Donavan Wilson

The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WACK-12
The Pac-12 came into the 2015 season looking to challenge the SEC for conference football supremacy.  While that may end up still being the case, it was a rough Week 1 in myriad regards for the Left Coast league, particularly its northern division.

First and foremost, No. 21 Stanford went into Evanston as heavy favorites only to be upended and upset by Northwestern.  And it wasn’t just that one of the preseason favorites in the North was beaten, it was that they were roughed up by the Wildcats and seemed to play timid on both sides of the ball.  More embarrassingly, a couple of hours later Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, which came into the game a 30-point underdog.

The South contributed to the first-week malaise as No. 15 Arizona State, viewed by some as a darkhorse playoff candidate (sheepishly raises hand), capped off the night with a 20-point loss to unranked Texas A&M.  At least that, though, was a loss to a Power Five school, and one from the stacked SEC West no less, in what was essentially a home game for the Aggies.

Add in Washington’s loss to Boise State — no shame in that — and Colorado’s loss to Hawaii Thursday night — a whole hell of a lot of shame in that — and it turned into a horrific lost weekend for the conference.  That said, remember how many were writing the Big Ten off a year ago at this time?  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise to repeat that history.

WEAK 1?
If you thought that the Week 1 schedule, especially Saturday, was especially lacking when it came to compelling on-paper matchups, you’re not alone.  In fact, the raw data is sitting right along side you.

Opening weekend, and including the two still remaining, there were/are 87 games involving FBS teams.  Of that, 11 pitted Power Five vs. Power Five (for this exercise, I’m considering BYU a P5); another 47 — more than half — featured FBS teams playing an FCS team.  There were 22 Power Five teams that opened their season against an FCS team, with the ACC far and away leading the cupcake way with seven.  The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had four apiece, while the pastry alley that is the late-season SEC lagged behind with three.

There were also 23 games played between Power Five and Group of Five teams.  The SEC accounted for eight of those games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 saw four each.  The FCS-heavy ACC had three such games.

It wasn’t just the Power Fives feeding on the FCS, though, as 25 Group of Five teams opened against the former Div. 1-AA.  The remaining six games saw Group of Five squads squaring off against each other.

While most of the FBS feasted on their FCS cupcakes, a handful choked on them.  Two that lost to FCS teams were Power Five members in the aforementioned Wazzu and Kansas (South Dakota State, more on that below) and two were Group of Five teams in Army (Fordham) and Wyoming (North Dakota).

BAD BLOOD CHEAP SHOT?
Vernon Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to Oregon earlier this offseason and ultimately earned the Ducks’ starting quarterback job.  As luck would have it, Adams’ current and former teams squared off in the season opener in Autzen Saturday night, and there was one interesting development in UO’s 61-42 win.

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Upcoming Charlotte program to give former Texas Tech DC a shot

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Months after coming to an agreement to simply walk away from Texas Tech, for whatever reason, Matt Wallerstedt is getting back in the game. The former Texas Tech defensive coordinator will be named the new defensive coordinator for the Charlotte 49ers, a program entering just its third season of football in 2015 and preparing to move up to the FBS and join Conference USA.

Sports Illustrated was the first to report the news of Charlotte hiring Wallerstedt, which reunites Wallerstedt with his former roommate at Kansas State, Brad Lambert. Lambert is the head coach of the 49ers. The Charlotte Observer notes Wallerstedt will replace Bruce Tall. Tall’s defense allowed 31.6 points per game and 479.3 yards per game in 2014, although the program did start from scratch so the numbers should not be expected to be too glowing.

Wallerstedt was removed from his post in Lubbock in September, and a verbal back-and-forth between he and some coaches continued into November before the former assistant coach and school agreed to move on from the ugliness. Wallerstedt picked up a gig with Louisiana-Lafayette and ended the year as a linebackers coach for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Now he is getting a chance to show what he can do as a defensive coordinator once more, and he should be given plenty of time to work with Charlotte being such a new program.

Charlotte joins Conference USA in 2015 after playing two seasons at the FCS level.

Budding rivalry in North Carolina? Charlotte, App. State schedule two games

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They are calling it a natural rivalry, even though the two programs have yet to play a single game. Appalachian State and Charlotte will play two games in 2018 and 2019 in a home-and-home agreement announced Monday. Charlotte will play host in 2018 and Appalachian State will host the game in 2019.

“It’s a game that should be played,” Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert said in a statement Monday, according to The Charlotte Observer“We’re excited about the opportunity to play a great program from right here in our region. This will be fun for our fans and I’m sure they will be excited as well.”

“The proximity of our campuses, the similarity of our schools and the familiarity our student-athletes have with each other from the high school level make it a natural rivalry,” said Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield.

The two campuses are just about two hours apart, but both programs are moving up in the world of college football the next couple of years. Appalachian State will leave the FCS to compete at the FBS level starting this fall. The Mountaineers will join the Sun Belt Conference. Charlotte is on a fast track to FBS competition after completing the first football season in program history just last fall. The 49ers will move up to the FBS level in 2015 and join Conference USA.

With a handful of regional college rivalries becoming a thing of the past thanks to realignment (Oklahoma-Nebraska, West Virginia-Pittsburgh, BYU-Utah etc.) it is good to see new rivalries develop. It may take some time before Charlotte-Appalachian State rivals the intensity fo a Duke-UNC match-up in the state, but here’s hoping this series can extend beyond the initial two-game set in place now.

Helmet sticker to Charlotte Observer.