CLEMSON, S.C. – Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd of the Clemson Tigers are poised to put on an aerial display.
And if the two record-setting quarterbacks have a good game Saturday when the fifth-ranked Bulldogs play No. 8 Clemson at Death Valley, the winner will likely become an early front-runner in the Heisman Trophy race.
The seniors postponed careers in the NFL for a final college season. Now they share the spotlight in a nationally televised marquee matchup on college football’s opening weekend.
Murray has led Georgia to the past two Southeastern Conference East Division titles.
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Boyd helped Clemson reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2011, and 11 victories last year — the Tigers’ highest victory total in 31 years.
“If you like quarterback play,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I imagine a lot of people will really enjoy this game.”
Except maybe defenders on both teams.
Murray threw for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns a year ago. He is the only SEC player to pass for 3,000 yards his first three years and, if he does it again this year, will join Hawaii’s Timmy Chang and Boise State’s Kellen Moore as the only players in NCAA history to reach the milestone four straight seasons.
Murray was recently voted the SEC’s first-team quarterback over Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M by league coaches.
Boyd has excelled at Clemson’s high-speed offense the past two seasons. He finished with 3,896 yards passing and 36 touchdowns last season to win the ACC player of the year.
The two were high-school stars who went to the Elite 11 passing camp before college. They have stayed friendly.
“It’s great to see how far we’ve come since then and how exciting our careers have been,” Murray said.
Arizona romps in opener
TUCSON, Ariz. – Daniel Jenkins ran 91 yards for a touchdown, the third-longest rushing play in Arizona program history, and the Pac-12 Wildcats opened their season with a rainy 35-0 victory over Northern Arizona on Friday night.
In mid-January, Jenkins announced he was transferring from Arizona to Washington State and briefly left school.
“He was on his spring sabbatical,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said, joking. “He was taking his tour of the Northwest part of the country.”
B.J. Denker threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jenkins and ran 30 yards for another score. Moments after Denker left the game in the fourth quarter, backup Javelle Allen ran 61 yards for a TD.
Tra’Mayne Bondurant had two interceptions, returning one 21 yards for a touchdown.
Arizona All-America running back Ka’Deem Carey, the nation’s leading rusher last season, was suspended for the game “per team policy,” school officials said. The punishment apparently stemmed from trouble the running back had during the offseason, including an arrest for an incident involving his girlfriend. The charges were later dropped.
Jenkins gained 139 yards in 12 attempts as Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez opened his second season in Tucson. Denker completed 9 of 13 passes for 87 yards and rushed for 71 yards in 13 carries.
After the opening kickoff, Denker directed an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Denker completed both passes on the drive for 42 yards, including the TD toss to the wide-open Jenkins.
The rain began to fall a short time later and neither offense accomplished much until Jenkins, a 5-foot-9 senior, raced up the middle and outran the Lumberjacks 91 yards to the end zone to make the score 14-0 with 5:32 left in the half.
The only longer TD runs in Arizona school history were 96 yards by Trung Canidate against San Diego State in 1997 and 94 by Nic Grigsby, also against Northern Arizona, in 2009.
N. Dakota St. beats Kansas St.
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Brock Jensen backed into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 28 seconds left, and North Dakota State knocked off defending Big 12 champion Kansas State 24-21.
The senior quarterback led the Craig Bohl-coached Bison on an 18-play, 80-yard march, helping them convert four third downs along the way, and left the Wildcats with little time left to set up a tying field-goal try.
Jensen threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns for the Bison, the two-time defending FCS national champions who have beaten Colorado State, Minnesota and Kansas in the last three years.
“They play very, very hard,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said of the Bison. “They’re a tough football team. They played harder than we did, they were tougher than we were. They were better coached than we were.”