AUBURN, Ala. — Mike Dyer bulled through the line for a game-saving touchdown with 30 seconds left and defending national champion Auburn escaped with a 42-38 win over Utah State on Saturday.
The 23rd-ranked Tigers (1-0) scored twice in the final 2:07, just when it seemed like the Aggies (0-1) were poised for a stunning victory.
First-time starter Barrett Trotter hit Philip Lutzenkirchen for a 15-yard touchdown to start a Cam Newton-like comeback. Then wide receiver Emory Blake collected the onside kick to set up the game-winning drive. Trotter completed three passes and Onterio McCalebb had runs of 10 and 14 yards to push the ball near the goal line.
BCS title game MVP Dyer did the rest, ducking his head and powering through the Utah State defenders.
Never miss a local story.
Poised freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton couldn't muster a threat in the final seconds for the Aggies, who also tested Oklahoma in last year's opener.
Trotter completed a solid, if otherwise unremarkable starting debut with a huge finale. He was 11 of 14 for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Trotter marched the Tigers downfield quickly before hitting an open Lutzenkirchen to keep them alive. He followed a 13-yard completion to Travante Stallworth with a 9-yarder to McCalebb and a 7-yarder to Lutzenkirchen, one of Newton's favorite red zone targets last season.
Then, Blake came up with another big play with his midair scoop after catching a 56-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Auburn still wound up trailing 21-7 in the second quarter but one of the many youngsters the Tigers are relying on came up big.
Freshman Tre Mason returned a kick 97 yards to close the gap. Dyer added an 11-yard touchdown to tie it midway through the third quarter.
Josh Thompson added a 34-yard field goal and the Tigers didn't take the lead until Trotter's 39-yard touchdown to Stallworth late in the third quarter, making it 28-24.
It didn't last. Keeton faked a handoff, went left and got the nose of the ball across the goal line for a 31-28 lead with 11:20 left.
Robert Turbin then scored a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:38 left to push the lead back to 10 after Utah State coach Gary Andersen rolled the dice in a big way.
Facing fourth down deep in Auburn territory, the Aggies successfully faked a field goal, completing a pass by holder Stanley Morrison, before Turbin capped the 14-play drive.
No. 2 Alabama 48, Kent State 7: AJ McCarron stepped up in Alabama's quarterback race Saturday, throwing for a touchdown and 226 yards as the No. 2 Crimson Tide beat Kent State 48-7.
Vying with Phillip Sims to replace Greg McElroy, McCarron had a 24-yard scoring toss to Marquis Maze and finished 14-of-23 passing.
McCarron was hardly perfect, throwing two interceptions. Sims also threw two interceptions — one that set up Kent State's score — and finished 7-of-14 for 73 yards.
Starting in place of departed Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson scored three touchdowns and ran for 37 yards.
The season-opener was the first game in Tuscaloosa since a deadly tornado swept through town, and the school honored police, firefighters and other first responders during a pregame ceremony that included Gov. Robert Bentley. The stadium was still during a moment of silence to remember tornado victims; fans in the upper seats could see the trail of destruction in the distance.
No. 15 Arkansas 51, Missouri State 7: Tyler Wilson threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Jarius Wright, Joe Adams tied a Southeastern Conference record with two punt returns for touchdowns and Arkansas defeated Missouri State 51-7 on Saturday.
Wilson, who served as Ryan Mallett's backup the past two seasons, led the Razorbacks (1-0) to scores in each of his four possessions — including 33- and 29-yard touchdown strikes to Wright. The junior guided Arkansas to 303 yards of total offense in four possessions.
Adams had only one catch for 11 yards, but the senior returned punts 61 and 78 yards. The returns were the second and third of Adams' career, with his last a 97-yarder against Mississippi last season.
The Bears (0-1), who started freshman Kierra Harris at quarterback in place of suspended starter Trevor Wooden, gained just 18 yards of offense in the first half.
No. 22 Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3: John Brantley looked comfortable in Florida's new offense, Chris Rainey scored three different ways and the 22nd-ranked Gators opened the Will Muschamp era by beating Florida Atlantic 41-3 Saturday night.
Brantley completed 21 of 30 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, showing marked improvement in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense. Rainey touched the ball 18 times, scoring on a 14-yard reception and a 14-yard run. He also scooped a blocked punt and sprinted 22 yards for a score.
Muschamp, admittedly anxious before his Florida debut, enjoyed a relatively stress-free night. Although the Gators ruled defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd ineligible before the game, the only other negative on this night was an injury to versatile Trey Burton.
BYU 14, Mississippi 13: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy recovered a fumble in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown as BYU came back to beat Mississippi 14-13 Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
BYU trailed 13-0 early in the fourth quarter, but Jake Heaps hit Ross Apo for a 19-yard touchdown with 9:52 remaining to pull within 13-7. Less than five minutes later, BYU's defensive pressure forced Ole Miss quarterback Zack Stoudt to fumble, and Van Noy jumped on the football to cap a stunning comeback.
Ole Miss led 3-0 at halftime and stretched it to 10-0 with 8:34 left in the third quarter on a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown by Charles Sawyer.
BYU won its first game as an independent after leaving the Mountain West Conference last year. Jake Heaps completed 24 of 38 passes for 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Cougars outgained the Rebels 318-208.