POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 2, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. >> Marcus Mariota didn't show any signs of stage fright in his debut for the Ducks.
The redshirt freshman quarterback made his first start in a real game on Saturday, passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns in No. 5 Oregon's 57-34 season-opening victory over Arkansas State.
De'Anthony Thomas caught two touchdowns and ran for another while collecting 119 yards in total offense as the Ducks built a 50-10 lead by halftime.
Kenjon Barner, taking over as starter after the departure of running back LaMichael James, ran for 66 yards and two scores.
The Ducks sat most of their starters after the break.
The loss spoiled coach Gus Malzahn's first game as coach of the Red Wolves, who went 10-3 last season and won the Sun Belt Conference title.
Arkansas State senior quarterback Ryan Aplin threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, including a 72-yard scoring pass to Julian Jones just before the half.
Mariota, a Saint Louis alumnus, replaced Darron Thomas, who decided to leave Oregon with a year of eligibility left. Thomas passed for 2,761 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns last season when the Ducks went 10-2 and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
Mariota was on the practice squad last season and was something of a mystery because Oregon closes practices, but he beat out Bryan Bennett for the starter's job in fall camp.
The native Hawaiian had shown promise in the Ducks' spring game with a touchdown pass and two scoring runs — including one TD rush of 82 yards.
Mariota is the first freshman to start in an opener for Oregon since Danny O'Neil in 1991. He completed 18 of 22 passes.
The Ducks scored on their first drive of the game with Barner's 4-yard dash, then added the 2-point conversion to make it 8-0.
Barner, a senior, was James' backup for the past two seasons. James, the school's career leading rusher, left Oregon early for the NFL draft and was a second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers.
Mariota connected with De'Anthony Thomas with a 12-yard pass to make it 15-0.
Thomas made a splash last season when he set an Oregon freshman record with 18 touchdowns, rushing for seven, nine on receptions and two on kickoff returns.
Before the first quarter was over, John Huff pulled down a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mariota and Barner added a 17-yard scoring run to make it 29-0.
Brian Davis kicked a 43-yard field goal for the Red Wolves early in the second quarter.
Thomas scored twice, once on a 12-yard pass from Mariota and then on a 33-yard run to make it 43-3, and there was still 10:45 left in the half. True freshman Byron Marshall added a 3-yard TD run for the Ducks.
Aplin passed to Jones, who ran down the right side to close the gap a bit with 3:20 left in the half, before Davis opened the third quarter with a 29-yard field goal.
No. 3 LSU 41, North Texas 14
BATON ROUGE, La. >> Kenny Hilliard rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and the Tigers rolled to an easy victory.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was briefly sidelined by a vicious sack, was 19-for-26 for 192 yards, an interception and a touchdown. But LSU didn’t really need to throw in a game decided by its overwhelming defense and a running game that accounted for 316 yards, including 123 by Alfred Blue.
No. 4 Oklahoma 24,Texas-El Paso 7
EL PASO, Texas >> Landry Jones threw two touchdown passes and Damien Williams ran 65 yards for another score in the fourth quarter, helping the Sooners slog out a victory over the Miners.
Oklahoma was unable to generate much of a running game or get anything downfield.
Up just 10-7 in the fourth quarter, the Sooners stuffed UTEP on a fake punt to set up an 18-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Brannon Green and Williams sealed it late with his long run.
No. 6 Georgia 45, Buffalo 23
ATHENS, Ga. >> Freshman Todd Gurley ran for three touchdowns, Aaron Murray threw three scoring passes and the Bulldogs overcame a sloppy first half.
Gurley didn’t start but may have emerged as the Bulldogs’ future at tailback with his eight carries for 100 yards, including scoring runs of 10 and 55 yards. He added a 100-yard kickoff return for a score in the first quarter.
No. 7 Florida State 69, Murray State 3
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. >> Lonnie Pryor, James Wilder Jr., and Debrale Smiley combined for seven rushing touchdowns to lead the Seminoles.
Pryor ran for three TDs, and Smiley and Wilder added two apiece. Wilder finished with 106 yards rushing.
Florida State scored on their first touch of the season on Rashad Greene’s 47-yard punt return just 89 seconds into the game.
No. 10 Arkansas 49, Jacksonville State 24
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. >> Tyler Wilson set the school record for yards passing in a season opener, finishing 19-for-27 passing for 367 yards and three touchdowns for the Razorbacks.
Two of Wilson’s touchdowns went to tight end Chris Gragg, who finished with seven catches for 110 yards.
Brandon Mitchell, the former backup quarterback turned starting receiver, joined in the fun with four catches for 122 yards.
No. 11 West Virginia 69, Marshall 34
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. >> Geno Smith threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers past the Thundering Herd.
Smith completed 32 of 36 passes before sitting out most of the fourth quarter.
The Mountaineers compiled 655 total yards. Shawne Alston rushed for 123 yards and two scores.
No. 12 Wisconsin 26, Northern Illinois 21
MADISON, Wis. >> Montee Ball rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and the Badgers needed a big defensive play to survive.
Leading 26-7 in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin allowed Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen to throw a pair of long touchdowns to David Johnson. With the Panthers facing fourth and 1 at the Wisconsin 41-yard line, defensive lineman Ethan Hemer tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage to stop the drive.