After a topsy-turvy 2007 college football season full of surprises, the 2008 college football season opened like business as usual. No less than 20 teams among the AP’s Top 25 Preseason Poll won their opener.
It would be hard to call 2 of the 5 losing teams as an upset-No. 9 Clemson lost at home to No. 24 Alabama 34-10, and No. 20 Illinois lost to No. 6 Missouri 52-42 on the road. This was a preseason poll and all 4 teams were ranked.
The only three real upsets were No. 17 Virginia Tech’s loss to host East Carolina, 27-22, since East Carolina was unranked, No. 25 Pittsburgh losing its opener at home to unranked Bowling Green 27-17, and No. 18 Tennessee’s overtime loss to host UCLA 27-24.
The 20 ranked winning teams racked up some pretty impressive opening victories:
No. 1 Georgia hosted and defeated 1-AA Georgia Southern 45-21. Georgia hosts Central Michigan next, another easy opponent.
No. 2 Ohio State hosted and shut out 1-AA Youngstown State 43-0. Ohio State hosts in-state rival Ohio next.
No. 3 Southern California (USC) traveled to Virginia and won easily on the road 52-7. USC takes a week off and then hosts Ohio State on Sept. 13, giving them lots of time to prepare for the Buckeyes.
No. 4 Oklahoma hosted and ripped apart 1-AA Chattanooga 57-2. Oklahoma hosts Cincinnati next, another lightweight.
No. 5 Florida hosted Hawaii and gave the Warriors a taste of top competition, 56-10. Florida hosts in-state rival Miami next.
No. 6 Missouri hosted and defeated No. 20 Illinois 52-42. Both of these teams should be good again this year, but it does not appear than either of them has a defense against a good offense. Missouri hosts in-state rival Southeast Missouri State next while Illinois hosts in-state rival Eastern Illinois. Both should win easily.
No. 7 Louisiana State (LSU) saw 1-AA Appalachian State coming to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and promptly sent them packing with a 41-13 loss. LSU hosts Troy next. Troy should get run over.
No. 8 West Virginia hosted and defeated 1-AA Villanova 48-21. West Virginia travels to East Carolina next and the Mountaineers from the Big East Conference had better be on their game. The East Carolina Pirates from Conference USA are on a big time roll. Coach Skip Holtz led East Carolina past Boise State last year in the Hawaii Bowl, giving him two huge wins in a row.
No. 10 Auburn hosted and shut out Louisiana-Monroe 34-zip. Auburn hosts Southern Mississippi next.
No. 11 Texas hosted and smashed Florida Atlantic 52-10. Texas travels to in-state rival Texas-El Paso (UTEP) next, another easy opponent for the Longhorns.
No. 12 Texas Tech’s pass-happy offense blew by 1-AA visitor Eastern Washington 49-24 and will travel to Nevada next.
No. 13 Wisconsin feasted on Akron 38-17 in the Badgers’ home opener, and host Marshall next. Many pundits are looking at Wisconsin as a powerhouse in the Big Ten this year. Akron might agree.
No. 14 Kansas treated visiting Florida International like road kill in a 40-10 victory. The Jayhawks host weak Louisiana Tech next.
No. 15 Arizona State hosted and turned back 1-AA in-state rival Northern Arizona 30-13. Next up for the Sun Devils is visiting Stanford, which won a big game in its home opener against Oregon State 36-28.
No. 16 Brigham Young (BYU) hosted and stormed past 1-AA Northern Iowa 41-17 and now travels to Washington to face a young, inexperienced Husky team.
No. 17 Virginia Tech lost to host East Carolina 27-22 and should easily rebound when the Hokies host 1-AA Furman next. Trust me when I say it will not be a good day to be Furman. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, the master of special teams play, got beat when East Carolina’s T. J. Lee scooped up his own blocked punt and ran it in for a 27-yard touchdown with 1:52 left to seal the Pirates’ victory. Beamer and his band of Virginia Tech players will take it out on Furman. Virginia Tech should drop in the first regular-season AP Poll this week, especially since East Carolina was an unranked team.
No. 18 Tennessee traveled to UCLA and lost a heartbreaker to UCLA 27-24. The Volunteers led 14-7 at the half, led 14-10 after the 3rd quarter, watched UCLA take a 24-21 lead with 27 seconds left in the 4th quarter, managed to tie the game at 24, and then lost in overtime when UCLA’s kicker made a 42-yard field goal and Tennessee’s kicker missed a 34-yarder. The win represented the first game and first win for new coach Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA coaching debut at his alma mater.
No. 19 South Florida hosted and stomped Tennessee-Martin 56-7. Next up for South Florida will be a trip to in-state rival Central Florida. South Florida surprised a lot of teams last year with a 9-4 record, including a 56-21 loss to Oregon in the Brut Sun Bowl.
No. 20 Illinois traveled to No. 6 Missouri and lost 52-42 in a high-scoring offensive shootout.
No. 21 Oregon hosted and put a licking on Washington 44-10. The Huskies, who only trailed 14-10 at the half, proved no match for Oregon’s spread offense and speed. Oregon hosts Utah State next while Washington has its home opener against BYU. Coach Ty Willingham and his Washington players will be lucky to leave Husky Stadium with their shirts on after BYU gets done with them.
No. 22 Penn State hosted and stomped a mud hole in 1-AA Coastal Carolina 66-10. Penn State will host a very angry Oregon State team next. The Nittany Lions had better be ready because the Beavers play tough, hard-nosed football to say it kindly.
No. 23 Wake Forest traveled to Baylor and got the job done, 41-13.
No. 24 Alabama traveled to No. 9 Clemson and the Crimson Tide rolled out with an impressive 34-10 victory. We predicted that Clemson could be in trouble with a capital T, and in fact they were. Alabama led 23-3 at the half and outscored Clemson 11-7 in the second half. Alabama entertains Tulane next in the Crimson Tide’s home opener. The Bryant-Denny Stadium will be rockin’, and unless the Earth caves in, Alabama will be 2-0.
No. 25 Pittsburgh had its season opener at home against Bowling Green and came up short, losing to the Falcons from the Mid-American Conference, 27-17. Is Pittsburgh that bad? Yes. Bowling Green is a Mid-American Conference team and Pittsburgh plays in the Big East Conference. If Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt keeps this up, he will never get any respect. Are you aware that Bowling Green won the Mid-American East title last year, went 8-4 overall and played in the GMAC Bowl? Yes, the Falcons lost to Tulsa 63-7 in their bowl game, but at least they went.
Pittsburgh last year was 5-7 overall and spent the season sucking pond water. A lot of fans are in prayer in Pittsburgh, hoping the Panthers will get better. Will someone please inform rabid Panther Nation fans that it is OK to pray like it depends on God, but the Panther players need to act like it depends on them. Pittsburgh should fall right out of the first regular-season AP Poll and take its rightful place in obscurity.
Seven of the 8 non-ranked teams that needed to win their opener did. Only Michigan, which lost its opener at home last year to 1-AA Appalachian State 34-32, managed to lose again at home in the Big House to Utah, 25-23. The loss represented the first game and first loss for new coach Rich Rodriguez. Had Michigan not come up with 13 points in the last quarter, the Wolverines would have lost 25-10. Do you think they sell Utah jerseys in Ann Arbor? In fairness, Michigan did end up at 8-4 last year and did beat Florida 41-35 in the Capital One Bowl.
The 7 non-ranked teams that won included:
Arizona over Idaho 70-0 (49-zip at the half), Arkansas over 1-AA Western Illinois 28-24 (don’t laugh, at least the Razorbacks won), Boise State over 1-AA Idaho State 49-7, Boston College over Kent State 21-0, Connecticut over 1-AA Hofstra 35-3, Kansas State over North Texas 45-6, and Nebraska over Western Michigan 47-24 (the Cornhuskers still have a lot of work to do).
Add-on winners include Colorado at home over in-state rival Colorado State 38-17 (this game is in the same category as the Oregon-Oregon State civil war shootout every year), and Wyoming at home over Ohio 21-20 (many Wyoming backers have made big bucks betting on Wyoming at home over the years).
And my pick for game of the week? The mighty Buffalo Bulls (hear my mighty roar) scored in every quarter to paste visiting Texas-El Paso (UTEP) 42-17. Keep an eye on Buffalo. The Bulls, with coach Turner Gill, have decided to stop being the NCAA’s doormat and start beating people because they can.
That’s the story on this opening week wrap-up. Other teams may have played and won, but until they stop standing around and looking important rather than actually beating someone, they get no coverage here.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
Read my other detailed, knowledgeable, interesting articles on football, including:
“Famous Quotes by Vince Lombardi, Knute Rockne and Lou Holtz During Football’s Annual Bowl Season”
“How to Predict When Teams Are Overrated and Due for an Unexpected Loss”
“The Sagarin Ratings: What They Are, How to Read Them and What to Do With Them”
and my 14 consecutive weekly wrap-up articles on the 2007 College Football Season as well as wrap-up articles on all 32 College Bowl Games.