Three-point stance: Week 1 takeaways, don't count teams out
Today’s edition includes five things that stood out from college football's opening weekend, a warning to not count teams out after a bad Week 1 and a what-if scenario involving Leonard Fournette.
1. Five things I liked this weekend
Here are five things that made me happy from college football's opening weekend:
Nick Chubb is back! After seeing that horrific injury last season I, like many others, feared Georgia's star running back would never be the same. I kept thinking of Marcus Lattimore over and over again. So to see Chubb rush for 222 yards and instantly rejoin the Heisman conversation brought a smile to my face.
The Longhorns won a big game! Okay, I know they inexplicably beat Oklahoma last season, but that was obviously a fluke. This year’s Texas team, the team that outlasted Notre Dame in a game they would have handed away a season ago, makes me happy. Because, as I’ve always said, a good and strong Texas program is good for college football. Regardless of whether I think Charlie Strong can get it done in Austin or not, this was a great sign for the Big 12 and college football. I was also happy for Tyrone Swoopes, a classy kid who finally had a great moment. And who wasn't impressed with Shane Buechele?
Tom Herman is for real! As Houston was throttling Oklahoma, I was making plans to write something about how Herman was continuing his job interview for the Texas job. I assumed that Texas would lose, and lose badly, to Notre Dame. Oh well, my bad. But Herman continues to prove he’s one of the more brilliant minds in college football and we could certainly use the next Urban Meyer or Nick Saban in our sport. This guy looks like he’s it.
Nebraska’s salute to Sam Foltz! You want to talk about a tear-jerking moment in college football? When Nebraska lined up in punt formation with only 10 players to honor their former punter who died in a car accident over the summer, I thought I might lose it. Kudos to Fresno State as well for declining the penalty. The Huskers did so in front of its best group of official visitors in the Rivals.com era, something I’m sure wasn’t lost on them. And Rafael Gaglianone hitting the game-winner for Wisconsin wearing Foltz’s old jersey number? Icing on the cake.
Lamar Jackson being Lamar Jackson! Will this kid win a Heisman? It wouldn’t shock me if he did. Yes, his amazing performance came against Charlotte, but eight touchdowns in a half is impressive stuff no matter the opponent. If anyone is going to spoil the ACC’s chances of getting into the playoffs, it will be Jackson as he could help Louisville upset Clemson or Florida State. Or maybe Jackson just takes the world by storm and leads Louisville to the College Football Playoff himself.
2. Don't count these teams out
Everyone loves to write off teams after one game, but remember that Stanford lost its season-opener last year and almost made the playoffs and Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech in 2014 and won it all. Here are five teams you’d better not count out yet…
Oklahoma – Yes they got hammered by Houston and they have Texas, Baylor, TCU and Ohio State left on the schedule. But this team is too talented and Baker Mayfield and his backfield mates are too determined to lay down and die. The Ohio State game is key because if they win that one at home, the Sooners could still run the table in the Big 12 and make a run at the playoff.
LSU – Yes the offense looked awful again, especially the offensive line and the quarterback situation with Brandon Harris, but this team is loaded with future NFL stars. The roster is too talented to fall apart without a fight. Alabama looked unbeatable in game one and, yes, LSU looked bad, but don’t count them out yet.
Notre Dame – The Irish found their quarterback in DeShone Kizer, they have a strong offensive line that will get stronger (even if it looked bad at times) and some great running backs. If the wideouts can continue to improve and the defense, especially the secondary and linebackers, can keep them in games, the offensive production might overwhelm some teams. Kizer looks a lot like a guy who can carry a team on his back in games.
USC – What? This was a team that looked horrible against Alabama, essentially gave up when the chips were down and has a head coach that is untested and has few convinced he’s the guy. But the Trojans also have some amazing playmakers, talent at quarterback that just needs experience and a roster filled with former four and five-star prospects. And it’s not like the Pac-12 looks all that formidable so far. USC can compete in the league, but they will need to find the will and desire quickly.
Tennessee – Wait a second, the Vols didn’t lose. Well, according to everyone they might as well have. After all, Appalachian State made so many mistakes, were essentially a missed extra point from avoiding overtime and the Vols had to fumble their way into the end zone to win. But Tenessee is still 1-0 and there is a lot of talent on this roster. Georgia looked good and are the team to beat in the SEC East if Chubb stays healthy and Jacob Eason can avoid mistakes, but the division is still vulnerable and Tennessee has a lot of weapons.
3. What if...
Saturday, while LSU's offense was going nowhere on offense, a thought occurred to me: What if Leonard Fournette had chosen Alabama instead of the in-state Tigers? If Fournette chose Alabama, he would have played on a much more talented and better-coached team and potentially received all of those carries that Derrick Henry got last season. Would we have spent the entire offseason talking up the possibility that Fournette could be the first 3,000-yard rusher in NCAA history? Could he win back-to-back Heisman Trophies like Archie Griffin? We know what he can do with unimaginative gameplans behind an average offensive line. What would he do under the best coach in the country? Share your thoughts with me @rivalsmike on Twitter.