Your one-week college football star of the week: You're damn right it's a kicker
As it does every Labor Day weekend, college football Week 1 proved it was well worth the wait. The games started Thursday night with UCLA at Cincinnati and did not stop until Monday evening, with Notre Dame finishing off a stingy Louisville team that looked much improved from its 2-10 record a season ago. Even if you were on the wrong side of some wagers (* COUGH, COUGH *, NORTHWESTERN), or you're a Tennessee fan (LOL), the consensus among CFB fans is clear: extreme Bart Scott voice CAN'T WAIT (for Week 2).
But first, we've got a new award to hand out: the one-week college football star of the week. This repetitively named honor is something we just came up with, and we'll be doing it every Monday during the college football season. Anybody can win it—star players, head coaches, strength coaches who smash their head against a locker pre-game, a drunk fan in the stands, etc.—the only stipulations being (a) no repeat winners, (b) the winner created serious social-media buzz and (c) that's it, just those two.
Without further ado, this week's winner is .... Nevada kicker Brandon Talton. Oh, yes, you're damn right we're giving the inaugural award to a kicker.
With his team trailing, 31-14, to Purdue late in the third quarter, the freshman kicker probably didn't think he'd be getting a chance to attempt the kick of his life later in the game. But that's just what happened, as the Boilermakers collapsed. It started with a Talton field goal, the first of his college career, from 34 yards out to make it 31-17. The Wolfpack then scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, both on 11-play drives, to tie it at 31. On Purdue's ensuing drive, quarterback Elijah Sindelar threw a shocking interception with 50 seconds to go, allowing Nevada a chance to win the game in regulation.
Six plays later, Talton (did we mention he's a TRUE freshman?) got the call, and this was no chip shot. How about a 56-yarder for your first walk-off game-winner?
Instant legend. Kicks like this really make you wonder where Nick Saban and Lincoln Riley are going wrong when they recruit kickers, as both of theirs missed field goals in their opening games. Meanwhile, a freshman at Nevada is banging home a 56-yarder in his first college game. The craziest part? Talton was not named the starter until the morning of the game, and some of his teammates still didn't even know who he was when he was pointed out on the sideline.
Talton's story got a lot better during the postgame celebration in the locker room, where head coach Jay Norvell not only give him the game ball but an extra surprise:
"It sounds like a story," Talton told Nevada Sportsnet after the game. "It sounds like somebody made it up."
That locker-room video needed to be at least another 30 seconds longer. Such a cool moment for Talton, whose Wolfpack go on the road this weekend to take on a shellshocked Oregon team at the Autzen Zoo. If Nevada can hang around in that one, don't be surprised if Talton is called upon again in a big spot.
Because there will be so many candidates for this award each week, we have to hand out some Honorable menchies. A few other guys got our attention besides Talton.
Boise State defensive lineman Curtis Weaver
The day after Nevada came back to shock Purdue, fellow Mountain West Conference foe Boise State one-upped them with what could go down as the comeback of the year against Florida State. After the victory, Curtis Weaver dropped an all-time line:
Hope no Oklahoma fans watched that.
North Carolina head coach Mack Brown
After a great run at Texas that included one national title, Mack Brown "resigned" in 2013 and appeared to be done with coaching. He had a great job at ESPN, one that included in-studio work and commentating. But like many great football guys, Brown couldn't stay away, coming out of retirement to take the head job at North Carolina, where he was previously the head coach from 1988-'97. If you had any questions about why on earth he'd leave a cushy ESPN job for UNC, this video should answer them:
As an 11-point underdog, the Tar Heels beat rival South Carolina 24-20. Hell of a start for the second Mack Brown era at UNC, where he went 2-20 his first two years as HC in 1988 and 1989 before leading them to six straight bowl games and the No. 4 AP ranking in 1997. Mack is so BACK:
Washington wide receiver Aaron Fuller
Catch of the year. No debate:
This one was OK, too:
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix
His stat line was pretty atrocious, but the only stat that matters is that Auburn is 1-0, and it's thanks to the arm of Bo Nix, who has the most SEC QB name since Bo Wallace at Ole Miss. This was a BIG-time throw:
For much of the game Nix looked like the true freshman that he is, but on the final drive he morphed into a four-year starter. How's this for calm?
First college game at JerryWorld in Dallas against a top-15 team with a future top-five pick at QB on the other side, and Nix never wavered. Great shot from ESPN here:
But the coolest thing about Nix to come from this one were these photos:
Yes, that's a 10-year-old Nix cheering on his Tigers at the 2011 national title game. Feel old yet?
College football has never been more back. Let's do it all over again this weekend.