Blake Sims was good enough to finish his first start at quarterback for Alabama, getting plenty of help from Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, and the second-ranked Crimson Tide held off West Virginia, 33-23, on Saturday in Atlanta.
Sims was 24-for-33 for 250 yards and added 42 running, playing the entire game. The fifth-year senior beat out Florida State transfer Jake Coker for the start. Tide coach Nick Saban had suggested both quarterbacks would play, but Sims never came out.
Yeldon (126 yards rushing and two touchdowns), Henry (113 yards rushing and a score) and Cooper (12 catches for 130 yards) provided plenty of support. Alabama needed all the offense it could get because West Virginia found plenty of soft spots in the Tide's D.
The Mountaineers' up-tempo spread gave Clint Trickett his pick of open receivers, and he took advantage with 365 yards passing.
No. 5 Ohio State 34, Navy 17
Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in his college debut, and the No. 5 Buckeyes pulled away from the Midshipmen in Baltimore for its 25th consecutive regular-season victory.
Elevated into a starting role after senior Braxton Miller injured his right shoulder on Aug. 18, Barrett went 12 for 15 — including an 80-yard TD pass to Devin Smith that put the Buckeyes up 20-14 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State (1-0) won despite allowing Navy (0-1) to gain 370 yards on the ground, including 118 by Ryan Williams-Jenkins.
Barrett became the second freshman since 1950 to start a season opener at quarterback for Ohio State. He ran nine times for 50 yards, did not throw downfield often and relied heavily on a ground game that finally wore down the Midshipmen in the fourth quarter.
After Navy closed to 20-17 with 13:54 remaining, the Buckeyes launched a 10-play drive that featured just one pass. Ezekiel Elliott converted a fourth-and-1 from the Navy 45 and Barrett threw a 19-yard completion before Elliott ran in from the 10.
Barrett's nine-yard touchdown pass to Mike Thomas made it 34-17 with 2:09 left.
No. 6 Auburn 45, Arkansas 21
Jeremy Johnson passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Nick Marshall returned from suspension with a 19-yard scoring run to lift the Tigers to a victory over the Razorbacks.
Auburn scored the final 24 points after Arkansas managed to force a halftime deadlock. The game was delayed 1 hour 28 minutes because of lightning in the area during the fourth quarter.
Marshall, who led Auburn to the SEC title last season and national championship game, started the second half after serving his punishment for getting ticketed in July for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Junior college transfer D'haquille Williams supplied the most electrifying performance with nine catches for 154 yards in his debut. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for a career-high 177 yards. Jermaine Whitehead returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown.
No. 11 Stanford 45, UC Davis 0
Ty Montgomery returned his first career punt for a touchdown and caught five passes for 77 yards and another score as the Cardinal tuned up for a date with No. 15 USC next week.
The All-American kick returner, who was cleared by team doctors to play earlier this week after off-season surgery on his right shoulder, looked ready to be the Cardinal's do-it-all playmaker again. He ran his first punt back 60 yards for a TD and lined up all over the field, including once as a wildcat quarterback.
Stanford led 38-0 at the half and rested most of its starters the final two quarters.
Kevin Hogan threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns to help the two-time defending Pac-12 champions get off to a mostly smooth start. He completed 12 of 16 passes and had one interception.
No. 12 Georgia 45, No. 16 Clemson 21
Todd Gurley ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns, returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score, and the Bulldogs gained some early style points in the national race with a win over the Tigers at Athens, Ga.
If rating Heisman Trophy favorites after Week 1, Gurley would surely be among the favorites. He made the most of his limited touches on a sweltering night, averaging 17.2 yards every time he got his hands on the ball. He set a school record for all-purpose yards with 293, breaking the record of 290 set by Rodney Hampton in 1987.
Georgia (1-0) broke open a game that was 21-21 at the half, shutting down Clemson (0-1) and a fast-break offense that didn't look nearly as effective without Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.
Gurley pretty much finished off Clemson by himself, scoring on runs of 23, 18 and 51 yards.
No. 17 Notre Dame 48, Rice 17
Everett Golson threw touchdown passes of 75 and 53 yards and ran for three more scores in his return after missing the 2013 season for academic impropriety, leading the Irish to an easy win in South Bend, Ind.
Golson was 14-of-22 passing for 295 yards and ran for 41 yards on 12 carries. He also had two near-misses on long pass attempts. He scored on an 11-yard run on a planned keeper, a 14-yard scramble and a 4-yard run on a blown handoff.
The Irish (1-0) were without five players who are scheduled to appear before the school's honor code committee after being investigated for possible cheating. It was the sixth straight season-opening loss for the Owls (0-1).
No. 22 Nebraska 55, Florida Atlantic 7
Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 232 yards, Tommy Armstrong Jr. passed for a career-high 271 yards and two touchdowns for the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska rushed for 498 of its 784 total yards, the fifth-most in their program's 125-year history. The Cornhuskers won their 29th straight opener, the longest streak in the nation.
Abdullah had 178 yards by half while becoming the eighth Nebraska player to go over 3,000 yards rushing in a career. Terrell Newby added 107 yards rushing.
Florida Atlantic, with first-year coach Charlie Partridge, was paid $1 million to visit Lincoln and will get another $1 million for playing at No. 2 Alabama next week. The Owls of Conference USA went 75 yards on their first series to tie it 7-7, but they gained just 51 more before Nebraska's defense began freely substituting after the third quarter.
No. 24 Missouri 38, South Dakota State 18
Maty Mauk threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a victory in the season opener for both teams at Columbia, Mo.
Mauk seemed at ease early, finding receiver Darius White crossing behind the Jackrabbits' defense for a 44-yard touchdown pass just 50 seconds into the game. The Tigers extended their lead to 21-10 at halftime and never trailed.
Zach Zenner rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries for South Dakota State (0-1), who fell to 0-7 against FBS teams since moving to Division I in 2004. Zach Lujan completed 21 of 28 passes for 239 yards and an interception in place of Austin Sumner, who left the game in the first quarter and did not return.
Missouri moved to 14-0 all-time against Football Championship Subdivision teams and has won 13 consecutive season openers.
Penn State 26, Central Florida 24
The Nittany Lions won a thrilling season opener with a 36-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the Knights in front of a raucous 55,000-strong crowd in Dublin, Ireland.
Behind a comeback led by second-half replacement quarterback Justin Holman, the Knights appeared to have scored their own unlikely come-from-behind victory when Holman scored on a six-yard touchdown run to put UCF up 24-23 with 1:13 left.
But Christian Hackenberg coolly directed a seven-play drive to set up Sam Ficken's fourth successful field goal.
Penn State ended the first half up 10-3, but should have been ahead by more as UCF struggled to move the ball at all. Both teams looked let-lagged in what was the first overseas game in either school's history.
North Carolina State 24, Georgia Southern 23
Jacoby Brissett threw for 291 yards and three second-half touchdowns to help the Wolfpack edge the Eagles at Raleigh, N.C.
Brissett connected with Matt Dayes on a 35-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline for the go-ahead score with 1:37 left. Georgia Southern had one last chance, but Kevin Ellison's fourth-down pass from his own 28 fell incomplete with 1:02 left.
Bra'Lon Cherry caught two touchdown passes for N.C. State, which trailed 17-3 at halftime and 20-10 in the fourth quarter.
Ellison passed for 184 yards and rushed for 116 more to lead the Eagles. Matt Breida had a 61-yard touchdown run for Georgia Southern. It was the first game as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision for the Eagles, who won six national championships in the Football Championship Subdivision before joining the Sun Belt Conference.
Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14
Devin Gardner threw three touchdown passes to Devin Funchess in the first half and the Wolverines went on to rout the Mountaineers at Ann Arbor, Mich., seven years after being on the losing end of perhaps the biggest upset in college football history.
The Wolverines coasted to victory after Gardner threw TD passes to Funchess on their first two drives, and connected with him for a third score late in the first half to give them a 21-0 lead.
The Mountaineers matched Michigan's game-opening TD the first time they had the ball in 2007 and in a closely contested game, they became the first second-tier program to beat a Top 25 team after blocking a field goal as time expired.
There wasn't much drama in the rematch. Next week, though, might be suspenseful when the Wolverines go to Notre Dame.
Pittsburgh 62, Delaware 0
James Conner rushed for 153 yards and four first-half touchdowns to lead the Panthers' rout over the visiting Blue Hens. Conner scored on runs of seven, eight, one and 19 yards as the Panthers opened the season with a victory for the first time under third-year Coach Paul Chryst.
Pitt pushed the overmatched Blue Hens around, outgaining Delaware 501-64 to post the program's first shutout in nine years. Chad Voytik completed 12 of 15 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns in his first start, including a 12-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Tyler Boyd that gave the Panthers a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Boyd, who set school freshman records for receptions and receiving yards last fall, left in the second quarter with a dislocated finger in his left hand. Pitt will need Boyd if it wants to make noise in the ACC's wide-open Coastal Division.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times