The 2014 College Football season opening week did give us some wild finishes and almost-upsets, but the top two ranked teams in the nation, Florida State (playing Oklahoma State) and Alabama (facing West Virginia) managed to pull through in games that turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected.
Those weren’t the only games that were close – LSU and Wisconsin had a great battle at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Badgers kept on running (268 yards) to build a 24-7 lead early in the third quarter, but LSU got big plays from their quarterback Anthony Jennings and a big game from running back Kenny Hillard, scoring 21 consecutive points to pull off the huge 28-24 comeback win in a game between two ranked teams.
The other Saturday game between ranked teams wasn’t that close. Georgia didn’t pull away from Clemson at Sanford Stadium until the last quarter, but eventually came away with the 45-21 win thanks to a monster game from Todd Gurley, who ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns, adding a 100-yard kickoff return for 100 yards and another score, as both schools have a lot of work to do with their quarterbacks.
In the Cowboys Classic, Florida State never trailed against Oklahoma State, but Jameis Winston had a bad game with two interceptions and there’s no doubt that the talent lost on both sides of the ball for the Seminoles is hard to replace. J.W. Walsh did some nice things for the Cowboys on the ground and in the air, but in the end it was only enough to lose by six points. Alabama, with Blake Sims at quarterback for the entire game, managed to pull away only in the final quarter from a surprising Mountaineers team that struggled stopping the run or getting anything on the ground in the 23-33 loss.
Others had an easy time: Oregon routed South Dakota State, Oklahoma did the same to Louisiana Tech, Stanford routed UC Davis, USC broke a Pac-12 plays record against Fresno State as the Sarkisian era began on the right foot and Notre Dame got Evan Golson back which made all of their injuries and suspensions matter a lot less in an easy win over Rice. Washington barely beating Hawai’i doesn’t bode well for their season, the first under Chris Petersen.
Another Pac-12 hopeful that disappointed were UCLA, coming away with a 28-20 win over Virginia, as Brett Hundley had a weak day inside the pocket. Three of their touchdowns came from interceptions or fumbles by the Cavaliers. Ohio State did have a tricky time at Navy, but got a pleasing performance from J.T. Barrett as they pulled away in the second half to come up with a 34-17 win, which should keep them in the top 5 for at least another week.