Written by: John Stocco
Week one is in the books, and folks, it lived up to expectations. Our spotlight games were Northwestern vs. Stanford, Auburn vs. Oregon, and Oklahoma vs. Houston, but there were some other games that stole the show. College and scouting season got started in a hurry. Here is the aftermath in some of the chaos we saw on Saturday and Sunday.
Starting off with the disappointment of the weekend. Not just for Northwestern fans, but for college football fans in general. This game on the schedule stood out. Stanford is always a fun program to follow, and Northwestern is coming off a B1G West title with a 5 star recruit at quarterback in Hunter Johnson. Northwestern had to win this game. Looking at their schedule it’s a murder’s row. UNLV next week, Michigan State in week three, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Iowa. That is a brutal stretch and after watching them play against Stanford the Cats will be lucky to win two of those games. I don’t want this coming off like Stanford completely destroyed them. Far from it actually. Northwestern played great defense, and if you’re a pro team looking for defensive help in the later rounds of the NFL Draft then you’re going to keep an eye on Paddy Fisher, Joe Gaziano, and Blake Gallagher. Even with the great defensive play from the Cats they couldn’t get anything going on offense. Hunter Johnson looked lost at times as he only threw for 55 yards, 0 TD’s, and 2 INT’s. I was watching this game yelling at my TV to let Hunter Johnson loose, then it became pretty obvious why they weren’t letting him loose. Stanford always has a solid defense, and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but Northwestern looked slower, and could not get a single thing going on offense. In the end, Northwestern’s defense was gassed, the Cats pulled off the worst bad beat of all time, and they walk away with a bad loss. As Hunter Johnson grows Northwestern will grow, and Saturday showed Hunter Johnson has a lot of growing to do. It’s a process.
Executives in the Pac 12 couldn’t get any sleep on Saturday night, Sunday night, and probably Monday night. The Pac 12 is fighting and trying so hard to stay relevant compared to the SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12. Every time a Pac 12 team faces another top team in another power five conference they get smoked. Last year when Auburn beat Washington, Ohio State beating down Washington in the Rose Bowl, and Auburn again pulling off an incredible win against Oregon. The Pac 12 can never get over the hump. Where do I even begin? First, I’m going to give props to Auburn. Do I think this will change their season and they’re going to be legit contenders in the SEC? No. I still think they’re a 7 win team, but they showed up on Saturday night with a defensive front that was tougher than a brick wall, and a freshman quarterback who looked like a senior quarterback that’s been in a National Championship game. Bo Nix showed no fear. Watching him play reminded me of Johnny Manziel and Jay Cutler being formed into one guy and that one guy came out as Bo Nix. There were times where you said to yourself “what the hell was he even try to do there?” Then the next drive “This guy is a stud.” Sure there were missed opportunities, and under thrown balls, but Nix showed the ultimate confidence, and in the end he drove his team down the field, and threw the game winning touchdown with seconds left in the 4th quarter to shock the world. Now to Oregon. Ugh. Listen, I’m not an Oregon fan, but just watching them play made me want to pull out my hair. First half the Ducks were moving the ball. Herbert looked good. He was comfortable in the pocket, clean throws, and he looked like he had control of the game. Oregon had their offensive line moving as a complete unit, and their defense was kept putting pressure on Bo Nix. Then the second half came, and all the doubts of Herbert came up. There’s a reason why Herbert went back to college. He was inconsistent last year, and the inconsistencies came up again in the second half. He has all the tools. He has plus arm strength, and his athleticism is second to none, but he can’t finish the job. This isn’t a hot take. If you’re a quarterback, in the pro’s or in college, you have to put teams away. In all fairness to Herbert there was a pass dropped in the endzone by an Oregon wide receiver, but afterwards, he lost a fumble, and the Auburn defensive line kept disrupting him. It’s still way too early, but after week one you can just tell that when it gets closer to the NFL Draft, the experts, the analysts, are going to question Herbert’s consistency.
Lincoln Riley is working his magic again. Jalen Hurts looked phenomenal on Sunday night. 332 yards, 3 passing TD’s, 3 rushing TD’s, and he completed 87% of his passes. WHAT? 87%. Jalen Hurts looked like a completely different human being out there and he had his best night as a college football quarterback. Oklahoma as a hole though looked undisciplined. Bad penalties, and sloppy play for the Sooners, and I have a feeling that if they were playing like that against Texas, Alabama, or Clemson, then the story wouldn’t be about Jalen Hurts. You have to bet that Oklahoma will clean it up and fix the sloppiness. This isn’t just a two year thing. Something special is building down there in Norman, Oklahoma, and it all starts with the quarterback position. Nobody expected Baker Mayfield to be the number one pick in the draft, he was drafted number one by the Browns. Everyone expected Kyler Murray to play baseball, he was drafted number one by the Cardinals. Is it really smart to doubt what Lincoln Riley can do with Jalen Hurts? I don’t want to get ahead of myself because it was only week one against Houston, but Jalen Hurts is setting himself for greatness, and by the end of the year he’s going to be in the mix with Tua, Herbert, and Fromm. If that happens, Oklahoma will start a domino effect that will land them some of the best high school quarterback recruits in the country for many years to come.
The Biggest Winners:
Boise State: I love what Boise State is doing. They don’t get the best recruits, they don’t have the best selling point, but they pride themselves on player development. They do it the hard way, and they stay relevant. The Broncos walked into Tallahassee, and they faced adversity right away. The weather, Cam Akers running over everybody, the Seminoles offense was fast and furious, and it looked ugly. Boise State walked out on the field with a freshman quarterback in the second half and they stunned Florida State by coming back and walking away with a victory. It wasn’t always pretty, but keep your eye on Hank Bachmeier. This guy is going to be special.
Wisconsin: You wanna talk about domination? This was scary. Jonathan Taylor is setting himself to have a Saquon Barkley type season, and this Badgers team looked like that dominant team we saw in 2017. They demolished USF, and they did it with the better quarterback on their roster sitting on the bench as a backup. Wisconsin made a statement on Friday night.
The Biggest Loser:
USC: Not only do they lose to Fresno State, they lose their starting quarterback JT Daniels for the season. Let the protests begin. The Trojan faithful want nothing more than Clay Helton being fired. They want Helton fired, and they want Urban Meyer to take over. I can’t blame them. USC, Southern California, the most beautiful campus in the world, and with some of the richest history in college football. How are they not a powerhouse? It’s already looking like a long season for USC.