What started with a crazy Ole Miss/Vandy game, kept going on in to Saturday to make for a hell of a weekend. I’ll normally write these on Sunday afternoon, but I decided to at least let Louisville play first. I know Florida State is playing Pitt tonight, but I’ll assume FSU will make the most of that game and come away with a win.
We got to see Alabama for the first time after winning signing day yet again as they started their title defense. We got to see the other contenders such as Ohio State, Oregon, Clemson and other SEC schools. We also got to see the rise of the FCS, maybe making a name for themselves and showing that there isn’t that big of a gap between the FBS and FCS.
I spent my weekend in Atlanta for the Alabama/Virginia Tech game, but was able to watch many great match-ups before and after. Some things impressed me more than others, but some things definitely need some work as we head into week two. Without further ado, here are my Leaders and Lolligaggers from week one of the college football season. Three things I liked over the course of the weekend, and three things that seriously need some work. For those who don’t know, this is a segment we used to do on the Meltdown, so I’m keeping the tradition going, even though I hate the name. Blame Tim Melton for that one.
Side note – I will release my top 25 tomorrow (Tuesday) morning for week one due to the late games on the Labor Day weekend. I can already tell you, the top five isn’t what most people would think.
Clemson – You have to start out with the Clemson Tigers after this week. They faced the toughest test out of the top 10, and proved to the world they belong in the title discussion…at least for now. While I think they did play an impressive game while beating Georgia, I will say that if Georgia didn’t pull a Tony Romo and fumble a field goal snap for a kick that would have been no more than an extra point, then the game would have gone to overtime, and who knows what would have happened. But things happen the way they do, and we move on from them.
Georgia now has to walk away from this game, and still try and work on an impressive SEC schedule, that includes South Carolina this week, and LSU in two weeks. I wouldn’t take them out of the title picture because of this one loss, but it’s definitely going to hurt them while other schools don’t have near as hard of a schedule. Clemson on the other hand gets to have a week off essentially with South Carolina State, and then begins a lackluster ACC schedule until Florida State halfway through the season, and then of course their big test with South Carolina at the end. Clemson is definitely worthy of a top ranking right now, and will most likely get it, but they have to be able to play with the pressure.
Christion Jones – Maybe I’m just saying this because of being an Alabama alum, and because I was able to witness this in person, but how can you not have Christion Jones on an early Heisman list right now? I’d take his week one performance of 256 total yards and three touchdowns, all scored in different ways, over pretty much any other player this week. You want to talk about other Heisman “favorites” and how they did this week? Let’s look at ESPN’s top 5 going into the season.
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (vs. North Carolina) – 3 tackles
Braxton Miller, Ohio State (vs. Buffalo) – 178 yds passing, 77 yds rushing, 2 TD, 1 INT, 68%
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (vs. Rice) – 94 yds passing, 19 yds rushing, 3 TD, 75%
AJ McCarron, Alabama (vs. Virginia Tech) – 110 yds passing, -23 rushing, 1 TD (to Jones), 1 INT, 43.5%
Marcus Mariota, Oregon (vs. Nicholls State) – 234 yds passing, 113 yds rushing, 3 TD, 57.1%
Of those five, I’d only say two had decent performances in Mariota and Miller. Clowney looked really weak in his opener (more on that later), Manziel was benched for a half, and when he came in he showed off too much for his own good, and AJ McCarron couldn’t get anything right, but then again – the entire Tide offense couldn’t. And then there is Christion Jones. Would Alabama have won without him? Yes. Would Alabama still be ranked #1 after the game without him? Probably not. I’ll talk more about Bama later. Jones had an exceptional game, and if he continues to put up a TD or so on average between his time on special teams and at wide receiver, his name has to be the Alabama representative on the ballot.
Division 1-AA, aka the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) – Going into this season, I knew some of these teams were good. The days of it being a huge surprise when a FCS school beats a FBS school, a la Appalachian State over Michigan, are long gone. North Dakota State is no doubt the best FCS school there is, and Kansas State was extremely overrated last year, and showed how bad they really are this year. I’d like to congratulate all of the FCS schools that picked up wins over FBS schools this weekend and who also collected a big fat check to go along with it. I’d also like to thank the following schools for proving why your conference is worse than the SEC once again:
Oregon State (who was ranked #25) who proved the Pac-12 is not up to par by losing to Eastern Washington (who by the way has a red field).
Iowa State for proving the Big 12 is still nothing more than Texas stealing everyone’s money, and that they aren’t even close to one of the best teams in Iowa since they lost to Northen Iowa. Although Northern Iowa is no stranger to upsets after the 2010 NCAA tournament when they beat 1-seed Kansas…another Big 12 team.
Kansas State who also proved that the Big 12 is overrated, and that last year, they never should have been in the top 10 (because after Oregon and nine SEC schools, who needs Notre Dame and K-State?). Congrats North Dakota State, go win another title.
San Diego State for staying in the Mountain West to show that not only is Boise overrated, but their Big East running mate is too for losing to Eastern Illinois.
South Florida for proving once again why the artist formerly known as the Big East (aka the AAC) is not worthy of an auto bid this year (except to give it to Louisville), and will never be worthy of one again so long as the playoff shall live for losing to teams like McNeese State.
Connecticut, who better keep their grades up so they can go back to being halfway decent at Basketball, since they can’t beat a team like Towson who can’t even realize when a punt is being run the wrong way.
And finally, to South Alabama. While most of the losses here aren’t as bad as your loss, I still expected more. I have a soft place in my heart for South Alabama since my former coach is there, but I’m afraid things aren’t going really well down in Mobile. Hopefully conference play is better than your game against Southern Utah…whoever that is.
Jadeveon Clowney – The questions now start to roll in about whether or not Clowney is overrated, and is only getting this media hype because of the one hit he made last year against Michigan. I’d say that’s partially true. I went into this season thinking he was worthy of challenging for the Heisman, but he got flat out beat up Thursday against North Carolina. He was out of shape, having to come out on too many plays. I remember one guy who was like that at Alabama, his name was Terrence Cody, and he had to come out because he couldn’t run more than two plays at a time without passing out. Don’t get me wrong, he did his job just fine, and clogged the middle, but that didn’t win him any Heisman trophies. Don’t be Terrence Cody. Don’t use the excuse that you were sick – pull a Michael Jordan, drink some Gatorade, get out there, and make plays. Three tackles is not enough. Not to mention that when he was out there, they went right at him, and he still only ended up with three tackles. They fooled him on multiple screens over his head in the first half, and while South Carolina played perfectly fine, and took care of business, Clowney was not the superstar he was made out to be, and it was disappointing.
Alabama’s Offense – The Tide has some concern heading into their match-up with Texas A&M. Everyone saw it on Saturday. While their defense and special teams have never been better, the offense needed way too much work, and it all starts up front. I’ve spent way too many years in the trenches myself to know that the problem is 99% with the front five. The two veterans can only do so much, and one of them, Cyrus Kouandjio, was one of the problems. Stupid penalties, missed blocks, the whole nine yards…which Alabama could hardly get if they tried. As much as many people might have liked the idea of the Kouandjio brothers playing next to each other, there is now cause for concern as Arie Kouandjio was pulled part of the way through the game, and Cyrus had issues of his own. If Cyrus Kouandjio wants to be a top NFL pick, he has work to do. We all miss Chance Warmack and his Buddha Belly already.
Johnny Manziel – I don’t care if he completed 75% of his passes or not, the kid needs to stop being a show off – and shut up. If there is one autograph gesture during the Alabama game, Kevin Sumlin needs to bring him to the sidelines, bench him and slap him. No message will ever be sent with these minimal punishments, and when he hits the NFL, if he hasn’t been taught a lesson, it’s going to get far, far worse, and something really bad is going to happen to him. Stop being a show off, and play football. If you just play your game, then you will show off more than you ever could with your mouth, with hand gestures, or even with a Sharpie. Check your ego at the door, and play football. Your ego and dreadful off-season is why you sat there in the first half while your plenty capable backup played for you instead. Alabama might have had their issues, but you have the world’s biggest target on your back come September 14th. A target that neither Cam Newton, nor Les Miles, nor Manti Te’o could ever match. It’s time to get your head into the game, and if you don’t – people won’t want your autograph anymore anyway.