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The Numerical, Week 1: Ole Miss and Wisconsin play 2 games at a time

Bo Wallace pulled a Bo Wallace, LSU and Colorado State stomped on throats, and Wake Forest might have the worst offense in the history of the world.


From the moment Tre Mason was tackled to end Florida State's BCS Championship win over Auburn on January 6, to when Georgia State's Wil Lutz kicked off to Abilene Christian to start the FBS college football season, approximately 5,588 hours passed. During that time, you could have watched approximately 1,600 Bruce Springsteen concerts on YouTube, smoked 465 pork butts, driven round-trip from Boston to San Diego and back 62 times, or watched every "Simpsons" episode 28 times (sans commercials).

Whichever way you chose to pass the time, I'm glad you made it.


As is typical, we saw some exciting, high-quality football in Week 1, and we saw a whole lot of mediocre or worse football as well.

Bowl and Playoff Projections

From Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, we got both. Wallace was subpar in his first three quarters against the Boise State defense. The decision-making that has tripped him up through the years reared in the form of three interceptions, and heading into the fourth quarter, he was 19-for-29 for 212 yards.

Then, in the fourth quarter he went 6-for-7 for 175 yards and three touchdowns. His blocking held up up front, and he was able to take advantage of his receivers' significant size advantages on the outside. In three consecutive passes, he found Laquon Treadwell for a 14-yard score, then hit Quincy Adeboyejo for a 31-yard touchdown, then spotted Cody Core on a short slant and watched Core race 76 yards for another touchdown. The trio of passes turned a 7-6 slog into a 28-6 Rebel lead.

Granted, waiting until the fourth quarter to click is a risky proposition -- it only works if your defense holds up. But Ole Miss' defense most certainly held up, limiting Boise State to 4.7 yards per play, picking Grant Hedrick off four times, and sacking him three times. That bought the offense time, and the offense eventually took advantage in a 35-13 win.

Washington State's Connor Halliday, meanwhile, took the opposite path. In his first 19 pass attempts, he completed 11 of 18 passes for 100 yards, a pick, and a sack (5.0 yards per attempt). In his last 40 attempts, he completed 29 of 38 for 432 yards, five touchdowns, and two sacks (10.4 yards per attempt). Wazzu was down 14-3 when he caught fire and outscored Rutgers, 35-27, the rest of the way. But the combination of the slow start and struggling second-half defense assured the Cougs a loss.


With 9:47 left in the third quarter, Colorado went up 17-7 over Colorado State after a 12-yard touchdown pass from Sefo Liufau to Nelson Spruce. From that point forward, Jim McElwain's Rams outscored Mike MacIntyre's Buffs, 24-0, and outgained them, 253-90. Average yards per play in that stretch: CSU 7.0, CU 3.6.

Like Georgia against Clemson, CSU just had too much depth and power for CU. Transfers Dee Hart (Alabama) and Treyous Jarrells (JUCO) combined to gain 303 yards on 45 intended touches (39 carries, four catches on six targets), and after his touchdown pass to Spruce, Liufau completed just seven of his final 16 passes for 50 yards.

While the result proved that there are still quite a few steps remaining in MacIntyre's rebuilding project in Boulder, this game was more about CSU. The Rams looked good in the second half, and with the way Boise State, Utah State, and Fresno State looked against (better) major-conference foes, CSU might be a favorite in the Mountain West.


After a total second-half destruction of Iowa State, North Dakota State has now won 25 consecutive games and five straight against FBS teams. Bring on promotion and relegation already.


You could say Colorado State pulled an LSU. The Tigers went down, 24-7, early in the third quarter after a Corey Clement touchdown run. From that point forward, however, the LSU defense dominated, and the offense eventually got its act together. Clement and Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin's incredible running back duo, had gained 171 yards on 23 carries (7.4 yards per carry) through Clement's third-quarter touchdown, but the rest of the way, they gained just 14 yards on eight carries.

With the run game negated, Wisconsin put the ball in the hands of quarterback Tanner McEvoy, and it very much did not pay off. McEvoy completed three of his final 10 passes to players in Wisconsin uniforms (gaining just 17 yards) and completed two to players in LSU uniforms. The first pick led to a three-play, 53-yard scoring drive that gave LSU the lead, and the second allowed LSU to eat up four minutes of fourth-quarter clock.

LSU scored the game's final 21 points and pulled off a surprising comeback. We'll see whether the Tigers' second-half defense was more indicative of what's to come than the first half defense, but regardless, that was a hell of a surge.

14, again

USC got the ball 14 times against Fresno State on Saturday in Los Angeles. The Trojans finished each of their 14 possessions in Fresno State territory.

The biggest upset of the day may have been that they only scored 52 points.

USC gained 701 yards in 105 plays, moving the chains 37 times and combining tempo and talent in a way that should terrify upcoming opponents (if the Trojans can keep it up, of course; the "it's only been one game" caveats should be obvious). But it could have, or should have, been so much worse. They lost fumbles at the FS 42 and 27 in consecutive drives. They missed a 38-yard field goal. And late in the game, they eschewed field goals in favor of fourth-down attempts and stalled out at the Fresno 4 and 31. Only miscues and late-game semi-conservatism kept them under 70 points.


As a redshirt freshman Heisman winner, former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel averaged 7.8 yards per pass attempt, including sacks. In his first game succeeding Manziel, on the road against a top-10 team, sophomore Kenny Hill averaged 8.2 yards per attempt.

And he did so over 61 attempts -- 60 passes and one sack. He completed 44 of 60 (73 percent) for 511 yards (11.6 per completion), three touchdowns, no picks, and one sack. On the road. Against a top-10 team. We probably shouldn't hand him the Heisman just yet, but that's as good a start as anyone could hope for, even if it turns out that South Carolina's defense isn't as good as we thought.


Late in the third quarter in Charlottesville against Virginia, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. He found redshirt freshman Eldridge Massington for a 15-yard gain on third-and-8, then found sophomore Thomas Duarte for a 25-yard gain to set up first-and-goal. It wasn't a terribly efficient drive, but Hundley made plays when UCLA fell behind schedule.

This was noteworthy because it was the only offensive score UCLA managed on the day.

The Bruins scored three defensive touchdowns in the second quarter to build an unlikely 21-3 lead, then held on for dear life as UVA quarterback Matt Johns threw a couple of touchdown passes. UVA cut the lead to 21-17 before UCLA's touchdown drive, then kicked a field goal midway through the fourth quarter to cut the final scoring margin to 28-20. The Hoos outgained UCLA (386-358) and took better advantage of their scoring opportunities (points per trip inside the 40*: UVA 4.0, UCLA 2.3). But while UCLA's two turnovers were worth 8.1 equivalent points of field position (as defined here), UVA's three turnovers were all returned for touchdowns and were worth a cool 27.2 points.

Hard to give 19.1 points' worth of turnovers to a top-10 opponent and still win, but Mike London's Cavaliers almost pulled it off.

UCLA is a preseason Pac-12 favorite and darkhorse national title contender. It's not a good look, then, to be the week's "Least Likely Win" award recipient. Virginia really might have a good defense this year, and a three-time-zone trip, complete with a kickoff that came at 9 a.m. California time, is never easy. Still, the Bruins were lucky to avoid a pratfall right out of the gates.

Dodge bullets in September, and you'll give yourself a chance to thrive later in the year.


We are constantly given reminders of how high the bar is for Alabama. The two primary takeaways from the Crimson Tide's 33-23 win over West Virginia were that Alabama's defense was "soft" (as proclaimed by Nick Saban heading into halftime) and that Lane Kiffin, Saban, and the Alabama offense just weren't on the same page.

But after a 25-yard completion from Clint Trickett to Kevin White to begin the fourth quarter, WVU's final 14 snaps gained just 17 yards. And while the Bama offense had its shaky moments, the Tide still averaged 6.6 yards per play and scored on seven of 11 drives. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry combined to gain 239 yards and score three times on 40 carries, and first-time starting quarterback Blake Sims completed 73 percent of his passes, albeit at a conservative 10.4 yards per completion.

If that's stagnant and soft, Alabama will be just fine. Granted, I (like most) expected a blowout in this game, and Alabama still has plenty to prove, but one assumes the Tide will be just fine.

Derrick Henry, Photo credit: Martin Rose / Getty Images


I'm about as big a fan of Todd Berry and ULM as you're going to find. I love that Berry has built the Warhawks into a bowl-caliber program, I love that he makes no bones about ULM's underdog status (even though you might not actually be able to get him to say the "U" word) and simply uses whatever tactics he needs to win games, conventional or not. I love that he uses a 3-3-5 defense. I love that he broke out a two-quarterback formation on national television. I expected ULM to beat Wake Forest on Thursday night, and it almost surprised me that it took them so long to take the lead in a 17-10 win. But ...

... if you're manufacturing just five first downs and 94 total yards in 60 minutes against the ULM defense, you've got an unfathomable lack of either talent, experience, or both on your offense.

Wake Forest averaged 1.9 yards per play in Monroe. Let's put that another way: Houston's John O'Korn was absolutely dreadful against UTSA in a blowout home loss on Friday night; he completed 21 of 43 passes for just 204 yards and four interceptions and was sacked four times. His completions went nowhere, and he went backwards frequently, and he averaged a terrible 3.8 yards per pass attempt ... double what Wake Forest averaged via both run and pass.

Senior Matt James caught a 22-yard pass from freshman quarterback John Wolford late in the first half -- it set up Wake's only offensive score of the night, a 38-yard field goal -- and that represented nearly one-quarter of Wake's total yardage.

Okay, I'll stop. This is going to be a long year for Dave Clawson in Winston-Salem, but he probably knew that when he took the job.


New Mexico State was actually a four-point underdog hosting Cal Poly last Thursday night. Through this lens, the Aggies' 28-10 win, which saw them outgain the Mustangs by 50 yards and hold the run-first (and run-second) Poly to 2-for-7 passing for six yards and a pick. NMSU's Larry Rose III and Brandon Betancourt gained 191 yards in 37 carries, and the Ags won the second half by a combined 14-0 margin. It's probably one of the only games NMSU will win this year, but overachievement is overachievement.

By the way, Florida International was a 4.5-point underdog to Bethune-Cookman. At least they covered? (#karma)