No. 2 Alabama (1-0) was a heavy favorite against West Virginia (0-1), but Nick Saban‘s Crimson Tide had to fight for a victory to prevent a rare three-game losing streak. Alabama held off West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta, winning 33-23.
Alabama used Blake Sims under center and never had a need to mix things up by inserting Jacob Coker, the Florida State transfer. Sims was efficient enough to run the Alabama offense, completing 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards. He was picked off once and did not throw a touchdown pass, but Alabama thrived enough on the ground to make that meaningless. T.J. Yeldon rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns and Derrick Henry added 113 yards and a touchdown. Alabama rolled up over 500 yards of offense and West Virginia struggled to keep up in the second half.
There were some bright spots for Dana Holgorsen to build off from moving forward. Quarterback Clint Trickett passed for 365 yards an a touchdown, but there were too many missed opportunities and dropped passes by West Virginia’s offense to keep the pressure on Alabama.
West Virginia had chances, but dropped passes on key downs and situations prevented the Mountaineers from giving Alabama even more of a challenge. But let’s say this much about the effort shown by West Virginia. We may have seen signs that this year’s team should be better and more respected in the Big 12 than they were a season ago. This may not have been the strongest effort or team we have seen from Alabama in previous seasons, but the Crimson Tide are still a behemoth. West Virgina was not quite playing David to Alabama’s Goliath, but they were a significant underdog that took it to the Tide and kept this game interesting from start to finish. Few seemed to expect that. Can West Virginia compete in the Big 12? There is still some work to prove worthy of being in the same conversation with Oklahoma or Baylor, but we now are taking notice of some potential from West Virginia.
Alabama will hope to get a little more of a breather next week when the Crimson Tide open up the home schedule against Florida Atlantic. West Virginia will open its home schedule next weekend in Morgantown against Towson.
If this is the last game Randy Edsall coaches at Maryland, at least he is making it count. Maryland may be down at the half, but the overmatched Terrapins are giving No. 1 Ohio State all it can handle it would seem. Ohio State holds a 21-14 lead on Maryland at the half, with big plays being the key.
Maryland struck first when Perry Hills connected to an open D.J. Moore down the middle of the field for a 52-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Ohio State would battle back, switching up the quarterbacks between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett along the way. The Buckeyes ripped off three touchdowns, with Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott each running for one and Jones throwing for the third, to Braxton Miller. Up 21-7, all seemed to return to normal for the Buckeyes, but Maryland cut the lead to seven late in the first half.
Hills broke free for a 75-yard run from the Maryland 22-yard line all the way down to the Ohio State three, and he finsihed off the quick touchdown on the next play with a short touchdown run. So Maryland continues to linger, which appears to be a theme with Ohio State’s opponents this season.
Jones has completed 15 of 20 pass attempts for 195 yards and a touchdown for Ohio State. Barrett attempted just one pass, which was good for a 20-yard gain. Elliott has just 25 rushing yards on 11 attempts at the half.
Nobody could have seen this coming, even after throwing out the records. A week after being ambushed by TCU, Charlie Strong and his Texas Longhorns looked like a completely different team in the first quarter against No. 10 Oklahoma in the old Cotton Bowl. Texas holds a surprising 14-3 lead at the half.
Jerrod Heard completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Johnson midway through the first quarter. The Longhorns made it 14-0 when a break went their way. Lorenzo Joe recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score to make it 14-0 after Oklahoma had fumbled away the ensuing kickoff after the first score.
Texas outgained Oklahoma in the first quarter, 133 yards to just 15, and at the half (169 yards to just 85). Oklahoma went three-and-out on each of its two drives, and the Sooners had to punt four times before being able to put a dent on the scoreboard with a short 21-yard field goal by Austin Seibert after a 12-play drive stalled at the Texas four-yard line. Meanwhile, Texas was building a double-digit lead.
Without a doubt, the first half of this game was the best half we have seen from Texas in a while. Can they keep it going and score what would be a significant upset to get our day started?