Here are my thoughts and observations from Week 1 in College Football. Before the season, I picked every game for each team in order to compile the records in my Conference predictions. After one week there are things I feel good about and other places I am willing to admit I made mistakes...
Predominant thought: All the talk about the Big 10 being a stronger conference and making amends for their abysmal bowl record a year ago did not play out on the field very well. Michigan getting trounced by Alabama in the signature game of the week was not the only eyesore. Wisconsin had to squeak by an FCS team, Michigan State has to be worried about their quarterback at least a little, Iowa escaped a game they should have lost, etc. Ohio State looked really good, but they can't help the Big 10 come the post-season.
I was wrong about Wisconsin's adjustment period. Wisconsin usually plugs in new offensive lineman without missing a beat, but the Badgers were beaten consistently up front by Northern Iowa and were not getting blocks on the 2nd level. Wisconsin also failed to challenge Northern Iowa downfield despite 8 and 9 man boxes. While Danny O'Brien ended with a nice stat line, he is going to have to prove he can push the ball downfield to open up the running game.
I was right about Penn State's karma season. Nothing against the current players and coaches, but the NCAA made sure that Penn State would suffer and suffer immediately. It is going to be a long season in Happy Valley.
Predominant thought: The ACC Coastal Division appears to be a wide open race. Virginia Tech showed in Monday night's opener that they are a work in progress offensively. Just how long this work in progress takes will determine how wide open this division is. Georgia Tech impressed in a loss on a hostile environment, North Carolina looks to be an offensive force, Virginia will be right there and both Miami and Duke far exceeded expectations in week 1.
I was wrong about North Carolina State. Two years in a row I have selected an ACC team to make a leap toward potential BCS qualification and a top 10-15 program. A year ago Maryland rewarded me with a downright awful season. The Wolfpack are off to that kind of start after a lackluster showing that included 4 interceptions by their senior quarterback and a torching of their All-American cornerback. I think this will turn out better than Maryland, but NC State has to get it together and fast.
I was right about the long year ahead of Maryland. I was not going to be fooled twice by the crazy uniforms and a 7-6 win over William & Mary confirms this is a program headed in the wrong direction. Losing your starting quarterback before the season is never good, but when the expectations were already low, disaster is likely to follow.
Predominant thought: After one week is it too early to worry about Oklahoma? The Sooners are not the only team that struggled week 1, but they are the highest rated team to struggle. Landry Jones continues to make me wonder whether he was a product of Ryan Broyles. The Sooner defense played well, so maybe all is not lost in an overall lackluster performance.
I was wrong about West Virginia's title chances. Like Oklahoma State last year, a high-powered offense can make up for some defensive deficiencies. The Mountaineers look to have the top offense on the East Coast, if not the nation. The defense has some work and the Cowboys added an unreal turnover margin to their offense a year ago, but West Virginia has to be mentioned right now as Big 12 and National Title contenders.
I was right about the Big 12's non non-conference schedule. 9-0 after week 1 and headed toward 28-2 or 29-1. While the numbers look great, the strength behind those numbers is not very awe-inspiring. It will be interesting to see how a one-loss Big 12 team will compare on the computers this season. The good news is the strength at the top of this conference should boost those numbers and the Big 12 plays a full round-robin, so there are no Georgia-like schedules here.
Predominant thought: How many days until USC vs Oregon version 1? The SEC can get all Jonesed-up about their Alabama-LSU snoozefests, but this is the game I am most looking forward to this year and neither teams offense disappointed in week 1. The weapons that will be on display November 3rd will be unrivaled in any other College Football game this year. There are obvious trip-ups along the way, but I fully expect these two teams to battle it out for one of the spots in the National Title Game.
I was wrong about the immediate impact of Mike Leach on the Washington State offense. Or is BYU's defense just that good? The Cougars were stymied by BYU and make my positive outlook on the Washington State season seem a little ambitious. There is a lot of season left to play and the PAC-12 has plenty of mediocre teams to tussle with, I am just a little more unsure now where WSU fits in the mediocrity hierarchy.
I was right about Colorado. The Buffaloes are not a very good team and like Maryland, are in for a long year with about a 3 win ceiling.
Predominant thought: How good did Alabama look and why did I put them in the Cotton Bowl? The Tide were definitely the big winners week 1 and have taken a small lead over LSU in the race for SEC/World dominance. It is a long season though and I will stick to my guns that this team will lose along the way, but it has to be a team stout up front that makes AJ McCarron have to win the game for Bama. I thought Arkansas might have what it takes in a few weeks, but they don't fit the physical bill.
I was wrong about Tennessee. I thought the Vols were a bit over-rated coming into the season and would be ripe for the pickings by NC State. Oops. Tennessee was impressive on both sides, flashed some new weapons offensively and may well be a factor in the SEC East after all.
I was right about Florida. The Gators are a work in progress offensively and the defense was not as dominating as predicted in week 1. The schedule gets tougher now and this team doesn't appear ready to be an SEC East contender yet. In fact, I think Tennessee may have passed them by to the 3rd chair. Should be a good matchup September 15th when they meet at the checkerboards.
Predominant thought: Can a BCS team lose to an FCS school and still contend for their league title? Pittsburgh had the biggest "ouch" of the week losing to Youngstown State. The Big East appears to be a wide open race, but Pittsburgh's name has to have fallen out of the running based on Week 1. The Panthers now need to fight for bowl eligibility (with Notre Dame and Virginia Tech still on the non-conference schedule).
I was wrong about Pittsburgh. See above. I had them as co-champions. I would replace them with South Florida at this time.
I was right about Syracuse. The Orange(men) stay competitive in the Carrier Dome, but I don't expect the "W" column to get much action this year. Ryan Nassib is a very good quarterback, the 'Cuse just lacks the talent that their basketball counterparts are able to bring in annually.
The Notre Dame conference
Predominant thought: The Irish handled Navy better than expected, does this mean big things in South Bend this season? My current thought is maybe. The schedule looked to be a huge obstacle, but Stanford, Pittsburgh, Michigan and even Michigan State have to look slightly less daunting after week 1. This will be an interesting case to follow.
I was right about BYU. The Cougars ended 2011 playing extremely well, returned key veterans and actually have a defense in Provo. BYU and Ohio are my two BCS busters to watch. The key stretch for BYU is the Sat/Thur back-to-back featuring Utah and Boise State Sept 15/20.
Predominant thought: What a bad week for Conference USA. The usually competitive conference went 2-10, including losses to Texas State and Tennessee-Martin. The wins were against Akron and Appalachian State. The silver lining is that 7 losses were to BCS schools...by an average of 24 points.
I was wrong about Houston. The Cougars can thank Pittsburgh for taking some of the spotlight off their terrible loss to Texas State. A new coach and a new quarterback equalled no offense for Houston, who I had winning Conference USA. As you can see above, Houston is by know means alone and could still be a player in the title chase.
I was right about Ohio. The Bobcats did me proud and dispatched Penn State with a solid effort. Ohio, behind Tyler Tettleton and a very good defense, should be favored the rest of the way out, with road games against Marshall and Miami(OH) the apparent toughest tests. I am rooting for a 13-0 MAC teams to see if they qualify for the BCS.