College Football Week 1 Winners and Losers

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It’s Overreaction Tuesday in the college football world. Some fans—looking at you, Texas A&M—have already fired their coaches and have replacements in mind. Wins, losses and injuries cause fans to overreact after the first week of the season, but the outlook of a team’s season can and will change drastically over the course of the next three months.

This winners and losers list isn’t a compilation of overreactions, but it is an outlook of where a few programs and coaches stand after one game.

Biggest Losers

Florida State: The Noles entered Saturday night as a legitimate national title contender that hoped to take down the No. 1 team in the land. They left Saturday night with a 24-7 loss to Alabama, and more importantly they lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois to a season-ending knee injury. The Noles are no longer a national title contender without their most important player until proven otherwise.

The ACC: ACC coaches talked the entire offseason about how they are now the “premier” football conference and they have overtaken the SEC. How did they fare week one in their three matchups with the SEC? Well, they threw up a massive goose egg as they lost all three games. South Carolina upset N.C. State in Charlotte in a game where the Wolfpack were favored by a touchdown. Tennessee beat Georgia Tech in a double overtime thriller, and Alabama outclassed Florida State in a matchup of the elite teams in each conference. There are more ACC-SEC matchups this season, but things got off to an ugly start for the so called “Premier Conference” in college football.

Kevin Sumlin: When you are on the proverbial hot seat and your team blows a 34-point lead in the second half, AND you lose your starting quarterback for the season, you make my weekend’s biggest loser list. Coach Sumlin is off to a rough start in a season where he’s fighting for his job.

College football in the state of Texas: The much anticipated debut for Tom Herman got off to a bad start. The Horns lost at home straight up to Maryland as an 18.5 point favorite. Their defense looked terrible again as they gave up almost 500 yards of total offense to the Terps. Baylor was a 38-point favorite over Liberty. I repeat, Baylor was a 38-point favorite over Liberty. The Bears gave up 585 total yards in a 48-45 huge upset in coach Matt Rhule’s debut. Do I need to explain again why Texas A&M is on this list? They blew a 34-point second half lead. It could be another long football year in the state of Texas.

Biggest Winners

Jim Harbaugh and Michigan: I was very interested to see how good Michigan would look after they lost virtually every starter from last year’s team. Harbaugh lived up to his hype with having the inexperienced Wolverines in midseason form against Florida. Michigan dominated 33-17 while holding the Gators to under 200 total yards of offense. It would have been even uglier if Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight didn’t throw two pick sixes. Overall, I was very impressed with Michigan’s performance, and they look like they will once again be in contention for a Big 10 title in a so called “rebuilding” year.

Jim Mora Jr, Josh Rosen and UCLA: Anytime your team mounts a 34-point second half comeback, you will make this list. Head coach Jim Mora was considered on the hot seat going into the season. That seat was flaming at a record temperature in the third quarter when the Bruins were getting flat out whipped by Texas A&M 44-10. Josh Rosen decided to come to the rescue and save his coach’s job as he led the Bruins to 35 unanswered points while throwing four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead his team to a win over the Aggies. Rosen is coming off a year where he missed the majority of the season due to injury. Since then, he has been overshadowed by quarterback Sam Darnold at crosstown rival USC. Rosen showed everybody in that second half why he still should be mentioned amongst the elite quarterbacks across the country.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have historically dropped their big-game season openers in the recent past (USC in 2004, Alabama in 2009 and 2013, Boise State in 2010, and Ohio State in 2015). Things got off to a much better start this year. The Hokies got a big 31-24 win over rival West Virginia Sunday night in the battle for the Black Diamond trophy. Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson got better as the game went on, and Bud Foster’s defense looked nasty at times. Head coach Justin Fuente looks like he has a squad that will compete for another ACC Coastal Division crown.

Alabama: The Tide beat the No. 3 ranked team in the country, and they made it look fairly easy. The defense looked dominant again causing two FSU turnovers, and special teams came up big blocking a punt and causing a fumble. Don’t tell this to Nick Saban, but Alabama can basically put it in cruise control as the rest of the September schedule looks fairly easy before they hit the meat of their SEC schedule in October/November.