Ugly Ducks Top Ugly Opening Night
by Dave Congrove
Updated September 5, 2009
Temple lost to FCS member Villanova, Troy was clobbered by BGSU, South Carolina and N.C. State forgot to pack the offense, and Boise State's ugly win ended with Oregon's ugly punch. Indeed, ugly is the word that best describes opening night of the 2009 college football season.
Villanova stunned Temple 27-24 in the inaugural Philadelphia Mayor's Cup. 'Nova intercepted a pass with 49 seconds left in the game with the score tied at 24-24, then marched to the 15-yard line to set up a game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired. It's a horrible loss for the Owls who were projected by the computer to go 11-1 in the regular season and were favored to win this game by over 23 points. Temple gets an extra week to figure out what went wrong before it heads to Penn State on September 19.
FCS teams were just 2-85 last season against FBS competition. They close out opening night of the 2009 season with a 1-3 mark.
Bowling Green shocked Troy 31-14 after the Trojans opened a 14-0 lead. It was the BGSU coaching debut of Dave Clawson. Troy, the preseason Sun Belt favorite, was forecasted to go 10-2 overall. They were a 5.03-point computer pick in this game. Next stop for Troy is Gainesville, Florida versus the top-ranked Gators next Saturday.
Fellow MAC member Ball State didn't fare nearly as well as the Stan Parrish era opened with a thud in Muncie. The Cardinals lost 20-10 to North Texas, ranked 116th out of 120 FBS schools. Ball State lost head coach Brady Hoke and QB Nate Davis off of a squad that amassed a school-record 12 wins in 2008. Nonetheless, the Cards were expected to compete for another division title with the help of a weak schedule. Their first 10 opponents combined for a total of just 33 wins last year over FBS teams, and the last two opponents are the only FBS schools it will face that posted winning records. This loss either signals that Ball State is headed for a very large drop-off, or North Texas is severely under-rated. The computer had the Cardinals favored by over 20 points. They host a New Hampshire team (FCS) next week that has posted wins at Army (2008), Marshall (2007), and Northwestern (2006) in the last three years.
The computer had only one upset prediction for the night and that came true when South Carolina beat N.C. State 7-3 in Raleigh.
Utah turned the ball over three times but still managed to run the nation's longest winning streak to 15 games with a 35-17 win at home over rival Utah State. It was the debut of former Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen as the head coach at Utah State.
The ugliest game was the biggest game of the night. Boise State beat Oregon 19-8 after taking a 13-0 halftime lead while holding the Ducks to zero first downs in the first half (they finished with just six). The Broncos had three turnovers, missed two field goals and had a bad snap on another FG attempt. Chip Kelly, the offensive coordinator for Oregon last year, saw his debut as head coach get even uglier after the game when RB LeGarrette Blount punched Bronco DE Byron Hout in front of ESPN's national TV audience. Blount, who scored 17 TD's and ran for 1,002 yards last season, produced minus-5 yards and a safety on 8 carries. As for the game's impact on the season for both teams, don't be surprised if the Ducks fall completely out of the new voter polls when the weekend is over. That would be particularly distressful to Boise State which hopes this win puts it in position to be a BCS bowl contender at the end of the year. Unfortunately for the Broncos, this victory will lose some impact if the Ducks continue to look as ugly as they did on this night. Boise State needs Oregon to rebound at home against Purdue next Saturday because the Ducks will likely be the underdog when they host Utah the following week.
Friday night, Tulsa beat Tulane 37-13. The Golden Hurricane have now defeated the Green Wave by at least 24 points in all five games played as CUSA members.