The baby quarterbacks are all grown up.
No toddling, no tumbling, no terrible twos ... the four true freshman quarterbacks who started the first game of their careers all quickly advanced to big-boy football by winning in Week 1 of college football.
Often in dramatic fashion.
Auburn's Bo Nix delivered the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds to go against Oregon; Hank Bachmeier passed for 407 yards to rally Boise State to a 36-31 win at Florida State; North Carolina's Sam Howell threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns for a 24-20 victory over South Carolina in coach Mack Brown's return to coaching; Arizona State's Jayden Daniels threw for 284 yards and accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in a 30-7 win over Kent State.
TCU's Max Duggan saw a lot of playing time, too. And two more true freshmen will start this week due to injuries.
Nix had the biggest spotlight in primetime in the opening week's only game matching two ranked teams.
He passed for 177 yards, ran for 42, but it's that late TD pass that could launch a legacy. He moved the Tigers into field goal range, but coach Gus Malzahn gave the offense one more snap to make something happen.
Nix threw a jump-ball kind of pass to the goal line for Seth Williams, who wrested the ball from a defender for a touchdown as then-No. 16 Auburn beat No. 11 Oregon 27-21.
"He has some savviness to him," Malzahn said of Nix. "When the game is on the line you have to make plays, and that's the one thing he showed."
Nix was a five-star recruit who won a three-man race for the job after arriving for spring ball. Each of the other three who started also had the benefit of spring ball, one of the many factors involved in why true freshman are able to immediately excel at the highest levels (see Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts, Jake Fromm and Tua Tagovailoa, among others).
Nix has a chance to greatly influence the SEC and national championship races, while Bachmeier and Boise State took a huge step toward a big bowl with the comeback in Tallahassee. The Broncos scored the final 23 points of the game as Bachmeier completed 30 of 51 passes with a touchdown and an interception.
Howell, who also won a three-way race, completed 15 of 24 passes for 245 yards, with both of his touchdown passes coming in the fourth quarter.
The dual-threat Daniels was 15 of 24 passing, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
"These guys don't treat me like a freshman; they treat me like I'm an upperclassman so sometimes I forget I'm a freshman," Daniels said of his teammates. "I really don't pay attention to those types of things, I'm just here to help the team win in any way possible."
TCU's Duggan came in at the start of the third series after Alex Delton, a Kansas State transfer, started the game. Duggan split time after that, completing 16 of 23 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown during a 39-7 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Two more baby QBs will take off the training wheels this week.
Southern California sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels suffered a torn ACL and cartilage damage Saturday night and is out for the season. True freshman Kedon Slovis took over against Fresno State and is expected to start Saturday when the Trojans host Stanford in their Pac-12 opener.
"He did the things we needed him to do to go win a football game in that situation," coach Clay Helton said of Slovis.
At South Carolina, senior Jake Bentley is out "an extended period of time," perhaps for the season, because of a Lisfranc injury, coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. The Gamecocks will turn to Ryan Hilinski, who was rated the No. 2 pro-style quarterback recruit in the nation in the 247Sports composite.
Through the cottage industry of private quarterback coaches, year-round training, quarterback camps, better technology, early graduation and a proliferation of 7-on-7 competitions, true freshmen are more physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to skip most of the growing pains associated with young QBs.
And they're just getting started.
"He has great composure," Brown said of Howell. "And he'll be better this week than he was last week."
--Field Level Media