No. 4 Ohio State outlasts Minnesota in Stroud’s debut
Coastal Carolina romps in opener
MINNEAPOLIS — C.J. Stroud passed for 294 yards and four touchdowns in his debut as the Ohio State starter, and the fourthranked Buckeyes kept coach Ryan Day unbeaten in Big Ten play with a 45-31 victory over Minnesota on Thursday night.
The Buckeyes flashed their fivestar speed with two 70-plus-yard scores in the opener, one early on a run off right end by Miyan Williams and one late on a thirddown screen to true freshman TreVeyon Henderson. Day, starting his third full year on the job, is 24-2 overall and 16-0 in conference games.
Chris Olave had touchdown catches of 38 and 61 yards, and Garrett Wilson scored on a 56-yard reception that gave Ohio State the lead for good at 24-21 midway through the third quarter. Less than three minutes later, Haskell Garrett grabbed a fumble from a strip-sack that Zach Harrison delivered on Tanner Morgan and ran it in for a 32-yard touchdown.
“I have great teammates, but I feel like I’m a great player, too,” Stroud said. “Maybe the first half didn’t show that, but I did my best in the second.”
More painful for the Gophers than their fade down the stretch was the loss of star running back Mo Ibrahim, who hurt his lower left leg late in the third quarter and left the field in a walking boot.
The second team preseason Associated Press All-American had 30 carries for 163 yards and two scores, both giving the Gophers the lead and the first one after Terell Smith intercepted an off-target pass by Stroud that hit Olave’s hand.
Coach P.J. Fleck had no update on Ibrahim’s status afterward but said the bruising fifth-year running back from Baltimore, who moved into a tie for fourth place on the program’s all-time list with his 33rd career touchdown, was in good spirits.
Ohio State trailed at halftime (14-10) for the first time in a regular season game under Day, who
took over for Urban Meyer. Some time in the locker room was all Stroud needed to settle in. He passed for 246 yards in the second half.
“We weren’t going to play it close to the vest,” Day said. “That’s not how we do it here.”
The Gophers were probably never going to have a better opportunity to topple the mighty Buckeyes than this, fielding one of the most experienced teams in the country at home — and at night — to open the season against a newbie quarterback.
No. 22 COASTAL CAROLINA 52, CITADEL 14:
In Conway, S.C., Grayson McCall threw for 262 yards and a touchdown and Coastal Carolina scored on its first seven possessions in a season-opening victory over The Citadel.
The Chanticleers were among the biggest surprises last season, going 11-1 and winning the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division after being picked last in the preseason.
They earned their first preseason ranking this year and
made sure they lived up to the billing.
McCall, last year’s Sun Belt offensive player of the year, directed an efficient, dynamic offense that scored touchdowns the first four times it had the ball. After a field goal to close the opening half, the Chants scored TDs on its first two series of the third quarter.
McCall completed 16 of 19 passes before coming out early in the third quarter.
Reese White had scoring runs of 4 and 16 yards, before McCall, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore, connected with Javion Heiligh on a 30-yard scoring pass to make it 28-0.
Heiligh had six catches for 133 yards, his third straight game with 100-plus yards receiving.
NO. 24 UTAH 40, WEBER STATE 17: In Salt Lake City, Charlie Brewer threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns in his Utah debut to help the Utes beat Weber State.
Dalton Kincaid caught four passes for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the opener for both teams. Tavion Thomas ran for 107
yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in his Utah debut.
Weber State took a 7-3 lead when Rashid Shaheed cut to the edge and returned a kickoff 100 yards untouched. He tied an FCS record with his sixth kickoff return for a touchdown.
Bronson Barron threw for 213 yards and a TD for Weber State, but the Wildcats had just 57 yards rushing. The teams retreated to the locker rooms with 8:26 left in the first quarter because of a lightning delay of 90 minutes.
POSTPONED: In Piscataway, N.J., the season-opening game between Temple and Rutgers scheduled for Thursday night has been postponed until Saturday after the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped historic rain over parts of the Northeast.
Rutgers’ stadium sits on the banks of the Raritan River and some towns in northern New Jersey reported receiving as many as 8 inches of rain on Wednesday night. Flooding was reported in many areas Thursday and some major roads leading to the stadium were closed.
BIG 12 EXPANSION: As the Big 12 continues to hold “serious discussions” about conference expansion, UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU have emerged as “leading contenders” according to a report from The Athletic.
Although there is still “a lot of work to be done,” it’s possible that the process could “move faster than initially anticipated” if the athletic directors and presidents of the league’s eight remaining members can reach a consensus on which members to invite, Max Olson first reported.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby met with the conference’s ADs and presidents in Dallas on Tuesday and Wednesday to begin planning conference’s future and released a statement afterwards.
“The eight ADs remain committed to furthering the Big 12 as one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences, and look forward to working with our presidents and chancellors to strengthen the league,” Bowlsby said in the statement on Wednesday. “Future exploration by the group will continue to center on options that best position the long-term strength of the Conference.”
One factor favoring UCF, Cincinnati, BYU and Houston is “they all have large, passionate alumni bases that could be attractive to media partners,” Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News reported while confirming The Athletic’s report.
With almost 72,000 students, UCF is the largest university by enrollment in Florida and one of the largest nationally. Orlando also is home to the largest TV market in the country without an NFL team in its area.
Recently, UCF AD Terry Mohajir was asked about possible conference realignment.
“We are now in position, based on what we’re doing with our staff, the capacity of our stadium, the vision of our program, like Coach (Gus Malzahn) says, it’s not a marketing campaign,” Mohajir said in late August. “It’s what we believe. We feel it. It’s authentic. We are the future of college athletics, especially college football. The eyeballs that we have. We’re excited.”