The 2012 college football season got underway this past week on campuses across the country and even abroad. There was no shortage of exciting finishes, blowout victories and stunning upsets, with a few off-the-wall ones mixed in. Let’s review the ups and downs of this past week.
Oklahoma State Bombs Savannah State
The Cowboys are retooling following the departure of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, both first-round selections in the NFL Draft. What better way to get healthy than by destroying a creampuff opponent like Savannah State, a school that was 4-72 against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponents? Savannah State got $385,000 for their first game against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school, while the Cowboys got an 84-0 victory, the most lopsided for the school since 1916.
In what was supposed to be an easy transition game from Coach Kevin Sumlin and quarterback Case Keenum to Tony Levine and David Piland didn’t pan out that way for the Cougars. The school was thumped 30-13 by FBS newcomer Texas State. The Cougars gave up 444 yards of offense and fell behind 27-10 at the half. Piland struggled in his first start since 2010, completing 17 of 44 throws for 211 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Pitt Humbled by Youngstown State
Continuing a trend in this weekend’s action, Pitt was clipped by a school that should have been outclassed. Youngstown State, a perennial power in FCS play, handled the Panthers 31-17 on Pitt’s home field in the debut of Pitt head coach Paul Chryst. The victory marked Youngstown State’s first win over a FBS school and was Pitt’s first defeat at the hands of a FCS team. Chryst suspended six players, including freshman running back Rushel Shell, Pennsylvania’s all-time rushing leader for high schools.
Wrong Way Parker
Kent State’s Andre Parker made “Sportscenter” but it wasn’t for a game changing play, a big hit or a spectacular catch. Parker picked up a muffed punt and returned it 58 yards – in the wrong direction. He was forced out of bounds by Towson players, though the play didn’t impact the game; NCAA rules state that muffed punts cannot be advanced. The ball was returned to the Towson seven yard line with Kent State maintaining possession. Kent State was victorious, 41-21.
Ranked Teams Scuffle Against Heavy Underdogs
There was no shortage of games that were far closer than they should have been. Several ranked teams struggled against heavy underdogs late into their season opening contests, leaving plenty of questions about their rank and whether they can be legitimate BCS contenders this season.
The sixth ranked Georgia Bulldogs were a 37.5 point favorite over the University of Buffalo, but the Bulldogs were smacked around by the Bulls by halftime. Georgia led by a mere eight points at 24-16 and Buffalo had outgained Georgia. Georgia rallied in the second half, giving them a comfortable 45-23 win, but it was by no means pretty.
Fourth-ranked Oklahoma was favored by 30 points over UTEP but was leading by merely a field goal as the fourth quarter got underway. The Sooners trailed 7-0 after a blocked punt was returned for a score before taking a 10-7 halftime lead. Oklahoma eventually prevailed 24-7 in an underachieving performance by a Big 12 power.
Stanford, ranked number 21 in the land, scuffled in their first game in the post-Andrew Luck era. The Cardinal needed a fourth quarter field goal to edge San Jose State, 20-17. By comparison, Stanford beat the Spartans 57-3 a year ago. Twelfth-ranked Wisconsin led Northern Iowa 26-7 early in the fourth quarter but had to hold on to get a 26-21 win. The win was not secured until Northern Iowa turned the ball over on downs at the Badgers 41 with 2:46 remaining.
Alabama Back at Number One: The Crimson Tide, who won the BCS National Championship a year ago, ascended to the number one ranking in the polls after being second in the preseason. Alabama obliterated number eight Michigan 41-14 in Dallas. Alabama jumped to a 31-0 lead and shut down Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, holding him to 11 of 26 passing for 200 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Robinson was limited to 27 yards rushing in the game. Alabama supplanted USC as the top team in the country; USC handled Hawaii 49-10.
What was your favorite moment of the opening week of college football?