The first week of college football is officially in the books and disaster has already struck.
While some fans are optimistic about their squads, others are battening down the hatches for a rocky season.
Here’s a look at a few teams experiencing the extreme poles of agony and ecstasy.
UCLA — Head Coach Jim Mora, Jr. came into the season on the hot seat after a dismal 4-8 season. Late in the 3rd quarter, with his team down 44-10 at home to Texas A&M, his seat was scalding. Then the magic happened. Quarterback Josh Rosen led the team to the second-biggest comeback in college football history; UCLA scored the final 35 points of the game to escape with a 1-point victory. Rosen had been under scrutiny himself by saying academics and football “don’t go together.” His controversial comments seem like eons ago, as he now has to be the way-too-early Heisman frontrunner.
Virginia Tech — The Hokies lost a lot of talent, including Quarterback Jerod Evans, who left school early (to go undrafted) after setting several offensive records. The Hokies also lost star Wide Receiver Isaiah Ford, but their offense still looks to be potent with new QB Josh Jackson plugged in. Head Coach Justin Fuente is known for producing prolific offenses, and he was able to find out about his new offense against a solid team (22nd ranked West Virginia) instead of a cupcake. Any team that survives opening week against a ranked opponent should feel good about their season outlook.
Michigan — The Wolverines had to replace 10 starters on their highly-ranked defense against a top 20 Florida Gators team. The Gators were hampered by a spate of suspensions to key players, but they still have a lot of talent, especially on defense. Michigan got in early trouble with back-to-back pick 6’s and benched starting Quarterback Wilton Speight. But they overcame the bumpy dress rehearsal and physically dominated the second half. Losing coach Jim McElwain was forced to admit as much: “Well, their guys were bigger and stronger. They whooped us. I mean, plain and simple.”
The Wolverines discovered that their brand new defense is for real.
Florida State — The Seminoles came in with a lot of pre-season hype, earning the #3 ranking, but it evaporated quickly. With Alabama’s 24-7 victory, the top-ranked Crimson Tide has now won six straight “showdown” season openers against non-conference Power 5 teams, all by double digits. The average margin of victory in those games was 21 points. Unfortunately for Florida State, they lost a lot more than the game. Starting Quarterback Deondre François suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the game. The Seminoles must now hand the quarterbacking duties over to a disappointing upperclassmen or a pair of true freshmen who will undoubtedly suffer some growing pains.
Texas — One of the true blue bloods of college football has been down on its luck for half a decade despite unlimited financial resources and a myriad of in-state high school talent. New Head Coach Tom Herman was supposed to get things turned around quickly after two impressive seasons at Houston, but his debut was a dud. The Longhorns gave up 51 points in a home loss to a mediocre Maryland team. Despite Charlie Strong’s highly rated recruiting classes and Herman’s acclaimed Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando, Texas had few answers as Maryland piled up close to 500 yards of offense.
Texas A&M — The Lone Star State has recently suffered through trying times; Hurricane Harvey was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history. On an entirely trivial level, the state’s top college football programs have had a rough go, too. The aforementioned Longhorns false-started in Herman’s first game. Baylor’s freshman coach Matt Rhule had an equally difficult premiere with a 48-45 loss to Liberty. Rice lost to Stanford, which was to be expected, but losing 62-7 never feels acceptable.
But the “biggest loser” of week one has to be Texas A&M. They made history–the bad kind–by being on the losing end of UCLA’s legendary victory. For every miraculous comeback, there must be a disgusted, sickened loser. The Aggies completely fell apart in the final 18 minutes of the game. To make matters worse, Head Coach Kevin Sumlin’s seat was hotter than Jim Mora’s going into the game. His seat has now reached nuclear levels. The radioactivity in College Station is so bad, one of the school’s regents publicly gave Sumlin a stern vote of “no confidence.”
Tony Buzbee unleashed the following rant on Facebook:
“I’m sure I may be criticized for this post but I honestly don’t care. I’ve been on the Board of Regents for the A&M System for almost seven years. During that time, I’ve not once commented on Kevin Sumlin and his performance during his tenure at our school. I never said a word when he and his agent manipulated a much bigger and longer contract. I said nothing about his arrogance and his mishandling of multiple player controversies. I said nothing when we had multiple awesome recruiting classes, only to see key players leave our school or underperform.
“But tonight I am very disappointed and I have to say this. Kevin Sumlin was out-coached tonight, which isn’t new. He recruits well, but can’t coach the big games, or the close games. Our players were better tonight. Our players were more talented tonight. But our coaches were dominated on national TV, yet again. I’m only one vote on the Board of Regents, but when the time comes, my vote will be that Kevin Sumlin needs to GO. In my view, he should go now. We owe it to our school and our players. We can do better.
Share this as you see fit.”
Sumlin and his team must rally, or the UCLA game will be his “signature” moment. He’ll have the chance to redeem himself in the loaded SEC West.
Onto week 2…