1. Florida State
The Seminoles advanced to 1-0 with a win over LSU in a top 10 matchup to start the year. After a slow start, the Noles had a very impressive second half and pulled away to win 45-24. Jordan Travis threw for over 340 yards and four touchdowns, with 122 yards and 3 touchdowns going to Keon Coleman. Coleman was a highly sought after transfer from Michigan State and looks like he could be one of the top pass catchers in the country. After allowing nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half, FSU’s front seven took control and held the Tigers to just 167 yards in the second half. FSU looked like a legitimate contender with one of the best collections of offensive weapons in college football.
The Canes took on the Miami of Ohio Redhawks in their season opener and handled business like they were supposed to in a 38-3 win. The Hurricanes’ offensive line had a dominant performance against the Redhawks, opening big holes in the running game and providing Van Dyke with plenty of time in the pocket. Miami’s running back room looked very impressive with Mark Fletcher, Ajay Allen, Don Chaney and Henry Parrish all having solid performances. Defensively, the Canes suffocated the Miami of Ohio offense. The Canes got pressure early and often and the linebacker room looked much improved. Miami’s corners weren’t tested much and probably still remain the biggest question mark moving forward. The Canes looked very good in their opener, but a week two game against Texas A&M will be a better litmus test of the quality of this team.
The Knights had a dominant performance to kick off the season against Kent State. In a 56-6 win, the Knights put up 723 yards of offense including 389 yards on the ground. UCF’s offense looked extremely explosive, averaging nearly nine yards per carry on 46 rushing attempts. John Rhys Plumlee put up 281 yards passing and another 90 yards rushing to go along with four touchdowns. UCF held the Golden Flashes to 240 total yards and the Knights were consistently in the backfield. UCF’s only flaw was their three turnovers, including two interceptions by Plumlee. If UCF can clean up the turnovers, they’ll be a dangerous team in the Big12.
The Owls took the field for the first time under new coach Tom Herman and defeated Monmouth 42-20. Kodak Black led FAU out of the tunnel and the new look squad was very impressive. Transfer QB Casey Thompson threw for 280 yards and five touchdowns while completing 80% of his passes. Larry McCammon was the Owls leading rusher with 125 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. The Owls offense looked explosive and is loaded with playmakers. The FAU defense had a solid game, but gave up a few more plays of 20+ yards than you’d like to see against an opponent like Monmouth. The Owls will still have some growing pains in their first year under a new coach and in a new conference, but Tom Herman looks to have the program heading in the right direction.
The Gators had the most disappointing loss of any of the Florida teams as they fell to Utah 24-11 on Thursday night. The UF offensive line struggled mightily throughout the game and was dominated by the Utah defensive front. UF gave up five sacks and rushed for only 13 yards on 21 carries. Heading into the game, the play of QB Graham Mertz was expected to be one of the main concerns, but Mertz actually had a solid performance, throwing for 333 yards on 31 of 44 passing. UF’s front four didn’t record a sack and wasn’t able to be as disruptive as many thought they would be. The Gators got outplayed in the trenches and looked dysfunctional on offense. UF has a lot of work to do and will be facing one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
The Bulls dropped their opener in a high scoring affair against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers took down USF 41-24 behind nearly 500 yards of offense. The Bulls rushed for 374 yards and two touchdowns, but couldn’t overcome bad quarterback play and defensive struggles. USF QB Byrum Brown completed less than 50% of his passes and threw for just 166 yards along with two interceptions. The USF defense and passing attack left much to be desired and could be in for a rough day when they take on Alabama in two weeks.
After an abysmal showing against Louisiana Tech in their first game, the Golden Panthers made a QB change and looked improved on Saturday against Maine. FIU got to 1-1 with a 14-12 win behind an impressive first appearance by freshman QB Keyone Jenkins. Jenkins is a Miami Central product that had one of the most storied high school careers in Miami-Dade County. Getting a win against Maine and finding their future QB in Keyone Jenkins was certainly big for the Panthers, but the program still has a long way to go to be competitive.
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