ATLANTA — Blake Sims was good enough to finish his first start at quarterback for Alabama, getting plenty of help from Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, and the second-ranked Crimson Tide held off West Virginia 33-23 Saturday.
Sims was 24-for-33 for 250 yards and added 42 running, playing the entire opener at the Georgia Dome. The fifth-year senior beat out Florida State transfer Jake Coker for the start. Tide coach Nick Saban had suggested both quarterbacks would play, but Sims never came out.
Yeldon (126 yards rushing and two touchdowns), Henry (113 yards rushing and a score) and Cooper (12 catches for 130 yards) provided plenty of support. Alabama needed all the offense it could get because West Virginia found plenty of soft spots in the Tide’s D.
The Mountaineers’ up-tempo spread gave Clint Trickett his pick of open receivers, and he took advantage with 365 yards passing.
But West Virginia didn’t take full advantage, dropping more than a half-dozen catchable pass, including one off the hands of Elijah Wellman near the goal line that would have been a sure TD early in the fourth quarter. Coming off a 4-8 season, West Virginia was a 26½-point underdog. The Mountaineers seemed like nothing more than the backdrop to Alabama’s continued quarterback competition. They didn’t play that way. Mario Alford returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score with 1:43 left in the first half to tie the game at 17-17.
Kentucky 59, UT-Martin 14
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Braylon Heard’s first-half touchdown runs of 73 and 43 yards spurred Kentucky to a season-opening, 59-14 rout of Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.
Quarterback Patrick Towles added a TD passing and running in his first career start for Kentucky, which outgained the Skyhawks 656-398.
The Wildcats’ sophomore threw for 370 yards, but Kentucky’s tailbacks set the tone by flying through huge holes and scoring virtually untouched.
No. 24 Missouri 38,
South Dakota State 18
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Maty Mauk threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 24 Missouri past South Dakota State 38-18 in the season opener for both teams Saturday.
Mauk seemed at ease early, finding receiver Darius White crossing behind the Jackrabbits’ defense for a 44-yard touchdown pass just 50 seconds into the game.
The Tigers extended their lead to 21-10 at halftime and never trailed.
No. 6 Auburn 45, Arkansas 21
AUBURN, Ala. — Jeremy Johnson passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Nick Marshall returned from suspension with a 19-yard scoring run to lift No. 6 Auburn to a 45-21 opening victory over Arkansas on Saturday. The Tigers scored the final 24 points after the Razorbacks managed to force a halftime deadlock. The game was delayed 1 hour, 28 minutes due to lightning in the area during the fourth quarter.
Miss. State 49, S. Miss 0
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Dak Prescott threw for a career-high 284 yards and four touchdowns, including two to De’Runnya Wilson, and Mississippi State cruised to a 49-0 victory over Southern Mississippi in the season-opener for both teams on Saturday night. The Bulldogs dominated from the outset, needing nine plays on the opening drive to cruise 87 yards downfield.
Idaho-Florida game canceled after lightning, rain
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Idaho-Florida game has been canceled because of unsafe field conditions.
Florida Field became unplayable after hours of heavy rain. The season opener for both teams started after a nearly three-hour lightning delay — and then stopped after 10 seconds.
Game officials, athletics directors and the Southeastern Conference officially ruled the game “terminated.” If it is rescheduled, it would be restarted as a new game. School officials will decide whether to reschedule it next week.
No. 13 LSU 28, No. 14 Wisconsin 24
HOUSTON — Kenny Hilliard scored on a 28-yard touchdown run to cap a fourth-quarter rally for No. 13 LSU in a 28-24 win over No. 14 Wisconsin at NRG Stadium on Saturday night.
The Tigers trailed 24-21 when Jalen Mills intercepted Tanner McEvoy's pass at the LSU 47 with 11:04 left. Hilliard ran for 53 yards on the ensuing drive, capping it with a sprint through a hole on the right side.
The Tigers extended the nation's longest regular-season nonconference winning streak to 46 games after coming back from a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.
The Badgers seemed to have the game in hand after Corey Clement scored in the third quarter. 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.