It’s finally back! After months listening to news stories about NCAA violations, emails, impermissible benefits, Ponzi schemes, recruiting packages, alleged this, alleged that, injuries and arrests, there’s finally something to sink our teeth into as the college football season kicked off Thursday evening and kept going strong throughout the holiday weekend.
Recapping the week in 500 words or less, this is what we learned about the season:
- There are athletes on FIU. Don’t be shocked if they peek their head into the top 25 at some point.
- If they weren’t splitting carries, either Wisconsin back would be in the thick of the Heisman discussion. Could Russell Wilson?
- Syracuse played some inspired football in the comeback win. I liked that they faced a little adversity as they look to steal the Big East title.
- Missed field goals and extra points played a big role in the Baylor/TCU game. And where was the TCU defense? Casey Pachall has to have Frogs fans excited despite the late interception. Robert Griffin III is a helluva passer, but give lots of credit to the rest of the Baylor team, on both sides of the ball, too.
- Utah State outplayed Auburn for most of the first 58 minutes Saturday afternoon. Auburn is going to miss Cam Newton‘s explosiveness and game-breaking ability this year.
- I’m not sure if you can call USF’s win over Notre Dame an upset. The Bulls have their obstacles to overcome, but they’re generally underrated. The Irish are obviously talented, but killed themselves with turnovers.
- Case Keenum debuted right on track after missing most of last year with an ACL injury. He’s an early Heisman contender, while the Cougars defense stepped up big late to help seal the win over UCLA.
- Neither USC nor Utah handled the competition in the manner in which they were expected. They’ll meet next weekend. Somebody has to step up.
- Was the South Carolina/East Carolina game scripted? Stephen Garcia, with all the offseason obstacles, didn’t start, but came into the game with his team down to close the gap and then pull away in the second half. Straight out of Hollywood.
- Kellen Moore is scary accurate. He’s one of the three top passers in college football along with Keenum and Andrew Luck. Saturday night he led the Broncos, whose defense played very well, to its second neutral site road game win to open the season. Can we agree that the Broncos belong among the game’s elite?
- Oregon wasn’t the same offense we saw last year as they struggled with penalties and turnovers against LSU, who looked very good.
- I really expected Tulsa to put up more offense even against that Oklahoma defense. They’re really missing suspended playmaker Damaris Johnson.
- Bryant Moniz rushed for more than 100 yards, passed for less than 200? Three rushing touchdowns, no passing touchdowns? Okay. That Hawaii defense looks more aggressive.
- Texas A&M was firing on all cylinders against SMU. Ryan Tannehill is in for a good season, the rushing duo of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael is great, the receivers are top-notch, and the defense came up with a plethora of sacks. Don’t hand Oklahoma the conference title just yet.
- Miami really missed some of those suspended defensive starters. Danny O’Brien is another quarterback who’s in for a big year.
Every week I look at one player who Proved He’s Worth the Hype more than anybody else. This week it has to be Robert Griffin III with an honorable mention going to Kellen Moore. Griffin showed us why he’s considered one of the premier quarterbacks and game changers in college football as he led Baylor past TCU, answering a late surge from the Horned Frogs by driving down the field to set up the game-winning field goal with just over a minute left. Give lots of credit to the wide receivers, and Terrance Ganaway looked good in his debut as the starting running back, but it was Griffin who led the Bears to that win. He finished a very impressive 21/27 for 359 yards with five touchdowns. The touchdown on the opening drive really set the stage for a wild one in Waco.
Remembering that each week there are a few players who burst onto the national stage or who put in a performance that catches everybody’s eye, I also like to point out a New Household Name, too. This week the honor goes to Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien, with whom Maryland fans—and ACC fans in general—were already familiar, but whose performance against Miami in primetime on national television Monday night introduced the redshirt sophomore to the world. He finished with 348 yards and a touchdown on 31/44 passing. He did not appear to allow an interception in the end zone and other red zone woes get in his head as he consistently moved the ball on the shorthanded Miami defense.
My Heisman ballot if they let me vote
I decided to go all quarterbacks for my first Heisman leader board. This is going to change all season and is based on the first week of play, so try to hold your water if you’re outraged that so and so isn’t on this list. Yeah, Andrew Luck is going to be in the mix so just relax. He played very well against San Jose State and came up with three total touchdowns, but the following five passers deserve recognition in week one, too.
- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor Bears: Need I say more about his performance against TCU Friday night? Didn’t think so.
- Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State Broncos: Moore was his usual efficient self in the win over Georgia, completing 82.4% of his passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. He got off to a slow start, but once he got going he was like a surgeon with the football as found holes in the defense and was able to put the ball exactly where it had to be.
- Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin Badgers: Wilson got off to a great start as a Wisconsin Badger, completing 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 255 yards with two touchdowns and rushing for 62 yards and a score as he led the Badgers over UNLV Thursday night. He looked comfortable in the Badgers offense and gives Wisconsin an added element to its already prolific attack.
- Case Keenum, QB, Houston Cougars: Keenum and the Cougars needed this opening week win over UCLA to keep their BCS dreams alive, and they delivered as Keenum went for 310 yards and two touchdowns on 30/40 passing and the Houston defense came up with some key stops late in the game.
- Nick Foles, QB, Arizona Wildcats: Foles passed for more yards than anybody in the country on opening weekend with 412. He also tied for the most passing touchdowns with five, and completed 81% of his 42 passes—fifth highest completion percentage in week one. Granted it was against Northern Arizona, but he’s off to a good start at the helm of an underrated offense. The matchup with Oklahoma State this Thursday could be a wild one.
Week one showcased some elite talents on some big stages and the result was some exciting football to kick off the season. The second week will feature several other key games starting with a few intriguing weeknight matchups.
Thursday, September 8
- Arizona @ Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
Friday September 9
- FIU @ Louisville, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN
- Missouri @ Arizona State, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN
Saturday September 10
- Oregon State @ Wisconsin, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN
- Iowa @ Iowa State, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN2
- Mississippi State @ Auburn, 12:21 PM ET, SEC Network
- Alabama @ Penn State, 3:30 PM ET, ABC
- Nevada @ Oregon, 3:30 PM ET, FX
- Virginia Tech @ East Carolina, 3:30 PM ET
- TCU @ Air Force, 3:30 PM ET, Versus
- Hawaii @ Washington, 3:30 PM ET
- Cincinnati @ Tennessee, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN2
- South Carolina @ Georgia, 4:30 PM ET, ESPN
- Fresno State @ Nebraska, 7:00 PM ET
- BYU @ Texas, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2
- Utah @ USC, 7:30 PM ET, Versus
- Notre Dame @ Michigan, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
- Boston College @ UCF, 8:00 PM ET
- Want a leg up on the competition? Get the Xclusive Edge 2011 Fantasy Football Package and win your league.