Admit it. Your team looked like a national title contender, looked not-ready-for-prime-time or just plain stunk. For some football fans, the season is already over.
Week one of college football delivered good news, bad news, confusion and a whole lotta shrugs (we hear you, Nebraska). While it is way too early to make conclusive analyses on most teams—the SEC can carry on, as usual—we still can be judgmental, critical and petty.
Honest opinion. No pussy-footing around here.
Let’s get to week one-liners.
Oregon failed to sell itself to the voters and media despite being over confident for its pending debacle against defending National Champion Georgia.
The Oregon Ducks’ story is as old as time. Get all dressed up in flashy threads and get dragged by a traditional school that believes in defense, not fancy-pants schemes.
Oregon was paid $4.5 million to play the game only to get trolled hard at the half by Georgia fans.
The Bulldogs’ 49-3 rout of the Ducks was an indictment of the the Pac-12’s waning swagger. If the Pac-12 cannot sell Oregon to most college football fans, how is Oregon going to sell itself to the Big Ten? Perhaps the Big Ten will negotiate a deal where Oregon gets less revenue sharing than its other member schools. Notre Dame is still every conference’s prime target so Oregon’s exodus to the Midwest’s Promised Land is probably “Nix-ed.”
Oregon could still contend for the conference title but a very pissed-off Utah will be waiting for a mid-November date.
Oregon is overrated. There. I said it. Time to move on.
U.C.L.A. looked atrocious in its first half against Bowling Green.
Special teams play was horrific—specifically the kick and kick return play. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson started off where he left off last season; an enigma. A running DTR is a Disneyland fireworks display. Breathtaking and beautiful. A passing DTR is a stick of TNT whose fuse keeps going out. Is it a dud or will it go off?
In the second half, it went boom. More of this, please.
Only 27,105 fans were in attendance at the Rose Bowl. The biggest excuse heard for the record low attendance was the scorching heat. Fair enough. But across town at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 60,113 fans showed up. Just sayin’.
The O-line still needs to mesh with some new starters in the mix. DTR was running for his life and forced to make plays he would rather have had back. Zach Charbonnet is one of the most underrated backs in the country—he finished with 21 carries, 111 yards and one touchdown.
The Bruins had a very solid second half by shutting out the Falcons, putting 21 points on the board and snatching victory from defeat. Overall, not a great U.C.L.A. performance but at least the Bruins didn’t fall apart after a bad first half.
USC entered the season with plenty of hype under new head coach Lincoln Riley and delivered.
Quarterback Caleb Williams is a highly-touted Heisman candidate and did not disappoint. He has outstanding pocket awareness and good wheels to get him out of trouble—that rarely happened due to solid pass protection. His arm strength and decision-making are what sets him apart from others. Williams made some filthy throws off-balance or on the run with a ball that had extraordinary velocity on it. He is special.
Speaking of Heisman, USC’s speedster Raleek Brown, the No. 3 prospect out of 2021’s class of running backs, struck the pose after scoring his first touchdown. Sooo…. fans do like to see the kids having fun. And it has been a looooong time since USC’s sidelines have produced smiling, dancing players.
But Arrogant Nation beat Rice, a C-USA team that went 4-8 last year. Next week the Trojans travel to Stanford. Unless USC’s defense figures out how to stuff runs between the tackles and get its back seven into better position on pass plays, E.J. Smith, son of that Emmitt Smith, is going to have a stellar day.
The bitch may be back but hold the applause (and poses), please.
Oregon State deserves more love.
Head coach Jonathan Smith has slowly turned the Beavers around from bottom of the barrel to that team you don’t want to play. Just ask perennial Group of Five Powerhouse Boise State.
The Beavers POUNDED the Broncos 34-17. The defense was ferocious causing five turnovers. The running-back-by-committee approach netted 178 bruising yards on the ground. The fans were completely engaged and the Beavers’ chainsaw was roaring through the stadium throughout the game.
Watch out for Oregon State.
Utah almost put the Pac-12 back in the College Football Playoff conversation. Almost.
Quarterback Cam Rising came up a tad short on a go-ahead touchdown down 29-26, on 2nd-and-goal with 22 ticks left on the clock. Score and the Utes are as special as we thought they were. Lose, and winning the Pac-12 (again) just seems a like a consolation prize. The pass was intercepted and Utah (and the Pac-12) lost.
Taking the next step in Big Boy football means beating a Big Boy from a Big Boy conference. Not almost beating a Big Boy.
Stanford walloped Colgate 41-10 in the Battle of the Almost Ivy League Schools but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Colgate is an FCS school and some FCS schools are up for a Big Boy challenge. Think North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Montana, Eastern Washington or Jacksonville State. Colgate is not in the same league athletically as the previously mentioned and that’s why allowing Colgate to score 10 points is inexcusable.
Yes, a muffed punt that led to a touchdown by Colgate has my dander up. Yes, Stanford may be a good team and did not open up the playbook because it hosts USC on Saturday. But yes, Colgate still scored 10 points on the Cardinal. That’s a big tell.
Speaking of Almost Ivy League schools, Cal struggled to beat FCS non-powerhouse UC Davis.
The Golden Bears are returning just eight starters so (my) expectations are low. With sister school U.C.L.A. becoming a full member of the Big Ten on August, 2, 2024, perhaps Cal is just depressed. The Bears were down 7-0 to the Aggies before taking a 17-7 halftime lead. They get UNLV this Saturday before a road trip to Notre Dame. Buckle up, Bears.
The rest of the Pac:
Washington beat Kent State 45-20. The offense appears to be high octane but until the Huskies play Michigan State, I’m withholding any accolades or criticism.
Washington State beat Idaho 24-17. It’s almost an in-state rivalry so maybe that’s an excuse that’ll satisfy Coug Nation. Bourbon helps.
Colorado lost to TCU 38-13. The Buffs gave up 275 rushing yards (avg 9.2 yards per carry!) so the key to beating Colorado is running the ball.
Arizona beat San Diego State 38-20. Before we jump on the Wildcat bandwagon, a reminder: the Aztecs are notorious slow starters. In 2019 they beat Weber State 6-0 and last year beat New Mexico State 28-10.
Arizona State beat Northern Arizona 40-3. Next week the Sun Devils play at Oklahoma State. Good feeling gone?