Just last week, the majority of college football teams kicked off their 2015 season. After many months of hype, opening weekend definitely delivered, as there were crushing blowouts, historic upsets and everything in between. Here’s a summary of the first week’s action, and how it could impact what’s to come.

U​tah 24 ­ Michigan 17: Utes defense ruins Harbaugh’s homecoming

Normally a low-scoring game between two unranked teams would not garner much attention, but this was no ordinary game. After leading the San Francisco 49ers to three NFC championship appearances in four years, Jim Harbaugh has returned to college football to coach at his alma mater, Michigan. Michigan, once hosting a proud football program, has fallen from grace in recent years. Unfortunately for fans, the team did not look much improved against Utah. Senior quarterback Jake Rudock especially did not play well. Failing to consistently move the offense, Rudock threw for a measly 6.5 yards per attempt and threw three interceptions. The only consistent drive Rudock was able to muster was in the final minutes of the game, and it was too late to turn the tide. Michigan fans will have to wait a few years before their team is a national powerhouse again. Years of bad recruiting from previous regimes have left inadequate talent on the current roster. Make no mistake, once Harbaugh gets his hands on quality players, this team will be knocking on the door of the college football playoffs.

TCU (No. 2) 23 ­ Minnesota 17: Gophers fall short in upset attempt

At the end of last year’s regular season, many people believed that Texas Christian University deserved a spot in the college football playoffs, especially after they dropped a 42-­3 destruction of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. After losing very few players to graduation/NFL draft, TCU returns locked and loaded for a run at the national championship. However, Minnesota showed them how hard it is to win when you have a target on your back. It took the recovery of an onside kick attempt from Minnesota in the game’s final moments to seal the victory for TCU. No player was under the microscope more in this game than TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. Boykin entered the season as a front runner for the Heisman Trophy, and while he showed some signs of rust, he ended up throwing for nearly 250 yards, and added 92 yards rushing.

 

Alabama (No. 3) 35 ­ Wisconsin (No. 20) 17: Saban has Bama looking elite … again

Alabama football no longer puts the fear of god into opponents like it used too. After ugly bowl game losses to Oklahoma and Ohio State respectively in the past two years, Nick Saban’s football teams no longer carry the same invincible swagger that they possessed in blowout national championship wins over Louisiana State University and Notre Dame. Saturday night was a big step towards restoring that fear. Pegged as the week’s marquee match-up the only one between two ranked teams the clash in Dallas had Saban’s team looking its old dominant self. Running back Derrick Henry looks like the next Crimson Tide running back to enter stardom (the last four starting running backs at Alabama have been either first or second round draft picks in the NFL). The defense led by defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson stifled Wisconsin for most of the game. The Badgers clearly missed last year’s 2,000-yard-rusher Melvin Gordon as Wisconsin was held to 40 yards on the ground, its lowest total since 2012. With Auburn struggling to put away unranked Louisville, look for Alabama to be in the hunt for the Southeastern Conference championship, and a playoff spot, for the whole year.

Texas A&M 38 ­ Arizona State (No. 15) 17: New look Aggies impress

In their season opener, fans saw something they aren’t used to from Texas A&M: defense. Over the past three years, Texas A&M has had five offensive players selected in the first round of the NFL draft. With numbers like that, one would expect the Aggies to be competing for championships. Instead, every year it appears that a porous defense holds A&M to a good but not great record, and has them in a smaller bowl game come New Year’s Day. On Saturday, led by the new defensive coordinator John Chavis, the defense looked much better. They created two turnovers and had nine sacks, the most in a game since Bill Clinton was president. ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici did his best given little help from the run game or pass protection, throwing for 200 yards and a touchdown. The one bright side of this loss for ASU is that not too many of the defenses in the Pacific 12 Conference played well on Saturday, so their offense should have opportunities to rebound. With many big name quarterbacks, inter Pac-12 games should be high-scoring this year.

Temple 27 ­ Penn State 10: Owls blitz Hackenberg for historic victory

Over the years, Temple and Penn State have been interstate rivals with Temple’s last victory over Penn in 1941. On Saturday, the Owls said that enough is enough. The only other contest to this historic win was the shock at how poorly PSU quarterback Christian Hackenberg played. Considered by many analysts to be a potential first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Hackenberg certainly did not look the part on Saturday. It looked as bad as the numbers make it seem; 44 percent completion rate, 103 yards, 0 touchdowns and an ugly interception thrown to a defensive lineman that was nearly returned for a touchdown. In Hackenberg’s defense, he received equally awful protection. The Penn State offensive line clearly missed last year’s starting tackle, Donovan Smith, who was selected in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft. They allowed 10 sacks, some of which came when Temple sent only a two-man rush. On offense, Temple was efficient, managing the clock by consistently giving the ball to running back Jahad Thomas, who had 29 carries for 135 yards, including a 24-yard run late in the game that put a dagger in Penn State’s heart. When it comes draft time, NFL scouts are going to put this film in front of Hackenberg and ask him what happened. For the Owls, it’s a huge victory for a program that has been struggling in recent years. Look for Temple to begin picking up many more high profile recruits if they can build upon this win.

Oregon (No. 7) 61 ­ Eastern Washington 42: Ducks look very imbalanced in Adams debut

Normally, a game between a Football Bowl Subdivision powerhouse and a non-descript Football Championship Subdivisions team wouldn’t garner much attention. This game was a little different. After losing last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to the NFL, Oregon needed a new playmaker to put under center. The winner of the camp battle was Vernon Adams Jr., a transfer from Eastern Washington. Adams’ Oregon debut tasked him with dismantling his old team, and they did most of their work on the ground. As a team, the Ducks piled up a whopping 485 rushing yards. Adams threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game in the fourth quarter after taking a big hit. The concerning part was how poorly the Oregon defense played. Eastern Washington had over 500 yards of total offense, with most of the yards coming through the air. Oregon needs to rebound quickly as they travel next week to Michigan State to face Connor Cook, one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.

Ohio State (No. 1) 42 ­ Virginia Tech 24: Braxton’s back!

No matter how competitive their games are, or aren’t, Ohio State will be fun to watch this year. No team has a better quarterback situation than Ohio State, as both Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett are capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Braxton Miller, their quarterback from 2013, has switched to wide receiver, in part to help the team and in part because that is the position he best translates to in the NFL. Their backfield is led by Ezekiel Elliott, Heisman frontrunner and one of the best in the nation at his position. The Ohio State offense looked the part against Virginia Tech. Miller’s move to wide receiver was perhaps the most impressive. After missing all of the 2014 season due to a shoulder injury, Miller looked like his old self again. He hauled in a long touchdown pass and added a long touchdown run on an end-around. Elliott also played well, showing off his talent on an 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Virginia Tech didn’t go down without a fight though. Led by quarterback Michael Brewer, the Hokies actually led at halftime 17-­14. Brewer displayed many good quarterback traits, standing in the pocket and delivering throws into tight windows; however, he went down with an injury in the second half, ending any hope of an upset. The scariest part, despite all of the playmakers they possess on offense, is that Ohio State’s best player didn’t even suit up; defensive end Joey Bosa was serving a one-game suspension. Last year, Bosa produced an outrageous 13.5 sacks, and he is in the discussion for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. A player that the offense must account for every play, Virginia Tech may have not cracked 10 points had he been on the field. Whether or not any team can slow down the Buckeyes remains to be seen. The one problem their schedule presents is that when they face a team like Alabama, TCU or Baylor in the playoffs, it will be a massive increase in quality of opponent from what they will have become used too. Whether or not they can pull off the repeat remains to be seen.

 

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