Welcome to the wild world of college football. 11 years ago, unheard of FCS Appalachian State walked into Michigan Stadium and stunned the number five team in the country. This year, the Mountaineers almost spoiled another top ten team’s season opener. #10 Penn State needed overtime to finish off App State on Saturday. The game highlighted one of the strangest opening weekends of college football that we’ve seen.
Of course, powerhouses like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State rolled through their opponents and showed why they will continue to sit at the top of college football. However, games like Penn State’s showed how far some teams have to climb before they can dream about a national championship.
This week, I will look at the three most crucial results from week one and examine the week two matchups that will have
a significant impact on the College Football Playoff.
#9 Auburn: 21 #6 Washington: 16
Auburn’s defense proved to be too much for Jake Browning and the Huskies. The Tigers forced Browning to turn the ball over twice, one fumble coming when Washington was deep in their opponents territory in the third quarter. While we didn’t see any flashes of greatness from Jarrett Stidham and the Auburn offense, they managed to take care of the ball and keep the defense off the field.
What this means for Auburn.
It’s difficult to tell how good Auburn will be. It was essentially a home game in Atlanta for the Tigers, and Jake Browning was uncharacteristically careless with the football. That being said, Auburn earned a statement win to put on their resume that we could be looking at come December. The path doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers. Their three toughest games are all on the road this season. They have Mississippi State in Starkville on October 6 and then they travel to Georgia and Alabama to close out the season. It seems unlikely that the Tigers will be able to go through the season unscathed but the Washington win gives them a very legitimate shot at getting in with one or two losses. If Auburn wins at least two of those tough road games, they may be looking at their first College Football Playoff berth.
What this means for Washington.
The loss on Saturday puts a huge dent in Washington’s playoffs hopes. The Pac-12 is widely regarded as the weakest of the power five conferences and the Huskies’ schedule doesn’t give them many opportunities to make a statement. The only other ranked teams remaining on their schedule are Oregon and Stanford. If Washington wants to get back into the conversation, they have to win out, and look very good doing so. Chaos amongst other conferences would also help the Huskies’ case for a spot.
#12 Notre Dame: 24 #14 Michigan: 17
The Notre Dame defense looked dominant on Saturday, not allowing a Michigan offensive touchdown until late in the fourth quarter. Newcomer Shea Patterson struggled at the helm of the Wolverine offense, constantly finding himself under pressure and unable to read the Fighting Irish coverage. Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush appeared to make significant strides as a passer and it appeared as if Notre Dame would run away with the game in the first half. The Irish offense stuttered in the second half, partially due to conservative play calling, but the result of the game was never truly in doubt.
What this means for Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish are already at a disadvantage with their inability to win a conference championship. They make up for this by playing one of the toughest schedules in the FBS. Clashes with Stanford, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Northwestern and USC still loom on their schedule. If the Fighting Irish win out, they are undoubtedly in the playoff. The Michigan game was a great start for Notre Dame and its attempt to get back to the top of the college football world. The ability to control the game and lock down Michigan’s offense will not go unnoticed by the committee, especially if the Wolverines turn it around for the rest of their season.
What this means for Michigan.
This does not knock the Wolverines out of playoff consideration by any means. The Big Ten is extremely deep this year and Michigan will get a crack at several top ten teams throughout the season. What is alarming, though, is Michigan’s continued inability to spark any kind of offense. The Wolverine defense has been one of the best in the country for the past several years but their offense has held them back from any significant success. Ole Miss transfer quarterback was praised as the “saving grace” for the Wolverine offense. However, he can’t fix the issues with the offensive line and struggled to make throws even when he was given enough time. Michigan has some time to figure the offense out before their showdown with #4 Wisconsin on October 13.
#25 LSU: 33 #8 Miami: 17
The score doesn’t reflect how dominant the Tigers were throughout most of this game. It was 33-3 before Miami was able to score two late touchdowns. Malik Rosier of the Hurricanes looked pitiful, throwing two interceptions and missing other critical passes. On the other side, the turnover chain was no match for transfer quarterback Joe Burrow and the rest of the LSU offense. While Burrow looked solid, senior running back Nick Brossette shined in his first start, going for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
What this means for LSU.
Have the Tigers finally found their quarterback? LSU has been searching without avail for several years to find somebody that can run their offense. Enter Burrow, a graduate transfer from Ohio State. He wasn’t great but made the throws needed and more importantly, didn’t make mistakes. Coupled with a strong running game, the Tiger offense tore apart a Miami defense that had a knack for forcing turnovers last year. On the other side of the ball, LSU was able to put constant pressure on Malik Rosier, sacking him four times and forcing two interceptions. Similar to Auburn, the road only gets harder from here. LSU will face off against Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama before the season ends. It might be premature to insert the Tigers into college football playoff consideration but they certainly made a statement on Sunday.
What this means for Miami.
Miami was the talk of the country for much of the season last year. However, after starting out 10-0, they lost their final three games of the year and expectations were unclear for this season. The hope was that Malik Rosier would improve and be able to supplement the Hurricane defense with at least a decent offense. These wishes didn’t come true Sunday. Not only did the Miami offense struggle, the defense was unable to stop an LSU offense that ranked 76 in points per game last year. Furthermore, Miami didn’t get a chance to bring out their famous “turnover chain”, given to a player that forces a turnover on defense. The Hurricanes still have a strong chance to win the ACC Coastal division but they appear to be a long way off from competing with Clemson for an ACC title.