College Football 2023: Winners and Losers from Week 1

Fresno State wide receiver Erik Brooks (3) celebrates scoring a touchdown against Purdue during the second half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. Fresno State won 38-35. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Outside of Michigan’s comfortable 30-3 stroll past East Carolina, the Big Ten didn’t have a banner afternoon.

In the debut for head coach Ryan Walters, Purdue ceded a last-minute touchdown and lost 39-35 to Fresno State. Iowa started with two scoring drives but ultimately meandered to a 24-14 win over Utah State.

Wisconsin trudged to a 14-10 halftime lead—partially due to a devastating drop on a should-be touchdown pass—before a superb rushing game put away Buffalo after the break. Similarly, Ohio State survived a subpar first-half showing from a hugely talented offense to beat Indiana 23-3.

At least Maryland smoked lower-division Towson?

Let’s be clear: It’s only the first game of the season. I’m not suggesting that panic alarms ring in Columbus or Madison in particular. But it’s safe to say a few Big Ten coaching staffs won’t be happy this week.

Michael Penix Jr.

On the other hand, the Big Ten’s future westward contingent ripped up box scores in Saturday’s second window of games.

Yes, a blowout should have happened at Oregon. Still, the 15th-ranked Ducks embarrassed Portland State 81-7 with 729 offensive yards. Bo Nix threw for 287 yards and three scores, while Bucky Irving had 119 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries. Troy Franklin and Gary Bryant Jr. both hit 100 receiving yards and caught two scores.

The marquee result was more lopsided than expected.

Behind a dominant 450-yard, five-touchdown day from Michael Penix Jr., Washington smoked Mountain West favorite Boise State 56-19. Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan each had 95-plus receiving yards and at least one trip to the end zone.

Considering the (totally understandable) rust elsewhere in Week 1, Oregon and UW deserve praise for their tremendous days.

SAN MARCOS, TX - NOVEMBER 24: A Texas State Bobcats helmet sits on the sidelines during Sun Belt Conference game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves on November 24, 2018 at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos, TX. (Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

How’s that for a coaching debut?

In his first game as Texas State head coach, G.J. Kinne oversaw a stellar 42-31 upset of Big 12 squad Baylor. TJ Finley, formerly of LSU and Auburn, accounted for 316 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

Perhaps it’s only my perspective, yet the absolute part of this moment is the road Kinne has traveled for this moment.

After a year at Texas and four at Tulsa as a quarterback, he made stops in the AFL, CFL, NFL and UFL. He started his coaching career as a grad assistant at SMU in 2017, and he’s since had one-year stops at Arkansas, with the Philadelphia Eagles and at Hawaii, UCF and then as a head coach at Incarnate Word.

For the Bobcats’ sake, hopefully Kinne will be around for several years. But if this victory is a precursor to what’s on the horizon in 2023, he may be headed for another promotion in 2024.

This content was originally published here.

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