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College Football Weekend Recap: Winners and LosersPosted on September 4, 2012 at 09:25 AM.
If you gauge week one of the college football season as the most important then Michigan's season is over. Everything they worked for in the offseason has been smashed at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide. In other words, the rest of the nation still doesn't deserve a place at the table with the SEC's elite.
The Wolverines' 41-14 shellacking at the hands of Alabama certainly stung, but the reality is that their season is far from over. In the game of football week one is simply a baseline from which to discover team strengths and weaknesses. The improvement from the first to second weeks, or lack thereof, is the most crucial aspect of the season.
Rarely is there a week one loss that can't be recovered from for national championship contenders. In the world of polls and the BCS it's actually more beneficial if you lose early compared to later in the season. But win or lose, teams must grow in their second game or the season can spiral out of control.
Here are five winners and losers from week one of the college football season.
FIVE TEAMS ON THE RISE
Week 1: Washington State, won 30-6.
Week 2: Weber State (0-1)
- Wazzu started the game with more rushing yards (0) than they finished (-5). Even more impressive, however, was that BYU held Mike Leach's pass-happy squad to only 229 yards through the air. BYU looked very balanced on offense as well, throwing for 303 yards and gaining 123 on the ground.
Week 1: California, won 31-24.
Week 2: South Florida (1-0)
- It wasn't that the Wolfpack dominated Cal, but they looked equally as good -- something you don't expect against a solid PAC-12 team. Despite penalty issues, Nevada racked up 230 passing and 220 rushing yards on the day. Next week's USF contest instantly appears to be an exciting matchup.
Week 1: Kentucky, won 32-14.
Week 2: Missouri State (0-1)
- Louisville confirmed their preseason hype and top-25 billing by thumping the rival Wildcats with ease. Being from the SEC isn't enough to guarantee competence, but the Wildcats certainly are no slouch. Week two will do little to test the Cardinals but instead may provide a chance to work on aspects of the offense and defense that will be important moving forward.
Week 1: Southern Mississippi, won 49-20.
Week 2: UCLA (1-0)
- Many won't be impressed by this win, but Southern Mississippi is a very quality team -- the type of team that likes to mess up championship dreams before they even start. The Golden Eagles did rack up almost 150 rushing yards, but that figure looks less dangerous when considering it was on nearly 50 attempts. Nebraska amassed 632 yards total, led by five Taylor Martinez passing scores.
Week 1: Auburn, won 26-19.
Week 2: Ball State (1-0)
- Defense? Who plays defense in the ACC? If week one tells us anything, apparently the answer is Clemson. Without playmaker Sammy Watkins, the Clemson Tigers had to buckle down and depend on smart decisions from quarterback Tajh Boyd to go with 236 yards on the ground from Andre Ellington. As good as Ellington looked, the Clemson defense was the shocker on the day -- allowing a single touchdown in the first quarter and only four field goals after that. Defense certainly wins championships and this game was a big statement from Clemson, but can they back it up?
Week 1: Youngstown State, lost 31-17.
Week 2: Cincinnati (0-0)
- Who saw this one coming? Youngstown State certainly is no slouch in the FCS realm, but the head coaching carousel at Pitt is really starting to show its wear. The Panthers have a significant collection of talent and must regroup quickly as they have a Thursday night matchup with conference foe Cincinnati.
Week 1: #24 Boise State, won 17-13.
Week 2: Central Michigan (1-0)
- The Spartans may have beaten the twenty-fourth ranked team in the nation, but they nearly beat themselves. It's no secret that this year's Broncos team lacks significant talent and experience and it showed on the field against Michigan State. Unfortunately for the Spartans they couldn't reflect their dominance on the scoreboard. MSU looked like a team in search of an identity and nearly lost the game in an attempt to build confidence in new quarterback Andrew Maxwell (3 interceptions). Sparty went back to the run to win the game but they'll have to find some passing consistency if they want to win the Big-Ten.
Week 1: San Jose State, won 20-17.
Week 2: Duke (1-0)
- It's going to take a little while before the Andrew Luck comparisons stop and a three-point victory over San Jose State isn't going to do much to help. Josh Nunes certainly deserves time to develop, but 16-26 passing for 125 yards isn't enough to carry a top-25 team. The Cardinal need to make sure they improve immensely this week in practice as Duke is off an impressive showing against FIU.
Week 1: Northern Iowa, won 26-21.
Week 2: Oregon State (0-0)
- The Missouri Valley Conference from the FCS division of college football wasn't very kind to their FBS brethren this week. Youngstown State smashed Pitt and Northern Iowa almost turned in an Appalachian State over Michigan type of upset (on the anniversary date nonetheless). The Badgers look a lot like the Spartans in their attempt to find an identity with a new quarterback at the helm, but the Panthers of UNI also made Montee Ball look pedestrian while shredding Wisconsin through the air on the arm of Sawyer Kollmorgen. The Badgers need to find their ground dominance and some pass defense if they want to survive the Big-Ten schedule.
Week 1: Vanderbilt, won 17-13.
Week 2: East Carolina (1-0)
- Like South Carolina, the Commodores could very well make a bowl game t his year. The Gamecocks just weren't prepared to be equaled by Vanderbilt on the field this soon. Vandy passed for nearly 300 yards while South Carolina totaled a mere 67. Marcus Lattimore looked impressive and started a theme of top-tier teams struggling to throw the ball only to have stud halfbacks carry the team to victory. Steve Spurrier, however, must find a way to balance out the offense if they want to live up to their top-ten projection.
Justin Mikels is a staff writer for Operation Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @long_snapper
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