My favorite time of the year is here! NCAA Football and hopefully some cooler weather on the horizon!
Many teams began play looking shaky and unsure of themselves. Most had improved and jelled as a team before the end of their first game. For others, it will take a little while longer but this too is all part of the game.
The Top Ten
Clemson 52 – Georgia Tech 14. The 36.5 point spread was covered.
This story does not begin with Clemson Quarterback Trevor Lawrence the way I thought it would. This story is all about Running Back Travis Etienne! This remarkable young man rushed for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns proving why he was last years ACC Player of the Year. He started a little slow and had a fumble at the end of the first quarter, but he picked up his game after that and put on a Running Back show! He averaged 17 yards per carry on just 12.
On to Trevor Lawrence. This was not a stellar game for him as he threw 2 interceptions in the first half. With that being said, Clemson did finish the game with 632 yards total offense and 52 points, so I would say the offense clicked pretty well.
On the defensive side of the ball, Clemson held Georgia Tech to 294 yards offense and caused 4 turnovers.
Georgia Tech has a new Head Coach Geoff Collins. GT has changed their offense and defensive schemes. They have a lot of work to do this season on both sides of the ball. One good thing about this Yellow Jacket team offensively, they were pretty well balanced throwing for 137 yards and rushing for 157. Way to mix it up.
Clemson will host Texas A&M at Sept. 7th
Alabama 42 – Duke 3.The 33.5 point spread was covered.
This game started slow for the Tide. Duke and Coach David Cutcliffe came into this game with a great game plan. It worked for one quarter. Then Alabama’s team woke up and came alive. The first quarter ended 0-0, shocking many fans as Tide fans are used to Bama jumping out to a 2-3 touchdown lead in the first quarter. But, as Coach Saban likes to say, “it’s how you finish that count”, and finish Alabama did. Outscoring Duke by 39 points and putting in the second and third-team quarterbacks in the third quarter.
Coach Nick Saban got a penalty!!!! Wow, okay, this is different. Bama had intercepted a pass right in front of the Tide bench and Coach Saban. The team and sidelines were jumping up and down, very happy. The officials gave a sideline warning to the Tide. Coach Saban had a come-apart. He went on a tirade aimed at the officials and drew a 15 yard “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty. Coach later stated that he deserved the penalty, one thing he teaches is discipline and the coach did a poor job of setting an example.
After the first quarter, Duke was pretty much shut down. They were able to make 12 of 22 passes for 97 yards with two interceptions for the game stats. With only one field goal to show. They never crossed the goal-line.
Alabama didn’t punt in the second half of this game. They either scored a TD or missed a Field-goal.
Alabama hosts New Mexico State on Sept. 7th
Georgia 30 – Vanderbilt 6. The 21 point spread was covered.
The Georgia Bulldogs started their season on the road in Nashville with the University of Vanderbilt Commodores. Both SEC schools, but so totally different when it comes to football. Most people thought the Bulldogs looked sluggish in the game, but Coach Kirby Smart liked some of what he saw. Quarterback Jake Fromme was able to utilize eight different receivers. The running backs, mostly D’Andre Swift, were able to accumulate more than 300 yards rushing. The offensive line did their job in controlling the defensive line and protecting their quarterback.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Dawgs were able to hold the Dores to just a little over 220 yards total offense. Vanderbilt Coach, Derek Mason stated that they were never able to get the passing game started and going.
The biggest problem for Georgia may have been their mistakes. They had 10 penalties for 115 yards. This has got to come down when they begin to play better football teams. No one can continue to win against good teams while losing over 100 yards to penalties. They have got to clean it up.
Georgia hosts Murray State on Sept. 7th
Oklahoma 49 – Houston 31. The 23.5 point spread was not covered.
Quarterback, Jalen Hurts, goodness how I miss this young man. He is not only an outstanding quarterback but also one of the nicest guys in NCAA football. Even though he passed for 508 yards, he was not happy with his performance. He nitpicked his performance in every aspect. The Sooners HC, Lincoln Riley had nothing but good things to say about his Alabama transfer QB. Coach Riley said he
was sure Jalen had some nerves in this first game, but he did a good job managing them.
Coach Riley seemed to be proud of his defense. He stated that they “flew around, was extremely active, extremely disruptive for the majority of the game”. Well, we are talking about a Big12 Defense, so I’ll give them that. The best thing I saw from the defense was that they caused three and outs in Houston’s first two possessions. That was good defensive play. Oklahoma has one outstanding linebacker in Kenneth Murray, he finished the game with 13 solo tackles.
Both Houston’s offensive and defensive lines had problems. They couldn’t protect their quarterback on offense and couldn’t contain Oklahoma’s offense, stopping them only once.
In my opinion, both teams need help with defense. If Oklahoma wants to compete with elite teams outside the Big12 they must be able to stop their opponent's offenses.
Oklahoma hosts Prairie View A&M on Sept. 7th
Ohio State 45 – Florida Atlantic 21 The 27.5 point spread was not covered.
Georgia transfer QB Justin Fields led the Ohio State Buckeyes to victory this past Saturday. He played well but also showed his inexperience at times. The offense was able to score on their first four drives which were wonderful but then the slowed down and began to have problems in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
The Buckeyes defense was able to control Houston’s offense to two field goals until the 4th quarter against Ohio States back-ups. The score looks a lot closer than the game actually was. The Buckeyes were in control of the game all the way.
The first-team offense had some problems and got bogged down at times. First-year Head Coach, Ryan Day thought his team's offense had a lot to build off of and their game management was decent. If Ohio State wants to stay in the Top 5 they are going to have to improve to be a lot better than “decent”.
FAU just doesn’t have the caliber players or depth to stay with a power 5 team. Sorry Coach Kiffin but that’s just fact.
Ohio State hosts Cincinnati on Sept. 7th
LSU 55 – Georgia Southern 3 The 27.5 point spread was covered.
Louisiana State University opened at home against a lesser opponent in Georgia Southern. The GSU Eagles couldn’t get anything going offensively against the way overmatched Tigers of LSU. The Eagles ended with less than 100 yards total offense.
LSU showed off their new spread offensive scheme. It worked to perfection and allowed them to score three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. QB Joe Burrow stayed in the game for only one series in the second half before turning the reigns over to second-team QB Myles Brennan.
The Eagles run a Triple Option offense and the Tigers were able to shut it down. LSU’s defense was ready and looked sharp and together. They were able to force two Eagle’s turnovers.
LSU dominated the field with their offense. I loved Coach Ed Orgeron’s statement after the game where he stated, “We're going to run the spread offense. We're going to score points. We've got athletes. That's what we do”. I will totally agree with him on this fact.
LSU was the sharpest and most confident team I saw this opening weekend.
LSU travels to Texas on Sept. 7th
Michigan 40 – Middle Tennessee State 21 The point spread was “off”.
The Michigan Wolverines were like many teams this opening weekend, they were slow to start and looked rough around the edges.
Michigan has changed to a no-huddle, spread offense. They have got to learn to execute this game-plan. There were many mental and/or physical errors. The Wolverines had a hard time holding onto the ball. They fumbled the very first possession and then went on to fumble again later in the game. MTSU took advantage of these errors and scored touchdowns after each fumble. It was a win but a very ugly win. Coach Harbaugh said that they had too many pre-snap penalties and too much mishandling the ball.
The Michigan defense allowed a much lesser team to put up over 300 total offense on them. Sloppy first game.
On a brighter note, QB Shea Patterson did throw three touchdown passes, however, the Wolverines were over a five-touchdown favorite. QB Shea Patterson had this to say after the game. "Obviously, didn't get off to a good start, I've got to take care of the football." He is absolutely correct. I had hope and great expectations for this team, let’s hope it was first-game jitters.
Michigan hosts Army on Sept. 7th
Florida 24 – Miami 20 The 7 point spread was not covered.
There is nothing like opening the season with a huge Instate rivalry game! This game was exciting for the casual fan all the way through. This game went back and forth a few times. At the end of the first half, the Canes led with a score of 13-7 over the much-hyped Gators. In the 3rd quarter, the Gators came back strong and scored 10 points to go ahead of the Canes by four points. Both teams scored TD’s in the 4th quarter. The Canes had the ball late in the 4th and even converted a fourth and 34 with only a little over a minute remaining in the game. The Canes could not get over the goal-line and the Gators won this match-up.
This game appears to have been very well matched. Both teams had just over 300 yards total offense. But let’s look deeper. The Gators threw two interceptions and coughed the ball up on the ground twice. Despite the fact that Miami had the ball 36.13 minutes to Florida’s 23.47 minutes, the Gators came away with the win. The Gators are a much better all-around team than the Canes. I believe they will continue to improve under Coach Mullins and will be fine this season.
Florida hosts UT-Martin on Sept. 7th
Notre Dame 35 – Louisville 17 The 20 point spread was not covered.
The last game of the holiday weekend played on this past Monday night. After being tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter, the Irish took the game in hand and controlled it.
Louisville owned possession of the ball four minutes longer than Notre Dame, they also had more 1st downs and more rushing yards, but the Irish more than doubled the Cardinals score. Louisville also lost the ball 3 times to ND’s one time.
It was the yards passing where the Irish picked up their ground. They had 193 yards in the air and averaged over 8 yards per pass. That was 60 yards more than Louisville.
Notre Dame’s defense looked a little unsure of their footing to begin the game, but chalk that up to Louisville being excited and full of energy early in the game. By the end of the 1st quarter, the Irish defense had figured out what Louisville’s offense was doing and was able to better contain them and allowing a 3 point field goal as their only score in the last three quarters.
Notre Dame has a bye week and will host New Mexico on Sept. 14th
Texas 45 – Louisiana Tech 14 The 20 point spread was covered.
Louisiana Tech didn’t score until Texas put in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th teams in the fourth quarter of play. Especially dominating was Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger, throwing for four touchdown passes and leading his offense to rush more than 150 yards.
Statistically speaking, this was an extremely close game with Louisiana Tech leading in time of possession and first downs. One very important stat they also committed more turnovers. The Longhorns defense caused two interceptions and one fumble to stop Bulldog drives.
Ehlinger played only the first three quarters and was allowed to sit out the fourth and his backups given plenty of playing time. When he left the game it was 38-0 in favor of his Longhorns.
Texas had 8 new starters on defense but they looked well-coached and confident in their defensive game-plan.
This is Texas Head Coach Tom Herman’s first season with the Longhorns to be 1-0. This should also help to boost confidence in this Big12 team.
Texas hosts LSU on Sept. 7th
I am very happy to say that I will be back bringing you a synopsis of the Top-10 teams each week during the Season.