Dubbed the “greatest opening weekend in history”, Week 1 of the college football season certainly lived up to its hype. Despite Week 1’s reputation for being a relatively low-action weekend, this year’s Week 1 was anything but that, as 5 out of the top 16 teams in the AP Poll suffered devastating losses.
Major upsets this week:
The #3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners fell victim to the #15 ranked Houston Cougars in a thrilling neutral site game in Houston, 33-23. Houston’s defense performed spectacularly, only allowing 17 first downs and 24:54 time of possession, while Houston’s special teams came up clutch with a game-changing 109-yard touchdown return on a missed field goal.
The #5 ranked LSU Tigers were outdueled by the Wisconsin Badgers in the first ever college football game at Lambeau Field, 16-14. Wisconsin’s defense shut down the Tigers’ offense, holding them to 257 yards of total offense, 23:03 time of possession, and a meager 20% conversion on 3rd-down plays.
The #10 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish were stunned by the Texas Longhorns in a double-overtime thriller in Austin, 50-47. Although Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer was responsible for 6 TD’s (5 passing, 1 rushing), Texas’s two quarterback system worked brilliantly as both Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes were responsible for 3 TD’s each.
The #16 ranked UCLA Bruins fell just short in overtime, losing to the Texas A&M Aggies in a nail-biter at College Station, 31-24. Despite allowing 468 yards of total offense, Texas A&M’s defense played phenomenally, as they picked off Josh Rosen 3 times and held UCLA to a 27.8% conversion rate on 3rd-down plays.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs suffered an embarrassing defeat to the South Alabama Jaguars in Starkville, 21-20. South Alabama’s defense was stellar, holding Damian Williams to 143 passing yards, as well as limiting the Bulldogs’ offense to a 22.2% conversion rate on 3rd-down plays and 23:19 time of possession.
Too-close-for-comfort finishes this week:
The Tennessee Volunteers avoided disaster in Knoxville after edging out the Appalachian State Mountaineers in overtime, 20-13. Appalachian State’s defense was impressive, as they only allowed 3.0 yards per rush against star running back Jalen Hurd; however, Tennessee’s defense was better, only allowing a 23.1% conversion rate on 3rd-down.
The #4 ranked Florida State Seminoles squeezed out a close one against the #11 ranked Ole Miss Rebels, after scoring 39 out of the final 45 points in a clutch win in Orlando, 45-34. It was a surprise that this one was even close; Florida State’s offense had 200 more yards, 4 fewer turnovers, 25 more minutes on offense, and 11 more first downs than Ole Miss’s offense.
The #2 ranked Clemson Tigers stopped a last-second effort from the Auburn Tigers, narrowly coming out on top, 19-13. Clemson’s inability to score was the only thing that made this game close, as Clemson’s offense severely outperformed Auburn’s in terms of yards per pass attempt, yards per rush attempt, and 3rd-down efficiency.
The #13 ranked TCU Horned Frogs had a late surge, pushing them over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in a close one in Fort Worth, 59-41. Just like the Clemson vs Auburn game, this one shouldn’t have been close as TCU’s offense recorded 662 total yards as well as an impressive 73.3% 3rd-down conversion rate.
The #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide cruised to an easy victory over the #20 ranked USC Trojans in an uneventful neutral site game in Dallas, 52-6. Alabama was lights out on both sides of the ball, as they recorded 465 yards of total offense, while only allowing 194 yards of total offense and a 22.2% conversion rate on 3rd-down.
The #6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes blew out the Bowling Green Falcons in a record-breaking game in Columbus, 77-10. Ohio State’s offense was unreal, as they recorded a school-record 776 yards of total offense (417 passing, 359 rushing), while also scoring 10 offensive touchdowns and converting on 84.6% of their 3rd-down plays.
The #7 ranked Michigan Wolverines annihilated the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in a rout in the “Big House”, 63-3. Michigan’s offense was brilliant, as they averaged 10.3 yards per pass attempt and 7.8 yards per rush attempt, while also converting 100% of their 3rd-down plays.
Data courtesy of ESPN, CBS Sports, Pro Football Reference, Fan Sided, and For The Win. Thanks for reading!
Written by Jason Platkin
Cover Photo Credits: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports