Russell Wilson plants flag at Camp Randall; more opening night Snap Judgments
Scores and highlights from Day 1 of Week 1 of the finally, blessedly arrived 2011 college football season …
No. 11 Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17. They seem to like Russell Wilson all right up at Camp Randall, both on the field and in the stands. The N.C. State castoff turned up won the starting job, was elected a team captain and then put on just the kind of fireworks show Bret Bielema likes to see, with the added bizarro-for-Wisconsin twist of displaying mobile, working feet. Wilson threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another, the first score coming at the end of a seven-play drive that covered 65 yards and took just three minutes. And, considering the score, he didn’t really have to do all that much, completing 10-of-13 passes for 255 yards and gaining 62 more on two carries. His passing efficiency rating for the evening, 292.5, is straight out of the first-week follies bloodbath canon.
And he wasn’t even the highest-scoring Badger. Montee Ball, the diminutive tailback in red who is built like a speeding fire hydrant, was responsible for four touchdowns and also led the team in receiving yards. Ball was on the receiving end of Wilson’s first TD pass and added rushing touchdowns in each of the first three quarters.
In typical Badger blitzkrieg fashion, the team’s leading rusher found himself overshadowed by sheer scoreboard volume. Sleep not on James White, who rushed for 64 yards on 11 carries and another score.
Now, don’t get carried away with all this. UNLV’s defense is atrocious and Wisconsin’s own D showed some holes. But the Badgers have two very winnable games ahead of them, against Oregon State and Northern Illinois, plus a virtual bye in Week 4 against South Dakota before Nebraska comes calling. And by the time the Huskers get to Madison, Russell Wilson will have his own honorary drinking game.
Elsewhere, in glory dimmed and undimmed:
No. 20 Mississippi State 59, Memphis 14. Dan Mullen’s band of brigands didn’t miss the five players suspended for the EVER POPULAR AND MYSTERIOUS violation of team rules, setting a school record for total offense. Defensive beast Fletcher Cox’s absence was bemoaned, but all worries were forgotten three-and-a-half minutes into the first quarter, when Chris Relf hit Chad Bumphis with a 44-yard touchdown strike and triggering the most poetic announcer couplet in all sport: “Pass complete, Relf-to-Bumphis.”
Louisville 21, Murray State 9. On the mean streets of God’s green Internet, Sunny Will Stein will be remembered more this evening for his late-hit gyrations than for any on-field heroics, but say this for his future as QB1: The kid performed a sight better than megahyped true freshman Teddy Bridgewater.
Florida International 41, North Texas 16. The Panthers become the first team of 2011 to hit the 1-0 mark in conference play.
Syracuse 36, Wake Forest 29. Baby season’s first overtime! A four-yard pass from Ryan Nassib to the impeccably-named Van Chew gave the Orange the win.
Temple 42, Villanova 7. About that ill-fated Big East bid, ‘Nova …
Georgia Tech 63, Western Carolina 21. Yes, that’s THE Georgia Tech racking up 365 passing yards. I’m just as upset as you are.
Kentucky 14, Western Kentucky 3. UK and WKU put on a Lynchian murder mystery of a season opener before an announced crowd of less than 25,000 at the Tennessee Titans’ home field in a colossal miscalculation of weeknight interest. (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t morbidly fascinated to know if either team secured any Nashville-area recruits out of this.) The Wildcats were down a receiver (suspended), but something tells me his presence wouldn’t have helped much, especially given Morgan Newton’s newfound fondness for the 13-step drop self-sack. (Hand it to the guy: He goes backwards con gusto.) This was the most fascinating game of the evening, compelling in the way one finds one’s self staring riveted at a perfectly preserved dead bird on the sidewalk.