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Friday, August 30, 2013

College Football 2013: 5 Takeaways from Last Night's Games

College football season opened last night with a bang. BANG!!! That's right folks, football is back. And while most of you are waiting for your favorite teams to play tomorrow, here are 5 things I observed from last night's contests:

1. South Carolina is a top 10, maybe even top 5 team in the nation, even without Jadeveon Clowney on the field.

Much ado has been made about Clowney, and with good reason, as the junior from Rock Hill, SC finished 2012 with 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss. But even without Clowney on the field last night, the Gamecocks held their own against the up-tempo offense of North Carolina, allowing only 15 points.

And on the offensive side of the ball, South Carolina seems just fine without the services of Marcus Lattimore. Much will be made in the coming days about Mike Davis' 75 yard TD run, and for good reason. But did you all see fullback Brandon Wilds out there bowling over defenders? If the Gamecocks can get that type of production from their RBs on a consistent basis, and Connor Shaw plays like he did last night, this will be a team to watch. And did you see the O-line for SC?!!! Massive.

I understand it was only North Carolina, but this team is only going to get better. And no offense to the other conferences (Big Ten I'm talking about you) but I'm thinking that only another team from the SEC can keep this squad from winning the BCS national championship.

2. Lane Kiffin needs to decide on a starting quarterback, and soon; his job may depend on it.

I know you guys beat Hawaii 30-13 and your defense looked phenomenal. But there is a reason Taylor Graham is now the starting quarterback for the Warriors, and not a backup on Ohio State's roster(which was plane to see last night).

If the Trojans wish to compete with the likes of Oregon and Stanford for the PAC-12 championship this season, Kiffin must name a starting quarterback and stick with him asap. Developing offensive rhythm will be paramount for the USC offense once conference play starts.

3. Don't put me on the Ole Miss Bandwagon just yet.

Much has been made of the recruiting job that second-year head coach Hugh Freeze put together in 2013. And when one looks at what the Rebels have on paper, it is impressive.

But as everyone knows football games aren't won on paper, they're won on the field. Nick Saban doesn't continue to win national titles just because he can recruit well; he is also able to get the most out of the players he brings into the Crimson Tide system.

So Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt in a shootout last night. That's nice, but it doesn't necessarily mean they've turned the corner in the SEC just yet. I'll be eager to see how they play when they travel to Austin in two weeks to face the University of Texas.

4. The SEC will once again be the Bully of the FBS. 

This is starting to sound like a broken record, much like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. But I just can't see the balance of power in college football undergoing a dramatic shift in 2013. Clemson, however, has a chance to change perception somewhat tomorrow night when they face Georgia.

5. Minnesota put up 51 points en route to a victory over UNLV, but most of the country wasn't even watching.

The Golden Gophers opened the season with a big win in front of their home crowd in a new stadium. But you probably weren't even aware they played last night until I just told you.

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