It feels good-like really good-to finally say that college football is back! For all it’s worth, week one felt like week seven. There were close games, huge upsets, and a sprinkling of drama throughout. Let’s take a look back at the rollercoaster ride that was week one in the college football landscape.
No, we’re not going to start with West Virginia. Even as I type this, I am still not ready to talk about that game, but we will.
No. 1 Alabama versus No. 3 Florida State (Game in Atlanta)
I don’t dislike Alabama. I respect them if anything and from everything I’ve heard and read, Nick Saban is a proud West Virginian. Going into the biggest game of Labor Day weekend, I picked Florida State to upset Alabama. That was dumb, obviously. I thought and still think that Deondre Francois is a better passer than the Rolling Tide’s Jalen Hurts. Naturally, the outcome of the game didn’t really come down to quarterback play. It was decided by defense and special teams, and when decided by those two factors, the smart money is on Alabama. Rain is wet and Alabama is the best team in the country. Get used to it. Final score: 24-7 Alabama.
No. 11 Michigan versus No. 17 Florida (Game in Arlington, TX)
As a Mountaineers fan, I feel pretty meh about this game. It’s been quite some time since Michigan poached Rodriguez and other than recruiting against the Gators on a yearly basis, I really don’t care about these two teams one way or another. But I did find it interesting that Michigan’s defense held Flordia’s offense to only nine first downs and 192 yards. The Gators don’t have a high-powered offense by any means, but anytime the SEC gets a taste of its own medicine, It does feel good. Oh, and Florida finished with only 11 yards rushing. That felt pretty good, too. Final score: 33-17 Michigan.
Maryland versus No. 23 Texas
I really can’t help myself. I don’t know if the talking heads of ESPN just want Texas to be relevant or what, but having the Longhorns ranked inside the top-25 at No. 23 was absurd. New head coach Tom Herman did great things at Houston and I’m sure he’ll eventually bring Texas back, but did you really expect it to happen in his very first year? The Longhorns’ defense looked like swiss cheese, and the quarterback problems still seem to exist in Austin. You couldn’t really picture a more horribly fitting beginning to the Herman era at Texas. Good for you, Maryland. Final score: 51-41 Maryland.
Liberty versus Baylor
Now, I really can’t help myself. Baylor is an absolute disgrace to me. We won’t really go into why, but why they still have a football program is questionable at best. Of all the things Baylor can sweep under the rug, a loss to an FCS opponent is not one of them. Liberty is on the rise, literally. The Flames are set to make the jump to the FBS level in 2019 and under head coach Turner Gill, I’d say they’ll make some more noise amongst the big boys. Bears head coach Matt Rhule has some work to do in Waco and it has nothing to do with football. Maybe in the future, Baylor can reclaim its relevancy in college football by actually just playing football. For bonus points, tell me where Liberty University is located on a map! Final score: 48-45 Liberty.
Texas A&M versus UCLA
You probably didn’t know there was another game happening on Sunday night and it was probably even more exciting than the one we’re getting ready to talk about. Let’s call this game the battle of the hot seats. The Aggies are desperate to rejoin the SEC elite and the elitists at UCLA want to be known for more than just basketball. Truthfully, the ending of this game will be remembered long after this season ends. Trailing 38-44 and on the Aggies 10-yard line, Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen fake spiked the football and found Jordan Lasley in the corner of the end zone for a game winning touchdown. The Bruins scored 4 consecutive times in the fourth quarter to be on the right side of the second-largest comeback in NCAA history. Fire up your resume, Sumlin.
West Virginia versus Virginia Tech (Game in Landover, MD)
Okay, let’s talk about it. It’s better to accept reality and move on to next week. First, let’s make sure you understand Virginia Tech is a very good football team. Much like the Mountaineers, Fuente’s Hokies exceeded expectations last season by winning 10 games. Bud Foster is by far the most experienced and respected defensive coordinator in the game. In short, West Virginia didn’t lose to a scrub by any means. Secondly, Will Grier is legit. His pocket presence is something Dana hasn’t had since Geno Smith. I don’t think he has quite the arm talent as Smith, but his ability to read a defense and make the right throws is uncanny. In the first half, Grier couldn’t quite get the ball past 25 yards. The receivers were able to create enough separation downfield, but Grier had trouble with his trajectory. It all seemed to click together in the second half, however, and if it weren’t for a couple missed assignments on defense, we may be telling a different story. If anything stuck out as worrisome to me, it was the defensive line. The Mountaineers had to replace 3 starters in the trenches. Sophomore Adam Shuler was the only defensive lineman I saw consistently get penetration into the Hokie’s backfield. Gibson has to create depth at that position. There may be very little there right now but as the season goes on, that has to change. I still don’t know if Virginia Tech was the better football team Sunday night or if they just got a couple more breaks than the Mountaineers did. Either way, the outcome wasn’t favorable for West Virginia. We’re 0-1. Accept it and move on.
No. 25 Tennessee versus Georgia Tech (Game in Atlanta)
I almost finished this article yesterday and omitted this game. Almost. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably have seen that I am a (I live in Bristol, TN and my wife’s family love the Vols) Tennessee fan. So, yes, I wanted the Volunteers to win this game and I’ll admit that I had given up on the Big Orange by halftime. I liken Georgia Tech’s offense to West Virginia’s press defense in basketball. It’s kind of gimmicky, but every once and awhile it breaks down a superior opponent and wins a ball game or two. Much like Huggins, Yellow Jackets’ head coach Paul Johnson doesn’t care what you think. He’ll play his brand of football until the day he dies and it almost worked. Georgia Tech finished with 535 yards rushing last night, the most ever allowed by a Tennessee defense. The Vols overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force a two overtime slugfest. When it mattered most, the Vols stuffed Tech’s attempt at a two-point conversion and escaped Atlanta with a win. Butch Jones’ job security can rest for one more week.
Week one was a lot of fun, to say the least. Follow DubVNation on Twitter @wvusports247 and follow me @MattAlbrightDVN. Let us know YOUR thoughts on week one of college football.