Four Downs on Week 1 Thursday Night


College football returned last weekend; officially. Unofficially, the first Thursday night of college football always feels like the introduction of the season.

Thursday night is a perfectly poetic time to kickoff a football weekend. Weekends ignited on Thursday nights in my undergraduate days. College Thursdays are the time to take cues from a certain New Mexico State linebacker and Brohard.

This wasn’t the most remarkable opening-night Thursday in recent memory, lacking a game like last year’s Appalachian State-Tennessee barnburner, or a performance like the 2014 debut of Kenny Trill at Texas A&M. Still, there was plenty to love — or give you nightmares, in the case of Lee Corso donning the Brutus head.

First Down: Urban Meyer’s Poker Face

With his offense stalling, Indiana holding a lead and Twitter buzzing with #FirstQuarterTweets, Urban Meyer never panicked. Why would he? Even with Richard Lagow dealing to Simmie Cobbs through the first two quarters and change, Ohio State’s the kind of team that can switch gears and run away from an opponent in just a few possessions.

Meyer’s lineup enjoys a wealth of weapons, the depth of which I have a feeling Urb just scratched the surface on Thursday. Perris Campbell has explosive speed in space, J.K. Dobbins is a revelation at running back and the J.T. Barrett of the second half resembled the J.T. Barrett of 2014 when he registered Heisman-caliber numbers.

Meanwhile, veteran Mike Weber didn’t play and Antonio Williams was used sparingly — and still scored two touchdowns.

Urban won’t have to show his hand for awhile, but just one week into the season, it certainly seems the head Buckeye has a full house.

Second Down: Oklahoma State, Championship Material?

Despite what the AFCA may have declared last year, and that’s now declared behind goal posts Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State isn’t the 1945 national champion. Long-recognized champion Army drilled Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn and Navy — all ranked in the Top 10 — by a combined 149 points.

So the 1945 Cowboys may be somewhat dubious titleholders. Should the 2017 Pokes win the College Football Playoff, however, there will be no dispute.

Is it too early to mention the P word? Absolutely; I’m not breaking my own advice on #FirstQuarterTweets. The championship talk made for a smooth segue, though.

Besides, this is a team ranked in the preseason Top 10 so it’s not outlandish to suggest Oklahoma State might be in the hunt late in the season — especially if Mason Rudolph and James Washington continue to play pitch-and-catch like this.

Third Down: It’s Never Too Early for Rivalry Week

With some exceptions, rivalries typically fall on Thanksgiving weekend; the final weekend of college football’s regular season. Rare is the exception that falls in August, but the 2017 campaign does indeed have its first rivalry game in the books before the Green Day guy could fall asleep.

New Hampshire outlasted Maine, 24-23 to win the Brice-Cowell Musket.

In the pantheon of rivalry trophies, a musket ranks among the more unique prizes. Nothing can top the Championship Belt at stake when South Alabama and Troy meet; nevertheless, the first rivalry trophy awarded in 2017 is definitely one of the coolest.

If the Arizona-Arizona State rivalry didn’t already have the oldest trophy in college football, the Territorial Cup, the two could play for the right to have the largest video screen for the ensuing screen since that’s apparently a big deal.

Arizona State kicked off the 2017 season christening renovations to Sun Devil Stadium, which includes the debut of the largest video screen in the West. It’s exactly one foot taller and one wider than Arizona’s, the previous largest video screen in the West.

Much less petty? The introduction of a Pat Tillman statue, greeting the team as they take the field.

Fourth Down:

We’re all of two game days into the 2017 season, and already the Seven Deities of College Football have blessed us with a play surely to go down among the very best of the fall.

If New Mexico State wide receiver Jaleel Scott was playing for the NCAA Tournament-participant Aggies basketball team on this catch, he’d have been high enough to leave quarters on top of the backboard.

Scott’s touchdown grab overshadowed this beauty on the very same drive.

Past opening-night Thursdays have typically provided more drama, and certainly higher profile games. But this Week 1 Thursday still managed to serve up more than enough appetite whetting moments, from the high-flying…

…to the hard-hitting…

..and even the historic. Tennessee State’s defeat of Georgia State in the first game ever played at Georgia State Stadium marked TSU’s first win over a FBS program — and the first FCS-over-FBS decision of 2017.

That’s former Florida Gator Treon Harris delivering what turned out to be the game-winner for the Tigers.

Jaw-dropping plays, upsets, surprises; for an unremarkable opening Thursday, the 2017 debut was pretty remarkable.