College Football: Week 1 Winners & Losers

What a weekend! Drama, defense, upsets – you name it, College Football has had it all over the last few days.

The action started last Wednesday, and when we bring this to you on Monday it still won’t be over, as Ole Miss takes on Louisville to put the cherry on the top of a full slate of action.

We’ve seen the return of all the traditions, Enter Sandman in Virginia, Jump Around in Wisconsin and a Clemson fan pouring a full tub of Mayonnaise live on College Gameday. What a time to be alive!

So, who were the winners and losers of week one…?

Winner – Lee (@Wakefield90) 

UCLA

It is a return visit for the UCLA Bruins this week.

Another win and for UCLA, this time, instead of beating a Mountain West also-ran like last week when they were beating down Hawaii, this week they took on the Tigers from LSU, and just like ya boy predicted preseason, the Tigers were caught cold when travelling west for their season opener.

This gets my bet that I have with Kieran off to an absolute flier – For those who haven’t listened to that particular podcast, Kieran and I have a bet on whether LSU will finish in or outside of the top 10 come the end of the season. I think that LSU had five lose-able games on their schedule (UCLA, Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida). I don’t think they’ll lose all of those five games but this was perhaps the easiest one of the lot, so I’m pleased that this L went the way of LSU this week.

Anyway, back to the Bruins…

Well aside from Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who has yet to really hit his straps, the rest of the team looks like they’re in great form.

The running game and Zach Charbonnet in particular has had a fantastic start to the season, the offensive line is moving guys and opening up lanes for the rushing attack and the defense has had a great start to the season and are flying around. The Bruins defense has allowed 75 rushing yards through two games – so the ground game on both sides of the ball is completely dominant right now.

If DTR can take a couple of steps forward, this team could be really dangerous… And that’s a long way from when I predicted this team would win 0 (zero) games in 2020, because I simply didn’t believe in anything that they were doing, from the HC to the QB to their recruiting.

The Pac-12 South is heating up nicely… Unlike the North. 

Malik Willis

On a weekend where the spotlight fell on Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler as the big names of the season’s draft class at the Quarterback position, after the games had finished yesterday, it was actually Malik Willis of Liberty who had improved his draft stock.

Howell got zero help from his playmakers or his offensive line or Phil Longo, his offensive coordinator but he didn’t play well himself.

Rattler made some questionable decisions and some really questionable throws, yes, Oklahoma did get the win against Tulane but Rattler didn’t cover himself in glory at all.

I’ll let Andy explain below why they’re not in his half of the article.

Willis however, looked every bit like the guy we saw last year and he made some wow throws…

I mean, this is one of a handful of great throws that he made during this game; look at the ball velocity and how the ball jumps out of his hand. Look at the placement and lastly, look how urgent and intentional his footwork is in his drop. This is the work of a prospect who knows he has one season to prove it all again and vault up the draft boards before he goes to the league.

I know it was only Campbell but you can only beat who’s in front of you and Willis put in a very professional display to lead his team to the win.

Michigan State and in particular, Kenneth Walker III

Time for me to own up – I kind of hinted at this on Twitter yesterday but for those of you who didn’t see – I was sleeping on Michigan State and a few of their guys.

Last Friday, Andy and I put out part 2 of our UK TV Preview, and in the very first game of the article, I discussed Michigan State’s trip to Ryan Field to play the Northwestern Wildcats. I focused heavily on Northwestern and in particular their talented Safety, Brandon Joseph, I did mention that MSU had brought in a bunch of transfers and I did namecheck Kenneth Walker.

I also said that the incoming transfers, “won’t set pulses racing too hard but this is Michigan State that we’re talking about”.

I was wrong.

On Friday night, Michigan State won, they won well and they looked great whilst doing so thanks to these helmets…

A large part of the victory was down to transfer running back, Kenneth Walker III, who I believe deserves a huge shoutout for having the game of his life in Week 1.

Walker attended Wake Forest for his first two seasons of eligibility before arriving in Lansing. Walker amassed 579 rushing yards exactly in both seasons, although his touchdown numbers jumped from 4 to 13 from year one to year two.

In just 23 carries on his Spartants debut, Walker had 264 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Some day.

That’s what a winner looks like. 

Losers – Andy (@ajmoore21)

The LSU Tigers 

Honestly, some people did see this coming. Last week, the UCLA Bruins destroyed Hawaii in the run game, and whilst LSU are clearly better than Hawaii, they couldn’t muster up much defense in the run game either.

Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown ran all over the Tigers, whose Linebacking core looked shell shocked at times during the 38-27 defeat. The emphasis on stopping the run then became a real issue when the Bruins put the ball in the air, with Greg Dulcich’s 75yard TD reception the perfect play to punish LSU’s decision to completely load the box. The highly rated Tight End frankly embarrassed Major Burns (what a name) and then fought off Derek Stingley and Damone Clark to take the ball into the end zone.

Last year, the knives would have been out for Bo Pellini, but he’s no longer employed by the Tigers. So who will LSU fans turn their ire to now? New Defensive Coordinator, Daronte Jones, probably. But, could it just be the case that LSU’s defensive talent isn’t very good outside of Eli Ricks and Stingley?

Presumptive First Round QBs   

On Friday night, UK CFB twitter lit up with criticism of Sam Howell after the North Carolina Tar Heels fell to Virginia Tech. Howell went 17 of 32 for 208 yards, a TD and three INTs, and the last pick was particularly ugly as he just threw up a blind pass in desperation before taking a sack. 

Then on Saturday, despite coming away with a win, Spencer Rattler threw two ugly picks as the Oklahoma Sooners stuttered past Tulane. It could have been more, as the man that some are tipping to be the first overall pick sailed a few passes over the head of receivers and off the hands of Tulane defenders.

Now, everyone knows that this is just week one, there’s growing pains as schemes and new players bed in. But for Howell, there must be a worry that this year could be difficult, particularly as he’s lost so much talent around him, and his offensive line looked shaky at best. The fantastic 2020 tape will undoubtedly fight through, but scouts will be looking for him to drag this young Tar Heels team through games against those middle of the pack ACC teams that he’ll come up against every week.

For Rattler, the path will be far smoother given the sheer amount of talent available to him at receiver. However, there will be an expectation that he torches teams like Tulane once the season is fully up and running – just look at how Clemson beat up on teams under Trevor Lawrence over the last few years.

The Indiana Hoosiers

Entering Saturday, the Indiana Hoosiers were ranked 17th in the country. Their opponents, the Iowa Hawkeyes, were ranked 18th. It won’t remain that way for long, as the Hawkeyes shut down Indiana’s offense, romping to a 34-6 win.

Michael Penix Jr threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for TDs by Riley Moss. USC transfer, Stephen Carr, rushed for 57 yards on 19 carries, just three yards per carry. The Hoosiers were down 31-3 at the half, and it was clear that last season’s Big Ten Coach of the Year, Tom Allen, didn’t have the answers at the break as his team went on to put up a solitary field goal in the second half.

All that aside, the real reason the Hoosiers make it into this week’s losers column is because of the uniform gaff which saw them run out as ‘Indinia’. Once the TV cameras picked that up, there was really no way that the afternoon was going to go as planned, was there?

Honourable Mentions: 

  • Washington – losing to Montana
  • Graham Mertz – How many chances can you blow to win a game in the red zone?
  • Clemson’s offense – Got bullied by Georgia’s defense

Follow Andy on Twitter – @AJMoore21

Follow Lee on Twitter – @Wakefield90

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