College football spotlight: Florida Atlantic gets credit, just for showing up

Florida canceled its home opener against Northern Colorado, and Florida State canceled its home game against Louisiana Monroe. Miami’s game at Arkansas State was scrapped, and South Florida and Connecticut decided not to play. The game between Central Florida and Memphis was first moved from Saturday to Friday, then postponed.

All on account of Hurricane Irma, which by Saturday morning was taking dead aim at Florida’s southern coast.

Florida International played, after its game against Alcorn State was moved to Friday — and to Birmingham, Ala. And the Golden Panthers gave Butch Davis, the former Miami, North Carolina and Cleveland Browns coach, his first win in his second game since returning to college football.

The only major college football team from Florida that played Saturday was Florida Atlantic — and that almost didn’t happen even though the game was at Wisconsin.

“At one point, I thought we weren’t coming,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin told reporters after the Owls dropped a 31-14 decision to the No. 9 Badgers. “You got kids coming into the office saying, ‘Coach, I know it’s a football game, but I’m really the only one to take care of my grandma. We don’t know what’s coming.’ But there was a decision to come and play. With all those distractions, with all that stuff, I thought our guys stayed together in a difficult situation.”

Florida Atlantic kept the game competitive most of the way, even though the Badgers gained 564 yards, including 357 rushing.

“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any distractions,” said Daniel Parr, FAU’s sophomore quarterback. “We’re concerned about our families and whether they’re going to be safe or not.”

FAU stayed in Madison, Wis., after the game and had no set plan as to when it would return home. Wisconsin offered the team lodging, use of its training facilities and other aid. The Owls are scheduled to host Bethune Cookman next Saturday.

Many happy returns

Dante Pettis, a senior from JSerra High in south Orange County, established a Pac-12 Conference record with his seventh career punt return for a touchdown. His 67-yard return against Montana broke the record that had been held by DeSean Jackson of California, which Pettis tied in Washington’s opener against Rutgers, when he took a punt back 61 yards.

Pettis had one punt return for a touchdown as a freshman, two as a sophomore, two more as a junior and already has two this season.

Six for six

Lamar Jackson may or may not be college football’s best player — he won the Heisman Trophy last year — but he surely looks like the most valuable. With him, Louisville is a top-20 team. Without him? Not a chance.

The Cardinals don’t have a great defense, and when Jackson isn’t running or passing — granted, that’s not very often — even the offense can look pedestrian.

Jackson has his work cut out for him if he’s going to become only the second two-time winner of the Heisman, but he’s often to a flying start.

In Louisville’s opener against Purdue, a less-than-impressive 35-28 win, Jackson accounted for 485 yards and two touchdowns. Against North Carolina on Saturday, he was even better, passing for 393 yards and three touchdowns and running for 132 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-35 win.

That’s more than 1,000 total yards in two games, and at least one more believer.

“Lamar Jackson is every bit as good as everybody says he is and thinks he is,” North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said.

We’ll see how it goes from here. Next on the schedule: No. 3 Clemson.

Oh shush

When you’re not used to winning a bunch, and then all of a sudden you do, sometimes things get a little weird.

Witness what happened in the end zone at the conclusion of a 74-yard touchdown run by Ty Johnson of Maryland in the first quarter of a game against overmatched Towson.

Johnson had just finished a sprint down the left sideline, and given the Terrapins a three-touchdown lead less than nine minutes into the game, when he celebrated with an oft-seen move: He raised one of his index fingers in front of his helmet and gave the crowd a “Shhh.”

Maryland’s home crowd.

Defense gets offensive

Michigan’s offense hasn’t really hit stride, though the No. 8 Wolverines are 2-0. A 36-14 victory over Cincinnati was marred by two turnovers and seven penalties, and Michigan’s offense has only four touchdowns in two games.

No worries, though, because the Wolverines’ defense has three touchdowns — two interception returns and a fumble recovery in the end zone — plus a safety. That’s 20 points.

The offenses of Michigan’s opponents, Cincinnati and Florida, have scored 17 points — and that includes the extra points.

Up and down Brown

Oh, the highs and lows of college football. Anthony Brown of Boston College has been a college player for two games and experienced both.

Last week, Brown became the first Eagles quarterback to win an opener as a freshman, something future NFL quarterbacks Doug Flutie, Glenn Foley and Matt Ryan failed to do.

This week, he had three passes intercepted, which were among four turnovers Wake Forest converted into 21 points on its way to a 34-10 win.

Numbers game

Pittsburgh ran 86 plays to Penn State’s 52, had the ball 38 minutes 20 seconds compared to 21:40, and outgained the Nittany Lions, 342-312. And lost, 33-14.

Two of Penn State’s scoring drives lasted about two and a half minutes. The others were one play, eight yards — set up by a 42-yard return when a Max Browne pass was intercepted — and one play, 46 yards.

Extra points

Colorado has won the coin flip in 15 of its last 16 games. … Mike Riley now has a record of 1-7 at Autzen Stadium after Nebraska’s second-half rally fell short in a 42-35 loss at Oregon. The first six losses came when he was coach at Oregon State. The Ducks’ win snapped a five-game winning streak in the series by the Cornhuskers. … Alabama under Nick Saban is nothing if not consistent. In home openers in Saban’s first 10 years, the Crimson Tide dispatched overmatched opponents by an average score of 39-7. The score against Fresno State: 41-10. … Duke quarterback Daniel Jones had the nation’s longest streak without an interception end at 202 on his fifth pass against Northwestern. He finished with 305 yards passing, 108 yards rushing and having accounted for four touchdowns in a 41-17 win. … Eastern Michigan’s 16-13 win over Rutgers was the Eagles’ first in 39 games against Big Ten Conference teams and first in 59 games against teams from Power 5 conferences.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeHiserman

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