Week 1 of college football has come and gone, and it did not disappoint.
It was a weekend full of the action, upsets and big plays we have come to expect and love from America's premier collegiate sporting competition. With dozens of remarkable highlights to choose from, let's take a look at college football's top plays, with five of the very best from across the nation.
No. 5: Travis Hunter With a Huge Interception
Colorado CB/WR/PR/Alien Travis Hunter
(he cut off what would've been a 90-some yard TD run like two-three plays before this) pic.twitter.com/9A0l9rRiui
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 2, 2023
Let's get started with the most exciting game of Week 1, Colorado's thrilling 45-42 win over last year's College Football Playoff runner-up TCU to start the Deion Sanders era with a bang. Other than Sanders — and his son Shedeur, who threw for a school-record 510 yards — the undeniable star was Travis Hunter. He is perhaps the most distinctive talent in college football, as he played over 120 snaps between defense and offense, racking up 119 receiving yards on 11 catches as a wideout.
As for his defensive work, his impact was felt all over the field and was highlighted by the play you see above. Hunter went full-extension to secure an interception on third down and short, with the end zone right behind his back. The play helped to keep TCU out of the end zone and preserve a 3-point lead for Colorado — which is, incidentally, the exact margin by which they would eventually go on to win.
No. 4: John Rhys Plumlee Goes Airborne
John Rhys Plumlee gettin up!
— Lincoln Heimbach (@LincHeimbachTSP) August 31, 2023
This play may not have been as impactful as Hunter's, but it was a part of history in its own way and was a tremendous feat of athleticism. In the clip above, John Rhys Plumlee helps the University of Central Florida erase a second-and-17 situation by sprinting out of the backfield and fully hurdling a Kent State defender to end up just a couple of yards short of the sticks. After suffering a knee injury last season, there were questions about how much Plumlee would run — but those questions are gone. His big play helped UCF keep moving the sticks and get started on a blowout of Kent in their first-ever game as a member of a Power Five conference.
Like Hunter, Plumlee is multi-talented; but more like Deion Sanders himself, his exploits transcend football alone. He famously picked up two hits including a triple in a UCF baseball game this spring — before hustling over to the football complex, getting into full pads and onto the sideline in seven minutes, and then tossing a pair of touchdowns in the spring football game. We'll see more highlight plays from Plumlee as his Knights navigate their first season in the Big 12 — and even when spring comes and he's manning center field for UCF.
No. 3: Caleb Williams Is Back to His Heisman-Winning Best
caleb williams?lol?what do you even say? pic.twitter.com/lJLdBBzXDg
— Kyron Samuels (@kyronsamuels) September 2, 2023
Unlike the two plays above, there's nothing notable about the context of this play — it's just an unbelievable talent making a beautiful play. The player in question is Caleb Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, who has gotten off to another fantastic start in 2023. Through two games — albeit against far-inferior opponents — Williams has tossed for 597 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions. USC is 2-0 and has scored 122 total points. And Williams is making an early Heisman repeat case, even without the services of his top wideout from last year, former Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison.
In this play, the Nevada defense actually does a decent job counteracting Williams, but there's only so much you can do to slow a player like that. He evades pressure and, while on the run, throws an absolutely gorgeous sideline ball to Dorian Singer, who makes a nice play himself to haul in the reception. You have to see it to believe it, but Williams is just that excellent. He will undoubtedly be making these plays on Sundays for years to come.
No. 2: Daniel Jackson Toe-Taps Minnesota Back Into the Game
Toe-dragging TD for Minnesota on 4th and 10 to tie it up vs. Nebraska??pic.twitter.com/OiKWzHLo7S
— On3 (@On3sports) September 1, 2023
This game had the look of a gritty, old-school Big Ten matchup, fitting for the conference's first game of the season. Minnesota was losing 10-3 to Nebraska late in the fourth quarter, and all of the hype around the Golden Gophers offense with second-year quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis at the helm had seemingly evaporated, as the home crowd began to lose hope. But Nebraska will inevitably be Nebraska, and they gave the Gophers a way back into the game.
Minnesota finally put together a nice-looking drive, but it seemed to stall out on the 13-yard line as they found themselves staring at a game-defining fourth-and-10 situation. Undeterred, Kaliakmanis stood in the pocket and tossed a beautiful ball out of the reach of defenders to the far sideline, where Daniel Jackson pulled off a remarkable end zone toe-tap to tie the game with 2:32 remaining. Amazingly enough, the Gophers were able to pick off Nebraska quarterback Jeff Sims for a third time, march back down the field and kick a gorgeous 47-yard game-winning field goal in regulation, adding further gravity to Jackson's toe-tapping heroics.
No. 1: Keon Coleman Calls His Shot and Does Not Miss
Keon Coleman called for the deep ball after the QB sneak.
Called his shot. pic.twitter.com/PbSHdso39C
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 4, 2023
In what was hyped as the game of the week between two teams viewed as College Football Playoff contenders, at least one squad did not disappoint: Florida State. And one player in particular showed up: Keon Coleman, a star transfer wideout from Michigan State. Freed from the horrible Spartans offense, Coleman made the most of the national spotlight and had a day to remember, scoring three touchdowns en route to a 45-24 Seminoles win. But no play was more memorable than the one you can see above.
Just before halftime, LSU was winning 14-7, and FSU had just converted a big first down — but Coleman wanted more. He saw an opening and signaled to quarterback Jordan Travis that he would be going deep, calling his shot for a national audience to see. Coleman made good on that prediction as he found the end zone, reaching over LSU safety Major Burns to secure the huge score. Coleman and FSU announced themselves as serious contenders on opening weekend, and all eyes will be on him to make more remarkable plays as the season goes on.
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