For any true college football fan, this week felt almost like Christmas.
Week one of college football brings the out the best feelings in fans throughout the nation. That first snap from scrimmage after a long off-season of nothing but “camp highlights” brings so much joy and relief. But it can also bring out the worst. Here’s the rundown from the some season openers throughout the country.
Two ranked teams opened play for the weekend on Thursday, with #2 Ohio State playing at Indiana, and #10 Oklahoma State opening their season at home against Tulsa.
While Oklahoma State routed Tulsa, 59-24, Ohio State struggled in the first half, but went on to beat the Hoosiers 49-21. Indiana led Ohio State 14-13 at the end of the half, and even midway through the 3rd quarter, but the lead would not hold. Senior quarterback for the Buckeyes, JT Barrett would finally gain a rhythm and complete 20 out of 35 passes for 304 yards and throw for 3 touchdowns, while adding 61 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown of his own. Equally as impressive was freshman Running Back JK Dobbins. Making his college debut Dobbins rushed for 181 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per touch, as well as having 2 catches for 24 yards. The duo looked impressive, and will take on #5 Oklahoma in a rematch that could make or break both teams’ playoff implications.
Two more ranked teams played Friday night, with #8 Washington at Rutgers, and #9 Wisconsin playing at Utah State. Again, we had two games that wouldn’t seem to pose much of a threat, but both ranked teams had their problems. In the end, Washington would outlast Rutgers 30-14, while Wisconsin would destroy Utah State 59-10.
Saturdays are for football. Saturday afternoon featured the vast majority of the weekend’s games.
#4 Southern California moved on to life without stars Adoree Jackson and Juju Smith-Schuster as they took on Western Michigan at home. On paper, USC should have easily run through WMU. In reality, the two teams were tied until late in the fourth quarter. Low offensive production by both teams had the game tied at 21 a piece going into the fourth, when USC opened the scoring with a short touchdown run by Stephen Carr. It was quickly answered by Darius Phillips, who ran the kickoff 100 yards for a WMU touchdown, however it would be their last touchdown of the game. USC would add 3 more touchdowns, including a 52 yard run by Carr and a pick-6 from Marvell Tell III, while WMU would settle for a field goal for a final score of 49-31. USC will play again at home next week against #14 Stanford.
#5 Clemson dominated Kent State 56-3. The junior Kelly Bryant had a decent game, with 16 completions on 22 attempts for 236 yards. He was intercepted once, and ran for 77 yards. Clemson will play #13 Auburn at home.
Other notable dominant performances came from #6 Penn State routing Akron at home 52-0, #7 Oklahoma winning against UTEP 56-7, #12 Auburn beating Georgia Southern 41-7, and #18 ranked Miami winning 41-13 against Bethune-Cookman. However two of the most interesting games occurred on Sunday night between #22 West Virginia and #21 Virginia Tech, as well as unranked Texas A&M at UCLA. WVU was led by Florida transfer Will Grier, and tied VT 3 times in the game, but never led as VT would win 31-24. UCLA saw the return of “Chosen” Josh Rosen, who threw for a whopping 491 yards and 4 touchdowns in an unbelievable comeback after being down 44-10 to a desperate Texas A&M. The Aggies gave up 28 points in the 4th quarter comeback alone in what has to be the worst defensive collapse in possibly FBS history.
#3 Florida State took on #1 ranked Alabama in Atlanta on Saturday night. The anticipated matchup would be the highest matchup between two ranked teams. The low scoring game would see an Alabama field goal in the first quarter, followed by the lone touchdown from the Seminoles, a 3 yard pass from sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois to Auden Tate in the second quarter to give FSU the lead, 7-3. FSU’s luck would run out there, as they would not score again and Deondre Francois would leave the game in the fourth quarter with what would later be confirmed as a season-ending patella injury. He ended the game with 210 passing yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. On the other side of the ball, Alabama’s sophomore Jalen Hurts wasn’t particularly too efficient either, only throwing for 98 yards and added 55 yards on the ground. Most of the second half was plagued with punts and turnovers, bringing up lots of questions for both teams to answer before their next games. FSU’s home game against Louisiana Monroe is cancelled with no future makeup date due to Hurricane Irma, while Fresno State will travel to Alabama.
Appalachian State traveled to #15 Georgia Saturday afternoon to tee off between the hedges. App State has gained notoriety over the years of pulling off some great upsets, however this would not be one of them. UGA’s sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason only threw 3 passes with 1 completion for 4 yards before a late hit out of bounds would knock him out of the game with a knee injury. Freshman Jake Fromm would take over from there, and have an impressive game eerily similar to that of Eason’s first game against UNC last year. Fromm would complete 10 out of his 15 passes for 143 yards, averaging over 9 yards a pass. His longest pass of 34 yards to Javon Wims would go for a second half touchdown. Wims would finish out with 3 receptions for 81 yards. Another big story came from the esteemed running backs so highly praised throughout the country. Seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel would combine for 183 yards on 31 touches and 3 touchdowns between them, with Chubb running for 2 of the scores. Highly anticipated freshman D’Andre Swift would also make his college debut in the 4th quarter, showing his versatility rushing for 31 yards on 6 touches, and adding 3 catches for 18 yards. Brice Ramsey also emerged in the quarter, throwing two interceptions which resulted in a late touchdown and field goal to set up the final score of 31-10. UGA will take on #24 Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish look to avenge the loss that gave the Bulldogs a championship in the 1981 Sugar Bowl. Fromm will be the starting quarterback, as Eason will be out indefinitely.
On Monday night, unranked Georgia Tech would open their season in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta against #25 Tennessee. Amid the dismissal of their star running back Dedrick Mills just week before the season opener, Tech focused the attention on junior quarterback TaQuon Marshall to lead their triple option offense. Marshall would strike first towards the end of the first quarter. Tech would go up 21-7 in the third quarter, however Tennessee would not be discouraged. Led by junior quarterback Quinten Dormady, Tennessee would battle their way back to tie the game at 28 and send the game to overtime, despite the fact that Tech had dominated possession of the ball throughout the game. Tennessee would prevail through 2 overtimes after Tech would fail to convert a 2-point conversion. GT fans have a lot to look forward to as they take on Jacksonville State next week at Bobby Dodd. TaQuon Marshall completely tore through a Tennessee defense that worked all of camp to prepare for Tech’s uncommon offense, passing for 120 yards on just 5 completions, but rushing for an astonishing 249 yards and 5 touchdowns on 44 attempts. Local sophomore running back KirVonte Benson for the Yellow Jackets also had a good performance, rushing for 124 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown on the side.
All in all, this was a weekend to remember. Hoping for an even more exciting week 2.