Between the two of them, Colorado coach Deion Sanders and Texas State coach G.J. Kinne brought in more than 120 new players into their programs this offseason.
And what a difference it made!
Given the NCAA’s new transfer rules, first-year, roster-churning coaches are overhauling their personnel and it is producing early rewards. In two of the most stunning games of the day, the 21-point underdog Buffaloes knocked off TCU and the 27.5-point underdog Bobcats won at Baylor.
College football is back! And so are many of the same players you saw last year — they are just wearing different colors.
There were plenty of other surprises. Did you see that Iowa threw a touchdown pass on the opening series of a season for the first since Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations” topped the charts (1991)? And that North Carolina employs a defense? It’s all true!
Texas State wasn’t the only Power Five killer during the opening weekend. Fresno State ruined Purdue coach Ryan Walters’ debut and Northern Illinois won at Boston College — a blow for hot seat coach Jeff Hafley.
Without Jim Harbaugh, Michigan players, before rolling East Carolina, honored their coach with a formation on the game’s very first play. It was an odd move. Harbaugh served the first of a three-game suspension imposed by … the school.
Bobby Petrino’s Texas A&M offense (don’t tell Jimbo we wrote that!) got off to a flying start in a 52-10 win over New Mexico, but the real first test is at Miami next week. Speaking of offense, Oregon, Oklahoma and Ole Miss combined for 227 points. They scored 81, 73 and 73 points against Portland State, Arkansas State and Mercer, respecitvely. Butch Jones was on the bad end of one of those.
Charlotte coach Biff Poggi began his tenure in his trademark sleeveless shirt (and got a win, too), Illinois barely survived against Toledo (look out for them in the MAC this year) and Neal Brown’s tenure at West Virginia took another hit in State College.
But enough about all that. Let’s get to Yahoo Sports’ first edition of the Top 10!
There is something very important to keep in mind about our Top 10. It is a Judgement-Free Zone! When ranking teams, we do not consider any preseason polls or any past season results. What happened in the past is, well, in the past.
For instance, you won’t find on here Alabama (it played Middle Tennessee), Georgia (it played Tennessee-Martin) or USC (Nevada doesn’t count!). You will find on here … Texas State?!
This system normally rewards teams with tougher early season opponents, but it also makes for an unusual group of teams in the first couple of weeks. By midseason, our Top 10 won’t be much different than many others. But for now …
1. North Carolina
This week: won vs. South Carolina, 31-17
Next week: vs. Appalachian State
UNC has a defense? UNC has a defense! The Tar Heels’ much-maligned defensive unit sacked South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler nine times, held the Gamecocks to 353 yards and stuffed them on 10 third-down attempts. North Carolina’s season-ending four-game losing streak last year was the talk of the offseason in Chapel Hill, as well as a defense that cost the Heels dearly in 2021 and 2022. If they can keep up the defensive play, they’re a threat to win it all with QB Drake Maye (24-for-32 for 269).
This week: won at TCU, 45-42
Next week: vs. Nebraska
Deion Sanders talked a big game all offseason about his Buffaloes. And, boy, did they deliver. Between QB Shedeur Sanders and two-way player Travis Hunter, Colorado has two of the most talented players in the country. They ripped into the reigning CFP runners-up for 565 yards in one of the more stunning outcomes of the day. Afterward, Coach Prime spent about 12 of his 15-minute news conference informing the college football world that he’s got the receipts of your doubting.
This week: won vs. Boise State, 56-19
Next week: vs. Tulsa
Hello, Michael Penix Jr.! The former Indiana QB threw for 450 yards on 29 completions and had five touchdowns. Coach Kalen DeBoer seems to have things cooking in Seattle. Year 1 turned into 11 wins. Year 2 could be even better. Pac-12 title? CFP? And how about a Heisman for Penix? Things look good early.
4. Penn State
This week: won vs. West Virginia, 38-15
Next week: vs. Delaware
Drew Allar began his Penn State starting QB career with quite the bang, passing for 325 yards and three scores. He threw to nine different receivers. Nine! The Nittany Lions get vaunted Delaware next week before Big Ten play starts. James Franklin’s team might not play a Top 25 team until Ohio State in Game 7.
This week: won vs. Florida, 24-11
Next week: at Baylor
Much of the reaction east of the Mississippi focused on Florida’s floundering offensive performance. But what about the Utes? Kyle Whittingham can coach. And he appears to have yet another club to challenge for a long-awaited CFP spot (the Utes have won nine games in seven of the last nine years). Is this the year that they can crack into that top four at year’s end? Whittingham and Co. may need a healthy Cam Rising to do it. He’s cleared to return to practice next week.
6. Ohio State
This week: won at Indiana, 23-3
Next week: vs. Youngstown State
This wasn’t the prettiest performance. Chalk it up to a new quarterback playing a road game to begin the season? Maybe. Marvin Harrison Jr., a Heisman Trophy favorite, finished the game with just two catches. QB Kyle McCord and crew couldn’t get clicking consistently. But, hey, give it time. And give the Buckeyes’ defense some props. Eight of Indiana’s 10 drives ended in a punt or on downs. Are all of Ohio State’s defensive woes cured? Maybe not. But it’s a dang good start.
This week: won vs. Virginia, 49-13
Next week: vs. Austin Peay
The Vols didn’t seem to have trouble replacing Hendon Hooker. The Joe Milton Era began with 201 passing yards, 33 on the ground and four TDs. The Big Orange defense crushed the Cavaliers, forcing six three-and-outs in the first eight series. It’s early and there’s a long way to go and, yes, Virginia is not a top-tier program, but a neutral-site Power Five win counts for something.
This week: won vs. Portland State, 81-7
Next week: at Texas Tech
We know. It was Portland State. But how can you leave off a team from the Top 10 that scored 81 points!? The Ducks set a school record with the 80-burger. QB Bo Nix, he of the infamous Heisman Trophy billboard campaign, misfired on just four passes and tossed three TDs. But junior RB Bucky Irving stole the show. He carried the ball four times. He gained, on those four rushes, 119 yards.
9. Texas State
This week: won at Baylor, 42-31
Next week: at UTSA
Texas State hired a little-known, 34-year-old football coach this offseason named G.J. Kinne. Little known no more! Kinne, a former Tulsa quarterback, led the Bobcats to the biggest upset of opening weekend. As 27.5-point underdogs, they slashed through Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s defense and picked up a nice check to boot (a $375,000 guarantee). QB TJ Finley, a former LSU and Auburn player, threw for 298 yards and three scores and TSU ran for 143 yards. Welcome to the Top 10, Bobcats! (At least for one week.)
10. Notre Dame
This week: won vs. Tennessee State, 56-3
Next week: at NC State
The Irish are the only team in our Top 10 that has not played against a Power Five team (except for the 81-point scoring Ducks). So why are they included? They’ve played two games! And had to go to Ireland to win the first. The Irish do look good — give them that. They’ve outscored Navy and Tennessee State, 98-6. No matter who you’ve played, that’s strong. Neither team scored a touchdown on Marcus Freeman’s group.