This Josh Rosen is a beast.
That's the top takeaway from Week 1 of the college football season. UCLA's prized freshman QB was propped up as tremendous by people who had seen him and the nation got to watch firsthand as he toyed with a solid Virginia team. Nod in agreement. He was impressive. Preseason Heisman odds on him were in the 25-to-1 range, but Sportsbook.ag already has adjusted with him at +2000 (20-to-1). Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott (5-to-1) is favored.
Other books have adjusted even more drastically. Rosen was so good that it’s not at all shocking he’s on everyone’s mind.
Surprises not that shocking
Week 1 brought other surprises, but they weren't mind-blowing.
Stanford? Northwestern was always going to be in that game. That the Wildcats won 16-6 is partially because Pat Fitzgerald ensured that the morale of his players wouldn't stay down now that everyone is healthy and on the same page, but also because this year's Cardinal team isn't at the caliber of what we've come to expect out of David Shaw's program. They may reach that level this season, but are far from there now. QB Kevin Hogan struggled. He’s never been Andrew Luck, but has managed to win 19 games over the last two seasons and will rebound. Don’t try to run him off just yet.
Texas looks like it hasn’t gotten better, but things have smelled funky there since before the Mack Brown era ended. Charlie Strong playing fall guy is just that, scapegoat-ish. Baylor, TCU and Texas A&M have made the Longhorn struggles an afterthought at this point. It was cute early, but now Texas failing to show up against Notre Dame just makes it easier to sprinkle dirt on the prestige once bestowed upon the Longhorns.
They’re a former power like Penn State, whose coach, James Franklin, came off as incredibly foolish. Stubborn. Ridiculous. How do you leave your university's franchise quarterback in to get abused like that when the game is clearly over? There was no excuse for Christian Hackenberg to be out there dropping back the final two times he got sacked by Temple. That made 10 times he was brought down to the ground. It was irresponsible. Hack has a certain pro future to consider and Franklin shouldn't have so recklessly endangered it. I'm normally a fan of his, but he lost his head on Saturday.
Auburn's defense imposed its will early, but Louisville helped to make the Tigers look elite by failing to find a rhythm. New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp being at the controls rightfully merits credit, but Louisville’s Reggie Bonnafon still might be the right choice at quarterback despite his early ineffectiveness. Lamar Jackson helped ignite the Cardinals and deliver a backdoor cover and nearly come all the way back, but that burst can also be chalked up to desperation. They were getting embarrassed. Expect the ‘Ville to figure it out and be in the mix in an open ACC.
A flat Trevone Boykin is no concern, especially since TCU got the victory at Minnesota. Baylor struggled early with SMU because they misjudged how explosive QB Matt Davis would be after a sprinkle of Chad Morris. Guilty here too. Both Big 12 powers will be a factor at the end like we imagined they would be.
The Gators scoring 61 points in Jim McElwain’s head coaching debut is great, but you have to consider New Mexico State the opponent and watch the relative ease with which they scored before getting too excited. It should also be noted Florida scored 65 in the season opener against Eastern Michigan last season.
Taking a break from the "that-don’t-impress-me-much" theme, there were a few things that were undeniably cool. Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson has gotten so much better, shining in an OT loss to Tulsa that was overshadowed by the finishes in. He should be proud and looks confident. Maryland’s William Likely returned eight punts for 233 yards, shattering a 76-year Big Ten record. USC's freshman class looked good in getting to scrimmage with Arkansas State when that game was already decided on Saturday night. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has had a rough last few weeks, but he and his staff are clearly putting in work behind the scenes.
FSU and Oregon combined for 120 points, nearly an even split, in moving on from Heisman Trophy winners and current NFL starters Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Baylor’s Seth Russell looks capable of picking up right where Bryce Petty left off.
While the Pac-12 and Big Ten had forgettable first weeks, the SEC went 12-1 (LSU had its game postponed), outscoring opponents by 326 points. Ole Miss’ 76-3 dismantling of UT-Martin certainly inflated that number, but it’s still impressive since Arizona State, Wisconsin, Louisville and North Carolina were among the victims.
Speaking of which, Gene Chizik's defense did a nice job in his return to coaching at UNC. Unfortunately, in a key situation late in the game that affected both the game and the spread (+2.5), head coach Larry Fedora opted to trust his offense and go for it on 4th down after being blown up on the previous play as opposed to kicking a field goal that would've made it 17-16 and trusting his improved defense to get a stop. He burnt a key timeout and put the team's fate in Marquise Williams' hands as opposed to his new defensive coordinator's. The Tar Heels are 0-1 as a result.
The long anticipated return of Jim Harbaugh to college coaching was a loser too, but don’t expect the Wolverines to be down long. The task of going into Salt Lake City to try and take down a disciplined and talented Utah squad was simply too much to expect, especially with QB Jake Rudock debuting in his new role.
College Football Week 1 Recap Snapshot
1. BYU 32 Nebraska 27, 2. Tulsa 43 FAU 40 (OT), 3. So. Dakota St. 41 Kansas 38
1. Rosen - UCLA, 2. Derrick Henry - Alabama, 3. Braxton Miller - Ohio State
1. BYU's GW Hail Mary: Tanner Mangum to Mitch Mathews 2. Miller's spin move run to tear the heart out of Virginia Tech's chest, 3. Henry's 56-yd run to break open Bama's win over Wisconsin.
Best coaching jobs:
1. Loved Kevin Sumlin's work in pressure situation vs ASU in Houston 2. Larry Coker takes young UTSA to Arizona and terrifies 'Cats 3. Fitzgerald building the confidence of his Wildcats back up to fuel Stanford win.
Worst coaching jobs:
1. Texas' struggles pre-date Strong, but that was his team that wasn't ready to play 2. George O'Leary's UCF Knights blew 14-3 halftime lead to FIU, mishandled a red zone trip in the final minute to complicate final GW FG try. 3. Fedora is second-guessing himself over losing a game where his Heels outplayed South Carolina. Empty red zone trips cost UNC dearly.
: It was a fairly even week for sharps, who lost with Baylor and Arizona in spite of big spreads but won with calls on Alabama and Auburn. Did they really ride Texas? I stayed far away from that one. My week went 17-7 since Miami/Bethune-Cookman shortened the second half, resulting in a 50-minute game instead of the required 55. Was on Northwestern, South Dakota State, Temple and Texas A&M. Lost on Iowa, which I felt would struggle more.
Close calls and bad beats:
Louisville and Auburn delivered a heart-breaker for some considering the Tigers comeback forced the game over 54.5. It also obviously bailed 'Ville backers out of a bad call since Auburn was the dominant team until late. The same situation arose in UCLA/Virginia, though the Bruins were at -18 by kickoff of their eventual 34-16 win. If you bet UCLA early, you lost since they were as high as 20 and mostly hovering around 19. Given how beautifully, Rosen played, backing the Bruins and not being able to cash had to hurt.
Speaking of hurting, surviving a game-opening pick-six to actually lead as Sunday's lone game came down the stretch had to have Boilermakers-backers and fans thrilled, but the defense couldn't get a stop and Tiquan Lang produced his second pick-six to doom both his opponent and the cover. A push or backdoor cover on Purdue +7 was also there to be had in the final minute, but Austin Appleby got hit as he released a pass into the end zone, resulting in yet another interception. That's still not going to feel better in the morning.
Colorado State's cashing of -51 by a final of 65-13 provided the best cover story of Week 1 by far since it did so in spite of five turnovers and an enormous mental blunder. The score entering the 4th happened to be 58-7, but the MEAC's Tigers connected on a pair of field goals to put themselves in position to cover. Then, with just over five minutes left, Colorado State's Jordon Vaden took the kickoff return 99 yards instead of 100, dropping the ball at the 1-yard line and out of bounds for a touchback. Haunting stuff. The Rams ended up getting the cover with two seconds left when Izzy Mattews broke through for a 37-yard run to paydirt. Can't make this stuff up.
BYU QB Taysom Hill (Broken foot, OFY), Arizona LB Scooby Wright (MCL tear, Out 4-6 wks), Notre Dame RB Taurean Folson (Torn ACL, OFY), Kansas St. QB Jesse Ertz (Knee, out indefinitely), UCLA LB Eddie Vanderdoes (Torn ACL, OFY), Penn St. LB Nyeem Wartman-White (Leg, OFY), Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt (Torn Achilles, OFY), Pittsburgh RB James Conner (Knee, OFY), Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer (Collarbone, 4-6 wks), Colorado St. TE Kivon Cartwright (Lower leg, undetermined), Wisconsin S Mike Caputo (Head, undetermined), Clemson WR Mike Williams (Neck, Likely OFY).
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA