With Cam Newton, Nick Fairly and a slew of other key players from last year's national championship team having moved on, it was expected that Auburn would have a tough time following up its undefeated season with another title run.
Beating Utah State, however, wasn't supposed to be this tough for the Tigers.
Auburn needed a successful onside kick and two touchdowns in the last 127 seconds to avoid a major upset to start the season.
The Aggies, led by freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton, outgained the Tigers 448-364 and ran for 227 yards. (See additional details below.)
The other big story on the first Saturday of the season was the weather.
A band of powerful thunderstorms caused games to be delayed and stadiums evacuated at South Bend, Ind., Iowa City and Ann Arbor, Mich.
The biggest games of the day came later.
No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU squared off at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and No. 5 Boise State played No. 19 Georgia at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
No. 2 Alabama 48, Kent State 7
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - AJ McCarron stepped up in Alabama's quarterback race, throwing for a touchdown and 226 yards for the Crimson Tide.
Vying with Phillip Sims to replace Greg McElroy, McCarron had a 24-yard scoring toss to Marquis Maze and finished 14-of-23 passing.
McCarron was hardly perfect, throwing two interceptions. Sims also threw two interceptions - one that set up Kent State's score - and finished 7 of 14 for 73 yards.
Starting in place of departed Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson scored three touchdowns and ran for 37 yards.
The season-opener was the first game in Tuscaloosa since a deadly tornado swept through town, and the school honored police, firefighters and other first responders during a pregame ceremony that included Gov. Robert Bentley. The stadium was still during a moment of silence to remember tornado victims; fans in the upper seats could see the trail of destruction in the distance.
No. 6 Florida State 34, Louisiana-Monroe 0
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - EJ Manuel threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns and backup quarterback Clint Trickett threw a touchdown pass on his first college play for Florida State.
Florida State's swarming defense limited ULM to 191 yards and 12 first downs.
ULM (0-1) got to Florida State's 28 - its deepest penetration in the game - in the opening minute of the fourth quarter before quarterback Colton Browning was dropped for a on a fourth-and-1. The Warhawks managed to reach Seminole territory just once in the first half reaching the 44 before having to punt.
Florida State (1-0) led 17-0 at halftime and built its advantage to 27-0 before Manuel gave way to Trickett.
No. 7 Stanford 57, San Jose State 3
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Andrew Luck threw two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead Stanford.
The Heisman Trophy runner-up completed 17 of 26 passes for 171 yards and looked every bit the player many believe will take home college football's most famous award this season. He connected with seven different receivers and showed no signs of slipping under new coach David Shaw.
Stepfan Taylor ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns and Chris Owusu caught seven passes for 76 yards for the Cardinal, who pounced on their South Bay rival from the start. San Jose State last beat Stanford in 2006, and the Silicon Valley series has been all Cardinal since.
No. 10 Nebraska 40, Chattanooga 7
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Taylor Martinez ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns out of Nebraska's new no-huddle offense and the Cornhuskers won their first game as Big Ten members.
Rex Burkhead added 75 yards and a touchdown as the Cornhuskers won their 26th consecutive opener, the longest streak in the nation.
Martinez scored on runs of 7, 43 and 47 yards and completed 11 of 22 passes for 116 yards before giving way to Brion Carnes in the fourth quarter.
The Mocs of the Football Championship Subdivision scored their only points when Marlon Anthony caught a 13-yard pass from B.J. Coleman after cornerback Andrew Green fell.
Martinez, who matched his career high with 19 carries, scored his first touchdowns in nine games. It was the fourth time in his 14 career games that he had at least three TD runs.
No. 15 Arkansas 51, Missouri State 7
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Tyler Wilson threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Jarius Wright, Joe Adams tied a Southeastern Conference record with two punt returns for touchdowns in the Razorbacks' win.
Wilson, who served as Ryan Mallett's backup the past two seasons, led the Razorbacks (1-0) to scores in each of his four possessions - including 33- and 29-yard touchdown strikes to Wright. The junior guided Arkansas to 303 yards of total offense in four possessions.
Adams had only one catch for 11 yards, but the senior returned punts 61 and 78 yards. The returns were the second and third of Adams' career, with his last a 97-yarder against Mississippi last season.
The Bears (0-1), who started freshman Kierra Harris at quarterback in place of suspended starter Trevor Wooden, gained just 18 yards of offense in the first half.
South Florida 23, No. 16 Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Kayvon Webster returned a fumble 96 yards for an early touchdown as South Florida beat Notre Dame in a game disrupted for hours because of storms.
The victory gave Skip Holtz an emotional victory in his return to Notre Dame, where he went to school and his dad Lou led the Irish to their last national title in 1988.
Webster's long return for a score four minutes into the game took all the momentum from the Irish and they couldn't recover. It came after Notre Dame had taken the opening kickoff and drove to the USF 1.
What followed was a nightmare first half that included two fumbles, a costly holding penalty that nullified a Cierre Wood TD run and then an interception of Dayne Crist by USF's Devekeyan Lattimore in the end zone that turned the Irish away.
Maikon Bonani kicked three field goals and the Bulls had a 16-0 halftime lead.
Tommy Rees played quarterback in the second half for Notre Dame, but couldn't lead the Irish all the way back.
No. 18 Ohio State 42, Akron 0
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Starting his first game at quarterback for Ohio State, Joe Bauserman ran for a touchdown and threw three TD passes to tight end Jake Stoneburner to lead the Buckeyes in a sweltering season opener.
Luke Fickell made his head-coaching debut for the Buckeyes, elevated from defensive assistant to take the place of Jim Tressel, shoved out in the wake of an ugly NCAA scandal.
Stoneburner became the first Ohio State tight end to catch three TD passes in a game.
Bauserman, starting for the first time since he was a senior in high school in Strasburg, Va., eight years ago, ran for a 15-yard score and threw TD passes of 28, 11 and 2 yards to Stoneburner.
The nearby Ohio State Medical Center reported several people were treated for heat-related illnesses.
No. 21 Missouri 17, Miami of Ohio 6
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - James Franklin ran for one touchdown and passed for the clinching score in his first career start, helping Missouri open with a victory over stubborn Miami of the MAC.
E.J. Gaines had an end zone interception for the Tigers, who whipped the RedHawks by 38 points in their final pre-Big 12 tuneup last season but had their struggles on both sides of the ball in 90-degree heat. Three of the first four possessions ended quickly with punts for an offense that averaged 30 points last season, and Miami of Ohio moved the ball with some success.
Miami had its six-game winning streak snapped under new coach Don Treadwell.
No. 22 Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - John Brantley looked comfortable in Florida's new offense, Chris Rainey scored three different ways and the Gators opened the Will Muschamp era with a win.
Brantley completed 21 of 30 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, showing marked improvement in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense. Rainey touched the ball 18 times, scoring on a 14-yard reception and a 14-yard run. He also scooped a blocked punt and sprinted 22 yards for a score.
Muschamp, admittedly anxious before his Florida debut, enjoyed a relatively stress-free night. Although the Gators ruled defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd ineligible before the game, the only other negative on this night was an injury to versatile Trey Burton.
Florida's defense dominated Florida Atlantic, a rough start for Howard Schnellenberger's retirement tour.
No. 23 Auburn 42, Utah State 38
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Mike Dyer bulled through the line for a game-saving touchdown with 30 seconds left and defending national champion Auburn escaped against Utah State.
The 23rd-ranked Tigers (1-0) scored twice in the final 2:07, just when it seemed like the Aggies (0-1) were poised for a stunning victory.
First-time starter Barrett Trotter hit Philip Lutzenkirchen for a 15-yard touchdown to start a Cam Newton-like comeback. Then wide receiver Emory Blake collected the onside kick to set up the game-winning drive. Trotter completed three passes and Onterio McCalebb had runs of 10 and 14 yards to push the ball near the goal line.
Dyer ducked his head and powered through the Utah State defenders from a yard out.
Poised freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton threw for 213 yards and ran for two touchdowns for the Aggies.
No. 25 USC 19, Minnesota 17
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Robert Woods caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns, and USC hung on to spoil Jerry Kill's coaching debut for Minnesota .
Matt Barkley completed a school-record 34 passes for 304 yards for the Trojans, who still couldn't score in the second half of their 14th consecutive season-opening victory.
Freshman quarterback Max Shortell came off the Gophers' bench in the fourth quarter and threw a 12-yard TD pass to Brandon Green with 8:03 to play, but Torin Harris intercepted his pass near midfield with 53 seconds to play.