College Football’s Kick Off Sets Tone for the Season


Evan Bruno, Sports Editor

After a long wait since Georgia beat Alabama in the National Championship game last January, college football is back. Each year, the first two weeks of the season lay the groundwork for the year to come, and after two weeks of play this year seems to be no different. This season, rivals UCLA and USC have two very different tales to tell. The Trojans welcomed in new head coach Lincoln Riley this past offseason where he told the press, “[USC] is going to be the Mecca of college football.” Meanwhile for the Bruins, head coach Chip Kelly entered his fifth year, with each season having more wins than the previous. Will USC live up to the high expectations? Can UCLA improve once more?

In Week One, UCLA would host the Bowling Green Falcons, while USC would battle the Rice Owls at the Coliseum. Both the Bruins and the Trojans were heavy favorites going into these games, with little doubt that either team would win by less than twenty. And that’s exactly what both teams did. At the Rose Bowl, after Bowling Green took an early 17-7 lead, taking advantage of multiple UCLA special teams blunders, UCLA’s offense, led by quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet, would rally to score 38 unanswered points, giving the Bruins their first win on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, at the Coliseum, as UCLA’s game ended USC’s was just beginning. After a slow start for USC, the Trojans absolutely pulled away, getting three pick-sixes and putting up 66 points to Rice’s 14. Quarterback Caleb Williams absolutely shined in first game in the crimson and gold, and USC and UCLA both started 1-0. Other notable games this week included a thriller where North Carolina avoided an upset bid from Appalachian State, Utah traveling to Florida and ultimately falling just short, and a late comeback effort from LSU that ended up just not being enough to beat the Florida State Seminoles. 

The next week, the Bruins and Trojans were back at it again, this time playing against two very different opponents. UCLA would play lower division opponent Alabama State, while USC took on conference opponent Stanford up in Palo Alto. As expected, UCLA dominated the Hornets of Alabama State, winning 45-7, in a blowout at the Rose Bowl. But USC’s matchup against Stanford was much closer. After taking a 41-14 lead, the Cardinal rumbled back, scoring two key touchdowns in their effort, but ultimately they fell short, and the trees were cut down by the blade of the Trojans, 41-28. Multiple key upsets occurred this week, with #6 Texas A&M losing to Appalachian State, #8 Notre Dame falling to Marshall, #19 Wisconsin coming up just short against Washington State, and BYU shocking Baylor at home in double overtime, 26-20.

After the first two weeks, UCLA and USC both stand at 2-0, and the usual suspects (being Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Georgia) looked prime for another title battle. But unusual schools are making a name for themselves in this year’s playoff race, such as Kentucky, Utah, and BYU, all looking to make a splash and change the landscape of college football. With ten games to go, so much could happen, but it’s amazing that one of the most exciting sports on Earth is back for another round.