Morning Playbook – Gamecocks survive SEC opener

South Carolina is breathing a sigh of relief. The Mike Leach reconstruction process at Washington State still has a long way to go. Todd Graham's high octane offense was in fifth gear at Arizona State and we had a triple overtime game going late in to the night. Throw in a couple of FCS upsets over FBS squads and we had a pretty good mix to kick off the 2012 college football season Thursday night!

South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13 [Recap] – It took some time to get things together for the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks but Marcus Lattimore eventually hit his stride and quarterback Connor Shaw kept ticking after taking a licking. Shaw had to leave the game with a shoulder injury but he rushed his way back to the field and gave the Gamecocks what might have been an emotional boost as the SEC East favorites were able to rally against a Vanderbilt team unable to capitalize on great field position and scoring opportunities all game long.

While we expected Vanderbilt to give the Gamecocks some trouble in the season opener, it looks clear that South Carolina's offensive line has some work to do if they want to fulfill division aspirations this season. Not only did Shaw take some good hits, but so did Lattimore. There will also be a debate on whether or not the Commodores were victims of a missed pass interference call late in the game. What do you think?

More after the jump…

BYU 30, Washington State 6 [Recap] – Washington State has plenty to look forward to under new head coach Mike Leach, but last night's season opener against BYU showed that the reclamation project is not an overnight job. BYU certainly looked solid out of the gates last night, but Washington State also looked pretty bad as well. Regardless, the BYU Cougars showed that they will be a tough opponent for anyone on their schedule this season, and they should be pretty fun to watch as well. Maybe this independence thing will survive afterall? Well, let's just wait and see.

UCLA 49, Rice 24 – Jim Mora's UCLA debut ended up being a solid victory over Rice, but it certainly was not pretty early on. The Bruins and Owls played a back-and-forth first half, going in to the halftime break with UCLA leading 35-24. The Bruins then made some adjustments and clamped down on defense, shutting out Rice in the second half and adding a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away. UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin is now your national rushing leader after rushing for 214 yards and three touchdowns.

Minnesota 30, UNLV 27 (3 OT) – you can be forgiven for not staying up for this one. Minnesota and UNLV kicked off at 11 pm ET and ended up playing triple overtime. If you stayed up to watch this entire game, then consider yourself the hardest of hard core college football fans. Tied at 13-13 after regulation, the Gophers scored two touchdowns on their first two overtime possessions but failed to keep UNLV out of the endzone as well. A field goal would be the winning score on the third possession of overtime.

Central Florida 56, Akron 14 – This was not the Akron debut that Terry Bowden was hoping for, to say the least. The visiting Golden Knights put up 35 first-half points with a huge second quarter and were on their way to an easy season opening victory against woeful Akron, spoiling the Zips debut of Bowden.

Connecticut 37, Massachusetts 0 – Old rivals were reunited but it didn't feel so good for the Minutemen. Making their FBS debut, UMass struggled to do anything against UConn, and I mean anything. UMass finished the night with just 59 total yards of offense, 56 of them coming through the air. UMass will hope to follow a similar path to transitioning to the FBS that UConn did years ago. Thursday night showed just how far they have to go. But hey, their uniforms wee pretty snazzy.

F-C-S! F-C-S! Former SMU quarterback Kyle Padron helped lead FCS Eastern Washington to a 20-3 victory at Idaho. The Vandals struck first with a first quarter field goal but it was all Eastern Washington from there. The visiting Eagles out-gained Idaho 412-237 as Padron passed for 260 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Eagles the lead for good. Meanwhile in Tennessee it was McNeese State edging Middle Tennessee 27-21. The Blue Raiders trailed heading in the the fourth quarter 24-6, which was too big a hole to dig out of after giving up nearly 300 rushing yards (298) and turning the football over three times (McNeese State never turned it over). These were not Appalachian State-Michigan type of upsets of course. In fact, you could have made a decent case that these results should have been expected.

Not everybody had trouble with FCS opposition, though. Utah dismantled Northern Colorado 41-0. Kent State jumped on a pretty good Towson team early and held off any sort of rally in a 41-21 victory. New Mexico State put away Sacramento State, 49-19, and Utah State opened with a 34-3 win over Southern Utah.

Video of the Day

The bizarre play of the night goes to Kent State's Andre Parker, who returned a tipped punt return 58 yards… the wrong way. Of course, what Towson's special teams was thinking seeing a Kent State player running with the football heading toward the wrong end zone is another issue.

Of course, none of this mattered anyway because the ball was ruled a dead ball. But hey, it's fun to watch anyway.

College football's opening weekend continues tonight with Boise State traveling to Michigan State and the post-Andrew Luck era getting underway at Stanford. In Atlanta Derek Dooley and Tennessee look to get off to a good start against N.C. State and in Philadelphia the annual Mayor's Cup will be held, perhaps, for the final time between city rivals Tempe and Villanova. Then it is on to the first Saturday game day of the year.

If Thursday was any indication of what is to come… Whew!

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About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.