You might need a program to get a handle on No. 3 Georgia’s depth chart. Five players from last year’s team went in the first round of the NFL draft and nine were taken within the first 102 picks, part of a record-setting 15 players selected overall from the defending Bowl Subdivision national champions.
New cast, same story. Saturday’s 49-3 win in the season opener against No. 12 Oregon saw last year’s dominance continue, only reinforcing the widely held belief that Georgia will be one of the teams to beat in the race for the College Football Playoff.
New Oregon quarterback Bo Nix averaged just 4.7 yards per attempt and the Ducks’ defense did just about nothing right under first-year head coach Dan Lanning, formerly Georgia’s defensive coordinator.
Facing off against Lanning’s defense, the Bulldogs ripped off 5.3 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns spread across four different players: running backs Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh, wide receiver Ladd McConkey and quarterback Stetson Bennett. McIntosh also led the Bulldogs with 117 receiving yards, nearly tripling his previous career high.
Bennett should appear on some early-season Heisman Trophy lists after completing 25 of 31 attempts for 368 yards and three total scores before exiting in the third quarter with the Bulldogs ahead 42-3.
SATURDAY RUNDOWN:Scores and details from all the Top 25 games
For the Ducks, getting bullied is less than an embarrassment than a sign of reality: Oregon is in the fourth tier of championship contenders, a couple thousand miles off from the top group of the Bulldogs, Alabama and Ohio State.
Would it have been nice not to be run out of the building by the midpoint of the second quarter? Yeah, but Georgia’s going to put more opponents than not into a blender and hit puree — Oregon’s just the first of many to get this sort of treatment.
The Bulldogs and Ducks lead the list of college football’s biggest winners and losers from the Week 1 of the 2022 season:
Bogged down by No. 5 Notre Dame’s defense, the No. 2 Buckeyes finally relied on the running game to key a strong second half and secure a very important 21-10 win. While the Irish were able to keep quarterback C.J. Stroud in check — he averaged a career-low 6.6 yards per attempt — running backs Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson took over, combining for 175 yards and a score to avoid the upset. While the Buckeyes’ offense will search for some answers, the defense delivered behind new coordinator Jim Knowles. In his first game since coming over from Oklahoma State, Knowles’ unit gave up just 253 yards overall and 2.5 yards per carry.
The No. 23 Razorbacks justified the preseason ranking and made a case for second place in the early SEC West projections by handing No. 22 Cincinnati its first regular-season loss since Dec. 7, 2019. While Arkansas never trailed in the 31-24 win, the Bearcats did overcome a 14-0 halftime deficit and a 21-7 hole in the second half to draw within as few as four points, 21-17, in the third quarter. Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson threw for 223 yards, ran for 59 yards and had four touchdowns; if he keeps this up, the biggest secret in the SEC won’t stay under wraps for long.
Down 21-7 heading into the fourth, No. 25 Houston surged back to take a 24-21 lead on upset-minded Texas-San Antonio before the Roadrunners forced overtime with a 37-yard field goal with no time in regulation. After the two teams traded field goals and touchdowns in the first two extra frames, Houston quarterback Clayton Tune converted the two-point attempt in the third overtime to lift the Cougars to a 37-35 win. While a closer shave than expected, the win keeps UH on track to become this year’s Cincinnati — a Group of Five team that makes a run at an undefeated regular season and a place in the top four of the final playoff rankings.
The Brent Venables era kicked off with a 45-13 win against overmatched Texas-El Paso that doubled as the debut for former Central Florida quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who hit on 15 of 23 throws for 233 yards and three combined scores. Defensively, the No. 9 Sooners held the Miners to just 3.8 yards per play and 28 rushing yards, the fewest Oklahoma has allowed in a game since giving up 25 yards to Baylor in 2020.
Meanwhile, former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s went almost perfectly: USC beat Rice 66-19 behind big efforts from former OU quarterback Caleb Williams, who hit on all but three of his 22 attempts for 249 yards, and former Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison, who had two touchdown grabs. Williams added a team-leading 68 rushing yards and showed a grasp of Riley’s system that could lift the Trojans and their rebuilt roster to the top of the conference.
And for good measure, one last first-year head coach hit the ground running in a major way: Florida’s Billy Napier led the Gators to a 29-26 upset of No. 8 Utah behind a Heisman-level show from quarterback Anthony Richardson — 168 yards passing, 104 rushing and three scores — and a bend-but-don’t-break defense that gave up 446 yards of offense but delivered the game-clinching interception with less than a minute left. If you’re doing the math at home: Utah, the preseason favorite in the Pac-12 and a playoff contender, lost to a team picked to finish fourth in the SEC East. Fourth! In the weaker of the league’s two divisions!
UNC scored 34 straight points in the second and third quarters to take a 41-21 lead on Appalachian State, and then things went crazy. The two teams combined for 62 points in the fourth, one off the FBS record of 63 points in one quarter, with the Tar Heels only surviving after stopping the Mountaineers’ two-point attempt with nine seconds left to win 63-61. There’s plenty to worry about over the state of the Tar Heels’ defense but reason for optimism at quarterback: Drake Maye went for 352 yards and five total scores, giving Sam Howell’s replacement nine touchdowns without an interception through two weeks.
Jim Harbaugh announced a unique plan for his quarterbacks heading into No. 6 Michigan’s season opener: Cade McNamara, the incumbent starter, would get the nod on Saturday against Colorado State, while J.J. McCarthy would draw the starting assignment next week against Hawaii. While McNamara threw for 136 yards and a score in the Wolverines’ easy 51-7 win against the Rams, McCarthy managed to steal the show by completing all four of his attempts for 30 yards with another 50 yards on the ground, including a 20-yard touchdown run. Will Harbaugh give McNamara snaps next week?
JMU made its debut as a member of the FBS with an easy 44-7 romp of Middle Tennessee State, foreshadowing the Dukes’ potential to win way more games than most expect as members of the Sun Belt. One thing that stood out was the Dukes’ play at the line of scrimmage: MTSU managed just 12 rushing yards on 28 carries but gave up 261 rushing yards. JMU quarterback Todd Centeio had 397 yards of total offense, 110 coming on the ground, and tossed six touchdowns.
The energy and defensive game plan were there. The offense was not. What they need is more on the ground to help quarterback Tyler Buchner, who averaged 9.8 yards per throw and had three completions of at least 30 yards. But if OSU really is one of the top three teams in the country, shouldn’t the Irish stay inside the top five? Down the road, hanging tight with the Buckeyes could factor into how the playoff field is decided. Whether the Irish are in the top four depends on what happens from here: Notre Dame now needs to run the table to have a good shot.
Not even sniffing Georgia doesn’t say too much about Oregon’s odds of winning the Pac-12, since the Ducks won’t run into any team even remotely resembling the Bulldogs in the nation’s weakest Power Five league. Getting run out of the building by Georgia is going to leave a mark, though, and could color a season-long national perception of Oregon and, to a lesser extent, the Pac-12 at large. (The perception of that league already stinks.)
It took one week to reinforce how the Pac-12 is a nonfactor. Oregon was walloped. Preseason favorite Utah couldn’t get past Florida. With both preseason frontrunners already holding a loss, who will carry the flag for the conference? USC? UCLA, which beat Bowling Green? Arizona? The Wildcats pulled off one of the shocking results of the day by beating San Diego State 38-20. Oregon State, Stanford, Washington? Just like with Georgia, it’s a new year and the same story for the Pac-12.
North Carolina State was lucky to escape with a 21-20 win against the upset-minded Pirates. Beyond playing the Wolfpack to a draw at the line of scrimmage and keeping N.C. State quarterback Devin Leary under wraps, ECU kicker Owen Daffer missed an extra point try that would’ve knotted the game at 21-21 with three minutes left and then pushed wide the potential game-winning field goal wide right in the final seconds.
Up 21-12 late in the third quarter and 21-15 midway through the fourth, Boston College allowed Rutgers to march 92 yards across 12 plays and notch the go-ahead score with three minutes left in a 22-21 loss. With at least four games to come against ranked opponents, the loss deals a major blow to the Eagles’ path back to bowl eligibility under third-year coach Jeff Hafley; the program has won at least six games but not more than seven in eight of the past nine seasons, illustrating the small room for error.
There’s one easy path to seven points: the touchdown. Another way to seven, as Iowa showed against South Dakota State: one field goal (three), one safety (five) and then another safety (seven). Of course, Iowa still won 7-3. Only the Hawkeyes.