College football’s first week was full of surprises as there were a couple of teams, and a lot of power conference teams beating up on cupcakes. The first week normally doesn’t make or break a team’s season, and its usually hard to learn anything from it, but there we can always get a better picture of how a team’s season is going to go.
Here are three things we learned from the first week of college football.
3) The Pac-12 North is really, really, really bad
Washington’s narrow loss to Boise State was understandable, the Broncos were 11-point favorites after all, but it still showed how far away the Huskies still are from being relevant on the national stage. BSU dominated the first half –and looked like it was well on its way to covering the spread — but some halftime adjustments by the Huskies led to them being in field goal position with 21 seconds left…the kick was off to the right and Boise State escaped with a victory.
Unfortunately, this was the best (if that’s the operable term) loss the Pac-12 North had during the first week. As Stanford managed to choke against a weak Northwestern team, which knocked the Cardinal out of the top-25. The Cardinal were unable to get moving on offense as their offensive line struggled to control the line of scrimmage and open up holes for the running backs to charge through. As a result, Stanford’s offense was unable to move the ball down field consistently.
The worst loss of the week was Washington State’s loss to a terrible Portland State squad at home. WSU’s offense was unable to get going, and the defense proved unable to stop the quarterback draw. It was a devastating loss for the program, and its fans.
2) Alabama is already building its case for a CFP berth
Alabama gets a lot of credit for not lining up a cupcake for its first week of conference play as they faced No. 20 Wisconsin in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide scored the first game on a 37-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry with 5:54 left in the first quarter; Wisconsin would tie the game up early in the second quarter, but the Badgers would never take the lead. In the end, Alabama earned a 35-17 victory to begin building its College Football Playoff resume.
The Crimson Tide’s 18-point victory over a top-25 opponent in week one gives them a comfortable buffer with the selection committee. The SEC West looks to be extremely tough (again) this season, and it’s likely Alabama enters championship week with one (or two) losses on its schedule.
1) Ohio State is athletic, but still needs some polishing
Ohio State flashed brilliant athleticism during its 42-24 victory over Virginia Tech. While the final margin of victory is about where is should have been, the Hokies were able to take advantage of holes in Ohio States’ defense to score 17-unanswered points in the second quarter and take a three-point lead into halftime.
The Bukeyes’ defensive staff was able to make some key changes to the game plan during the break — which held VT to seven points in the second half — but some major defensive issues were exposed. There were several plays in the first half where members of OSU’s secondary left their lanes, which led to big plays for Virginia Tech. While the adjustments that were made at the half did a good job of limiting the young secondary’s ability to over pursue, it’s going to be a concern for the Bukeyes throughout the season.
Fortunately for fans of the Ohio State, the Big Ten appears to be a fairly weak conference, that shouldn’t put up a ton of points. Therefore, the coaching staff will have a lot of opportunities to improve the secondary’s pursuit angles in live game experience.