The highly anticipated college football season finally got underway this weekend and although there are still a couple of big games yet to be played, (Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech on Monday)most of the major action for week one is in the books. It was a weekend full of close calls for many top ranked teams and at the same time, a talent showcase for others. There were no major upsets on Friday or Saturday, but there were some surprises, while a few teams did exactly what we knew they could, but it was still undeniably impressive.
As there tend to be with first week matchups in college football, blowups were abound on Saturday, but there were also a number of close games where ranked teams escaped upsets, but revealed some weaknesses.
Wisconsin hosted Northern Iowa in one of the early games on Saturday and got more than it bargained for from the Panthers, as the Badgers held on in the fourth quarter to win 26-21. Things were going as planned for the Badgers early, as Montee Ball rushed for 120 yards, punching into the endzone for his only score early in the third quarter to make it 19-0 Wisconsin at that point. Northern Iowa then stormed back, scoring three touchdowns in less than a quarter, cutting the lead to five. The Panthers had the ball one more time in Wisconsin territory with only minutes to play, but came up short on fourth and one, as their pass was deflected by a Badger defender. The 12th ranked Badgers improved to 1-0, but will have to improve in other ways in coming weeks to avoid meltdowns like the one they almost endured at the hands of an FCS opponent.
Other teams that were tested by underdogs this week included #9 South Carolina, which won its game 17-13 against Vanderbilt on Thursday, #13 Michigan State, which prevailed by the same score over #24 Boise State on Friday and #21 Stanford, which nearly dropped its opener against San Jose State, 20-17.
Some scares were certainly had in week one, but many of the top teams flexed their muscles. Number one USC scored a 75 yard touchdown on its first play from scrimmage on the way to a 49-10 rout of Hawaii on Saturday. Heisman frontrunner Matt Barkley threw for 377 yards and 4 TDs in the impressive home win. Barkley is currently 3/1 to take the coveted trophy, while the Trojans are also 3/1 for the National Championship. Both Barkley and his team looked good in week one, but we’ll have to wait and see how the Trojans fare against more challenging foes as the season progresses.
The most impressive performance was from that of the defending National Champions and number two ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide had what was seemingly the toughest opponent of the big teams in the #8 Michigan Wolverines, but the Tide quickly rolled over U of M, showing their dominance in a 41-14 win on national TV. The teams were part of this year’s Cowboys Classic, which is played at neutral site Cowboy Stadium in Arlington Texas. Alabama shined on the big stage in round one of its title defense with a new group of eager and determined players. Freshman running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 111 yards on 11 carries in just his first college game, while returning starting QB A.J. McCarron threw for two scores and 199 yards.
It was nothing too surprising that the Tide looked like…well…themselves, but what was surprising is that they continue to dominate each and every opponent they face and it seems like they were able to pick up where they left off from last season. Alabama is currently 5/1 to win it all and if we had to crown a team today, it would no doubt be Alabama.