Ahh, the first game of the season. A nice day in early September in the happiest of valleys. Temperatures usually peak around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit and everyone is feeling good in the warm sunlight. As the Lions took the field last Saturday, the 2nd of September, all thoughts of warm sunlight and chilling in Raybans disappeared as it was a miserable sub 60 degree day with intermittent heavy rain- not ideal at all for the first game of the season. With the Lions being 30.5 point favorites, the biggest fear of most fans was an unnecessary injury to Saquon Barkley- which is doubly likely in the sloppy conditions.
As soon as the game began, the Lions drove straight into Akron territory, but failed to score as Trace McSorely was picked off in the end zone. The Nit’s defense was stifling from the start, as would be a trend throughout the game, and forced Akron to punt after their first turn on offense. DeAndre Tompkins got the scoring started and electrified the crowd as he took the Zip’s first punt all the way to the end zone for the first touchdown of the 2017 season, and the first punt return by a Nittany Lion for TD since 2008. Later in the first quarter, preseason All American Mike Gesicki, would catch a TD from Trace McSorely to make it 14-0. The score would stay 14-0 through the end of the first quarter. After forcing another punt to start the second quarter, the Lions returned to offense inside their own 20 yd. line. Pre-season All American and Heisman Trophy front-runner, Saquon Barkley, took the ball on a hand off in the back field and gave the entire crowd the moment they were waiting for as he raced down the field for an electrifying 80 yard run, picking up right where he left off in the Rose Bowl last season. McSorely would run it into the end zone a few plays later to make it 21-0 and from there on out the gamewas over. State would continue to dominate on both sides of the ball winning 52-0. After the game, coach James Franklin was quoted in saying that the 52-0 rout of Akron is, “probably the most complete game” (per CSNphilly.com) a team he has coached has ever played.
Other games over the weekend included the marque matchup of 3. FSU vs. 1. Alabama. This would be the first time ever two top three teams opened up their seasons against each other. Alabama, per usual, dominated the game on defense edging out FSU 24-7. The loss, however, was much greater for FSU than the score indicated as they lost their Heisman contender, starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the entire season due to a knee injury suffered in the fourth quarter. Another notable game was the Western Michigan vs. 4 USC game. USC was a heavy favorite and played a poor game from the start. So poorly in fact, many began to doubt the preseason hype surrounding QB Sam Darnold and the rest of the Trojans as legitimate national championship contenders.
This weeks honor of #dontbethatguy is awarded to the entire Pitt football team as they watched a 21 point lead vanish and had to beat FCS foe Youngstown State in OT.
In the newest AP Poll, The Nittany Lions have moved up to 4 in the country, jumping a lackluster USC and a losing FSU.
Next Game: Pitt vs. 4 PSU on ABC 3:30ET.