The opening weekend of college football was full of great games, big plays and impressive performances. Some big-name players were as good as advertised, while others struggled with the pressure that comes from being in the national spotlight. There were also some huge games from players who were flying under the radar just a week ago. Here is a look at the best of the best from week one.
Bryce Petty, senior, quarterback, Baylor: Petty wasn’t at the top of his game, but he didn’t need to be as Baylor beat up on S.M.U. 45-0 on Sunday night. In one half of football, he completed 13-of-23 passes for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also added 21 yards and another score on two carries on the ground.
Up next for Petty and the Bears is a matchup against Northwestern State.
Sean Mannion, senior, quarterback, Oregon State: Mannion and the Beavers started the season with a 29-14 over Portland State out of the Big Sky Conference. Although the Vikings put up a good fight, Mannion had a solid outing in the win. He completed 26-of-45 passes for 328 yards and a 23-yard touchdown pass to Storm Woods that stretched the lead to nine for the Beavers in the third quarter. He also found the end zone with his legs on a six yard scamper in the victory.
Up next for Mannion and the Beavers is a trip to Hawaii.
T. J. Yeldon, junior, running back, Alabama: the Crimson Tide had a very difficult opener, but Yeldon helped to carry the load as Alabama came away 33-23 victory over West Virginia. He finished the game with 23 carries for 126 yards, including a pair of second quarter touchdown runs to cap off impressive drives. He also added a reception to his stat line in the win.
Up next for Yeldon and Alabama is Florida Atlantic.
Taysom Hill, junior, quarterback, BYU: Hill had one of his best outings as the short-handed Cougars went on the road and knocked of UConn 35-10 on Friday night. He proved to be much more accurate than a year ago when he completed 28-of-36 passes for 308 yards and three scores. As expected, he was also impressive with his legs were he added 97 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries for the 1-0 Cougars.
Up next for Hill and BYU is a trip to Texas to face the Longhorns.
Ty Montgomery, senior, wide receiver, Stanford: Montgomery showed his off his skills as a wide out and also in special teams as the Cardinal ran away from UC Davis 45-0 on Saturday. He scored the first touchdown of the game on a 60-yard punt return early in the first quarter. He also added five receptions for 77 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown reception from Kevin Hogan to push the Stanford lead to 35 late in the second quarter.
Up next for Montgomery and the Cardinal is a battle against Cody Kessler and USC.
Marcus Mariota, junior, quarterback, Oregon: even though Mariota only played the first half, he still put up big numbers as the Ducks knocked off South Dakota 62-13 on Saturday night. He completed 14-of-20 passes for 267 yards, including touchdown passes of 11, 41 and 62 yards. He also added six carries for 43 yards and another score as Oregon put up 41 first half points.
Up next for Mariota and the Ducks is a visit from Michigan State in one of the biggest games of the early season.
Taylor Kelly, senior, quarterback, Arizona State: Kelly needed only one half of play as the Sun Devils beat up on Weber State 45-14 on Thursday night. Along the way, he completed 18-of-27 passes for 238 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown pass to Gary Chambers to give Arizona State a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. He also added 14 yards on the ground on three carries.
Up next for Kelly and the Sun Devils is a trip to face New Mexico.
Brett Hundley, junior, quarterback, UCLA: Hundley and the Bruins had a much tougher test to open the season than anyone expected as UCLA escaped with a 28-20 win over Virginia on Saturday. Even though the Bruins scored four touchdowns, only one of them came on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, UCLA put up only 358 yards of total offense as Hundley completed 20-of-33 passes for 242 yards. He also added 39 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries on the ground.
Up next for Hundley and the Bruins is a home game against Memphis.
Todd Gurley, junior, running back, Georgia: Gurley was the catalyst for the Bulldog offense as Georgia pulled away in the second half to knock off Clemson 45-21 on Saturday afternoon. He finished with 15 carries for 198 yards, including touchdown runs of 18, 23 and 51 yards. Gurley was also huge in the return game with a 100-yard kick return for another score.
Up next for Gurley and the Bulldogs is a bye before a trip to South Carolina to face the Gamecocks.
Amari Cooper, junior, wide receiver, Alabama: Cooper was the favorite target of new Alabama signal caller Blake Sims as the Crimson Tide outlasted the West Virginia Mountaineers 33-23. In fact, Cooper registered half of the Sims completions on the day. Cooper finished the game with a career-high 12 receptions for 130 yards.
Up next for Cooper nd the Crimson Tide is Florida Atlantic.
Jay Ajayi, junior, running back, Boise State: even though the Broncos fell apart in the fourth quarter to fall 35-13 to the Mississippi, Ajayi had a big game on the ground and through the air. On the ground, he registered 20 carries for a team-leading 86 yards to go along with 12 receptions for 93 yards and the Bronco’s only touchdown in the passing game.
Up next for Ajayi and the Broncos is a visit from Colorado State.
Jameis Winston, sophomore, quarterback, Florida State: although Winston put up big yards in the passing game. he wasn’t at his best as the Seminoles escaped with a 37-31 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday night. He completed just 25-of-40 passes for 370 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass as well as two interceptions. He also added a 28-yard touchdown run in the win.
Up next for Winston and Florida State is the Citadel.
Chuckie Keeton, senior, quarterback, Utah State: Keeton had one of the most difficult games of his impressive career as the Aggies went into Neyland Stadium and got drilled 38-7 by the Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday night. In the loss, he completed just 18-of-35 passes for 144 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown as well as two interceptions. He also added 12 yards on the ground in the loss.
Up next for Keeton and the Aggies is a visit from Idaho State.
Mike Davis, junior, running back, South Carolina: Davis struggled in limited action, thanks in large part to bruised ribs as the Gamecocks got beat 52-28 by Texas A&M on Thursday night. He carried the ball just six times for 15 yards in a game where South Carolina got in a hole early and tried to pass its way out of it. He also caught one pass, but gained just a yard.
Up next for Davis and South Carolina is a visit from East Carolina.
Cody Kessler, junior, quarterback, USC: Kessler started of his junior year in style as the USC Trojans put a hurt on Fresno State 52-13 on Saturday. In the big win, Kessler completed 25-of-37 for a career-high 394 yards, including touchdown passes of 5, 10, 18 and 22 yards. He also added eight carries for 28 yards and another score on the ground in the win.
Up next up for Kessler and the Trojans is a trip to Stanford to face a powerful Cardinal squad.
Kenny Hill, sophomore, quarterback, Texas A&M: It took Hill just one game as the starter to put his stamp on the Aggie program and earn plenty of national recognition. Hill completed 44-of-60 passes for 511 yards, including touchdown passes of 3, 14 and 5 yards as Texas A&M knocked off the No. 9 ranked South Carolina on Thursday night.
Up next for Hill and the Aggies is a battle against Lamar.
Melvin Gordon, junior, running back, Wisconsin: even though the Badgers lost a tough game 28-24 to L.S.U. on Saturday, Gordon proved that he is ready to have a monster junior season. He carried the ball 16 times for 140 yards, including a 14-yard second quarter touchdown run to give Wisconsin a 10-point lead.
Up next for Gordon and the Badgers is a visit from Western Illinois.
Ameer Abdullah, running back, Nebraska: after a 1,690 yard, nine touchdown junior year, Abdullah picked up right where he left off in the first game of his senior year in a 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic. In the victory, he carries the ball 21 times for 232 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown run. He also registered a reception for nine yards for the Cornhuskers.
Up next for Abdullah is a matchup against McNeese State.
Everett Golson, senior, quarterback, Notre Dame: in his first game back on the field after an undefeated regular season in 2012, Golson found his groove quickly and led the Irish to a 48-17 win over Rice. He finished the game by going 14-of-22 for 295 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He also added 41 yards and three scores on the ground.
Up next for Golson and Notre Dame is a visit from Michigan.
Connor Halliday, senior, quarterback, Washington State: even though the Cougars fell 41-38 in a tough game to Rutgers, Halliday had a monster outing for Washington State. He finished the night by completing 40-of-56 passes for 532 yards and five touchdowns as well as one interception.
Up next for Halliday and the Cougars is a trip to Nevada to face the Wolf Pack.