Welcome to another glorious season of college football where football isn’t a past time, it’s a way of life. There’s nothing like the kickoff weekend of a new college football season as the excitement for the possibility of what could be in this new season encompasses you.
What an outstanding opening weekend it was. The first week of the 2016 College Football season was filled with some expected routs by top five squads, moments of inspirations, and upsets galore, including and crushing defeats dealt to two of the nation’s top teams.
We’re recapping week one of the 2016 College Football season:
Two Top 5 Teams Suffer Crushing Defeats
Upset season come early. Really early. As in this hasn’t happened in a long time. For the first time since 1972, two teams in College Football’s top five ranking lost in the first week of play. No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 5 LSU were both dealt crushing defeats that no doubt have put their hopes for making it into the College Football Playoff a little harder but not impossible.
No. 15 Houston upset the No. 3-ranked Sooners 33-23 in a defeat that wasn’t so surprising when you look at the talent of Houston and the other upsets they’ve dealt, including defeating Florida State in the Peach Bowl.
But the weekend’s biggest shocker came at the historic Lambeau Field where Wisconsin played host to No. 5 LSU. No one gave Wisconsin much of a chance — except Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was the lone person to pick Wisconsin to win on College Gameday. But the Badgers came out, played hard, and made big plays when it needed to in order to stun the No. 5 Tigers.
While Oklahoma and LSU’s hopes to reach the College Football Playoff got a little tougher, they’re not eliminated from contention. Look no further than last year’s National Champions Alabama, who rebounded from a 43-37 loss to Ole Miss in week three in 2015 to reach the title game and win big. So while this week’s stunning upsets might feel like the end of the road, make no mistake it’s not. There’s still plenty of football left to be played.
Texas Upsets No. 10 Notre Dame Behind Freshmen QB Duo
No one in the AP’s Top 10 Preseason rankings were safe in the opening weekend of college football’s new season. Following two stunning defeats of No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 5 LSU, No. 10 Notre Dame looked to avoid a similar fate as it traveled to Austin to take on the rebounding Texas Longhorns.
In a game that was as every bit as crazy as one would expect in this insane opening weekend, the Longhorns upset the No. 10 Irish 50-47 in double overtime. The game was a seesaw battle throughout and it was never out of reach for either team.
The Longhorns rode their two-quarterback tandem with freshmen Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes in the victory, and neither quarterback resembled a freshman getting his first play by the end of this game. Buechele showed off his rocket arm with a pair of touchdowns and Swoopes was the hero of the night with his 6-yard scramble for the game-winning touchdown in double overtime.
“I said a year ago we probably would have lost that football game because we didn’t know how to finish,” Texas coach Charlie Strong told reporters.
Don’t look now, but Texas football is back.
Lane Kiffin Gets His Revenge as No. 1 Alabama Routs USC
Three years after USC left its former head coach stranded on a tarmac with his firing, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin got his revenge on his former team with a 52-6 rout on Saturday night.
While it took the reigning national champion Crimson Tide nearly a half to wake up, once they did it was the beginning of the end for the Trojans. The Bama defense slaughtered the Trojans and once the Crimson Tide offense got into gear they showed just how dangerous they can be this season.
Following an offseason where the reigning national champions Alabama lost a slew of talent to the NFL, one of the questions heading into the season was who would lead the charge at quarterback. True freshman Jalen Hurts got the call and showed his talent and potential on a night where Alabama showed how they repeatedly put together a talented roster despite losing a slew of talent to the NFL.
No. 2 Clemson Survives Near-Upset by Auburn
During a weekend of upsets and hungry underdogs, No. 2 Clemson managed to hold off Auburn in 19-13 victory on Saturday night. But it wasn’t without its moments of anxiety.
Holding a 13-5 lead in the fourth quarter, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney put his faith in his star quarterback Deshaun Watson when he elected to go for it on 4th-and-4 from the 17-yard line instead of kicking a field goal. And the risk paid off.
“We just didn’t want to take a shot at the field goal right there,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters. “We felt like as good as we had played defensively, with them having no timeouts, it was going to be very difficult for them to go score.”
Clemson was able to hold off the late-surging Auburn Tigers in the final minutes to avoid another shocking upset.
No. 4 Florida State Survives Tough Test from Ole Miss
Football is a game of two halves. Lucky for Florida State because after the first half of Monday night’s game, Ole Miss looked ready to deliver another upset on kickoff weekend. But unlucky for the Rebels that the Seminoles finally got into gear because once they did they were nearly unstoppable.
The No. 4 Seminoles overcame a sluggish first half and brought an offensive second half attack to defeat No. 11 Ole Miss 45-34.
“That was a nightmarish second half,” Rebels coach Hugh Freeze said.
Top 10-Ranked Michigan & Ohio State Deliver Huge Blowouts
For Michigan and Ohio State it was never a question of if they were going to win their season openers rather by how much. The Wolverines and Buckeyes, who rank No. 7 and No. 6, respectively, easily and handedly defeated their opponents. No. 7 Michigan routed Hawaii 63-3 and No. 6 Ohio State blew out Bowling Green 77-10.
Both squads are poised for strong seasons that will come to a climax on Nov. 26 when the two squads, who might be ranked among the top 10 then, will face off in the yearly anticipated match-up. It just might mean a little more this year.
Wilton Speight Named Michigan Starting QB
With Michigan’s dominant defense and the talent assembled on the offensive side of the football, it was never a question whether this Michigan team had the potential to make waves this season in college football. The only question that surrounded the team was who the starting quarterback would be.
Coach Jim Harbaugh kept the starter under wraps until right before the start of the Hawaii game naming Wilton Speight the starter over transfer John O’Korn. And Harbaugh gave Speight a unique and very Harbaugh-esque pep talk before his start.
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 3, 2016
While Speight’s first pass didn’t go the way he’d have liked — he was picked off and turned the ball over in Michigan territory — things got much better for the junior quarterback as he tossed three touchdowns to lead the No. 7 Wolverines to a 63-3 rout of Hawaii.
Pitt Running Back Impresses in Return Following Battle with Cancer
Four months ago, Pitt running back James Conner’s toughest battle wasn’t happening on the football field. It was happening inside of him. Now four months after Conner battled cancer and emerged victorious, he returned to the gridiron to help his team defeat Villanova 28-7.
“It’s not my first game,” Conner told reporters. “I know it’s a comeback game, but it’s felt like a regular-season football camp, really. My battle was already won. Beating cancer, everything else was a reward.”
Conner finished with 17 carries for 53 yards and had 3 catches for 16 yards.