Winners and Losers of College Football's Opening Weekend

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2017

Winners and Losers of College Football's Opening Weekend

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Grand takeaways were in short supply, but the 2017 college football season kicked off Saturday with a five-game slate.

    The favorites recorded a victory in four of the five matchups, so there isn't a stunning result to analyze. Not every victory is the same, however. One ranked team encountered more resistance than expected, though the troubles were partly self-inflicted.

    Overall, the 10 teams in action on the opening weekend provided a handful of lessons. We highlighted the coolest moments, top performances and most noteworthy early concerns that stemmed from the first day of Football Bowl Subdivision play.

Winner: Colorado State's Balanced Play

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Colorado State celebrated its new stadium with a resounding win. After Oregon State took a 17-14 lead, the Rams scored 44 of the next 54 points—highlighted by a 34-7 second-half advantage.

    Nick Stevens threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns, while Michael Gallup caught 11 passes for 134 yards. The defense recorded five takeaways, including a game-shaping pick-six to build a 14-point edge in the third quarter.

    Heading into the season, it seemed clear Colorado State would have an explosive offense thanks to Stevens and Gallup. That connection showed up Saturday. But to truly contend in the Mountain West, the Rams need the defense to be opportunistic.

    So far, so good.

Loser: Gary Andersen's Job Approval

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    According to OddsShark, Oregon State was a 3.5-point underdog to Colorado State. Instead of keeping the score close, though, the Beavers disappeared in the second half and lost 58-27.

    "This is uncharted waters for me, to be honest with you," OSU coach Gary Andersen said following the game, per Gina Mizell of The Oregonian. "That's embarrassing."

    However, as disappointing as the loss is, that's not entirely true. The 31-point drubbing marked the sixth 30-plus-point loss of Andersen's 25-game tenure in Corvallis.

    Andersen signed a one-year contract extension during the offseason to take him through the 2021 campaign, so his job security isn't necessarily an issue yet. A few more showings like that, though, and it might be.

Winner: BYU WR Neil Pau'u

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The touchdown was a long time coming for Neil Pau'u.

    In June 2012 as a sophomore in high school, he committed to BYU. After graduating, though, he stepped away from football and fulfilled his two-year mission for the LDS Church.

    But Saturday, more than five years since that initial pledge, Pau'uthe brother of standout linebacker Butchmade his college debut. With the Cougars facing a 3rd-and-10 late in the first quarter, he caught a hitch, shook two defenders, raced toward the end zone and stretched across the plane for a 28-yard score.

    Pau'u and BYU toppled Portland State 20-6.

Loser: Those Trying to Cover John Ursua

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    John Ursua had himself a day.

    Hawaii's sophomore wideout shredded the UMass secondary to the tune of 12 catches, 272 yards and one touchdown. It was the fourth-highest receiving output in program history.

    Ursua caught a simple slant, split two defenders and raced by the Minutemen for an 85-yard score. He also tallied five other receptions of 20-plus yards, including a 52-yard catch on a late third down to set up the Warriors' go-ahead touchdown.

    He wasn't perfect overallHawaii covered up a punt Ursua mishandledbut season openers don't get much better than that.

Winner: UMass TE Adam Breneman

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    Marco Garcia/Associated Press

    Four years ago, Adam Breneman was supposed to become Christian Hackenberg's favorite target. The duo signed with Penn State as top-two prospects at their respective positions.

    However, a string of injuries stopped the tight end from securing a featured role for Penn State. Breneman eventually transferred to UMass and re-emerged on the national radar with 70 receptions, 808 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

    And Breneman picked up right where he left off.

    Despite the 38-35 loss to Hawaii, the senior caught nine passes for 179 yards. Breneman showed why he's a contender for the Mackey Award, the premier honor at the position.

Loser: The USF Hype Train

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    D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    As an enthusiastic passenger on the USF hype train, I recognize it's only right to acknowledge some concerns after the first game of the Charlie Strong era.

    The Bulls struggled mightily on special teams in the first quarter, sending the opening kickoff out of bounds, hitting an 18-yard punt and surrendering a blocked punt on another attempt.

    And the heralded offense had its share of rough moments, too. Quinton Flowers took three sacks. Before garbage time, 10 runs resulted in zero or negative yards. USF was 3-of-19 on third down, and receivers dropped a couple of would-be conversions.

    The good news? The Bulls came alive and controlled the second quarter en route to a 42-22 victory over San Jose State.

    Still, AAC competition won't be as forgiving as the Spartans. USF's pursuit of a New Year's Six bowl berth may be an eventful ride.

Winner: Stanford RB Bryce Love

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    As the understudy to eventual first-round pick Christian McCaffrey, Bryce Love had stood out as a wildly efficient reserve. The 2017 season is his time to shine, and he got right to work.

    Love took his first carry 62 yards, setting up an opening-minute touchdown for Stanford against Rice in Sydney, Australia. The junior running back scored on a 10-yard run two possessions later and topped the century mark before the first quarter ended.

    On 13 carries, Love scampered for a career-high 180 yards.

    Yes, it was only Rice. Stanford entered the tilt as a 30-point favorite, per OddsShark, and it was obvious why from the first whistle.

    But you can still be impressed with Love's performance in his first game as the full-time starter.

            

    All recruiting information via Scout. Stats from NCAA.comcfbstats.com or B/R research. Odds provided by OddsShark. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.