1. Alabama - I suppose this might be a little too obvious, but let me count the ways:
a. Freshman RB TJ Yeldon more than looked the part with 111 yards on 11 carries.
b. Defense is playing a different game than the offenses its facing.
c. QB A.J. McCarron has been a different QB since Alabama's loss to LSU last November
d. Nick's reloading year after year.
e. If that's the number 8 team in the nation that Alabama just beat, look out.
f. Offensive line drove Michigan into submission.
The superlatives are easy to come by after a dominating 41-14 win that honestly could've been worse if Chip Kelly or Mike Gundy coached the Crimson Tide. However, there's no question that Alabama more than sent a message. There's physical football and there's physical football played Alabama's/LSU's way.
I can't imagine what the fan bases at LSU, Auburn and Arkansas thought of that performance, especially Arkansas's given that the Hogs face Alabama before September ends. Don't worry, Arkansas fans, you can be cocky now and look for a weakness that John L. Smith's squad can exploit, but there isn't one that the Hogs can exploit well enough, right now, to win that game. But, that discussion is for another time and place…like two weeks from now.
2. Clemson RB Andre Ellington and WR DeAndre Hopkins - The Tigers played the opener without star WR Sammy Watkins and there was a boatload of pressure on these two to make plays throughout the night. Suffice to say, they answered. Ellington just would not be tackled, running over, through and past Auburn defenders for 228 yards, while Hopkins set a Clemson game record with 13 catches, including the game winner with Auburn CB Chris Davis draped all over him.
3. Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson - The juco transfer made his mark in the first quarter of Friday night's game against NC State and All-American WR David Amerson. Patterson proceeded to run right by the star Wolfpack CB and burn him badly for a 41 yard touchdown for the first score of the game. The 6'3" soon-to-be household name then took a reverse 67 yards to the house later in the first quarter. Tennessee needed offensive help with Da'Rick Rogers booted off the team and the Vols found it. In a big way.
4. Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell - If Ellington wasn't the Beast of the Week, then it was Bell who put on a one-man beast mode performance against Boise State. He touched the rock 40 times - 44 carries and six receptions, for 265 total yards, literally carrying Michigan State to a 17-13 win over scrappy Boise State in East Lansing. This was a Man's performance, no question about it.
5. Texas State head coach - Nope, I can't do it. Not in this piece.
6. Oregon - The unis. A true dual threat at QB. A defense to match. 50 points at halftime. Ho hum. Just have to wait now until November 3rd for a trip to LA to visit the Trojans.
7. Georgia RB Todd Gurley - Nice to meet you, young man, can't wait to see what you do in both Columbias this year, starting next week at Missouri. He had two rushing touchdowns and a 100 yard kick return for a touchdown to start his career in Athens in a 45-23 win over Buffalo.
1. New coaches - Houston HBC Tony Levine saw his Cougars lose to D1A newbie Texas State. Now, it's one thing to lose, but a loss by 17? At home? To a former D1AA team? Ouch. Penn State struggled to move the ball in the second half and lost Bill O'Brien's debut. Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn was introduced to the best offense in the nation. and it wasn't his, as his Red Wolves ran into the buzz saw that is Oregon.
2. Suspended starters - Clemson WR Sammy Watkins sat at home and watched Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins dominate Auburn. Auburn's OL had one hell of a game for a unit with hardly any experience, as its lone starter C Reeese Dismukes sat out after he got arrested last weekend.
Notre Dame sure didn't miss QB Tommy Rees or RB Cierre Woods as Everett Golson, GA III and Theo Riddick riddled Navy in Dublin. Tennessee didn't miss Da'Rick Rogers at all and FSU certainly didn't miss Greg Reid.
There is no better message for a player than to see his team succeed without him. Realizing that your squad can move on without you AND flourish is a tough message for one to receive, but as a former coach, I love it.
3. The Big 10 - So, let's break it down (outside of Ohio State and Purdue). Wisconsin struggled like hell to beat Northern Iowa and nearly gave that one up in the 4th quarter. Michigan State had a time with an inexperienced Boise State squad at home.
Michigan? Let's not beat a dead horse. Indiana eked one out…against D1AA Indiana State. Iowa had to scramble from behind to beat Northern Illinois 18-17 even though NIU was breaking in nearly an entire new offense. Penn State lost to a MAC team at home.
Now it wasn't all bad news, but when Northwestern's come from ahead win at Syracuse is your best win of the day, so to speak, it hasn't been a good day for the conference. And, let's just say I've heard plenty from those that think the Big 10 is on par with the SEC. Shoot, it's lucky to be on par with the MAC right now. But, it's a long season, right? RIGHT?!?
4. NC State CB David Amerson - I had just put out an article on college football trades that would be fun to see happen and one of those was trading Amerson to LSU, adding the guy thought to be the best cornerback in the nation to arguably the best defense in the country.
As Sean tweeted to me on Saturday, can you imagine what LSU fan would've thought of Amerson's performance against Tennessee? Trust me, I don't want to think about it, because I already know what NC State fan was thinking. Amerson got roasted badly on Patterson's TD, beat by five yards in man coverage, then got burned again in man coverage later in the quarter.
And, if that wasn't bad enough, he was exposed speed-wise trying to run down Patterson on his zig-zag reverse run for a 67 yard touchdown. Considering that this was an opportunity for Amerson to prove any doubters wrong and improve his immense draft potential against an SEC squad, it was a disaster that ended with more personnel people questioning his lofty status…and more importantly his speed and coverage ability.
5. Maryland - It's a win, but 7-6? When Randy Edsall couldn't be on a hotter seat? All the while former Maryland QB Danny O'Brien was 19-23 for 219 yards and two TDs for Wisconsin? Ou-ch. Can ouch have two syllables? For Maryland? Yep.
6. Kent State LB Andre Parker - Who? Oh, the guy who ran the wrong way after the muffed punt? Oh, we ALL know him. No matter what he does for the rest of his career this is how Parker will be known.
The Duke - Miami RB Duke Johnson had a ton of hype going into the season and more than lived up to it. He gives The U a legitimate game breaking threat every time he touches the ball. Boston College found that out the hard way.
What's old is new again - Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez looks NOTHING like what he did in the past. Literally, nothing. He's throwing the ball like a real quarterback does - he's not dropping his back shoulder to throw a five yard out. His footwork was solid. His shoulders stayed square and level. He dropped deep balls on post corners on a dime.
He's come a long way from his screaming match with Bo Pelini on the sideline at Texas A&M back in 2010. He looked completely different throwing the ball and that's a great thing for the Huskers in the "new" Big 10.
Ram it - Kudos to Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain leading his Rams to a huge victory over Colorado 22-17 in Denver. The Rams lost nearly all of the swagger that they built up through the Sonny Lubick years, but a win like this should help the "healing" process. Loved the way his team came from behind and the defense played its guts out in the 2nd half.
Brain Cramp - If y'all have read my "stuff" for years, you know that I HATE stupid football. Syracuse DB Keon Lyn…you're right in my crosshairs.
Let me set the scene: Syracuse up 41-35 on 3rd and 17, Northwestern with the ball. Backup QB Trevor Siemian scrambles for a few and then heads right to the sideline. He's clearly giving up over nine yards away from the first down as he's about to step out of bounds. Right at the sideline, Syracuse DB Keon Lyn pushes him and knocks him nearly into the retaining wall on the Syracuse side of the field.
TWEET! FLAG! 15 yards, half the distance to the goal and first down.
So, instead of it being 4th and 9, Northwestern has a first down and four cracks at the end zone. It needed only one as Siemian hit Demetrius Fields in the back corner of the end zone for the game winner. Thing is Siemian sold the push, but why Lyn even touched him at that point is beyond me. I hate it for a player to have a play like that, but it was a killer…and totally unnecessary.
Miekey's Son - Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton played magnificently in an upset win over Penn State in Happy Valley. He threw for 324 yards and a pair of touchdowns (including a tipped pass, fluke TD that turned the tide of the entire game), while running for a touchdown as well. His dad Mickey was a Major League ball player and it's clear that Tettleton has the genes and he made it clear that he has the heart as well.
Perfect - Oklahoma State true freshman QB Wes Lunt has played a college game and still hasn't had a ball hit the ground yet. He finished his night 11 for 11 against undermanned Savannah State in Stillwater. Not a bad way to start his career.
Just getting started - West Virginia picked up right where it left off, piling up 69 points on Marshall at home in its opening day victory. WVU QB Geno Smith (323 yards and four TDs, 65 yards rushing and one TD) is playing a different game than at this time last year and it's going to be a blast when the Mountaineers move on into Big 12 play at the end of this month. The defense did yield 413 yards passing, so it'll fit right in this conference.
Cupcakes? Uh, no - Well, so much for scheduling D1AA "give me" wins for Pitt (Youngstown State), Memphis (Tennessee Martin) and Middle Tennessee State (McNeese State). Now, Memphis and MTSU are non-BCS teams and it's questionable how much talent they have, but Pitt was vying for a BCS bowl 2-3 years ago. Not the start head coach Paul Chryst needed at Pitt after the Todd Graham debacle (duh).
OU? O No! - Anyone throughout the country could've known OU was in trouble when the scoreboard read 10-7 in the fourth quarter against UTEP, but watching the game it's clear that this is nowhere near the #4 team in the nation. I'm still trying to figure out where a ranking that high came from - but I digress.
Thing is, defensively, the Sooners gave up 207 yards rushing and 5.8 yards per carry to UTEP's vaunted running game. Yes, that "vaunted" running game is tongue in cheek, but give the D credit, it held the Miners out of the end zone and the UTEP kicking game (field goal kicking game, that is) let the Miners down, missing three field goals on the night.
BUT, the same reason that I didn't see them winning the Big 12 is the same reason that Oklahoma struggled all night long - the offensive line. Here's the thing, since 2009, the offensive line has been a major thorn in the side of the Sooners, mainly due to injuries and young players not being prepared to play when given the opportunity.
It has taken its toll on QB Landry Jones. Once he was hit a few times early in the game, he hardly hit his secondary read throwing the ball. He has issues locking on receivers as it is, but when his five can't block four…and if you didn't see the game don't think UTEP sat there and blitzed all night…he's going to have issues all night long, no matter what team is on the opposite sideline.
The hot seat cooled a bit for…Tennessee head ball coach Derek Dooley.
The hot seat got a wee bit hotter for…Cal head coach Jeff Tedford.
In case I was a genius & forgot about it (doubt it, but you never know)...
It just dawned on me watching OU's offense - it looks slow as sh--. Skill guys seem to be running in quicksand. Maybe it's just me..I hope.
--If Bob Stoops asked me, I'd tell him it's time to take a long hard look at his offense and change it. I'll write about this more this week.
My son just asked how many Biebers I could take on in a fight. I didn't know what to say. I'm setting the number at 3.5 Biebers. Over?
--Not exactly sure where this came from, but somewhere during the UTEP-OU game Jack lobbed this one to me. Got some great answers from followers
I want to say this in the nicest way possible, but WHAT THE FU-- was Mike Price thinking faking that punt in that spot? Holy sh--, bro.
--I had a long discussion on Saturday night that rolled into Sunday morning on this one with James, an ardent listener and follower. We had to agree to disagree, but the game was playing out in a way that had UTEP truly wanted to go for it in the 4th at this point, go for it and I'd have had no issue with it, whatsoever. Don't run a fake punt that OU saw coming miles away and give them the one thing that OU had needed all night long - great field position.
I would give ANYTHING right now to be on sideline to see Mike Stoops losing his sh-- as UTEP RB Nathan Jeffery is running all over OU's D
--Needs no explanation, huh?
Just wondering, are Marquise Lee & Robert Woods better than anything the Miami Dolphins have at WR right now?? @InsideTroy weigh in on that
--I was trolling a bit for Ryan Abraham to weigh on that assessment but I got tweets from very confident Tennessee fans that were touting Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. Not quite yet, but it's getting there. But, that took me away from my original point - the Dolphins WR suck.
Joe, the only people hoping for the clock to move rapidly were wearing maize and blue. RT @RealJoeNamath Come on clock!
--Really, Joe? Were you really cheering for the clock to run out, fearing a Michigan comeback?
Check how many def. players for Alabama have skill position player numbers. Nearly 90%, that should be a sign how many athletes it has on D
--I've said this before and I'll say it again. It may sound dumb, but just take note next time you watch a game.
GUARANTEED, some NFL scout/NFL "draft guy" will downgrade Barrett Jones because he's an accounting major/doesn't look part. They'll be wrong. As such, B. Jones may not "look" the part, but he's one of the most technically advanced OL in the nation. Just watch him at ALL 3 OL spots.
--This was a 2 parter and I can absolutely assure you that these words will be spoken, but the future E&Y partner is a man who is technically solid and can physically win at the line of scrimmage.
Watching Mariota throw the ball for Oregon, it becomes more clear why Darron Thomas took his chances leaving for NFL. Throws is VERY well.
--Marc Mariota, stress the TA (mar-e-o-TA), has a full arsenal of throws that former Duck QB Darron Thomas and even Jeremiah Masoli before him didn't. Not even close. If Mariota can continue to throw it like this…oh boy. Now, did Thomas leave for this reason and this reason alone? Not sure, but it couldn't have helped.
If I start a debate which RB had more of a "MAN" weekend, Le'Veon Bell or Andre Ellington, I'd start a big fight w/OT listeners. HUGE fight.
--Go ahead, debate.
Best lesson Reese Dismukes could get is seeing his OL play exceptionally well...WITHOUT HIM. The bench next week would solidify said lesson
--See my thoughts above. I'd sit him again as I thought Tundi Fariyike did a sufficient job in his place.
It wouldn't matter if Tom Brady came to play QB for UM right now. UM can't physically match Bama anywhere on this field. Total mismatch.
--Uh, yeah, not much more to add…I think I wrote this in the 1st quarter.
Got to love a freshman RB who picks up the blitz the way #4 Yeldon just did on that first down throw.
--I was finishing this tweet just as Yeldon took the next play for a big gain up the middle. As much as I liked how he ran and loved his powerful, gliding style, my takeaway from this one is still seeing Yeldon stick his nose on a blitzing linebacker. That block allowed A.J McCarron adequate time to find an open receiver for a key first down early in the first quarter.
Like Alabama's adjustment on inside zone. First play of game LB blew it up. This time, used FB to block Demens #25 for big gain.
--Early on in the game, Alabama was struggling getting to the second level on its inside zone game and #25 LB Kenny Demens was making stops or plugging the gaps to help stop the run. Alabama started using a fullback/h-back to get inside and take care of Demens, in particular. When it had worn Michigan down sufficiently enough by burying everyone up front and combo-ing up to the second level, it no longer needed the fullback help.
Here's wishing everyone a tremendous Labor Day…if you're awake, I will be too as I'll be on the air, starting Sunday night on Yahoo Sports Radio - get the app and listen wherever you are - midnight to 5 am CST.
Thanks so much - see ya soon!