Week Zero of College Football Was More Surprising Than We Expected

OK, fine. Maybe by “we” I mean “I”.

Or maybe you expected Hawai’i or Rice to play the way they did?

Yesterday sure started off predictable, at least.

As I mentioned in the short preview, this marked the first time in seven years that UMass won their home opener and it was their first opening-game win in the same span.

UMass did just about whatever they wanted to the overmatched Dukes, as Andrew Ford and Ross Comis combined for 290 yards and four touchdowns on only 19 completions, while Bilal Ally and Marquis Young racked up 199 yards and two touchdowns on another 14 touches.

No, this game didn’t tell us an incredible ton about UMass that would be particularly useful in assessing their potential performance against Boston College.

However, it’s sure nice to see the team handle their business and not open the season trying to avoid a losing streak for once.

Rice, on the other hand, is probably about to begin a very long losing streak.

if yesterday’s performance is a sign of where the team is truly at, we’ve now got really strong odds of a 1-11 season.

The Owls played well enough early on, and charged out to a 19-7 lead with about four minutes left in the first half.

Before you knew it, they were down 21-19 at halftime, and they didn’t take the lead again until Jack Fox’s game-winning field goal with two seconds left.

It’s not that we had super-high hopes for the Owls; I personally had them going 3-9 in a best-case scenario. Yesterday showed there’s a lot of work to do for Coach Bloomgren.

We already know that Houston will be no match for them, and after yesterday, neither will Hawai’i. It could be a while before they’re even competitive again.

Hawai’i is truly riding high and could surprise a lot of people.

Many folks talked about Hawai’i needing to settle on a quarterback early on and getting him to produce some plays in order to stay in this game.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Cole McDonald.

Cole threw for 418 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for another 96 yards and two touchdowns. Let’s also take a second to appreciate those dreadlocks.

Sure, the defense struggled as K.J. Carta-Samuels eventually got his feet under him, but I’m not sure this defense is used to playing from ahead in general, let alone protecting a 30-point lead like the one they had in the third quarter yesterday.

These ‘Bows had two fourth-quarter red-zone drives stall out and turn into field goals and still managed to hang 43 points on Colorado State.

I don’t think that’s nearly as impressive as it would be against Wyoming or Boise’s defense, but that’s an accomplishment against just about anyone.

Both of these teams will play better defenses (and offenses) as the season goes on, but they were much more closely matched than I expected. We’ll see in the coming weeks which team that statement says more about.

Speaking of Wyoming’s defense…

Holy crap.

It’s hopefully a growth experience for this New Mexico State offense that they were finally able to put together a scoring drive against the Cowboys as the game came to a close.

The Aggies didn’t get their first first down of the game until the next-to-last snap of the first half, and that scoring drive in the closing minutes was their first trip across midfield.

I will say that I expected Wyoming to win this game, but I definitely did not expect the Aggie offense to struggle this much, nor did I expect Wyoming to have so much success running the ball.

Nico Evans is for real, in a “might lead the conference in rushing” kind of way. They’ll need to find a passing offense eventually to truly contend, but that defense is going to win a lot of games for them.

NEXT UP: 

New Mexico State will play on the road at Minnesota on Thursday night! Yikes.

September 1st will see UMass heading to Boston College, Rice hosting Houston, Hawai’i hosting Navy, Colorado State facing Colorado in Denver, and Wyoming hosting Washington State.

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