Hot seats, Heismans and other lessons from Week 1

Hot Seats

Charlie Strong … took the bullseye off of his back for a while with a huge win for Texas over Notre Dame in double overtime. He’ll still need to win a lot more games this season, but an opening day win over the Irish should have the Longhorn faithful smiling.

Kevin Sumlin … did the same thing with a big win at home over UCLA. The win might not just signal hope for the coach, but also brighter prospects for Texas A&M, which might be a lot stronger than some people (including me) thought.

Mike McIntyre … might still get the axe after this season. Colorado was picked solidly at the bottom of the Pac-12, but they demolished Colorado State 44-7 on opening day. If those are the real Buffaloes, then their season (and McIntyre’s future) might be on a different course.

Steve Addazio … couldn’t find an offense if you gave him a bloodhound and a metal detector. That’s pretty bad for a guy who’s supposedly an offensive guru. Opening in front of a Catholic-friendly crowd 3,000 miles from home in Ireland did nothing to help Boston College find the end zone against Georgia Tech. Unless the Eagles can get the ball moving more, Coach Dazz will be looking for work in 2017.

Les Miles … finds himself at the top of the hot seat list after LSU crashed and burned against Wisconsin. I said there could be no excuses after this season, and on opening day, a gaping hole was found in the Tigers’ offense, in spite of having one of the three top Heisman candidates on their roster. While Leonard Fournette picked up 138 yards, he didn’t reach the end zone, and QB Brandon Harris was abyssmal. LSU could still redeem itself, but unless the Tigers win at least 10 games – including a win over Alabama – Miles will likely hit the bricks at the end of the season.

Heismans

  1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Jr., Clemson (Last week: 1)
    This week: 19-of-34 for 248 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 11 carries for 21 yards
    This season: 19-of-34 for 248 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 11 carries for 21 yards
    Clemson (1-0), beat Auburn 19-13
    Watson wasn’t spectacular, but he did provide solid leadership against a tough opponent on the road. He’ll have to do a lot more to hold on to the top spot, but this week his top competition also wasn’t stellar. (Next week: vs. Troy)
  2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Jr., Stanford (Last week: 3)
    This week: 22 carries for 126 yards, 2 TDs; 7 receptions for 40 yards
    This season: 22 carries for 126 yards, 2 TDs; 7 receptions for 40 yards
    Stanford (1-0), beat Kansas State, 26-13
    McAffrey didn’t blow up against the Wildcats, but he did break loose for a couple of impressive touchdowns. Because of LSU’s struggles, he easily moves into our second spot. (Next: vs. USC on Sept. 17)
  3. Greg Ward Jr., QB, Sr., Houston (Last week: 6)
    This week: 23-of-40 for 321 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 18 carries for 1 yard
    This season: 23-of-40 for 321 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 18 carries for 1 yard
    Houston (1-0), beat Oklahoma, 33-23
    Ward was probably outplayed by Baker Mayfield statistically, but he came through when it counted with a huge touchdown drive in the third quarter. Every Heisman winner needs a signature win, and this week Ward got his. (Next week: vs. Lamar)
  4. J.T. Barrett, QB, Sr., Ohio State (Last week: 7)
    This week: 21-of-31 for 349 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 6 carries for 30 yards, 1 TD
    This season: 21-of-31 for 349 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 6 carries for 30 yards, 1 TD
    Ohio State (1-0), beat Bowling Green, 77-10
    Playing overmatched Bowling Green, Barrett threw and ran and led the Buckeyes to a romp over the Falcons. He’ll get another relatively easy opponent next week before the huge matchup against Oklahoma on Sept. 17. (Next week: vs. Tulsa)
  5. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jr., LSU (Last week: 2)
    This week: 23 carries for 138 yards, 0 TDs; 3 receptions for 38 yards, 0 TDs
    This season: 23 carries for 138 yards, 0 TDs; 3 receptions for 38 yards, 0 TDs
    LSU (0-1), lost to Wisconsin, 16-14
    The big guy did pick up 138 yards and averaged six yards per carry. But Heisman winners usually do two things – score and win. Fournette didn’t do the first, and the Tigers didn’t do the second. (Next week: vs. Jacksonville State)
  6. Nick Chubb, RB, Jr., Georgia (Last week: NR)
    This week: 32 carries for 222 yards, 2 TDs
    This season: 32 carries for 222 yards, 2 TDs
    Georgia (1-0), beat North Carolina, 33-24
    Chubb proved he was healed up from his injury by running over, around and through North Carolina en route to a big opening day victory. With Fournette still ahead of him on this list, he’ll have to keep doing that to make sure that it’s his name voters remember three months from now. (Next week: vs. Nicholls State)
  7. Baker Mayfield, QB, Sr., Oklahoma (Last week: 4)
    This week: 24-of-33 for 323 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 13 carries for (-1) yards
    This season: 24-of-33 for 323 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 13 carries for (-1) yards
    Oklahoma (0-1), lost to Houston, 33-23
    The fact that Oklahoma didn’t beat Houston really doesn’t rest on Mayfield’s shoulders. After RB Samaje Perine was injured, the Sooners all but abandoned the run, leaving Mayfield’s arm as their only weapon. Still, a loss is a loss. (Next week: vs. ULM)
  8. Dalvin Cook, RB, Jr., Florida State (Last week: 5)
    This week: 23 carries for 91 yards; 7 receptions for 101 yards
    This season: 23 carries for 91 yards; 7 receptions for 101 yards
    FSU (1-0), beat Ole Miss 45-34
    Cook wasn’t the reason the Seminoles won the game, but he did do well at both running back and receiver, though he never found the end zone. (On his best chance to score, Cook fumbled the ball out of bounds inside the 5 yard line – without being touched.) (Next week: vs. Charleston Southern)
  9. Trevor Knight, QB, Sr., Texas A&M (Last week: NR)
    This week: 22-of-42 for 239 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 9 carries for 31 yards, 2 TDs
    This season: 22-of-42 for 239 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 9 carries for 31 yards, 2 TDs
    Texas A&M (1-0), beat UCLA, 31-24 in OT
    Knight threw for fewer yards than Josh Rosen, but he was just efficient enough to keep the Aggies on track for the win. He’s barely on this list at the moment, but with the schedule A&M plays, he’ll have every opportunity to prove he belongs. (Next week: vs. Prairie View A&M)
  10. Chad Kelly, QB, Sr., Ole Miss (Last week: 9)
    This week: 21-of-39 for 312 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INT; 13 carries for 15 yards
    This season: 21-of-39 for 312 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INT; 13 carries for 15 yards
    Ole Miss (0-1), lost to Florida State, 45-34
    It was a tale of two halves for Kelly. In the first, he looked like a true Heisman contender, leading his team to a stunning upset. In the second, he looked barely average, throwing picks and taking sacks. (Next week: vs. Wofford)

On the bubble: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon; Seth Russell, QB, Sr., Baylor
Moving down: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA; Bo Scarbrough, RB, Soph., Alabama
Keep an eye on: Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

Lessons

Rise of the “Group of Five.” Parity never truly arrive in college football, but every year one or two non-Power Five programs – also known as the “Group of Five” – edge closer to a level of play worthy of inclusion in the Power Five. This year, the one on that list is the same on as last year’s upstart – Houston. The Cougars have enough talent to hang with virtually every team in the country, and should clean house in the American. When the Big 12 expands, if football is a prime indicator, the Cougars should definitely be on the list.

Don’t take anyone for granted. Four FBS teams fell to FCS programs. Another four teams favored by at least 15 points lost to supposedly overmatched underdogs. Tennessee had to go to overtime to beat Appalachian State. No. 25 Florida had to fight to hold off Massachusetts – the team we ranked last in the nation at No. 128. The lesson has always been there – don’t look past this week’s opponent to next week. And don’t think that a lowly team isn’t above kicking your butt.

Preseason rankings are useless … mostly. Yes, we also engage in the preseason madness of evaluating and predicting. But we can’t get it all right, and too often, we get some of the big stuff wrong. On day one, a lot of College Football Playoff Final Four matchups got kicked right in the teeth. I had Oklahoma vs. Boise State and Clemson vs. LSU. Scratch at least two off that list for now. While Athlon and ESPN fared well with their top four in Week 1, Lindy, Phil Steele, Sporting News, the AP and the Coaches Poll all lost at least Oklahoma. At best we’re like meteorologists. We predict the weather, and in most cases, we’re going to steer you in the right direction. But there will be days when we advise you to take an umbrella and it will be dry, and other days we assure you of no rain only to get a downpour. It’s the nature of the beast. For every Clemson and Alabama, there will be an LSU.

Copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt

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About Douglas Blaine

Capnpen is a writer who was a newspaper and magazine journalist in a previous life. A college journalism major, he now works as an administrator, but gets his writing fix by blogging about a variety of topics, including politics, religion, movies and television. When he's not working or blogging, Capnpen spends time with his family, plays a little golf (badly) and loves to learn about virtually anything.
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