Week Three College Football Roundup

The story that everyone will be talking about: Michigan State up-ends Notre Dame in East Lansing, Michigan with a gutsy fake field goal call on 4th down in overtime, down 31-28. They wound up throwing for a touchdown and winning the game 34-31. You can see the look on Brian Kelly's face clearly said "Are you kidding me?!". Still, you have to tip your cap to Michigan State for a big play call that caught the Irish off guard.

The story that nobody will be talking about: One week after blowing out Colorado 52-7, the Cal Golden Bears dropped a little-publicized match against Nevada 52-31. They went from a +45 point margin to a -21 point margin, a 66 point swing! What gives? I would have never expected anything like that. Look for Cal to plummet well out of the polls. The upshot of this game is that it will give some people another glimmer of hope that Boise State may in fact have a loss by the end of the season. But, is Nevada actually that good? They do play the Broncos at home.

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On Cruise Control

Okay, okay, I know they played Duke whose football team hasn't done anything in eons. However, the Crimson Tide had yet another convincing win and continued to cement their place as the clear #1 team in the land. Mark Ingram got started quickly and wound up with 151 yards rushing in his first game of action this season.  So far this season, the Tide are averaging a ridiculous 38.3 point victory margin. Their defense has only allowed 1 touchdown.
If Alabama is a solid #1 team, then Ohio State is an equally solid #2 team. I think that these two teams are unquestionably the top two teams in the country. The Buckeyes have an average victory margin of 28.7 points so far. They've rolled the two teams they were supposed to (Marshall, Ohio), and they quietly dominated a very solid and athletic Miami team. However, the Buckeyes have yet to go on the road, and they won't until October 2nd.
Oregon has amassed some absolutely terrifying offensive statistics so far this season. They are averaging 63 points per game, and they could have easily gotten more in every game that they've played. If I had to play Oregon, I would be extremely concerned about my defense holding up. Oregon threw up 48 points on a Tennessee team that has a fairly good defense. I'm really trying to withhold judgement until I see them play someone. Their first big test is October 2nd against Stanford.
TCU looked impressive against a Baylor team that had not yet allowed a touchdown this season. They've opened up the season 3-0, and they look to be running on all cylinders. Senior QB Andy Dalton has all the markings of a field general that could lead TCU into the BCS Title Game. The Horned Frogs shouldn't be tested until mid-October with back-to-back home games against BYU and Air Force.
Wow, consider me a believer now! I was pretty skeptical of the Huskers early success after they blew out two of the worst FBS teams (Western Kentucky, Idaho). However, I had marked down the road game in Washington to see how they would respond, especially with a freshman quarterback leading the charge. The Huskers came away with a 56-21 victory. They get two games to fine tune things before a huge game in Lincoln against the Longhorns.


Movin' On Up

The Wildcats survived a late charge by the Iowa Hawkeyes to win 34-27 at home. I have a feeling if this game was in Iowa City that the Hawkeyes would have probably won. However, the Wildcats are looking good and could be a threat in the Pac 10. Provided they don't have any hiccups, and considering they should be favored in every game for awhile, the Wildcats have a realistic chance to enter the month of November undefeated.
I'm going to say that another under-the-radar Pac 10 team is movin' on up this week. The Cardinal absolutely dominated Wake Forest, just like they dominated UCLA. Unlike Arizona, Stanford has a pretty tough stretch of games coming up - at Notre Dame, at Oregon, and against USC. I guess we'll see how legitimate the Cardinal are after those three games.
I know what you're thinking: "Temple? TEMPLE?!" No, I am not singling the Owls out as a contender. However, I think they deserve some credit for their first 3-0 start since 1979. While Temple will not be a force on the national level this season, they have jumped out to an early lead in the MAC. It will be a barometer to see how good they actually are relative to some of the Top 25 teams as they play at Penn State this upcoming weekend.


Are You Kidding Me?

The Aggies were down 20-6 at the start of the 4th quarter to Florida International. I repeat, Texas A&M was down 20-6 at the start of the 4th quarter to Florida International, a team that has only won 9 games in the past 4 years, despite playing in the Sun Belt Conference. Jerrod Johnson was mostly terrible with a 26.2% completion percentage and 4 interceptions to 1 touchdown. Yikes.
Okay, personally I think that Missouri's Week Three opponent is actually a decent MWC team. However, the Tigers had no business only beating a team like this by 3 points at home. In fact, San Diego State was up by 4 points with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, but Blaine Gabbert managed to dial up a 68 yard touchdown pass with less than 60 ticks on the clock. Missouri is lucky to be 3-0. Very lucky.
You may look at the final score and say, "Well, the Gamecocks won by 19 points". They were playing Furman. Do you even know where Furman is? Their mascot is the Paladins. This was actually a two possession game with about 10 minutes to go in the game. South Carolina was my sleeper pick in the SEC, but I'm not so sure about that anymore if they have trouble putting an FCS team away at home.
A week after Denard Robinson dazzled the college football world, Michigan almost laid a stinker to another FCS team in the Big House. Michigan was up 42-24 against UMass with just under 12 minutes to go in the game, but the final score wound up 42-37. Michigan has got to learn to put games away against teams like this if they want to be a solid football team. I think Michigan is flashy enough to cause some trouble in the Big Ten, but games like this prove why they aren't being considered as contenders in the conference so far.

 

Quick Slants

  • Michigan State will get a lot of attention for their big overtime win against Notre Dame, but who have they beaten so far? That game could have gone either way. In their other two wins they averaged 18.5 point victories against Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic. Sorry, Sparty, I'm not a believer yet.
  • Jake Locker just played his way out of the Heisman race. Period. End of story. 4 for 20 for 71 yards and 2 picks just doesn't cut it. Sorry.
  • Sooners, Red Raiders, and Longhorn fans need to remember that Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell, and Colt McCoy were very good quarterbacks. Landry Jones and Garrett Gilbert are both young and will learn. And clearly, Taylor Potts is not Harrell. You can't have a Heisman-caliber quarterback every year.
  • Tim Brewster's hot seat won't get any hotter with a Minnesota loss against USC. However, with a game against Northern Illinois coming up at home, followed by another home game against Northwestern, you have to figure that a couple more losses might get him fired.
  • Is Nevada a legitimate contender in the WAC? Wait, stop laughing. Seriously. They play at BYU next week, but that won't impact their conference record. Therefore, their toughest remaining games are home against Utah State and Boise State, and on the road against Fresno State. Someone better figure out a way to contain QB Colin Kaepernick who has 1097 total yards and 12 TDs with no turnovers this season (rushing and passing).
Clear Your Calendars - Next Week's Big Matchups

This is a big week of games, and you should be able to watch some huge matchups from first kickoff on Saturday until well after sunset. This week we only had 1 game with two top 25 teams facing off, but this upcoming week it looks like it should be four. So, buy your snacks and prepare for a day of sitting on the couch and marveling at some wonderful college football games. Here you go:

Thursday at 6:30 PM CDT
Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh
The Panthers will host a Miami team that looks to rebound after a tough loss at Ohio State, and will have had two whole weeks to game plan. Well okay, maybe a week and a half.
Saturday at 11:00 AM CDT
NC State at Georgia Tech
North Carolina State is 3-0 and have flown under the radar so far. QB Russell Wilson is underrated and doesn't get a lot of attention. Georgia Tech will be looking to rebound after a loss against Kansas, and trying to keep an unblemished ACC record. This could be a good game.
Saturday at 2:30 PM CDT
Alabama at Arkansas
I would be pretty shocked if the Gameday crew isn't in Fayetteville. This is a huge game. Alabama is going to be defending its number one ranking, but I think the game is bigger for Arkansas. If they win this they become contenders in the SEC, and start to look like a program on the rise. It will also add to Ryan Mallett's Heisman campaign. 
Saturday at 2:30 PM CDT
Stanford at Notre Dame
Notre Dame looks to avoid a 1-3 start, which wouldn't really accurately represent the talent level of their team, while Stanford looks to continue their hot start and go 4-0. Notre Dame better figure out a way to slow down Andrew Luck.
Saturday at 5:00 PM CDT
Oklahoma at Cincinnati
This was originally scheduled to be at a different time, and then they were talking about bouncing it around, but it has finally been set as the early prime time game on ESPN2.
Saturday at 6:45 PM CDT
South Carolina at Auburn
This should be a phenomenal SEC matchup under the lights. Both teams are viewed as "rising teams" in the SEC, and both teams had closer games than they would have liked this week. It will be a matchup between the 'ole ball coach and up-and-comer Gene Chizik. Lots of story lines.
Saturday at 7:00 PM CDT
Oregon State at Boise State
I have a feeling that a lot of people, even if they aren't "watching" this game, they'll at least be flipping over to it during commercials. This really is, except perhaps Nevada, the last real chance Boise State has of losing. I just really hope that the Gameday crew doesn't go to Boise - yuck.
Saturday at 8:00 PM CDT
West Virginia at LSU
The game that will follow after the Oklahoma-Cincinnati lead-in. I haven't been terribly impressed by West Virginia, but then again I haven't been terribly impressed by LSU. This could be a close game, and Les Miles will probably figure out some insane way to win or lose it.
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