If asked to describe this past weekend with only three words, “worth the wait” seems spot on.
Indeed, at long last a great nation of sports enthusiasts were able to throw off the shackles of baseball and embrace the luxurious lifestyle that comes with college football.
And along with the upsets, thrilling finishes and blowouts was a generous serving of individual feats that deserve recognition.
Regardless of which level, conference or division the young participants hail from, these are the players the combined to make Week 1 of the 2013 season a delicious and satisfying experience.
Indiana sophomore Tevin Coleman racked up 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 14 carries in the Hoosiers’ 73-35 drubbing of FCS Indiana State.
Coleman’s 169 yards were third-best in the FBS in Week 1 and only 43 yards shy of his 212 total yards as a freshman in 2012.
Senior Jordan Matthews showed a lot of heart and toughness in his 10 receptions for 178 yards and one score in Vandy’s 39-35 loss to Ole Miss.
Matthews racked up 1,323 yards receiving as a junior in 2012 and is on track to have an equally prolific senior season.
Senior Keith Smith led the nation in Week 1 with 18 tackles in the Spartans’ 24-0 shutout of FCS Sacramento State.
Smith spearheaded a SJSU defense that held the Hornets to 86 yards of rushing.
Leading the nation in passing yards in Week 1, senior Derek Carr went 52-of-73 (71 percent) for 456 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in Fresno State’s 52-51 win over Rutgers.
Carr and the high-flying Bulldogs were ultimately propelled to victory by a defensive stop when Rutgers failed to convert on a two-point conversion in overtime.
Junior Rutgers running back Paul James managed 182 yards rushing on 22 carries in the Scarlet Knights’ overtime loss to Fresno State.
James’ output ranked second in the FBS in Week 1 and eclipsed the 22 total yards he gained as a sophomore in 2012.
Senior linebacker Jairus Jones racked up two interceptions in Michigan State’s 26-13 win over Western Michigan.
Jones lateraled his first interception to Kurtis Drummond, who scrambled 22 yards for the Spartans' first score of the game.
In the top rushing performance of Week 1, Miami (Fla.) sophomore Duke Johnson gained 186 yards and scored once on 19 carries in the Hurricanes' 34-6 win over FAU.
Johnson averaged 9.8 yards per carry in the win, a full three-yards-per-carry improvement on his average of 6.8 in 2012.
Reportedly the first walk-on true freshman to start at quarterback for a BCS school, Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield dazzled in the Red Raiders' 41-23 win over SMU.
Baker went 43-of-60 (72 percent) for 413 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and one rushing touchdown in his debut for Tech.
Junior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant had two interceptions in Arizona’s 35-0 shutout of FCS Northern Arizona.
Bondurant’s 27 return yards included a 23-yard scamper for a touchdown on Northern Arizona’s first play from scrimmage in the second half.
With 159 yards and two scores on 21 carries, Jordan Hall was the top rusher in Ohio State’s 40-20 win over Buffalo.
Hall’s two touchdowns on Saturday matched his scoring output in both 2010 and 2011.
Hall’s yardage output versus Buffalo made him the No. 5 back in the FBS in Week 1.
Flying under the radar in Buffalo’s 40-20 loss to Ohio State, senior linebacker Khalil Mack led the nation with 2.5 sacks.
Mack also intercepted a Braxton Miller pass and returned it 47 yards for a Bulls touchdown in the second quarter.
One of the most accurate quarterbacks in Week 1, senior C.J. Brown completed 87 percent of his passes in Maryland’s 43-10 beat-down of FIU.
Overall, Brown went 20-of-23 for 291 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. If that wasn’t enough, he tacked on 105 yards and two more scores on 11 carries as a rusher.
As the unsung hero in Penn State’s 23-17 win over Syracuse, junior kicker Sam Ficken contributed 11 points to the Nittany Lions’ six-point win over the Orange.
Ficken was 3-of-3 on field goals (from 35, 36 and 46 yards) and 2-of-2 on extra points.
Sophomore Eli Harold registered seven tackles (three-and-a-half for a loss of 17 yards), two sacks and a forced fumble in Virginia’s 19-16 win over BYU.
The two sacks on Saturday matched Harold’s entire output as a freshman in 2012.
Another kicker who was key in his team’s victory, senior Mathew Sims contributed 12 points in Northern Illinois' 30-27 win over Iowa.
Sims was 3-of-3 on field goals, converting a 47-yarder in the first quarter, a 25-yarder in the third quarter and then nailing the 36-yard game-winner with four seconds remaining in the game.
The star in FCS Eastern Washington’s stunning 49-46 upset of No. 25 ranked Oregon State, sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams did it all.
Adams was 23-of-30 (77 percent) for 411 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions through the air and tacked on 107 yards and two more scores on 16 carries as a rusher.
Adams accounted for 36 of the Eagles’ 49 points and scored the game-winner via a two-yard run with 18 seconds on the game clock.
Despite the devastating 49-46 loss to FCS Eastern Washington, junior Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks was the No. 3 most productive receiver in the nation in Week 1.
Cooks caught 13 passes for 196 yards and two scores in the loss, giving him a healthy start in his quest to top his 1,151 yards from 2012.
Perhaps the most thrilling individual performance in Week 1, junior wide receiver Christion Jones scored 18 of Alabama’s 35 points in the Tide’s 35-10 win over Virginia Tech.
Jones got the evening started with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter and followed that up with a thrilling 94-yard kickoff return for a score in the second quarter.
If that wasn’t enough, Jones capped off his night with a 38-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, which was also Alabama’s final score of the night.
A huge contribution to Auburn’s narrow 31-24 win over Washington State, junior defensive back Robenson Therezie recorded two interceptions, seven tackles and one pass deflection.
Therezie’s first pick came in the first quarter and led to the Tigers’ first score, and the second came in the fourth quarter on a Washington State 1st-and-goal from the Auburn 8-yard line.
Second only to Fresno State’s Derek Carr in Week 1 passing yards, junior quarterback Shane Carden lit it up in East Carolina’s 52-38 win over Old Dominion.
Carden went 46-of-54 (85 percent) for 447 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. His completion percentage earned him a tie for the fourth-most accurate performance of Week 1.
The top receiver in East Carolina’s 52-38 win over Old Dominion, junior Justin Hardy’s 191 yards made him the fifth-most productive receiver in Week 1.
Hardy’s 191 yards are a career high, eclipsing the 171 yards he gained in the Pirates’ 65-59 double- overtime win over Marshall at the end of the 2012 season.
Another accurate quarterback flying under the radar in Week 1, senior Derek Thompson’s 85 percent completion rate helped propel North Texas to a 40-6 drubbing of Idaho.
Overall, Thompson went 23-of-27 (85 percent) for 349 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Leading the way in Marshall’s 52-14 beat-down of Miami (Ohio), junior quarterback Rakeem Cato went 22-of-34 for 253 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions on Saturday.
Cato was among the five FBS quarterbacks to throw for five touchdowns in Week 1. The others were Carr from Fresno State, Carden from ECU, Gary Nova from Rutgers and Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville.
Another fantastic individual performance in a disappointing loss (Southern Miss fell to Texas State 22-15), senior Rickey Bradley was the No. 4 receiver in Week 1.
Bradley caught seven passes for 193 yards in what was his FBS debut.
One of the defensive heroes in Texas State’s 22-15 win over Southern Miss, junior David Mayo registered six tackles, a single sack and two interceptions.
Both of Mayo’s interceptions came in the fourth quarter, and the timing couldn’t have been more key. The first came with Southern Miss trying to convert a 3rd-and-5 from the Texas State 5-yard line, and the second came on the Golden Eagles’ final play of the game.
Despite the 34-31 loss to Troy in overtime Blazers junior wide receiver Jamarcus Nelson was No. 2 in the nation in receiving yards in Week 1.
Not only did Nelson make 10 catches for 199 yards and two touchdowns, he also recorded 168 kick-return yards, including a 97-yard return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Senior Xavius Boyd racked up 10 tackles (three for a loss of 12 yards) and two sacks in Western Kentucky’s 35-26 win over Kentucky.
The victory marked the Hilltoppers’ second win over the Wildcats in two tries.
The star in FCS Northern Iowa’s 28-20 triumph over Iowa State, junior David Johnson accounted for all four of the Panthers touchdowns on Saturday.
Johnson rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and tacked on 41 yards and an additional two scores as a receiver.
Another four-touchdown performance came in UCLA’s 58-20 drubbing of Nevada.
In this clash it was Bruins sophomore Brett Hundley who lit up the scoreboard with two passing touchdowns and two additional scores as a rusher.
The offensive stud in Washington’s 38-6 upset of No. 19 Boise State, junior back Bishop Sankey ran for 161 yards and two scores on 25 carries.
The only other time Sankey has eclipsed 160 rushing yards came in 2012, when he ran for 189 yards in the Huskies' 21-13 win over Cal.
In what was the most fruitful defensive performance of Week 1, Northwestern junior linebacker Collin Ellis thrilled with a pair of pick-sixes in the Wildcats' 44-30 win over Cal.
Ellis’ first score came on a Golden Bears 1st-and-10 from the Northwestern 42-yard line. Ellis picked the Jared Goff pass and ran 56 yards for a score that put Northwestern back in the lead in the third quarter.
The second pick ended a Cal drive midway through the fourth quarter when Ellis loped 40 yards to make the score 36-27 Northwestern.
All in all, Ellis finished the game with two interceptions for touchdowns, three pass deflections and four tackles.
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater answered any questions as to the legitimacy of his Heisman candidacy with a five-touchdown performance in the Cardinals' 49-7 beat-down of Ohio.
Overall, Bridgewater went 23-of-28 for 355 yards, five touchdowns and one interception on Sunday night.
Junior wide receiver Paul Richardson capped off the weekend with 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Colorado's 41-27 win over Colorado State.
The performance made Richardson the most productive receiver of Week 1.
Living up to the tons of hype he received coming into the season, freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was impressive in Florida State's 41-13 triumph over Pitt on Monday night.
Winston was 25-of-27 (93 percent) for 356 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also tacked on 25 yards and an additional score as a rusher.