Week 3 College Football Thoughts and Hot Takes: The Chaos Continues

It was the week of the near upset.

These Group of Five teams are getting frisky, man! After the Sun Belt Conference just went crazy last week, with three huge upset wins, it seemed like the mid-majors were launching a full-blown uprising in college football this week.

  • Notre Dame finally got a win… barely. They squeaked by Cal. I still think Notre Dame is a bad team and there is a strong chance Marcus Freeman doesn’t make it more than a year at ND.
  • Missouri State almost upset #10 Arkansas. It really seemed like it was going to happen when MOST took a 27-17 lead early in the 4th quarter. But a late flurry of scoring by Arkansas brought them ahead 38-27, and that’s how it ended.
  • Clemson was only up 13-6 on Louisiana Tech at halftime. Clemson ended up winning 48-20, but their final scores this season have been a bit deceiving. They are not nearly as dominant as their final scores would have you believe. I don’t think DJ Uiagaleilei is the answer for them at QB. As long as they are starting him they’re limited offensively. It’s only a matter of time before Cade Klubnik takes over at QB for Clemson. The question is, will it be before or after Clemson drops a game?
  • UTSA and Texas were tied at 17 at halftime. It actually looked like UTSA had a chance to win for a bit in the second half, but Texas pulled away for the 31-20 win.
  • USF almost beat Florida. They had a 4th quarter lead, but Florida pulled ahead to secure a 31-28 win over the in-state rivals.
  • Florida State’s win on Friday night was gutsy as hell! Their quarterback Jordan Travis looked great in the first half, but then he got knocked out of the game and the backup QB had to take over and lead the Noles to victory, which he did. Noles are 3-0. They may not be an elite team but they’re a scrappy bunch and fun to watch.
  • Liberty almost upset #19 Wake Forest. Liberty scored a late TD to make it 37-36 Wake, and Liberty opted to go for 2 to take the lead. I get it. They were 17.5 point underdogs and they were on the road; you go for the win. Unfortunately they got stopped on the 2 point attempt and lost 37-36.
  • Indiana was not ranked but they very nearly lost to Western Kentucky. Indiana won 33-30 in OT.
  • UCLA was also not ranked, but they almost lost to South Alabama. South Alabama was lining up to kick a 40 yard field goal up 31-29 with 3:04 left in the game, but they suddenly switched it up and ran an offensive play from the field goal formation. It was predictably a disaster; the holder ran around with the ball, no one was open, and he took about an 11 yard loss. UCLA took over at their own 33 with 2:53 to play in the game, then drove down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal from 24 yards out as time expired. I could understand South Alabama going for the fake field goal if it was like a 55 yarder, but it was a 40 yarder. They were up 2. Maybe they didn’t trust their kicker or something, I don’t know. Seemed like a very bone-headed decision.
  • Kansas State lost to Tulane, 17-10.
  • UVA barely scraped by Old Dominion (who has already beaten Virginia Tech) 16-14.
  • Rutgers barely scraped by Temple, 16-14.
  • Arizona barely escaped FCS North Dakota State 31-28. NoDak was up 28-24 in the 4th quarter.
  • Arizona State lost 30-21 to MAC school Eastern Michigan, and head coach Herm Edwards was promptly fired the next day. Eastern Michigan was using their backup QB in the game. ASU under Edwards is also dealing with an NCAA investigation, so it wasn’t just the loss to Eastern Michigan. But that was the final straw.
  • Oh, and who could forget, the way App State won that game over Troy.
  • I was not really watching the App State game at all because it was on ESPN+ and I no longer have a subscription. But I was following along in my ESPN app because I was interested in it given that they had GameDay there and it was a big day for them. I saw it was close late, so I found a bootleg stream online and was able to catch the ending as it happened. I tuned in right as Troy took that intentional safety to make it 28-26, which I thought was pretty questionable because it made it so that App State could win the game with a field goal. Troy was up 4, then took an intentional safety to cut the lead to 2. The situation was that App State had gotten it down to about the Troy 5 down 28-24 with about a minute to go, but Troy made a goal line stand and App State turned the ball over. They had some timeouts left, and they were able to hold Troy to a 4th and 2 from Troy’s own 11 yard line with 25 seconds left. Troy goes to the line and I figured they were just trying to see if they could get App State to jump offsides, but no, they hiked the ball and Troy’s QB just starts running backward, and runs out of the back of the end zone taking 5 seconds off the clock. You could hear the play-by-play guy go “Whooooa….” as in WTF is Troy thinking?!
    • So instead of having to punt from their own 11, Troy kicked off from their own 20. They bounced a squib kick and App State fielded it at about their own 33, returning it to about their own 46. The clock was down to 13 seconds by the time the App State ball carrier was brought down. It just felt to me like Troy got a little too cute, but then again, I don’t know how much better off they would’ve been had they just punted on 4th down. They were able to take 5 seconds off the clock with the intentional safety, then another 7 seconds off on the kickoff, and App State wound up with the ball on their own 46. If Troy had just punted it probably would’ve taken like 7-8 seconds off the clock, and let’s just say it would’ve been a 50 yard punt, so App State would’ve had the ball around their own 40 with 18 seconds on the clock. So in my estimation the net result of their decision to take the safety was an additional 4-5 seconds off the clock, but 4-5 yards better field position for App State. Kind of a wash in my opinion.
    • I’m not going to blame Troy for that intentional safety. It seemed stupid at the time but I don’t know if simply punting would’ve led to a different outcome. I still think it would’ve come down to App State having the ball just over mid-field with an opportunity to throw a Hail Mary no matter what Troy did on that 4th down.

As for the top teams:

  • So maybe Oregon is actually good. They just beat BYU 41-20 in Eugene. BYU was ranked #12 in the country, and they just came off a thrilling OT win over Baylor, who won the Big 12 last year and came into last week’s matchup ranked #9.
    • We thought Oregon sucked because Georgia beat them 49-3. Maybe Georgia is just that freaking good, that they made us think Oregon sucked. Oregon clearly does not suck. They’re not an elite team or anything, but they clearly do not suck. They just beat BYU by 21 points.
  • Georgia is just in a class of their own. Maybe you could say they got the jump on Oregon in week 1, it was a brand-ass new team, Dan Lanning was a rookie head coach; you could argue Oregon just wasn’t ready when they played Georgia. But then you look at what Georgia just did to South Carolina–say what you want about South Carolina but they’re not a horrible team. At least I don’t think they are. Even if you scrutinize the hell out of Georgia and try your very hardest to discredit them, I don’t think there’s any way you can deny they’re the best team in the country this season.
    • A year ago, if you told me Stetson Bennett would be a legitimate Heisman contender in 2022, I would have scoffed. I respected Bennett throughout Georgia’s 2021 Natty run, but I never viewed him as true playmaker, a truly elite and dynamic game changing weapon that other teams have to game plan for. But that’s what he appears to be now. I always saw him as a scrappy, overachieving player who was elevated by his teammates rather than the other way around. But Stetson is a baller, man.
    • Look, I’m not saying he’s vaulting himself into the first round of the draft or anything. I didn’t even realize this until now but Stetson Bennett turns 25 years old in about a month and a half. He’s actually older than Justin Herbert, believe it or not. But he’s completing 74% of his passes and averaging 10.8 yards per attempt this season throwing the ball. That’s really good. He is absolutely in the thick of the Heisman race–he is right there with Stroud and Young.
    • Georgia this season feels pretty much invincible. I’m not saying they’re guaranteed to win the whole thing, but they are absolutely the favorites, and they absolutely look like one of those teams that won’t get upset at all. If Georgia loses, it will be in the playoff to a team like Alabama or Ohio State, and that’s it. That’s how I feel about them right now.
    • You just look at Georgia’s schedule, where are the potential losses? They’ve already beaten Oregon 49-3. Last week they played Samford and won 33-0, which is kind of puzzling just because it’s not 59-0 (they were favored by 53), but Georgia was up 30-0 at halftime and I think they just kind of took their foot off the gas and stopped trying. It’s hard to find anything wrong with a 33-0 win in which you outgained the other team 479-128 but. So here’s the rest of their schedule. Where is the loss coming from? I just don’t see it.
      • 9/24: Kent State. That’s a win.
      • 10/1: at Missouri. Missouri lost by 28 to Kansas State. No chance they beat UGA.
      • 10/8: Auburn. The same Auburn team that lost by 30 to Penn State at home? Come on.
      • 10/15: Vanderbilt. Please.
      • 10/29: Florida. The neutral site game in Jacksonville, coming off a bye week. Yes, Florida beat Utah, but Florida also has one of the most erratic and inconsistent QBs in the country. Florida almost lost to USF this weekend. I’m not going to rule it out because it’s a rivalry game, but I would say Georgia has a 90% chance of winning this game.
      • 11/5: Tennessee. This will probably be their toughest game of the year assuming Tennessee keeps playing well. They’re ranked 11th right now. Tennessee’s QB Hendon Hooker is an under the radar Heisman dark horse. But Georgia gets the game at home, so that’s big. I still think Georgia wins. We also need to hold off on proclaiming Tennessee a good team, because they are very much unproven.
      • 11/12: at Mississippi State. Mississippi State couldn’t hang with LSU. They will not be able to hang with the Dawgs.
      • 11/19: at Kentucky. Kentucky is ranked #8 right now. It’s a tossup between Kentucky and Tennessee as Georgia’s toughest opponent this year. I just have such a hard time seeing Kentucky win this game. Kentucky is good, but I don’t think they can hang with Georgia. They played last year in Athens and UGA won 30-13. Kentucky might be able to stay somewhat within striking distance for most of the game (10-14 points) but Georgia should not lose to Kentucky.
      • 11/16: Georgia Tech. It’s a rivalry game, but this is a gimme for UGA. They’re just so far ahead of GT right now.
  • Ohio State’s offense finally comes alive. With JSN and Julian Fleming both in the lineup, Ohio State’s offense finally looked like we all expected. They put up 77 points on Toledo, with most of their second half points being scored by the backups and third stringers. It looks like Ohio State has depth for days at running back, too. Dallan Hayden and TC Caffey are studs.
    • Ohio State fans are probably upset about their team having a defense that still looks spotty, especially on the back end. And they just don’t look like they have a great power running game, either, even though they should. But Ohio State fans should be happy with the fact that their team has looked better than just about every team in the sport besides Georgia. There are upsets left and right, lots of great teams have looked like dogwater. The bar is simply lower for this season, I think. You can’t demand perfection in all facets these days–winning by 56 points is enough.
    • Plus, Ohio State was missing some key contributors on defense. JSN was not playing at 100% I don’t think–I think they were being extremely cautious with him. Treyveon Henderson got hurt very early in the game.
    • But I watched that Ohio State-Toledo game and I will just say Toledo’s QB Dequan Finn is legit. Dude can play. He’s one of the most elusive runners I’ve seen in a while. Not blazing speed, but incredibly escapability and shiftiness. He’s a real playmaker, and Ohio State could not really contain him. Ohio State really does need to tighten up on defense or else they’re going to get punished by teams with mobile QBs who can throw on the run.
  • I didn’t watch the Alabama-ULM game, but it was 63-7. Ho-hum.
    • Bryce Young: 13/18 passing for 236 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs. Huh? Two picks is kind of suspect.
    • Bama scored on a pick-six, a blocked punt returned for a TD, and a TD pass within the first 6 minutes of the game. Bama and Ohio State were some of the notable teams that hadn’t forced a turnover over the first two weeks of the season, but Bama got on the board in a major way early on in that game (Ohio State did as well, but not quite like Bama did). I’m sure Saban made that a point of emphasis for his team.
    • Bama had 8 players record a rushing attempt in the game. 2 were QBs (Young and backup Jalen Milroe), but that still means 6 running backs got in on the action. Quite the stable for Alabama at running back even though we usually don’t see most of those guys. They all combined for 34 carries and 225 yards, or 6.6 yards a pop. That’s subtracting the QB runs.
    • Bama has another win scheduled this weekend with Vanderbilt, then they go on the road to play #10 Arkansas for what I would say is their toughest test of the season thus far, but then again Arkansas almost lost to Missouri State on Saturday night, so maybe Arkansas is somewhat fraudulent this year.
  • I’m sorry but I don’t see how you can rank Michigan in the top-10. In my view, you need to prove yourself. I hate this idea that just because a bunch of poll voters thought you were a top-10 team at the start of the season that means you are as long as you win your games. Michigan has played the most pathetic schedule in the country. And that is not hyperbole:
  • Bruh. 131 out of 131 in strength of schedule. Michigan’s schedule is a joke and I don’t think they deserve to be ranked in the top-10 because of it. They may very well be a top-10 team, but they have done nothing to prove that they are. People on social media and in message boards just keep bringing up the fact that they beat Ohio State last year so that’s why they deserve to be ranked in the top-5 this year. No, that’s not how it works. Aidan Hutchinson is gone. You are not the same team as you were last year, nor is Ohio State. That’s not how any of this works. Beat a good team and then we can talk about Michigan being ranked in the top-10.
    • I just can’t stand this whole preseason ranking system. Teams start out the season largely based on the highly fallible opinions of the pollsters, and it determines the whole course of their season. If the pollsters think you’re good at the start of the season, that basically takes care of most of the heavy lifting for you. Sure, you still have to win some games, but you don’t have to prove you’re good–you just have to maintain your good reputation. If you start out ranked lowly, or not ranked at all, it’s an uphill battle all season long to change the pollsters’ opinion on you. It’s just ridiculous that we rank these teams in the preseason before any games are played. I know the CFP ratings don’t come out until week 8, but it’s impossible to say the CFP rankings aren’t impacted by the AP poll. The AP poll still provides a baseline for the initial CFP rankings.
    • And so we have a team like Michigan, which has played the easiest schedule in the nation, ranked #4 in the nation based purely on reputation. #4! I would absolutely have Oklahoma, USC and Clemson ranked ahead of Michigan. Sure, they’ve all played easy schedules as well, but not as easy as Michigan’s. At least those teams have played Power Five opponents this year already. And how is Michigan ranked ahead of Penn State? Penn State is 3-0 and has beaten Purdue (a Big Ten opponent) and gone on the road and dismantled Auburn. The ONLY reason Michigan is ranked ahead of Purdue is because of the preseason poll. Michigan may well be better than Penn State, and they’ll play each other this season, but based on what both teams have done, there is not a single shred of evidence that Michigan is better than Penn State. Yet the pollsters have Penn State down at #14.
    • Danny Kanell pretty much summed it up:

Respect to:

  • Penn State for going down to Auburn and just laying it on an SEC team in SEC country. Penn State won 41-12 deep in the heart of Alabama. I think Auburn is a pretty suspect team this year and I doubt their coach even lasts the season, but I also thought Penn State was sketchy as well. Evidently not. Penn State is pretty damn good. Nick Singleton, the freshman phenom running back, is a monster and I’m already looking forward to drafting him to my fantasy football team in 2025.
  • Washington for beating #11 Michigan State 39-28 up in Seattle. Looks like Michigan State’s pass defense, which I believe was last in the nation in 2021, has not really improved much. Washington’s QB, Michael Penix, was a guy Michigan State knows well, as he used to play at Indiana. And he really used to ball out back in his Big Ten days. Penix was 24/40 for 397 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs against Sparty on Saturday night. The dude can sling it. And Washington held Sparty to 1.4 YPC on the ground, which indicates they controlled the line of scrimmage well. Washington is 3-0 and looks like they might be able to make some noise in the Pac-12 this year. I still think USC is the favorite to win that conference but Washington is legit. They moved up to #18 in the AP poll after the win.

Head-scratcher of the week:

  • Miami. They went to College Station to play the cult Texas A&M and lost 17-9. I swear every time I flipped over to that game Miami had the ball, yet they only managed 3 field goals. Just look at this box score:
  • Miami had more first downs (27 vs. 16), 128 more total yards, 77 more passing yards, 51 more rushing yards, they averaged a yard more per carry on the ground, they had fewer penalty yards against (although 2 more penalties), and they possessed the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer than A&M did. They did have one turnover to A&M’s zero, but when you rack up nearly 400 yards of offense, you had better put up more than 9 points.
  • Miami averaged about 5.09 yards per play, which isn’t great, but it’s not terrible, either. It was still better than A&M’s 5.07 YPP.
  • Miami was not efficient throwing the ball, though. They only averaged 5.3 yards per attempt vs. A&M’s 7.0. But A&M only attempted 20 passes. It’s not like A&M was throwing it all over the yard. Miami still held A&M to just 17 points.
  • A&M got a TD off a Miami muffed punt in the first half. The score was 3-3, A&M was forced to punt, but Miami’s returner muffed it and A&M took over at the Miami 28 and got a TD a few plays later. That was a major moment in the game, obviously, because of how low-scoring it was.
  • Miami also missed 2 field goals in the first half of the game–well, one of them (a 36-yarder) was blocked. The other was a 49 yarder–not going to hold it against a college kicker for missing that one. My rule of thumb is that when it comes to college kicking, to get an idea of how likely it is go in based on an NFL frame of reference, just add 10 yards to the distance and that’s what it would be like in the NFL. So a 49 yard kick in college is like a 59 yard kick in the NFL–that’s a low-percentage kick. According to some guy on Reddit who did the work, in the NFL, 59-yard field goals have an expected make rate of about 55%, which is what I think sounds right for 49-yarders in CFB.
  • Anyway, Miami had chances to win that game. Oregon fans on social media were chiming in after the game saying things like, “We tried to warn you about Mario Cristobal’s game management.” I haven’t really watched a whole lot of Mario Cristobal games, but this one seemed like malpractice. Miami’s QB Tyler Van Dyke didn’t play particularly well, but from what I saw, he didn’t have a lot of time in the pocket and I didn’t see a lot of separation by his receivers. Give credit to A&M’s defense, it’s the one unit on that team that really works well.
  • I think Miami fans should be encouraged by the fact that their team held up pretty well against an SEC team with a ton of talent. Obviously the loss was disappointing, but Miami seems to be an improving program under Cristobal. They’re not where they need to be–and if you’re comparing them against the Miami Hurricane heyday of the 1980s through the early 2000s, they’re nowhere close to that. But perhaps they’re on the right track these days, even as bad as they were on offense against A&M Saturday night.

There’s too much chaos in college football right now. We need the big dogs to restore order.

Look, I love upsets, but what we are witnessing right now is basically the implosion of the Power Five. It’s like almost all the lower-level P5 teams are losing to or just barely beating G5 teams.

I don’t like it. Normally, I love upsets, but this doesn’t feel right. It feels like the quality of play has to be dropping across the country for all these G5 teams to be breathing down the necks of most of the Power Five. Maybe it’s the way the transfer portal has exploded in recent years, it has taken a toll on team continuity and chemistry for a lot of these programs. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel right. It feels like order needs to be restored.

We need the Power Five to wake up here.

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