NCAA football celebrates a hot start
College football got off to a rip-roaring start and if the rest of the season is like the opening weekend, all we can say is hang onto your hats.
In the most compelling game of the weekend, Texas blew a 31-14 lead then had to rally again in overtime to beat Notre Dame 50-47 during a sweltering evening in Austin, Texas. The win signals the return of the Longhorns program and got Coach Charlie Strong off the hot seat.
After going 11-14 the previous two years, Strong hired offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, who brought a quick strike Baylor-type offense and attacks teams two ways. There is more pass-friendly freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and the 18-wheeler battering ram Tyrone Swoopes, who scored the game-winning touchdown that sparked a celebration that is still going on. Buechele completed 16 of 26 passes for two touchdowns and ran for 33 more. Swoopes, who weighs nearly 250 pounds, ran for three touchdowns and 53 yards.
Notre Dame introduced a two-quarterback system that will be difficult to stop that is led by new star DeShone Kizer, who was the best quarterback on the field. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 214 yards and five touchdowns. He has a strong arm and good running instincts. The Irish also played Malik Zaire, who appeared lost at times and should have lost his hold on more playing time.
Neither team is capable of competing with No. 1 Alabama, which looked sloppy in its 52-6 victory over USC. And that’s scary. The game marked former USC head coach Lane Kiffin, now Bama’s offensive coordinator, destroying his old team. The Tide rolled up 465 yards of total offense behind freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Kiffin got revenge on his team that fired him three seasons ago at LAX Airport following a loss to Arizona.
“We thought we were familiar with him,” USC running back Justin Davis said. “I guess that wasn’t the case. He’s a very smart dude, very calculated. We got taken advantage of.”
However, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was not impressed enough. There are reports that the Tide are going to hire former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian as a special offensive assistant.
The next big test for Bama comes Sept. 17 at Mississippi.
In a bit of irony, two old rivals began their season in similar fashion. Ohio State quarterback T.J. Barrett and Michigan’s Wilton Speight open games with interceptions then watched their teams roll.
Ohio State stomped Bowling Green 77-10 and Michigan made short work of Hawaii 63-3.
Meanwhile, LSU coach Les Miles, who was essentially fired last season and mysteriously rehired, is back on the hot seat following an unimaginative 16-14 loss to unranked Wisconsin at Lambeau Field. The Tigers must figure a way to get running back Leonard Fournette more running room against eight-man fronts. But that’s not likely to happen with quarterback Brandon Harris, who is no threat passing.
We are also left to wonder what is wrong with Tennessee and Michigan State. The Vols nearly lost to Appalachian State, winning 20-13 in overtime. And the Spartans looked listless in a 28-13 victory over Furman.