Really? Granted the Irish came in ranked No. 5, but the second-ranked Buckeyes were favored by 17 points, playing before more than 100,000 of their closest friends and, not for nothing, seemingly the beneficiary of many a call.
Look, they’re better and they wore down the Irish, who look like they may have some issues on offense for a while. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Spare me the “it was an ugly loss that was ‘good’ for Ohio State” BS. Puh-leeze.
The remaining two of the three-headed monster that is said by the masses, both expert and not, to rule the college football world? Well, top-ranked Alabama and defending national champ Georgia took care of business, as expected. The Tide throttled Utah State, 55-0, while the third-ranked Bulldogs embarrassed No. 11 Oregon, 49-3, perhaps permanently ending Bo Nix’s dreams of ever becoming an NFL quarterback while lifting former walk-on Stetson Bennett into Heisman frontrunner status.
Frankly, aside from Marcus Freeman’s game plan keeping ND afloat in Columbus, Ohio, for much of the night, Saturday’s biggest of the big boys’ showings in Week 1 were, well, kinda boring, if not expected. Seriously, it’s not like Georgia’s blowout win was a surprise; just the size of it was. The Dawgs were favored by 16.5, after all.
Elsewhere, though …
MOST IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE
Syracuse hosted ACC rival Louisville Saturday night and, being a 4.5-point underdog, figured to be a better-luck-next-time steppingstone for the Cardinals’ rise again in the conference. Only it wasn’t so.
The Orange, while unplugging electric QB Malik Cunningham for Louisville, went off themselves in winning 31-7 with top-flight running back Sean Tucker racking up 98 yards and a score rushing and 85 yards and a score receiving.
The real dual-threat for ‘Cuse in this one, though, was QB Garrett Shrader, who threw for 237 yards and two scores while rushing for another 95 yards and a score (on 16 carries).
His effort seemed to mirror that of several of his contemporaries over the weekend.
TO RUN OR TO THROW … OR BOTH
Shrader sparked Syracuse in arguably the weekend’s biggest stunner. But he had plenty of company among QBs killing it with their arms and feet.
Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders threw for 406 yards and four scores, and ran for 57 and 2.
Southern Cal’s Caleb Williams threw for 249 yards and two scores, and ran for 68 yards.
Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong threw for 246 yards and two scores, and ran for 105 and 1.
Central Florida’s John Rhys Plumlee threw for 308 yards and four scores, and ran for 86 and 1.
Florida’s Anthony Richardson threw for 168 yards, and ran for 106 and three scores.
All, like Shrader, led their teams to victories.
Richardson may be the biggest freak in the sport ... this side of Alabama linebacker Will Anderson. Dude has the arms, wheels and power to carry Florida a long way. He’s just shy a few hoagies from Wawa – yes, Philly peeps, there are Wawas in Gainesville (five of ’em, in fact, with Richardson knowing all with being a hometown kid) – of being a defensive end playing quarterback.
Florida, a 2.5-point underdog, tops No. 7 Utah, 29-26. Richardson led the way, but the Gators also gave the Utes a taste of their own medicine, toting the rock the same amount of time (39) but gaining 59 more yards (289 to 230).
Florida State, a four-point underdog, tops Louisiana State, 24-23. Best game these eyes saw all weekend, wild finish or not. The Seminoles’ return to prominence, if this is the start of it, would be great for the sport and the ACC.
Rutgers, a six-point underdog, tops Boston College, 22-21. The Scarlets Knights, due to injury, had to rotate three guys at QB, but still found a way to win … with the clock winding down.
San Diego State, a 6.5-point favorite, falls to Arizona, 38-20. So much for breaking in a sparkling, brand-new stadium in style. This was not the way to counteract all the bad publicity headed the school’s way, courtesy of the Punt Idiot … er, God.
Virginia Tech, a seven-point favorite, falls to FCS program Old Dominion. The Hokies did a Three Stooges routine for 60 minutes in Norfolk. Worse, this ain’t the first time – but it was under Brent Pry’s watch.
WINS IN NAME ONLY
Both North Carolina and N.C. State came up on the right side of the ledger Saturday, and, really, neither deserved such a favorable fate. The Tar Heels gave up 40 – FORTY!! – points in the fourth quarter to Appalachian State and only secured the 63-61 victory when the Mountaineers blew a two-point conversion. The Wolfpack were equally blessed on the same afternoon in a 21-20 win as East Carolina missed a game-tying extra point and a game-winning field goal in the game’s final three minutes.
BACKYARD BRAWL … SQUARED
Was surprised to hear absolutely no mention of the USC trauma bond shared by the QBs in last Thursday’s neighborhood battle between Pittsburgh and West Virginia. The Mountaineers’ J.T. Daniels and the Panthers’ Kedon Slovis both began their collegiate careers at USC before ultimately transferring – Daniels first to Georgia after injury and Slovis’ rise precipitated his initial move, and then to West Virginia. Slovis just made the move since last season, his third as the Trojans’ starter, and is a remarkably similar passer to the NFL first-rounder, Kenny Pickett, he is replacing. Frankly, up to this point, he has been a far more successful passer than his predecessor at the same point in their careers. Slovis, in maintaining his better than 300 yards per game average, tossed for 308 yards and a score on just 24 passing attempts in directing No. 17 Pitt to the exciting, 38-31 victory.
There is no QB controversy at Clemson. There is a loyalty issue, though, as in the one HC Dabo Swinney has for DJ Uiagalelei, regardless of the detriment it is to the Tigers’ chances of returning to championship glory – conference and national. They’re loaded, everywhere, even at QB. Just not with DJ at the helm. His backup, freshman Cade Klubnik, the top-ranked QB recruit in the country when Clemson signed him, is head-and-shoulders a better player; it’s blatantly obvious. If only with how smoothly the offense ran with him behind center for one series in Monday’s opener against Georgia Tech (not to mention all the rumblings from camp).
Before then, the fourth-ranked Tigers sputtered the entire first half as the plan, apparently, was to give DJ as many opportunities as it took to get him going … and he squandered them all – while the talents of a great RB trio and efforts of a dramatically improved offensive were wasted.
Sure, Clemson won 41-10 … and looked awful in doing so versus a totally outmanned team.
If Dabo doesn’t wake up, that loyalty to DJ is going to cost Clemson – because Tech ain’t the opponent every game this season for the Tigers.