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The 2018 season is officially back. Games have been played. There have been winners. There have been losers. 

So guess what else is back?

The entire Week 1 might not be over — there’s still college football on Sunday and Monday — but nearly all of the opening games are in the books. From dominating performances by Alabama and Oklahoma to another disappointing start for Texas and UCLA, there are a lot of storylines to get to.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a step back and digest everything that’s happened through the first three days of Week 1.

Winners

Alabama: Imagine, if you will, what Ferris Bueller must have felt when he got behind the wheel of Cameron’s dad’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. That’s how I like to think Alabama coach Nick Saban felt when he realized he could use a quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa. Prior to last season, Saban had already won five national championships (four with Alabama) primarily because he recruits enough blue-chip players to make those runs every year. To that point, though, he’s won those titles without a true difference-maker at quarterback. No longer. Tagovailoa started Saturday’s 51-14 win over Louisville and unquestionably is the guy for Alabama’s offense. He can do everything Jalen Hurts does as a runner and a passer, and then some. He and receiver DeVonta Smith might be the most exciting television in the SEC. So just think: Alabama was molly-whopping opponents on the regular anyway. Now it’s going to be a whole helluva a lot more fun watching them do it. 

Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush: The progression Wimbush has made as a passer from last season to Saturday night’s opener against Michigan is night and day. Wimbush has always been a tremendous runner, but his development throwing the ball downfield is what should take the Irish’s offense to a completely new level. His numbers (12 of 22, 170 yards, TD, INT) don’t do his performance justice. His ability to evade Michigan’s pressure (which was frequent) keep his composure and his eyes downfield, and deliver a more accurate strike was on display. He had help from wideouts courtesy of some spectacular catches, but this was a positive step forward in a 24-17 Irish win.

Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield: The Mountaineers may not have beat Penn State in Happy Valley, and that’s what Satterfield wanted more than anything. But the 45-38 loss did one thing: It put more eyeballs on Satterfield and his team. A casual observer may remark that Appalachian State has been in this position before — 11 years ago to the day against Michigan. And yes, App State has a brand as a giant killer. However, this was one of the least experienced teams not only in the Sun Belt, but in the country, per Phil Steele. And they almost beat Penn State on the road. Satterfield is 37-15 starting his fifth season in Boone. He’s flown under the radar for bigger jobs, but he’ll get a harder look now. Whether or not he takes those opportunities, he’s earned them. 

Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside: It was Arcega-Whiteside, not Bryce Love, starring in No. 13 Stanford’s 31-10 win over San Diego State. This is using statistics selectively, but Arcega-Whiteside’s 11-to-6 catch-to-touchdown ratio in his past two games dating back to last year’s Alamo Bowl is comically high. He’s officially a problem. His best catch wasn’t even one of his three scores. San Diego State could have been Group of Five, Power Five or The Jackson 5 and it wouldn’t have mattered. There’s almost nothing you can do about a human giant who, at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, can fight through any defense to latch on to a football. The catch-to-touchdown ratio will drop (… right?) but if he keeps this up, he’s going to be must-watch television. 

Losers

Texas coach Tom Herman: You could put the blame of Texas’ loss to Maryland on offensive coordinator Tim Beck. More on that 34-29 defeat here. Is that really solving the problem, though? Herman wouldn’t even say for sure this is Beck’s offense. “We’ll all be calling plays on offense,” Herman told reporters this week. Herman needs direction, and he needs it fast. He is, after all, an offensive guy by trade. If all else fails, Texas should be good at that. And if that means taking over for the rest of the season and making this his offense? Fine. If it means firing Beck, so be it. Texas may still rebound this year, but the earliest it can re-establish an identity, again, is 2019. That will be Year 3 for Herman. That’s not when you establish identities. 

Chip Kelly’s debut: The Kelly era at UCLA won’t be defined by what happens in Week 1 of Year 1, but Lord in heaven, is losing to Cincinnati at home 26-17 a bad look. There are some positives, of course. Running back Kazmeir Allen is a speed demon and just the type of skill guy Kelly needs to pull off those explosive plays. The defense was good enough to win, too. However, Michigan transfer Wilton Speight couldn’t move the offense and Dorian Thompson-Robinson wasn’t much better. There are few sure-fire wins on the schedule and this was supposed to be one of them. Getting to a bowl might have been tough for Kelly in Year 1, but it’s clear he has a ways to go with this squad. 

Anyone who bought FAU stock: There were a lot of people who got a case of the Kiffins this summer. Yeah, Owls coach Lane Kiffin is fun to talk to and a good sound bite, and a smart-as-hell coach who won 11 games last season. And yes, FAU is good … but they’re not that good. The three-touchdown spread coming into Saturday’s game should have been a warning sign. Vegas knows, y’all, and any fodder about an upset should have been tossed aside with a quickness. Oklahoma hung 63 on FAU with a box score that was damn-near perfect. In the words of Kiffin himself, “I’d be shocked if there was a better team in the country after what I saw today.” 

The Khalil Tate-Kevin Sumlin marriage: Tate, at least for about four weeks last season, was the most dynamic, efficient offensive weapon in college football. For first-year coach Kevin Sumlin, it wasn’t quite like getting the keys to a sports car; more like a sports car that needs its engine fine tuned a bit. Well … Sumlin accidentally put oil in the radiator and broke the timing belt. The effort to transform Tate into more of a pocket passer backfired in Arizona’s 28-23 loss to BYU. Tate averaged 5.8 yards per pass attempt and was reckless in his decision-making. Meanwhile, his best asset — his legs — carried him for only 14 yards on 8 attepts. It was borderline malpractice. 

Best of the rest

Auburn defensive lineman Nick Coe: Get ready to hear this guy’s name a lot this season. Coe had one sack, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble in Auburn’s 21-16 win over Washington in Atlanta. The Tigers’ defense was lights-out anyway, but Coe is a man among boys out there. 

USC linebacker Porter Gustin: We didn’t hear much about USC on Saturday. The Trojans needed a late surge to beat UNLV 43-21. That’s not ideal, but getting Gustin back just two weeks after he just had meniscus surgery a month ago is amazing. Gustin ended the game with 3 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Those are good stats by themselves, let alone just coming back from injury. 

This sorcery from Toledo: The Rockets had no problem with VMI, winning 66-3. Of course, that’s an easy task when magician David Blaine is stealing your punts and reappearing in the end zone with the ball for a touchdown. 

Texas Tech wide receiver T.J. Vasher: Honestly, there were so many insane catches from Week 1 that it became impossible to keep track of all of them. To list them all out here would probably be a disservice to the ones that didn’t get the same attention. But if I were to chose one catch from the weekend that stood out above the rest, it was this one-handed grab from Vasher in Texas Tech’s loss to Ole Miss. The extension is mind-boggling. 

Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore: Speaking of receivers, Moore was the early candidate for player of the week with a school-record 313 all-purpose yards against Northwestern in a 31-27 loss. However, you might remember the freshman sensation as a viral offseason workout warrior, squatting 600 pounds. That’s more than three times his 174-pound body weight. He’s like an ant carrying a grape or something. 

Kansas State: Don’t let Kansas’ 26-23 loss to FCS Nicholls State distract you from the fact that Kansas State needed a major comeback to avoid coughing one up against South Dakota. The Wildcats prevailed, barely, 27-24. 

Scott Frost and the eternal waiting game: Inclement weather across the country delayed, postponed or resulted in the outright cancellation of some games around college football on Saturday. No fanbase was more disappointed by this than Nebraska, whose season opener against Akron was, for the moment, delayed due to lightning and bad weather. Thus, the wait for the official return of coach Scott Frost will be prolonged even longer, though how long remains unknown at the present time. 

Quick hits

  • Another nugget from San Diego State’s game: the Aztecs have found their next bell cow running back in Juwan Washington. The junior had 158 yards and a score against the Cardinal and upstaged Love on the other side. 
  • Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. went 10-of-21 passing for 197 yards in Friday’s 34-14 loss to Duke. Army attempted just 65 passes all last year for 361 yards. In one game, Army is already more than halfway to last season’s passing total and has about one-third of the attempts. 
  • Will Grier’s Heisman campaign at West Virginia got off to a good start against Tennessee. Grier had one of the easiest 429-yard, 5-touchdown days a person could have in an easy 40-14 win.
  • Remember Caylin Newton? Cam’s younger brother, who was the star in Howard’s upset over UNLV last season (the biggest upset in Vegas history)? He had 439 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in Howard’s 38-32 loss to Ohio. 
  • From the “Holy cow, man” department, here be the low-key stat of the weekend courtesy of Tulane’s offense in a 23-17 overtime loss to Wake Forest: seven — s-e-v-e-n — punts in plus territory. After double-checking (and then incredulously triple-checking), yep, Tulane punted seven times from Wake Forest territory, five times in the first half alone. 
  • Utah State’s 38-31 loss to No. 11 Michigan State was just the latest of many riveting, but ultimately fruitless results against Power Five opposition. Dating back to 2010, the Aggies have had five such opponents on the ropes during the early part the season. And, yet, all losses. Brutal. This might be the worst case of being #onbrand. 
  • Maryland wideout Jeshaun Jones became the first FBS freshman with a touchdown rushing, receiving and passing in the same game since Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in 2012. 
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