NCAA Football Report (Week 1)

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Week 1 in the NCAA season is typically one where the top teams get their chance to beat up on a Division-I FCS team. With no preseason teams generally take the first week as a chance to find a team that they can easily win against. That means that they can make a mistake in the game and not really pay too badly because the level of the other team is nowhere near as high. It is considered a warm up game for most and the NCAA teams used to take full advantage before they began their bigger schedules. That pattern had continued for years under the BCS system where one bad game didn’t make a big difference if the rest of the schedule was good. The BCS system is gone now though and has been replaced by the playoff system and a new committee to decide the top four teams in the nation. That committee has already stated that they will take strength of schedule into account in a big way this year and so these one-off easy games are not necessarily the smartest idea for schools anymore. No school can get away with a weak spot on the schedule and the games against the D-I FCS teams are not going to be a smart choice. The schools already knew this coming into the new season and so the schedules began to take shape with much better teams being played. A few teams still picked some lower divisional opponents but more teams were looking at ranked opponents or former conference champions from D-I FBS. It was a strategic week in the NCAA as teams began with what they thought was a good first step towards trying to be one of the top four teams in the nation. There is a lot of season left but with the NCAA one week can make a world of difference. It has been seen so many times before that a top ranked team takes a loss to a team that is ranked far below them and they fall down the rankings. That puts them in a situation where they need to climb their way back into the top of the rankings which becomes very hard when other teams continue their run. Depending on another team to falter is never the way that a school wants to move up the rankings and losing to a bad team in only Week 1 can force that type of situation. So teams went into a new season with different schedules that all started with their first challenge of the year. Many of the top schools showed exactly why the old strategy was the best way to start a season, albeit not the most exciting for fans. School like #1 ranked Florida State, #7 ranked UCLA, and #9 ranked South Carolina all struggled in their first games. Luckily for two of these schools the struggle did not finish with a loss as the UCLA Bruin and Florida State Seminoles both came out on top. The Bruins could not prevent a fall in the rankings after their 28-20 win against Virginia but they still got a win. That is the essential part because the Bruins did fall to 12th from 7th but without a loss on the record if they improve their performances a move back up the rankings is not out of the question. Meanwhile defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston did not have a typical performance in his debut for 2014 but he did help the team to a win and kept the Seminoles at #1. The Gamecocks were on the opposite end of the spectrum though as they took a loss to a surprising Texas A&M team and were shocked to be on the bad end of a beating. The loss has dropped them to the #21 ranking and that is not going to be an easy thing to overcome. The first week in the NCAA season has come and gone with teams trying to make a great first impression. Many did make that impression and are on their way to a battle for the top four. Meanwhile a few teams were shocked and did not make that great first impression leaving a longer road for them to climb if they hope to make it into playoff contention. The new era of the NCAA is hear and it has already caused a stir after one week but there is only more to come as the football season continues on.

Heisman Watch

1. Todd Gurley, RB (Georgia)
Well if Todd Gurley was trying to make a good first impression and show that running backs are not the forgotten position he sure knows how to do just that. 198 yards and 3 touchdowns in the offence plus a 100-yard return touchdown was a great way to start the season. He was the reason Georgia won their game and they will continue to ride him as he launches himself to the top of the Heisman rankings thanks to an explosive performance and some lackluster performances of his opponents
Stats (1 Game):
15 att
198 yds
13.2 avg
3 TD

 2. Marcus Mariota, QB (Oregon)
Marcus Mariota is in a tough situation when it comes to the Heisman as he plays on the West Coast off of peak times for many of the voters. Most will have to see him on tape or through stats and this week his stats were not the most impressive. Throwing for 267 yards and three touchdowns while running for another touchdown is great but is it good enough to be named the best player in the NCAA. Only time will tell but Mariota stays at #2 thanks to a solid performance while others faltered.
Stats (1 Game):
70% cmp (6 att)
267 yards (43 yds)
3 TD (1 rsh TD)
231.6 rtg

3. Jameis Winston, QB (Florida State)
For the defending Heisman Trophy winner it was not a good start to the season as he was not the same Jameis Winston he was in 2013. Throwing two interceptions in the game was a major reason for the Seminoles to almost lose their opening game. Still he showed that playmaking ability that has made him one of the most electrifying players in the NCAA. His 370 yards through the air along with 2 total touchdowns keep him in the running but he needs to improve to stay among the best in the country.
Stats (1 Game):
62.5% cmp (5 att)
370 yds (9 rsh yds)
1 TD (1 TD)
138.5 rtg

 4. Kenny Hill, QB (Texas A&M)
Stats (1 Game):
73.3% cmp
511 yds
3 TD
161.4 rtg

5. Ameer Abdullah, RB (Nebraska)
Stats (1 Game):
21 att
232 yds
11.0 avg
1 TD

AP Top 25:
1. Florida State Seminoles (1)
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (2)
3. Oregon Ducks (3)
4. Oklahoma Sooners (4)
5. Auburn tigers (6)
6. Georgia Bulldogs (12)
7. Michigan State Spartans (8)
8. Ohio State Buckeyes (5)
9. Texas A&M Aggies (21)
10. Baylor Bears (10)
11. UCLA Bruins (7)
12. LSU Tigers (13)
13. Stanford Cardinal (11)
14. USC Trojans (15)
15. Ole Miss Rebels (18)
16. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17)
17. Arizona State Sun Devils (19)
18. Wisconsin Badgers (14)
19. Nebraska Cornhuskers (22)
20. Kansas State Wildcats (20)
21. South Carolina Gamecocks (9)
22. North Carolina Tarheels (23)
23. Clemson Tigers (16)
24. Missouri Tigers (24)
25. Louisville Cardinals (–)


Key Scores:
Texas A&M Aggies 52 – 28 South Carolina Gamecocks
– The question coming into the game was who would be missed more, Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney, turns out it was Clowney as new Aggies QB Kenny Hill tore apart the Gamecock defence in a statement game for the Aggies

Alabama Crimson Tide 33 – 23 West Virginia Mountaineers
– The Tide broke a two game losing streak from the end of last season but for Nick Saban a 10-point win will not be good enough to erase those memories as Alabama was expected to be much more dominant against the Mountaineers

UCLA Bruins 28 – 20 Virginia Cavaliers
– The Bruins started the season as a favourite pick to make the final four this year behind the arm of Heisman hopeful Brett Hundley but their first week did not turn out well as Hundley did not look great and the Bruins barely escaped with a win

Florida State Seminoles 37 – 31 Oklahoma State Cowboys
– It was not necessarily an easy start for Jameis Winston and the Seminoles but for the top team in the nation it should have been a better performance as Winston was not his old self and the Seminoles struggled although picked up the win

Next Week:
USC Trojans vs. Stanford Cardinal (Saturday September 6th; 3:30 pm ET)
– Two California teams face-off in a battle of opposites as a new rebuilt Trojans offence that looked great in their first game under Steve Sarkisian takes on a defence that looked dominant in their first game of the season

Michigan State Spartans vs. Oregon Ducks (Saturday September 6th; 6:30 pm ET)
– The Ducks did not have the most challenging debuts to their season starting out with a romp against South Dakota but now their season picks up as Marcus Mariota takes on one of the best defences in the NCAA

BYU Cougars vs. Texas Longhorns (Saturday September 6th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Texas Longhorns continue their climb back into the rankings with a new head coach that already helped them to their first win of the season as they hope to prove that they belong in the top 25 by beating up on the Cougars

Michigan Wolverines vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Saturday September 6th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The rivalry runs deep between these two teams but it is coming to an end as a new ACC schedule for Notre Dame will put an end to this rivalry for the foreseeable future as the Irish and Wolverines face off one last time this time under the lights

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