The college football season officially began on Sept. 1 and things are already off to an exciting start. Fourteenth-ranked Texas Christian University, last year’s Rose Bowl winners, were defeated 50-48 on Friday by Baylor University, who had not beaten a top-15 team since 1991.
The first slate of games on Saturday included defending champion Auburn University getting pushed to the wire by Utah State University, who went 4-8 last year in the mid-major Western Athletic Conference. The Tigers were down 38-28 with 2:07 left to play, but managed to score twice in the final minutes to escape with a 42-38 victory.
Auburn dropped out of the top 25 afterward as it became very clear that they were not the same team without quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
The two most hyped-up games of the weekend were Saturday night’s top five match-up of Oregon University against Louisiana State University in Arlington, Texas and the top 25 battle between Boise State University and the University of Georgia in Atlanta.
Both games failed to live up to expectations. Oregon had three turnovers which led to 20 points for LSU, who dominated in the second half of the game. The Ducks, whose last game was the national championship against Auburn, fell 40-27 to a LSU team that was without its starting quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, after an altercation at a bar in Baton Rouge, La.
The Boise State-Georgia game may have suffered from over-hype for the Bulldogs, who entered with a number 19 ranking despite finishing the 2010 season at 6-7. The 5th-ranked Broncos rolled into Atlanta looking to knock of a perennially strong team to open the season for the third year in a row. Georgia posed no problem in a hostile environment as senior quarterback Kellen Moore threw three touchdowns in a 35-21 victory.
A pair of big questions about the Big Ten’s traditional powerhouses were answered on Saturday. The Ohio State University, fresh off of an offseason full of scandal and confusion, looked dominant against the admittedly overmatched University of Akron, crushing the Zips 42-0. New starting quarterback Joe Bauserman went 12-for-16 with three touchdown passes as the Buckeyes rolled.
The University of Michigan unveiled its new system and got the Brady Hoke coaching regime off to a strong start against Western Michigan University. Western was able to move the ball well against the much-maligned Wolverines defense, but Michigan linebacker Brandon Herron had both a 94-yard interception return and a 28-yard fumble return (both for touchdowns) to take the wind out of Western’s sails.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges is cutting back on rushes designed for quarterback Denard Robinson, but he knew enough about his star player to let him do work on the ground as well as through the air. In a game that was called early due to storms, Robinson completed nine of 13 passes for 98 yards and ran eight times for 46 yards as the Wolverines cruised to a 34-10 victory.
It was a long, hard offseason, but college football is back and already shaping up for another year of stunning upsets and great games.