AUSTIN—Tyrone Swoopes scored on a lunging 6-yard touchdown run in the second overtime, giving Texas a 50-47 victory over No. 10 Notre Dame on Sunday night.The Texas quarterback broke a tackle, burst up the middle and stretched the ball across the line as the Longhorns earned a huge victory for embattled coach Charlie Strong after two losing seasons.Freshman Shane Buechele got the start over Swoopes, but the senior played a huge role in Texas’ running game with two scores and big runs that punished Notre Dame defenders in overtime.Buechele, the first freshman quarterback to start a Longhorns season opener since Bobby Layne in 1944, was impressive, with 280 yards passing and two long touchdown throws. ”I said a year ago we probably would have lost that football game because we didn’t know how to finish,” Strong said. ”You knew (Buechele) could handle it. You knew the stage wouldn’t be too big.” Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer rallied the Irish from a 31-17 deficit in the third quarter and finished with 215 yards passing and five touchdowns.Texas went ahead 37-35 on D’Onte Foreman’s 18-yard touchdown run before Notre Dame blocked the extra point and Shaun Crawford returned it for 2-point score that tied it at 37 with just under 4 minutes left.Notre Dame: Coach Brian Kelly will have to consider scrapping the quarterback rotation between Kizer and Malik Zaire that sapped all momentum and helped dig the Irish into a big hole. Kizer was the only quarterback to move the Irish whether it was passing or throwing and Zaire played only one series of the second half. ”No final decision has been made,” Kelly said. ”It’s never easy playing two quarterbacks.” Texas: A huge win for Strong, who is fighting for his job with a new quarterback and a new offense. ”We needed tonight to get this program back in the spotlight,” Strong said. ”I know one game does not make a season. We have many more to go. But it’s a great start.” It’s been said time and again in recent years, but the Longhorns sure look as if they’ve got their quarterback, despite a sputtering second half. Buechele was deadly accurate on his deep throws early, and had the presence to speed the snap when the Notre Dame defense was struggling, and had the poise the throw away to avoid sacks.His only big mistake was a third quarter interception that set up a Kizer touchdown run in the Notre Dame rally.
CHAMPAIGN—Lovie Smith has made no secret that Illinois’ defense was the strength of the team.On Saturday, the Illini proved him right, rolling up six sacks and pulling in a pair of decisive early interceptions in a 52-3 win over Murray State.Quarterback KD Humphries threw the two interceptions on the Racers’ first two drives, and both led to Wes Lunt touchdown passes and an early 14-0 Illini (1-0) lead. ”It’s critical, it’s (a) winning edge,” said Smith, who was coaching his first game at Illinois and first game as a college head coach. ”A lot of guys talk about it, but our guys believe in it, and that’s the first step: to get people to buy into it.” Illinois crushed the Racers’ run game, limiting Murray State to -10 yards on 26 carries.Murray State coach Mitch Stewart said he did not believe his team was overwhelmed by the idea of playing a Big Ten school, or facing a coaching staff led by a coach who led the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ”I forgot my phone before the game, I was going to get a selfie with (Smith),” Stewart joked. With Illinois’ defense keeping Murray State (0-1) in check, Illini quarterback Wes Lunt threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns heading to the bench in the third quarter.Kendrick Foster also ran for a pair of 56-yard touchdowns for Illinois. He carried the ball just four times for 118 yards.A year ago the Illini had just seen coach Tim Beckman fired, and Smith became their third coach in less than a year after Beckman-replacement Bill Cubit was fired.Smith said the win, no matter the opponent, meant a lot to the team . ”We’re going to enjoy wins, period, no matter who it’s against,” Smith said. ”But we realize it’s one, and tomorrow we’ll be right back at it.” Illinois showed it can force turnovers, as Smith preaches, and turn them into points. And it’s clear the Illini have some big-play capability. But even with 287 rushing yards, Illinois never really opened the holes in the Murray State defense Smith has said he wants to see for starting tailback Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The sophomore finished with 49 yards on 17 carries. And tougher opposition is on the way in North Carolina and Western Michigan before the Big Ten opener against Nebraska.
LARAMIE—Josh Allen eluded three would-be tacklers on a wild touchdown scramble from 7 yards out in the third overtime to lift Wyoming to a 40-34 win over Northern Illinois in a game that began nearly two hours late Saturday night due to thunderstorms and ended early Sunday morning.Christian Hagan missed a 38-yard field goal wide left at the start of the third overtime for Northern Illinois (0-1).Brian Hill finished with 125 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a 5-yarder in the second overtime for Wyoming (1-0). The junior, who was the 8th-leading rusher in the FBS last year, went over 100 yards for the 12th time in his career. Drew Hare’s 1-yard scoring run for NIU forced a third overtime.At the start of the first overtime, Hare fumbled the snap on 3rd and goal from the 2 and Wyoming’s Logan Wilson recovered.Allen’s 2-yard scoring toss to Jacob Hollister snapped a 20-all tie late in the third quarter, but Hare led the Huskies on a 77-yard drive, converting a fourth-and-10 before hitting wide-open Shane Wimann for a 19-yard touchdown with 1:13 left in the regulation.Wyoming freshman Cooper Rothe missed a 48-yard field goal at the end of regulation and 37-yarder at the end of the first overtime.
EVANSTON—Northwestern’s chances of a decent season came to an end in their opener as they showed that 1)they have a lousy defense, and 2)their longtime problems with MID American Conf teams continued with Western Michigan pulling off a 22-21 upset. Justin Jackson scored all three NU touchdowns, the first on a 1 yard run around left end on a fourth down, and after a 46 yd TD run, and sneak with 12:13 left.The difference might have been when the Cats converted a 2 point conversion, but it was called back for abn illegal man downfield. They then settled for a Jack Mitchell 1 point kick instead. That was the difference. The Broncos got a one yard run by Jamuri Bogan with 5:38 to go, also on a fourth down in which he scored by less than a foot. NU drove to the Broncos 5 with 3 minutes to go, but QB Clayton Thorson on a keeper, fumbled into the endzone, and it went out for touchback.NU Fans pretty much knew the Cats would not get the ball again, and that defense could not stop WMU.
NOTES—NU hosts Illinois State next week, but this loss was a crusher to start the season.
CLEVELAND—Ka’Deem Carey scored on a 1-yard run in the first half, rookie Jordan Howard had a 16-yard TD run and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals as the Bears (1-3) avoided a winless preseason with their 21-7 win over the Cleveland Browns.The Browns, who ended a tumultuous few days with a performance that did little to excite their fans or provide much hope this season won’t be like so many previous ones.In the closing minutes, Jackson pulled Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas and star cornerback Joe Haden close on the sideline and told them what he expected going forward. ”Because it’s time,” Jackson said, explaining the meeting. ”The grind starts now, what it’s truly all about starts next Sunday in Philadelphia. I want them to understand it’s going to take work. It’s going to take their leadership, their ability to rally their teammates to do what we need to do. We’re going to Philadelphia and we expect to win the game.” Time’s up for the Browns, who look as if they could use another preseason game – or two – this summer.With the season opener against Philadelphia 10 days away, Cleveland played its offensive starters the entire first quarter, but only managed a short touchdown drive against Bears backups on Thursday night. Quarterback Robert Griffin III led Cleveland to its TD following a fumbled punt as the Browns’ starting offense ended the preseason on a positive note before getting ready to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept 11. ”The preseason is over,” said first-year coach Hue Jackson, who decided to play his starters after a dismal game in Tampa last week. ”The season is here. Obviously, we would like to finish a little better.” Isaiah Crowell had a 4-yard TD for the Browns (0-4), who left Griffin and the other offensive starters on the field for three series. RG3, attempting to revive his career in Cleveland after an ugly departure from Washington, went 4 of 8 for 31 yards.Griffin’s night would have been over after the second possession, but the Bears fumbled a punt, giving Cleveland the ball at the Bears 18. He threw two incompletions in the end zone before Crowell squirted in on third down to give the Browns a 7-3 lead. ”Now we’re able to focus on what we do best,” Griffin said. ”It’s real. It’s about wins and losses now.” Unlike Jackson, Bears coach John Fox rested his starters, allowing him to get a longer look at some of the players fighting for roster spots.Brian Hoyer seems to have nailed down tha Bears No. 2 QB job behind Jay Cutler. The former Browns starter finished his preseason by going 12 of 16 for 112 yards. He only had one starter with him on offense – wide receiver Kevin White, who had four catches for 57 yards.It was a major step for White, who missed his rookie season with a broken leg. ”We felt like we needed another good outing and felt like he delivered,” Fox said ”This game is about confidence and experiences. He hasn’t had a lot of them. He’s shown flashes, but he needed some more playing time and I thought he did well.” Browns WR Josh Gordon had three catches for 29 yards in his final game before beginning a four-game drug suspension
NOTES—Bears OLB Leonard Floyd, the No. 9 overall pick, was one of three rookies to start. Floyd appeared to get poked in the eye during the second quarter…..Bears: WR Cameron Meredith caught six passes for 46 yards and may have secured a backup spot behind White and Alshon Jeffery…..Bears DE Cornelius Washington and LB Danny Mason sustained knee injuries in the first half and didn’t return.