The junior from Pasadena, Calif., played with panache, throwing for four touchdowns and running for two, completing 23 of 30 passes despite leaving the game twice once with cramping and a second time after taking a hard hit near the sideline.
"It's just having swagger," he said. "Coming out here and not being nervous. Just come out here and play your game."
Adams scored on a 2-yard run to put the Eagles up 49-46 on their final drive. It was the first time a team from the Football Championship Subdivision has defeated a ranked team from the Football Bowl Subdivision since James Madison beat Virginia Tech in September 2010. The first FCS team to beat a ranked team was Appalachian State, over Michigan in 2007.
Sean Mannion threw for 422 yards and Brandin Cooks had 13 catches for 196 yards for the Beavers, who two seasons ago were similarly surprised by lower division Sacramento State and stumbled to a 3-9 finish.
Getting the ball back in the final seconds, Mannion led the Beavers down the field, completing two quick passes to give Oregon State a chance to tie, but Trevor Romaine's 52-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
No. 3 Oregon 66, Nicholls St. 3 • In Eugene, Ore., Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass and ran for two additional scores and the Ducks made easy work of lower-tier Nicholls State.
Mariota, who set an Oregon record with 38 touchdowns last season as a redshirt freshman, completed 12 of 21 passes for 234 yards before sitting after the third quarter when the Ducks had built a 45-3 lead.
De'Anthony Thomas ran for 128 yards and two more touchdowns for Oregon in the debut of new head coach Mark Helfrich.
Auburn 31, Washington St. 24 • In Auburn, Ala., Tre Mason returned a kick 100 yards and Corey Grant scored on a 75-yard run to lead Auburn over Washington State in Gus Malzahn's debut as the Tigers coach. Robenson Therezie also picked off two passes, including one in the end zone with less than five minutes remaining, for the Tigers (1-0). They had managed just two interceptions during last season's 3-9 debacle.
• No. 3 Oregon 66, Nicholls St. 3
• E. Washington 49, No. 25 Oregon St. 46
• Auburn 31, Washington St. 24
• No. 21 UCLA vs. Nevada, late
• Washington vs. No. 19 Boise St., late
• Cal vs. No. 22 Northwestern, late