ATLANTA (AP) — The Alabama defense turned in a dominating performance, the Florida State special teams endured a terrible night, and one of the most anticipated opening games in college football history went to the top-ranked Crimson Tide.
Damien Harris ran for a touchdown and blocked a punt, and Jalen Hurts chipped in with a scoring pass on a night that basically required the sophomore quarterback to make no major mistakes, leading Alabama to a 24-7 beatdown of No. 3 Florida State on Saturday at Atlanta’s new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
This one was all about that dynamic Bama D.
And those not-to-special teams for the Seminoles.
Alabama picked off a pair of passes by Deondre Francois in the second half, snuffing out any hopes of a Florida State comeback. Throw in a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and a fumble recovery on a kickoff return, and there was really no path to victory for the Seminoles in the first matchup ever between two teams in the top three of The Associated Press preseason rankings.
NO. 11 MICHIGAN 33,
NO. 17 FLORIDA 17
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Quinn Nordin became the first Michigan kicker to make two 50-yard field goals in the same game, one of them in a go-ahead spurt after halftime, and the No. 11 Wolverines beat No. 17 Florida 33-17 on Saturday to hand the Gators their first season-opening loss in nearly three decades.
The Gators had won 27 consecutive openers, the nation’s longest such streak, since a home loss to Mississippi in 1989.
Michigan trailed 17-13 at halftime before scoring three times in the first 6 minutes of the second.
After Karan Higdon’s 3-yard TD run capped a half-opening 75-yard, 10-yard drive, Ambry Thomas forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. That set up a 30-yard field goal by Quinn, who then made a 50-yarder after Michigan recovered another fumble.
Nordin made four field goals, including a 55-yarder in the first half. He missed two attempts wide right in the fourth quarter, one of those from 52 yards.
Florida’s only touchdowns came when Duke Dawson and CJ Henderson returned interceptions. Those came on consecutive throws by Wilton Speight in the second quarter.
NO. 4 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 49, WESTERN MICHIGAN 31
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ronald Jones II ran 37 yards for the tiebreaking touchdown with 6:57 to play, and Southern California rallied from a second-half deficit.
Jones rushed for 159 yards and three scores, while freshman Stephen Carr added 69 yards rushing and two TDs in an auspicious debut for the Trojans, who scored 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Marvell Tell returned an interception 37 yards for a TD with 3:13 to play as USC won its 10th consecutive game despite major trouble from the defending MAC champion Broncos on a brutal 99-degree day at the Coliseum.
Jon Wassink passed for 67 yards, caught a touchdown pass and rushed for another score for Western Michigan in coach Tim Lester’s debut for his alma mater. Even after losing coach P.J. Fleck, quarterback Zach Terrell and star receiver Corey Davis, the Broncos’ 15 returning starters came back strong after winning 13 games and reaching the Cotton Bowl during the best season in school history.
Sam Darnold passed for 289 yards and rushed for a score for the Trojans, but failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time during USC’s winning streak, which included his record-setting performance in last season’s Rose Bowl. Deontay Burnett caught seven passes for 142 yards.
After Carr’s first TD run put the Trojans ahead midway through the fourth, Western Michigan’s Darius Phillips returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a tying touchdown with 7:54 to play. USC then gained 79 yards on two big plays, with Deontay Burnett making a 42-yard catch before Jones’ third TD run.
MARYLAND 51, NO. 23 TEXAS 41
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Tyrrell Pigrome threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score before leaving with an injury and Maryland spoiled Texas coach Tom Herman’s debut.
Pigrome had to be helped off late in the third quarter after twisting his knee, but freshman Kasim Hill came in and led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives in the opener for both teams.
Maryland led 27-7 in the second quarter, and then held off a Texas rally to snap a 17-game losing streak to ranked opponents, the third-longest streak among Power Five teams.
Maryland’s D.J. Moore had 133 yards receiving and a touchdown.
The Longhorns scored three non-offensive touchdowns — an interception return and blocked kick return by Holton Hill and a 91-yard punt return by Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. But those highlights couldn’t deliver a win for Herman, who was brought from Houston to replace Charlie Strong after three straight losing seasons. Texas had its same old problems, giving up a special teams touchdown, missed field goals and a defense that was physically battered all game and give up big plays.
Shane Buechele passed for 375 yards for Texas.
NO. 5 CLEMSON 56,
KENT STATE 3
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Kelly Bryant passed for 236 yards and a touchdown and ran for 77 more yards in his first game as Clemson’s starting quarterback.
Bryant has the hefty responsibility of replacing Deshaun Watson behind center for the defending national champions. The junior, who had thrown just 22 passes in his career for Clemson in mop up duty, showed he could both run and pass.
Bryant had a perfectly placed 61-yard touchdown pass to Deon Cain on his second drive. He mirrored Watson’s running ability, taking off for a 47-yard run after all his receivers were covered. And he showed the “swag” that coach Dabo Swinney promised to fans skittish about Watson’s departure.
The Golden Flashes were without coach Paul Haynes, who missed the game for medical reasons. They gained just 119 yards.
NO. 6 PENN STATE 52, AKRON 0
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Saquon Barkley had 226 total yards and two touchdowns to lead Penn State.
Trace McSorley was 18 for 25 passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score.
Although it rained heavily early at Beaver Stadium, a soggy field and leaky Akron defense couldn’t slow Penn State’s pair of Heisman Trophy candidates. They combined for 371 total yards and four scores in the first half to put the game out of reach.
Tight end Mike Gesicki added six catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns for Penn State, DeAndre Thompkins scored on a 61-yard punt return and backup quarterback Tommy Stevens ran for a touchdown.
NO. 7 OKLAHOMA 56, UTEP 7
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Baker Mayfield passed for 329 yards and three touchdowns in one half of action to help Oklahoma rout UTEP.
Mayfield completed 16 straight passes to start the game. He didn’t miss until just under 4 minutes left in the second quarter and completed 19 of 20 overall.
The Sooners rolled up 676 yards of offense in their first game under head coach Lincoln Riley. The 33-year-old was promoted from offensive coordinator after Bob Stoops stepped down in June.
Mark Andrews had career highs of seven catches and 134 yards, all in the first half. Jeff Badet, a transfer from Kentucky, added 91 yards on four catches as the Sooners warmed up for a showdown next weekend at No. 2 Ohio State.
Walter Dawn Jr. ran for 56 yards and UTEP’s only touchdown.
NO. 12 AUBURN 41,
GEORGIA SOUTHERN 7
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Jarrett Stidham threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score in his Auburn debut.
The Tigers used a smothering defense to overcome three turnovers — including a fumble returned for a touchdown — plus an injury to tailback Kerryon Johnson and the absence of top runner Kamryn Pettway. Pettway, wide receiver Kyle Davis and backup quarterback Sean White all were held out for undisclosed reasons in the opener for both teams.
The news got worse when Johnson pulled up short on what appeared destined to be his second long touchdown of the first half. He left with an apparent right hamstring injury and didn’t return after gaining 136 yards with a 60-yard touchdown scamper.
Stidham scored on a 14-yard run and passed for 19-yard touchdowns to Ryan Davis and Will Hastings. He finished 14-of-24 passing for 185 yards with an interception in a much-anticipated debut.
NO. 15 GEORGIA 31, APPALACHIAN STATE 10
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Freshman Jake Fromm led three first-half touchdown drives after starting quarterback Jacob Eason hurt his left knee, helping Georgia beat Appalachian State.
Fromm completed 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Nick Chubb ran for 96 yards, including scoring runs of 1 and 7 yards. Sony Michel added 87 yards rushing and a touchdown for Georgia in the opener for both teams.
Eason was injured on a late hit in the first quarter and needed help leaving the field.
Fromm threw a 34-yard scoring pass to Javon Wims for his second of three straight touchdown drives in the first half. Chubb and Michel gained momentum as an undersized defense for Appalachian State appeared to wear down.
NO. 18 MIAMI 41,
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Malik Rosier passed for 217 yards and three touchdowns in his debut as Miami’s full-time starting quarterback, Mark Walton ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
Rosier completed 17 of 28 passes, and Miami which scored on five of its first six possessions. He spread the ball to nine receivers and went 12 for 14 in one stretch in his first start since Oct. 31, 2015. Braxton Berrios, Lawrence Cager and Darrell Langham had touchdown catches for Miami.
Larry Brihm completed 22 of 35 passes for 212 yards for Bethune-Cookman, which got a field goal on the game’s opening drive and found itself in a 3-3 tie after one quarter.
NO. 19 SOUTH FLORIDA 31, STONY BROOK 17
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Quinton Flowers threw for 186 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns to help South Florida shrug off a slow start.
Tyre McCants’ 65-yard TD reception put USF (2-0) ahead for good with 11:23 remaining. Mazzi Wilkins’ interception set up a late TD that ended any hopes for Stony Brook (0-1) to rally for an upset.
Darius Tice scored on runs of 1 and 14 yards for the Bulls.
Stony Brook led 10-7 at halftime and put themselves into position to pull off a shocker when Stacey Bedell swept left end on a 54-yard TD burst that made it 17-all with just over 13 minutes to go.
Flowers was 19 of 32 passing with two TDs and one interception. He also led USF in rushing with 67 yards on 18 attempts.