A year ago, I watched Quinn Ewers show glimpses of his much-hyped potential as visiting Alabama escaped with a narrow victory over the hometown Texas Longhorns in the blistering heat of an early September afternoon in Austin. Ewers left the game early with a shoulder injury following a late hit from Dallas Turner, having completed 9 of 12 passes for 134 yards.
Texas stuns Alabama
On Saturday, in the return leg in Tuscaloosa, the young Texas quarterback came of age, passing for 349 yards and three touchdowns, two to Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell. Tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders hauled in five catches for 114 yards. Equally impressive was the Texas defense, swarming over the home team's offensive line. Freshman linebacker Anthony Hill, Jr. announced himself as one to watch with two sacks. The cocky visitors were right up in Alabama's face on Saturday night, daring to stare them down. When the Crimson Tide gained momentum, the Longhorns responded with a score. It was breathtaking to watch.
Make no mistake, this was a statement win. The 34-24 upset was Alabama's first home loss in 21 games. The previous team to defeat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa was LSU in 2019, the year they went on to win the national championship. While it might be a reach to talk up Texas as a national champion this year, there are some odd parallels. LSU's quarterback was Joe Burrow, a former Ohio State player who transferred south and flourished in Baton Rouge after losing the battle for the starting job to Dwayne Haskins. Quinn Ewers, a former Ohio State player, transferred south having been beaten to the starting job by C.J. Stroud. If he can match Burrow's meteoric rise, Ewers could find himself rising up the draft boards of quarterback-hungry NFL teams.
His opposite number, Jalen Milroe, was harried and harassed but frequently showed flashes of athleticism and a strong arm to keep Alabama in the game. His inexperience showed as a couple of bad decisions led to turnovers but his talent is evident and he will improve. Under pressure, he put up 255 passing yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 44 yards.
Alabama, like their young quarterback, will improve and were punished with indiscipline that led to penalties against them. Nick Saban will use this humbling loss as an opportunity to motivate them back into playoff contention.
"Aggression and execution." - ESPN commentator Chris Fowler on the performance by Texas.
Miami rolls back the years
Looking for revenge after their 19-7 loss in College Station last year, a determined Miami reeled in Texas A&M after letting the Aggies build a lead early on in a battle between two big college football programs that disappointed last year.
Hurricanes coach Mario Cristobal, after a shaky first year in South Florida, has energised his Miami team, who have seemed to struggle under the weight of expectation since their zenith in the Eighties. Quarterback Tyler van Dyke, who faltered last season after an impressive 2021 campaign, seems to be back on track. He peppered the Aggies' defense for 374 yards and five touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing. Receivers Xavier Reshepo and Jacolby George combined for 220 receiving yards with George catching three touchdown passes.
Texas A&M quarterback Connor Weigman put up 336 yards, throwing for two touchdowns and ran for another in a promising performance, before being picked off by Kamren Kichens. It was the first interception of Weigman's career. Aggies receiver Evan Stewart had 11 receptions for 142 yards.
It seems to be back to the drawing board for Texas A&M, a program, that continues to struggle despite the riches invested in a huge contract for head coach Jimbo Fisher and the outstanding array of talent amassed through some impressive recruitment in recent years. The addition of Bobby Petrino to call offensive plays makes you wonder whether Fisher, who won a national championship at Florida State, is the man to take this sleeping giant forward.
Colorado double their 2022 win total
The Buffaloes' renaissance under Deion Sanders continued in front of their home fans in Boulder. No.22 Colorado, who broke into the AP Top 25 after a sensational Week 1 win over TCU, continued to impress with a 36-14 win over Nebraska. Moving to 2-0 for the season having won just one game last year, Coach Prime's team are a must-see when college football takes centre stage on Saturdays.
Shedeur Sanders dazzled again, completing 31 of 42 passes for 393 yards and two touchdowns, one to receiver Xavier Weaver who caught 10 passes for 170 yards. Dual threat Travis Hunter caught three passes for 73 yards on offense and made four tackles on defense. Colorado seems to keep introducing new gems each week. Last week, Dylan Edwards joined Sanders and Hunter in the headlines. This week it was Weaver and Tar'varish Dawson who had a pair of touchdowns, one on the ground and one in the air.
Nebraska have work to do under Matt Rhule. Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims struggled under center, passing for just 106 yards, but ran for another 67 including a highlight-reel 57 yard score.
"A video game on offense"
This was a description, and an accurate one, of No.5 USC's electric offense which flexed its muscle in a 56-10 demolition of Stanford. 49-3 up at half-time, the Trojans rested superstar quarterback Caleb Williams after he completed 19 of 21 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for one more. In the first half.
USC's seven touchdowns were scored by seven different players. Freshman Zachariah Branch continued his promising campaign, racking up 112 total yards through a combination of rushing, receiving and return yards. USC's meeting with Colorado in three weeks will be mouth-watering. Shedeur Sanders up against Caleb Williams. The pair have combined for 1500 passing yards and 16 touchdowns already this season.
Best of the rest
No.20 Ole Miss saw off No.24 Tulane 37-20 in a very entertaining game in New Orleans. Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Receiving transfer sensation Tre Harris caught his fifth touchdown passes in two weeks, opening the scoring just a minute into the game..
Appalachian State were looking for a repeat of their potential upset 0f North Carolina, having lost a thrilling encounter 63-61 to the Tar Heels last season. North Carolina held out for a 34-30 victory but had to wait until the second period of overtime to do it. Heels running back Omarion Hampton rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns.
No.1 Georgia eased past Ball State 45-3 while No.2 Michigan beat UNLV 35-7 in an emotional game for Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy. McCarthy wrote the number 47 on his hand to honour former high school team mate and UNLV player Ryan Kreeler who passed away in February from a hearth arrhythmia. Bizarrely, as the CBS broadcasting team mentioned the story, McCarthy connected with Michigan receiver Roman Wilson for a 47-yard score.
Big wins for No.4 Florida State, 66-14 over Southern Mississippi, No.5 Ohio State, 35-7 over Youngstown State, and No.7 Penn State, 63-7 over Delaware, kept them in contention for the Playoff.
No.8 Washington overpowered Tulsa 43-10 with quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. throwing for 409 yards and three touchdowns. No.9 Notre Dame moved to 3-0 with an impressive 45-24 win over North Carolina State. Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman has ten touchdown passes already this season.
College football games to watch in Week 3
Pitt @ West Virginia - "The Backyard Brawl" - the two teams, just 70 miles apart, share a rivalry dating back to 1895.
No.11 Tennessee @ Florida - the Gators are unbeaten in The Swamp in nine games vs. SEC East rival Tennessee. Can the Vols break their drought in Florida?
South Carolina @ No.1 Georgia - The defending champions host a South Carolina team capable of a big performance on their day. Will they show their potential in Athens?
No.14 LSU @ Mississippi State - LSU travel to Starkville to take on a much more balanced Mississippi State offense under new head coach Zach Arnett.
Across The Pond College Football Podcast
Rebecca and I talk through Week 2 and look ahead to Week 3 in the latest edition of our Across The Pond College Football podcast. We get into the Longhorns' stunning win in Tuscaloosa, discuss the Colorado phenomenon and wonder if anyone can beat Caleb Williams to the Heisman? Please have a listen...