More Overtime (cont.)
Welcome back to the big leagues, Dennis Franchione.
Coaching Texas State in its first game as an FBS member, the former coach of New Mexico, TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M orchestrated by far the biggest upset of opening weekend -- and technically, one of the biggest in history. The Bobcats, 36.5-point underdogs, routed Houston -- a 13-team win team last season -- 30-13. It's believed only Stanford's 2007 upset of USC involved a larger Vegas point spread.
"I thought we could find a way to win the game," Franchione said Sunday morning. "I didn't quite anticipate we'd do it the way we did ... when you're playing a team that went 13-1 and put up points like an arcade game."
Franchione, the Bobcats head coach back in 1990-91, said he returned to San Marcos two years ago (after three seasons out of coaching) in part because the 36,000-student school was better equipped than most to make the FBS transition. Texas State has invested $70 million in its facilities since 2004, including expanding its stadium capacity from 16,0000 to 30,000. Still, when he took over, "we probably had 10, 12, maybe 15 guys that could play on an FBS roster." After just two recruiting classes, he now estimates he has "18 or 20 that could get on the two-deep" at one of the major programs he previously coached.
One of those players is undoubtedly running back Marcus Curry. Dismissed from Navy in 2010, the senior ran for a career-high 131 yards and scored three touchdowns. But the real stunner was how the Bobcats' defense held Houston's previously record-setting offense (albeit now without Kevin Sumlin or Case Keenum) to 13 points. One of the Bobcats' top pass-rushers, defensive end Chase Harper, is also the starting tight end.
For Franchione, whose previous track record of successful rebuilding jobs ended with his mediocre stint in College Station, Texas State's trajectory feels more familiar, albeit far ahead of schedule. "When I looked at the challenge of moving up a division," Franchione said, "I thought, this had Coach Fran's name on it." Beating Houston is not like winning the Iron Bowl or the Texas-Texas A&M game, but from Franchione's current seat it's a far more impressive achievement.
Mind you, the strangest part is not that Kent State's linebacker tried to run a muffed punt 58 yards in the wrong direction. It's that his teammates blocked for him and Towson players tried to tackle him!
Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller (who had 161 rushing yards, the school record for a quarterback) began their Ohio State marriage in triumphant fashion Saturday, but it helps when one's receiver morphs into a human magnet field.
Mini-previews for three of this week's big games:
Florida at Texas A&M, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): Welcome to the SEC, Aggies. The bad news: Your warm-up game got postponed and you have no earthly way of knowing how freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel will respond to live action. The good news: You know exactly what to expect from Florida's signal-callers.
Georgia at Missouri, Saturday (7:45 p.m. ET): Welcome to the SEC, Tigers. The bad news: Georgia has very good players. Aaron Murray. Jarvis Jones. You'll see the tape. The good news: Mark Richt's team lost its last two games in (former) Big 12 country (at Oklahoma State in 2009 and at Colorado in 2010).
Washington at LSU, Saturday (7 p.m. ET): Welcome to SEC country, Huskies. Washington's revamped defense performed admirably in a 21-12 win over San Diego State, notching four sacks and a touchdown return. But the Huskies must find a way to protect quarterback Keith Price from being eaten by Barkevious Mingo.