Welcome back to The Professor, a weekly guide to what we learned in college football. For more from Week 1 in college football, check out our five takeaways and game recaps from Saturday and Thursday.
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Josh Rosen's debut for UCLA was so impressive that even some of his incompletions were perfect throws.
Once a bastion of underachievement, UCLA football has suddenly become must-see TV, the college football equivalent of an NBA "League Pass team." The Bruins have a terrific running back in Paul Perkins, a deep cast of receiver and the nation's most experienced offensive line, and they also have an offensive formation that revolves around two defensive tackles acting as lead blockers for a linebacker -- or catching touchdown passes.
They also have Rosen.
UCLA has graduated from underachiever to hyper-competent football team, with a very experienced team being led by an 18-year-old quarterback who was born in 1997 but looks at times like an NFL veteran. Dubbed "Chosen Rosen" by his teammates, Rosen graduated early from St. John Bosco in California, impressed in spring ball and won the starting job in August. In his debut against Virginia on Saturday, he completed 28 of 35 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, averaging 10 yards per attempt. Last year, UCLA needed three defensive touchdowns to win 28-20 against Virginia -- who owns a very solid defense -- in the opener. There were no such struggles this time around.
For his efforts, Rosen was named the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week, based on a performance that brought to mind Jameis Winston in 2013. Winston was a redshirt freshman when he debuted against Pitt on Labor Day, meaning he had more time on campus learning the system than Rosen, and he completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown, in a 41-13 win. He made it look easy, as if he had been a starting quarterback for years. Rosen did the same on Saturday.
"I did not see a deer in the headlights look with him at all," UCLA coach Jim Mora told reporters after the game. "I didn't think that I would either. I didn't know how he'd perform, but I didn't get the feeling that it was going to be too big for him. He was very in the moment -- before the game, last night, during the game."
We won't get ahead of ourselves and declare this the national championship frontrunner, but there is a bit of a 2013 Florida State feel here. Winston replaced E.J. Manuel, a first-round pick who led the Noles to a 12-2 season but never took the next step. The Brett Hundley era at UCLA felt similar. Hundley was a very good quarterback who often played behind a mediocre offensive line, but he also didn't appear to improve a lot in his three years as a starter before the Packers spent a fifth-round pick on him.
Now, Rosen steps in as an uncommonly poised and prepared freshman surrounded by UCLA's best supporting cast in ages. The Bruins offensive line starts only one senior, center Jake Brendel, but it is loaded with experience, and UCLA has plenty of playmakers at Rosen's disposal. He was sacked only once on Saturday and completed passes to 11 players (including defensive tackle Kenny Clark).
He made a few mistakes, with a few passes sailing over receivers' heads, but overall he was as good as advertised, living up to the impossible hype surrounding the nation's No. 1 quarterback recruit starting from day one for the No. 13 ranked team in the country. After the one sack, he was put in a typically difficult third-and-14 situation, only to sidestep a pass rusher, step up in the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield and deliver a strike on an out route to Eldridge Massington from the opposite hash. It looked like an NFL throw, the kind scouts will drool over for the next three seasons until Rosen can turn pro.
"There were some throws I was like 'wow,'" Massington told the Orange County Register. "He's back there chucking that thing. He's good. I kept telling him he's the one. Chosen Rosen."
UCLA did a terrific job helping to put Rosen in position to succeed, with offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone calling a good game and giving Rosen plenty of manageable throws to allow him to settle in. But Rosen also made throws that very few quarterbacks can consistently make. On his first play, he should have had an 75-yard touchdown, as he hit Kenny Walker in stride, only for Walker to drop it. Perhaps Rosen's best throw of the day came on his second touchdown, when he faked a handoff to Perkins out of the shotgun, perfectly set to throw in the pocket and hit Thomas Duarte in stride a half step ahead of a defender down the seam into the end zone.
"The poise that he had as a true freshmen, and when you're surrounded by a really good offensive line that he had, you'll feel comfortable in the pocket to hand the ball to [Paul] Perkins or to throw the ball to your outside receivers, and it gives you that type of mindset where you're confident in what you're doing," Virginia coach Mike London said. "He's a good football player."
The second touchdown set the tone for the rest of the game. Rosen has the arm strength and accuracy to make any throw, but what should give Bruins fans the most confidence is how he handles pressure. He was unflappable in the pocket on Saturday, with his body working in rhythm as he displayed good footwork and kept his eyes downfield even with defenders around him. These are the types of things he was praised for out of high school, but it's impossible to tell if those attributes will carry over to the faster college game, particularly in the first game of a quarterback's career, just as it's impossible to tell if such skills will translate to the pros.
It's a bad idea to ever put too much stock into one Week 1 game, but it's hard not to watch Rosen and see the same types of attributes we saw from Winston as a redshirt freshman or Clemson's Deshaun Watson last year. Now, the spotlight on Rosen will increase even more, with the Bruins quickly jumping to playoff contender status. How Rosen handles it will, in part, determine whether UCLA can live up to that hype.
"He's a mature young man, and he handled it well," Mora said. "It's only going to get harder for him because he had some success. People are going to start patting him on the back and telling him how great he is. We have to do the best we can to make sure he doesn't listen to the noise -- keep pushing him, keep demanding a lot out of him, and keep supporting him."
UCLA didn't used to have that system in place. But with so much proven talent around Rosen, it's hard to imagine that UCLA won't continue to be one of the most watchable teams in college football.
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Science: Laws of physics don't apply to Myles Garrett
If Earth stopped rotating, everyone not bolted to the ground would fall over and roll due east at the speed of a jet plane.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) September 5, 2015
After Saturday, it is reasonable to believe that the only person who would survive such a situation is Myles Garrett, who might as well be substituted for "jet plane" in the above scenario tweeted on Saturday afternoon. The Texas A&M sophomore has already elevated himself into the Jadeveon Clowney/LaVar Arrington category in which the best athlete on the field resides in the defensive front, terrorizing opposing quarterbacks and running backs.
Good God, Myles Garrett. Ridiculous first step burst and finish. https://t.co/Yu5RGuGcr5— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 6, 2015
Garrett received practically all of opposing offenses' attention as a true freshman but didn't have the supporting cast for Texas A&M's defense to succeed. That appears to have changed. The Aggies hired defensive coordinator John Chavis from LSU, and on Saturday they beat Arizona State 38-17, recording nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss, holding the Sun Devils to 291 total yards and just 3.55 yards per play. Garrett finally got help: Daeshon Hall had four sacks and Donovan Wilson had two, with Garrett posting two sacks of his own, eight tackles and a forced fumble. Last year, Garrett set the SEC freshman sack record with 11 ½, but only two actually came against SEC opponents. That will surely change this year, as Garrett establishes himself as perhaps the most unblockable player in college football, thanks in part to that explosive first step. If Rosen is the stupidly early favorite to be the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, then Garrett is the favorite for the 2017 draft.
We learned last year not to overreact to an impressive opening win by Texas A&M, but this does feel different. The Aggies defense was a lot better against Arizona State than it was last year against South Carolina, and with Garrett and Chavis as the foundation, this defense appears ready to take a massive leap forward in 2015. Throw in a wealth of skill-position talent on offense, and this team can be an SEC contender, even with a possible quarterback controversy. A quarterback controversy is easier to take when it's between a 2014 five-star recruit, Kyle Allen, and a Texas high school legend, Kyler Murray, who showed off some Manziel-ian moves on Saturday in Houston.
History: Temple's rare win vs. Penn State
In 1941 under coach Bob Higgins, Penn State won its final six games, finishing 7-2 to make for a solid season. However, for years there has been only one reason to reference that year at Penn State: a 14-0 loss at Temple on Oct. 18, 1941.
Until Saturday's dreadful 27-10 loss in which Christian Hackenberg was sacked 10 times, 1941 was the last time the Nittany Lions lost to the Owls, covering a streak of 39 games that featured 38 Penn State wins and one tie (7-7 in 1950). In only 10 of those Penn State wins did Temple even stay within single digits.
"Temple University's football team remained in the ranks of the nation's undefeated when it romped over Penn State, 14-0, before 25,000 persons today," the UPI wire story said, also noting that Penn State made only one real scoring threat. Sounds pretty familiar.
Temple used the win to briefly move into the AP rankings -- that has happened in only four seasons ever -- with blowout losses to Boston College and Michigan State resulting in a 7-2 final record. According to Sports-Reference's Simple Rating System data, it was Temple's fourth-best team ever. In 2011, the Philadelphia Inquirer tracked down a diehard Temple football fan who was in attendance that day.
For historical perspective, headlines on the front page of The New York Times on the date of Temple's last win over Penn State included a congressional vote to arm ships after the U.S. destroyer Kearny was hit off the coast of Iceland. Less then two months later, the bombing of Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II.
Penn State, at least, is not the only historic college football power to achieve a subpar Week 1 result:
Also, yesterday marked the first time in CFB history that Michigan, Texas, Nebraska and Penn State all lost their season openers.— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) September 6, 2015
Math: Week 1 oddities
Week 1 is always a good time to have fun with small sample sizes. After staring at last season's statistics for so long during the offseason, it's always nice when the indispensible cfbstats.com updates with the first stats of a new season. Opening weekend's volatility -- only one game of data per team, often against weak opponents -- creates fun situations akin to Lee Corso taking a picture of his team in front of the scoreboard when Indiana went up 7-0 on Ohio State. You savor the moment while you can. So, let's have some fun with Week 1:
- After a tumultuous career at Florida, Louisiana Tech graduate transfer Jeff Driskel leads the nation in passer rating at 321.4. Driskel hit 12 of 15 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to rushing for a touchdown. He did all of this in the first half of a 62-15 win over Southern. Despite Arkansas' identity as a power running team, Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen is second in passer rating after throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns against UTEP. Third and fourth? Old Notre Dame teammates Malik Zaire and Everett Golson.
- New Mexico has gone from 126th to first in defensive yards per play. Coach Bob Davie rose to the Notre Dame head coaching job in 1997 as a defensive coordinator, but his Lobos have been known for their productive option attack, not defense. In a 66-0 win over Mississippi Valley State (an FCS team that went 2-9 last year), New Mexico allowed 74 total yards on 56 plays, or 1.32 yards per play. The Lobos allowed 6.82 yards per play last season, and never fewer than 5.16 in one game.
- The nation's No. 1 rushing offense in 2014 now ranks last in scoring in 2015. With a mostly new offensive line and a two-game suspension for quarterback Kevin Ellison, Georgia Southern was the only FBS team shutout in Week 1, losing 44-0 at West Virginia. Remember, Georgia Southern lost by a total of five points to N.C. State and Georgia Tech last year in its first season of FBS play, and it ran for 380 yards per game. On Saturday, replacement Eagles quarterback Favian Upshaw went 2 of 13 for 29 yards and four interceptions -- three by star West Virginia safety Karl Joseph -- and they finished with 224 total yards. This should be Dana Holgorsen's best defense at West Virginia, led by a terrific secondary and nine returning starters, and it's off to a fantastic start.
- Temple had 10 sacks against Penn State and Texas A&M had nine against Arizona State. Last year, Kent State (nine), Navy (eight) and New Mexico State (five) failed to reach double-digit sacks as a team for the entire season. Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich entered 2015 with 355 career tackles but only 2 ½ career sacks. He sacked Hackenberg three times on Saturday.
- Maryland cornerback William Likely has always been a skilled return man. Last season, he had four total touchdowns, on two interceptions, one punt return and one kick return. In Saturday's 50-21 win over Richmond, Likely returned eight punts for 233 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown. Those 233 punt return yards would rank him 22nd in total season punt return yards in all of 2014.
Meteorology: Delaying the return of football
The college football offseason is unbearably long, with seven and a half months passing between the national title game and Week 1. Some teams had to wait even longer, thanks to what seemed like unusually bad weather disrupting the football schedule over the weekend.
- With star tailback Kareem Hunt suspended for two games, Toledo got off to a rough start against Stony Brook on Thursday before holding a 16-7 lead at halftime. There were two delays covering three and a half hours, though, and the game was ultimately called at 12:13 a.m. It will not be made up, and the statistics will not count. The good news is that Hunt's suspension will still cover only the first two weeks, meaning he'll return Sept. 19 vs. Iowa State.
- After Illinois fired head coach Tim Beckman a week before Friday's opener against Kent State, interim coach Bill Cubit got an extra day to think things over. The game was supposed to begin at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, but lightning delays sent every home, with the game pushed to Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Illini won 52-3.
- An 80-minute delay in third quarter disrupted Tennessee's 59-30 win over Bowling Green, prolonging a game that featured 399 rushing yards by Tennessee and 424 passing yards by Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson after he missed last season with an injury.
- Georgia's game vs. Louisiana-Monroe was called early on Saturday, but the results did count. The No. 9 Bulldogs beat the Warhawks 51-14, with the game called with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter.
- No. 10 Florida State's 59-16 win over Texas State was delayed over an hour. When the game was finally played, Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson shined, completing 19 of 25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns.
- LSU and McNeese State played five minutes of football before a three-hour delay because of lightning. They could have kicked the game off as late as midnight, but the game was ultimately canceled -- the first LSU game canceled since World War I.
Geography: Where starting quarterbacks come from
There are 128 teams at the FBS level, and thus 128 players opening the season as starting quarterbacks. So where do they come from?
For this exercise, we did Urban Meyer's job and declared J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls, Texas) Ohio State's starter for Monday's game at Virginia Tech. If it's Cardale Jones, that point would move to Cleveland, Ohio. All 128 quarterbacks are plotted on the map above. Click the pins for the player name and school.
Thirty-two states boast at least one FBS starting quarterback, and the results aren't particularly surprising. California leads with 21, followed by Texas with 19, Florida with 12, Georgia with eight, Ohio with seven, Alabama with five, Arizona with five and Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee and Virginia with four.
Technology Education: Drone invades Kentucky
Kentucky blew a 27-7 second-half lead against Louisiana-Lafayette before ultimately winning 40-33. Nothing that happened during the game could have been stranger than what happened before, when a student's drone crashed into the newly renovated Commonwealth Stadium, fortunately causing no damage or injuries.
Drama: Playing dead with Mike Minns
Bowling Green defensive lineman Mike Minns drew the ire of the Tennessee crowd when he lost his shoe with Tennessee hoping to quickly snap the ball near the goal line, then decided the best way to handle the situation would be to drop to the ground and play dead.
Physical Education: The inhuman Robert Kkemdiche
Ole Miss junior Robert Nkemdiche is a 296-defensive tackle. He is also a phemonal athlete, with the quickness that shouldn't be possible for a man of his size. While he's mostly lived up to his recruiting hype on defense, a play from Saturday helps illustrate why he was rated the No. 1 recruit in the country in 2013. In Ole Miss' 76-3 win over Tennessee-Martin, Nkemdiche lined up at fullback, slipped out into the flats off a play-action, hauled in a pass and ran it 31 yards for a touchdown. If starring on defense and offense wasn't enough, Nkemdiche also blocked a field goal.
Health: Key opening week injuries
Week 1 was, unfortunately, not kind in terms of injuries, with several key players being lost for the season, although the news is better for some than others.
- Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona. The national defensive player of the year in 2014, Wright tore his meniscus in Thursday's win against UTSA. According to SI.com, the injury is not as bad as originally feared, and Wright may be out for only a few weeks. No player is more important to his defense than Wright. Arizona has a couple easier games against Nevada and Northern Arizona before key matchups with UCLA on Sept. 26 and Stanford on Oct. 3.
- James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh. Conner left Saturday's 45-37 win over Youngstown State after running eight times for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The news turned out to be the worst: ESPN's Brett McMurphy reports that Conner tore his MCL and will miss the season. Connor was the foundation of the Pitt offense last season, rushing 298 times for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns.
- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. Williams, who had 1,030 yards last season, was immobilized and carted off the field after a nasty collision with the goalpost on a touchdown catch against Wofford. Williams waved to the crowd upon exiting the field, and news afterward appeared to be positive, with a release indicating that Williams was standing and had full use of his extremities. On Sunday, coach Dabo Swinney said that Williams has a small fracture in his neck area, and he is not sure when Williams will be able to play again, although he is expected to be able to return to football.
- Taysom Hill, QB, BYU. Hill has had terrible luck the last two years. The Cougars star was lost for the 2014 season when he broke his leg last October. On Saturday at Nebraska, he threw for 268 yards, ran for 72 yards and accounted for three touchdowns but had to leave the game because of a Lisfranc foot fracture, which will cost him the season again. Backup Tanner Mangum proceeded to win the game 33-28 on a Hail Mary to Mitch Matthews. A four-star recruit in 2012, Mangum is technically still a true freshman after spending two years on a mission trip in Chile.
- Tarean Folston, RB, Notre Dame. Just about everything went well for Notre Dame in its runaway 38-3 win over Texas, with Malik Zaire quickly emerging as a star at quarterback and the defense dominating. The bad news, however, is that Folston was lost for the season after only three carries because of a torn ACL. That leaves the Fighting Irish without their starting running back, in addition to their backup, as Greg Bryant was ruled academically ineligible in August. Without Folston, senior C.J. Prosise ran 20 times for 98 yards and true freshman Josh Adams ran five times for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
- Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA. For all the good news for UCLA, there's one big problem: Vanderdoes, who teams with Kenny Clark to form one of the nation's top defensive tackles, is out for the season with a torn ACL, according to multiple reports. UCLA's defense is also dealing with the indefinite suspension of cornerback Ishmael Adams.
- Nyeem Wartman-White, LB, Penn State. If Penn State's problems on offense weren't enough in a dreadful loss to Temple, the Nittany Lions also lost their starting middle linebacker for the season to a leg injury on a special teams play.
- Terrel Hunt, QB, Syracuse. The Orange have been devastated by bad injury luck, and that's especially true for Hunt, their starting quarterback. Hunt missed the second half of last season with a broken leg, and on Friday he tore his Achilles in a win over Rhode Island. Syracuse finished 111th in yards per play last season, with a 1-6 record following Hunt's injury.
- Jesse Ertz, QB, Kansas State. A sophomore, Ertz won Kansas State's starting job but lasted only one play on Saturday. On the Wildcats' first play from scrimmage, Ertz -- who has had previous knee injuries -- hurt his knee on a five-yard run. He did not return to the game. Junior Joe Hubener went on to completed 9 of 18 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown in Kansas State's 34-0 win over South Dakota. Star safety Dante Barnett also left the game with a shoulder injury.
- Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon. Fortunately, Adams had merely a scare and is not expected to miss time. In his Oregon debut against his former team, Eastern Washington, Adams took a cheap shot in the fourth quarter. He was taken to the locker room for a concussion test, but after the game he said that he would be ready to go next Saturday at Michigan State. In a 61-42 win, Adams hit 19 of 25 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns and ran 14 times for 94 yards.
Syllabus: Week 2's biggest games
1. Oregon at Michigan State. The Ducks beat Michigan State 46-27 last season, and once again they'll both be in the top 10 entering their 2015 showdown. Oregon's pass defense was suspect against Eastern Washington, but at least the Vernon Adams era is off to a promising start.
2. Oklahoma at Tennessee. The Sooners beat Tennessee 34-10 in Norman last year. Now they take their revamped offense to Knoxville to meet a much-improved Vols squad with a dangerous backfield (399 rushing yards vs. Bowling Green) featuring quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara.
3. LSU at Mississippi State. The Tigers' opener vs. McNeese State was canceled, meaning quarterback Brandon Harris will be thrown back into the fire on the road in Starkville against a Mississippi State team that was a bit sloppy in its 34-16 win at Southern Miss.
4. Boise State at BYU. Both are 1-0 after dramatic wins. Boise State shut down Washington but still needed a missed Huskies field goal to seal a 16-13 win, while BYU lost quarterback Taysom Hill but beat Nebraska on a Hail Mary.
5. Notre Dame at Virginia. Mike London has a rough schedule for a coach on the hot seat. After getting burned by freshman quarterback Josh Rosen at UCLA, the Cavaliers return home to host the same Notre Dame team that beat Texas 38-3 and appears to be a legitimate playoff contender.