The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas — Terrence Magee ran for two touchdowns after halftime, Zach Mettenberger threw for 251 yards with a key late score and 12th-ranked LSU held on for a 37-27 victory over No. 20 TCU late Saturday night.
Odell Beckham’s 75-yard kickoff return set up a 20-yard TD pass from Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry with 6 minutes left.
All in all, despite a crucial fumble and a three-and-out in the fourth quarter that kept the game uncomfortably close, the Tigers’ first game with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron calling the plays provided a promising start to the season.
And that replenished defense after losing a team-record eight players to the NFL draft came up with some key plays.
B.J. Catalon returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and scored on a 26-yard run for TCU, the two-time BCS buster now in its second Big 12 season.
TCU started in Tigers territory after a shanked 28-yard punt after the three-and-out. But the Horned Frogs’ drive was hampered when Trevone Boykin was sacked and fumbled. They recovered the ball, but had to settle for Jaden Oberkrom’s 39-yard field goal to get within 30-27 with 7 1/2 minutes left. Then came Beckham’s big kickoff return.
Before that, Alfred Blue’s fumble set TCU up at the 6. Waymon James’ 5-yard TD run made it 30-24 with 13 minutes left.
Magee ran 52 yards for a touchdown less than 2 minutes into the second half put LSU up 23-10, three plays after an interception by Jalen Mills — one of only three full-time returning defensive starters for the Tigers. Magee added a 2-yard score later in the third quarter.
The Tigers gained 448 total yards against a TCU team known for its defense. Even after moving from the Mountain West to the Big 12 last season, the Horned Frogs led their new league in total defense.
LSU was up 13-3 when 270-pound fullback J.C. Copeland plunged in from a yard out early in the second quarter.
But Catalon returned the ensuing kickoff for a TD, with only one LSU player even getting a hand on the speedy running back. That tied for the second-longest return in TCU history, behind only a 105-yarder against Texas in 1933.
While LSU coach Les Miles had been deliberately vague to keep TCU guessing on Jeremy Hill’s status following his offseason arrest for throwing a punch outside a bar, didn’t play.
TCU was without reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year Devonte Fields, who was also in uniform without playing. He’s serving a two-game suspension for an unspecified violation of university and team policy during the offseason.
No. 8 Clemson 38, No. 5 Georgia 35: CLEMSON, S.C. — Tajh Boyd threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two others, Clemson’s defense sacked Aaron Murray four times and the eighth-ranked Tigers stung No. 5 Georgia 38-35 Saturday night.
Boyd had scoring passes of 77 yards to Sammy Watkins, 24 yards to Zac Brooks and 9 yards to Stanton Seckinger. Boyd also added TD runs of 4 and 2 yards to win the lone matchup of top 10 teams in college football’s opening weekend.
The Tigers took the lead for good, 31-28, on Chandler Catanzaro’s 24-yard field goal in the third quarter. Georgia had a chip-shot try for a tying kick on its next possession, but couldn’t get if off after Nathan Theus’ bad snap .
Two series later, Boyd led a 12-play, 87-yard TD drive that ended with tight end Seckinger tip-toeing the sidelines to get in.
Georgia’s Todd Gurley ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
No. 15 Texas 56, New Mexico State 7: AUSTIN, Texas — In his first two seasons, two first-half interceptions and a deficit to a big underdog could have easily sent Texas quarterback David Ash to the sideline as someone else took over for the Longhorns.
Not Saturday night. Texas stuck with Ash this time and the junior quarterback made the big plays to first spark a rally, then delivered the knockout punch as the Longhorns overcame a slow start to roll over New Mexico State 56-7.
Texas trailed 7-0 late in the second quarter before Ash threw touchdown passes of 54, 66, 74 and 25 yards, and ran 55 yards for a touchdown for the Longhorns, who rolled up a school-record 715 yards of total offense.
“The guys are older now. We’ve been in that situation ... and we’ve failed before,” Ash said. “So much of football is about morale and believing.”
Ash threw two interceptions in the second quarter and the Longhorns’ new up-tempo offense stalled before Ash connected on long touchdown passes to John Harris and Daje Johnson in the final two minutes of the first half.
In the third quarter, Ash turned a scramble into a 55-yard touchdown and passed to Malcolm Brown for a 74-yard score. After falling behind, Texas (1-0) scored 35 points on 15 snaps in an avalanche and Ash accounted for 434 total yards.
“We started off obviously slow,” Ash said. “(But) you feel that momentum shift when things start rolling. We’re a good team when that starts happening.”
Andrew McDonald was 32-of-46 passing with one touchdown, but also had two turnovers for New Mexico State (0-1), who went 1-11 last season.
Texas came into the season touting its new fast-paced offense and the new confidence displayed in training camp by Ash. Even coach Mack Brown had said his team is ready to challenge for the Big 12 title and return among the nation’s elite.
No. 1 Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10: ATLANTA — Christion Jones became the first Alabama player since at least the 1940s to have two returns for touchdowns, Vinnie Sunseri brought back an interception for another TD, and the top-ranked Crimson Tide overcame a sluggish offensive performance to beat Virginia Tech 35-10 on Saturday.
Jones scored on a 72-yard punt return less than 2 minutes into the game, then scooted loose on a kickoff for a 94-yard touchdown that led the Crimson Tide (1-0) to a win that could’ve been much tougher to start its quest for an unprecedented third straight national title.
For good measure, the junior receiver also hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to blow it open against the Hokies (0-1), who largely shut down AJ McCarron and Alabama’s highly touted offense.