What Do We Know in College Football after Week 1?

By Vico on September 1, 2014 at 2:15p
Todd Gurley ran wild on Clemson in the 2014 season-opener.

Week 1 is effectively in the rear-view mirror. Louisville and Miami have yet to kick off their seasons, which they will do tonight in the ACC's annual Labor Day game. Further, Idaho and Florida are still in a holding pattern regarding their suspended game from Saturday night, though few are bemoaning the missed opportunity of watching Florida football.

What do we know about the college football landscape after the first week of the 2014 season? The short answer is that we will not know much from one week because one game does not constitute a pattern. Still, I'll offer conjecture here about some storylines that may emerge as the season develops, leveraging, as much as one can, an exciting first week of the college football season.

The Big Ten Did Not Help Itself

Fans of the Big Ten hoping the conference could emerge from the shade cast on it by sportswriters and our friends in the South may be wanting this season. I don't think the Big Ten helped itself in Week 1.

Nick's Sunday recap offers more comprehensive game-by-game breakdowns that I will eschew here. Some quick comments follow.

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa struggled to put away FCS teams. Indiana's 18-point win against Indiana State, perhaps the worst FCS team last year, was the biggest margin of victory among the three.

Minnesota and Maryland were never in doubt against their FCS teams, but neither team could throw the ball against FCS competition.

Michigan and Michigan State looked great, but be mindful of the competition. Michigan State's secondary would have conceded two quick touchdowns against Jacksonville State if it had a competent passing attack. Michigan State, by the way, travels to Oregon this week.

Northwestern's implosion at home to California says more about Northwestern's program than the league as a whole. Wisconsin may have been the bigger disappointment. Wisconsin flexed serious muscle for more than half the game. At the end of the day, no one is going to remember the best team in the B1G West looking great for half an hour against the third or fourth-ranked team from the SEC West.

Fans of the conference will hope for a better second week of the season. The first week was uninspiring at best for the conference as a whole.

The Pac-12 Should be Fun

The SEC has the accolade of "toughest conference" in college football, but the Pac-12 may have more spectator value this year.

Offense defines the league. More than just offense, the league is diverse too. Arizona's spread-and-shred made quick work of UNLV while Stanford's pro-style passing attack dispatched UC Davis with ease. Oregon and Arizona State took care of business too and California scored that nice road win over Northwestern.

The record was obviously not perfect. Washington State lost "at home" to Rutgers and Colorado lost to Colorado State for the second time in three years. UCLA struggled to run the ball against a Virginia team that conceded over 170 rushing yards a game last year and needed three defensive touchdowns to win by eight points.

Washington, the preseason no. 25 team, beat Hawaii by a single point in a game that Washington fans are fortunate no one was awake to see.

Maybe the biggest story from the league was USC. The Trojans tallied 701 yards of offense in a 52-13 win over Fresno State. If Sarkisian can actually put the talent USC recruits to use under his watch, the Trojans should be back in play in the Pac-12.

Is the ACC Anything Other than FSU?

I may be in the minority, but I am inclined to look the other way on Florida State's feeble win over a game Oklahoma State team. Projected to win by double digits in all 12 games this season, FSU only squeaked out a six-point win.

What about the rest of the ACC? I feel vindicated in my assertion that projecting Clemson as a national champion was one of the most idiotic preseason projections I've seen in the past five or ten years. 

Beyond Clemson's, well, "Clemsoning", the ACC had several other questionable results. UNC won big but trailed 22-21 in the third quarter. NC State beat a first-year and bowl-ineligible FBS program by one point. Syracuse needed two overtimes to beat Villanova, an FCS program.

Boston College and Virginia Tech won well enough but did not squash their opponents (Massachusetts and William and Mary).

The ACC had three teams in the AP preseason poll. Florida State was no. 1 and Clemson was no. 16. UNC was no. 23. I'd drop Clemson almost out the top 25 and keep UNC near where it is. 

That would be quite a disparity between the top-ranked ACC team and the next-ranked ACC teams, but it does underscore that few seem capable of challenging Florida State even if Florida State may not be completely ready to defend the throne at the moment.

The SEC is Wide-Open (and Mortal)

Preseason projections about the trajectory of the SEC this year may need some mid-season adjustment.

Alabama and LSU struggled to overwhelm West Virginia and Wisconsin with brand awareness. Both won, but it was not a simple matter of arriving on the field and intimidating the competition with its favorite three letters of the alphabet.

South Carolina, the preseason favorite in the SEC East, was hammered at home by Texas A&M. This might say more about Texas A&M than South Carolina, but it still suggests the SEC East is there for anyone to take.

Well, anyone except Vanderbilt.

On that note, I am of the mentality that Georgia's win over Clemson says a lot more about Clemson than Georgia. Still, there may be more convergence in opinion for the Bulldogs in the next AP poll.

Further, things are looking up for three cellar-dwellers from last year. Arkansas lost to Auburn but looked much improved from last year. Kentucky and Tennessee should fare much better in 2014 than both did in 2013.


Comments Show All Comments

Knarcisi's picture

Correction:  Wisconsin did not help the B10. 

And on ESPN yesterday, it had a Heisman watch on 4 QBs that had average days. Why is Todd Gurley not far and away the Heisman leader right now?

mrspray's picture

Agreed that Wisconsin didn't help the B1G - the rest of the teams that should have won did, and even 1 or 2 that one could say shouldn't have did. 

Ask the Heisman voters halfway through the in-conference schedule, and we'll see if Todd Gurley is still in the discussion. He could be, but I think they want more than 1 game as a evidence for the most outstanding player in college football...

In case you're curious, it's Mr. Spray

Mortc15's picture

If Gurley stays healthy, I would be shocked if he's not invited to New York. Injuries have derailed past seasons. I have very little doubt in saying, when healthy, he's the best RB in the country.


+1 HS
msj212's picture

and to think he was high school teammates with our own Tyquan Lewis

teddyballgame's picture

Next week is critical for the b1g...

MSU vs. Oregon
UM vs. ND
OSU vs. VT

+1 HS
BoFuquel's picture

This much I know, that Gurley Boy should be given The Heisman. I hate the whole state up north. I hate The Play Off Error. Did I mention I hate The Other Eleven of The Other Th'Hurteen ConFerentz. I hate The Whore Of South Bend. I'm a Buckeye fan. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

+2 HS
DefendYoungstown's picture

Gurley is the closest thing I have seen since Mo Clarett, that power combined with his burners are fun to watch.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

+1 HS
BroJim's picture

All good and valid points. I'm excited to see how week two goes, there are some good measures next Saturday.

I season my simple food with hunger

lax20's picture

With the exception of Florida St, the ACC may be worse than the B1G from top to bottom.  I do not see any team in the ACC that will defeat FSU.  Only the season will tell.  GO BUCKS AND GO B1G.

+2 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

Louisville is going to give them a run.  It's a Thursday night game , the day before Halloween, at Papa Johns.  Weird things happen on Thursday night games.  Every year something out of the blue happens.  Mark it down.  

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

cinserious's picture

BIG-Ten needs to recruit better quality quarterbacks.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

+2 HS
GVerrilli92's picture

Worked the sideline for the UNC game. I think there were 11 turnovers and it looked like a season-opener for both teams, but you should probably keep an eye on Ryan Switzer for the tarheels. Cat can ball, and they run a very similar offense to the buckeyes.

The ACC is a very talented conference right now, but sharing the region with the SEC has kinda sucked away the winning culture for some programs IMO. For that reason I think it's still the weakest P5 conference.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

bafiesta's picture

The Wisconsin-LSU game was the primary opportunity for the Big10 to raise it's profile...opportunity blown in a big way.  

MSU V Oregon is the next and only other opportunity to gain a little respect for the conference.  Lose that one and I think most would peg us as the #5 of the power conferences, although not much behind the ACC and B12.

Winner Eleven Warriors 2014 Yahoo Sports College Bowl Pick'em

+1 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

In defense of the Badgers, they were dominating this game until two of their starting 3 defensive linemen left the game with injuries.  The announcers kept mentioning Wisconsin was not deep at the D-line position, and it showed.  If you don't believe me, rewatch it on the B1G channel, I am sure it will be replayed.

Also, their QB made some pretty poor throws that led to points for LSU.

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

Brutus1972's picture

There were only two teams that proved that they were top 10 contenders this past weekend. UGA and TAMU. Everyone else looked sluggish or played inferior competition and still needs to earn their ranking to include our boys. Attempting to read anything more into it is futile this early in the season. Right now Gurley is the Heisman leader in my eyes.

-1 HS
GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

The kid from Oklahoma State is fast as hell.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

In fear of being down-voted into oblivion, I ACTUALLY AGREED with a comment Mark May made.  He said if the voting happened today for the four team playoffs, Alabama would not be in.  'Bama looked very beatable and their defense showed that it can be pushed around.

With that said, I still think May is an arse.

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

Nutinpa's picture

Mark May ....may be an arse, a hater, or whatever descriptive you care to use.  But.....we have had a hard time wiping that smug, shit-eating smirk off of his face in the past 8 years. Despite all of his smart-assed, snide remarks toward the OSU Buckeyes' football program....as of now, he, and those in his ilk, are pretty much vindicated until proven wrong.

Nutinpa's picture

In an answer to the headline of this thread, I will humbly suggest:

1.  We know that the selection committee will have a helluva tough job come November.  I did not see a team, elite or otherwise, that was unbeatable this past weekend.  FSU may be the exception cuz no one in the ACC has their caliber of athletes.

2. I think we'll know the winner of the Michigan - ND game will have a pretty good football team this year...one this fanbase will not want to give credit to.  And I think that team will be ND.

3. This weekend will be a "statement" (sorry, best word I could think of) for the B1G.  If Sparty, TTUN and our boyz, lay an egg, better start thinking about next year in terms of street cred, cuz there won't be any this year. OTOH...if the 3 of them win....that is a big step, even with Wisky's painful loss. 

4. We learned that Georgia has a good football team....maybe a damn good football team.  By the second half, they were tossing Clemson around like rag dolls.  Not Georgia State or Savanna State, but Clemson.  

5.  And we Bowling Green alums/fans....learned that Bobby Petrino stocked the cupboard full at Western Kentucky before he bolted for a pay raise in Louisville.