NCAA.com Football Road Trip
On the road for Five Games, Five States, Five Days
Let's call it a labor of love: Five Games, Five States, Five Days was the official kickoff of NCAA.com's 2011 football coverage. For the first five days of the season, Doug Kroll and Kyle Payne were on the road to see five games in as many states with exclusive content within all divisions of college football. Look back at the action from:
• Thursday: West Alabama vs. South Alabama in Mobile, Ala.
• Friday: Clark Atlanta vs. Georgia State in Atlanta
• Saturday: East Carolina vs. South Carolina in Charlotte, N.C.
• Sunday: Marshall vs. West Virginia in Morgantown, W. Va.
• Monday: Miami (Fla.) vs. Maryland in College Park, Md.
Maryland 32, Miami (Fla.) 24
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Randy Edsall credited his players for helping him win his debut as Maryland's coach.
Al Golden took all the blame for the loss in his first game at Miami.
Playing in front of a spirited sellout crowd in uniforms that were nearly as loud as the fans, Maryland beat short-handed Miami 32-24 Monday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference duel.
Edsall took over for Ralph Friedgen, who was fired after a 10-year run. Coming over from Connecticut, Edsall intends to make a good program into a great one.
He couldn't have asked for a better start.
Danny O'Brien went 31 for 44 for 348 yards, Nick Ferrara kicked four field goals, and Maryland returned two turnovers for touchdowns in a rousing victory.
Miami head coach Al Golden’s start to his new gig hasn’t been an easy one. That’s all been well documented. Monday, he finally led his Hurricanes on to the field for the first time.
The result wasn’t any easier to swallow than the off-the-field news has been, as Maryland scored nine points in the final 1:39 to win a thrilling Labor Day night game at rain-soaked Byrd Stadium 32-24.
Playing without seven starters due to suspensions – including five on defense – Miami hung tough all night long. But those personnel losses proved too costly. An already thin secondary, playing without preseason All-ACC safety Ray-Ray Armstrong, had a tough night trying to slow down Maryland’s offense.
• Complete story
Behind the scenes at Maryland
No. 24 West Virginia 34, Marshall 13
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Dana Holgorsen's offense showed some signs that it could match his wide-open philosophy before the sky turned ugly.
Severe storms caused No. 24 West Virginia's season opener with Marshall to be stopped twice Sunday night and, after a total of 4 hours, 22 minutes in delays, the game was halted for good with 14:36 left in the fourth quarter, with the Mountaineers declared a 34-13 winner.
The game was first halted with 5 minutes left in the third quarter and play didn't resume for three hours.
Play was stopped again with 14:36 left. But another hour went by before the game was called off, giving Holgorsen a soggy, successful debut.
It’s often been said that for two teams to have a rivalry, each has to win at least one game in the series.
We arrived in Morgantown on Sunday for Marshall-West Virginia under the impression that this was one of the more underrated rivalries in college football. Some of the national media even recognized it as so in columns this week.
No. 12 South Carolina 56, East Carolina 37
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Stephen Garcia came off the bench to run for two touchdowns and throw for another as he rallied the 12th-ranked Gamecocks past East Carolina 56-37 on Saturday night. Marcus Lattimore added 112 yards and three TDs.
Garcia sat the first quarter as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier started sophomore Connor Shaw. But the Gamecocks fumbled three times, including one by Shaw, and trailed 17-0 before Garcia entered the game. That's when the offense started to click and South Carolina took control of the season opener.
Garcia had a 32-yard touchdown run his first series and when Lattimore finished the Gamecocks next drive with a 4-yard scoring run, South Carolina fans at Bank of America Stadium began chanting Garcia's name in celebration.
Dominique Davis threw for 260 yards and four touchdowns for the Pirates, but when South Carolina wasn't stopping itself, the Pirates had no answers. The Gamecocks outscored ECU 42-13 in second half.
College football fans come from all over on Saturdays to see their favorite teams play at home. They also follow them on the road, near and far.
So when it comes to neutral-site games, both teams are in the same boat. There are all sorts of travel plans involved, details to be hammered out. Where’s the tailgate going to be on foreign soil? Who’s bringing the grill?
As was the case Saturday night in downtown Charlotte when East Carolina met No. 12 South Carolina for the first time since 1999, at Bank of America Stadium – home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. And what a game it was.
• Complete story
Behind the scenes with East Carolina
Georgia State 41, Clark Atlanta 7
ATLANTA -- Georgia State opened its season with a 41-7 victory against Division II Clark Atlanta on Friday night.
GSU sophomore Bo Schlechter, in his first start at quarterback, completed 13-of-18 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to Albert Wilson.
Running back Donald Russell, playing his first game for Georgia State after transferring from Kentucky, scored twice on the ground with 56 yards rushing to lead the Panthers.
Schlechter, the starting punter and a reserve wide receiver last year, played in place of both Drew Little and Kelton Hill because of team-enforced suspensions to the Panthers' top two QBs.
Bill Curry had never started a football program from scratch. Not too many coaches do. So when a school in his own backyard decided it wanted in on college football, the itch was there. See, the excitement of the first game day of the season never leaves someone who’s been around it as long as he has. Welcome to Georgia State, coach.
“It never changes,” Curry said of the first game of the season. “There’s great anticipation. The most normal metaphor is ‘like a kid at Christmas.’ I say yes and no. At Christmas, if you’re really lucky you get to go see Santa, and you have a pretty good idea if he’s going to deliver or not. Here, it’s like being a kid on Christmas but you have no idea what you’re going to open up.”
• Complete story
Behind the scenes with Georgia State
South Alabama 20, West Alabama 10
MOBILE, Ala. -- South Alabama defeated West Alabama 21-10 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams, improving to 18-0 since starting its football program in 2009.
Kendall Houston scored two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 10 yards in the second half for the Jaguars, who broke a 7-7 halftime tie. The Jaguars rushed for 205 yards but quarterback C.J. Bennett threw three interceptions.
Gary Johnston led the Tigers with 72 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice and sacked twice.
Trailing 13-7, West Alabama cut the lead to 13-10 on a 22-yard field goal by Ryne Smith with 10:58 remaining. Houston's second touchdown with 8:13 left put the game out of reach.
South Alabama, a Football Championship Series independent, will be an official member of the Sun Belt Conference in the Football Bowl Series for the 2013 season.
Five football games. In five days. In five states. It’s any football fan’s dream. The perfect way to spend Labor Day weekend. Sounds too good to be true, right? If Thursday night in Mobile, Ala., was any indication, this is going to be five days and nights of pure bliss.
• Complete story
Behind the scenes with South Alabama