Kyler Murray replacing Baker Mayfield. Shea Patterson teaming up with Jim Harbaugh. High-profile coaches like Jimbo Fisher, Scott Frost and Chip Kelly in new places. And freshman phenoms like Trevor Lawrence and JT Daniels.
The best thing about Week 1 is checking in on all the new faces in new places. Here's a comprehensive breakdown of the most important debuts in college football.
Maryland interim coach Matt Canada successfully navigated his way through his debut as a head coach in spite of a roller coaster of emotions following the death of Jordan McNair in June, a rain delay that lasted 1 hour, 26 minutes, and the apprehension of calling plays from the field for the first time in his career.
Canada, who replaced suspended coach DJ Durkin, outcoached Tom Herman for most of the game in the Terps' 34-29 win over No. 23 Texas on Saturday.
"You talk about the thing I was most worried about," Canada said, "it was calling the game from the field. I've never done that and I didn't want to screw that job up. That's my job. I'm the offensive coordinator and I call the plays. Sometimes I'm good at it, sometimes I'm not. I was concerned about that. The staff did a great job, the guys upstairs did a great job." -- Heather Dinich
Ohio State racks up 77 points in easy win
The Buckeyes become the first team in a decade to have five passing and five rushing TDs in a win vs. an FBS team, beating Oregon State 77-31.
Ohio State's Ryan Day smiled ear-to-ear while leading his team onto the field as a head coach for the first time in his career Saturday. An ugly situation in Columbus has led to an opportunity for the 39-year-old rising star who helped breathe new life into the Buckeyes' offense last season. If his three games of pinch hitting for Urban Meyer are to serve as a de facto audition for other programs hunting for future head coaches, he got off to a great start. Ohio State looked organized and well-oiled while rolling to a 42-point first half against Oregon State, and weathered an hour-plus lightning delay at halftime before marching on to a 77-31 victory.
"It was a lot going on for me, first time going through everything. ... I did the best I could and got a lot of help from a lot of people," Day said.
Day, normally the Buckeyes' quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator, got a strong performance from the other new face at the Horseshoe this Saturday. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was smooth in his first game taking over for the beloved J.T. Barrett. He completed nine of his first 10 passes and went on to set program highs for touchdowns passes (five) and passing yards (313) for a quarterback in a debut performance.
Sure, it was against an Oregon State team that fielded one of the worst defenses in the FBS last season, but Haskins and Day both carried themselves with poise and a comfort level that belied their newness to the bright spotlight in Columbus. -- Dan Murphy
Anxious Aggies couldn't have asked for a better start from their new sideline boss. Jimbo Fisher's first Texas A&M team looked crisp, physical and mostly mistake-free in its season-opening rout of Northwestern State.
Fisher's most impressive work came in his area of expertise: quarterback. Sophomore Kellen Mond looked leaps and bounds better last week than he did a season ago. He was poised, accurate, made several NFL-looking throws and led the team with ease, a far cry from where he was at this time last year when he had his fair share of struggles against UCLA, Nicholls State and Louisiana-Lafayette. His growth under the tutelage of Fisher, a former quarterback himself, was evident.
Fisher's offense threw a variety of looks out there and the defense was dominant against a much-lesser-talented foe under new coordinator Mike Elko. With a huge Week 2 game against Clemson looming, the Aggies' dress rehearsal under their $75 million man was as good as you could ask for.
"You're breaking new ground in new places," Fisher said. "You've got to go out there and still play and coach and do the things you have to do. I have butterflies [before the game] no matter how long I've been anywhere. It's just part of the game." -- Sam Khan Jr.
It was a trying debut for Chip Kelly, whose UCLA Bruins lost 26-17 to a Cincinnati Bearcats team that entered as heavy underdogs. Kelly lost his starting quarterback, grad transfer Wilton Speight, 10 minutes into the second quarter, prompting the emergence of Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a talented-but-raw true freshman who showed he still needs time to develop.
On one play, Thompson-Robinson evaded a free rusher, stepped up in the pocket and threw a bullet downfield -- but Christian Pabico dropped what could've been an 84-yard touchdown. On another play, Thompson-Robinson faked a handoff, tried to take off up the middle and had the football stripped from him, resulting in the safety that put Cincinnati ahead for good.
UCLA's first touchdown came on a short field. The Bruins' second and final one came on a 74-yard run by speedster Kazmeir Allen. The Bruins picked up 306 yards on offense, 162 through the air and 144 on the ground. Thompson-Robinson displayed a strong arm but was consistently inaccurate.
"He's got all the talent of a very good quarterback," Kelly said. "It's just a matter of getting him more reps."
Kelly ran mostly "11" personnel -- one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers -- almost exclusively from the shotgun. The funkiest personnel grouping was a Pistol formation with two receivers stacked wide on each side. The blistering pace UCLA players promised throughout fall camp never really materialized. Instead, there were a lot of dropped passes, too many missed tackles and several ill-timed penalties.
UCLA's roster is nearly 72 percent freshmen, so this is going to take some time.
Even with Kelly.
"We knew that going into the game we were going to be young," Kelly said. "It's about giving them an opportunity to play. These guys have a game underneath their belt. We can go back and teach and show them what we did well. We can continue to build from there, and then what we need to correct. That will be an ongoing process for this group." -- Alden Gonzalez
Alabama's two-QB system
The first impression is Bama's two-quarterback system should be whittled down to one. That is how thoroughly Tua Tagovailoa outplayed Jalen Hurts in a 51-14 victory over Louisville in the season opener. First, let's look at the productivity: Tagovailoa led five touchdown drives. Hurts led zero. Tagovailoa averaged 18.9 yards per completion, and went 4-for-4 on passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield, totaling 132 yards and a touchdown. These are numbers that should give him a huge edge on Hurts, whose strength isn't in his downfield passing ability. If a quarterback's job is to lead a productive offense, then Tagovailoa is the easy winner.
And it also makes Alabama as scary as it has ever been. During the Tide's championship run, they've always had a terrifying defense. But now they have the potential to match it with a terrifying offense, and that's a combination we haven't seen out of Bama yet.
"We've got a lot of work to do, but the upside's tremendous with our offense," center Ross Pierschbacher said.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, though, wants to play both quarterbacks as long as he can.
"We're going to continue to have both these guys be weapons for us on offense because I think they can," Saban said. "I hope both guys can do a good job of preparing and managing to get ready for the game so they can contribute to our team in a positive way." -- Andrea Adelson
New QBs (and one new school)
USC true freshman quarterback JT Daniels had trouble explaining just how special his first start at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was. It was one of the few things he struggled at all day.
"Goosebumps," Daniels said. "For my first time in the Coliseum, it was really magical."
His stat line won't be particularly memorable -- 22-of-35 for 282 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions -- but what stood out was his poise. There was nothing about his play that indicated he was nervous, or unprepared. And that's exactly what USC, with several talented skill players and an experienced offensive line, needs from its budding star.
The truth is that his numbers should have been even better: A pair of first-half drops in the end zone prevented USC from building an early lead and he was off the mark on a couple of early throws. In the second half, the coaching staff dialed up some deep throws that allowed Daniels to showcase impressive touch downfield. Fittingly, his first touchdown throw was a beautiful 43-yard strike to longtime friend and high school teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown, who finished with a game-high seven catches for 98 yards. They seem destined to become one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in college football. -- Kyle Bonagura
Kyler Murray's first start in the post-Baker Mayfield era could not have gone better for him or for the Sooners. In a 63-14 obliteration of Florida Atlantic, Murray completed 9 of 11 passes for 209 yards, including a pair of 65-yard touchdown throws.
"We wanted to come out and start fast," he said. "I believe we did that."
With the outcome effectively clinched with the Sooners up 49-0, Murray exited late in the second quarter, boasting a sterling passing efficiency rating of 301.4 (Mayfield set the FBS season record with an efficiency of 198.9 last year).
As sharp as he was passing, Murray is not going to match Mayfield in efficiency over the course of the season. But his speed and quickness clearly will give the Sooners a dimension they didn't have with Mayfield, underscored by Murray's electrifying, field-reversing scramble that ignited Oklahoma's first touchdown.
"I'm not too worried about fulfilling the whole Baker deal," said Murray, downplaying the humongous shoes Mayfield left for him to fill. "It was just about me coming out here ready to execute. ... I think I played well."
Mayfield, a Heisman winner, was a generational player for the Sooners. Murray, however, showed that with him now behind center, Oklahoma's offense is positioned to keep rolling. -- Jake Trotter
Clemson freshman Lawrence not worried about QB rotation
Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence debuts with three touchdown passes and says he isn't worried about the rotation with him and Kelly Bryant.
While the Clemson fans might be ready for Dabo Swinney to come out and say touted freshman Trevor Lawrence is his quarterback following Lawrence's three-touchdown debut Saturday in a 48-7 drubbing of Furman, Swinney isn't ready to go there. Not yet, anyway. Swinney said he didn't think there was much difference in the way Lawrence played and the way senior starter Kelly Bryant played in the opener as the Tigers now look ahead to a big road matchup with Texas A&M.
"I didn't see anything that says, 'Hey, this guy doesn't deserve the opportunity to play,'" Swinney said. "Now, practice counts. We've got a week of practice. You don't just get a pass to the next week. You gotta go practice well. That's just the nature of it. It's the same at every single position. Otherwise, we'd just take the week off and show up in College Station and go play."
Both Lawrence and Bryant missed a few passes they will need to hit next week against a much better opponent, but there's no denying Lawrence's arm talent.
"I had some butterflies, but feel like I settled down pretty quick and did all right," the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Lawrence said. "[The rotation] worked out well today. If that's the way it goes all season, it's fine with me. The competition has made me better and made Kelly better, too. We have a good relationship, and it's going to work out the way it's supposed to." -- Chris Low
Shea Patterson can't fix Michigan's offensive ills on his own. The Ole Miss transfer quarterback showed promising snippets Saturday night, completing throws on rollouts and finding Nico Collins for a 52-yard gain early in the second half at Notre Dame. Patterson also led a late scoring drive to give Michigan some hope of a miracle comeback.
But there weren't nearly enough impact plays, and Patterson took three sacks, one of which knocked Michigan out of field goal range and another on second-and-goal from the Notre Dame 2. He also threw an interception off his back foot and didn't appear fully comfortable with the plethora of formations and personnel groupings that Michigan threw his way.
"He competed well," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He was doing the things that we were asking him to do. For a first time out with his new team, I thought he did a good job."
Patterson completed 20 of 30 passes for 227 yards in the loss.
"There's a lot of potential," Patterson said. "We've just got to learn from it. It's a long season. " -- Adam Rittenberg