We are one week into the college football season and there have already been some amazing headlines. The biggest being Kenny Hill and Texas A&M upsetting South Carolina in Columbia. Oklahoma State and West Virginia held their own against big time competition in Florida State and Alabama respectively. I made an 11-hour drive to watch my Hogs play Auburn. It was a busy weekend, good thing it was Labor Day weekend.
How I Fared: (5-1) Each week I will keep track of the games I pick to keep a running total for the season. This is just for the winners, not by the score I predict.
1Florida State 37 Oklahoma State 31; Getting back to the hotel and seeing the score of this game blew me away. I was expecting Florida State to blow out the Cowboys. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, had an uncharacteristic night, kind of. He was 25/40 for 370 yards and a 50-yard TD to Rashad Greene (who had 203 receiving yards). Winston ran for a score as well, but threw 2 picks. FSU’s Nate Andrews scored the first TD of the game on a 9-yard pick six in the first quarter. Mario Pender rushed for a TD and Kicker Roberto Aguayo was 3/3 on FGs. Florida State did jump out to a 17-0 lead, but Oklahoma State scored 10 unanswered in the last 4 minutes of the second half. The rest of the game went back and forth, but Florida State was able to keep the lead the entire game. Oklahoma State’s QB JW Walsh was 15/27 for 203 yards, a TD to David Glidden, an INT and 2 rush TDs. Desmond Roland also rushed for a TD for the Cowboys. The biggest momentum swing came when JW Walsh fumbled the ball in the 4th quarter when FSU was up 30-24. The Seminoles scored a TD two plays later. This was not the way I thought FSU would kick off their season.
2Alabama 33 West Virginia 23; This was another surprising score to come out of the first Saturday of the season. Alabama had to kick a field goal as time expired to take the lead into the half. The Bama defense was good holding WVU to a FG on the first drive when they had 3rd and goal on the ALA 3 yard line, but their offense didn’t produce as much as I thought they would. WVU’s Mario Alford also ran back a kickoff 100 yards for a TD, which I’m sure brought some bad memories to the Alabama faithful. QB Blake Sims was 24/33 for 250 yards and an INT, with 130 of those yards going to Amari Cooper. TJ Yeldon rushed for 126 yards and 2TDs with Derrick Henry adding 113 yards on the ground and a TD. Kicker Adam Griffith was 4/4 on FGs. WVU’s QB Clint Trickett was 29/45 for 365 yards and a TD to Kevin White who amassed 143 receiving yards. Kicker Josh Lambert was 3/4 on FGs, the miss coming in the 3rd. That FG would’ve tied the game. I’m not sure if I should be worried about Alabama yet, I guess I’ll have to wait to find out until they start their SEC schedule.
6Auburn 45 Arkansas 21; Well, it was a great first half. But before I get to the actual game, I want to talk about my trip. A friend and I made the journey to Auburn this weekend to see the Razorbacks kick off their season. We stayed in Montgomery (about an hour from Auburn) so I didn’t really get to see any other football on Saturday. The Auburn campus is beautiful. We spent a couple hours walking around trying to find me a shirt that said “Hey ‘Bama, got a sec?” because Auburn is pretty much basing their season off that play. And I think it’s a part of SEC history. (I was successful in my search.) We went to put the shirt and the program I bought back in the car and it started to rain. It stopped right before the gates opened. The shade of the concourse was a blessing. It was very hot and muggy. After getting something to drink and some hot dogs, we went to our seats where I remembered that I had left the sunscreen in the hotel. There were very limited clouds until the 3rd quarter. I guess you could say I got Auburned (ba-da-tss). But it was worth it. Jordan-Hare is a beautiful stadium and a great place to see a football game. We sat right behind the Arkansas band in the visitor’s section, but there were still a couple Auburn fans around us. They were very nice and seemed glad us Razorback fans had made the trip. The storms came back during the 4th quarter and the game was delayed an hour and a half due to lightning. It didn’t really start raining again until they let us back into the stands. And it poured. The fans made the best of it by singing along to all the rain related songs they played over the loudspeakers and then the bands started playing. All the Arkansas fans were singing and dancing and cheering for the Hogs. It was a lot of fun. Despite the outcome of the game, I had a great time this weekend. I’d go back to Jordan-Hare in a heartbeat, but with sunscreen.
As far as the game goes, the first half was back and forth. The second half, not so much. Auburn starting QB Nick Marshall sat the first half as punishment for being ticketed for possession of a small amount of marijuana in the offseason. Lucky for Auburn, his backup, Jeremy Johnson, could probably start at a lot of schools. He was 12/16 for 243 yards and 2TDs in just the first half. On Auburn’s first drive he hit Melvin Ray who evaded an Arkansas defender and ran almost 40 yards after the catch for the TD. After having gone 3-and-out on their first drive, the Hogs responded with a 6 play, 75-yard TD drive that ended with Brandon Allen connecting with a wide open Hunter Henry for a 14-yard TD. Auburn would respond a 1-yard TD run by Cameron Artis-Payne. The Tigers stopped the Hogs on their next drive (the Hogs really stopped themselves, Keon Hatcher dropped a perfect pass from Allen) and drove 98 yards, 80 of which came on two passes to D’haquille Williams, a 62-yarder and an 18-yard TD. The Razorbacks responded with 14 unanswered points to tie the game. The first was a 17-yard pass from Allen to former QB turned tight end AJ Derby and the second was a 6-yard rush by Jonathan Williams. Auburn was poised to take a 24-21 lead into the half, but kicker Daniel Carlson’s 42-yard attempt hit the right upright, meaning the game was tied at 21 after 30 minutes. The second half saw the return of Nick Marshall and the departure of Arkansas’s offensive success. Marshall orchestrated a 9-play drive that ended in a 19-yard rush TD by the QB. The next Tiger score came on a play Arkansas fans are sadly too familiar with: a Brandon Allen pick 6. The interception was due to a hit by Robenson Therezie and was picked off and ran in by Jermaine Whitehead. Carlson hit a 45-yard FG in the 4th that was followed by an hour and a half lightning delay. After that, Auburn scored one more time on a Corey Grant 3-yard rush TD. Arkansas was held to just 65 yards of offense in the second half. While the score might not show it, Arkansas has definitely improved from last season. Brandon Allen seems to have gotten a lot better. The defense still has a lot to work on, but it was a good, strong start. The Hogs have the chance to surprise a lot of teams this season.
7UCLA 28 Virginia 20; Virginia hasn’t been too good the last couple of seasons, which makes this outcome very interesting. I thought UCLA would have no problem with this Virginia team. Even more surprising is how UCLA scored their points. At the half the score was 21-10 UCLA, but the Bruin offense had not scored. UCLA’s defense produced 3TDs in the 2nd quarter. Ishmael Adams started the defensive scoring off with a 20-yard pick six early in the 2nd quarter, then late in the quarter Randall Goforth returned a fumble 75 yards for the score and a minute and a half later Eric Kendricks ran back another pick 37 yards for a TD. Both INTs were thrown by Grayson Lambert, who was taken out before the Cavalier’s last series of the 1st half. Matt Johns came in and immediately made an impact, throwing a TD to Andre Levrone with 52 seconds left in the half. The two teams traded TDs in the 3rd, and UVA scored a FG in the 4th. UCLA QB Brett Hundley was 20/33 for 242 yards and rushed for a TD. The Bruins hurt themselves in this game, losing two fumbles and racking up 12 penalties for 87 yards. UCLA’s offense will have to improve a lot if they want to compete in the Pac-12.
21Texas A&M 52 9South Carolina 28 (Thurs); First of all, I owe Texas A&M fans, coaches and players an apology. That was an amazing game by the Aggies. The entire A&M team looked better than it did last season, especially the defense (although the secondary wasn’t great). South Carolina might have a tough year. Their defense couldn’t stop anything. Their offense wasn’t bad, but they had to play from behind the entire game. Texas A&M sophomore QB Kenny Hill had a record-breaking night going 44/60 for 511 yards and 3TDs in his first collegiate start. WR Malcome Kennedy had 137 receiving yards with Josh Reynolds, Edward Pope and Richy Seals-Jones each catching a TD. Though the RBs didn’t put up a lot of yards, Tra Carson rushed for 3 scores and Trey Williams ran for a TD as well. For the Gamecocks, QB Dylan Thompson was 20/40 for 366 yards, 4TDs and an INT. Nick Jones was the leading receiver with 113 yards and 2TDs. Pharoh Cooper and Damiere Byrd each caught TDs as well. This loss snaps South Carolina’s NCAA leading 18-game home win streak and the 680 yards allowed is the most ever by South Carolina (since Arkansas gained 651yds on them on 11/3/07). What a way to start the SEC season.
12Georgia 45 16Clemson 21; This game was a lot like the Arkansas Auburn game. The score was tied 21-21 at halftime, then Georgia proceeded to score 24 points to Clemson’s 0 in the second half. (I take that as a good sign for Arkansas.) The clear star of the game was Georgia’s Todd Gurley. He rushed for 198 yards and 3TDs and also had a 100-yard kickoff return TD to tie the game in the second quarter. UGA QB Hutson Mason was 18/26 for 131 yards and a rush TD. Nick Chubb also scored on a 47-yard rush. For the Tigers, QB Cole Stoudt was 15/28 for 130 yards and an INT. Deshaun Watson threw a TD to Charone Peake and DJ Howard and CJ Davidson each had 1-yard rush TDs. Clemson was held to just 15 total yards in the second half of this game. I think Georgia is a lot better then I predicted they would be, and have a great chance to win the East if they can stay healthy.
13LSU 28 14Wisconsin 24; I did actually get to see some of this game. I got back to the hotel in Montgomery about the time the 4th quarter started. I was extremely surprised that Wisconsin was up, but I was pretty sure there was no way LSU would let the Badgers win. And I was right. Early in the 3rd quarter Wisconsin was up 24-7, but a fake punt by LSU changes the entire game. After that play, LSU rattled off 21 unanswered points. Tiger QB Anthony Jennings was 9/21 for 239 yards and 2TDs. One was an 80-yard strike to Travin Dural and the other was a 36-yarder to John Diarse followed by a two-point conversion. RB Kenny Hilliard also rushed for 110 yards and a TD. Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy was 8/24 for 50 yards and 2 4th quarter INTs. Melvin Gordon rushed for 140 yards and a TD with Reggie Love and Corey Clement each rushing for a score as well. Wisconsin should be worried about their QB because they won’t be able to win the Big 10 throwing for only 50 yards per game.
Rutgers 41 Washington State 38 (Thurs); Once again, Rutgers is involved in a great week one showdown, but this year they are on the winning end. Last season the Scarlet Knights lost to Fresno State 51-52 in OT. Rutgers started off their season with a very familiar play: Gary Nova to Leonte Caroo for a 78-yard TD, while the Cougar’s first two drives ended in an INT and a turnover on downs at the Rutgers 6 yard line. Rutgers held the lead for the first half, but on WSU’s first drive of the 3rd quarter, the Cougars took a 24-21 lead. The 4th quarter saw 3 lead changes and Rutgers was able to come out on top. Rutgers QB Gary Nova was 16/27 for 218 yards, 2TDs and an INT. John Tsimis caught the other TD and RB Paul James carried the ball 29 times for 173 yards and 3TDs. On the other side, WSU QB Connor Halliday was 40/56 for 532 yards, 5TDs and an INT. Vince Mayle had 124 receiving yards an a TD, Isiah Myers caught 2TDs and Ricky Gavin and River Cracraft each had receiving TDs as well. Perhaps the most interesting stat of the game was Washington State’s rushing yards: 6. The Cougars ended the game with a grand total of 6 rushing yards. But if Halliday throws like he did in this game, they might not need that many rush yards.
3Oregon 62 South Dakota 13
4Oklahoma 48 Louisiana Tech 16
5Ohio State 34 Navy 17
8Michigan State 45 Jacksonville State 7 (Fri)
10Baylor 45 SMU 0 (Sun)
11Stanford 45 UC Davis 0
15USC 32 Fresno State 13
17Notre Dame 48 Rice 17
18Ole Miss 35 Boise State 13 (Thurs)
19Arizona State 45 Weber State 14 (Thurs)
20Kansas State 55 Stephen F Austin 16
22Nebraska 55 Florida Atlantic 7
23North Carolina 56 Liberty 29
24Missouri 38 South Dakota State 18
25Washington 17 Hawai’i 16
**Florida and Idaho suspended their game due to rain and will not reschedule it. They will both play 11-game regular seasons.
Georgia State 38 Abilene Christian 37 (Wed) (GSU snaps 16-game losing streak)
Tulsa 38 Tulane 31 2OT (Thurs)
Northern Illinois 55 Presbyterian 3 (Thurs)
Temple 37 Vanderbilt 7 (Thurs)
Colorado State 31 Colorado 17 (Fri)
Arizona 58 UNLV 13 (Fri)
Syracuse 27 Villanova 26 2OT (Fri)
Texas State 65 Arkansas Pine Bluff 0
Memphis 63 Austin Peay 0
Pittsburgh 62 Delaware 0
Mississippi State 49 Southern Miss 0
Middle Tennessee State 61 Savannah State 7
Western Kentucky 59 Bowling Green 31
Penn State 26 UCF 24
California 31 Northwestern 24
Bethune-Cookman 14 Florida International 12
Eastern Michigan 31 Morgan State 28
Nevada 28 Southern Utah 19
Ohio 17 Kent State 14
South Florida 36 Western Carolina 31
Wyoming 17 Montana 12
North Dakota State 34 Iowa State 14
Illinois 28 Youngstown State 17
Purdue 43 Western Michigan 34
North Carolina State 24 Georgia Southern 23
Texas Tech 42 Central Arkansas 35
Tennessee 38 Utah State 7 (Sun)
Louisville 31 Miami (FL) 13 (Mon)
Stats and Scores from ESPN.com