The first two weeks of the 2014 college football season has already come and gone (fast huh?), giving us a few surprises, highlight reel plays, and storylines to follow as the season progresses. Some players have already shown to exceed expectations placed on them, increasing draft stock as well as the play of their team overall. One conference has shown to be on the decline while another made a huge statement week two. Finally, a former power of college football has made a statement to the rest of the nation that it will be back, and back sooner than some would have thought.
When Everett Golson was taking the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the National Championship game, some wondered if they were winning in spite of their young QB. After he was suspended, question was raised if he would start when he came back, and if he deserved to both on and off the field. After taking his punishment and returning to the team this year, Golson has taken the reigns of this team and pushed them to the same National Championship level they were at two years ago. In Notre Dame’s two games, Golson is 37 of 56 (66%) for 521 yards, 5 TDs and 0 Ints. The most telling stat however is that Notre Dame has outscored their opponents 79-17. Golson is the real deal, and people can either accept it now or wait for the bandwagon later.
-Big Ten is full of teams that have not adjusted to the evolution of college football
As good a day that the ACC had, the Big 10 had that horrible of a day. The day started off in crises mode when Nebraska was tied with McNeese St, 24-24 with less than a minute left. That crisis was averted when Ameer Abdullah took a screen pass 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown. After that Ball State took Iowa to the last minute before the Iowa Hawkeyes came away with the win. Unfortunately, a winning result could not said for Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State. All four of what would be claimed to be the Big Ten’s “Better teams” failed to deliver for not only them, but their conference.
Part of the reason for this conferences decline can be attributed to their tradition being so rooted that they are almost easy to gameplan for. Most of the teams in this conference have played roughly the same way for years, if not decades. It appears at times that all of the innovation and evolution that has happened to college football over the past decade has completely been ignored by the Big Ten. Until their teams can get with the times and out of the dark ages, they will continue to struggle when facing teams that are outside the conference.
We may have made a case why is Everett Golson is a top QB prospect, but lets make it clear that Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is THE top QB prospect. Everything he does is crisp and every game appears to have gained that much more knowledge of the game and how to be that much more successful. This year he has gone 31 of 48 (64.6%) 585 yards with 6 TDs and 0 Ints. Marcus Mariota may need an offense that can spread the ball around and push it vertical, but he is a polished NFL QB right now. The sky is the limit for the Oregon Duck.
For all the glitz and glamour that the University of Southern California may produce, they have also produced some of the greatest powerhouses in NCAA history. After going through the turmoil of the Reggie Bush scandal, Pete Carroll leaving, NCAA sanctions, and the tenure of Lane Kiffin, the Trojans may finally be on the road back to dominance. In their first game against Fresno State, USC ran over 100 plays in a crushing 52-13 win. The word was out that Southern Cal had finally adapted to the spread uptempo offense craze sweeping the world. The only question would be if they could handle their first big test against conference rival #13 Stanford. This team, still recovering from NCAA sanctions only suited up 57 of 64 players, with many being injured or fairly young inexperience players. Still, they managed to escape the tough road test with a 13-10 win. It may not be the dominance of their first game, but USC gained a lot of confidence that they can compete with anybody on their schedule. The most horrifying question the rest the nation now all has to ask themselves, “ What happens when USC gets back to full strength health/scholarship wise”?
With all the top teams and players doing what they were supposed to, one whole conference has managed to stay under the radar while making the biggest statement. The ACC managed to go 11-0 for the day, a record for the conference besting their old record of 8-0 in non-conference games. It seems as though every year the ACC is disregarded as teams who have “good teams, but not elite championship teams”. With defending National Champion Florida State looking to repeat, the ACC posting numbers like this has to do nothing but help the Seminoles chances of at least making the playoffs. Last year Florida State had to go underfeated to make it to the National Championship. If the ACC keeps improving and building on their record day, Florida State could find themselves in the position of not needing an unblemished record to compete for another National Championsip.