No matter how measured we may (or may not) tend to be in our analysis, there is no way to avoid it: we often make some awful, inaccurate conclusions after one week of football. For all of the storylines we discussed since January, we use the first piece of available data to determine whether we were correct in our assumptions, and we end up making incorrect assumptions. As the calendar prepares to flip to November, let's take a look back at Week One storylines. Which ones were dead-on accurate? Which were hilariously off-target?
No. 11 Wisconsin's Russell Wilson completed 10 of 13 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns, rushes twice for 62 yards in an easy win over UNLV.
Storyline: Wilson is a legitimate Heisman candidate, and Wisconsin is as dominant as they were last year.
The Verdict: Semi-accurate. Wisconsin has been great in 2011, but they have now twice fallen victim to 40+ yard touchdown passes in the game's final minute. They lost via Hail Mary at Michigan State last week, and they fell to a desperate Braxton Miller heave at Ohio State 36 hours ago. Wilson has been as good as advertised, though as is always the case, his Heisman stock has now been significantly damaged because of his defense's failings.
In a serious Game Of The Year candidate, Baylor and No. 14 TCU combine for 1,030 yards and 98 points as Baylor takes a 24-point lead into the fourth quarter, blows it, then wins, 50-48, via last-minute field goal.
Storyline: Robert Griffin III is a legitimate Heisman candidate.
The Verdict: In a perfect world, this would be quite accurate. For the season, Griffin has completed 75 percent of his passes, thrown 23 touchdown passes to four interceptions, put together a 190.7 passer rating and rushed for 300 yards. At 4-3, his Bears should put together their second consecutive bowl campaign, and he is the primary (and secondary, and tertiary) reason why. Alas, you must win big to win the Heisman, and Baylor has not done that. He has made mistakes, but like Wilson, the heaviest damage to his stock has been done when his defense was on the field.
Storyline: TCU's defense is no longer elite.
The Verdict: This was 100-percent correct, at least momentarily. The Horned Frogs showed further defensive cracks against Air Force, UL-Monroe and SMU (who defeated them in overtime) but have begun to right the ship. TCU held an explosive San Diego State team under 300 yards and held an admittedly awful New Mexico offense to just 85. They forced three BYU turnovers this past week in Dallas, but they did allow over 350 yards. Signs point to eventual recovery by this unit, but this season has certainly see a step backwards.
No. 16 Notre Dame loses three turnovers inside the South Florida 10 (one is returned for a touchdown) and misses a short field goal in a 23-20 loss.
Storyline: Notre Dame is once again overrated.
The Verdict: Notre Dame has managed to go from overrated, to underrated, back to perhaps overrated again in a wild season. The offense has been mostly fantastic but they have repeatedly been done in by apocalyptic turnovers. They don't just fumble at midfield -- they wait until they are inside the 10, then they turn it over. And chances are good that the opponent will return the miscue for a touchdown. When they manage to avoid more than three touchdowns' worth of turnovers (as defined here), they win. That they are only 5-3 tells you their disaster avoidance skills need some fine-tuning.
Storyline: South Florida should be considered one of the favorites in the Big East.
The Verdict: Amazingly, this has been one of the least accurate assumptions even though, at the time, it seemed one of the safest. In a weak Big East that has seemingly seen a different favorite each week -- West Virginia! Pittsburgh! Rutgers! Cincinnati! Louisville? -- the Bulls are, at 0-3, the only team more than a game and a half out of the title race. They could still make up ground, but they have been unable to avoid self-inflicted, nearly-fatal wounds in recent weeks.
No. 4 LSU forces four Oregon turnovers, returns one for a touchdown in a comfortable, 40-27 win over the No. 3 Ducks at Jerry World in the week's marquee matchup.
Storyline: Oregon is good, but once again they cannot handle ESSSS-EEEEE-SEEEE size and strength.
The Verdict: Statistically speaking, Oregon has actually been better in 2011 than in 2010. In terms of yardage and advanced stats, the Ducks played LSU far closer than anybody else has, and until this past weekend versus Washington State, they had taken care of business against lesser teams in much tidier fashion than last year. Injuries have knocked them around a bit -- running back LaMichael James missed two games, quarterback Darron Thomas one, and neither looked altogether impressive in their returns on Saturday -- but if they can take down Stanford in Palo Alto in two weeks, they could potentially sneak back into the national title game. (Where they could actually get a rematch versus the Bayou Bengals.
Storyline: LSU is really, really good.
The Verdict: Very, very accurate.
No. 5 Boise State destroys No. 19 Georgia's will in a 35-21 win in Atlanta. Kellen Moore completes 28 of 34 passes with an entirely new receiving corps, and the Broncos sack Aaron Murray six times in 35 pass attempts.
Storyline: Mark Richt's team is once again unready for prime time; this season is going to be a disappointment, and he is going to be fired.
The Verdict: The loud assumptions of Richt's mortality grew when the Bulldogs lost to South Carolina the next week, but the Dawgs have taken full advantage of a weaker SEC schedule and a severely flawed SEC East; they have won six games in a row, sometimes in impressive fashion, sometimes less so, and are tied atop the East with Carolina. The banged-up Gamecocks hold the tie-breaker but must beat Arkansas and Florida to take the title. Georgia, meanwhile, gets Auburn and Kentucky, both at home. Georgia may still have some issues, but they may also have ten wins when the season is over.
Storyline: Boise State is elite once again. This is the year they break through in terms of national respect.
The Verdict: The former assumption is true; the latter, not so much. Even after taking a jump up to the Mountain West, the Broncos still lose ground every time they massacre a lesser foe (and since Georgia, the schedule has been full of them). Statistically, they are dominant as ever, but with supposed marquee opponent TCU taking a step backwards in 2011, the Broncos will have almost no way of holding off not only all of the other undefeated teams, but most of the one-loss teams as well. I am not as vociferous a playoff proponent as others, but if it actually gives Boise State the shot at a national title that we keep figuring out excuses to deny them, then I am all for it.
No. 23 Auburn trails Utah State, 38-28, with under three minutes remaining before saving themselves with a fierce comeback. They score, recover the onside kick, and score again to escape with a 42-38 win.
Storyline: Auburn lost too much talent from last year's squad and won't be ranked for long.
The Verdict: More or less correct. I'm not sure a national champion has ever had to replace more breakthrough talent than Auburn did this year, and Gene Chizik actually deserves a solid amount of credit for engineering a 6-3 record to date. Auburn has had quarterback issues and got overwhelmed by Arkansas and LSU, but thanks mostly to three more ridiculously close wins, they will at least end up going back to a bowl this year.
No. 25 USC goes up 19-3 over Minnesota but has to hold on late. The Gophers rally behind their backup quarterback and fall just short, 19-17.
Storyline: USC could disappoint in 2011
The Verdict: For a while, this was incredibly accurate. USC needed turnovers to hold off Utah at home the next week, got whipped by Arizona State, and only held off Arizona by a touchdown at home. But in the last three weeks, they have taken things up a notch, whipping California on the road, whipping Notre Dame on the road, then exchanging haymakers with Stanford for four quarters and three overtimes before falling. USC should end up at 9-3 or so thanks to their improved play.
Storyline: Jerry Kill is a fantastic coach and could have Minnesota turned around sooner than later.
The Verdict: As Spencer Hall put it last week, "life just hates Jerry Kill this year." A week after their encouraging showing in Los Angeles, the Gophers lost to lowly New Mexico State, and Kill had a seizure on the sidelines. He has been hospitalized multiple times, and Minnesota proceeded to get pummeled in every possible way in their first three Big Ten contests, losing by an average score of 48-10. They did, however, pull an upset of Iowa this past weekend, however.
No. 8 Texas A&M forces two turnovers in SMU's first ten plays and coasts to a dominant 46-14 win over the Mustangs.
Storyline: This Aggies truly are a Big 12 contender. Hell, with Tim DeRuyter's defense wrecking shop, this could be a national title contender.
The Verdict: If games were 30 minutes long, this storyline might also be accurate. Despite a tough schedule that has featured current BCS No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Arkansas, and three once-ranked teams (Baylor, Texas Tech, Missouri), Mike Sherman's Aggies have owned the first half, heading into halftime with an average margin of 16 points. Alas, they have now blown three double-digit leads, to OSU, Arkansas and Missouri, and damn near blew a fourth to Texas Tech. A&M is actually almost as good as expected but have lost three games due to late-game glitches. Football is a fickle sport.