Sunday, September 4, 2016

College Football: Week 1 Winners and Losers

            College football is finally back and in full swing. Your Saturdays will most likely be like your Sundays: spent in a bar or on the couch rooting on your favorite football team(s). Of course, there were some teams (and conferences) that looked extremely good out of the gate. Then, there were some who stumbled. Here's a look at some of the biggest winners and losers of Week One.

Winner: The B1G (Big Ten): With #7 Michigan, #6 Ohio State, and #17 Iowa all winning big, the Big Ten came out swinging. Jim Harbaugh's squad showed no mercy against Hawaii while Urban Meyer's team obliterated Bowling Green, showing just how brutal the Big Ten can be. Another big win for the conference was Wisconsin upsetting #5 LSU at Lambeau Field by a score of 16-14. And even though #12 Michigan State had their problems with Furman, they still managed a double-digit win over the Paladins. Other Big Ten teams winning big include Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, and Illinois.
Winner: Houston Cougars: Maybe the Cougars are ready for the Big 12 after all. Greg Ward Jr. had a fairly big day, throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns as #15 Houston upended #3 Oklahoma. Steven Dunbar had an impressive day as well for the Cougars, reeling in seven catches for 125 yards. This win for Houston set off a pretty big chain reaction with regards to the playoff picture, damaging the Sooners' chances for a playoff spot while muddying up the playoff picture.
Winner: Alabama Crimson Tide: Nick Saban's Tide might've looked a little rough after the first quarter against #20 USC. However, it didn't take long for the defending champs to get the ball rolling. The top-ranked team in the nation outscored the Trojans 52-3 after the first quarter, routing USC in Arlington.
Winner: Parity: Wisconsin over LSU. Houston over Oklahoma. Texas A&M over UCLA. These are a few of the plentiful upsets that occurred in Week One. Other impressive upsets include South Alabama over Mississippi State, Eastern Washington over Washington State, Richmond over Virginia, and Western Michigan over Northwestern.
Winner: Southern Mississippi: It took the Golden Eagles a fourth-down conversion to come back from a 25-point deficit (34 unanswered points!) against the Kentucky Wildcats. QB Drew Barker went 15 for 24, throwing for 323 yards, four touchdowns, and just one interception as Southern Mississippi defeated Kentucky 44-35 to earn a convincing road win against an SEC squad.
Loser: Tennessee Volunteers: Tennessee had a chance to prove why they were a top ten team on Thursday night against Appalachian State. Instead, it took the ninth-ranked Volunteers overtime just to beat them. It would've been another big upset for Appalachian State (remember the Michigan Wolverines?). Anyways, expect Tennessee to take a big bump out of the top ten in the next week.
Loser: Pac-12: Yes, #8 Stanford won and #14 Washington won big against Rutgers. However, UCLA went down in overtime against Texas A&M thanks to some questionable passes by Josh Rosen in overtime (and throughout the game). It didn't help that Washington State got upset by an FCS team and USC got lambasted by top-ranked Alabama in Arlington.
Loser: LSU: With the 16-14 loss to Wisconsin, LSU seems to have fallen into familiar territory: Really good, but not good enough to win the SEC West. This has become a trend for Les Miles and crew in recent years as they've had a hard time competing against competitive SEC West rivals such as Alabama and Auburn. This loss at Lambeau Field only makes that tread a lot tougher for the Tigers moving forward.
Loser: Really, Just the SEC sans Alabama: The Tide looked good, but the rest of the conference did not. The aforementioned upsets that both LSU and Mississippi State suffered along with Kentucky's choke job against Southern Mississippi made for a surprising down day for the SEC. Texas A&M pulled off a big win against UCLA and Auburn almost did the same thing against #2 Clemson, though.
Loser: The Big 12's Playoff Chances: Losing to the Houston Cougars at a neutral site not only makes matters hard for Oklahoma, but it makes getting a representative into the playoff for the Big 12 much harder. The Sooners are perhaps the Big 12's best shot at getting a playoff spot and it doesn't help that two of Oklahoma's next three games are against ranked opponents, namely #6 Ohio State and #13 TCU. If only the Big 12 could have Houston in their conference now...

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