Number one ranked team in the nation? USC had no problem at home against Hawai’i. National champions? Alabama rolled at home against Michigan. Hopeful champions? More SEC dominance as LSU didn’t really exert themselves too much against North Texas. In short – The teams that should have won came out smiling.
The Gamecocks opened the season (for the ranked teams) with a rather difficult visit to Vanderbilt, having to overcome quarterback Connor Shaw leaving and entering the game due to injury. In the end, he did just enough, along with Marcus Lattimore (110 yards, 2 touchdowns) to grab a tough first away conference win, which will probably keep them in the top ten once the AP poll comes out.
Boise State probably blew their early shot at bursting the BCS bubble after losing to Michigan State at East Lansing. They had a 13-10 lead going into the third quarter, but in all, had a very hard time facing the Spartans defense, compiling only 206 total yards. Michigan State showed good defense, in a win that might put them in the top 10 and throw the Broncos out of the rankings, and featured Le’Veon Bell who ran for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
How did Stanford do on their first game in the post-Andrew Luck era? Not bad, but not great. They beat San Jose State 20-17 behind David Fales with 216 yards at quarterback and especially running back Stepfan Taylor, with 116 yards and a touchdown. They needed a fourth quarter field goal to come out ahead, facing a lot of problems when it came to converting third downs, going only 2-13.
Saturday was the interesting day, and not because of the #1 team in the nation. Michigan and Alabama faced off in Texas, #8 vs #2, National Champions vs hopefuls, SEC vs Big Ten. It wasn’t a fair fight. Alabama were up 21-0 in the first quarter. The Tide rolled for 431 yards compared to Michigan’s 269, limiting Denard Robinson to only 27 yards on the ground and 200 in the air, intercepting the Heisman hopeful twice. For now, with this kind of competition, Brady Hoke’s team has no reason to think about national titles.
The rest? Pretty expected. USC beat Hawai’i 49-10, Matt Barkley having a Heisman kind of night. He threw for 372 yards and four touchdowns. Marqis Lee was the man who enjoyed it the most, catching 10 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. Impressive, but Alabama’s win over a Top 10 team probably gives them the edge when it comes to the #1 spot. Another team thinking national championship, LSU, had no problem running the ball against the Mean Green from North Texas.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger struggled, but he was lucky enough to see his backs compile 316 yards on the ground. Kenny Hilliard ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns, Alfred Blue ran for 123 yards. Les Miles began the season smiling, despite all the summer and injury problems that the program faced after their loss to Alabama 8 months ago.
Any other team maybe showing they can challenge for the title? Oklahoma won 24-7 in El Paso against the Miners, which will give them the #4 ranking for week 1 probably, but it’s hard to see them matching up, down the line, with Alabama’s incredible depth all around or the USC firepower. Oregon (#5) poured 50 points in the first half against Arkansas State, letting the Red Wolves come back in the second half to win 57-34.
Week 1, which isn’t over yet (Virginia Tech (#16) still have to host Georgia Tech on Monday in a nice ACC opener) clearly separated pretenders and contenders. Boise State won’t be in the discussion for a BCS bowl this season. Michigan aren’t good enough to do more than win the Big Ten. Alabama and USC, at the moment, look a bit better than the rest of the pack.