Speaking of USC, let's visit their tumultuous start to the season last night. Now USC did win, but it wasn't easy. USC is (8-0) against Hawaii all-time according to mcubed.net. Since 2003 their lowest margin of victory has been 13 in 2010. Last night, USC won 30-13. That is the second lowest winning score for USC ever against Hawaii. Before last night, they hadn't scored below 49 points against the Rainbow Warriors since 1978. We can chalk up that kind of score up to a few things. First, Lane Kiffin insists that neither Cody Kessler nor Max Wittek have been able to separate themselves for the starting job. So what does Kiffin do? He plays both of them, and they were both borderline awful. Kessler went 10/19 for 95 yards, a TD and an INT. Wittek wasn't much better going 5/10 for 77 yards. Second, Hawaii could have been closer but Ohio State transfer QB Taylor Graham threw 4 INTs. Honestly, barring any near miracles, this should be Kiffin's last season as the head coach of USC.
The next game I want to discuss is the North Carolina Tar Heels and South Carolina Gamecocks game. For the casual fan this game was all about star SC DE Jadaveon Clowney. It was a game to forget for Clowney. He looked tired and caught off guard on multiple occasions. Again though, it was only one game. He'll watch the tape and get better. With this game however, I was more interested in seeing how the Gamecocks "replaced" Marcus Lattimore. RBs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds picked up most of the slack rushing for 179 of the 228 yards gained by the Gamecocks on the ground. Davis had 115 yards on 12 carries and Wilds had 64 yards on 12 carries. QB Connor Shaw threw for 149 yards and a score. Although the score would indicate that South Carolina dominated, the tape shows a little differently. UNC had several occasions where they were running down the Gamecocks throats. The Tar Heels had SC on the defensive a lot. QB Bryn Renner threw for 194 yards and a TD. The up-tempo offense by UNC exposed that SC is either out of shape or just a team that is going to be gassed whenever a team runs a no-huddle offense.
Finally, the game of the night in my opinion: Ole Miss Rebels vs Vanderbilt Commodores. As with basketball games, this football game was a serious of scoring runs. Ole Miss found themselves up 10 to nothing after the first quarter, but then found themselves down 21-10 at halftime. The third quarter closed things up as Vandy held a slim three point lead, 25-28. Ole Miss regained the lead mid-way through the fourth quarter, 32-28. Situation time, two minutes and change left in the game, Vandy trying to make a push to take the lead. Unsuccessful on the first three downs. It's fourth and 18, chances are dwindling, tension mounts. Rebels QB Austyn Carta-Samuels launches the ball to star WR Jordan Matthews who hauls it in for a 42-yard gain. The next play, Carta-Samuels hits TE Steven Scheu on a 34-yard, wide open TD. Now it's up to Ole Miss, can they answer? 1:30 left on the clock, Rebels have the ball at the 25-yard line. First down, QB Bo Wallace misses his target by inches. Second down, back breaker, RB Jeff Scott takes the read-option hand off and bolts toward the left side, he gets the edge on the defenders and cuts back up field and races to the endzone: TD Rebels. Vandy got the ball back, but an untimely INT ended their hopes of a comeback. Check out the highlights here on ESPN.com.
So, what have we learned from the first night of college football? Not much, but one thing is for sure, we're in for one heck of a season. And of course, Go Cougs!!