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HomeAfricaGeorgia sends a strong message (college football winners and losers)

Georgia sends a strong message (college football winners and losers)


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On the weekend of Labor Day, Georgia dominated a well-known foe in an NFC South arena. With just one blip — against a squad the Bulldogs subsequently teamed up with to win the national championship — it continued until January.

The defense of Georgia

In 2021, the defense of Georgia wasn’t just a given. The Sure Thing, indeed. And the following Saturday? Yes, everything appears to be very much the same.

In a 49-3 thrashing of Oregon, a team led by former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, the Bulldogs did about everything right. The person who would have been on the bench of Georgia a year ago was the only one who could have any idea of what lay in store in Atlanta.

Aggression of Georgia

It wasn’t really just a defensive effort. On each of its first seven possessions, Georgia scored a touchdown. Stetson Bennett IV completed 368 passes for 368 yards and two scores. The Bulldogs gained 9.2 yards per play on average and converted 9 of 10 third downs.

Winning moment of Georgia

However, Oregon only managed a field goal and, thanks to a 100-yard fourth quarter, increased their overall yardage to a respectable (313 yards). And even then, with fewer than two minutes left in the game, Georgia managed a fourth-down stand inside its five even with the backups playing during garbage time.

The program of Georgia depends on defense, regardless of the numbers or the Bulldogs’ losses to the NFL. In any of the previous six seasons, it hasn’t given up more than 20 points a game. In the Kirby Smart era (beginning in 2016), its total defense rankings were 16th, 6th, 13th, 3rd, 12th, and 2nd.

Even though it is usually foolish to make too many assumptions after the first game. It seems defense of Georgia is still something to consider it seriously. It’s comforting to have something to bank on in a sport when there aren’t many guarantees. After that redesigned unit’s impressive start, Bulldogs supporters undoubtedly share those sentiments.

Arizona (The Victorious)

The Wildcats have not had much success in this spot in recent years. They suffered seven straight losses to end the season in 2019, went 0-5 following the pandemic-shortened season to force Kevin Sumlin to resign. And then went 1-11 in Jedd Fisch’s first season last year.

In other words, expectations couldn’t be that high for a club that entered its first game against San Diego State having dropped 23 of its previous 24 contests.

Instead, Arizona defeated Southern California 38-20 before leaving the state. Jayden de Laura, a transfer from Washington State, completed passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Jacob Cowing. Additionally, the Aztecs were limited to 62 passing yards and barely four yards per play by the Wildcats’ defense. Which quietly improved from continuously bad to decent at least half the time last season.

Arizona’s Visit

Over the long run, this doesn’t give any guarantee. Next week, FCS power North Dakota State will visit, followed by Mississippi State (a striking example of administrative malpractice in Tucson when the game was agreed to five years ago since the Bison are 6-0 against FBS teams since 2010).

However, it’s a start, and it’s a lot better than the desperation that has surrounded Arizona’s program ever since the pandemic began. There are more nuances of grey than ever during the first week of the season. Everyone believes they know a lot, but they actually know a lot less than they think.

There is more guesswork when just previous seasons (with at least some different players comprising the roster) are available. Thus, some teams end up performing far better than anticipated, while others end up putting on unexpectedly poor performances.

Just a simple thumbs up or down based on the outcome from people outside of their most adoring fans benefits only a select few clubs. The Razorbacks are one of those groups this season.

Arkansas had just completed a 9-4 campaign. For the first time, there was genuine preseason talk relating to something other than an impending coach firing. Additionally, Cincinnati would be visiting the city in the 2021 playoffs.

Even though Sam Pittman’s squad was missing nine NFL draught picks, the gauge was still clear for the Bearcats. If you succeed, there won’t be many (if any) complaints. If they lose, there is at least some justification for the college football community to reassess the preseason hype.

The Razorbacks deserve credit for pulling off a 31-24 victory in a game that remained even most of the match. Arkansas played to its strengths (224 rushing yards) and turned a few interceptions into short-score drives. K.J. Jefferson was quite, quite outstanding despite not starting to write a Heisman acceptance speech this week (18 of 26, 233 yards passing, three touchdowns, plus 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground).

Before playing Texas A&M and Alabama in back-to-back weeks. Arkansas will first play South Carolina and Missouri State (the latter of which will feature a reunion with former coach and famous motorcycle enthusiast Bobby Petrino). Over the course of the following four weeks, the Razorbacks will put on a lot of shows. To be honest, they did something fairly remarkable in their opening.

Duke (The winner)

There’s no need to exaggerate the significance of the Blue Devils’ 30-0 victory over Temple to mark the start of Mike Elko’s coaching career in Durham. Stan Drayton was making his head coaching debut with the Owls. Because Temple was one of the FBS’s most lifeless teams in the second half of last season. And Duke still has a lot to prove once ACC play starts.

Nevertheless, Elko’s first-round work with the Blue Devils deserves praise. The shutout was their first against an FBS opponent since thrashing North Carolina, 41-0, in 1989 under Steve Spurrier. They scored on four of their first five possessions to vault out to a 24-0 lead at halftime. When did Duke last blank an FBS team at home? 1978’s 3-0 barnstormer victory over Wake Forest

Many teams will be perplexed by their weak debuts, and some will undoubtedly still be reeling from shocking defeats. Duke didn’t even come close to fitting into either group. Which is an improvement for a club whose season was essentially finished after losing to Charlotte in the first week.

Michigan (The winner)

Nobody expected Colorado State to pose a challenge for the No. 8 Wolverines, and it didn’t. In a 51-7 blowout of the Rams. They scored on eight of their ten possessions and didn’t allow a point until 8:59 remaining.

Not every team that operates as systematically to be a contender for the playoffs as Michigan did. That carries considerable weight.

James Madison (The Victorious)

The Dukes have won their first game since making the jump up to FBS, crushing Middle Tennessee 44-7 and treating their guests like one of the many FCS programs they routinely defeated in prior years.

Todd Centeio, the quarterback, passed for 287 yards and six touchdowns, which tied a school record. More impressive, at least slightly, was the defense. Which kept the Blue Raiders to just 119 total yards (including just 12 on the ground).

The transition from FCS to FBS is not always easy and calls for some sort of adjustment. But occasionally they do. Although it’s not a given that the Dukes will flirt with a 10-win season as they typically do. Things are at least off to a good start.

Alabama (winner)

It was improbable that Utah State would pose a significant challenge to the Crimson Tide. Nevertheless, the host Aggies had an 11-3 record last year and defeated Oregon State in a bowl game as well as earning the Mountain West championship.

On Saturday night, someone who came to Tuscaloosa to pick up a check wasn’t a nobody. However, Alabama only conceded that little in a 55-0 win. Alabama appeared to be the top team in the country while Bryce Young was doing Bryce Young things (passing for 195 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 100 yards and a score).

Football itself (The loser)

Look, Iowa’s 7-3 victory against South Dakota State is the simple target from Saturday’s early games. It is very in character for the Hawkeyes to win a game by exactly seven points without scoring a touchdown. The winning margin was made up of two second-half safeties.

However, there is an argument to be made for punishing North Carolina more severely because they blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter and allowed 40 points to be scored in the final 12:10 of their 63-61 victory over Appalachian State.

There are many things to criticize there, but the Tar Heels recovering an onside kick after the Mountaineers had closed the gap to 56-55 but had failed to score a two-point conversion may have been the most perplexing aspect of the entire scenario. Instead of just conceding the game and letting the time run out, North Carolina recovered the ball and scored a touchdown, giving App State time to score once more before failing on a second two-point attempt.

When you add in some shady timekeeping during Thursday’s games (looking at you, Purdue). It becomes clear that being accustomed to the season involves more than just physical preparation, ball security, and the like.

Virginia Tech (The loser)

Any hopes the Hokies had of quickly emerging from the hole they put themselves in at the conclusion of the Justin Fuente era were quickly dashed in a 20-17 defeat at Old Dominion.

Virginia Tech caused a lot of their own problems when they missed a field goal attempt that was picked up and carried into the end zone, giving the Monarchs seven points. There were five turnovers by the Hokies, including four interceptions by Grant Wells, a transfer from Marshall.

The Hokies put up a good defensive performance, but a front-loaded schedule leaves little room for cover. Before the end of October, Virginia Tech will also face West Virginia, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami, and N.C. State. Brent Pry needs to fix the problems sooner rather than later if he wants to save the season as new coach.

Charlotte (The loser)

The 49ers (0-2) suffered a 41-24 defeat at home to William & Mary, which was worse than a defeat by 17 points to an FCS institution would often imply.

The Tribe gained 559 total yards, 303 rushing yards, and an average of 8.5 yards per play. As Charlotte delves farther into its nonconference schedule, things aren’t going to get any simpler with Maryland, Georgia State, and South Carolina still to come.

Navy (The loser)

The Midshipmen had determination to show that this would not be like the previous two years. When they suffered back-to-back losing campaigns (but at least beat Army to close out 2021). That mission didn’t accomplish in a 14-7 loss to Delaware.

Fair enough, the Navy’s defense contributed. It led to five three-and-outs and two fourth-down giveaways for the Blue Hens. Only 202 yards were totaled by Delaware, and one of its touchdowns came after it was given the ball at the Navy 21 due to a turnover.

However, the Midshipmen will need to average more than 2.9 yards per rush if they’re going to be effective. Only four of the Navy’s runs were at least 10 yards long, and none were longer than 14 yards. For a squad whose remaining schedule consists of eight American Athletic opponents, including Notre Dame and its two service academy rivals, a little explosiveness would go a long way (Air Force and Army).

Utah (The loser)

In their 29-26 defeat against Florida, the Utes did not perform terribly. There was never a “how in the world did this happen?” moment either, even though they didn’t play as well as the Gators did.

In fact, Utah appeared poised to score in response to Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson’s two-yard touchdown run with 85 seconds remaining, at least until Amari Burney intercepted Cameron Rising in the end zone to secure the victory in Billy Napier’s first game as the Gators’ coach.

To be clear, Utah, the defending Pac-12 champions who began the season rated in the top 10, has no embarrasment by this outcome. However, it is likely annoying, unquestionably disheartening, and – in the grand scheme of things — unquestionably a squandered opportunity.

The majority of the starters from the Utes’ 10-win squad were still on the roster. Florida had dropped 10 of its previous 16 contests. This was an opportunity to defeat a well-known opponent on the road. Despite the fact that there was bound to be an adjustment period with a new coach (even if it has seen better days, similar to how Utah dispatched Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2014).

Utah’s chances of winning the Pac-12 don’t suffer from Saturday. In contrast to Oregon, the Utes were at least competitive with the established SEC East strength it faced. But unless Utah can go on a winning streak that lasts for a few months, playoff speculation is unlikely to revive.

Can Utha do it? Sure. But if it does, it will largely go unnoticed. This is kind of a shame since the Utes have a great sense of who they are, Rising is a fun star of a solid offense, and the defense will undoubtedly react angrily after allowing 283 rushing yards to Florida. There are worse teams to follow over the next three months as Saturday evenings turn into Sunday mornings than Kyle Whittingham’s squad.

Read more About: Football results from Ohio State vs. Notre Dame


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