Labor Day weekend is celebrated as the last holiday of the summer and the beginning of the fall — which brings a new college football season.
Head coach Michael Locksley and Maryland football opened the season with a decisive 31-10 victory over Buffalo. Freshman running back Roman Hemby stole the show with seven carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Maryland junior wide receiver Rakim Jarrett hit the century mark with six receptions for 110 yards during the contest.
Big Ten teams went 11-2 this week, highlighted by statement victories and a few deflating losses. Here’s what stood out from this weekend.
Biggest surprise: Rutgers vs. Boston College
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights hit the road for a matchup with the Boston College Eagles on Saturday.
Coming into the contest, Rutgers had dropped its past 11 meetings to Boston College and hoped to end the streak in the 2022 opener.
Boston College senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec connected on two touchdowns with his favorite senior wide receiver Zay Flowers: one from 11 yards out and the other from 26 yards.
Jurkovec and Flowers’ second connection would give the Eagles an 21-12 lead in the third quarter. Jurkovec finished the game having gone 23-for-41 for 283 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Boston College kicker Jude McAtamney nailed a 33-yard field goal with just seconds remaining in the third quarter.
With fewer than eight minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles faced a steep road to take the lead. Rutgers received the ball on their own four-yard-line and would need to orchestrate a lengthy drive to take the lead.
The Scarlet Knights marched down the field with a 12-play, 96-yard drive, capped off by a 22-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Al-Shadee Salaam.
Salaam’s touchdown gave Rutgers the narrow 22-21 victory.
Statement game: No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Stars descended upon Columbus, Ohio for Saturday’s nightcap between No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 2 Ohio State.
Ohio State junior quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes struggled to unleash their highly-anticipated offense against an underrated Notre Dame defense. Stroud, a Heisman Trophy candidate, capped off a 10-play, 70-yard drive by launching a 24-yard touchdown to graduate wide receiver Xavier Johnson, giving the Buckeyes a 14-10 lead in the third quarter.
New Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman did an outstanding job with diversifying the defensive coverages to confuse Stroud, but the Buckeyes were unable to muster enough offense to swing the game in their favor.
The Buckeyes put the game away in the fourth quarter with a rushing-focused drive, led by running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams.
Both ball-carriers gained enough yards to sustain the drive, with Williams’ two-yard rushing touchdown to give Ohio State the 21-10 victory.
Upset game: Penn State vs. Purdue
Penn State opened its season with a Thursday night matchup against Purdue in front of a sellout crowd at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Although Penn State was the favorite in the matchup, many experts were picking Purdue, in large part because of the home field advantage in West Lafayette.
The two programs opened the season with an old-fashioned shootout that ultimately came down to the final quarter.
The Nittany Lions responded to a Boilermakers first-quarter field goal by scoring three touchdowns in the second.
Penn State senior quarterback Sean Clifford showed his dual-threat ability by tossing two touchdowns and running for another. Clifford’s second touchdown pass was a 67-yard strike to Brenton Strange that gave the Nittany Lions a 21-10 lead heading into halftime.
Purdue responded with a quality performance in the second half, attempting to get back into the game. Senior running back King Doerue capitalized on a red zone opportunity with a two-yard score to cut Penn State’s lead to 21-17.
The Boilermakers took the lead late into the third quarter with a 10-play, 81-yard drive that ended with senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell finding wide receiver Charlie Jones for a seven-yard touchdown. Purdue took a 24-21 lead heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was exhilarating as both teams traded scores as they looked to secure a close victory.
A few minutes in, Penn State retook the lead on a 29-yard touchdown by sophomore wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith to give them a 28-24 advantage. But, with less than nine minutes remaining in the game, Purdue made the Nittany Lions pay for a mistake.
Clifford threw a ball that sailed over its intended target and was intercepted by graduate safety Chris Jefferson. The defensive back maneuvered through potential tacklers for a 72-yard pick-six to reclaim a 31-28 lead.
The game hung in the balance with under two minutes left in regulation. Penn State marched 80 yards down the field on a drive that culminated with a game-winning 10-yard touchdown reception by sophomore running back Keyvone Lee.
The Nittany Lions won the contest, 35-31. Even though the Nittany Lions did not enter as underdogs, Thursday night’s result was one that made headlines in Big Ten, and college football, circles