College Football Week 1: Mizzou Lays an Egg, But Big Games Live Up to Hype

I’ll get to the big games in a minute but let me start with Mizzou and a little on Illinois…

The Tigers showed some signs of life offensively but that was against a West Virginia team that returned only 4 starters on defense and had just 6 games of combined experience with their starting secondary.

Kevin Wheeler
Kevin Wheeler

In other words, Mizzou should have put up some yards.

That said, last year they failed to move the ball even against shaky defenses so I do think there are signs of life. Drew Lock has a legit arm and his footwork looks better to me than it did last year.

The offensive line protected him reasonably well despite accomplishing absolutely nothing with the running game.

My biggest takeaways from the offense: the line has to run block better and the receivers have to, you know, catch the ball.

If those things happen then Lock might be able to squeeze out a pretty good sophomore season. He wasn’t perfect but he also didn’t get much help.

I was disappointed with the defense. Sure, the Mountaineers have a senior dual threat QB and they were at home but I expected more of a fight from Mizzou’s front seven.

The linebackers, in general, where lost in coverage and I didn’t think the line was as good as I expected it to be with all the hype surrounding Charles Harris.

The coaching staff has a lot to fix. If they want to use Marvin Zanders in short yardage or goal line situations, fine, but the way they deployed him on Saturday was flat out dumb. He is not a good passer so the opposing team will KNOW he’s not a threat through the air, which will limit space for him to run. Plus, you don’t switch QB’s – EVER – when your starter is in rhythm and playing well.

That happened on Saturday and it has to stop. Josh Heupel’s play calling and game planning was a bit disappointing. Hopefully it gets fixed before Georgia.

As for the Illini, well, I don’t have much to offer coming off the Murray State game simply because Murray State doesn’t give me much to work with. The running game was awesome and Wes Lunt appeared to be competent but I won’t have much more to say about Lovie Smith’s squad until we see how they do against North Carolina in Champaign this weekend.

So, I’ll offer up more on Illinois next week.

Rough Week for the SEC

It started with Tennessee, a Top 10 team coming into the week, needing overtime to beat Appalachian State and continued from there.

South Carolina beat Vanderbilt 13-10 in a clunker.

LSU came in ranked #5 and lost to an unranked Wisconsin team because, once again, they can’t figure out their QB.

Florida eventually beat UMass 24-7 but struggled for much of the game and should beat a team like that more soundly.

Mississippi State lost to South Alabama. Ouch.

Mizzou lost, obviously.

Kentucky was outscored 27-0 in the second half and lost 44-35 to Southern Miss.

Arkansas eeked out a 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech.

That’s a whole lotta blah that got the SEC a lot of bad headlines and snarky tweets.

But…

Alabama completely dismantled USC 52-6 in a neutral site game with a freshman QB. So yeah, they’re scary good. Again.

Auburn hung tough with Clemson, losing 19-13. Clemson is my pick to win the whole thing and DeShaun Watson may be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft so that’s actually a pretty good showing.

Texas A&M beat a ranked UCLA team and Georgia won 33-24 on the road against a ranked North Carolina team.

Then you have Ole Miss who jumped out to a 28-6 lead and blew the game against #4 Florida State. Now, Florida State is a National Championship caliber team and the game was played in Orlando, but SEC teams that are ranked #11 in the country can’t be blowing 22-point leads. Deondre Francois stunk early for the Noles but he tore it up in the second half and posted 479 yards of total offense, 420 through the air. Chad Kelly was great in the first half but ineffective and turnover prone in the second half. So, understandable loss but not a good way to go about it.

So the bottom end of the SEC stunk – and so did LSU – but let’s not go crazy with the “decline of the SEC” stuff. The East is pretty crappy – unless Georgia freshman QB Jacob Eason is as good as he’s supposed to be – but I’ve been saying that for weeks. Bama is still one of the best teams in the country, LSU will rebound and Ole Miss is gonna be alright.

Elsewhere in the Top 25

* Stanford beat K-State 26-13 but they’re gonna need some guys other than Christian McCaffrey to chip in on offense. He had more than half their offensive yards from scrimmage.

* Houston looked GREAT against Oklahoma and they should be a Top 10 team this week. They were 15th coming into Saturday but after the first quarter they completely controlled that game against the Sooners. They were underrated coming in and hopefully they’ll be properly rated after pulling off the big win.

* That Texas-Notre Dame game was amazing. Shane Beuchele looks like the real deal as the freshman QB for the Longhorns and that was a big win against a preseason Top 10 team. Notre Dame has their QB – DeShone Kizer showed he’s the man moving forward – but the Irish defense got shredded Texas. That’s going to be a bit of a problem.

* Lots of other blowouts…I’m going to ignore them. LOL.

How’d My Picks Do?

I’ll be picking every Top 25 game against the spread each week and posting…here’s how I did in Week 1 of the CFB season.

#9 Tennessee 20-13 over Appalachian State (My pick: TEN -20.5) – LOSS
#19 Louisville 70-14 over Charlotte (My pick: LOU -39.5) – WIN
#8 Stanford 26-13 over Kansas State (My pick: STAN -15) – LOSS
#12 Michigan State 28-13 over Furman (My pick: MSU -40) – LOSS
Illinois 52-3 over Murray State (NO LINE) – NO PICK
West Virginia 26-11 over Missouri (My pick: WVU -10) – WIN
#23 Baylor 55-7 over Northwestern State (My pick: BAY -50) – LOSS
#1 Alabama 52-6 over #20 USC (My pick: BAMA -11.5) – WIN
#2 Clemson 19-13 over Auburn (My pick: CLEM -8) – LOSS
#15 Houston 33-23 over #3 Oklahoma (My pick: HOU +11.5) – WIN
Wisconsin over #5 LSU (My pick: LSU -11) – LOSS
#6 OSU 77-10 over Bowling Green (My pick: OSU -28) – WIN
#7 Michigan 63-3 over Hawaii (My pick: UM -40) – WIN
#13 TCU 59-41 over South Dakota State (My pick: TCU -35) – LOSS
#14 Washington 48-13 over Rutgers (My pick: UW -26.5) – WIN
Texas A&M 31-24 over #16 UCLA (My pick: UCLA +3.5) – LOSS
#17 Iowa 45-21 over Miami, OH (My pick: MIA +27.5) – WIN
#18 Georgia 33-24 over #22 North Carolina (My pick: UGA -3) – WIN
#21 Oklahoma State 61-7 over Southeast Louisiana (My pick: OKST -50) – WIN
#24 Oregon 53-28 over UC Davis (My pick: OR -49) – LOSS
#25 Florida 28-7- over UMass (My pick: UF -37) – LOSS
Texas 50-47 over #10 Notre Dame (My pick: TEX +3.5) – WIN
#4 Florida State 45-34 over #11 Ole Miss (My pick: MISS +5.5) – LOSS

Weekly record: 11-11

Season record: 11-11

More: Karraker – Six Takeaways from Mizzou’s Ugly Loss to West Virginia