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Cleveland: Recap Of College Football Weekend

College football’s first weekend, by the numbers:
• 1, as in No. 1 in the nation, and that would be Alabama. The Crimson Tide is scary good – so fast, so strong, so talented, so deep. They may have the best stable of running backs in football, including the NFL. Bama looked better than ever in a 24-7 demolition of No. 3 Florida State. Nick Saban said his team can play much better, which is perhaps even more scary.
• 2, as in two first downs, which was how many Charleston Southern achieved against Mississippi State. Yes, I know, it’s Charleston Southern, but the Buccaneers gained only 33 yards total. State had five runners who gained more yardage than that by themselves.
• 3, as in the number of times Southern Miss turned the ball over against Kentucky, while getting it back only once in a a 24-17 defeat in a game the Golden Eagles probably should have won. USM was a negative 16 in turnovers last season, which is why they lost six games. The Eagles are a -2 this season, which is why they are 0-1.
• 4, as in the number of touchdowns Shea Patterson threw for Ole Miss in a 47-27 pasting of South Alabama. Actually, you could fill a column with Patterson’s numbers, which include 80-percent passing for 429 yards. The kid is really fun to watch.
• 5, actually make that a -5, as in the number of yards rushing BYU managed against LSU. If there is a team as fast defensively as Alabama, it might be LSU.
• 6, as in the number of hours it took for Navy to complete its 42-19 trouncing of Florida Atlantic in Lane Kiffin’s debut as FAU coach. Games are long enough these days, but there were three lightning delays. You should also know that Navy ran for 416 yards, compared to 40 for FAU.
• 7, as in the number Kwadra Griggs wears for Southern Miss. He sure looked like the best quarterback in the stadium when USM opened against Kentucky.
• 8, as in the number of passes Ole Miss Rebel A.J. Brown caught for 233 yards and two touchdowns. That’s an average of 29 yards per catch if you are keeping score.
• 9, as in the number of yards Cam Akers gained on his first collegiate carry for FSU.
• 10, as in the number of carries Akers had in his debut, good for 30 extremely hard-earned yards.
• 11, as in the number of yards rushing the Florida Gators produced in a 33-17 loss to Michigan, which was replacing 10 defensive starters.
• 14, as in the number of Oklahoma players who caught a pass in the Sooners’ 56-7 trouncing of UTEP.
• 45, was the number of points UNLV was favored over Howard, which pulled perhaps the biggest upset ever in a 43-40 victory at Las Vegas. The rest of the story? UNLV paid Howard $600,000 to make the trip. Oddsmakers made Howard a 600-to-1 longshot. Since 2005, there have been 254 games featuring point spreads of 40 or more. In those games, the favorites are now 253-1 straight-up. A comparison? TCU was a 59-point favorite over Jackson State. TCU covered, 63-0.
• 22,761, was the announced crowd at The Rock for USM’s opener with Kentucky. An SEC opponent? On a sunny, reasonably comfortable day? Just embarrassing a team that used to draw more than that for Division 1-AA teams.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.

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