Oh college football, how we missed you. The beautiful, wonderful chaos that is college football returned to full swing this weekend and it did not disappoint. What makes the sport so incredible is how crazy and unpredictable it is. What was the biggest surprise in professional sports last year, a team other than Golden State winning the NBA title? That’s cute. The first week alone of college football provided several stories much crazier than that..
With apologies to Notre Dame-Louisville who are set to play Monday, it’s time to recap the craziness of Week 1. Here are the 10 craziest things that happened in Week 1.
A freshman quarterback may have ended the Pac-12’s season
In 2018, a mediocre SEC team in Auburn defeated eventual Pac-12 champion Washington in the first week of the season. We didn’t know it at the time, but that game colored the way the Pac-12 was perceived all season and was at least partly responsible for costing the conference a playoff spot. Auburn did it again on Saturday defeating what looks like one of the top teams in the Pac-12 and they did it with a true freshman quarterback.
Bo Nix completed only 13 of his 31 attempts for 177 yards. He threw two picks and two touchdowns, but he also had the most important play of the game, throwing the game-winning touchdown to Seth Williams with just nine seconds remaining.
It is too soon to tell if this game will doom the Pac-12’s playoff hopes again, but maybe the conference should stop scheduling Auburn.
This sports section of Oregonian: pic.twitter.com/f33rRBhOaU— Auburn Memes (@AuburnMemes) September 2, 2019
A bad start for the SEC
Besides the big win for Auburn, it was an awful start for traditionally the best conference in the sport. Here's a quick rundown:
- Tennessee suffered perhaps one of its worst losses in program history in a 38-30 defeat to Georgia State. Afterward , Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott rubbed salt in the wound as he said this was actually the second biggest win in program history the first being the 2017 Cure Bowl victory over Western Kentucky.
- Ole Miss had fewer than 200 total yards of offense in a 15-10 loss to Memphis.
- South Carolina blew a big lead against UNC and did not take advantage when the Tar Heels gave them a free shot to win the game at the end. More on that later.
- Missouri blew a 14-0 first-quarter lead on the road at Wyoming for the 37-31 loss.
Don't worry though. No doubt both Alabama and Georgia will find a way to make the College Football Playoff.
Tulsa runs for less than 0 after running back aims for 200
Well, that was some pretty strong bulletin board material for the Spartans who held Tulsa to negative-73 rushing yards for the game.
🚨Stat Alert 🚨Michigan State held Tulsa to -73 yards rushing, a school-record low for a Spartan opponent (previous: -63 yards by Pittsburgh in 1950).— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) August 31, 2019
It should be noted that sacks are counted as rushing yards in college football. Zach Smith was sacked six times for negative-32 yards so that certainly did not help. But Taylor himself was held to a negative-one yard on seven carries. Tulsa’s leading rusher on the day was Shamari Brooks who carried the ball six times for a grand total of zero yards.
I’m no mathematician, but 0 and negative-1 are both less than 100, right?
Howard’s punt team
Maryland obliterated Howard to the tune of 79-0. Here's a fun stat: Of Maryland’s 79 points, 30 of those points were handed to them by Howard’s punt team.
Here are the highlights:
- A 14-yard punt that set up a Maryland touchdown
- A fumbled punt that set up a Maryland touchdown
- A 3-yard punt that set up a Maryland touchdown
- A 40-yard punt return for a Maryland touchdown
- A punt block in the end zone for a Maryland safety
Howard punter Isaiah Moore did manage to kick a 72-yard punt in the game though so at least there was that.
Matt Campbell’s Iowa State needed triple overtime to beat Northern Iowa
Every year coaches enter the season on the hot seat. At some point, fans of those teams are going to advocate for their coach to be fired early in the season to get a jump on the next hot name in the coaching carousel. That name for a lot of people will be Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. That same coach needed triple overtime to coach the Cyclones to a win over FCS opponent Northern Iowa.
Campbell is still a good coach and Iowa State will still be fine this season. But that’s just something for fans to think about before clamoring for their current coach to be fired so you can snatch him out of Ames.
Florida State scored 31 points in a half, then got shutout in the second and lost
After a horrible 2018, Willie Taggart and the Seminoles were desperate to put that year behind them. An opening game against Boise State gave them a great opportunity. Florida State looked like a completely different team as they dominated the first half and took a 31-19 lead.
Then the 2018 Seminoles showed up for the second half.
Florida State gave up 26 unanswered points, was shutout in the second half and all of this happened in Tallahassee where the game was moved due to Hurricane Dorian.
Neither James Madison nor West Virginia wanted to win
JMU was gunning for the upset over West Virginia on Saturday. Down 20-13, it was fourth down with about two and a half minutes left to play. These are the moments you love in college football, the plays where everything is on the line. The ballgame rests on a single play so of course JMU...punted?
James Madison just punted down seven with no timeouts and two and a half minutes left because the real victories in life are the friends you make along the way— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) August 31, 2019
So a chance to pull off the big upset against an FBS opponent and JMU elected to punt the ball. To be fair, the Dukes were on their own 22, but that still seems like a curious decision.
The crazy thing is that it almost worked.
West Virginia ran the ball for four yards, was called for a false start, ran for one yard, threw an incomplete pass on third down against a team that had no timeouts left and ended up punting the ball back to JMU. The Dukes could not take advantage and West Virginia, begrudgingly I would assume, took the W.
Nevada freshman walk-on kicker earns game-winner and a scholarship
For a while, it looked like Saturday was not going to be a good day in Nevada. The Wolf Pack trailed Purdue 24-7 at halftime but battled back to tie the game at 31. Then they turned to Brandon Talton...for a 56-yard kick as time expired. That’s a tough kick for an NFL kicker. Talton is a walk-on true freshman.
Not only did that kick earn Dalton the win, it also earned him a scholarship after the game.
North Carolina took a knee on fourth down and could have lost because of it
Mack Brown was on the verge of winning in his first game since returning to the sidelines on Saturday. UNC led South Carolina 24-20 late in the fourth and the Tar Heels were in victory formation...only it was fourth down and there was still time on the clock.
OK, so we see this sometimes. Clearly, quarterback Sam Howell would get the ball and scramble around, maybe run all the way back to the end zone to waste the remaining few seconds before jumping out the back and giving up a meaningless safety.
Howell did not do that. Instead, Howell took a knee...on fourth down...and on the Tar Heel’s own 47. Punt and the game is probably over (sorry Michigan). Instead, Brown’s squad gave South Carolina at least a chance to win the game that should have been over. It didn’t cost Brown the win, but it absolutely could have.
Hugh Freeze coached and conducted a press conference in a hospital bed
Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze suffered complications from a staph infection that left him with severe back pain. He ended up undergoing emergency surgery as the staph infection was potentially life-threatening, according to ESPN's Chris Low. Freeze seems to be recovering and obviously I wish him well. This, however, was quite the sight.
Here's Hugh Freeze coaching from his hospital bed pic.twitter.com/SSURR2KErM— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) August 31, 2019
Yes, that is Freeze coaching from a hospital bed. So indispensable is Freeze as a coach and dedicated is he to his craft that this was deemed an acceptable solution.
As if that wasn't bizarre enough, Freeze actually conducted interviews and had his postgame press conference from bed.
Mack Brown is hitting dance moves in a locker room and Hugh Freeze is doing a halftime interview from a hospital bed in the stadium because this is all totally normal pic.twitter.com/cNDy6dqSjr— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) September 1, 2019
Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze with a different style of press conference tonight. He coached from a hospital bed in a coaches booth due to a back injury which he says he’ll have more of an update on in a few days.— Josh Schafer (@Schafer_44) September 1, 2019
Freeze on how he coached from the booth tonight: pic.twitter.com/EftJ7wFSUr
Oh, and Liberty lost 24-0. A for effort though.