With the minds of a nation still affixed on the tragedy in New Orleans, the sports world tried somewhat to return to a normal routine with the dawn of another college football season last weekend.

The mood was somewhat subdued as continuing news flowed out of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, but the season kicked off to a grand beginning with its share of thrills on the first Saturday in September.


 To performances by Oklahoma, Auburn, Texas A&M and Pitt. The opening week of the season hasn't seen this many ranked teams go down in quite a while. Oklahoma and Auburn seem to be struggling mightily on offense after replacing quarterbacks. Texas A&M fell victim to a late field goal in the hostiles confines of Clemson and Pitt fell behind an upstart Notre Dame team and spent the rest of the night in a daze. Already there will be some shuffling in the Top 25.


Enough already with the Boise State craze. The Georgia Bulldogs were shown little respect as many pundits said the Broncos could venture in Samford Stadium and upset one of the SEC's upper echelon team. Not so fast. Behind a commanding performance by D.J. Shockley, the Dawgs sent Boise packing 48-13.


Debuts Part 1. Several first-year coaches got wins in their opening contests with new programs. Urban Meyer Florida Gator's looked sloppy at times, but defeated Wyoming 32-14. The man Meyer replaced, Ron Zook, picked up an overtime 33-30 win over Rutgers in his Illinois debut. Finally, Charlie Weis brought his winning ways from New England as Notre Dame pounded Pitt 42-21.


Debuts Part 2. Air Spurrier seemed to sag in South Carolina. After the Gamecocks got off to a stellar start versus Central Florida, the offense struggled through much of the second half. Spurrier managed a win in his debut at Columbia, but things must get better for his Gamecocks to improve. Dave Wannstedt had his debut spoiled at his alma Mater (Pitt) and it is obvious Ty Willingham has a long way to go at Washington, who lost to Air Force 20-17.


Rookie defensive end Marcus Spears saw his first action of the preseason Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars. "I thought he did okay," Cowboys' head coach Bill Parcels said Friday. "He played 34 plays. He was pretty active. As you can see, he's pretty athletic." Spears, the No. 20 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, recorded three tackles and a sack.


Eric Alexander led his team in tackles against the New York Giants, Thursday September 1, 2005 at Foxboro. Alexander who is in a heated competition for a roster spot is hoping his play on special teams is enough to keep him in New England, but after the game he wasn't happy with his performance. "I did a few things good, but there are a lot of things I could have done better," Alexander told the Globe. "You can say I led the team in tackles, but I say I could have had a lot more if I had done some things better." Alexander is competing with four or five other linebackers for the final roster spots not already locked down. Whether he makes it or not really depends on how other players fared as much as they do on Alexander's stats. He ended the evening with eight solo tackles, three assists and three passes defended.


Randall Gay was the only Patriots starter to play at all in the team's final exhibition game against the New York Giants. While the Giants had every starter dressed except for two injured players, the Patriots chose to do the exact opposite. Thirty-two players were not active for the game for the Patriots versus only four for the Giants. In his extended playing time, Gay managed to make a leaping interception, come up with a sack, make five tackles and defend one pass. It was a busy night for the second-year cornerback out of LSU.


They seem to be the national media darlings, but lots of people were saying the Tennessee Volunteers were overrated. Although the Volunteers did win on Saturday, UT had to stave off a last second rally to upend UAB 17-10 – at HOME. The Blazers rallied late and had a game-tying pass skip off the hands of a receiver in the waning moments of regulation.


The Baltimore Ravens signed veteran kickoff specialist Wade Richey one day after cutting struggling kickers Rhys Lloyd and Owen Pochman. Richey was with the Ravens for most of the last two seasons.


Former ESPN sideline reporter Adrian Karsten was found dead in his Wisconsin home Saturday. Karsten, 45, who had not worked a game for ESPN since 2003, was always a favorite of LSU fans upon his visits to Baton Rouge. Foul play was ruled out. Karsten was sentenced to 11 months in federal prison followed by nine months of home confinement, following his guilty plea to two counts of failing to file federal income taxes. Federal prosecutors alleged Karsten failed to file income tax returns for the years 1999 through 2002.


Rohan Davey, who found himself released by the Patriots on Monday, may just get the break he needs. Now that he's been given his release, many feel he will finally have a chance to go out and compete for a starting job. "He certainly deserves, and I'm sure he'll get, a good opportunity," head coach Bill Belichick said of Davey. "He's going to be in the league, there's no question about that." With the release of Chad Hutchinson in Chicago, Davey may be moving west, although at this point that is nothing more than pure conjecture. Reports out of Miami suggest that Davey's poor showing in camp, which contributed to his release, is nothing new. Miami Dolphin's head Coach Nick Saban recalls Davey's struggles from their days together at LSU, and doesn't seem fazed by the line of questioning regarding Davey's availability. "Ro's No. 1 attribute to me was he was a fantastic competitor and a great leader," Saban told the Sun-Sentinel. "He always did it better in the game than he did in practice because I think some guys do that when they're great competitors." Saban doesn't appear to be pursuing his former QB according to Davey's agent, but anything's still possible.

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