Lott IMPACT Trophy | Honoring College Football's Defensive Best

“IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, THE MIND CAN ACHIEVE IT.”

-RONNIE LOTT

Blog – What a Weekend!!!

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Well, it was billed as the greatest opening weekend in college football history…and in almost every which way the ball bounced, it was!

Upsets, blowouts, top-ranked matchups, drama, history and emotion filled the calendar

The kickoff actually began before the weekend, with 16 games on Thursday and 11 more on Friday. By the time the sun rose Saturday, there were another 56 games on the horizon.

For the first time in 44 years, two of the top five teams lost on the first weekend of the season – Oklahoma, having no boomer in their sooner, falling to Houston and LSU, with a junior college offense, losing to Wisconsin. Of course, Houston and Wisconsin are no pushovers, which speaks to the fact that 2016 debuted with a number of marquee matches between top-tier programs.

It was wild and wooley from the start. You turn on ESPN’s highly acclaimed Game Day and catch all the interviews and projections. David Pollack, the winner of the inaugural Lott IMPACT Trophy back in 2004, showed off his athletic skill by jumping – from a standing position – onto a nearly 5-foot high platform. Pollack is a rising star on television after his playing career was cut short by injury in his rookie NFL season. He was everywhere – Saturday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay for the Wisconsin-LSU game, Sunday in Austin for the Notre Dame-Texas game.

There was drama all over the place. ABC paid tribute to John Saunders, who died this summer at 61, while CBS began a season-long tribute to 53-year veteran Verne Lundquist, who is retiring at the end of the year. In Pittsburgh, running back James Conner returned from a seven-month battle with cancer to score two touchdowns and receive numerous thundering ovations from the home crowd.

In Lincoln, the Cornhuskers honored punter Sam Holtz, who was killed in a car accident in July, by vacating his position on the first punt formation of the game, thus incurring a 5-yard penalty, which was classily declined by the Nebraska opponent, Fresno State.

Later on CBS, there was former UCLA Quarterback Rick Neuheisel singing one of his clever ditties about SEC football. His Bruins weren’t that clever in an overtime loss to Texas A&M. The Aggies were led on defense by Myles Garrett, a Lott IMPACT Trophy nominee this year, who was credited with two quarterback hurries and a sack.

In Dallas, Sam Cunningham, the legendary USC star of the 1970 game against Alabama – which many felt helped integrate the Crimson Tide football program – was the honorary captain for the Trojans. But things went quickly downhill for this USC team, which looked unprepared and unmotivated in a 52-6 thrashing by Alabama.

In Austin, they played one for the ages with all kinds of turns and twists: Texas finally defeated Notre Dame, 50-47, in double overtime.

Assistant coaches got to turn the tables on their former teams – Alabama Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin, the former USC head coach, guided his team to 52 points against the Trojans while Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone had all the right calls against his former team, UCLA.

A wild weekend, indeed. It should be just as wild a season, too.

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