Week 1 is officially in the books - and from massive upsets to statement wins to freshman heroics... it felt like this weekend had just about everything.
So, what were my primary takeaways from college football's first full slate of games? Let's find out...
Well, Oklahoma sure shut me up
All right, I’ll admit it: my prediction that Oklahoma should be on upset watch against Houston was… let’s call it premature.
Far from struggling against the Cougars, the Sooners had this one sewn up basically from the get go - scoring on two out of their first three drives and making the Houston secondary look absolutely ridiculous all day long. The star of the day was, unsurprisingly, Jalen Hurts. The Alabama transfer ended his day with over 500 yards of total offense and six total touchdowns (three throwing, three rushing) - thereby immediately throwing himself into the Heisman conversation this season.
But while Hurts will (deservedly) get most of the acclaim, let’s also not forget about the defense, which - under the new leadership of Alex Grinch - held a potent Houston offense to just 10 first half points on 158 yards (the Cougars averaged 571 yards per game a season ago). And while Houston would end up getting some late runs, by that point it was long since over.
But more than just showing me how wrong I was, this was a statement to the rest of the country that Oklahoma won't just be continuing business as usual following the loss of Kyler Murray… they might actually be better. They’ll be taking on FCS South Dakota, then will head west to take on UCLA before the Big 12 schedule kicks off - so expect a lot more points and a lot more hype coming from Norman in the weeks ahead...
The legend of Bo Nix begins
What did you do your first week of college? Maybe meet some new friends? Explore campus? Lead your football team to a comeback victory against college football’s 11th-ranked team in front of 100,000 people and a national TV audience?
Was that last one just Bo Nix? Thought so.
Yes, get used to hearing that name, because after Saturday, it looks as though we have a new true freshman QB to get excited about this season.
Nix led the Tigers into Dallas on Saturday night for his first collegiate start, and while he looked (understandably) shaky at times as a passer - beginning late in the third quarter, with Auburn down 21-6… we saw something pretty special.
Nix’s stat line won’t look remarkable (13 for 31 for 177 yards, two touchdowns and two INTs), but four his completions came on the final drive - in addition to a tremendous fourth down conversion run. His two touchdown passes to Anthony Schwartz and Seth Williams, respectively, started and ended the comeback, and by the time the final whistle blew - The Plains had a new song to sing.
Conversely, there will be plenty of head-scratching out west in Oregon and the rest of the Pac-12 - this is the second year in a row that Auburn has taken down the preseason championship pick (they beat Washington in Week 1 a year ago), and it’s a loss that will still sting four months from now during bowl season.
QB Justin Herbert played well, completing 28 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown - but Auburn’s defense was able to hold the Ducks scoreless from the 9:43 mark of the third quarter onward, and as fantastic as Bo Nix was at the end… you kind of got the feeling that Oregon had a chance to put this game away early in this match-up.
Georgia State FTW
Unless you’re residing in the Knoxville area, this is your feel-good story of the week.
Georgia State, a Sun Belt team coming off of a 2-10 season in 2018, rode into Neyland Stadium a 25 point underdog - having never beaten a Power Five school.
They rode out victorious.
QB Dan Ellington went just 11-24 for 131 yards - but he led his team to 17 straight points following a fumble in the fourth quarter to seal the deal for the Panthers. It’s the first time an SEC team has lost as a 25+ point favorite since Mississippi State lost to Alabama State in 2016, per ESPN.
For Tennessee… this one is tough to swallow. Sure, there was uncertainty surrounding their program following a 5-7 season that saw them win only two conference games. But they ranked 2nd in returning production, thanks in large part to their continuity… well… basically everywhere. Their starting QB, Jarrett Guarantano, was back - as were all of his wide receivers - along with basically the entire RB core, and a slew contributors defensively.
The only place without tons of returners for Tennessee was on the defensive line, where they lost virtually everyone heading into the season. And, you guessed it - that’s where Georgia State focused their attention; their 213 yards and three touchdowns on the ground would be the difference.
Hats off to the Panthers for the weekend’s most shocking victory - and as for the Volunteers, I suppose, it will be back to the drawing board.
Football may be underway, but we’ve still got places to STAY!
Don’t miss your chance to get closer to all of the action this season with Rent Like A Champion - college football’s largest game day home rental platform!
Click below to search from all of our homes close to your destination in 2019...
An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to Georgia State as Georgia Southern - this has since been corrected.