What We Learned During College Football’s Opening Weekend

With week one of the college football season in the books it is time to look ahead. Instead of taking the same hunches and opinions we held before the season into the second week, what did we learn last weekend? There are a few trends that we really ought to have known but in case we needed a reminder they were made very clear during the Labor Day weekend.

With week one of the college football season in the books it is time to look ahead. Instead of taking the same hunches and opinions we held before the season into the second week, what did we learn last weekend? There are a few trends that we really ought to have known but in case we needed a reminder they were made very clear during the Labor Day weekend.

Elite Coaches Win Games

Kevin Sumlin was regarded as an up and comer when he was an assistant at Oklahoma. In his first head coaching job he led Houston to three bowl games in four years. When the Cougars won the Armed Forces Bowl in 2008 it was their first bowl victory since 1980. Sumlin was hired at Texas A&M in 2011 where he promptly won 11 games. It was the Aggies best season since the 90’s. However, quarterback Johnny Manziel got a lot of the credit. Without Manziel on Thursday, Sumlin and Company rocked South Carolina in Columbia. Steve Spurrier is no slouch, but Sumlin is very good.

Bobby Petrino has had major off the field problems but he has never had an issue winning. Now in his second stint at Louisville, the Cardinals dominated Miami on Monday night. The Hurricanes were completely locked down going one for 13 on third down and totaling only 244 yards while turning the ball over three times. Meanwhile, Louisville converted nearly 50-percent of their third down tries, went two for two on fourth down, dominated time of possession and did not look as though they’ll miss Charlie Strong who left to coach Texas.

When Mike Gundy arrived at Oklahoma State in 2005 the Cowboys had put together winning seasons in four of the previous 16 campaigns. After one year of adjustments, the last six years have been good or very good in Stillwater. After a tight loss to top ranked Florida State as a 17 point underdog on Saturday, Oklahoma State is 41-12 since the start of 2010. With an inexperienced lineup the Cowboys frustrated Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, held FSU to four of 14 on third down, and rushed for 161 yards against the stout Seminoles. Gundy’s group should not face a major challenge again until late October and by that time they won’t be inexperienced anymore.

 

Athleticism and Talent are more important than Experience

Wisconsin dominated LSU for two-and-a-half quarters. The Badgers have the most experienced offensive line in the country and just looked more comfortable. They led 24-7 but something was amiss. The Tigers were still the quicker, stronger, and bigger team. Their timing wasn’t right early on and they made frequent mistakes, but the talent for LSU was evident. After Wisconsin suffered two key injuries, LSU beat them in every facet of the game over the final 23 minutes.

Butch Jones showed up in Knoxville with a big task. Tennessee’s program had hit rock bottom and needed a rebuild. In year one the Vols were a competitive 5-7. They started his second season with a dominating performance against Utah State. The Aggies played one possession games against Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Auburn, USC and Wisconsin in recent years, were coming off a nine win season, and returned quarterback Chuckie Keeton, an NFL prospect. Tennessee dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Utah State may have a good year, but despite the Vols being young in the trenches, they simply had better players.

 

The Mountain West Stinks

In bowl games last season the Mountain West went 3-3 with wins over 6-7 Washington State, and the MAC’s Buffalo and Northern Illinois. They dropped postseason games to USC, North Texas, and Oregon State. In week one this year, co-champions from a year ago Utah State and Fresno State got pounded by Tennessee and USC. Boise State, who finished 6-2 in conference play last season, was embarrassed by Ole Miss. UNLV got torched at Arizona. New Mexico got beat at home by UTEP who went 2-10 last season. Wyoming barely held off FCS member Montana. Credit to Colorado State for beating rival Colorado, though the Buffs have five wins in the last two seasons, and to Hawaii who played Washington tight. Simply put, the league just doesn’t have very good teams right now.