* This is a second annual installment of the site’s winners and losers for College Football. This will also be weekly segment.
Making definitive judgments after the first week of a college football season is always a dangerous proposition. Unlike the NFL, there’s no preseason in college football. Week 1 is the first time teams line up against an opposing team since the conclusion of the previous season.
However, College Football’s Week 1 does give us a chance to see what teams might have been overrated at the beginning of the season, and what teams have the potential to be better than advertised. There were more than a few teams Saturday that left us wondering if 2017 will be more of a struggle than we anticipated. Here are the winners and losers from College Football’s opening week.
Alabama Crimson Tide: You don’t walk out of the biggest non-conference game of the year with a double-digit victory and not make the top of the Winners list. Alabama didn’t play their best overall game against Florida State – and that probably makes Nick Saban furious – but the Tide’s defense was stifling all game – and that’ll make Saban grin for a mere two seconds.
In total, Alabama hauled in a pair of interceptions and stymied the Seminoles’ ground attack to a mere 1.5 yards per carry. In the second half alone, the Tide held Florida State’s offense to 65 yards overall. It wasn’t a pretty game, but it was the type of slow suffocation that Alabama has become infamous for under coach Saban. Even with all the departures to the NFL, do we expect anything less from the Tide defensively?
Michigan Wolverines: The real hero from Michigan’s matchup against Florida was their defense. The Wolverines’ D made life miserable for Florida quarterbacks, holding both Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks to a completion percentage of under 53 percent, as well as registering six total sacks. Based on their stingy performance, it was difficult to envision that this same defense lost 10 out of 11 starters from a year ago.
Despite the inconsistencies from QB Wilton Speight, Michigan found great success in explosive play makers sophomore RB Ty Issac and true freshman WR Tarik Black. These two young talents could become staples to the Wolverines offense very soon.
UAB Blazers: There’s nothing like winning your first game back as a restarted football program in front of an announced attendance of 45,212 – a school record. The UAB Blazers topped Alabama A&M, 38-7, in it’s first game the program has played since it was announced that football would be shut down in 2014. As for the main highlight, how about this season’s first Piesman moment coming from a pick-six from Blazers defensive lineman Anthony Rush.
Clemson Tigers: No Deshaun Watson, no problem for the reigning National Champions. First-year starting QB Kelly Bryant flashed signs of promise for the Tigers – both with his legs and his arm – in Clemson’s 56-3 blow-out victory over Kent State. Overall, Bryant completed 16-of-22 passes (72.7 percent) for 236 yards and rushed for another 77.
The Tigers also featured several new weapons in their offensive attack yesterday, such as tail back C.J. Fuller and wide-out Milan Richard, whom both accounted for 121 yards and 3 TDs. The true test of where Clemson is, or rather how formidable they are, will be next Saturday’s contest against No. 12 Auburn in Death Valley.
Texas Longhorns: TEXAS IS BACK FOLKS!!!
Oh, do you mean back to the loser’s circle?
Tom Herman’s Texas honey moon ended abruptly following its loss at home to Maryland. While the Longhorns’ special teams and offense was a primary reason they were even competitive in this one – registering two kickoff return touchdowns and 473 total yards of offense – their defense however, left a lot to be desired. Maryland ripped off 482 total yards of offense, while rushing for 263 yards at over six yards a carry and four rushing touchdowns.
Considering Big 12 offenses are some of the best in the country. If Texas can’t stop Maryland, it’s hard to see how it’ll stop Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, let alone TCU, West Virginia and others. Herman’s rebuilding job may be bigger than we realized.
Florida Gators: Apparently suspending 10 players leading up to the season-opener didn’t work out. From the game’s outset, Florida’s offense looked pedestrian, anemic and feeble. In fact, if you take away Florida’scored just a field goal and mustered 192 yards of offense during its’ to Michigan.
Touted freshman Feleipe Franks couldn’t move the ball through the air, and the run game was non-existent. It didn’t help that Florida’s two best offensive players – receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett – were suspended, but this was about as poor an offensive showing as anyone could imagine. Florida ran just 53 plays on Saturday, and it result in an abysmal 3.6 yards per play average. Jim McElwain is now in his third season as the Gators’ head coach, and for him to still trot an offense this powerless is still baffling.
Florida State: The Seminoles potentially lost more than a game against Alabama last night. They might have lost their leader, voice, and unquestioned star; sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois for a significant amount of time on Saturday. While trying to escape the pocket, Francois was sacked by Crimson Tide safety Ronnie Harrison late in the 4th quarter. Francois left the game in a brace and the severity of his injury has yet to be announced.
For a Florida State team that’s still full of lofty aspirations, a singular loss in Week 1 doesn’t necessarily derail their path to the College Football Playoffs. However, depending on the state of Francois’ knee, the Noles could be forced to navigate their season without the services of their burgeoning signal caller for quite a while.
BYU Cougars: Mostly everyone knows that LSU’s defense is really talented. However, for the entire night against BYU, the Tigers’ defense made the Cougars’ offense look like Pop Warner. In a 27-0 loss, BYU mustered only 97 yards total and NEVER crossed the 50-yard line into LSU territory. That is not a blimp. Quarterback Tanner Mangum finished the game 12-of-24 passing for 102 yards and an interception, which means BYU rushed for -5 yards on 14 carries. That’s…..not good.
To make matters worse for BYU, the Cougars had the ball for just 18:06, compared to LSU’s 40:59. Throughout that span, BYU manufactured a grand total of six first downs on the night.
Week 1’s Top Performers
- QB Drew Lock, Mizzou: 21/34, 521 yards for 7 TDs
- QB Shea Patterson, Ole Miss: 28/35, 429 yards for 4 TDs
- QB Ryan Finley, NC State: 45/64, 415 yards for 2 TDs
- RB Abey Zach, Navy: 32 carries, 235 yards for 2 TDs
- RB Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii: 25 carries, 202 yards for 1 TD
- RB Damarea Crockett, Mizzou: 18 carries, 202 yards for 2 TDs
- WR James Williams, Washington State: 13 receptions, 163 yards for 2 TDs
- WR Steve Ishmael, Syracuse: 12 receptions, 134 yards
- WR John Urusa, Hawaii: 12 receptions, 272 yards for 1 TD