Wojo, Niyo, Angelique and Matt look back at Week 1 of the college football season, and take a glimpse ahead at Week 2. Detroit News
You can’t overreact to one week of college football. It’s silly and irresponsible, and if you do it, you likely have poor hygiene.
But hey, I’m paid to do it! So here are a few things I noticed in the first full week of the season, in no particular order.
It’s early, and this comparison could change, but it turns out Michigan’s defense is just a notch below the 1985 Chicago Bears, which doesn’t bode well for the 2017 Cincinnati BearCubs. Maybe there’s something in defensive coordinator Don Brown’s Magic Mustache — not the remnants of a chicken salad sandwich — but the Wolverines seem intent on racing all over the field, as if told an elusive Big Ten trophy is out there somewhere. I haven’t seen Florida folks that confused since every election of our lifetime.
The days of Michigan’s defense simply trying to out-fat opponents appear to be over, but again, be careful with snap judgments. For instance, you probably assumed the days of Michigan State’s dominance were over, after the Spartans inexplicably went 3-9.
Well, a short while after that noon kickoff last Saturday against Bowling Green — I’d say by 3:09 or so — it was apparent Michigan State was a different team. Suddenly — watch the rash predictions! — I’d even say the Spartans have a legitimate shot against Western Michigan this week.
The Broncos were 13-1 a year ago and promoted their coach, P.J. Fleck, to the Big Ten, but aren’t planning to be just a fleck on the college football landscape. They marched into Los Angeles and were tied 28-28 with the mighty Trojans before getting tired and falling, 49-31.
It was impressive, which leads me to another thing I’ve noticed: Nobody’s afraid of anybody anymore.
After last season, you’d think the Spartans would be intimidated by a visit from the Broncos and their new coach, Tim “P.J.” Lester. But Mark Dantonio has done a fine job erasing all vestiges of that disaster, including weekly Friday night bonfires outside Spartan Stadium to burn tapes, box scores, uniforms and newspaper columns (without the columnist attached, presumably) from last season. On a clear night, you could see the smoke all the way to Owosso.
The Spartans were feeling better about themselves until someone produced a tape of the Broncos’ 263-yard rushing effort against the Trojans. Mind you, that’s a USC team expected to be much more than its usual glitzy disappointment. Perhaps Dantonio can use that as inspiration, to convince his players there’s no such thing as insurmountable odds.
I mean, there really isn’t. Did you know the greatest upset in college football history occurred late last Saturday? Howard (no last name given) was a 45-point underdog against UNLV, and yet won, 43-40.
This was stunning primarily because nobody knew the game was being played. And also because we assumed the greatest upset in history was Appalachian State’s 34-32 victory over Michigan in 2007. That was back when underdogs allegedly knew their place and the Wolverines were unofficial 33-point favorites. It also was customary at the time for heavy favorites to play walk-ons as a learning experience for entire quarters.
You can’t pull that stunt anymore. In case you missed it, Texas A&M rolled up a 44-10 lead over UCLA (Kevin Sumlin is an offensive genius!) and somehow managed to lose, 45-44 (Kevin Sumlin’s house is for sale!).
In one day, Texas football was devastated, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the horrific storm. A&M collapsed, Texas lost to Maryland, 51-41, and in the most wonderfully hilarious outcome ever, Baylor lost to Liberty (not Mutual), 48-45. That qualifies as the biggest Baylor scandal in at least a few weeks. It won’t be long before Art Briles undergoes plastic surgery and returns as the coach under an assumed name.
Two of the richest college football states — Texas and Florida — were bashed in every way. The Gators made the mistake of annoying Jim Harbaugh with brash talk, and then further annoyed the Wolverines by stealing two passes and running into the end zone, where they promptly sold the footballs for profit.
Michigan still stomped to a 33-17 victory, as Florida somehow neglected to employ a quarterback. Later that night, poor Florida State was battered by Alabama, 24-7, and lost its quarterback. The Florida governor is expected to sign an executive order permitting Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston to play for the Seminoles and Bucs on consecutive days.
But back to the point of this column drivel, whatever it was. Yes, nobody’s afraid of anybody anymore. Did you hear about the Cincinnati running back who said the BearCubs (34-point underdogs) plan to “shock the world” against Michigan? Kiddo, when you’ve lost to Appy State, you’re shock-proof.
It’s worth noting Cincinnati is led by Luke Fickell, who knows something about shocking the world. He’s the only Ohio State coach to lose to Michigan in 13 years, as an interim in 2011. It’s also worth noting the Wolverines have their fastest, fiercest defense since approximately 1905, when they outscored opponents 495-2, including a 75-0 beating of Oberlin (now known as Oberon).
Pick: Michigan 45-6
Western Michigan at Michigan State: The Spartans haven’t lost to the Broncos since a stunner back in 1919, when Lee Corso donned the Sparty head on the pregame show. The Spartans can’t be haunted by that memory — or the close 37-24 victory in Kalamazoo two years ago. This should be tight, partly because the Broncos no longer are allowed to row a boat of any type, based on strict trademark laws. Pick: Michigan State 31-28
Oklahoma at Ohio State: Early overreaction suggests the Big Ten is the best football conference in the country, slightly ahead of the AFC. After a tough opener against Indiana, the Buckeyes get a break. They won by 21 at Oklahoma last season, and if you think Urban Meyer is losing to a 34-year-old coach named Lincoln Riley, you probably think Meyer also holds secret study tables. Pick: Ohio State 34-21
Nebraska at Oregon: Remember when a trip to Oregon was just about the scariest thing ever? Well, the Ducks went mellow yellow last season and finished 4-8. There’s some concern about the air quality for this game because of wildfires in the area. (True story). Knowing Oregon’s liberal “smoking” laws, I doubt anyone really minds. Pick: Oregon 45-30
Eastern Michigan at Rutgers: Two more teams determined to prove their stinking days are over. Eastern was 7-6 and is 1-0 now, and no longer are intimidated marching into Big Ten stadiums. Eventually, Rutgers might feel the same way. Pick: Eastern 30-28