Originally Published: September 3, 2012

Week 1 panic attacks

By Mark Schlabach

Oklahoma fans are checking the grease on the Sooner Schooner's axles.

Georgia fans are confirming that new mascot Russ actually is one of UGA's descendants.

Michigan fans are starting to think Greg Robinson (and not Mattison) is coaching the Wolverines' defense again.

And Stanford fans are wondering if Andrew Luck played all 22 positions on the field the past three seasons.

From coast to coast, fans of some of college football's ranked teams are being talked off the ledge after less-than-impressive openers.

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AP Photo/Mark LambieUTEP gave Oklahoma a scare early, but Landry Jones and the Sooners eventually settled into the game and left El Paso with a win, however unconvincing it was.

In the opening week's appetizers, No. 9 South Carolina struggled at Vanderbilt on Thursday night, and No. 21 Stanford nearly lost to, ahem, San Jose State on Friday night.

Then No. 4 Oklahoma struggled to put away UTEP on the road on Saturday. No. 6 Georgia's heralded defense was bulled over by Buffalo in the first half, and No. 8 Michigan was steamrolled by No. 2 Alabama. No. 12 Wisconsin couldn't put away Northern Iowa until late in the fourth quarter, and No. 23 Florida got all it could handle from Bowling Green.

"You've got to touch a hot stove once," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema told reporters after the Badgers' 26-21 victory on Saturday. "Once you get burned, you're not going to do it again. And hopefully our guys learn, hey, you've got to put people away when we can."

The burning questions for fans and future opponents alike: How much did those teams actually reveal on the first weekend?

"The hard thing to tell [about Florida] is how much did they show, which was not a lot," said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, whose Aggies face the Gators on Saturday in their first SEC game. "They were pretty vanilla on defense and played a lot of even fronts. I've known [Gators offensive coordinator] Brent Pease for a long time. I know he has much more than that."

But the panic meter is still heating up at the aforementioned schools. How much cause is there for concern? We examine each of these seven teams after Week 1, assigning yellow (low), orange (medium) and red (high) panic levels for each:

No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners

The bad: The Sooners didn't take a lead over the Miners until Michael Hunnicutt's 38-yard field goal made it 10-7 with 10:05 to go in the third quarter. OU eventually pulled away for a 24-7 victory in El Paso, Texas. The Sooners had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and nearly had a blocked field goal returned for a score. Oklahoma's defense was porous against the run, allowing UTEP's Nathan Jeffery to rush for 177 yards on 21 carries.

The good: Oklahoma's secondary, which was its Achilles' heel last season, held up well in its first game under new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison completed only 6 of 23 passes for 39 yards and was sacked twice.

Conversely, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones was very effective in his first game with his revamped receiver corps. Jones completed 21 of 36 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kenny Stills caught six passes for 121 yards with one touchdown. OU's running game looked better, too, with Damien Williams running for 104 yards and one touchdown and Dominique Whaley adding 54 yards.

Panic level: Yellow

Verdict: The Sooners get another warm-up against FCS foe Florida A&M at home on Saturday and then have a bye week before playing No. 22 Kansas State on Sept. 22 in Norman. OU's offensive line, which is playing without two projected starters, should only get better. The Sooners have to shore up the middle of their defense, though.

No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs

The bad: Georgia's heralded defense was pushed around by Buffalo's offensive line in the first half of the Bulldogs' 45-23 victory at Sanford Stadium. UGA was playing without five defensive starters -- four of whom were suspended and one injured. But Georgia's defensive front didn't get much pressure on the Bulls, and its offense seemed to get stuck in neutral after taking a 24-6 lead early in the second quarter. Quarterback Aaron Murray missed open receivers on a couple of passes that would have been touchdowns.

The good: One of Georgia's biggest concerns heading into the season was replacing leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, who was kicked off the team this summer after his arrest on gun charges. Freshman Todd Gurley alleviated those concerns with a spectacular debut, running for 100 yards with two touchdowns on eight carries and returning a kickoff 100 yards for another score. Freshman tailback Keith Marshall ran 10 times for 46 yards. After UGA was plagued by its lack of discipline the past couple of seasons, it didn't turn the ball over and had only five penalties for 22 yards against Buffalo.

Panic level: Orange

Verdict: Georgia's defense against Buffalo was pretty vanilla, but if suspended linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo and injured cornerback Malcolm Mitchell aren't back for next week's SEC opener at Missouri, how will the Bulldogs slow down the Tigers' high-octane offense?

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Leon Halip/Getty ImagesDenard Robinson managed to escape Michigan's encounter with Alabama's defense relatively unscathed, but it was a rough night for the Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium.

No. 8 Michigan Wolverines

The bad: Michigan's coaches were worried about their defense's ability to slow down Alabama's offense for months. Their fears were realized in an ugly 41-14 loss in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday night, as the Tide's vaunted offensive line pushed around the Wolverines, running for 232 yards. The Wolverines were too one-dimensional on offense without suspended tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint, and quarterback Denard Robinson threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

The good: Robinson got out of Texas alive, and the Wolverines won't face another defense as menacing as Alabama's this season, except for maybe Michigan State's.

Panic level: Red

Verdict: The Wolverines undoubtedly started the season ranked too high and will struggle to match last season's success. They lost too much talent on the offensive and defensive lines and don't have enough depth in coach Brady Hoke's second season. They still might contend for a Big Ten Legends Division title, though.

No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks

The bad: Quarterback Connor Shaw injured his right shoulder early in the Gamecocks' 17-13 victory at Vanderbilt on Thursday night and completed only 7 of 11 passes for 67 yards with one interception. Tailback Marcus Lattimore, who was coming back from a torn ACL suffered in October, had problems finding room to run behind a struggling offensive line. The Gamecocks' rebuilt secondary, which lost three starters, gave up too many big plays, and their offense turned the ball over on two of their first three plays from scrimmage.

The good: Lattimore looked pretty good in his first game back, running for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He seemed a little unsure of himself when trying to cut on his surgically repaired left knee, but he figures only to get stronger as the season goes on. Shaw didn't throw the ball particularly well, but he proved to be tough as nails when his team needed him most, running for 92 yards.

Panic level: Orange

Verdict: Spurrier joked in the spring that he would miss playing Georgia in Week 2 because the Bulldogs usually had a few players suspended. It's a good thing for South Carolina that the game was moved to October this year. Spurrier said Sunday that Shaw can barely raise his right arm and his availability for Saturday's home opener against East Carolina is in doubt.

No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers

The bad: The Badgers couldn't put away FCS foe Northern Iowa until defensive lineman Ethan Hemer batted down a pass in Wisconsin territory with 2:46 to play in a 26-21 victory. The Badgers nearly blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter after allowing two long touchdown passes. Panthers quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen passed for 265 yards with three touchdowns.

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Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireMontee Ball and Wisconsin played with fire against Northern Iowa but the Badgers avoided being burned.

The good: Badgers tailback Montee Ball, who missed much of preseason camp after suffering a concussion when he was attacked near campus, ran for 120 yards with one touchdown on 32 carries. Quarterback Danny O'Brien, a Maryland transfer, completed 19 of 23 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Badgers didn't have a turnover and were penalized only twice.

Panic level: Yellow

The verdict: If Ohio State was eligible to win the Big Ten Leaders Division title, there might be more reason for concern. Wisconsin will be heavily favored in its next three games -- at Oregon State and home against Utah State and UTEP -- before playing at Nebraska on Sept. 29.

No. 21 Stanford Cardinal

The bad: Playing their first game without Luck, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, the Cardinal were tied at 17 heading into the fourth quarter of a 20-17 victory. In his first game as Luck's successor, Josh Nunes completed 16 of 26 passes for 125 yards with one touchdown.

The good: If the Cardinal aren't going to fall off the map without Luck, they're going to have to win by being a physical, blue-collar team. They have the tailback to do it, as Stepfan Taylor ran for 116 yards with one touchdown. Stanford's defense allowed only 72 rushing yards.

Panic level: Red

The verdict: The Cardinal just aren't the same team without Luck, which is probably a surprise to no one. Stanford has only two weeks to get a lot better before playing No. 1 USC at home on Sept. 15.

No. 23 Florida Gators

The bad: The Gators didn't put Bowling Green away for good until quarterback Jeff Driskel threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Frankie Hammond with 13:18 left in the fourth quarter of a 27-14 win at the Swamp. Florida threw for only 145 yards and was penalized 14 times for 106 yards. Its defense allowed 327 yards, including 226 passing.

The good: Second-year coach Will Muschamp wants the Gators to be a more physical team on offense, and tailback Mike Gillislee ran for a career-high 148 yards with two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Panic level: Orange

The verdict: Are the Gators ever going to be explosive on offense again? Muschamp and Pease rotated Driskel and sophomore Jacoby Brissett, with Driskel taking most of the snaps in the second half. Driskel was named the starter for Saturday's SEC opener at Texas A&M.


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