Tuck: It's A New Season
Yes, now we can pronounce, college football season has begun. And like every year, what we thought we knew, we actually did not. Tough to admit for some, but the first step to recovery is accepting reality as it is.
And reality hit home hard in a few places over the weekend.
In Fayetteville, the Hogs had dreams of following up last season's 11-2 finish with a national title this year. After all, they would host Alabama and LSU this year, the two teams that knocked them off a season ago. As it turns out, they couldn't even make it unscathed to this week's game with the Tide. QB Tyler Wilson was knocked out, and then the Warhawks exposed a suspect defense that couldn't be covered up by an explosive offense any longer. Louisiana-Monroe delivered a 34-31 overtime win and completely knocked the Hogs out of the rankings.
Oklahoma State got short-changed by pollsters a season ago, finishing 3rd in a the two-team BCS race and having to watch the all-SEC affair like the rest of us. It was doubtful they'd avenge that snub this year, but Cowboys didn't make it to the Big-XII schedule before getting hammered by Rich Rodriguez and Arizona 59-38. They hadn't played in Tucson since 1942, and probably don't want to go back anytime soon. It was definitely a different story this year, than last when they beat the Wildcats 37-14. Good bye Cowboys.
Russell Wilson is starting in the NFL now, and Wisconsin played like they missed him. A LOT. A week ago the writing was on the wall when the Badgers had to survive FCS member Northern Iowa 26-21. They weren't so lucky on the road, losing to Oregon State 10-7. The preseason pick by many (not me) to win the Big Ten, clearly isn't the team we saw advance to back-2-back Rose Bowls. They were outgained 354-207 and Montee Ball saw his touchdown scored streak end at 21 games.
Oh, couple that loss, with Nebraska's loss (the team I picked to win the Big Ten) at UCLA, and the Big Ten is now 5-27-1 at PAC-12 schools since 1993. Ouch. I thought the Huskers could be making two trips to Pasadena this year. Maybe not.
Surprises, to be sure, are always a fixture in every college football season. These simply serve as a reminder that the last season is over with, and for Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Wisconsin that fall from contention to afterthought can be a fast one.
This week's Insider Pollreflects those changes. Here is mine:
7. Michigan State
10. Ohio State
11. South Carolina
13. West Virginia
14. Arizona State
16. Mississippi State
17. Notre Dame
18. Kansas State
20. Virginia Tech
25. Utah State
Obviously it is still very early and things can change suddenly. And those surprises above, that is why I make such strong reactions in my polling. UCLA looked terrific and came up with a strong win. Why not reward them? Nothing is etched in stone. It's not being bold, it's simply reacting as things happen. FSU hasn't really had a chance to prove much, and I could justify moving them down, but I will allow them to settle where I had them early for now. It will probably require 2-3 more weeks where I'll start having to sort through where to rank 1-loss teams versus unbeaten teams based on schedule and appearance. Everything is debatable at this point though, so have at it, but understand it matters little.
- How about the Pac-12? Knocked off the Big Ten champ, Big Twelve champ, and Nebraska this week, and did it with 3 sub-.500 teams from 2011. A new season indeed. The new coaches went 4-0. It wasn't perfect though, as Washington got blasted at LSU and Colorado continues to be mystifyingly bad losing to Sacramento State on a last second field goal.
- Louisiana-Monroe's win was the first ever Sun Belt win against a top ten team. I think we'll find out together Arkansas might have been a tad overrated.
- Denard Robinson accounted for 426 of Michigan's 422 yards in a 31-25 escape of visiting Air Force. Yes, Robinson actually had more yards than his team in what was his 3rd career 200-200 game. That theory floated around that Michigan was still a "great" team that got plowed by the "best" team in Alabama took a little hit in this one however. Good thing for Michigan is that that Big Ten is absorbing numerous beatings early in the year and somebody has to win it.
- Miami got steamrolled by Colin Klein and Kansas State 52-13. I think there is more outcomes like that to come for Miami this year with a defense that is showing little resistance, LB Denzel Perryman excluded.
- Impressive road win for the Gators in College Station. It doesn't get any easier this week with a trip to Knoxville, but it is encouraging they were able to grind out a win against Texas A&M. Florida will need a healthy Mike Gillislee to run for them and must figure out how to protect the quarterback better if they are to find a way to play in Atlanta.
- Very impressive comeback in Nevada for BJ Daniels and USF. Down 31-20 with just under 3 minutes left he threw two bombs late to pull off an improbable victory.
- The Big Ten Leaders division is looking a lot like the Pac-12 South from last year. Like USC a year ago, the best team, Ohio State, is ineligible for the postseason.
- Charlie Weis led Kansas to a 25-24 home loss to Rice. Getting to last year's 2-10 record took a big hit.
- I am guessing God engineered that weather delay and ending in Tallahassee to spare Savannah State. It also kept them out of the record books. Last week the Tigers opened as a record-setting dog (+67.5) at Oklahoma State, but it was bet down to +58 to keep them behind the official record of +60. They were a 70.5 point underdog to the Noles, and down 55-0 with the game ended by weather in the 3rd quarter, it did not become an official game in Vegas, rendering the bet mute, and again keeping them from the record.