How great was it to have a full opening weekend of college football? It all started with Ohio State kicking off their season with a win over Minnesota on Thursday, and the fun continued all the way through Monday night. It didn’t take long for upsets to make an appearance as North Carolina fell to Virginia Tech on Friday night, and LSU lost out in Pasadena on Saturday night.
Somethings went as expected over the weekend. Even though they have some new starters, Alabama didn’t look like they have missed a beat from last year’s team that won the national title, as they mauled Miami in Atlanta. Also, much like recent years, Oklahoma showed they have little interest in playing defense.
There’s always some surprises to start the season. That’s what happens after months of overanalyzing teams. Some shockers are also brought on by preseason rankings, which are flawed and more of a guessing game. This leads to some “upsets’ because a team has been overrated before the first kick of the football.
Today’s question: What surprised you the most over the weekend in college football?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Just how dreadful the Pac-12 North was
Thankfully Oregon barely squeaked by Fresno State, or the Oregon-Ohio State clash on Saturday would have lost some of its luster. The rest of the teams in the Pac-12 North started the season with some ugly losses. As if the Pac-12 conference wasn’t already dealing with enough respect issues, the northern division dug the hole a little deeper for everyone.
It all started with Stanford losing to Kansas State at JerryWorld. I mean it wasn’t the most surprising result in the world that Kansas State won, what was more surprising was just how bad Stanford looked. Remember when David Shaw was one of the best coaches in college football, and the Cardinal were a perennial top-10 team? Those days are long gone.
The most puzzling result in the division was Washington’s loss to Montana. Not that Montana is bad by any means, a lot more was just expected to Washington. Quarterback Dylan Morris threw three interceptions in the 13-7 loss. Now the Huskies have a tough trip to Ann Arbor to take on a Michigan team that has something to prove.
The other Pac-12 in Washington didn’t fare much better. Then again, it feels like Washington State loses their first game of the year on a yearly basis. It felt like head coach Nick Rolovich was already on thin ice in Pullman with his handling of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Now with his team losing to Utah State, it feels like Rolovich might not last the year with the Cougars. Things could get even uglier, as Wazzu still have to play USC and Utah before the end of the month.
Strangely enough, the most impressive result from a Pac-12 North team over the weekend was Oregon State losing at Purdue. At least the Beavers were competitive against a Power 5 team on the road. Not really anything to write home about, but it was better than pretty much everyone else in their division did to open up the season.
Meredith’s pick: How the ACC was almost as dreadful as the Pac-12 North
Brett — yes to everything you said.
In all, the six teams of the Pac-12 North went 1-5 in their openers. To recap the worst of it:
- Stanford fell to Kansas State 24-7
- Oregon State lost to Purdue by a score of 30-21
- Cal dropped its opener to Nevada 22-17
- Washington State lost to Utah State 26-23
- Washington (which was ranked) got beat 13-7 by Montana (an FCS team…)
The only positive note came from Oregon, which beat Fresno State by a rather unimpressive score of 31-24.
One of the things that becomes abundantly clear in the opening weeks of every football season is just how much preseason rankings get things so, so wrong (it’s almost like they don’t mean anything…). This past weekend was no exception. That being said, there were a number of results that were quite surprising. And because we need something to fight about this week, I’ll go with the similarly questionable collective performance of the ACC.
Sure, the conference had the odds stacked against them. No. 1 Alabama was 19.5-point favorites over No. 16 Miami (FL). The Crimson Tide emerged with a 44-13 dismantling of the Hurricanes. Then there was No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 5 Georgia, with the Bulldogs putting together a stifling defensive performance to defeat the Tigers 10-3, the game’s only touchdown coming on a Georgia pick-six. Oh, and No. 9 Notre Dame scraping by against Florida State in OT.
In all, the ACC went 0-3 in its premiere week one non-conference matchups. Louisville also dropped its opener to SEC foe Ole Miss Monday night.
But then there were the conference matchups that also went wonky, like No. 10 UNC falling to Virginia Tech 17-10.
Sure, some teams won the games they were supposed to:
- Boston College defeated Colgate 51-0
- Syracuse beat Ohio 29-9
- Pitt overcame UMass 51-7
- Virginia topped William and Mary 43-0
- Wake Forest crushed Old Dominion 42-10
- NC State shut out South Florida 45-0
But then there were some surprises, but the unpleasant kind (if you’re an ACC fan):
- Charlotte beating Duke 31-28
- Northern Illinois beating Georgia Tech 22-21
Yes, we have to account for some level of sloppiness in the first game for every team. But given the limited number of games we see during the college football season, even limited data points mean that real trends emerge early. And the trend we learned last weekend is that, with the Pac-12 North and ACC struggling, the Big Ten looks positioned to be the second-best conference top-to-bottom in the Power Five.