Back like we never left
The first weekend in September is always comparable to Christmas morning if you ask me. For the first time since the beginning of the calendar year, we get to see NCAA football action and man does it feel good to have it back. It’s been a long eight months since we witnessed the Georgia Bulldogs take home their first College Football Playoff Championship. The best part about the season kicking off is the uncertainty. New teams, new players, sometimes even new coaches. Every program starts from the bottom and holds the same hope that they may finish their campaign on the top of the mountain.
No more talk about Spring games, or the transfer portal but instead about teams finally arriving on the gridiron and battling it out. This past weekend, week one of the new season demonstrated to us fans just how fortunate we are to have College Football. From Thursday night to Monday night, the slate of games did not disappoint. Whether it be rivalry games returning, student sections storming the field, head coaches busting out moves in the locker room, or defenses using props after a turnover, we saw a little bit of everything that makes College football so exciting to watch. After being glued to the television all weekend, there are endless things we could highlight. Today, I’ll lay out my headlines entering the year, players of the week that balled out and the best plays we saw.
1.) Georgia is legit and could be the next football dynasty in the south
The reigning champs opened their season against the 17th ranked Oregon Ducks this past Saturday in Atlanta at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and it was evident that the Bulldogs weren’t suffering from any title hangover. Fans that poured into Mercedes-Benz Stadium saw the boys in Red and Black steamroll their opponents from the Pac-12. Quarterback Stetson Bennett played an immaculate game and analysts all over the country are already starting to question if the former walk-on could be holding the Heisman come December. Bennett and the Bulldog offense came out of the gates sprinting and never looked back, scoring a touchdown on their first seven drives of the game. Although this Georgia team lost fifteen players to the NFL draft in the off-season, they look like they are in mid-season form and could be a serious threat to go back-to-back. For years, we have seen another SEC juggernaut in Alabama rule the SEC and College Football as a whole. This performance has many wondering if Georgia will overtake Alabama and become the next dynasty in the South.
Photo by 11ALive.com
2.) The Backyard Brawl returns and creates some fireworks
The last time the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia squared off in their Backyard Brawl rivalry was over eleven years ago and it’s a damn shame it took that long for these two programs to meet one another once again. This game was back and forth all night on Thursday evening and both teams were clawing to be the victor throughout. Former Georgia Quarterback J.T. Daniels made his debut for the Mountaineers since transferring and played a hell of game. In the end though, the Panthers and their plethora of explosive talent prevailed at their newly rebranded home, Acrisure Stadium. The University of Southern Cal transfer, Kedon Slovis showed he is more than capable of filling his predecessor, Kenny Pickett’s big shoes in the Burgh. All in all, this game depicted perfectly why rivalries in College Football are so special. No matter who is assumed to be the better team entering the game, no one can quite predict what the outcome will be. This rivalry dates back to 1875 and throughout history, there have been countless memorable chapters when it comes to this game. The 2022 edition was electric and I can’t wait for future matchups between the boys from Oakland and Morgantown.
Photo by 247 Sports
3.) College Football Playoff Expansion finally becomes a reality
The current college football playoff format has been in effect since 2014 and it seems as though there has always been flaws with it since its origin. Every season, at least one or two teams seem to get overlooked or not provided the opportunity to demonstrate they belong as College Football’s number one team. With the new format being approved and announced last week, the future of the game is super exciting. The playoff field will grow from four to twelve potentially as soon as 2024 and this will open the door for countless possibilities. We see it every year with March Madness. A program that sneaks into the tournament and makes a remarkable run. Fortunately for College Football fans, they too will now get to experience a more thorough post season and maybe even a Cinderella take home a National Championship in the coming years.
Photo by Forbes
Players that Impressed
1.) Spencer Sanders Quarterback, Oklahoma State
The red-shirt senior put up a Patty Mahomes-esque type week one and displayed that the Cowboys from Stillwater are positioned to make another run at the Big 12
Championship this season.
6 total touchdowns
4 Passing Touchdowns, 2 Rushing Touchdowns
400+ Passing Yards
68% Passing Completion (28/41)
Photo by Burnt Orange Nation
2.) Sean Clifford Quarterback, Penn State
Don’t even get me started about Sean Clifford! This gamer is the epitome of grit and possessing the will to win. While dealing with injuries throughout the game, and even missing a drive, the veteran’s clutch gene kicked in and he overcame all adversity as he led his team to victory in dramatic fashion. Excited to see how far he can take the Nittany Lions this season if he maintains the level of play he displayed in week one.
5 Total Touchdowns
4 Passing Touchdowns
1 Rushing Touchdown
Game Winning Drive
Photo by Sporting News
3.) Jacob Cowing Wide Receiver, Arizona
The hometown kid from Maricopa, Arizona suited up for the Wildcats for the first time since transferring over from UTEP and put-up video game numbers in his debut out West. Accounting for more than half of his team’s total points, it is evident he is right where he belongs.
8 Total Receptions
152 Receiving Yards
3 Receiving Touchdowns
Photo by The Athletic
4.) Jacoby Windmon Defensive End, Michigan State
Windmon was a force to be reckoned with for the Spartans Friday evening and was a large part as to why they were victorious against their intrastate opponent, Western Michigan.
7 Total Tackles
3 Solo Tackles
1 Forced Fumble
Photo by MLive.com
5.) Shedeur Sanders, Quarterback, Jackson State
Every football player dreams they could play at the college level with their dad as their head coach. I guess the old adage, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree is accurate because Primetime’s son balled out over the weekend for JSU. The last time an FCS Quarterback from a HBCU was in the Heisman discussion was back in 1994 when Steve “Air” McNair from Alcorn State finished third in voting. If he keeps up this production, Sanders could make history and make a run for College Football’s most outstanding player award.
323 Passing Yards
5 Passing Touchdowns
88 % Passing Completion
Completed First 17 Passes In a Row
Photo by The Athletic
Top Plays of Week 1
Derius Davis: Punt Returner, TCU
Tory Taylor: Punter, Iowa
Devon Witherspoon, Defensive Back, Illinois
Daniel Barker: Tight End, Michigan State
Rodney Hammond: Running Back, Pittsburgh
Jirehl Brock: Running Back, Iowa State
Israel Abanikanda: Running Back, Pittsburgh
Anthony Richardson: Quarterback, Florida
Matt Salerno: Wide Out, Notre Dame
Stetson Bennett: Quarterback, Georgia