Jake’s Takes: College Football Week 1 Review

September 7, 2023

Jake’s Takes: College Football Week 1 Review

Jake Moszkowski is back this week with his latest "Jake's Takes".

While this is technically “Jake’s Takes,” I’m here to remind everyone that I’m not doing this alone. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes movement in play, most notably discussions and conversations with members of Huddle’s trading team. I may be getting the credit (for now), but this is a team effort through and through. 

After Week 1, this is already one of the craziest college football season kickoffs for me in recent memory. Duke, the basketball school, upset Clemson by three touchdowns. Duke hadn’t beaten a top-10 program since 1989 - not a single player on either of the two programs was alive the last time it happened. It shouldn’t shock anyone, then, that former Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei looked like a future NFL player once he got out of Clemson. Now at Oregon State, Uiagalelei threw for 239 yards and 3 touchdowns, further creating discourse that Clemson’s issues actually had nothing to do with him. Lastly, Deion Sanders shocked the world by marching his Colorado Buffaloes onto TCU’s home turf and upsetting a team that made it to the CFP’s final game last season. I, for one, am shocked at how quickly Colorado acclimated offensively (Shadeur Sanders and Travis Hunter will both be top-10 finalists for the Heisman, book it), but I am equally shocked at how bad a Deion-coached team looked on defense. 

Let's break it down!

Check out Huddle’s Week 1 College Football Performance

Clemson gets upset by Duke

The Tigers finished the game with 12 more first downs and 48 more yards than the Blue Devils. They had four trips to the end zone. They even threw for 200+ yards and rushed for 200+ yards. Despite all of that, they lost 28-7 to a Duke team that nobody outside of diehard Blue Devils fans thought had a prayer of beating the Tigers. 

Clemson had some bright spots - namely running back Will Shipley, who rushed for 114 yards on 17 carries and snagged 6 receptions for 29 yards and a score. But Clemson was gashed on the ground by Duke’s QB Riley Leonard (8 carries, 98 yards), had two field goal attempts blocked, and fumbled twice near the goal line.

The Tigers, barring a catastrophic follow-up game, should destroy their next two opponents. Charleston Southern and FAU are a chance for the offense to iron out any kinks. But #4 FSU looms on the horizon, and if the Tigers couldn’t contain Riley Leonard, watch out for Heisman candidate Jordan Travis, who just carved up an LSU defense.

So maybe DJ Uiagalelei wasn’t the problem

On the other side of the Clemson spectrum, former Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei shined against an overmatched opponent. The former five-star recruit threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two more to lead Oregon State to a 25-point victory over San Jose State. He completed 80% of his passes, played with composure and didn’t make any mistakes - all things that his former teammate, Cade Klubnik, didn’t do against Duke.

When Uiagalelei transferred, he made a comment about Clemson’s offensive scheme being part of the reason he struggled. Given the success of several quarterbacks before him, namely Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson, he was widely critiqued for what he said. Now, it seems like he might have been spot on. 

Despite a new QB and a new offensive coordinator, the Clemson offense looked stagnant outside of Shipley. Meanwhile, Uiagalelei showed out in a Pac-12 suddenly loaded with NFL-caliber quarterbacks.

Interested in how our traders price and trade College Football? Take a look at our Q&A with our Lead Football Trader.

Is the last iteration of the Pac-12 the best?

When USC and UCLA announced their move to the Big Ten, the writing was on the wall for the Pac-12. Oregon and Washington soon joined the exodus to the Big Ten as well. Arizona, ASU, Utah and Colorado are all headed to the Big 12. And recently, Stanford and Cal seemed to be heading to the ACC.

A conference that was formed in 1915 has just two schools remaining and appears to be on the verge of absolute extinction. Despite that, the 2023-2024 iteration of the Pac-12 seems to have an ungodly amount of talent at the quarterback position - perhaps unlike anything fans of the sport have ever seen before.

Listed below are some of the top passers in the Pac-12, and where I think they’ll be drafted:

  • Caleb Williams (the presumptive #1 overall NFL draft pick in 2024)
  • Shedeur Sanders (top-15 pick)
  • Bo Nix (top-15 pick)
  • Michael Penix (first round pick)
  • DJ Uiagalelei (Day 1 or Day 2 pick)
  • Dante Moore (future first round pick)
  • Jaden Rashada (future first round pick)

There’s an insane amount of talent at the QB position in the Pac-12. All seven of the aforementioned players could throw for 3,000+ yards this season. Has that ever been accomplished in the same conference and year? I doubt it.

“Neon” Deion Sanders has Colorado Looking Dangerous

I’ll admit it.

I had my doubts. 

Historically a bad football program, Colorado had one win last season. Deion Sanders came in and took over, bringing in virtually an entirely new team via the portal, including his son Shadeur Sanders to play quarterback and CB/WR Travis Hunter, last year’s #1 overall prospect. Their first opponent? TCU, a team that made it to the CFP championship game before getting annihilated by a Georgia Bulldogs team that was full of NFL-talent.

I didn’t know if Sanders could do it. While the early results are extraordinarily promising, there’s more than meets the eye, in my opinion.

The Colorado Buffaloes offense is legit. Shadeur Sanders cooked the Horned Frogs defense to the tune of 510 passing yards and 4 touchdowns on 38 completions. Despite the run game only rushing for 55 yards on 34 attempts, they scored 2 touchdowns. Four different players had at least 100 receiving yards, including Dylan Edwards (135 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 5 catches) and Travis Hunter (119 yards on 11 receptions). This team is going to score a bunch, and Hunter also notched 3 tackles and a goal-line interception on defense. 

It’s not all good though. TCU was overrated after last season, having lost their QB1, RB1 and WR1. They still lit up Colorado’s defense. Chandler Morris threw for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. Emani Bailey rushed 164 yards on only 14 carries. Sanders was sacked four times by TCU’s maligned defense.

Can Colorado be a consistent threat? Maybe. They certainly look the part on offense. But once they finish playing Nebraska and Colorado State in Weeks 2 and 3, they go back-to-back against Oregon and USC.

If they go 2-0, they’re a legit contender for the college football playoff. 1-1, and they’re still very, very good. 0-2, and they’ve got some work to do still. Either way, Deion Sanders has made me a believer in his ability as a coach.