With the first full weekend of games in the books, let’s make some observations.
Yes, the ACC stinks.Clempson, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Virginia, and Boston College did what you would expect and drilled FCS or much weaker opponents. Duke beat Army, which I suppose is a good win since Army actually went to a bowl last year. The rest of the conference looked bad. Wake Forest barely squeaked by Tulane. NC State barely beat James Madison. Syracuse beat Western Michigan – who is back to being a terrible team 2 years after PJ Fleck rowed his boat to Minnesota – by a mere 13 points. And North Carolina, Miami, Florida State and Louisville got absolutely trucked by their opponents. The Tar Heels entered the 4thquarter losing 24-3 to a Cal team no one expects to contend for the Pac 12 title. Louisville? Well, they were playing the #1 team, so a big loss was expected, but one would have hoped it would be a little closer than 37 points. And the 4th quarter in Jerry-land was all garbage time as LSU led Miami 33-3 at the start of the 4th. There was also a game that was supposedly between #20 and #19, but it was a mismatch as Florida State never got in the end zone, and yet another punt was blocked by Virginia Tech. If Clempson stumbles, the entire league becomes completely irrelevant.
Strong debuts for most of the new SEC coaches. Dan Mullen, Joe Moorhead, Jimbo Fisher, and Chad Morris had huge wins for Florida, Misipi State, Texas A&M and Ar-Kansas. And Matt Luke, who technically isn’t new but was coaching Misipi as the permanent head coach for the first time, also rolled in week 1. The only new coach to lose was Jeremy Pruitt, who could not translate being a Nick Saban disciple into anything magic for Tennessee, despite having orange-clad people dominating the crowd at B of A stadium in Charlotte. Rocky Bottom has a way to go.
Don’t read those press clippings. Watching their games, one could get the impression that Kentucky and Auburn were impressed enough with their preseason press that they figured they could just walk on to the field and see Central Michigan and Washington wilt. Neither happened. Kentucky was only up 1 point at halftime. Stoops apparently lit into the defense at halftime, as CMU was shut out in the second half. Auburn started very fast, but Washington adjusted. It took until the 4th quarter for Auburn to adjust back and score late to pull out the win. The book on Gus Malzahn has always been that he’s great with the X’s and O’s but can get beat on the recruiting trail. Well, he wasn’t at the top of his game with the adjustments this week. He’ll need to be sharper when they next play a real team.
Didn’t see that coming.It appears the only team in the SEC that significantly exceeded expectations was Vanderbilt. This is the 4th straight year Middle Tennessee has used Vanderbilt for their paycheck game, and the previous 3 were very close most of the game. Vandy blew them out this time. MTSU is not as prolific offensively as they were as recently as 3 years ago, but still, this easy win wasn’t intuitively obvious. So props to Derek Mason and crew for a great opener.
Charlotte is much better, and still far away. The Charlotte 49ers were set to kick off at 6 PM. The game ended at 11:30. Two lightning delays, at kickoff and the end of halftime, added 2 hours to the duration. The 49ers started very slowly before the talent difference finally wore Fordham down and we pulled away for the win. My super-optimistic prediction of 4 wins looks within reach, as UMass, Old Dominion and Middle Tennessee all look extremely beatable, and Western Kentucky isn’t a whole lot better. But 4-8 looks like the best possible outcome, and more strong recruiting will be needed if the 49ers are to reach a bowl game in 2019. If Brad Lambert wants to keep coaching this team into the 2020’s, 4 and 6 wins the next 2 years are required.
1. ‘Bama – Their fans think who their starting QB should be is more important than the midterm elections. Yawn.
2. Clempson – Must be nice to be in a league where everybody sucks except you.
3. Georgia – Breaking news: Kirby Smart can recruit.
4. Oklahoma – “We don’t need no stinkin’ Baker Mayfield!”
5. Ohio State – Despite having thugs for coaches, they can still score a lot of points.
6. Wisconsin – If nothing else, the Badgers-Buckeyes Big 14 title game should be fun.
7. Auburn – The WR injuries & new secondary are affecting them.
8. Penn State – App is a good team. No penalty for needing OT to beat them here.
9. Notre Dame – Looking rather feisty and as a sleeper contender.
10.Washington – Not quite Clempson, but should win Pac 12 handily.
11.Michigan State – I’ll be honest, I know nothing about this year’s version
12.TCU – Upcoming games with Ohio State and Oklahoma should be fun.
13.West Virginia –
14.Misipi State –
15.Virginia Tech –
16.Central Florida –
17.Stanford – Fighting for 2nd in the Pac 12.
18.USC – See Stanford above.
19.LSU – Are they really good or was their opponent just so badly overrated?
20.Boise State – Game with Oklahoma State looms large for their big bowl chances.
21.Miami – That was gawd-awful. Still plenty of time to take care of the weak ACC Coastal.
22.Michigan – Looks like the Michigan Man isn’t getting much traction.
23.South Carolina – Good all-around team. We’ll see how they do against the Dawgs.
24.Florida – Good debut for Mullen.
25.Oregon – See USC above.
Next 5: Utah, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Boston College, Florida State
Bottom 5: Rice, New Mexico State, Coastal Carolina, Old Dominion, UTEP