Week 1 of the college football season is officially in the books after Duke and No. 9 Clemson completed their game on Monday night. The Blue Devils’ upset victory was unquestionably the highlight for UConn football’s 11 remaining opponents, which went a combined 5-6, including a few that struggled against FCS programs.
Georgia State (1-0) - Sept. 9
Georgia State welcomed Rhode Island to Atlanta and even though ESPN’s win probability says the Panthers never had a less than 60 percent chance to take home the victory, it certainly felt tighter than that. The Rams spent most of the game down one possession in a 42-35 Georgia State win and their quarterback threw for over 400 yards.
The hosts were outgained by nearly 100 yards (520-to-424) and did not win the time of possession battle, but Rhode Island committed two turnovers, including a pick-six late in the third quarter to give the Panthers the lead for good.
Dual-threat Darren Grainger was 16-of-20 passing for 193 yards, adding two touchdowns, while also rushing 12 times for 51 yards. Marcus Carroll handled the load on the ground, with 23 carries for 184 yards and a trio of scores.
FIU (1-1) - Sept. 16
Another New England FCS opponent, Maine, gave FIU all it could handle. The Black Bears were a third-down sack away from potentially taking the lead with just over a minute to go, but the Golden Panthers secured a 14-12 victory to get into the win column for the first time in 2023.
The Black Bears arguably outplayed their hosts, with an advantage in yards (378-to-305) and winning the turnover battle by two while also nearly doubling the first downs and dominating time of possession. However, FIU prevented touchdowns and got off the field when it needed to bear down.
Keyone Jenkins was 15-of-30 passing for 292 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The rushing attack was subpar, as the Golden Panthers were held to 13 yards on 24 carries. While this is mostly due to kneeling the clock out late, leading rusher Shomari Lawrence had seven runs for just 26 yards.
Duke (1-0) - Sept. 23
In one of the more shocking results of the week, No. 9 Clemson’s inept offensive ways continued into 2023, committing three turnovers as Duke took a 28-7 win in the program’s first victory over a top-10 team since 1989. It was an underwhelming standalone game on Monday night, with a 7-6 scoreline at the half.
The Tigers outgained the Blue Devils, 422-to-374, but had a disastrous offensive start. They went punt, blocked field goal, and three-and-out to begin the game before breaking through for their only score of the game, though they did need to recover a fumble to hold onto the ball. The Blue Devils blocked another field goal, forced two more fumbles, and caused a turnover on downs to end Clemson’s first four possessions in the second half, using the short fields to score.
Riley Leonard was 17-of-33 passing for 175 yards, running for 98 more yards on eight carries, including a long touchdown run. Jordan Waters (11 carries, 63 yards) and Jaquez Moore (eight carries, 43 yards) each found the end zone, as well.
Utah State (0-1) - Sept. 30
It seems like Iowa might try to score some points this year. The Hawkeyes threw for a touchdown on their season-opening drive for the first time since 1991 as Brian Ferentz tries to save his job by scoring 25 points per game. He’s still a bit behind the eight-ball, however, as Utah State allowed just 24 points in a 24-14 defeat.
The Aggies had a slight edge in yards (329-to-284), though they committed the game’s only turnover via an interception late in the second quarter. Iowa also held the ball for a few minutes longer but was able to play from ahead after scoring the game’s first 14 points, holding a three-possession lead inside two minutes remaining.
Cooper Legas was 32-of-48 passing, but gained just 213 yards with one touchdown, along with the aforementioned interception. Rahsul Faison ran the ball seven times for 59 yards.
Rice (0-1) - Oct. 7
No. 11 Texas started sluggishly against Rice, as the Owls had the game’s first points, while the Longhorns were unable to finish drives, kicking three second-quarter field goals to head into the locker room up just 16-3, but a trio of touchdowns in the third put the game away for a 37-10 final that could have been much worse.
Rice had just 176 yards of offense with eight first downs and committed three turnovers. Meanwhile, the Longhorns were at 458 yards with 24 first downs and didn’t cough up the ball.
JT Daniels, in his fourth FBS stop, was ineffective at quarterback, completing 14 of his 26 passes for 149 yards. He threw one touchdown, coming late in the fourth quarter, and a pair of interceptions. The rushing attack wasn’t much better, combining for 27 yards on 25 carries. Dean Connors had his name called the most, running for 23 of those yards on eight carries.
USF (0-1) - Oct. 21
USF has had its fair share of season-opening blowouts in recent years. The Bulls still took the loss against Western Kentucky but were tied at the half and had a pass picked off in the end zone early in the fourth quarter that would have re-tied the proceedings. The Hilltoppers then added 10 points in the fourth to take a 41-24 win at home.
The road team outgained Western Kentucky (540-to-465) but committed three turnovers that stalled drives and gave the Hilltoppers momentum and good field position.
Byrum Brown was responsible for all three USF touchdowns, running for two on 25 carries for 160 yards, while also throwing for another. He was less efficient passing, completing 15 of his 34 passes for 166 yards and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble. Nay’Quan Wright also eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground.
Boston College (0-1) - Oct. 28
The epitome of brutality. The Eagles paid Northern Illinois more than $1 million to come to Chestnut Hill and it took a two-touchdown comeback to force overtime, as Boston College was outplayed through most of the afternoon. The Huskies took a 27-24 win in the extra session after the Eagles managed a field goal, but the visitors were able to cross the goal line for a touchdown.
Prior to scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes, Boston College was largely ineffective on offense, punting on each of its five possessions in the first half and its first in the second, gaining more than 40 yards once. The Eagles only broke the shutout after a Northern Illinois fumble.
Emmett Morehead was lifted after a 4-of-10 start to the afternoon, though Thomas Castellanos was little better, at 13-of-28 for 138 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He did run for 67 yards and a touchdown, however.
Tennessee (1-0) - Nov. 4
The then-No. 12 Volunteers got off to a bit of a slow start against Virginia, scoring on its first possession and followed it with a turnover on downs and three punts. However, Tennessee found the end zone on six of its next seven drives to blow the doors off the Cavaliers, 49-13, in what was technically a neutral-site game in Nashville.
Virginia gained just 201 yards to Tennessee’s 499, though the Volunteers scored so quickly that the Cavaliers actually won the time-of-possession battle.
Joe Milton III was solid under center, going 21-of-30 passing for 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also found the end zone twice on the ground, running nine times for 33 yards. Jaylen Wright (12 carries, 115 yards), Jabari Small (13 carries, 67 yards) and Dylan Sampson (13 carries, 52 yards) had equal touches, but Sampson got into the end zone three times.
James Madison (1-0) - Nov. 11
Bucknell was little contest for James Madison on Saturday afternoon, as the Bison’s only points came in the form of a 49-yard field goal as the clock expired on the first half in a 38-3 victory for the Dukes. Each team turned the ball over on its first possession, but James Madison was able to regroup more quickly.
Bucknell, which went three-and-out seven times on 13 possessions, was able to gain merely 208 yards to the Dukes’ 436.
Kaelon Black anchored a dangerous James Madison rushing attack, going for 125 yards on just 12 carries. Overall, the team ran 41 times for 261 yards and a trio of touchdowns. At quarterback, three players threw passes. Jordan McCloud was by far the most efficient, at 7-of-11 with 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Sacred Heart (0-1) - Nov. 18
Sacred Heart was unable to secure a home win in its season opener, as Lafayette jumped the Pioneers to take a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter. The hosts came back with two touchdowns of their own to take the lead with just under 12 minutes to go, but on the ensuing drive, the Leopards went 75 yards and scored the game-winning points in a 19-14 final.
Lafayette had the edge in yards (292-to-254), but lost the turnover battle. However, Sacred Heart’s one turnover proved costly, as it enabled the Leopards to run the clock out late.
Cade Pribula was 17-of-28 passing for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Malik Grant (21 carries, 65 yards) had most of the runs, but it was Jalen Madison (nine carries, 48 yards) who found the end zone.
UMass (1-1) - Nov. 25
Week 1 couldn’t have been as fun as Week 0. The Minutemen traveled to Jordan-Hare Stadium to play Auburn and while the game was tied 7-7 midway through the first quarter, that would be about it in terms of bright spots, as the Tigers ripped off 45 straight points and secured a 59-14 win over UMass.
The road team had 301 offensive yards, but half of those came on their touchdown drives, leading to a feast-or-famine afternoon, hurt by two turnovers. Auburn had little trouble moving the ball, as was expected, with 492 total yards.
Taisun Phommachanh didn’t fare as well with the jump in competition, going 8-of-16 passing 55 yards and an interception, though he did score a rushing touchdown, running for 34 yards on eight carries. Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams reached the 100-yard plateau, grabbing 101 yards on 14 rushes.