Things We Learned In College is back for another season! Here’s what stood out in a more-exciting-than usual Week One in college football:
Maryland 51, Texas 41
Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. I wasn’t even planning to watch this game until I saw people tweeting about it. The Terps had a 30-14 lead at halftime and allowed Texas to come within a field goal multiple times. This was by far the most entertaining game in the noon time slot.
Unfortunately, some key players were injured in the game. Defensive lineman Jesse Aniebonam, one of the Terps’ best players on D, appeared to injure his ankle and did not return to the game. Defensive back Antwaine Richardson suffered a scary injury, necessitating the backboard and cart, but was reported to be awake and alert at a local hospital. Quarterback Tyrone Pigrom also left the game. Four-star recruit Kasim Hill played well in Pigrom’s place, despite the situation being less-than-ideal for a freshman’s first snaps.
Bottom line: Has Maryland turned the corner? Keep an eye on them in a few weeks as Big Ten play starts.
Michigan 33, Florida 17
It’s not every day you see a team commit pick-sixes on back-to-back drives and still win a game by 16 points. (The Wolverines also fumbled three times, but recovered all three). Losing 10 starters on defense doesn’t seem to have hurt Jim Harbaugh‘s squad as much as you’d think. The Gators were held to 11 yards rushing and under 200 yards of total offense. Special teams seem to be in good shape too: freshman kicker Quinn Nordin (he of the famous Harbaugh Sleepover) became the first Michigan player ever to make two field goals of 50 yards or more in the same game. In fact, Nordin just, and I mean just, missed what would have been a third one. (He also, surprisingly, missed one from 32 yards).
The Michigan run game continues to be strong under Harbaugh. The passing game looked rusty. Florida continues its post-Tebow struggles on offense, although getting their top receiver and rusher back from suspension should help.
One guy to keep an eye on for the Gators is true freshman defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton. During the broadcast, I thought I heard the commentator refer to him weighing 358 pounds and figured there was no way I had heard correctly- they must have said 258. They did not. Slaton is indeed listed on ESPN.com as 6’4″, 358 pounds, and a true freshman. That’s an eighteen-year-old the size of Vince Wilfork.
LSU 27, BYU 0
The last time LSU played a game at the Superdome was the 2012 National Championship against Alabama- a game in which LSU famously failed to cross the 50-yard line. Saturday, it was BYU that never crossed midfield- or entered the end zone, or had positive rushing yards.
Running back Derrius Guice has picked up where he left off as the heir to Leonard Fournette. Guice rushed for 122 of the Tigers’ 296 yards on the ground, and two of their three rushing touchdowns- this behind an offensive line featuring two true freshmen. The passing game looked as good as it’s looked since Zach Mettenberger was under center. It was a dominant performance by a team that was missing several players due to suspension, as well as standout DE Arden Key with a shoulder injury.
Liberty 48, Baylor 45
It’s not rare for Baylor to be in these kinds of high-scoring games, but it is rare that they be on the losing end. To be on the losing end against an FCS opponent is unheard of. Maybe the biggest surprise is that this wasn’t even the biggest upset of Week One. That honor goes to…
Howard 43, UNLV 40
Caylin Newton (yes, Cam’s brother) quarterbacked the Bison, 45-point underdogs, to a victory over UNLV. (Yes, I did need Google to find out what Howard’s mascot is). In terms of the point spread, this was college football’s biggest upset ever.
Another thing I didn’t know, or had forgotten: former Virginia coach Mike London is now the head coach at Howard.
Alabama 24, Florida State 7
We learned on Sunday that FSU quarterback Deondre Francois has a knee injury and is out for the year. This is obviously a huge blow to the Seminoles, who had a shot at making the Playoff this season. Backup James Blackman, a true freshman, has a game against Louisiana-Monroe to get warmed up, followed by a visit from Miami. That’s a big ask from a kid who has only been on campus since June.
On the bright side, how about Alabama’s starting running back blocking a punt in this game? Not sure I’ve ever seen that before. Way to go, Damien Harris.
UCLA 45, Texas A&M 44
I don’t know what to say about this one that hasn’t already been said, other than WHY THE HELL DID I GO TO BED? (Ok, I didn’t so much “go to bed” as “fall asleep with the TV on”, but still).
Tennessee 42, Georgia Tech 41 (2OT)
There is nothing like college football to make a 36-year-old wish she were 20 again and could stay up half the night to see these endings.