Good, Bad, and Ugly of College Football Week 1

It goes without saying that college football being back is a very good thing for all of us. The pageantry, emotion, and excitement accompanying a season is what bettors and fans alike live for every Saturday all fall. Opening weekend gave us plenty to be excited about for the upcoming campaign…or if you’re a LSU fan plenty of time to start identifying replacements for Les Miles.

Before we get into the weekly format there’s something that happened in Lincoln requiring our attention. Nebraska paid an emotional tribute to their fallen teammate Sam Foltz.  Foltz passed away in a car accident; the kind of offseason tragedy no program should ever have to endure when a player way too young gets taken from us.

The Good

Freshman quarterbacks will have something to say about conference championships and playoff births this fall. Take your pick from the high-profile trio of Deondre Francois, Shane Buechele, or Jalen Hurts.  All three highly regarded recruits performed admirably in high pressure debuts this weekend. All bring slightly different skill sets to the table for programs that aren’t satisfied unless they lay claim to a national championship.

Army football hasn’t had much to celebrate in recent years (I believe they haven’t beaten Navy since the Nixon administration). Thursday night in Philadelphia was different when the Black Knights finally ended years of highway futility against FBS programs. Army winning outright as 17 point dogs was no small feat for a school fresh off a 2-10 campaign in 2015. Coach Monken’s team will look to keep the mojo flowing on the Hudson for their home opener against Rice where Army is listed as nearly a double-digit favorite.

Much is expected of traditional Big Ten powers Ohio State and Michigan this year; neither disappointed in their home openers outscoring the competition by a margin of 140-13. Ohio Stat racked up just shy of 800 yards while Michigan “only” mustered 512 in dispatching the Rainbow Warriors. However those Big Ten Members weren’t alone in proclaiming conference dominance because it was actually Wisconsin’s upset of highly regarded LSU as 13 point dogs that sent the biggest shock waves through the college football community.

The Bad

It was not a good opening weekend for the SEC. Aside from Alabama’s drubbing of USC in Dallas, the league suffered some pretty embarrassing results highlighted by Mississippi State’s inexplicable home loss to South Alabama. Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs were nearly four touchdown favorites and came up on the wrong end of a 21-20 final score which included MSU missing a chip shot field goal for the win in the closing seconds. Not to be outdone, LSU left their offense in Baton Rouge when traveling to Green Bay mustering just one offensive touchdown against the Badgers. Then there were Kentucky and Ole Miss that squandered 25 and 22 point leads respectively. The Rebels yielded 33 straight points to Florida State in their loss on Monday night watching a 28-6 lead turn into a 45-34 defeat. Not to be outdone Kentucky’s 35-10 halftime meltdown was something truly special as well. The Wildcats ran a grand total of 14 snaps on offense the entire second half. Uk’s drive summary looked like the following: Fumble, Punt, Interception, Punt, Fumble…no small feat for an SEC program.

Nobody expected Wake Forest and Tulane to put on offensive fireworks. Fans also didn’t expect the football game to be downright offensive. Wake Forest ended up winning (if you can call it that) 7-3 generating a grand total of 175 yards of offense. Tulane wasn’t much better only amassing 280 of their own with the two teams combining for just 24 first downs.

Take your pick of teams hailing from power conferences that went down at the hands of FCS opponents: Virginia, Washington State, and Iowa State. Wazzou’s loss to Eastern Washington is probably the most surprising on the list given it’s the second straight year the Cougars have lost to a regional FCS program. If history is any indication though Mike Leach’s team will bounce back with a vengeance.  As for Iowa State and Virginia…those fans should just hope opening weekend isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

I’ve never seen more curious officiating than what took place in Evanston. Northwestern was on the wrong end of two horrible replay decisions; one coming on Western Michigan’s go ahead touchdown in the 4th and the other on what should have been Northwestern’s go ahead score. I’ll always be a fan of replay but when we still can’t get calls right in pivotal situations I do have to ask what the hell all the technology is for when it comes to accountability in officiating.

The Ugly

Frustration and toughness are a part of sports. Actually the two go hand in hand especially when we’re talking about 18-22 year old males. Unfortunately when it does happen it still jars you back to reality like the absurdly late hit LSU offensive lineman Josh Boutte laid on D’Cota Dixon. Les Miles handed down disciplinary action but only for 1 game which feels like a slap on the wrist considering LSU’s next opponent is Jacksonville State

I wasn’t sure how to classify the end of game situation down at Jordan Hare Saturday Night. Clemson and Auburn bettors found themselves on opposite sides of the sweat for a curious Dabo Swinney decision. Instead of kicking what should have been a chip shot field goal on 4th and short, Swinney elected to go for it keeping the scoreline 19-13. The fact Clemson even ended up in field goal range is a different discussion entirely but had this been the NFL you can bet the team leading by just six points late would have taken the field goal to stretch the lead to two possessions. Dabo didn’t feel that was the prudent decision, ultimately protecting the cover for all those holding Auburn tickets.