The college football season kicked off in a big way Thursday night. That big way included lightning, last-second finishes and upsets to start the 2013 season.
Sixth-ranked South Carolina began the festivities with a weather-delayed 27-10 win over North Carolina. Even with a hampered Jadeveon Clowney, who seemed to still be fighting the effects of a stomach virus suffered earlier in the week, the Gamecocks strolled to a 17-point first quarter lead and never looked back. Mike Davis's 12 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown seemed to suggest Steve Spurrier's squad will adjust to the post-Marcus Lattimore era just fine.
In a big in-state showdown, Utah defeated Utah State 30-26, avenging last year's shocking early season loss. Even in defeat, Aggie quarterback Chuckie Keeton was the star of the show, completing 31 of his 40 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns while running 15 times for 85 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Trailing 23-14 in the third, Utah scored 16 of the next 19 points, including three Andy Phillips field goals, on their way to a big season-opening win.
Here's a small example of Sir Chuckie's brilliance - every member of the Utah defense will bite on this pump fake in nightmares for years to come.
In perhaps the game of the night, Ole Miss ended up outlasting Vanderbilt 39-35 in a topsy-turvy game that ended in heartbreak for the Commodores. Trailing 32-28 with under two minutes left to play, Vandy received a huge 34-yard touchdown pass from Austyn Carta-Samuels to Steven Scheu. A touchdown and an incomplete pass later, and suddenly the Commodores were watching Rebel running back Jeff Scott go 75 yards for the big conference win.
Here are full highlights of the game, because it was worth it and so are you.
USC joined South Carolina as the only ranked teams to play on the day, and the Trojans emerged victorious in Hawaii, 30-13, after a slow start. USC trailed the Warriors 5-3 after giving up a safety and a field goal to start the second quarter, but responded with two touchdowns and a field goal of their own to end the half strong. Marqise Lee caught eight passes for 104 yards, and neither Cody Kessler (10-of-19, 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception) nor Max Wittek (5-of-10 for 77 yards) were able to separate themselves in the Trojans' quarterback competition. Hawaii's quarterback did manage to get this hit in, however:
In an exciting night game, Fresno State beat Rutgers in overtime, 52-51, after the Scarlet Knights were unable to complete a risky two-point conversion attempt. Both Gary Nova and Derek Carr threw for five touchdowns in the game.
- Kent State needed a late touchdown to beat Liberty, 17-10, after dark-horse Heisman candidate Dri Archer suffered an early leg injury.
- After falling into a 7-0 deficit early, Wake Forest beat Presbyterian comfortably, 31-7.
- Indiana crushed in-state rivals Indiana State 73-35, bringing out an endless slew of "basketball score" jokes.
- Minnesota beat UNLV 51-23, despite putting up 99 less total yards than the Rebels.
- Bowling Green blew out Tulsa, 34-7, on the strength of three William Houston one-yard-runs.
- Ball State beat Illinois State 51-28, with five total touchdowns from quarterback Keith Wenning.
- Blake Bortles threw for three touchdown passes in a 38-7 UCF win over Akron.
- Two FCS teams defeated FBS teams on Thursday - Southern Utah edging out South Alabama 22-21, and Towson destroying UConn in East Hartford, 33-18.
- Middle Tennessee State ran for 270 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground in a 45-24 win over Western Carolina.
- Tulane easily handled Jackson State, winning 34-7.
- San Jose State shut out Sacramento State, as Chandler Jones caught eight passes for 130 yards and a touchdown in a 24-0 rout.