It was just an appetizer, but consider our appetite properly whetted.
The college football season started last weekend and it was no surprise that … it was chock-full of surprises.
A highly ranked Florida team fell flat on offense, prompting Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley to say of Feleipe Franks, “the quarterback you thought was going to be great … was awful.” Still, the Gators snuck by a scrappy Miami squad, 24-20, and the ol’ phrase insists you can’t win championships in Week Zero, but you certainly can lose them. Errrr, something like that.
Meanwhile, the bar for fantastic finishes has already been set extremely high, as Hawaii held on for dear life by tackling Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate on the final play of the game en route to a thrilling 45-38 win.
The next AP poll doesn’t officially come out until after the first official weekend of games — which starts on Thursday — but suffice it to say No. 8 Florida will need others to struggle to hold its spot. Here’s a link to the current AP poll, which has Clemson, Alabama and Georgia at the top.
Arizona was getting a single vote in the preseason poll and will likely lose that, while Hawaii had not been receiving votes.
If you stayed up late, you saw Hawaii receiver Cedric Byrd II score four times in the win over the Wildcats, prompting second-year Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin to say of Byrd, “he just ran right by us.” Byrd finished with 224 receiving yards while quarterback Cole McDonald threw his hat in the ring for the Gardner Minshew Award — OK, we made that one up — as a guy who could emerge from virtual anonymity into a legit Heisman candidate. McDonald had 378 yards through the air and in case you didn’t know, last year he finished the season with 36 passing touchdowns while playing with an injured MCL. Imagine what he might do if he’s completely healthy this season.
We’d like to nominate someone as a star from the Florida-Miami game, but this one isn’t as easy. How about Florida punter Tommy Townsend, who hustled to execute a fake punt early on that led to the first TD of the contest. The fact that we’re nominating the punter as one of the stars of the game says something, right?
THE WEEK AHEAD
There aren’t a ton of big games on tap for this weekend, but Oregon vs. Auburn at Jerry World certainly has to get your juices flowing.
Oregon (11) vs. Auburn (16) in Arlington, Tex., (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET): Auburn will start true freshman Bo Nix at quarterback, but there’s some lineage here — his father, Patrick, played the position at Auburn in the 1990s. One of the keys to this contest will be the highly touted Oregon offensive line against an equally lauded Auburn defensive front.
Houston at Oklahoma (4), (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET): The story is all Jalen Hurts, right? The former Alabama QB makes his debut for the Sooners and will be the focus of much of the attention in this ABC spotlight game. But here’s a stat: Houston quarterback D’Eriq King led the nation last season with 27.5 points responsible for per game. The player just behind him? Heisman winner Kyler Murray.
Florida Atlantic at Ohio State (5), (Saturday, noon ET): This shouldn’t be close, but there are plenty of interesting stories to follow, like Justin Fields’ first game as a Buckeye and FAU coach Lane Kiffin’s plans to stop him.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Indiana State at Kansas, (Saturday, noon ET): Les Miles’ first game leading the Jayhawks might be closer than people think (Vegas has Kansas winning by about a field goal), but we’ve been wrong to underestimate Miles in the past. Is this the challenge he can’t overcome?