#11 UCLA Puts the Hurt on #15 Arizona State, 62-27: A Clear Signal That the Bruins Are Back

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 5

Let’s make it official. Jim Mora and his UCLA Bruins have arrived big time in the Pac-12. All the #11 Bruins did this week was travel to #15 Arizona State and trash the Sun Devils, 62-27. Mora’s gang raddled off 8 touchdowns in the last three quarters. UCLA remains unbeaten at 4-0 and Arizona State is now 3-1, and will not soon forget UCLA’s arrival.

So how do we know UCLA is going to be reckoned with? Well, the Bruins were favored by 3 over Arizona State and won by 35 points. That is called making a statement when two Top 15 teams clash and the visitor comes out on top.

#13 South Carolina and Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks have gone officially bipolar this week. The Gamecocks were upset in their home opener, losing to Texas A&M 52-28, then rebounded to beat East Carolina, upset Georgia, beat Vanderbilt and now have lost 21-20 to unranked Missouri. For Carolina, it’s been three steps forward and two steps back. There will be some goal resetting in Gamecock country this week.

This week there were 9 ranked teams that beat unranked opponents by at least 3 touchdowns:

#5 Auburn at home beat unranked Louisiana Tech by 28, 45-17, to remain unbeaten at 4-0.

#7 Baylor on-the-road beat unranked Iowa State by 21, 49-28.

#9 Michigan State at home beat unranked Wyoming by 42 points, 56-14 – After an early season loss on-the-road to #4 Oregon, 46-27, the Spartans continue to pile up the points and impress.

#10 Ole Miss at home beat unranked Memphis by 21, 24-3.

#17 LSU at home beat unranked New Mexico State by 56, 63-7.

#18 Southern Cal at home beat unranked Oregon State by 25, 35-10

#21 Nebraska at home beat unranked Illinois by 31, 45-14.

#22 Ohio State at home beat unranked, in-state rival Cincinnati by 22, 50-28.

#25 Kansas State at home beat unranked Texas-El Paso (UTEP) by 30, 58-28.

Despite winning by at least 21 points, there is no way that Baylor, Ohio State and Kansas State should be giving up 28 points to their opponents. Simply put, their defense is not that good.

There were 7 other ranked teams that weren’t so impressive in winning against unranked opponents:

#1 Florida State on-the-road beat unranked North Carolina State by 15, 56-41 – Florida State was favored by 18.5 points, and is not going to be ranked #1 very much longer. North Carolina State came into the game at 4-0 and put up 41 points on the Seminoles. What is Florida State going to do when the Seminoles actually play a really good team? Florida State’s #1 rank is about to go south. Here’s why: Among 60 votes in the AP Top 25 Poll the first week, Florida State got 46 votes. Then it was 37, then 34 and now 27. The Oregon Ducks and Alabama Crimson Tide are on the rise, each with 13 first place votes. Even the Oklahoma Sooners now have 7 votes.

#6 Texas A&M at home needed overtime to upend unranked Arkansas by 7, 36-28.

#8 Notre Dame on-the-road beat unranked Syracuse by 16, 31-15. It might not be wise to get too fired up about the Irish just yet. They were favored by 9.5 over Syracuse, which has very little going for it.

#12 Georgia at home won by a field goal over unranked Tennessee, 35-32 – Talk about unimpressive wins; the Bulldogs are not going anywhere very fast this year.

#16 Stanford on-the-road finally beat unranked Washington by 7, 20-13. The Cardinal is supposed to be the best defensive team in the nation right now, and the Washington Huskies were beyond awful on offense and still scored 13 points all but running backwards. What could that possibly mean? Washington’s defense kept them in the game.

#19 Wisconsin at home beat unranked South Florida by 17, 27-10.

#24 Oklahoma State at home could only beat unranked Texas Tech by 10, 45-35 – Giving up the equivalent of 5 touchdowns is not impressive.

Two other games stuck out like a sore thumb:

In this week’s “Defense? Are You Kidding Me?” contest, the California Golden Bears outlasted the Colorado Buffaloes, 59-56, in the 3rd overtime. While scoring a combined 115 points gave fans a real reason to drink, eat, jump up and down and be entertained to the hilt on the edge of their seat, the most salient question of this contest was: Who knew Colorado has actually discovered an offense?

Mike Leach and his Washington State Cougars took top upset honors this week. Washington State traveled to Salt Lake City to take on the unbeaten Utah Utes. The 3-0 Utes came out like rabid dogs, sprinting to a 21-0 1st quarter lead, and a 24-7 halftime lead. Unfortunately for Utah, Washington State won the 2nd half, 21-3, and the upset victory, 28-27.

Leach’s air attack included senior quarterback Connor Halliday, who threw for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns. Vince Mayle, who sped untouched for 81 yards on the go-ahead touchdown with 4:58 remaining, had 8 receptions for 120 yards. The big news was the Cougar defense, who made enough key stops to preserve the upset victory. So how big was the upset win on-the-road for Washington State? Well, let’s just say it’s a damn good thing that something good is happening, because the Cougars came into this game at 1-3.

Last week there were 7 unranked teams that were 4-0. Four of the seven lost this week. Northwestern beat up Penn State, North Carolina State lost to #1 Florida State, Washington lost to #16 Stanford, and Miami-Florida took Duke to school. Arizona, Georgia Tech and Marshall were all idle this week and still 4-0 on the year.

#2 Alabama, #3 Oklahoma, #4 Oregon, #16 Mississippi State, #21 Brigham Young and #24 East Carolina were also all idle this week.

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Auburn Beats K-State as Indiana Upsets Missouri and LSU Loses to 4-0 Mississippi State

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 4

Among major teams, #5 Auburn was 1 of 2 ranked teams to face a ranked opponent, going on-the-road to defeat #20 Kansas State, 20-14. #8 LSU and #18 Missouri could not escape being upset by unranked teams.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs were just that, sinking their teeth into the LSU Tigers, running up a 34-10 lead in the 4th quarter, and then giving up 3 touchdowns before winning, 34-29. LSU was, of course, left sucking on some of its own Louisiana pond water at home. Mississippi State is now 4-0 and LSU 3-1. How many times has that happened?

Even worse, the Missouri Tigers, favored by 13.5 at home, had to suffer a loss at the hands of the Indiana Hoosiers, 31-27. Indiana is one of the most improved teams this year, but Indiana is generally a weak Big Ten team and a serious basketball state, at least while Bobby Knight was at Indiana. Between LSU and Missouri, it was not a good day to be a Tiger fan, player or coach.

And so, the upsets among ranked teams continue to pile up. To wit:

In Week 1, #9 South Carolina, favored by 10.5 at home, was upset by #21 Texas A&M, 58-28.

In Week 2, #8 Ohio State, favored by 11 at home, was upset by unranked Virginia Tech, 35-21.

In Week 3, # 6 Georgia, favored by 6.5 on-the-road, was upset by #24 South Carolina, 38-35; #9 USC, favored by 17 on-the-road, was upset by unranked Boston College, 37-31; #17 Virginia Tech, favored by10 at home, was upset by unranked East Carolina, 28-21; and #21 Louisville, favored by 6.5 on-the-road, was upset by unranked Virginia, 23-21.

In Week 4, #8 LSU and #18 Missouri bit the dust.

#1 Florida State faced #22 Clemson in the second game among ranked teams. Clemson, a good kind of Tiger, had the Seminoles on the ropes before losing in overtime, 23-17. The Seminoles were playing without their immature, disgusting, foul-mouthed, self-centered, nitwit Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Jameis Winston. Winston has an ego problem bigger than the State of Florida. He’s good at football, running his mouth and getting into trouble.

No one will ever mistake Jameis Winston for a mental giant.

Clemson sealed its own fate when Coach Dabo Swinney declined to attempt a 33-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime, and Adam Choice was stuffed for no gain on a 4th-and-1. Two plays later, Seminole Karlos Williams ran for a 12-yard touchdown and the victory. Clemson kicker Ammon Lakip had missed two short field goals earlier in the game, so Swinney felt he needed to pass on a FG attempt from 33 yards out. Clemson had other chances but blew them.

This week there were only 5 ranked teams that beat unranked opponents by at least 3 touchdowns:

#3 Alabama (4-0) at home beat unranked Florida by 21, 42-21 – The Tide slopped its way through, committing 11 penalties and 4 turnovers. That said, they racked up 645 total yards on the hapless Florida Gators, well, maybe mini-gators.

#6 Texas A&M (4-0) on-the-road beat unranked Southern Methodist by 52, 58-6.

#11 Michigan State at home (2-1) beat unranked Eastern Michigan by 59, 73-14 – The Spartans led 49-0 at the half. Their 73 points were the 3rd most since 1931.

#13 Georgia (2-1) at home shut out unranked Troy, 66-0.

#19 Wisconsin (2-1) at home beat unranked Bowling Green by 51, 68-17.

There were 5 other ranked teams that weren’t exactly ripping it up in winning against unranked opponents:

#2 Oregon (a 4-0 team favored by 24) on-the-road used speed to outrun unranked Washington State by 7, 38-31. You could argue that the Duke pass defense is porous, and you would be right.

#4 Oklahoma (4-0) on-the-road beat unranked West Virginia by 12, 45-33. Thirty-three points is a lot to give up to an unranked team that is 2-2.

#14 South Carolina (3-1) on-the-road won by 14 over Vanderbilt, 48-34. Thirty-four points is a lot to give up to an unranked team that is 1-3.

#21 Brigham Young (4-0) at home got by unranked Virginia by 8, 41-33. Thirty-three points is a lot to give up to an unranked team that is 2-2.

#24 Nebraska (4-0) at home beat unranked Miami (FL) by 10, 41-31.

Interestingly enough, 7 teams not in the AP Top 25 are still unbeaten at 4-0. They include:

#32 Washington – The Huskies are the highest unranked team at 4-0, and this in spite of some atrocious victories. This week they played Georgia State, a 0-12 team last year that was a 35-point underdog. Georgia State won the 1st half 14-zip, gaining 231 yards in offense while holding the ball for 21 of 30 minutes. Washington gained only 73 yards. Fortunately for new coach Chris Petersen, the Huskies won the 2nd half 45-zip and the game, 45-14, scoring 7 unanswered touchdowns and holding Georgia State to just 42 yards of offense in the 2nd half. Coach Chris Petersen (formerly of Boise State) became the first Washington coach since Gil Dobie in 1908 to begin his career at the school with a perfect 4-0 record.

#35 Arizona

#37 Penn State

#41 Duke – They used to not allow football success as Duke (only basketball ruled), but the times they are a changin’.

#49 Georgia Tech

#56 North Carolina State

#59 Marshall – The Thundering Herd is the lowest ranked team that is still unbeaten in major college football.

Eight ranked teams were idle this week, including #6 Baylor, #9 Notre Dame, #10 UCLA, #12 Mississippi, #13 Arizona State, #15 Stanford, #18 Ohio State and #21 Southern California.

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#6 Georgia, #9 USC, #17 Virginia Tech and #21 Louisville Are All Not As Good As Advertised

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 3

Reality sets in about the 3rd week of major college football, and this year was no exception.

The #6-Ranked Georgia Bulldogs got stung on-the-road at South Carolina, losing to the Gamecocks by a field goal, 38-35. South Carolina, upended in its opener at home against Texas A&M by 24 points, now does not look so bad, as A&M, then ranked #17 is now ranked #6 after beating in-state rival Rice 38-10.

South Carolina is not the only team rebounding after an upset loss. The Ohio State Buckeyes lost by 24 to Virginia Tech last week and shut out in-state rival Kent State 66-0 this week. After its tremendous win against Ohio State last week, #17 Virginia Tech was upset by unranked East Carolina this week, 28-21.

After its awesome defeat of Stanford last week, #9 USC traveled to Boston College and promptly lost 37-31. #15 Stanford, on the rebound, shut out Army 35-0. Army was using popguns, which was kind of like playing a junior college team.

Not to be outdone were the #21 Louisville Cardinals, who could not keep pace with Virginia, losing to the Cavaliers, 23-21.

So Georgia, USC, Virginia Tech and Louisville are all not as good as advertised as these 4 ranked teams lost, and all but Georgia lost to unranked teams. This is the reality of college football, even the best of the best can be upset any week, and especially in an away game. This kind of action is also why college football is more interesting than pro football.

So 4 ranked teams are upset, and 3 ranked teams are on the rebound after suffering upset loses.

So, who is left that is really still getting it done? That means ranked teams that beat unranked opponents by at least 3 touchdowns. There were 7:

#8 Baylor (3-0) beat Buffalo by 42. Baylor is college football’s all offense team with little or no defense, which is why they can get attention but never win a national championship.

#14 Ole Miss (3-0) beat Louisiana-Lafayette by 41. Ole Miss is trying to get national attention after so many years as a doormat in the SEC. Just how long will Ole Miss go undefeated?

#3 Alabama (3-0) beat Southern Mississippi by 40. Alabama under Nick Saban is the Crimson Tide, and Roll Tide is in the hunt for the national title every year.

#2 Oregon (3-0) beat Wyoming by 34. The Ducks continue to be in the race for national title in recent years.

#10 LSU (3-0) shut out in-state rival Louisiana-Monroe, 31-0.

#20 Missouri (3-0) beat UCF by 28. Every 10 years or so Missouri has a good team, but mostly the Tigers win off the radar when it comes to the national championship race.

#4 Oklahoma (3-0) beat Tennessee by 24. For years Tennessee had competitive teams in the SEC. No mas. Payton Manning left Tennessee 17 years ago.

Now let’s identify the Top 25 ranked teams that could not beat an unranked opponent by at least 3 touchdowns, indicating that they are not nearly in the same league at this point in the season. There were 4:

#11 Notre Dame (3-0) could only beat in-state rival Purdue by 16. Purdue is never in the hunt for anything, the Boilermakers are too busy trying to find boilers to fix.

#16 Arizona State (3-0) could only beat Colorado by 14. The Buffaloes are on hard times in Boulder.

#25 Brigham Young (3-0) could only beat Houston by 8.

#12 UCLA (3-0) could only beat Texas by 3. Texas was supposed to be better this year, but the Longhorns have now lost 2 of their first 3 games, which is, of course, not good.

Notre Dame, Arizona State, Brigham Young and UCLA will all get beaten this year, and all of them will likely lose more than one game.

Ten unranked teams managed to open the season at 3-0 this year but against weaker competition. All will continue to rise or fall during the coming weeks. Here they are followed by the Sagarin rankings of the opponent they beat:

Pittsburgh (3-0) beat #157 Florida International.

Northern Illinois (3-0) beat #117 UNLV.

North Carolina State (3-0) beat #115 South Florida.

Mississippi State (3-0) beat #111 South Alabama.

Georgia Tech (3-0) beat #107 Georgia Southern.

Duke (3-0) beat #102 Kansas.

Penn State (3-0) beat #90 Rutgers.

Nebraska (3-0) beat #84 Fresno State.

Washington (3-0) beat #82 Illinois from the Big Ten.

Arizona (3-0) beat #76 Nevada.

Justified or not, Nebraska moved up to #24 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. Although they played better ranked teams, Washington and Arizona did not move into the rankings, mostly because Nebraska is almost always overrated and Washington and Arizona are Pac-12 teams. This week’s inside joke: Big Ten teams are always thought to be better than Pac-12 teams.

There were two dramatic overtime games this week. Middle Tennessee nipped Western Kentucky in triple overtime, 50-47, and Florida got by Kentucky in quadruple overtime, 36-30. Florida (2-0) is an improved team this year.

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#3 Oregon Beats #7 Michigan State, #14 USC Nips #13 Stanford, and #8 Ohio State Loses

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 2

Oregon, Southern Cal and Virginia Tech came up big in week 2 of college football action.

The #7-Ranked Michigan State Spartans traveled to the West Coast and beat #3-Ranked Oregon 24-18 in the 1st half; the Ducks at home beat the Spartans 28-3 in the 2nd half and won the game by 19, 46-27. The Michigan State Spartans really blew their chance to jump into the Top 5 nationally and earn the kind of respect they want.

New Coach Steve Sarkisian and his #14 Southern Cal Trojans traveled to #13 Stanford and upset The Cardinal by a field goal, 13-10. You could call it close since Stanford was favored by 2.5 and lost by 3. USC called it a win, a big win against a big, physical Stanford 11.

#8 Ohio State at home took a butt-kicking from unranked Virginia Tech, 35-21. The Buckeyes, favored by 11, lost by 14.

In a much lesser upset this week, Nevada beat Washington State 24-13.

The nominee for the game with the least defense was Pac-12 Washington over in-state rival AA Eastern Washington, 59-52. This was hardly entertaining for Washington fans as the Huskies let rival Eagle QB Vernon Adams pass for 475 yards and 7 touchdowns. Eastern Washington is ranked #2 among AA schools nationally, but new Coach Chris Petersen has some work to do with the inexperienced Husky secondary. Washington did rush for 356 yards, and both teams combined for 1,100+ yards offense.

No less than 11 ranked teams had unranked teams as opponents this week, and all of them won.

Some won big:

#5 Auburn at home beat San Jose State by 46.

#4 Oklahoma on-the-road beat in-state rival Tulsa by 45.

#2 Alabama at home shut out Florida Atlantic by 41.

#15 Ole Miss on-the-road beat Vanderbilt by 38.

#17 Arizona State on-the-road beat New Mexico by 35.

#16 Notre Dame at home shut out Michigan by 31.

#24 Missouri on-the-road beat Toledo by 25.

At least one won not so big:

#21 South Carolina at home beat in-state rival East Carolina by 10.

And 3 ranked teams could only win by single digits:

#11 UCLA at home beat Memphis by 7.

#20 Kansas State on-the-road beat Iowa State by 4.

#21 North Carolina at home beat San Diego State by 4.

Synopsis: UCLA, Kansas State and North Carolina: Not as good as ranked.

No less than 8 Top 25 teams this week played AA opponents to pad their records, and all of them won.

Some won big:

#9 Texas A&M at home beat AA Lamar by 70.

#23 Clemson at home beat AA South Carolina State by 66.

#10 Baylor at home beat AA Northwestern State by 64.

#12 LSU at home shut out AA Sam Houston State by 56.

#25 Louisville at home beat AA Murray State by 45.

#18 Wisconsin at home beat AA Western Illinois by 34.

Some won less big:

#1 Florida State at home beat AA The Citadel by 25.

And one could only win by single digits:

#19 Nebraska at home beat AA McNeese State by 7.

Tell me that Florida State and Nebraska are really good this year. I hadn’t noticed.

There will be some more easy victories with AA competition next week before teams get down to league play and we begin to separate the wheat from the chaff, the contenders from the pretenders.

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Texas A&M Upsets South Carolina, 52-28; Florida State, Alabama & UCLA Just Get By

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 1

The first week of the 2014 NCAA college football season was business as usual—no less than 46 of the opening week’s 85 games (54%) found the Division 1-A teams playing weaker Division 1-AA opponents.

This happens for at least 4 reasons:

1) The major 1-A teams, what the NCAA brain trust calls the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), want at least one or two easy victories to start the season so they can be temporarily undefeated before they play tougher league competition (even the SEC teams do this).

2) Playing a much weaker team allows the major teams to give their first-time starters and younger players badly needed experience, and help build their confidence for the much tougher league games ahead.

3) Despite the preseason training, and however well it appears to go, there is nothing like game experience to reveal the weakness of a team’s offense and defense. Coaches also find out that some great practice players don’t do nearly as well under actual game pressure, and others come alive when it counts most.

4) Weaker AA teams, what the NCAA brain trust likes to call the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), buy into this competitive disparity because they get a huge monetary payoff to help fund their programs as well as the much needed publicity when they can upset the bigger-name program and team. It’s a symbiotic relationship that works because both teams benefit despite the obvious lack of competitive parity.

To preserve my sanity, and yours as well, all of my articles on this site this season will only use the national rankings of the AP Top 25 Poll of sportswriters and sportscasters, since it is the most popular poll among fans. I am 70, after all, and have been watching or covering college football for 50+ years, and need all of the focus I can get.

A new twist this year will be to focus on Phil Steele’s preseason Top 13 Surprise Teams (ST) and Top 12 Most Improved Teams (MIT). Phil Steele is the most accurate forecaster in the world when it comes to major college football, and is worth following (see my earlier posts on Phil Steele that came out last week).

Phil’s Surprise Teams this year are (in order) Georgia, USC, Wisconsin, TCU, North Carolina, Mississippi, Iowa, LSU, Virginia Tech, Texas, Florida, Notre Dame and Northwestern.

Phil’s Most Improved Teams this year are (in order) TCU, Florida, Northwestern, Air Force, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Tennessee, NC State, Army, Akron and Indiana.

Let’s analyze the margins of victory in the first week’s results of these AA lopsided game opponents. As you read through these results, see what conclusions you can draw compared to mine:

+65 Texas State at home over AA Arkansas-Pine Bluff 65-Zip – Texas State is on neither of Phil Steele’s list of Surprise Teams or Most Improved Teams, but then again, winners always announce themselves.

+63 Memphis at home skunked AA Austin Peay 63-Nothing – Memphis is one of Phil Steele’s Most Improved Teams this year, and now you know why.

+62 Pittsburgh at home blanked AA Delaware 62-Zip – About time these Panthers came to life.

+45 Kentucky at home over AA UT Martin 59-14 – Martin is an extension of the University of Tennessee.

+54 Middle Tennessee at home over AA Savannah State 61-7

+52 Northern Illinois at home over AA Presbyterian 55-3

+49 #3-Ranked Oregon at home over AA South Dakota 62-13

+45 Maryland at home over AA James Madison 52-7 – This is about as good as it will ever get for the Maryland Terripans. Speed kills in college football. Unless the football season goes to 100 games, those turtles are never going to catch the rabbits.

+45 #11-Ranked Stanford at home blanked AA UC Davis 45-0. The University of California at Davis football players became road kill for the always physical Stanford players in this one. Stanford is not happy with the talent it lost to UCLA and USC, and they aim to do something about it.

+45 East Carolina at home over AA in-state rival North Carolina Central 52-7

+42 Utah at home over AA Idaho State 56-14

+41 Akron at home blanked AA Howard, 41-0 – Remember that Akron is one of Phil Steele’s Most Improved Teams. Ohio (Akron’s home state) seems like a good place to be at the moment. After all, LeBron James has returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Ohio State garnered a #5 ranking in the AP Top 25 Pre-Season Poll.

+39 Duke at home over AA Elon 52-13 – This is a Duke team that should win by 39 points.

+39 UL Lafayette at home over AA Southern 45-6

+39 #20-Ranked Kansas State at home over AA Stephen F. Austin 55-16

+38 #8-Ranked Michigan State at home over AA Jacksonville State 45-7

+34 TCU at home over AA Samford 48-14 – TCU is one of Phil Steele’s Surprise Teams.

+34 Toledo at home over AA New Hampshire 54-20

+32 San Jose State at home over AA North Dakota 42-10

+31 #19-Ranked Arizona State at home over AA Weber State 45-14

+31 San Diego State at home over AA Northern Arizona 38-7

+28 Air Force at home over AA Nicholls State 44-16 – Air Force is one of Phil Steele’s Most Improved Teams.

+27 #23 Ranked North Carolina at home over AA Liberty 56-29 – North Carolina is one of Phil Steele’s Surprise Teams.

+27 Arkansas State at home over AA Montana State 37-10

+25 Virginia Tech at home over AA William & Mary (aka Bill & Mary) 34-9

+22 Minnesota at home over AA Eastern Illinois 42-20

+20 Ball State at home over AA Colgate 30-10

+20 #24-Ranked Missouri at home over AA South Dakota State 38-18

+19 Georgia Tech at home over AA Wofford 38-19

+18 New Mexico State at home over AA Cal Poly 28-10

+18 Indiana at home over AA in-state rival Indiana State 28-10 – Indiana is another of Phil Steele’s Most Improved Teams.

+15 Oregon State at home over AA in-state rival Portland State 29-14 –Thought sure that the Beavers would beat Portland State by more than 15 points. Looks like Mike Riley needs more firepower, and a better defense.

+13 Old Dominion at home over AA Hampton 41-28 – When you cover college football for 50 years, some of us old-timers are surprised that Old Dominion is a 1-A football school. The surprise will be all ours if the Monarchs win more games than they lose.

+11 Illinois at home over AA Youngstown State 28-17

+10 Buffalo at home over AA Duquesne 38-28

+9 Nevada at home over AA Southern Utah 28-19 – Nevada is another of Phil Steele’s Most Improved Teams.

+8 Iowa at home over AA in-state rival Northern Iowa 31-23 – In-state rivals can play tough as Iowa found out. Iowa is one of Phil Steele’s Surprise Teams. The Hawkeyes better get more surprising before they enter Big Ten Conference play!

+7 Texas Tech at home over AA Central Arkansas 42-35

+5 Wyoming at home over AA Montana 17-12 – Both of these states are short on people and also scoring. Montana is 44th of 50 states with barely 1 million population, and Wyoming is the smallest of 50 states with less than 600,000. You need to have a big gas tank when traveling through Wyoming.

+5 South Florida at home over AA Western Carolina 36-31.

+4 Central Michigan at home over AA Chattanooga 20-16 – The Chippewas were behind 16-7 at the half, but came to their senses and won the 2nd half 13-0.

+3 Eastern Michigan at home over AA Morgan State 31-28 – Seriously, Eastern Michigan Eagles, you win by a field goal and give up 4 touchdowns to Morgan State?

+2 Florida International at home over AA Bethune-Cookman 14-12 – It’s truly good that Florida International actually beat AA Bethune-Cookman, otherwise, FIU might not win another game this season. Last year they finished at 1-11.

+1 Georgia State at home squeaked by AA Abilene Christian 38-37 – Georgia State is a relatively new 1-A team, and not progressing very fast, even apparently against AA competition.

+1 Syracuse at home needs two overtimes to beat AA Villanova 27-26 – Does Syracuse, at one time a competitive 1-A school, miss the legendary Jim Brown? You betcha, and then some, even more than the Cleveland Browns.

Minus 20 – Iowa State at home was upset by AA North Dakota State 34-14 – So, just how bad are the Iowa State Cyclones? Apparently, they are really, really bad. Iowa State ends up being the ONLY 1-A team unable to beat its AA opponent during the first week of the 2014 college football season. Apparently the Bison from Fargo are not too shabby!

What is your analysis of these AA games? Here is mine:

1) In 50+ years of watching and covering college football, I can say that unless an A team beats a double-A team by 40+ points, they are probably not ready for prime play in the next few weeks.

So at least a dozen teams get attention right now because they have an offense—Texas State, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois, Oregon, Maryland, Stanford, East Carolina, Utah and Akron.

The best victory over an AA team was Texas State stomping a mud hole in Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a 65-0 shutout. When you can put 65 points on the board and keep your opponent scoreless, you are damn serious about playing football.

The worst victories were by Georgia State and Syracuse; both won by 1 against AA teams. The worst performance came from the players at Iowa State, whom lost to AA North Dakota State by 20.

Forty-five of the 46 teams that played AA teams won, that’s 98%. No wonder they do it. The only team to not escape was Iowa State. And that is the risk—that you may be very embarrassed by a lesser opponent.

AA upsets can and do happen.

In 2011, the Oregon State Beavers allowed AA Sacramento State to pull off a 29-28 victory in overtime.

In 2010, Jacksonville State, an AA team from the Ohio Valley Conference, overcame a 21-point deficit to upend Mississippi 49-48, marking only the second ever loss by an SEC team (Southeastern Conference) to an AA team.

In another stunning AA win in 2010, No. 13-ranked Virginia Tech lost at home to the James Madison Dukes, 21-16, in what had to be one of the worst – if not the worst – defeats in Hokie history. To add insult to injury, Virginia Tech was favored by 33 points, and failed to cover by 39, which could not have made Hokie boosters happy as they went home broke.

In the first week of the 2007 season, visiting AA Appalachian State pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history when the Mountaineers knocked off then 5th-ranked Michigan, 34-32, on a final play blocked field goal attempt at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

Some fans think Appalachian State’s upset was THE greatest in history since no AA team had beaten a team ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll between 1989 and 2006—an 18-year period—and it’s unlikely that it had ever happened before since the Division I subdivisions were created in 1978.

Here are the results of the only 3 games with ranked opponents colliding during the first week:

#9-Ranked South Carolina at home, favored by 10.5, was upset by #21-Ranked Texas A&M by 24 points, 52-28—a swing in the wrong direction for the Gamecocks of no less than 34. In order to appreciate how close this game was, the Aggies were up 31-14 at halftime. Many pundits thought losing star QB Johnny Manziel (drafted #22), OT Jake Matthews (#6) and WR Mike Evans (#7) in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft would hurt Texas A&M this year.

So how bad did Texas A&M miss hotshot Johnny Manziel? Not too much. New Aggie QB Kenny Hill carved up South Carolina, breaking Manziel’s single-game passing record with 511 yards, ending the Gamecock’s 18-game home win streak, and becoming the most passing yards given up in Steve Spurrier’s 10 years as coach at South Carolina. You can pretty much say goodbye to South Carolina winning the national championship this year; it’s unlikely that the Gamecocks will make it to the SEC title game.

#12 Georgia at home beat #16 Clemson 45-21. Georgia is Phil Steele’s #1-Ranked Surprise Team this year.

#13 LSU on-the-road beat #14 Wisconsin 28-24 – Phil Steele had both LSU and Wisconsin both as two of his Surprise Teams this year.

In other notable games this week:

#7-Ranked UCLA, favored by 21 on-the-road, could only beat unranked Virginia by 8, 28-20

#15-Ranked USC, favored by 22 at home, acted like it, ripping unranked Fresno State by 39 points, 52-13.

#2-Ranked Alabama, favored by 26 at home, could only beat unranked West Virginia by 10, 33-23, and the Crimson Tide defense had trouble stopping the Mountaineer offense.

#1-Ranked Florida State, favored by 17.5 on-the-road, could only beat unranked Oklahoma State by 6, 37-31. So last year’s national champion gave up 31 points to the unranked Cowboys.

#25-Ranked Washington, favored by 17 on-the-road, could only beat unranked Hawaii a point, 17-16, and was lucky to get out of Honolulu with a victory. Washington would not have won without speedy sophomore wideout John Ross, the fastest Husky and one of the fastest players in college football. Ross scored on a 20-yard reverse, and then smoked the Warriors on a 91-yard catch and run. The dude can fly. The Husky defense gave up 424 yards of total offense, and at times could not stop Hawaii from moving the ball. None of this bodes well for Washington making a serious run in the Pac-12 race.

Tulsa at home outlasted Tulane 38-31 in double overtime.

Unranked Washington State, favored by 8 at home, was upset by unranked Rutgers, 41-38. Same Washington State again—lots of offense, not so much defense. Mike Leach needs to recruit some defenders or he is going to lose some track meets on the turf.

Unranked Vanderbilt, favored by 13.5 at home, was upset by unranked Temple, 37-7, in a rout.

That wraps up 2014’s Week 1 of college football. Come back for next week’s results.

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