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College Football 2018 Week One Reaction

Aaron Fuller, Washington
After a lengthy off-season, we were finally treated to five straight days of college football this past week and we learned quite a bit of things. There plenty of disappointing showings from big-time programs, while some smaller schools deserve recognition. We still obviously have plenty of time to sort out the Playoff, but the first week was still critical in helping determine the four-team field this winter.

There was no more disappointing offensive showing in the season's first week than Michigan's offense, which struggled to find any momentum in a 24-17 loss. All off-season, the hype surrounding new QB Shea Patterson was overwhelming, but the Ole Miss transfer had a rocky debut. It was not all his fault, to be fair, as he is dealing with the loss of one of UM's top receivers (Tarik Black, out for the year) and the offensive line had a terrible showing. With that being said, none of those issues are going to be solved in one week. This team is going to need some time to figure it out, and Patterson still needs to adjust to an offense much different than the one he ran at Ole Miss. I'm still a believer that Jim Harbaugh can bring Michigan back to an elite level nationally, but these are the types of games he has to win to do just that. It may have only been one game, but the Wolverines lackluster offensive output raises concerns that they'll be able to survive in college football's toughest division.

On the other side, fellow Big Ten East member Maryland had themselves a superb opener after a tough off-season. Motivated by the loss of deceased Jordan McNair, the Terrapins came out with a focus, and survived a late run by Texas to win 34-29. Interim head coach Matt Canada is eager to restore his reputation following a brutal one year experiment at LSU, and he was creative and innovative in how he attacked the Longhorns' defense, expected to be one of the best in the Big 12. Now, it will be interesting to see whether Maryland can continue that momentum one for an entire season, which they weren't able to do a year ago when they shocked the 'Horns. The key will be staying healthy; they lost two quarterbacks and plenty of other pieces within the first few weeks of the 2017 campaign. If they can do that, the opportunity is there for them to move up the ladder in the East, even with the powerhouse programs in front of them. Again, overreacting to one game is always dangerous, but the Terps look like they have the talent and versatility to be the Big Ten's most intriguing dark horse.

Even though they ended up losing, I was very impressed with Washington's performance in their opener against Auburn. The Huskies had to go basically on the road in Atlanta where the fans were mostly Tiger supporters and gave them a run for their money before faltering 21-16. The defense played pretty well for the most part, but the offensive performance was even more promising in my opinion, even though just 16 points were put on the board. The offensive line faced one of the best pass rushes in the entire country without their unquestioned leader, left tackle Trey Adams, and still managed to keep Jake Browning upright for much of the game. Also promising was the play of the receiver group, which was an issue in 2017. Aaron Fuller came out and looked like the top target, something they lacked so often a season ago. Even though they did lose, the Committee has to respect the fact that they scheduled a strong non-conference opponent and if they are able to run through the Pac-12, their Playoff hopes are still very much alive.

Maybe the most surprising showing of the entire weekend came on Labor Day, as Virginia Tech absolutely pummeled a Florida State breaking in the Willie Taggart era. The Hokies certainly were expected to be a major factor in the ACC, but a rebuilding defense and some questions on offense made it appear as though the opener against the Seminoles could be a tough one. However, the Hokies came out and put together a superb showing, holding FSU to just one single field goal. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster also managed to force five turnovers, and the thin secondary looked superb. On the other side, QB Josh Jackson, who was incredibly streaky throughout last season also looked much improved, and VT easily could've put up more than the 24 points they managed. With Miami and Florida State, the two teams expected to be the biggest challenger to Clemson in the conference underachieving in the first weekend, Virginia Tech now looks like the biggest threat to a fourth straight ACC Title for Clemson.

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