Prior to Saturday if you were told Tennessee backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton would be in the Vols' game against Cal with six minutes left in the third quarter, you'd think something had gone horribly wrong for UT.
It turned out to be the opposite. Tennessee's maligned starting quarterback Erik Ainge and the Volunteers led 35-0 in the third quarter. For the first time in a long time, Ainge was sent to the bench with a smile on his face as he helped erase the bad memories of a 5-6 season in 2005.
Here are college football's top performances from Week 1:
Rivals.com Week 1 Top Performers
1. Erik Ainge, Tennessee quarterback The numbers: 11-of-17 passing, 291 yards, four touchdowns, one interception The result: Tennessee 35, Cal 18
Without another quarterback looking over his shoulder, Ainge thrived against No. 9 Cal and showed the Volunteers will be in good hands at quarterback. Robert Meachem helped him out by turning a couple of short passes into long touchdowns, but Ainge deserves credit for emphatically answering any critics and announcing Tennessee's return to the spotlight after a brief absence.
2. Colt McCoy, Texas quarterback The numbers: 12-of-19, 178 yards, three touchdowns; four carries, 38 yards, one TD The result: Texas 56, North Texas 7
On the surface, this is what the quarterback at Texas is supposed to do against North Texas in a season opener. But against the backdrop of Vince Young's departure and looking forward to Saturday's game against No. 1 Ohio State, McCoy deserves some accolades. McCoy eased some worries about a freshman quarterback taking over for the national champions by exceeding Coach Mack Brown's expectations.
3. Ben Olson, UCLA quarterback The numbers: 26-of-35, 316 yards, three touchdowns The result: UCLA 31, Utah 10
The long wait for Olson was worth it. Olson, 23, hadn't played meaningful snaps since he graduated from high school five years ago. Against BCS bowl hopeful Utah, Olson was magnificent. His debut was the best for a first-time Bruins starter since Tommy Maddox passed for 353 yards against Michigan in 1990. Olson completed his first seven passes, all to different receivers, all for first downs.
4. The Irons brothers, Auburn The numbers: Running back Kenny Irons had 21 carries, 184 yards, one touchdown; Cornerback David Irons held Washington State wide receiver Jason Hill to four catches for 17 yards. The result: Auburn 40, Washington State 14
Auburn avoided another disappointment in a season opener thanks to the siblings. Kenny Irons set a career-high in all-purpose yards with 222 and had two key runs – a 42-yard carry on Auburn's first drive and a 58-yard touchdown. Hill averaged nearly 110 yards per game last season, but that mark took a serious hit against Auburn. He had a 2-yard touchdown catch and little else.
5. Raymell Rice, Rutgers running back The numbers: 31 carries, 201 yards, three touchdowns; two receptions 13 yards The result: Rutgers 21, North Carolina 16
The Scarlet Knights showed last year's 7-5 season was no fluke by beating North Carolina on the road. The sophomore Rice became the first Rutgers running back with three consecutive 100-yard games. Rice's first two touchdowns gave the Scarlet Knights the lead and the last turned out to be the game winner. His performance came at a good time because North Carolina limited fullback Brian Leonard to 45 total yards.
6. Troy Smith, Ohio State quarterback The numbers: 18-of-25, 297 yards, three touchdowns The result: Ohio State 35, Northern Illinois 12
7. Steve Slaton, West Virginia running back The numbers: 33 carries, 203 yards, two touchdowns; one catch 12 yards The result: West Virginia 42, Marshall 10
8. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon running back The numbers: 22 carries, 168 yards, two touchdowns; one kickoff return, 54 yards. The result: Oregon 48, Stanford 10
8. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma running back The numbers: 24 carries, 139 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 reception, 69 yards, 1 touchdown The result: Oklahoma 24, UAB 17
10. Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois running back The numbers: 26 carries, 171 yards; five catches, 114 yards, one touchdown The result: Ohio State 35, Northern Illinois 12
Week 1 Goats
1. The Pac-10
The Pac-10 had a chance to prove it wasn't a misfit among the BCS conferences with its offense-first, finesse style. It failed. Miserably. Tennessee's defense frustrated Cal quarterback Nate Longshore and the Volunteers' offense, much-maligned a year ago, was unstoppable. Then there was a 40-14 Washington State loss to Auburn and Washington's near-loss at home to San Jose State. UCLA had a nice win over Utah, however. And USC proved it's still USC against Arkansas.
2. Team doctors
Only weeks ago we were told Arkansas running back Darren McFadden and Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco weren't likely to play in their respective season openers due to injury. Kickoff arrived Saturday and both played. On behalf of the Arkansas and Wisconsin fan bases, shame on you for unnecessary stress.
And you thought the Big 12 Championship Game was ugly. Dan Hawkins' tenure began with a thud. Colorado lost to Division I-AA Montana State 19-10 at home. Adding a little salt to the wound was safety Tyrone Henderson, who transferred to Montana State after he was kicked off the Colorado team for violating rules after Hawkins' arrived.
If it were anyone but Duke, it might take the top spot for Week 1 futility. The Blue Devils were shut out 13-0 at home by Division I-AA Richmond. Even Duke beats Division I-AA teams. The Blue Devils had nine consecutive wins against I-AA foes until Saturday's loss to the Spiders.
5. Big East doubters
The Big East was 5-1 on Saturday. Sure, two of those wins were against Division I-AA teams and another was West Virginia's victory over Marshall. But the two middle-of-the-pack Big East teams, Pittsburgh and Rutgers, beat two middle-of-the-pack ACC teams, Virginia and North Carolina. The only loss so far was Syracuse to Wake Forest.