What's the college football world talking about after Week 1?
Every Saturday night, Athlon Sports’ Braden Gall hosts The Scoreboard Show on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Ch. 91. Every Tuesday, Athlon Sports will feature his take on the national conversation from fans to players to coaches. Follow the conversation from College Sports Nation hosts on Twitter using the hashtag #section91.
Everybody is overrated.
Alabama and Florida State looked beatable. Ohio State looked average. UCLA has a nasty defense and a star QB but not much else.
Auburn looked like, well, Auburn. The Tigers were unstoppable on offense no matter who played quarterback but the defense still has some major holes, no matter how many miracles defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson works at halftime this year.
The first weekend of the year is an eye-opening experience for the college football world. True freshmen are thrown into the deep end against grown men and told not only to swim, but to excel. New coaches get their first taste of battle in a new zip code with totally new players. And, most especially, six months of media prognostication is erased with 60 minutes of football, right?
After all that, let's not go crazy after one weekend.
That doesn't mean we didn't learn a few interesting things: Does Wisconsin have major issues at quarterback — and apparently a lack of communication about injuries? Does UCLA need to address the supporting cast for Brett Hundley, the nation's most sacked QB the last two years? And South Carolina? What was that?
But when the final whistle blew on Week 1, what was different? Again, the only real change of expectations is for South Carolina and Texas A&M.
All those teams that, according to the commentary Saturday night and Sunday, you would have believed had lost by more than three touchdowns? They all won. Except South Carolina.
I will be the first to admit I was shocked by the performance of Steve Spurrier — the same Head Ball Coach who was 22-0 in season openers as an SEC coach — at home against a team missing three first-round draft picks, including the most productive player per game in SEC history. Something tells me, however, the Gamecocks are going to bounce back.
Georgia coach Mark Richt made clear after the 45-21 win over Clemson he is preparing for a different South Carolina team in two weeks.
"They are going to hear about all of their flaws and we are going to hear about how good we are for a couple of weeks.” Richt told me on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. “They are going to be mad."
But the Bulldogs were still Athlon Sports predicted winner in the SEC East and were ranked No. 8 in the nation. After one week, I'm not going to lie, we can't help but feel better about that pick.
SiriusXM's Eddie George is a believer now, too.
"Everyone looked beatable,” George said on air. “With the exception of one team: Georgia."
I don't disagree, but the basic assumption that Georgia is the only team that looked unbeatable seems comical since the season is less than six percent over. Although, the Bulldogs appear to have increased the list of SEC title contenders from two to three (Alabama, Auburn).
But other than that, what exactly is different after Week 1? How deep do we want to dig into the standings?
Vanderbilt has major issues. Tennessee looks solid. Oklahoma State might be more of a Big 12 threat than anticipated. Oregon State might be better than Washington. Arizona looks dangerous in the South.
But when it comes to the College Football Playoff, what has changed?
Alabama is still the frontrunner to win the SEC West as it got decent QB play and held West Virginia to 28 yards rushing. Florida State is still the frontrunner in the ACC as Jameis Winston still posted nearly 400 yards of offense.
Ohio State still looks a step behind Michigan State in the Big Ten East but appears to be developing a lot talented playmakers in Dontre Wilson, Curtis Samuel and Ezekiel Elliott. UCLA is still my pick to win the Pac-12 South. And Auburn could be so unstoppable on offense it might be the top rated non-league champ vying for a Playoff spot at the end of the year.
This speaks nothing of conference frontrunners and popular College Football Playoff favorites Oregon, Stanford, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Baylor — all of which dominated like true top 10 teams.
The lesson after Week 1 is don’t overact. Don’t try to project the most unpredictable 60 minutes of college football into grand sweeping philosophical changes about what the 2014 season will look like.
Each week, I get a chance to sit down with some of the day’s biggest names. Here is what our Saturday conversation sounded like this weekend:
JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State
The Ohio State passer was thrust into the fire and showed his inexperience at times. But he knew his role and that was to get the ball to the playmakers and “not do anything too crazy.”
Mark Richt, Georgia
The Bulldogs outlasted Clemson in impressive fashion on Saturday evening Between the Hedges. Richt attributed that to his team’s excellent conditioning and Jeremy Pruitt’s halftime adjustments.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The star wideout for Bama had a career day, catching 12 passes for 130 yards in the win over West Virginia. But how did he grade quarterback Blake Sims’ debut? “I’d give him an A-plus.”
Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU
The burly tailback spearheaded a furious second-half comeback against Wisconsin late on Saturday night. He gives his offensive line and Anthony Jennings all of the credit.
Chris Klieman, North Dakota State
One of the more entertaining stories of Week 1 was the Bison’s upset of Iowa State on the road. Klieman, making his coaching debut, understands there is a tradition of winning at North Dakota State that he is trying to continue.