One weekend is not nearly enough to take any lasting lessons or draw any firm conclusions, but it's certainly enough for some quick story lines! Here's what was going on outside the SEC this weekend.
Trouble with trifles.
Some I-AA teams got blown out by ghastly margins, like Savannah State falling 84-0 to Oklahoma State, but a number had good weekends. McNeese State beat Middle Tennessee, Eastern Washington beat Idaho, Youngstown State beat Pittsburgh, and Tennessee-Martin beat Memphis. In close calls, FAU beat Wagner by four, Maryland beat William & Mary by one, Wisconsin beat Northern Iowa by five, Wake Forest beat Liberty by three, and Indiana beat Indiana State by seven. Texas State is in its first year as a I-A, and our old friend Dennis Franchione led it to a win over Houston 30-13.
With the proliferation of I-A vs. I-AA games, there are going to be weekend where the little guys rise up and look pretty good. This was one of them.
More like the Little Ten, amirite?
It was not a good weekend for the Up North Conference. As noted above, Wisconsin and Indiana had issues with I-AA teams. Michigan got embarrassed by Alabama in the marquee game. Penn State lost by 10 to Ohio, and Iowa edged Northern Illinois by just a point. Michigan State needed a herculean effort from Le'Veon Bell to put away a Boise State team with five returning starters. Illinois lost starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase in its win over Western Michigan. Minnesota needed three overtimes to dispatch UNLV, although to be fair, that actually is kind of an improvement over last year's Minnesota.
There were a few bright spots, like blowout wins for Ohio State and Nebraska (over former South Carolina DC Ellis Johnson's Southern Miss) and Northwestern's thrilling win over Syracuse, but overall it wasn't a pretty picture.
The Big 12 was big.
Every school in the Big 12 that has played yet (Baylor goes tonight against SMU; TCU was off) won its opener, most by gaudy margins. A lot of that had to do with level of opponent, as there wasn't a single AQ conference opponent to be seen, but it's worth noting that it's the only league with all zeroes in the loss column still. One worrying score in the middle of the blowouts is Oklahoma's 24-7 win over UTEP. It was only 10-7 after three quarters, which is not something you expect from the No. 4 team even if it was playing in El Paso.
The ACC was up and down.
It was a so-so weekend for the league we partly share the footprint with. Clemson did beat Auburn, but NC State lost to Tennessee. Three teams that had I-AA opponents beat them badly (FSU, UNC, and UVA), but Maryland and Wake had scares with them. Highlights included Miami's come from behind win over BC and Duke's 30-point second quarter in its big win over FIU. FIU's not bad, and Duke only made it to 30 points or more in three entire games last season. Good for you, David Cutcliffe.
The big Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game is still yet to go on Monday night. It's a big one because those are the only two teams ever to make the ACC Championship Game out of the, um, hold on a sec... Coastal. The Coastal division.
The Pac-12 still looks like a two-horse race.
USC had no trouble with Hawaii, and don't be fooled by the 57-34 final score of Oregon's win over former Auburn OC Gus Malzahn's Arkansas State (it was 50-10 at the half). They had no issues in Week 1.
As for the rest? The third horse in the race was supposed to be Stanford, but it barely scraped by San Jose State by a field goal. Purported dark horse Washington beat San Diego State by a paltry 21-12 score. Supposed bounce back team Cal lost 31-24 to Nevada at home. The new celebrity coaches had trouble too. Mike Leach and Washington State fell 30-6 at BYU, and Rich Rodriguez needed overtime to get his Arizona Wildcats past Toledo.
Colorado wasn't thought of as a contender, but I do want to note that former Alabama OC Jim McElwain knocked the Buffs off 22-17 in his Colorado State debut.