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Week 3 - Florida ambushes Tennessee in the Swamp, the "Backyard Brawl" and how good is the Pac-12?

Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz led the Gators to a surprise win over Tennessee (Image credit: On3/Twitter)

I've been watching Untold: Swamp Kings on Netflix recently. It's worth a watch if you haven't seen it, telling the story of the University of Florida football team under the relentless coaching style of Urban Meyer and the emergence of the great Gators quarterback, Tim Tebow. What's quite apparent is the intensity of the rivalry between Florida and the University of Tennessee, played out each season in Week 3 of college football. Outside of this, a week that appeared light on headline fixtures managed to deliver. Here's the highlights...

Florida upsets No.11 Tennessee

A rivalry first played in 1916 has intensified in recent years with the both teams being moved into the SEC East a few years ago. Despite No.11 Tennessee's more recent successful seasons, the Gators have managed to keep the Volunteers in check in Gainesville. Florida, unranked, delivered a big upset win over their SEC rivals, winning 29-16 to record their tenth consecutive home win over Tennessee.

Gators quarterback Graham Mertz, the Wisconsin transfer, was solid if unspectacular under center, completing 19 of 24 passes for 166 yards. Florida's offense looked balanced, accounting for 183 yards on the ground. Trevor Etienne, younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars' and former Clemson standout running back Travis, rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown. It was a landmark win for coach Billy Napier, arguably the biggest of his career as he looks to silence his doubters since taking the helm in Gainesville a year ago.

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-34 passing. The Volunteers' offense doesn't seem to be clicking without Hendon Hooker and Jalin Hyatt.

On this showing, neither team looks likely to challenge Georgia in the SEC East at a time when the No.1 Bulldogs have yet to really settle into their season.

"On a big recruiting weekend and in front of an ear-splitting home crowd, Napier finally delivered against the type of opponent his tenure will be judged on." - Matt Baker, Tampa Bay Times.

West Virginia wins the "Backyard Brawl"

Milan Puskar stadium hosted the latest "Backyard Brawl" (Image credit:

Despite the stunning setting of West Virginia's Milan Puskar Stadium, the Mountaineers and Pitt played out an ugly version of their traditional "Backyard Brawl" rivalry in Morgantown. Both teams compiled 211 yards of offense, highlighting the nature of a game that never quite caught fire,

Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec, brought in from Boston College in the transfer portal, is struggling to adjust to his new offense. He completed just 8 of 20 passes for 81 yards. The Mountaineers scored 10 of their 17 points from two Pitt turnovers. West Virginia running back C.J. Donaldson was the standout of a forgettable game, running for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Pitt face a tough run of four games against conference opponents, starting with North Carolina this weekend. The Mountaineers face Texas Tech.

"They call it the 'Brawl' for a reason. That wasn't a thing of beauty." - West Virginia coach Neal Brown.

Colorado win a double overtime thriller over state rivals

Deion Sanders has revolutionised Buffaloes' football (Image credit: CBS Sports)

You just can't take your eyes off No.18 Colorado at the moment. A 43-35 double overtime win over rivals Colorado State having been 11 points down in the fourth quarter simply adds to their Hollywood-scripted season as the Buffaloes move to 3-0.

Colorado State coach Jay Norvell took a swipe at opposite number Deion Sanders in the run up, criticising him for wearing his cap and sunglasses in interviews. Coach Prime responded by buying the entire Colorado team sunglasses. It's not as if they needed any extra motivation.

Shilo Sanders opened the scoring with an 80-yard interception for a touchdown, while brother Shedeur sealed a game-winning 98-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Michael Harrison in the second period of overtime. Colorado's quarterback had an another impressive outing, completing 38 of 47 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. He was picked off once. Dual threat player Travis Hunter was taken to hospital following a late hit by State nickel back Ayden Hector which lacerated his liver. He is expected to be out for three weeks.

Colorado travel to Eugene this weekend to take on Oregon in a real test of their rapid development. The Ducks warmed up with a 55-10 win over Hawaii, with three touchdown passes from quarterback Bo Nix.


The Top 10

South Carolina took a 14-3 half-time lead in Athens in a wake-up call for No.1 Georgia. Gamecocks' quarterback Spencer Rattler made quick throws to try and negate Georgia's pass rush while South Carolina's ground game couldn't get going, rushing for just 53 yards. Bulldogs' quarterback Carson Beck seems proficient but is yet to enjoy the breakout performance you feel would really elevate Georgia's game? Are they No.1 on reputation rather than performance?

No.3 Florida State stayed unbeaten with a close win over Boston College (Image credit: CapperTek)

No.2 Michigan eased to a 31-6 win over Bowling Green with an indifferent performance from Wolverines' quarterback J.J. MCarthy who was intercepted three times. Michigan take on Rutgers this weekend, No.3 Florida State escaped Chestnut Hill with a 31-29 win over Boston College, who racked up 18 penalties for 131 yards. Eagles quarterback Thomas Castellanos threw for 305 yards, while Seminoles passer Jordan Travis warmed up for Florida State's key ACC showdown with Clemson this weekend with 212 yards and two touchdowns.

No.4 Texas almost followed the script of recent seasons. Convincing performance over impressive opponent followed by needless game where the Longhorns underperform and throw away a fourth quarter lead. This year's version can't seem to find that script. They struggled early against Wyoming but scoring 21 fourth quarter points to win 31-10 and remain in the Playoff conversation.

No.6 Ohio State's offense clicked into gear following the announcement of Kyle McCord as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback. He finished the 63-10 rout of Western Kentucky with three touchdown passes for 318 yards, including the above 75-yard bomb to Marvin Harrison, Jr. who clocked 21.1 mph on the play and hauled in 125 yards in the game. The Buckeyes have a huge game against 4-0 Notre Dame this weekend,

The No.9 Fighting Irish warmed up for Ohio State with a 41-17 win over Central Michigan. Running back Audric Estime continues to impress. He ran for 176 yards while Sam Hartman passed for three touchdowns. No.7 Penn State forced five turnovers in their 30-13 win over Big Ten rivals Illinois to move to 3-0.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix, Jr is putting up video game numbers (Image credit: AP/Stephen Brashear)

The Nittany Lions will need to be mindful of No.8 Washington, who look in fantastic form. The Huskies walloped Michigan State 41-7, having taken a 35-0 lead at half-time. Quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. threw for 473 yards and four touchdowns and must be in the Heisman conversation, having 1,537 passing yards and 12 touchdown passes to his name in just three games. Penix, Jr. and Washington take on Cal this weekend.

No.10 Alabama (that sounds strange) limped to a 17-13 victory over South Florida. Uncertainty over their quarterback position is hampering the Crimson Tide. Jalen Milroe was benched after the home loss to Texas, replaced by Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner who was in turn benched and replaced by freshman Ty Simpson who also failed to impress. Nick Saban has reportedly renamed Jalen Milroe starter for Alabama's SEC matchup with Ole Miss this weekend.

AP Top 25

This week's AP Top 25 sees no change at the very top, but Texas move to No.3 after their win over Wyoming, swapping places with No.4 Florida State. Oregon break into the top ten, while Oklahoma, North Carolina and Duke sit at 16-18, having all risen three spots. Florida climb into No.25 after their upset of Tennessee. Alabama, down to No.13 and Tennessee, down to No.23 are the big fallers.

College football games to watch in Week 4

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No.6 Ohio State @ No.9 Notre Dame - the Buckeyes travel to South Bend for a huge game that has massive Playoff implications. Ohio State will start as slight favourites.

No.4 Florida State @ Clemson - a critical ACC clash for both teams in Death Valley. Clemson comes in hot after a 48-14 win over Florida Atlantic.

No.15 Ole Miss @ No.13 Alabama - Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin told everyone to "get their popcorn ready" last time the two teams met in Tuscaloosa before his team were promptly thrashed 42-21. They might be favourites this time.

No.18 Colorado @ No.10 Oregon - a fascinating Pac-12 showdown in Eugene. The brash pretenders face a big test against an improving Oregon team. Expect fireworks and a hatful of points.

Across The Pond College Football Podcast

Rebecca and I talk about the SEC struggles, the rise of the Pac-12 and question what's happening at Alabama? We also look ahead to an exciting Week 4. Please have a listen...

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