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Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. McNeese State Cowboys Game Preview

After a 55-7 victory over Florida Atlantic, the Huskers are ready to take on the Cowboys of McNeese State. While Nebraska has a game under its belt so far, this weekend’s matchup is the season opener for the Cowboys.

The two programs have only ever met once before in 2002. In that matchup, the Huskers won 38-14. Twelve years later, Nebraska is ready to take on the Cowboys once again.

McNeese State finished 10-3 in 2013, while also making an appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, per Huskers.com. Additionally, the Cowboys return 16 starters.

Who will come away victories in this Week 2 matchup?


Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

When: Saturday, September 6 at 12 p.m. EST

Watch: ESPNU

Listen: Husker Sports Network or Sirius Channel 119, XM 203

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South Carolina State vs. Clemson Complete Game Preview

The Clemson Tigers will return to action this Saturday to take on the South Carolina State Bulldogs. The season opener left some Tigers fans in shock, but this week is an opportunity for Dabo Swinney and company to prove it was nothing more than a sloppy second-half performance.

The Tigers will look to get into the win column against a Bulldogs team that beat Benedict College 63-0 this past weekend. It was their seventh consecutive victory against Benedict, and now they will attempt to pull off an upset victory over Clemson.

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Clash of the Ball Boys: FSU's Red Lightning vs. Auburn's Blue Thunder

Ali versus Frazier. Palmer versus Nicklaus. Harper versus walls.

The sporting world is stuffed with more storied rivalries than a Greek epic, and every year a new crop of legends rise up to give us another marquee matchup.

We’re scarcely a breath into the 2014 college football season, and it may be said that we’ve already found the hulking, king-hell rivalry of the fall: Red Lightning versus Blue Thunder. 

For the college football agnostics, the two young men I speak of are the fleet-footed equipment managers of the Florida State and Auburn University football programs. They are the winged messengers—the sideline speed merchants scorching grass and turf alike as they go about the business of delivering pigskin and raising team morale.

Which is to say, they are ball boys. Fast, badass ball boys. 

First we must reacquaint ourselves with the senior statesman in this clash: Frankie “Red Lightning” Grizzle-Malgrat. 

The world first met Grizzle-Malgrat during the Seminoles’ march to the 2013 BCS title game.

Even the most disinterested eye couldn’t help but notice the red-headed hustle comet burning up the FSU sideline every Saturday, and it wasn’t long before the bearded maven was dubbed “Red Lightning” by Florida State fans.

Put simply, Red Lightning became the Robin to Jameis Winston’s Batman. 

Thus Grizzle-Malgrat reigned over the NCAA, appropriating a spot as the Usain Bolt of ball boys and ending his breakout year with a BCS title win over Auburn in January.

That reign is being threatened, however, and the heir apparent to Red Lightning’s throne is Jack “Blue Thunder” Longenecker, a sophomore equipment manager at Auburn who dropped jaws around the SEC on Saturday when he toasted a khaki trail down the sideline alongside Tigers wideout Melvin Ray. 

Longenecker’s big debut came on Ray’s 49-yard touchdown catch against Arkansas. The wide receiver snagged the ball, shed a Razorback defender and screamed up field for God’s country.

The only person with a chance of catching Ray was Longenecker, who came sprinting down the Razorbacks' sideline, closing distance like a khaki-panted puma and striding with the wideout for several seconds.

Now we come to a quandary: Who is the NCAA’s “It Boy” in the field of equipment management? Who is the Ball Man on Campus? 

In the name of discerning this all-important truth, I’ve put together a highly scientific rating system comparing the two in a number of salient ball-boy categories.

Let’s start with the most obvious:


1. Speed

Red Lightning: Grizzle-Malgrat is what I like to call “nimbly-bimbly.” 

That is to say, he’s not a thoroughbred as much as he’s a do-it-all beast of burden. At 5’7”, Red Lightning wasn’t built for breakaway speed, but rather the rough-and-tumble life of a ball boy behind enemy lines.

As he proved against Oklahoma State on Saturday, you could send Red Lightning into the jungle butt-naked and he'd walk out the other side wearing a leopard suit. He is more than comfortable in hostile territory.

Blue Thunder: Longenecker is a pure burner. 

In a simple, A-to-B race, Auburn’s equipment manager is winning nine out of 10 times against Red Lightning—an ironic matter considering his past.

A former high school football player, Longenecker told The War Eagle Reader’s Jeremy Henderson that his high school coach once told him he couldn’t play running back because he wasn’t fast enough 

“I said ‘I want to play running back because it was the easiest practice,” Longenecker told Henderson in a recent interview. “And he said, ‘No, Jake. You’re too slow for that.’”

Advantage: Blue Thunder.


2. Facial Hair

Red Lightning: A key facet of being a ball boy at the college level is having thick, luxurious facial hair. Behold its power below, as Grizzle-Malgrat talks with ESPN's Colin Cowherd:

Blue Thunder: N/A. 

Longenecker is a young warthog. He still has time to cultivate a fine face pelt.

Advantage: Red Lightning.


3. Swagger

Red Lightning: No one can pimp a chest rug quite like Red Lightning, as The Tuscaloosa News' D.C. Reeves tweets:

Blue Thunder: Considering his nubile existence in the national eye, we only have a small sample of Longenecker’s personality to work with.

What I do know is that he rocked a subtle fist pump after Ray's touchdown and looked more than ready to provide an additional chest bump if needed:

Advantage: Red Lightning.


4. Intangibles

Red Lightning: There are too many to name—the foremost being his giving nature and paternal protectiveness for his players.


Blue Thunder: He has a determination to run fast everywhere.

“We like to go fast as possible, just like our offense," Longenecker told Henderson. “We have to be ready to give the ball to the refs at all times."

Advantage: Red Lightning.


5. Team Spirit

Red Lightning: You’d be hard pressed to find a non-player who puts a bigger smile on Seminoles fans’ faces than Red Lightning. He’s like the Yukon Cornelius of Tallahassee.

Blue Thunder: Again, we’re working with a small subset of data on Longenecker, so we’re still waiting for him to command War Eagle VII to swoop down and scoop out Nick Saban's eyes. 

Advantage: Red Lightning.


Final Tally: Red Lightning 4, Blue Thunder 1. 

There you have it, folks. Red Lightning won this one in a landslide. He has the portfolio and tenure. It's difficult to compete with a curriculum vitae that includes an image of this magnitude.

In any case, the season is young, and I fully expect Longenecker to take his game to the next level as the weeks pass.

It’s a breakout year for Blue Thunder, and the nation could very well see a ball boy showdown come the playoffs. Should an FSU-Auburn rematch come to pass, keep one eye on the sideline. That’s where the real stars ply their trade. 


Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.


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Miami vs. Louisville: Live Score and Highlights

Miami 7, Louisville 7—Early 2nd Quarter

The Miami Hurricanes are battling the Louisville Cardinals, capping Week 1 of the 2014 college football season in style.

ESPN is carrying the ACC clash. Bleacher Report will provide live scoring updates and in-game analysis throughout the contest. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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6 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

Another weekend of high school football action provided plenty of highlights across the country. Several collegiate prospects elevated their efforts, compiling impressive statistics along the way.

Each week here at Bleacher Report, we review premier performances by top recruits. Here's the latest look at those who stepped up during the final slate of August matchups.


4-star tight end Hale Hentges (Jefferson City, Missouri)

The Alabama commit established a new Helias High School receptions record, catching five passes for 94 yards in a 52-14 win over Hannibal, per Tom Rackers of the News Tribune. Hentges, rated fourth nationally among tight ends in 247Sports' composite rankings, surpassed his uncle's total.

“They all count the same,” he told Rackers. “We know Hannibal is a very good team and we expected a battle from the very beginning. But we just got hot right at the start of the game. We got on a roll and we overwhelmed them.”

Hentges caught 61 passes for 940 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.


4-star quarterback Brady White (Newhall, California)

The 6'2", 190-pound passer posted a memorable performance in a season-opening loss. Though his team fell 63-48 in a shootout, White set a Hart High School record by throwing for 537 yards, per Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.

He tossed six touchdowns in the process, giving him 71 career scoring strikes. Rated third nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings, White builds off a 4,500-yard, 41-touchown effort in 2013.

The Arizona State commit connected with 4-star receiver Trent Irwin on 10 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. The Sun Devils remain in the mix for his commitment, which would keep their connection in place.


3-star defensive end Rick Wade (Rancho Santa Margarita)

Wade, who committed to UCLA in July, dominated the trenches in a 26-21 win over Bishop Amat High School. The 6'6", 225-pound prospect punished opponents while piling up 13 tackles and a sack, per Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.

Wade, who also holds offers from Wisconsin, USC and Washington, helped Santa Margarita Catholic halt a final drive by Bishop Amat in the red zone to lock down the victory.


3-star running back Aca’cedric Ware (Cedar Hill, Texas)

The Cedar Hill High School playmaker came up big in the opening game of his squad's bid for a state championship repeat. Ware carried the ball 23 times for 193 yards and four touchdowns, per Corbett Smith of The Dallas Morning News.

Cedar Hill surged to a 56-34 victory over South Oak Cliff High School. Ware helped the team score on all but two possessions during the contest, gaining nearly nine yards per carry.

He committed to USC in June. His other offers include Iowa, Oklahoma and Ohio State.


4-star RB Jordan Scarlett (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Scarlett, who transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas High School for his senior season, lived up to the hype Friday evening. He rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-7 victory over defending state champion American Heritage High School, per Daniel Flynn of FanSided150.com.

Rated seventh nationally among running backs in 247Sports' composite rankings, his commanding effort included a 63-yard score in the first half. Scarlett committed to Miami in July after backing off a verbal pledge to FAU.


5-star quarterback Blake Barnett (Corona, California)

The Alabama commit came out firing in his season opener, completing 18 of 30 pass attempts in a 47-21 victory over Redlands High School, per Drew Champlin of AL.com. Barnett buried the opposing defense with 311 passing yards and a touchdown.

Rated No. 1 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, he also flashed rushing skills that set him apart in a talented crop of California quarterbacks. Barnett rushed for 83 yards and another score.

His pledge to the Crimson Tide came just weeks after he decommitted from Notre Dame.


Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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BYU Football: 4 Lessons Learned from Blowout Win over UConn

BYU left the East Coast last Friday with a huge 35-10 win to kick off the 2014 season. Led by a monster game from quarterback Taysom Hill, the Cougs quickly built a three-possession lead, and UConn never recovered.

Although BYU has a huge game at Texas this weekend, it's never bad to look back at the previous week's game. There are many lessons to be learned from Friday's victory, and here are four of them.

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UCLA vs. Memphis Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 6, 10 p.m. ET

WHERE: Rose Bowl Stadium; Pasadena, California

TV: Pac-12 Networks


No. 7 UCLA seeks to shake off the cobwebs from its lackluster Week 1 performance when it opens its 2014 home slate on Saturday against Memphis.

The Bruins survived a 28-20 scare on the road at Virginia on Saturday, scoring just one offensive touchdown in the win.

UCLA got what it wanted against the Cavaliers, which head coach Jim Mora explained, per Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times (subscription required).  

“The goal in a first game which is the goal of any game, but certainly the first one, is to win," Mora said. "We met that objective."

The Bruins can meet their objective to win once more in Week 2 to head into a highly anticipated Week 3 showdown with Texas. But don’t expect UCLA to overlook visiting Memphis—particularly after the close call to open the season.

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UCLA vs. Memphis Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 6, 10 p.m. ET WHERE: Rose Bowl Stadium; Pasadena, California TV: Pac -12 Networks No...

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Weeks 2 and 3 Will Decide Alabama QB Battle Once and for All

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Despite Blake Sims’ solid showing in his full-time Alabama quarterback debut, the Crimson Tide’s quarterback race is far from over.

Sims played every meaningful snap against West Virginia, throwing for 250 yards and rushing for 42 more in the win while managing Alabama’s efficient, ball-control offense that had possession for nearly 38 minutes and produced 538 total yards.

However, Alabama coach Nick Saban said on Monday that there is still very much a competition under center.

“I still don’t hesitate to say that there’s a quarterback competition,” Saban said. “And in some way, we’ll probably try to play both quarterbacks in this game. I don’t know how. When I figure it out, I’m probably not going to tell you. But I don’t know that it’s that important, to be honest with you.”

That’s a far cry from his strategy against West Virginia, where Sims played all but the final two snaps. Jacob Coker handed to Kenyan Drake twice once the game was out of reach.

Now, it looks like Coker will get his chance to prove what he can do in the offense before a final decision is made on the full-time starter.

So what to make of this new revelation?

For one, Sims playing just about the entire season opener was likely more about the short than the long term.

Saban wanted to go with the guy he knew he could trust at that moment in time. That was Sims, who has been in the system for four years going on five. Sims got to work through spring practice essentially as the starter and knows what’s expected of quarterbacks under Saban.

That, combined with his teammates’ trust and confidence in him, gave him the nod for that game.

“Blake Sims is a very good leader, he’s a very big part of what we have,” guard Arie Kouandjio said on Monday. “We have a lot of older guys on this team, Blake being one of them, and when you’ve been here for a while, sometimes you have to step up. I feel like Blake does his part.”

When it turned out that the game was close for much of the contest—and it wasn’t exactly the offense’s fault—the signal-caller role stayed with Sims. That, as much as anything, showed which guy Saban trusts at this point in time.

To Coker’s credit, fullback Jalston Fowler said he handled watching from the sidelines well.

“He didn't complain,” Fowler said. “Just kept a straight face and kept moving.”

The decision to extend the competition, though, is about the long term.

Alabama’s next two games are at home against Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss. As much as Saban won’t admit it, these are games that give a coach a little more leeway in terms of personnel management and trying new things.

In 2011, when AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims went toe-to-toe for the starting job, Alabama had the luxury of a home opener against Kent State before traveling to Penn State for the first truly competitive game of the year.

In that Kent State game, McCarron and Sims split reps pretty evenly before Saban settled on McCarron in a game where he needed someone he could trust.

It’s almost the opposite of what’s happening now.

The Crimson Tide now have two games where they can sit back and better evaluate Sims and Coker without the added stress of having to worry too much about actually having to win the game. That likely won't come until September 20, when Florida visits Bryant-Denny Stadium.

This benefits Coker, who still hasn’t taken meaningful game snaps since high school. It’s hard to truly analyze Alabama's quarterback competition without having seen him play, and any speculation on how Coker would have performed on Saturday is just that.

He’ll get his chance on Saturday, though. At this time next week, Alabama’s quarterback race could look markedly different.


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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How Houston Cougars Can Salvage 2014 Season After Abysmal Loss to UTSA

The University of Houston opened its brand-new stadium the worst way possible last Friday night. The Cougars were shellacked by the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners in front of the largest home-campus crowd in UH history.

The Cougars were soundly whipped in all facets of the game. Down 14-0 after the first half, UTSA put Houston away on the opening drive of the second and went on to coast to a 27-7 victory at TDECU Stadium.

Despite the devastating loss, Houston fans remain hopeful head coach Tony Levine and the Coogs can work out the kinks—and they were plentiful—before Houston begins American Athletic Conference play in October against defending champion Central Florida.

Here are three critical elements Levine and company must greatly improve.

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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Complete Game Preview

After escaping its season opener in Baltimore with a closer-than-the-final-score-indicated 34-17 win over Navy, the Ohio State football team heads home to Columbus for one of its premiere games of the 2014 season.

Virginia Tech may not be of the Michael Vick/Bryan Randall/Tyrod Taylor variety this season, but as an opponent from the ACC, the Hokies do possess perhaps the most talent the Buckeyes will face until they begin Big Ten play. Add in that Ohio State itself still faces several questions following its meeting with the Midshipmen, and the intrigue of this Saturday's game in Ohio Stadium is obvious.

How will redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett fare in the second start of his college career? What will Virginia Tech look like against a big-time Division I program after beating subdivision opponent William & Mary last weekend? How will Ohio State's revamped pass defense perform against the Hokies' pass-heavy offense?

All of these questions—and more—will be answered on Saturday, when two power conference teams meet in what could be a season-defining game for each. Until then, here's everything you need to know heading into the Buckeyes' prime-time matchup with Virginia Tech. 


Date: Saturday, Sept. 6

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Place: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio


Radio: Ohio State Football Radio NetworkVirginia Tech IMG Sports Network

Spread: Ohio State (-11), via Odds Shark

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USC vs. Stanford Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 6, 3:30 p.m. ET WHERE: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California TV: ABC The Steve Sarkisian era of USC football began with a bang in a 52-13 rout of Fresno State Saturday...

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan Wolverines Complete Game Preview

Notre Dame welcomes Michigan to South Bend in the last scheduled matchup between college football's two most winningest programs. In a series that's been filled with close games—and mostly heart-breaking losses for the Irish—of late, Notre Dame set a rare primetime kickoff for this "final" battle. (Final, at least, until the two schools kiss and make up.)

With that reconciliation not coming any time soon, this is all we'll be getting in a rivalry that may not fit the definition in terms of familiarity but certainly does in contempt. 

Michigan coach Brady Hoke may have opened 2014 on the hot seat, but he's beaten Brian Kelly in three out of four, including last year's 41-30 win in Ann Arbor in front of a record crowd of 115,109. Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner and receiver Jeremy Gallon carried the day, torching the Irish secondary. 

To add a little salt in the wound, the "Chicken Dance" blared over the stadium sound system, a less-than-subtle jab at Notre Dame, who Hoke accused of "chickening out" of the series during the summer booster club circuit. That hasn't been forgotten in South Bend. 

Let's get you ready for Notre Dame-Michigan.


Date: Saturday, Sept. 6

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Place: Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana 


Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129

Spread: Notre Dame by 4.5, according to Odds Shark.

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Melvin Gordon Injury: Updates on Wisconsin Star's Hip and Return

Melvin Gordon was mysteriously absent for most of the second half of Wisconsin's loss to LSU Saturday, and coach Gary Andersen says an injury is to blame.       

A preseason Heisman favorite, Gordon finished the game with 16 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown with a cool 8.8 yards-per-carry average, but Andersen now says he came up limp on a 63-yard scamper, as captured by Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin:

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman points out that Gordon was still in on passing downs at one point:

Andersen went on to speak critically as to the questions surrounding Gordon's usage:

Gordon, who came back to school in order to pursue a Big Ten title and perhaps a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff, is obviously a major loss. Last season when finally given the reins, he rushed 206 times for 1,609 yards and 12 scores.

The good news for Wisconsin to counteract the loss of a player and major game is twofold. For one, the upcoming schedule is rather easy thanks to encounters with Bowling Green and South Florida in the coming weeks.

Secondly, Wisconsin is known for churning out quality pro offensive linemen and posting gaudy rushing totals. There is little doubt that Corey Clement (45 yards and a touchdown Saturday, 547 and seven on an 8.2 average last year) and versatile quarterback Tanner McEvoy (six carries for 40 yards Saturday) can produce on the ground in Gordon's absence.

Speaking of McEvoy, Feldman's earlier point makes sense as Gordon is the team's best pass-blocker, so that is where the staff will miss him most as the team breaks in a new starter under center.

While the severity of the injury is unknown, the program is built to thrive despite injuries at the position. The staff would prefer if Gordon returns before the Big Ten opener against Northwestern in early October, but either way the offense should move right along.


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Miami Hurricanes Fan Paints School Logo on His Lawn

Some people show their team allegiance with wedding cakes, others just use their yard.

A Miami Hurricanes fan showed just how much he loved the school by painting a humongous "U" on his lawn.


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How Week 1 College Football AP Poll Would Look If There Weren't a Preseason Poll

The first regular-season edition of the 2014 Associated Press Top 25 poll is set to be released on Tuesday, encompassing the results of the first week of action in relation to how teams were rated in the preseason poll.

But just like George Bailey wondered how things would be different if he were never born in It's a Wonderful Life, we can't help but speculate how the AP Top 25 would shake out if this first in-season ranking was, indeed, the actual first ranking of the season.

Pretty darn different, for sure.

Without a preseason poll, voters would be forced to base more on the opening week's results and not have the backup of a baseline ranking. There would likely still be a bias toward teams who were good the year before and received lots of offseason hype, but at the same time a perceived power who struggled in its first game wouldn't automatically remain high in the poll just because it won.

It would almost be like a poll put together by a committee of people whose job is to determine which teams are the best in the country, not the most well-regarded. Such a ranking could maybe be used to select, say, a four-team playoff?

With all of that in consideration, here's how we think the Week 1 AP poll would look if it didn't have a preseason version to build from:

Looks quite different, huh?

That's because this first poll would be truly a result of first impressions, how those opening-week results made the teams look. Consideration would be made for the opponent, but with so many high-profile schools opening against cupcakes, a runaway victory wouldn't hold as much weight as a solid win over a quality foe.

Because of that, some teams' spot in the poll would be much different than in the actual poll, the one influenced by a preseason ranking:



The No. 1 team in the country should be the team that's considered the best in the land. And based on the first week of 2014, it's hard to argue that Georgia wouldn't be deserving of that spot if outside influences weren't involved.

The Bulldogs were masterful on offense and surprisingly dominant on defense in their 45-21 win over Clemson, particularly in the second half when they limited Clemson to just 15 yards and one first down.

But even without that defensive effort it would be hard not to be high on Georgia with the way it ran the ball and with how absolutely electrifying junior running back Todd Gurley (198 rushing yards, 100-yard kickoff return TD, four total touchdowns) looked.

While Georgia coach Mark Richt might not be convinced after one game, telling Marc Weiszer of the Athens Herald-Banner, "I don't know how good we are, quite frankly," the voters would say otherwise. Several national experts have the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff after Week 1, Weiszer noted, and voters would likely follow suit with that nod.


Texas A&M

When scanning through resumes, it's often the first and last ones read that make the most lasting impressions. Texas A&M was part of the season's first big game back on Thursday night, but we're still talking about that runaway 52-28 win at South Carolina.

Much like how Florida State had an untested quarterback heading into its season opener the year before—which happened to be the final game of the first week, for the record—A&M came in with a big offensive question mark regarding how sophomore Kenny Hill would fare as the successor to Johnny Manziel.

The answer? Quite well, thank you very much.

Hill threw for a school-record 511 yards and four touchdowns, looking nothing like a guy making his first career start, let alone one doing so on a national stage in a stadium where a visiting team hadn't won in nearly three years. Throw in a seemingly unlimited supply of skill weapons and a defense that at least has a clue how to slow a team down, and after one week the Aggies will have gone from an enigma to a legitimate contender.


Florida State

In the real world, the preseason No. 1 tends to stay in that spot until it loses. But in a land without early projections, even the defending champs have to put up a good result in their opener to be worthy of the top spot.

Florida State did not look like the best team in the country in its 37-31 win over Oklahoma State, not with a suspect running game and a quarterback whose late-game exploits were almost overshadowed by his early miscues. And because of that, the Seminoles wouldn't be No. 1 in the first poll.

Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde wrote that "the defending national champions escaped with the desired result but some undesirable play that will keep them grounded going forward," a fancy way of saying that a win is a win. Improvement will be needed, and voters will echo that opinion with their ballots. 



The Crimson Tide weren't expected to be tested much in their opener game against West Virginia, but instead had themselves a tight game that sparked more questions than it did provide answers. While the closeness of the 33-23 win will no doubt help Alabama in the long run, in the short term it will mean having its lowest ranking in several years.

There were so many standout team performances during Week 1 that voters will be hard-pressed to put the Tide in the Top Five, where they've more or less gone in on a timeshare under Nick Saban. But no team that was abused in the secondary as much as 'Bama, which allowed West Virginia's Clint Trickett to throw for 365 yards, is deserving of a high ranking this early.



After one game, many voters will already be convinced that Charlie Strong's will has been imposed at Texas. Ignoring the fact that it was against North Texas, a box score that shows the opponent had 94 total yards and the Longhorns registered six sacks and four interceptions will hold more weight than whom it was against.

Texas might end up a little lower, though, depending on how voters take Monday's news that quarterback David Ash would once again miss time because of a head injury, according to Jim Vertuno of The Associated Press. Not having Ash available for Saturday's visit from BYU could impact that result, but since this opening poll would reflect how teams have looked to this point rather than how they'll end up, it might not have an effect yet on their ranking.



The blue bloods of college football tend to get the benefit of the doubt at the start of each season, regardless of how they performed the year before. It's likely why Florida nearly opened 2014 in the preseason rankings, despite a 4-8 record last season, and why Michigan had 19 voters in that initial poll despite looking very bad down the stretch in 2013 en route to a 7-6 record.


And with that in mind, a runaway win in Week 1 by a traditional power will tend to be given far more weight than a strong effort by a lower-profile team, no matter whom it was against.

Michigan looked great in crushing Appalachian State, but odds are most teams would have beat the FCS-newcomer Mountaineers as convincingly. Why the Wolverines will get extra credit for the performance, though, is because of how it compared to results in 2013 when their offense sputtered and stalled more often than it excelled.


It's the power conferences that get most of the attention—and by definition, most of the accolades—but voters who pay attention to all of the results might use those final spots in their ballot to reward teams who surprised with how great they looked in their openers.

Teams like Arizona, Temple and UTSA all had big wins in Week 1, earning them enough nods to crack the first Top 25. Of that trio, though, Temple would draw the most attention because of how superior it looked in its 37-7 win at Vanderbilt and because the Owls were 2-10 a year ago.

That 30-point margin might be more an indication of how bad Vandy is than how improved the Owls are, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be worthy of a token ranking.


Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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