Snap Judgments from the Week 1 midday slate. For more coverage, Snap Judgments from the Week 1 late slate. For more coverage check out SI.com’s coverage of Clemson-Georgia, LSU-TCU, Alabama-Virginia Tech and our early and late Snaps.
• Northern Illinois 30, Iowa 27: In an afternoon filled with lopsided results and outright snoozers, the most unlikely source of excitement came in the form of an all-out battle between the Huskies and the Hawkeyes. Last fall, Iowa beat Northern Illinois 18-17 with a late touchdown, and this game was every bit as exciting.
NIU suffered from a lack of execution in the first half, as Iowa carried a 24-17 lead into the break. The Hawkeyes looked very good early. Playing against a Huskies team coming off a 12-win season and an Orange Bowl berth, Iowa showed the makings of an under-the-radar Big Ten contender:
Ultimately, however, this game belonged to Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch., He racked up 328 total yards (273 passing, 55 rushing) and threw for three touchdowns. Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock, who showed good touch and picked up several key first downs in his first career start, made a critical mistake with less than two minutes remaining in the game. He threw an interception to All-MAC safety Jimmie Ward that set up the game-winning 36-yard field goal for the Huskies.
• Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10: Really, this game was about Christion Jones, Christion Jones and Christion Jones. The Crimson Tide’s do-it-all speedster gained 258 all-purpose yards and scored touchdowns on a 54-yard punt return, a 94-yard kickoff return and a 38-yard pass from quarterback AJ McCarron. Virginia Tech fans won’t like the score of this game, but they have to be encouraged by the play of the offensive line and the young defense. With all the injuries hampering coach Frank Beamer’s squad, this game was likely to be rough from the get-go. The Hokies kept fighting, and it should serve them well when ACC play rolls around.
• Oklahoma State 21, Mississippi State 3: It's perhaps the hoariest maxim in football: Teams can't leave points on the field. It also happens to be true. Take the first half of the clash between the Cowboys and the Bulldogs at Reliant Stadium in Houston, when the #CLANGA fans implored Mississippi State to score to no avail. The Bulldogs' offense drove early and often, winning the field position battle and playing great special teams. But they could not convert. Coach Dan Mullen's team mustered just three points and trailed the Cowboys 7-3 at the half.
Oklahoma State's offense woke up after the halftime break, and Mississippi State promptly folded. The third quarter was especially lopsided:
Third-quarter yards: OSU, 200. Mississippi State, 10. #okstate
— Kelly Hines (@KellyHinesTW) August 31, 2013
Things got worse for the Bulldogs. With 2:50 remaining in the third, quarterback Tyler Russell went down with a head injury. Dak Prescott replaced him and went 7-of-17 for 89 yards and an interception to finish the game.
Mullen has some talent in Starkville, but his team needs to capitalize on scoring opportunities or else it is destined to finish near the bottom of the SEC. Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh repeatedly extended plays with his feet to finish with 135 passing yards and 125 rushing yards, including a three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. But the real star of this game was the Oklahoma State defense, which surrendered a mere three points. [RECAP l BOX]
• Penn State 23, Syracuse 17: Early returns on Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg were mixed, but the true freshman looked every bit the five-star talent by late in the second half. He threw for 278 yards -- connecting on a pair of touchdown passes that went for more than 50 -- to help Penn State get its 2013 season off on a winning note. Operating under very difficult circumstances, Bill O'Brien is proving himself to be one of college's best coaches. Nittany Lions fans have to hope that he will stick around for a little while. On the other sideline, Scott Shafer's debut as the coach at Syracuse wasn't a bad one. The Orange might have a tough year replacing departed quarterback Ryan Nassib, but Shafer has to be encouraged by his team's fight today. [RECAP l BOX]
• Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3: Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota is a must-watch player, whether he's playing against Nicholls State or against Stanford. A perfect fit for Oregon's high-octane offense last year as a freshman, he seems to have an even better grasp of the playbook as a sophomore -- the Ducks were up 24-0 by the end of first quarter. Mariota finished with 232 passing yards, 113 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Electrifying running back De'Anthony Thomas made the most of his touches as well, rushing for 129 yards on just 18 carries, with two scores of his own. [RECAP l BOX]
• Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9: The Wolverines' opener showed fans in Ann Arbor exactly what they were hoping to see -- that the Devin Gardner Show is going to be a whole lot of fun. Michigan's explosive quarterback was everywhere, completing 10-of-15 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and an interception to go along with 53 rushing yards and two scores. Four different Wolverines rushed for touchdowns against the Chippewas. With all its young players, Michigan is going to take its lumps in the Big Ten, but the Wolverines certainly looked impressive in their debut. [RECAP l BOX]
• Notre Dame 28, Temple 6: Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees hushed plenty of critics early, as two of his first three passes went for touchdowns. The senior turned in a very solid game (16-of-23, 346 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) against a shaky Owls defense. Rees should be able to play relaxed this fall, because the Notre Dame defense looks dominant once again. Fighting Irish fans will have to hope that Rees's tendency for turnovers doesn't surface at the wrong place or at the wrong time.
Basically, Rees is like an amateur chef trying to make risotto (Top Chef fans, rise up). Sometimes things are going to work, and sometimes they aren't -- at which point, there will be plenty of fans ready to play the role of Tom Colicchio launching into a verbal rant. [RECAP l BOX]
• Virginia 19, BYU 16: The Almighty Weatherman did not want this game to be played. Eventually it was, but there wasn't much to show for it in the first half except this picture:
https://twitter.com/BYUfootball/status/373914083512164352 When the two teams were done fearing for their lives and fleeing for the basements, they actually hooked up for a pretty good football game. In fact, the Cavaliers pulled out what might prove to be a pretty decent non-conference victory. Safety Anthony Harris reeled in an interception with 4:01 remaining, and tailback Kevin Parks rushed for a 13-yard touchdown to clinch the victory. [RECAP l BOX]