Sep 4, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Zamir White (3) is tackled by Clemson Tigers linebacker James Skalski (47) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

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Top 25 roundup: No. 5 Georgia stifles No. 3 Clemson in defensive struggle

GGeorgia safety Christopher Smith returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown and the Bulldogs’ defense held Clemson to 180 total yards in a 10-3 victory Saturday night in the season-opening game for both teams.

The defenses were dominant in front of a crowd of 74,187 at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, but it was Georgia’s that came up big time, sacking Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei seven times and keeping him under pressure all night.

Georgia, ranked No. 5, and No. 3 Clemson are longtime rivals, but were playing for the first time since splitting a home-and-home series in 2013 and 2014. Saturday night’s defeat was Clemson’s first regular-season loss to a non-conference opponent since a 45-21 loss at Georgia in 2014.

Both teams struggled offensively in the inaugural Duke’s Mayo Classic and the game was scoreless until Smith stepped in front of a Uiagalelei pass intended for Justyn Ross with 2:58 left in the first half and sped down the left sideline. He outran Uiagalelei into the end zone to complete the pick-six on his first career interception.

No. 1 Alabama 44, No. 13 Miami 13

Bryce Young tossed four touchdowns in his debut as a collegiate starter to lead the Crimson Tide to an easy win over the Hurricanes in Atlanta. The only negative for Alabama was a foot injury to star linebacker Christopher Allen in the first half, one that could keep him sidelined the rest of the season, said Alabama coach Nick Saban.

In the first half, Young threw two touchdown passes to tight end Cameron Latu (9 yards, 25 yards) and one to John Metchie III (37 yards). Young added a 94-yard TD pass to Jameson Williams in the third quarter. Young completed 27-of-38 passes for 344 yards. He was not intercepted but lost a fumble on a third-quarter sack.

For Miami, quarterback D’Eriq King played his first game since knee surgery in January, completing 23-of-30 passes for 179 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He limped off the field after getting sacked and losing a fumble, but he returned.

No. 2 Oklahoma 40, Tulane 35

Spencer Rattler passed for 304 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score as the Sooners held off the Green Wave at Norman, Okla.

Tulane sliced what was a 23-point halftime deficit down to five with 2:18 to play, then recovered an onside kick to keep its upset hopes alive. But Perrion Winfrey and Nik Bonitto teamed up for a sack on third down and then Green Wave quarterback Michael Pratt was stopped just short of the first down on the next play, giving Oklahoma the ball back to run out the clock.

Rattler completed 30 of 39 passes and the Sooners (1-0) jumped out to a big lead, but the Heisman Trophy hopeful’s two interceptions helped keep the Green Wave (0-1) in the game until the end.

No. 6 Texas A&M 41, Kent State 10

Senior safety Leon O’Neal Jr. returned the second of his two interceptions 85 yards for a touchdown as the Aggies overcame a sporadic offensive performance in their victory over the Golden Flashes at College Station, Texas.

Aggies freshman quarterback Haynes King, making his first career start, went 21-for-33 and passed for 292 yards with two touchdowns.

Kent State mustered just 110 yards through the air, while the Aggies amassed 595 total yards, including 303 on the ground.

No. 7 Iowa State 16, Northern Iowa 10

In a game much closer than most anticipated, the Cyclones used their defense to subdue the Panthers in each team’s season opener in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State allowed only 275 total yards and 14 first downs to UNI, clinching victory when Mike Rose tackled Sam Schnee after a 25-yard completion at the Iowa State 33-yard line as time expired.

Quarterback Brock Purdy completed 21 of 26 passes for 197 yards for the Cyclones. Purdy also ran for 58 yards on nine attempts. Northern Iowa quarterback Will McElvain hit on 21 of 34 passes for 230 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

No. 8 Cincinnati 49, Miami (Ohio) 14

Desmond Ridder threw a touchdown pass on the second play of the game as the Bearcats built a 21-point, first-quarter lead en route to the rout of the visiting RedHawks.

Cincinnati has won 15 straight games over its in-state rival. The oldest non-conference rivalry in FBS, which began in 1888, is 59-59-7.

Ridder connected on an 81-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Scott to make the score 7-0 and completed nine of his first 10 throws for 158 yards.

No. 11 Oregon 31, Fresno State 24

Anthony Brown scored on a 30-run with 2:57 remaining and the Ducks escaped with a win against the Bulldogs in Eugene, Ore.

Brown kept the ball on an option on fourth-and-2 and weaved through the defense for the tiebreaking score.

Brown completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 172 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 62 yards and a score.

No. 19 Penn State 16, No. 12 Wisconsin 10

Noah Cain rushed for the go-ahead touchdown, while Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown made late interceptions as the Nittany Lions edged the host Badgers at Madison, Wis.

Sean Clifford completed 18 of 33 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown as the Nittany Lions (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) defeated the Badgers for the fifth straight time and seventh in the past eight meetings. Jahan Dotson caught five passes for 102 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown.

Chez Mellusi rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries for the Badgers (0-1, 0-1).

No. 13 Florida 35, Florida Atlantic 14

Dameon Pierce scored on a pair of short rushing plays and teammate Malik Davis gained 104 rushing yards as the Gators topped the visiting Owls to open the season in Gainesville, Fla.

Emory Jones threw a touchdown pass in his debut as Florida’s starting quarterback, completing 17 of 27 passes for 113 yards. But backup Anthony Richardson made an impact late in the game, orchestrating a fourth-quarter touchdown drive by going 3-for-3 in the air and rushing for 26 yards on that series. He then sprinted 73 yards for the team’s last touchdown. After a couple more first-down pickups in the last minute, he totaled 160 rushing yards on seven attempts.

Florida ended up with 400 rushing yards on the way to winning its home opener for the 32nd consecutive season. N’Kosi Perry, a transfer from Miami, struggled at times in his first game as Florida Atlantic’s quarterback. He was 19-for-33 for 261 yards and a touchdown in the air.

No. 15 USC 30, San Jose State 7

Greg Johnson’s 37-yard interception return for a touchdown punctuated a strong defensive effort for the Trojans, who overcame the Spartans’ own stout defense to win their season-opener in Los Angeles.

USC (1-0) intercepted San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel twice, both of which led to Trojans’ touchdowns. Johnson jumped a route in the fourth quarter and streaked down the sideline untouched for a 37-yard score with 11:42 remaining that effectively put the game away against San Jose State (1-1).

Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis finished 24-of-36 passing for 256 yards and no interceptions.

UCLA 38, No. 16 LSU 27

Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw three touchdown passes, and Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown ran for one touchdown each as the host Bruins upset the Tigers at Pasadena, Calif.

Thompson-Robinson passed for 260 yards on nine completions and Charbonnet had his second consecutive 100-yard game (117) as the Bruins improved to 2-0.

Max Johnson completed 26 of 46 passes for 330 yards with three touchdowns as the Tigers lost their season opener after evacuating from Baton Rouge to Houston a week earlier to avoid Hurricane Ida.

No. 18 Iowa 34, No. 17 Indiana 6

Cornerback Riley Moss returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Tyler Goodson rushed for 99 yards and one score, lifting the Hawkeyes over the Hoosiers in Big Ten play at Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) jumped to a 31-3 halftime lead and rode their defense and run game the rest of the way. Iowa extended its streak of holding a team under 25 points to 23 straight games.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. struggled for Indiana (0-1, 0-1), completing 14 of 29 passes for 156 yards with three interceptions before being replaced early in the fourth quarter.

Montana 13, No. 20 Washington 7

The Grizzlies of FCS, a top team at that level but coming into the game with 10 consecutive losses to the Huskies of the Pac-12, upset Washington in Seattle with a come-from-behind victory.

Montana, which lost 63-7 to Washington in 2017 in the previous meeting between the teams, executed two fourth-quarter scoring drives, holding on for a historic win for the program and a signature win for former Washington assistant Bobby Hauck.

Washington had the ball with just under three minutes to play, trailing 13-7 after a 22-yard field goal by Montana’s Kevin Macias. But they turned the ball over on downs with 1:33 left. The Huskies used all three of their timeouts and got the ball back, but Marcus Welnel picked off a Dylan Morris pass with 31 seconds to play, and an 11-game winning streak in home openers came crashing to an end for Washington.

No. 21 Texas 38, No. 23 Louisiana 18

Hudson Card passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in his first collegiate start as the Longhorns began the Steve Sarkisian era with a win over the Ragin’ Cajuns in the season-opener for both teams in Austin, Texas.

Card was 14-of-21 passing and connected with six different receivers while playing three quarters for the Longhorns. Bijan Robinson ran for 103 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 73 yards and another score in Texas’ romp while Jordan Whittington led all receivers with seven catches for a career-best 113 yards.

Louisiana got on the board first via a 37-yard field goal by Kenneth Almendares at the end of a 42-yard drive with 8:16 to play in the first quarter. Texas answered with an 18-yard TD pass from Card to Robinson at the 2:25 mark of the first that culminated an 11-play, 70-yard march.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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