Now that was a Saturday of college football.
We’ve been waiting close to two years to experience a day like we did yesterday — a full-slate of football games with hundreds of thousands of fans around the country tailgating hours before kickoff before packing stadiums.
It was glorious. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
Penn State takes down Wisconsin at Camp Randall
In perhaps the game of the day, James Franklin and the No. 19 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions went into Madison and took down the No. 12 ranked Badgers 16-10.
With 76,832 fans in attendance — after a year in which no fans were allowed — it was the perfect way to kick off the season. Unless you’re a Wisconsin fan.
A defensive matchup from kickoff, Penn State had just 43 yards and one first-down in the first half, but quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 206 yards in the second half to help out the Nittany Lions’ defense. He finished the day 18-33 for 247 yards and one touchdown.
Wisconsin had two chances late in the fourth quarter to retake the lead, but Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz threw two costly interceptions that put the game on ice for Penn State.
The first interception came on fourth and goal from the Penn State 8-year line with 2:26 remaining in the game. Wisconsin had a first-and-goal from the one-yard line before a Mertz fumble backed them up.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 4, 2021
Mertz’s second interception came on a third and 17 with eight seconds left, ending the game and giving Penn State a huge season opening win.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 4, 2021
“Our kids willed it to happen today,” Penn State coach James Franklin told reporters in Madison after the game.
Alabama blows by Miami
Alabama lost a Heisman Trophy winner, a first-round running back, and a first-round quarterback from last year’s National Championship team. Most programs would be looking at replacing that kind of talent as a major challenge, perhaps viewing the following season as a rebuilding year.
But this is Alabama, and Nick Saban doesn’t rebuild. He simply reloads.
The Crimson Tide quickly showed Miami that they’re still nowhere close to being back in the College Football playoff picture, jumping on the Hurricanes early in a 44-13 blowout.
Alabama scored on their first possession — a seven-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 37-yard touchdown pass from first-year starting quarterback Bryce Young — and the route was on.
“I thought Bryce did really, really well,” Saban said. “The poise he played with, the command he had. He kind of took what the defense gave him and really directed the offense in a positive way.”
Young finished the afternoon 27-38 for 344 yards and four touchdowns, solidifying his place as the next Alabama quarterback to put up ridiculous numbers.
Miami — thoroughly outclassed the entire game — had a fun moment. Down 41-10, they broke out the “turnover chain.” I guess you have to celebrate even the small wins?
miami is flexing the turnover chain to the crowd while down 41-10 to alabama
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) September 4, 2021
Steve Sarkisian gets first win at Texas
It’s been a tumultuous few years for Sarkisian. After being fired by USC and going to rehab, Sarkisian rehabilitated his image under Nick Saban, leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championship as offensive coordinator in 2020.
Sarkisian took the head coaching job at Texas in the offseason, signing a six-year $34.2 million contract to be in Austin. It’s a position that carries a lot of pressure, and Sarkisian’s tenure got off to a good start.
There were some that felt No. 23 Louisiana posed an upset opportunity, but the Ragin’ Cajuns offense never was able to get going, and Texas ran for 170 yards on the ground in a 38-18 win.
“I loved it, man,” Sarkisian said. “There’s nothing like winning, I’ll tell you that much. We put in a lot of work.”
Quarterback Hudson Card impressed, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns on an efficient 14-21 from the pocket. It was a much needed win for Sarkisian and a program that has seen its fair share of bad losses over the past several seasons.
“It’s pretty special,” Card said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about as a kid. Just to be able to come out here and take it all in is pretty surreal.”
Stifling Georgia Defense Shuts Down Dabo and Clemson
Do you like defense? We sure had a game for you Saturday night in Charlotte.
No. 5 Georgia led 7-0 at halftime but quarterback JT Daniels threw for just 68 yards in the half, Clemson’s offense managed just one-yard on the ground in the first half. Christopher Smith returned a D.J. Uiagalelei interception 74 yards for the only touchdown of the game in Georgia’s 10-3 win.
Georgia’s defense pressured Uiagalelei all night, sacking the sophomore quarterback seven times.
“I knew we were would be pretty good and pretty deep on defense,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “But we’re more athletic than when we were in the past.”
For Clemson, the offense looked nothing like it has the past three years with Trevor Lawrence behind center. Uiagalelei struggled all night, locking onto receivers and refusing to take off from the pocket when the opportunities presented themselves.
“I didn’t play well today and everyone could see that,” Uiagalelei said.
Chip Kelly is back, and so is UCLA
LSU and UCLA met for the first time in the two programs’ history, but the California sun set early on the Tigers.
UCLA ran for 223 yards on the ground — including 117 yards on 11 carries from Zach Charbonnet — and UCLA moved to 2-0 in a 38-27 win at the Rose Bowl.
Kelly’s team looked big and fast against their SEC opponent, and the rebuild at UCLA looks complete. After three consecutive losing seasons with Kelly calling the shots, the Bruins finally look to have the pieces in place to compete in the Pac-12.
“There may be some people surprised out there,” Kelly said. “There wasn’t anybody surprised in our locker room because of the preparation that they put in this week.”
For LSU and the 20,000 fans that traveled to Southern California, it was a sobering reminder that the 2019 National Championship season is going to be hard to replicate.
“One game does not define a season,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said afterward, “but we do understand that was a letdown for our fans and I take responsibility for it.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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