Column: Opening weekend of college football lived up to the hype

Mason Tronsor

HEADLINE: Column: Opening weekend of college football lived up to the hype

SUBHEAD: Labor Day 2016 weekend saw underdogs win and powerhouses lose

BYLINE: Mason Tronsor

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This Labor Day weekend was arguably the most anticipated slate of college football games ever. No more ‘cupcake’ season openers (except Michigan and Michigan State. Sorry people, but its true).

From a top-ten team surviving an overtime thriller against a school who recently entered the ranks of Division I, to a second half comeback that included a 33-0 scoring run—college football is back. Here are the major takeaways from first wild week of college football.

Big Ten success a fluke

The Big Ten’s opening weekend of college football was highlighted by a monster upset, as the unranked Wisconsin Badgers took down the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Badgers were able to slow down the Tigers star running back Leonard Fournette.

The Big Ten conference stood strong, as only two teams lost their opening weekend games (Northwestern and Rutgers). The blue bloods of the conference did not impress due to the opponents they faced. Michigan State never broke free from FCS school Furman, while Ohio State and Michigan obliterated two average Div. I schools at best (Bowling Green State and Hawaii, respectively).

Watch out for Iowa who’s laying low in the weeds, waiting for its opportunity.

Alabama and the rest of the SEC

After week one it is fairly safe to say this is Alabama’s conference to lose.

After a 52-6 rout of USC, who is a respectable contender in the Pac-12 conference, the Crimson Tide seem to reload talent every season under Nick Saban. While ninth-ranked Tennessee surviving an overtime scare from Appalachian State and Georgia needing a freshman quarterback to save them from defeat, it seems like the Crimson Tide can only beat themselves.

Watch out for Florida and Ole Miss; two sleepers who could make life difficult for the defending national champions.

The new look Pac-12

Stanford, who brings back one of the front-runners to win the Heisman Trophy in Christian McCaffery, leads the Pac-12 conference—for now. Not too far behind the Cardinal is an upward trending Washington Huskies program, who recently cracked the top ten rankings. However, young teams like the Huskies look to be a year a way from winning the conference. Both UCLA and USC lost after the expectations were through the roof. Oregon will still be the high flying Ducks on offense, but I have one question: Where is the defense?

Mixed reviews towards the Big 12 and ACC

Texas received a much-needed overtime thriller victory over traditional power Notre Dame. However, one win does not prove anything. Oklahoma’s season took a turn for the worst after falling to college football sleeper Houston. Once again, one loss does not mean its over.

Clemson narrowly escaped a weak Auburn squad who cannot find a quarterback, while Florida State used a second half comeback for the ages to upstage Ole Miss in Orlando.

In the end, these four schools from both the Big 12 (Texas and Oklahoma) and the ACC (Clemson and Florida State) should determine their conference’s champions. However ACC needs to look out for upstart Louisville team, while Big 12 hopefuls Baylor and TCU are still in the fold with high-powered offenses.

Finally, rankings mean absolutely nothing

Today in college football, the only rankings that matter are the ones at the very end of the season. After three top-ten teams lost in the opening weekend, the rankings scattered like a group of ants running from water.

Two teams who did not start the season ranked advanced to the top 15 in the country after just one week (Wisconsin at No. 10 and Texas at No. 11), while four top ten teams dropped into the bottom half of the top 25. Tennessee didn’t lose and still dropped because of a poor performance in a win (from ninth to 17).

One thing we can be sure of is this: College football is back, and this was one of the more memorable entrances into a season.