We’ve kicked off the new college football season and here are some observations so far and I'll update them as the weekend goes on:
- Maybe we can chalk it up to hype, but I’m not sure what some people were expecting from South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney in the Gamecocks opener. The junior defensive lineman finished with only three first-half tackles and seemed gassed at times during his team’s 27-10 win over North Carolina Thursday night. The All-American, who was hampered by a stomach virus earlier in the week, finished without a sack. Everyone needs to calm down. I’ll give Clowney the benefit of the doubt and see what happens after next week.
- USC opened the season with a less-than-impressive win over Hawaii Thursday night. The Trojans looked confused at times and appeared to need several more weeks of fall camp. That’s not good news for Lane Kiffin, who is under pressure after last season’s disappointing showing. The third-year coach was second-guessed for using both Cody Kessler AND Max Wittek at quarterback. The good news was USC’s defense forced four-turnovers and held the Rainbow Warriors to 231 total yards of offense.
- What happened to Tulsa? The Golden Hurricanes, known for a strong running offense, only managed 51 total yards on the ground against Bowling Green in a stunning 34-7 loss. It’s not the way Bill Blankenship wanted to start a season that will be the program’s last in Conference USA. Tulsa moves to the American Athletic Conference in 2014.
- Speaking of the American. The biggest upset so far this weekend has to be Connecticut, which dropped a 33-18 decision to Towson, a FCS opponent. The Huskies gave up close to 400 yards of total offense to the Tigers and were thoroughly outplayed for most of the game. The loss snapped an 11-game win streak against foes from the FCS.
- UCF's opened the 2013 with a bang by defeating Akron, 38-7. Knights quarterback Blake Bortles passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns in the win and strengthened my argument that the junior is the best quarterback in the state of Florida right now - hands down.
- The game of the season – so far – has to go to Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The Commodores jumped out to a 21-10 halftime lead, before the Rebels stormed back and used a last-minute 75-yard touchdown run by Jeff Scott to capture a 39-35 victory. It was a statement win for second-year coach Hugh Freeze who continues to rebuild Ole Miss into a possible contender in the SEC. Don’t sleep on the Rebels this season.
- Fresno State were considered a sleeper pick heading into the season, but it shed that tag Thursday night after beating Rutgers 52-51 in overtime. Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr passed for 456 yards and five touchdowns – two to receiver Davante Adams – in the win. Carr to Adams could be the best QB-to-WR combination West of the Mississippi. The Bulldogs could give Boise State a run for its money in the Mountain West. Rutgers, on the other hand, gave opponents in the American something to think about this upcoming season.
- Utah State believes quarterback Chuckie Keeton has the skills to compete for a Heisman. He showcased some of those skills Thursday night against Utah by combining for 399 total yards of offense and three total touchdowns in a 30-26 loss to Utah. The Utes got revenge for a 27-20 overtime loss to the Aggies last season.
- The post-Collin Klein era began last night for Kansas State with a disappointing thud. The Wildcats allowed 380 yards of total offense and 24 points to North Dakota State in a stunning 24-21 loss to the Bisons. NDSU drove 80 yards on 18 plays in the final minutes to hand the Wildcats a tough season-opening loss.
- Freshman walk-on QB Baker Mayfield looked solid in leading Texas Tech to a 41-23 win over SMU in the debut of new coach Kliff Kingsbury. The Red Raiders used a familiar hurry-up offense that Kingsbury implemented at Texas A&M when he was the offensive coordinator last season. TTU ran close to 100 offensive plays and Mayfield passed for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.
- Miami's Duke Johnson picked up right where he left off last season with more than 210 yards of total offense and a touchdown as Miami opened with a 34-6 win over FAU. It was the debut of new offensive coordinator James Coley, who came over from Florida State, as the Canes put up 503 yards of total offense.
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