Clemson’s potential, Texas A&M’s issues open eyes on opening weekend

Posted Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A
More information Looking ahead Key games on this week’s slate: No. 10 Florida (1-0) at Miami (1-0) – The Gators’ in-state rivals are primed to make a statement behind standout RB/KR Duke Johnson. No. 6 South Carolina (1-0) at No. 5 Georgia (0-1) – Georgia’s national title hopes are on the ropes after Saturday’s 38-35 loss to Clemson. West Virginia (1-0) at No. 16 Oklahoma (1-0) – The Sooners begin defense of last year’s Big 12 co-championship with a freshman QB.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Officially, college football’s five-night opening weekend does not conclude until Monday’s matchup between Pittsburgh and No. 11 Florida State.

In that one, fans will get their first look at Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston, a redshirt freshman and Texas Rangers draft pick considered a candidate for a breakout season.

We’ll begin learning about Winston and his dual-threat talents Monday (7 p.m., ESPN). But here are some knee-jerk conclusions you can take to the bank with most openers in the books for the 2013 season:

• Make room for No. 8 Clemson (1-0) on your list of national championship contenders from leagues outside the SEC. The Tigers’ 38-35 victory over No. 5 Georgia validated their status and boosted the Heisman Trophy hopes of QB Tajh Boyd. Going back to last year’s bowl game, Clemson’s last two victories (LSU, Georgia) have come against SEC heavyweights in high-profile settings. And the Tigers’ remaining schedule is friendly, with the only Top 25 matchups against No. 11 Florida State (Oct. 19) and No. 6 South Carolina (Nov. 30).

• Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman winner, must gain better control of his game-day emotions than he displayed in Saturday’s 52-31 victory over Rice. But what the Aggies really need to fix is a leaky run defense that surrendered 306 rushing yards (6.0 per carry) to the Owls.

• The race to be the best quarterback in the Big 12 is wide open after two notable names (TCU’s Casey Pachall, Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf) were benched in favor of backups in season openers. Chelf already has lost his starting gig to J.W. Walsh, a Denton Guyer grad. Don’t be shocked if a first-year starter (Baylor’s Bryce Petty, Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight) or oft-maligned Texas QB David Ash emerges as the clear choice by November.

• Scratch No. 19 Boise State as an elite bowl contender in the final season of the BCS after the Broncos were trounced, 38-6, by unranked Washington. Replace Boise with fellow Mountain West member Fresno State, but only if the Bulldogs’ defense improves in the wake of a 52-51 overtime victory over Rutgers.

• Five FCS schools, all ranked among the nation’s top 21 teams in that subdivision, are laughing all the way to the bank after victories over FBS opponents in games scheduled to balance budgets for the smaller programs: North Dakota State over Kansas State, Northern Iowa over Iowa State, Towson over Connecticut, Eastern Washington over No. 25 Oregon State and Eastern Illinois over San Diego State. If that weren’t enough, two more unranked FCS schools (McNeese State over South Florida; Southern Utah over South Alabama) toppled FBS teams. This week’s notable “top 10” matchup: No. 7 Texas A&M (1-0) meets Sam Houston State (1-0), the No. 4 team in FCS poll.

• The Big 12 is the only league in the country that can claim its teams are batting .500 in matchups against opponents from the powerful SEC (1-1) and the lower-tier FCS (2-2). Let’s call that a mixed blessing, at best.

• Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield, a true freshman, is the most accomplished walk-on player in the country (413 passing yards, four TD passes, one rushing TD in 41-23 win over SMU). If I’m coach Kliff Kingsbury, I remove the “walk-on” tag ASAP. Mayfield has more than earned a scholarship.

• Biggest under-the-radar win for a Texas school: UTSA, a third-year program making the jump to Conference USA this season, rallied from a 13-0 deficit to knock off New Mexico, 21-13, in Albuquerque. The Roadrunners (1-0), coached by Larry Coker, were picked to finish last in their division by pundits and get their first high-profile home game in program history Saturday when No. 13 Oklahoma State (1-0) heads to San Antonio.

• Don’t be fooled by the “struggles” of top-ranked Alabama, which was not sharp offensively in a 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech. The Crimson Tide, idle this week before a Sept. 14 matchup at No. 7 Texas A&M, is saving all of its creative ideas and fresh wrinkles for its trip to College Station.

• Beware of the rebuilt Oklahoma defense, which pitched a surprising shutout against a Louisiana-Monroe team that features a dangerous, dual-threat quarterback in Kolton Browning. No. 16 Oklahoma, a 34-0 winner, apparently answered a lot of lingering questions about its suspect front seven during fall drills.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
Chicago «109Final | Box
Boston102
Golden State 11/28 7:00 PM ET
Charlotte TV: CSN-BA, SPSO
New Orleans 11/28 7:30 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FSN-NO, SPSO
Milwaukee 11/28 7:30 PM ET
Detroit TV: FSN-WI, FSN-DET
Dallas 11/28 7:30 PM ET
Toronto TV: FSN-SW, TSN2
LA Clippers 11/28 8:00 PM ET
Houston TV: NBA TV, FSN-PT, ROOT-SW
Orlando 11/28 8:00 PM ET
Indiana TV: FSN-FL, FSN-IN
New York 11/28 8:00 PM ET
Oklahoma City TV: MSG, FSN-OK
Sacramento 11/28 8:30 PM ET
San Antonio TV: CSN-CA, FSN-SW
Phoenix 11/28 9:00 PM ET
Denver TV: FSN-AZ, Altitude
Memphis 11/28 10:00 PM ET
Portland TV: SPSO, CSN-NW
Minnesota 11/28 10:30 PM ET
LA Lakers TV: FSN-N, TWC SN
Full Scoreboard
Week 13Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Chicago17Final | Box
Detroit «34Gridiron Replay
Philadelphia «33Final | Box
Dallas10Gridiron Replay
Seattle «19Final | Box
San Francisco3Gridiron Replay
Sunday
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: FOX
NY Giants 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: FOX
Carolina 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FOX
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: CBS
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CBS
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
New England 4:25 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Denver 8:30 PM ET
Kansas City TV: NBC
Monday
Miami 8:30 PM ET
NY Jets TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
NY Rangers «3Final | Box
Philadelphia0
Chicago01st Prd 13:53 | Box
Anaheim0TV: NHLN, SN, WGN, FSN-PT
NY Islanders 11/28 5:00 PM ET
Washington TV: MSG, CSN-DC
Winnipeg 11/28 7:00 PM ET
Boston TV: TVA Sports 2, TSN3, NESN
Montreal 11/28 7:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: RDS, MSG-BUF
Detroit 11/28 7:00 PM ET
New Jersey TV: FSN-DET, MSG+
Carolina 11/28 7:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: NHLN, FSN-CAR, ROOT-PIT
Vancouver 11/28 7:00 PM ET
Columbus TV: SN-PAC, FSN-OH
Ottawa 11/28 7:30 PM ET
Florida TV: RDS2, TSN5, FSN-FL
Edmonton 11/28 8:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: SN-W, FSN-MW
Minnesota 11/28 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: FSN-N+, FSN-SW+
Full Scoreboard