The Spread Offensive: Chubbing Along

The Spread Offensive: Chubbing Along

This article is part of our The Spread Offensive series.

The first week of any season is mayhem, as many times the rankings are based more off of last season's results than anything else. In some cases, those projections can be correct, as witnessed by Alabama's 52-6 drubbing of USC. True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts scored four times and likely will get the majority of work for the Tide, despite what coach Nick Saban says.

In other instances, though, the rankings can be fool's gold. A plethora of upsets otherwise shook up college football in Week 1, though perhaps some of them we should have seen coming.

It is difficult to win on the road. Just look at the results from last weekend. Notre Dame lost to Texas in Austin in Double OT. LSU lost to Wisconsin on a last-minute field goal in a game that was not technically in Madison, but might as well have been a home game for the Badgers at the not-so-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. No. 2 Clemson barely escaped a much less talented Auburn squad on the road. Ranked UCLA lost in overtime to unranked Texas A&M, as the 12th man struck again for the Aggies.

Houston's win over Oklahoma may be considered a stunner to some, but should really have come as no surprise. The Cougs beat Florida State in the Peach Bowl last year, and had plenty of motivation heading into Saturday's tilt with Oklahoma. After all, the Sooners were considered national championship contenders, with a quarterback in Baker Mayfield considered a Heisman finalist. Again, last season impacted this season's expectations. In addition, many of Houston's players had been shunned by the Sooners during recruiting, and the Cougars are applying for admission into the Big 12. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. outplayed Mayfield, and the Cougars used a kick-six to dispatch of the Sooners, 33-23. Where was this game played, though? You guessed it, Houston.

That's not to take anything away from the Cougars or any other team that won a virtual home game in Week 1. It is entirely possible that the rankings were simply flawed from the start. Other times there is a monster overreaction to one game. However, perhaps teams will think twice about taking high-caliber road games to begin the season. Or maybe we just need to stop giving so much credence to preseason rankings and let the chips fall where they may.

Best Opening Weekend Game:
Notre Dame vs. Texas

Opening weekend provided great theater, but none as thrilling as the 50-47 Double OT victory by Texas over Notre Dame. Playing in front of the biggest crowd in UT history, the Longhorns used two quarterbacks to near perfection. True freshman Shane Buechele showed poise under fire, throwing several gorgeous deep balls and staking the Longhorns to a 31-14 lead early in the third quarter.

The Irish came storming back behind last year's breakout star DeShone Kizer. Kizer quickly grabbed the reins of the quarterback competition with southpaw Malik Zaire, gutting the Longhorns both through the air as well as with his feet. Kizer not only showed great athleticism at 6-foot-4, 230, but also great decision making, knowing when to check down and when to pull the ball down and run. Kizer scored six times, but it wasn't enough, as former starter Tyrone Swoopes, the rushing quarterback for Texas, found the promised land after two gutty runs straight up the middle to seal the victory. It was perhaps the biggest victory under the tenure of coach Charlie Strong.

Best Game, Week 2:
Arkansas vs. TCU

The second week of the season does not quite have the thunder of opening weekend, as this SEC vs. Big 12 clash might be the best of a disappointing lot. Certainly the poor showing by Tennessee squeaking by Appalachian State puts a damper on the Vols' matchup with Virginia Tech. Arkansas was equally lackluster, posting a 21-20 victory over Louisiana Tech. The Hogs have a new quarterback in Austin Allen and a new starting running back in Rawleigh Williams III. Meanwhile, TCU dropped 59 points on South Dakota State behind Texas A&M Kenny "Trill" Hill but allowed 41 points to the lowly Jackrabbits. The Horned Frogs allowed 128 rushing yards and 333 passing yards to a team from the Missouri Valley Football Conference. That will not cut it against an SEC team like Arkansas.

The key to this game will be which offense blinks first. Kenny Hill is electric, and the Arkansas defense allowed at least 35 points in four games last season. However, Hill can also be turnover-prone. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks will look to pound the ball between the tackles with the aforementioned Williams, control the clock and take advantage of their opportunities. New quarterback Austin Allen is learning on the fly as well after taking over for his brother, Brandon. Neither defense will look pretty, but just one stop may be the difference between victory and defeat.

Post-Week 1 Top-5 Heisman Overreaction Rankings

1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville - Jackson scored eight touchdowns in the first half against Charlotte. Yes, you read that correctly.

2. DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame -
Any quarterback controversy was quickly put to rest for the Irish, as Kizer scored six touchdowns and proved he can score with his arm as well as his legs.

3. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia -
Chubb looked healthy and explosive in rushing for 222 yards and two touchdowns against a legitimate opponent in North Carolina.

4. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech -
The Texas Tech spread offense should be as potent as ever under the direction of Mahomes in 2016, as he combined for 540 yards and six touchdowns against Stephen F. Austin.

5. Kenny Hill, QB, TCU -
Hill looked right at home in the Horned Frogs offense, finding the end zone five times while racking up almost 500 yards from scrimmage in the season opener.

Fantasy Recommendations of the Week

There are so many cupcake games, so we'll try to leave the less obvious names off the list.

Kani Benoit, RB, Oregon -
The Ducks scored 53 points in their season-opening win over UC-Davis, and the Oregon coaching staff said they did not play fast enough. That bodes well for Oregon's next tilt against Virginia, which looked absolutely lost in what was supposed to be a cupcake matchup with the Richmond Spiders. Richmond dominated the Cavaliers by a score of 37-20, making this week's game with Oregon looking all the more lopsided by the second. Heisman candidate Royce Freeman should see the field for the first quarter and perhaps not much longer than that, leaving Benoit, the junior backup who rushed for 34 yards on just four carries against Richmond, to pick up much of the remaining slack.

Jacob Eason, QB, Georgia -
Greyson Lambert got the starting nod, but the true freshman Eason outplayed his senior counterpart, completing 8-of-12 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown. The Bulldogs will certainly run the ball with reckless abandon against lowly Nicholls State, but Eason should see ample opportunities after leading Georgia to a comeback win over UNC.

Jhajuan Seales, WR, Oklahoma State -
The senior wideout has had a limited impact during his time in Stillwater; could that change during his final campaign with the Cowboys? After a promising freshman season in 2013, Seales had back-to-back seasons with 18 catches for less than 400 yards. However, Seales was one of the star during the opener, hauling in both of quarterback Mason Rudolph's touchdown passes in a 61-7 rout over Southeastern Louisiana. Another soft matchup looms with Central Michigan this weekend for the 6-1 upperclassman.

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