With college football season back in swing, what better time to awaken College Sports Town from its summer-long slumber? Yes, we are still kicking here at College Sports Town, and we’re pumped that the big hits of college football season are back, with the crisp air of fall well on its way. Here are a handful of notes and thoughts through four days of college football season.
-The Big Ten didn’t have a great weekend. Which should not be that surprising because, outside of Ohio State and Michigan State, the league simply isn’t very good. Penn State, Michigan, and Nebraska are all 0-1, and Penn State got drilled by Temple. All three of those schools were supposed to represent dark horses in the league. Wisconsin did not look ready for prime time against Alabama Saturday night. Bright Spots included Northwestern and Minnesota, which both looked the part of contenders in the talent-dry Big Ten West. Minnesota fell to TCU 23-17, but was hardly a pushover. NU meanwhile dominated Stanford up front in a 16-6 victory. Stanford probably is not all that great (unclear why they were ranked), but the Cats’ O-line looked vastly improved against the Cardinal’s vaunted front seven. The OSU-MSU race in the Big Ten East should keep the mediocre B1G relevant, but the soft underbelly of the conference is likely to keep dragging the conference down in 2015. It would be big for the league if somebody–anybody–emerged as a serious national player from the West division.
-News flash: the SEC is not going anywhere. The (relative) struggles of America’s most dominant conference made for a common storyline going into this year, with non-SEC teams winning the last two national titles, but the truth is the SEC was far and away the best and deepest conference in football last year. That’s not changing any time soon, either. The SEC flexed its muscles this weekend, with Alabama cruising by Wisconsin, Texas A&M blowing out 15th ranked Arizona State, and Auburn knocking off Louisville. Every SEC team that played won, aside from Vanderbilt…and the Commodores don’t really count anyway, do they?
-Bold Prediction: Oregon is going to fall off the face of the earth this year. Or at least out of the top 25. The Ducks showed some defensive cracks in their 61-42 win over Eastern Washington Saturday. Am I overreacting to a game that I didn’t even watch against one of best programs in the FCS? Maybe. Or maybe key personnel losses along the back line of their defense have left the Ducks vulnerable. We’ll see just how vulnerable they are when OU heads to East Lansing next week to face the potent passing attack of Michigan State. I expect the Ducks to get lit up. And I think they might be headed for their first single digit win season since ’07.
-We didn’t get a lot of compelling college football this weekend. Sure, it’s nice for the sport to be back, but I can’t remember an opening weekend with so few must-see games. Things got off to a rough start Thursday with UNC and South Carolina playing a sloppy game in prime time on ESPN. Both teams, unranked, looked mediocre at best. Michigan played Utah on Fox Sports 1, but that game also featured less than elite majors. Minnesota came to play against TCU, which was the best game of the night, but a 16 point Vegas spread for the game shows that it wasn’t exactly expected to be GameDay material. Saturday brought the typical barrage of FBS vs. FCS battles. Wisconsin vs. Alabama was the only game pitting ranked teams against each other. Sure, the Virginia Tech-Ohio State game tonight should be popcorn material, but college football fans deserve more than one game between ranked teams on opening weekend.
-Kansas State’s band’s got (wildly inappropriate) jokes!