Play of the Season, a Good Week for the State of Michigan and All is Well at USC - Week 3 Highlights
Week 3 didn't disappoint. We saw arguably the play of the season, and the gap in the SEC closing as Alabama edged out a fast improving Florida team. It was a good week for college football in Michigan with a wide open battle for the Big Ten emerging, and it's all change in Southern California.
Here's my highlights of the week...
Nebraska 16-23 No.3 Oklahoma
I’m starting with THE highlight of the week and possibly already the play of the season. On a 4th and 18 play, Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez scrambled right and threw the ball towards the end zone. Before it could reach its destination, Oklahoma cornerback D.J. Graham leapt backwards and plucked the ball out of the hair one-handed, twisting in the air and came down with the touchdown-saving interception. Here it is...
It marked an eleventh straight win for the Sooners, who move to 3-0. Spencer Rattler threw for 214 yards, a touchdown, and ran for another.
No.1 Alabama 31-29 No.11 Florida
The Crimson Tide marched into the Swamp oozing confidence on the back of sixteen consecutive wins and swept to an early 21-3 lead. Bryce Young led Alabama’s offense with 240 yards and threw for three touchdowns. Then back came the Gators. Four drives for touchdowns brought them within striking distance of a big upset. QB Emory Jones capping a composed 99-yard drive to run in the score and bring Florida back within five points. Following Dameon Pierce’s 17-yard touchdown run, the Gators fell short on a two-point conversion which gave Alabama a sigh of relief. Florida are getting closer. Coach Dan Mullen commented that his side had come within six and two points of Alabama in their last two games. The Crimson Tide face Ole Miss and Texas A&M in the next three weeks. The gap is closing in the SEC and if Florida can overcome a very good Georgia team, these teams could be reunited in the SEC championship final.
South Carolina 13-40 No.2 Georgia
Speaking of a very good Georgia team, the Bulldogs' swarming defense was on display again in this dominant win over the Gamecocks. J.T. Daniels put any question of a challenge to his position as starting quarterback firmly aside, throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
“That’s why they have the top defense in the country. They’re hard to run the football on. So there wasn’t some magical scheme they came out with tonight. They got five-star recruits everywhere and they play really physical. Damn.” - South Carolina coach Shane Beamer
No.22 Auburn 20-28 No.10 Penn State
Beaver Stadium’s imposing “White Out” greeted a 2-0 Auburn team looking to continue their rise up the Top 25 rankings. Penn State QB Sean Clifford had arguably his best game for the Nittany Lions, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns with an impressive 88% completion rate, ending a five-game losing streak against teams from the SEC. Kobe Hudson’s early fumble lost control for Auburn in a tight game. Tigers RB Tank Bigbsy ran for a touchdown to bring Auburn within a point before RB Noah Cain ran in the winning touchdown for the Nittany Lions. The Penn State team that started 0-5 last year with multiple turnovers is a different animal this year, moving to 3-0 with a win over Wisconsin also under their belt. Games on the road at Iowa and Ohio State will define their season, but they are currently the form team in the Big Ten.
Georgia State 8-14 No.6 Clemson
A lightning delay of an hour and fifty-three minutes was possibly the most entertaining element of this game. Thank goodness Clemson have a good defense or their No.6 ranking going into this game could have been much lower. A fourth and goal stop by James Skalski with nineteen seconds left saved the Tigers from an embarrassing defeat to Georgia State. If the misfiring offense can find its feet, Clemson could still challenge this year. Until D.J. Uiagalelei, who passed for just 126 yards, and the passing offense find their groove, Clemson’s attack is reliant on their running game behind Will Shipley. Clemson’s defense, yet to allow a touchdown this season, will have to continue to hold the team up in the meantime or the unthinkable loss of their ACC title and place in the end of season playoff could just happen.
Tulsa 20-41 No.9 Ohio State
Ohio State seems to be having the opposite problem to Clemson this season. An offense with high-points potential needs to keep the scoreboard ticking over to make up for its porous defense. The perennial challenging Buckeyes gave up 500 yards to Tulsa, a Group of 5 team. Conversely, their 18-year old freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 277 yards, the third highest total in Ohio State history, and three touchdowns. He is the latest in the production line of stars to come out of Columbus. Buckeyes QB C.J. Stroud threw the winning touchdown to Garrett Wilson as Ohio State came through comfortably in the end. Golden Hurricanes QB Davis Brin passed for over 300 yards.
No.8 Cincinnati 38-24 Indiana
This game could have been much different had Micah McFadden stayed on the field. The Indiana linebacker was ejected for targeting with the Hoosiers up 14-0 and on course for an upset win over the highly rated Bearcats. Cincinnati regained both ball and momentum and the game was turned on its head, DeShaun Pace’s interception of Michael Penix, Jr. cementing an eventually emphatic win for the No.8 Bearcats.
USC 45-14 Washington State
All is well again in L.A. after a transformational weekend for the Trojans. Out went head coach Clay Helton and in came Donte Williams, the first black head coach in USC history. An early injury to QB Kedon Slovis threatened to derail Williams’ first game in charge, but backup QB Jaxson Dart got them back on track. The true freshman threw for 391 yards against Washington State and four touchdowns, the most in a USC debut, two to Drake London, who had 170 receiving yards. USC looked like a different team with the young quarterback at the helm, and the Trojans suddenly have a dilemma at signal-caller.
Virginia 39-59 No.21 North Carolina
A good week for the state of Michigan...
Michigan State 38-17 No.24 Miami
Michigan State leapt into the Top 25 this week, jumping to 3-0 and simultaneously pushing out Miami. QB Payton Thorne threw four touchdown passes for the second consecutive week, to Jalen Nailor and breakout running back Kenneth Walker III ran for 172 yards, adding more ammunition to an emerging Heisman campaign.
With a win over Northwestern already on their record and Nebraska to play this weekend, Mel Tucker's Spartans are a dark horse in the wide open Big Ten.
Northern Illinois 10-63 No.25 Michigan
The Wolverines ran for 373 yards to continue their strong start to the season. In a wide open Big Ten where Penn State and Wisconsin look strong, Michigan could contend too if Jim Harbaugh can break his losing streak against Ohio State this year. Cornelius Johnson's 87-yard touchdown reception was the highlight as Michigan moves to 3-0 with their win over Northern Illinois.
Western Michigan 44-41 Pittsburgh
Panthers QB Kaleb Elely was hooked up to an IV dealing with cramps at half time and recivered to lead Western Michigan to an upset victory over Pitt at the Steelers' Heinz Field. Elely threw for three touchdowns and 336 yards as Western Michigan rounded off a great week for the college football in Michigan,
Tulane 21-61 No.17 Ole Miss
Even heavy rain in Oxford couldn't dampen the Rebels' offense. Matt Corral became the first player in SEC history to pass for three touchdowns and run for four, as Mississippi racked up 707 yards on offense, sweeping aside a Tulane team that almost upset Oklahoma in their season opener. Ole Miss continues to rise up the AP Top 25 and Corral's campaign for the Heisman gathers pace.
Among the leading contenders, No.4 Oregon, still missing Kayvon Thibodeaux, beat Stony Brook 48-7, No.5 Iowa beat Kent State 30-7 and will have an eye on a potential Big Ten decider against Penn State in two weeks. No.7 Texas A&M shut out New Mexico 34-0 behind three touchdown passes from Zach Calsade.
In South Bend, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly tied the legendary Knute Rockne for the most wins in Fighting Irish history as the No.12 ranked team beat Purdue 27-13.
Jake Haener took a beating but rallied to throw the winning touchdown and 455 passing yards as Fresno State upset No.13 UCLA 40-37. No.23 BYU continued its momentum after their Holy War win last week by knocking off No. 17 Arizona State 23-17, moving to 3-0.
Dillon Gabriel's UCF career is likely over after he fractured his clavicle in a 42-35 loss to Louisville. Texas bounced back from a loss to Arkansas to thrash Rice 58-0, scoring six rushing touchdowns with Casey Thompson installed as starting quarterback. No.20 Arkansas rolled over Georgia Southern 45-10 and met Texas A&M in one of the games of this week.
Look out for...
No. 12 Notre Dame vs. No. 18 Wisconsin at Soldier Field in Chicago. Wisconsin has a chance to stake its claim for Big Ten contention with a win over the Fighting Irish.
No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 16 Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Sam Pittman's Razorbacks are surprising many this season and will prove a tough test for the Aggies.
Stanford @ No.24 UCLA. Both 2-1 teams can gain a leg up in the PAC-12. Stanford has won 12 of the last 13 in this series. UCLA looks to bounce back after an upset loss to Fresno State.
Here's this week's AP Top 25...
Rank Team Record
1 (1) Alabama 3-0
2 (2) Georgia 3-0
3 (4) Oregon 3-0
4 (3) Oklahoma 3-0
5 (5) Iowa 3-0
6 (10) Penn State 3-0
7 (7) Texas A&M 3-0
8 (8) Cincinnati 3-0
9 (6) Clemson 2-1
10 (9) Ohio State 2-1
11 (11) Florida 2-1
12 (12) Notre Dame 3-0
13 (17) Ole Miss 3-0
14 (14) Iowa State 2-1
15 (23) Brigham Young 3-0
16 (20) Arkansas 3-0
17 (17) Coastal Carolina 3-0
18 (18) Wisconsin 1-1
19 (25) Michigan 3-0
20 (-) Michigan State 3-0
21 (21) North Carolina 2-1
22 (-) Fresno State 3-1
23 (22) Auburn 2-1
24 (13) UCLA 2-1
25 (-) Kansas State 3-0