The highly-anticipated debut of the 2011 college football season was jam-packed with inevitable blowouts, but it also had its fair share of exciting, highly-contested matchups.
Week-In Review: Top-ranked Oklahoma trounced Tulsa and the Tide rolled past the Golden Flashes. The ‘Noles also had their cake and ate it too. Stanford spanked San Jose State, Texas A&M obliterated SMU, Oklahoma State piled up 61 points and the ‘Huskers kept Chatt quiet.
Outside of the Top 10, Wisconsin badgered UNLV, the Pirates made things interesting with South Carolina and the Hokies took no prisoners against Appalachian State. Arkansas looked razor-sharp in a 51-7 win over Missouri State (the exact score I predicted), the Spartans took care of business against Youngstown State, the Buckeyes zipped through Akron, the Bulldogs bullied Memphis and Missouri survived Miami (OH). The Gators chomped on Florida Atlantic, Auburn survived a scare from the Aggies of Utah State, West Virginia bulldozed the Thundering Herd and USC waived a sigh of relief in a 2-point escape from the gun-toting Golden Gophers.
The struggling escapes from Missouri, Auburn and USC weren’t the only mild surprises and fun-to-watch games of the weekend. Kellen Moore and Boise State were rather impressive in their two-touchdown triumph over Georgia. Les Miles and the LSU Tigers pounced on Chip Kelly and Quack Attack with a stunning 40-27 conquest. B.J. Daniels and the Bulls upset Note Dame in a game that was delayed for lighting twice, 23-20. And in the most entertaining Week 1 contest, Robert Griffin III (aka RG3) and the Baylor Bears shocked the Horned Frogs in an amazing and utterly thrilling 50-48 affair.
My Predictions Results: Since I didn’t predict the Mississippi State-Memphis and Wisconsin-UNLV game due to time constraints, I broke down two of the biggest games outside of the Top 25 with Boston College and Northwestern and Houston hosting UCLA. I picked the ‘Cats (27-21) and Cougars (44-41) to win by one score and the purring kitten programs came through for me.
My three worst picks in the Top 25 were Oregon over LSU 25-22, the Fighting Irish over South Florida 20-16 and Missouri over Miami (OH) 55-20. My three best picks in the Top 25 were Baylor over TCU 34-30, Boise State over Georgia 30-20 and the aforementioned Arkansas against Missouri State 51-7. My record for Week 1 was 21-2.
Now without further adieu, I present my rankings heading into Week 2. Please note I didn’t conduct a poll before last weekend’s action, so my list reflects the Week 1 results with a slight component weighing on expectations for the coming weeks.
No. 25 South Florida: The Bulls are the favorite behind West Virginia to win the Big East. The program has a long ways to go, but starting off with a win in South Bend was indispensable for B.J. Daniels and company. This Week: vs. Ball State
No. 24 Northwestern: The ‘Cats overcame an obstacle on the road against Boston College without the services of Dan Persa. Fortunately for the dark horse contender in the Legends division, Persa will be back in time when the schedule heats up after the bye on October 1. This Week: vs. Eastern Illinois
No. 23 Florida: John Brantley and the Gators are chomping at the bit, ready to bounce back after a poor performance last season. The team is once again loaded with talent and looks to dramatically improve under Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis. It’ll take some time, however. This Week: vs. UAB
No. 22 Missouri: The offense is now led under James Franklin, a dual-threat signal-caller who’s drawn comparisons to former Tigers star QB, the “Swiss Army Knife” Brad Smith. Missouri’s offense will need to amp things up after the 17-6 win. This Week: at No. 19 Arizona State
No. 21 Ohio State: Head coach Luke Fickell (say his name 10 times fast) had the Ohio State Buckeyes ready for the Zips. The Rockets and Buffaloes will also be cupcake competition, but the ‘Canes, ‘Huskers and Sparty will be daunting and I’m not sold on this beleaguered program. This Week: vs. Toledo
No. 20 West Virginia: Geno Smith and the high-powered Mountaineers offense certainly had fun bulldozing the Thundering Herd on Sunday evening. The last two games in the month of September (at Maryland, vs. LSU) will put this team to the test. This Week: vs. Norfolk State
No. 19 Arizona State: USC is ineligible, Utah and Colorado are new to the conference and Sports Illustrated not only placed the Sun Devils in the preseason Top 25, but also says they’re the favorite in the division. If you don’t believe Arizona State will win the Pac-12 South, then I hope you like surprises. The program returned 15 starters and linebacker Vontaze Burfict is a beast. This Week: vs. No. 22 Missouri
No. 18 TCU: The Horned Frogs finished first in the nation in total defense for three straight seasons. After giving up a whopping 50 points to Baylor, the team can cross the words “four years in a row” off their list of goals. I’m a TCU fan and this team will be good again this season, not to mention extremely entertaining, but it’s out of the national title running. This Week: at Air Force
No. 17 Baylor: Robert Griffin III and the Bears could be a force to be reckoned with this year. The Frogs were easily one of the four toughest teams on the schedule. Look for the prolific offense and emerging Heisman candidate to roll in their next four tests. This Week: vs. SFA
No. 16 South Carolina: If you support South Carolina, you shouldn’t be pressing the panic button after Saturday’s performance. I said East Carolina would “give the Gamecocks a run for their money in this potential trap game” with it being at night on a neutral field and both teams having to go up against ranked teams the next week. In my mind, Stephen Garcia and the Gamecocks are still the favorite in the SEC East, albeit this Saturday will have huge implications to both teams and Boise State as well. This Week: at Georgia
No. 15 Mississippi State: Dan Mullen might have these mutts ready to take the next step and emerge into the top three in the SEC West—which could be better than any team in the East. There are questions with the front seven along with replacing Derek Sherrod. Nevertheless, Chris Relf has tools on offense and the schedule is less-than-daunting. This Week: at Auburn
No. 14 Michigan State: Kirk Cousins and the Spartans are poised to contend for a national title again after last season’s collapse. The fifth-year seasoned signal-caller may have a young offensive line in front of him, but the schedule could be smooth sailing for the most part. This Week: vs. Florida Atlantic
No. 13 Arkansas: Tyler Wilson and company have the opportunity to mature and get the hang of things against New Mexico and Troy before the season really gets underway—facing the likes of Alabama and Texas A&M in early October. This Week: vs. New Mexico
No. 12 Nebraska: The favorite in the Big Ten Legends division has one down, many to go. The ‘Huskers have Fresno State next and then it’s three straight teams that start with the letter W—Washington, at Wyoming and at Wisconsin. Taylor Martinez and co. will have a huge year. This Week: Fresno State
No. 11 Virginia Tech: The Hokies hammered Appalachian State with 66 points and are far from letting off the gas. Expectations are sky-high this season and for good reason.
No. 10 Oklahoma State: The Rajin’ Cajuns were far from a challenge for the electrifying Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon combination. Saturday’s game will be more interesting. This Week: vs. Arizona
No. 9 Oregon: Quack Attack had the door shoved in their face against LSU and the SEC. Despite a strong effort in the 4th quarter, the Ducks fell way short of expectations. While a BCS bowl is definitely still in the mix, I would define the National Championship hopes as remote. This Week: vs. Nevada
No. 8 Texas A&M: The SEC talk certainly didn’t phase Ryan Tannehill and the Aggies, as they steamrolled the Mustangs, 46-14. The last week in September to the first week in November will be filled with tough challenges, but this squad clearly has what it takes to compete. This Week: vs. Idaho
No. 7 Wisconsin: Watch out for Russell Wilson and Wisconsin. They’re going to be very dangerous this year and I wouldn’t count them out at all from playing on the big stage. This Week: vs. Oregon State
No. 6 Stanford: Last year after the Cardinal smashed Wake, I instantly knew and said Stanford was a dark horse national title contender. This year the same is true only you don’t need to include the label dark horse in the statement. The team lost its stellar head coach and a lot of great players, especially on defense, but it’s still chock-full of talent and has arguably the best college prospect at the quarterback position since Peyton Manning in Andrew Luck. All of his skills sets are off-the-charts in my opinion. Right now, I think this team will win the Pac-12. This Week: at Duke
No. 5 Boise State: After Saturday night there’s a serious question that needs to be asked. Is Boise State that good or is Georgia kind of irrelevant? I guess we’ll have to play it by ear, and of course continue to have endless debates over the topic. If Boise does finally reach the top, it’s probably now or never, though. This Week: at Toledo
No. 4 Florida State: As big as the LSU-Oregon game seemed to be, I believe the matchup between Oklahoma and Florida State will be even bigger. Just don’t slip up on Charleston Southern beforehand and the ‘Noles will be fine. This Week: vs. Charleston Southern
No. 3 LSU: Are the Tigers this spectacular or are the Ducks a pretender? Les Miles has a terrific, immensely-talented team. However, the schedule probably forces him to lose sleep at night. This Week: vs. Northwestern State
No. 2 Oklahoma: Bob Stoops and the Sooners certainly weren’t going to stoop to Tulsa. The team takes an early rest before dueling it out in an extremely high-stakes battle with Florida State. This Week: Bye
No. 1 Alabama: The Crimson Tide rolled over Kent State in a flash on Saturday, 48-7. Nick Saban will have his team more than ready to face off against JoePa and the Nittany Lions in a much tougher Week 2 contest. This Week: at Penn State
Just Missed The Cut: Arizona, Penn State, UCF, Washington, Notre Dame
Verse of This Piece: “Fools don’t care if they sin, but honest people work at being right.”—Proverbs 14:9