Every Saturday, we celebrate the ludicrousness of college football, attempting to soak in 12 hours of football games played from coast to coast. But no college football weekend is like the opening college football weekend, a five-day festival that sees college football spread to random continents and infest timeslots normally occupied by sleep and the NFL.
And no Saturday is like the opening Saturday, a gluttonous 21-hour masterpiece that saw preposterous events occurring all day long. I watched 18 hours of football yesterday, AND STILL MISSED MULTIPLE LAST-SECOND GAME-WINNERS.
Here is an attempt at recapping the hourly madness of Saturday’s brilliant start to what should be a brilliant season.
7:30 a.m. ET: Kickoff
Boston College and Georgia Tech started the day in Ireland, because every once in a while, we play football games in Ireland. Does it make sense? Maybe? In the long run, it doesn’t matter whether things make sense, because this is college football.
The game was generally bad, a sloppy affair between two tedious offenses under Irish rain. But the ending was great: Georgia Tech, a pass-averse triple option team, needed to drive for a touchdown in three minutes against Boston College, which had one of the best passing defenses in the country last year. It should’ve been a disaster, and at first, it was. Georgia Tech’s offensive line looked like they’d never pass blocked in their lives, leaving quarterback Justin Thomas scrambling through something he was already uncomfortable with.
But it worked!
The Yellow Jackets converted a 4th-and-19, then a 3rd-and-10, then won the game with a touchdown.
And Irish eyes were smiling, even if they were disgusting little thousand-pieced bee eyes. Bee eyes are gross.
11:59 a.m.: Lee Corso drinks beer and makes a mascot head eat cheese
3:19 p.m.: Houston runs back a 109-yard kick six against Oklahoma
I think we can now officially decide the name for this type of play is a Kick Six, while the Auburn-Bama edition was The Kick Six, like how every pass completed is a catch but that time your school made a big reception in the big game against your big rival is The Catch.
Anyway, Houston, which is not in the Big 12, beat Oklahoma, which is supposedly the best team in the Big 12, and it was pretty convincing. It was a win with title implications for this year — Houston can make the Playoff if they go undefeated and Oklahoma proves to be one of the Big 12’s best — and for future years -- the Big 12 is looking for new members, and will now look pretty cowardly if they don’t add Houston.
4:05 p.m.: Western Michigan tries to give Northwestern a game-winning touchdown
That’s a Western Michigan player sprinting to pick up a Northwestern fumble before it went out of bounds and triggered a turnover that would have ended a Northwestern scoring opportunity in a one-point game with three minutes to go. He then threw the ball back into Northwestern’s end zone, where a Northwestern duo fell on the ball for an apparent touchdown.
But the referees ruled the throw happened after the WMU player’s foot was down out of bounds, thus ending the play and preventing WMU from handing Northwestern the ball in the end zone. The Broncos won 22-21, in a game you could hypothetically call an upset.
4:19 p.m. Mississippi State loses to South Alabama via DOINK
Funny because it’s an SEC team losing to a relatively new Sun Belt team, funnier because of the crowd reaction:
6:05 p.m.: 260-pound kicker Joey “Big Toe” Julius destroys a kick returner
OPENING SATURDAY EVEN HAD BIG KICKER DOING FOOTBALL THINGS.
7:10 p.m.: Wisconsin takes Lambeau Leaps after beating No. 5 LSU in Lambeau
7:24 p.m.: AN IMPORTANT COLLEGE FOOTBALL OVERTIME
Texas A&M led UCLA by 15 with five minutes to go, but the Bruins rallied back to force OT, where the Aggies won.
We made it zero college football days without an exciting finish leading to two good teams in overtime.
8:09 p.m.: Nebraska takes the most beautiful penalty of all time
Nebraska lost a member of its family this offseason, punter Sam Foltz. So they lined up for their first punt with just 10 men and took a delay of game:
The Cornhuskers found a genuinely touching way to remember their teammate during a game. The world is worse without Foltz, and this beautiful tribute showed his football brothers will never forget that.
12:31 a.m. Dabo Swinney almost lets Auburn make Auburn magic
You probably could’ve napped while Alabama whooped USC for about four straight hours, but things once again got exciting late in Clemson’s win over Auburn.
The Tigers — the Clemson Tigers, sorry — could’ve iced the game with a pretty reasonable field goal. But instead, Swinney had his team run the ball on 4th and 4, and the play got stuffed. A few plays later, the Tigers -- the Auburn Tigers, sorry — got to hurl a pair of Hail Marys into Clemson’s end zone, either one of which would’ve led Auburn knock off the No. 2 team in the country with an extra point.
Clemson won, as expected. But it was a really freaky final minute.
2:02 a.m.: BYU beats Arizona on a field goal
BYU went to Glendale and filled a stadium in the state where Arizona actually is. They looked like they’d ease to a comfortable win after shutting out the Wildcats in the first half, but Arizona took a 16-15 lead. But BYU won in the closing seconds on this field goal:
4:34 a.m.: Wyoming wins the final game of the night in triple overtime
Wyoming-Northern Illinois was delayed by weather and didn’t start until after midnight on the East Coast. It should’ve been a blowout: NIU has been one of the stronger Group of Five teams since before “Group of Five” was a term, and Wyoming hasn’t won anything meaningful in years.
But for four hours, the Cowboys battled the Huskies, and it ended with this wild play in the third overtime.
1,260 minutes and 4,330 miles from where the day started, it ended in a similar way: An exciting and improbable finish, with one exuberantly happy team and one team that traveled a long way to have their hearts ripped out.
College football is magic. Let us embrace every second.