College Football Arrives: Wisconsin, Mississippi State Enjoy Opening Night Feasts

The 2011 college football season opens with a full slate on Thursday night, highlighted by Russell Wilson's first game in Wisconsin. Head here for the rest of the weekend's TV schedule.

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College Football Scores, Week 1: Thursday Night Recaps From Around The NCAA

It happens every year. We all get excited for the first wave of college football games on Thursday night, and we all forget how bad the games usually are. This is the first week, and cupcakes are the rule, not the exception, here. As a result, blowouts are always on the menu and, if we're lucky, a close game falls into our laps.

That's exactly how it played out on Thursday night. The two ranked teams easily took care of business, with Wisconsin handing UNLV a 51-17 loss and Mississippi State cruising past Memphis, 59-14. Those games stuck to the script and all went according to plan.

In the surprise close game category, Syracuse fell asleep for three quarters against Wake Forest, then suddenly lurched to life in the fourth to rattle off 22 unanswered points, including a touchdown in overtime, to win its opener, 36-21. Special teams were a disaster as Wake Forest missed a field goal and an extra point, and Syracuse had its attempt to take the lead late in regulation blocked. But at least we had drama.

In the end, it was college football and beggars can't be choosers. It's the most wonderful time of the year and our starved bellies were filled to the brim on Thursday night. The food may have been nearly inedible, but dammit it was food nonetheless. And for that, we are grateful.

In other action...

Louisville 21, Murray State 9. Resounding victory for Sunny Will.

Central Michigan 21, South Carolina State 6. Like a Michigan-South Carolina knock-off.

Temple 42, Villanova 7. If a team wins a season-opener and nobody was there to see it, did it really happen?

Toledo 58, New Hampshire 22. Had no idea New Hampshire had a football team.

Florida International 41, North Texas 16. FIU ready to take over for Miami as The U.

Georgia Tech 63, Western Carolina 21. Georgia Tech learns the forward pass, profits.

Rutgers 48, North Carolina Central 0. Now you're just inventing schools.

Utah 27, Montana State 10. Utes get the first-ever Pac-12 win and make history.

Syracuse 36, Wake Forest 29. Bonus football!

Bowling Green 32, Idaho 15. Would've been a tastier matchup in the Kibbeh Dome.

Kentucky 14, Western Kentucky 3. No, forget it. This game never happened.

Arizona State 48, UC Davis 14. Vontaze Burfict: Three kills. Good start, young man.

To relive all the action, visit our Thursday night football StoryStream. You'll find pictures, gifs, video and thousands of beautiful words, ushering in the dawn of a new season.


Mississippi State Vs. Memphis Score: Bulldogs Roll In Season-Opener, 59-14

Mississippi State opened the season convincingly, swatting away Memphis like a harmless fly in a 59-14 win. The Bulldogs put the first 24 points on the board and headed into the half with a 31-7 lead before cruising to the 45-point win on Thursday night.

It was all Mississippi State as Chris Relf passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns before handing the game over to backup quarterback Tyler Russell, who saw the same success as the Bulldogs' starter. Russell completed five of nine passes for 138 yards and a touchdown while working in a mop-up role.

On the ground, Vick Ballard steam-rolled the Tigers, rushing for 166 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries in the rout. Relf added 51 yards on 13 carries, with Russell and Jameon Lewis each finding the end zone on the ground.

Billy Foster broke the shutout for Memphis with a 21-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The Tigers found the end zone for the second, and last, time on an 11-yard pass from Taylor Reed to Marcus Rucker.

For more, visit Mississippi State blog For Whom The Cowbell Tolls.


Syracuse Vs. Wake Forest Score: Orange Complete Late Comeback, Win Overtime Thriller 36-29

Ryan Nassib threw two late touchdown passes and Antown Bailey rumbled for a spectacular 53-yard touchdown as the Syracuse Orange completed a classic comeback, scoring the final 22 points of the game to defeat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in overtime, 36-29.

As one would expect, the game was all Wake Forest early on. Tanner Price tossed a pair of touchdown passes and Jimmy Newman tacked on a duo of midrange field goals to give the ACC-representatives a 20-7 lead heading into halftime.

Though that momentum began to shift midway through the third quarter when Bailey jumpstarted the Orange offense with a one-yard touchdown, narrowing the gap to a one-possession game. Wake Forest responded quickly with a Tanner Price 22-yard touchdown to Chris Givens, but Newman missed the ensuing extra point to give Syracuse the opening they needed.

From there the comeback was on, as the Big East-squad stormed back to force the game into overtime. Syracuse struck first in the extra period with Nassib lasering a four-yard pass through the Demon Deacon defense to Van Chew, giving the Orange their first lead since the beginning of the second quarter. From there the Syracuse defense took care of the rest, forcing Wake Forest into a quick four-and-out to complete the collapse.

To revel in the gleeful antics of the comeback, head to Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. To join in the tearful circle of defeat, check out Blogger So Dear.


Wisconsin Vs. UNLV Score: Russell Wilson, Montee Ball Lead Badgers To Dominating 51-17 Win

Senior quarterback Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns, junior running back Montee Ball rushed for three touchdowns and the Wisconsin Badgers dominated the UNLV Rebels 51-17 in the opening game of the NCAA season.

The game was never in doubt, as Wisconsin jumped out to a furious 27-0 lead in the opening seconds of the second quarter. By the time the two teams entered halftime the gap had widened to an insurmountable 37-3 advantage, capped by a spectacular 46-yard touchdown scramble by Wilson with a minute left in second quarter. 

The Rebels eventually mounted what little fight they had left, scoring the final 14 points of the game against a second-string Badger defense. Though, in all reality, the last-second mini-rally only hurt one particular sect of society. Never gamble on the first week of college football, folks.

Wisconsin wins by 34, and they missed an extra point that would've given most gamblers a win or a push. Oh my.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

For more, head to Wisconsin Badgers blog Bucky's 5th Quarter. For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation's NCAA football hub.


Tanner Price Injury: Wake Forest Starter Leaves After Shot To Leg

Wake Forest starting quarterback Tanner Price suffered a leg injury against Syracuse and had to leave the game.


Wisconsin Vs. UNLV Score: Russell Wilson, Badgers' Running Backs On A Rampage

Bret Bielema has a new toy, quarterback Russell Wilson, and he's not afraid to use him. We're midway through the third quarter in Madison and the Wisconsin Badgers are all over the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, 51-3. And don't you even think Bielema plans to even tap the breaks. This pedal will stay planted on the floor until the final whistle blows or UNLV cries uncle and retreats to the locker room.

Wilson has been as advertised thus far, completing 10 of 13 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. For good measure, Wilson added another two carries for 62 yards and a touchdown, by way of a 48 yard scamper.

And when you add Wilson's performance to that of the Wisconsin running backs, a deadly offense emerges. James White and Montee Ball have already combined for four touchdowns, three of which belong to Ball, in the route. The two are neck-and-neck in the yardage category, with White picking up 64 yards on 11 carries and Ball adding 63 yards on 10 carries. Ball added a touchdown catch, as well, and leads all receivers with two catches for 67 yards.

The only question remaining is whether the Badgers will break 80. It remains to be seen, but let's not act like they won't give it the ol' college try.

For more, head to Wisconsin Badgers blog Bucky's 5th Quarter. For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation's NCAA football hub.


Nevermind, Kentucky Vs. Western Kentucky The Only Game Of The Night

Since touting Wake Forest-Syracuse, the mighty Demon Deacons have bolted to a 20-7 lead, and Twitter has devolved into a slapfight between ACC and Big East fans. Shaking the rust off, you guys.

However, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers boast a 3-0 lead over the Kentucky Wildcats after almost 10 minutes. Western Kentucky beating anybody is pretty noteworthy, let alone a SEC team. That just lost all of its good players. Well, let's stick with "Western Kentucky beating anybody is pretty noteworthy."

Cats quarterback Morgan Newton is 0-of-3 with a pick. Nothing else has happened.

For lamentations, head to Kentucky blog A Sea Of Blue.


Kentucky WR E.J. Fields Suspended For Violation Of Team Rules

Kentucky Wildcats junior wide receiver E.J. Fields has been suspended for Thursday night's opening game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.


Georgia Tech On Pace For 500 Yards Passing

Hi! Now that we have your attention, let's assess this matter. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who don't pass very often and often fail when they do choose to, have 261 passing yards in the first half against the Western Carolina Catamounts. Sure, they're only the Catamounts.

Starter Tevin Washington has 195 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts, but even more surprising is his completion percentage. He's missed only four passes. Tech has had a passing game at points during Paul Johnson's time in charge, like points that involved Demaryius Thomas, but they were all-or-nothing affairs. 

But backup Synjyn Days might be the best quarterback in football: he has a 654.4 passer rating after completing his only attempt for 66 yards. He should turn pro. Why is Johnson doing his alma mater like this? And this is all before anticipated freshman Vad Lee gets his crack at the Catamounts.

Otherwise, this is  a 42-21 game against a Division I-AA opponent.


Syracuse Vs. Wake Forest, The Only Game Of The Night

Wisconsin, Mississippi State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, FIU, Rutgers, Central Michigan, Toledo and Utah are all winning in blowouts.

This leaves us with Wake Forest vs. Syracuse, which boasts a mere six-point point differential in the second quarter.

Also, Mississippi State has a chunky kicker.


Mississippi State Vs. Memphis: Suspended Players Not Missing Much

Rumors of a mass Mississippi St. Bulldogs suspension spread throughout Starkville Thursday, with estimates ranging from defensive lineman Fletcher Cox to 10 players to "Fletcher Cox is probably as good as 10 random players combined." The number turned out to be five, including Cox, but based on early returns, those guys probably won't be needed against the Memphis Tigers anyway.

The Bulldogs stormed out to a 14-0 lead thanks to a 44-yard score from Chris Relf to Chad Bumphis and a 46-yard jaunt by Vick Ballard, then forced a fumble that led to a field goal. Memphis is getting some pressure on Relf, but what was Cox supposed to do about that, guys? He plays on defense.

Now, if Cox is still suspended for next week's road game against the Auburn Tigers, there might be more of a problem, but Cox tweeted earlier that he'll be back.

For more, visit Mississippi State blog For Whom The Cowbell Tolls.


ANIMATED: Will Stein Attempts Solo Statue Of Liberty Play

Our last Will Stein post of the day, I assure you (via @bubbaprog):


Wisconsin Vs. UNLV: Russell Wilson Succeeds At Simple Tasks

The Russell Wilson regime has begun in Madison: the N.C. State transfer was as good as he could be on his first drive, throwing twice for two completions, amounting to 27 yards and a touchdown. Measuring his Wisconsin Badgers performance against UNLV, especially after just one drive, isn't going to tell us a whole lot, but he doesn't look like he's missed a beat yet.

Montee Ball got five titanic carries on the drive, and that's the kind of run/pass distribution that could make Wilson really, really dangerous. Not to mention the Badgers defense, which got the ball right back. Too many times in his Wolfpack career he looked as if he felt like he had to do everything himself on offense.

Russ has a posse now, y'all. 

For more, head to Wisconsin Badgers blog Bucky's 5th Quarter. For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation's NCAA football hub.


Louisville Vs. Murray State: The 'Will Stein For Heisman' Joke Has Been Made, Right?

It's a rite of spring: the first college football player to do anything special or even competent must be awarded the HEISMAN FRONT-RUNNER! joke, and the first player of 2011 to earn the distinction is Louisville Cardinals quarterback Will SteinAnd we wouldn't have it any other way

Before being granted a seat with a 21-0 lead over Murray State, Stein put together a 142-yard, two-touchdown outing on only 15 attempts. "Only 15? 142 yards on 15 attempts isn't that amazing," you say, and I urge you to present a Division I-A quarterback who's looked better this year.

Stein gave way to the highly touted Teddy Bridgewater, who narrowly escaped the Miami Hurricanes debacle, but not before solidifying himself as the early favorite for the Maxwell, Walter Camp and various other awards that are all the same thing. He'll lose the Doak Walker to punter Chris Philpott, however, who broke off a 40-yard run on a fake punt.

For more on Sunny Will, head to Louisville blog Card Chronicle.


Mississippi State Suspends 5, Including Fletcher Cox, For Season-Opener

SB Nation Mississippi State blog For Whom The Cowbell Tolls teased earlier Thursday that multiple Bulldogs would be suspended for the evening's game against Memphis and now the school is confirming it.

Fletcher Cox, Blaine Clausell, Chris Hughes, Malcolm Johnson and Dylan Favre will all miss the season opener for "varying violations of team policies."

The biggest name on the list is Fletcher Cox, the starting defensive tackle and second-team preseason All-SEC choice after starting 11 of 12 games for the Bulldogs last season. He was the lone starter among the five suspended.

Redshirt freshman Clausell was expected to see playing time at offensive tackle while Hughes is expected to be a contributor on defense this season.

In case you're wondering, Dylan Favre is indeed the nephew of former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. He and Johnson are redshirt freshmen are were not expected to see much action this evening.

For more on the suspensions and the game, keep an eye on For Whom The Cowbell Tolls.


'Several' Mississippi State Players Reportedly Suspended For Season-Opener

Mississippi State will miss five players in Thursday night's game against Memphis, including starter Fletcher Cox.


Mississippi State Vs. Memphis: Game Time, TV Schedule, Odds And More

The Memphis Tigers host the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Thursday night.


UNLV Vs. Wisconsin: Game Time, TV Schedule, Odds And More

Bert Bielema's merciless horde breaks out superweapon Russell Wilson against UNLV in the most interesting game of college football's opening night. College football's opening night!


Thursday's Complete College Football TV Schedule: Madison, Meet Russell Wilson

The 2011 college football season opens with 13 games on Thursday night, highlighted by Russell Wilson's first game in Wisconsin. Head here for the rest of the weekend's TV schedule.

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