Every Monday, Dr. Saturday editor Graham Watson looks back on the weekend that was and decides what she loved, what she hated (I have all the hot takes) and what she can’t wait to see again.
Tennessee grew up a lot: I’m not going to pretend like I was on the Tennessee bandwagon. I wasn’t. Like the rest of the country, I thought Tennessee was going to have youthful struggles and stagger to a 4-8 season. But Sunday’s game against Utah State gave me hope that Tennessee might actually make its games interesting this year. I loved the youthful energy and the poise with which Tennessee’s young team played and I’m eager to see how they fare against an opponent like Oklahoma.
USC focusing on football:
Not going to lie, having to write a week’s worth of stories about USC that had nothing to do with the football field was a little draining, so I loved to see the Trojans go out and play like none of it happened. Some teams might find it difficult to keep its composure especially with all of the negative press, but USC took care of Fresno State with ease and continue to be a program to watch in the Pac-12 South, especially with UCLA struggling.
It only took 16 games: I loved that the college football season officially began with Georgia State breaking a 16-game losing streak by coming from behind to beat Abilene Christian 38-37. It was definitely the kind of feel-good moment the college football season needed to get excited about the rest of the weekend. Trust that this will probably be the only time I mention Georgia State in this column, but I’m glad they finally got to start off their season with a victory (it hadn’t since 2011 and had lost 21 of its past 22 games).
THE HATE (hot takes a-plenty)
Bryce Petty machismo: Bryce Petty was ruled out of the second half of Sunday’s 45-0 win against SMU after suffering bruise in his lower back. Anyone who watched the game saw that bruise happen early in the first half and then saw Petty aggravate it several times, including on a hit he took diving into the end zone. Look, I’m all for being a gamer and showing you’re teammates you’re tough, but keeping Petty in the game, especially after he needed teammates to help him up following his rushing touchdown, was ridiculous. Yes, Petty is a Heisman hopeful this year and yes, SMU is a good team on which to roll up the stats, but is it worth Petty suffering a more serious injury that might cause him to miss some games? Heisman voters aren’t going to look back at the SMU game and hold it against Petty and he’ll have more than his fair share of opportunities to stockpile stats against other teams. Keeping Petty in Sunday’s games was dumb and could have proven disastrous for the Bears.
Where has all the offense gone?: I’m looking at you Oregon State and Texas Tech. Two of the nation’s most prolific offenses laid epic eggs in their season openers against Portland State and Central Arkansas respectively. At first, I was willing to give both teams the benefit of the doubt; that maybe they were working with a limited playbook as to not show too much to future opponents. But even both coaches admitted that their teams played like crap and that they’d have to iron out the kinks for Week 2. Tech plays UTEP and Oregon State has Hawaii as potential feel-good games next week, but the Beavers have to be careful. Hawaii gave Washington a run for its money on Saturday.
C’mon Syracuse: OK, I know I’m going to get a lot of hate for my hot take here, but I’m putting it out there anyway: There was a lot to hate about the Syracuse-Villanova game. And it wasn’t so much the game itself, but Syracuse throughout the game. From Terrel Hunt’s punch at the beginning of the game to the unsportsmanlike dance on what was ultimately the game-winning touchdown in overtime to the ridiculous celebration that came after Villanova dared to go for the win and was stopped (after a horrible play call). I know, I’m a killjoy, but I don’t think any team should be celebrating like it just won the conference title when it barely escapes an FCS team on its home field.
Maybe that’s just me, but maybe some hugs and “good game” pats would have been sufficient. The running across the field like crazy people was just ridiculous. And while we’re on the subject of ridiculousness, did I mention the starting quarterback punched another player? If you didn’t see it, here it is:
And here’s was what coach Scott Shafer had to say about it the next day:
“Terrel and I have talked regarding his flagrant penalty (vs. Villanova) and he fully understands the behavior is not condoned and regrets his action.”
Well, that’s that then, huh? Ridiculous.
LET’S DO IT AGAIN
Well hello, Kenny Hill Yes Texas A&M fans, there is life after Johnny Manziel and that life is looking pretty good. It’s hard to say any player had a better career debut than quarterback Kenny Hill, who torched South Carolina for more than 500 passing yards and three touchdowns. He looked poised, he looked confident and he made Texas A&M a must-watch for the 2014 season. The Aggies have quite a few cupcakes coming up, so Hill’s play might be limited to the first half while watching from the sideline in the second. But the Aggies drop back into conference play against Arkansas on Sept. 27, which should prove to be another opportunity for Hill to light up a conference foe.
Running wild with Todd Gurley It was good to see Todd Gurley back on a football field; it was even better to see Todd Gurley running like the player he was before his injury-riddled sophomore season. Gurley had 15 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns and added a 100-yard kickoff return and a score. What was even more impressive is that Gurley didn’t put up these fantastic numbers against some FCS team, he did it against a ranked Clemson team. If Gurley can be the player he was during his freshman season — or, OMG, better — then Georgia would be a team to fear in the SEC. Sadly, Georgia has a bye this week, but then we get to see Gurley against South Carolina, which could be the start of something big for the Bulldogs and its star running back.
Row the freakin’ boat Western Michigan lost this weekend and that’s not exactly a shock. The Broncos have won just one game in coach P.J. Fleck’s tenure. But for the first time in a long time, the Broncos actually looked like a team that could be competitive with the other teams on its schedule. Purdue won 43-34, but Western Michigan was in the game the entire time and it gave the Boilermakers all they could handle. And I know, Purdue is the low of the low in the Big Ten, but Western Michigan doesn’t play in the Big Ten, it plays in the MAC and the team that squared off against Purdue on Saturday could beat a lot of teams in the MAC. The 34 points scored are the most Western Michigan has scored under Fleck and I’d say Western Michigan has a great opportunity to double its win total from a year ago with games against Idaho and Murray State after a bye this week.
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