Opening weekend was filled with easy wins against overmatched competition, some very exciting finishes and a number of devastating injuries to star players.
Boston College 24
The Eagles’ defense dominated holding Maine to 91 total yards and just seven yards rushing in the decisive victory. Maine took the lead after an early field goal, but BC scored 24 straight points despite typical first-game mistakes. It marked the debut for Eagles’ quarterback Darius Wade who completed 14 of 25 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Rouse led the Eagles on the ground with 81 yards and two touchdowns while Jon Hilliman gained just 47 yards on 16 carries but added three catches for 33 yards. The Black Bears failed to cross the 50-yard line after their first possession.
Up Next: Howard University
— Boston College (@BR_BCEagles) September 5, 2015
No. 12 Clemson 49
The easy Tiger win was largely overshadowed by a scary injury to star receiver Mike Williams who suffered a cracked vertebrae in his neck after a collision with a goal post. Williams had 57 catches for 1,030 yards in 2014 and is now out indefinitely, though his injury won’t require surgery. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had a nearly flawless performance completing 18 of 22 for 194 yards and two touchdowns plus two runs for 22 yards. Wayne Gallman added 92 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns.
Up Next: Appalachian State
It was smooth sailing for new Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk as he accounted for 357 total yards in Duke’s first season-opening win on the road since 1988. Sirk threw for 268 yards, ran for 68 and didn’t turn the ball over as the Blue Devils rolled up 530 total yards on Tulane. It wasn’t a perfect performance however as Duke lost two fumbles and had two deep drives stall out into Ross Martin field goals. Johnell Barnes had a big day receiving for the Blue Devils catching 11 passes for 109 yards highlighted by a 26-yard touchdown.
Up Next: Northwestern
No. 10 Florida State 59
Texas State 16
Fans at Doak Campbell Stadium had to ride out a 63-minute lightning delay, but the wait was worth it. Everett Golson had a strong debut for FSU completing 19 of 25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns after spending just three months in Tallahassee following his transfer from Notre Dame. The Seminoles dominated on the ground as well with Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender. Cook scored two touchdowns and gained 156 yards on just 19 carries while Pender had 14 carries for 92 yards and a score of his own. In the six season-openers under Jimbo Fisher the ‘Noles have outscored opponents 299-69.
Up Next: South Florida
No. 16 Georgia Tech 69
Alcorn State 6
In a typical opener under Paul Johnson, the Yellow Jackets ran all over an overmatched opponent gaining 476 yards on the ground. Freshman Marcus Marshall gained 184 yards and Stanford transfer Patrick Skov scored three touchdowns to lead the backs. Marshall’s first carry went for a 49-yard score. Quarterback Justin Thomas played just the first quarter, but managed to throw a touchdown pass while completing 3 of 4 passes for 54 yards. Georgia Tech was in front 34-0 after the first period and 48-0 at halftime but the backups kept the juggernaut rolling.
Up Next: Tulane
No. 6 Auburn 31
Auburn was out in front 17-0 at halftime and built a 31-10 lead before Louisville mounted a valiant comeback effort that fell just short. Reggie Bonnafon got the start at quarterback for Louisville, but gave way to freshman Lamar Jackson. After an interception on a trick play on the first play of the game, Jackson showed his athleticism rushing 16 times for 106 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 100 yards on just 9 of 20 passes. Tailback Brandon Radcliff added 76 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the win, Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson was intercepted three times on the day and Louisville actually outgained the Tigers 405-327. Louisville had a chance to score late to tie, but a strange sequence of clock mismanagement allowed Auburn to run out the clock.
Up Next: Houston
Bobby Petrino calls timeout at the end of the game when the clock was stopped after a penalty and cost himself :40 and the game.
— Phil Steele (@philsteele042) September 5, 2015
Miami is hoping to patch together a running game and the audition for playing time began in the opener. Mark Walton led the way with 10 carries for 85 yards and Trayone Gray had eight carries for 77 yards. Joe Yearby added 40 yards on six carries and all three backs scored a touchdown. Brad Kaaya threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns in less than three quarters of play. The Canes’ defense held Bethune-Cookman to just 79 total yards, but the offense converted on just 3 of 11 third downs and fumbled twice, losing one.
Up Next: @ Florida Atlantic
NC State 49
It was a busy day for tailback Matt Dayes as he led the Wolfpack in receiving and rushing in the victory over Troy. He carried the ball 24 times for 126 yards with two touchdowns and caught five passes for 65 yards. Two of the more impressive statlines of the weekend came from Jaylen Samuels and Jacoby Brissett. Samuels ran for three touchdowns on just four carries and Brissett completed 21 of 23 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Up Next: Eastern Kentucky
North Carolina 13
South Carolina 17
Three interceptions thrown by UNC quarterback Marquise Williams — including two by linebacker Skai Moore — sunk the Carolina ship before it even got out of port. Williams threw for 232 yards and a touchdown in addition to the turnovers, but the offense struggled to score throughout the game despite amassing 440 total yards. Tailback Elijah Hood gained 138 yards on just 12 carries, leading even head coach Larry Fedora to admit after the game that Hood needs the ball more. The Tar Heels had a chance to take the lead in the final minutes until Williams threw his final interception in the end zone with 3:48 remaining.
Up Next: Illinois
Youngstown State 37
Not all wins are created equal and this one was costly for Pitt. 2014 ACC Player of the Year James Conner was lost for the season after the tailback tore his MCL. Conner managed to score two touchdown before his injury. The good news for the Panthers is that they have lots of depth in the backfield and redshirt freshman Qadree Ollison took the opportunity and, well, ran with it. Ollison had 16 carries for 207 yards and a touchdown to help Pitt pull one out against a highly motivated Penguins squad. Youngstown’s Jody Webb ran for 127 yards and Hunter Wells threw for 274 in the upset effort. It marks the first victory as a head coach for Pat Narduzzi.
Up Next: @ Akron
Rhode Island 0
The Orange won big and played a lot of young players, but it was veteran quarterback Terrell Hunt who was the story after he injured his achilles tendon — an injury that may well end his season. In his stead, the Orange ran the ball getting 103 yards and a touchdown from Jordan Fredericks, 75 yards from Jacob Hill, 71 yards from George Morris and 42 yards from freshman Dontae Strickland. Eric Dungey came in to replace Hunt at QB and had a respectable afternoon finishing 10 of 17 for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Up Next: Wake Forest
No. 13 UCLA 34
The Cavaliers were on the receiving end of one of the best debuts of the weekend in the form of UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. Rosen torched the talented Cavs’ secondary Rosen finished 28 of 35 for 351 yards and three touchdowns Saturday in the Rose Bowl. Taquan Mizzell led the ‘Hoos with eight catches for 100 yards but only 45 yards on 16 carries at his true position in the backfield. Quarterback Matt Johns performed reasonably well with 238 yards through the air, a touchdown and one interception late in the game.
Up Next: Notre Dame
No. 1 Ohio State
For one half it was a game of momentum swings and excitement, then the Hokies lost their quarterback and Braxton Miller showed up. After spotting the Buckeyes 14 points in the first quarter, the Hokies stormed back behind Michael Brewer who completed 11-of-16 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with a broken collarbone. Brewer is expected to miss 4-8 weeks after surgery to repair the break as reported by ESPN. The loss of Brewer exposed a lack of proven depth at QB and Tech struggled to slow the Buckeyes on defense. Former quarterback turned receiver Braxton Miller wowed everyone in the second half with two touchdowns including an outrageous spin move for a score.
Up Next: Furman
Wake Forest 41
Quarterback John Wolford had a big night highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown run on a busted play. Wolford also completed 20 of 27 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns in the dominant performance by the Demon Deacons. While it came against an outclassed Elon team, it’s notable that Wake Forest rushed for 203 yards as a team, something the Deacons simply couldn’t do a year ago. Wake outgained Elon 595-151, so take those improved rushing numbers for what they’re worth.
Up Next: @ Syracuse