Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Bielema brought his run-heavy attack over from Madison, as the Razorbacks put up 522 total yards (with 292 on the ground) in a 34-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers: Jonathan Williams (18 rushes for 151 yards and a touchdown) and freshman Alex Collins (21 rushes for 131 yards).
Encouraging. The Razorbacks were awful last season, going 4-8 and losing to ULM. If Bielema can keep the run game going strong, they could surprise some folks come conference time.
Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State
The former offensive coordinator of Boise State and Texas, Harsin gets his first opportunity to run a program with the Sun Belt hopeful Red Wolves. Things got off to a solid start Saturday, as Arkansas State took a 48-0 lead at halftime over FCS opponent Arkansas-Pine Bluff and won by a final score of 62-11. The Red Wolves had four different 100-yard rushers and ran for 509 yards as a team.
Encouraging. The offensive mastermind clearly has established his touch early, albeit against a FCS team.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Malzahn was the Tigers' offensive coordinator from 2009-11 before leaving for the Arkansas State job. After only one year with that program, he is back with Auburn, this time at the helm of the program. Auburn held on for a 31-24 win over Washington State, a team that struggled to a 3-9 record in their first year under Mike Leach.
Encouraging. Auburn fans may have been hoping for an explosive victory reminiscent of the 2010 national championship year, but a win against a power conference opponent is nothing to scoff at.
Steve Addazio, Boston College
Addazio came to the Eagles after a 13-11 record in two season with Temple. He's gifted a senior quarterback in Chase Rettig and one of the top receivers in the conference in Alex Amidon. Things got off to a slow start, as Boston College trailed Villanova 14-7 at the half, nearly joining the considerable group of teams falling to FCS opponents in week one, but the Eagles were able to break through for the 24-14 win.
Concerning. Villanova is a solid FCS program, but if Boston College has hopes for a bowl game, they're going to have to improve, quickly. Conference play starts next week with Wake Forest before a road date at USC and a home game against Florida State.
Sonny Dykes, Cal
Dykes's Louisiana Tech team had the top raw-yardage offense in all of college football last season, but even though they were able to outgain Northwestern Saturday night, they fell to the Wildcats 44-30. The Bears gained 548 yards against Northwestern's 508, and true freshman quarterback Jared Goff completed 38 of 63 pass attempts for 445 yards. After leading 24-20 in the third, Goff gave up two interception returns for touchdowns (both on tipped balls), and the Bears were unable to recover.
Encouraging. The game was closer than the final score suggests, and Dykes's Bear Raid offense was firing on all cylinders until the two unfortunate interceptions. Cal was the underdog at home, and as California Golden Blogs noted, the game "gave Cal fans a glimpse of both a bright future and the growing pains of a young team."
Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Tuberville left Texas Tech in brisk fashion, but made quite the statement with a dominating opening performance as the Cincinnati head coach. The Bearcats made quick work of visiting Purdue, scoring 35 straight points to win it 42-7. Five different players scored for Cincinnati.
Encouraging. Purdue is, well, we'll get to Purdue, but you can't help but feel good about Cincinnati's chances in the AAC.
Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
The MacIntyre era got off to a quick start, as the Buffaloes easily dispatched rival Colorado State, defeating them 41-27 in Denver. Colorado put up over 500 total yards of offense after averaging just over 300 yards per game last season. Connor Wood completed 33 of 46 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns, and Paul Richardson caught 10 of those passes for 208 yards and two scores.
Encouraging. The Buffaloes lost the Rocky Mountain Showdown last year, and now increase their lead in the series to 62-21-2. The Colorado faithful want to get back to their dominance in the state.
Ron Turner, FIU
Turner's Golden Panther team is heavily depleted from last season's 3-9 squad. Only four returning starters played in the game against Maryland. FIU was blown out, 43-10, and were held to three-and-outs on seven of their first eight drives. The Panthers were outgained by more than 400 yards, and star quarterback Jake Medlock was benched after going 5/15 for 26 yards.
Concerning. The first game could not have gone much worse for Turner's squad.
Trent Miles, Georgia State
After posting three straight winning seasons at Indiana State, Miles was hired for Georgia State's first year in the FBS. He took over a Panthers squad that had gone 10-23 in three years in the FCS, and it figured to be a tough ask from the start. Georgia State lost its opener 31-21 to Samford, becoming one of eight FBS teams to lose to FCS schools in the opening weekend.
Meh. Samford had a winning record in the FCS last year, while Georgia State went 1-10. Although the Panthers would certainly have liked to win their opening game as an FBS school (especially at home), this was not an easy game for them, and they have a few more chances to avoid the probable winless season.
Paul Petrino, Idaho
Bobby's younger brother takes his first head coaching stab at an Idaho program that just barely managed to survive the end of the WAC. Now an independent, the Vandals are hoping to start a new era, but don't have a winnable game until November, if their opening game 40-6 thrashing at the hands of North Texas is any sign. The Vandals managed 369 yards of total offense and saw a good performance from quarterback Chad Chalich (19/27 for 230 yards and a touchdown), but were unable to put the ball in the end zone more than once.
Concerning. A loss in Denton was always expected, but the 34-point margin is certainly something to worry about.
Paul Haynes, Kent State
The former defensive coordinator at Arkansas and Ohio State gets his first head coaching job, taking over a MAC team led by star running back Dri Archer. Archer got hurt early in their opener against Liberty, and the Golden Flashes faced a 10-7 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. A field goal tied it up with about 11 minutes to go, and Colin Reardon completed a 42-yard pass to Chris Humphrey to win the game for Kent State, 17-10.
Meh. The offense was putrid without Archer. Even though that's not a surprise, that could spell trouble as the season goes on. Haynes's defense played well, however, and they managed to win the game.
Mark Stoops and Bobby Petrino. Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Stoops, Kentucky
The Wildcats lost to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for just the second time in program history (and for the second year in a row), falling 35-26 in Nashville. Stoops's offense showed some explosive capabilities. Raymond Sanders averaged seven yards per rush, Jalen Whitlow averaged 10.7 and had a 19-yard touchdown run, and the Wildcats were able to put together some big plays, but the defense struggled against Western Kentucky's repeated long drives.
Meh. Many of Kentucky's problems are roster-based, which Stoops should be able to sort out given his recruiting. The offense looked promising (although they still need to decide on a quarterback), but giving up drive after drive on defense simply can't happen.
Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Holtz was unable to pick up where Dykes left off, as the Bulldogs totaled just 321 yards of total offense in a 40-14 loss to North Carolina State. Louisiana Tech was outgained by more than 200 yards, and while the running game looked good, the passing offense and general defense suffered.
Concerning. Louisiana Tech was one of the top small conference schools in the nation last year, and unless the Wolfpack are a sleeper ACC contender, they should have kept this one much closer.
Dave Doeren, NC State
Doeren got the best of the matchup between the two new coaches, as his Wolfpack outran, outpassed, and outplayed Louisiana Tech en route to the 40-14 win. Matt Dayes ran for three touchdowns, the team averaged 9.8 yards per pass attempt, and they managed to hold the Bulldogs to just 178 yard passing.
Encouraging. Behind Florida State and Clemson, the ACC is fairly wide open this year, and Doeren's week suggests the Wolfpack could be right behind them.
Brian Polian, Nevada
Polian, the son of Bill, was a special teams coach for nine years before getting the call from Nevada to be their head coach. The Wolfpack had to travel to No. 21 UCLA in their opener, and gave up 647 yards of total offense en route to a 58-20 smashing.
Meh. Cody Fajardo did well on the ground, and the Bruins are a very good team, but the defense is a real concern.
Doug Martin, New Mexico State
Martin has an extremely tough task ahead of him with the Aggies, and his opener wasn't made easy with a trip to Austin to face the No. 15 Texas Longhorns. New Mexico State looked ready to shock the world early, as they took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Andrew McDonald to Joshua Bowen. The Longhorns responded with 56 straight points and put up over 700 total yards of offense, winning the game handily.
Meh. The Aggies never had a shot in this game, and it would be unfair to judge them off the result.
Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Carey was Dave Doeren's offensive coordinator last season, and took over as the head coach when Doeren went to NC State. The Huskies traveled to Iowa for their opener, and pulled off a big upset, beating the Hawkeyes 30-27 on a field goal with four seconds remaining. Jordan Lynch passed for three touchdowns and Mathew Sims hit three field goals en route to the win.
Encouraging. There was concern about how Northern Illinois would play without Doeren, but it appears Carey's Huskies are picking up right where the old coach left off.
Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Another transition that appears to be seamless, for now. The Ducks coasted to a 66-3 win over Nicholls State, putting up 772 total yards (with an even 500 on the ground). Three different Oregon players ran for at least 100 yards, and the Ducks scored seven touchdowns on the ground.
Encouraging. This would have been an expected result for Chip Kelly's Ducks, and the Oregon faithful will be happy to see the same under Helfrich.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Hazell's Purdue squad lost to Cincinnati, 42-7, in one of a few matchups between new head coaches. The Boilermakers put up just 226 total yards and allowed 425 and were not able to score after a first quarter rushing touchdown by Rob Henry.
Concerning. The Boilermakers made a bowl game last year, and need to improve quickly if they are to do so again this season.
Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Boasting a 44-22 career record at San Diego, Caragher appeared to be a good hire for the Spartans, and it appears to be paying off early. Just a few years ago, San Jose State would have been one of the teams at risk of losing to an FCS squad, but they were able to easily dispatch visiting Sacramento State by a score of 24-0. Jason Simpson led the way, rushing 21 times for 135 yards and a 55-yard score.
Encouraging. Mike MacIntyre completely rebuilt this program, and it appears Caragher is having no problem keeping it moving. The Trojans are going to need results like these as they head into their first year in the Mountain West.
Willie Taggart, South Florida
Taggart was behind the Western Kentucky football renaissance, but posted one of the most embarrassing results of the opening weekend as South Florida fell to FCS McNeese State, 53-21. The Bulls were outscored 31-0 in the second quarter, and were left completely unable to recover from a 33-7 halftime deficit.
Concerning. South Florida is certainly not the program it used to be, but a 32-point loss at home to a lower-division program is as bad as it gets.
Todd Monken, Southern Mississippi
Taking over for a winless team is never easy, and Monken is facing quite the challenge with the Golden Eagles. His team lost 22-15 to FBS newcomers Texas State, who took the late lead on a quarterback scramble with less than three minutes to play. Monken's team put up 400 total yards (with 377 in the air), but were unable to score when it mattered.
Meh. Southern Mississippi has a lot of problems, but it wouldn't be a stretch to say they outplayed Texas State in this one.
Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Formerly the defensive coordinator for the Orange, Shafer entered his opener against Penn State as an eight-point underdog and still managed to lose by less than a touchdown. Jerome Smith ran 16 times for 73 yards and two touchdowns and the Orange defense held Zach Zwinak to just 2.5 yards per carry in the 23-17 loss.
Encouraging. Syracuse was thought to be on the outside looking in as far as the race for a bowl game is concerned, but this performance is promising for those hopes.
Matt Rhule, Temple
Rhule's Owls were pretty helplessly outmatched against the Notre Dame Irish, falling 28-6 Saturday. Temple was able to put up over 350 yards of total offense and ran the ball very well (if not too little), and managed to keep it respectably close.
Meh. Notre Dame very clearly eased off the gas towards the end, but it's a result Temple can live with.
Butch Jones, Tennessee
The Volunteers eased questions at the quarterback position with a 45-0 thrashing of Austin Peay. Justin Worley completed 11 of 13 passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns and Rajion Neal ran 16 times for 141 yards and a score in the blowout.
Encouraging. Two incredible statistical performances on offense supported by a shutout on defense? Two thumbs up, Butch.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
The former Tech gunslinger returned to his alma mater in a big way, leading the Red Raiders to a 41-23 Friday night win over SMU. True freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield scored five total touchdowns and passed for 413 yards en route to the big win. The Red Raiders outscored the Mustangs 21-7 in the fourth quarter, turning a close game into a near blowout.
Encouraging. Kingsbury's passing offense looked fantastic, and the fact that he had the courage to let a true freshman walk-on start is simply incredible.
Matt Wells, Utah State
Utah State scored a shocking win over Utah last season, but Matt Wells's squad was unable to repeat the feat this year. The Aggies led 26-24 with less than seven minutes remaining in the game, but two Utah field goals gave the Utes the 30-26 win. Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton caught the college football world by storm, completing 31/40 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns while running 15 times for 85 yards and another score, but the Aggies defense was unable to keep up.
Encouraging. Wells has a bona fide star in Keeton, and it looks like the team should be able to compete in the Mountain West even without Gary Andersen.
Sean Kugler, UTEP
UTEP had a bye in the first week.
Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
Petrino is back, and ready to take on the Sun Belt. Western Kentucky wore down the Wildcat defense and finished with 487 total yards, including 216 on the ground, in a 35-26 victory. Brandon Doughty looked assured at quarterback, and the Hilltoppers had two 90-yard rushers and a third that scored twice.
Encouraging. The Hilltoppers controlled the game throughout, and Petrino's squad looked like the real deal.
P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Fleck faced a seemingly impossible task in a road opener at Michigan State, and managed to lose by less than two touchdowns as the Broncos fell 26-13. The Western Michigan defense held the Spartans to under 300 total yards, and particularly troubled Michigan State quarterbacks Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook, who combined to complete 17 of 37 passes for 116 yards.
Encouraging. The directional Michigan schools rarely play the big ones close, and Fleck should be proud of the Broncos for doing just that.
Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
The Gary Andersen era got off to a quick start, as the Badgers easily dispatched of the Minutemen, winning 45-0 in typical dominating fashion. Andersen appears keen on continuing Wisconsin's ground dominance, as the Badgers ran for 393 yards (with three different 100-yard rushers).
Encouraging. With a strong running game and a defensive shutout, it's hard to imagine a better opening start for Andersen and Wisconsin.