College football came back HARD, so I hope you were ready. I was. I spent the offseason having George Whitfield poke me with a broom while I typed, making sure I spelled Tajh and Jadeveon correctly and reciting the schools in the Mountain West.
Opening week, as usual, included a lot of blowouts, since many big-time schools feasted on cupcakes. But the two games between ranked teams—LSU/TCU and Clemson/Georgia—did not disappoint, and there were plenty of upsets to keep things interesting. Let’s take a look back. Per the NCAA infractions committee, Johnny Manziel won’t appear until the second half of this column.
Eight Football Championship Subdivision (FCS; aka Division I-AA) schools won against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; I-A) opponents in the opening week. It’s hard to pick the biggest surprise, but I’ll give it to Eastern Washington for becoming just the third FCS school to beat a ranked FBS team. They beat No. 25 Oregon State 49-46 behind an awesome performance from quarterback Vernon Adams. The junior accounted for 518 of his team’s 625 yards and all six of their touchdowns.
Don’t forget about McNeese State, though, which posted the most points and the biggest margin of victory ever for an FCS school against the FBS, smacking South Florida 53-21.
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) September 1, 2013
North Dakota State beat an FBS school for the fourth straight year, taking down reigning Big 12 champ Kansas State, perhaps the first time a defending conference champion fell to an FCS school.
I’m convinced that the top FCS schools are better than the bottom of FBS, so perhaps we shouldn’t be all that surprised by these “upsets.” North Dakota State has won the last two FCS national championships. Eastern Washington won in 2010 and was the runner-up last season. FBS schools continue to schedule them, however, because they’ll come on the road for less money than lower-tier FBS schools.
All of this FCS excitement doesn’t even include Charlotte, which played (and won) its first game in school history, or this trick play by Villanova in a close loss to Boston College:
Somewhere, Ed O’Neill is yelling, “She doesn’t have the ball! Fumblerooski! Fumblerooski!”
Clowney and Manziel
If you believed many of the reports after Thursday night’s South Carolina-North Carolina game, Jadeveon Clowney’s Heisman campaign is dead. That may be true—only one defensive player has ever won the award—but it shouldn’t be because of Clowney’s performance in the opener. As is often the case in this age, the media hype machine can make an athlete an instant star and tear him down just as quickly. Clowney’s stats weren’t impressive, but given his position they are never going to be eye-popping. Teams are going to double-team him, run away from him, and clip him. Yes, it looked like his conditioning could improve but I’m surprised by all the criticism he received, especially since he is so very large.
Speaking of over-hype and over-coverage, the Johnny Manziel story has morphed into one where the public dislikes all involved. ESPN couldn’t simply wait for Manziel to take the field in the second half. They had cameras on him at all times during his first half suspension, and the announcers analyzed his body language and interaction with teammates. That was too much, though I can’t defend Manziel for his in-game antics.
Worst Play: Carl Pelini, second-year coach of Florida Atlantic, dialed up an unconventional play call at the end of his team’s 34-6 loss to Miami on Friday:
The announcers were very kind: “Those are the things you want to iron out from Week One to Week Two.”
Worst Best Outfit: Here’s Clemson’s leading receiver last season, DeAndre Hopkins (now with the Houston Texans), on the sideline during last night’s big win over Georgia:
As if the pink/purple/blue/orange button-down wasn’t enough, he paired it with a camouflage Clemson visor. BOSS.
Best Photo: What else could it be?
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) August 31, 2013
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