A Look Around College Football – Week One
The 2012 college football season involves fairly unspectacular schedules in the first two weeks of the season. Power conference teams feel that they have too much on the line to schedule truly tough opponents. Playing weak FBS teams or even some FCS teams provides a likely win and therefore a much greater assurance of a bowl bid at season's end. Paying six figures to a weaker school so that a win can be posted will help sustain season ticket sales and other forms of revenue. Under the current broken model of college football (and college sports) financing, it makes political and economic sense for teams to not test themselves in early September. This doesn't lead to more competitive and enjoyable football, however.
In week one, there were 76 games played in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Only 41 of them were FBS-versus-FBS contests. That's right – 35 games pitted FBS teams against FCS foes. College football programs would rather duck a challenge than go for an ambitious early-season adventure. Impressively, the FCS schools acquitted themselves quite well, winning four of those 35 games. Youngstown State beat Pittsburgh, Tennessee-Martin beat Memphis, McNeese State won at Middle Tennessee, and Eastern Washington won handily at Idaho.
There were 19 other games in which teams from a power conference (one of the top six leagues plus the Mountain West) played an opponent from one of the four weakest FBS conferences. In those games, the power teams went 18-1, with the only exception being Ohio (of the Mid-American Conference) beating Penn State of the Big Ten. The Bobcats, fresh off the first bowl win in school history last December, are trying to defend their MAC East Division title and take that one extra step in the MAC Championship Game this season. Winning at Penn State should give coach Frank Solich's club a world of confidence.
There were a few main-event contests from week one. Alabama began its national title defense with an authoritative seal-clubbing of Michigan, a 27-point romp at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex. The Crimson Tide manhandled the Wolverines on both sides of the ball, rolling to a 31-0 lead before halftime. Alabama is going to make it very hard for someone else to hold the crystal trophy at the end of the season.
In the other big matchup of week one, Michigan State came from behind to beat Boise State in a punishing, taut thriller. Le'Veon Bell produced the best game of anyone in the sport in week one. The Michigan State running back gained 210 yards on 44 carries to lift his team over the top.
Clemson fought off Auburn in the fourth quarter to score a big win for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame thumped Navy in Dublin, Ireland, to get its season off to a good start. Brigham Young spoiled Mike Leach's debut as Washington State's coach in a 30-6 blowout. Virginia Tech, late Monday night, kicked a tying field goal at the gun to force overtime and eventually overtake ACC Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech, gaining the huge upper hand in that divisional race. Out West, Oregon and USC posted easy wins to mark themselves as the teams to beat in the Pac-12.
By Matt Zemek
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