Football Preview/ Early Weeks Review

Are you ready for some football?

The collegiate and professional football seasons are officially underway! Beginning on August 27th and on September 8th, respectively, the NCAA and NFL have already provided several memorable moments, even as their seasons are just a few weeks old.

Here is a look at the five moments that mattered in each of the first few weeks of both the NCAA and NFL.

 

WEEK 1, NCAA

 

 

  • Trouble for Tennessee. Tennessee, a trendy pick to capture the Southeastern Conference’s East Division title, found itself in early trouble when it trailed 13-3 to Appalachian State in their season opener in Knoxville. The Volunteers, however, woke up, scoring seventeen unanswered points and taking the victory in overtime.
  • Two top five teams fall. Louisiana State (LSU) and Oklahoma were each also subject to widespread preseason acclaim, and were ranked fifth and third entering the season. Those rankings were left in shambles after a pair of upsets. Oklahoma was outclassed 33-23 by a Houston team that seemed improved even from a historic 13-1 season last year, while LSU’s offense looked anemic and the Tigers fell to Wisconsin on a late field goal, 16-14.
  • Other elite teams romp. Alabama started slow against USC, but picked up the pace and eventually validated their preseason number one ranking with a 52-6 blowout. Ohio State and Michigan also had little trouble against their respective adversaries, although they played considerably weaker opposition in Bowling Green and Hawaii.
  • Texas outlasts Notre Dame in thriller. Texas looked vastly improved at first against the Fighting Irish as the Longhorns raced out to a 31-14 lead. However, DeShone Kizer took the quarterbacking reins for Notre Dame and led the Irish to 21 unanswered points. Texas then retook the lead at 37-35 using a touchdown with 3:29 left; in a surreal twist, Notre Dame blocked the ensuing extra point and ran it back 100 yards for an automatic two points that tied the game. Texas, however, stalled Notre Dame’s momentum and won in double overtime, 50-47, a dramatic swing from the Longhorns’ 38-3 loss a year ago.
  • Florida State down but not out. Florida State, breaking in new quarterback Deondre Francois, looked lost in falling behind to the Mississippi offensive machine 28-6. However, a score for the Seminoles just before half opened the floodgates, and FSU wound up putting 33 unanswered points on the board en route to a stunning 45-34 victory over the Rebels.

 

 

WEEK 2, NCAA

 

 

  • Lamar Jackson, out of control. The Louisville gunslinger continued his torrid start to the season with a scintillating performance against Syracuse, rolling up 610 total yards as a follow-up to his national Offensive Player of the Week, eight-touchdown performance against Charlotte.
  • Old rivals clash in Pittsburgh. Penn State and Pittsburgh, ancient foes dating back to 1893, renewed their rivalry for the first time in sixteen years at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Panthers built an early lead and held on against PSU, 42-39.
  • Clemson, Georgia struggle. Georgia was in serious trouble for a while against tiny Nicholls, winning 26-24, while Clemson looked lost at times in limping to an uninspiring six-point win over Troy.
  • Arkansas beats TCU in wild affair. Multiple momentum swings were the norm in a back-and-forth game that saw Arkansas block a Texas Christian field goal late in regulation, and then claim victory in overtime, the Razorbacks’ third OT win in the last two seasons.
  • Battle at Bristol. The event outweighed the action on the field in Bristol, Tennessee, as Tennessee beat Virginia Tech 45-24 at the Bristol Motor Speedway. A gridiron was laid on the NASCAR track’s infield for this unique event in the history of college football, which shattered attendance records by drawing a massive crowd of 156,990.

 

 

WEEK 1, NFL

 

 

  • Denver takes Super Bowl rematch. In a tight affair between the Broncos and Panthers at Mile High, Denver prevailed, riding new quarterback Trevor Siemian and taking advantage of a would-be game-winning field goal by Graham Gano that banged off the uprights to clinch the Broncos’ 21-20 victory.
  • Browns’ woes continue.  Cleveland had the worst loss of any team over the weekend, falling 29-10 to the Eagles. The losses piled up for the Brownies when it was revealed that quarterback Robert Griffin III will be out for eight or more weeks with a shoulder injury.
  • High drama. Several thrillers transpired: The Giants salvaged a win over the Cowboys when Dallas’ Terrence Williams failed to get out of bounds on the final play; the Chiefs obliterated a 21-point deficit in a win over San Diego; Oakland eschewed a potential tying extra point for a winning 2-point conversion late against the Saints, and succeeded; and the Lions’ Matt Prater redeemed himself for a missed extra point late with a winning field goal versus Indianapolis.
  • Patriots win without Brady. Tom Brady, serving a four-game suspension for his alleged role in deflating footballs before the AFC Championship Game two seasons ago, was unneeded as backup Jimmy Garoppolo led New England to a 23-21 win over Arizona on Sunday Night Football.
  • Rams historically bad in loss. The return of the Rams to the West Coast was unsuccessful as Los Angeles managed 185 total yards in losing to the 49ers, 28-0.

 

 

WEEK 3, NCAA

 

 

  • Louisville KOs Florida State. On a day heavy with remembrance of Louisville native Muhammad Ali, the Cardinals paid fine tribute to the Greatest by laying a 63-20 beating on FSU. The defeat marked the Seminoles’ worst loss ever, and solidified the Cards’ position as a national title contender.
  • Iowa falls. The Hawkeyes were beaten on a last second field goal by North Dakota State, the five-time defending Football Championship Subdivision (small-school) national champions. In addition to their quintet of titles, the Bison have not lost a game against a Football Bowl Subdivision (big-school) opponent since 2009.
  • Alabama takes down Mississippi. The Crimson Tide nearly gave their fans a heart attack by first spotting the Rebels a 21-point lead, getting it all back and more en route to taking a 48-30 advantage into the fourth, giving up two TDs in eight seconds to allow Ole Miss to pull within five, and finally running out the clock on a ridiculous 48-43 win.
  • Buckeyes’ “basic” defense rips Oklahoma. Seizing on a comment made by Sooners backup quarterback Austin Kendall earlier in the week, the Ohio State defense ripped apart Oklahoma, enabling the Buckeyes to race to a 42-17 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Oklahoma, with two losses, is all but eliminated from the College Football Playoff race.
  • Collision courses. Several teams picked up wins keeping them on track for huge showdowns: Stanford beat USC while Washington trounced Portland State, keeping those two squads on course for their Friday night fight September 30th; Michigan State and Wisconsin both won and will meet as unbeatens at noon September 24th; and the aforementioned Louisville win and Clemson’s blowout of South Carolina State sets up a titanic clash at Memorial Stadium October 1st.

 

 

WEEK 2, NFL

 

 

  • Patriots win, but lose. New England claimed a 31-24 victory over Miami, but lost Jimmy Garoppolo, who sustained a shoulder injury after leading the Pats to three touchdowns on their first three possessions.
  • Newton’s laws in full effect. Cam Newton had a monster, 353-yard performance through the air as Carolina stopped the 49ers in their tracks, 46-27.
  • LA wins throwback game. Viewers must have thought they were seeing the Rams of old in action when Los Angeles upset Seattle 9-3 in a defensive-minded contest at the Memorial Coliseum.
  • Browns at it again. Cleveland took off like gangbusters and built an early 20-2 lead, but in all-too-familiar fashion gave it all back as the Ravens stopped the Brownies in their tracks, 25-20.

 

Pittsburgh, Denver flex muscles. Both squads won showdowns against fierce AFC contending foes, as the Steelers held off the Bengals 24-16 and the Broncos used strong defensive play (especially from Super Bowl MVP Von Miller) to best Indianapolis, 34 to 20.

Patrick Andres Staff Writer