What we learned from Week 3 of College Football

College Football’s Week 3 turned into one of the craziest Saturdays in years. The SEC took a hit in the rankings, although some teams rose to title contenders within the conference. Also, a streak that stood for well over two centuries crumbled and do we really know who the best team in the country is? Let’s take a look.

 

Hold your horses on crowning USC

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The USC Trojans were picked by many to not only win the Pac 12, but to appear in the College Football Playoffs. Both of these aspirations aren’t dead yet, but certainly haven’t shaped up well. With the Trojans ominous 41-31 loss at home to Stanford, this will hurt USC’s chances in the polls. Albeit, it won’t hurt USC within the Pac 12 South standings, for it’s a loss outside the division. But for USC to finally step up; by carrying the most talented roster top-to-bottom in the conference, starting out of the gate sluggish doesn’t impress anyone.

For USC’s sake, the only way now to shake off their first conference loss and live up to the hype would be to run the table the rest of the way. This task is more difficult since the Trojans travel to Tempe to face a hungry Arizona State squad next week. Also, USC goes to Notre Dame and Utah in mid October, any loss there would be devastating.

The opposite case can be made for Stanford. Who, after sustaining an embarrassing loss to Northwestern, while at the time looked disconcerting, the loss does’t appear that bad since Northwestern is ranked 23rd. Furthermore, a road win over a Top 10 team could potentially be a launchpad for David Shaw’s team, as they try to keep up with Cal and Oregon in the North division. Finally, it appeared that QB Kevin Hogan can still propel the Cardinal to dramatic wins even though the roster may appear watered-down.

 

LSU and Ole Miss seem to be the top dogs in the SEC, whereas Auburn is a fraud

Leonard Fournette is still bumbling past Auburn defenders as we speak. Fournette, who is emerging as a serious Heisman threat, absolutely worked the Auburn’s Tigers defense yesterday. 228 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries was the final stat-line for Fournette, and nearly all of his yardage was done with ease Saturday. In fact, LSU’s first scoring drive of the game came off a 71 yard Fournette TD run. For more glimpses of Fournette making Auburn’s defenders look like fools, take a look at this video clip.

 

If Fournette has games like this every week, LSU will be very difficult to stop. Already equipped with a Top 5 defense in the country, the pressure for Brandon Harris to perform at a high level won’t be as strenuous. Harris possess great pocket awareness and his accuracy is growing every week. LSU has no problem with Harris being more of a “game manager”, because the Tigers can rely on a once-in-a-generation type tail-back like Fournette. As good as LSU has been during the first three weeks of the season, Auburn has looked just as bad. Previously seen as  SEC West favorites, it is crystal clear that Will Muschamp’s defense still needs work stopping the run. Jeremy Johnson’s career at Auburn has started off rocky. Johnson has not only had a hard time establishing rhythm offensively, but also a hard time hanging onto the football.

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For the first time since 1894, Ole Miss beat Alabama in back-to-back seasons. Chad Kelly torched Alabama’s secondary early and often, by throwing for 341 yards and 3 TDs. But the biggest takeaway from the Rebels victory was their ability to cause turnovers. Derrick Henry wore down Ole Miss’s defensive line in the later stages of the game, but by Alabama turning it over five times gave opportunities for Ole Miss to execute with a short field…and they did. Robert Nkemdiche rushed through a porous Bama offensive line all night and forced timely disruptions on passing downs for quarterbacks Jacob Coker and Cooper Bateman.

The win for Ole Miss sets them up well in the West standings, as them and LSU appear to be the leaders for now. LSU travels to “The Grove” on November 21st, in which could be the battle for the division title. For Alabama’s sake, they need to win out just to have a chance to make it to SEC Title Game. Still, with road games in College Station and Athens looming, Alabama’s fortunes could be put on overload.

 

Notre Dame continues to survive and nobody knows how they’re doing it 

Malik Zaire out for the season, okay fine. Running back Tarean Folston gone, alright we can manage. Notre Dame loses their top defensive back and Brian Kelly doesn’t bat an eye.

Yes, so far through the first three weeks of the season, it appears that after every week passes, so does an Irish player. It is remarkable how Notre Dame is still, somehow undefeated, but they are. Part of this has been Brian Kelly’s coaching, Kelly’s depth was immense to start the season and now that injuries have taken its toll, the depth that he’s built up is showing at the perfect time. DeShone Kizzer’s first collegiate start wasn’t overwhelming, but Kizzer made the appropriate reads and rarely threw the ball in tight coverage. For a team that has still yet to hit their stride, it is important that they find themselves an identity. This identity has been fabricated on a steady ground attack with C.J. Prosise, who has ran for over 350 yards the last two weeks and a disciplined defense who has rarely gotten beat vertically. Will Fuller is also an All-American WR who Kizzer can utilize often.

The start Notre Dame has made has been anything but ideal. But Notre Dame has the pieces to possibly make a historic run if in deed everything falls to place.

 

Top performers in Week 3 

Passing 

  • QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)- 32/38, 487 yards for 4 TDs against Tulsa
  • QB Brandon Doughty (WKU)- 35/46, 484 yards for 3 TDs against Indiana
  • QB Trevone Boykin- 21/30, 454 yards for 5 TDs against SMU

Rushing

  • RB Jalen Richard- 27 carries for 230 yards, 4 TDs against Texas State
  • RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)- 19 carries for 228 yards, 3 TDs against Auburn
  • RB Paul Perkins (UCLA)- 26 carries for 219 yards, 1 TD against BYU

Receiving

  • WR Roger Lewis (BGSU)- 7 receptions, 261 yards for 3 TDs against Memphis
  • WR Trent Sherfield (Vanderbilt)- 16 receptions, 240 yards for 1 TD against Austin Peay
  • WR Taywon Taylor (WKU)- 9 receptions, 196 yards for 1 TD against Indiana 

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