Johnny Manziel, FCS upsets among best and worst of NCAA football Week 1
The first weekend of the college football season is guaranteed to produce a profusion of blowouts, games that are played for two reasons: to guarantee the home team a victory and to guarantee the visiting team — the athletic department, not the players — a big paycheck.
Those not-surprising scores were easy enough to find: Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3; Georgia Tech 70, Elon 0; Tennessee 45, Austin Peay 0.
But amid that carnage, there were actually some games worthy of note. While it may be difficult to carve out any defining moments from football games that are played before Labor Day, there were certainly a number of story lines that took some form before the lights finally went out late Saturday night.
Here are a few that either can't be avoided or should not be avoided:
- Johnny Manziel. He can still play football. That was apparent when he returned from the 30-minute suspension he received for not taking money from autograph collectors. He is also still an immature punk who apparently hasn't learned a thing from his stormy offseason. Chirping at Rice defenders and pointing at the scoreboard was bad enough. Pretending to sign an autograph was so far over the line that if there was any justice at all, he would get at least a one-game suspension.
Texas A&M's next game is against Alabama. There is as much chance of Manziel not starting that game as there is of Manziel becoming a grown-up between now and kickoff. And Coach Kevin Sumlin isn't helping things by continuing to shield Manziel from the media after the game. He's an enabler — just like everyone else around Manziel, including his parents, the school and the NCAA.
- Clemson. Stop the presses everyone: An ACC team won a meaningful football game. It is believed that the last time this happened Bobby Bowden had yet to learn to say "dadgum it." The Tigers won a wild game, 38-35, from Georgia on their home field. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray again proved he's always good enough to produce great numbers — except when the score gets added up at the finish.
Clemson has to go to North Carolina State on Sept. 19 and will host Florida State next month. The only other major roadblock for the Tigers could be the season-ending game at South Carolina. Usually, hyped ACC teams' chances at mattering in the national picture end the first time they play a ranked opponent, which is why Clemson's win is worthy of mention here.
- Jadeveon Clowney. Even though South Carolina easily beat North Carolina on Thursday night, Clowney did not destroy the entire North Carolina offensive line, did not cause 12 fumbles and did not make a play that will be replayed 4,367 times over the next seven days. He made three tackles, had no sacks and struggled a little bit in the heat. All of which led to one headline the next day that said: "Clowney's Heisman campaign over?"
Seriously. This is the world we live in. Clowney spent most of the night lined up against North Carolina left tackle James Hurst, who is thought by many to be a potential first-round pick next April. Hurst got lots of help from his friends, and Carolina ran away from Clowney all night. This is what life is going to be like for Clowney: A lot of his teammates got wide-open shots at UNC ballcarriers because so much attention was focused on him. Clowney's a superb talent, but he does not leap tall buildings in a single bound.
- Two scores that should be discussed: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21 and Eastern Washington 49, No. 25 Oregon State 46. It isn't just that a Football Championship Series team beat a Football Bowl Series team in these two games; it is that two good FBS teams lost. K-State is the defending Big 12 champion and was ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point last season; Oregon State was 9-4. Maybe they aren't as good this year, but it isn't as if they woke up this summer and morphed into Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
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