Georgia Dominance Headlines a Fabulous College Football W1

Labor Day is behind us, and the kids are back in school. It’s officially football season!

What a first weekend of college football that was, last night’s game notwithstanding.

It started with the Backyard Brawl, the return of the border rivalry between the Pittsburgh Panthers and West Virginia Mountaineers. It was 60 glorious minutes of pure hate. What an atmosphere. Let’s not wait another 11 years to do it again. 

The Big Ten came through on Thursday and Friday night with a pair of late fourth-quarter game-winning drives. First, the much-maligned Sean Clifford led the Penn State Nittany Lions 80 yards to paydirt in 85 seconds to come back against the Purdue Boilermakers. Clifford’s fourth scoring strike came with less than a minute remaining.

The following night, Missouri transfer Connor Bazelak took the Indiana Hoosiers 75 yards in a 1:53 to knock off the Illinois Fighting Illini 23-20 in the final minute. This is the same Indiana offense that scored more than 15 points once in nine Big Ten games in 2022 and a touchdown or less six times.

Saturday night saw No. 2 Ohio State defeat No. 5 Notre Dame 21-10. A game that was closer and saw far less scoring than expected, especially from the Buckeyes. Afterward, Ryan Day couldn’t have sounded happier, “Have to be able to win ugly.” So, 6.6 yards per pass is a good thing? Sure.

I don’t believe we need to panic about the state of OSU’s offense, but I’m also not sold this was more impressive than putting up 40 or 50 points. The ten points allowed are certainly a positive takeaway in the much-anticipated debut of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.

If you can indulge me with more B1G results: the Iowa Hawkeyes won 7-3 over FBS foe South Dakota State. They’re the first team since 2000 (possibly ever) to score exactly seven points without scoring a touchdown. How’d they do it? A field goal and two safeties, of course. Quarterback Spencer Petras had a QBR of 1.1.

In case you don’t think the Iowa City faithful love it, Iowa has not one (“Punting Is Winning“), not two (“The Punter From Down Under“), but three (“I Cheer For The Punter”), punter t-shirts. I’m buying one of these shirts.

A game that featured little punting was North Carolina over Appalachian State, a 63-61 scorigami. App State scored 40 points in the fourth quarter (40!!!) and LOST!?!?!

Not as wild, but nearly, UNC rival North Carolina State also survived their in-state contest, 21-20, at East Carolina. The Pirates missed a game-tying extra point and a game-winning field goal in the final three minutes (oh, the agony), allowing the Wolfpack to come out with a win.

Virginia Tech was not as fortunate at Old Dominion, as the Monarchs upset the Hokies 20-17.

So Va. Tech played at Old Dom, UNC in Boone, and NC State at ECU. Three ACC schools played on the road against in-state G5 programs. I don’t know why but I’m here for it. Not good for the P5 school but great for college football. 

Survival was the theme in the ACC, as the Florida State Seminoles beat the LSU Tigers 24-23 on Sunday night on a walk-off blocked PAT. This game was so FSU vs. LSU in the most perfect way possible.

Unable to bring most of his assistants from Notre Dame, Brian Kelly did retain special teams coach Brian Polian. In addition to the blocked PAT, LSU had an FG blocked, and two punt returns fumbled. Ouch. I want to add that when the score was 24-10 and the Tigers scored a touchdown; they should have gone for two. It’s math. 

The breakout star of Week 1? Any debate that it’s Florida’s Anthony Richardson? College football media were falling all over themselves to compare the Gators quarterback to Vince Young and Cam Newton.

Last but not least, how about the Georgia Bulldogs? Are we sure they shouldn’t be No. 1? UGA scored a touchdown on the first seven drives of the game, and Stetson Bennett threw for 368 yards, while the defense minus all those NFL Draft picks allowed a mere three points to Oregon. They couldn’t have been more impressive.