A Look Around the Country

Some Teams Impress, Others Do Not in Week One

Welcome to my weekly column, A Look Around the Country, which will highlight notable games from the week before and week ahead as well as the Heisman and Playoff race. Special features include an in-depth look at the Buckeyes as well as a Michigan update, mainly for folks bask in their misfortunes. As always, feel free to comment with your own opinions and I hope you enjoy!

It was an exciting first week back with a Hail Mary pass that put BYU on top of Nebraska in the first edition of the Mike Riley era while teams like Ohio State and Alabama rolled to big wins in primetime. Notre Dame and UCLA certainly looked impressive but TCU and Michigan sure didn’t. Anyway, it sure is great to have football back.

Notable Games Last Week

TCU 23, Minnesota 17

In a game that was much closer than the experts predicted (I was not one of those experts,) the Horned Frogs were able to escape a close one in Minneapolis. Trevone Boykin was not overly impressive and neither was the rest of Gary Patterson’s squad. They need to improve or else they’ll drop one and be out of the playoff picture again.

Northwestern 16, Stanford 6

The Wildcats were able to pull off the upset of the 21st ranked Stanford, which should be huge for their confidence, looking forward into the season. With the Big Ten West being wide open, anything can happen and that includes Northwestern being in the hunt to head to Indy in December. Stanford’s loss is disappointing but the Pac 12 is as wide open as any conference so they are not out of it yet.

Texas A&M 38, Arizona State 17

The Aggies were very impressive in their win over the Sun Devils and they now, deservedly so, are ranked in the AP Top 25. I thought A&M would take another step backwards while ASU would take a step forward and really contest for the Pac 12 crown. At this point (even though anything can happen- see 2014 Ohio State), it appears I was wrong.

Notre Dame 38, Texas 3

The Irish sure looked impressive in their romp of Charlie Strong’s Longhorns but the loss of RB Tarean Folston for the season hurts their playoff chances. Other than that, Notre Dame looked as impressive as any team I watched this weekend and their ranking below reflects that. Texas has a long way to go.

Alabama 35, Wisconsin 17

Despite Alabama’s big win, I do not think they are deserving of their high ranking. Derrick Henry was very impressive (he shot up in my Heisman poll) but the mediocrity of QB Jake Coker keeps me from having more respect for them. Wisconsin has taken a step back with the loss of Melvin Gordon but Paul Chryst will have them back near the top of the Big Ten West.

Ohio State 42, Virginia Tech 24

We finally have our answer to the QB race to end all QB races: Cardale Jones. The offense seems to be clicking in mid-season form (even without three of their best receivers) and the Silver Bullets picked up where they left off. I almost forgot: Braxton Miller is a freak of nature athlete and will only get better. The Buckeyes don’t have that tough of a schedule (get used to hearing that all season) and they really won’t get tested again until Michigan State in late November. The Buckeyes play Hawaii on Saturday. RIP to the Rainbow Warriors.

Big Games this Week

Oklahoma at Tennessee

These two teams which are in serious transition this season, will battle it out in Knoxville. I believe that both teams are overrated at this point and would be surprised if either made a New Year’s Day Bowl. Fifteen years ago this would have been the game of the year.

Saturday, September 12 at 6pm on ESPN

Oregon at Michigan State

The Sparties has been waiting a year to avenge their loss in Eugene from last season and I think they will get revenge. Connor Cook will play great but the dominant offensive and defensive lines of Michigan State will manhandle Oregon. I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets out of hand in the second half. The nation will be put on notice after watching this one.

Saturday, September 12 at 8pm on ABC

LSU at Mississippi State

Mississippi State finds themselves back in the Top 25 (not sure why) but they will be playing a pretty talented Tiger team with Leonard Fournette leading the charge. In the SEC, anything can happen so expect a competitive game. This one just begins to shape the SEC playoff picture.

Saturday, September 12 at 9:15pm on ESPN

Michigan Update

Jim Harbaugh’s much anticipated opener didn’t go exactly as planned for Wolverine fans. To be fair, Michigan didn’t look half bad and will improve as the season wears on but the quarterback situation is dire. If they get that fixed, they’ll turn some heads. Michigan plays Oregon State this week.

Heisman Watch

Trevone Boykin, TCU: E

Cardale Jones, Ohio State: +

Derrick Henry, Alabama: +

Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State: E

Cody Kessler, USC: +

Josh Rosen, UCLA: +

Christian Hackenberg, Penn State: –

My Playoff if the Season ended Today

1. Ohio State (beat Virginia Tech, vs Hawaii)

2. Baylor (beat SMU, plays Lamar)

3. USC (beat Arkansas State, plays Idaho)

4. Alabama (beat Wisconsin, plays Middle Tennessee)

Just Missed the Cut

5. Michigan State (beat Western Michigan, plays Oregon)

6. Notre Dame (beat Texas, plays Virginia)

7. Auburn (beat Louisville, plays Jacksonville State)

8. Oregon (beat Eastern Washington, plays Michigan State)

9. Clemson (beat Wofford, plays Appalachian State)

10. UCLA (beat Virginia, plays UNLV)

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