The Woodshed Week 1: The old kings stand their ground after a week of few surprises

From left: Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all appear in The Woodshed Top 10.

This time of year, the King Bear heads to his throne on top of the falls during the salmon run. It’s the best vantage point to fish on the river; the King Bear is able to conserve much needed energy as it carbs up for the winter. Every fall, the throne is challenged by the younger bears.

FLORIDA STATE GETS BEAT UP

Florida State has been sitting on the throne in the Sunshine State for the past decade. It’s safe to say the Seminoles were just knocked off that perch for the time being. Losing to Virginia Tech at home 24-3 had Gators fans eyeing the top spot. RELAX ‘Canes fans, we’ll get to you in a second.

The ‘Noles were dominated; it wasn’t the debut head coach Willie Taggart envisioned. Five turnovers and a blocked punt? That’s a funeral. Here’s a hint, give the ball to Cam Akers more.

FLORIDA GATORS SWAMP IS LIT

Over in Gainesville, Gators fans are feeling a lot better about who they hired in Dan Mullen. Yes, it’s been pretty quiet on the recruiting front, but winning 53-6 over Charleston Southern is a major step in the right direction. Yes, the Buccanneers are a lower division, and last Saturday was a glorified scrimmage. But do you know what it isn’t? A loss!

QB Feleipe Franks was able to throw five TDs in the first half. We will see what UF is really like this week when they head into an SEC matchup against Kentucky. I expect Florida to challenge for the state throne very soon.

MIAMI HURRICANES DOWNGRADES TO A STORM

Fans of the Miami Hurricanes told everybody they were back last year, then they dropped their final three games of the season. There is no worse feeling than getting your hopes up for a playoff run and then losing your first game of the season. Michigan fans know this feeling, too, so you’re not alone.

Miami’s 33-17 loss to LSU on Sunday night was a perfect example of teams being overrated based on the program’s history. Malik Rosier threw for 259 yards but had 2 interceptions. What was glaring was that the running game mustered only 83 yards. If Rosier is going to be successful, he needs to have more runs on offense to move the chains.

Sep 2, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; LSU Tigers running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) runs with the ball against Miami Hurricanes linebacker Shaq Quarterman (55) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Miami fed off of turnovers last year, but the turnover chain did not make an appearance for the in Texas. Miami gets a cupcake in Savannah State to come to the Hard Rock on Saturday, so we’ll see if Rosier can right the ship. The season is not lost for the Canes, they can run the table and get to face Clemson in the ACC title game. But based on week one’s performance, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Though I predicted the Miami loss to LSU, I was unsuccessful in predicting Michigan and Washington’s games. Are you aware that Michigan is 0-17 in road games against ranked opponents since 2007? Jim Harbaugh’s team hasn’t gotten any better since he got there. Here’s another interesting stat for you: Michigan’s offense has not thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver since Sept. 9, 2017.

MARYLAND HONORS No. 79

Sep 1, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins celebrates in the end zone holding a flag in remembrance of Jordan McNair after defeating Texas Longhorns at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In what was one of the better games on television, Maryland beat Texas for the second straight year, 34-29. Maryland was playing to honor fallen teammate Jordan McNair, who died June 13, two weeks after collapsing during a team workout on May 29. On the first play from scrimmage, the Terps lined up in a missing man formation.

Longhorns fans were expecting to be in the national title hunt, and the turned up the heat on Texas coach Tom Herman’s seat. I suppose winning has something to do with the reason why you can’t keep five-star talent in Austin. Herman has been distracted as of late answering questions about a South Florida hangout.

Just don’t ever schedule Appalachian State in September; you have nothing to win by it. Penn State needed overtime to put away the Mountaineers 45-38 in what was the best game of the week. Other facts you should know: the SEC went 13-1 with Tennessee falling to West Virginia being their lone defeat. The Big Ten went 10-1 in week one in non-league play.

Now, for the Woodshed Top Ten:

No. 1 CLEMSON

Again, why do I have this team ranked ahead of Alabama? I believe their defense is that much better, especially the defensive line. The Tigers enjoyed their cupcake game in Furman 48-7. QB Kelly Bryant showed his athletic ability with a 35-yard waltz to the end zone, he had five carries for 44 yards. No Tiger ran for over 100 yards, but I’m not sure if they had to.

However, freshman QB Trevor Lawrence did come in and throw three TDs in his debut. It’s not Alabama that has a QB controversy, it’s Clemson. Next up for Clemson, heading to College Station to face Texas A&M. The Aggies are better than Syracuse, so it’s not crazy to think they could pull off an upset, but I’m just not seeing it. Clemson shouldn’t really be tested until they head to Boston College in November.

No. 2 ALABAMA

Sep 1, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) attempts a pass against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not sure if I’m drinking the Tua Kool-Aid quite yet. One expert out there says he’s the Lebron James of college football, that we haven’t seen anyone like him yet. I will hold my judgement for now before I brand him “The Chosen One.”

I will say this: I love how Alabama looks on offense with Tagovailoa at quarterback. Nick Saban knows what he has in Tagovailoa, and what he has in Jalen Hurts. There may be some games where Saban wants to just run the football. Hurts is a tailback behind center, and he’s really good at it.

Here’s some advice for Nick, if you don’t want to be asked about who your quarterback is going to be, then just name one. Hurts was strung along so he wouldn’t transfer. But again, that’s just great recruiting, that’s why they are the national champions. The defense has some things to clean up, but other than that, ‘Bama can sleepwalk until November on the schedule.

No. 3 OHIO STATE

Lost in the Urban Meyer controversy and suspension was the debut of junior QB Dwayne Haskins. The Buckeyes beat Oregon State 77-31 and Haskins threw for more than 300 yards with five TDs in three quarters of play, both Ohio State records for a first-time starting QB.

And the expression “those that stay will be champions” may be famous for one rival: OSU’s Mike Weber is making good on coming back to Columbus. Webber ran for 186 yards and 3 TDs, and the other tailback, J.K. Dobbins, is the guy that had some Heisman hype. Don’t sweat it, Dobbins had 74 yards himself.

Though everything looks good for the Buckeyes, the defense needs to fix a lot of things if they want to compete in the playoff. The most glaring hole is the safety position.

No. 4 GEORGIA

Sep 1, 2018; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm (11) passes against the Austin Peay Governors during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulldogs took care of business against Austin Peay 45-0 last Saturday. QB Jake Fromm threw for two touchdowns, completing 12 of 16 passes. Freshman Justin Fields played pretty well, giving the Dawgs a different dimension for opposing defenses to think about. Fields was 7 of 8 with a TD and added 33 rushing yards.

Who is going to emerge as the gamebreaker on offense remains to be seen. No tailback went over 100 yards rushing, but that’s deceiving when the team averaged 8.6 yards a carry. Georgia plays South Carolina this week, so we’ll see more of who they really are come Saturday.

No. 5 OKLAHOMA

If you thought this team was going to go away after Baker Mayfield graduated, you’re sadly mistaken. There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Kyler Murray. The Sooners beat up Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic 63-14. Rodney Anderson had five carries for 100 yards and two TDs.

The Sooners have a bigger test this week with Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins. The Bruins lost at home to Cincinnati, so don’t go looking for an upset here.

No. 6 AUBURN

Auburn beat Washington 21-16 in Atlanta in what was a battle between two top-20 teams. In watching this game, I felt like the Huskies had the better talent. But two turnovers were the difference in the game, and Auburn has one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Jarrett Stidham.

Stidham threw for 273 yards and touchdown. The Huskies had more to lose, and the PAC-12 may have just eliminated itself from the playoff. Still plenty of football to be played, but the conference took a beating in week one.

No. 7 WISCONSIN

Aug 31, 2018; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Garrett Groshek (37) rushes for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Badgers possess one of the best offensive lines in college football. Yes, the Badgers have one of the best power backs in Jonathan Taylor. Wisconsin beat Western Kentucky 34-3 last week, Taylor had 145 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

Though that’s a great day, I would expect more of a 200-yard game if you’re a Heisman hopeful. The Badgers host New Mexico this week, so perhaps we’ll see another boring 35-3 game.

No. 8 LSU

The purple and gold took care of the turnover chain and then some Sunday night. Transfer QB Joe Burrow did what he had to do to get his first victory as a starter. The ‘Canes struggled to stop LSU’s rushing attack, headed up by Nick Brossette and his 125 yards and two TDs.

Don’t sleep on sophomore running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire who looked like mini Emmitt Smith in the No. 22 jersey. What we found out this week is what makes Joe Burrow a great quarterback.

The Tigers dominated the ‘Canes and have room for improvement. Now they have Southeastern Louisiana to worry about, oh boy!

No. 9 NOTRE DAME

The Irish weren’t supposed to be able to move the ball on Michigan’s great defense. But they did, and Brandon Wimbush accounted for almost 230 yards in what was one of the better games of the week.

Notre Dame held off Michigan 24-17, the offense was able to gain 300 yards on the Wolverines. Notre Dame has Ball State this week, a perfect team to work on the rushing attack against.

No. 10 MISSISSIPPI STATE

MSU opened the Joe Moorhead era with a 63-6 win over Stephen F. Austin. Backup QB Keytaon Thompson threw for 364 yards and five touchdowns, not a bad day for any QB.

I’m high on the Bulldogs because of Nick Fitzgerald and the defensive line. It’s tough to judge when the SEC plays cupcakes like it does, but we’ll see what they are made up this week as they head to Kansas State.

The Bulldogs are underrated in my opinion and will be possibly the only real threat to Alabama this year.