DUBLIN — Penn State won a thrilling season opener with a 36-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the University of Central Florida 26-24 in front of a raucous 55,000-strong crowd in Ireland.
Behind second-half replacement quarterback Justin Holman, the Knights appeared to have scored their own unlikely come-from-behind victory when Holman scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to put UCF up 24-23 with 1:13 left.
But Christian Hackenberg — capping a 32-for-47, 454-yard performance — coolly directed a seven-play drive to set up Sam Ficken's fourth successful field goal as the Penn State bench swarmed the field.
Saturday's winners received the Dan Rooney Trophy, a specially commissioned football made of ancient Irish bog wood, as cannons blasted blue-and-white streamers and confetti into the air at Dublin's Croke Park, a stadium that normally hosts Gaelic football matches, not American football games.
ILLINOIS 28, YOUNGSTOWN STATE 17
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It took a while but new quarterback Wes Lunt delivered a come-from-behind win Saturday for Illinois over Youngstown State in a season opener.
Lunt threw three late touchdowns for Illinois. The second was a 15-yarder to running back Josh Ferguson that put Illinois up for good 21-17.
Lunt finished the day 24 of 38 for 285 yards and four touchdowns. He used nine different receivers.
Lunt's highly anticipated debut after his transfer from Oklahoma State started slowly. The Illini had seven first downs by halftime and clung to a 7-6 lead.
INDIANA 28, INDIANA ST. 10
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Tevin Coleman rushed for a career-high 247 yards on 23 carries to lead Indiana over Indiana State.
The Hoosiers used a steady dose of run plays to wear down the Sycamores defense. Indiana State was able to keep the game close by taking care of the ball and stopping the Hoosiers twice on fourth down inside the red zone.
IOWA 31, N. IOWA 23
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jake Rudock threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and Iowa hung to beat Northern Iowa.
Kevonte Martin-Manley added eight catches for the Hawkeyes (1-0), who survived despite allowing 203 yards receiving to Panthers running back David Johnson.
NO. 22 NEBRASKA 55, FLORIDA ATLANTIC 7
LINCOLN, Neb. — Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 232 yards, Tommy Armstrong, Jr., passed for a career-high 271 yards and two TDs, and Nebraska defeated Florida Atlantic.
The Cornhuskers rushed for 498 of their 784 total yards, the fifth-most in their program's 125-year history. They won their 29th straight opener, the longest streak in the nation.
CALIFORNIA 31, NORTHWESTERN 24
EVANSTON, Ill. — Jared Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, Jalen Jefferson had a key interception, and California hung on to beat Northwestern.
The Golden Bears looked like they were on their way to an easy victory, up 31-7 in the third quarter. Instead, they had to sweat this one out.
Northwestern got two touchdowns in a 25-second span late in the third to pull within 10. Jack Mitchell added a 24-yard field goal with 5:18 left in the game to make it 31-24, and the Wildcats were threatening to score again when Jefferson got his interception.
MARYLAND 52, JAMES MADISON 7
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — C.J. Brown ran for three touchdowns and threw for another as new Big Ten member Maryland cruised past James Madison.
Brandon Ross and Albert Reid added second-half rushing touchdowns, and backup quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for one in the highest scoring performance of fourth-year coach Randy Edsall's tenure.