College football is officially back! One of the biggest things to look forward to for millions of fans across the country, the opening weekend of the season did not disappoint in terms of interest and excitement despite a relatively few number of upsets. Usually the first weekend of the season doesn’t give us much in terms of story lines and great moments, but this week 1 was different. Here is your College Football Week One Recap.
1) Best games – UCLA 45 vs. Texas A&M 44; #25 Tennessee 42 vs. Georgia Tech 41 (2OT)
UCLA 45 vs. Texas A&M 44
Who would have thought the two best games of the weekend didn’t even happen on Saturday? And with just one ranked team between them all? On Sunday, UCLA was down 44-10 with just over four minutes to go in the third quarter. The Bruins looked dead on both sides of the ball for the better part of three quarters, and most viewers probably turned off their sets. But junior quarterback Josh Rosen put on a performance for the ages, capping off the second-greatest comeback in NCAA history with a 10-yard touchdown pass off a fake spike to receiver Jordan Lasley with 43 seconds to go.
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) September 4, 2017
Rosen went 19-26 for a whopping 292 yards and all four of his touchdowns in the final quarter. The comeback required a perfect storm of leadership by Rosen, luck (one of Rosen’s TDs literally went right through the hands of a defender and should have been picked), defensive stops by the Bruins, and poor clock management and play-calling on the part of the Aggies. Easily the best and most memorable game of the 2017 season after week 1. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin’s days could be numbered.
#25 Tennessee 42 vs. Georgia Tech 41
Similar to UCLA, Tennessee looked over-matched and was dominated in every aspect of the game in the first half, except they were only down one score. The Volunteers had no answer for Georgia Tech and their triple option offense, especially Yellow Jackets quarterback TaQuan Marshall (249 yards rushing, 5 TDs) and trailed by two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. But, sparked by a key fumble recovery and a blocked FG at the end of regulation to keep the game going, the Vols forced overtime.
After both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first two overtimes, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson elected to go for the game-winning 2-point conversion rather than kicking the extra point and forcing a third overtime. Despite being shredded on the ground the whole game (Tech finished with 535 yards rushing), Tennessee somehow stopped Marshall from getting into the end zone and came up with the victory.
Vols Defense made the one stop that mattered. pic.twitter.com/rwjcuyu83T
— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) September 5, 2017
For now, embattled Tennessee coach Butch Jones’ seat is slightly cooler.
2) Best Performances – UCLA QB Josh Rosen & Alabama defense
Josh Rosen: UCLA QB
The aforementioned Rosen put up an other-worldly performance that should vault him into #1 draft pick discussions with rival USC QB Sam Darnold, among others (looking at you, NY Jets). He was so calm and collected despite the huge deficit, and made NFL-type throws and decisions all over the field.
In the first opening week game ever between two preseason top-3 teams, the Alabama Crimson Tide defense showed why they’re annually considered one of the best defensive teams in the country. Bama shut out Florida State, who lost starting QB DeAndre Francois to a season-ending knee injury, in the second half while only giving up 65 yards despite losing two of their own linebackers for the season. The Tide rolled to an easy 24-7 win to christen the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta. Alabama is hoping to be back in the ATL two more times for an SEC championship and the CFB Playoff, and it will likely be their defense that will be the catalyst to get there.
3) Best moments – Tear-jerking moments at UAB & USC
UAB Gets Back On Its Feet
The most touching moments of the weekend came on college football fields as well. Former University of Alabama-Birmingham recruit and current UAB staffer Tim Alexander was involved in a traumatic car accident that left him paralyzed in 2006. But last weekend, he got up from his wheelchair to deliver the game ball for the Blazers in the program’s first game in three years. Alexander played an integral part in getting the program back on its feet.
USC Long-Snapper Defies The Odds
Out west in Los Angeles, USC long-snapper Jake Olson, who has been blind in both eyes since the age of 12, snapped an extra point for the Trojans in their 49-31 win over Western Michigan. Like Alexander, his story is also one of perseverance and overcoming great adversity.
This is anything but a regular PAT.
Jake Olson, blind since age 12, just snapped for the first time in a live game. https://t.co/amyHcFoVue
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 3, 2017
They quickly became two of the most viral and heartwarming/feel-good stories of not just this weekend, but for all of 2017. They show how there’s sometimes way more important things than just the final score of a football game.
Lastly what can we learn from College Football in order to fix the problems with the NFL Preseason? The SBNY Podcast answers that question.