The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jameis Winston and No. 1 Florida State might have to play better for a return trip to the stadium where the next national title will be decided.
At least the reigning champion Seminoles didn’t leave the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys with a season-opening loss.
Winston threw for 370 yards and scored on a sparkling 28-yard run to smooth over some rough spots, and Florida State tied a school record with its 17th straight victory by holding off Oklahoma State 37-31 on Saturday night.
"We’ve got to get better," Winston said. "I told our guys ... we’ve got to go higher."
The sophomore quarterback wasn’t nearly as efficient as he was in the college debut that jump-started his Heisman Trophy season a year ago. But he made plays when it mattered to help the Seminoles hang on after almost squandering a 17-0 lead.
The unranked and rebuilding Cowboys were 19-point underdogs but stayed close when J.W. Walsh matched Winston’s scoring run with a 24-yard sprint and dive across the goal line to get within 27-24 early in the fourth quarter.
"You don’t ever know what to expect with so many young players on the field," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose offense only has two players with at least 10 career starts. "But we never saw any fear in any of their eyes.
Winston’s only passing touchdown was a 50-yarder to Rashad Greene, who had 203 yards receiving.
The scoring pass, which gave Florida State a 37-24 lead, was set up when P.J. Williams sent Walsh cart-wheeling to the turf on a hit that forced a fumble. Williams recovered the loose ball.
"We all preached it, but I do think they felt the pressure of being No. 1. I do," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Now I think we can relax and go play football."
Walsh, who had 203 yards passing and led his team with 51 yards rushing, got the unranked and rebuilding Cowboys within six in the final 2 minutes on his second TD run, but they couldn’t get the ball back.
The Seminoles were up three in the third quarter when Winston broke loose for the longest run of his career. He hurdled offensive lineman Cameron Erving at the 10 and sidestepped a defender at the 5 before diving across the goal line as the ball was falling out of his arms.
The score was reviewed, and Oklahoma State players celebrated on the sideline when the giant video board showed the ball coming out near the goal line.
Seconds later referee Land Clark of the Pac-12 announced that the touchdown was upheld, drawing loud reactions from both sides of a crowd split pretty evenly between Florida State’s dark red and Oklahoma State’s bright orange.
"We just needed a play," Winston said. "Everybody contributed on that play. A 300-pound lineman, when he cuts a linebacker all the way down the field, which was amazing, I had no choice but to put the ball in the end zone."
Winston was 25 of 40 with two interceptions and several other misfires a year after throwing just two incompletions to beat Pitt in his debut. Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah gave Winston the most trouble, getting two sacks and breaking up two passes.
"We’re still a work in progress," Fisher said. "We all know that. "We have some good players but we still have to play good. It’s not about being great; it’s about playing great."
Speedy Oklahoma State newcomer Tyreek Hill 106 combined yards rushing and receiving. He was a perfect decoy on a 55-yard scoring pass to David Glidden, who was uncovered and ran untouched after catching the ball at the 30 to make it 20-17.
"We know he’s fast," Gundy said. "We confirmed that. Because those guys who were chasing him are fast."
Hill recovered from a botched kickoff return that stranded the Cowboys at their 3-yard line and led to Nate Andrews’ 9-yard interception return for the game’s first touchdown.
Oklahoma State also had trouble on punts, with a bad snap leading to the drive that ended in Winston’s scoring run. Another poor snap in the fourth quarter gave Florida State good field position, and Robert Aguayo’s third field goal put the Seminoles up by six.
No. 12 Georgia 45,
No. 16 Clemson 21
ATHENS, Ga. -- Todd Gurley ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns, returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score, and No. 12 Georgia gained some early style points in the national race with a 45-21 victory over No. 16 Clemson on Saturday night.
If rating Heisman Trophy favorites after Week 1, Gurley would surely be among the favorites. He made the most of his limited touches on a sweltering night, averaging 17.2 yards every time he got his hands on the ball. He set a school record for all-purpose yards with 293, breaking the record of 290 set by Rodney Hampton in 1987.
Georgia (1-0) broke open a game that was 21-21 at the half, shutting down Clemson (0-1) and a fast-break offense that didn’t look nearly as effective without Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.
Gurley pretty much finished off Clemson by himself, scoring on runs of 23, 18 and 51 yards.
No. 13 LSU 28,
No. 14 Wisconsin 24
HOUSTON -- Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon said he can already hear the critics.
After watching a 17-point lead dissolve in dramatic fashion in No. 14 Wisconsin’s 28-24 loss to No. 13 LSU on Saturday night, Gordon said he knew what was coming.
"Obviously, people will say, ‘Wisconsin can’t win a big game,"’ Gordon said. "I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing that all year."
Gordon had 144 yards on 16 carries but was held to just 3 yards on two carries in the pivotal fourth quarter. Wisconsin’s decision to abandon Gordon and the running game was puzzling to many, leading some to wonder if Gordon was injured.
"There was a little bit of a scenario with Melvin being ready to go at halftime, but he came out, hit the long run and seemed OK," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said, referring to a 63-yard run to start the second half.
That run set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Corey Clement that gave Wisconsin a 24-7 lead with 12:24 remaining.
LSU’s comeback was fueled by Wisconsin quarterback Tanner McEvoy’s fourth-quarter struggles. McEvoy said he was told he would make his first college start just before the game on Saturday night.
McEvoy completed just 8 of 24 passes for 50 yards, throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter. In McEvoy’s defense, Andersen said the offensive line played poorly.
"When you can’t protect the passer, it doesn’t matter who you throw out there," Andersen said. "The guy was running for his life."
In the noisy environment heavily colored purple and gold, McEvoy had to go to a clapping snap so the center could hear him.
"I made a few mental mistakes, but that happens, and it can be the difference in winning and losing," McEvoy said. "They’ve got a great defense and we’ve got a great offense, but we’ve got to make some plays when they’re there and we didn’t."
The Tigers trailed 24-21 when Jalen Mills intercepted McEvoy’s pass at the LSU 47 with 11:04 left. Kenny Hilliard ran for 53 yards on the ensuing drive, sprinting through a hole on the right side to finish off the improbable comeback.
The Badgers seemed to have the game in hand after Clement’s touchdown in the third. At that point, Wisconsin had a 290-136 edge in yardage.
Colby Delahoussaye kicked two field goals and Anthony Jennings threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to John Diarse to start LSU’s rally. Jennings hit Trey Quinn for a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to three.
"They battled," Andersen said of LSU. "They hung in there. I thought both teams fought like crazy. They made one more play than we did and won the game in the end."
The Badgers dominated the game until the sudden turn of events in the final quarter. Wisconsin outgained LSU 182-16 on the ground in the first half and Gordon’s long run to start the third seemed to continue the momentum. Wisconsin mustered only 65 yards in the fourth quarter.
Hilliard finished with 110 yards rushing after being held to 11 in the first half. Jennings went 7 for 18 for 176 yards. He threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural in the first half and for most of the game, it seemed as if it might be the lone highlight for LSU.