Big Upsets, Wild Comebacks Highlight an Exciting Week 3 of College Football
Chaos reigned supreme as upsets shook up the Top Ten and wild comebacks ended in dramatic fashion. Here are some of the highlights from this week in college football.
Ole Miss Knocked Alabama Off Its SEC Perch
We should have known it wasn’t going to be Alabama’s night when the Crimson Tide fumbled the opening kickoff, leading to a quick Ole Miss field goal. But any doubt about that was quickly answered early in the third quarter when the Rebels took a 24-10 lead on a 66-yard tip drill touchdown pass that clearly showed the football gods were on Ole Miss’ side this night. Quarterback Chad Kelly mishandled a high snap and threw the ball blindly into double coverage where it was tipped up before being grabbed by junior receiver Quincy Adeboyejo who took it the rest of the way.
It was just one of those nights where nothing went the Crimson Tide’s way. Alabama rallied to pull the game within six points twice in the second half but was unable to overcome five turnovers that led to 24 Rebel points. (This was the first time under Nick Saban that the Crimson Tide finished minus-5 in turnover margin in a game.)
Ole Miss leads the nation in scoring offense at 64 points per game and won’t face another ranked opponent until hosting No. 14 Texas A&M in late October. With LSU’s victory over Auburn (more on that in a minute), the battle for the SEC West has been turned on its head.
Leonard Fournette Has Gone Beast Mode
If last week’s near upset by Jacksonville State was a warning sign, this week’s performance by Auburn was a great big flashing red light warning of danger for those who expected the Tigers to be playoff contenders this year. On the first play from scrimmage, LSU’s star sophomore running back Leonard Fournette busted loose for 71 yards. But his real highlight run came in the second quarter when he broke a couple of tackles and absolutely trucked an Auburn defender en route to a 40-yard touchdown run.
Fournette’s strong start this year (a nation’s-best 193.5 yards per game and six touchdowns) will make LSU a legitimate contender in the SEC hunt while Auburn (124th nationally in rushing defense and 92nd in scoring), barring a major turnaround, could be in for a very long season.
Epic Comebacks Fell Just Short
We all love a good comeback story but, unfortunately, come-from-behind efforts by two of college football’s most storied programs came up just short.
Nebraska rallied from 23 points down with less than nine minutes to play to force overtime at Miami. Unfortunately, quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s pass on the Cornhuskers’ first possession was intercepted, allowing Miami to kick a field goal for the 36-33 win.
This season has been a mixed bag for Nebraska. On the one hand, the Cornhuskers are 1-2 after three games for the first time since 1981 and don’t really have an offensive identity. On the other, under Bo Pelini the Huskers were known for folding under pressure when facing adversity and losing by four or five touchdowns. It’s hard to imagine a team having two tougher losses than Nebraska (this one plus the Week One BYU Hail Mary), so it will be interesting to see how the Cornhuskers fare from here. If nothing else, watching Nebraska go for two at Miami brought back some memories from better days.
In Austin, meanwhile, Texas’ loss might have been even more painful. The Longhorns scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull within one of California. All they needed was an extra point with 1:11 left to send the game into overtime. Then the unthinkable happened.
Yes, Texas kicker Nick Rose missed the game-tying field goal. His teammates were already celebrating on the sideline and Longhorn coach Charlie Strong admitted he didn’t even see the kick as he’d already started planning for overtime.
If there was one silver lining in the loss, it looks like Texas might have finally found the quarterback leadership it has been lacking. In just his second career start, freshman Jerrod Heard set a school record with 527 total yards and looked positively Vince Young-esque on his 45-yard touchdown play in the games final minutes.
However, with three straight games against ranked teams on deck, the young Longhorns could be in for some more growing pains.
Baker Mayfield Has Found a Home
Just a couple of years ago, Baker Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech and made NCAA history by becoming the first true freshman walk-on to start his first career game. But at the end of the season, he announced he was leaving school and was going to walk on at Oklahoma. That decision might be one of the best things to happen to the Sooners in recent history, as Mayfield earned Oklahoma’s starting quarterback job and has more than lived up to expectations.
This week, the junior set a school record with 572 total yards and tied another record with six touchdowns in the Sooners’ 52-38 win over Tulsa. His strong early performance not only has Oklahoma suddenly in the mix for a Big 12 title but is starting to earn him some Heisman talk. While the Sooners’ defense has once again been a weak spot this season, Mayfield’s play mean OU will at least be able to score with the best the league has to offer.
Stanford Put the Pac-12 Up for Grabs
Senior quarterback Kevin Hogan passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinal rallied from a 21-10 deficit to beat USC for the first time. After a subpar showing last year and an early season loss to Northwestern, questions abounded about Stanford’s place among the Pac-12’s best. But the 41-31 upset of No. 6 USC showed the Cardinal can not only play spoiler but could still contend in a suddenly wide-open conference.
The Trojans gave up 474 yards and couldn’t get off the field, allowing Stanford to control the ball for almost 40 minutes of the game. The loss certainly didn’t knock USC out of Pac-12 or even national contention, but it did certainly expose some of its defensive flaws. With a tough road trip to Arizona State next week and five upcoming games against ranked teams, USC’s margin for error just got really thin. For Stanford, meanwhile, upsets like this are becoming old hat—this is the fourth consecutive game the Cardinal has won when entering as a double-digit underdog.
An A for Effort
Wofford pulled off the craziest double-reverse-flea-flicker-for-a-two-yard-gain you’re likely to see.