NCAA FOOTBALL: FSU opens title defense with win
Jameis Winston threw for 370 yards and scored on a sparkling 28-yard run, and No. 1 Florida State opened defense of its national title with a 37-31 victory Saturday night over Oklahoma State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on the same field where this year’s champion will be crowned.
Winston wasn’t nearly as efficient as he was in the college debut that jump-started his Heisman Trophy season a year ago, but made plays when he had to as the Seminoles (1-0) tied a school record with their 17th straight victory.
The Cowboys (0-1) were 19-point underdogs in the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys but stayed close when J.W. Walsh matched Winston’s scoring run with a 24-yard sprint and dive across the goal line to get within 27-24 early in the fourth quarter.
Winston’s only passing touchdown was a 50-yarder to Rashad Greene, who had 203 yards receiving.
NO. 2 ALABAMA 33, WEST VIRGINIA 23: Blake Sims was good enough to finish his first start at quarterback for Alabama, getting plenty of help from Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry in a win over West Virginia.
Sims was 24-for-33 for 250 yards and added 42 running. The fifth-year senior beat out Florida State transfer Jake Coker for the start. Tide coach Nick Saban had suggested both quarterbacks would play, but Sims never came out.
Yeldon (126 yards rushing and two touchdowns), Henry (113 yards rushing and a score) and Cooper (12 catches for 130 yards) provided plenty of support. Alabama needed all the offense it could get because West Virginia found plenty of soft spots in the Tide’s D.
The Mountaineers’ up-tempo spread gave Clint Trickett his pick of open receivers, and he took advantage with 365 yards passing.
But West Virginia, a 26ﾽ-point underdog, didn’t take full advantage, dropping more than a half-dozen catchable pass, including one off the hands of Elijah Wellman near the goal line that would have been a sure TD early in the fourth quarter.
WVU’s Mario Alford returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score with 1:43 left in the first half to tie the game at 17-17.
Henry scored the only touchdown of the second half on a 19-yard run midway through the third quarter to put Alabama up 27-17.
NO. 4 OKLAHOMA 48, LOUISIANA TECH 16: Trevor Knight passed for 252 yards and a touchdown and Keith Ford had 117 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns to help Oklahoma defeat Louisiana Tech.
Ford ran for 51 yards and caught four passes for 66 yards for the Sooners, who rolled to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter of the season opener for both teams. Samaje Perine ran for 78 yards and a touchdown and Alex Ross ran for two scores for the Sooners.
Zack Sanchez led Oklahoma’s defense with an interception and a blocked field goal.
Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans was ejected in the second quarter for targeting when he tried to make a play against Louisiana Tech quarterback Cody Sokol, but the Sooners remained dominant.
NO. 5 OHIO STATE 34, NAVY 17: Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in his college debut, and the Buckeyes got their 25th consecutive regular-season victory.
Elevated into a starting role after senior Braxton Miller injured his right shoulder on Aug. 18, Barrett went 12 for 15 — including an 80-yard TD pass to Devin Smith that put the Buckeyes up 20-14 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State (1-0) won despite allowing Navy (0-1) to gain 370 yards on the ground, including 118 by Ryan Williams-Jenkins.
Barrett became the second freshman since 1950 to start an opener at quarterback for Ohio State. He ran nine times for 50 yards, did not throw downfield often and relied heavily on a ground game that finally wore down the Midshipmen in the fourth quarter.
After Navy closed to 20-17 with 13:54 remaining, the Buckeyes launched a 10-play drive that featured just one pass. Ezekiel Elliott converted a fourth-and-1 from the Navy 45 and Barrett threw a 19-yard completion before Elliott ran in from the 10.
NO. 6 AUBURN 45, ARKANSAS 21: Jeremy Johnson passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Nick Marshall returned from suspension with a 19-yard scoring run to lift Auburn to a opening victory over Arkansas.
The Tigers scored the final 24 points after the Razorbacks managed to force a halftime deadlock. The game was delayed 1 hour, 28 minutes due to lightning in the area during the fourth quarter.
Marshall, who led Auburn to the SEC title last season and national championship game, started the second half after serving his punishment for getting ticketed in July for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Junior college transfer D’haquille Williams supplied the most electrifying performance with nine catches for 154 yards in his debut.
Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for a career-high 177 yards.
NO. 7 UCLA 28, VIRGINIA 20: UCLA scored three defensive touchdowns before Brett Hundley led them on a critical second-half scoring drive and the Bruins escaped Virginia.
Hundley, widely regarded as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, was harassed all day by Virginia’s pressure defense, and made the biggest play of the day for UCLA with his feet. It came on a 6-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter when he overpowered safety Quin Blanding on a 6-yard TD run.
The Cavaliers, 21-point underdogs, trailed 28-20 and had a first down at the Bruins 19 late in the game, but three consecutive running plays netted just two yards and irritated the fans, and linebacker Myles Jack disrupted Matt Johns’ fourth-and-8 pass to Doni Dowling and it fell to the ground.
Johns came into the game in relief of Greyson Lambert late in the first half, after the Bruins third defensive touchdown gave them a 21-3 lead. Johns then led a touchdown drive and played the entire second half, turning what seemed to be a settled quarterback situation for Virginia into question.
NO. 11 STANFORD 45, UC DAVIS 0: Ty Montgomery returned his first career punt for a touchdown and caught five passes for 77 yards and another score, and the Cardinal tuned up for a date with No. 15 Southern California next week.
The All-American kick returner, who was cleared by team doctors to play earlier this week after offseason surgery on his right shoulder, looked ready to be the Cardinal’s do-it-all playmaker again. He ran his first punt back 60 yards for a TD and lined up all over the field, including once as a wildcat quarterback.
NO. 12 GEORGIA 45, NO. 16 CLEMSON 21: Todd Gurley ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns, returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score, and Georgia gained some early style points in the national race with a victory over Clemson.
If rating Heisman Trophy favorites after Week 1, Gurley would surely be among the favorites. He made the most of his limited touches on a sweltering night, averaging 17.2 yards every time he got his hands on the ball. He set a school record for all-purpose yards with 293, breaking the record of 290 set by Rodney Hampton in 1987.
NO. 13 LSU 28, NO. 14 WISCONSIN 24: Kenny Hilliard scored on a 28-yard touchdown run to cap a fourth-quarter rally for LSU in a win over Wisconsin at NRG Stadium.
The Tigers trailed 24-21 when Jalen Mills intercepted Tanner McEvoy’s pass at the LSU 47 with 11:04 left. Hilliard ran for 53 yards on the ensuing drive, capping it with a sprint through a hole on the right side.
The Tigers extended the nation’s longest regular-season non-conference winning streak to 46 games after coming back from a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.
NO. 15 USC 52, FRESNO STATE 13: Cody Kessler threw for 394 yards and four touchdowns and Southern California ended a trying week with a win over Fresno State in Steve Sarkisian’s debut as the Trojans’ head coach.
The Trojans ran a school- and Pac-12-record 105 plays while racking up 37 first downs and 702 yards of total offense to Fresno State’s 16 first downs and 315 yards.
In all, 10 Trojans caught passes in Sarkisian’s up-tempo offense.
NO. 17 NOTRE DAME 48, RICE 17: Everett Golson threw touchdown passes of 75 and 53 yards and ran for three more scores in his return after missing the 2013 season for academic impropriety.
Golson was 14-of-22 passing for 295 yards and ran for 41 yards on 12 carries. He also had two near-misses on long pass attempts. He scored on an 11-yard run on a planned keeper, a 14-yard scramble and a 4-yard run on a blown handoff.
The Irish opened the season without five players who are scheduled to appear before the school’s honor code committee after being investigated for possible cheating. It was the sixth straight season-opening loss for Rice.
One of the players out because of the investigation was DaVaris Daniels, the only returning Irish receiver with more than 15 catches last season. That didn’t slow Golson, though. He connected with seven different receivers and the Irish amassed 576 yards total offense.
NO. 20 KANSAS STATE 55, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 16: Jake Waters threw for 223 yards and accounted for four touchdowns and Charles Jones ran for a pair of scores as Kansas State pounded Stephen F. Austin.
Waters threw touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett and Kody Cook while also running for two TDs as the Wildcats improved to 21-2 in season openers under longtime coach Bill Snyder.
The road is about to get tougher. Kansas State travels to Iowa State to open Big 12 play next weekend. Then comes a statement game against sixth-ranked Auburn at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
NO. 22 NEBRASKA 55, FLORIDA ATLANTIC 7: Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 232 yards and Tommy Armstrong Jr. passed for a career-high 271 yards and two TDs.
The Cornhuskers rushed for 498 of their 784 total yards and won their 29th straight opener, the longest streak in the nation.
Abdullah had 178 yards by halftime while becoming the eighth Nebraska player to go over 3,000 yards rushing in a career. Terrell Newby added 107 yards rushing.
Florida Atlantic, with first-year coach Charlie Partridge, was paid $1 million to visit Lincoln and will get another $1 million for playing at No. 2 Alabama next week. The Owls of Conference USA went 75 yards on their first series to tie it at 7, but they gained just 51 more before Nebraska’s defense began freely substituting after the third quarter.
NO. 23 NORTH CAROLINA 56, LIBERTY 29: Marquise Williams accounted for four touchdowns while Jeff Schoettmer returned an interception for a score during North Carolina’s game-turning flurry, helping the Tar Heels beat Liberty.
Schoettmer’s 19-yard return came during a run of four touchdowns in fewer than four minutes.
Liberty led 22-21 with about six minutes left in the third quarter before Williams found Mack Hollins for a 33-yard scoring pass. Williams later scored on a 15-yard keeper and backup Mitch Trubisky followed with his first career TD pass for a 49-22 lead with 2:06 left in the quarter.
That stunning turnaround couldn’t have happened without the maligned defense — perhaps UNC’s biggest question mark coming into the season — forcing three turnovers in the third and setting up the sputtering offense with short scoring drives against Liberty.
NO. 24 MISSOURI 38, SOUTH DAKOTA ST 18: Maty Mauk threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Mauk seemed at ease early, finding receiver Darius White crossing behind the Jackrabbits’ defense for a 44-yard touchdown pass just 50 seconds into the game. The Tigers extended their lead to 21-10 at halftime and never trailed.