What did we learn on Saturday? Well, we learned that Miami (once again) isn't ready for prime time, Alabama may not miss their Heisman winner and top three Heisman vote-getters as much as we thought, and we learned Clemson and Georgia both need to work on their offense.
Alabama on Saturday afternoon scored 3 touchdowns and 2 field goals on its first five possessions to open a 27-0 lead and never look back, en route to a 44-13 cruise past Miami in Atlanta. Bryce Young, in his first start as QB for the Tide, threw 4 TD passes and no picks while completing 27-of-38 for 344 yards. The Tide rolled up 501 yards and held Miami to 266.
On Saturday night, neither Clemson or Georgia scored a single offensive touchdown. Christopher Smith's 74-yard interception return late in the first half provided the winning margin for the 'Dawgs as they out-defensed the Tigers, 10-3, in Charlotte.
LSU, considered to be at least a darkhorse candidate for the SEC West title, went west and lost 38-27 to UCLA. The Tigers scored first, but never led again and the Bruins were on top 38-20 after Dorian Thompson-Robinson's third TD pass of the game with 6:31 to play.
Meanwhile, the early games on Saturday saw Wisconsin edge Penn State, Oklahoma survive Tulane, and Kansas State whip Stanford.
The Nittany Lions twice intercepted Graham Metrz in the red zone in the final 2:16 of the game to grab the 16-10 upset in Madison.
Oklahoma scored just 3 points after halftime and still managed to weather the comeback attempt by Tulane. The Green Wave had an excellent opportunity to pull the upset after revering an onside kick with just over two minutes to play, but turned the ball over on downs and fell short, 40-35.
Kansas State built a 24-0 lead in Arlington before Stanford scored late to make the final 24-7 result look slightly more respectable.
A little later, we watched Iowa pulverize Indiana 34-6 to immediately dispel any notion of the Hoosiers going undefeated this season. Indiana was the preseason No. 2 team in the Congrove Computer Rankings, behind USC and just ahead of Miami.
Speaking of USC, the Trojans were 30-7 winners at home over San Jose State. But Mountain West tam,s knocked off two other PAC-12 schools as Nevada downed California 22-17 and Utah State rallied to a 26-23 win at Washington State.
Army, an 4-point underdog in the sportsbooks and an 8.12-point computer dog, had its way at Georgia State in a 43-10 romp. the Black Knights outrushed the Panthers 258-48.
Navy, on the other hand, lost a second straight home opener by at least 42 points after getting destroyed 49-7 at home by Marshall. Last year, the Middies opened with a 55-3 loss to BYU in Annapolis.
Air Force took an easier route in its opener by hosting FCS member Lafayette and barely breaking a sweat in a 35-14 win.
Iowa State had its issues with pesky Northern Iowa (FCS) but managed to eke-out a 16-10 win. Last year, the Cyclones lost to Louisiana-Lafayette in the opener. Two years ago, they escape Northern Iowa 29-26 in triple-OT in their opener.
Mississippi State scored 21 unanswered points in the final 12:01 of the game to avert the upset and rally past Louisiana Tech 35-34. Louisiana Tech still had a chance to recover from its collapse and win the game with a field goal but the 46-yard attempt fell way short as time expired.
Georgia Tech's fortunes went the opposite way of Mississippi State. The Yellow Jackets were beaten 22-21 by Northern Illinois on Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi's 3-yard pass to Clint Ratkovich with 38 seconds left, and subsequent 2-point conversion pass to Tyrice Richie. Georgia Tech rallied from a 14-0 deficit to take a 21-14 advantage after starting QB Jeff Sims left with an arm injury and was replaced by Jordan Yates.
Illinois also caught the upset bug and fell 37-30 at home to UTSA. The Illini fell behind 14-0 in the opening 18-1/2 minutes and never got closer than a field goal.
On Friday night, Virginia Tech had a stellar defensive effort against Sam Howell and North Carolina that led to a 17-10 win for Justin Fuente's first victory (1-7) against a top ten opponent since taking over the program. The Hokies opened a 14-0 lead by controlling the clock for over 20 minutes of the first half and missed a couple of opportunities in the second half to put the game away, but the defense picked off Howell 3 times and lived in the Tar Heel backfield. Virginia Tech had its worst defensive stats in decades last season, the first without the retired Bud Foster as DC since 1994.
Also on Friday night, Charlotte picked up its first-ever win against a Power 5 program, downing Duke 31-28 on an 11-yard TD pass with 33 seconds left. And Kansas halted its 13-game losing streak with a 17-14 win over South Dakota on a 16-yard TD pass with 1:10 left.
The big game on Thursday night saw Ohio State pass its first test of the season - a road conference opener against a solid Minnesota team. The Buckeyes put up 21 points in the 3rd quarter, including a sack fumble scoop-and-score, to gain control of see-saw battle and pull out the 45-31 win. The Gophers' fortunes seem to turn on a lower leg injury to star running back Mohamed Ibrahim late in the 3rd. At that point, he had 163 yards on 30 carries with 2 scores. The Buckeyes got a solid performance out of CJ Stroud at QB as he passed for 294 yards on just 13 completions out of 24 attempts. He was also picked off once.
Ohio State has current FBS-longest winning streaks of 22 conference games, 10 road games, and 22 regular season games. Next up for the Buckeyes is their home opener in an intersectional matchup on Saturday, September 11 versus Oregon.
UCF endured a lengthy delay to the start of its opener vs. Boise State in the "Bounce House", then had to recover from a 24-7 first half deficit to pull out a 36-31 victory in a game that ended at 1:25 a.m. on the east coast. Isaiah Bowser scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on an 8-yard run 4:16 left to play. Gus Malzahn got the win in his first game as head coach of the Knights while Andy Avalos took the loss in his inaugural game as head coach of the Broncos. UCF wound up outgaining Boise State 573 yards to 283.
Montana scored the biggest upset of the week as the Griz snagged a 13-7 win at Washington on Saturday. The Huskies became the first ranked FBS team to lose to a FCS school since Iowa fell to North Dakota State in 2016. Montana was a 22.5-point underdog at DraftKings and a 29.69-point computer underdog. The Griz entered the game at No. 4 in the FCS computer rankings while Washington was No. 16 in the FBS rankings.
Six FCS teams knocked off FCS schools over the Labor Day weekend.
South Dakota State went to Colorado State on Friday night and crushed the Rams 42-23. On Thursday night, UC Davis took down Tulsa 19-17, and Eastern Washington followed suit with a 35-33 win in double-overtime at UNLV.
On Saturday, Vanderbilt was smothered 23-3 by East Tennessee State, and UConn fell 38-28 to Holy Cross.
Defending FCS champion Sam Houston State racked up 591 yards of offense and rolled to a 42-16 win at Northern Arizona. The Bearkats are ranked second in the FCS Congrove Computer Rankings.
The computer's top-ranked team, James Madison, was a 45.5-point favorite in the sportsbooks and easily beat the spread with a 68-10 romp over Morehead State.
No. 3 North Dakota State, the computer's favorite on the MVFC,was a nearly 20-point computer choice at home over Albany and prevailed 28-6.
No. 8 Alabama A&M had a tough opening draw by hosting South Carolina State as a 6.56-point computer play and won 42-41.
UAB and Jacksonville State jump-started the weekend with a Wednesday night contest in the Montgomery Kick-off that saw the Blazers blank the Gamecocks 31-0.
D2 school Southern Connecticut State upset FCS Central Connecticut State 28-21. The last time we had seen the Blue Devils, they were finishing off an 11-2 season with a first round NCAA playoff loss to Alabany on November 30, 2019. The last time we saw the Owls (SCSU), they were wrapping up a 2-8 season on November 16, 2019. Lindy's and HeroSports picked CSSU to finish 3rd in the NEC this year while the computer has the Blue Devils winning the conference and ranked 7th over-all.
D2 West Florida also pulled off the upset of an FCS foe as the Argonauts defeated McNese State 42-36.
NAIA member Indiana Wesleyan downed FCS member Valparaiso 28-10.