Week one of the 2010 college football season kicked off with more big games than normal, a few surprises, and the potential resurgence of two premier programs.
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The first weekend of the season featured quite a few interesting matchups.
Boise State played one of two difficult games the Broncs will face this season, and scored a late touchdown to beat mistake-plagued and somewhat poorly prepared Virginia Tech. The Broncos host Oregon State in two weeks; should Boise win that game on the blue field, the Broncs will be heavily favored to win the rest of them. If that happens, a potentially divisive debate looms as to whether an undefeated n0n-BCS conference team deserves a title shot more than a team with one-loss from a BCS conference.
TCU also passed perhaps its biggest hurdle of the season by dispatching the aforementioned Oregon State on Saturday evening at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Horned Frogs were simply the better team all night long as senior QB Andy Dalton repeatedly converted crucial 3rd down plays. TCU dominated the second half, running more than twice as many offensive plays and outgaining the Beavers by nearly a 3:1 ratio (244-87). The rest of the schedule sets up well for Gary Patterson’s crew, with a Nov.6 game at Utah the toughest test – at least on paper. The Utes struck yet another blow for the non-BCS conferences, winning a Thursday home game over a Pitt team expected to compete for the Big East title.
Surprises were not uncommon during week one and the biggest of all got sprung on Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt.
Nutt caught quite a bit of criticism (rightly so from this vantage point) for taking trouble-finding Oregon castoff quarterback Jeremiah Masoli as a transfer. Masoli and Nutt took (dubious) advantage of loophole that allows graduated players with eligibility remaining to compete for one year at another institution pending admission to graduate school. Thus, Masoli became the most famous Parks and Rec grad student in the nation for a few weeks, Nutt proclaimed he was in the business of helping students (don’t recall him “helping” any students that can’t help his football team though), and the Rebs looked good to go.
Believers in karma probably got a kick out of seeing Ole Miss get whipped by Jacksonville State in double-overtime. Gamecock head coach Jack Crowe was once fired as head coach at Arkansas (ironically Nutt’s previous school) for losing a season opener to The Citadel. Nutt should be thankful the old Arkansas AD Frank Broyles is no longer his boss.
Finally, two of the nation’s most storied programs got off to nice starts on Saturday.
Michigan looked really strong in handling a solid U Conn team 30-21 (and the game was not as close as the score). Wolverine sophomore QB Denard Robinson ran for 197 yards, passed for 186 more, and looked terrific running the spread attack of coach Rich Rodriguez.
Notre Dame also opened with a win in the first Irish game for new coach Brian Kelly. Using a fast-passed passing attack, the Irish beat Purdue 23-12 and except for some sloppy tackling looked solid in all phases. The Irish and the Wolverines meet in South Bend this Saturday.
Check back later in the week for Around the Nation, Around the SEC, and Professor’s Picks.
See you at kickoff!