Western Kentucky 14, Vanderbilt 12
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason fired his top-two lieutenants after a disappointing 3-9 season in his first year in Nashville. Mason, a former Stanford defensive coordinator, put himself in charge of the defense entering the year and at least that unit showed up in Thursday's loss. Western Kentucky's offense ranked sixth nationally in points per game (44.4) and fourth in yards per game (534.6) last season but the ‘Dores held them scoreless for 44 minutes on Thursday night. Vandy's offense under Johnny McCrary was inept in the redzone and couldn't cross the goal line against one of the last season's worst defenses. With 33 seconds left, Vanderbilt scored to get within two but on their two-point conversion attempt, Joe Brown cut out Nathan Marcus just a yard short of tying the ball game. While the Comodores may be a part of a Goliath conference, make no mistake - this wasn't an upset.
No. 9 Georgia 51, Louisiana Monroe 14
Nick Chubb was the talk of the offseason, and rightfully so, but Georgia reminded everyone they have two other running backs worth worrying about. Chubb and Keith Marshall ran for two touchdowns each and Sony Michel caught a 31-yard touchdown pass to go along with his display of homerun speed. Chubb finished the day with 16 carries for 120 yards. Saturday's opener also marked the first start for Virginia graduate transfer Grayson Lambert at quarterback. The excited signal-caller threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns. A lightening delay occurred with 9:54 to play but school and game officials called the game for good a short time after because a brewing storm threatened to delay the game for hours.
No. 17 Ole Miss 73, UT-Martin 3
The Grove's 2015 debut started off on a bad note as Ole Miss announced shortly before kick-off that starting left tackle and future first round pick Laremy Tunsil would not play because of an ongoing NCAA issue. Eligibility concerns have hovered over Tunsil ever since his stepfather alleged that the junior LT had contact with agents and received improper benefits. All was forgotten as the lights shined on quarterback Chad Kelly and the ball was handed to running back Jaylen Walton. Kelly and Walton represent two players that are critical to the Rebels' success this season. The absence of a running game was a big question mark in Oxford entering the year but Walton took his first carry 60 yards to the house. Kelly, the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, looked sharp in his debut, passing for 211 yards and two touchdowns while running for a score as well. The Rebels gained over 650 yards of total offense on the day and scored the most points in a game for the program since 1935.
No. 18 Arkansas 48, UTEP 13
The most underrated move of the offseason was Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos leaving Mount Pleasant to become the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. The Razorbacks looked terrifyingly good on offense in their opener. Despite the absence of Jonathan Williams, the rushing attack was steady behind Alex Collins as he ran for 127 yards on 12 carries. The biggest story was the play of senior quarterback Brandon Allen. He threw for a career-high 308 yards and four touchdowns, three of which came in the team's first four drives. Ranked for the first time since 2012, Arkansas gained even more momentum after an impressive opener.
No. 6 Auburn 31, Louisville 24
The most exciting game of the weekend's SEC slate didn't seem like it would reach that feat as Auburn held a 17-0 lead at halftime. The early reads on Will Muschamp's hire were great and should still be considered so despite Louisville's comeback. The Tiger defense garnered an interception on its first play and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the first half. Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson was a sexy Heisman pick this offseason after showing vast potential last season and entering full control of Gus Malzahn's offense. His campaign didn't get off to a great start as Johnson was just 11-of-27 for 127 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Don't mistake this as a sign of things to come, Lousiville's defense is legit and will show that all season as they contend for an ACC title; The Cardinals led the nation with 26 interceptions last season. Starting running back Roc Thomas went out with an injury but his absence potentially provided insight into the workhorse Auburn's offense needs. Peyton Barber entered the game and ran for 115 yards on 24 carries, doubling his career total.
No. 24 Missouri 34, Southeast Missouri State 3
The two-time SEC East defending champions lost their most important player in their opener and his status for the future is unknown. Of all the talented running backs in the SEC, Russell Hansbrough may be the most underrated. Hansbrough ran for 23 yards on two attempts before leaving with a field with a lower right leg injury and emerging in a cast later in the day. Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk was a pedestrian 12-of-22 for 181 yards but threw two touchdowns in the first quarter. If you thought Skai Moore was good on Thursday, Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers may have topped his performance. Brothers finished with 16 tackles, a blocked punt and was completely unstoppable, according to SEMS's head coach. The offense was sluggish after Hansbrough's departure so his condition moving forward is of critical importance.
No. 25 Tennessee 59, Bowling Green 30
After an 80-minute lightening delay, the much-anticipated Tennessee opener got underway at Nashville's LP Field. Unlike their in-state rival, the Vols offense was rolling in the Music City as the Vols ran for six touchdowns on the day. Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara both topped 100 yards on the day, making it the first game since 2009 that the Vols had two 100-yard rushers in a game. QB Joshua Dobbs gained 293 total yards and three touchdowns on the day. Dino Babers' Bowling Green team exposed UT's secondary but Butch Jones isn't concerned with the unit as Oklahoma is set to arrive in Knoxville for Saturday's game.
Texas A&M 38, No. 15 Arizona State 17
For the second season in a row, the Aggies produced the most impressive opener of any team in the country. In the only SEC West-PAC 12 South duel of the year, the Aggies prevailed rather comfortably thanks to John Chavis' new defense. Chavis, the former LSU defensive coordinator, has left an immediate impression on head coach Kevin Sumlin's band of defenders. The defense gathered 14 tackles for loss, nine sacks and two turnovers in Houston's NRG Stadium. Kyle Allen beat out Texan Kyler Murray this offseason but both quarterbacks played and straddled the line between shaky and productive. Allen ran for a touchdown and threw the touchdown that finished off Arizona State, a 66-yard highlight reel catch-and-run by freshman Christian Kirk. Kirk was the player of the game as he also ripped off a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Allen and Kirk, two Arizona natives, sunk the Sun Devils' high hopes entering the year and propelled Texas A&M to the college football forefront after opening weekend for the second year in a row. (Note: Myles Garrett is awesome and all of the SEC should be scared of him)
Kentucky 40, Louisiana Lafayette 33
The unveil of Kentucky's newly renovated stadium was too close for comfort in Lexington. Despite the Ragin Cajuns' recent success, the Wildcat faithful expected to roll them to open Mark Stoops' third season. UK ran out to a 33-10 lead late in the third quarter thanks to three touchdowns from Patrick Towles and a game-opening 75-yard touchdown run by Boom Williams. Williams ran for 135 yards but the Wildcats were outgained 479-435. ULL ripped off three touchdown runs in the final 14 minutes to tie the game at 33. With 57 seconds to play, UK's Mikel Horton rushed to a 12-yard touchdown to seal the win and put ULL in desperation mode, throwing a pick on a last second Hail Mary.
Florida 61, New Mexico State 13
Jim McElwain is already in the storied record books at Florida. The new head coach's 61-point opener was the most points scored by a new Gators coach in his debut. Treon Harris and Will Grier fought for the starting quarterback position this offseason but both played, and played well, in the Gators' opener. The two combined for 29-of-36 passing for 379 yards and five total touchdowns. Florida's offense looked completely different, employing multiple personnel groupings and several shifts and motions, something absent from the last few seasons. Explosive plays was the result in Gainesville as 14 different receivers caught passes and the Gators racked up over 600 yards of total offense.
No. 3 Alabama 35, No. 20 Wisconsin 17
Wisconsin's offense played right into the biggest strength Alabama has - the best defensive front in college football. The Crimson Tide defense held the Badgers to just 40 yards on the ground, their lowest total since 2012. Wisconsin put up 268 yards of total offense in Dallas - they averaged 264 rushing yards per game over the last five seasons. Minutes before kickoff, Nick Saban announced that Jake Coker would trot out as the starting quarterback. The offense started a bit slow but that was likely the plan, a conservative approach so the moment didn't overwhelm Coker. When Derrick Henry and rushing game got going, the offense opened up and Wisconsin didn't stand a chance. Coker finished 15-of-21 for 213 yards while Derrick Henry reminded everyone why he was once the nation's top recruit as he rumbled for a powerful 147 yards and three touchdowns.
Mississippi State 34, Southern Miss 16
Southern Miss had a combined 4-32 record over the last three seasons and lost 49-0 to Mississippi State last year. Yet, the Golden Eagles were down just 14-10 at halftime on Saturday. Two first-half turnovers kept the Bulldogs from pulling away but Dak Prescott's superior talent eventually sealed the game after Mississippi State's defense locked down. Southern Miss contributed just two field goals after halftime and Dak Prescott ran for two touchdowns in the game's final two quarters. Prescott totaled over 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns in the last opener of his college career.
LSU-McNeese State: Canceled
Leonard Fournette didn't get to overpower an inferior opponent so we all lost this weekend.