NCAAF: Week 1 Rewind

NCAAF: Week 1 Rewind

Week 1 Rewind
By Brian Edwards

The best game of Week 1 was the last one played. On Monday night, UCLA started the Rick Neuheisel Era in style, capturing a 27-24 win over Tennessee in an overtime thriller. The Bruins cashed tickets as seven-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a plus 250 return (risk $100 to win $250).

UCLA’s juco-transfer QB Kevin Craft, who was thrust into the starting role after injuries to both Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan, shook off four first-half interceptions to perform masterfully at crunch time. Craft completed 18-of-25 passes for 189 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions in the second half.

With the Bruins trailing 21-17 with less than two minutes left, Craft drove his team down the field and connected with Ryan Moya for a three-yard TD pass with 27 seconds left.

However, Tennessee didn’t fold. UT junior QB Jonathan Crompton quickly guided the Vols into field-goal range. As time expired, Daniel Lincoln buried a 47-yarder to send the game to an extra session.

After UCLA’s Kai Forbath made a 42-yard field goal, Lincoln was wide right on a 30-yard attempt, giving the Bruins the victory in Neuheisel’s return to his alma mater.

Also on Monday, Fresno State flexed its muscle at Rutgers. Pat Hill’s program added to its road conquests against BCS schools with a 24-7 triumph as a 3 ½-point underdog. The Bulldogs cashed money-line tickets in the plus 145 range.

With Fresno’s win, my dubbing of the Bulldogs as 13th in my pre-season rankings appears justified. Now they get an open date before playing host to Wisconsin on Sept. 13. If FSU can beat the Badgers, they’ll be in a decent position to become the WAC’s sleeper candidate for a BCS berth like Boise St. in 2006 and Hawaii in 2007. (Road games at UCLA and Boise St. loom later, however.)

At the VI Seminar, I said Fresno was my top-rated non-BCS team and added that East Carolina was my second-rated non-BCS squad. The Pirates were also victorious in Week 1, beating Va. Tech by a 27-22 count as nine-point underdogs. ECU cashed money-line tickets that were slightly richer than plus 300 at most books.

Skip Holtz’s team now gets to host West Virginia this weekend. As of Tuesday morning, most spots had the Mountaineers marked as nine-point ‘chalk.’

Since 2003, USC has been notorious for coming to the East coast and dealing out pimpslaps. The Trojans gave out a bagel to Auburn on the Plains in 2003. They hung a 50-spot at Arkansas two seasons ago. In 2008, Pete Carroll’s team went into Charlottesville and spanked Virginia 52-7.

Mark Sanchez was brilliant as USC easily took the cash as a 19-point road favorite. The Trojans have an open date before hosting Ohio St. in Week 3.

Speaking of the Buckeyes, they won a 43-0 decision over Youngstown St. in a non-lined affair. The win was bittersweet, however, as Beanie Wells left the game with a foot/ankle injury. It is unclear when Wells will return, but he did not practice on Monday.

The fact that Alabama beat Clemson at the Georgia Dome wasn’t a big surprise. But the manner in which the Crimson Tide dealt out a 34-10 shellacking was a major shocker. Once again, the Tigers came up lame in a big game.

Even though Juice Williams threw for 451 yards and five TDs, Missouri beat Illinois 52-42 in St. Louis. Chase Daniel threw for 323 yards and three TDs, while Jeremy Maclin had 209 all-purpose yards. Maclin suffered a sprained ankle, but he might be able to play this week.

Utah stated its case as one of the premier non-BCS teams, ruining Rich Rodriguez’s debut at the Big House. The Utes collected a 25-23 victory as three-point underdogs.

Appalachian State couldn’t pull another shocker in Week 1 like it did at Michigan last season. The Mountaineers fell behind 31-0 at intermission and failed to give LSU a run for its money, losing 41-13 in Baton Rouge.

Florida didn’t have Cornelius Ingram, Percy Harvin or Brandon Spikes, all three of whom were tabbed as pre-season All-Americans. Nevertheless, the Gators dealt out woodshed treatment in a 56-10 home win over Hawaii as 35-point favorites.

Bowling Green pulled one of the week’s biggest upsets, knocking off Pittsburgh 27-17 as a 14-point underdog. Like Clemson, the Panthers failed to live up to their pre-season billing.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--As we gander ahead to Week 2, there aren’t too many eye-opening matchups. Here’s the best of the bunch:

1-West Virginia at East Carolina
2-Miami at Florida
3-Ole Miss at Wake Forest
4-Cincinnati at Oklahoma
(tie)5-Georgia Tech at Boston College
(tie)5-South Carolina at Vanderbilt

--You think the Gators want to beat up on Miami this weekend? They haven’t tasted victory against the Hurricanes since 1985.

--With Tommy Beecher unable to practice on Monday, gamblers should expect Chris Smelley to get the starting nod Thursday at Vandy.

--I’m still kicking myself for not pulling the trigger on a money-line play backing Utah. Ditto for a wager on Oklahoma State laying seven at Washington St. The Cowboys gave out a 39-13 clubbing in Seattle. I did go 6-1 in Week 1, though, so I’ll be ok. My lone loss? I loaded an ‘over’ play for Hawaii-Florida at 70 early in the week. The total actually closed at 64 and the final count was 66, so my pick-pack purchasers went undefeated. Here’s this week’s pick pack with (many) more selections to follow.

--Stats aside, I liked what I saw from LSU quarterback Andrew Hatch against App. St. The Tigers might be a lot better in 2008 than most of us have anticipated since the dismissal of Ryan Perrilloux. One thing is for certain: They have a nasty defense.

--Mississippi St. senior LB Jamar Chaney is out for the season after suffering a broken leg in Saturday's 22-14 loss at La. Tech. Chaney led the Bulldogs in tackles in 2007 and was a second-team All-SEC selection. That's a big blow to Sylvester Croom's team. Kudos to VI's James Manos, who called La. Tech's upset on last week's edition of the Power Hours.

--Alabama All-American OT Andre Smith is "questionable" for Saturday's home game against Tulane. Smith sprained his right knee against Clemson.

--If interested, you can check out my blog from Saturday. Also, here's my fresh version of the Top 30.

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