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.
The Tide had just 97 yards total offense at halftime but were up 28-10. McCarron & Co. contributed only one of those TDs, and that came when they worked with a short field after a wobbly Virginia Tech punt.
Sunseri stymied a brief bit of momentum Virginia Tech had after Trey Edmunds broke off a 77-yard touchdown run, cutting Alabama's early lead to 14-7. The Hokies held on defense, but Logan Thomas telegraphed a pass over the middle, Sunseri stepped in to make the pick and, without breaking stride, took it all the way to the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown.
Virginia Tech's last glimmer of hope faded after Cody Journell booted a 39-yard field goal late in the first half. On the ensuing kickoff, Jones appeared to be stopped short of his own 30. Then, suddenly, he burst out from a pack of would-be tacklers and was gone. The return left Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer — whose program was long known for its stellar special teams — waving his cap and shaking his head in disgust.
Alabama finally put together an impressive offensive series late in the third quarter, capped by McCarron's scoring pass to Jones. Still, the Tide managed just 206 yards on offense, far shy of its 445.5-yard average last season.
McCarron was photographed arriving in Atlanta wearing a boot on his right foot, reportedly because of an ingrown toenail, and he looked a bit off after being the nation's top-rated passer last season. There was an interception — he had only three all of last season — and also a penalty for intentional grounding. He finished 10-of-23 for 110 yards.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 75 yards on 17 carries, but the Tide finished with just 96 yards on the ground.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Second-ranked Ohio State got off to a quick start. After that, it was a bit scary.
Braxton Miller threw two touchdown passes before fighting leg cramps and Jordan Hall ran for two more scores to lead the Buckeyes to a 40-20 victory over Buffalo on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
The Buckeyes, striving for a crisper start from coach Urban Meyer's debut in 2012, led 23-0 after the first quarter before the Bulls made things interesting. Joe Licata threw two TD passes and linebacker Kahlil Mack returned a Miller interception 45 yards to make it 30-20 in the third quarter.
Miller was sidelined a second time with cramps and sub Kenny Guiton promptly tossed a 21-yard TD pass to Chris Fields.
Hall had a career-high 159 yards rushing, scoring on runs of 37 and 49 yards.
Miller was 15 of 22 passing for 178 yards with TDs of 47 yards to Devin Smith and 7 yards to Chris Fields. He also ran for 77 yards on 17 attempts, although he twice went to the sideline with cramps.
Licata completed 19 of 32 passes for 185 yards and two scores with one interception, with Branden Oliver gaining 73 yards on 26 carries for the Bulls, who were playing Ohio State for the first time ever.
No. 3 Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3
EUGENE, Ore. -- Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass and ran for two additional scores and the No. 3 Oregon Ducks made easy work of lower-tier Nicholls with a 66-3 victory in the season opener on Saturday.
Mariota, who set an Oregon record with 38 touchdowns last season as a redshirt freshman, completed 12 of 21 passes for 234 yards before sitting after the third quarter when the Ducks had built a 45-3 lead.
Mariota also ran for 113 yards for his second career game with more than 100 yards rushing.
De'Anthony Thomas ran for 128 yards and two more touchdowns for Oregon in the debut of new head coach Mark Helfrich. Helfrich, the team's former offensive coordinator, was promoted when Chip Kelly left the Ducks in January for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
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. 7 Texas A&M 52, Rice 31
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel served his suspension for No. 7 Texas A&M in the first half on Saturday against Rice.
In the second half he hit the ground running — and apparently running his mouth, too — as he threw three touchdown passes and scrambled for 19 yards and the Aggies wrapped up a lopsided 52-31 win over the Owls.
He was suspended until halftime for what the school said was an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs.
His first touchdown of the season came on a 23-yard pass to Mike Evans on A&M's next drive. Manziel scrambled for eight yards on third-and-7 on the play before the score and appeared to mimic a signing motion while talking to a Rice defender after getting up from the tackle.
He drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a touchdown throw in the fourth quarter when he was jawing with the defense again and then pointed at the scoreboard. He was replaced by Matt Joeckel on A&M's last drive.
Joeckel started at quarterback for A&M and threw for 190 yards and a touchdown to help the Aggies lead 28-21 at halftime. Manziel came in on Texas A&M's first offensive play of the second half and the Aggies capped his first drive with a 44-yard field goal.
Manziel was being investigated for allegedly accepting money for autographs from memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules that could have led to a much longer suspension.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Mack Brown had a career day, Jeff Driskel was efficient and No. 10 Florida opened the season with a 24-6 victory over Toledo on Saturday.
Brown ran 25 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Driskel completed 17 of 22 passes for 153 yards and a score. And Florida's defense, which ranked fifth in the country in 2012, looked every bit as good as last year's version despite losing eight starters and its coordinator.
The Gators controlled both lines of scrimmage, opening holes for Brown and keeping steady pressure on Toledo's experienced spread offense. It was exactly the style of play Florida has become known for under third-year coach Will Muschamp. No flashiness. Few highlight-reel plays. But a win in the end. It was Florida's 24th consecutive season-opening victory, the second-longest active streak in the country. Only Nebraska (27) has a longer current run.
HOUSTON -- J.W. Walsh threw for 135 yards and ran for another 125 and a touchdown to lead the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys to a 21-3 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the Texas Kickoff Saturday.
Walsh finished 18 of 27 after relieving starter Clint Chelf on the Cowboys' third series. Jeremy Smith rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries for Oklahoma State (1-0), which piled up 432 yards on offense after struggling for most of the first half.
Tyler Russell 10 of 16 for 133 yards before being helped off the field and taken to the locker room in the third quarter after being brought down on a scramble. Dak Prescott replaced Russell, throwing for 89 yards on seven of 17 passing. LaDarius Perkins rushed for 50 yards on 16 carries and caught three passes for 52 yards for the Bulldogs (0-1).
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tommy Rees threw a pair of 32-yard touchdown passes to DaVaris Daniels, a 66-yard scoring pass to Troy Niklas and Notre Dame had three quick scoring drives en route to a 28-6 victory over Temple on Saturday.
The 14th-ranked Irish jumped to a 14-0 lead on a pair of three-play drives on its opening two possessions and appeared headed for a blowout. But when the Notre Dame offense stalled, Temple squandered a pair of scoring chances, with Jim Cooper Jr. missing a pair of field goals. An unsettled feeling settled in at Notre Dame Stadium when Kenny Harper scored on a 1-yard run to cut the lead to 14-6. The Irish regained control, however, with Niklas' TD with 43 seconds left in the half.
The victory by the Irish (1-0) was the 200th career win for coach Brian Kelly. The Owls (0-1) fell to 2-76 all-time against ranked opponents.
No. 15 Texas 56, New Mexico State 7
AUSTIN, Texas -- David Ash threw four touchdown passes and ran for another as the No. 15 Texas shook off a slow start to roll over New Mexico State, 56-7, on Saturday night.
Ash threw two interceptions in the second quarter and the Longhorns' new up-tempo offense stalled as the Aggies took a 7-0 lead. Ash then connected on touchdown passes of 54 and 66 yards to John Harris and Daje (duh-jay) 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 and finished with a school-record 715 total yards with Ash accounting for 434.
Andrew McDonald was 32-of-46 passing with one touchdown, but also had two turnovers for the Aggies (0-1), who went 1-11 last season.
No. 16 Oklahoma 34, Louisiana Monroe 0