Okay, yeah, this wasn’t the most spectacular weekend in the history of college football season-opening weekends. But there were still some statements and stellar performances to be found.
Team of the week: Oklahoma (def. FAU, 63-14)
Lincoln Riley and his Sooners likely heard quite a bit this offseason about Lane Kiffin’s upstart FAU, one that could make things dicey if it came out of the gates strong.
The solution: don’t let them come out of the gates at all. Here’s a list of the game’s first 13 possessions:
- FAU: eight plays, 27 yards, punt
- OU: seven plays, 74 yards, touchdown (7-0)
- FAU: three plays, three yards, punt — punt blocked for touchdown (14-0)
- FAU: three plays, two yards, punt
- OU: one play, 65 yards, touchdown (21-0)
- FAU: eight plays, 38 yards, turnover on downs
- OU: five plays, 63 yards, touchdown (28-0)
- FAU: three plays, two yards, punt
- OU: three plays, 74 yards, touchdown (35-0)
- FAU: three plays, three yards, punt
- OU: eight plays, 40 yards, missed field goal
- FAU: five plays, 20 yards, punt
- OU: six plays, 90 yards, touchdown (42-0)
That’s 42 points in 30 plays for the Sooners, with four FAU three-and-outs.
OU laid waste to the Owls. Quarterback Kyler Murray, facing a huge spotlight in succeeding Baker Mayfield, completed nine of 11 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns and added three non-sack carries for 29 yards. Rodney Anderson needed only five carries to gain 100 yards and score twice. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown caught six balls for 133 yards and a touchdown.
A team like OU should beat an FAU handily. But this was as much of a resounding statement as you can make in a game like this. FAU was maybe the best mid-major in the country at a point toward the end of 2017 (not at the end, UCF) and returns quite a few of its high-level players, and Riley and his Sooners flicked them off their shoulder like a piece of lint.
To say the least, Kiffin was impressed.
After Kyler Murray led No. 7 Oklahoma past Florida Atlantic 63-14, Lane Kiffin had something to say:— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) September 2, 2018
“I’d be shocked if there’s a better team in the country than what I saw today."
More from @cliffbruntAP: https://t.co/fU7BgAvGPD pic.twitter.com/4sH25NRkRr
Other teams of the week
2. Notre Dame (def. Michigan, 24-17)
In what was expected to be a defensive battle, a) Notre Dame’s defense trumped Michigan’s, and b) Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush dramatically outplayed the Wolverines’ Shea Patterson as the game was getting defined in the first half.
Patterson finished a decent 20-for-30 for 227 yards, but most of that came when the Wolverines were down double-digits. Wimbush, meanwhile, completed 10 of his first 13 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown and added 59 overall rushing yards.
Oh yeah, and a former walk-on did this:
And now, per the S&P+ projections, the Irish are projected favorites in every other game this season.
3. Auburn (def. Washington, 21-16)
The Tigers’ win over No. 6 Washington was ugly as hell at times and featured a master class in how not to finish drives. It was also a win over a legitimate top-10-caliber team. Auburn’s schedule will feature more high-level opponents, but the Tigers have still cleared a huge hurdle. They also exorcised a demon, winning in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, where they lost twice to finish 2017.
Washington acquitted itself alright, but two touchdowns and a defensive front that dominated at the start and end were enough for Auburn.
4T. LSU (def. Miami, 33-17)
4T. Virginia Tech (def. Florida State, 24-3)
Granted, they both won with help from a large dose of turnovers — LSU was plus-2, and Tech was plus-5 — and granted, they benefited enough from first-half spurts and return scores that they were able to throw their respective offenses into cruise control in the second quarter. That resulted in them each getting out-gained by their vanquished foes.
Still, Ed Orgeron’s Tigers just scored a neutral-site win over a top-10 Miami team, and Justin Fuente’s Hokies just rolled to a three-touchdown win in Tallahassee. Those are lovely ways to start the season. The LSU secondary and Tech defensive line both looked absolutely spectacular. And hey, it’s not their fault their opponents made so many mistakes, right?
6. Boise State (def. Troy, 56-20)
Well damn. There were plenty of reasons to worry about BSU in its cross-country trip to rural Alabama to face a well-coached team. The Broncos themselves didn’t appear all that concerned. They scored 28 points in about 16 minutes to go up 35-7 at halftime, and while Troy scored a bit in garbage time, it only slightly dampened the impact of this statement. UCF and Boise State are the teams to beat in the Group of Five.
Also: TURNOVER THRONE.
7. Maryland (def. Texas, 34-29)
Matt Canada’s first game as the Terps’ interim head coach featured a moving tribute to Jordan McNair and a great performance from quarterback Kasim Hill, who closed last year’s win over Texas before suffering a season-ending injury soon after. More importantly, it provided a jolt of positivity for a group of players and fans that really needed one.
8. Hawaii (def. Navy, 59-41)
We learned two years ago that Nick Rolovich teams play pretty well when they’ve got a nice, big chip on their shoulder. After a disappointing 2017 and an offseason that featured quite a few key transfers, some writers didn’t think very much of the Rainbow Warriors heading into this season.
Well, after bursting out to a big lead and holding on to win at Colorado State in Week Zero, Hawaii did the same in the home opener. They led 35-7 after 26 minutes, then put the game away with three fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Cole McDonald, who now has nine in two games.
Tired: “College football is better when Alabama/Michigan/Notre Dame/Texas/USC is good.”— Adam Henderson (@AdamdotH) September 2, 2018
Wired: I would gladly serve jail time if it means Hawaii wins 10 games again
9. Ole Miss (def. Texas Tech, 47-27)
The Rebels don’t have a lot to play for, but they still claimed one of the week’s few P5 vs. P5 wins by running Texas Tech out of the gym in a shootout. And they did it by ... running the ball and hemming in the pass? Scottie Phillips rushed 16 times for 204 yards, and Red Raider QBs Alan Bowman and McLane Carter combined to gain only 322 yards in 56 pass attempts.
10. Villanova (def. Temple, 19-17)
Best college team in Philly, apparently. And this might have been the best pass of the day:
And yeah, of course, Alabama. As always.
We basically all expected the Tide to do that to Louisville. They’ll remain an easy No. 1 in the polls.