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Badgers' Wilson first QB to star, others make splash


Happy Labor Day, folks, and welcome to our first Monday review/preview of the 2011 season. What did we learn during our first college football weekend? And what do we still not know? Here are five tidbits to consider:

1. Russell Wilson makes Wisconsin scary good: Wilson transferred to Wisconsin to play his final season of college football when N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien insisted Wilson give up pro baseball and be totally committed to his senior season in Raleigh. In his Badgers debut on Thursday, Wilson threw for 255 yards (completing 10 of 13 passes) and two scores and ran 46 yards for another touchdown in a rout of UNLV.

"Some moxie. Some savvy. Some God-given ability," said coach Bret Bielema. I would say so.

Mike Glennon, the man who replaced Wilson at N.C. State, completed 18 of 31 passes for 156 yards in a win over Liberty.

Russell Wilson impresses his new coach while leaving his old coach open to criticism. (AP)  
Russell Wilson impresses his new coach while leaving his old coach open to criticism. (AP)  
N.C. State fans are going to be comparing the numbers of the two quarterbacks all season. If the Wolfpack start to struggle and Wisconsin plays for the Big Ten championship, O'Brien is going to catch some heat on this one.

2. A Pac-16 would be the irony of ironies: This is like the San Francisco earthquake that you know is coming, you just don't know when. But most of us in the business always assumed that when the Big One hit, it would be Mike Slive of the SEC or Jim Delany of the Big Ten flexing their muscles. As it may turn out, the two men who change college athletics as we know it will be Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, a former women's tennis executive, and DeLoss Dodds, a former track coach who is now the athletic director at Texas.

If the Pac-16 becomes a reality, I predict Scott will see that as his legacy and move on to the next big challenge. Who would replace Scott? That would be Kevin Weiberg, the former commissioner of the Big 12 before the much-embattled Dan Beebe. Weiberg is Scott's right-hand man at the Pac-12, handling the day-to-day operations while Scott looks at the big picture.

3. Kellen Moore is beyond awesome: I've watched Boise State's Moore play a bunch of times on television, but you can't really appreciate his talent until you see him in person. After a slow first quarter Saturday, Moore simply played with what was supposed to be an improved Georgia defense, completing 28 of 34 passes (82.3 percent) for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

Think about these numbers: Over his career, Moore has thrown 102 touchdowns and only 20 interceptions. Exactly half of those came when Moore was a freshman in 2008. In 2009, he had three picks (with 39 touchdowns) and in 2010 he had six (with 35 touchdowns).

He is 39-2 as a starting quarterback, with a one-point loss to TCU in the Fiesta Bowl and a three-point loss (in overtime) last season at Nevada. If Moore stays healthy, he will pass Colt McCoy (who had 45 wins at Texas) as the most successful quarterback in NCAA history.

I know he'll be in New York, but if Boise runs the table and this guy goes 50-2 as a starting quarterback, shouldn't he win the Heisman Trophy?

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4. So is R.G. III: TCU has led the nation in total defense the past three seasons. Last season the Horned Frogs led in every major defensive category. Yes, Gary Patterson lost five all-conference starters off the Rose Bowl champs. But there were good players filling those spots. TCU did not forget how to play defense.

So you have to be impressed that Baylor's Robert Griffin III could complete 77.7 of his passes (21 of 27) for 359 yards and five touchdowns against the Horned Frogs in a dramatic 50-48 win in Waco on Friday. Last season only one opposing quarterback, San Diego State's Ryan Lindley, passed for more than 200 yards against TCU. Griffin even caught a 15-yard pass (for a first down) and took a hard shot on the winning drive.

"I couldn't talk for about two plays," he said after the game. "[Terrance] Ganaway had to call the plays."

The next four games against Stephen F. Austin, Rice, Kansas State and Iowa State all look winnable for Baylor. Then comes an Oct. 15 trip to Texas A&M. Better keep an eye on R.G. III.

5. Mark Richt faces the biggest game of his career Saturday: Earlier this year I was meeting with an official who was pretty high up the food chain at Georgia. I asked a question that he really didn't want to answer: "What happens at Georgia and to coach Mark Richt if the Bulldogs start 0-2?"

The school official gave me one of those looks that said: "I don't want to think about that."

Well, Georgia now has to think about that after losing to No. 5 Boise State 35-21 in Atlanta. Boise State methodically dominated the game after Georgia took an early 7-0 lead. Anytime you play on a national stage, it's important. But for Georgia, the Boise game pales in comparison to Saturday's SEC opener with No. 12 South Carolina. Win that one and Georgia has a leg up in the wide-open SEC East. Lose it and Georgia can still win the division. South Carolina won the SEC East with a 5-3 record last season.

But if Georgia loses at home Saturday, the negative energy will be profound. That's because of some very negative numbers that won't go away in light of the past two seasons, when Georgia was a combined 14-12 (7-9 SEC). From 2002-2008, Richt was 24-11 against ranked teams. If Georgia loses to Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks, Richt will be 2-10 vs. the Bulldogs' past 12 ranked opponents. Ouch.

The Tony Barnhart Show returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network.

Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.

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