College Football Monday – Week 1
Sept. 5, 2022
Frank Coyle – Head scout – DraftInsiders.com
College Football Opening Week
Alabama, Georgia & Ohio St Set Pace
The first full week of college football entertained fans over Labor Day weekend and did not disappoint with a number of exciting national games. You need new roster sheets with the annual turnover of starters, plus the transfer rules which allow record number of player movement within Division 1 level. It makes for another season of highly contested matchups with weekly debates for the #1 ranking until the CFP title game in mid-January 2023.
Coaches also change loyalties with former ND head coach Brian Kelly moving to the LSU Bayou Bengals. The Tigers got into an uphill battle with Florida State and seemed to finally catch up with a last-second TD only to watch the extra point blocked to end the game. It was a major disappointment for Kelly in his SEC debut with the young and very talented Tigers failing to finish with big mistakes at critical moments.
Notre Dame begin a new era with head coach Marcus Freeman after a successful 12 year run with Brian Kelly who set a new career record for program victories. Freeman faced Ohio St in his debut and the Irish played the Buckeyes tough until faltering in a 21-10 loss. The Irish failed to score in the 2nd half and struggled to gain control of field position at any point of the game.
The traditional ‘Backyard Brawl’ between Pittsburgh and West Virginia finally returned after an 11-year absence due to conference schedules and ties. The ‘Brawl’ did not fail to live up to its long reputation as a bitter rivalry with the Panthers and Mountaineers going blow for blow before Pittsburgh won on a late drive 37-31. The two clubs scored 49 points over the second half in a wild exchange reminiscent of past matchups. Arguably the best game of the Holiday weekend.
Head coach Lincoln Riley shifted his alliances from Oklahoma to Southern Cal. While at Oklahoma, Riley guided the Sooners to three playoff appearances in five seasons with a 55-10 overall record. He hopes to revive the downtrodden Trojan program which has won only 22 games over the past four seasons. He started USC’s revival, smashing Rice in their opener. Oklahoma transfer QB Caleb Williams was Riley’s top recruit this offseason and they hope he will direct them in pursuit of the Pac-12 title. They make their Pac-12 debut this week at Stanford.
Both SEC finalists from last year’s national championship game, Alabama and Georgia won mismatches in blowouts. They do not play during the 2022 regular season, but certainly could meet in the conference title game or final four where the SEC seems to earn two seats annually.
Penn State faced Big Ten rival Purdue in West Lafayette in an unrated competitive matchup. QB Sean Clifford amended an earlier pick six with an 80-yard two-minute drive for the winning TD for a 35-31 victory with just seconds remaining. The Nittany Lions get a favorable early schedule until key contests from mid-October. Those games with Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State in succession will determine any pursuit of a Big Ten title.
Last but not least. Rutgers U won their opener at Boston College 22-21 in their most impressive early season victory in years. They hope to build on this momentum in their next two games vs Wagner and Temple before the Big Ten meat grinder portion of their schedule, starting with Iowa on Sept 24th.