With Week 0 college football action in the books, it’s time for the first edition of the Sunday Stock Exchange for the 2022 season! Who’s trending up, and who’s trending down? Let’s take a closer look. Our first stop: Dublin, Ireland, the site of the Nebraska-Northwestern showdown.
Sunday Stock Exchange | Week 0
Stock up: Saturdays
We have to lead with this. No exceptions. We just exited the first Saturday with college football in 2022. For the next few months, college football is back every Saturday. Saturdays are better with college football. The world is better with college football. Stock up all the way.
Stock down: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska fell by 3 points on Saturday. It may only be a single-digit loss, but Nebraska’s stacked quite a few of those losses over the past two seasons. And they’re starting to add up.
The Cornhuskers had nine single-digit losses in 2021, including frustrating single-possession defeats to teams like Michigan State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Now, in Week 0, the Cornhuskers lost 28-31 to a Northwestern team they beat 56-7 in 2021. A team they were favored against by 9.5 points entering the contest.
It was supposed to be better for Nebraska this year. The team scored in the transfer portal, adding big-ticket items like quarterback Casey Thompson, wide receiver Trey Palmer, and edge rusher Ochaun Mathis.
Thompson and Palmer, along with running back Anthony Grant and tight end Travis Vokolek, helped re-energize the offense on Saturday. But there was still something missing from this Nebraska squad. The team started to unravel as the trenches came under the Wildcats’ control, and a failed onside kick attempt from Scott Frost gave all the momentum back.
Frost says he’s not looking to make excuses — although he quickly threw new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple under the bus for a lack of creativity after the game. But in the end, results are what will matter for Nebraska. Time is running out to right the ship. And when time runs out, it won’t be up to Frost whether he stays or goes.
Frost’s return to Nebraska in 2018 — the school he quarterbacked for and won a championship with — was storybook material. His performance since, however, has been anything but.
Stock up: The “Running Backs Matter” counter-movement
For the better part of a half-decade, you’ve heard the phrase “running backs don’t matter.” You’ve been fed this line by modernist deceivers, who seek to stray from the old ways — ground and pound, setting an identity with the run, etc. Saturday’s events served as a victory for the opposing “running backs matter” crowd because running backs delivered spectacular performances across the board.
It started with the Nebraska-Northwestern showdown. Evan Hull led his Wildcats to victory with 22 carries for 119 yards and two scores, while Grant, on the other side, had 19 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. But the explosive showings didn’t stop there. Young UConn star Nathan Carter piled on 190 yards with his 20 carries, while Utah State’s Calvin Tyler logged a career-high in carries, with 33 for 161 yards.
Illinois, a third Big Ten team in action this weekend, enjoyed a 19-carry, 151-yard, two-touchdown performance from Chase Brown, who also added 16 yards and a score through the air. And on the other side, Wyoming’s Titus Swen put up a respectable 98 yards on 17 carries.
All this, and we haven’t even gotten to Florida State yet. The Seminoles had three 100-yard rushers in a blowout win over Duquesne: Treshaun Ward (14-127-2), Trey Benson (11-105-1), and Lawrance Toafili (13-101-1).
The names keep piling up even beyond that. North Carolina’s Omarion Hampton. FAU’s Larry McCammon III. Bottom line: It was a good week for running backs. In Week 0, the ground game reigned supreme.
Stock down: UConn truthers
Jim Mora Jr.’s arrival at UConn has been mired in unsubstantiated hope. Hope, right now, is all UConn has. Since 2016, the Huskies have only won 10 games. Since a year-long break in 2020, they have just one victory drawn from a 1-11 2021 campaign. For a program mired in controversy and mediocrity year after year, Week 0 was an opportunity to set off on a different path.
The Huskies came out of the gate hot, with help from the aforementioned Carter, who logged over 100 yards in the first quarter alone. UConn jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead over a respected Utah State squad led by Blake Anderson.
That 14-0 first quarter, however, was followed up by a second quarter that saw Utah State score 24 unanswered points. The two teams largely stagnated in the second half, and the Aggies came away with a 31-20 victory. Or, to be more accurate, the Huskies failed to take hold after jumping ahead early and came away with an all too familiar loss.
The Huskies may eventually see growth under Mora. It’s logical to assume that having such an experienced coach would help UConn turn things around. But at the same time, older coaches and retreads are sometimes set in their ways. Mora’s career hasn’t been devoid of criticism to this point, after two failed NFL stints and a tenure at UCLA that saw him fade away quickly after a couple of successful seasons.
Right now, it’s far too early to tell how the Mora era will play out at UConn. But Saturday’s defeat against Utah State, courtesy of an early lead that slipped away, might just prove that the Huskies aren’t there yet.
Stock up: Beer snakes
You knew there was going to be ample beer consumption in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday, with college football coming to the fold. Then the WiFi went down at Aviva Stadium, and fans were given free beer to compensate. The conditions were ripe for a legendary beer snake. And we got it.
For those who don’t know, a beer snake is formed when the following events occur. First, many people purchase beer. In a stadium setting, beer is provided in red plastic cups. People consume the beer and are left with empty plastic cups. You could always dispose of those cups, but as humans generally do, they found a much greater purpose for those empty cups.
They stacked their cups by the dozen and created an artificial reptilian form out of No. 6 polystyrene plastic.
That’s where the beer snake started. It was far from done at that point, however. The beer snake reportedly grew tenfold beyond that, at one point snaking upward and reaching the second level of the stadium. Do you know how many red solo cups it takes to beat gravity? A lot. But the fans in Dublin beat gravity. Beer snakes: Stock up.
Stock up: Northwestern 2023 NFL Draft prospects
Northwestern has gained a reputation that it’s not as proficient at producing NFL draft talent as other teams in the Big Ten. In a sense, it’s true — Northwestern will never be Ohio State or Michigan when it comes to NFL production. But the Wildcats may deserve more respect in that department. Saturday’s performance proved that the Wildcats’ roster might have more NFL potential than assumed.
Peter Skoronski is the headliner, and he dazzled on Saturday. Mauling opponents at left tackle, he constantly paved open lanes as a run blocker and used his play strength and quick athleticism off the snap to hold strong in pass protection. Time will tell if he breaks into Round 1. But on Saturday, he confirmed that it should, at the very least, be a possibility for him.
While Skoronski is the headliner, however, the riches are on defense. Adetomiwa Adebawore, an explosive 6’2″, 280-pound lineman featured on Feldman’s Freaks, made life miserable for Nebraska’s offense all day. Though he didn’t log a sack or a TFL, he was constantly pressuring from different alignments and compressing the pocket, allowing others to build on his impact.
Adebawore’s presence also helped create opportunities for the players in the secondary, who made the most of their chances. Cameron Mitchell was the star of the day, with a crucial interception and two pass deflections. Rod Heard II also had a deflection, while veteran safety Coco Azema had eight tackles and a sack on a blitz.
All three defensive backs could go on to earn NFL opportunities. Heard is versatile and proactive and made a visible impact at his new safety spot on Saturday. Azema is a fast-paced, aggressive defender who’s not afraid to attack plays and impose his will at the catch point. And Mitchell, who might be the most natural cover man of the bunch, has the fluidity, instincts, and playmaking ability to be a crucial piece in the weeks to come.
For more draft prospects on the rise, keep an eye out for our 2023 NFL Draft Week 0 risers coming soon. There, we’ll look at every game from the Week 0 slate and pick out players who showed NFL potential.
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