Scott Haynes, College Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The first week of the college football season is now in the books and boy was it eventful. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts about what has transpired and what to expect the rest of the way.
The Oklahoma Sooners fell flat on their faces in the season-opener against TCU. Not only did the Horned Frogs pull off a huge upset, but they did it in Norman. So, are the Sooners on the decline? Not necessarily. The team is still loaded with plenty of talent, but Bob Stoops will need to make some adjustments in a hurry. He has already made one, as quarterback Paul Thompson has been pulled for the redshirt freshman Rhett Bomar heading into week two. Thompson was awful against TCU and the blueprint has now been made for beating OU. Teams that put eight men in the box and contain Adrian Peterson, will have a chance to do exactly what the Horned Frogs did. It looks as though Oklahoma's hex on the Texas Longhorns will come to an end this season.
Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners will need to make some adjustments in a hurry.
The MAC has put out some quality teams over the last few years, but last weekend, the conference took a beating from the big boys. Only Toledo won its season-opener, defeating I-AA foe Western Illinois, 62-14. The rest of the league went a combined 0-10, including two shutouts (Buffalo lost 38-0 to UConn and Ball State lost 56-0 to Iowa). It was certainly an ambitious opening week for the MAC, with seven contests against the Big Ten, two against the Big East and one against the ACC. However, a message may have been sent loud and clear that the major conferences aren't ready to make room at the table for a mid-major yearning for respect.
Perhaps the Pittsburgh Panthers aren't as good as advertised, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are probably better than expected. Charlie Weis wasted little time in showing the nation just what kind of team he would field in South Bend this year. The Irish racked up over 500 yards of total offense against the Panthers last week, with great balance, a true testament to Weis' offensive genius and his ability to keep the chains moving. A better test will come this week in Ann Arbor against Michigan, but there is no doubt that Notre Dame's stock has risen following the rout of Pitt.
The youngsters under center in the Sunshine State could keep the Seminoles and Hurricanes from hoisting an ACC championship this year. Although both teams displayed some great defense on Labor Day, the game was a bit slow for such a high profile clash, as neither team could muster much of an offensive effort. Miami's Kyle Wright and FSU's Drew Weatherford struggled big time, but both should see better days. Miami yielded a school record nine sacks to Florida State, a disturbing trend that needs to stop if Larry Coker is to put his team over the top in the ACC. Bowden's boys got over their first big hurdle, but winning the ACC won't come easy, especially with the inexperience at QB.
AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED
There doesn't seem to be anyone out there that can stop the USC Trojans from winning another national title. The team does have quasi-tough games on the road at Arizona State, California and Notre Dame, but Leinart, Bush and company are on a collision course with the Rose Bowl and getting the BCS game at home will only increase the Trojans' chances of winning the title. Pete Carroll has it going on in the City of Angels and barring an injury to the aforementioned stars, the first-ever three-peat could be on its way.
Joining the Trojans in the Rose Bowl may very well be Texas. The Longhorns have had the talent to win a national title for years, but Mack Brown has never put it all together in a season. Of course, losing to nemesis Oklahoma every year is the main reason for the lack of championships in Austin, but this year is a different story. With Vince Young under center, the Longhorns finally have the kind of dynamic leader that should carry the team to the Big 12 title and beyond.
The Iowa Hawkeyes weren't picked to win the Big Ten this year, but the team from Iowa City may just run the table in the league and make the BCS a three- horse race. A devastating defense was on display in the season-opening shutout of Ball State and a balanced offense, with hard-nosed running and efficient passing could be just enough to put the Big Ten back in the national title picture.