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GameDay Final: Kickoff Week lives up to the hype

The start of the 2016 college football season was billed as the greatest opening weekend in the sport's history.

It delivered everything we wanted -- and then some.

The action started at the crack of dawn with the first kickoff in Dublin, Ireland, and ended well past midnight PT in Wyoming. We were treated to surprising upsets, exciting finishes, incredible comebacks, inspiring returns by injured players and another dominant performance by the defending national champions.

We hadn't even reached nightfall on the East Coast before seeing two top-5 teams fall. No. 3 Oklahoma lost to giant-killer Houston 33-23, and No. 5 LSU lost to unranked Wisconsin 16-14 at Lambeau Field. Not since 1972 have two top-5 teams lost during the first week of a season.

It was a resounding statement by the No. 15 Cougars, who look like a legitimate College Football Playoff threat. They'll be an overwhelming favorite to win the American Athletic Conference for the second season in a row, and they'll get another chance to impress the CFP selection committee when they play at No. 19 Louisville on Nov. 17.

It also wasn't a bad audition for the Big 12, which is considering adding Houston as a new member.

"We were prepared to win," Cougars coach Tom Herman said. "We expected to win. We train to win. It wasn't about making a statement, it was about going 1-0 the first week of the season."

As for LSU, once again, the Tigers' offense was the team's undoing, and coach Les Miles is right back on the hot seat, after he barely survived a push to fire him last season.

"We knew what was at stake this season," LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White said. "Our goal is to win it all and go undefeated. It's a hurtful feeling."

The top-5 upsets did not extend into prime time. No. 1 Alabama steamrolled No. 20 USC 52-6 in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide struggled on offense early, but then turned to freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more.

No. 2 Clemson wasn't nearly as dominant. The Tigers had to bat away Auburn's Hail Mary pass in the end zone on the final play to survive a 19-13 win on the road.

Auburn is one of six SEC teams to have lost thus far in the opening week, which is the most since 1995. South Alabama stunned Mississippi State 21-20, and Kentucky blew a 25-point lead and gave up 34 straight points in a 44-35 loss to Southern Miss in what was a very bad weekend for the Stoops brothers. Talk about stooping to a new low.

It wasn't all bad for the SEC, though. Texas A&M upset No. 16 UCLA 31-24 in overtime, after the Aggies blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. No. 18 Georgia came from behind to beat No. 22 North Carolina 33-24 in Atlanta, which was highlighted by star tailback Nick Chubb's return from a devastating knee injury. He ran for 222 yards with two touchdowns, including a 55-yard run that put the game away with 3:34 to go.

Amazingly, Chubb's performance was only the second-best comeback of the day. Pittsburgh's James Conner, who beat cancer this past offseason, ran for 53 yards and scored the first touchdown in a 28-7 victory over FCS foe Villanova.

Conner's performance was undoubtedly the best highlight on a day that was chock-full of them.

The best part about the greatest opening weekend in college football history? It's not over. No. 10 Notre Dame plays at Texas on Sunday night, and then No. 4 Florida State plays No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando on Monday night.

If Saturday was any indication, the next two nights -- and the rest of the season -- are going to be a lot of fun.

Playoff teams after Week 1

1. Alabama: Another neutral-site opener, another dominant performance for the defending national champion. Under Saban, the Crimson Tide have won their last five neutral-site openers by an average of 25.2 points.

2. Houston: You can second-guess this selection all you want, but perhaps no team outside of Alabama accomplished more than Houston on the opening Saturday. And, besides the Crimson Tide, who else has defeated top-10 teams in consecutive games?

3. Michigan: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Michigan's 60-point win over Hawaii was its largest in an opener since the value of a touchdown was changed to six points in 1912.

4. Ohio State: The Buckeyes' 77 points against Bowling Green were the most they've scored since 1950, and they set a school record with 776 yards of offense. It was the second time under Urban Meyer that they piled up more than 700 yards in a game (vs. Cincinnati in 2014).

Next four in contention

1. Florida State: The Seminoles start their season Monday night against No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando. We'll get our first look at freshman quarterback Deondre Francois, who is already drawing comparisons to Jameis Winston.

2. Clemson: The Tigers might still be the ACC's best team, but they had their hands full in a 19-13 win at Auburn. They'll have two nonconference games against Troy and FCS foe South Carolina State before opening ACC play.

3. Stanford: The Cardinal offense was a bit sluggish against Kansas State on Friday night, before pulling away with a 26-13 victory. Quarterback Ryan Burns completed 14 of 18 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown in his debut.

4. Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish open the season Sunday night at Texas, which is the first of only three true road games they'll play this season. The others are at NC State and USC.

Heisman candidates

1. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: Barrett accounted for a school-record seven touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) in the Buckeyes' rout of Bowling Green. It was his second career game with six touchdown passes and he became the sixth OSU player to throw 50 career touchdowns.

2. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Only 11 months after severely injuring his left knee, Chubb ran for 222 yards with two touchdowns on 32 carries in UGA's 33-24 win over North Carolina. It was the third-highest rushing total by a Georgia player against a ranked opponent.

3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: McCaffrey finished with 210 all-purpose yards (126 rushing, 40 receiving, 28 on kickoff returns and 16 on punt returns) in the Cardinal's win over Kansas State. His best play -- a 97-yard punt return for a score -- was wiped out by a penalty.

4. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Jackson set a school record with eight touchdowns (six passing, two rushing) and had 405 yards of offense by halftime of the Cardinals' 70-14 rout of Charlotte on Thursday night.

Best moments

1. With family, friends and doctors watching from "Conner's Corner," Pitt running back James Conner, who returned to the field after beating cancer, scored the Panthers' first touchdown of the season.


2. Nebraska honored late punter Sam Foltz, who was killed in a car wreck this summer, by lining up with only 10 men -- and no punter - against Fresno State.


3. Navy lost its starting quarterback in the first half of its opener against FCS foe Fordham, so it pulled a backup out of the stands.


4. With Michael Jordan in attendance for Michigan's opener, the U-M marching band paid him tribute.


Best plays

1. Didn't Oklahoma learn anything from Alabama? Houston's Brandon Wilson returned a missed field goal 100 yards (really, it was 109) for a touchdown in the upset of OU.


2. About the only thing better than Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.'s scrambling on this play was Linell Bonner's acrobatic sideline catch.

3. South Alabama quarterback Dallas Davis showed off his vertical in the Jaguars' shock win over Mississippi State.

4. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett lit up Bowling Green's defense, but safety Malik Hooker turned in the game's best play.

Worst plays

1. Here's hoping LSU's Josh Boutte didn't know the play was dead after Wisconsin's game-clinching interception. This was an ugly cheap shot.


2. Mississippi State's Westin Graves clanked a 28-yard field goal attempt off the upright in the closing seconds of a 21-20 loss to South Alabama.

3. USC's Jabari Ruffin was ejected for stomping an Alabama player in the first half.

4. North Carolina gave up a safety -- on a completed pass -- against Georgia.

Tweets of the night

1. Former FSU DB Jalen Ramsey threw some serious shade to a former teammate


2. Never be another like him


3. From one rebuilt Dog to another


4. Oh, not again. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops might be looking to go incognito this week


Quotes of the night

1. "I'll just say this: I really, really like it here." -- Miami coach Mark Richt, whose Hurricanes blasted FCS foe Florida A&M 70-3 in his debut. The Hurricanes had three 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1987.

2. "This is a new era in Kansas football, an era in which you should expect to win." -- Kansas public address announcer to students, who stormed the field after a 55-6 win over FCS foe Rhode Island. It was the Jayhawks' first victory since November 2014 and ended a 15-game losing streak.

3. "The opportunity that we had because of this game, I want them to enjoy it. But it's also a great challenge for this team. What we do with this and how we move forward, that'll define who we are as a team this year." -- Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, after the Badgers defeated No. 5 LSU, their first win over a ranked opponent in an opener since 1981.

4. "We pretty much got taken to the woodshed here today," Bowling Green coach Mike Jinks, after his team's 67-point loss at Ohio State.

Stats that matter

1. 11: This is the 11th straight season in which a MAC team defeated a Big Ten opponent (every year since 2006), after Northwestern's loss to Western Michigan.

2. 6: Alabama held USC to its fewest points in a game since the 2001 season when it scored six in the Las Vegas Bowl against Utah. The Crimson Tide forced eight 3-and-out drives, the Trojans' most in a game in the last 10 seasons.

3. 17: Virginia lost to FCS foe Richmond 37-20 in Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall's debut. It was the second-worst loss by a Power 5 team to an FCS foe in the last 10 years. North Dakota State beat Iowa State by 20 points in 2014.

4. 3-0: Air Force rolled over FCS foe Abilene Christian 37-21 and clinched a 3-0 start for the three service academies. Army beat Temple 28-13 on Friday, and Navy beat FCS foe Fordham 52-16 on Saturday. It's only the second time in the 21st century that all three service academies started 1-0 (2013 was the other).