Week 1: Utah, Fresno State big winners
Last year, I started a weekly look at the college football landscape, plus a few personal observations and some travel adventures. I didn’t go anywhere this week except Owen Field, so that will have to wait. The football will not.
BIGGEST WINNERS FROM WEEK 1:
10. Jim Harbaugh: The old Colt quarterback is becoming a heck of a coach. His second Stanford team beat Oregon State 36-28. Prediction: Harbaught eventually will join his brother, John, as an NFL head coach.
9. Neutral sites: The two biggest games of the day were played off campus. Missouri-Illinois in St. Louis and Alabama-Clemson in Atlanta. We’re going to see more of this, not less. Sorry, E.Z. Million. 8. Oklahoma State: Cowboys popped Washington State 39-13 in Seattle, and suddenly OSU’s season outlook improves. Eight wins doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
7. Mark Sanchez: The USC quarterback completed 26 of 35 passes for 338 yards and three TDs on a far tougher stage than most big-time quarterbacks Saturday — at Virginia.
6. Turner Gill: The Buffalo U. coach narrowly missed out on getting hired at Nebraska, and Gill keeps showing he can produce. His previously-awful program continues to improve. It beat UTEP and old fox Mike Price 42-17.
5. Kevin Craft: The third-team UCLA quarterback, handed the reins because of preseason injuries, threw four first-half interceptions but hung in there and led a 27-24 overtime upset of Tennessee.
4. Sun Belt Conference: The most beleaguered league in college football had another miserable record, going 1-5 in non-conference games, but that one win was memorable. Arkansas State upset Texas A&M 18-14, spoiling Mike Sherman’s debut as the Aggie coach and giving the Sun Belt some notches in its belt not supplied by Troy.
3. Skip Holtz: Lou’s son left his first head-coaching spot, UConn, to be his dad’s aide at South Carolina. Skip probably thought he would take over the Gamecocks; instead Steve Spurrier got that job and Skip settled for East Carolina. But a 27-22 upset of Virginia Tech gives Skip a 21-17 record at East Carolina and a 54-40 record overall. Some school will come after Skip Holtz. 2. Nick Saban: The Alabama coach isn’t all that popular. A guy from Bama told me the other day he hopes Saban doesn’t die, because they’d have a tough time finding six men to be pallbearers. But Saban is a heck of a college coach. His Crimson Tide spanked Clemson 34-10.1. Mid-majors: Two teams staked an early claim for being the 2008 version of Boise State or Hawaii. Utah went to the Big House and beat Michigan 25-23. Not a huge upset, but surprising, and enjoyable, for those of us off the Rich Rodriguez bandwagon. And Fresno State went to Rutgers and won 24-7. This month, Fresno hosts Wisconsin and goes to UCLA. Don’t rule out Fresno State winning both.
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