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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

College football's power couple: 'Bama and Oregon?

Sifting through a rout-filled opening weekend, two results stand out: Alabama 41, Michigan 14 (final); and Oregon 50, Arkansas State 3 (in the second quarter!).

September 02, 2012|Chris Dufresne
  • Alabama's defense spent a lot of time in Michigan's backfield Saturday.
Alabama's defense spent a lot of time in Michigan's backfield… (Leon Halip / Getty Images )

This just in: Serious muscle was flexed over opening weekend.

The playing field was no place for the timid, meek, weak, or sons and daughters of Ann Arbor.

"Obviously, we didn't play Michigan football," Michigan Coach Brady Hoke said after Saturday night's 41-14 loss to Alabama in Arlington, Texas.

Hoke's team didn't even play Eastern Michigan football.

It was "Big Boys Night Out" all over the landscape as the early season took its first stab at separating fact from fraud.

Nicholls State might have caught a lucky break — the Louisiana school's game at Oregon State was postponed by a hurricane.

Savannah State didn't get off so easy, dropping an 84-0 outcome to Oklahoma State.

Believe it or not, afterward, the losing coach thanked the winning coach, Mike Gundy, for taking it easy.

"This thing could have gotten worse," Savannah State Coach Steve Davenport said. "I am graciously appreciative of the way he handled the game."

Everyone knows that Gundy, whenever he gets past 60-0, turns into a sentimental softy.

Next week Savannah State plays at Florida State.

"Our No.1 goal was not to win either one of these games," Davenport said.

Good thing . . .

This was the weekend when the proverbial "Sisters of the Poor" tried to get rich. The premise was a Woody Allen film: "Take the Money and Run."

You couldn't keep up with the ridiculousness or runaway-train recklessness.

Boise State didn't score an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1997. Penn State's defense gave up 499 yards. A quarterback from Division III Eureka (Ill.) College, Sam Durley, passed for an NCAA-record 736 yards. Maryland needed a late touchdown to defeat William & Mary, 7-6.

A dozen major schools scored 50 points or more. North Carolina, apparently informed by the NCAA that academic fraud is fine so long as it's available to all students, celebrated with a 62-0 win over Elon.

West Virginia and Florida State each scored one point short of 70.

Arizona State posted an opening-round 63, Missouri shot 62, and Mississippi State, Ohio State and Central Florida entered the clubbing house with cards of 56.

Notre Dame scored 50 in an overseas dry-docking of Navy.

Several schools just missed the 50-point cut (UCLA, Mississippi, Nebraska, USC, New Mexico State).

Several powerful statements were delivered.

Associated Press No. 1 USC opened strong against Hawaii. Silas Redd, the transfer from Penn State, made obvious his added value to the tailback position.

Fans in a State College sports-themed restaurant clapped Saturday night when Redd fumbled early but sat on their hands when he later scored on a 31-yard run.

Marqise Lee is so good he almost makes you forget USC's other-side receiver, Robert what's-his-All-American-name.

West Virginia routed state rival Marshall and could be the national title-game contender everyone missed.

Two 1-2 performance punches, though, stood above the rest.

•Alabama 41, Michigan 14

The Crimson Tide's neutral-site crushing of the Wolverines put the SEC and Big Ten in their proper places. Alabama looked so good it made you forget Louisiana State won last year's SEC title and prevailed Saturday by the same 41-14 score. The difference is LSU played North Texas and Alabama dismantled a preseason top-10 team with a leading preseason Heisman candidate.

The game was a measuring stick game for Michigan, coming off an 11-win season.

"I would think we're on the short end of the measuring stick right now," Hoke said.

Questions abounded about how fast Alabama could retool after losing key components from last year's BCS title team.

The Crimson Tide answered by putting a tool belt on the Wolverines.

The Big Ten fell down (again) against the SEC and can't wait until Ohio State comes off probation.

•Oregon 57, Arkansas State 34.

The game was 50-3 when Chip Kelly pulled his starters . . . in the second quarter. Arkansas State is not Savannah State. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt last year. They went to Virginia Tech last year and lost only 26-7.

Arkansas State's coach, Hugh Freeze, did such a good job he was hired by an SEC school (Mississippi).

Yet, first-year Coach Gus Malzahn, Auburn's offensive coordinator when the Tigers beat the Ducks for the BCS title two seasons ago, could be happy only that his veteran team stayed in Eugene until the end.

"A lot of younger teams would have wanted to get out of there," he said.

The Ducks and their green uniforms deserve glowing praise. Much-hyped quarterback Marcus Mariota did not disappoint. The redshirt freshman from Hawaii completed 18 of 22 passes for 200 yards with three touchdowns before sitting down with five minutes left in the half.

"That kid looked pretty good, didn't he?" veteran Oregon lineman Carson York said afterward.

Now we know, perhaps, why Darron Thomas left campus with remaining eligibility. In two years, Thomas led Oregon to the BCS title game and a Rose Bowl championship, but he may not have been able to hold off Mariota for the starting job.

The Ducks can't be as good as they look — if they are, call off the season. Oregon's offense, with De'Anthony Thomas darting around in his fluorescent uniform, looked like a game of laser tag.

"They have a real chance," Malzahn said of Oregon's BCS title hopes.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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