A stunner in Ann Arbor, and other happenings on the season's first Saturday
Well, by now you know that two-time Championship Subdivision champ Appalachian State went into Michigan and left with a 34-32 win, closing it out with a blocked field goal with six seconds remaining. How does this happen? For one, the Mountaineers didn't go into the Big House with their collective tail between their legs. Secondly, the Michigan defense continued its sieve-like performance for the third straight game. To be honest, the offense minus Mike Hart didn't show too much either. Without Hart's 188 yards and three scores, this one could have been worse than it actually was. Lastly, the Michigan players may have focused more on the "1-AA" part of the opponent rather than the fact that the Mountaineers can play some football.
So where do the Wolverines go from here? Oregon comes to town next week in a game that has all the looks of an 0-2 start when you compare the offensive styles of Oregon and Appalachian State. Both teams like to spread out defenses and use their speed on the perimeter. If Michigan and defensive coordinator Ron English can't take care of their issues in the coming week of practice and film study, things could go from bad to worse for Lloyd Carr as far as job security is concerned.
Two other games that caught my eye were a pair of wins for Mountain West schools at home. Naturally, the two games were part of a doubleheader on Versus, making the wins by Wyoming and BYU all the more important for the conference. Wyoming held Virginia to three points in a 23-3 win that in all honesty wasn't that close. The Cavs, who some liked to make a move in the ACC Coastal, did very little on offense, and Jameel Sewell didn't look 100% recovered from off-season left wrist surgery. And BYU handled Arizona in Provo, 20-7. Two players making their first appearance on the college stage, QB Max Hall and RB Harvey Unga played extremely well, and a defense that made huge strides a year ago in winning the MWC held Arizona scoreless until the game's final minute. For fans of the Cats who were hoping that the hiring of Sonny Dykes to run the offense would mean an explosive attack, slow down the thinking. When your playmakers don't have a history of consistently making plays (that's a big difference from simply having talent), a new system doesn't turn an average attack into the Indianapolis Colts. Have patience, there's still a long way to go.
A great scene in Blacksburg this afternoon as well, but I wouldn't read too much into the final score (17-7) too much for two reasons. One, the emotion of the day was something that no other football team has had to deal with. Secondly, ECU is pegged as one of the better teams in CUSA this season, meaning that they're no slouch. Of course, there were some turnovers that could be deadly in Baton Rouge next weekend, but the Hokies will work out those kinks throughout the week.
With all the attention being paid to "Bowden Bowl IX" on Monday, people had better pay more attention to Boston College, who beat Wake Forest 38-28 in Chestnut Hill. Matt Ryan threw for 408 yards and five scores, and corner DeJuan Tribble had three picks on the afternoon. The most important development in this one could actually be the separated throwing shoulder of Wake QB Riley Skinner. Redshirt sophomore Brett Hodges played well in Skinner's stead, but you know that the Deacs will need Skinner if they want to repeat as ACC champs.
Right up there with the Michigan game in terms of excitement was Colorado's comeback win over CSU in overtime. Cody Hawkins performed well in his first start for the Buffs, taking some pressure off of the head coach had things not gone so well. Oh, the head coach is his father, which could make for an interesting dynamic in terms of fan opinion if Cody struggles. But with Cody at the helm, the future looks bright in Boulder.
Lastly, not to take anything away from Auburn and their comeback win over Kansas State, but the Tigers had no business winning that game. But thanks to 18 penalties and a seeming unwillingness to give left tackle Alesana Alesana consistent help with All-American defensive end Quentin Groves in his first college start. Groves wreaked havoc on the KSU offense in the fourth quarter, pressuring Josh Freeman countless times and forcing the fumble that was returned for the game-clinching touchdown. Auburn is a young team overall, so they should be able to work out the kinks as the season progresses.
Almost forgot, don't ever...ever kick the ball to Cal's DeSean Jackson. If you decide to out of bravado and end up getting burned as Tennessee's Britton Colquitt did tonight, you essentially dug your own grave. Not too smart.