Philadelphia, PA – Week one of the FBS season is now in the books and was filled with plenty of intrigue. There were the obvious storylines that were reinforced, while there were still others that have us all scratching our collective heads.
AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED: There were a number of teams poised for strong seasons and certainly delivered in week one. Not much was surprising in the USC and Oregon routs, as both programs looked in mid-season form, albeit against lesser competition in the form of Hawaii and Arkansas State. However, it's safe to say that the Pac-12 is a two-horse race, as both the Trojans and Ducks are simply at a different level.
The stars for both teams played like it, with USC's Matt Barkley putting on a clinic (372 yards passing, four TDs), thanks in part to All-American wideouts Marqise Lee (10 catches, 197 yards, one TD, 100-yard kickoff return for a TD) and Robert Woods (six catches, 42 yards, two TDs). For the Ducks, it was tailback De'Anthony Thomas, who only touched the ball seven times on offense (three carries and four receptions), but found the end zone on three of those occasions.
Still, before we dub either USC or Oregon national champion, the defending champs may have something to say about it. There wasn't a more impressive win to open the season than the dominant performance by Alabama, as the Crimson Tide, despite losing a great deal of star power from last year's squad, toyed with a very good Michigan team that entered the season with national title aspirations of its own. What Brady Hoke and the rest of the Wolverines found out in a 41-14 drubbing, however, was that they are without a doubt not ready to join the big boys just yet. The Crimson Tide just seemed faster on both sides of the football and that is saying a lot considering Michigan's offense is engineered by Denard Robinson. Michigan managed just 11 first downs in the game and a mere 269 yards of total offense. The Crimson Tide served notice in the opener that wrestling the national title away from them will be no small feat.
As far as individual performances go, there were plenty of them across the nation, but what Ohio State sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller did has to be among the best. There was a ton of hype surrounding Ohio State and Urban Meyer's return to the sidelines, but it was OSU's young signal-caller that stole the show, as he almost single-handedly did in Miami-Ohio. Miller was dynamic, completing 14-of-24 passes, for 207 yards and two TDs, while rushing for 161 yards and another score.
SCORE ONE FOR THE LITTLE GUY: The FCS had a good week against the FBS ranks, relatively speaking, with a number of big wins, including McNeese State knocking off Middle Tennessee (27-21), Tennessee-Martin topping Memphis (20-17) and Eastern Washington blasting Idaho (20-3). Even narrow losses like Liberty's to Wake Forest (20-17) and Northern Iowa's showing against 12th- ranked Wisconsin (26-21) did the league proud.
However, Youngstown State's whipping of Pittsburgh (31-17) has to be on the top of the list. If you weren't aware of the Penguins before this weekend, you certainly are now. One of the real powerhouses in the FCS, YSU moved up seven spots in the FCS Top-25 poll to number six. No stranger to FCS success, Youngstown State won four national titles in the 1990s.
Although a great win for the Penguins, the more pressing story may be what to make of the Panthers and where do they go from here, as Paul Chryst certainly didn't envision a lopsided loss to Youngstown State to start his tenure at Pittsburgh. The Panthers were 10-0 against the Football Championship Subdivision prior to this setback and may not recover in 2012, despite the season just getting underway.
KEYSTONE FOLLIES: The Keystone Cops were a series of silent films in the 1920s that depicted incompetent policemen running around with no form of order and the chaos that ensued. In today's culture, the moniker is often used to label a group that makes a number of mistakes and has a general lack of coordination in trying to achieve a goal.
The two primary football schools in the Keystone State certainly fall into that category, as the aforementioned loss that the Pittsburgh Panthers suffered at the hands of FCS foe Youngstown State was somewhat trumped by Penn State's season-opening loss to Ohio University (24-14). The Nittany Lions were hoping to at least change the focus of attention from the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the University and severely tarnished the football program, to the Bill O'Brien Era and a new beginning for Penn State football.
The Nittany Lions looked solid in the first half, taking a 14-3 lead into the break, but were stagnant after that, allowing three Bobcat touchdowns in the second half, while being shutout the rest of the way. Where does O'Brien go from here and how does he lift his team up? That remains to be seen, but a road trip to Virginia this week may postpone that turnaround.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: What OSU's Miller did under center for Ohio State ranked among the standout performances across the nation for quarterbacks. Oregon's Thomas had a great game in and out of the backfield, and USC's Lee headlines the wide receivers in week one.
Here are some other performances across the nation that were noteworthy.
QBs - Syracuse's Ryan Nassib (470 yards, four TDs against Northwestern), West Virginia's Geno Smith (323 yards, five TDs against Marshall), Nebraska's Taylor Martinez (354 yards, five TDs against Southern Miss), USC's Matt Barkley (372 yards, four TDs against Hawaii), Boston College's Chase Rettig (441 yards, two TDs against Miami-Florida), Arkansas' Tyler Wilson (367 yards, three TDs against Jacksonville State), Baylor's Nick Florence (341 yards, four TDs against SMU) and New Mexico State's Andrew Manley (367 yards, three TDs against Sacramento State),
RBs - UCLA's Johnathan Franklin (214 yards, three TDs against Rice), Air Force's Cody Getz (218 yards, three TDs against Idaho State), Troy's Shawn Southward (204 yards, three TDs against UAB), Michigan State's LeVeon Bell (210 yards, two TDs against Boise State), Ball State's Jahwan Edwards (200 yards, three TDs against Eastern Michigan), Clemson's Andre Ellington (231 yards against Auburn), Central Michigan's Zurlon Tipton (180 yards, three TDs against SE Missouri State) and Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson (145 yards, three TDs against California).
WRs - New Mexico State's Austin Franklin (eight receptions, 236 yards, two TDs against Sacramento State), Wyoming's Robert Herron (five receptions, 173 yards, two TDs against Texas) and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews (eight receptions, 147 yards, one TD against South Carolina),
SNEAK PEEK: While there are no marquee matchups like week one's Alabama and Michigan clash, there is still plenty of quality games on the docket for week two, including Texas A&M opening its season against Florida, Washington heading to SEC country to battle LSU, Nebraska at UCLA, Georgia at Missouri and Purdue at Notre Dame.