• Important things first. We will get to the part featuring teams expected to finish with winning records and play in the postseason momentarily, but for right now, please just bask in the radioactive glow of a Kent State player recovering a fumble and taking it 58 yards in the wrong direction. The announcers aren't really enjoying this thing as much as they should, so maybe mute this and have the same spirited discussion with your coworkers that we had in our living room last night: Who's the best/worst here? Andre Parker, the disoriented runner? The Towson players who tackled him even though a muffed punt can't be returned (even in the wrong direction)? Or Parker's Kent State teammates blocking for his wrongward journey? We love all three equally. We missed you, MACtion. (Kent State did manage a win, 41-21.)
• No. 9 South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13. The 2009 South Carolina-NC State 7-3 slog remains our gold standard for queasy Thursday night openers, but this game was a valiant attempt to carry on that legacy. Andy Staples was on the scene, and writes from Nashville: "Did South Carolina look like a top-10 team in its 17-13 win at Vanderbilt? Not even close. Did the Gamecocks look like a team capable of competing for an SEC -- and, using a logical leap informed by the results of the past six years, the national -- title? Nope. Did South Carolina leave Vanderbilt Stadium 1-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC East? Yes. For opening night, that's enough."
• BYU 30, Washington State 6. We expected Mike Leach's unseasoned band to have a rough go of it in Provo. We did not expect Washington State to not be able to score a single touchdown. Stewart Mandel was there to take it all in: "The outcome shouldn't be entirely surprising. BYU, perhaps unduly overlooked by preseason voters (the Cougars garnered just 10 points in the same Coaches' Poll that ranked them 25th to end last season), trotted out a senior quarterback, Riley Nelson, who went 6-1 upon taking over the starting job last season, along with seven returning starters from a top 15 defense. Wazzu, nine years removed from its last bowl trip, started a senior quarterback, Jeff Tuel, who's experienced seven wins in his career (most while injured on the sideline), and a defense that returned three of the front seven from last year's 82nd-ranked unit."
• Elsewhere in Actual Football Happenings: UCLA beat Rice 49-24, but not before setting a dubious record ... Ball State blasted off in a 21-point third quarter to best Eastern Michigan, 37-26 ... Central Florida cake-walked over Akron, 56-14 ... UMass was introduced to FBS ball with a 37-0 loss to UConn ... Minnesota had the latest kickoff of the night and needed triple overtime to beat UNLV, 30-27 ... Central Michigan rallied from three deficits in three quarters to beat Southeast Missouri State (you heard us), 38-27 ... and two FBS teams without the Chippewas' gumption actually lost to FCS outfits. Enjoy your holiday weekends, Middle Tennessee State and Idaho!
• SCOOTER ARREST! SCOOTER ARREST! With just hours to spare before the 2012 season kicked off, we were treated to that most entertaining of all student-athlete crimes: A scooter-related run-in with the law. The happy (alleged) perpetrator: Missouri freshman quarterback Maty Mauk. ESS EEE CEE.
• Injury report story hour. Maryland will be down 13 players to start the season; Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young is out for two weeks.
• Roster blotter. Linebacker Simione Vehikite has been reinstated at USC ... Bo Wallace will start at quarterback for Ole Miss ... Purdue dismisses starting linebacker Dwayne Beckford.
• Quote of the day.
Big East realignment