1. Is The SEC East Ready For Another Season Of Suck?After a long offseason of hype, No. 9 Tennessee kicked off the college football season (we aren’t counting that Trans-Pacific rugby match between Hawaii and California that was played in Australia) and promptly fell on its face with a narrow overtime win over Appalachian State. This combined with a South Carolina/Vanderbilt slap fight, Missouri’s loss to West Virginia, Kentucky’s loss to Southern Miss and No. 25 Florida’s struggling win over UMass to show not much has changed since 2015. Georgia was the only SEC East program to step up with its win over No. 22 North Carolina. This division is still wide open and Tennessee can certainly bounce back with the talent it has but with so much uncertainty still on the table it is hard to see this year shaping up to be a year where the east catches up with the west.
2. Slow Starts Or Legitimate Problems?
Tennessee and Florida were not the only ranked teams with slow starts to open play this weekend. No. 13 TCU needed the whole game to finally put away an FCS South Dakota State team. No. 2 Clemson needed the entire game and some luck to beat Auburn. All of these wins could be chalked up to slow starts but they could also be signs of legitimate issues. Tennessee struggled to put together an entire game in 2015 and their matchup against Appalachian looked like more of the same. Questions continue to revolve around Florida’s offense given how long it took to build a lead against a Massachusetts team that has only been playing at the FBS level for several years. The vaunted TCU defense let up 41 points to an FCS team. Lastly Clemson’s offense led by presumed Heisman front runner Deshaun Watson struggled mightily with Auburn’s defense. It could be War Eagle’s defense is just that good but Clemson is lucky that Auburn’s offense is as inept as it has been in a long time with no relief in sight at quarterback.
3. False Start On Me Once, Shame On You. False Start On Me Twice, Shame On Me. Three Times?
Is this the third verse of the same song for Texas A&M? In 2014 the Aggies blasted No. 9 South Carolina. The Ags quickly jumped into title contention early in the season before conference play revealed South Carolina wasn’t nearly as good as everyone originally thought, and neither were the Aggies. In 2015 Texas A&M downed No. 15 Arizona State before conference play once again revealed the Aggies and Sun Devils were not as good as previously anticipated. Here we find ourselves again in 2016 with an Aggie overtime win over No. 16 UCLA. UCLA has been a consistently good team under Jim More Jr. but his 2015 Bruins squad regressed from ten wins in 2014 to eight wins. Is 2016 another regression year and the Aggies just narrowly beat an overrated squad, inflating their ego in time to be smacked down to reality in conference play? Or the third time the charm for Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies desperately looking for a post-Johnny Football breakout season. Unlike previous years where A&M stole an early win and then feasted on lower tier competition for several weeks, 2016 will reveal the Aggies quickly. This weekend they host Prairie View A&M in a tune up game. They then travel to Auburn, then Dallas for the rivalry matchup with Arkansas, then to South Carolina, before hosting Tennessee and getting a bye week before heading to Alabama.
4. Is Texas Back?
You would never know that the Longhorns have struggled the past few years and failed to make a bowl game in 2015 after their opening weekend double overtime victory over Notre Dame. The Longhorn faithful have been claiming that Charlie Strong can get the job done in Austin and that all he needs is to find his quarterback. The Longhorns with an offense are a scary proposition but there are still many questions. Can Texas find consistency? The Longhorns defeated Oklahoma and Baylor last year but also dropped games to Iowa State and California. If Charlie Strong is known for his defense then why did the Longhorns just have to rely on their offense to beat a Fighting Irish squad they allowed 47 points against? Has Tyrone Swoopes finally unlocked his potential after several outright bad seasons? Can the dual quarterback scheme of Swoopes and Shane Buechele work long term? After all the old football mantra that if you have two quarterbacks then you have no quarterbacks has proven true countless times. The Longhorns take on UTEP at home this weekend before another three game test gets underway with a road trip to Cal, a bye week, a road trip to Oklahoma State and then on to Dallas for the rivalry game against Oklahoma. By that October 8 game against the Sooners we should have a much better clue about where Texas stands.
5. Loser Teams That Might Not Be Losers
UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU, North Carolina, USC, Notre Dame, and Ole Miss all have the dubious honor of being ranked teams to fall on opening weekend. All of these teams fell in the rankings and a few dropped out of the top 25 entirely but its hard to believe this many power teams won’t be factors throughout the remainder of the season. In the first playoff season Ohio State inexplicably lost to Virginia Tech but that early season loss didn’t stop the Buckeyes from bouncing back and winning it all. Several of these teams have real concerns, LSU appears to have major offense questions, USC was utterly throttled by Alabama (that happens though), and Ole Miss collapsed in the second half compared to their first half against Florida State. Some of these teams are likely to fall off the radar as the season continues but several will surely bounce back into contention.
My Playoff Picks As Of Week One:
Alabama v. Houston
Clemson v. Ohio State