Well how about that? After one round of games, most of the big names ares still standing. One prominent team took a tumble, though, and now it leaves one region wide open. Let’s take a look at all of the results of the opening weekend. Before we get started, you can find the whole bracket here.
Upsets everywhere in this region! While the top three seeds (1) Ohio State, (2) Oklahoma, and (3) UCF took care of business, each of the (4) through (8) seeds were upset.
In the biggest upset here, Khalil Tate powered (13) Arizona past (4) Toledo with a massive game on the ground. I think it’s safe to say the Rockets don’t see the speed and pure athleticism at the QB position (or anywhere else on the field) in MAC play that Tate possesses, and they were just a step slow on him the whole game.
(12) Iowa was able to pull off the inevitable (12)/(5) upset over (5) Louisville, which is too bad because a matchup of Lamar Jackson and Khalil Tate would’ve been a heck if a game to watch. Ultimately, the Hawkeye offense that we saw against Ohio State a few weeks back showed up, and hung 42 on a below average Cardinal defense. Despite Jackson being the best player on the field, he just got no help from his receivers in this game.
The other three upsets weren’t near as shocking, with (9) Ohio, (10) Oregon, and (11) Purdue advancing. I would’ve expected a better showing from the sixth-seeded Hokies, but Jeff Brohm has been a home-run of a hire in West Lafayette.
Region Outlook: The road just got even easier for (1) Ohio State, who theoretically won’t have to face a top 8 seed until the Elite 8 at the earliest.
UH-OH. Washington, what happened? For all of the complaints about being disrespected, this is not how you come out on the national stage. The same Aggie defense that stood tall against (1) Alabama back in October came to play in this one, and they had Jake Browning running for his life. Nick Starkel was able to lead a late touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, sparked by a huge catch and run by Christian Kirk, and the Aggies were able to knock off (1) Washington. What a game!
Elsewhere in the region, (2) Penn State, (3) FAU, and (5) LSU dominated and moved on to the second round. (13) UTSA was the second 13 seed to knock off a 4 seed when Frank Wilson was able get his Roadrunners to go toe-to-toe with Kenny Hill and (4) TCU. Who would’ve thought a 6-5 CUSA team would have had it in them to pull this one off?
(11) Iowa State played the role of giant killer AGAIN this year and took down (6) Michigan. The Cylcone defense was able to stifle a lifeless Wolverine offense, and the underdogs were able to play ball control and field position in a mind-numbingly boring game. Alas, Matt Campbell takes his team to the second round next week, while Michigan is at home again after finishing third in their division. Ouch.
Region Outlook: Things could get crazy from here. All of the sudden, (5) LSU is an Elite 8 favorite. (2) Penn State is the most talented team in the division (even before Washington lost), but they still have a tough road to hoe to get out of this region.
After all of the craziness on the left side of the bracket, how strange is it that every favorite won here? There were a few near misses, like (15) Texas Tech taking (2) Clemson into the fourth quarter tied, but other than that most of these games went about as expected.
Your (3) Auburn Tigers put on a solid but predictable performance against (14) Texas. The Longhorns were able to largely contain the Auburn passing attack, limiting Jarrett Stidham to barely 200 yards on a healthy dose of screen plays and one big 50 yard dime to Darius Slayton for an early touchdown. The Auburn defense smothered Texas, though, and the game was really never in doubt once it was clear the Longhorns weren’t going to be moving the ball.
(4) USF put up a fantastic performance against in-state “rival” (13) Florida State. I’ve raved about the Bulls before, but they are so much fun to watch. Senior quarterback Quentin Flowers went for 300 total yards with four touchdowns, including an early 12 yard scramble for a touchdown after the FSU defense bit hard on a pump fake. Even though they were pretty big favorites, winning a game like this is huge for both the AAC’s perception as a “Power 6” conference and USF’s brand in the state of Florida. Good on you, Charlie Strong.
Region Outlook: Nothing has changed yet. Alabama is still the favorite, but they haven’t yet benefited from any other upsets in the region. There’s going to be some good football here.
Nothing too crazy here, although it isn’t quite as clean as the Alabama Region above it. The (1)-(4) and (7) seeds all took care of business, with (5) Miami dropping their game to (12) Ole Miss, (6) USC losing to (11) Northwestern, and (8) Stanford getting knocked out by (9) App State.
The Hurricanes just never got back up off the mat after the ACC Championship Game. They came out flat again, and after a pick-six late in the first half, it was clear Ole Miss was probably going to take this one. Props to the Rebel Black Bears, who went all out the whole game, including a successful onside kick immediately after the pick-six. I’m not sure how far they can carry this success into the tournament, but what do they have to lose?
Although most of the attention has been on the (16) Texas A&M upset over (1) Washington, something similar almost happened in this regions (16)/(1) game. The top seeded Bulldogs jumped out to a quick first half lead with three straight touchdowns by Nick Chubb, but they proceeded to try to sit on the lead for the rest of the game. Credit to the Cowboy defense, too, who really buckled down on some big third down stops in the second half. When Josh Allen connected on the throwback pass with TE Austin Fort at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were suddenly only up a field goal. A few big runs by Chubb and Michel and a back-breaking tuck and run by Fromm on 3rd-and-15 helped UGA ice away nearly 10 minutes of game clock before scoring to go up 10, the final margin. I wouldn’t worry too much if I were UGA, but it was a gutsy performance by Allen, who was looking to prove NFL scouts wrong after a rough junior year.
Region Outlook: It’s still anybody’s ballgame right now. Georgia still looks like the best team overall, but don’t be surprised if someone catches fire the next few games. My eyes are on Mason Rudolph and the (3) Oklahoma State Cowboys.