Ohio State's offense, concern for Pac-12 and ACC lead Week 1 college football overreactions
The weekly episodic nature of college football makes the sport ripe for analysis – and of course overanalysis.
Don’t get us wrong. After a long offseason of predictions and projections, it’s nice to actually have a full week of results to chew on. Naturally, amateur fans and professional pundits alike will attempt to draw long-term conclusions from the small sample size of action just witnessed.
Some of these, admittedly, will actually prove to be true. But generally speaking, overarching narratives shouldn’t be created just yet after only 60 minutes of game time.
Here are the top five overreactions from Week 1.
Ohio State isn’t the offensive juggernaut we expected
First and foremost, credit should be given to the Notre Dame defense, a well-coached and disciplined unit that will lead the Fighting Irish to a lot of wins this year. The absence of standout Buckeyes’ receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba for most of the game also hindered the team’s ability to generate the kind of explosive plays we’ve come to expect from C.J. Stroud’s group.
But the way the Buckeyes took charge late with a pounding ground game should be just as scary for the rest of the Big Ten. When you have multiple options for moving the ball, your offense is even more dangerous.
BUCKEYES RALLY:No. 2 Ohio State uses two scores to topple Notre Dame
The Pac-12 is already out of the playoff race
The league took some hits to be sure, and the fact that they happened in spotlight games didn’t help the conference’s overall perception. What happened to Oregon is probably going to be a common occurrence for Georgia’s opponents this year, but it’s difficult to see the Ducks making a serious push after that result. Utah’s hopes aren’t completely dead after coming up short at Florida, but the margin for error is gone. Southern California took care of its business in its mismatch with Rice but the overall performance of the Trojans’ defense, despite its three pick-sixes, raised concerns about its ability to hold up over a 12-game slate.
That’s the key, of course – we’ve only seen one game from everybody. As of right now there simply aren’t enough data points to count out the entire conference. But it’s undeniable that the Pac-12 has a lot of recent history to overcome, and Week 1 didn’t help.
WEEK 1 OBSERVATIONS:Impressive starts for Oklahoma, Arkansas
ROUGH DEBUT:Kelly's first game with LSU is spectacular flameout
HIGHS AND LOWS:Week 1 college football winners and losers
The ACC doesn’t have a playoff team, either
Florida State restored some credibility Sunday in an albeit mistake-filled triumph against LSU. But there weren’t many other promising results throughout the rest of the league. Boston College and Virginia Tech were probably going to be mid-tier teams at best anyway, but their early non-conference setbacks won’t help the overall strength of the conference when the numbers are compared later. Fortuitous escapes by North Carolina and N.C. State helped the league avoid complete disaster but nonetheless raised questions about its overall depth. But again, it was only Week 1. Let’s not seed the field yet.
This playoff expansion is a bad idea
Yes, that notion was floated in the wake of Georgia’s dominant performance. Do we really want to create more blowouts in early playoff rounds?
The counterpoint is the number of compelling non-conference games we saw on the opening slate with more on tap in Week 2. Without playoff expansion, we’ll see far fewer schools willing to damage their chances by scheduling such high-profile contests. A 12-team field will actually incentivize games like Utah-Florida or Pittsburgh-West Virginia, as the risk of losing would be mitigated by the promise of a seat at the table for winning your conference.
Let’s just get to Alabama-Georgia
This is the related argument to the above, and well, the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs certainly looked the part. Georgia’s handling of a ranked Oregon squad – possibly overranked but ranked nonetheless – might have been even more impressive than Alabama’s businesslike whitewash of clearly overmatched Utah State. There are plenty of roadblocks ahead though. The SEC East looks tougher than expected given Florida’s successful debut, and the West remains formidable despite LSU’s travails.