|Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports|
|Georgia running back Todd Gurley opened the 2014 season in style by rushing for 198 yards on 15 carries vs. Clemson.|
Todd Gurley and season openers just go well together.
The Georgia star running back has had three of them now, and he's averaged more than 12 yards per carry in all three. Saturday night, it was Clemson's defense playing matador as Gurley rolled up 198 yards on just 15 carries, added a 100-yard kickoff return for a score, and totaled four touchdowns in Georgia's 45-21 win. It was a Heisman Trophy-worthy performance for one of the few non-quarterbacks with a chance to claim college football's biggest individual honor. The junior is eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft if he chooses to declare after the season.
Oh, and Gurley's other season openers at Georgia? He ran 8-for-100 with two touchdowns against Buffalo in 2012, and ripped Clemson in last year's opener (12 for 154, two TDs).
Here are 21 other things you need to know from college football's opening Saturday:
2. Florida State's Jameis Winston looked completely off-kilter for most of the Seminoles' opener against Oklahoma State. But the defending Heisman Trophy winner came up with a rushing touchdown and passing touchdown late in the game to help FSU pull away, 37-31. The rushing score was one to behold -- see that among CFB247's "Can't Miss Moments." Winston ended up throwing for 370 yards despite two interceptions. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah offered his thoughts on Winston's performance here. Also of note: FSU WR Rashad Greene exploded for 203 yards receiving on 11 grabs.
3. On Friday, College Football 24/7 predicted a big game for Auburn backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson if coach Gus Malzahn gave him enough of a chance before inserting Nick Marshall. He did. And Johnson flashed brilliantly, serving notice that the Tigers' offense will be in good hands next year when Marshall is gone. Johnson threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first half, completing nine of his first 10 passes for 211 yards by halftime. He finished 13 of 17 for 243 yards, giving way to Marshall later in the game. Meanwhile, Marshall completed 4 of 6 passes.
4. Texas A&M's Kenny Hill wasn't the only quarterback to set a school record for passing yards during the opening weekend of college football play. Sophomore Christian Hackenberg put on a passing display in Dublin, Ireland, with a Penn State-record 454 passing yards in a thrilling comeback win over Central Florida, 26-24. The start of the James Franklin era at PSU will depend heavily on this kid. So far, so good.
5. Ohio State 34, Navy 17. The Buckeyes' offense struggled for most of three quarters -- not unexpectedly without injured quarterback Braxton Miller -- but what was unexpected was the way Navy's offensive line put on a clinic against an Ohio State defensive line that is supposed to be the nation's best. Navy rolled up over 300 rushing yards and proved, once again, that the triple-option offense can be an equalizer against superior talent when well-executed.
6. In his debut as a wide receiver, Michigan's Devin Funchess caught three touchdown passes (7 catches, 95 yards) in a 52-14 win over Appalachian State. Funchess was 14 when Appalachian State stunned the Wolverines in Ann Arbor in 2007. Seven years later, he arrived a little late with some ointment for UM fans, but the former tight end turned in a spectacular debut nonetheless.
College football cheerleadersCheck out the best moves of college football cheerleaders during the 2014 season.
7. Speaking of plucky underdogs, Virginia gave UCLA star quarterback Brett Hundley his share of trouble in the Bruins' 28-20 road win. Hundley threw for 242 yards on 20 of 33 passing, but was sacked five times by a Cavaliers pass rush led by the heart and soul of the Virginia defense: Henry Coley, two sacks.
8. Spectacular performance most likely overlooked on Saturday: Indiana running back Tevin Coleman rumbled for 247 yards on just 23 carries in a 28-10 win over Indiana State. Illinois won't be surprised. Coleman blasted the Illini for 215 on just 15 totes last year.
9. On the other side of the ball, UCLA super soph Myles Jack piled up 13 tackles and two pass breakups against Virginia, but didn't even have the team-high. Give that to fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks, who amassed 16 stops and an interception.
10. Oklahoma State's loss was Illinois' gain on Saturday, as transfer quarterback Wes Lunt led the Illini with four touchdown passes in a 28-17 win over Youngstown State. Lunt spread his passing wealth to nine different receivers. He didn't start five games as a 2012 OSU true freshman for no reason.
11. Nebraska star pass rusher Randy Gregory was injured Saturday and played only a series in the Cornhuskers' 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic, but there is no cause for panic in Lincoln. Coach Bo Pelini downplayed any concerns after the game.
12. Nebraska senior running back Ameer Abdullah's season is off to a great start: He rushed for a career-high 232 yards (on 21 carries) in the Huskers' 55-7 demolition of Florida Atlantic. Abdullah almost always is left out of the "best running back" discussion, but he had 1,690 yards last season and is the nation's leading returning rusher. He has a chance at another huge game next week against FCS foe McNeese State. Meanwhile, Nebraska set a Big Ten record with 779 total yards.
13. Georgia sophomore linebacker Leonard Floyd was a College Football 24/7 pick for a breakout season. He did exactly that in Georgia's win over Clemson, delivering two sacks and a forced fumble.
14. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson's return to the Fighting Irish lineup, after missing last season for disciplinary reasons, couldn't have gone any better. In accounting for five touchdowns in a 48-17 win over Rice, Golson showed none of the rust that comes with a full-year layoff -- but all of the spunk that comes with it, as well.
15. So you thought Sammie Coates was the only dangerous receiver Auburn had? Think again.
16. Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery, one of the top prospects at his position for the 2015 NFL Draft, broke a punt return for a 60-yard touchdown in a 45-0 win over UC-Davis.
17. The Florida Gators will have to deal with the taste of last year's 4-8 season in their mouths for one more week. The Gators' game against Idaho was canceled due to bad weather. UF will now open next week against Eastern Michigan.
18. LSU had a big performance at running back Saturday, but it didn't come from heralded freshman Leonard Fournette. Instead, it came from a guy who's waited his turn for years, not months.
19. Wisconsin star rusher Melvin Gordon had even more yards (138) than Hilliard, but curiously, he didn't get his number called much in the second half as the Badgers' comfortable lead disappeared.
20. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota tuned up for next week's clash with Michigan State in impressive fashion against South Dakota. Meanwhile, star cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's tune-up was cut short. More on both here.
21. 25th-ranked Washington survived a road scare at Hawaii, 17-16. The Huskies didn't score a second-half point, yet still managed to hold on by forcing two second-half field goals by Hawaii. The two-way debut of Huskies star Shaq Thompson will have to wait. The standout linebacker, who also got looks at running back in the spring and preseason, had four tackles but didn't get a carry offensively.
22. Members of the Arkansas coaching staff assigned to the press box at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday were unable to join the team in the locker room at halftime because they got stuck on the press box elevator. Only in the SEC.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.