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2021 Post-Week One CFB Roundup

Bryce Young, Alabama

College football is back in all its glory, with a stacked week of games turning the 2021 season into high gear. The first real weekend of the season had just about everything you could want: Top 25 matchups, notable upsets, awe-inspiring performances, and full stadiums providing the energy and enthusiasm that was missed so dearly a year ago. There is plenty to recap from a week that was spread out over five nights, so without further ado...

Reactions & Thoughts

Don't Overreact to Clemson-UGA: Georgia versus Clemson was the most notable game of the weekend, with a pair of Top 5 teams looking to build an initial CFB Playoff resume.Unfortunately the game was, quite frankly, a snoozer. Neither team scored an offensive touchdown, but a pick-six from Georgia safety Christopher Smith proved to be the difference. The offensive struggles weren't much fun to watch, but fans shouldn't read too much into either performance. The Bulldogs were operating without several key pass-catchers, while the Tigers were led by a QB making his third career start, facing a really good UGA defense. Both teams are way too talented not to be a factor in the Playoff race long-term, and both schedules are extremely favorable the rest of the way. 

Clemson has less margin for error if they still want to compete for a National Title, but they're still likely to be favored in every game the rest of the way. It is concerning how poor their offensive line played in this game, but there is no ACC foe that has a pass rush even comparable to Georgia's. My guess is Dabo and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott will go back to the drawing board and the Tigers will come out firing next week.

Surprise, Surprise Alabama is Alabama: Despite a staggering amount of production leaving Tuscaloosa this off-season, the Crimson Tide were nearly three touchdown favorites against a Top 15 Miami. That number proved to still be disrespectful to Alabama, who pummeled the Hurricanes en route to a 44-13 victory. It's still unbelievable how Nick Saban-led teams always look so crisp and poised during the first week of the season, especially when you consider there's a new OC here, new QB, and plenty of new faces at the skill positions. Bryce Young looks ready to become the next great Alabama quarterback, and unsurprisingly, the Tide defense looked fantastic. Until somebody proves they're better, I don't know how any honest college football viewer can put anyone at No. 1 other than the Tide.

On the flip side, it's the same old story for the Miami Hurricanes. They can beat up on mediocre ACC foes, but the program just doesn't have the legs to compete with the true elites of the college football world right now. You thought a healthy D'Eriq King may give them a fighting chance to at least make things competitive here, but King was neutralized from the first snap on. I still think this team should win 8-9 games and with UNC losing, the ACC Coastal is wide open. But, they are far, far away from even getting close to the glory years of the "U".

Yes, Texas Looks Legit (For Now): One of the more surprising performances of the weekend for me was Texas, who throughly manhandled a veteran Louisiana-Lafayette team that may end up winning the Sun Belt. Bijan Robinson ran through the Ragin' Cajuns on the ground, and explosive wide out Jordan Whittington killed them through the air as the Longhorns rolled to a 38-18 win. What was so impressive about the win is not just that Texas moved the ball so effectively and also played stingy defense. It's that they looked crisp, controlled, and disciplined. For so many years under Charlie Strong and Tom Herman, the Longhorns had loads of talent but seemed to forego the fundamental parts of game: not turning the ball over, committing penalties, poor special teams. This Texas team looked like a completely different team under Steve Sarkisian and his new staff. There will be people that criticize the fact it was "only a Sun Belt school" but this ULL team is a lot tougher team than the casual college football fan may handle, and the game was never really in doubt.

The next step for Texas is proving they can do it multiple weeks in a row. Next up is Arkansas, a team that plays a physical brand of football and should be ready to contain Robinson on the ground. That could put more pressure on quarterback Hudson Card, who will face the first road atmosphere of his young career. The fact that Oklahoma and Iowa State didn't exactly blow the doors of their Week One foes should be an extra motivator for a Texas program that always has conference titles on their mind.

FCS Over FBS Upsets: With primarily conference-only schedules being played and most FCS teams not even playing a fall season, we missed out on one of the funnest things of an early college football season: FCS teams pulling off upsets over FBS foes. There were several massive upsets over the weekend, including a ranked Washington team falling victim to Montana. Additionally, South Dakota State beat Colorado State, East Tennessee State beat Vanderbilt, UC Davis beat Tulsa, and Holy Cross beat UConn. These results served another reminder of how quality the talent is at the FCS level and the fact that the difference between FBS and FCS is not as much as you'd imagine. Don't be surprised if there's one or two next week as well, with my best bet being Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech. 

Coaching Carousel Begins to Spin: It's early September, and the 2021-22 coaching carousel has already begun to spin. UConn head coach Randy Edsall announced that he would be retiring at the season's end over the weekend then 24 hours later, he resigned effective immediately. It's not surprising considering how atrocious UConn has looked in their first two games of the season, but who would want that job right now? The Huskies don't even look like they want to be playing football anymore and it's not exactly easy to build a competitive football team in the Northeast at a basketball school. I have absolutely no idea which direction UConn goes in from here, but it's pretty amazing how far the program has descended after they were fairly respectable in the Big East during Edsall's first tenure as head coach.

Weekly Awards

Offensive Helmet Sticker: Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky

Bailey Zappe joined both his offensive coordinator and several other members from Houston Baptist in transferring to Western Kentucky over the off-season. Those HBU teams were infamous for explosive, aggressive passing offenses, which appears to be continuing at WKU. Zappe threw for 424 yards and a jaw-dropping seven touchdowns, while completing 80 percent of his passes. Sure, UT-Martin is not exactly the most difficult team the Hilltoppers will face in 2021, but it was the type of performance WKU and head coach Tyson Helton were looking for when they brought in Zappe and company.

Defensive Helmet Sticker: Riley Moss, CB, Iowa

Iowa at home was always going to be a tough matchup for Indiana to open the 2021 season, but I don't think many people expected the Hawkeyes to dominate the Hoosiers in quite the way they did. In addition to a strong offensive showing, the Hawkeye defense confused Michael Penix Jr. the entire sixty minutes, picking him off three times. Two of those three interceptions came from corner Riley Moss, who brought back a pair all the way to the house. It's hard enough for a defensive back to pick off two passes in a single game, but for both to be pick-sixes? Moss gets the nod as the first defensive helmet sticker of the young season.

Team of the Week: Alabama Crimson Tide

Miami may not end up being the most difficult test of the season for Alabama, but it was still awfully impressive how dominant the Tide looked in the opener. They looked dominant from the first minute on both sides of the ball, with a wide variety of big names getting in on the fun. Bryce Young had a tremendous debut as starting QB, former Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams emerged as the top wide out, and the stacked Tide linebacker corps shut down Miami all game long.

"Small School" Team of the Week: Montana Grizzlies

Montana has long been a respectable FCS program out of the Big Sky, but it was still quite the shocker that they were able to go into Husky Stadium and take down a Top 20 Washington squad. The Grizzlies never let Washington's offense get into any type of rhythm and turned over starting QB Dylan Morris three times. It could set up a special season for a Montana team that ranked second in the Big Sky preseason poll this fall, coming in just behind Weber State.

Current Rank                    Previous Rank (Preseason)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide    (2)

2. Georgia Bulldogs    (3)

3. Oklahoma Sooners    (1)

4. Ohio State Buckeyes    (4)

5. Cincinnati Bearcats    (8)

6. Oregon Ducks    (6)

7. Iowa State Cyclones    (7)

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish    (9)

9. Texas A&M Aggies    (11)

10. Clemson Tigers    (5)

11. Iowa Hawkeyes    (13)

12. USC Trojans    (12)

13. Penn State Nittany Lions    (16)

14. Texas Longhorns    (22)

15. Florida Gators   (14)

16. Arizona State Sun Devils    (20)

17. UNC Tar Heels    (10)

18. Liberty Flames    (21)

19. Miami Hurricanes    (15)

20. UCLA Bruins    (NR)

21. TCU Horned Frogs    (25)

22. Ole Miss Rebels    (NR)

23. Virginia Tech Hokies    (NR)

24. Wisconsin Badgers    (17)

25. Nevada Wolfpack    (NR)

Just Missed: Indiana Hoosiers, Utah Utes, Boston College Eagles, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, UCF Knights, Michigan Wolverines

Dropped Out: Indiana (19), Washington (23), LSU (24) 

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