Conference call

The ups and downs after college football’s opening weekend

Updated: 2013-09-02T04:15:47Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Big 12

• RISING: Oklahoma State’s defense was impressive. The Cowboys surrendered a field goal to Mississippi State on the opening drive, and that was it in a 21-3 triumph. It was the lowest output by an Oklahoma State BCS opponent since 1995.

• FALLING: Take your pick, Kansas State or Iowa State. Both lost to Football Championship Series opponents, the Wildcats to two-time defending NCAA champion North Dakota State, and the Cyclones to rival Northern Iowa. The outcomes were understandable, but they’re not supposed to happen.

SEC

• RISING: The happiest player in college football over the weekend might have been Missouri running back Henry Josey. Playing for the first time since a devastating knee injury in 2011, Josey rushed for 113 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown in a 58-14 thumping of Murray State. Afterward, cheers could be heard from the Mizzou locker room when he received the game ball.

• FALLING: Kentucky has a ways to go. The Wildcats dropped a 35-26 decision to Western Kentucky in Nashville, surrendering nearly 500 total yards to coach Bobby Petrino’s Hilltoppers.

Atlantic Coast

• RISING: Look at you, Clemson, beating a top-10 team in Georgia and looking like a national-championship contender. And if it hasn’t happened already, add quarterback Tajh Boyd to any Heisman watch list.

• FALLING: Not a bad effort from Syracuse, a 23-17 loser to Penn State. But the Orange didn’t help its cause with four turnovers, including two interceptions from quarterback Drew Allen, the Oklahoma transfer.

American Athletic Conference

• RISING: Louisville’s top challenger appears to be Cincinnati, which wrecked Purdue. We’ve often talked about the Cardinals’ ability to run the table, but the Bearcats might be favored in every game until the season finale against the Cards.

• FALLING: South Florida, what the…? Willie Taggart left Western Kentucky to take over in Tampa, and the rebuilding task may be more difficult than anybody envisioned after a 53-21 loss to McNeese State.

Big Ten

• RISING: Illinois’ offense looks healthier, but the defense? Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase of Kansas City passed for 340 yards in the first half and led the Illini to a 42-34 victory over Southern Illinois. The competition ramps up quickly with upcoming games against Cincinnati and Washington.

• FALLING: Purdue figured to be in an uphill battle against Cincinnati, but the Boilermakers may be further away than believed. A 42-7 loss in coach Darrell Hazell’s first game was about as discouraging as it gets.

Pac-12

• RISING: Washington turned in one of the “wow” performances of the weekend, 38-6 over Boise State. Quarterback Keith Price threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns. The defense held the Broncos to their lowest points total since 1997.

• FALLING: Hey, it’s not as if this happened before to Oregon State. The 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington marked the second time in two years the Beavers lost to an FCS school in the opener. In 2011, Sacramento State turned the trick in overtime.

Others

• RISING: The game of the weekend happened last Thursday, when Fresno State outlasted Rutgers 52-51 in overtime. Both quarterbacks — the Bulldogs’ Derek Carr and Rutgers’ Gary Nova — each tossed five touchdown passes. Carr totaled 456 yards, Nova 348.

• FALLING: For a few moments, it appeared Southern Mississippi would get its first victory since 2011. But Texas State rallied for a late touchdown and pulled out a 22-15 victory, sending the Golden Eagles to consecutive loss No. 13, with games at Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State in September.

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