COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP - 9/6/11
Here's a brief look at the highlights of the opening week of the 2011 college football season, a week which featured a pair of surprising upsets as well as a pair of interconference games that could very well impact the national title picture. The rankings used in this recap are the preseason AP Rankings from prior to the games.
NATIONAL TITLE PICTURE
#4 LSU 40, #3 Oregon 27: Despite a host of offseason attractions, LSU's intimidating defense and backup quarterback Jarrett Lee took advantage of four Duck turnovers to hand Oregon its second straight loss on a national stage to an SEC squad. The victory keeps LSU squarely in the hunt for the national title - though the brutal SEC schedule remains.
#5 Boise State 35, #19 Georgia 21: Boise and ultra-efficient quarterback Kellen Moore continued their season-opening dominance, posting their third straight win over a ranked opponent to kickoff the season; this time handing Mark Richt a painful loss which makes this Saturday's game against South Carolina a potential must-win.
Baylor 50, #14 TCU 48: It would be hard not to call this the game of the week, if not one of the most exciting in recent years. Robert Griffin, III, had an amazing performance at quarterback for the Bears who took down their state-rival with an offensive blitz.
USF 23, #16 Notre Dame 20: Multiple penalties, including red zone miscues, put the return of the Irish to national prominence on hold, but South Florida and head coach Skip Holtz took full advantage to clinch a huge win for the Big East which craves respectability.
#23 Auburn 42, Utah State 38: Many, including the departing fans inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, expected this game to fall into the "upset" category. However, a Barrett Trotter TD pass with 2:07 to go was followed by a flawlessly executed on-sides kick and then Michael Dyer punched it home from the one with 30 clicks to go to wrap up another miracle win for Auburn.
#25 USC 19, Minnesota 17: USC seemed in control behind the Matt Barkley-Robert Woods connection (17 hook-ups for 177 yards and three touchdowns), but USC fans still had to sweat it out down the stretch as the Trojans were held scoreless in the second half.
NO HOLDING BACK
#7 Stanford 57, San Jose State 3: The Cardinal doesn't seem to struggle in its debut under new head coach David Shawn - much of that may be because of star quarterback Andrew Luck, who throws for two touchdowns and runs for another in a blowout win over one of their Bay Area rivals.
#9 Oklahoma State 61, UL-Lafayette 34: Quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 388 yards to lead the Cowboys to a 666-yard performance in an impressive season-opener against the Ragin' Cajuns.
#11 Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17: Behind the efforts of transfer quarterback Russell Wilson, Wisconsin affirmed itself as one of the top contenders in the Big Ten by over-running UNLV in a Thursday night game.
#12 South Carolina 56, East Carolina 37: The Gamecocks were down big early, but when senior quarterback Stephen Garcia came off the bench in the second quarter, things cleared up and South Carolina rolled to the victory.
#20 Mississippi State 59, Memphis 14: Playing a season-opening road game, rare for an SEC squad (and one of just two for ranked teams), the Bulldogs showed no mercy in crushing Memphis behind a three-touchdown effort from running back Vick Ballard.
DEFENSE DOESN'T REST
#2 Alabama 48, Kent State 7: Kent State managed just six first downs and 90 yards of total offense while Trent Richardson registered three rushing touchdowns to show that Alabama is clearly ready to compete for another national title.
#6 Florida State 34, UL-Monroe 0: The Seminole defense lets the Warhawks advance to the 28-yard line once, and that's it as they post a solid shutout. Offensively, FSU's EJ Manuel threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
#21 Missouri 17, Miami (Ohio) 6: In order to give new starting quarterback James Franklin a chance to acclimate himself, the Tiger defense held the RedHawks to just one score with the big play being E.J. Gaines' end zone interception late in the first half.
#1 Oklahoma 47, Tulsa 14: Dominique Whaley turns in one of the top walk-on performances in years by running for 131 yards and four touchdowns, while Landry Jones throws for 375 yards and the Sooners overwhelm Tulsa in a state showdown.
#8 Texas A&M 46, SMU 14: Off-the-field talk has dominated the Texas A&M campus (and the entire Big 12), but the Aggies gave fans some on-field conversation-fodder by using a balanced attack (246 passing yards, 2 TDs; 212 rushing yards, 4 TDs) to crush SMU's BCS-busting hopes.
#18 Ohio State 42, Akron 0: Despite missing eight suspended players, interim head coach Luke Fickell imparted his linebacker philosophy on the Buckeyes, who held the Zips scoreless while Joe Bauserman threw for three scores - all to tight end Jake Stoneburner.
#22 Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3: Will Muschamp debuted as a head coach by directing the Gators to an impressive opening-win; the defense held the Owls to just 137 yards and Chris Rainey scored on a run, a reception and a blocked punt.
#24 West Virginia 34, Marshall 13: In a weekend of brutal weather around the country, this West Virginia showdown suffered the biggest impact as it was called with 14:36 remaining, but not before quarterback Geno Smith was very impressive, completing 26-of-35 passes for 249 yards and two scores.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
#10 Nebraska 40, Chattanooga 7: Quarterback Taylor Martinez ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns as the Cornhuskers pick up their first win as Big Ten members - though the conference schedule is expected to provide a bit more competition than the FCS Mocs.
#13 Virginia Tech 66, Appalachian State 13: After last year's loss to James Madison, Hokie fans had reason to be wary of a strong FCS opponent. However, with David Wilson running for 162 yards and three touchdowns and the Virginia Tech defense looking strong, the Mountaineers had little chance of an upset.
#15 Arkansas 51, Missouri State 7: A dominating defensive performance and a pair of punt return touchdowns from Joe Adams were complemented by an efficient performance by quarterback Tyler Wilson as Arkansas rolled to victory. #17 Michigan State 28, Youngstown State 6: While it wasn't a dominant victory over an FCS foe, Michigan State did what it needed to do as Kirk Cousins was efficient and B.J. Cunningham caught nine passes for 130 yards to set the school record for career receptions.
INTO THE RANKINGS
#20 Baylor 50, #25 TCU 48: See above.
#22 USF 23, Notre Dame 20: See above.
#23 Penn State 41, Indiana State 7: The Nittany Lions opened this game with a 95-yard kickoff return by Chaz Powell and never looked back, scoring 41 unanswered points before the Sycamores cracked the scoring column with a touchdown with 2:16 to go.
#24 Texas 34, Rice 9: After a slow start, Texas came to life in the second half and pulled away from the over-matched Owls.
VOTE FOR MANNING STARS
College football fans, be sure to "like" the official Allstate Sugar Bowl Facebook page (linked above) and vote each week for the Manning Award Player of the Week. The top quarterback performances from each week will be posted giving you the chance to vote for what you think was the best effort each week of the college football season.
MANNING AWARD STARS OF THE WEEK
From the players currently on the Watch List for the Manning Award, here are some of the standout stars from week one:
Robert Griffin, III, Baylor
(21-of-27, 359 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT)
Griffin leads the Bears to their first win over a ranked foe since 2004, registering a career-high five touchdowns to snap TCU's national-best 25-game regular-season winning streak.
Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois
(12-of-19, 195 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT)
Harnish sets a career-high by throwing for five touchdowns and then adds a rushing score in a 49-26 win over Army.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma
(35-of-47, 375 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT)
Jones continues to pile up big numbers, opening the 2011 season with a huge performance in a blowout win over state-rival Tulsa.
Case Keenum, Houston
(30-of-40, 310 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT)
In his first game after a major knee injury suffered against UCLA last year, Keenum looks in peak form, tallying another 300-yard game in a key victory over UCLA.
Kellen Moore, Boise State
(28-of-34, 261 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT)
One of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football, Moore has a stretch of 28-of-32 passes completed with three TDs as the Broncos proved themselves on the national stage once again with a win over Georgia in Atlanta.
Danny O'Brien, Maryland
(31-of-44, 348 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT)
O'Brien piles up the yards in Maryland's ACC opener. Leading the Terrapins to the go-ahead points with 1:39 remaining in the game.
MANNING AWARD PLAYERS TO WATCH
While 31 quarterbacks are on the Manning Award Watch List, additional players may be added later in the season. Here’s a look at the best performances from players making a bid to be added.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson
(20-of-30, 264 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT)
In his debut as the Clemson starter, Boyd directs a pair of key third-quarter drives to get the Tigers rolling against a persistent Troy squad.
Bryn Renner, North Carolina
(22-of-23, 277 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT)
Making his first career start, Renner set an ACC record for completion percentage in a 42-10 win over James Madison.
Keith Wenning, Ball State
(23-of-29, 173 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT)
Wenning spoils Indiana’s trip to Lucas Oil Stadium by leading the Cardinals to a 27-20 victory by completing 79% of his passes and also rushing for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
(10-of-13, 255 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT)
Making his debut for the Badgers after transferring from N.C. State, Wilson led Wisconsin to a 51-17 win over UNLV.
(current AP Rankings)
Arizona at #9 Oklahoma State (Thu.): The high-powered Cowboy offense will look to out-shoot Arizona and star quarterback Nick Foles in a Thursday night ESPN game.
#21 Missouri at Arizona State (Fri.): Missouri hopes to be a challenger in the 10-team Big 12, but will need a win over Arizona State, one of the top Pac-12 teams, to challenge for national recognition.
#3 Alabama at #23 Penn State: A critical non-league game for both schools and a rematch of the 1975 and 1979 Sugar Bowls.
#12 South Carolina at Georgia: Steve Spurrier won his first division title at USC last season; he'll need this win to keep on track for a repeat. Meanwhile, media pundits are calling this a must-win for Bulldog coach Mark Richt.
Notre Dame at Michigan: High hopes for the Fighting Irish were dashed a bit by the opening loss to USF, while Michigan and first-year coach Brady Hoke looked solid in a season-opening win. The first-ever night game in Ann Arbor will bring smiles and bragging rights to one of these storied programs.
#16 Mississippi State at Auburn: The defending champion Tigers narrowly avoided a major upset on Saturday, but the tight win knocked them out of the rankings. Mississippi State, meanwhile, looks for a huge Sec West victory on the road.
Oregon State at #8 Wisconsin: The Badgers looked very impressive behind transfer quarterback Russell Wilson. Meanwhile. Oregon State suffered a home loss to FCS foe Sacramento State - the trip across the country may not be pretty for the Beavers.
BYU at #24 Texas: BYU opened its first year of independence with a thrilling win over Ole Miss; now it gets a major challenge with a road game at Texas, which looks to recover from a 5-7 season in 2010.
Utah at USC: Pac-12 newcomer Utah gets its official league initiation against long-time powerhouse USC - the Trojans are favored in the Pac-12 South but are ineligible for postseason play.
Nevada at #13 Oregon: Nevada spoiled Boise State's national title hopes last year; with another non-conference loss, Oregon will be hard-pressed to climb back into the title picture in 2011.