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#Nuggets: Houston's arrival, Bama's brilliance and other Week 1 thoughts

1. It's so tempting to draw sweeping conclusions after one week. It's understandable. When you've seen one weekend of football in eight months, well, it's easy to lose perspective that the one week you've seen is just one piece of a larger puzzle. It's judging a book on its cover, a movie on its trailer, a meal on one bite.

Remember, at this time last year, Stanford looked doomed to a second straight season of punchless offense. The Cardinal gained 240 total yards and scored six points in a 10-point loss at Northwestern. They wouldn't score less than 30 again the rest of the season while producing the FBS record holder for single-season all-purpose yardage.

Two years ago, Texas A&M entered a new era. The Kenny Hill era. You remember, right? The next Johnny Manziel completed 44 of his 60 passes for 511 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 52-28 spanking of No. 9 South Carolina. Some idiot even called it a bigger win for Kevin Sumlin than his Tuscaloosa takedown of Alabama two seasons prior. South Carolina finished that season 7-6, and Hill started for TCU on Saturday. So much for all that.

That being said....

2. H-Town take down. They were better on offense. They were better on defense. They were better coached. They were better, period.

The first nine minutes of Oklahoma-Houston looked like, if not an Oklahoma boat racing, the propellers were at least spinning and the wake was churning. OU zipped down the field in eight plays on its first drive, then hit Joe Mixon for a 60-yard gain on its very next snap. But the Houston defense stiffened, thumping Baker Mayfield on a third down scramble that limited a sure 14-3 deficit to just 10-3. Houston pulled out in front at 13-10, then allowed the easiest 64-yard pitch-and-catch score anyone will record this season in a clear coverage breakdown.

But then the H-Town Takeover, well, took over. Houston ripped off 20 unanswered points over the next 36 minutes, holding Oklahoma's offensive production to three punts, two fumbles, a last gasp, 4th-and-16 turnover on downs and, in the clear turning point of the game, a coaching breakdown ripped straight from college football's past. Just like Nick Saban in the 2013 Iron Bowl, Bob Stoops, trailing 19-17 early in the second half, called a timeout to try an extra long field goal. We know how that turned out.

Just like the 2013 Iron Bowl, Oklahoma had offensive linemen doing what offensive linemen should never be asked to do: run and chase men half their size and twice their speed. And Stoops' timeout made it all possible.

I wrote Friday this will be the opening-weekend game with the loudest and longest echo, and the reasons are simple. Houston's long-shot national championship chase is still alive. Beyond that, the Coogs put their best foot forward in a Big 12 expansion showcase game. Everything is still coming up Millhouse. "We were prepared to win, we expected to win, and we trained to win," Herman said. For Oklahoma, the stakes are clear, and they're dire. No two-loss team has reached the College Football Playoff in its two-year history, and no team has ever run through the Big 12's nine-game, round-robin schedule unbeaten in its five-year history. And Ohio State comes to Norman in two weeks. 3. Alabama has become so good it's boring. There was an article in the Alabama papers this week about how interest was higher in this year's trip to Dallas among this year's fan base than last year against Wisconsin. This year, you see, there was a chance Alabama might lose. The Tide was playing USC, after all. Ticket prices on the secondary market indicated this was a Big Time Match-up, and the fact that every seat in AT&T Stadium was filled at kickoff confirmed it. USC came out of the tunnel, clad in cardinal and gold and swagger, acting like a team that thought it could win. The Trojans hit a deep pass on their first possession and took an early lead, then hopped on a fumble lost on true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts' first collegiate snap. USC was in business. Midway through the second quarter the Trojans clung to that 3-0 lead. Barely a quarter later, it was 38-3. Nick Saban taking his personal can of pepper spray to an opponent is nothing new. He's now 7-0 in neutral site kickoff games, every one of his wins by at least 10 points. But it's become clear that, no matter how much the rest of the world raises the increases the degree of difficulty on him, Saban keeps pulling further and further away from all but a handful of other programs. Loses his longtime general in defensive coordinator Kirby Smart? No problem. Alabama held USC to 10 consecutive possessions that failed to last so much as five plays. Ride with a true freshman quarterback? Jalen Hurts spotted USC a couple boneheaded plays and still averaged more than 10 yards per attempt. Lose your veteran center and Heisman running back? Damien Harris ran for 15 yards per carry, and the Tide rushed for 242 yards as a team.

Alabama is usually good for one loss and a handful of other nail biters a season. But, given what we saw from the rest of the SEC this weekend -- Arkansas? Mississippi State? Tennessee? Kentucky??? -- I'm not even sure we can count on that anymore.

4. Know how I wrote that whole spiel about how Week 1 results shouldn't be applied to the larger picture? Yeah, that doesn't apply to LSU's offense. The Tigers' offense, which produced seven points and five yards a snap in a 16-14 loss to unranked Wisconsin, looked like it so often has in recent years: headless. That's not a shot at Brandon Harris, but more so the Tigers' inability to find anyone to supplant him.

Leonard Fournette is a great player. But he can't be LSU's entire offense.

The Tigers' loss, by the way, snapped Les Miles' perfect 43-0 record in regular season non-conference games.

5. I will not get ahead of myself with Texas A&M, I will not get ahead of myself with Texas A&M... The Aggies on Saturday impressed with a lightning-fast defense headed by a two-headed cobra in ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, and a quarterback that, while maybe not a Heisman candidate, is certainly good enough to get the ball to A&M's litany of playmakers, as we saw in Texas A&M's impressive win over a mid-teens ranked Pac-12 team.

I just described Texas A&M's 31-24 overtime win over No. 16 UCLA... and A&M's 38-17 win over No. 15 Arizona State to open the 2015 season. Like Les Miles, Kevin Sumlin has September figured out. He's now 15-2 in September (and 1-0 in August) in College Station, and still unbeaten in regular season non-conference play. I've gone on record saying A&M will be good this year. I've also provided an example of how I've been way ahead of myself with this team. It's Week 1. Let's let is play out.

6. Pop that champagne, fellas. Congratulations to the following head coaches for earning their first wins as head coaches:

  • Scott Frost (Central Florida): 38-0 over South Carolina State
  • David Beaty (Kansas): 55-6 over Rhode Island
  • Kirby Smart (Georgia): 33-24 over North Carolina
  • Mike Norvell (Memphis): 35-17 over Southeast Missouri State
  • Frank Wilson (UTSA): 26-13 over Alabama State
  • Matt Viator (Louisiana-Monroe): 38-21 over Southern
  • D.J. Durkin (Maryland): 52-13 over Howard
  • Scottie Montgomery (East Carolina): 52-7 over Western Carolina
  • Tyson Summers (Georgia Southern): 54-0 over Savannah State
  • Mike Neu (Ball State): 31-21 over Georgia State
  • Kalani Sitake (BYU): 18-16 over Arizona

7. The Super 16. The Nuggets was honored to join the panel of voters in the NFF-FWAA Super 16 poll this year. As a matter of transparency, each week's ballot will be posted here. Each team's ranking is subject to radical change from one week to the next.

Given that three of these teams are yet to play, here's how my ballot would stand if it was due today:

  1. Florida State
  2. Alabama
  3. Ohio State
  4. Michigan
  5. Clemson
  6. Houston
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Stanford
  9. Washington
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Louisville
  12. Texas A&M
  13. Georgia
  14. Wisconsin
  15. Michigan State
  16. Oklahoma

8. Odds and Ends.

a. Which offensive coordinator enjoyed his victory cigar more tonight? Lane Kiffin, who dropped 52 points on USC? Or Shannon Dawson, who was fired by Kentucky last winter, landed at Southern Miss, then immediately returned to Kentucky and rallied his new team from a 35-10 deficit to a 44-35 win over his old team?

b. Wake Forest beat Tulane 7-3 on Thursday. According to the great David Hale of ESPN, this is Wake's third such win in the last three years. The rest of FBS combined has six such wins this entire decade.

c. Western Michigan 22, Northwestern 21.

d. Navy quarterback Malcolm Smith pulled an E. King Gill on Saturday. Like the man at the genesis of Texas A&M's famed 12th Man iconography, Smith started Navy's win over Fordham in the stands and ended it on the field. Perry entered in the second half for injured quarterback Tago Smith and rushed seven times for 30 yards in a 52-16 romp. e. Michigan and Ohio State beat Hawaii and Bowling Green by a combined 140-13. Twelve weeks 'til D-Day. f. Someone let those poor Hawaii players get some sleep. Nick Rolovich's Warriors have flown from Honolulu to Sydney, Sydney to Honolulu, Honolulu to Detroit and Detroit to Honolulu in the past two weeks. That's 45 hours of flight time and 14 total time zones crossed in two weeks' time. g. South Alabama 21, Mississippi State 20.

h. Western Kentucky's Pinball machine of an offense saw its prolific senior quarterback Brandon Doughty graduate last winter. No matter. His replacement Mike White completed 25-of-31 passes for 517 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in a 46-14 whipping of Rice on Thursday.

i. Rutgers was never going to fly across the entire country and beat Washington at Washington. Not in Chris Ash's very first game. But a 48-3 score through three quarters has to feel good for those of us on the Washington hype train.

j. Richmond 37, Virginia 20.

k. USA Today's Dan Wolken had a great column Friday on how Miami's success under Mark Richt won't look like the swagged out teams of The U teams of the Jimmy Johnson/Dennis Ericsson and the Butch Jones/Larry Coker days. College football is different these days, Wolken wrote, and Richt is too buttoned up for fatigues and daring the refs to throw an unsportsmanlike flag on you. That may be true, but this score looked like a The U throwback.

l. Patrick Mahomes watch: The Texas Tech quarterback hit 30 of his 43 throws for 483 yards and four touchdowns with no picks -- good for a 194.8 rating -- while rushing 10 times for 57 yards and two scores in a 69-17 defeat of Stephen F. Austin.

m. Northern Iowa 25, Iowa State 20.

n. It was a losing effort, but Kansas State snapped Stanford's FBS-best streak of 13 consecutive games reaching at least 30 points in a 26-13 defeat on Friday night. With the Cardinal's streak dead, the new mark is shared by Oregon and Western Kentucky at seven each. o. More ridiculous quarterback stat lines: Louisville's Lamar Jackson completed 17-of-23 passes for 286 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions while carrying 11 times for 119 yards in a 70-14 thrashing of Charlotte on Thursday. p. We covered this Friday, but in case you haven't seen it: You just scored a touchdown to go up seven points. Do you go for two or kick the PAT? q. How many more times would Josh Dobbs have to try the fumble-into-the-end-zone-straight-to-another-teammate trick he pulled off for the winning score against Appalachian State Thursday night for it to be successful? Ten? A hundred? r. Auburn was 14-3 against the Power 5 from Gus Malzahn's hiring through the Laquon Treadwell Game of 2014. Since then, they're 3-11. s. Clemson eschewed a field goal for a chance to take a 22-13 lead over Auburn in favor of an off-tackle run with 45 seconds to play. It resulted in Auburn taking two heaves into the end zone with a chance to win the game. Clemson held on to win 19-13. Barely. Here was Dabo's reasoning.

t. Colorado had to beat Colorado State on Friday. Had to. And, boy, did they. The Buffs scored the first 37 points in a 44-7 laugher, holding edges of 28-12 in first downs, 318-63 in passing, 260-162 on the ground and 4-2 in turnovers.

u. What a nice win for Kirby Smart and Georgia. The Bulldogs saw a 14-7 lead turn into a 24-14 deficit but, with a new staff and alternating quarterbacks, kept their heads down and just kept playing. A 19-0 finishing kick shows these Dawgs may hunt. (I'm sorry.)

v. That said, Georgia received some inexplicable help from North Carolina. Larry Fedora drew an unsportsmanlike flag deep in his own end, and the UNC staff followed that by running a screen in their own end zone. That resulted in two easy points for Georgia and a rushed final drive from the Tar Heels, who knew they needed two scores to win instead of one to tie. They got neither.

w. Nice to see a defensive coordinator reacts the same way I do when my toilet springs a leak.

x. Northern Illinois-Wyoming was scheduled to start late, ran into a weather delay and then went to three overtimes, meaning this college football Saturday that started early in Ireland ran more than 21 hours from stem to stern. y. There are still two more games this weekend. Giggity. z. Eastern Washington 45, Washington State 42.

9. Tweets of the Week

Part 1:

Part II:

Part III:

10. Scenes of the Week Part I: After their punter Sam Foltz died in a car accident coming home from a kicking camp this summer, Nebraska used its first punt of the season to mark his absence.

Part II: Pittsburgh running back James Conner spent his offseason battling cancer. The former ACC Player of the Year vowed on his Dec. 4, 2015 diagnosis, "I will play football again." Today he returned to lead the Panthers on the field.

Conner led Pittsburgh in rushing with 17 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown and caught three balls for 16 yards and a touchdown in a 28-7 win over Villanova. Part III: Good to have you back, HBC.

And it's good to have you back, college football.