Fast Five: Week One Storylines
Alabama beats Florida State convincingly
The #1 vs #3 showdown to start the season on Saturday–possibly the biggest opening weekend game ever–ended with Alabama winning convincingly, 24-7. The overall stats were, for the most part, fairly even for the game, except for turnovers.
The Crimson Tide, who didn’t turn the ball over in the game, intercepted Deondre Francois twice, blocked a field goal and a punt and recovered a fumble on a kickoff. That, coupled with Florida State being held to 40 rushing yards, left Alabama to dominate the ‘Noles, winning comfortably even though the Tide themselves had just 269 yards of offense.
Florida State loses a game… and a quarterback
The Seminoles loss naturally hurts their Playoff chances, as they now they likely have to win out to qualify. But their season took an additional unfortunate turn when QB Deondre Francois went down in the fourth quarter with a season-ending patella injury.
Francois hadn’t played his best game–he was 19-for-33 for XX yards with a touchdown and two interceptions–but the sophomore quarterback would have been a big key for the ‘Noles the rest of the way. Now the offense is in the hands of true freshman James Blackman, who did not throw a pass Saturday after coming in for Francois late in the game.
Moderate struggles for Ohio State and USC
Ohio State won 49-21 Thursday night at Indiana, but didn’t score a touchdown until the 5:17 mark of the first half and trailed 21-20 with 4:56 left in the third. After a sluggish start for the Buckeyes, they finished with 29 unanswered points, led by J.K. Dobbins’ 181 rushing yards, an Ohio State freshman record.
Western Michigan led 21-14 at USC for most of the third quarter, then after USC took a 28-21 lead tied the game at 28-28 with 7:54 to go before the floodgates opened for the USC offense and the Trojans won 49-31. The USC defense allowed 263 rushing yards to the Broncos, and the Trojans were saved by 521 total yards of their own and 28 fourth-quarter points.
Both highly-ranked clubs had moderately inauspicious starts, and both can’t afford to repeat those performances this weekend. Ohio State hosts #5 Oklahoma, while USC hosts #14 Stanford in their Pac-12 opener.
Michigan muscles past Florida
Florida was shorthanded, especially on offense, after the suspension of 10 players for the Gators’ game against Michigan. The lack of depth showed, as the Gators were held scoreless in the second half and Michigan turned a 17-13 halftime deficit into a 33-17 win.
The Gators were outgained 433-192 and held to just 11 rushing yards, while the Wolverines had a very balanced attack, passing for 218 yards and rushing for 215. Michigan’s Ty Isaac rushed for 114 yards on just 11 carries.
When UCLA scored with 2:06 left in the third against Texas A&M it seemed insignificant, as it only pulled the Bruins to within a 44-17 deficit. But, as it would turn out, the second-largest comeback in FBS history had just begun.
The Bruins scored four more unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter–the first two on Darren Andrews runs and the last two on Josh Rosen passes–to stun the Aggies, 45-44. Now, after his team seemed to stop paying attention with over a quarter to go, A&M’s Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat more than ever, and I agree that firing him may be in the school’s best interests this coming offseason.
Week One Power Rankings
1. Alabama (1-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
After maybe the biggest opening-weekend game ever, the Crimson Tide don’t play another ranked team until October 21, and don’t leave Tuscaloosa until September 23.
2. Ohio State (1-0, LW: 4th, AP: 2nd)
The Buckeyes didn’t play their best 60 minutes against Indiana, but they will if they want to beat Oklahoma on Saturday.
3. Penn State (1-0, LW: 5th, AP: 4th)
Penn State quietly had no trouble whatsoever with Akron (52-0 win), and now will try to avenge last year’s loss to Pittsburgh that kept them out of the Playoff.
4. USC (1-0, LW: 2nd, AP: 6th)
If the Trojans play Stanford like they played in the fourth quarter against Western Michigan, they’ll be fine. If they don’t, they may be in for a long night. Stanford won their opener against Rice, 62-7 in Australia.
5. Oklahoma State (1-0, LW: 6th, AP: 11th)
The Cowboys had no problem with Tulsa and shouldn’t with South Alabama this week, but the schedule will get tougher after that (at Pittsburgh, TCU).
6. Oklahoma (1-0, LW: 7th, AP: 5th)
Oklahoma will have revenge on their mind against Ohio State after last year’s loss, but will be in a tough environment at The Horseshoe in Columbus. The Sooners beat UTEP in their opener, 56-7.
7. Michigan (1-0, LW: 13th, AP: 8th)
The Wolverines may have had the most impressive non-Alabama win of the weekend; that inexperience that many pundits (myself included) were concerned about wasn’t a factor on the big stage against Florida.
8. Auburn (1-0, LW: 8th, AP: 13th)
After Auburn’s 2010 national title, their first loss the following season came at Clemson. Can Auburn now return the favor? The Tigers are coming off a 41-7 win over Georgia Southern.
9. Clemson (1-0, LW: 9th, AP: 3rd)
Clemson beat Kent State, 56-3, in the first game without many of their championship stars. We’ll know soon how good some of their replacements are–Auburn comes to town Saturday night.
10. Florida State (0-1, LW: 3rd, AP: 10th)
I’m not sure which is worse for the Seminoles long-term: the loss to an Alabama team that looked darn-near unbeatable, or the loss of QB Deondre Francois for the year. The ‘Noles get Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, but can’t rest on their laurels with Miami looming next week.
Worth a Mention: Howard (1-0)
The Bison of Howard, coming of a 2-9 campaign in the MEAC, became the biggest point-spread underdogs to ever win a game when they beat UNLV on Saturday in Las Vegas, 43-40, as 45-point underdogs. Howard QB Caylin Newton, the brother of former NFL MVP Cam Newton, rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns, also passing for 140 yards and a touchdown. While the Runnin’ Rebels were 4-8 in 2016, beating them is still a high mark for Howard, in their first season under former Virginia coach Mike London.
11. Wisconsin (1-0, LW: 11th, AP: 9th)
12. Washington (1-0, LW: 12th, AP: 7th)
13. Georgia (1-0, LW: 14th, AP: 15th)
14. Miami (1-0, LW: 15th, AP: 16th)
15. Stanford (1-0, LW: 16th, AP: 14th)
16. LSU (1-0, LW: 17th, AP: 12th)
17. Kansas State (1-0, LW: 18th, AP: 19th)
18. Virginia Tech (1-0, LW: 22nd, AP: 18th)
19. Florida (0-1, LW: 10th, AP: 22nd)
20. Utah (1-0, LW: 21st, AP: unranked)
21. Louisville (1-0, LW: 20th, AP: 17th)
22. South Florida (2-0, LW: 19th, AP: 21st)
23. Northwestern (1-0, LW: 23rd, AP: unranked)
24. Tennessee (1-0, LW: 24th, AP: 25th)
25. UCLA (1-0, LW: unranked, AP: unranked)
Fell from Rankings: West Virginia (0-1, LW: 25th)
Also Ranked in AP Poll: Washington State (1-0, 20th), TCU (1-0, 23rd), Notre Dame (1-0, 24th)