Week 1 winners and losers: Ohio State, N.C. State and Josh Heupel make splash

The first Thursday of the 2021 college football season included a buffet of games featuring teams from four of the five major conferences along with one of the highest-profile Group of Five games of the year.

After an extended lightning delay, Central Florida hosted Boise State in the sort of matchup that may linger into December and influence how the College Football Playoff selection committee fills out the New Year’s Six bowls.

Thursday night also saw the debut of Tennessee coach Josh Heupel, our first look at heavy Big Ten favorite Ohio State — it wasn’t always easy for the Buckeyes — and a glimpse of Utah, a dark horse in the Pac-12.

Here are the winners and losers as Week 1 got underway:

WINNERS
Ohio State

The lesson for Ohio State can be shared with Alabama and Clemson. It’s not so easy to roll out of bed with a first-year starting quarterback and go up against a quality opponent without a hiccup along the way. For the Buckeyes, the starting debut of C.J. Stroud was an early struggle: OSU beat Minnesota 45-31 but trailed twice, including a 21-17 deficit more than midway through the third quarter. Stroud, the replacement for Justin Fields, rebounded from a sluggish start to go for 294 yards and four scores, though his receivers did most of the heavy lifting. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide and new quarterback Bryce Young get ready for a Week 1 matchup with Miami, while Clemson and DJ Uiagalelei do the same with Georgia.

 

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