Week three has come and gone and, suddenly, we start to find clarity within the world of college football. Questions we had about teams are starting to be answered but, at the same time, more questions pop up about other teams that we previously thought to be rock solid. Ohio State, the defending national champions, struggled against Northern Illinois and it looks like their quarterback situation is anything but stable at this point. Alabama suffered a crushing defeat at home to Ole Miss. Auburn was steamrolled by Leonard Fournette and LSU. USC lost to a Stanford squad that had no offense for two straight weeks.
With many upsets over college football, what can we take away from this weekend? Let’s dive in and see.
#11 Clemson 20, Louisville 17
Is Louisville the best 0-3 squad in the nation? Coming in to the season, no one could have predicted that Bobby Petrino’s team would be 0-3 at this point. Defensively, the Cardinals have been great, but the offense is still stagnant. Quarterback is still a big issue and, while it looks like Kyle Bolin is the guy for the time being, Petrino needs to stick with one guy in order to get this offense in gear. Louisville has Samford next week in what should be their first win on the season. From there, the Cardinals travel to NC State and then Florida State in two very losable games. Getting to the ACC Championship is still a very real possibility for this squad, but they need to fix their offensive issues.
Meanwhile, Clemson has issues of their own. They are clearly missing the big-play ability of Mike Williams, the wide receiver that suffered a neck injury in the season opener. Artavis Scott is an electric playmaker, but when the defense is keyed in to him, it puts more pressure on young receivers. Deshaun Watson, whom some had pegged as the best quarterback in the nation, has also looked pedestrian so far this season and tossed two ugly interceptions in the game. With so much pressure residing on the offense to perform, it is critical for Watson and his receivers to get in sync before Notre Dame comes knocking on October 3rd.
#13 LSU 45, #18 Auburn 21
The Auburn hype train has officially derailed and, in its place, the Leonard Fournette hype train is going strong. Leonard Fournette was simply amazing in this game, rushing 19 times for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns. That’s good for a 12.0 average per rush! Fournette had two incredible touchdown runs of 29 and 40 yards. Just watch.
Yes, you did see that right. Fournette literally tossed a guy off of him as he was trying to tackle him.
The Adrian Peterson comparisons are real and, as of this week, Fournette should be considered the favorite for the Heisman trophy if he keeps up these performances.
On another positive note, LSU seems to have found its quarterback with Brandon Harris. The sophomore wasn’t asked to do anything major through the air (and why would Les Miles want to take the ball out of Fournette’s hands anyways?), but accounted for 3 total touchdowns on the day and didn’t turn over the ball. Those are positive steps.
Meanwhile, Auburn has collapsed. After narrowly beating Jacksonville State last week, they looked terrible in Death Valley. Jeremy Johnson is clearly a big step down from Nick Marshall, who is playing DB in the NFL. They couldn’t get going on offense and the defense didn’t look intent on stopping Leonard Fournette. Case in point, Rudy Ford, an Auburn defensive back, said stopping Fournette would be easy. Look at what he does to stop Fournette on this play.
All in all, LSU looks like a legit contender in the SEC and Auburn might struggle to make a bowl this year.
#1 Ohio State 20, Northern Illinois 13
Hey, remember when we said that Ohio State might have the best quarterback situation in the country? Yeah, that might have been a bit premature. Cardale Jones started this game, went 4/9 for 36 yards and 2 interceptions and was promptly benched in favor of J.T. Barrett, who didn’t fare much better. Barrett only passed for 97 yards, a touchdown and an interception against Northern Illinois, who gave up 319 yards through the air to UNLV in week one. Ohio State was favored big in this game, gave up 5 turnovers and, if not for the defense, could have easily lost this game.
It surprised many when Cardale Jones got the start over J.T. Barrett in the season opener. While Jones has the higher ceiling and it certainly the better NFL prospect, Barrett was the Big Ten Player of the Year for a reason last year and it looks like he might be the starter going forward. This is good for Ohio State as a team, but not good for Cardale Jones’ draft stock. After the game, Jones seemed to be bitter about his performance and changed his Twitter description to this.
NFL teams will certainly have questions about his maturity going forward.
#8 Notre Dame 30, #14 Georgia Tech 22
Things looked grim when Malik Zaire went down with an injury, but DeShone Kizer’s performance versus Georgia Tech should have Fighting Irish fans feeling optimistic. He finished the day 21/30 for 242 yards, a touchdown and an interception against a stingy Georgia Tech defense. Of course, having playmakers like C.J. Prosise (22 carries, 198 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Will Fuller (6 catches, 131 yards, 1 touchdown) certainly helps the development of a young quarterback. Defensively, Jaylon Smith is the best linebacker in the nation and the heart of the Notre Dame defense. If Kizer continues to develop, Notre Dame is certainly in a position to make a playoff push.
As for Georgia Tech, this was a disheartening defeat for a squad that many had labeled as a dark horse playoff contender. They still have a good shot at the ACC Championship, but Notre Dame unmasked many of their issues on both sides of the ball. They were down 30-7 in the final minutes, only converted 3/15 third downs, and the triple option offense only had 216 total rushing yards. Paul Johnson has a tough task ahead as they only have two weeks before they travel to Clemson.
Stanford 41, #6 USC 31
USC did the impossible. They made Kevin Hogan look good.
After two straight weeks of anemic offenses from Stanford, they finally got it going again against the Trojans. Kevin Hogan completed 78% of his passes for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. More importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over once. USC’s defense couldn’t get pressure and Hogan had more than enough time to deliver the ball, even with his awkwardly long delivery. This was a great win for a Stanford team that has the looks of a team heading for a downhill trajectory. Of course, they still have a tough Pac-12 schedule to get through, but a return to the championship game isn’t out of the question.
As for USC, this was a huge blow to their playoff hopes. They had a good day offensively and didn’t turn the ball over, but their defense was gashed by Stanford. Suddenly, the offseason losses on defense look that much bigger. Leonard Williams and Hayes Pullard aren’t easily replaceable. They have young talent in those places, but young players often times take time to develop. Like Stanford, they have to navigate through a tough Pac-12 schedule and they have to travel to Arizona State, Notre Dame, Cal, and Oregon before finishing the season at home versus UCLA. With one loss already on the scoreboard, USC can’t afford to slip up anymore.
#15 Ole Miss 43, #2 Alabama 37
Another year, another upset.
With their run game lacking, Ole Miss turned to Chad “Swag” Kelly, who delivered with 341 yards through the air and 4 total touchdowns. For Kelly, this was a terrific coming-out performance for a guy who’s college career has been marred by idiotic mistakes. Formerly of Clemson, the nephew of Jim Kelly was dismissed and then arrested before transferred to junior college. After winning a national championship at the JUCO level, he enrolled at Ole Miss and has them firmly on the playoff path. He is firmly in the Heisman discussion and seems to have turned over a new leaf.
But this offense isn’t just Chad Kelly. Laquon Treadwell, one year removed from his horrific knee injury, had a good performance, catching 5 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. True freshman Javon Patterson stepped in at offensive guard and, along with the rest of the o-line, only gave up one sack on the day. Finally, Quincy Adeboyejo had the play of the game when he turned this play into a touchdown.
Defensively, Robert Nkemdiche continues to be a monster. He is a force on defense and dominates linemen play after play. As he showed in this game, his name should be called early in the NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, Alabama can’t seem to figure out their quarterback situation. After starting Jacob Coker in the first two games, Nick Saban threw a curveball and Cooper Bateman got the start. After going 11/14 for 81 yards and an interception, Bateman was benched in favor of Coker. Coker sparked the offense and accounted for 4 total touchdowns on the day, but also threw two costly interceptions. Oregon State transfer Richard Mullaney caught two touchdowns and Derrick Henry ran for 127 yards and another touchdown, but for the most part Alabama’s couldn’t keep up with Chad Kelly and Ole Miss.
Coker looks to be the starter heading forward and Alabama seems to be in the same place they were last year. That result? An SEC Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff. So, Alabama fans, the sky isn’t falling. They travel to Georgia in two weeks and Texas A&M, Tennessee, and LSU are tough competition in the middle of the season. Auburn in the Iron Bowl doesn’t look nearly as difficult as it first did and if Alabama can find an offensive identity they have a shot at redeeming their season.
#10 UCLA 24, #19 BYU 23
The Rosen One has finally come back to Earth.
Josh Rosen finally had his “true-freshman” performance. He threw for only 103 yards and had 3 interceptions on the day. The BYU defense rattled Rosen and, if not for the terrific performances from Paul Perkins and Nate Starks, UCLA could have easily lost this game. Unfortunately, the schedule only gets tougher from here and Rosen needs to improve if UCLA is to continue their winning ways.
Despite the loss, the future looks bright for BYU. Tanner Mangum, the 22-year old true freshman, continues to impress and the loss of Taysom Hill doesn’t look as bad as it first did. The hardest test for BYU remaining on their schedule is probably at Michigan next week so, if they can win out, there’s a really good chance BYU has a shot at a New Year’s Bowl.
California 45, Texas 44
The Jerrod Heard era at Texas has officially begun. The redshirt freshman passed for 364 yards, ran for 163 yards and added 3 touchdowns on the ground. He rallied them from a 21 point deficit in the 4th quarter but, unfortunately, Texas missed an extra point attempt that would have sent them to overtime. Texas lost the game, but the future looks bright.
Meanwhile, Jared Goff is a name to remember for the NFL Draft. Goff passed for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns on the day and continues to impress among NFL scouts. He shows poise, pocket presence, a strong arm and has all the intangibles that NFL teams are looking for. With Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg, and Cardale Jones not impressing so far, Jared Goff is certainly the top quarterback prospect available in the draft.
If you’re a Bears, Jets, Browns or Redskins fan, keep an eye on Jared Goff.
So that’s that. Week three of college football is in the books. The slate of next week’s games doesn’t look interesting so hopefully you got your fill of good games this weekend. The NFL is in full swing and I’m about to watch the Jets get destroyed by the Colts on Monday Night Football.
Until next time, I hope your day goes better than Cooper Bateman’s did.