The first weekend of the college football season was billed as maybe the greatest in the history of the sport. It was pretty great for No. 15 Houston and Wisconsin. Maybe not so much for No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 5 LSU.
The top 25 observations, thoughts and takeaways from an opening weekend that still has two more big games to be played Sunday and Monday.
1. Les Miles is back on the hot seat after the Tigers were beaten 16-14 at Lambeau Field by Wisconsin. That might sound ridiculous, but if LSU athletic director Joe Alleva considered firing Miles last season there is no reason to think that if the Tigers don’t rebound from this bad loss to win the SEC West we might be right back on Les Watch in November.
2. It’s the same old story with LSU: poor quarterback play. No matter how good Leonard Fournette (138 yards rushing) is, if Brandon Harris, a former four-star recruit who was 12 for 21 for 131 yards and two picks, can’t provide some balance the Tigers will be lucky to finish fourth in the West.
3. Underestimating Wisconsin is simply never a good idea. The Badgers showed they can still play defense, even with coordinator Dave Aranda working for LSU now.
4. No. 1 Alabama 52, No. 20 USC 6 . Doesn’t matter who plays quarterback for the Tide.
5. USC fans were not thrilled when Clay Helton was promoted from interim to head coach last season. He now has a three-game losing streak and the Trojans play Utah State (no pushover) next week and then have consecutive road games at Stanford and Utah. And USC has two of its players under investigation for sexual assault. It could get ugly quickly in Troy.
6. Was there anybody in college football happier than former USC coach and current Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin on Saturday night?
7. How about former Kentucky offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who got the boot after last season and helped Southern Miss upset the Wildcats 44-35 in Lexington?
8. The bottom of the SEC East (Missouri, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky). Yuck. Three SEC West teams also lost. No. 11 Mississippi needs to beat No. 4 Florida State on Monday to keep the conference from having a .500 opening weekend.
9. Three years after Gus Malzahn took Auburn to the national championship game with a converted defensive back playing quarterback, the Tigers coach seems at a loss for what to do with his offense.
10. Sometimes avoiding a bad loss is a good win. Texas A&M can claim one of those by beating No. 16 UCLA 31-24 in overtime . The Aggies blew a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead. A loss would have had already on- edge Aggies fans fuming at Kevin Sumlin. Especially after seeing what went on in Houston.
11. If Tom Herman was a stock he would be Google. The Cougars coach cannot get much hotter after Houston beat Oklahoma 33-23 . The American Athletic Conference won’t be easy and Houston has to play Louisville later in the season, but this was a huge step toward forcing Houston into the playoff picture.
12. Can Houston make the playoff if it goes undefeated? Better question: Can beating Oklahoma and Louisville later this season give the Cougars room for one loss in the AAC?
13. If Houston gets into the Big 12, Herman gets a $5 million bonus. And at that point why would he even want to leave? Unless Texas needs a new coach. Cougars fans should root for the Longhorns this season. Texas opens against No. 10 Notre Dame on Sunday night.
14. Another coach whose stock is rising: P.J. Fleck of Western Michigan. The Broncos beat Northwestern 22-21 .
15. Everybody counted out Oklahoma after the Sooners lost to Texas last season. Worked out OK. Just beat Ohio State in two weeks.
16. Welcome back Nick Chubb. The Georgia running back who blew out his knee last season ran for 222 yards to give Kirby Smart a victory in his first game as Bulldogs coach. A healthy Chubb is a Heisman Trophy contender and buys Smart time to develop freshman quarterback Jacob Eason.
17. If it’s September, Eastern Washington and star receiver Cooper Kupp must be carving up a Pac-12 defense. The Eagles picked off Washington State 45-42. Kupp had three touchdowns.
18. J.T. Barrett threw a pick-six and then six touchdown passes for sixth-ranked Ohio State in a 77-10 blowout against Bowling Green . Lots of Buckeyes fans will forever wonder if not starting Barrett from the beginning last season cost the Buckeyes a chance to repeat as national champions.
19. No. 7 Michigan put up 63 points against travel-weary Hawaii. Mercifully, after trips to Australia and Ann Arbor, the Rainbows play at home against FCS Tennessee-Martin.
20. FCS Richmond beat Virginia 37-20 and new Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhal might be missing BYU right about now.
21. The first look at Penn State’s new spread offense was, eh. The Nittany Lions had 354 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per play in a 33-13 victory against Kent State.
22. Boise State is not about to concede the title of best in the Group of Five to Houston. The Broncos hammered Louisiana-Lafayette 45-10 behind rising start quarterback Brett Rypien.
23. It was only against FCS Fordham, but Navy’s option was humming along in the post-Keenan Reynolds era in a 52-16 victory . Senior quarterback Tiago Smith had 97 yards rushing and two scores. The Midshipmen play Houston on Oct. 8 in Annapolis, Maryland.
24. Life after a star quarterback was not quite so good for Mississippi State, which lost 21-20 to South Alabama . As the Dallas Cowboys are finding out, Dak Prescott was really good for the Bulldogs.
25. Best thing that happened Saturday: Pitt running back James Conner scored two touchdowns in his first game back after beating cancer .