Week 1 Rewind

Published on Sept. 4, 2012, at 1:58 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Alabama may have lost a lot of talent from last year’s national-title squad, but it looked every bit the part of a team determined to become the first to repeat during the BCS Era. The Crimson Tide raced out to a 21-0 lead before Michigan fans could get comfortable in their seats at Cowboys Stadium.

Nick Saban’s bunch was relentless, taking a 31-0 lead on C.J. Mosley’s pick-six of Denard Robinson with 4:31 left until halftime. That quickly, that early, this game was over.

And it was never in doubt. If ‘Bama fans envisioned an assbeating in Arlington, well, that’s exactly what they got. And it looked easy.

A.J. McCarron picked up right where he left off at the Superdome less than eight months ago, throwing a pair of touchdown passes in the first quarter of a 41-14 win. Freshman sensation T.J. Yeldon needed only 11 carries for 111 rushing yards and one touchdown.

As for Saban’s defense that lost six starters and four players to the first round of the NFL Draft, it acquitted itself quite well. Just ask Robinson, who rushed for only 27 yards and completed merely 11-of-26 passes and was intercepted twice.

Arkansas better be ready when the Tide comes to Fayetteville in Week 3.

Oregon failed to cover the number in a 57-34 win over Arkansas St. in Gus Malzahn’s debut, but nobody should be fooled by that misleading final score. The Ducks sprinted out to a 50-3 lead midway through the second quarter thanks to three TDs from De’Anthony Thomas (one rushing, two receiving) and a pair of TD runs from Kenjon Barner.

Matt Barkley threw four TD passes in USC’s 49-10 win over Hawaii, but Norm Chow’s team covered the number as a 42-point underdog. Likewise, LSU came up short in its bid to please its backers in a 41-14 win over North Texas. Les Miles’s bunch hosts Washington next week, while the Trojans venture to the Meadowlands to face Syracuse.

Speaking of the ‘Cuse, QB Ryan Nassib rallied his team from a 35-13 deficit into a 41-35 advantage late in the fourth quarter vs. Northwestern at the Carrier Dome. Nassib threw for 470 yards and four second-half TD passes, but the Wildcats prevailed 42-41 when Trevor Siemian found Demetrius Fields on a nine-yard scoring strike in the final minute.

Northwestern will host Vanderbilt this week after the Commodores lost a 17-13 decision to South Carolina on Thursday. James Franklin’s team managed to take the cash as a 6 ½-point underdog, but Marcus Lattimore rushed for 110 yards and two TDs for the Gamecocks, who will host East Carolina and might be without QB Connor Shaw (‘questionable’ as of Tuesday with a bruised shoulder).

There were four ranked teams that looked awful but found ways to scratch out sketchy victories. This quartet included Florida, Stanford, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, each of whom was lucky to dodge upset bids from the likes of Bowling Green, San Jose St., No. Iowa and UTEP, respectively.

Michigan St. had to overcome three interceptions by new starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell to rally past Boise St. for a 17-13 win. Le’Veon Bell carried the Spartans to victory with 44 carries for 210 yards and two TDs, including a five-yard scamper for the go-ahead score with 8:12 remaining.

Clemson was without star WR Sammy Watkins for its lid-lifter against Auburn at the Ga. Dome. Senior RB Andre Ellington rushed for 231 yards and Tajh Boyd threw for 201 yards and one TD, as Dabo Swinney’s squad knocked off Auburn 23-16 as a 2 ½-point ‘chalk.’

FSU cruised to an easy win over Murray St, but star DE Brandon Jenkins (8 sacks in 2011) was lost for the season with a broken foot. Staying in the ACC, Va. Tech needed a 41-yard field goal by Cody Journell on the last play of regulation to force overtime at home against Ga. Tech. Then the Hokies’ Kyle Fuller intercepted Tevin Washington on a 3rd-and-goal play to start OT and set up Journell’s game-winning FG for a 20-17 triumph.

Louisville looked like the team to beat in the Big East after spanking Kentucky 32-14 as a 14-point home favorite Sunday at Papa John’s Stadium. Watch out for the Cardinals, who have an improving sophomore QB in Teddy Bridgewater that appears to have the makings of a star player.

The Urban Meyer Era in Columbus got off to a slow start when Ohio St. trailed Miami (OH.) 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. But that deficit was erased fast and the Buckeyes dominated the final three stanzas en route to a 56-10 victory.

Notre Dame pleased all of Ireland by trouncing Navy 50-10 as a 15 ½-point favorite in Dublin. Theo Riddick rushed 19 times for 107 yards and two TDs to pace the Irish, who face three consecutive Big Ten foes in the coming weeks.

Houston and Pitt were the most embarrassing performers of Week 1. The Cougars were favored by 34.5 against Texas St. in its FBS debut, but the Bobcats were dominant in a 30-13 win. They can make even more noise this week when Texas Tech visits San Marcos. (By the way, Texas St. is coached by none other than Dennis Franchione, who is no longer a popular man in College Station or Tuscaloosa.)

Youngstown St. went into Heinz Field and ruined the debut of new Pitt head coach Paul Chryst, the former Wisconsin offensive coordinator. The Panthers lost by a 31-17 count.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–Jeff Tedford’s hot seat at Cal got even warmer Saturday when Nevada went into newly-renovated Memorial Stadium and captured a 31-24 win as a 12-point underdog. Stefphon Jefferson was a workhorse for the Wolf Pack, rushing 34 times for 145 yards and three TDs, including the game winner from two yards out with 36 ticks left. Cody Fajardo completed 25-of-32 passes for 230 yards and also rushed for 97 yards on 21 carries. Nevada hosts South Florida in Week 2.

–With its 32-14 loss at Louisville as a 14-point underdog, Kentucky fell to 2-7 ATS as a road ‘dog on Joker Phillips’ watch. The Cardinals yanked star sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater late in the third quarter, as Charlie Strong clearly didn’t want to embarrass his friend across the sidelines, one that’s feeling the heat in Lexington. Bridgewater looked outstanding by completing 19-of-21 passes for 232 yards.

Biggest Winners of Week 1:

Biggest Losers of Week 1:
5-North Carolina St.

Best Week 2 Games:
1-Georgia at Missouri
2-Nebraska at UCLA
3-South Florida at Nevada
4-Florida at Texas A&M
5-Oklahoma St. at Arizona

Heisman Rankings:
1-Matt Barkley (USC)
2-Geno Smith (West Va.)
3-Le’Veon Bell (Michigan St.)
4-Tyler Wilson (Arkansas)
5-Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina)

–Toledo came up short in its bid to spoil R-Rod’s debut at Arizona, as the Wildcats won 24-17 in overtime. Gamblers should note the travel for the Rockets in back-to-back weeks, as they go to Wyoming this Saturday as three-point underdogs. Meanwhile, R-Rod’s bunch will take on Oklahoma St., which beat Savannah 84-0 in its opener. As of Tuesday, the Cowboys were favored by 13 at Arizona.

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