Welcome to the first installment of the newest weekly column to our sports section, our “Campus Hot Takes”! Every Tuesday Logan Crosland and I will give you our thoughts on everything from the previous weekend in college football. In what ESPN continuously said was the “biggest opening weekend in college football history”, we had some upsets and some dominating performances from a few of the favorites to make the college playoff in December. We will now each give our five hottest takes from Week 1. Since age should go before beauty (and because Logan wasn’t even alive when Notre Dame last won the National Championship) I will go first.
-A major scare for the Vols: After taking quite a while to get things in order in Knoxville, it seemed like Butch Jones had finally put a couple of recruiting classes together and with some experience on both sides of the ball Tennessee looked like a legitimate contender in the SEC Race. Then they face Appalachian State. Now when they beat Michigan in the Big House in 2007 they were a 1-AA team that pulled off the upset of the century. Now they are an FBS team that had a 10 win season and a bowl win a year ago, but still was an underdog. Tennessee looked unprepared early on and Joshua Dobbs was still mediocre instead of improving. The defense stepped up in the second half and even Dobbs’ OT fumble led to the winning TD in a 20-13 win. That’s still not good and they have to shake off the funk of this win and get better.
-A team from the AAC in the PLAYOFF??: We knew that Oklahoma vs. Houston was one of those games where you knew an upset was in the works, you just wondered if the game would be close or not. Well for a team rumored to possibly join the Big 12, the Cougars showed they belong with a 33-23 win over the Sooners. Greg Ward Jr threw for 321 yards and 2 TD as the Sooners turned the ball over twice and the offense was kept off the field for over 35 minutes. A tough loss for Bob Stoops a year after a Cinderella run to the College Playoff. As for the Cougars, they should chew up that atrocious AAC conference schedule, and a playoff spot isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
-The more things change…: A year after both their football and men’s basketball programs went 0 for the conference season, it hasn’t gotten any better for Boston College. The Eagles lose 17-14 to a good Georgia Tech team, so they at least didn’t get blown out. As a matter of fact they led until :35 to go in the game. Three turnovers didn’t help matters either. That might be the closest they get to a win this season. They are at UMass next week, but then again the Minutemen were only down a field goal after three quarters to Florida Saturday. Maybe that’s no longer a walk in the park.
-Welcome back Chubb: I had to give a shout out to my guys Chad Campbell and Nick Duke’s Bulldogs of Georgia, who open the season with a 33-24 win over North Carolina. Welcome back between the Hedges for Nick Chubb. After an ugly knee injury ended his 2015 season, he returns in big fashion with 32 carries for 222 yards and 2 TD’s in the first game of the post-Mark Richt era. Kirby Smart wins his first game by leaning on Chubb to keep the chains moving and keep the offense on the field. Chubb’s game deflected the controversy at quarterback as Smart started 5th year senior Greyson Lambert, even though the fan favorite is touted freshman Jacob Eason, who did throw a second half touchdown pass. We will follow this as the weeks progress.
-Game of the Week: Sunday night in Austin may have finally been the coming out party for Charlie Strong at Texas. After nothing but mediocrity in the first couple of years after the Mack Brown era, a revamped offense and a true freshman led the Longhorns to an epic 50-47 Double OT win over Notre Dame. The Irish defense lapsed many times in this game, and the duel QB experiment was a stupid idea on the road in a hostile environment. It’s evident Malik Zaire isn’t ready for game play yet after his season-ending ankle injury a year ago. DeShone Kizer is ND’s starter after a six touchdown day (5 passing, 1 rushing) and he should be the full blown starter next week against Nevada at home. This loss shouldn’t hurt ND in the playoff, as it’s very early in the year and Texas as we can see is no slouch.
Ok “Kid”, the floor is yours.
-Roll Tide, Roll: As predicted the Crimson Tide appear to in fact be the best team in the country. The 52-6 beatdown they put on the USC Trojans was a coming out party for new starting QB Jalen Hurts. He was responsible for four touchdowns, two through the air and also two on the ground. Through one game I think Bama definitely found their starting QB and are definitely the team to beat as expected.
-Clemson Escapes: The Tigers didn’t look as impressive as many were expecting them to, including myself, but they were able to escape with win against a scrappy Auburn team. Deshaun Watson wasn’t his usual Heisman quality self, but he did enough to get them the win and I’m sure they are plenty satisfied with that for now. I expect them to play much better throughout the rest of the season and expect Watson to be Heisman contender all season.
-LSU Disappoints: It’s a new season but it seems that LSU still hasn’t fixed their biggest problem, and that is FIND A QUARTERBACK. Leonard Fournette is going to get yards all season and will most definitely be in the Heisman discussion all season, but if they can’t find consistent quarterback play from Brandon Harris then this team will struggle with the better defenses in the SEC. This has been LSU’s problem for the last few seasons and just haven’t found the right guy under center to lead them to the great successes they always aspire for. I thought in the preseason they were a tad bit overrated and through one game it seems I am right. (Sorry Mr. Riche)
-What A Comeback: If you had stopped watching Monday night’s game after halftime, you probably would’ve thought Ole Miss was going to run away with things. Needless to say that wasn’t the case. Florida State finished the half with their first touchdown and never looked back. They then went on to outscore the Rebels 32-6 in the second half, to win the 45-34. The poise shown by the team and QB Deondre Francois was quite impressive to watch. This is a team to watch out for as the season goes on.
-Other Upsets: Around the country Saturday we watched as several Power 5 conference teams were defeated by either lesser conference oppenents or even FCS schools. I’ll start with the one that hurts me the most, as my Bulldogs of Mississippi State fell to a very game South Alabama squad 21-20. Western Michigan was another team who scored a big upset Saturday when they defeated Northwestern 22-21. FCS school Eastern Washington got in on the action as they were able to outduel Washington State 45-42. Southern Mississippi was also able to defeat SEC opponent Kentucky in comeback fashion 44-35, after trailing 35-17 at halftime.
Here’s the updated AP Top 10 after this first weekend
3) Florida State
4) Ohio State
Now here’s a look at the big games this coming weekend. There’s some slim pickings in a week where most of the powerhouses will feast on much lesser competition:
-Nevada at Notre Dame, Saturday at 3:30 (Will Kizer be the full-time starter?)
-Iowa State at Iowa, Saturday at 7:30 (The battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy is always a war)
-Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee, Saturday at 8 (150,000 on hand at Bristol Motor Speedway)