Florida is Back, Iowa Wins Ugly & Other Stories From College Football Week 1
Team of the Week
There were a few different squads in the running for my team of the week but ultimately I had to go with the Florida Gators. Not sure any other program in the country had to endure the type of season that the gators went through in 2021 as questions about character and toughness followed the gators all season ending with a 6-7 record and the firing of coach Dan Mullen. After a long off season, we got our first peek at the new look Florida Gators behind first year head coach Billy Napier in what was a thrilling 29-26 upset victory over #7 Utah in the swamp Saturday afternoon.
While not a complete surprise, as many people including myself went on record and picked the Gators to win outright, on paper this was an upset. Even though they were at home, the gators came into 2022 with lots of question marks, unranked and a 2.5 point underdog against the #7 Utes who were widely considered a dark horse contender for the college football playoff in 2022. This was a tough, hard fought back and fourth battle and there were many times in the game where it appeared the Utes were going to pull out the victory but the gators never went away as Anthony Richardson was that X factor gators fans were hoping he could be.
Richardson single handily kept the gators in the game all afternoon using both his arms and legs while making one electrifying play after another. Richardson would finish the game with 106 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground along with 168 yards passing on 17 of 24 attempts including a miraculous 2 point conversion that gave the gators a 22-19 lead in the 4th quarter
The Utes would come back late in the 4th to take a 26 - 22 lead behind a powerful run game that racked up 230 yards on the ground. The gators were quick to answer that score with a 14 play 75 yard drive that ended with an Anthony Richardson 1 yard TD run giving Florida a 29 - 26 lead with 1:25 left. It wasn't time to celebrate just yet as Utah drove all the way down to the Florida six-yard line looking to snatch victory right from the gators mouth but linebacker Amari Burney made a diving interception of a Cam Rising pass attempt in the end zone to seal the victory for the gators.
My Dawgs of the Week
No, I'm not talking about the Georgia Bulldogs here, even though they made easy work of the Oregon Ducks in a game I turned off by the 2nd quarter. I'm talking about some of the under dogs that pulled off outright wins in their season openers to get off to a great start to the 2022 season. There were a few teams that pulled off big victories on Saturday as underdogs but a couple stood out from the rest.
Syracuse(+5.5) 31 - Louisville 7
With Dino Babers on the hot seat heading into 2022, not sure anyone needed this victory more than Syracuse. The Orange came into this game with Louisville as a 5.5 underdog but made easy work of the Cardinals as Sean Tucker rushed for 98 yards and a TD while also pulling in 6 catches for 85 yards and another score. As great as this win was for Syracuse it was equally as bad for Louisville. This game was never close, and with a star at RB like Tucker, Syracuse could be a surprise team in the ACC. While Babers entered the season on the hot seat, looks like Louisville coach Scott Satterfield may be the one getting warm after this one.
Rutgers (+7.5) 22 Boston College 21
For the record, I picked Rutgers to win this game outright but somehow the odds makers had BC as a 7.5 favorite. Boston College Phil Jurkovec had all the hype entering the 2022 season but struggled to find any rhythm throwing 2 Interceptions and only completing 23 of 41 attempts for a 56% comp rate. With that being said, BC was able to maintain the lead for most of the game as Rutgers struggled to find much offense of their own. The eagles who led 21-12 in the 3rd and 21-15 in the 4th actually never trailed until Rutgers took the lead with 2:43 seconds left in the game. It was Rutgers RB AL- Shadee Salaam who broke free for a 22 yard touchdown late in the 4th quarter that gave Rutgers its first lead of the game and ultimately the win.
Arizona (+6) 38 San Diego State 20
It was a rough day overall for the Pac-12 with Utah and Oregon going down in marquee matchups to Florida and Georgia respectively but a bright spot for the league came from an unlikely team. The Arizona Wildcats who finished 1-11 in 2021 took on San Diego State who some experts felt could be the group of 5's 2022 version of Cincinnati. The Wildcats behind QB Jayden de Laura racked up 461 yards of total offense including 299 and 4 TD's through the air. Jacob Cowing was the main target for de Laura as the Wildcat receiver hauled in 8 catches for 152 yards and 3 touchdowns. This combination looks like it could be special and Arizona appears to be a team on the rise in the Pac-12.
Ugliest Win Award
Iowa 7 - South Dakota State 3
There is an old saying in coaching that a win is a win is win but not sure this qualifies. Iowa took its reputation of being offensively challenged to a new level yesterday as they only mustered 166 total yards in a 7-3 victory over South Dakota State. In the most bizarre stat line ever, the Hawkeye defense actually outscored its offense 4 - 3 but still managed to come away with the victory. Iowa kicked a field goal in the first half and had two safeties in the second half to secure the win. Similar to 2021, the Hawkeye defense and special teams will keep them in most games but at some point if they ever want to take the next step, they have to find a way to score points.
Charlotte we Have a Problem
UNC Charlotte 41 William & Mary 24
Its hard to remember a coach who was on the rise as fast as UNC Charlotte coach Will Healy. In 2017, Healy one of the youngest FBS coaches in the country, led Charlotte to a record 7 wins while advancing to the school’s first bowl game. Healy's name had been rumored to a handful of high profile openings over the past few seasons but after a 5-7 season in 2021 and an 0-2 start to 2022, Healy may not find himself in such high demand should the losses continue. After a season opening 43-13 loss to Florida Atlantic, the 49ers were blasted by FCS William & Mary 41-24 in their home opener. Charlotte gave up 559 yards of total offense in the loss which is concerning being that they still have games against Maryland, South Carolina & Western Kentucky.
Player of the Week
Will Rogers QB Mississippi State
Anytime you play QB in a Mike Leach offense you have a chance to put up some big numbers but I cant hold that against my week 1 player of the week Will Rogers. Rogers completed 38 of 49 passes for 450 yards and 5 touchdowns in a 49 - 23 win over Memphis. The 450 yards was a career high for Rogers, which was good enough to earn him the much coveted POW award.
I hope you enjoyed this week's recap and I look forward to connecting again next week. As always you can follow me on twitter @js_ace_football and can reach out to me by email email@example.com to discuss guest appearances, blog contributions and collaborations.