There were 72 college football games played in the last three days. Let’s take a look at a few key teams, players and games and figure our what we learned.
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WE LEARNED THAT …
—Wisconsin isn’t as good as we originally thought. Sure, it’s just one bad outcome, but the Badgers’ offense clearly isn’t the same without Russell Wilson at QB and Paul Chryst calling the plays. The Badgers managed only a late touchdown in its 10-7 loss at Oregon State, and finished with just 207 total yards. Most concerning is the running game. Wisconsin has lost six offensive linemen to the NFL the last two years, so a drop-off was expected. But a 1.5 yards-per-carry average is something we’re not accustomed to seeing, particularly when Montee Ball—no longer a Heisman Trophy candidate—is in the backfield.
—The rest of the Big Ten’s “upper echelon” isn’t very good, either. Nebraska lost 36-30 to an unranked UCLA team, but that’s more forgivable than the program seemingly losing its identity. How many times have we been told that the Huskers’ vaunted “Blackshirts” are back, only to see the defensive unit regress each year? Nebraska gave up an average of 10 points in 2009, 17 points in 2010 and 23 points last year. Through two games in 2012, the Huskers have allowed 56 points. (The Bruins, whose offense stunk last year, racked up 653 yards and had 344 of them on the ground.)
—Arizona might be a bowl team. Three Pac-12 teams scored victories over ranked opponents, but perhaps none were more impressive than Arizona’s 59-38 victory over 18th-ranked Oklahoma State. The Wildcats got gashed defensively (gave up 636 yards), but that’s going to happen. Rich Rodriguez’s Michigan teams never played defense, and Arizona’s personnel isn’t where it needs to be yet. But if the Wildcats can be a dominant offensive team, they’ll have a chance to hang with just about anybody, especially at home. Matt Scott has control of the offense and led Arizona back from an early 14-0 deficit.
—Too many people overreacted to Texas State’s Week 1 victory. Yikes! What a bloodbath. Texas Tech, as we thought it would, whipped the Bobcats 58-10 on Saturday. The line opened Red Raiders -14 offshore but managed to climb closer to 20 by kickoff. Texas Tech led 21-0 after the first quarter and took a 38-10 lead into halftime. In the end, the Red Raiders had twice as many yards and twice as many first downs. Texas State might have impressed in its opener, but it beat a flawed Houston team and played above its level. Expect a long season and plenty more blowouts as the Bobcats attempt to transition to FBS.
WE ALSO LEARNED THAT …
- Collin Klein is an improved passer. He spent time working on the “other” part of his game throughout the offseason, and the early returns are positive. Kansas State’s offense, which has 103 points through two games, is going to be much more difficult to stop if teams can’t stack the box and expect run.
- Pitt is the worst coached team in football. We don’t suspect that will always be the case, but for now, it’s undeniably true. There were too many laughable errors in that Cincinnati game, and the red-zone mistakes were a travesty.
- Missouri’s up-tempo style won’t work in the SEC. The Tigers looked good early against Georgia but eventually got worn down. They were ineffective over the final 20 minutes and got pushed around at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. Against tougher, more physical teams, Missouri’s finesse approach is going to run into trouble.
- Savannah State should never play against an FBS opponent ever again. Oh, wait, we already knew that.