College Football 2013: 5 Things We Learned In Week 1
The first week of college football is almost in the books. While there are still a lot of games to be played this year, here are a few things that we learned in Week 1.
Alabama is Still the Team to Beat
While Virginia Tech certainly doesn't have the talent of the Crimson Tide, the thought was that, with NFL-potential quarterback Logan Thomas and a neutral site game, maybe the Hokies could give Alabama a run for their money. And, to be fair, they did a good job on the defensive side of the ball, limiting Alabama to just 206 total yards. But the Crimson Tide showed that, even when the offense isn't steamrolling people, they can still get it done, cruising to a 35-10 win. The defense was dominant as usual, holding Thomas to just 5/26 passing for 59 yards and returning an interception for a touchdown. Christion Jones provided all the scoring the Crimson Tide would need, scoring touchdowns on a punt return, a kickoff return and a 38-yard reception in the third quarter. Alabama now has a bye week to prepare for what could be one of the biggest games of the year--September 14 at #7 Texas A&M.
But Don't Count Clemson Out Just Yet
While much of the early national title talk has understandably focused on the SEC, Ohio State, Stanford and Oregon, #8 Clemson made a big statement for inclusion on Saturday night with a 38-35 shootout win over #5 Georgia. Do-it-all quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 42 yards and two scores on the ground. The Tigers' defense did give up 545 yards to the Bulldogs, but they forced two turnovers and didn't give up a passing touchdown to All-SEC quarterback Aaron Murray while sacking him four times. Including last year's 25-24 win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Clemson is the first team ever to beat Top Ten SEC opponents in consecutive games. The schedule is very favorable for the Tigers--they should be 6-0 going into an October 19 matchup with #11 Florida State and will be favored in every remaining game before the season-ending showdown with archrival #6 South Carolina.
Same Ol' Johnny Football
If you wondered if the one-half suspension and all the off-season controversy surrounding Johnny Manziel would affect him, wonder no more. In five second half drives, Manziel threw for 94 yards and three touchdowns, the most second half scores of his career, while helping the Aggies put the game away with a 24-7 run in the first 21 minutes of the second half. And if you thought the last few weeks would put a damper on any of the "Johnny Football' swagger, think again. On his second drive, Manziel was seen mimicking signing an autograph while getting into it with a Rice defender after a play. And he was eventually pulled from the game after receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting in the fourth quarter. So, love Manziel or hate him, it looks to be another entertaining season in College Station.
The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth
It was a good week to be David going against Goliath. Through the first three days of the regular season, eight FCS opponents have gone on the road and knocked off FBS teams. Two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State showed absolutely no fear in the Little Apple, going on an 18-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up almost the last nine minutes of the game to upset defending Big 12 champion Kansas State, 24-21. But the Wildcats weren't the only Big 12 team to go down, with Iowa State falling 28-20 to Northern Iowa. Eastern Washington became just the fourth FCS team ever to beat a ranked FBS opponent with a 49-46 upset at #25 Oregon State. McNeese State, a 20.5 point underdog, rolled all over South Florida, 56-21, while Eastern Illinois blew out San Diego State, 40-19. Georgia State, Connecticut and South Alabama also felt the FCS sting, with losses to Samford, Towson and Southern Utah, respectively. Suddenly, the Big Ten's recent announcement that they will no longer schedule FCS opponents looks a whole lot smarter.
Georgia Tech rolled to a 70-0 win over FCS Elon on Saturday. But of all the superlative stats you could probably pull from a big win like that, here is one of the stranger ones that you're likely to see this season--the Yellow Jackets recorded a school-record 173 interception return yards. Tech intercepted Elon quarterback Mike Quinn just three times, but managed touchdown returns of 95 and 54 yards along with a non-scoring return for 24 yards.