The first week of the college football season is in the books, wrapping up a week that brought multiple upsets, video game-esque displays of athletic ability, a shuffling of the AP Top 25, and a Hail Mary finish. Let’s dive right into the week that was:
- Prayer Answered: BYU defeats Nebraska on last-second Hail Mary
Do you know who Tanner Mangum is? Well, to quote the Notorious B.I.G., “If you don’t know, now you know.”
Mangum, a BYU freshman, entered at quarterback for the Cougars Saturday after starter Taysom Hill went down with an injury in the fourth quarter. He completed 7-of-11 pass attempts, none bigger than the 42-yard touchdown heave to wide receiver Mitch Mathews as the game clock expired, vaulting the Cougars to a 33-28 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Hill suffered a fractured foot and will miss the remainder of the season, likely making Mangum BYU’s starting quarterback moving forward. Prior to his injury, Hill threw for 268 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He also rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 9 carries.
For Nebraska, in the loss, quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. completed 24 passes, including 7 to wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp, and finished with 319 yards passing, three touchdowns, and an interception.
- ‘There’s Always One’: SEC enjoys a 12-1 opening weekend; Vanderbilt loses to Western Kentucky
The Conference often considered the strongest in college football, the SEC saw 12 of its 14 teams march on to victory in Week 1. The only blemish on the Conference record was a loss by Vanderbilt at the hands of Western Kentucky. The 14th team, the LSU Tigers, had their opener against McNeese State cancelled due to weather.
The highest-ranked team in the Conference, the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide, knocked off the #20 Wisconsin Badgers, pushing them out of the AP Top 25 poll. The SEC enters the second week of the season with 10 of its 14 teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
But the SEC could not escape week one of the season with a perfect record. The Vanderbilt Commodores dropped a 14-12 affair to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers of Conference USA. The Commodores narrowed the score to 14-12 with 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Johnny McCrary, but the Western Kentucky defense halted Vanderbilt’s two-point conversion attempt on the 1-yard line to secure the win.
Things will not get any easier for the Commodores moving forward, as they prepare to face SEC opponent #10 Georgia in week two.
- Pittsburgh running back James Conner tears MCL, done for the season
Though the Pittsburgh Panthers opened their season with a win Saturday over Youngstown State, they suffered a major blow to their offense, losing junior running back James Conner for the season.
Conner, the ACC’s leading rusher and Player of the Year in 2014, exited the game in the first quarter with an apparent knee injury, and was relieved by redshirt-freshman running back Qadree Ollison. Further examination of Conner’s knee revealed a torn MCL which will end his 2015 season early.
Ollison went on to rush for 207 yards and a touchdown in his Pitt debut.
Conner finished 7th in the nation in 2014 with 1,765 rushing yards, and was a bright spot for the Panthers in a disappointing season.
Pittsburgh will now rely on Ollison to ride the momentum he got started in week one, to lead the Panthers ground attack.
- ‘Rising to the Occasion’: Kansas, Army, and Wyoming all fall at the hands of FCS (I-AA) opponents
In what was their best chance to win a game this season, the Kansas Jayhawks could not overcome a strong offensive effort by the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, losing 41-38 to the FCS underdog.
But, in week one, Kansas was not alone in losing to an FCS opponent. They were joined by Wyoming, who fell to North Dakota 24-13, and Army, who dropped their matchup with Fordham 37-35.
For Kansas, it took a comeback effort just to avoid their loss to South Dakota State being a blowout. Just under two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter, South Dakota State took a commanding 31-7 lead when quarterback Zach Lujan connected with Brady Mengarelli for a 29-yard touchdown strike. The Jayhawks fought back, scoring three consecutive touchdowns to close the gap to just 3, but the Jackrabbits proved too much for Kansas to handle and held on for the win.
In another one-sided affair, North Dakota carried a two-touchdown lead into halftime against Wyoming, en route to a 24-13 victory. The UND squad tallied three touchdowns before Wyoming could even get on the scoreboard. The North Dakota defense held the Cowboys to just 41 yards rushing, while their offense hustled for 276 yards on the ground, led by running back John Santiago who had 148 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
In the most closely contested matchup of an FBS team losing to an FCS team, the Fordham Rams held off Army, denying a two-point conversion attempt with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to lock down a 37-35 win. Fordham quarterback Kevin Anderson aired it out for 322 yards passing, while running back Chase Edmonds rumbled for three touchdowns en route to victory.
Top 25 Losses:
- #15 Arizona State (17) vs. Texas A&M (38)
- #20 Wisconsin (17) vs. #2 Alabama (35)
- #21 Stanford (6) vs. Northwestern (16)
Top Offensive Performers:
- Baylor: Seth Russell – 376 yards passing, 5 TD passes
- Colorado State: Nick Stevens – 5 TD passes, No INT’s
- Texas Tech: Patrick Mahomes – 33/53, 425 yards passing, 4 TD passes
- Old Dominion: Ray Lawry – 28 carries, 223 yards rushing, 4 TDs
- East Carolina: Chris Hairston – 4 TD rushes on 18 carries
- Georgia Tech: Marcus Marshall – 8 carries, 184 yards rushing (23.0 yards per carry)
- Idaho: Dezmon Epps – 15 receptions, 163 yards receiving
- Northern Illinois: Kenny Golladay – 9 receptions, 213 yards receiving
- Baylor/ Rutgers: Jay Lee/ Leonte Carroo – 3 TDs on 3 total receptions
Top Defensive Performers:
- Tulsa: Michael Mudoh – 19 tackles
- Marshall: Tiquan Lang – 17 tackles, 2 INT’s (both returned for TD)
- Texas A&M: Daeshon Hall – 7 tackles, 4 sacks
- San Diego State/ West Virginia: Damontae Kazee/ Karl Joseph – 3 INT’s
- San Diego State: Calvin Munson – 2 INT’s (both returned for TD)
Top Special Teams Performers:
3 Kick Return TDs of 100 yards
- Mississippi State: Brandon Holloway
- Kansas State: Morgan Burns
- Western Michigan: Darius Phillips
60+ Point Scorers:
- Georgia Tech (69) vs. Alcorn State (6)
- Ole Miss (76) vs. Tennessee-Martin (3)
- Rutgers (63) vs. Norfolk State (13)
- Air Force (63) vs. Morgan State (7)
- Colorado State (65) vs. Savannah State (13)
- California (73) vs. Grambling State (14)
- Memphis (63) vs. Missouri State (7)
- Louisiana Tech (62) vs. Southern (15)
- Middle Tennessee (70) vs. Jackson State (14)
- Florida (61) vs. New Mexico State (13)
- Oregon (61) vs. Eastern Washington (42)
- New Mexico (66) vs. Mississippi Valley State (0)
Games to Watch in Week 2:
- #12 Clemson vs. Appalachian State (Saturday, 12:30 PM)
- Each team scored 49 points in their opening week victory
- #19 Oklahoma vs. #23 Tennessee (Saturday, 6:00 PM)
- 2014: Oklahoma defeated Tennessee 34-10
- #7 Oregon vs. #5 Michigan State (Saturday, 8:00 PM)
- 2014: Oregon defeated Michigan State 46-27
- #14 LSU vs. #25 Mississippi State (Saturday, 9:15 PM)
- 2014: Mississippi State knocked off LSU 34-29
- #20 Boise State vs. BYU (Saturday, 10:15 PM)
- 2014: Boise State defeated BYU 55-30