Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The 2007 season got off to a rousing start this past week and already the road to the national title has become a little less crowded. Hope springs eternal, unless you reside in places like Ann Arbor, Tallahassee or Knoxville. Michigan, Florida State, and Tennessee all showed glaring weaknesses, while teams like LSU, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisville and Hawaii made great first impressions, destroying the competition (or lack thereof). This column will be a capsule of the best and worst that college football had to offer in week one.
Although the play on the field didn't live up to the hype, the scene in Blacksburg on Saturday certainly did, as Virginia Tech opened up the season against East Carolina. It was an enormous event for all involved in Lane Stadium and it was handled with class and dignity, honoring the victims of April's unimaginable carnage. While the Hokies failed to roll over the Pirates (17-7 win), we can all give them a free pass on that one, considering the emotional drain that must have hit everyone on the sideline of the home team.
Darren McFadden rushed for 151 yards, scored one touchdown, and threw for another in week one for the Razorbacks.|
Several players around the country got their Heisman campaigns off on the right foot, with Hawaii's Colt Brennan (412 yards and six TDs), Arkansas' Darren McFadden (151 yards rushing, one TD and one TD pass), Rutgers' Ray Rice (187 yards rushing and three TDs) and Louisville's Brian Brohm (375 passing yards and four TDs) all putting up huge numbers as preseason favorites for the award. How about a non-household name like Nebraska's Marlon Lucky (233 yards rushing and four TDs) joining the club?
Perhaps the biggest game of the first week took place in Berkeley and the California Golden Bears were able to enact a bit of revenge for the beating they took in Knoxville last year. This time around Jeff Tedford's team was better in every facet of the game, beating the Volunteers with an explosive offense, an opportunistic defense and electrifying special teams play. In the end, Cal prevailed by 14 points and gained plenty of confidence heading into a schedule that doesn't look bad at all. Sure, the Bears must travel to Oregon and UCLA, but they do get the Trojans in mid-November in Berkeley.
What happened to the Utah Utes in the season-opener is more than most teams can overcome. The Utes lost both their starting quarterback and starting tailback in a lopsided loss to Oregon State (24-7). Utah managed just 196 total yards of offense in the setback and will be without QB Brian Johnson for an undetermined amount of time due to a separated shoulder and talented RB Matt Asiata for the rest of the season with a broken leg. Hopefully, week one is not foreshadowing for what Kyle Whittingham's program is in for in 2007.
It looks like it will once again be a fruitless season in Durham, as the Duke Blue Devils showed little fight in a 45-14 whipping at the hands of Connecticut. The Ted Roof era will come to a close sooner rather than later, as the nation's longest losing streak moved to 21 games. Duke's last victory came in 2005 against VMI and the Blue Devils haven't beaten an FBS program since 2004 (Clemson).
While the Appalachian State Mountaineers are probably the best FCS team in the nation, that is no excuse for the Michigan Wolverines to drop their opener, especially at home. The two-time defending FCS champs came into Ann Arbor and took it right to the fifth-ranked team in the nation, becoming the first FCS program ever to knock off an AP Top-25 program. Michigan amassed almost 500 yards of total offense in the game and still came up on the losing end, thanks to a blocked field-goal attempt down the stretch. The loss is probably the biggest upset in college football history and has surely ended Michigan's shot at a national title, if the Wolverines ever really had one.
Charlie Weis is an offensive genius, or is he? Notre Dame kept its decision on who was to be the starting quarterback this past weekend under wraps, but the end result was that it didn't matter who was under center, because the Irish were unable to do anything against the Georgia Tech defense. The Irish rushed for -8 yards on a whopping 41 carries and managed a mere 130 yards passing, resulting in a total offensive output of 122 yards. It certainly doesn't look good heading into Happy Valley this week against a strong defensive team like Penn State. Notre Dame will take it on the chin this season, but the silver lining is they won't have to lose another bowl game.