Saban turns Tide in right direction
Posted: Monday, September 1, 2008 4:31 pm
By: By The Associated Press
ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) — Nick Saban’s plan to bring No. 24 Alabama back to prominence looks way ahead of schedule. As for No. 9 Clemson, another big game ended with the Tigers on the losing end.
The Crimson Tide had little trouble rolling past Clemson 34-10 at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night, the biggest victory in coach Saban’s two seasons at Alabama.
Alabama’s defense held Clemson to zero yards rushing and John Parker Wilson threw two touchdown passes as Alabama beat a top-10 opponent for the first time since topping No. 5 Florida in 2005. That was part of the last hurrah for former coach Mike Shula, who followed that 10-2 season with a 6-7 campaign that ended his time with the Tide.
Alabama lured Saban from the NFL last season to lead the 12-time national champs back to glory. Based on the opener, Saban and the Tide are on their way.
Wilson finished 22-of-30 for 180 yards and, with his career total completions now at 500, surpassed Brodie Croyle’s old school record of 488.
The Crimson Tide defense held the Tigers’ heralded “Thunder and Lightning” backfield of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to 20 yards combined.
The Tigers managed only 188 yards, way off their 403-yard average from last season.
Georgia 45, Georgia South. 21
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — The collar fit, and for at least one game, so did the crown.
Knowshon Moreno ran for three touchdowns and Georgia, ranked No. 1 to start a season for the first time, beat Georgia Southern 45-21 on Saturday to give new mascot Uga VII a win in his debut.
Moreno needed only eight carries for 59 yards to tie his career best with three touchdowns.
He added two catches for 53 yards.
Georgia led 38-0 before Georgia Southern scored on a one-yard run by quarterback Lee Chapple late in the third quarter. The Eagles added two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes and was 13-for-21 passing for a career-high 275 yards.
Florida 56, Hawaii 10
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Even without injured speedster Percy Harvin (heel) and linebacker Brandon Spikes (toe), Florida dominated every aspect of this one and handed Greg McMackin a lopsided loss in his debut as Hawaii’s head coach.
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was 9-of-14 passing for 137 yards and a touchdown. He ran nine times for 37 yards, most of them scrambles behind spotty protection.
When the Gators got close to the goal line in the third quarter, coach Urban Meyer pulled Tebow in favor of backup Cam Newton — a possible indication of how the Gators plan to minimize potential pounding on their star.
Jeff Demps ran for 76 yards, including a 62-yarder for a touchdown.
Chris Rainey added 58 yards on the ground, including a 33-yard score.
LSU 41, Appalachian St. 13
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — With a couple of inexperienced quarterbacks, all LSU had to do was hand off. And Appalachian State never had a chance at another upset.
Charles Scott rushed for a career-high 160 yards on 16 carries, including touchdowns of eight and 29 yards for LSU.
Andrew Hatch, who transferred from Harvard in 2007, took the field on the Tigers’ opening three series, which produced 17 points. Miles also gave redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee a chance. Both threw their first touchdown passes as Tigers, but the real damage was done on the ground.
With Hurricane Gustav threatening the Gulf Coast, kickoff was moved up from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. so the game would end well before authorities planned to initiate one-way traffic along major evacuation routes away from Louisiana’s coast. With LSU leading big and the midday sun baking the stands, Tiger Stadium looked deserted by the end of the third quarter.
Mountaineers star quarterback Armanti Edwards played into the fourth quarter, finishing 13-of-31 for 155 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked only twice, but repeatedly clobbered on designed runs or as he released hurried throws.
Auburn 34, La.-Monroe 0
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Ben Tate ran for 115 yards on 13 carries and Auburn scored touchdowns on defense and special teams in a 34-0 opening win.
The Tigers scarcely needed to pass in debuting Tony Franklin’s new spread offense, resorting to a still punishing ground game (321 yards rushing) and defense while alternating quarterbacks on every series for much of the game.
Michael Goggans scored on a 9-yard fumble return and Robert Dunn added a 66-yard punt return for a TD in the first quarter — the latter breaking the nation’s longest drought.
It was more than enough to ensure that the Warhawks wouldn’t duplicate last season’s upset at Alabama, which had been only their third win in 33 tries against Southeastern Conference opponents.
Missouri 52, Illinois 42
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Sean Weatherspoon bailed out a leaky Missouri defense with two late takeaways late and Jeremy Maclin had a 99-yard kickoff return and 45-yard punt return before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
Juice Williams was 26-for-42 for 451 yards for the Illini, more than doubling his previous career best of 227 yards, and threw for a career-best fifth touchdown on the final play. Chris Duvalt and Will Judson each caught two touchdown passes.
Maclin, who finished with 234 all-purpose yards, lost his balance while running a pattern away from the play.
Weatherspoon stopped one fourth-quarter drive with an interception at the Missouri 26, then he ripped the ball out of Daniel Dufrene’s hands after a reception and returned it 35 yards for touchdown and a 52-35 lead.
East Carolina 27, Virginia Tech 22
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — T.J. Lee blocked a punt and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 1:52 left to help East Carolina upset Virginia Tech.
The Hokies, long known for stout defense and special teams, seemed to have control of the game thanks to Stephan Virgil’s 30-yard fumble return for a touchdown and his two-point conversion off a blocked extra point.
But it was the Pirates (1-0), who came up with the big plays on defense and special teams in the end, scoring the game’s final 15 points.
After Patrick Pinkney’s three-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left cut the deficit to 22-20, the Pirates stopped the Hokies’ struggling offense. Lee burst through the line of scrimmage unblocked. He smothered Brent Bowden’s punt, scooped up the ball on one bounce and ran into the end zone.
Bowling Green 27, Pitt 17
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tyler Sheehan ran 11 yards for a touchdown on a quarterback draw early in the fourth quarter as Bowling Green rallied to upset the Panthers.
The Falcons, with their second win over a ECS conference school in as many season openers, bounced back from a 14-0 deficit for the first victory by a Mid-American Conference school in Pittsburgh. Pitt previously was 25-2 against the MAC, 8-0 in season openers and 24-0 at home.
Anthony Turner scored on an eight-yard run to give Bowling Green its first lead at 20-17 with 3:53 left in the second quarter.
Sheehan was 24-of-40 for 163 yards, and the Falcons — despite being outgained 393-254 — went on to their first victory against a Top 25 team from outside the MAC since upsetting then-No. 16 Purdue 27-26 on Sept. 6, 2003.
With Pitt star LeSean McCoy repeatedly slowed during a 71-yard day, Pitt (0-1) was dealt its worst upset home loss since a 35-26 defeat in 2001 to South Florida.
Ohio St. 43, Youngstown St. 0
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An eerie silence descended on Ohio Stadium when Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy prospect Chris “Beanie” Wells went down with a foot injury in the third quarter.
The star tailback was hurt in the third quarter after taking a handoff from Todd Boeckman on first and goal at the Youngstown State 2. His feet slipped underneath him as he planted to make a cut, with the ball rolling free as he hit the turf.
Wells was helped off the field, and later returned to the bench in the fourth quarter wearing a boot on his right foot. X-rays showed no broken bones, the team said.
Before the injury, Wells ran for 111 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown run. Boeckman tossed two touchdown passes and freshman quarterback phenom Terrelle Pryor looked solid in his college debut.
Boeckman completed 14-of-19 passes for 187 yards and touchdown passes of 31 yards to Brian Robiskie and 25 yards to DeVier Posey.
The Penguins rushed 21 times for minus-11 yards. Youngstown State has never scored a touchdown in four games against teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences.
USC 52, Virginia 7
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes in his first game as Southern California’s true No. 1 quarterback and Trojans rolled.
The Trojans lead 21-0 after just 11 minutes and weren’t tested, allowing coach Pete Carroll to keep things simple in advance of a home game against No. 2 Ohio State in two weeks.
Sanchez, just more than three weeks removed from a dislocated kneecap that kept him out of practice until this week, showed no ill effects. He was 26-for-35 for 338 yards.
The junior started three games last season, filling in for the injured John David Booty and going 2-1. Now, USC is Sanchez’s team, and it appears to be in good hands.
The Cavaliers had minus 15 yards on their first three offensive series.
Peter Lalich, who won the three-way battle for the Cavaliers quarterback job, hit on 18 of 35 passes, but for just 155 yards and an interception.
Oklahoma 57, Chattanooga 2
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Sam Bradford threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, Chris Brown ran for three scores and only an hourlong rainstorm could slow down the Sooners.
The Sooners converted their first seven possessions into touchdowns and led 50-0 before a thunderstorm caused a lightning delay that extended halftime by 1 hour and 12 minutes.
Bradford completed 17 of 22 passes, including a three-yard score to Quentin Chaney and a seven-yard TD to Manuel Johnson on fade patterns. DeMarco Murray had a pair of one-yard scoring runs, one of them following a 49-yard scamper, and finished with 124 yards on 15 carries.
West Virginia 48, Villanova 21
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Pat White threw a career-high five touchdown passes and West Virginia beat Villanova, giving Rich Rodriguez’s replacement, Bill Stewart, a successful regular-season debut.
The Mountaineers built a 34-7 lead midway through the third quarter and didn’t need a big day from their vaunted rushing attack, which averaged 297 yards per game a year ago.
White set careers highs by going 25-of-33, finished with 208 passing yards and broke Marc Bulger’s school career record for total offense.
Alric Arnett and Jock Sanders each caught two of White’s scoring passes and the other went to Will Johnson.
Texas 52, Florida Atlantic 10
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — On a night when Texas retired the No. 10 jersey of Vince Young, Coly McCoy passed for three touchdowns, ran for another and the Longhorns coasted to a win that got testy at times.
McCoy’s third touchdown pass made it 42-10 and he left early in the fourth quarter with 222 yards on 24-of-29 passing. He also did his best to imitate Young with 103 yards rushing on 12 carries.
McCoy joined Young as the only Texas quarterbacks to pass for more than 200 yards and run for 100 more in a game multiple times. McCoy has done it twice. Young did it five times.
Rusty Smith, last season’s Sun Belt Conference player of the year, finished with 253 yards passing and a touchdown pass to Rob Housler for the Owls.
Texas Tech 49, E. Wash. 24
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Graham Harrell threw for 536 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score to lead Texas Tech.
The pass-happy offense of Texas Tech was in midseason form against an overmatched opponent. Harrell was 43-of-58 with an interception.
He connected with eight different receivers but it was a quiet night for Michael Crabtree, the nation’s leading receiver in 2007. The All-American finished with 73 yards on nine catches, one a four -yard TD in the first quarter.
It was the third time in as many seasons that Harrell has thrown for more than 500 yards in a game.
Matt Nichols, last season’s MVP in the Big Sky Conference, threw one touchdown and completed 36 of 61 passes for 335 yards for the Eagles.
Wisconsin 38, Akron 17
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — P.J. Hill ran for 210 yards and two touchdowns, but Wisconsin needed a pair of third-quarter scores to shake free from pesky Akron.
It was the second career game of more than 200 yards rushing for Hill, who gained more than 1,200 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Badgers despite nagging injuries.
Leading by only a touchdown at halftime, Wisconsin (1-0) forced Akron to punt from its own goal line on its first possession and took over near midfield. Hill broke free for a 34-yard run, and later plunged into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to put Wisconsin ahead 24-10.
Kansas 40, Florida Int. 10
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Todd Reesing threw three touchdown passes to Dezmon Briscoe and Kansas, coming off the greatest season in its history, opened with a victory before a record-breaking home crowd.
Reesing was 37-for-52 for 256 yards. Briscoe, a sophomore and Reesing’s third-leading receiver in 2007, had touchdown catches of three, four and three yards against a Sun Belt Conference team the Jayhawks smacked 55-3 a year ago.
The game was played before a school-record crowd of 52,112, breaking the mark of 51,910 which watched the resurgent Jayhawks beat longtime nemesis Nebraska 76-39 last year.
Arizona State 30, N. Arizona 13
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Rudy Carpenter threw for 388 yards and a touchdown, and Dimitri Nance ran for two touchdowns to lead the Sun Devils.
Carpenter completed 22-of-28 passes, including 13 in a row in the first half to tie a school record. He also rushed for a team-high 40 yards.
Arizona State, coming off a 10-3 season and a Holiday Bowl loss, wasted little time jumping on the overmatched Lumberjacks, who haven’t beaten ASU since 1938.
The Sun Devils needed only five plays to score. Carpenter hit Kerry Taylor with a short pass over the middle and Taylor sprinted untouched for a 52-yard touchdown.
BYU 41, Northern Iowa 17
PROVO, Utah (AP) — Max Hall threw for 486 yards and two touchdowns and BYU overcame four turnovers in the second half.
The Cougars extended the longest winning streak in the nation to 11, but struggled to put away the Championship Subdivision Panthers after taking a 27-3 halftime lead.
UNI converted two of BYU’s three fumbles in the third quarter into touchdowns and got within 27-17, stifling every opportunity the Cougars had to put the game away until the fourth quarter.
Harvey Unga ran for two touchdowns and Dennis Pitta caught 11 passes for a career-best 213 yards for BYU.
UNI’s Pat Grace took a beating in his first college start and finished 11-for-18 for 112 yards.
South Florida 56, UT Martin 7
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Matt Grothe threw for two first-half touchdowns and South Florida scored on its first four possessions and routed Tennessee-Martin.
Grothe threw TD passes of 18 and 22 yards to Jessie Hester and Mike Ford scored on runs of four and six yards, helping the Bulls build a 35-0 halftime lead. A 12-yard scoring run by Benjamin Williams finished a school-record 28-point first quarter.
Tennessee-Martin, sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference a year ago, opened on the road against a Bowl Championship Subdivision team for the fourth time in five seasons and have been outscored 162-23 in those games.
Oregon 44, Washington 10
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Jeremiah Masoli stepped in for Justin Roper and threw for 126 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Ducks.
Roper started for the Ducks and completed 7-of-11 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. But he was replaced in the second quarter by Masoli, a junior college transfer, and did not return. It was not immediately clear if he was injured.
Oregon tailback Jeremiah Johnson, who split carries with Jonathan Stewart for the last three seasons, had a 44-yard carry on the Ducks’ first series, then followed it up with a four-yard scoring run. Roper’s 60-yard touchdown pass to Terence Scott made it 14-0.
Washington’s dual-threat quarterback Jake Locker completed 12-of-28 passes for 103 yards and also ran for 57 yards.
Penn State 66, Coastal Carolina 10
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Joe Paterno tied Florida State’s Bobby Bowden atop the career wins list for major college coaches.
Both Hall of Fame coaches now have 373 career wins apiece. The Seminoles don’t open their season until next weekend.
Evan Royster ran for three touchdowns and 64 yards for Penn State against the Championship Subdivision Chanticleers, while Derrick Williams had an 89-yard kickoff return for a score to help the Nittany Lions won their seventh straight season opener.
Trent Usher provided Coastal Carolina’s lone TD on a 33-yard reception.