Written by: John Stocco
In a week where there wasn’t a top 25 showdown it was a week where you wanted as many College Football games on as many screens as possible because deep down it felt like Upset Saturday. There were some upsets, there were some rivalries, and there was a star that was born in a program that isn’t going away as soon as everyone anticipated. Let's take a dive into our spotlight games, the highlights, and lowlights of week 3 of the College Football season.
Penn State Dodges a Bullet.
Most people expected this to be a blow out in Penn State’s favor. Myself on the other hand expected this game to be close, and tough on the young Nittany Lions. Rivalry game, crazy atmosphere, bad weather in the first half of the football game. You need upperclassman at key positions to take on a leadership role to calm everyone down. Penn State doesn’t have that, but they have one of the best coaches in college football to fill that void. Penn State is led by all sophomores, and even though at times things got difficult, they did a great job fighting back and holding the lead against a Pittsburgh team that played really well with their defense making Sean Clifford’s afternoon a nightmare with all of their pressure, and quarterback Kenny Pickett throwing for over 300 yards. If it wasn’t for one of the worst coaching decisions by Pat Narduzzi you’ll see all season long. On the goaline, down 17-10, instead of going for the 6 points, you go for the field goal. Never, ever, ever, ever, trust college kickers. Walking into this game Penn State needed to establish a running game. Sean Clifford has played well through two weeks, and their receiving core is electric, but to win in the Big Ten, and to just make life easier on your young quarterback you need to lean on your running back. Penn State did that on Saturday. The running game wasn’t led by just one guy. Penn State has a handful of backs, but they’ve had a tough time finding that number one. Journey Brown came up big and ran for 109 yards on 10 carries including busting one out for 85 yards. Penn State is now 3-0 on the season with a bye this weekend. Maryland, Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State are all coming up on their schedule. If they want to make themselves a legitimate Big Ten team they need more of a presence from their defense.
Hawkeyes Weather The Storm.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Kinda? 3 hour rain delay, and it might have been the worst thing for Iowa State. They looked good, they were playing fast, and they had the lead when the weather delay came. The game resumed and it looked like the Cyclones were out of sync. The game got sloppy for the Cyclones, and the Iowa Hawkeyes took full advantage. This felt like an old school game. Iowa State tried making all the noise and they were the team that made mistakes, and then you had Iowa who didn’t light up the box score, but they played smart, they played with discipline, and they ended up winning the game.
Oklahoma’s Offense is Flat Out Ridiculous.
I mean this isn’t even fair anymore. Oklahoma’s offense is a masterpiece. Jalen Hurts looks like a completely different human being who’s faster with better vision, their offensive line is tougher than a brick wall, and their receivers are just straight up faster than you and you can’t do anything about it. Every single week their receivers put together plays that are spectacular and they always find a way to get open. Lincoln Riley has built a machine down in Norman, Oklahoma, and he’s showed the world that he is the best play caller in college football with three different quarterbacks. The Sooners are insane, and there’s only a handful of teams that can stop them. As it goes for UCLA, look, It’s ugly. It’s really ugly right now, but I think Chip Kelly has earned the right to be patient with the process. I like Chip Kelly, and I believe this kind of system takes time to not only learn, but takes time to build. I understand the frustration, and I understand you want to see improvement, but I just feel like Chip Kelly needs a couple more seasons to really get this thing moving. By the way, where did all of this Chip Kelly hatred come from?
Winners of the Week.
UCF: I was wrong about UCF. Without Milton and Mack at quarterback I thought we were going to see some regression from the Knights. Then here comes Dillon Gabriel who was sensational yesterday. UCF stomped Stanford 45-27, and Dillon Gabriel looked like a lefty Baker Mayfield. Throwing for 347 yards, 4 TD’s, and 0 INT’s. With Baker and Kyler going number one in back to back drafts I think it’s time to put an end to the “size matters” label on quarterbacks. Gabriel is small in frame, but he showed great awareness in the pocket, and he showed that he can sling it down the field better than anyone in college. Gabriel, Greg McCrae, and the plethora of receivers they have, UCF isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Arizona State: I miss watching Herm Edwards on ESPN, but it’s fun watching him build something special down there at Arizona State. On the road against Michigan State, and they put on a defensive clinic. The Spartans ended up beating themselves by tying the game at 10-10 with seconds left, and it gets called back because they had 12 players on the field. It’s still unbelievably impressive to give up just 7 points on the road. Arizona State has a defense who’s forreal, Eno Benjamin who’s a top five running back in college football, and they have a freshman quarterback that keeps improving week after week. The Sun Devils have what it takes to win the Pac 12 South.
Wake Forest: Now I’m not saying Wake Forest can beat Clemson, but teams like Wake Forest and Virginia are ACC teams that have improved and have moved into the next tier of the ACC. Wake Forest held onto a tough win against North Carolina, and their offense is secretly explosive that’s led by an underrated receiver in Sage Surratt. How explosive is their offense? They trail Clemson in total offense by only .6 yard. The Demon Deacons can be dangerous down the stretch along with the Cavs from Virginia in a conference where second place is up for grabs.
Losers of the Week:
Michigan State: Tremendous defensive effort that will keep them in games, but you can’t score just 7 points on offense at home in a non conference game. The Spartans are a tough team. They’re going to beat ranked opponents in the Big Ten, and they will get a bowl bid, but they have to find a way to outscore teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin if they want any shot at winning the Big Ten.
Kentucky: With Franks out injured, and the number 9 ranked Gators up against the ropes, the Kentucky Wildcats shot themselves in the foot. This could have been a great upset at home for the Wildcats but they blew it by bad penalties and mental mistakes. It’s a tough loss in a conference that’s going to be tough to win football games.
Illinois: This is a little personal to me. I love Lovie Smith, and I really want him to succeed at Illinois. When he was hired it was a complete teardown and a complete identity change. In 2019 the Illini fans thought this was going to be the beginning of a turnaround. If it was the beginning of a turnaround, you don’t lose to Eastern Michigan at home. More dark days are ahead.
USC vs. Utah, Wisconsin vs. Michigan, Texas A&M vs. Auburn, and Notre Dame vs. Georgia. Need I say more? Get ready for a wild one.