College football opening night: Inexcusable late penalty costs Purdue

Yahoo Sports
Northwestern running back <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/266566/" data-ylk="slk:Jeremy Larkin">Jeremy Larkin</a> rushed for 143 yards in the win over Purdue. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin rushed for 143 yards in the win over Purdue. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Football is here! Twelve games took place on Thursday night to open the 2018 football season. Here’s all you need to know from opening night.

Late penalty dooms Purdue vs. Northwestern

Scroll to continue with content

After a sloppy first half, Purdue trailed Northwestern 31-17 going into the break. But the Boilermakers turned things up on defense and had a chance to potentially win the game in the final minutes — until an inexcusable penalty by defensive lineman Lorenzo Neal Jr.

Leading 31-27 with just over two minutes to go, Northwestern faced a third-and-11 inside the Purdue 40. The Wildcats handed to Jeremy Larkin for his 26th carry of the night but he was quickly swallowed up by the Purdue defense, including Neal. With multiple defenders corralling Larkin, the whistle quickly blew to end the play, but Neal inexplicably slammed Larkin to the ground.

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

That resulted in a 15-yard penalty, giving Northwestern a first down instead of having to decide on a long field goal or punting back to Purdue. It allowed the Wildcats to run the clock out and seal a season-opening road victory.

The disappointing finish put a damper on a sparkling debut from Purdue freshman wideout Rondale Moore. Moore set a program record with 313 total yards — 109 receiving, 79 rushing and 125 on kickoff returns.

[Subscribe to the Yahoo Sports College Podcast: Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle Play]

The UCF train keeps rolling

UCF picked up right where it left off in 2017. In its first game without Scott Frost, the Josh Heupel-led Knights predictably put a hurting on UConn, 56-10. Heisman trophy candidate McKenzie Milton led the way with 348 yards and five touchdowns passing. He also contributed 50 of his team’s 296 rushing yards.

The only defender who could stop Milton was the umpire:

But there was a touching moment on the UConn side, too. The school’s band honored Parkland school shooting victim Alex Schachter at halftime. For more on the tribute, click here.

Wake Forest survives Tulane’s turnover beads

A late controversial interception — one that introduced us to the turnover beads of Tulane — nearly doomed Wake Forest, but the Demon Deacons were able to hold off the Green Wave with a 23-17 overtime victory.

(via CBS Sports)
(via CBS Sports)

Minnesota dominates

Minnesota opened its season in dominant fashion. The Gophers dealt New Mexico State its second loss of the season in a 48-10 beatdown. Minnesota put up 522 yards of offense, including 153 yards from Rodney Smith and 101 yards from Mohamed Ibrahim. In his collegiate debut, walk-on freshman QB Zack Annexstad completed 16-of-33 passes for 220 yards and two scores.

But it was Antoine Winfield’s 76-yard punt return TD that was the play of the game:

Utah shakes off early rust

Things did not look good for Utah early on. The Utes inexplicably fell behind FCS Weber State 10-0 in the first quarter and trailed until midway through the second quarter. A Zack Moss 86-yard TD pass gave the Utes a lead they would never relinquish in an eventual 41-10 win.

Thursday night’s game marked the return of wideout Britain Covey after a two-year LDS mission. With six catches for 53 yards and 64 yards rushing, he did not look rusty. Watch these jukes:

Texas A&M cruises

The Aggies cruised in Jimbo Fisher’s first game as head coach. Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams had 20 carries for 240 yards and three scores while QB Kellen Mond was 17-of-25 for 184 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Taylor Cornelius ‘average at best’ in first Oklahoma State start

Taylor Cornelius made his first start and his stat line looked pretty good. He was 24-of-34 passing for 295 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Mike Gundy thinks he can do better.

Running back Justice Hill only got 10 carries but he rushed for 122 yards and a score thanks to a 93-yard scamper.

Georgia State avoids another FCS loss

Georgia State became the second FBS team to narrowly avoid losing its opener to an FCS opponent. Last week, Rice needed a last-second field goal to beat Prairie View A&M. For Georgia State, it was a Dan Ellington touchdown pass to Diondre Champaigne with 41 seconds to play that gave the Panthers a 24-20 win over Kennesaw State.

GSU trailed 14-0 in the second quarter and 20-14 entering the fourth, but was able to avoid losing to an FCS team for a second year in a row. Last year, GSU lost its opener to Tennessee State.

Other scores:

Ball State 42, Central Connecticut State 6
UAB 52, Savannah State 0
UL Monroe 34, Southeastern Louisiana 31
UC Davis 44, San Jose St. 38

More from Yahoo Sports:
Key decision rendered in Kaepernick-NFL battle
OSU trustee quits, says Meyer punishment too lenient
2012 NFL MVP responds to critics: ‘How dare you’
Ex-Steeler arrested for allegedly pulling gun on wife

What to Read Next