A five-day college football bonanza comes to a close with Georgia Techs trip to Virginia Tech tonight.
What we learned as we put Week 1 in the books:
1) The SEC still rules
Alabama and LSU look like the two best teams in the country. Is it 2011 again or 2012?
Alabama, which dismantled Michigan, 41-14, didnt look as if it missed a step from its previous outing a 21-0 win over LSU for the 2011 BCS title despite losing four first-rounders and six total NFL draft picks.
LSU throttled a lesser opponent, North Texas, by the same score and looked every bit as imposing as the team that went 13-0 and won the SEC title before bowing out to the Tide in the BCS title game.
And the rich are getting richer. Tennessee, a team that went 1-7 in SEC play last season, thoroughly out-played N.C. State in a 35-21 win in the first ACC-SEC matchup of the weekend in Atlanta.
Auburn did lose the second ACC-SEC matchup to Clemson, but even that was a relative show of strength for the SEC. Clemson might be the ACCs best team, whereas Auburn might be the sixth-best SEC team, and Auburn gave Clemson everything it wanted in a 26-19 decision.
USC, ranked No. 1 by the AP, might have a chance against an SEC power in the BCS title game in January, but theres no guarantee the Trojans, who looked good in a 49-10 rout of Hawaii, will get there.
Given the SECs start, it might just be another all-SEC final.
2) N.C. States not ready for primetime
N.C. State put together 17 wins in the 2010 and 11 seasons, with consecutive bowl wins, and returned a veteran lineup, but the Wolfpack was no match for a Tennessee program on shaky footing on Friday night.
The Volunteers, coming off consecutive losing seasons, exploited N.C. States two best players, quarterback Mike Glennon and cornerback David Amerson, in a 35-21 win on Friday.
The Wolfpack just might recover, as both coach Tom OBrien and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney suggested in their respective post-game comments in Atlanta, to win the ACC but theres a long road to recovery for N.C. States image.
3) Larry Fedora is a man of his word
The day he was hired, new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora promised points, lots of them, and he delivered in his debut, a 62-0 win over Elon.
UNC hadnt scored 60 points in a game since 1995 and hadnt shut out an opponent since 1999. And lest you think such numbers are less meaningful given Elons FCS status, UNC scored a total of 63 points in its past two games against former I-AA teams.
The primary concern after Saturdays win was the health of running back Gio Bernard, who didnt play in the second half with an undisclosed injury, but he didnt have to. Bernard rushed for 93 yards and scored three touchdowns in one halfs worth of work.
Notable about UNCs 62-point outburst, the last time it scored that many points was against Jim Grobes first Ohio team in 95. UNCs next opponent? Jim Grobes 12th Wake Forest team.
4) Clemson can take a punch
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had boxing legend Evander Holyfield talk to his team the night before its 26-19 win over Auburn on Saturday.
The marriage of a boxing-football metaphor seemed appropriate to Swinney after his team got knocked out in a 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, which overshadowed the Tigers first ACC title in 20 years.
Actually, it did more than eclipse the success of Clemsons 10-4 season in 2011, it turned the Tigers into a punch line. A South Carolina fan held up a sign during ESPNs GameDay coverage from Arlington, Texas with a familiar zinger. West Virginia just scored again, the sign read.
The jokes at the expense of Clemsons defense should ease up, at least temporarily, after it held Auburn to one touchdown and under 400 yards of total offense, or nine touchdowns and 215 yards fewer than it gave up in the Orange Bowl disaster.
The message from Holyfield, a five-time heavyweight champion, was simple, Swinney said.
He got beat 11 times but then what did he do? Swinney said. Hed come back. Thats what champions do.
The lesson is you dont sit around and worry about what other people say or think. You believe in yourself ... you choose to be honest with yourself and go get better. Thats what these guys did in the offseason.
5) Stanford misses Andrew Luck
Duh, I know, but coach Jim Harbaugh left Stanford after the 2010 season and the Cardinal proceeded to win 11 games without him.
Quarterback Andrew Luck was the primary reason why. Luck, the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NFL draft, led the Cardinal to 23 wins and two BCS bowl games in his final two seasons. In its first game without Luck, Stanford needed a late rally to edge San Jose State 20-17 on Saturday.
A year ago with Luck, Stanford drubbed the Spartans 57-3. Stanford will play host to Duke on Saturday before a visit from USC on Sept. 15.