0. Points scored by Texas on its first five possessions against New Mexico State. The Longhorns committed three turnovers (two picks and a fumble), turned the ball over on downs near midfield, and went three-and-out over the game's first 25 minutes, then actually fell behind when NMSU's Joshua Bowen caught an 11-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play, 64-yard drive.
Now, my "Texas goes 12-0" bit from last week was not an actual prediction, but if I had a poll vote (and thank goodness I don't), I'd have given serious consideration to putting the Longhorns in the top five to seven. I'm firmly on the "offense will improve a little more, defense will rebound" bandwagon. And considering the 'Horns went on to win, 56-7, gaining 582 yards (12.7 per play) over their final 10 possessions, I feel roughly the same after the game as I did before.
But … that was a tense 25 minutes. It was also a pretty solid reason for why you probably shouldn't freak out in the middle of your team's first game of the season. We're all desperate for signs when the year begins, but the first signs typically aren't the best signs.
Other offenses took an approach 180 degrees different from Texas': Start fast, then see what happens. Northern Iowa gained 229 yards and scored three touchdowns in its first three drives against Iowa State, then scored only seven points the rest of the way and had to hold on for dear life in a 28-20 win. Villanova gained 150 yards and scored two touchdowns in its first two drives (47 yards came on this delicious fake punt), then averaged 4.0 yards per play and was held scoreless in a 24-14 loss. Rice gained 153 yards and scored 14 points in two drives against Texas A&M, then got outscored drastically. And Murray State gained 200 yards and scored twice in its first three drives against Missouri, then gained fewer than 100 the rest of the way.
1. Colorado wins in the 2013 season. The Buffs matched last year's total by taking care of business, in a definitive manner, against Colorado State, a team that has often been a thorn in the side of both good and bad CU teams. My colleague Spencer Hall has already said what I wanted to about the Baby Buffaloes, so I'll give him the floor:
Watching Colorado blow a lead, and then come back to win was like watching a child take its first steps: they will crash face-first into the coffee table at one point, but they're walking, dude, and that's thrilling enough.
2. Incompletions thrown by Florida State's Jameis Winston. Look, we can twist this all we want -- bad defense! just one game! et cetera! -- but that's absurdly good. Let's just be happy we watched it and see what happens next.
2.3. John Hubert's yards per carry in Kansas State's loss to North Dakota State. I caught hell in the offseason for suggesting that the Wildcats' offensive line was quite average last season, and for all we know, things will improve from here on out. But the first impression K-State gave on Friday night was that the Wildcats aren't quite ready for life after Collin Klein.
Here's a quote from Bring on the Cats' TB to me as he was charting the game:
I'm just barely into the 2nd quarter, and our right tackle's been blown up three times.
(The downside to signing up to chart your team's games: You still have to chart them when they lose.)
4.8. Average points per trip inside the 40-yard line for Georgia on Saturday night. The Dawgs crossed the Clemson 40 eight times, scored five touchdowns, threw an interception, turned the ball over on downs, and punted once. In all, a 4.8 average isn't awful, but it was bad enough to allow Clemson to outscore the Bulldogs on only six trips of their own (five touchdowns and a field goal). Georgia's defense put up a pretty good fight but couldn't stiffen when Clemson was sniffing the end zone, and in the end, UGA came up one missed opportunity short.
Of course, Georgia wasn't the only team to rue missed opportunity. BYU averaged just 3.2 points per scoring opportunity (two touchdowns, a field goal, a punt, and clock expiration) and barely lost to a Virginia team they outgained by 139 yards. Tulsa averaged a disastrous 1.4 points per trip (touchdown, two missed field goals, turnover, punt) and got blown out by a Bowling Green that averaged 5.4 in the same five trips. SMU settled for four field goals (and missed one) and averaged 3.3 points per trip in a loss to Texas Tech. And Mississippi State took the Missed Opportunities crown, scoring three points in four trips (field goal, missed field goal, two turnovers). Oklahoma State's defense was strong, but Mississippi State kept figuring out ways to self-destruct after crossing midfield.
12. South Carolina tackles for loss in a 27-10 win over North Carolina. Yes, Jadeveon Clowney was nearly non-existent in the box score. Yes, that prompted a massive "HE'S OUT OF SHAPE!!" outcry. And yes, the Gamecocks' defense passed a test with flying colors regardless. The biggest question I had about S.C. heading into 2013 was whether a completely rebuilt linebacking corps and semi-green front four could manage a game like last year's front seven did. With Clowney, you've got a player every team is going to game plan against, which means your other linemen and linebackers are already at an advantage. But could the 'Cocks take complete advantage? One game in, the answer is yes. Eleven different players took part in a TFL, and redshirt freshman end Darius English had two. South Carolina made plays in every direction.
While Clowney is still the best defensive end in college football, he's also the best decoy.
And while we're at it, 12 is also the number of tackles for loss recorded by Virginia Tech against Alabama. Nick Saban has to love having an infinite number of teaching moments while beating a decent team by 25 points, but that's pretty scary for the Tide, even if the Hokies end up playing at a top-10 level on defense this season.
22.4. Yards per play averaged by Notre Dame in its four scoring drives. The Fighting Irish handled Temple with ease, 28-6, and averaged a more than healthy 8.8 yards per play overall. And when they scored, they scored quickly: three plays, 77 yards. Three plays, 87 yards. One play, 66 yards. Seven plays, 94 yards.If you're looking for a red flag, however, Notre Dame averaged only 4.8 yards per play in its other eight possessions. Explosiveness is Priority No. 1 for a college football offense, but consistency and efficiency are No. 2, and the Irish were quite all-or-nothing on Saturday.
32. North Dakota State's Sagarin Predictor ranking last year. That's higher than Michigan State (No. 37), Boise State (No. 39), Louisville (No. 42), and quite a few other rather successful FBS teams. #BisonSwag is real. And you're really crazy to agree to play them.
Actually, that goes for scheduling anybody in the FCS top tier. Northern Iowa (No. 70 last year) took down Iowa State, Eastern Washington (No. 93) beat Oregon State, Southern Illinois (No. 95) almost beat Illinois, Villanova (No. 112) threatened Boston College, and of course McNeese State (No. 120) and Eastern Illinois (No. 139) emasculated USF and San Diego State, respectively. Scheduling an FCS team is not directly equivalent to scheduling a cupcake. Choose your cake wisely.
34. FBS teams that threw for at least 300 yards over the weekend, including less-than-noteworthy offenses like Vanderbilt's, Maryland's, and Rutgers'. (Well, Maryland's might become noteworthy, but wasn't last season, for obvious reasons.)
Meanwhile, at his current rate, it would take Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell 85 passes to reach 300 yards. He completed 11 of 21 for all of 74 yards in a win over Western Michigan. His backup, Connor Cook, was even worse (6-for-16, 42 yards). Including sacks, the two combined to average an even 3.00 yards per pass attempt. But hey, that was better than FIU's Jake Medlock and E.J. Hilliard (1.9) and almost as good as ULM's Kolton Browning (3.1). So there's that. Just ignore the part where Michigan State was playing Western Michigan (109th in Def. Passing S&P+ last year), ULM was playing Oklahoma (second), and FIU was playing Maryland (31st).
Oh yeah, and ignore that Eastern Washington's Vernon Adams averaged 11.3 yards per attempt against Oregon State (29th last year).
Actually, let's not let Cody Kessler off the hook here either. Against Hawaii (90th last year), with the nation's best receiver, Marqise Lee, on his side, Kessler completed 10 of 19 passes for 95 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a sack. That's 20 pass attempts for 94 yards. Against Hawaii. (Max Wittek came in and barely fared better, averaging 5.4 yards per attempt to Kessler's 4.7.)
68. Length of this run by Missouri's Henry Josey.
After 658 days between carries, welcome back, Henry. Missed you ever so.
79. Bryce Petty's completion percentage in his first game steering the Baylor offense. He found his target 19 of 24 times for 312 yards and two scores, and Baylor beat Wofford -- a top-tier FCS team, by the way -- by a 69-3 margin.
80. Plays run by LSU in a 37-27 win over TCU. The Horned Frogs, meanwhile, attempted 54. Which one's the Big 12 team again?
100. Percent of the game's fumbles recovered by Arkansas-Pine Bluff against Arkansas State. The Golden Lions landed on all four loose balls. And they still lost by 51. But hey, it could have been a lot worse!
131. Including sacks, passes attempted by true freshmen Baker Mayfield (Texas Tech) and Jared Goff (California) against SMU and Northwestern, respectively. Their per-attempt rates weren't great (Goff averaged 6.3 yards, Mayfield 6.1), they were sacked eight times, and they threw three picks (all by Goff, two of which were deflected), but that's a heaping helping of responsibility there. And it will most likely pay off in the future.
268. Yards gained by Washington in the four drives that emphatically closed a 38-6 win over Boise State. After missed opportunities on both sides (Washington turned the ball over on downs at the Boise 12, and Boise State characteristically missed a field goal) in the first half, the Broncos made a field goal to cut Washington's lead to 10-6 five minutes into the third quarter. Here's what next ensued:
Washington: four plays, 66 yards, touchdown. 17-6.
Boise State: 12 plays, 46 yards, Jay Ajayi stuffed on fourth-and-1.
Washington: seven plays, 74 yards, touchdown. 24-6.
Boise State: eight plays, punt.
Washington: 11 plays, 77 yards, touchdown. 31-6.
Boise State: three-and-out.
Washington: eight plays, 51 yards, touchdown. 38-6.
We'll find out soon enough how much of this epic throat stomp was due to Washington being either very good or great, and how much had to do with Boise State being out of weapons. But while we sound Bronco alarm bells, we do have to acknowledge the thought that Washington might be really, really good this year. The Huskies were a "frequently good team" last year, often done in by extreme youth. They're pretty experienced this time around.
Actually, let's quote a little more from their 2013 preview:
The season opener versus Boise State is enormous. Lose that game (as they will be projected to do), and they're perhaps looking at yet another seven-win season or so. ... Beat Boise, however (and it bears mentioning that they almost did just that in the Las Vegas Bowl), and you can begin to see how a nine- or 10-win season could come together quickly.
This is a good team that will get better next season. How good the Huskies will be in 2013, however, depends on Keith Price, quick maturation, and August 31.
Keith Price: 23-for-31 for 324 yards, two touchdowns, and 9.9 yards per pass attempt (including sacks).
August 31: a rousing, dramatic, incredibly impressive success.
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