Winner: The Sun Belt
I mean, obviously. Three SBC teams knocked off Big 12 foes on Saturday, including Louisiana’s win over playoff darkhorse Iowa State. The Ragin’ Cajuns are legit good, and a threat to run the table this year and make the New Year’s Six. Also impressing was Arkansas State, led by stud receiver Jonathan Adams (98 yards, three touchdowns). The Red Wolves beat Kansas State shorthanded, and Coastal Carolina knocked off Kansas for the second year in a row. That’s not to mention preseason conference favorite Appalachian State, which took care of a decent Charlotte team 35-20.
Loser: Florida State
The ‘Noles dropped their season opener for what feels like the 80th year in a row Saturday, blowing a 10-0 lead over Georgia Tech to drop to the ACC bottom-feeder Yellow Jackets, who are still just 365 days removed from undergoing a massive transition from the triple option to a spread system. James Blackman struggled again, but the weak offensive line and inexperienced receiving corps didn’t help. It’s going to be another long year in Tallahassee.
Winner: Miami QB D’Eriq King
Led by King, Miami rolled to a 31-14 victory over a good UAB team on Thursday, the offense racking up 495 yards on what was a top 25 defense last year. King looked like he was back to his 2018 self, making plays both with his arm and legs. I can’t wait to see the matchup with Louisville this week, primetime on ABC.
Winner: Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams
It was, at some points, shaky for Notre Dame in their 27-13 win over Duke Saturday, but the one consistent bright spot was the run game. Helped by one of the best offensive lines in the country, Kyren Williams racked up 112 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and added 93 yards in the receiving game. Williams looks like a legit difference-maker.
Loser: Iowa State QB Brock Purdy
Iowa State did not look right on Saturday, and the playoff dark horse’s star QB, Brock Purdy, just didn’t look the part. The longtime ‘Clones starter looked tentative and unsure of himself, and the offense struggled as a result. Hopefully, he can get back on the right track with TCU coming up in two weeks.
Winner: The Big 12’s elite
The middle class of the Big 12 struggled on Saturday, but the top-two teams: Oklahoma and Texas, both rolled, powered by their Heisman contending quarterbacks: Spencer Rattler and Sam Ehlinger. Both only played a half, but racked up gaudy numbers, combining for 716 yards and nine touchdowns.
Loser: The Texas Tech defense
Granted, Houston Baptist QB Bailey Zappe had the game of his life, but there is no excuse for letting up 567 yards and four touchdowns to an FCS quarterback. Zappe is legit good, he threw for 480 and three last week against North Texas, but a power five defense should not be struggling that much with Houston Baptist. The Tech defense gave up over 600 yards of offense all in all, and needed a last-second two-point conversion stop to escape Lubbock with a 35-33 win.
Winner: UTSA 51, Texas State 48 (2OT)
The game of the day came from a Sun Belt vs Conference USA double-overtime thriller that featured special team blunders, special team speed, and 30 fourth-quarter points. Check out the highlights if you missed it.
It was as if there was no offseason. The Tigers looked like a well-oiled machine on Saturday, dominating a decent Wake Forest team 37-13. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne looked the part, leading the offense to 561 yards. The Tigers remain a national title favorite.
There will be postponements, there will be games with no crowd, there will be star players sitting out, but college football is back. And that’s pretty cool. For a day, we all came together and watched a double-overtime C-USA vs Sun Belt game. We watched Jonathan Adams push his way onto NFL draft boards. We got the headgear pick and the Fansville commercials. We got some sense of normalcy. That’s pretty cool. Pretty, pretty cool.