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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Three takeaways from one of the biggest opening weekends in college football

Ralph Barrera
Texas’ Jason Hall, left, stops Kansas’ De’Andre Mann on a fourth-and-goal in the second quarter at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. The host Longhorns won, 59-20. (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)

In what was one of the greatest opening weekends in the history of college football, we take a look at three big moments around the college football landscape.

The tide kept on rolling and showed no signs of slowing down in their 46-point thrashing of USC. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett firmly stamped his name into the Heisman conversation. The Buckeye’s quarterback had nearly 400 total yards of offense to go along with his seven total touchdowns. Lastly, Texas is back after their upset win over No. 10 Notre Dame in a game that could prove to be the game of season.

Beyond these notable events taking place in week one, here are the three main takeaways from college football’s opening weekend:

Confident Cougars

America, allow me to formally introduce you to the Houston Cougars. The team that not only mopped the floor with No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners, but also has a fantastic chance at being the first team from the non-power five conferences to make the college football playoff.

Led by senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr., a Cougars victory was never in doubt — the senior ripped apart the Sooners’ secondary throwing for over 300 yards. Ward’s performance, along with a defense that forced multiple turnovers and held Oklahoma to only 70 rushing yards, deserves high praise.

Looking down the road, Houston is in the driver’s seat to make a run at this year’s playoff. Considering Louisville is the only ranked team left on their schedule, they will need help, but Houston could see themselves in a playoff semifinal if things break the right way.

Favorites Fall Prematurely

One week down and already three teams ranked in the top 10 have fallen. Besides Oklahoma’s loss to Houston, LSU and Notre Dame were both knocked off at the hands of unranked opponents.

So what does this mean for these teams moving forward, as their playoff dreams may be over?

It appears Oklahoma and LSU can officially remove themselves from this year’s playoff. It would be close to impossible for either team to get through their respective conferences without suffering another loss, and the odds of making the playoff with two losses just aren’t in these teams’ favor.

LSU still has to face Florida, Ole Miss and Alabama, while the Sooners still have Ohio State, Texas, Baylor and TCU on their schedule. There is just no way for these two teams to climb back into the playoff race.

Notre Dame has a chance, but it’s slim — winning out would be the Irish’s only option of reaching a playoff semifinal on New Year’s Eve. The schedule does them no favors, however, with Stanford, Michigan State and USC still to come.

One week down and three teams favored to make this year’s playoff already appear to be eliminated from doing just that.

Gap Between Pac-12 Divisions Grows

Since its transformation from 10 teams to 12, the Pac-12 conference has been dominated by the North division, mainly Oregon and Stanford, who are the only schools to have won the conference championship game since its creation.

The divide between the North and South divisions has increased for some time, but it now appears to have taken an even bigger step in favor of the North division.

The top teams in the North are in another class than the South. With Stanford, Oregon and Washington rolling over their opponents while USC, UCLA and Arizona all lost this weekend.

Clearly the gap in this conference between teams that are good and teams that are great is vast.

We’ve seen this in the conference title game as well. Since 2012, the South has had four different division winners, compared to the North’s two. Also, since 2012 the average margin of victory for Stanford and Oregon has been 21 points. Evidently, the talent difference between the divisions will without question grow even more this season, as it appears the conference champion will come from the North.

One can only hope the talent eventually evens itself out in the Pac-12, but for now it doesn’t seem likely.

Follow Noah Sonnet on Twitter

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