Alabama looks like a new No. 1; Oregon, USC also solid in openers

All the SEC-haters received a rude welcome to the college football season this weekend: Alabama walloped Michigan, 41-14, at Cowboy Stadium.

Look for the Crimson Tide to move ahead of conference rival Louisiana State to No. 1 in the USA Today coaches’ poll on Tuesday after the holiday. They’ll have a tougher time moving to No. 1 in the Associated Press media poll since No. 1 USC easily handled Hawaii, 49-10.

Alabama, currently ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the polls, made Heisman Trophy hopeful Denard Robinson of Michigan look ordinary, which is accomplishing something because the dual-threat quarterback has been a September-October sensation the last two seasons. Robinson completed 11 of 26 passes for 200 yards (which included one for 71 yards) with one touchdown and two interceptions. He rushed 10 times for 27 yards, scoring again.

LSU also won, 41-14, but it was against North Texas, a more typical foe for an SEC opponent in Week 1. That’s why Coach Nick Saban and the Tide, which had three defensive starters from last year’s national championship team selected in the first round of the NFL draft, should roll into No. 1 in at least one poll.

“This was really a good team win for us,” Saban said. “And the expectations that we have and the standard we want to play to in business or in sports is about who you are. You know, it’s good to look good.”

All Coach Brady Hoke, Robinson and other players could say was that “we didn’t play Michigan football.” Note to the Wolverines: Next time when playing a top 10-ranked team, play Michigan football.

The Trojans should hang onto No. 1 in the AP poll after quarterback Matt Barkley looked every bit the Heisman Trophy candidate by passing for 372 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Marqise Lee might find himself on the Heisman ballot in a few weeks if he continues to replicate his 10-catch, 197-yard, two-touchdown performance. One of those touchdowns was a 100-yard kickoff return, not a reception.

“Did you see the same game I saw?” said Hawaii Coach Norm Chow, a former offensive coordinator at USC and UCLA, when asked afterward what he thought of the Trojans’ performance against his team. “Yeah, they were impressive.”

Then there were the Oregon Ducks, bright of uniform while rolling to a 47-point lead in the first half before pulling their starters in a 57-34 victory over Arkansas State, which won the Sun Belt Conference last season.

Sophomore running back De’Anthony Thomas caught two touchdown passes and ran for another score while amassing 119 total yards. Quarterback Marcus Mariota made his first start, passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns.


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