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[2016-09-10] 2016 college football season – the greatest opening weekend in college football sports history

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The start of the 2016 college football season was billed as the greatest opening weekend in the sport's history.

It delivered everything we wanted -- and then some.

The action started at the crack of dawn with the first kickoff in Dublin, Ireland, and ended well past midnight PT in Wyoming. We were treated to surprising upsets, exciting finishes, incredible comebacks, inspiring returns by injured players and another dominant performance by the defending national champions.

We hadn't even reached nightfall on the East Coast before seeing two top-5 teams fall. No. 3 Oklahoma lost to giant-killer Houston 33-23, and No. 5 LSU lost to unranked Wisconsin 16-14 at Lambeau Field. Not since 1972 have two top-5 teams lost during the first week of a season.
Houston's win over Oklahoma on Saturday was its first over a top-3 opponent since it beat Texas in 1984.

It was a resounding statement by the No. 15 Cougars, who look like a legitimate College Football Playoff threat. They'll be an overwhelming favorite to win the American Athletic Conference for the second season in a row, and they'll get another chance to impress the CFP selection committee when they play at No. 19 Louisville on Nov. 17.

It also wasn't a bad audition for the Big 12, which is considering adding Houston as a new member.

"We were prepared to win," Cougars coach Tom Herman said. "We expected to win. We train to win. It wasn't about making a statement, it was about going 1-0 the first week of the season."

As for LSU, once again, the Tigers' offense was the team's undoing, and coach Les Miles is right back on the hot seat, after he barely survived a push to fire him last season.

"We knew what was at stake this season," LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White said. "Our goal is to win it all and go undefeated. It's a hurtful feeling."

The top-5 upsets did not extend into prime time. No. 1 Alabama steamrolled No. 20 USC 52-6 in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide struggled on offense early, but then turned to freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more.
Alabama swept aside USC in dominant fashion in a 52-6 win.

No. 2 Clemson wasn't nearly as dominant. The Tigers had to bat away Auburn's Hail Mary pass in the end zone on the final play to survive a 19-13 win on the road.

Auburn is one of six SEC teams to have lost thus far in the opening week, which is the most since 1995. South Alabama stunned Mississippi State 21-20, and Kentucky blew a 25-point lead and gave up 34 straight points in a 44-35 loss to Southern Miss in what was a very bad weekend for the Stoops brothers. Talk about stooping to a new low.

It wasn't all bad for the SEC, though. Texas A&M upset No. 16 UCLA 31-24 in overtime, after the Aggies blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. No. 18 Georgia came from behind to beat No. 22 North Carolina 33-24 in Atlanta, which was highlighted by star tailback Nick Chubb's return from a devastating knee injury. He ran for 222 yards with two touchdowns, including a 55-yard run that put the game away with 3:34 to go.

Running back James Conner, returning to the field Saturday less than four months after he beat cancer, led the Panthers out of the tunnel and onto the field before the game to a raucous ovation.

Amazingly, Chubb's performance was only the second-best comeback of the day. Pittsburgh's James Conner, who beat cancer this past offseason, ran for 53 yards and scored the first touchdown in a 28-7 victory over FCS foe Villanova.

Conner's performance was undoubtedly the best highlight on a day that was chock-full of them.

The best part about the greatest opening weekend in college football history? It's not over. No. 10 Notre Dame plays at Texas on Sunday night, and then No. 4 Florida State plays No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando on Monday night.

If Saturday was any indication, the next two nights -- and the rest of the season -- are going to be a lot of fun.
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