|A LOOK BACK AT NCAA FOOTBALL'S OPENING WEEKEND
September 4, 2006
Reed, SCS.com Staff Writer
Well, it has finally arrived and let me tell you, the opening week lived up to the hype that was thrust upon it. Monstrous upsets and colossal beat-downs headlined the events that took place on yet another exciting weekend in college athletics. From Coloradoís stunning defeat at the hands of the Montana State Bobcats to the classic thriller that occurred between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Toledo Rockets, this weekend was everything that we all expected it to be.
Several disappointing teams from last season rebounded quite nicely, and some that were exceptional last year started on a sour note. California most likely saw its national championship hopes dashed at the hands of the Tennessee Volunteers, while the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame nearly lost a hard fought road game in Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Iowa State over Toledo
The award for best game undoubtedly goes to Iowa State and Toledo. A thriller that never should have been, Toledo took the Big XII North dark-horse Cyclones to triple overtime and darn near pulled the upset. If not for the overtime heroics of ISU wide-out Todd Blythe, the Rockets might have started the Clones' season on a sour note. Toledo quarterback Clint Cochran played exceptionally well, throwing for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Montana over Colorado
Without a doubt, this award goes to the Montana Bobcats for their absolutely shocking defeat of the Colorado Buffalos, at Colorado. Bobcat quarterback Cory Carpenter delivered against the Buffs, completing 23 of 31 for 229 yards and a touchdown. A program trying to pull out of the downward free-fall, Colorado did not help their situation with this devastating loss.
BEST TEAM PERFORMANCE
Coming off a 4-7 season in which nothing clicked and the offense and defense floundered, the Oklahoma State Cowboys came out Saturday moving the ball extremely well in a 52-10 thumping of Missouri State. Okay, so MO State is a D1-AA team, but for a squad that needed a shot of confidence, it was a welcome unfamiliarity. Things got going OSU's way quickly as freshman DB Perrish Cox returned the opening kickoff for the touchdown. Bobby Reid, once a heralded prospect, looked crisp and poised as he led the demolition of a team that played the Cowboys extremely close a year ago.
Runner-Up: Southern Cal - The runner-up in the category would have to be the USC Trojans. Entering a year most thought would be a rebuilding campaign, the Trojans responded with a shellacking of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Houston Nutt might want to start packing now because if his season progress as it appears bound to, Arkansas will make a change.
MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM PERFORMANCE
Without a doubt, the Colorado Buffaloes played the worst game this week. It is bad to get dominated, but when it is Montana State doing the dominating, you know something is up. Now I am not going to lay 100% of this on Dan Hawkins but will instead lay this shocking upset on the bare cupboard left in the wake of the scandals under the previous staff. Amassing only 216 yards and crippling themselves with penalties, Colorado has a long way to go before they are competitive in the powerful Big XII.
Runner-Up: Oklahoma - The runner-up in this category has to go to another Big XII team, the Oklahoma Sooners. Granted they won their game, but if they cannot get the offense to roll under Paul Thompson, this squad will struggle through their conference slate.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia
Slaton was nothing but impressive in the Mountaineers' first game, as he rushed for 203 yards on thirty-three attempts and scored twice in a one-sided victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Raymell Rice, RB, Rutgers
Arguably the best sophomore in the country, Rice's ran for 201 yards on thirty-one attempts in a win over North Carolina on Saturday. He also added three touchdowns to the score in a very impressive start.
Eric Ainge, QB, Tennessee
Aided by the tutelage of David Cutcliffe, Ainge seemed to revive his freshman form as he shredded the Bears of California. Ainge was 11 for 17 for 291 yards and four scores.
Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee
A big part of the reason Ainge was so successful was the stellar play of Meachem. Meachem hauled in five receptions for 182 yards and a whopping 36.4 average. He also tallied two scores.
Mike Hamilton, RB, Oklahoma State
After breaking the freshmen rushing record at a school that has featured such backs as Vernand Morency, Tatum Bell, Thurman Thomas, and the great Barry Sanders, Hamilton showed that last year was no fluke as he rushed sixteen times for 155 yards and a 9.7 yard average.
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED
#1: Notre Dame is not as good...
Notre Dame is not as good as predicted. The media always seems to put the Irish in a special category of the teams that are always awesome, no matter how bad they actually are. Now I am not saying this yearís Irish team is bad, and in fact they are very far from it. However, I do feel that they are a bid overrated, and I am of the "what have you done for me lately?" attitude. If the Irish win at least ten games, I will change my tune, but until they do, I will keep my opinion that they are overrated.
#2: Colorado is nowhere near where they were...
Colorado is nowhere near where they were a few years ago when Chris Brown and Bobby Purify demolished a heavily favored Nebraska team and then beat Texas for the conference title. If Hawkins canít turn it around in 3 or 4 years, look for the Buffs to continue their desent into the conference cellar.
#3: You cannot count D-1AA teams as an automatic win...
You cannot count D-1AA teams as an automatic win these days. With the scholarship limits and players who transfer down due to lack of playing time, the small teams are getting better and better and may be on the brink of causing more upsets in the future.