For complete results from the weekend in college football, check out Sports on Earth's scoreboard.
Sports on Earth Saturday stories: Dawgs have their day in South Bend | Shake & Baker! Sooners get revenge | Trojans live up to preseason billing | How to lose 87 yards in one play | Clemson defense pounces on Auburn | Heisman repeat? Jackson starts fast
1. Star quarterbacks grab the spotlight
Entering the season, three quarterbacks stood out above the rest, based on college performance: Louisville's Lamar Jackson, the defending Heisman Trophy winner; Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, a two-time top-four Heisman finisher; and USC's Sam Darnold, the preseason Heisman favorite. They all had fantastic 2016 seasons, and they all had high hopes of duplicating what they accomplished, and then some.
On Saturday, at least, they all delivered big-time performances to step to the forefront of the national conversation again.
Jackson's game against North Carolina was the most low-profile -- UNC's opening loss to Cal in Week 1 didn't help -- but he was nevertheless at his best in leading the No. 17 Cardinals to a 47-35 win in which he accounted for 525 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. Last year, Jackson's Heisman campaign took off in Week 2 at Syracuse, when he had 610 total yards and five TD on a Friday night. In another conference road game against an overmatched defense in Week 2, Jackson had his second-highest yardage total, throwing for 393 yards and rushing for 132 yards in a masterful performance to set the stage for the big Week 3 showdown vs. Clemson.
Jackson showed that his Heisman-worthy performances are hardly a thing of the past. With that standard set in the afternoon, Mayfield and Darnold tried to deliver their own Heisman performances in bigger games at night.
In one of the biggest nonconference games of the season, No. 5 Oklahoma visited No. 2 Ohio State with revenge on its mind after getting run off the field by the Buckeyes at home last year. Mayfield and the Sooners got all the revenge they wanted, shrugging off missed opportunities in the first half to pummel Ohio State 31-16 in the Horseshoe. Despite facing an absurdly talented Buckeyes defensive line, Mayfield was his usual self, escaping pressure and making big plays on the move. He hit 27 of 35 passes for 386 yards and three TDs, yet another efficient and explosive passing performance, in perhaps the biggest game of his career. He celebrated by planting an Oklahoma flag at midfield:
Finally, Darnold faced what seemed to be a difficult home matchup with Stanford, which has owned the series with the Trojans recently. Darnold threw two picks, but he completed his first 11 passes to lead No. 6 USC to its 11th straight victory, 42-24 over the No. 14 Cardinal. Darnold went 21-for-26 for 316 yards and four touchdowns, burning Stanford with a top-five-draft-pick performance.
2. Clemson, Georgia defenses take down young QBs
Potential breakout players at quarterback didn't fare anywhere near as well in big games as the proven standouts at the position. Notre Dame and Auburn entered this season with high hopes for Brandon Wimbush and Jarrett Stidham, respectively, and one or both very well might meet those expectations over the course of the season. They're talented players with high upside. They just happened to run into two brutal Week 2 matchups that ended in losses for their teams.
Auburn hopes that Stidham can fix its passing game, but the Baylor transfer could barely get off a pass in Death Valley. No. 3 Clemson beat No. 13 Auburn 14-6 in a game in which Stidham was sacked 11 times. Auburn had five more sacks allowed than points scored, as Stidham went 13 of 24 for 79 yards, getting no help against a fantastic Clemson defense.
Wimbush made his second start for the No. 24 Fighting Irish at home against No. 15 Georgia, owner of an experienced defense poised to make a leap forward in Kirby Smart's second year as head coach. Perhaps we shouldn't have strong reactions to wins over Notre Dame -- it did go 4-8 last season, after all -- but it was nevertheless an excellent performance from the Bulldogs defense, which held Notre Dame to 3-for-17 on third down, 266 total yards and 3.5 yards per play. Wimbush completed just 19 of 39 for 211 yards (5.4 per attempt) and had 16 rushes for one yard after rushing for 106 yards in the opening blowout of Temple. The 20-19 Georgia win was sealed when Davin Bellamy hit Wimbush from behind, jarring the ball loose for a fumble recovered by the Bulldogs' Lorenzo Carter.
3. Strange late-night Pac-12 football delivers again
In addition to boasting four games between ranked teams all going on in prime time, the Week 2 college football schedule offered a full late-night schedule featuring five games involving Power Five teams:
- Minnesota blew out Oregon State 48-14 on the road despite throwing only eight passes in P.J. Fleck's second game as head coach.
- Utah beat rival BYU 19-13 in a game in which it out-gained the Cougars 430 to 230.
- San Diego State earned a win over a Pac-12 opponent, Arizona State, on the road by a 30-20 score, getting 216 rushing yards from Rashaad Penny.
- Houston made its 2017 debut by beating a Pac-12 opponent, Arizona, on the road by a 19-16 score despite getting only a safety in the second half.
The late-night/early-morning hours, however, belonged to No. 20 Washington State and Boise State, which seemed fitting after Mike Leach's press conference involving Bigfoot and aliens earlier in the week. The game featured four quarterbacks, seven turnovers, a Wazzu comeback from down 21 points in the fourth quarter, a fumbled punt that bounced off a Broncos' player's head and three overtimes.
Star Cougars QB Luke Falk set the school record for career passing yards, then was bizarrely benched before returning and exiting the game with an injury. Boise State QB Brett Rypien also left the game with an injury and was relieved by Kansas transfer Montell Cozart. Rypien and Cozart combined to go 19 of 28 for 237 yards, two TDs and a pick, and Cozart added 72 rushing yards and a TD. Washington State's Falk and Tyler Hilinski went 49 of 67 for 433 yards, three TDs and two INTs.
Boise State led 31-10 with under 10 minutes left after a 47-yard TD pass and a 55-yard fumble return TD. But Wazzu scored three late TDs, including a pick-six and a six-yard Hilinski pass after the botched punt return. The marathon finally ended when Jamal Morrow dived for the goal line for a 22-yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 47-44 win in a game in which they didn't score an offensive touchdown until seven minutes into the fourth quarter.
4. Big Ten rivalries provide early intrigue
Two intrastate nonconference rivalries involving Big Ten teams were among the afternoon's biggest stories.
Pitt visited No. 4 Penn State for the first time since 1999, and the Nittany Lions earned some revenge for last year's defeat, winning 33-14. It was a bizarre game in which Pitt out-gained Penn State by 30 yards but did so on 34 more plays. Penn State jumped out to a 14-0 lead early, and while Pitt controlled possession for nearly two-thirds of the game, the Lions' lead was never in danger.
Afterward, coach James Franklin -- who emphasizes every week that his team's focus is solely on the game at hand and tries not to elevate any opponent above the other -- threw what couldn't help but be interpreted as a rivalry shot at the Panthers. (Penn State beat Akron, 52-0, in Week 1.)
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Iowa-Iowa State proved to be a classic in the rivalry in Matt Campbell's second year as coach of the Cyclones. In his first year, Campbell lost to Iowa 42-3. This year, that humiliation turned into heartbreak in a game that became a surprisingly high-scoring affair.
Iowa State led by as much as 10 in the fourth quarter. After throwing a bad interception, its defense got a stand to hold Iowa to a field goal, and then Jacob Park threw a 74-yard TD pass to Hakeem Butler. But Iowa followed with a spectacular 46-yard Akrum Wadley touchdown to force overtime. There, the Cyclones settled for a field goal, and Iowa won 44-41 on a five-yard pass from Nathan Stanley to Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
5. Nebraska couldn't quite copy UCLA
For a while on Saturday, years of Nebraska angst appeared to be heading toward a new low. Playing at Oregon, which went 4-8 last year, the Cornhuskers -- under new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco -- surrendered 42 first-half points to trail by 28 going into halftime. It wasn't quite the 34-point deficit that Josh Rosen and the Bruins faced late in the third quarter against Texas A&M last week, but six days later, it couldn't help but have a similar feel.
Stanley Morgan caught two touchdowns from Tanner Lee early in the third quarter to trim the Oregon lead to 42-28, but even though they didn't score the entire second half, the Ducks mostly clamped down, giving up one last TD with 2:47 left to win 42-35. Despite the scoreless second half, the Ducks still scored 42 points and had 566 total yards, with QB Justin Herbert throwing for 365 and RB Royce Freeman rushing for 153. Oregon showed that it has plenty of lingering holes, but new coach Willie Taggart earned what goes down as a solid seven-point nonconference win over a Big Ten foe to move to 2-0 at the start of his tenure.