College football is back......and with a incredible bang, to boot.
The first weekend of college football was nothing short of spectacular. I mean, wow. We saw the whole gamut in four days of awesome from surprisingly close games, to surprisingly not close games, to flat out awesome upsets in the Top 25. So much happened that even now, days later and the Labor Day weekend long gone, I'm still decompressing from it.
So let's hit some of the big moments from last weekend that have already made 2016 a great college football season so far:
HOUSTON EXPOSES THE SOONERS
Clearly the Cougars are out to prove that last year's 13-1 record with a Peach Bowl win over Florida State wasn't a fluke. I think now they have our full attention after they just dominated a CFB playoff team from last year. Oklahoma dropped out of the Top 5 to 13 in the Coaches Poll and 14 in the AP poll after a 33-23 season opening loss to Houston that featured a Kick Six touchdown on a missed field goal attempt. Seriously, a Kick Six in Week 1. Fantastic. Houston's in the Top 10 now and we'll see how long they stay there threatening to cause havoc for the Power 5 schools looking to make the playoff this year. They've already got Oklahoma reeling and looking to bounce back fast against Louisiana-Monroe.
THE BADGERS REMIND THE NATION THAT THEY ARE GOOD BY BEATING LSU
There are two constants in college football: Wisconsin is always good and LSU is always overrated. Seriously, I've never quite understood how LSU gets so much praise every season and Wisconsin just doesn't. The Badgers have had six 10-win seasons in the last decade, three Big Ten championships in a row from 2010 to 2012, and haven't missed a bowl game in 14 seasons. LSU on the other hand since winning a national title game in 2008 has won the SEC once in that span and are just 4-4 in bowl games since 2008. They also have this tendency to not have even solid QB's running their offense. So why were we all that surprised that Wisconsin beat them? In Wisconsin? At Lambeau Field, no less? I sure as hell wasn't, and that's not taking anything away from the Badgers beating a Top 5 SEC school, knocking the Tigers down to 22 in the Coaches Poll and 21 in the AP Poll while Wisconsin went from being unranked to 16 in the Coaches Poll and 10 in the AP Poll. I'm saying they should have gotten more credit, perhaps. Kudos to the Badgers for mostly containing Leonard Fournette and contributing to what was an abysmal day overall for the SEC. More on that later.
TEXAS PULLS OFF THE TRUE UPSET OF THE WEEK AGAINST THE IRISH
Last year, the Longhorns managed 163 yards of offense and one field goal in 60 minutes of play and got destroyed 38-3 by Notre Dame in South Bend. This year, they eclipsed those numbers well before halftime and kept going to the tune of 517 yards of offense and a 50-47 double overtime victory over the Irish, which dropped the Domers to 21 in the Coaches Poll and 18 in the AP Poll, while pushing Texas into the Top 25 at 20 in the Coaches Poll and all the way up to 11 in the AP Poll. Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong, who seems like he's been coaching for his job each of the last two seasons balanced his two-QB system masterfully in the game between freshman passer Shane Buechele who threw for 280 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception, and senior runner Tyrone Swoopes who had three rushing touchdowns including the game winner to end it in the second overtime. Meanwhile, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly after watching DeShone Kizer lead the Irish to late season playoff contention and a 10-3 record, couldn't decide who he wanted to play at QB between Kizer and Malik Zaire in the first half before coming to his senses on Kizer for the rest of the game. That shouldn't have been in doubt in the first place and it really shouldn't be now, but Notre Dame might have a bigger problem with its defense this season as they lick their wounds and look to bounce back at home against Nevada, while the Longhorns look to ride this momentum for as long as they can. This might be real fun to watch for sure.
NICK SABAN'S FOOTBALL FACTORY CONTINUES TO BE FULLY OPERATIONAL
I actually thought for a moment in the first half that USC had a shot to pull off the biggest upset of the day itself at the "Jerrydome" in Dallas. Then Alabama remembered that they were Alabama and promptly killed my Cherry Wheat buzz with 38 unanswered points on the way to a 52-6 annihilation of Southern Cal. This with a true freshman at QB, who fumbled on his first play from scrimmage and threw an interception but scored four total touchdowns in the game. Anybody really surprised at this at all? Of course not, this is standard operating procedure for The Crimson Tide. We just have to wait and see what they do in the SEC this season, which starts in a week and a half when they go to Ole Miss to try and exact revenge for their one loss early last season.
THE BIG TEN SHOWED UP WHILE THE SEC SPUTTERED
12 of the 14 Big Ten teams that played opening weekend won. That includes Purdue and Illinois who both won big for coaches Darrell Hazell and Lovie Smith respectively, but not Northwestern who surprisingly lost to Western Michigan by a point and Rutgers who got absolutely drilled by Washington. Michigan State and Minnesota survived close calls with Furman and Oregon State, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska and Penn State won comfortably against their opponents and Maryland thrashed FIU while Michigan and Ohio State absolutely throttled Hawaii and Bowling Green by 60 and 67 point margins respectively, and of course Wisconsin with the top conference win of the weekend against LSU. The SEC on the other hand wasn't so lucky at all. Alabama took care of business along with Florida and Georgia while Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee squeaked by their opponents, but Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky, Ole Miss and LSU all lost in Week 1, prompting the "SEC is overrated" chatter earlier than I can remember hearing it. The season just started and there's months of football to be played yet, but it's nice hearing how the Big Ten looked dominant while the SEC struggled mightily, even if just for one week.