SALT LAKE CITY — What we learned from the first weekend of college football . . .
BYU and Utah State are better than expected.
While most folks figured BYU would beat Washington State, no one thought they'd hold Mike Leach's offense to a pair of field goals and only 224 total yards. Meanwhile the BYU offense picked up 426 yards, including 303 through the air.
Utah State is coming off its best season in over a decade and the Aggies were expected to give up some points to Southern Utah. But the Aggies dominated from the start in a 34-3 victory, while piling up 584 yards of offense and keeping the T-Birds out of the end zone.
Utah and Southern Utah are not as good as expected.
How can you complain about a 41-0 victory, you say? Well, when it comes against a program that went 0-11 last year and had lost 18 of 19 games and was picked to finish 13th in the 13-team Big Sky Conference, it's not that impressive. The Utes only gained 414 yards and looked a bit sluggish at times and the kicking game was shaky. On the other hand, you can't complain much about a defense that doesn't allow its opponent across midfield and only gives up 114 yards.
SUU, which won six games last year and lost four others by less than a touchdown, was never in the game in Logan and heralded quarterback Brad Sorensen struggled with a 12-for-33 passing day.
The Pac-12 may not be as good as it's cracked up to be this year.
After a mediocre season by most of the league last year, this was supposed to be a much better year with improved teams all the way down the board. However, you couldn't tell on opening weekend, as three schools lost games and a couple of others barely survived.
Cal was upset at home by Nevada 31-24, Colorado lost to rival Colorado State 22-17 in Denver and Washington State was routed by BYU in Provo.
Then there was No. 21-ranked Stanford, which needed a late field goal to defeat San Jose State 20-17 Friday night and Arizona, which needed overtime to defeat Toledo at home inovertime 24-17 in Rich Rodriguez's debut. Washington wasn't overly impressive either in beating San Diego State 21-12 at home with just 328 yards of total offense.
USC and Oregon, looked awfully good, however, on Saturday.
Penn State may not win any games this year.
After going through the worst offseason a school and football program could possibly experience thanks to the Jerry Sandusky scandal with numerous players bailing on the program, the Nittany Lions opened with a 24-14 loss at home to Ohio. Not Ohio State, Ohio.
With no FCS patsies on the schedule, Penn State has no automatic W's like most FBS schools. The next three weeks they play Virginia, Navy and Temple before heading into Big Ten play for the remainder of the season. They may pick up a couple of wins here or there, but it's going to be a rough season in State College.
BYU may have one of its best defenses ever.
It's true Washington State isn't one of the better Pac-12 teams, but Mike Leach has always been able to pass the ball and roll up yards, something that didn't happen Thursday night. The Cougars, behind Uona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree and Kyle Van Noy absolutely shut down the other Cougars last week and future opponents better beware.
Chuckie Keaton is the real deal.
The Utah State quarterback completed 22 of 26 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns in the easier-than expected win over Southern Utah. The Utah defense will have its hands full this Friday trying to stop Keeton both on land and through the air.
Utah tight end Jake Murphy is an emerging star.
The son of former major leaguer Dale Murphy caught two touchdown passes, including one that looked to be over his head until he caught up with it and stretched out to make the grab. He led the Utes with six catches for 78 yards
The good news for the Utes is that young "Murph" is only a sophomore.
The new kickoff rule might make things more interesting than not.
A lot of people figured by moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line, most teams would be able to kick the ball out of the end zone, cutting out most returns and diluting some of the game's excitement. However, with the receiving team able to take the ball at the 25 instead of the 20 on touchbacks, a lot of teams may try to do what Utah did against Northern Colorado and kick it high and short and rely on your coverage team to keep the opponent inside the 25 or even the 20 as the Utes did on five kickoffs Thursday night.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company