After a mediocre Week Zero, the true start of the college football season came this weekend. The Week 1 slate was packed with important conference matchups, and it did not disappoint. From an LSU loss to Chip Kelly to the Georgia Bulldogs looking like the real deal, this past weekend set up what is looking to be a very exciting weekend.
Let’s look at five of the takeaways from Week 1 of the college football season.
Takeaways From College Football Week 1
Scott Frost and Ed Orgeron Are On The Way Out
Well, it could have gone better for Nebraska and LSU in their season openers. In the game that basically opened up the college football season, Scott Frost and Nebraska made a mess of things. To open the scoring on the college football season, Illinois dropped Nebraska return man Cam Taylor-Britt for a safety. From then on, Illinois dominated the football game. The final score was respectable, as the Illini took home the win, 30-22.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said after the game, “It looked like the same movie.” Well Scott, you’re right. Frost was hailed as Nebraska’s savior. He won a national championship for the Huskers in 1997, but since then, it’s been downhill for Frost and Nebraska. His record at Nebraska is 13-21 and an even worse 9-18 in the conference. Simply put, Scott Frost’s fall from UCF “national champion” to Nebraska’s worst coach in quite some time is complete.
Let’s go back in time for a minute. It’s 2019, Joe Burrow and Ed Orgeron just capped off one of the best seasons in college football history with a national championship. If I told you then that Orgeron would be coaching for his job in 2021, you would have called me crazy. Honestly, to say Orgeron is coaching for his job is an understatement, as it’s very likely his fate was determined in LSU’s demoralizing loss to UCLA.
Since that championship in 2019, Orgeron’s record with the Tigers is 5-6. Even if you don’t blame Orgeron completely for the 2020 season, which was greatly affected by the COID Pandemic, this week’s loss to UCLA was eye-opening. The Tigers rushed for less than 50 yards. Quarterback Max Johnson passed for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Kayshon Boutte showed why he’s a future first-round pick, catching three touchdowns. The “vaunted” LSU defense is the unit that lost this game. Former Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet was electric again, topping 100 yards rushing on only 11 attempts. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson made plays at the right time, and receiver Greg Dulich was a lightning rod, catching three passes for 117 yards.
After going 5-5 last season, people started questioning Orgeron. In all reality, the 2019 championship team was absolutely loaded. Joe Burrow is already a star in Cincinnati and Justin Jefferson just completed one of the best seasons ever for a receiver. Not to mention Grant Delpit and Clyde Edwards-Helaire who both have bright futures. Orgeron went into the season on the hot seat, Week 1 was only more fuel to the fire. I would be shocked if Orgeron is still coaching LSU this time in 2022.
SEC Has Two of The Top Three Teams in the Country
Alabama Favorites for Second Consecutive National Title
Well, is anyone surprised? Alabama faced many offseason questions, after losing DeVonta Smith, Najee Harris, Jaylen Waddle and Mac Jones to the NFL. However, just like every year, Nick Saban answered all of those questions on Saturday. The Crimson Tide didn’t go anywhere. Replacing Jones at quarterback was true freshman Bryce Young. Well, he threw for nearly 350 yards and four touchdowns. Jameson Williams, the Ohio State transfer, had four catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Will Anderson Jr. had himself a game with nine tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack. The secondary didn’t skip a beat, as Malachi Moore and Jaylen Moody each picked off a pass. Overall, Alabama football is back and as good as ever.
Georgia and Kirby Smart Are For Real
Georgia had the most impressive win all weekend, stifling Clemson in a defensive slug-fest. Christopher Smith’s late second-half pick-six proved to be the pivotal point in the Bulldogs’ 10-3 win. JT Daniels wasn’t a superstar, throwing for only 135 yards and an interception, but he was enough. Inside linebacker Nakobe Dean was sensational, totaling five tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks. For Dabo Swinney and the Tigers, D.J. Uiagalelei was under pressure all night, throwing for only 179 yards and that back-breaking interception
All in all, it’s clear once again that Alabama is the most elite program in college football. While Georgia recruits on a Crimson Tide level, their play hasn’t been there. However, the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are easily two of the best teams not just in the SEC, but in the country.
Circle October 30th on Your Calendars
After a year that saw Indiana rise to the top of the Big Ten, it seems things are back to normal this year. On Thursday, Minnesota gave Ohio State all they could handle. The Gophers led the entire game until CJ Stroud hit Garrett Wilson for a 56-yard touchdown pass. Ohio State fans had to be nervous the entire game, as it looked like Minnesota was the better team for large portions of the night. However, after the Wilson touchdown pass, defensive tackle Haskell Garrett had a lineman’s dream — scoring on a fumble from 32 yards out. Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson showed shades of Ezekiel Elliott, exploding for a 70-yard touchdown pass. Finally, Heisman candidate receiver Chris Olave put the game to bed with a 61-yard touchdown grab.
After a terrible 2020 campaign that saw them finish 4-5, James Franklin could feel the heat underneath him as they faced Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. However, the Nittany Lions put in a tremendous defensive effort and got a big game from receiver Jahan Dotson to take down the Badgers, 16-10. Quarterback Sean Clifford had a solid effort, completing 18-of-33 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. The defense forced Graham Mertz into two interceptions and Dotson had five catches for 102 yards. In the end, the two interceptions by Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown proved to be the deciding factors in this old-school matchup.
Ohio State and Penn State are slated to face off in Columbus on October 30th. In last year’s matchup, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave tore up the Nittany Lions’ secondary for over 230 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The way the Penn State defense made Graham Mertz look on Saturday, it sure seems like they’ll be ready for the challenge. Dotson had a great game against the Buckeyes last year and will look forward to the opportunity to knock Ohio State out of the Playoff.
2020 Indiana Was A Fluke
Tom Allen should be commended for how well his Indiana team performed in 2020. It’s just not going to happen again. At least not for a while. After a controversial Week 1 win over Penn State last year, the Hoosiers would go on to beat Michigan in Week 3. Indiana then took Ohio State down to the wire, eventually losing 42-35. They closed out the regular season by beating Wisconsin in Madison, 14-6. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they play in the East, so their loss to Ohio State cost them a spot in the Big Ten Championship. Indiana would go on to lose to Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl.
With Michael Penix Jr. back at quarterback and Ty Fryfogle back out wide, fans were expecting a season similar to last year. It is only Week 1, but Indiana will not be anywhere near as good as they were in 2020. The Hoosiers lost a lopsided game to Iowa in Week 1, 34-6. Penix Jr. was just bad, going 14-31 for 156 yards and three interceptions. Fryfogle had an acceptable game, snagging five balls for 84 yards. However, their defense was abysmal, giving up over 300 yards. Iowa defensive back Riley Moss took not one, but two Penix passes back to the house. Four of Indiana’s next six games are against tough opponents. They will take on Cincinnati, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State before Halloween.
I hope Indiana fans enjoyed 2020, because 2021 is going to be a tough one.
Pac-12 College Football Title Race is Going to Be Fun
After being out of the spotlight the last couple of seasons, it seems the Pac-12 is ready for a comeback. Washington all but eliminated themselves by falling 13-7 to Montana on Saturday. However, Oregon put in a good performance, and a lot of people were pleasantly surprised by USC and Arizona State.
Still, the team that has made the biggest impact on the college football season thus far is UCLA. Chip Kelly finally has a lot talent to work with in Los Angeles, and the final score didn’t tell the whole story of their win against LSU. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson looks the part of an elite dual-threat quarterback. Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet has had two great games in the gold and blue. The Bruins accounted for 470 total yards while holding LSU to 380. We all know what Chip Kelly is capable of with the right players.
UCLA isn’t the only Pac-12 team that started their season in convincing fashion. USC toppled San Jose State, 30-7. Signal caller Kedon Slovis was solid, going 24-36 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Oregon eventually beat a tough Fresno State team. Unfortunately for the Ducks, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux exited Saturday’s game in the first quarter with an injury. Head coach Mario Cristobal said they are optimistic it is nothing serious. Not to be outdone, Herm Edwards and Arizona State forced Southern Utah into four turnovers, and quarterback Jayden Daniels was the definition of efficient in their win over Southern Utah, 41-14.
This should be a fun season out west, considering UCLA, Oregon, USC, Arizona State and Utah are all at the top of their games. How will the coaching triumvirate of Chip Kelly, Mario Cristobal and Clay Helton play out? I for one can’t wait to see!