Friday, I compared the weekend’s upcoming games to Ashley Judd movies that had great previews but were actually sucky. After watching this first weekend of college football, I confess my error. This was actually a good first weekend of good football with some thrillers, some upsets, and some runaways. So, instead of a Twisted weekend, this was actually more a Heat weekend.
Let’s start the review here in Houston where three new head coaches debuted. Kevin Sumlin’s Houston Cougars came out and stomped Southern University on Saturday night, winning the game 55-3 before a shockingly big crowd of 26,955. The victory was the highest-scoring coaching debut in UH history. 2007 C-USA Freshman of the Year Case Keenum was 33-for-43 for 392 yards and five touchdown passes in only three quarters of play. The receiving star was Mark Hafner, who caught two of the TDs and finished with 103 receiving yards. The Cougars totaled 615 yards on offense, including 467 through the air, with 11 different receivers catching at least one pass, including Blake Joseph, who is Keenum’s backup. And the defense only surrendered 252 yards for the entire game.
SMU’s new head coach June Jones bought his ponies to Rice Stadium for a nationwide ESPN game against the Rice Owls on Friday night. SMU jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead before a large Rice crowd of 23,164. But Rice proceeded to put up 28 unanswered points and pulled away with the 56-27 victory. Rice QB Chase Clement and Rice receiver Jarrett Dillard picked up this season where they left off in 2007. Clement passed for 258 yards and six touchdowns, two of which were caught by Dillard. The duo has now connected on 35-career touchdowns, which is the second highest total in NCAA history.
Things didn’t get off to such a good start for TSU and new coach Johnnie Cole, as they lost to Prairie View 34-14 at Reliant Stadium in this year’s edition of the Labor Day Classic. Prairie View has now won four of the last five games against TSU, and they won this one by allowing TSU’s so-called HIBO (High Octane, Big Play Offense) only 113 yards and nine first downs.
The Longhorns got the season off to a good start in Austin on Saturday night as not only did they shut down Florida Atlantic 52-10 before a record crowd of 98,053, but the Horns also experienced their first arrest and suspension of the season as defensive tackle Lamarr Houston was arrested and charged with DWI following a two-car accident near downtown Austin early Sunday morning, then suspended for at least the next game. But I’m sure all of the Longhorn fans are willing to forget about that as the Texas Aggies and new coach Mike Sherman were upset by Arkansas State 18-14. The fun part of the Aggies’ upset is that A&M jumped out to 14-3 lead in the first half, but with the help of four second-half turnovers, gave the game away. This snapped the Aggies 20-game home winning streak.
The high-octane offense of Texas Tech led the Red Raiders to a disappointing 49-24 victory of Eastern Washington. Tech QB Graham Harrell passed for 536 yards, threw for two TDs and ran for another while going 43-for-58. But All-American receiver Michael Crabtree was held to only nine catches for 73 yards and one TD. Tech also set a team record by committing 18 penalties for 169 yards.
THE JOHN ROYAL WEEK ONE TOP TWENTY-FIVE:
1. USC Trojans: demolished Virginia, in Virginia, by a score of 52-7.
2. Oklahoma Sooners: beat up on Chattanooga 57-2.
3. Missouri Tigers: playing a real team, they beat the Illinois Fighting Illini 52-42.
4. Georgia Bulldogs: defeated Georgia Southern 45-21.
5. LSU Tigers: their game time was changed because of Hurricane Gustav, but that didn’t stop LSU from getting the 41-13 win over Appalachian State.
6. Ohio State Buckeyes: were only able to defeat Youngstown State 43-0, so I dropped them three spots from my preseason rankings.
7. West Virginia Mountaineers: cruised to an easy 48-21 win over Villanova.
8. BYU Cougars: BYU is my BCS gate-crasher pick for this year, and they started things off with 41-17 win over Northern Iowa.
9. Oregon Ducks: The Ducks and their ugly uniforms beat up on Washington 44-10.
10. Florida Gators: Hawaii should have never left the island – Florida 56, Hawaii 10.
11. Texas Tech Red Raiders: Should have had a bigger victory, so I dropped them a spot.
12. Kansas Jayhawks: Beat Florida International 40-10.
13. Texas Longhorns: Congrats on the first win, and the first arrest.
14. Wisconsin Badgers: I didn’t know Wisconsin was capable of scoring 38 points. Wisconsin 38, Akron 17.
15. South Florida Bulls: Bulled their way to a 56-7 victory over Tennessee-Martinsville.
16. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Ruined Art Briles debut at Baylor 41-13.
17. Utah Utes: Did I or did I not tell you that Utah would beat Michigan? Thus I’m moving Utah up eight spots in my poll.
18. Alabama Crimson Tide: Pulled off the stunner, 34-10, over highly-ranked Clemson, thus I’m moving the Tide up four spots.
19. Auburn Tigers: Easily handled Louisiana-Monroe, 34-0.
20. Arizona State Sun Devils: Defeated Northern Arizona 30-13.
21. Boise State Broncos: 49-7 victor over Idaho.
22. TCU Horned Frogs: Beat New Mexico 26-3.
23. UCLA Bruins: Former UCLA QB Rick Neuheisel returns to coach his alma mater, and UCLA pulls off the stunning upset, defeating Tennessee 27-24 in overtime.
24. Illinois Fighting Illini: I’m keeping in the Top 25 because they lost to a ranked team.
25. Clemson Tigers: See Illinois, though if the Tigers play another game like this, I will probably drop them.
And my two favorite teams of the week are Bowling Green, which upset AP-Top 25 ranked Pittsburgh 27-17, and East Carolina, which upset AP-Top 25 ranked Virginia Tech 27-22 by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown with under two minutes left in the game. – John Royal