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There was plenty of good news for the Pac-12 in Week 1. But there was one bad loss that won’t be easy to forget for some time – at least in Corvallis, Ore.

Oregon easily handled Nicholls State in the debut of coach Mark Helfrich, while Washington scored a huge victory over Washington. UCLA was impressive in its victory over Nevada, and USC was just too much for Hawaii – even with a struggling quarterback situation.

Week 1 of the 2013 season certainly won’t be forgotten at Oregon State anytime soon. The Beavers were shredded by FCS opponent Eastern Washington and lost 49-46. Although Oregon State should eventually get on track, it’s a bad moment for a program that was ranked in the top 25 by some this preseason.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
11Oregon (1-0, 0-0): Chip Kelly is gone, but there wasn’t much of a difference in the Ducks’ performance – at least through Week 1. Against an overmatched Nicholls State squad, Oregon recorded 772 yards and 66 points. Those totals are even more impressive when you consider the Ducks held the ball for just 19:46. Touted true freshman running back Thomas Tyner did not play in Week 1 due to injury, but he is expected to return to the field soon. Next Week: at Virginia
22Stanford (0-0, 0-0): Stanford began the 2013 season with a bye week. The Cardinal have few glaring holes, but the extra week should have allowed the team to work on the passing game. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is expected to emerge as one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks, but the sophomore needs more help from his receiving corps: Next Week: San Jose State
37Washington (1-0, 0-0): The Huskies secured the Pac-12’s best victory of Week 1, dominating Boise State 38-6. Both sides of the ball delivered in the opening of new Husky Stadium. The defense held Boise State to six points and just 175 passing yards, while the offense recorded 592 yards and 33 first downs. Quarterback Keith Price appears to be regaining his form of 2011, as he threw for 324 yards and two scores against the Broncos. For a program that has finished 7-6 for three straight seasons, Washington needed to win the opener to get over seven victories in 2013. Next Week: Bye
43Arizona State (0-0, 0-0): The Sun Devils had a bye week on Saturday and will hit the field on Thursday night for their first game. Coach Todd Graham’s team is Athlon’s pick to win the Pac-12 title in 2013. Next Week: Sacramento State (Thursday)
56UCLA (1-0, 0-0): The Bruins opened their Pac-12 South title defense with a convincing 58-20 victory over Nevada. 41 of UCLA’s 58 points came in the second half, including five rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Brett Hundley had an efficient performance, while Jordon James clearly emerged as the Bruins’ No. 1 running back with 155 yards and one touchdown on 21 attempts. UCLA’s secondary was a huge concern going into the season, but Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo managed just 164 passing yards. Next Week: at Nebraska (Sept. 14)
65USC (1-0, 0-0): It wasn’t pretty, but USC left Hawaii with a 1-0 record. The quarterback battle between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek will continue into Week 2, as neither passer was able to move the ball consistently through the air. Although the passing game is a work in progress, the offensive line might be a bigger concern. USC allowed three sacks to Hawaii and struggled to get its rushing game on track in the first half. The defense was a bright spot for coach Lane Kiffin, as the Trojans recorded seven sacks against the Warriors. Next Week: Washington State
78Arizona (1-0, 0-0): The Wildcats didn’t have to sweat much in their opening, beating Northern Arizona 35-0. Star running back Ka’Deem Carey was suspended for the opener, but he wasn’t needed as backup Daniel Jenkins had 139 rushing yards on 12 carries. B.J. Denker got the start at quarterback and had a solid performance, while backup Javelle Allen had a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Next Week: at UNLV
89California (0-1, 0-0): Even in a losing effort, the Golden Bears were one of the Pac-12’s most impressive teams in Week 1. True freshman quarterback Jared Goff turned heads with his performance, throwing for 445 yards and two touchdowns on 63 attempts. Receivers Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper each caught over 10 passes, while the defense held Northwestern to just one offensive touchdown in the second half. Although Dykes and his staff would prefer to open the season with the win, there’s nothing for California to be ashamed about. And this team will be a handful for the rest of the Pac-12 in 2013. Next Week: Portland State
910Utah (1-0, 0-0): Even though the Utes have played only one game this year, it’s clear the hire of Dennis Erickson as offensive coordinator should pay dividends. Quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 302 yards and two scores against Utah State’s defense, while three running backs had 10 carries or more, resulting in 148 overall rushing yards for the Utes. After missing out on a bowl game last year, Utah needed to get 2013 off to a good start. With Weber State up next, the Utes should be 2-0 going into a key conference matchup against Oregon State on Sept. 14. Next Week: Weber State 
1011Washington State (0-1, 0-0 ACC): The Cougars lost their Week 1 non-conference matchup against Auburn, but coach Mike Leach has to be pleased with the progress of his team. Washington State found a rushing attack (120 yards), and quarterback Connor Halliday seemed to have a better grasp of the offense (344 yards). The defense also held Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to just 99 passing yards. Washington State’s offensive line will get another tough test against an active USC front on Saturday. Next Week: at USC
1112Colorado (1-0, 0-0): What a difference a coaching staff makes. Colorado made one of the offseason’s top coaching hires by pulling Mike MacIntyre away from San Jose State. And MacIntyre and his staff showed just how much this team will be improved this year with a 41-27 win over Colorado State in the opener. MacIntyre and coordinator Brian Lindgren turned Connor Wood from a struggling quarterback into one of Week 1’s top performers, throwing for 400 yards and three scores. Receiver Paul Richardson showed no rust from missing all of last season with a torn ACL, catching 10 passes for 208 yards and two scores. The competition gets tougher, but the Buffaloes will be more competitive in the Pac-12 this year. Next Week: Central Arkansas
124Oregon State (0-1, 0-0): The Beavers are better than this ranking, but there’s simply no excuse losing to a FCS team – even a good one like Eastern Washington. Oregon State’s offense certainly wasn’t the problem on Saturday, as quarterback Sean Mannion was outstanding (422 yards and three touchdowns), while receiver Brandin Cooks grabbed 13 receptions. But there were major breakdowns on defense. Oregon State allowed Eastern Washington to record 625 yards and 49 points. The Beavers will rebound, but this was a disappointing performance for a team with top-25 aspirations. Next Week: Hawaii

Pac-12 Week 1 Awards

Compiled by Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
The Oregon quarterback might be the most enjoyable player to watch in the enitre nation. He is simply effortless in all that he does. Yes, Keith Price and Travis Wilson posted equally impressive numbers against tougher competition, but Mariota is the leader of the Pac-12 frontrunner and he was brilliant on Saturday. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's a 22.6 yards per carry average. His offense totalled 772 yards and scoreed 66 points for Mark Helfrich in his head coaching debut. Also, a tip of the cap in this section needs to go to Colorado receiver Paul Richardson for his monster performance against Colorado State.

Defensive Player of the Week: Dion Bailey, USC
Dion Bailey moved from undersized linebacker to head-hunting safety this offseason and the move paid off in a big way in week one. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast watched his unit stifle former USC coordinator Norm Chow's offense all night led in large part by Bailey. He led the Trojans in tackles with seven and added both a sack and an interception to his stat sheet. The Trojans allowed just 231 yards of offense and only 32 yards rushing in the 30-13 win over Hawaii.

Team of the Week: Washington
Many thought Washington could pull the slight upset over the ranked Broncos but few saw this type of domination coming for the Huskies. As new Husky Stadium was christened in style by handing Boise State their worst loss since 2005 (48-13, Georgia). Both sides of the ball looked excellent as Keith Price threw for over 300 yards, while Bishop Sankey rushed for 161, each scoring two touchdowns along the way. The defense held Boise State to three points in each half and kept the Broncos out of the endzone all night long. This might have been the most impressive win nationally (other than maybe Clemson) and it could not have come at a more critical time for Steve Sarkisian.

Coordinator of the Week: Justin Wilcox, Washington

Chris Petersen doesn't know what the Woodshed looks like but he found out in a large way against one of his own. Wilcox coached under Petersen as the defensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2006-09 before moving to Seattle by way of Tennessee. Well, the pupil taught the master a few things late on Saturday night as the Huskies defense dominated the game. The six points were the fewest scored by Boise State since being shutout in 1997 by Washington State and it was just the third time since that blanking that Boise State failed to reach at least 10 points in a game. Needless to say, what Wilcox accomplished Saturday night doesn't happen very often.

Freshman of the Week: Addison Gillam, LB, Colorado
The Buffaloes scored a huge win over in-state rival Colorado State on Sunday, and Gillam was a key piece in defense’s performance. He recorded 14 stops (with two tackles as a loss), along with two sacks and one pass breakup. Gillam was a big reason why Colorado State managed just 94 rushing yards.


5th Down

How times does any team on any level produce over 500 yards of offense, convert on 50-percent of third downs, not turn the ball over a single time and get beat? That is what happened to Oregon State this weekend when it lost in heart-breaking fashion to lower-tier power Eastern Washington. To fans outside of Corvallis, it was a game to remember featuring six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of game time. A big tip of the cap to EWU starting quarterback Vernon Adams who had the game of his life. He threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns while running for 107 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers would be sick against lower level competition but in Reser Stadium against a Top 25 opponent? Oregon State has some flaws it needs to work through and after one weekend, it appears Washington might be the top challenger to Oregon/Stanford Pac-12 North supremacy, not the Beavers.

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It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heart-break in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings:

 TeamLWAnalysis 
1.-Ohio State (1-0, 0-0): Urban Meyer should be ecstatic after Week 1. His team won fairly easily by nearly three touchdowns but also struggled just enough to offer his staff plenty of coaching points. Ohio State allowed Buffalo to hang around for most of the game, had nine penalties and lost the turnover battle. That said, the Buckeyes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games. Next Week: San Diego State 
2.
 
-Michigan (1-0, 0-0): The Wolverines posted its highest-scoring opener since 1905 by crushing Central Michigan. Devin Gardner made a few mistakes but was solid, and Brady Hoke was able to get plenty of key freshmen plenty of experience in the blowout. Michigan will need it when Notre Dame comes to town this weekend. Next Week: Notre Dame 
3.
 
-Nebraska (1-0, 0-0): Fans in Lincoln better hope that the scare Wyoming gave them wasn't a sign of things to come but rather a wake-up call. This team neeeds to develop toughness and killer instinct on defense after allowing more than 600 yards of offense to the Cowboys. Taylor Martinez is excellent, and his supporting cast on offense is outstanding. However, this team has to improve quickly on defense. Next Week: Southern Miss 
4.
 
-Northwestern (1-0, 0-0): Kain Colter may have to sit out a game or two due to a concussion, but the good news is Trevor Siemian is completely capable. Pat Fitzgerald has some work to do on defense but his squad delivered in an important status win for the program on the road. Next Week: Syracuse 
5.
 
-Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0): The Gary Andersen Era got underway in impressive fashion and the Badgers looked a lot like what fans in Madison have watched for the last few decades. The Badgers pounded the football on the ground and played stingy defense in the easy win over UMass. More importantly, quarterback Joel Stave returned to action by accounting for three touchdowns. Next Week: Tennessee Tech 
6.
 
-Penn State (1-0, 0-0): Christian Hackenberg is officially a Big Ten quarterback. And he is 1-0 as a starter. The true freshman phenom was more than adequate as the Lions outlasted a physical Syracuse team. Allen Robinson sat out the first half on a coach's decision and exploded for 133 yards and a TD in the second half. Next Week: Eastern Michigan 
7.
 
-Michigan State (1-0, 0-0): Michigan State looks a lot like Michigan State after one week. The defense is nasty — it scored twice against Western Michigan — and the offense looks mediocre at best — it scored one offensive touchdown. Andrew Maxwell (21 att.) and Connor Cook (16 att.) split time so the QB battle in East Lansing is far from over. Next Week: USF 
8.
 
-Minnesota (1-0, 0-0): The all-important third year of the Jerry Kill era began slowly but ended in impressive fashion. Thanks to three combined defensive and special teams touchdowns, the Gophers pulled away in the second half against UNLV. Quarterback Philip Nelson began his first full season as the starter by scoring three times. Next Week: at New Mexico State 
9.
 
-Indiana (1-0, 0-0): Eventually, Kevin Wilson will have to pick a quarterback, but for now, his offense is just fine. Tre Roberson got the start but both Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman saw snaps as the trio combined for six touchdown passes. The Hoosiers set a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points, which was just three shy of the all-time school record of 76. Next Week: Navy 
10.
 
-Iowa (0-1, 0-0): The Hawkeyes had never lost to Northern Illinois in eight tries but the heartbreaking last-second loss to the Huskies is a horrible omen for embattled head coach Kirk Ferentz. Jake Rudock played well in his first start but threw a costly interception that cost Iowa the game. Next Week: Missouri State 
11.
 
-Purdue (0-1, 0-0): This was as bad a coaching debut as could have been expected for Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers were sloppy, unproductive, inefficient and didn't belong on the same field as the Bearcats. And their schedule includes three BCS bowl teams in the next four weeks. Next Week: Indiana State 
12.
 
-Illinois (1-0, 0-0): It wasn't pretty and it was much closer than Tim Beckman would have liked but Illinois got an important win over Southern Illinois. The Illini needed a goal line stand in the final minute to beat the Missouri Valley foe, due in large part to an offense that lack any semblance of balance (415 yards passing, 49 yards rushing). The Orange Crush has to be better on the ground if it expects to improve in 2013 Next Week: Cincinnati 

Big Ten Week 1 Awards and Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed only 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern
Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to an "upper body" injury (it looked like a shoulder to us) on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down
The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

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Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings 2013
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Two Big 12 teams lost to FCS programs, and a third had a scare. TCU lost its marquee game to open the season.

Yet the Big 12 is more or less where though it would be.

The teams at the top are flawed, and there remains little obvious separation. Oklahoma State, our preseason pick to win the league, remains on top after its first game despite a sputtering effort from its offense. Oklahoma and Texas won in routs, but both the Sooners and Longhorns showed enough room for improvement to make us wary.

If we learned anything, the bottom half of the league — Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia — showed that they’re a ways off from competing with the top half of the conference.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamAnalysis
1.Oklahoma State (1-0, 0-0): The Cowboys didn’t look like a finished product on offense in the first game as J.W. Walsh took over the starting role. Parker Graham moved over from guard to play left tackle, vacated when Devin Davis suffered as season-ending knee injury. Despite the shifting on the line, though, the Cowboys didn’t give up a sack. Oklahoma State will have plenty of opportunities to tinker more against UTSA and Lamar in the next two week. This week: at UTSA
2.Oklahoma (1-0, 0-0): Bob Stoops insisted his team would have a similar offensive approach to years past with Trevor Knight at quarterback. Baloney. Knight was shaky as passer (11 of 28) with one interception and three more near-picks. But OU was content to let him run, though, as he rushed for a team-leading 103 yards on 13 carries, a rare feat for a Sooners QB. Oklahoma’s run defense was excellent against ULM, something that will be in focus in Game 2. This week: West Virginia.
3.Texas (1-0, 0-0): Texas has to wonder which offense is going to show up at BYU this week. David Ash threw two interceptions in the first half as the Longhorns trailed 7-0. Thereafter, Texas needed only 16 plays and less than 5:30 of game time to score five touchdowns in the second and third quarters. A matchup against BYU looks little less formidable, though, after the Cougars lost 19-16 at Virginia. This week: at BYU
4.TCU (0-1, 0-0): The Horned Frogs kept the loss to LSU close on a turnover and kickoff return for a touchdown, perhaps masking an ineffective passing game and lackluster defense. Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin combined to complete 15-of-28 passes for 5.2 yards per attempt as the Horned Frogs had difficulty sustaining drives with either quarterback. This week: Southeastern Louisiana.
5.Baylor (1-0, 0-0): Baylor had little trouble in its opener against Wofford. Even if it was against an overmatched FCS program, Bryce Petty looked like he’ll fit into the Art Briles' quarterback tradition as he completed 19-of-24 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns. Week 2 matchup we’re waiting to see: Lache Seastrunk against Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, the best player on the field in the opener against Ohio State. This week: Buffalo
6.Texas Tech (1-0, 0-0): Kliff Kingsbury may have a dilemma when presumptive starter Michael Brewer returns from injury next month. Baker Mayfield flourished in his first start, which ended with three fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Kingsbury treated Mayfield nothing like a true freshman walk-on, entrusting him to throw 60 passes in Texas Tech’s 87 plays against SMU. The Red Raiders get a warm up before facing TCU on Sept. 12. This week: Stephen F. Austin
7.Kansas State (0-1, 0-0): An uncharacteristic Bill Snyder performance in so many ways for the Wildcats in the opener. The offensive line and run game were a mess as K-State rushed for only 41 yards on 1.8 yards per carry. K-State finished 2 of 10 on third down and reached the red zone only once as North Dakota State scored the final 17 points. The Wildcats will be on upset alert again in week 2. This week: UL Lafayette
8.West Virginia (1-0, 0-0): At least Houston transfer Charles Sims delivered in the opener, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Mountaineers went for a balanced offense as the simplified passing game looked, well, simple against William & Mary. Odds are quarterback Paul Millard will need to be more productive Saturday. This week: at Oklahoma
9.Iowa State (0-1, 0-0): The overachieving Cyclones may be returning to Earth. The front seven is clearly rebuilding after allowing 6.9 yards per carry against Northern Iowa and 21-of-28 passing. Quarterback Sam Richardson showed potential in the Pistol formation, but the Cyclones still settled for field goals late. This week: Off
10.Kansas (0-0): The Jayhawks need all the perpetration they can get after losing 11 in a row last season. Kansas’ last win was over South Dakota State on Sept. 1 last year, so maybe that’s a good omen. This week: South Dakota

Big 12 Week 1 Awards


Offensive player of the week: J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy started his season with Clint Chelf at quarterback against Mississippi State, but only two series later, Oklahoma State needed a change. That’s no problem for J.W. Walsh, who was the second man up last season when then-freshman starter Wes Lunt went down with an injury. Oklahoma State inserted the dual-threat Walsh into the lineup Saturday and added a few tweaks that turned out to spark the Cowboys to a 21-3 victory. Running the option out of the shotgun in a four-man backfield, Walsh led the Cowboys in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also completed 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards.

Defensive player of the week: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson led a stifling effort against UL-Monroe, an encouraging development for a Sooners defense that struggled last season. Leading the way to bottle up quarterback Kolton Browning, Nelson had eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sacks as ULM averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the 34-0 win.

Freshman of the week: Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech
When Mike Leach coached Texas Tech, it seemed he could just plug any quarterback into his system and get a 400-yard passing day. It’s fitting then that Leach’s first quarterback at Tech has the same touch as a head coach. In his head coaching debut, Kliff Kingsbury sent out Baker Mayfield, a true freshman walk-on to take the first snaps. Mayfield looked neither the part of a freshman nor a non-scholarship player as he completed 43 of 60 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns in a 41-23 win over SMU on Friday. Both Mayfield and SMU starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert graduated from high school powerhouse Lake Travis (Texas).

Team of the week: Oklahoma State
The Big 12 favorite scored the biggest non-conference win for the league with a 21-3 victory over Mississippi State. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Cowboys again showed their ability to adjust on the fly on offense and showed a new look with a standout defense.

Coordinator of the week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense needed time to figure out its personnel and an approach that would work against Mississippi State. Glenn Spencer’s defense, though, did more than just hold serve. Oklahoma State limited Mississippi State to 333 total yards and a field goal, the first time the Cowboys held a major conference opponent to less than a touchdown since 1995. Oklahoma State was at its best in the third quarter when it held Mississippi State to 10 total yards and no first downs. The Cowboys added 10 tackles for a loss after averaging 6.9 per game last season.

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It’s only Week 1, but if the early indications are true, the SEC is deeper and better than 2012. LSU showcased the next wave of talent in a win over TCU, Ole Miss picked up a good road win over Vanderbilt, Arkansas handled Sun Belt favorite UL Lafayette, and Tennessee and Auburn scored victories under a new coaching staff.

Alabama didn’t have the best offensive outing against Virginia Tech, but the Crimson Tide are still the No. 1 team in the SEC and in the nation. 

South Carolina secured a solid non-conference victory over North Carolina on Thursday night, while Georgia lost by three points on the road to Clemson.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12

SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
11

Alabama (1-0, 0-0): The beating was far less thorough than most anticipated, but Alabama was never really threatened in its 35-10 win over Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome. The Crimson Tide’s offense was underwhelming (206 total yards), but Bama scored two touchdowns on special teams and one on defense. Next Week: Bye

23

South Carolina (1-0, 0-0): The Gamecocks recorded a workmanlike 27–10 win over North Carolina on Thursday night. South Carolina flashed its big-play ability early when Connor Shaw hooked up with Shaq Roland on a 65-yard touchdown toss in the first quarter. From that point, Steve Spurrier leaned on his rushing attack; Mike Davis led the way with 115 yards (9.6-yard average), and Brandon Wilds chipped in with 64 yards on 12 rushes. Next Week: at Georgia 

32Georgia (0-1, 0-0): The Bulldogs missed a great opportunity to make a statement in Week 1. Georgia played well at times, but Mark Richt’s team made too many mistakes to beat a team as talented as Clemson on the road. Todd Gurley was sensational (154 yards on 12 carries), and Aaron Murray completed 20-of-29 for 323 yards, but the Georgia defense had no answer for the Clemson attack. Next Week: South Carolina 
45LSU (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers were very impressive in their 37–27 win  over TCU in Arlington, Texas. The offense, under the guidance of new coordinator Cam Cameron, picked up 448 total yards and converted 13-of-19 on third down. The new-look LSU defense held TCU to 259 yards. Next Week: UAB
54Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0): Johnny Manziel’s return from suspension and his subsequent behavior in the second half made national headlines, but the bigger story was the Texas A&M defense. Yes, the Aggies weren’t at full strength, but Rice rolled up 509 yards of total offense, including over 300 on the ground. That is not a good sign. Next Week: Sam Houston State
66Florida (1-0, 0-0): The Gators were dominant on defense, holding a potent Toledo offense to just over 200 yards and a pair of field goals. Jeff Driskel was efficient at quarterback, completing 17-of-22 for 153 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The Gators will have to prove they can throw the ball down field as the schedule toughens up in the coming weeks. Driskel’s longest completion was to tight end Trey Burton for 26 yards. Next Week: At Miami (Fla.)
78Ole Miss (1-0, 1-0): The only team with an SEC win on the young season, Ole Miss showed some toughness by coming back from 11 points down in the second half to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville. After being held to 10 points in the first half, the Rebels scored four touchdowns in the final two quarters. Next Week: SE Missouri State.
87

Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1): The Commodores rallied for a late score to grab a 35-32 lead over Ole Miss with under two minutes to play, but the defense let Rebel tailback Jeff Scott scamper 75 yards for the winning score just two plays later. Senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, making his first SEC start, threw for 300 yards, and All-America wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught 10 passes for 178 yards. Next Week: Austin Peay

913Arkansas (1-0, 0-0): The Hogs disposed of a solid UL Lafayette team with surprising ease, outgaining the Ragin’ Cajuns 522-to-274 en route to the 34-14 win. Brandon Allen, the new starting quarterback, threw for 230 yards, and two tailbacks (Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) rushed for over 100 yards. Last year, Arkansas opened the season by losing at home to a Sun Belt team. Not this year. Next Week: vs. Samford
109Mississippi State (0-1, 0-0): Mississippi State looked good early but did not play well in the final three quarters of a sluggish 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State in Houston. The biggest surprise: The Bulldogs failed to score a touchdown against a defense that gave up well over 400 yards per game last season. Starting quarterback Tyler Russell was forced to leave the game with an apparent head injury in the second half. Next Week: vs. Alcorn State
1111Tennessee (1-0, 0-0): In arguably the biggest mismatch on the Week 1 slate (nationally, not just in the SEC), Tennessee shut out Austin Peay 45-0 in Butch Jones’ debut as the Vols’ head coach. UT jumped out to a 42-0 lead at the half and coasted through the final two quarters. Quarterback Justin Worley completed 11-of-13 for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Next Week: vs. Western Kentucky
12 12Missouri (1-0, 0-0): It was a bit of a struggle early — Murray State led Mizzou 14–13 after one quarter — but the Tigers dominated the final 45 minutes on their way to a 58–14 win. Missouri rolled up 694 total yards — 372 on the ground and 336 through the air. The highlight of the day: Henry Josey, making his first appearance since injuring his knee late in the 2011 season, rushed for 113 yards on 13 carries. Next Week: Toledo
1310Auburn (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers did a lot of good things in a 31–24 win over Washington State, but keep in mind that Wazzu was arguably the worst BCS conference team in the nation last season. The Cougars appear to be much improved, but we won’t know how to evaluate this Auburn win until we see more of Washington State. Still, a win is a win, and Auburn didn’t have too many of those last season. Next Week: Arkanas State
1414Kentucky (1-0, 0-0): The Mark Stoops era got off to a rough start with a 35-26 loss to Western Kentucky at LP Field in Nashville. And there was nothing fluky about this game: Western Kentucky was the better team. Kentucky went with Jalen Whitlow at quarterback. He did some good things with his legs but threw for only 78 yards on 15 attempts. Maxwell Smith, who appears to be a better fit for Neal Brown’s “Air Raid” offense, played relatively well off the bench. Next Game: Miami (Ohio)

SEC Week 1 Awards 

Offensive Player of the Week: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
His team came up short, but Matthews was sensational in Vanderbilt’s 39–35 loss to Ole Miss. The senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown, highlighted by a 42-yard grab on 4th-and-18 in the final two minutes. That catch, in double-coverage, came just moments after Matthews threw up at midfield after taking a blow to the stomach. Earlier in the second half, he missed time while dealing with cramps. Matthews has averaged 121.6 yards receiving in his last 13 SEC games.

Defensive Player of the Week: Robenson Therezie, Auburn
The Auburn defense intercepted a total of two passes during the entire 2012 season. Therezie matched that number by himself on Saturday night. The junior safety intercepted Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday to thwart a drive at midfield in the first quarter and then delivered arguably the play of the game when he picked off a pass in the end zone in the final five minutes with Auburn ahead by seven points. Therezie also added seven tackles.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Christion Jones, Alabama
Jones scored three touchdowns — one on a punt return, one a kickoff return and one on offense — to lead Alabama to a 35–10 win over Virginia Tech. The junior wideout is the second player in the past 10 years to score on a punt and kick return in the same game. His third touchdown came on a 38-yard reception in the third quarter. 
 
Team of the Week: LSU
The Tigers were perhaps the most impressive SEC team of the opening weekend. Les Miles’ club looked good on both sides of the ball, outgaining TCU 448-to-259 en route to a 37–27 win over the Horned Frogs in Arlington, Texas. LSU has now won 42 consecutive non-conference games.

Coordinator of the Week: Cam Cameron, LSU
There wasn’t much not to like in Cameron’s debut as the play-caller at LSU. The Tigers rolled up 448 yards of offense against a TCU team that led the Big 12 in total defense last season. LSU showed nice balance (251 yards passing, 197 yards rushing), was tremendous on third down (13-of-19) and only committed one turnover. Zach Mettenberger had some nice moments, but the senior quarterback only completed 50 percent of his passes — a number that Cameron would like to see increase in coming weeks.

Freshman of the Week, Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
There were some freshmen with gaudier stats, but none had a bigger impact on his team’s win than Treadwell, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver recruit. After catching only one pass in the first half, Treadwell set the tone for the Ole Miss offense in third quarter by catching eight passes on the Rebels’ two long scoring drives. He capped off the second drive with a 2-point conversion that cut the Vanderbilt lead to 28–25. The 6-3, 215-poud Illinois native ended the game with nine catches for 82 yards.

5th Down

Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak to Vanderbilt. The Rebels had lost six of the last eight against the Commodores.
• It shouldn’t be a surprise, but Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in Bret Bielama’s debut. Jonathan Williams gained 151 yards on 18 carries, and freshman Alex Collins chipped in with 131 yards on 21 rushes.
• Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron completed 10-of-23 for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. It was the fewest completions for McCarron as a starter against an FBS opponent and it was only the second time in his career he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He went 12-of-25 against Florida as a sophomore in 2011.
• Mississippi State, which lost to Oklahoma State 21–3, failed to score a touchdown for the first time since losing to LSU 19–6 in September 2011. The Bulldogs have now lost six of their past seven games, with each loss coming by at least 14 points.
• Florida held Toledo to 205 total yards in its 24–6 win in Gainesville. The Rockets returned nine starters from an offense that averaged 445.2 yards per games a year ago. It was Toledo’s worst offensive showing since gaining 183 yards in a 41–2 loss to Arizona in Week 1 of the 2011 season.

 

Teaser:
SEC 2013 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:11
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-big-tens-coaches-2013-14
Body:

The Big Ten once again has perhaps the deepest bench of coaches in the country.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, then that teams like Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin had a hotly contested battle for the regular season title in the Big Ten last season. Each week in 2013-14 seemed to feature a different Big Ten team in the national spotlight.

In other words, if you’re going to get angry at Athlon for ranking your team’s coach third, fourth or fifth in the Big Ten, at least wait to see the national rankings.

The league features Tom Izzo and Thad Matta, whose longevity, consistency, regular season success and postseason wins put them at the top. Not far behind are Tom Crean and John Beilein, who revived proud programs, and Bo Ryan, who defies the odds each season with a contender each year despite a lower recruiting profile.

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings: ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Record (all at Michigan State): 439-178 overall (.712), 209-95 Big Ten (.693)
NCAA Tournament: 39-16, six Final Fours, one national championship
Tom Izzo will have two McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster in 2013-14 in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, a rarity for the longtime Spartans’ coach. Few coaches have weathered the changes in college basketball as well as Izzo — the changes in the NBA Draft rules, the ups and downs in the Big Ten and all the challenges that come with recruiting. Izzo has assembled the Big Ten’s most consistent program without a glut of first-round draft picks (none since 2006) or early entries to the NBA Draft (none during the one-and-done era). Consider this: Appling and Adreian Payne are looking to avoid becoming the first senior class to play all four years with Izzo and miss the Final Four.

2. Thad Matta, Ohio State
Record: 352-104
Record at Ohio State: 250-73 overall (.774), 111-45 (.712)
NCAA Tournament: 22-11, two Final Fours
More often than not, Matta has had the most talented roster in the Big Ten, especially since the Thad Five led the Buckeyes to the national championship game in 2007. The Buckeyes have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons, though the 2011 team that stalled in the Sweet 16 was a major postseason disappointment. In 13 seasons as a head coach at Xavier, Butler and Ohio State, Matta has claimed at least a share of a regular season title an astoudning eight times.

3. John Beilein, Michigan
Record: 415-260
Record at Michigan: 112-85 overall (.589), 55-53 Big Ten (.509)
NCAA Tournament: 13-8, one Final Four
Beilein is, in college basketball coaching terms, a self-made man. He’s never been an assistant, making his route to Michigan that much more unique. But now that he’s made the journey from community college to Le Moyne to Canisius to Richmond to West Virginia to Ann Arbor, we’re getting an idea of what Beilein can do at a Big Ten powerhouse. Beilein is the most successful coach at Michigan since the Fab Five days, and he shows little signs of slowing down. He’s signed elite recruits like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III while developing a point guard Ohio State ignored in its own backyard (Trey Burke) into the national player of the year.

4. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Record: 321-140
Record at Wisconsin: 291-113 overall (.720), 144-60 Big Ten (.705)
NCAA Tournament: 16-12
The 2013-14 season was further testament that no matter what happens, Bo Ryan will have a top-four team in the Big Ten. Point guard Jordan Taylor moved on, then heir apparent Josh Gasser was lost for the season with a torn ACL in October. No matter, Wisconsin still finished 12-6 in the Big Ten, finishing in the top four in the league ever season under Ryan. Ryan has good reason to be confident in his formula: He’s been able to develop players in his system year in and year out. In 11 seasons at Wisconsin, Ryan’s teams have ranked in the top 10 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency eight times and in the top 30 of offensive efficiency eight times. The only knock, though, is Wisconsin’s bad luck in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers haven’t advanced beyond the Sweet 16 since 2005.

5. Tom Crean, Indiana
Record: 274-178
Record at Indiana: 84-82 overall (.506), 33-57 Big Ten (.367)
NCAA Tournament: 9-7, one Final Four
Crean has brought Indiana back to national prominence in a way that’s been lacking since the Bob Knight era. Crean reestablished Indiana’s recruiting clout in state, starting with the signing of Cody Zeller and continuing with Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell. After a breakthrough season which saw Indiana win only its second post-Knight Big Ten title, it’s time to see if Crean can keep Indiana on top.

6. Matt Painter, Purdue
Record: 201-100
Record at Purdue: 176-95 overall (.649), 84-56 Big Ten (.600)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Painter knew he would be rebuilding after the Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore class left campus. The Boilermakers performed admirably under the circumstances in a loaded Big Ten last season, finishing 8-10. This could be a key season for Painter, though, as his program enters the second season of the post-Hummel era.

7. Fran McCaffery, Iowa
Record: 305-227
Record at Iowa: 54-50 overall (.519), 21-33  Big Ten (.389)
NCAA Tournament: 2-5
McCaffery resurrected Iowa to NIT status the last two seasons, and he should have the Hawkeyes in contention for their first NCAA Tournament since 2006. If Iowa reaches the Tourney, it will be the fourth reclamation job McCaffery has led to the Big Dance, joining Lehigh, UNC Greensboro and Siena.

8. John Groce, Illinois
Record: 108-69
Record at Illinois: 23-13 overall (.639), 8-10 Big Ten (.444)
NCAA Tournament: 4-3
Groce made an immediate impact at Illinois, leading the Illini to a win in the Maui Invitational, a 12-0 start and victories over Ohio State and Indiana. Not bad for a team that wasn’t nearly as balanced as other top Big Ten programs last season. Groce has an all-time conference record of 42-40 in five seasons as a head coach at Ohio and Illinois.

9. Tim Miles, Nebraska
Record: 86-106
Record at Nebraska: 15-18 overall (.455), 5-13 Big Ten (.278)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
Nebraska and Penn State are the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, but Miles has two things on his side: Plenty of enthusiasm and a new arena. Miles has already rebuilt one program, improving his win total at Colorado State every season from 2007-08 through 2011-12 and recruiting the core of last season’s 26-9 team.

10. Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Record: 18-14
Record at Minnesota: First season
NCAA Tournament: None
Pitino showed immediately why he’s more than just a famous name. FIU’s basketball program was a mess after three seasons under Isiah Thomas, but Pitino led the Golden Panthers to the brink of the NCAA Tournament in a two-point loss to Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Tournament final. The 11-9 season in conference was FIU’s first winning league record since 1999-2000.

11. Chris Collins, Northwestern
Record: First season
Northwestern is as hopeful as it’s been in a while with Collins taking over the only major conference program that has never made the NCAA Tournament. For better or worse, Collins takes over a program that has made the NIT in four of the last five seasons, but the former Duke assistant is hopeful to push Northwestern over the edge.

12. Pat Chambers, Penn State
Record: 64-69
Record at Penn State: 22-41 overall (.349), 6-30 Big Ten (.167)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
As if the Penn State job isn’t tough enough, Chambers has dealt with a season-ending injury to Tim Frazier and a transfer from Jermaine Marshall.

Teaser:
Michigan State's Izzo headlines deep crop of coaches
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/golden-arm-performances-week-1
Body:

The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation. The award is based on performance on the field, character, citizenship and integrity. This year’s watch list includes more than two dozen candidates and each week we will highlight the top five performances among the watch list candidates. 

 

Corey Robinson1. Corey Robinson, Troy 

No quarterback in the history of college football had a more accurate performance than Troy’s Corey Robinson. Robinson set an NCAA record for completion percentage with at least 30 pass attempts, completing 30 out of 32 passes for 319 yards in a season opening victory over UAB. Both of Robinson’s incompletions came in the first quarter, so after the middle of the first quarter not one Robinson pass hit the ground.

 

2. Derek Carr, Fresno State 

Perhaps no quarterback in the country had the kind of week Fresno State’s Derek Carr did. After his son was released from intensive care earlier in the week, Carr had a career night in Fresno State’s season opening victory at home against Rutgers. Carr passed for a career high 52 completions for 456 yards and matched a career high with five touchdowns passes. Fresno State needed every one of them, including a short touchdown pass in the final minute to force overtime against the Scarlet Knights.

 

3.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson 

Of all of the match-ups in college football’s opening weekend, few had the quarterback showdown that Clemson and Georgia offered Saturday night. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd had the clear upper hand in this showdown, and not just on the scoreboard. Boyd may not have had the most accurate of performance, but 18 of 30 for 270 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia are still worth respecting. Throw in a pair of rushing touchdowns for good measure.

 

4. Sean Mannion, Oregon State 

Oregon State may have been the victim of one of the handful of FCS upsets but quarterback Sean Mannion had a near career day by completing 37 of 43 attempts for 422 passing yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. The single game passing total was the second highest of his career, and he averaged 9.8 yards per attempt as he recorded one of the highest passer ratings of the weekend.

 

5. Blake Bortles, Central Florida

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles was effective and productive in an opening night victory over visiting Akron. Bortles completed 18 of 24 pass attempts for 314 yards, averaging 13.1 yards per attempt and three touchdowns as the Knights cruised to a 38-7 victory over the Zips.

Teaser:
This year’s watch list includes 25 QB candidates and each week we will highlight the top five performances among the watch list candidates.
Post date: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-1
Body:

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

40:14: Nicholls State time of possession
Nicholls State more than doubled the time of possession battle with the mighty Oregon Ducks (19:46). Yet, somehow the Ducks managed to not only defeat the Colonels but cover the absurd 59-point spread in the 66-3 debut of Mark Helfrich. The Ducks posted 772 yards of offense and averaged over 11 yards per carry on 45 attempts (500 yards) while never possessing the ball for more than 2:34 seconds.

1-10: Aaron Murray against Top 15 ranked teams
Big game Aaron Murray has been anything but in big games against elite competition. He lost to Arkansas (No. 12) and Auburn (No. 2) in 2010 as a freshman. Murray lost to Boise State (No. 5), South Carolina (No. 12), LSU (No. 1) and Michigan State (No. 12) as a sophomore in 2011. And he lost to South Carolina (No. 6) and Alabama (No. 1) a year ago. His lone win against a top 15 team came last year against No. 3 Florida in the Cocktail Party. And even in that win, Murray wasn't very good: 12-of-24 for 150 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in that game.

93.8%: NCAA record completion percentage for Corey Robinson
Troy's quarterback Corey Robinson set the new NCAA benchmark (min. 30 att.) for efficient passing this weekend. In a key 34-31 overtime win over UAB, Robinson completed 30 of his 32 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown. That's a tidy 93.8-percent clip, besting the previous NCAA record held by current Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. Coach Sark set the record by completing 91.2-percent of his passes for Fresno State in 1995. He was 31-of-34.

15-15: New head coach's records in Week 1
There were 31 new FBS college coaches in college football this fall. All but one, UTEP's Sean Kugler, was in action this weekend. That said, the BCS coaches fared much better, going 10-5, including Temple's loss to Notre Dame. The SEC went 3-1, the ACC 2-1, the Big Ten 1-1 while the Pac-12 and Big 12 combined to go 3-0. The AAC went 0-2.

2: Players who scored on a punt return, kick return and on offense in the same game
Derek Abney, a do-everything dynamo for the Kentucky Wildcats, is believed (according to Kentucky's official bio) to be the only player in NCAA history to have scored a touchdown on a punt return, kick return and pass reception (2002). That is, until Christian Jones did it for Alabama this weekend against Virginia Tech. A 72-yard punt return began the scoring in the game, continued it with a 94-yard kick return touchdown and put the game out of reach with a beautiful 38-yard touchdown strike from A.J. McCarron late in the third.

833: Combined passing yards for Vernon Adams and Sean Mannion
Eastern Washington and its famous Red Inferno football field pulled one of the biggest upsets of the weekend over Oregon State on the road. Quarterback Vernon Adams was the star of the show as he threw for 411 yards through the air while adding 107 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. On the other sideline, not to be outdone, Sean Mannion threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. There were six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of play, 61 first downs, 1,157 yards of total offense and 97 combined points.

5: FCS teams defeating major conference teams
To put it in perspective: No more than four FCS teams have defeated major conference teams in a season since 1985, according to footballgeography.com, much less one weekend. The action started Thursday when Towson defeated Connecticut 33-18 for the most lopsided FCS-over-FBS win since 2000. That mark was crushed Saturday when McNeese State defeated USF 53-21. The margin of victory and total points scored were an NCAA record for an FCS opponent over an FBS team. Two-time FCS champion North Dakota State defeated Kansas State 24-21 on Friday, Eastern Washington defeated Oregon State 49-46, and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 28-20.

14: NCAA record for career forced fumbles
Wisconsin's Chris Borland jarred the ball loose from a UMass Minuteman early in the game this Saturday. It was his 14th career forced fumble, tying an NCAA record. Borland has been a big-play machine, blocking kicks and punts, creating turnovers and disrupting the offense behind the line of scrimmage his entire career. He now shares the NCAA record with five other players: Cincinnati's Antwan Peek, Arizona State's Terrell Suggs, USC's Kenechi Udeze, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Southern Miss' Cordarro Law.

2,080: Cornelius Greene's school rushing record by a QB
Cornelius Greene was the first African-American starting quarterback for Ohio State in the early 1970s. He also is the all-time leading rusher for the Ohio State Buckeyes as a quarterback. After 77 yards rushing in the season opener against Buffalo, Braxton Miller pushed his career rushing total to 2,063 yards just one game into his junior season. By the end of the first quarter in Week 2, MIller should be become the all-time leading rusher by a quarterback for one of the most historic and prestigious programs in NCAA history.

 

Teaser:
Amazing Week 1 College Football Stats
Post date: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-wr-malcolm-mitchell-out-year-knee-injury
Body:

Not only did Georgia lose Saturday’s game to Clemson, it was costly in the health department.

Running back Todd Gurley suffered a thigh injury against the Tigers, and receiver Malcolm Mitchell is lost for the year due to a torn ACL. In bizarre fashion, Mitchell suffered the injury celebrating Gurley’s 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Mitchell’s loss is a huge setback for Georgia’s offense, but the Bulldogs aren’t without playmakers at receiver. Michael Bennett caught five passes in his return from a season-ending knee injury in 2012, while Justin Scott-Wesley grabbed four passes and Chris Conley nabbed three receptions. And although tight end Arthur Lynch was quiet (one reception), he’s a potential All-American tight end.

Georgia’s offense will miss Mitchell, but the passing attack shouldn’t suffer much, especially with senior quarterback Aaron Murray at the controls.
 

Teaser:
Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell Out for Year With Knee Injury
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 20:38
Path: /college-football/villanova-perfectly-executes-fake-punt-against-boston-college
Body:

Villanova emptied the playbook on Saturday, as it attempted to pull off an FCS over FBCS upset. The Wildcats were unsuccessful, but they gave Boston College a good fight.

But the best part of Saturday’s game was Villanova’s fake punt early in the first quarter. The Wildcats not only fooled the defense but also faked out the camera crew.

Check out Villanova’s perfectly executed fake punt:

 

Teaser:
Villanova Perfectly Executes Fake Punt Against Boston College
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 20:05
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

The standouts in Week 1 in the Big 12 were hardly the most logical suspects.

Our award winners this week include a quarterback who started the game on the bench, a true freshman walk-on, a linebacker from a team that struggled on defense last season and a defensive coordinator at a program where offense is king.

In short, a strange first week for the Big 12 wasn't limited to FCS wins over Kansas State and Iowa State.

Offensive player of the week: J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy started his season with Clint Chelf at quarterback against Mississippi State, but only two series later, Oklahoma State needed a change. That’s no problem for J.W. Walsh, who was the second man up last season when then-freshman starter Wes Lunt went down with an injury. Oklahoma State inserted the dual-threat Walsh into the lineup Saturday and added a few tweaks that turned out to spark the Cowboys to a 21-3 victory. Running the option out of the shotgun in a four-man backfield, Walsh led the Cowboys in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also completed 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards.

Defensive player of the week: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson led a stifling effort against UL-Monroe, an encouraging development for a Sooners defense that struggled last season. Leading the way to bottle up quarterback Kolton Browning, Nelson had eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sacks as ULM averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the 34-0 win.

Freshman of the week: Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech
When Mike Leach coached Texas Tech, it seemed he could just plug any quarterback into his system and get a 400-yard passing day. It’s fitting then that Leach’s first quarterback at Tech has the same touch as a head coach. In his head coaching debut, Kliff Kingsbury sent out Baker Mayfield, a true freshman walk-on to take the first snaps. Mayfield looked neither the part of a freshman nor a non-scholarship player as he completed 43 of 60 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns in a 41-23 win over SMU on Friday. Both Mayfield and SMU starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert graduated from high school powerhouse Lake Travis (Texas).

Team of the week: Oklahoma State
The Big 12 favorite scored the biggest non-conference win for the league with a 21-3 victory over Mississippi State. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Cowboys again showed their ability to adjust on the fly on offense and showed a new look with a standout defense.

Coordinator of the week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense needed time to figure out its personnel and an approach that would work against Mississippi State. Glenn Spencer’s defense, though, did more than just hold serve. Oklahoma State limited Mississippi State to 333 total yards and a field goal, the first time the Cowboys held a major conference opponent to less than a touchdown since 1995. Oklahoma State was at its best in the third quarter when it held Mississippi State to 10 total yards and no first downs. The Cowboys added 10 tackles for a loss after averaging 6.9 per game last season.

Fifth Down

• Half of the Big 12’s primary quarterbacks were not the odds-on favorites when preseason camp began. Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight and Kansas State’s Jake Waters were named starters in preseason practice despite more seasoned players on the roster. Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield filled in for the injured Michael Brewer. Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh relieved Clint Chelf early. And West Virginia’s Paul Millard was not revealed as the starter until he trotted onto the field.

• Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight rushed for 103 yards becoming the first Sooners QB to top 100 yards rushing since Jason White in 2001 — before the eventual Heisman winner had two knee surgeries. Knight also became the first quarterback of the Stoops era to rush for more than he passed (86 yards).

• Oklahoma had its best defensive performance against the run since September 2011. The Sooners held ULM to 1.7 yards per carry and 38 yards on the gorund, the lowest figures since OU held Florida State to 1.04 yards per carry and 27 rushing early in 2011.

• Texas’ 715 total yards against New Mexico State was a school record and the first 700-yard game in school history. Not bad considering that three of the Longhorns’ first five possessions ended in a turnover.

• Baylor’s 69 points against Wofford was the Bears’ highest-scoring game since an 88-0 win over Stephen F. Austin in 1929. That may not seen to be a big deal against an FCU steam, but given the Big 12’s results against other FCS teams, Baylor has reason to be proud.

• Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk has rushed for 100 yards in five consecutive games, a school record. Seastrunk rushed fro 112 yards on 11 carries against Wofford.

Teaser:
Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh and Oklahoma's Corey Nelson take top honors
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 15:41
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heartbreak in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

Here are the Big Ten's Week 1 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed just 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern

They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern

Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to a concussion on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense, but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State

The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down

The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

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Ole Miss topped Vanderbilt in the only Week 1 matchup between SEC teams, but there were several other schools that made a statement in the first weekend of the season. LSU picked up a solid non-conference win over TCU in Arlington; Florida looked great on defense in its win over Toledo; and Auburn knocked off an improved Washington State team in the first game of the Gus Malzahn era.

Offensive Player of the Week: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
His team came up short, but Matthews was sensational in Vanderbilt’s 39–35 loss to Ole Miss. The senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown, highlighted by a 42-yard grab on 4th-and-18 in the final two minutes. That catch, in double-coverage, came just moments after Matthews threw up at midfield after taking a blow to the stomach. Earlier in the second half, he missed time while dealing with cramps. Matthews has averaged 121.6 yards receiving in his last 13 SEC games.

Defensive Player of the Week: Robenson Therezie, Auburn
The Auburn defense intercepted a total of two passes during the entire 2012 season. Therezie matched that number by himself on Saturday night. The junior safety intercepted Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday to thwart a drive at midfield in the first quarter and then delivered arguably the play of the game when he picked off a pass in the end zone in the final five minutes with Auburn ahead by seven points. Therezie also added seven tackles.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Christion Jones, Alabama
Jones scored three touchdowns — one on a punt return, one a kickoff return and one on offense — to lead Alabama to a 35–10 win over Virginia Tech. The junior wideout is the second player in the past 10 years to score on a punt and kick return in the same game. His third touchdown came on a 38-yard reception in the third quarter. 
 
Team of the Week: LSU
The Tigers were perhaps the most impressive SEC team of the opening weekend. Les Miles’ club looked good on both sides of the ball, outgaining TCU 448-to-259 en route to a 37–27 win over the Horned Frogs in Arlington, Texas. LSU has now won 42 consecutive non-conference games.

Coordinator of the Week: Cam Cameron, LSU
There wasn’t much not to like in Cameron’s debut as the play-caller at LSU. The Tigers rolled up 448 yards of offense against a TCU team that led the Big 12 in total defense last season. LSU showed nice balance (251 yards passing, 197 yards rushing), was tremendous on third down (13-of-19) and only committed one turnover. Zach Mettenberger had some nice moments, but the senior quarterback only completed 50 percent of his passes — a number that Cameron would like to see increase in coming weeks.

Freshman of the Week, Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
There were some freshmen with gaudier stats, but none had a bigger impact on his team’s win than Treadwell, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver recruit. After catching only one pass in the first half, Treadwell set the tone for the Ole Miss offense in third quarter by catching eight passes on the Rebels’ two long scoring drives. He capped off the second drive with a 2-point conversion that cut the Vanderbilt lead to 28–25. The 6-3, 215-poud Illinois native ended the game with nine catches for 82 yards.

5th Down

Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak to Vanderbilt. The Rebels had lost six of the last eight against the Commodores.
• It shouldn’t be a surprise, but Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in Bret Bielama’s debut. Jonathan Williams gained 151 yards on 18 carries, and freshman Alex Collins chipped in with 131 yards on 21 rushes.
• Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron completed 10-of-23 for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. It was the fewest completions for McCarron as a starter against an FBS opponent and it was only the second time in his career he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He went 12-of-25 against Florida as a sophomore in 2011.
• Mississippi State, which lost to Oklahoma State 21–3, failed to score a touchdown for the first time since losing to LSU 19–6 in September 2011. The Bulldogs have now lost six of their past seven games, with each loss coming by at least 14 points.
• Florida held Toledo to 205 total yards in its 24–6 win in Gainesville. The Rockets returned nine starters from an offense that averaged 445.2 yards per games a year ago. It was Toledo’s worst offensive showing since gaining 183 yards in a 41–2 loss to Arizona in Week 1 of the 2011 season.

 

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The first weekend of college football season delivered in all the ways we hoped it would.

Clemson gave us a legitimate party-crasher for the SEC’s dominance and raised the bar for a Tigers fan base used to having their dreams crushed in the unlikeliest of ways.

LSU and TCU delivered on gamesmanship early as neither suspended stars, Jeremy Hill and Devonte Fields, played, but both TCU quarterbacks did. And a series of wild sequences from the end of the first half to a key turnover to a kickoff return kept things interesting for TCU.

In the personality department, Johnny Manziel was Johnny Manziel and he did so efficiently in less than a half of play.

And then there was the ongoing story of FCS teams rising up to defeat FBS program. The day Saturday ended with eight FBS teams losing to lower-division programs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 1 RECAP: THREE AND OUT

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM CLEMSON 38, GEORGIA 35

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Clemson could be in for a special season. The offense is special, no doubt: Tajh Boyd (right) can get the big play, but he also picked up third downs on the ground late in the game, Sammy Watkins flashed his 2011 form, and Roderick McDowell picked up where Andre Ellington left off. The defense needs work, but few teams will be able to stress Clemson like Georgia did. The Tigers have proven they can go toe-to-toe with SEC teams with three wins in four matchups in the last year, but can Clemson get through the ACC unscathed?

The Clemson secondary is still a question. Todd Gurley rushed for a 75-yard touchdown on his first carry of the game, but Georgia averaged 3.6 yards per carry thereafter. That’s a good sign for the Clemson front seven. However, this looks like the same old Tigers’ secondary. Aaron Murray completed 20-of-29 passes for 322 yards, signaling Clemson’s pass defense could be a liability for yet another season.

Georgia could be in trouble next week. Georgia was gassed at times in the second half in the humidity as the defense spent 76 plays on the field against Clemson. Now the Bulldogs have to turn around from a deflating loss to face South Carolina. The Bulldogs potentially will be without starting receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who suffered a knee injury early in the game.

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM LSU 37, TCU 27

The LSU offense: We don’t want to know how the sausage is made. The Tigers have to love the end result with 401 yards and 5.6 yards per play against the stout TCU defense, but there were still signs of the same old LSU offense. Zach Mettenberger (right) made a beautiful behind-the-shoulder throw to Odell Beckham in the second half, but Mettenberger also completed fewer than half of his passes (15 of 32). At the end of the first half, LSU turned a third and goal from TCU’s 2 to a third down at the 12 when the Tigers were called for a delay of game after their own timeout and then were flagged for a false start. And later, Alfred Blue fumbled inside the Tigers' 10 to set up a TCU touchdown — a rare fumble by an LSU running back, but a momentum-changing fumble nonetheless.

TCU is still going to contend in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs lost, but they don’t look like they’re eliminated from Big 12 contention by any means. TCU closed the deficit to a field goal with 8:44 remaining despite playing without its top defensive player Devonte Fields. Meanwhile, the rest of the Big 12 looked far from perfect.

Crazy things happen. LSU brought us the wildest sequence of the weekend at the end of the second half and that was after LSU was called for a delay of game after its own timeout. Then, the Tigers moved back another five yards on a false start. LSU risked letting the clock run out on a scoring attempt when a player lost a helmet, resulting in a 10-second runoff, on a third down play before the presumptive field goal. The officials at first ruled the end of the half thanks to the helmet removal (there were 5 seconds remaining at the time). Nearly the entire TCU team made it off the field before officials reversed the call, noting LSU’s incomplete pass stopped the clock to negate the runoff. After TCU retook the field, LSU kicked a field goal to end the half.

MOVING THE CHAINS

Maryland’s C.J. Brown. The Terrapins finally got a look at what their offense could be when the quarterback position isn’t a revolving door. Even if it was against FIU, C.J. Brown gave Maryland the quarterback play it had been lacking in his first start since missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Brown completed 20-of-24 passes for 276 yards with three touchdowns while rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns. For better or worse, Maryland’s best playmaker, Stefon Diggs, had only six touches on offense, most of which after the 43-10 win had been decided.

Northwestern without Kain Colter. Northwestern played most of its week 1 game without Kain Colter, who was out with an “upper body injury,” and Venric Mark contributed little. Their absence was felt, particularly in the red zone, but Northwestern still managed to defeat plucky Cal 44-30 on the road. A big heap of the credit goes to Collin Ellis, who had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Allen Robinson’s second half. Robinson was suspended for the first half against Syracuse for reasons Bill O’Brien says are between the receiver and the coach. In any event, Robinson transformed a stagnant Penn State offense in the second half.  Robinson caught seven passes for 127 yards with a touchdown in Penn State’s 17-point second half in the Nittany Lions’ 23-17 win. Robinson’s return was boost for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed 22-of-31 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his debut.

FALSE STARTS


Texas A&M’s defense. Johnny Manziel’s first-half suspension was not the biggest concern for the Aggies. Not even close. Texas A&M allowed Rice to put up 508 yards as the defense stayed on the field for 86 plays. Rice averaged 6.1 yards per carry and pushed the Aggies’ defensive line around early in the game. Some of the issues were due to suspensions as nose guard Kirby Ennis, safety Floyd Raven and cornerback Deshazor Everett were suspended for the first half due to offseason arrests. Linebacker Steven Jenkins, defensive end Gavin Stansbury and cornerback De’Vante Harris — all starters — were also suspended for the first two games. Everett returned for the second half, enough time to pick up another suspension after being flagged under the new targeting rule. All those absences will either help build experience among the backups or could end up being a liability when the SEC schedule starts.

Nebraska’s defense. Bo Pelini is having trouble selling his bona fides as a defensive coach these days with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were shredded at the end of last season by Wisconsin and Georgia. The opener, though, was a new low. Wyoming, a team that went 4-8 last season and ranked 70th in total offense last season, amassed 602 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play against the Huskers in the 37-34 loss. Making Wyoming’s outburst most puzzling, the Cowboys went 1 of 8 on third down. Nebraska faces UCLA in two weeks.

Boise State. The Broncos have had heartbreakers and losses to inferior teams, but Boise State has never had a performance this bad during the Chris Petersen era. The Broncos lost 38-6 to Washington, giving Boise State its first loss of more than four points since a 39-27 loss to Hawaii in 2007 and its worst loss since 48-13 to Georgia in the 2005 opener.

HEISMAN MOVERS

Tajh Boyd, Clemson. Five total touchdowns in the marquee game of the weekend is enough to put Boyd near the top of the conversation if he wasn’t there already.

AJ McCarron, Alabama. McCarron will have opportunities to make up ground to make voters forget his forgettable performance against Virginia Tech. Receivers dropped passes, the offensive line struggled — Cyrus Kouandjio in particular — and Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller had a standout game with an interception and two pass breakups. But McCarron’s stat line will stick out as he finished 10-of-23 for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. A loss to Iowa won’t be on the NIU resume this season. And if Lynch is going to make a bid to be a Heisman finalist, he needed a game like he had against Iowa — even if he played little role in the dramatic finish. Lynch completed 25-of-41 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns while rushing for 55 yards on 23 carries.

STAT WATCH

2. Return game touchdowns for Alabama’s Christion Jones. It takes a special effort to do something that’s never been done at Alabama, but junior receiver Christion Jones managed that. He took the first touch of Alabama’s season back for a touchdown on a punt return. Then he added a 94-yard kickoff return for a score in the second quarter to become the first player since at least 1944 (that’s how far complete records go back) to return a punt and a kickoff for a score for the Tide. Oh, and he added a 38-yard touchdown catch.

5. FCS teams defeating major conference teams. To put that in perspective: No more than four FCS teams have defeated major conference teams in a season since 1985, according to footballgeography.com. The action started Thursday when Towson defeated Connecticut 33-18 for the most lopsided FCS-over-FBS win since 2000. That mark was crushed Saturday when McNeese State defeated USF 53-21. Two-time FCS champion North Dakota State defeated Kansas State 24-21 on Friday, Eastern Washington defeated Oregon State 49-46, and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 28-20.

6-13. Iowa’s record in one-score games since 2010. Iowa’s signature ability to win close games is a distant memory. With 1:24 remaining in a tie game, Jake Rudock threw an interception to set up Northern Illinois at the 30-yard line. After two run plays, NIU kicked a 36-yard game-winning field goal for a 30-27 win. Iowa has lost seven in a row and has lost six games decided by one score since the start of the 2012 season.

THREE OBLIGATORY MANZIEL POSTS

 

BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART

Khalil Mack, Buffalo. A name to remember around the NFL Draft: Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. He was the best defensive player on the field in Ohio State’s 40-20 win over Buffalo. Mack returned an interception 45 yards for at touchdown to go with 2.5 sacks and nine tackles. The MAC isn’t all about offense.

Southern Miss’ losing streak goes on. The nation’s longest losing streak hit 13 games and figures to go a bit longer. Southern Miss lost 22-15 to Texas State in Hattiesburg, a game that was the Eagles’ best chance for a win until at least October. Southern Miss rounds out September at Nebraska, at Arkansas and at Boise State.

Louisville’s schedule got worse. Everyone knew the Cardinals’ schedule was going to be a liability for their perception and their postseason. Before the Cards even played a game it got worse: Louisville’s opponents went 4-7 in the first week, and the most impressive by a wide margin win was Cincinnati’s 42-7 victory over Purdue. Louisville’s opponents’ other three wins were over Akron, Southern and Robert Morris. Meanwhile, USF and Connecticut lost decisively to FCS teams. Rutgers had the best chance for meaningful win for the American Athletic Conference, but the Scarlet Knights lost 52-51 in overtime to Fresno State.
 

THREE CLOSE CALLS
Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34
West Virginia 24, William & Mary 17
Illinois 42, Southern Illinois 34
WHO SAYS COLLEGE HAS NO PRESEASON?
Baylor 69, Wofford 3
Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3
Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9
BEST THREE GAMES NEXT WEEK
Florida at Miami
Georgia at South Carolina
Notre Dame at Michigan

THREE SUPERSUBS

J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State. Clint Chelf spent all of two possessions as Oklahoma State’s primary quarterback, but it’s tough to argue with Mike Gundy sticking with J.W. Walsh, no matter what Chelf’s family members may say. Once inserted into the lineup, Walsh gave the Cowboys offense a lift running the zone read out of a diamond formation late in the first half. Walsh completed 18 of 27 passes for 135 yards and led Oklahoma State in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown ion 13 carries. Gundy left little room for controversy by saying Walsh would start the Cowboys’ next game against UTSA.

Jordan Hall, Ohio State. The Ohio State offense isn't all Braxton Miller. With power backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith suspended for the opener, Hall took over. The senior rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the 40-20 win. Hall missed most of all of last season with a foot injury and then a knee injury. He’s expected to occasionally play the H-back role when Hyde and Smith return to the lineup, but this day will be tough to ignore.

Mack Brown, Florida. Thanks to suspensions and injuries, the Gators were shorthanded throughout the offense. Running back Mack Brown adequately provided the power run game attack Will Muschamp prefers. With Matt Jones out with a viral infection since July, Brown rushed for 112 yards with two touchdowns on 25 carries in the 24-6 win over Toledo. The Gators had been hoping for Brown to take on a greater role in recent years, but entering Saturday, the senior had only 40 carries in three seasons.
 

THREE PLAYERS EJECTED UNDER NEW TARGETING RULE
Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
Chris McCain, Cal
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
THREE GREAT DEBUTS
Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
THREE DUBIOUS DEBUTS
Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Willie Taggart, USF

THREE INJURY CONCERNS

Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss. The Rebels defeated Vanderbilt 39-35 in a thrilling Thursday night opener, but all is not well in Oxford. Star linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche is out for four to six weeks after suffering a torn meniscus. Meanwhile, starting offensive lineman Aaron Morris is likely done for the season after a torn ACL. Ole Miss has a brutal start to the season after facing Southeast Missouri State next week. The Rebels are at Texas (Sept. 14), at Alabama Oct. 28), at Auburn (Oct. 5), vs. Texas A&M (Oct. 12) and vs. LSU (Oct. 19).

Brandon Mitchell, NC State. If first-year coach Dave Doeren didn’t have enough challenges in turning NC State into an ACC contender, he was dealt another blow with an injury to starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell. The senior was 3-for-3 for 93 yards before leaving the opener with a broken bone in his foot. The Wolfpack still defeated Louisiana Tech 40-14, but NC State rounds out September with Richmond, Clemson and Central Michigan.

Tyler Russell, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs quarterback walked off the field in a daze after a shot to the head in the second half against Oklahoma State. Even if Russell is held out of the next week, the Bulldogs might not be in serious trouble against Alcorn State.

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Fans need to prepare for a wild season out west if the first weekend was any indication. Sure, division contenders Stanford and Arizona State were on bye while Oregon, UCLA and Arizona rolled to typically one-sided wins against over-matched opponents. But the rest of the league was in a dog fight.

Cal lost a tough one to Northwestern. Oregon State got upset at home against regional FCS opponent Eastern Washington. Utah barely scraped by an in-state rival. Washington State showed marked improvement on the road against an SEC blueblood. And the Washington Huskies made a bold statement that the rest of the Pac-12 better take notice of. Welcome back, college football.

Here are your Pac-12 Week 1 Awards and Superlatives: 

Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The Oregon quarterback might be the most enjoyable player to watch in the entire nation. He is simply effortless in all that he does. Yes, Keith Price and Travis Wilson posted equally impressive numbers against tougher competition but Mariota is the leader of the Pac-12 front-runner and he was brilliant on Saturday. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's a 22.6 yards per carry average. His offense totaled 772 yards and scored 66 points for Mark Helfrich in his head coaching debut.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Dion Bailey, USC

 

Dion Bailey moved from undersized linebacker to head-hunting safety this off-season and the move paid off in a big way in week one. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast watched his unit stifle former coordinator Norm Chow's offense all night led in large part by Bailey. He led the Trojans in tackles with seven and added both a sack and an interception to his stat sheet. The Trojans allowed just 231 yards of offense and only 32 yards rushing in the 30-13 win over Hawaii.

 

Team of the Week: Washington

 

Many thought Washington could pull the slight upset over the ranked Broncos but few saw this type of domination coming for the Huskies. As new Husky Stadium was christened in style by handing Boise State their worst loss since 2005 (48-13, Georgia). Both side of the ball looked excellent as Keith Price threw for over 300 yards while Bishop Sankey rushed for 161, each scoring two touchdowns along the way. The defense held Boise State to three points in each half and kept the Broncos out of the endzone all night long. This might have been the most impressive win nationally (other than maybe Clemson) and it could not have come at a more critical time for Steve Sarkisian.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Justin Wilcox, Washington

 

Chris Petersen doesn't know what the Woodshed looks like but he found out in a large way against one of his own. Wilcox coached under Petersen as the defensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2006-09 before moving to Seattle by way of Tennessee. Well, the pupil taught the master a few things late on Saturday night as the Huskies defense dominated the game. The six points were the fewest scored by Boise State since being shutout in 1997 by Washington State and it was just the third time since that blanking that Boise State failed to reach at least 10 points in a game. Needless to say, what Wilcox accomplished Saturday night doesn't happen very often.

 

Freshman of the Week: Andy Phillips, K, Utah

 

Kickers won't get this award often but Utah's redshirt placekicker deserves a nod for his work against rival Utah State. The former apline skier had never played football before taking the field in a crucial Thursday night game with the Aggies and he was basically perfect. He nailed all three field-goal attempts, including two clutch fourth-quarter kicks, made all three extra points and flipped the momentum of the game with a elegantly placed successful onside kick. Welcome to the world of football Mr. Phillips.

 

5th Down

 

How times does any team on any level produce over 500 yards of offense, convert on 50-percent of third downs, not turn the ball over a single time and get beat? That is what happened to Oregon State this weekend when it lost in heart-breaking fashion to lower-tier power Eastern Washington. To fans outside of Corvallis, it was a game to remember featuring six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of game time. A big tip of the cap to EWU starting quarterback Vernon Adams who had the game of his life time. He threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns while running for 107 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers would be sick against lower level competition but in Reser Stadium against a Top 25 opponent? Oregon State has some flaws it needs to work through and after one weekend, it appears Washington might be the top challenger to Oregon/Stanford Pac-12 North supremacy, not the Beavers.

 

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1. Atlanta Motor Speedway is NASCAR’s “raciest” track

The newest version of Bristol Motor Speedway again produced a memorable NASCAR Sprint Cup Series performance last week after several years of uninspired shows. If all goes well and Atlanta Motor Speedway follows its recent trend, Sunday night’s race should be a notable, too.

 

It’s a testament to the well-aged surface of the 1.54-mile track.

 

“It's a track that races really well and it's a lot of fun, especially with it now being a night race,” said Paul Menard. “The race track itself has older pavement, which makes it hands down the raciest track we go to on the schedule. It's kind of a throwback track that we all enjoy racing."

 

The old pavement—it’s the second oldest surface in the Sprint Cup Series, dating to 1997—grinds tires much like the Darlington Raceway of old. That translates to wildly different lap times during the course of a fuel run, thanks to changed handling. Those change often result in more passing, side-by-side racing and riskier pit road decision-making.

 

Essentially, it makes everything a bit “racier.”

 

“You want the asphalt to be worn out,” said Menard’s teammate Kevin Harvick. “I don't know why so many tracks keep repaving without any rocks in them. Rocks wear the tires out and everyone likes to watch the cars slide around when the tires fall off."

 

There may be bad news on the horizon at Atlanta, however. Talk started in 2012 from speedway officials discussing the need for the track surface to be replaced thanks to general deterioration from water freezing and thawing under the surface in the winter.

 

Enjoy it while you can.

 

2. Goodyear rolls new tire to Atlanta to address Gen-6 concerns

The largest overhaul of the racing tire used in NASCAR since teams were forced to switch fully from bias play-constructed tires to radial tires in 1992 is occurring this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

After tire tests at the track with the Gen-6 car revealed significant concerns in the tire used for Atlanta’s 2012 race, Goodyear went to the drawing board to find an appropriate solution. The result: A dual-tread tire designed to both handle the high outer temperatures while also adding more grip. The hope is that drivers will turn the extra grip into better racing without fear of a tire failure.

 

On Twitter, defending series champion Brad Keselowski called the tire revolutionary. Clint Bowyer says it’s a proverbial curveball in the important race weekend.

 

“Atlanta is going to be a wild card race heading into the Chase. Goodyear is bringing new tires and I don’t know if anyone knows what exactly to expect,” Bowyer said. “Martin Truex and the No. 56 team took part in the Goodyear tire test at Atlanta in June and we think we have a pretty good handle on it, but you never know until you get there and unload how that will work out exactly.”

 

3. Chase picture wildly in flux with two races left

Keselowski won’t be defending his title. Jeff Gordon won’t be in the Chase for the first time since 2005. And Kurt Busch’s dreams of bringing the No. 78 team to an improbable Chase berth are dashed. Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle all breathe a sigh of relief as they’re in. And Joey Logano makes his first Chase.

 

That’s the reality of NASCAR’s postseason picture as it stands right now. Unfortunately for Truex, Newman, Biffle and Logano, two races remain in the regular season stand before those positions are cemented. That’s fortunate for the likes of Busch, Gordon and Keselowski.

 

Amid the dash for Sunday’s race win will be the story of who will and won’t be in contention for title after Richmond. It’s a tight race, too: Keselowski needs to beat Logano by five points over the next two races (96 points available) to earn an outright, top-10 bid. Busch needs seven points. Gordon needs 12.

 

Truex and Newman—currently the wildcard qualfiers—have to hope they don’t lose more ground while Keselowski, Busch or Gordon win a race.

 

Confused yet? It’s no problem if you are. Just remember Sunday night’s race will have some major implications over each and every position for these six drivers.

 

4. Injuries beset numerous Sprint Cup Series drivers

Between Bristol and a bicycle, an unusual number of NASCAR drivers came down with injuries this week.

 

Truex, already under enough pressure thanks to his shaky Chase position, heads to Atlanta ready to battle with a blue cast—it’s NAPA blue, according to the Michael Waltrip-trained Truex—on his right wrist. He broke a bone in his shifting hand as part of the late multi-car crash at Bristol that left the No. 56 with a DNF.

 

Truex still plans to race in the critical event to help his title hopes.

 

Fellow Toyota driver Denny Hamlin also suffered a hand injury in the same crash, caused when Hamlin’s right-front tire was cut after contact with Brian Vickers. Hamlin revealed that injury during a radio interview Thursday night and said it was causing pain his thumb. Hamlin, the defending Atlanta winner, is wearing a splint but fully expects to race Sunday night.

 

Last, Bobby Labonte—scheduled to drive for Phoenix Racing in Sunday night’s race—suffered a crash on his bicycle Wednesday and spent the night in the hospital for treatment of three broken ribs. Labonte opted to miss Sunday’s start as he recovers.

 

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel spent the first half of Saturday’s game on the sidelines due to a suspension from the offseason autograph scandal. However, Manziel didn’t let that slow him down against Rice, completing 6 of 8 passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

But the postgame chatter about Manziel wasn’t due to his performance. Instead, the sophomore was in the spotlight due to his money gestures after scoring a touchdown, an unsportsmanlike penalty and his jabs with Rice defenders while making an autograph gesture. Coach Kevin Sumlin wasn't happy with Manziel after the game, as the sophomore did not play after his penalty in the fourth quarter.

Check out the reaction from the web compiled in storify by @DavidFox615:
 

Teaser:
Johnny Manziel Taunts Rice Defenders
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 21:49
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, NC State Wolfpack, News
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NC State opened the Dave Doeren era with an impressive 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech. However, victory came at a heavy price. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot fracture against the Bulldogs and will be out four to six weeks.

Mitchell transferred to NC State from Arkansas this offseason and was off to a good start, throwing for 93 yards on three completions.

With Mitchell out, NC State will turn to Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas. Against Louisiana Tech, Thomas threw for 212 yards on 15 completions.

Although Mitchell will miss at least four weeks, NC State has favorable matchups against Central Michigan and Richmond in September. Assuming the Wolfpack loses to Clemson, they should be 3-1 in case Mitchell returns to play Wake Forest on Oct. 5.
 

Teaser:
NC State QB Brandon Mitchell Suffers Fractured Foot
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 18:06
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Michigan State defensive back Kurtis Drummond had quite the game in the opener against Western Michigan. Drummond returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and later followed up that play with a crazy one-handed interception.

It’s only Week 1, but Drummond’s interception might be one of the best defensive plays we see in college football this year.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 14:27
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It’s the first week of the college football season, so coaches and players are bound to have some rust.

However, FAU committed a silly blunder against Miami on Friday night, which is simply the result of not paying attention to the down marker or scoreboard.

With the Owls trying to score late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jaquez Johnson was tackled around the 26-yard line with 19 seconds left to play on third down. And instead of trying to get one more play, FAU forgets its fourth down and proceeds to spike the ball. The best part? Watching FAU coach Carl Pelini give the spike symbol to his quarterback.

 

Teaser:
FAU Spikes the Ball on Fourth Down (Video)
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 13:23
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-virginia-tech-hokies-2013-game-preview-and-prediction
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Alabama begins its national title defense with a trip to a familiar destination – Atlanta. The Crimson Tide played and won two out of the last four SEC Championships in the Georgia Dome, including last year’s 32-28 thriller over Georgia.

Nick Saban’s team won’t be playing for a berth in the national championship in this trip to Atlanta, and the hype for this matchup has been a subdued. The Crimson Tide is a listed as a three-touchdown favorite in some locations, and Virginia Tech is dealing with a myriad of issues on offense.

The Hokies are coming off a 7-6 season but needed three wins in overtime to get bowl eligible. As a result of the lackluster record, coach Frank Beamer made some changes to his coaching staff. Former Auburn and Temple assistant Scot Loeffler was hired as Virginia Tech’s offensive coordinator, Aaron Moorhead was brought aboard to coach the receivers and Jeff Grimes was appointed the new offensive line coach.

Virginia Tech and Alabama met in Atlanta to start the 2009 season, with the Crimson Tide earning a 34-24 victory. These two teams have played 12 times, and Alabama holds a commanding 11-1 series edge.

More Week 1 Previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Three Things to Watch

A fresh start for Logan Thomas
After throwing for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushing for 469 yards and 11 scores in 2011, Thomas was supposed to be the ACC’s next standout quarterback. Instead, Thomas regressed as a junior and finished with just 2,976 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The blame for the struggles on Virginia Tech’s offense doesn’t rest solely on Thomas’ shoulders, especially since the rushing attack, receiving corps and offensive line had their own issues. But if the Hokies want to hang around, the senior passer has to have a big game. Mobile quarterbacks have given a few headaches to Nick Saban’s defenses in recent years, and Thomas’ ability to move on the run could be crucial to keeping drives alive. Considering Virginia Tech’s small margin for error, the senior quarterback cannot afford any turnovers.

Alabama’s offensive line against Virginia Tech’s defensive front
If there’s one unit Alabama is concerned about, it has to be the offensive line. With Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack departing, it won’t be easy for the Crimson Tide to dominate opposing defenses like they did last year. However, this group should remain among the best in the nation, as left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a future first-round pick, and center Ryan Kelly played well in limited action last year. Virginia Tech’s defensive line is the strength of the team, led by senior end James Gayle and tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy. With three new starters on the line, Alabama’s pass protection and run blocking will be tested by Virginia Tech’s active defensive line.

Who steps up at running back and wide receiver for the Hokies?
Although Logan Thomas needs to have a big game for Virginia Tech to pull off the upset, the performance of the running game and receiving corps is just as crucial. Last year’s leading rusher (J.C. Coleman) finished 2012 with just 492 yards and did not make the trip to Atlanta due to injury. With Coleman sidelined, the Hokies will turn to redshirt freshmen Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus on the ground. Redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford and sophomore Demitri Knowles are listed as the starters at receiver for Saturday’s game and the duo combined for 20 catches last year. Tight end Ryan Malleck was ruled out for the year this week due to a shoulder injury, which puts even more pressure on the three key players in the receiving corps: Knowles, Stanford and senior D.J. Coles.

Key Player: Jonathan McLaughlin, OT, Virginia Tech
Starting a true freshman at left tackle is usually enough to give any coach nightmares throughout game week. However, it’s an even bigger concern against a defense like Alabama. McLaughlin was rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and secured the left tackle job this fall. Not only will the true freshman have his hands full against Alabama’s 3-4 defense, but he is also protecting quarterback Logan Thomas’ blindside.

Final Analysis

Even though this game has plenty of appeal in terms of name value, this is a huge mismatch. Virginia Tech just has too many new faces on offense to threaten Alabama. The Hokies could keep this one close in the first half, largely due to their advantage on the defensive line against the Crimson Tide’s offensive line. However, Virginia Tech’s offense will struggle to generate much production on the scoreboard, which allows Alabama to pull away in the second half.

Prediction: Alabama 38, Virginia Tech 13

Teaser:
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 10:01
Path: /college-football/clemson-tigers-vs-georgia-bulldogs-2013-preview-and-prediction
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It’s only Week 1 of the 2013 college football season, but the stakes are high for Georgia and Clemson in Death Valley on Saturday night. Both teams have national title aspirations, and while a loss won’t knock either out of the BCS Championship picture, it would be a pretty significant setback.

Clemson is a heavy favorite to win the ACC title, and the Tigers are coming off back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since 1989-90. Coach Dabo Swinney’s team should be favored in all of its ACC games in 2013, but the success of the season could rest with how the Tigers perform in matchups against the SEC – Georgia (Aug. 31) and at South Carolina (Nov. 30)

Georgia fell just short of playing for the national championship last year, and even with key personnel losses on defense, coach Mark Richt should have the Bulldogs back in the mix to win the SEC.

This is the first meeting between these two schools since 2003. Georgia has a five-game winning streak over Clemson, which includes a 30-0 win over the Tigers in 2003. These two teams have plenty of history on the gridiron, as they have met 62 overall times, with the first meeting in 1897.

More Week 1 Previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Three Things to Watch

Georgia’s defense
The Bulldogs return only three starters on defense and will have their hands full against Clemson’s offense. Even though the front seven has been revamped and will miss linebacker Jarvis Jones and tackle John Jenkins, the secondary might be the biggest concern. Freshmen Brendan Langley and Tray Matthews are slated to start, while strong safety Connor Norman has played mostly on special teams over the last two years. After starting all 14 games in 2012, junior Damian Swann is the team’s most experienced defensive back and will be crucial to slowing down Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins.

The Tigers averaged 41 points a game and 512.7 yards per contest last season, with the catalyst being senior quarterback (and Heisman Trophy contender) Tajh Boyd. The senior has four offensive line starters at his disposal, and senior Roderick McDowell lining up at running back. With Georgia’s defense in rebuild mode, the opportunity is there for Boyd to make a statement on Saturday night.

Clemson’s run defense against Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall
If you aren’t familiar with Georgia’s backfield, it’s time to take notice. Gurley and Marshall combined for 2,144 yards and 25 scores on the ground last season and will be running behind an offensive line that has all five starters back. Considering the question marks residing on the Bulldogs’ defense, controlling the clock and keeping Boyd on the sidelines might be Georgia’s best chance to win. Clemson allowed 155.9 yards per game on the ground last season. However, six starts are back in the front seven, and the line held their own against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU. It’s impossible to control Gurley and Marshall for the full game. However, Clemson can’t afford to let the Bulldogs control the pace of the game by letting Gurley and Marshall chew up the clock.

Clemson’s cornerbacks
The Tigers finished fall practice without a definitive answer at cornerback. The depth chart indicates Garry Peters and Bashaud Breeland will share one spot, with Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins listed with an or on the other side. Clemson’s secondary ranked ninth in the ACC in pass efficiency defense and allowed 300 or more yards four times last year. Sophomore safety Travis Blanks is a future star, but the Tigers need more consistency from their cornerbacks. And this unit will be under fire on Saturday night, as Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray ranked second nationally in passing efficiency last year and will be throwing to a deep group of weapons, including Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Arthur Lynch.

Key Player: Roderick McDowell, RB, Clemson
Replacing Andre Ellington is no easy task, but Clemson feels confident in McDowell. The senior has waited his turn, spending the last three years as a backup and rushing for 674 yards on 129 carries. McDowell faces a rebuilt Georgia front seven on Saturday night, and with four starters back on Clemson’s offensive line, there should be running lanes for the senior to exploit. The Tigers don’t need 150 yards from McDowell, but with Georgia’s attacking 3-4 defense coming to Death Valley, his presence could be crucial on passes out of the backfield or blocking to keep defenders away from Boyd.

Final Analysis

There’s not much separating these two teams. Clemson’s home-field advantage should be a huge asset on Saturday night, but the Bulldogs can lean on the experience of quarterback Aaron Murray to navigate the crowd noise on offense. The Tigers’ passing attack will be tough for Georgia to stop, especially with the injuries the secondary has dealt with this fall. The Bulldogs have to find a way to disrupt Boyd’s timing, which will be difficult with the new faces in the front seven. One x-factor that could come into play is special teams. Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan may not play, which leaves junior Adam Erickson or sophomore Patrick Beless as the No. 1 kicker. And both players have yet to attempt a field goal in a game in their career.

This one is a tossup. But let’s give Georgia a slight edge, as the combination of Gurley and Marshall could be the difference in the fourth quarter.

Georgia 38, Clemson 34

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Big 12 Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Big Ten Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Pac-12 Week 1 Preview and Predictions
SEC Week 1 Preview and Predictions
College Football's Pre-Week 1 Heisman Voting
Top 10 Games of Week 1

Teaser:
Clemson Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs 2013 Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-tcu-horned-frogs-2013-preview-and-prediction
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Week 1 of the college football season doesn’t have a ton of marquee matchups, but there should be plenty of intrigue when LSU and TCU meet in Arlington, Texas on Saturday night.

Adding to the interest level for Saturday night’s game is a little gamesmanship between the two head coaches. LSU’s Les Miles has refused to indicate whether or not running back Jeremy Hill will be suspended for an off-the-field incident. And after announcing a two-game suspension for defensive end Devonte Fields earlier in the offseason, TCU coach Gary Patterson has indicated he will dress and appear on the sidelines during the game. Fields isn’t expected to play, but the mind games for a huge non-conference matchup were in full effect this week.

For the second time in three years, LSU opens a season with a neutral site affair in Arlington. The Tigers defeated Oregon 40-27 in 2011, which helped to key a run to the national championship.

These two teams have met eight times, with LSU owning a 5-2-1 series edge. The Horned Frogs and Tigers have not played since 1968.

More Week 1 Previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Three Things to Watch

Casey Pachall’s return to the starting lineup
TCU coach Gary Patterson has remained coy on his choice to start at quarterback on Saturday night, but all signs point to Casey Pachall returning to the lineup. The senior missed most of last year due to a suspension and was pushed by backup Trevone Boykin for the No. 1 spot this offseason. Pachall is the better passer, but Boykin’s mobility could be an asset against LSU’s defense. How rusty will Pachall be in his return to the starting lineup? With plenty of talent at receiver and running back, Pachall doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards. But with a fast and athletic defense like LSU waiting to pounce, the senior has to be smart and efficient in his return to the lineup.

TCU’s pass rush
Although Fields will be on the sidelines for this game, the sophomore is not expected to play. And there’s no question TCU will miss his presence off the edge. Stansly Maponga left for the NFL after 2012, and with Fields suspended, defensive tackles Davion Pierson and Chucky Hunter are the top returning sack men (3.5 last year) for the Horned Frogs. Senior Jon Koontz, junior Matt Anderson and sophomores James McFarland and Josh Carraway will have a lot of pressure on their shoulders as they try to generate a pass rush and replace Fields’ production for the first two games of 2013. 

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger
Mettenberger had his share of ups and downs in 2012, finishing the year with 2,609 passing yards and 12 scores. More is expected out of the senior in 2013, as former NFL coordinator Cam Cameron was brought aboard to improve the offense. Mettenberger showed signs of promise last year when he threw for 298 yards against Alabama but finished the year by throwing for just 120 yards in the bowl loss to Clemson. Mettenberger isn’t short on talent or capable playmakers at receiver, so there’s plenty of pressure on him to deliver in 2013. TCU’s pass rush will miss Fields, but the secondary is one of the nation’s best. Is Mettenberger ready to step up in 2013? Saturday night should give the LSU coaching staff a good idea of just how far along the senior has improved since last year. 

Key Player: TCU’s offensive line
We will cheat just a bit here and list an entire unit instead of one player. TCU’s offensive line was shaky at times last year, allowing 2.2 sacks a game. Only two starters are back this season, and starting tackle Tayo Fabuluje decided to leave the team in fall practice. LSU’s defensive line will have four new starters but isn’t short on talent. Tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson will be a handful, and ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter are athletic and fast off the edge. Can TCU’s offensive line give Pachall time to throw and open up lanes for its running backs?

Final Analysis

Despite the new faces stepping into the lineup, LSU is still one of the top 10-15 teams in college football. TCU is one of the frontrunners to win the Big 12, but the Horned Frogs might be a bigger mystery than the Tigers in Week 1. How will Pachall perform? Can the offensive line match up against LSU’s defense line? TCU’s defense will make life difficult for Mettenberger and the rest of the Tigers’ offense. However, LSU does just enough on that side of the ball to edge the Horned Frogs. 

Prediction: LSU 27, TCU 20
 

Teaser:
LSU Tigers vs. TCU Horned Frogs 2013 Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 10:00
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UCF-Akron wasn’t much of a game on Thursday night, as the Knights rolled to an easy 38-7 win in the opener.

However, the game provided one of the weekend’s top plays, as UCF quarterback Blake Bortles had the ball slip out of his hand, then proceeded to throw a 39-yard touchdown to receiver J.J. Worton.

 

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Post date: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 12:15
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South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney didn’t make a huge impact on the stat sheet on Thursday night (three tackles), but the junior was around the line of scrimmage most of the night. Clowney’s presence altered North Carolina’s gameplan from the first snap, as the Tar Heels did their best to avoid No. 7.

North Carolina’s offensive line did a decent job of keeping quarterback Bryn Renner upright, but the Tar Heels draw a negative grade for this cheap shot on Clowney. Kiaro Holts appears to be the lineman in the SB Nation gif, as he dives at Clowney’s knees well after Renner has thrown the pass. The junior defensive end did not suffer an injury and stayed in the game after the shot from Holts.

 

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Post date: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 12:15
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FOX Sports sideline reporter Pam Oliver was the first to deliver the news. Only moments after the Vikings’ 2012 regular season ended, Oliver set about informing Adrian Peterson of his high-profile disappointment.

As Oliver stopped Peterson on his way off Mall of America Field, the final tallies were official, and the Viking star’s 2,097 rushing yards — including 199 in a playoff-clinching win over Green Bay that afternoon — had not surpassed the 2,105 yards Eric Dickerson amassed in 1984.

Nine yards shy of a new record. Nine measly yards.

“You played your heart out,” Oliver said. “Nine yards. Boy. That’s got to hurt.”

Peterson recoiled with surprise.

“Nine yards what?” he questioned. “Nine yards what? From breaking it?”

“That’s what I heard,” Oliver said.

Peterson shook his head.

“Oh. Well, ultimately, we got the ‘W.’ And that was my main focus coming into the game. I said, ‘If it happens, it happens. But don’t focus on it.’”

Still, Peterson’s initial shock was obvious. And for a moment — for the next couple weeks, really — his mind-boggling productivity in a comeback season for the ages was often footnoted by those nine yards he didn’t get.

Oliver was the first to ask. But fans would follow. Reporters, too.

And when Peterson was asked for the 328th time to summarize his deflation in not being able to topple Dickerson, he finally just shrugged, certain that those nine yards he didn’t gain were not more significant than the 2,097 he had churned out.

Those nine yards certainly weren’t more meaningful than the 861 he put up in December alone, including a clutch 26-yard dash on his final regular-season carry, the one that put a rookie kicker in position for a last-second game-winning chip shot.

Those missing nine yards weren’t more important than the Vikings’ 10 wins, their surprising playoff berth or the MVP award Peterson earned.

“It just shows me how people are never pleased,” Peterson says.

Yet as the thought of those nine yards twisted inside his hyper-competitive, ultra-ambitious mind, he quickly settled on a new number: 2,500.

Yep, this is Peterson’s rushing yardage wish for 2013. It’s the MVP’s new goal, outlandish and intriguing all at once.

Sure, 2,500 seems like a preposterous bar to set. After all, of the six running backs to previously rush for 2,000 yards in a season, only one topped 1,400 the following year. That was Barry Sanders, who had 1,491 yards in 1998 a year after gaining 2,053 with the Lions.

But with a goal system that Vikings coach Leslie Frazier labels as “name it and claim it,” Peterson asks that everyone view 2,500 yards as attainable, not impossible.

“All things are possible through God who strengthens me,” Peterson says. “That’s a mark I want to reach. No one has ever tried to accomplish something like that.”

Peterson has now begun this quest: The march toward 2,500.

This is what he has mapped out for his encore to a year in which he posted the second-greatest rushing season in history after overcoming major reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

And only two days after the Vikings bowed out of last season’s playoffs, Peterson had already started gathering believers.

“I really don’t feel like it’s out of reach,” Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton says. “You look at it and it’s what, around 155 yards per game? With him, that’s doable.”

Technically, Peterson will have to average 156.25 yards per game to reach 2,500. But last year, he topped 150 yards seven times in the final 10 games.

“With Adrian and the way he goes after things, if 2,500 yards is in his sights, there’s no reason to question it,” right guard Brandon Fusco says.

And then there’s Jared Allen, a five-time Pro Bowler who in 2011 fell just short of a prestigious NFL single-season record himself. Allen’s 22 sacks that season were 0.5 shy of Michael Strahan’s all-time record, a magnificent season with opponents always game-planning to limit him.

But then in 2012, Allen battled injuries, faced increased attention from offensive coordinators and wound up with only 12 sacks in his sequel season.

So, yeah, he knows the challenge of trying to better a career year. Still, Allen feels nothing but love for Peterson’s push toward 2,500.

“With that dude? It’s logical,” Allen says. “And yeah, that’s crazy. … But I think too, with the way the league is now as such a pass-dominant league, you’re seeing smaller fronts. You’re not having that 330-pound nose tackle anymore. You’ve got to have guys there who can rush the passer because of these spread offenses and these check-down systems. So you get a team like us that likes to run the ball with a back like Adrian and smaller (defenders) on the field, 2,500 might not be a stretch.”

OK, so maybe at this point Peterson should be granted the license to dream big. Or perhaps, more precisely, to strive big.

Just consider the 2012 calendar year. On New Year’s Day, he was still in an Alabama hospital bed, two days removed from what could have been a career-derailing operation.

Immediately following ACL and MCL surgery, Peterson’s 2012 return seemed iffy at best. Coming back from an injury that severe, logic said, meant that Peterson would be lucky to be back at full strength by October, fortunate to even make a push at 1,000 yards. Instead, by Dec. 31, Peterson was waking up in the Twin Cities with those 2,097 yards under his belt, the star who had taken his game to a new level while propelling his team into the postseason.

Peterson’s production never tailed off, either. Not after the Vikings lost top receiver Percy Harvin in Week 9 to a season-ending ankle injury. Not after second-year quarterback Christian Ponder malfunctioned into a maddening stretch of midseason inconsistency.

During the final eight games, Peterson actually accumulated more rushing yards (1,322) than Ponder had passing yards (1,192).

Oh, and that ridiculous finishing charge, an average of 172 yards per game and 6.4 yards per carry over the final five weeks? Turns out Peterson did all that with a sports hernia injury that required surgery after the season.

Not once over the final six weeks did Peterson deliver a full week of practice, limited most weeks to just a Friday cameo. Yet on Sundays, he never showed signs of pain or fatigue.

Said Frazier: “I’d talk to him on those Fridays when he would get in some practice time and say, ‘What do you think?’ He’d say, ‘Coach, I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready.’ But I ­couldn’t always tell if he was going to be ready. And you’d go through warm-ups in pregame, and it was like, ‘Man, he’s going to be OK.’

“But still in the back of your mind you’re just wondering if he can finish. And then he’d break a long run and you’re like, ‘He’s different.’”

Peterson’s path back to such an otherworldly level was paved by positivity in the wake of his knee injury. It started even before he left the hospital and was certainly evident when he met the media for the first time two weeks later.

It was then that he first vowed not only to be back for the season opener on Sept. 9 but also to return better than ever.

Peterson’s promises were not hollow, and he continued oozing optimism during his time working with physical therapist Russ Paine in Houston.

Paine marveled first at Peterson’s genuine friendliness and push to encourage other patients at the facility. Then Paine watched as Peterson attacked his own recovery with so much purpose.

People kept reminding Peterson he’d never be the same back he was before the injury. Which gave him two options: to come back a bit slower and less explosive, or to return better than he’d ever been.

Paine understood why Peterson, against all common sense, promised to be back starting on Sept. 9. Even with the Vikings reminding him that caution and patience were acceptable, Peterson craved the added pressure.

“It forced him to his ultimate,” Paine says. “When you have someone like him who’s an absolute superhuman and better than everyone else, he could be at 90 percent and still wow everyone. But when you’re in the top half of one percent of the world’s athletes and you then push yourself to focus and achieve at that level, then you become a freaking superstar.

“That’s what separates Adrian.”

Vikings strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman tapped into Peterson’s intensity in the early parts of training camp. The Vikings cautiously set Peterson aside on the Physically Unable to Perform list when camp opened.

But Peterson, while understanding the team’s logic, was agitated by the move and decided he’d attack his isolated rehab work in a manner where he’d finish each day having exerted himself more than any player who had engaged in the full practice.

Sugarman’s amazement only heightened when thinking back to the flood of thoughts he had when approaching Peterson immediately after the running back’s knee blew out on Christmas Eve 2011.

“I knew instantly the gravity of what had happened,” Sugarman says. “And I remember thinking, ‘Wow, these coming months are going to be filled with pressure and scrutiny. This ­wasn’t somebody nobody had ever heard of. This is the best running back in the National Football League. There were going to be a lot of eyes on him.”

Which is what Peterson wanted. After one particularly demanding rehab session in training camp, Kanavy asked Peterson to finish the day with a sequence in which he ran speed ladders, then immediately followed each set with a 40-yard dash. Peterson was torching the grass, so much so that Kanavy secretly timed several of the 40s. Not one registered above 4.8 seconds, with Peterson frequently dipping into the low 4.5s.

Says Kanavy: “When you have a genetic freak who had always kept himself in tip-top shape and then sets out to absolutely attack the rehab, that is what the result is. Everybody got a chance to see it. And it was at a level surprising to everyone other than Adrian.”

Week by week, Peterson’s odds-defying comeback gathered steam. He delivered the longest run of his career in Week 13 at Green Bay, bursting 82 yards for a touchdown on a day when he ripped off 210 yards on only 21 carries.

He then proceeded to match that 82-yard run two weeks later in St. Louis on his way to a season-best 212 yards. In all, Peterson tied an NFL record with seven runs of 50 yards or longer. No wonder that 2,500-yard landmark doesn’t seem as ridiculous as it should.

Granted, the Vikings know that as a team, they’ll be far better off if they can diversify their offense. The goal is to revive a passing attack that ranked 31st in the league last season, to not give opponents the luxury of knowing Peterson will touch the ball 24 times per game like he did last season.

Realistically, 1,700 or 1,800 yards would be marvelous.

But hey, if the MVP running back wants to make a push at 2,500, you give him the green light.

“I think it’s a good goal to have if you’re Adrian Peterson,” Frazier says. “He’s more than capable of getting it accomplished.”

Heck, look at what Peterson did last fall, gathering new acolytes week after week.

“I feel that a lot of people who doubted me became believers,” he says. “The rewards and accomplishments are good. But being able to change someone’s mindset, whether it’s a little kid or grown-ups, and make them believe differently and look at things in a different light, that’s the ultimate goal.”

Even Allen admits that Peterson’s positive energy had stimulated the entire team’s imagination, pushing them to dream bigger.

“Maybe I can get 2,000 sacks,” Allen jokes.

Hearing that, Peterson smiles. “That’s what I’m talking about,” he says. “He wasn’t talking about 2,000 sacks last year or the year before.”

So now, without skepticism, perhaps we should all begin talking about 2,500 yards.

Written by Dan Wiederer for Athlon Sports. Visit our online store to order your 2013 Pro Football preview magazine to get in-depth team previews and more analysis on the 2013 NFL season.

Teaser:
Adrian Peterson and the Quest for 2,500
Post date: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 11:00

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