Clemson has the reputation of a program with big-time talent and underachieving results since winning the national title in 1981. Perhaps these Tigers are the real deal. They were terrific in week 1’s national showdown, beating Georgia 38-35.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 270 yards and three touchdown passes with no picks; tailback Roderick McDowell broke out with a 132-yard running game and star wideout Sammy Watkins had 127 yards in receptions.
Clemson might not have another stern test until an Oct. 19 home date with Florida State.
Tide’s uneven start
The two-time defending national champs got off to a deceptive start. Sure, Alabama will take a 35-10 win over short-handed Virginia Tech. But the Crimson Tide offense was inept, gaining 206 yards. A.J. McCarron completed 10 of 24 for 110 yards. They can thank Christion Jones, who took a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, returned a punt 54 yards for six and caught a 38-yard scoring toss.
Oh, the Bama defense can still deliver. And the Hokies’ Logan Thomas is still the most overrated QB in America. The Tide generated a defensive touchdown, and Thomas was abysmal, hitting 5 of 26 passes.
Yeah, yeah, Johnny Football is back and made an immediate pact, both good and bad. Manziel, after sitting out the first half to serve his suspension, threw just eight passes, completed six and three went for scores in Texas A&M’s 52-31 spanking of Rice.
But the Heisman Trophy winner from Kerrville continued to hurt his reputation by woofing at Rice players and getting a personal foul penalty. Manziel wouldn’t last five minutes with Nick Saban.
Score one for Big 12
Oklahoma State and the Big 12 drew first blood in their showdowns with the SEC — but not in the way you’d expect. The Cowboys went all SEC on Mississippi State, suffocating the Bulldogs 21-3 with defense and a punishing ground game. OSU had not one, but two 100-yard rushers, including spark plug QB J.W. Walsh, and out-rushed MSU 286 to 111. The Cowboys’ improved defense intercepted two passes and knocked QB Tyler Russell out of the game.
Granted, Mississippi State is not an upper-echelon SEC team. But beating anyone from that league (short of Kentucky) is an achievement.
But a black eye here
Iowa State didn’t do the league any favors by losing 28-20 to FCS foe Northern Iowa. RB David Johnson accounted for all four TDs and just shy of 200 rushing yards for the Panthers, who were 5-6 in 2012.
Also in the Big 12
Trevor Knight, Oklahoma’s new QB, ran for 103 yards and threw three TD passes in a 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe, a veteran team that averaged 37 points last year.
Bryce Petty made his Baylor starting debut and was 18 of 23 for 290 yards in a 69-3 smoking of Wofford. Lache Seastrunk had 11 carries for 111 yards and two TDs.
Could be a long year at West Virginia. The Mountaineers had to outscore Bill & Mary 17-0 in the second half to win 24-17. The Tribe, a I-AA team, was 2-9 last year.
We submit the name Vernon Adams as national player of the week. Who is Vernon Adams? A former 2-star recruit from Mission Hills, Calif., who plays quarterback for Eastern Washington. All he did against Oregon State was pass for 411 yards and four touchdowns and rush for 107 yards and two more TDs, leading the small-school Eagles to a stunning 49-46 upset of the Beavers.
Give it up for Mack
Mack Brown is still helping out his good buddy Will Muschamp at Florida. No, not THAT Mack Brown. The running back of the same name ran for 112 yards and two TDs in the Gators’ 24-6 win over Toledo.
Embarrassing result of the day for the big boys was South Florida’s 53-21 blowout loss to FCS opponent McNeese State. The Bulls scored first on an 80-yard run, then were outscored 41-0 by the Cowboys until late in the third quarter.
Those tough Bison
On the topic of I-AA powers, how about two-time defending national champ North Dakota State going into Manhattan late Friday and knocking off defending Big 12 champ Kansas State 24-21? Nothing fluky about it, either. The Bison outrushed the Wildcats 215-41. K-State QB Jake Waters, 21 of 29 for 280 yards, had a nice debut for the Cats.
And one more from late Friday … The ex-Lake Travis quarterbacks completed a staggering 84 of 122 passes for 801 yards with nary an interception in Texas Tech’s 41-23 win over SMU. Tech freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield was 43 of 60; Garrett Gilbert was 41 of 62.