After months without meaningful football, the first week of September welcomed in week one of the 2017 College Football season.
The season started with a bang in the form of the GOAT (Greatest Opening game of All-Time) in Atlanta’s plush new surroundings where the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide took on the AP Poll’s #3 Florida State Seminoles.
Saban and Harbaugh have defence to thank as they come out on top in season openers
In the most highly anticipated opening game in recent history, Nick Saban maintained his unbeaten win against his former coordinators as the Alabama Crimson Tide took down the Florida State Seminoles.
Played out at the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Alabama were able to cope with a spluttering offensive performance to beat their ACC opponent 24-7.
An Auden Tate touchdown grab over Minkah Fitzpatrick put the Seminoles 7-3 ahead in the opening minute of the second quarter, but that was their final points of the night. Alabama responded almost instantly to Tate's TD with a seven-pointer of their own with Jalen Hurts throwing perfectly into the bucket for Calvin Ridley to score from 53 yards.
In the second half, Damien Harris ran for a touchdown while also blocking a point on a bad night for the Seminoles special teams.
The night potentially got even worse for Jimbo Fisher and his team when quarterback Deondre Francois was forced to leave the field with a leg injury after taking another sack, but Alabama roll on after seeing off a highly-ranked opponent.
At AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the Michigan Wolverines overcame a halftime deficit to hand Florida their first opening game loss since 1989 with a 33-17 victory.
Florida’s offence put up just three points, and their only lead came on the back of a pair of pick-sixes thrown by Wilton Speight at the beginning of the second-quarter.
The second half was then completely dominated by Jim Harbaugh’s men, with Karan Higdon capping a 10-play 75-yard drive to start the third quarter. Quinn Nordin added his third and fourth field goals of the game to put the victory beyond doubt, before Noah Furbush dived on a loose ball in the endzone to add a defensive touchdown after Malik Zaire had fumbled the ball with less than two minutes left on the clock.
USC survive huge scare as top ten teams put up big points
On the opening night of the season, #2 Ohio State dominated the second half to claim 49-21 win over a pass-happy Indiana Hoosiers. Freshman running-back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 181 yards from his 29 carries at Memorial Stadium.
Also on Thursday evening, Mason Rudolph and James Washington flexed their muscles in Oklahoma State’s 59-24 victory over Tulsa. The duo are expected to lead a high-flying Cowboys offence who should put up big points during the 2017 season in Stillwater and were ranked in the top ten during the pre-season.
The following night, two more top ten teams were in action and registered big wins. #9 Wisconsin recovered from a slow start to dominate Utah State in a 59-10 win at Camp Randall Stadium, while the eighth-ranked Washington Huskies ground out a 30-14 beating of Rutgers, with QB Jake Browning and number one reciever Dante Pettis providing moments of promise.
On Saturday, reigning National Champions Clemson strolled to a 56-3 win over Kent State, with #6 ranked Penn State going one better defensively, claiming a 52-0 shutout win over Akron.
No. 7 Oklahoma also made it look easy, rolling to a 56-7 win over UTEP in Lincoln Riley's first outing as HC following the off-season retirement of the legendary Bob Stoops.
At the LA Coliseum, #4 USC relied on a huge fourth quarter to hold off Western Michigan in a 49-31 win. The Trojans are now riding a ten-game winning streak, but it was close to an opening week stunner when it trailed 21-14 during the second half.
Sam Darnold failed to throw a touchdown, but did end up with two interceptions to his name on a rocky night for the man of whom so much is expected this season. Instead it was the running game, and Ronald Jones (159 yards, 3 TDs) in particular who saved SC's blushes against the Broncos from Kalamazoo.
Lamar Jackson watch
It became a theme at the end of last season that Lamar Jackson needed more help around him if he was ever going to take the Louisville Cardinals to the very top.
The most exciting college football player can beat teams with his arm and with his legs and was forced to be at his very best in the first week of September during his team's 35-28 win over the Purdue Boilermakers.
Throwing for 378 yards and a touchdown, while also being his team's leading rusher with 107 yards on the ground only just proved to be enough to edge past the Boilermakers in Indianapolis.
Jackson will of course be a marked man this season, and may need to produce close to 500 yards of total offense on his own every week if this Cardinal team are to stay relevant when the College Playoff rankings start to be announced.
Barkley makes early Heisman push
Last year proved that it is never too early to put up big statistical performances if you want to take home the Heisman trophy in early January. On week one in 2017, Saquon Barkley did Saquon Barkley things in Penn State’s destruction of Akron.
Rushing the ball on just 14 occasions, Barkley accounted for 172 yards on the ground, scoring two touchdowns in the process to average over 12 yards for each of his carries. The junior took his total yardage tally for the game over 200 thanks to the 54 he claimed on three catches, showing the elite speed and cutting ability which should make him a top ten pick if he declares for the 2018 draft.
Mayfield close to flawless in Sooners opener
In the stat line of the week, Baker Mayfield failed with just one of his 20 passes in Oklahoma’s stress-free win over UTEP. The Senior QB has lost a number of his major weapons from last year, but picked up where he left off a season ago, dismantling the Miners secondary to the tune of 19 completions for 329 yards and three touchdowns, putting up a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
Draft darling Josh Allen struggles in Iowa loss
From the moment Sam Darnold led USC to Rose Bowl success in such scintillating fashion at the denouement of the 2016 season, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he would carry the most buzz coming into the 2017 campaign.
However, over the summer months, a new name started to top mock drafts in the form of Wyoming QB Josh Allen. The junior’s draft profile has blown up over the past few months but in his season debut at Kinnick Stadium he could do nothing to allay his side falling to a 24-3 loss to Iowa.
His arm strength and arm talent are among the traits to be commended and they flashed on week one, but the two interceptions Allen threw will steal the headlines in an admittedly tough test against a strong Hawkeye defence.
Deebo Samuel is a name to know
In one of the most entertaining and competitive games of the weekend, South Carolina moved to 1-0 on the season following a 35-28 win over North Carolina State.
NC State have assumed a ton of pre-season buzz for the talent on their defensive line, but the standout player during the game in Charlotte was Gamecocks wideout Deebo Samuel.
Samuel made the most instant of impacts in this encounter, swerving past three of four would-be Wolfpack tacklers on his way to a 97 yard touchdown return on the game’s opening kickoff. Wearing the number one jersey, Samuel added a touchdown reception in the second and third quarters to complete a strong opening game for the junior.
Herman endures debut loss as Longhorns HC
The start to the Tom Herman era in Texas was ruined by Maryland, with the Terps claiming a stunning 51-41 win in Austin. The Longhorns defensive performance was nowhere near the standard required and proves just how much work Herman will have to put in to turn this program’s fortunes around.
Matt Rhule also had a start to forget in his first game leading the Baylor Bears. The Bears suffered just their second loss of all-time against a lower-division opposition, going down 48-45 to the Liberty Flames.
Willie Taggart's had no such problems as Royce Freeman rushed for 150 yards and four touchdowns in Oregon's 77-21 desolation of the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, while LSU produced a defensive masterclass in their 27-0 win over BYU, not allowing the Cougars offence over half-way in Ed Orgeron's first true game at the helm.
The enigmatic P. J. Fleck made a winning start to life in Minnesota, watching his side defeat Buffalo 17-7 at TCF Bank, but Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic have fallen to 0-1 after going down to a 42-19 loss to Navy.
Triumvirate of games to close out opening weekend
There are three big-time clashes to close out opening weekend still to come, starting on Sunday evening where two coaches on the hot-seat meet at the Rose Bowl as Texas A&M tackle UCLA.
At FedEXField #22 West Virginia battle with #21 Virginia Tech, and then on Monday back at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Georgia, #25 Tennessee are three point favourites ahead of their clash with Georgia Tech.