by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Highs, lows and everything in between.
The first full week of college football 2017 ... would you expect anything else?
With that, here's one take on the following:
Best win – Maryland. Only time will tell if the Terrapins' 51-41 victory at Texas was an upset or not, because, really, not sure why the Longhorns were ranked 23rd coming into the contest in the first place. But, for now, might as well give Maryland credit for going on the road and making statement before 100,000 burnt-orange stong, mostly in how successful it ran the ball (263 yards and four TDs on 43 carries) and it was in stopping Texas (31 carries, 98 yards, 1TD) from doing the same. QB Tyrrell Pigrome threw for 175 yards, ran for another 64 and accounted for 3 TDs, and, once he went down with an injury, freshman backup Kasim Hill came in and sealed the deal with two late scoring drives. RB Ty Johnson ran for 132 yards and a score, WR D.J. Moore added another 133 and TD, and LB Jermaine Carter Jr. had two sacks. Second-year coach D.J. Durkin may have some cookin' here.
Worst loss – Baylor. Temple fans still smarting over Saturday's 33-point loss in South Bend, Ind., can take solace at least in the fact that the guy who bailed on their program after taking it to new heights didn't fare any better. In his debut in Waco, Texas, Matt Rhule saw his Bears lose to a long-standing FCS program just starting its transition into the top level of Division I football, and got blistered for 447 yards and three TDs through the air by Flames QB Stephen Calvert. Even worse, looks like Rhule lost star RB JaMycal Hasty for a month due to a knee sprain. Could be a long season ahead for the former Owls coach.
Most impressive – Notre Dame. Get it that No. 1 Alabama handled No. 3 Florida State pretty earily – on the scoreboard – Saturday night in the headline game of Week 1, but can't say the Tide was overly impressive. The 17-point difference seemed to bely the difference between the two teams. Conversely, most will look at ND's 49-16 victory against Temple as “expected” or “easy pickings” and that's merely a lack of knowledge right there. The effort was strong, top to bottom by the Irish, who racked 630 yards against a defense that probably will end up being ranked among the nation's top 15 or 20 by seasons' end. Junior QB Brandon Wimbush was exciting and effective in his first game as a starter, throwing for 184 yards and two scores, and running for another 106 and one. Frankly, the runner-up here would be Penn State, a 52-0 victory over Akron, not 'Bama.
Best return – Mike Dudek. Won't deny the bias here for picking a kid from one alma mater, but, really, he's more than deserving of any and all recognition he gets. A freshman All-American WR in 2014, he hasn't so much as taken a snap the last two seasons due to knee injuries, and, yet, there he was Saturday afternoon, looking like he never missed a beat. Had two catches for 47 yards, one being a 16-yard TD, and returned a punt 52 yards down the stretch to set up the Illini's game-winning score with two minutes to go. He is electrifying with the ball in his hands.
Keep an eye on – Purdue, Rutgers and Central Florida. The first two had were surprising with strong efforts in losses to ranked teams – the Boilermakers falling 35-28 to No. 16 Louisville and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and the Scarlet Knights losing 30-14 to No. 8 Washington. The Knights were out-gained by less than 60 yards and registered arguably the biggest hit of the weekend when DE Darnell Davis completely obliterated Jake Browning, forcing the Huskies QB to fumble. As for Purdue, well, put it this way, if not for Jackson (384 yards passing, 107 rushing), the Boilers win that game. Easy. Central Florida, which blitzed Florida International, will overwhelm a lot of teams this season following second-year coach Scott Frost's hurry-up approach. It will challenge for American Athletic Conference honors.
Best unis – South Carolina. Usually not a fan of home teams going white jerseys at home, but the Gamecocks pulled it off pretty nice in the sharp department while flip-flopping black and garnet as primary and secondary colors the rest of the way. Final look had 'em wearing black helmets and pants with garnett trim with white jerseys, and a win against N.C. State. Runner-up – Northwestern. Kinda diggin' those purple top-bottom getups with white lids.
Worst unis – Take your pick between Michigan's all-maize (with blue lid) and Florida's all-blue (with white lid) as they squared off against one another in what could be term the Hideous Bowl (for appearance and performance). Runner-up – Oregon. Always. Doesn't matter what combo it goes with ... just burns the retinas every time.