Mike Sorensen: What we learned from college football's opening weekend
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — For months, we waited for this past weekend to arrive so we could find out just how good (or bad) our favorite college football teams are.
Here are some thoughts on Week 1 of the 2013 college football season:
The hurry-up offenses that BYU and Utah are employing this year may not look real smooth right now, but they do make the games more interesting and certainly hold your attention. You can hardly look down or else you'll miss the next play.
So how many more plays did the sped-up BYU and Utah offenses run in their opening games? The Cougars ran 93, which was the third-most in the nation, while Utah was quite average with 72. For Utah, it was just slightly more than last year's average of 66 plays per game. (BYU averaged 73 plays per game last year.)
Reason No. 1 why FBS (formerly Division I-A) schools should not schedule FCS (Division I-AA) schools: Oregon rolling up a school-record 772 yards in a 66-3 victory over Nicholls State, one of the worst FCS schools in the country, which was coming off consecutive 1-10 seasons.
Reason No. 2 why FBS schools should not schedule FCS schools: Oregon State losing 49-46 to Eastern Washington, one of the best FCS schools. It marks the Beavers' second loss to an FCS school in three years. (Oregon State suffered a 29-28 loss to Sacramento State in 2011.)
Reasons 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 why FBS schools should not schedule FCS schools: Eastern Illinois winning 40-19 over San Diego State; Northern Iowa winning 28-20 over Iowa State; Towson winning 33-18 over UConn; North Dakota State winning 24-21 over Kansas State; and McNeese State winning 53-21 over South Florida.
No, I don't think Utah has to worry too much about being the next FBS school to get upset by an FCS school this Saturday. Weber State did beat Stephen F. Austin 50-40 Saturday, but is picked to finish near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference. And if Stephen F. Austin can produce 564 yards of total offense and 40 points against the Wildcats, think what the Utes should be able to do.
Give Southern Utah credit for earning another FCS victory over an FBS school. The T-Birds won 22-21 over South Alabama on the final play of the game as Colton Cook, the former Viewmont High soccer player who never played football in high school, booted a 28-yard field goal. Keep in mind that South Alabama isn't your typical FBS opponent as it is only in its second year as an FBS school and has only had a football program for five years.
If you thought BYU and Utah struggled offensively in Week 1, how about two-time defending champion Alabama? The Crimson Tide managed just 206 yards in their opening win over Virginia Tech, more offense than only four FBS teams on opening weekend.
Perhaps Utah's narrow win over USU didn't show it, but other opening weekend games showed the gulf between the Pac-12 and the Mountain West as UCLA beat Nevada 58-20 and Washington crushed Boise State 38-6. Also on Thursday, USC beat Hawaii 30-13, although that wasn't exactly an impressive win by the Trojans.
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is the real deal (31 of 40 passes for 314 yards). So is BYU running back Jamaal Williams (144 yards rushing). BYU quarterback Taysom Hill (13 of 40 completions) isn't.
Many folks complained that BYU shouldn't have called a pass play on third down with less than three minutes left Saturday. But if the Cougars had run it up the middle and had to punt and gotten another punt blocked or if Virginia had come back to drive for the winning score, fans would have complained that the Cougars should have tried to pass to get the first down. Hindsight is always so easy.
Gary Andersen's Wisconsin team looked good during a 45-0 victory over UMass. But it's hard to tell how good since UMass is in its first official year as an FBS school and now playing in the MAC. Unfortunately we can't tell much more this week as the Badgers take on FCS school Tennessee Tech. We'll have to wait until the following week when they play at Arizona State.
Most entertaining game of the week had to be Fresno State's 52-51 overtime victory over Rutgers, which gambled and decided to go for two in the first overtime and failed. Derek Carr completed 52 of 73 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who may be the best team in the MWC.
Aren't we all getting sick of Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel by now? We had to hear about all of his offseason antics and all that autograph business for the whole month of August. Then after getting off with barely a slap on the wrist for autograph-gate — he was given a half-game suspension — he comes out Saturday and taunts opposing players several times in a blowout win over Rice, gets penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, and appropriately gets benched by his coach. I hope his team can beat Alabama, but I'll be rooting for someone else to win the Heisman Trophy this year.
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