Revenge of the Morlocks: FCS teams collected their paychecks, then proceeded to upset eight FBS teams this weekend. The onslaught began on Thursday with Towson sullying Connecticut’s rebranding efforts and Southern Utah dispatching South Alabama 22-21. It continued Friday. Samford pipped Georgia State. Defending Big 12 champ Kansas State fell to North Dakota State.
It reached its apex Saturday evening. Eastern Washington put up 625 total yards on a ranked Oregon State team. McNeese State overturned Willie Taggart’s bus. Eastern Illinois put up 533 total yards in a three-touchdown win over San Diego State. Paul Rhoads will not be so proud of his men, after losing a night game at Jack Trice to Northern Iowa.
Against stereotype, B1G fortifications held. Indiana dropped 73 on Indiana State. Illinois held off Southern Illinois for a 42-34 win. Midwesterners aren’t flashy, but they are prepared when disaster strikes.
Take the Initiative: Fortune does not always favor the bold, but it seldom favors the timid. Mark Richt, returning the nation’s No. 1 yards per play offense, opted to punt from Clemson’s 39 yard line, down three in the fourth quarter. He sacrificed a scoring opportunity for 26 yards of field position. Clemson, promptly, drove down the field on the inexperienced Dawgs defense and scored, all but putting the game away.
One could also toss in Gary Patterson’s decision to punt on 4th and 2 down 10 to LSU with less than six minutes remaining. The TCU coach trusted his defense to make two stops, before his offense making two yards. The Horned Frogs never got the ball back.
This was not risk aversion. It was squandering opportunities to win, or to make a pretense of trying to win. With such fruitless conservatism on display, perhaps both coaches were vying for NFL jobs.
Teddy Had a Ballgame: Teddy Bridgewater was poised for dominance against a milquetoast schedule. Initial opponent Ohio U was more than accommodating. Louisville’s quarterback completed 23/28 for 355 yards and five touchdowns before being called off. It was against Ohio, but still, quite impressive. Not sure how the Heisman race pans out – Bridgewater won’t play a marquee opponent – but the New York Jets are on the clock.
Christion Jones, You Guys: Alabama’s offense had a disappointing day. But Christion Jones stood up to be counted. The sophomore returned a punt for a touchdown, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and caught a 38-yard pass from A.J. McCarron for his third score. We’re pretty sure we saw a tongue-shaped flame appear above his head. His reward? Not being reduced to tears during Alabama’s film session this week.
A Truism No Longer: Chris Petersen with time to prepare: not something you’ll hear people speak about in the near future. The ranked Broncos expected a tough battle in Washington, and were blown out 38-6. The offense, switching to an up tempo pistol, failed to reach the end zone. The defense, which finished 10th nationally last year, gave up 592 total yards and stopped just four of 15 third down attempts. Is Boise set for a dip? Is Steve Sarkisian finally poised to eclipse the seven-win ceiling? Perhaps both.
Do Not Chest Bump With Todd Gurley: Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell is out for the season with a torn ACL. He injured himself by colliding with the solid block of well-optimized muscle that is Todd Gurley during a touchdown celebration. Gurley will be relegated to calmly handing the ball back to the referee for the rest of the season.
Not So Blackshirts: Nebraska…picked right up where it left off in 2012. With nine months of retooling, after implosions against Wisconsin and Georgia, the Cornhuskers gave up more than 600 total yards (8.14 per play) to Wyoming. Wyoming finished 76th in yards per play last season. Worth noting: Bo Pelini was a defensive coordinator. The defense, somehow, got worse moving from the Big 12 to the Big Ten. Nebraska fans detect a pattern.
He Effing Played: Johnny Manziel returned for the second half against Rice. He completed six of eight passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns. He also bated the media by miming signing an autograph, performing a “show me the money” celebration and receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for apparent taunting. Columnists will be MAD at him. Fans, hopefully, will appreciate the sport’s most entertaining player and personality executing a deft heel turn for his second season.
SpartyNOPE: The four-way quarterback battle announcement raised anxiety for those clad in Green. Performance in the opener only heightened it. Michigan State completed less than 50 percent of its passes and averaged just 3.75 yards per play…against Western Michigan. The Spartans needed two defensive touchdowns to beat the Broncos 26-13. Even by B1G standards…woof.
Worth Noting: Logan Thomas has not covered himself with glory. Part of that is that he was overrated. Much of that is the experience around him the past two years. The team returned two starters alongside him in 2012. The 2013 group returns three starters from that team alongside him. He’s lost almost his entire offensive line and receiver corps in back to back years. That and playing against Alabama will make a lot of quarterbacks look like crap.
Photo of the Weekend… Paul Finebaum prepping for GameDay.
[Photos via USA Today Sports, Getty]