College football scores, schedule, games: Northwestern, Texas A&M make statements
Football is back! Thursday night gave us the debut of a former national champion in a new home and the return of a team that crowned themselves champions a season ago. Let’s check out what happened in Week 1’s first slate of games.
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Thursday college football schedule, scores
All times Eastern
No. 21 UCF 56, UConn 17
Minnesota 48, New Mexico State 10
Oklahoma State 58, Missouri State 17
Utah 41, Weber State 10
Wake Forest 23, Tulane 17 (OT)
Northwestern 31, Purdue 27
Texas A&M 59, Northwestern State 7
Thorson returns in hard-fought road win for Northwestern
Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson started on Thursday night against Purdue, making an early return after suffering a torn ACL in January in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Pat Fitzgerald had played coy about Thorson’s status throughout camp and game week, but after starting Thorson, the Wildcats fell into a two-quarterback system that had him passing the reins to TJ Green.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 31-17 halftime lead behind Thorson and Green (both quarterbacks led first half touchdown drives) and then rode their defense to hold on for a 31-27 win at Purdue. The Boilermakers had too many mistakes to pull off the win, but debuted one of the best all-purpose talents in the country in.
Jimbo Fisher era starts at Texas A&M
Texas A&M fans weren’t going to get a ton of big-picture revelations from the season opener. There’s plenty of intrigue about whether Fisher will be able to deliver on national championship expectations after leaving Florida State, but where the Aggies stand in 2018 won’t be clear until after facing College Football Playoff favorite Clemson in Week 2. The title expectations aren’t here yet, but if Texas A&M fans were looking for a change from the Kevin Sumlin era, they saw it in a runaway home opener against Northwestern State.
Running back Trayveon Williams had 240 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 carries and tight end Jace Sternberger showed signs of being a big-time red zone threat with 56 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5 receptions before the backups took over in Texas A&M’s 59-7 win.
Wake Forest holds on for tough OT win at Tulane
Thursday’s action also included the first overtime of the season in an absolutely bonkers game between Wake Forest and Tulane in New Orleans. The Demon Deacons were starting a true freshman on the road at quarterback in part because of a three-game suspension to veteran Kendall Hinton, but Sam Hartman stepped up in a big way (378 passing yards and 2 touchdowns) and now there might be a battle for that No. 1 spot when Hinton returns. Greg Dortch and Sage Surratt were Hartman’s top two targets (23 combined receptions), making Wake Forest’s passing game look dangerous against Tulane.
But there also errors, times where Hartman looked like a freshman making his first start on the road. Hartman hit on just 31 of his 51 attempts and had 2 interceptions to pair with his 2 touchdowns. One of those interceptions brought out the latest spin-off from Miami’s turnover chain: Tulane’s turnover beads.
Tulane took a penalty on the first possession of overtime and totally bungled its chance to score first, then Wake Forest leaned on its veteran offensive line to a game-winning rushing touchdown to give Wake Forest a 23-17 win.
UCF wins third straight in the ‘Civil ConFLiCT’
They don’t bring out the trophy or talk much about the rivalry that former UConn coach Bob Diaco created for the American Athletic Conference division foes, but UCF won its third straight in the series on Thursday night, starting the Josh Heupel era off with a 56-17 win on the road.
UCF has been promoting McKenzie Milton as one of the best quarterbacks and top talents in all of college football, and he delivered with a five-touchdown performance. It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he was one of the most efficient quarterbacks as a freshman in 2017, but there was the unknown of what the Knights’ offense would look like without Scott Frost. If Thursday night was any indication, UCF is still the team to beat in the AAC and a threat to any team on its schedule.
No one’s hair demands more attention and respect than Mike Gundy. The Oklahoma State coach has fully embraced his mullet, “The Arkansas Waterfall” or whatever you want to call it, and as the Cowboys kick off their season against Missouri State, it’s good to see it in midseason form.
Laker love at Utah
Former Utah star and current Los Angeles Laker Kyle Kuzma was back in Salt Lake City on Thursday night to support the Utes in their opener against Weber State. The Utes trailed 10-0 early but won 41-10.
Scary start to UCF-UConn
UCF sophomore Aaron Robinson needed to be taken off the field on a stretcher after suffering an injury on the opening kickoff at UConn. The ESPN broadcast reported that Robinson, a transfer from Alabama, went down after the kickoff play and when trainers arrived, they immediately called for stabilization.
On the way into the tunnel, Robinson was able to give a thumbs up to the crowd.
Minnesota wears all-white unis in home opener
For one night only, Minnesota will be in all-white uniforms at home. It’s a boat-rowing good look for Thursday’s night game against New Mexico State.
Drew Brees shouts out Purdue football ahead of opener
The New Orleans Saints have their final preseason game tonight against the Rams, so Drew Brees will be busy when his Boilermakers are in battle with Northwestern for this year’s Big Ten opener. He’s fired up for year two with Jeff Brohm though, and said as much earlier Thursday.