Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a rockier start for any new head coach this season than the one Sumlin’s off to with Arizona. An opening-week loss to Brigham Young was bad enough. A completely uncompetitive 45-18 loss at Houston on Saturday made things even worse.
Sumlin, who enjoyed plenty of success at Houston and then hit a ceiling at Texas A&M;, seemed like an ideal coach to make the most of Tate’s presence after the Wildcats forced out Rich Rodriguez in January. Sumlin had unleashed Johnny Manziel on the SEC, and the Aggies remained interesting enough on offense throughout Sumlin’s time in College Station.
But through two games with Arizona, it’s been a mess. Tate, so electrifying last year, had eight yards on seven carries against Houston while playing the entire game with an apparent ankle injury. He also threw for 341 yards and two interceptions, completing 24 of 45 passes.
More to the point, Arizona is 0-2. Even with a largely manageable Pac-12 South schedule still to come, it’s not the sort of early impression that will endear Sumlin to Wildcats fans.
Kentucky. Putting the Wildcats’ 27-16 victory at Florida in its proper perspective:
Kentucky brought an end to its 31-game losing streak to Florida by thoroughly outplaying the Gators. But to make sure there was no doubt, the Wildcats returned a fumble for a touchdown on the game’s final play.
Clemson. Survived 28-26 at Texas A&M;, as Dabo Swinney got the better of Jimbo Fisher yet again. But even as Kelly Bryant played well at quarterback for the Tigers, it was anything but a poor showing for the host Aggies.
Stanford’s defense. The Cardinal kept Southern California out of the end zone, yielding just 332 total yards in a 17-3 defeat of the Trojans. Stanford has now avenged both of its early-season losses from last season (San Diego State and Southern Cal) and gets an FCS opponent (UC Davis) before making trips to Oregon and Notre Dame to close out September.
Georgia: It’s just two weeks into the season, and it’s already difficult to imagine anyone other than the Bulldogs winning the SEC East. Georgia pounced early at South Carolina and cruised to a 41-17 victory.
Kansas: The long nightmare in the Sunflower State is over. The Jayhawks won a game outside Lawrence for the first time in nearly nine years, 31-7 at Central Michigan. Pooka Williams rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns as Kansas (1-1) won away from home for the first time since Sept. 12, 2009, snapping a 46-game road losing streak that was the second longest in college football history.
Malcolm Perry: The Navy quarterback rushed 36 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns — including a 19-yard scamper straight out of a video game — to lead the Midshipmen to a 22-21 defeat of Memphis. Navy (1-1, 1-0 American) erased a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, its first double-digit comeback in the final quarter since 2008 against Temple.
Duke: The Blue Devils gave up an early touchdown, then stymied Northwestern the rest of the way in a 21-7 victory. David Cutcliffe’s team is off to a 2-0 start, and with Baylor and North Carolina Central up next, Duke has a strong chance to be 4-0 heading into a late-September date with Virginia Tech.
Jonathan Taylor: If the Heisman race is a function of gaudy numbers and playing for a national title contender, the Wisconsin running back could be a factor deep into the season.
His outing Saturday in a 45-14 win against New Mexico: 33 carries, 253 yards, three touchdowns. His two-game totals: 51 carries, 398 yards, five touchdowns.
Still to come for the Badgers: The entire Big Ten West (see below). Taylor rushed for 1,977 yards as a freshman. He could easily top that this season.
South Florida: While the Bulls didn’t put on a clinic in how to stop Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense, they did show a fine bit of resilience in scoring the final three touchdowns of a 49-38 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
That’s two victories over power conference teams in as many weeks for the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati won at UCLA last week). The early returns suggest the American will again be the best of the Group of Five conferences.
Arkansas. Surrendered 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of a 40-27 loss at Colorado State. It’s not going to be a smooth first season for Coach Chad Morris in Fayetteville.
Pittsburgh. The 51-6 loss to Penn State is going to leave a mark, even if the Nittany Lions only led 14-6 at halftime.
Big Ten West: Northwestern lost at home to Duke. Purdue lost at home to Eastern Michigan. Not exactly the sort of developments that make Wisconsin’s road to the Big Ten title game look any more difficult.
And, yes, add Nebraska to the list of Big Ten West teams that don’t look like they’ll mount much of a challenge to Wisconsin this year.
Larry Fedora: The Tar Heels coach, who oversaw an injury-riddled, 3-9 mess last year, has an 0-2 team on his hands this season after a 41-19 drubbing at the hands of an East Carolina bunch that lost to North Carolina A&T; last Sunday.
One thing is near-certain: Fedora’s selective memory will probably lead him to forget this one just like North Carolina’s last trip to Greenville — a 70-41 loss in 2014. He might want to block out the past two years by the time this season is over.
Liberty’s punter: Yeah, this isn’t permitted:
Aidan Alves not only got himself ejected from Liberty’s loss to Army, he is a lock to appear in officiating videos for years to come.