Wild Finishes, Close Calls Highlight Week 2 in College Football
While Week Two didn’t feature any big-name matchups, it didn’t lack for big plays and excitement. Here are some key takeaways from this week in college football.
Hail Marys Are Always Entertaining. Even When They Shouldn’t Count.
Central Michigan upset No. 22 Oklahoma State, 30-27, thanks to one of the niftier Hail-Mary-with-a-lateral-for-an-extra-degree-of-difficulties that you’re likely to see. Just one small problem—it never should have happened.
The wild play came after Oklahoma State was called for intentional grounding on fourth down as time expired. The referees ruled that CMU would get the ball back for one untimed down. Except that’s not what the rules say.
Both the MAC officials on the field and the Big 12 officials in the replay booth admitted after the game that they didn’t know the rule and blew the call. But NCAA rules don’t allow for the result of a game to be overturned once it’s declared final. So the Chippewas get the upset while Oklahoma State gets an “oops, our bad” from their own conference officials.
I don't want to get in the business of changing the results of a game once it's over. But it still boggles my mind that, in this day and age when officials review every single play that might be remotely questionable, they can’t figure out how to huddle up in the last minute of a game and make sure they get the rules right before proceeding.
Go Ahead and Hand Lamar Jackson the September Heisman
Yes, I know it’s early and he hasn’t played any truly stout defenses yet. But what Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has done so far this season is truly jaw-dropping. In just six quarters of action, the sophomore has already racked up 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns. In the Cardinals’ 62-28 win over Syracuse this week, Jackson set an ACC record with 610 yards of total offense, became just the second player in FBS history to pass for 400 yards and rush for 150 in the same game and set a school record for career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (15—in just his 14th game).
He’ll have a chance to truly cement his place in the Heisman race next week when Louisville hosts No. 3 Florida State. But, through at least two weeks of the season, the only other player named Jackson who dominated a game like this was named “Tecmo Bowl Bo.”
The South Still Likes NASCAR. Even When It’s Football.
An NCAA record of nearly 157,000 fans streamed into Bristol Motor Speedway to see No. 17 Tennessee take on Virginia Tech. Sure, the sight lines weren’t ideal.
And binoculars were pretty much a necessity.
But as novelty venues go, it looked like a fun time and I’m sure the tailgating was top notch. So if it gets people out to the games and boosts interest in college football, I’m all for it.
There’s Trouble on the Horizon
While Week Two might not have featured many marquee games, that doesn’t mean it lacked for intrigue or didn't tell us anything about some teams going forward. As mentioned, Oklahoma State was upset by Central Michigan and No. 15 TCU fell in double overtime to Arkansas. While those were the only Top 25 upsets, other big name teams also left their games with more questions than answers.
For the second straight week, No. 2 Clemson struggled, eking past Troy, 30-24. Preseason Heisman favorite Deshaun Watson has completed just 52.9 percent of his passes and has already thrown three interceptions and just four touchdowns. Of course it doesn’t help when your teammates are doing stupid stuff like this.
No. 9 Georgia had to hold off a late rally to eke out a 26-24 win over FCS Nicholls, an eight-touchdown underdog who won just three games last year. After a 10-3 season last year, Northwestern fell to 0-2 with a 9-6 loss to FCS Illinois State.
While these lackluster performances could be just a temporary speed bump, they have to raise a red flag for their fans.
While You Were Sleeping
Unless you’re a die-hard Arizona State or Texas Tech fan, you probably missed the end of the Sun Devils’ 68-55 win over the Red Raiders. The game didn’t end until nearly 2:00 AM Eastern Time, but it’s worth revisiting to see Sun Devil running back Kalen Ballage’s historic performance. The Arizona State junior racked up 185 all-purpose yards and tied an FBS record with eight touchdowns on the night.
I said earlier this could be the Year of the Running Back in college football. Looks like Ballage could play a big role in that.
Aztec’s Record-Setting Performance
Speaking of running backs, a tip of the hat to San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey, who ran for 281 yards and three touchdowns in the Aztecs’ upset of California. In the process, he passed NFL Hall of Famer and Heisman runner-up Marshall Faulk to become the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,651 yards.