College Football, Week 1 — 4 Winners, 4 Losers

The "hot seat" cooled off for both of these guys this past weekend.
The "hot seat" cooled off for both of these guys this past weekend.
Diane C McDonald, wikimedia commons / University of Texas Athletics

The greatest college football opening weekend of all time — that's what everyone was calling it. Did it live up to the hype? For the most part, yes. In the state of Texas, it absolutely did.

The Oklahoma-Houston game was an incredible atmosphere and a program-elevating win. The Aggies and Longhorns almost spit the bit, but the games had crazy great drama. How did the rest of the world fare? Let's take a look...

WINNERS

4. The "little guy"
I actually pondered dedicating a "WINNERS" bullet point each week to an FCS or Group of Five school that pulls off the biggest upset and calling it the Appalachian State Award, in honor of the Mountaineers' 2007 win over Michigan, still the most improbable "David over Goliath" in my college-football-watching lifetime. Little did I know that the first winner of the award would almost actually BE Appalachian State. (Butch Jones, you escape artist, you!)

Instead, we have several nominees:

* Richmond over UVA, 37-20, in what had to be a massive party for the Spider faithful
* Western Michigan over Northwestern, 22-21, in a MAC attack! 
* Army over Temple, 28-13...AAC! AAC! AAC!
* Eastern Washington over Washington State, 45-42, the second straight year Mike Leach opens with an FCS loss

But the winner this week is South Alabama, who beat Mississippi State, 21-20, on a TD pass in the final minute. Really sorry to see it happen to such a swell fella as Dan Mullen.  

3. Lane Kiffin
Look, I'm putting Kiffin in here because he was undoubtedly one of the huge winners of the weekend, any way you slice it. He coordinated an offense that put up almost 500 yards and tallied 52 points against a pretty talented USC defense. Of course, it was just a few years ago that then-USC AD Pat Haden was firing Kiffin on the tarmac outside the USC private plane in the middle of the night after another conference loss. So, good for Kiffin! That said, let's not act like he was somehow wronged by USC...Kiffin was an abysmal head coach, and a somewhat embarrassing representative of the school. Not as embarrassing as his successor, Steve Sarkisian, but still...(By the way, Nick Saban has hired Sarkisian for a consultant role on his offensive staff. Nick getting the Pete Carroll band back together!)

2. Nick Chubb
We love seeing kids come back from gruesome injuries for which they weren't paid a salary to sustain, so therefore, we love Georgia tailback Nick Chubb, who announced his return to college football magnificently on Saturday evening, with 222 yards rushing and the first real GambleCast moment of 2016, a 55-yard TD run with 3:34 left in the game to cover the three-point spread, in a 33-24 win over North Carolina. Chubb put himself into the early lead for the 2016 Heisman, along with Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Houston's Greg Ward Jr.

1. Cougar fans
Hey, look, I know speculating about future coaching jobs for Tom Herman can be dicey business, believe me. However, it's going to be a thing so long as he keeps smoking top ten schools by double digits every time the Coogs play one. The good news for Houston is that two of the jobs everyone assumes Herman would take (and I am stressing "ASSUMES," because he might not take either, if offered), Texas and Texas A&M, saw both of their embattled head coaches notch big wins over ranked teams at home in overtime this past weekend, A&M over UCLA, 31-24, and Texas over Notre Dame, 50-47, in the game of the weekend. If Les Miles can just stop losing to double-digit underdogs, Coog fans may actually be able to start breathing easy. Speaking of which...

LOSERS

4. Les Miles
…here are Les Miles's recruiting rankings from Rivals.com since 2008, the first season in which it's essentially all his own recruits playing for him:

2008: 11th 
2009: 2nd 
2010: 6th 
2011: 6th 
2012: 18th  
2013: 6th 
2014: 2nd
2015: 8th 
2016: 5th 

That's an average ranking of around 7th. Now, here are LSU's total offense rankings among FBS schools in that same timeframe:

2008: 55th
2009: 112th
2010: 86th
2011: 86th
2012: 87th 
2013: 35th
2014: 80th
2015: 39th
2016: 116th (after one game, but still... it was a big game, Focker!) 

That's an average ranking of around 77th, aided greatly by "robust" finishes of 35th and 39th in 2013 and 2015, respectively. If the day comes when Les Miles gets fired — and it almost came last season — this will be the reason why: wildly talented, "Porsche" recruiting classes cranking out offenses that run like a Dodge Neon. 

3. The dirtbags who burglarized the Foltz family
For those who don't know the Foltz story, he was a punter for the Nebraska Cornhuskers who was killed in a car accident this past summer returning from a kicking camp with two other college kickers. Absolutely heartbreaking. So, in one of the coolest gestures of the weekend, Nebraska took a delay of game penalty by having only ten men on the field for their first punt, and in an even cooler gesture, Fresno State declined the penalty...

Unfortunately, some dirtbags ruined the day by doing this (post from Foltz's brother's Facebook account)

“These past few weeks have been some of the most hard, tiring, emotional and trying times I've ever ran up against in my thirty years on this earth as I lost a friend a role model and most importantly a brother. And tonight as we celebrated and mourned my brother for all he accomplished in his career as a Person a Nebraskan and a Husker in Lincoln some (s—- bag) was back here in our home town breaking into my house and my vehicles probably seeing our family as a easy target as we were all in Lincoln.”

Enjoy your stolen goods, scumbags. 

2. People who paid for this game...
I'm not one of those new-wave football snobs who feel like there needs to be a ton of offense for a game to have been "exciting." I like a good slobberknocker as much as the next guy. That said, sometimes you can tell just by the final score that a game was truly horrific. I don't even need to watch the replay of this game to tell you it might end up being the worst game of the season: 

WAKE FOREST 7, TULANE 3 

The two teams COMBINED for 455 yards and 24 first downs, and here's the thing — there was only one turnover in the game, and that happened on Tulane's final possession of the game as it was trying to take the lead. That means that this thing was just a three-and-out punt-fest that set football back about five decades. Worse still, the game wasn't even a home game for Tulane, which would have at least allowed for the option to leave at halftime and go to Harrah's or Pat O'Brien's or some strip club in the French Quarter. Just horrible all the way around!

1. Penn State
Man, these people again...so Penn State issued a press release last week saying that the school would be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno's coaching debut at the September 17 game against Temple. Apparently, the nature of the "celebration" is unknown and will be unknown until they gauge the outrage on social media for the next few days September 15:

"The nature of the commemoration is not yet clear, with Penn State sports information head Jeff Nelson telling Philly.com Thursday that “it will be Sept. 15 for more details.” The event was, however, among a list of “2016 Football Promotions” slated for the Sept. 17 game."

Perhaps the best suggestion I saw was a moment of silence...since that was Paterno's go-to move when it came to covering for an infamous child predator, his defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky. 

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.  


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