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College Football Week One: What We’ve Learned (so far)

There are still a couple of relevant games yet to be played, but it’s Sunday and you want something to read.

Seriously, Cyclones. You gotta stop this.
Seriously, Cyclones. You gotta stop this.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Today is, due to the schedule, the one Sunday all season in which the Slate is basically bereft of any newsiness. All the game stories and commentary for K-State’s loss to Stanford dropped on Saturday, and we’re heading into an early bye week just to make matters worse.

But we shall soldier on.

The one bit of news from yesterday is volleyball: K-State improved to 4-2 with a pair of wins yesterday in the K-State Invitational. The Volleycats swept Tennessee State and then fought off Georgia Tech in five games to claim second place in their own event. Michigan went 3-0 on the weekend, taking down the Yellow Jackets 3-1 before sweeping Tennessee State.

K-State soccer is in action today, taking on Nebraska-Omaha in Omaha at 6pm.

So, on to the meat of today’s Slate: what we’ve learned so far.

SEC

The 13 SEC teams that have actually played have a combined record of 7-6. Two of the wins were in overtime, one against a Sun Belt team. A third was a one-point win over Louisiana Tech, and a fourth was a win over UMass which was very much in doubt until the second half. A fifth was a conference game. In short, in 12 non-conference games this weekend, only two SEC teams managed to convincingly topple a power-five non-conference opponent... while two other SEC teams managed to flat-out lose to G5 teams, one had to go to overtime to avoid the same fate, and fifth-ranked LSU got downed by unranked Wisconsin.

It’s one week. You can’t make too much of all this. But the SEC definitely took a shot to the chops this weekend, and we’re just going to have to see how that plays out in the polls and media narrative.

Georgia did put on a good show against North Carolina, although it’s an open question what exactly that means. But Bama? Oh, Bama made a statement, and Lane Kiffin is probably still glowing.

Big Ten

Another team that made a statement was Ohio State, who engaged in a comprehensively brutal pillaging of Bowling Green. Right now, Alabama and Ohio State have to be the front-runners in championship discussion, with all due respect to Clemson, who we’ll get to in a moment. The Falcons had precisely zero answers for the Buckeyes, who appear to be in full murderdeathkill mode.

The conference went 12-2 this weekend, which is hard to dismiss. However, the only Power Five victims were LSU (indisputably a good win for the Badgers) and Oregon State (Minnesota gets a cookie). The other ten wins were mostly expected, although I guess we have to give the Indiana schools credit for not Indianaing. Or Purduing, as it were.

But Rutgers and Northwestern? We’re laughing at you. A lot.

Pac-12

The west coasters went 7-5 on the weekend (including Cal’s win last week for sanity’s sake). However, the Pac-12 is only 2-3 against the Power 5, the wins being at the expense of Rutgers and, um, K-State. Worse, Washington State lost to Eastern Washington, and USC’s dismantling at the hands of Alabama will leave a mark.

But it wasn’t all bad. Despite losing to Texas A&M, UCLA did take the game to overtime. Similarly, although Arizona did lose to BYU, it was a tough two-point affair. Oregon and Arizona State did their jobs. And Colorado absolutely smoked their in-state rivals. Ultimately, we didn’t learn much from the Pacific time zone.

ACC

Strong week. The league went 10-3, 9-2 in non-conference play. The two losses are of completely different fabric: North Carolina had Georgia knotted up until late, but Virginia got gassed by the fourth-ranked team in FCS, Richmond.

There were also good wins. Louisville absolutely wrecked North Carolina-Charlotte, North Carolina State had no issues with FCS #9 William & Mary, Pitt handled FCS #23 Villanova, and Syracuse finally has a non-losing record against Colgate. Miami, Duke, and Virginia Tech all posted huge wins against soft FCS squads.

And Clemson survived Auburn, which tells us that either Auburn’s good this year or Clemson’s in Tier 2.

There is one other win about which we must needs make mockery, however. Wake Forest beat Tulane 7-3, and good god we feel for anyone who had to sit through that.

Big 12

Honesty requires us to made an admission: it was a terrible weekend for the home conference. Oklahoma losing to Houston was critical enough; Iowa State engaging in their regular ritual FCS loss was worse, not least because they opened up their playbook from the fourth quarter against K-State last season and decided that was a really good plan.

It was just as effective against Northern Iowa as it was against the Cats.

But it’s the wins, with one exception, that really kinda stunk, or at least did absolutely nothing for the conference. Yes, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas Tech all mauled their week one competition. We’ll give Oklahoma State credit for destroying what’s usually a pretty good Southeastern Louisiana squad, but Baylor and Tech feasted on lower-rung FCS schools. Worse, their fans kinda gloated about it afterward, including Tech fans acting as if holding Stephen F. Austin to 17 points said something about their maligned defense. Spoiler: it doesn’t.

TCU had a lot of trouble with their FCS team before pulling away late, but at last they had an excuse: they were playing 8th-ranked South Dakota State, who gives every single FBS team they play fits.

And then there’s Kansas, who had about 100 fans storm the field after beating an FCS team which seriously considered dropping to the 35-scholarship limit Northeast Conference a few years ago and who’ve managed to win just a couple of games in the last four years. We’re not going to judge them; we’re just going to politely ask that they refrain from judging others for storming the court when they beat KU from now on.

The league’s best win was West Virginia over Missouri. It’s a win over the SEC, which is nice, but it wasn’t like beating LSU or something. The league ended up 6-3 on the weekend, tonight’s Texas-Notre Dame pending. Mixed bag.

The Rest of FBS

Big winners: Well, Houston for starters. The Group of 5 now has a legitimate playoff contender on the books, although any number of things could go wrong for the Cougars. Central Florida won a game, which is a big win for them considering they didn’t last year. Southern Mississippi charged back from a 25-point deficit on the road to knock off Kentucky. Western Michigan knocked off Northwestern. Tulsa’s win was only over San Jose State, but the Spartans aren’t terrible, it was 45-10, and Tulsa looked good.

And South Alabama knocked off Mississippi State, which means one fewer SEC team to clog the top 25 at some point this year.

Moral victories: Louisiana Tech led Arkansas 20-14 late, but the Hogs scored to escape with a win, and Appalachian State took Tennessee to overtime.

Losers: Connecticut barely escaped Maine, unranked in FCS. Buffalo lost the title of State University of New York to FCS Albany. The less said about Colorado State, the better, but Nevada barely escaped FCS Cal Poly.

The FCS Tracker

Four of the top ten teams in FCS played FBS schools this weekend. The result? Two wins and one Horned Frog fanbase in dire need of medical attention. The FCS notched four wins over FBS this weekend (Northern Iowa, Richmond, Eastern Washington, and Albany) and another four games were decided by one score. One team in neither category worth keeping an eye on that we’ve not mentioned yet: Furman, who lost by two touchdowns but did hold Michigan State to 28 points.