete with Ohio State and Wisconsin in the Big 10.
Maryland beat Texas in their first game following the death of a player during summer workouts. You can’t help but root for the players for beating a sleeping giant after losing one of their brothers. But, it is hard to feel good about Maryland after reports of alleged abuse by the coaching staff to the players.
Penn State escaped an overtime upset attempt by Appalachian State. On 11 years to the day App State beat No. 5 Michigan, the Mountaineers were unable to leave Happy Valley win another Big 10 upset.
If a full slate on Saturday wasn’t enough, then you can get some more football on Labor Day as Florida State takes on Virginia Tech at 6 p.m.
The Seminoles look like the ACC’s best chance of upending Clemson, but they will have to do it with a new coach in Willie Taggart. The former Oregon head coach will be just FSU’s third coach in 42 seasons. Both the Rams and the Buffs have both had three coaches this decade. Those two schools are envious of that type of consistency.
The deeper we get into the season, the more we will learn about these teams. The first week was just an introduction into the 2018 season. Strap in, it’s going to be fun.