Utah’s Rout, TCU’s Escape Highlight Wild Week 4 in College Football
Big showings by Utah and UCLA shook up the Pac-12 race, while exciting finishes made the Big 12 must watch television. Here are the big storylines from this week in college football.
Utah Is the Real Deal
Look, I understand this is not the same Oregon team that we saw under Marcus Mariota the last couple of years. I get that. But at the same time, the Ducks didn’t suddenly just forget how to play football. And that’s exactly what makes Utah’s 62-20 win at Oregon all the more impressive. The game was close early, with the Ducks trailing just 20-13 late in the second quarter. But the Utes suddenly caught fire, rolling off 42 unanswered points over a span of just 21 minutes. The whole team got in on the action, with rushing touchdowns, passing touchdowns and trick plays (a fake punt, a halfback pass for a score and the first fake punt return I’ve ever seen).
Utah’s win not only makes them a legitimate contender in the Pac-12 but has them in the Top Ten for the first time in nearly a decade. While the defense has gotten most of the credit (third in the nation in turnovers), the Utes’ 62-point outing shows they’ll be able to score with the best the conference can offer. Utah only faces three ranked opponents the rest of the way, with two of those at home. So the Utes could be a fixture in the playoff race for a while.
This Fournette Kid Might Just Amount to Something
LSU running back Leonard Fournette rushed for a career-high 244 yards and two touchdowns as the Bayou Bengals knocked off Syracuse. He scored on runs of 14 and 62 yards and had an 87-yarder called back by an illegal formation penalty. This was Fournette’s eighth straight 100-yard game and he is the first LSU player in history to rush for 200+ yards in consecutive games.
Fournette is a rare combination of size (6’1”, 230 pounds) and speed that makes him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is averaging a nation’s-best 210.3 yards per carry, more than 40 yards per game better than his closest competition. Fournette is already atop many observers’ Heisman list and, with a favorable schedule coming up in the next month (Eastern Michigan, at South Carolina, No. 25 Florida and Western Kentucky), he should not only keep himself in contention for individual honors but will make LSU a contender in the SEC.
TCU Proves It’s Better to Be Lucky Than Good in Most Exciting Game of the Week
Once in a while, a truly dominant college football steamrolls all comers en route to a national title. But in most years, even the best teams hit a few speed bumps and need a bit of good luck along the way. So far, TCU is fitting that bill.
Trailing Texas Tech, 52-48, and facing fourth and goal, Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin fired for receiver Josh Docston (who had already set a Big 12 record with 18 receptions in the game). The pass was high and the ball was tipped up into the air. But TCU receiver Aaron Green made a diving grab of the errant pass in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead score.
But that wasn’t the end of the drama as Texas Tech ran your standard “run around for 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage before throwing a pass and then lateraling three times with no time left on the clock” play. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, the final ball carrier was knocked out of bounds at the ten yard line, securing the TCU victory.
So, if you’re TCU, is it better to be lucky or good?
But TCU’s luck is bound to come to an end sooner or later. I mean, it’s not like there’s any precedent for a team getting being fortunate enough to get a tipped ball touchdown in the final seconds of a conference road game and still going on to win a national championship, right? Right?
The Hottest Seat in the Country is Austin, But Night Not Be Who You Think
Staying in Texas, the Longhorns lost another heartbreaker due to self-inflicted wounds. A week after a missed PAT cost Texas a chance at overtime against California, another last-minute special teams miscue doomed the Longhorns once again. This time, with Texas and Oklahoma State tied at 27 with 40 seconds to play, Texas punter Michael Dickson let the snap go through his hands. He recovered, but was only able to get off a punt for minus-six yards. As a result, Oklahoma State was set up in field position for the game-winning field goal.
This is the first time in history that Texas has three losses entering the month of October and the heat is getting warmer on head coach Charlie Strong. But, if I were special teams coordinator Jeff Traylor, I’d be getting my resume ready. Strong has already shown a willingness to make changes in midseason, pulling Shawn Watson’s play calling ability after a Week 1 loss to Notre Dame. Are the last two losses Traylor’s fault? Of course not. But if the calls for heads to roll start getting louder, a first-year coach who just jumped from the high school ranks could make a convenient scapegoat.
- Oregon is out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2009
- Kansas lost its 31st consecutive road game, the longest streak since the NCAA split into two divisions (FBS/FCS) in 1978.
- Baylor quarterback Seth Russell completed just 12 passes in the Bears’ win over Rice. But those 12 went for 277 yards and six touchdowns.
- Oklahoma State is the first team in history to win four consecutive games at Texas.
- Michigan’s 31-0 shutout of BYU marks the first time the Cougars had been held scoreless since 2003.
- Georgia’s Nick Chubb tied Herschel Walker’s school record with his 12th consecutive 100-yard game.
- Nebraska kicker Drew Brown tied an NCAA record with five field goals in the first half of the Cornhuskers’ win over Southern Miss.
- Indiana is 4-0 for the first time since 1990.
- Division III Salisbury beat Southern Virginia, 91-6. And before you jump to the “running up the score” conclusion, note that Salisbury completed just two passes in the game, the leading rusher had just four carries and ten different players scored touchdowns. It was the second-highest scoring game in Division III history.
- The fate of this poor cheerleader pretty well sums up Maryland’s season so far.