ARLINGTON, Texas — Dee Milliner and the Alabama defense showed they can still dominate.
Even after sending three starting defenders from last year's national championship team to the NFL as first-round draft picks, the second-ranked Crimson Tide threw around eighth-ranked Michigan while pounding Denard Robinson in a 41-14 victory Saturday night.
C.J. Mosley returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown for the Tide. AJ McCarron, no longer with third overall draft pick Trent Richardson to hand the ball off to, threw two touchdowns as Alabama won its 11th consecutive season opener.
Milliner, the primary nickelback last season now in a starting role, deflected four passes in the first half, and had an interception after shoving intended receiver Roy Roundtree to the ground. That set up a touchdown for the Crimson Tide, which shot out to a 31-0 lead.
While Michigan still can recover to contend for a Big Ten title and possible Rose Bowl bid, this could be a confidence-shaking performance. It certainly wasn't what Michigan expected coming off an 11-win season under first-year coach Brady Hoke. They were without suspended running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark, not that they could have made a difference.
McCarron was 11-of-21 passing for 199 yards. Freshman T.J. Yeldon ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while Eddie Lacy had a 9-yard TD run.
It was a tough night for Robinson, even though he accounted for both Michigan touchdowns. Most of his 200 yards passing (he was 11-for-26) came on two plays: a 71-yard pass right before halftime that came before his 6-yard TD run and his 44-yard scoring pass in the third quarter. He was held to 27 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Freshman back Gurley carries No. 6 Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. — Mark Richt tried to treat Todd Gurley's three-touchdown debut with a casual attitude. Gurley, a freshman playing in his first college game, ran for 100 yards and returned a kickoff 100 yards for score, and No. 6 Georgia overcame a sloppy first half to beat Buffalo 45-23.
Gurley didn't start, but he may have emerged as the Bulldogs' future at running back with eight highly productive carries, including scoring runs of 10 and 55 yards.
Richt said Gurley had been similarly impressive in preseason scrimmages. "He averaged about what he averaged every scrimmage, about 12.5 yards per carry," Richt said. "I hope that's a trend in his career."
Georgia, favored by 37½ points, led 24-16 at halftime before pulling away.
Gurley (6-1, 218 pounds) showed power and speed as he became Georgia's first freshman to run for 100 yards in his first game since Danny Ware ran for 135 yards against Georgia Southern in 2004. "I didn't have time for butterflies; everything just came so fast," Gurley said.
No. 3 LSU 41, North Texas 14: Kenny Hilliard rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and the Tigers opened with a rout that, at times, did not especially please a home crowd that had eagerly anticipated the debut of quarterback Zach Mettenberger as starter. Mettenberger, who was briefly sidelined after a sack, was 19-for-26 for 192 yards, an interception and a touchdown. But LSU didn't really need to throw in a game decided by its defense and a running game that accounted for 316 yards.
No. 10 Ark. 49, J'ville St. 24: Tyler Wilson set the school record for yards passing in a season opener, finishing 19 of 27 passing for 367 yards and three touchdowns to lead the host Razorbacks. Two of Wilson's touchdowns went to tight end Chris Gragg, who finished with seven catches for 110 yards as Arkansas won its first game under coach John L. Smith, who replaces Bobby Petrino.
Missouri 62, SE La. 10: Marcus Murphy scored on punt returns of 72 and 70 yards, and Zaviar Gooden and Michael Sam fueled a fast start with defensive touchdowns for the host Tigers. Kendial Lawrence ran for a 76-yard TD and totaled 121 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns for the Tigers, who led 28-0 after running just 12 plays in their tuneup for next week's SEC debut against Georgia. Murphy, a sophomore tailback, matched a 47-year-old school record with two scoring returns and totaled 180 yards on five punt returns.
Ole Miss 49, C. Arkansas 27: Bo Wallace threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns in his Division I-A debut as the host Rebels rallied. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound junior college transfer completed 20 of 24 passes, with one interception. Wallace also rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown. Central Arkansas led 20-14 at halftime before Ole Miss scored 35 unanswered points.
Miss. St. 56, Jackson St. 9: Tyler Russell completed 15 of 23 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns as the host Bulldogs opened with a 35-point first half, their largest since the 2010 season. Mississippi State finished with 377 yards total offense and did not punt until the final minute of the third quarter.