AFTER AN OFF-SEASON of questions about whether the SEC was still the top dog, the conference opened 12--1, including Alabama's 35--17 win over Wisconsin and Auburn's 31--24 defeat of Louisville. And Texas A&M won the SEC's lone regular-season matchup with the Pac-12, taking down the highest-ranked opponent the conference faced, No. 15 Arizona State, 38--17.... Speaking of the Pac-12, it entered the season with six Top 25 teams, but the Sun Devils' loss was matched by No. 21 Stanford's defeat at the hands of Northwestern. On a positive note UCLA and freshman quarterback Josh Rosen (above) looked like legit contenders. Rosen threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in a 34--16 thrashing of Virginia.... And the Bruins weren't the only ones to find a QB. Alabama (Jake Coker), Auburn (Jeremy Johnson), Florida State (Everett Golson), Notre Dame (Malik Zaire), Oklahoma (Baker Mayfield), Ole Miss (Chad Kelly) and Oregon (Vernon Adams) all got reaffirming debuts from their new signal-callers. Zaire dissected the Longhorns' secondary for 313 passing yards and put up the second-highest single-game completion percentage in Irish history.... Last season was hardly a banner year for the Longhorns (6--7), but they at least made the Texas Bowl on the back of a stout defense (23.8 ppg). That stinginess seems fleeting, given how nonchalantly Notre Dame picked apart Texas's D in a 38--3 rout. Neither of Charlie Strong's quarterbacks, junior Tyrone Swoopes nor freshman Jerrod Heard, showed improvement from last year while playing behind a faulty offensive line.... Saturday's Oregon--Michigan State game could be a shootout. Both team's offenses were in high gear in Week 1 wins—the Ducks beat Eastern Washington 61--42, and MSU took down Western Michigan 37--24. But they surrendered a combined 803 passing yards. Unless something changes, expect fireworks.
This is an article from the Sept. 14, 2015 issue