Texas A&M’s offense was practically unstoppable, with and without Johnny Manziel. That Aggies defense needed all the help it could get against Rice.
Johnny Football packed three touchdown passes into less than a half of work for the seventh-ranked Aggies, who beat Rice 52-31 in College Station, Texas, on Saturday.
Manziel was held out of the first half because of what the school said was an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs. The sophomore had been investigated for allegedly accepting money for autographs from memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules that could have led to a much longer suspension.
He came in on Texas A&M’s first offensive play of the second half. His first play was a 12-yard run, and the Aggies capped his first drive with a 44-yard field goal. His first touchdown came on a 23-yard pass to Mike Evans on A&M’s second drive of the half.
No. 1 ALABAMA 35,
VIRGINIA TECH 10
ATLANTA — Christion Jones became the first Alabama player since at least the 1940s to have two returns for touchdowns, Vinnie Sunseri brought back an interception for another TD, and the Crimson Tide overcame a sluggish offensive performance to beat Virginia Tech.
Jones scored on a 72-yard punt return less than 2 minutes into the game, then scooted loose on a kickoff for a 94-yard touchdown that led the Crimson Tide (1-0) to a win that could’ve been much tougher to start its quest for an unprecedented third straight national title.
For good measure, the junior receiver also hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to blow it open against the Hokies (0-1), who largely shut down AJ McCarron and Alabama’s highly touted offense.
No. 2 OHIO STATE 40,
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Braxton Miller threw two touchdown passes before fighting leg cramps and Jordan Hall ran for two more scores to lead Ohio State to a victory over Buffalo in the season opener for both teams.
The Buckeyes, striving for a crisper start from coach Urban Meyer’s debut in 2012, led 23-0 after the first quarter before the Bulls made things interesting.
No. 3 OREGON 66,
EUGENE, Ore. — Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass and ran for two additional scores and the Oregon Ducks made easy work of lower-tier Nicholls.
CLEMSON 38, GEORGIA 35
CLEMSON, S.C. — Tajh Boyd threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two others, Clemson’s defense sacked Aaron Murray four times and the Tigers stung the Bulldogs.
Boyd had scoring passes of 77 yards to Sammy Watkins, 24 yards to Zac Brooks and 9 yards to Stanton Seckinger. Boyd also added TD runs of 4 and 2 yards to win the lone matchup of top 10 teams in college football’s opening weekend.
No. 10 FLORIDA 24,
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mack Brown had a career day, Jeff Driskel was efficient and Florida opened the season with a victory over Toledo.
Brown ran 25 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Driskel completed 17 of 22 passes for 153 yards and a score.
And Florida’s defense, which ranked fifth in the country in 2012, looked every bit as good as last year’s version despite losing eight starters and its coordinator.
No. 12 LSU 37,
No. 20 TCU 27
ARLINGTON, Texas — Terrence Magee ran for two touchdowns in the second half, Zach Mettenberger threw for 251 yards with a key late score and LSU held on for a victory.
Odell Beckham’s 75-yard kickoff return set up a 20-yard TD pass from Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry with 6 minutes left.
No. 13 OKLA. STATE 21,
MISSISSIPPI STATE 3
HOUSTON — J.W. Walsh threw for 135 yards and ran for another 125 and a touchdown to lead the Oklahoma State Cowboys to a win over the Mississippi State in the Texas Kickoff.
Walsh finished 18 of 27 after relieving starter Clint Chelf on the Cowboys’ third series.
Jeremy Smith rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries for Oklahoma State (1-0), which piled up 432 yards on offense after struggling for most of the first half.
No. 14 NOTRE DAME 28,
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Tommy Rees threw a pair of 32-yard touchdown passes to DaVaris Daniels, a 66-yard scoring pass to Troy Niklas and Notre Dame had three quick scoring drives en route to a victory over Temple.
The 14th-ranked Irish jumped to a 14-0 lead on a pair of three-play drives on its opening two possessions and appeared headed for a blowout.
No. 15 TEXAS 56,
NEW MEXICO STATE 7
AUSTIN, Texas — David Ash threw four touchdown passes and ran for another as Texas shook off a slow start to roll.
Ash threw two interceptions in the second quarter and the Longhorns’ new up-tempo offense stalled as the Aggies took a 7-0 lead. Ash then connected on touchdown passes of 54 and 66 yards to John Harris and Daje (duh-jay) Johnson in the final two minutes of the first half.
No. 16 OKLAHOMA 34,
NORMAN, Okla. — Trevor Knight rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries and threw three touchdown passes — two to Jalen Saunders — in his first start and Oklahoma beat Louisiana-Monroe.
Oklahoma gave coach Bob Stoops his 150th career win, putting him seven behind Barry Switzer on the Sooners’ career coaching wins list.
No. 17 MICHIGAN 59,
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 9
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Devin Gardner ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in the first half as Michigan went on to beat Central Michigan.
It was the highest-scoring opener for the Wolverines (1-0) since 1905, when they beat Ohio Wesleyan 65-0.
No. 18 NEBRASKA 37,
LINCOLN, Neb. — Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross each ran for more than 100 yards, Taylor Martinez passed for three touchdowns and Nebraska survived two late turnovers to defeat Wyoming.
No. 19 BOISE STATE 6
SEATTLE — Keith Price threw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to become the school’s all-time leader, and Washington returned renovated Husky Stadium with a stunning blowout of Boise State.
It was the worst loss in Chris Petersen’s tenure as the Broncos head coach.
No. 21 UCLA 58,
PASADENA, Calif. — Brett Hundley passed for 274 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more scores, leading UCLA’s second-half surge.
No. 22 NORTHWESTERN 44,
BERKELEY, Calif. — Collin Ellis returned two interceptions after deflected passes for touchdowns to help Northwestern spoil Sonny Dykes’ debut as California coach.
No. 23 WISCONSIN 45,
MADISON, Wis. — Melvin Gordon ran for 144 yards, James White added 143 and Wisconsin’s revamped defense pitched a shutout of Massachusetts in coach Gary Andersen’s debut.
EASTERN WASHINGTON 49,
No. 25 OREGON STATE 46
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Vernon Adams passed for 411 yards and ran for 107 and the go-ahead score with 18 seconds left as Eastern Washington upset Oregon State to become the third FCS team to beat a ranked FBS team.