Do you guys smell that? It smells like the high of winning, the disappointing woes of defeat, elation and depression, with the boys of fall rolling in for Week 1. For many fans, the season got off to a hot start and has them dreaming of a playoff berth. For many others, week 1 demonstrated the crushing blow of defeat that sends adult fans (and some non-adult fans) into a period of binge drinking in the hopes that it might numb the pain. Week 1 had some fun moments and playoff-implicating games. Let’s start.
Florida Atlantic vs. Oklahoma. Final: Oklahoma 63, FAU 14
I’m an OU fan and I did not expect the score to be as lopsided as it was. I expected Florida Atlantic and Devin “Motor” Singletary to run over OU’s defense and push the game to a shootout.
That didn’t happen. Instead, OU shot off to a huge two-touchdown lead after a Rodney Anderson 30 yard TD run and a blocked punt by Lee Morris and the Sooners never looked back.
LOOK AT THAT BURST.
It's week 1 and Gus Johnson is already in mid-season form. pic.twitter.com/UVZl0MfRWJ
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 1, 2018
The biggest takeaway? The Sooners’ defense looked…good? Devin Singletary had 2,116 yards from scrimmage and 33 total touchdowns last season, but he was held to 69(nice) yards on 18 carries and scored on the backups with less than a minute to go in the 3rd quarter. Granted, it was Week 1 against a C-USA team that struggled against P5 competition last season, but it’s a pleasant sight to see after the abysmal defensive showings from Oklahoma the last few seasons. If the defense can play at a high level all season to support that explosive offense, nobody’s touching the Sooners in the Big 12 this year.
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 1, 2018
Washington vs. Auburn. Final: Auburn 21, Washington 16
Man, this was an ugly one. Missed kicks, sloppy offenses, and stout defenses. No style points here. This was a slugfest and the Tigers walked away victorious.
Stidham looked good for the most part but still struggled under pressure, which was a key weakness on his tape last year that the Huskies exploited all game long. It didn’t matter much as Stidham threw for 273 yards and a TD. The real winners here are the Auburn defensive linemen: Derrick Brown, Dontavious Russell, Marlon Davidson, and Nick Coe. They were all over the field, constantly harassing Jake Browning and the Washington offensive line, who desperately needed LT Trey Adams back for this one. Speaking of Browning, he looked like his usual self, struggling under said pressure and generally limiting the Washington offense.
So weak, dumbass run play to start those final downs and two terrible sacks taken by Browning. With the amount of limitations Browning has at the position the should at least have some damn awareness.
— LJ Chaney (@pacificscouting) September 1, 2018
Good news for the Huskies, they get a great rebound Win against FCS North Dakota next week before Pac-12 play starts. Auburn has to feel good about the win, but they have some things to fix offensively in next week’s tune-up game against Alabama State before they take on LSU the following week. The biggest takeaway from all this is just how shot the Pac-12 playoff contention looks now. This was a chance for Washington and the Pac-12 to have a key non-conference win after the abysmal bowl game performances last season. The Pac-12 needs a new torch-bearer for this season, or their light just might burn out.
Louisville vs. Alabama. Final: Alabama 51, Louisville 14
Alabama covered their 24 point spread like we all thought they would. The key takeaway here was the Alabama QB “battle” was finally solved. Tua Tagavailoa started the game and threw two touchdown passes before running one in himself, while Hurts started slow, but ended up leading Alabama to a field goal at the end of the 3rd quarter. However, the game ended the controversy, as much as Saban likes to downplay it.
5-5 on 3rd with Tua
0-1 with Hurts with 2 inaccurate throws and Bama forced to punt for the first time tonight.
Competition my backside.
— AJDraftScout (@AJDraftScout) September 2, 2018
Louisville got curb-stomped, but Jawon Pass got some important reps against a top-tier defense and still threw 2 touchdown passes against the Tide, albeit both late in the 2nd half. On the other hand, Louisville’s promising receiver corps of Jaylen Smith, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Seth Dawkins combined for only 130 total yards on 7 catches. So much for this…
Dez Fitzpatrick: “Every WR in our receiver corps can honestly beat every one of [Alabama's] DBs 1-on-1 in coverage. .. I feel like straight talent-wise, I feel like we have the upper edge against their secondary, 1,000 percent.”
UL +25.5 vs. Bama on 9/1.https://t.co/IjBiopUs5f
— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) August 13, 2018
Alabama looked like their dominant selves with a new wrinkle in their game with an actual passing attack. Which is scary to think about. They go on next week to a cupcake against Justice Hansen’s Arkansas State team before starting conference play against Ole Miss the following week. As for Louisville, they get a chance to rebound next week against Indiana State before playing Western Kentucky the following week.
Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Final: Notre Dame 24, Michigan 17.
Sigh. I thought the Washington-Auburn game was ugly. This one was worse. Terrible offensive play and one of the worst called games I’ve ever seen on both sides offensively made this game a trainwreck. Both teams somehow managed to eclipse 300 total yards of offense, but you wouldn’t know it based on how the defenses played.
And boy did they play. Notre Dame has some seriously studly players at all 3 levels of the field. Jerry Tillery, Te’Von Coney, Julian Love, Alohi Gilman, Drue Tranquill, and Asmar Bilal were wreaking that Michigan front all game long and putting immense pressure on new Michigan QB Shea Patterson. That defense looked lights out. Offensively, Notre Dame struggled to consistently do much in the 2nd half, and the two early scores made the difference in that game featuring Wimbush’s best throw of his career.
Fighting Irish have come out swinging! ND up by 2 scores early. Brandon Wimbush pass complete to Chris Finke for a 43 yard touchdown. [Michigan #Wolverines 0 @ Notre Dame #FightingIrish 14] pic.twitter.com/WYCreP4dGL
— Football Dungeon (@DuaneLively) September 2, 2018
As for Michigan, it looked like the same old Harbaugh Michigan. The offense really struggled to do anything consistently outside of Karan Higdon, and overall was incredibly bland and didn’t look all that different from the Michigan of the two previous seasons. Defensively, Devin Bush, Chase Winovich, and Rashan Gary generated a ton of pressure on Wimbush and helped that defense shut down Notre Dame’s run game all night long. Finally, something we expected in this game.
Is it enough to make a statement about this game? Debatable. Shea Patterson wasn’t anything remotely resembling his hype and looked exactly like he did at Ole Miss, but his line didn’t do him any favors up front and the receivers had a tough time working open against Notre Dame. The worrisome thing was just how bad the play-calling was and how poor the game management was.
Idc if they win after this tweet, UM's clock management has been abysmal
— AJDraftScout (@AJDraftScout) September 2, 2018
They ran the ball twice on the goal line to score with under three minutes left, and then on the following drive, they threw the ball inbounds three times before Shea Patterson coughed it up at the end. There was zero urgency at the end, and that is worrisome.
Notre Dame fans can be happy they beat Michigan and showed a dominant defense, but until that offense evolves, it could be more of the same in South Bend.
Michigan gets a rebound game against Western Michigan next week at home, while Notre Dame takes on Ball State at home.
Miami vs. LSU. Final: LSU 33, Miami 17
This game was a lot closer than the scoreboard suggests. Miami’s costly mistakes, poor punting, and fielding Rosier at QB doomed the Hurricanes. LSU scored 10 points off of turnovers and seemed to just have the athletic edge on Miami all game long. Miami ended up outgaining the Tigers, but Miami’s vaunted defense got hammered all game long and LSU controlled the game.
Rosier was terrible all game long and looked rattled from the first snap. He is another example of a top program being limited by their quarterback play. Take a look:
Malik Rosier's last 3 games last year:
40/89 (45 percent) for 500 yards, 3 TDs and 5 INTs.
9/22 for 112 yards and 2 INTs tonight so far nearing end of the 3rd quarter.
This can't be the best Miami has.
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) September 3, 2018
Not exactly Baker Mayfield numbers (or Kyler Murray for funsies). I can’t say I was super impressed by anybody offensively for Miami besides WR Jeff Thomas, who flashed whenever Rosier was able to get the ball to him with 5 catches for 132 yards. LSU Bottled up the Miami RB group as none of them got over 40 yards all game and combined for 83 total yards on the ground. WR Ahmmon Richards also apparently was banged up early, and that nearly sealed the deal for the Hurricanes offense. Defensively, DT Gerald Willis balled out for Miami (8 total tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU) and was a shining star in an otherwise bleak night for the U.
LSU, on the other hand, looked a little better offensively, and it started with potential breakout name Nick Brosette, who ended up going 22-125-2 on Miami and looks like the next great LSU running back. New quarterback Joe Burrow had an up and down night passing going 11/24 for 140 yards, but he made some critical throws on 3rd down and didn’t inhibit the offensive flow (something LSU hasn’t had great luck with in the past). Defensively, CB Greedy Williams and S Grant Delpit were all over the field on Miami. Those two definitely are more DBs to add to the LSU factory.
Miami has a rebound game against Savannah State next week and Toledo week 3, while LSU goes back to Baton Rouge for a game against SE Louisiana before traveling to play Auburn to start conference play.
Virginia Tech vs. Florida State. Final: Virginia Tech 24, Florida State 3
What a terrible snoozefest of a game unless you were a Virginia Tech fan. Florida State’s offense looked absolutely terrible all game long and Virginia Tech’s defense demolished whatever that was that called itself Florida State’s offensive line. I don’t think Virginia Tech’s offense was really dynamic outside of a few big runs by DeShawn McClease. They were just able to capitalize on Florida State’s constant mistakes.
Deondre Francois came into this game with high hopes, and they hit rock bottom Monday night. It wasn’t really his fault, as Taggart’s playcalling was dreadful and his receivers had some key drops, but it wasn’t a stellar showing for the Florida State offense. Cam Akers was bottled up almost all night outside of his big 86 yard run, but he actually finished with 82 total yards rushing.
Defensively, both teams played very well. Florida State’s Brian Burns made some highlight plays and flew around the field. Virginia Tech’s defense stole the show, holding FSU’s offense to 3 points and barely over 300 yards of offense. Considering Virginia Tech had only 4 returning starters and a bunch of freshmen and sophomores playing, it was all around an impressive performance.
Florida State has a chance to mulligan that Week 1 performance against Samford next week before conference play. Virginia Tech gets a nice road ahead before conference play with games against William & Mary, East Carolina, and Old Dominion before traveling to play Duke in Week 5.
Other notable games:
Texas vs. Maryland
That game was rough from start to finish. Texas’s offense looked much like it did last year, and the defense had some critical mistakes. Three turnovers in the final quarter sealed the deal and gave Maryland the win. Ehlinger might not have the starting job for much longer if he repeats that performance.
App State vs. Penn State
Nobody expected this game to go into a shootout and overtime, but then it happened. Credit to Coach Satterfield for having App State ready for this stage, even if they came just short thanks to an OT interception by Amani Oruwariye. RB Jalin Moore made some big plays in this one. Penn State barely survived this one, but they better get their act together before traveling to rival Pitt next week.
West Virginia vs. Tennessee
This game was close at halftime at 13-7, then a weather delay hit the game. And that’s when it went downhill for the Vols. Will Grier and West Virginia came out swinging and put up 20 points in the 3rd quarter to put the game away. Grier went 25 of 34 for 429 yards and 5 TDs, a nice start for the Heisman hopeful. Guarantano got the start for the Vols, but the offense sputtered all game and he only threw for 172 yards. Lots of questions remain for the Vols before SEC play.
Cincinnati vs. UCLA
Tough start for the Chip Kelly era at UCLA. Mistakes were plentiful in this game, and the Bearcats happily pounced upon them. Touted freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson flashed, but finished 15 of 25 for 117 yards and zero touchdowns. Whether or not DTR or Speight will start next week on the road against Oklahoma is unknown, but after the Sooners’ smackdown of Lane Kiffin’s Owls, next week looks like a rough show for Kelly’s Bruins as well.
Now, as a final send-off, can we say a prayer for the Kansas Jayhawks? They had a chance to finally have a win, and they lost to Nicholls State in OT. David Beaty looks like he’s on the outs after another dreadful performance. Kansas will be looking for a new HC soon to try and give this program new life.