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Colorado head coach Deion Sanders is seen during the second half of an NCAA college football game against TCU in Fort Worth, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (Chitose Suzuki/Tribune News Service)
Colorado head coach Deion Sanders is seen during the second half of an NCAA college football game against TCU in Fort Worth, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (Chitose Suzuki/Tribune News Service)

Takeaways from college football's first weekend of action

Nebraska and Colorado experienced very different opening games. Now they prepare to face each other

Week 1 of the college football season has come and gone, and that means a brand-new takeaways series, written by yours truly, begins right now.

This week was chock-full of action, intriguing storylines, dominant wins, ugly losses, and the Indiana Hoosiers somehow managing to disappoint us despite losing by multiple scores…once again. There were expected wins by top-25 teams, and there were some unranked teams that came in as underdogs but walked away with statement victories.

And then there were a couple of teams that came in as favorites but then proceeded to drop their game to a rather inferior opponent. When I analyze who fits into this category, a couple of teams from the Big 12 come to mind.

Oh, yeah, and Nebraska happened too.

Nebraska still has work to do

How about that segue?

But in all seriousness, let me be the first to admit that I was a bit too high on Nebraska going into the season. Even though I predicted their record to be somewhere around 5-7 in my Big Ten preview, a part of my mind wouldn’t be exactly surprised if they exceeded expectations and went something like 7-5 and maybe even made a good bowl game.

Well, I guess I was wrong about that one.

It’s clear to me that this team still has some issues to contend with, as they dropped an extremely, dare I say, painfully winnable game against Minnesota by a score of 13-10. 

Now, this isn’t to say that it was a total dumpster fire during this game. There was some good to take away from it for the Huskers. The defense, for the majority of the game, played very well. They did a good job of limiting the Minnesota offense, which I considered one of the most dynamic in the conference coming into this season.

However, there was a lot of bad as well.

The offense looked largely out-of-sync, still trying to get through the feeling-out process. They had some nice moments, like the broken Philly Special-esque play that quickly turned into a long touchdown, but other than that, there wasn’t much more to speak of. Jeff Sims made plays with his legs, but couldn’t really do a lot with his arm, throwing two ugly picks.

All that being said, this was a winnable game for the Cornhuskers, but the defense folded on the final drive and gave up a game-losing field goal. Another one-possession loss for Nebraska, which has become known for losing games in excruciatingly painful fashion. They have lots to work on before next weekend’s showdown with a fired-up Colorado team.

Ohio State’s offense could be a cause for concern

Yes, the Buckeyes secured a 23-3 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers this past Saturday. But I’m not impressed with the way this team played. Indiana is not a good football team, there is no denying that. But the fact that Ohio State was only able to muster 23 points against a bad Hoosier defense? That’s got to be at least a little concerning.

Is this just part of the learning curve for a new quarterback who enters his first year as a consistent starter? Possibly. But Kyle McCord did not look the part for a good portion of this game, finishing with 239 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. He missed on several throws, and overall just didn’t look very polished. 

Marvin Harrison Jr. was also uncharacteristically quiet, finishing with two catches for 18 yards. Against a team like Indiana, this was one that the Buckeye offense could get away with, as demonstrated by Saturday’s score. But against a team like Michigan? Penn State? Even a team like Wisconsin? If they repeated last weekend’s offensive performance against one of those teams, they would be extremely hard-pressed to come out with a victory.

Slow down on the Texas Tech hype

I’ll say it: I was a Texas Tech believer. I thought that after the way last season ended, all the momentum they had, that this was the year that they were finally going to break through and establish themselves as a legitimate contender in the Big 12.

I might’ve spoken a little too soon.Everything seemed great when the Red Raiders went up 17-0 in the second quarter. But when Wyoming kicker John Hoyland nailed a 56-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 17-3, everything started to change.

From there, Texas Tech collapsed, and saw its lead disappear, and couldn’t stop Wyoming’s offense, which seemed to activate a new gear in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, and the Red Raiders soon found themselves swallowing a 35-33 double-overtime loss.

For his part, starting quarterback Tyler Shough played well. But there were key injuries on the defensive side of the ball, most notably that of starting linebacker Jacob Rodriguez, and once he got hurt, that seemed to sap the defense of its momentum, and Wyoming just pounced right on that.I initially had the Red Raiders beating Oregon in Eugene in what could be Week 2’s second-biggest matchup (after Bama-Texas). Now, I don’t see a way that happens.

Baylor, what happened?

Going into the year, I thought Baylor could very well outperform their middling expectations and maybe even be a dark horse for the Big 12, similar to what I thought about Texas Tech.

And while I have a little bit of hope that that could still happen for the Red Raiders, I no longer really have any hope of that happening for the Bears.

When you let Texas State drop 42 points on you in your home stadium, there may be something wrong. Like, very, very wrong.

I don’t think this loss is on any of the players, and it’s definitely not on starting quarterback Blake Shapen, who is used as a frequent point of criticism by Baylor fans. No, he played well, throwing for over 300 yards, two touchdowns and running for another. Tight end Drake Dabney also had an excellent game, catching six passes for 101 yards and both of Shapen’s passing touchdowns.

This one is on the coaching staff. The playcalling on both sides of the ball was poor. It was evident in how the defense was gashed throughout the game, as the Bobcats seemed to always be one step ahead. Anything the Bears tried to throw at them, they had an answer. And I will give an immense amount of credit to Texas State; it played a fantastic game.

And again, similar to Texas Tech, I thought Baylor had a legitimate shot to upset Utah next weekend. After all, they are playing in Waco. Now, I don’t see that happening whatsoever. 

There is a chance, though, that it could be a long season in Waco, especially given the rest of their conference slate.

Colorado just might be for real

OK. I know what you’re thinking. It’s only been one game. How can we make this assumption so quickly? Keep in mind, I am not completely 100% sold on Deion Sanders and the Buffaloes quite yet. They still have work to do, especially given how loaded the Pac-12 is this season.

But we must appreciate the game they just had against a TCU team that was 1) ranked No. 17 in the country and 2) coming off a national championship game appearance last year. I understand that this TCU team isn’t the same as last year’s, but there is no denying that this past weekend’s win over the Frogs was a statement to the rest of the country.

This Colorado team is, in no way, shape, or form, the same team that went 1-11 last year. They have an absurd influx of new players that arrived via the transfer portal, and several of those players have already flashed their monster potential.

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders threw for 510 yards. Travis Hunter racked up 119 receiving yards and an interception. Shilo Sanders led the team in tackles.

Coach Prime already has this team on a positive trajectory, and who’s to say they can’t put up a similar performance next weekend against Nebraska?

The Jordan Travis-Keon Coleman connection is legit

Going into the season, I thought Florida State was a good team, but I didn’t think they had enough to keep pace with Clemson.

I might be wrong on that one.The story of the night for the Seminoles was the outstanding play of quarterback Jordan Travis, who threw for 342 yards and four touchdowns while running for another, and his connection with transfer WR Keon Coleman, who had 122 receiving yards and caught three of Travis’ four scores.

The offense was absolutely dynamic, and turned what was a close contest at the half into a blowout all in the span of about a quarter.

Coleman had a great season for Michigan State last year, and if this monster performance is any indication, I expect that elite production to continue for him here in Tallahassee.

And last but certainly not least…

Cade Klubnik isn’t ready yet

Before you say anything, I know, this might be a bit of a spicy take here.

But I mean, let’s take a look at this game and see what actually went down. The Clemson quarterback completed 27 of his 43 passes for 209 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Now, on the surface, those might seem okay. Not really indicative of a truly awful performance.

And that’s just it: I don’t think Klubnik played an awful game. But he is not ready to be a consistent option at quarterback for a Clemson team with such high expectations.

He missed some reads and some of his throws weren’t timed correctly. I will say, he did a good job of making plays happen with his legs. He ran 12 times for 34 yards and made some big plays in that area.

But he and the offense just generally struggled all night. They looked out-of-sync, out of sorts. I wasn’t sure they had completely established their chemistry yet.

They didn’t really look prepared to face an upstart Duke team. And the Blue Devils took full advantage of that.

Maybe he comes out next week and proves me wrong. It could very well happen. But this is a takeaways series that only deals with the past week of games. And this week, Klubnik did not look like he was ready to deal with the pressure that comes with being Clemson’s QB and playing against ACC competition. 

There’s a ton of time to flip the script, and I don’t want to go too hard on him in Week 1. But he needs to be able to bounce back from a performance like this, especially in this conference.

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