The Eye Test: Oh boy, it’s happening again
The city of Atlanta should consider a new slogan: “Where dreams go to die.”
Jimbo Fisher and the No. 3-ranked Florida State Seminoles walked into the ATL, took an early lead, and then collapsed against the weight of Nick Saban’s No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a 24-7 beatdown at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday night.
One need only flip the calendar back eight months to reveal a trend. Chris Petersen and the No. 4-ranked Washington Huskies, conquerors of the competitive Pac-12, scored early to take a lead at the Georgia Dome. You know the drill: Alabama promptly put on the clamps and breezed to a 24-7 win in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Witness the early delirium from Washington fans at the Georgia Dome: It’s happening! We’re gonna win this game!
And compare it to a similar moment Saturday:
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) September 3, 2017
There may exist alternate universes in which Washington and Florida State beat Alabama; where these apexes of hope didn’t crash down into irrepressible dread. The hangover from Washington’s CFP loss dropped a strong returning Huskies team to No. 8 this preseason and a disappointing performance at Rutgers on Friday.
The hangover for Florida State will be worse. Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois appeared to suffer a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter. If that indeed is the case, FSU will now need to run the table with true freshman James Blackman or another unprepared passer (Lord help Tallahassee if, say, J.J. Cosentino gets the keys).
While Fisher was trying to put his shattered team back together, Saban was attending another trophy ceremony and celebrating Alabama’s 37th consecutive regular-season win against a nonconference opponent. He’s now 11-0 in season-opening games at ‘Bama, and now has more wins vs. top-5 teams than any coach in college football history.
And so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah …
Just because you didn’t want the Tide dynasty to continue shellacking pretenders doesn’t mean you have to stop using your common sense. Until Saban steps away, you’ll find Alabama celebrating major victories while its opponents weep in the other locker room. It’s not that ‘Bama is unbeatable (Clemson will be the first to tell you so) but has any other modern program come this close to invincibility?
Put simply by SEC Country’s own Kyle Tucker: If you stopped fearing the Tide, you should start again.
(You might as well set that headline as a reminder on your phone every September from now until Lake Burton convinces Saban to become a permanent resident.)
Welcome back, Lamar Jackson
If we’re going to get another dominant season from Alabama, we might as well recycle the Heisman winner, too. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson — who disappeared down the stretch last season — appeared to regain his otherworldly form vs. Purdue on Saturday night.
Jackson totaled nearly 500 yards from scrimmage, threw 2 touchdown passes and avoided interceptions as the Cardinals won 35-28 in Indianapolis.
His night was not perfect …
… But it’s good to know that video-game Lamar is back. In honor of a successful start to his re-election campaign, let’s take a look back at Week 1 performances from recent Heisman incumbents.
- Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (2014 win vs. Oklahoma State): 25 of 40 for 370 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions; 5 rushes for 9 yards and 1 touchdown.
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (2013 win vs. Rice): 6 of 8 for 94 yards and 3 touchdowns; 6 rushes for 19 yards.
- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama (2010 win vs. San Jose State): Missed game with injury.
- Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma (2009 loss vs. BYU): 10 of 14 for 96 yards and 1 touchdown.
- Tim Tebow, QB, Florida (2008 win vs. Hawaii): 9 of 14 for 137 yards and 1 touchdown; 9 rushes for 37 yards.
This guy might have something going that the others didn’t:
Lamar Jackson 4 Heisman (again) pic.twitter.com/Fbul08YiuC
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) September 3, 2017
Don’t bet on LSU quite yet
Nearly six years ago, New Orleans served as witness to one of the worst offensive displays in college football history. Louisiana State, playing in the national championship game vs. rival Alabama, advanced the football past midfield just once in a 21-0 loss.
‘Bama fielded an all-time great defense, but … c’mon. That was probably the lowest moment in the Tigers’ postseason canon.
Fast forward to Saturday, when LSU earned a little redemption at the expense of poor BYU. The Tigers won, 27-0, and did not allow the Cougars to cross midfield. The rushing totals: LSU 294, BYU minus-5.
It was a nearly perfect opener for coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers, but Baton Rouge would be wise to pump the brakes a bit. We knew LSU would be a strong running team. We knew the defense would also be a strength. The jury is still out on the team’s “X” factor: the passing game. Danny Etling was pretty surgical vs. BYU — completing 14 of 17 attempts for 173 yards — but he won’t really get a chance to prove himself until a two-game stretch vs. Florida and Auburn in October.
Another thing to consider: BYU is a bad football team. The Cougars offense was abysmal in a 20-6 win against Portland State the weekend before. Coach Kilani Sitake’s players were so upset, he had to remind them that they were 1-0.
BYU then did this on Saturday:
This is not how you fake a punt, BYU pic.twitter.com/30L68QcyXi
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 3, 2017
LSU: Go beat Florida and Auburn, then come back and see me.
Moments that caught our eye
Lane Kiffin’s debut at Florida Atlantic went about how you thought it might. Thunderstorms resulted in three delays as Navy took a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter. With the clock creeping well past midnight and the game stalled, everyone wanted to call it … except Kiffin. “Quote me on this,” he told ESPN. “We want to win this game, and that’s why we’re continuing.” The teams finally finished a 42-19 Navy win, 5 hours and 50 minutes after the opening kickoff.
Missouri fans were booing the Tigers by the 5:32 mark of the second quarter. Barry Odom’s team, playing FCS foe Missouri State, was locked in a shootout. A little more than 20 minutes in, the teams had combined for 737 total yards, 69 points, and 10 touchdowns on 14 drives (four of the scores were from 50-plus yards out). The fireworks refused to end, and QB Drew Lock finished the game with a school-record 7 touchdown passes to go along with 521 yards through the air. Missouri won, 72-43.
Thursday, Indiana took a 21-20 lead on No. 2 Ohio State. Hoosiers fans, sensing a rare opportunity, serenaded the Buckeyes with an “OVERRATED!” chant. Ohio State scored a long touchdown on the next play and posted 29 unanswered points in its win.
Presented without comment:
Dr. Pepper is really pushing this Larry Culpepper thing again. I chuckled at a particular moment featuring Doug Flutie in the main ad, during which Culpepper tosses a “boy’s medium” T-shirt to Flutie, who deadpans, “That’ll work.”
New Mexico State wide receiver Jaleel Scott provided an early “catch of the year” nomination:
Several programs showed support of Hurricane Harvey victims. Louisiana State and Texas — among others — ordered custom helmet stickers, while Missouri’s J’Mon Moore ran onto the field with a Texas flag. It’s not too late to donate to the United Way of Greater Houston.
Holly Neher threw *HER* first touchdown pass for Hollywood Hills (Fla.) High School. The junior finished 2 of 4 for 66 yards and this score:
The Clemson band expertly trolled Ohio State:
Clemson's band trolling Ohio State in its halftime show… pic.twitter.com/obTPrLz6jD
— #DaHale (@DavidHaleESPN) September 2, 2017
Baylor sunk a little lower Saturday, as the Bears allowed 585 yards in a loss Liberty of the FCS. Stadium security was a little too lax, too; there was a wild fox running around the stands during the game.
Speaking of upsets, 45-point underdog Howard shocked UNLV behind a strong performance by quarterback Caylin Newton (including 190 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground). Does that last name sound familiar? Caylin is the younger brother of Cam.
BIGGEST UPSET in CFB History!
Howard +45 beats UNLV
$100 on outright win pays $55,000!!
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 3, 2017
What’s the exact opposite of a huge upset? Whatever the term, St. John’s (Collegeville, Minn.) accomplished it in a 98-0 beatdown of St. Scholastica (Duluth, Minn.). The box score was a treat: St. John’s won the rushing battle, 377 to minus-7, and totaled nearly 1,000 yards in kickoffs. Thirteen different Johnnies scored touchdowns. See for yourself.
Are they bringing back the NCAA Football video game or what?
Feel Good, Inc.
Jake Olson lost his left eye at 10 months old to a form of cancer, and then lost sight in his right eye at 12 years old. A longtime USC fan, he spent time around Trojans facilities beginning in the Pete Carroll era, and eventually earned a walk-on spot as a long snapper in 2015. Saturday vs. Wyoming, he checked into a game for the first time in his career. Afterward, he led the USC band in its victory song.
“It’s beautiful,” Olson said afterward. “It’s special. It’s incredible.”
Former UAB prospect Tim Alexander was paralyzed in 2006. Saturday, he did this: