Monday, 2 September 2013

2013 FCB Week 1 review

And we are off.  The race for the final BCS National Championship before the inaugural four team play-off next year has began in earnest.

Week One in College Football is a rare monster, not as traditional as Opening Day in Baseball, not as glamorous as week 1 of the NFL season yet due to the ESPN monster it is just as hyped an event.  These are the stars of the NFL future, although amateur by definition they are as feted as former college now NFL stars Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

Last year was Year One of Johnny Football and the huge rotation of Jadeveon Clowney's monster hit in January led to him being earmarked as the next Lawrence Taylor or Ray Lewis.  Fittingly, it was Clowney and his side, South Carolina Gamecocks who opened up the College Football season at home to North Carolina Tar Heels.  The Gamecocks scored on their opening drive, a huge 65 yard TD pass from Conor Shaw to Shaq Roland gave the #7 ranked Gamecocks a lead they never relinquished, winning 27-10.  The Tar Heels offered little on offence, a blessing considering Clowney's sub-par performance where he had no sacks and only three first half tackles.  An upset stomach was apparently too blame, although the humidity at the 6pmEST kick-off could be as much at fault.

National Champions, Alabama Crimson Tide opened on neutral territory at the Georgia Dome versus the Virginia Tech Hokies.  Although the scoreline looks lopsided 35-10, the Tide were helped by Christian Jones scoring a kickoff return TD, a punt return TD and a reception TD for 256 total yards.  The Hokies exposed a new offensive line for Alabama who lost three four-year starters to the draft this year; they packed the box with eight defenders prompting confusion and panic for QB AJ McCarron who finished with 10-23, 110 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.  The same packed box allowed RB TJ Yeldon 75 yards of the 96 total rushing yards.

They may be National Champions but even champions have some weaknesses that were exposed and need rectifying before next week's huge match-up versus Texas A&M Aggies and Johnny Manziel.

Following on from his NCAA squabble about signing for paid autographs, Manziel was punished with having to sit out the first half of their home opener versus Rice.  At half time the Aggies needed him as they held a slender 28-21 lead over the unfancied Rice Owls.  Manziel answered the call with three TD passes to help them come out 52-31 victors.  Manziel seems to have this aura about him off the field which cannot be put into question in spite of his off-the-field behaviour.

Oregon may have lost Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles, but for new Head Coach Mark Helfrich it is the same old story as they decimated Nicholls State College 66-3 with three players having 100+ yard games rushing including QB Marcus Mariota had 113 yards in addition to his 234 passing yards.  The Ducks had 772 total offensive yards and remain favourites for the Pac 12 title this season with Mariota an under the radar Heisman selection.

Fresh for bowl eligibility this season, Urban Meyer hopes to lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to the National Championship after going undefeated last season.  They opened on Saturday with a 40-20 home victory over Buffalo Bulls.  Braxton Miller went 15-22, 178 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT but the impressive performance was RB Jordan Hall who had 2 TDs for 159 yards off 21 carries. However, there were moments of worry for the Buckeyes that many better teams would have taken advantage of.

However, that is why many ranked sides open up against easy opposition to give them the opportunity to iron out any creases on both sides of the ball in a real game time situation.  Some choose to open with a tougher opponent such as LSU Tigers who played Big 12 TCU at Cowboys Stadium and proved victorious 37-27 for a big non-conference win before the conference slate begins.  QB Zach Mettenberger went 16-32 for 251 yards, 1 TD and crucially no turnovers for the senior man, as his side had 448 total yards.  TCU led by Gary Patterson have been touted as a side who can step up and mix with the big boys of the SEC, whilst they did themselves justice they only had 259 total yards so to lose by only 10 points was some marker of their intentions and the grit in the side.  This close encounter was the game of the weekend.

And just behind was Georgia 35 Clemson 38 with two good QBs Aaron Murray and Taj Boyd trading blows but with Boyd coming out on top.  Clemson reside in the ACC but are now in the Championship talk after defeating an SEC side.  Boyd - who along with Teddy Bridgewater (see below) is NFL bound - had 270 yards passing and 3 TDs and also ran for two close to goal TDs for five in total.  Murray had 323 yards passing but one crucial INT with no TDs; and again he came up short in the big game versus a ranked opponent being sacked four times in the process. The Tigers of Clemson made sure their roar was heard on Saturday, expect them to replace Georgia as the #5 ranked side in country come Monday with the new rankings.

Sunday night, another Heisman favourite Teddy Bridgewater the No.1 ranked QB prospect for the NFL draft in 2014 started his campaign with his Louisville Cardinals as they attempt to seek perfection to get to the National Championship.  They made short work of the Ohio Bobcats winning 49-7 at home with Bridgewater going 355 passing yards and 5 TDs.  Louisville play in the ACC, a weak conference in comparison to the SEC, Big 10, Big 12 and Pac 12, they also have a weak schedule so need to run the table and hope teams lose games to their advantage.

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