College Football Week 1 Recap: Winners, Losers and Standouts
The teams, players and coaches that had notable results in Week 1 of the 2021-22 college football season.
By Stone Lexington
Updated: Sept. 7, 2021 • 8:20 AM ET
Nick Saban - PICRYL
Week 1 of the college football season has concluded, and several teams shined in the opening week. Others didn’t fare so well in their first game of the season. Below are the winners, losers and standouts from Week 1 of the 2021-22 college football season.
Virginia Tech Hokies
What is one of the best ways to kickoff your latest college football campaign? Defeat the No. 10 ranked team in the country in Week 1. That’s exactly what the Virginia Tech Hokies did, as they beat the highly-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels 17-10 in a raucous Lane Stadium on Friday night. The stands were packed, Enter Sandman blared prior to the game and the Hokies’ defense whipped the Tar Heels for 60 minutes.
Led by a stellar performance from quarterback Chris Reynolds, the 49ers secured their first-ever win over a Power Five school with their 31-28 victory over Duke on Friday night. Two Charlotte receivers (Victor Tucker, Grant DuBose) had more than 100 receiving yards in what was a program boosting performance for the 49ers in Week 1. After only two wins in six games last season, the 49ers seem to have already put their 2020 results behind them.
Penn State Nittany Lions
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Penn State Nittany Lions secured a hard-fought 16-10 victory over the No. 12 ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday. The win was particularly important for the Nittany Lions, considering it came in conference, and they should use the momentum to propel them into a tricky matchup against Ball State on Saturday. If Penn State can get past a Ball State team that went 7-1 last season, a showdown with Auburn awaits the following week.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama looked like Alabama. The Crimson Tide slaughtered No. 14 ranked Miami 44-13 on Saturday, and it looked like the Hurricanes didn’t belong on the same field at times. New Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was outstanding, former Ohio State wide receiver Jameson Williams looked like he made the right decision to transfer from Columbus and it’s difficult to find a team on the Crimson Tide’s schedule that can possibly take down the kings of college football.
There was plenty of hype surrounding the No. 17 ranked Indiana Hoosiers coming into this season, but the Iowa Hawkeyes dumped a big bucket of water on that fire on Saturday. The Hoosiers had no answers for 18th-ranked Iowa, falling to the Hawkeyes 34-6 in Kinnick Stadium. Next week, the Hawkeyes will battle No. 7 Iowa State to see who the best team in the state is.
In past years, Texas may have lost facing a ranked opponent in Week 1. With new head coach Steve Sarkisian at the helm, No. 21 Texas may actually be back. The Longhorns handled No. 23 Louisiana fairly easily on Saturday, leaving Darrell K Royal — Texas Memorial Stadium with a 38-18 victory. Texas has lost at least three games in every season since 2010, but this could be the year that changes.
Offense was certainly an issue, but the fifth-ranked Bulldogs pulled out a 10-3 victory over the No. 3 ranked Clemson Tigers on Saturday. Georgia’s only touchdown came on a Christopher Smith 74-yard interception return, as the offense failed to reach the end zone. The Bulldogs offense has to get better if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive, but a win over a team that has made six straight playoff appearances is a good way to start the season.
When Illinois picked up a huge Week 0 win over Nebraska, it looked like they could be on the verge of a special season. The UTSA Roadrunners quieted that noise on Saturday with a 37-30 victory over the Illini in Champaign, Ill. UTSA quarterback Frank Harris was mistake free and had two touchdowns, while running back Sincere McCormick carried the ball 31 times and rushed for more than 100 yards in a good offensive game plan. Illinois was the only Power Five school on UTSA’s schedule, so they may have already secured their biggest win of the season.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Northern Illinois added to what was a terrible week for the ACC by defeating Georgia Tech 22-21 on Saturday. With a late touchdown and gutsy two-point conversion from the Huskies, Northern Illinois let every opponent on their schedule know that they shouldn’t take them lightly. If the Huskies get by Wyoming next week, it could set up a big game against Michigan in Week 3.
What a week it was for the Montana Grizzlies, which became the first FCS team since 2016 to beat a team ranked in the AP Top 25 on Saturday. The Grizzlies’ stout defense held No. 20 Washington to just seven points, while the offense did enough to get by the underperforming Huskies. Montana has clearly shown plenty of improvement since losing 63-7 to the Huskies in 2017.
East Tennessee State Buccaneers
Sure, it was only Vanderbilt, which has lost at least seven games in each of the last seven seasons, but the East Tennessee State Buccaneers defeated an SEC school fairly easily in their house 23-3 on Saturday. East Tennessee State running back Quay Holmes had 23 carries and 149 rushing yards, while the Bucs defense smothered the Commodores throughout the game. The win over Vanderbilt could propel East Tennessee State into another solid season after going 4-2 in 2020.
The Pac-12 earned some bragging rights over the SEC when UCLA defeated No. 16 LSU 38-27 in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson may have played his best game in a Bruins uniform, and Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet ran the ball effectively. With two solid wins already under their belt this season, UCLA looks like it could contend for a Pac-12 title. Not bad for the guys in the ‘sissy blue shirts’.
Nevada Wolf Pack
Nevada quarterback Carson Strong played well in the Wolf Pack’s 22-17 road victory over California, and they currently sit atop a Mountain West that should be very competitive this season. Although California isn’t seen as a powerhouse, securing a win over a Pac-12 school in the Power Five should be celebrated.
With Zach Wilson off to the NFL, it would be understandable if the Cougars took a step back this season. Instead, they opened their season on a winning note with a 24-16 victory over Arizona at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. New quarterback Jaren Hall wasn’t overly impressive, but he played well enough to get BYU a win over a Pac-12 school.
Utah State Aggies
Aggies quarterback Logan Bonner threw a late touchdown pass that helped the Utah State Aggies defeat Washington State 26-23 in Pullman, Wash. on Saturday. It was Bonner’s only touchdown of the day, but it came just in time for the Aggies to secure the upset. Utah State hopes to keep the momentum going into Week 2 when they host North Dakota.
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North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina lost four crucial starters (Javonte Williams, Dyami Brown, Michael Carter, Dazz Newsome) on offense to the NFL Draft, not to mention linebacker Chazz Surratt, and it showed against Virginia Tech. It wasn’t a good day for preseason Heisman candidate Sam Howell, who struggled throughout the evening on Friday night in Blacksburg, Va. Howell finished with 208 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, while only generating 10 total points for the Tar Heels in their loss to Virginia Tech.
Duke Blue Devils
It appears that Duke is still a basketball school. The Blue Devils became the first-ever Power Five school to fall to the Charlotte 49ers, which doesn’t look good on the resume. From 2013-18, it seemed like the Blue Devils were improving as a brand, as they had five winning seasons in six years. However, it’s all but confirmed that Duke is going in the opposite direction, as they appear to be headed for their third straight losing season.
Aside Wisconsin running back Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin played poorly on offense against Penn State, generating only 10 points. Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz didn’t play well, throwing for 185 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He actually had -26 rushing yards and two fumbles also. Wisconsin will look to rebound against Eastern Michigan before a matchup with Notre Dame in Week 3.
Miami looked like they shouldn’t even have been on the field with Alabama on Saturday. The Hurricanes have talent on their roster, but it seemed like the play-calling wasn’t good against the Crimson Tide. For example, after Alabama scored a touchdown on its opening possession, Miami was moving the ball and faced a 3rd and 7 on its own 42-yard line on the next possession. So what was the play call? Run the ball up the middle against possibly the best defensive front in the country on 3rd and 7 for no gain. The coaching has to get better if Miami wants to improve moving forward.
Plenty of hype surrounded the Indiana Hoosiers this season, but they got smoked by Iowa in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. The Indiana offense generated only six points, while Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was awful. Penix threw for 156 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions, two of which were taken back for touchdowns.
Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns
Starting the season ranked, many people thought Louisiana could compete against a Texas team that had underperformed the last couple seasons. Instead, Texas bludgeoned the Ragin’ Cajuns 38-18. The downfall for Louisiana was its lack of a rushing attack, as the offense generated just 76 yards on the ground. The Ragin’ Cajuns will look to rebound next week against a Nicholls team that lost by 25 points to Memphis on Saturday.
The Clemson Tigers have reached the College Football Playoff six straight years, but it looks like that streak may end this season after their loss to Georgia on Saturday. As of now, the Tigers don’t have a ranked opponent on the rest of their regular season schedule, and the next ranked team they may face could come in the ACC title game if they make it there. Clemson has to hope plenty of top teams fall this season.
Illinois Fighting Illini
After securing a conference win over Nebraska in Week 0 under new head coach Bret Bielema, the Fighting Illini suffered a letdown in Week 1, losing at home to UTSA. The Roadrunners had never faced a Big Ten opponent, but Illinois couldn’t contain their offensive playmakers. With a win over Nebraska and a loss to a Conference USA opponent a week later, the Illini may not be ready to compete in the Big Ten after all.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech was another victim in what was a tough week for the ACC, losing at home to Northern Illinois. The Yellow Jackets may have been looking forward to overtime after the Huskies scored a late touchdown, but Northern Illinois coach Thomas Hammock went for the two-point conversion and converted to win the game. It was a bad loss for a team that will head to Clemson in two weeks.
The Washington Huskies may have suffered the worst loss in college football over the weekend, losing to FCS school Montana at home. Washington’s offense was putrid, as they generated only seven points in four quarters. The Huskies were supposed to easily handle Montana to set up a big game against Michigan this week. With the loss to the Grizzlies, however, some of the shine of that game has worn off.
The Vanderbilt Commodores have consistently been one of the worst teams in the SEC, but they still play in the conference. Getting blown out by a team from the Southern Conference isn’t supposed to happen, as the Commodores lost to East Tennessee State on Saturday. Vanderbilt only scored three points against the Buccaneers, and if they don’t come up on the winning end against Colorado State this week, they may not make it to two wins this season.
When a storied SEC school loses to a Pac-12 team, it looks bad. When that SEC school’s head coach gets caught on camera making comments about the other team’s colors and proceeds to lose rather handily, it looks even worse. Since their national championship season in 2019, the Tigers are 5-6 and have lost relevancy in the SEC. If LSU doesn’t turn this season around quickly, that previously mentioned head coach could be on the hot seat.
California Golden Bears
Not including a shortened 2020, the California Golden Bears have lost at least five games in every season since 2009. They didn’t get off to a good start this season either with a subpar performance against Nevada on Saturday. The Golden Bears’ offense didn’t look good, as quarterback Chase Garbers threw the ball 38 times and only totaled 177 yards. California also didn’t have a player reach 80 rushing yards, and their leading receivers had 35 yards each.
It looks like Arizona may be headed toward a fourth straight losing season after their loss to BYU on Saturday. Wildcats quarterback Gunner Cruz threw for 336 yards, but Arizona generated only one offensive touchdown in the game. A matchup with a capable San Diego State team awaits the Wildcats next week.
Washington State Cougars
Aside a few teams, it was a rough week for the Pac-12, as four schools from the conference lost to non-Power Five teams over the weekend. One of those teams was Washington State, which lost to the Utah State Aggies 26-23. The Cougars didn’t generate much on offense, and their schedule won’t get any easier following a matchup with Portland State next week.
(note: These are players or units from a non-Power Five team that defeated a Power Five school, or from a team that defeated a ranked team.)
Virginia Tech defense - 6 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and 10 points allowed in the Hokies’ victory over No. 10 North Carolina
Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds - 324 passing yards, 3 touchdown passes, 0 interceptions; 10 carries, 37 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown in the 49ers’ victory over Duke
Charlotte wide receiver Victor Tucker - 8 receptions, 133 receiving yards in the 49ers’ victory over Duke
Charlotte wide receiver Grant DuBose - 4 receptions, 118 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in the 49ers’ victory over Duke
Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson - 5 receptions, 102 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Nittany Lions’ victory over No. 12 Wisconsin
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young - 344 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Crimson Tide’s 44-13 victory over No. 14 Miami
Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams - 4 receptions, 126 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Crimson Tide’s victory over No. 14 Miami
Iowa running back Tyler Goodson - 19 carries, 99 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Hawkeyes’ victory over No. 17 Indiana
Iowa Hawkeyes defense - 1 sack, 5 tackles for loss, 5 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns and 6 points allowed in the Hawkeyes’ victory over No. 17 Indiana
Iowa defensive back Riley Moss - 2 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns
Texas running back Bijan Robinson - 20 carries, 103 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown; 4 receptions, 73 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown in the Longhorns’ victory over No. 23 Louisiana
Texas wide receiver Jordan Whittington - 7 receptions, 113 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Longhorns’ victory over No. 23 Louisiana
Georgia Bulldogs defense - 7 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 1 defensive touchdown and 3 points allowed in the Bulldogs’ victory over No. 3 Clemson
UTSA quarterback Frank Harris - 280 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 0 interceptions; 8 carries, 32 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown in the Roadrunners’ victory over Illinois
UTSA running back Sincere McCormick - 31 carries, 117 rushing yards in the Roadrunners’ victory over Illinois
UTSA wide receiver Zakhari Franklin - 10 receptions, 155 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Roadrunners’ victory over Illinois
Northern Illinois running back Harrison Waylee - 27 carries, 144 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Huskies’ victory over Georgia tech
Montana Grizzlies defense - 3 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and 7 points allowed in the Grizzlies’ victory over No. 20 Washington
East Tennessee State running back Quay Holmes - 23 carries, 149 rushing yards in the Buccaneers’ victory over Vanderbilt
East Tennessee State Buccaneers defense - 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown and 3 points allowed in the Buccaneers’ victory over Vanderbilt
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson - 260 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception in the Bruins’ victory over No. 16 LSU
UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet - 11 carries, 117 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Bruins’ victory over No. 16 LSU
UCLA running back Brittain Brown - 17 carries, 96 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Bruins’ victory over No. 16 LSU
Nevada quarterback Carson Strong - 312 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception in the Wolf Pack’s victory over California
BYU running back Tyler Allgeier - 17 carries, 94 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Cougars’ victory over Arizona
BYU wide receiver Neil Pau’u - 8 receptions, 126 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in the Cougars’ victory over Arizona
Utah State running back Calvin Tyler Jr. - 14 carries, 84 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Aggies’ victory over Washington State
Utah State wide receiver Deven Thompkins - 8 receptions, 94 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Aggies’ victory over Washington State