Here are five things I learned in week 1 of the college football season:
1. Year-to-Year Turnover in College Football is Spiteful
With graduations and other attrition, things change in college football at a much faster rate than in the pros. TCU came into the season ranked #14 but lost on the road to Baylor, despite a mighty comeback. Defending National Champs Auburn started the season ranked 23rd but needed to recover an onside kick and score twice in the last 2:07 to avoid a week 1 upset at home. Both teams had new starters at quarterback and ran into some issues. Neither should be ranked this week, but both probably will.
2. LSU is Still Very Good
Despite suspending starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and WR/RB Russell Shepard, LSU rolled into Texas Stadium and manhandled defending runner-up Oregon. People forget that LSU QB Jarrett Lee is a 5th year senior who started a good chunk of games as a freshman way back in 2008, and has thrown about 130 passes since then. Lee didn’t have to do much, and in fact he didn’t, thanks to four Oregon turnovers. LSU ran the ball well too. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when/if Jefferson comes back, but LSU is definitely still in the hunt.
3. Preseason Rankings Are Stupid
The aforementioned Auburn Tigers and TCU Horned Frogs proved this to be true. #16 Notre Dame also lost at home. LSU was ranked behind Oregon, and Boise St. sure looked better than #5. #12 South Carolina won by 20, by surviving an early scare. #25 USC also suffered a scare at home against Minnesota, who is in the argument for worst team in the Big 10. Northwestern won on the road against an ACC school without their starting QB, but was unranked. BYU won on the road in the SEC, but was unranked as well.
4. The Notre Dame Hype is Overrated as Usual
Notre Dame entered the season ranked #16 with people predicting they would reach a BCS bowl. While that remains possible, it seems like they have a lot of problems. A very late touchdown made the 23-20 loss look more respectable than it was. Notre Dame made a lot of mistakes and their starting QB didn’t last one game before being benched. A relatively tough schedule over the next 4 games (@Michigan, Michigan St., @Pitt, @Purdue) will make or break Notre Dame’s season. If they can’t make it out of that stretch unscathed that might be it for BCS chances.
5. Our Dark Horses Look Great
On episode 15 of our podcast Chris and I picked Houston and Northern Illinois as our non-AQ, non-Boise St./TCU noisemakers. Houston came out on top of a 1000-yard barnburner against UCLA. That is their only game against an AQ school and they miss Conference USA powerhouses UCF and Southern Miss. Northern Illinois rolled against Army. Three 4th quarter touchdowns make it a 23-point blowout, instead of a 35+ point de-pantsing. Northern Illinois has Kansas next week before what could be an ugly one against Wisconsin. But both looked good in their debuts.