Week 1 of the college football season is in the books, and with the first NFL Sunday coming this weekend, it feels good to have football back—knowing that another season will bring the inevitable heartbreak and exhilaration that make sports so great and life worth living. Just like in life, the first week of college football brought us the good, the bad and the ugly.
Jalen Hurts has become one of my favorite college players of all time. When asked about his college journey after his record-breaking performance against Houston last weekend, the understated and ultra-composed star responded with one word—“unprecedented.”
Unprecedented indeed. He was 26-2 as the starting quarterback for Alabama, lost the starting job to Tua Tagovailoa and displayed an incredible amount of humility and maturity by choosing to stay instead of transfer. He then flipped the script and played hero when he came off the bench to lead the Crimson Tide to a dramatic comeback victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, got his degree, transferred to Oklahoma and became a team captain. In his Oklahoma debut he threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 176 yards and another three TDs. With that effort he joins Johnny Manziel as the only two players in the past 15 years to throw for 300 yards and three scores and run for 150 and three scores in a single game.
Jalen Hurts on Tuesday when asked, “Is the Heisman Trophy a goal for you?”
“Winning football games is a goal for me.”
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 4, 2019
Hurts has always been one of the most gifted runners to play the position at the college level, but now paired with the offensive genius of Lincoln Riley, he is in a perfect position to put his full skill set on display. It’s no wonder Hurts is currently +500 at BetAmerica to win the Heisman.
Missouri’s loss at Wyoming is the obvious choice for this category, as the 17-point underdog Cowboys pulled off a shocker and cashed in around 6-1 on the moneyline. Former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant put up impressive numbers for Missouri (31-of-48 for 423 yards and two TDs), but he also threw an interception and his fumble that was returned for a touchdown midway in the second quarter was the turning point in the game.
Two years ago, you fell into a coma & woke up today
-Hugh Freeze is coaching Liberty from a hospital bed
-Tommy Tuberville is running for Congress
-LSU is running the spread
-Jalen Hurts is at OU & Kelly Bryant is at Missouri
-Les Miles is at Kansas & Mack Brown is at UNC pic.twitter.com/w6mAUbzZAr
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) September 1, 2019
Speaking of fumbles, the one that cost USC quarterback JT Daniels his season may also cost coach Clay Helton his job. The Trojans will now turn to the unheralded 18-year-old freshman Kedon Slovis as they prepare for an unforgiving schedule, which features a home game against Stanford and an away game at BYU over the next two weeks, and then a hellish stretch of three games that includes Utah at home and then back-to-back road games at Washington and Notre Dame. Things could go from bad to worse quickly for a program that has taken a step backward under Helton.
Tennessee’s loss to a Georgia State squad that went 2-10 last year is the pick here. After the Panthers cashed in as 24.5-point underdogs (anywhere from 12-1 to 14-1 on the moneyline), head coach Shawn Elliott said, “We were in better physical condition. We wore them down in the trenches.”
That’s a terrifying thought, as the Vols look to be in for another long season in the SEC. Jeremy Pruitt is a good coach, but the lack of talent in Knoxville is glaring, as the Butch Jones era has set the program back years.
Any team coached by Willie Taggart qualifies here. The decision to hire new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles looked like the right one at halftime, as the Florida State jumped out to a 31-19 lead, but the Seminoles were held scoreless in the second half and could only muster 68 yards of offense in the last two quarters. That let Boise State, led by a true freshman quarterback, get the win in Tallahassee.
FSU is now 80-2 all time when leading by at least 18 points during a game.
Both losses under Willie Taggart (‘18 Miami and ‘19 Boise State).
— Jackson Ramer (@JacksonRamer) August 31, 2019
After an unimpressive 7-5 record during his lone season at Oregon (a tenure that included three players being hospitalized after grueling military-style workouts), there hasn’t been a coach in the country who has done less with more than Taggart since he’s stepped foot in Tallahassee. Take away his 11-2 season in 2016 at South Florida, and Taggart is 41-56 as a head coach. Florida State is one of most storied programs in the country and its fans deserve better.