2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 1
Who’s Not ...
The combination of a weak economy and an even scrawnier slate of Week 1 games wreaked an unusual degree of havoc on the turnstiles. Interest in the game remains as robust as ever, but the TV networks might be the biggest beneficiaries. Schools accustomed to standing room only crowds, such as Missouri, Florida, Penn State and others, were unable to sellout their allotment of tickets. Plus, the Friday night game between Tennessee and NC State had more than 15,000 empty seats in the Georgia Dome.
Inexcusable. The Buffaloes had history and talent on their side in this year’s Rocky Mountain Showdown with Colorado State. They still couldn’t win the opener. The Rams arrived in Denver a mess, with a new staff and new starters everywhere following a tumultuous offseason. It didn’t matter. Colorado squandered a lead in a game that it had to have as it attempts to build on last year’s 3-10 debut for head coach Jon Embree. The loss is a major setbacks in the Buffs’ gradual quest to return to respectability.
8. Cal coach Jeff Tedford
If Tedford’s seat gets any hotter, he’s going to need flame retardant unmentionables. While there’s no shame in losing to Nevada or its head coach Chris Ault, the Bears needed to hold serve in the worst way in their return to Memorial Stadium for the first time in almost two years. Instead, the program couldn’t stop the backfield combination of QB Cody Fajardo and RB Stefphon Jefferson, and fell short in Berkeley. If the opener is a sign of things to come, Cal might need to fight just to qualify for the postseason, which will not be good for Tedford’s job security.
7. The South Carolina Passing Game
New year. Same struggles throwing the ball. The Gamecocks escaped Vandy on the strength of its defense and the running of Marcus Lattimore. The quarterbacks, mainly dinged-up Connor Shaw, though, completed just 7-of-15 passes for 67 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. Despite the ineptitude through the air, South Carolina lived to tell about it, but will not be so fortunate once the schedule starts presenting much nastier SEC defenses for the one-dimensional offense to navigate.
6. The Florida Offense
The Gators have to figure this thing out soon, or else it’s going to be another frustrating season in Gainesville. You know times are rough when you need to escape Bowling Green in the Swamp, the product of an offensive attack that looks lazy and lacks execution. If not for the running of Mike Gillislee, Florida might have suffered one of its worst home losses in school history. Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were collectively marginal behind center, guiding an attack that produced just 14 first downs … against a mediocre MAC D.
5. The Oklahoma O-line
The Sooners took a few big hits up front during the summer … and it showed late Saturday night. Oklahoma had problems with, of all teams, UTEP, allowing three sacks and far too many pressures and hits on an ineffective Landry Jones. Heavily favored to roll in the Sun Bowl, Bob Stoops’ team held a 10-7 lead when the fourth began, largely because the playmakers were unable to make plays. If the opening weekend was a harbinger of things to come, OU is going to have a very difficult time fulfilling heady expectations in 2012.
4. Life After Andrew Luck (and Kellen Moore and Kirk Cousins)
Friday night provided a stark glimpse of just how hard it is for a coaching staff to replace a star quarterback. Josh Nunes produced an ineffective 125 yards through the air as Stanford narrowly escaped San Jose State, 20-17. In Michigan State’s 17-13 victory over Boise State, Spartan Andrew Maxwell and Bronco Joe Southwick played like first-time starters, combining to throw four interceptions and no touchdown passes. The staffs of all three teams will be working feverishly to get their three quarterbacks turned around before doubt creeps into their heads.
3. NC State’s Stars
The Pack began the season with a headliner on each side of the ball, QB Mike Glennon on offense and CB David Amerson on D. Neither had his finest moment in Friday’s 35-21 loss to Tennessee. Glennon saw his NFL Draft stock plummet by throwing four picks and appearing flummoxed at times in the Georgia Dome. Amerson was burned over the top on multiple occasions, the cover boy of a veteran secondary that yielded 333 passing yards and two touchdowns without a pick.
2. Penn State
So much for solidarity and brotherhood carrying the Nittany Lions on the field during this trying first season under rookie head coach Bill O’Brien. Penn State started fast and then flopped in front of the home crowd, failing to score in the second half or stop underrated Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton. If O’Brien’s kids can’t handle a MAC visitor on a day when Beaver Stadium had a little extra juice running through the stands, their liable to get stampeded once Big Ten play begins. Oh, and the staff’s job of keeping recruits committed to the Nits got a whole lot tougher Saturday afternoon.
1. Big Ten vs. Top 5 Non-Conference Teams
With Michigan’s one-sided loss to Alabama, the Big Ten has now dropped 10 straight non-conference games against top 5 opponents … by an average of 16 points. It was a humbling weekend all-around for the league, which suffered a loss to Ohio and near-misses with Northern Iowa, Indiana State, UNLV, Northern Illinois and Syracuse. Michigan State got all it could handle from rebuilding Boise State on Friday night, leaving Nebraska, Ohio State and Purdue as the three members that met or exceeded Week 1 expectations.
Who's Hot ... Week 1