2012 Who's Hot ... The Week 1 Stars
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Posted Sep 2, 2012

The players and teams that rocked in Week One of the college football season.

2012 Who's Hot & Not

Week 1

 By Richard Cirminiello 

- 2012 Who's Not ... Week 1

Who's Hot ...

10. Notre Dame
The Irish might want to make the Dublin trip a regular part of the scheduling rotation in coming years. Notre Dame started the season exactly the way it had, with encouraging signs popping up everywhere in the 40-point rout of usually-intrepid Navy. The D was fantastic, holding the vaunted Midshipmen triple-option to a measly 149 yards on the ground. And on offense, without the support of leading rusher Cierre Wood, young Everett Golson flashed hints that he is indeed Brian Kelly's quarterback of the future. In all phases, it was the kind of effort that the Irish can build off in this critical and demanding 2012 campaign.

9. The Old-Timers
It was a banner opening weekend for those venerable head coaches whose prime on the sidelines rests somewhere in the rear view mirror. In his fourth season at Texas State, Dennis Franchione's Bobcats debuted in the FBS by stunning heavily-favored Houston on the road. Ohio's Frank Solich engineered a comeback win over Penn State in emotionally-charged Happy Valley. Larry Coker-led Texas-San Antonio slipped by South Alabama. Nevada upended Cal in Berkeley for Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault. And Bob Davie had a successful return to the sidelines after a decade in the booth, piloting New Mexico to a blowout of Southern.

8. The UCLA Offense
Forget the fact that the Week 1 opponent was Rice. Amassing 646 total yards is a very big deal for a Bruins offense that was breaking in a rookie quarterback, and has struggled to move the ball for years. Brett Hundley still needs to evolve as a passer, but his debut under center included 270 total yards and three scores. The hero, though, for rookie head coach Jim Mora was veteran RB Johnathan Franklin, who rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries.

7. The BYU D
The Cougars defense made sure that Mike Leach's return to the sidelines was not going to be a triumphant one. BYU dominated from the opening series, keeping what figures to be a dangerous Wazzu offense from reaching the end zone. Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars have now kept seven consecutive opponents to under 300 total yards, getting a big effort from the linebacker trio of Kyle Van Noy, Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga. Washington State's best weapon, All-American WR Marquess Wilson, was held to just four catches for 61 yards.

6. Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Martinez became a spokesman for the Manning Passing Academy, where he spent time in the offseason, by delivering a career-day through the air for the Huskers. Displaying noticeably better mechanics and decision-making, he complemented a downhill running game by completing 26-of-34 for 354 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Martinez is not a next-level hurler at this point, but even the hint of a better passing attack in 2012 will make Nebraska that much stronger as a Big Ten contender out of the Legends Division.

5. West Virginia QB Geno Smith
Smith and the Mountaineers picked up where they left off in last year's Orange Bowl, piling up 69 points and 655 total yards on overmatched rival Marshall. West Virginia has now scored 139 points in its last two outings, really clicking on offense for head coach Dana Holgorsen. Smith was in midseason form Saturday afternoon, spreading the ball around to his receivers, while throwing as many incompletions—four—as touchdown passes. In his first game as a Big 12 quarterback, the Miami, Fla. product went 32-of-36 for 323 yards and no picks, adding a fifth score on the ground.

4. The Da'Rick Rogers-less Tennessee Receivers
Life without the dismissed former All-SEC wideout may not be so dire after all. On a night when Tyler Bray threw for 333 yards and two scores in a crucial Chick-fil-A Kickoff win, JUCO import Cordarrelle Patterson stole the show in the first half, while Justin Hunter took over in the final two quarters. Patterson was a revelation early on, finishing with six catches for 93 yards and touchdown to go along with a dazzling 67-yard scoring run. Hunter's successful return from last year's season-ending injury was highlighted by a team-high nine receptions for 73 yards.

3. Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell
The 6-2, 244-pound junior put on a show for the nation Friday night, helping bail out his Spartans in a game they were on the verge of losing. Powerful, yet shockingly agile and light on his feet, he motored for 210 yards and two scores on 44 carries, adding six catches for 55 yards. He ought to get as much rest as humanly possible in the fall, because the Michigan State offense looks as if it'll need to ride him like a mule in order to offset a passing game requiring a lot more work and practice time.

2. Clemson in Orange Jerseys and White Pants
After knocking off Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, the Tigers are now 14-0 under Dabo Swinney when employing the aforementioned sartorial mix. Okay, so the gut-check win had less to do with fashion and far more to do with the running of Andre Ellington, clutch receiving of DeAndre Hopkins and stout play of the defense. Rallying in the final ten minutes to slip past Auburn was a monumental development for a Clemson team that was looking to shake the memory of its 70-33 Orange Bowl implosion at the hands of West Virginia earlier in the year. Especially now that Sammy Watkins is returning, the Tigers are every bit as formidable in the ACC title hunt as Florida State and Virginia Tech.

1. ‘Bama in 2012
The Crimson Tide has played two games so far in 2012, blanking LSU to win the National Championship, and throttling Michigan, 41-14, in primetime Saturday night. If there were any doubts about Alabama's chances to repeat, they were destroyed in Arlington, Tex. over the weekend. The defense is its usual surly self, making QB Denard Robinson appear rather ordinary. And the offense is going to have more pop and balance than it did in 2011. The Tide may not be the same squad it was a year ago, but it has as good a shot as anyone of playing for another crown in January.
- 2012 Who's Not ... Week 1