Week one of college football certainly delivered. Apart from USC’s 55-6 trashing of Arkansas State, marquee matchups — Alabama vs. Wisconsin and Arizona State vs. Texas A&M — lived up to expectations.
We now know that Arizona State should never have been ranked No. 15 and Alabama’s defense looks scary good.
While these games certainly stick out to any normal fan, you’ll find some rather interesting storylines if you dig deeper.
No. 21 Stanford fell to unranked Northwestern and UCLA’s Josh Rosen had a near perfect debut, passing for 351 yards and three touchdowns while completing 28 of 35 passes.
In fact, Rosen’s first game, against unranked Virginia — a team that has not won a road game in three years — went so well that many experts now have UCLA as their pick to win the Pac-12 and make the College Football Playoff.
This sounds awfully familiar. Just last year, it seems this same exact situation happened.
On opening weekend last season, No. 21 Texas A&M traveled to Columbia to take on then-No. 9 South Carolina. Led by quarterback Kenny Hill, the Aggies crushed the Gamecocks 52-28.
Hill, who was making his first start for the Aggies after the departure of former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, went 44-60 for 511 yards and three touchdowns.
Texas A&M was thrust into the top 10, jumping 12 spots to No. 9, and even receiving two first-place votes.
Hill immediately found himself in the national spotlight, leading the conversation for Heisman and giving himself the nickname Kenny “Trill.”
Fast forward a few months and the Aggies finish the season 8-5 (3-5) and find themselves outside the final top 25 poll.
Kenny “Trill” decides to transfer to TCU after losing the starting job to Kyle Allen in the aftermath of an embarrassing 59-0 loss at the hands of Alabama.
Last year’s Texas A&M team is just one example of how preseason rankings are misleading.
USC was ranked No. 1 in 2012, and we all know how that ended. It seems that Oklahoma is always ranked in the top 10 year after year despite their last National Championship being 15 years ago.
Even the Aggies find themselves in the same position as last season — defeating a top ranked team at a “neutral site” and vaulting into the national conversation.
Preseason hype will forever be a factor in all sports, professional and collegiate. However, there are steps that the NCAA could take to temper the hype a little.
Instead of releasing preseason polls, why not wait until the third or fourth week to release the initial poll?
Under this scenario, most teams would have the opportunity to play at least one quality opponent to show they deserve to be ranked in the top 25.
Take this week for example. No. 7 Oregon will travel to East Lansing to take on No. 5 Michigan State.
The loser of this game will almost certainly fall out of the top 10, so what is the point of having them ranked so high at the beginning of the season?
This week alone, three new teams jumped into the top 25 — Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Utah.
Next week you can expect even more teams to drop in and out of the top 25 as there are numerous high quality matchups.
Besides Oregon vs. Michigan State, some of the key games this week include No. 14 LSU vs. No. 25 Mississippi State, No. 20 Boise State vs. BYU and No. 19 Oklahoma vs. No. 23 Tennessee.
Basically, we could be looking at possibly 5-7 new teams in the top 25 after just two weeks.
While I know this is about as unrealistic as it gets, I can still dream for the day I can turn on SportsCenter and not see Kirk Herbstreit declaring the next national champions after one week, right?
But who knows?
Maybe Josh Rosen will be that good and UCLA will win the Pac-12. Maybe USC will surprise everyone and go undefeated.
Or maybe Rosen will be average and the Bruins will go 8-4. Maybe the Trojans will endure a mediocre season. Nobody knows until the games are played.
So what’s the point of all that preseason hype?
Nick Barbarino is a senior majoring in business administration. His column, “Beyond the Arc,” runs Thursdays.