In fact, those darlings from last week hit major potholes. UAB beat Georgia Southern 35-21. Bowling Green beat Marshall 34-31. Appalachian State needed a miracle Hail Mary to beat Troy 32-28.
So those schools got the reality check. That doesn’t mean Week 3 did not provide more than enough material for college football fans to over-react to. SN takes a look at the takeaways from Week 3:
APP STATE HAIL MARY FOR THE WIN 😱
They got that magic touch 💯🎥: @FieldYates pic.twitter.com/1T95l8HahO
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 (@sportingnews) September 17, 2022
‘Michigan and Georgia in the natty!’
Michigan and Georgia will play for the national championship in 2022.
That’s an over-reaction, of course. Or is it? No two teams have been more dominant through the first quarter of the 2022 season, and the only fan-bases that really should have something to say about it reside in Columbus, Ohio; and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Georgia routed South Carolina 48-7 and has outscored its first three opponents 130-10. The Gamecocks scored the first TD against the Bulldogs this season with 0:53 remaining. Stetson Bennett (16 of 23, 284 yards, 2 TDs) is a valid Heisman candidate, tight end Brock Bowers now has 17 total TDs in 17 career games and the defense hasn’t missed a beat with new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
The Bulldogs have won their last seven games against SEC East opponents by an average of 33.1 points per game.
Michigan, meanwhile, completed its non-conference schedule with a 59-0 victory against UConn and has outscored opponents 156-17. Sophomore J.J. McCarthy has settled in as the starter, Blake Corum scored five TDs on Saturday and the defense hasn’t missed a beat with new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter.
The first-half dominance also is impressive. Michigan has outscored its opponents 103-0 in the first two quarters. Georgia is up 96-3 in the first half after three games.
Which three-game start has been more impressive? The Bulldogs, of course. There has been no complacency after last year’s national championship run, and that victory against No. 25 Oregon looks even better after watching the Ducks beat No. 12 BYU 41-20 on Saturday.
Michigan, of course, has played a paper-thin schedule that featured Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn, but there is enough beef on the Big Ten schedule that won’t matter later. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines playing with an edge.
Georgia won last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal between the teams 34-11. Will they have a rematch in this year’s championship?
You know the obstacles. Alabama will have a say against Georgia, and Nick Saban is 4-1 head-to-head against Kirby Smart. The Crimson Tide beat Louisiana-Monroe 63-7 and have the talent to match up with the Bulldogs.
Ohio State remains the Big Ten favorite, and Michigan hasn’t won at Ohio Stadium since 2000. The Buckeyes provided a gentle reminder with 763 total yards in a 77-21 victory against Toledo.
Yet, it’s entirely possible these four teams could comprise this year’s playoff field regardless of what happens in the regular season. Depending on how it shakes out, yes, Michigan and Georgia could meet at SoFi Stadium on Jan. 9.
Right now, these are without question the four best teams in the FBS. Who is going to argue that right now?
‘Urban Meyer is Nebraska’s next coach!’
This is college football, where anything is possible. Nebraska fans serenaded Meyer with “We want Urban!” chants on the set of Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff” show. CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd reports Nebraska has contacted Meyer as part of its initial candidate search.
— Dan Corey (@DanCorey_) September 17, 2022
Nebraska coach Trev Alberts will have to confront these rumors at some point. Meyer was fired by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 after just 13 games. He retired at Ohio State after the 2018 season after serving a three-game suspension for the mishandling of abuse allegations involving former assistant coach Zach Smith that season. He cited health concerns for leaving Florida after the 2010 season.
The common thread? Meyer, 58, returned after a one-year break.
The three-time national championship coach is 187-32 as a FBS coach, and he remains brilliant in the studio with Fox. If the chants remind us of anything, then it’s that Meyer will be on the wish list of every Power 5 school that’s willing to look away from the unceremonious endings of those last three stints. If Meyer does entertain coming back, then a return to either the Big Ten or SEC makes the most sense. Those are the big stages.
Nebraska just lost 49-14 to Oklahoma one week after prodigal son Scott Frost was fired. Which way do you think those Big Red fans are looking right now? Matt Campbell, Chris Klieman and Lance Leipold are safer hires, but Meyer’s .854 winning percentage ranks behind Knute Rockne (.881) and Frank Leahy (.864). Crazy happens all the time, and Meyer hasn’t exactly dispelled the rumors yet, has he?
‘Bryan Harsin’s done at Auburn!’
Maybe. Harsin inherits the hottest seat in the FBS not that Scott Frost was fired. If Meyer isn’t interested in Nebraska, then would he take the call from Auburn? Imagine the Iron Bowl with Saban …
OK, back to reality. No. 22 Penn State drubbed Auburn 41-12 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the Tigers’ first home game against a Big Ten team. It might be a while before Auburn invites one back.
The quarterbacks aren’t effective. T.J. Finley (11 of 19, 152 yards, INT), Robby Ashford (10 of 19, 144 yards, TD, INT) were inefficient. Tank Bigsby (9 carries, 39 yards) was contained on the ground. Four Auburn turnovers paved the way for a statement game for the Nittany Lions and a breakout performance by running back Nick Singleton (10 carries, 124 yards, two TDs). Singleton scored on a signature 54-yard TD run that put the game away.
To make matters worse, “We are Penn State!” chants enveloped the stadium for most of the fourth quarter.
That’s bad news for Harsin, who survived a coup in the offseason but is now 8-8 in his second season with the Tigers. The SEC road schedule is absurd (Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama), and next week’s game against Missouri is the best (only?) good bet for a victory in conference play.
There is a high probability for back-to-back losing seasons, and that comes after firing coach Gus Malzhan, who never had a losing season on The Plains.
‘Notre Dame won’t make a bowl game!’
How many chances did Cal have to pull down a last-second Hail Mary that could have sent its game against Notre Dame into overtime? You be the judge:
Cal almost had the Hail Mary but Notre Dame escapes with the W. pic.twitter.com/8pVmHILlYX
— JWP Sports (@JWPSports) September 17, 2022
As it stands, Marcus Freeman has his first victory as the Irish’s head coach. Notre Dame pulled out a 24-17 victory despite managing just 297 total yards. Drew Pyne (17 of 23, 150 yards, 2 TDs) didn’t make the big mistake in a low-budget passing attack, the Irish do not have a consistent running game.
Would the Irish really go from CFP contender to not making a bowl game? Will they be favored in their next two games? A road trip to North Carolina precedes the bye week, and then it’s off to Las Vegas for a battle against BYU. Top-10 showdowns against Clemson and USC won’t be easy either.
So, let’s say for the sake of argument Notre Dame loses all of those games. Would they sweep Stanford, UNLV, Syracuse, Navy and Boston College? Yes, we think the Irish get to a bowl game. It is a good thing the ball bounced to the turf, however.
There is a lot of work to do in South Bend, and no game is a layup.
‘Ole Miss has the best backfield in the nation!’
Correct. The Rebels 1-2 punch of TCU transfer Zach Evans and freshman Quinshon Jenkins is doing the trick for Lane Kiffin. No. 20 Ole Miss pounded Georgia Tech 42-0 behind an offense that amassed 547 yards on the road. That included 316 yards on the ground.
Evans (18 carries, 134 yards, 2 TDs) and Jenkins (19 carries, 98 yards, 2 TDs) were at the head of that attack that protected quarterback Jaxson Dart (10 of 16, 207 yards, INT). Dart added 40 yards rushing, too.
Evans (317 yards) and Jenkins (289 yards) now have combined for 606 rushing yards. The only running back tandem with more rushing yards through two weeks is Air Force’s Brad Roberts and John Lee Eldridge III, who have combined for 619 yards. Charlie Weis Jr. and John David Baker have settled into their roles as co-offensive coordinators.
Somehow, Kiffin and the Rebels are the SEC sleeper we’re talking least about. The matchup with No. 9 Kentucky on Oct. 1 should be awesome, even if it will be overshadowed by the matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 10 Arkansas on the same day. Remember, the Rebels and Wildcats played a 42-41 thriller in Lexington, Ky. on Oct. 3, 2020. No. 15 Tennessee, the other SEC sleeper, has to play Alabama and Georgia.
Dare we say Kiffin is flying – or in this case running – under the radar?
‘Get your Apple Cup tickets now!’
Yes. Washington made one of the loudest statements of Week 3 in a 39-28 victory against No. 11 Michigan State at Husky Stadium.
Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix had 278 of his 397 passing yards by halftime, and the Huskies had a 29-8 halftime lead. Washington should be ranked as a result, but was this simply another example of a Pac-12 school beating a Big Ten school on their home turf?
It feels like a little more than that. Penix made Indiana one of the interesting teams of the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, and they can compete in the Pac-12 North. This was the second straight week where a Pac-12 school beat a Big Ten school.
Washington State’s Cam Ward built on last week’s upset against Wisconsin with 292 yards and four TDs in a 31-7 victory against Colorado State. We’re a long way to the Apple Cup, but that matchup could have some bearing on the Pac-12 championship picture. At minimum, Penix and Ward should make that a thriller.
The Cougars host Oregon next Saturday. The Huskies do not see the Ducks until Nov. 12. Those will be fun matchups, too.
‘We’re a football school!’
Remember that flap between Kentucky’s John Calipari and Mark Stoops in August? You can be both. In fact, the five schools with the most Final Four appearances in men’s basketball – North Carolina, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas – all are 3-0 in football.
The Wildcats are in the top-10. Kentucky shut out Youngstown State 31-0 in Week 3, gets Northern Illinois next week and we mentioned that looming showdown with Ole Miss. Stoops has the Wildcats in great position.
Duke beat North Carolina A&T 49-20, and Riley Leonard has emerged as a playmaker at quarterback under first-year coach Mike Elko. That sets up a battle of unbeaten teams with the Jayhawks in Week 4.
Kansas beat Houston 48-30, and that alone might be his best argument for Leipold when mentioning the Nebraska job. Quarterback Jalon Daniels had 158 passing yards, 123 rushing yards and five total TDs.
Empty stadium pictures at the Rose Bowl are becoming a weekly tradition, but the Bruins beat South Alabama 32-31 on Nicholas Barr-Mira’s 24-yard field goal as time expired. This is yet another intriguing landing spot for a certain coach if Chip Kelly’s time runs out. You can bet the attendance would be a lot higher with Meyer.
Wild atmosphere at the Rose Bowl today pic.twitter.com/PQkYmuH8Mp
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) September 17, 2022
North Carolina, led by breakout quarterback Drake Maye, had the week off to get ready for a home game against Notre Dame in Week 4.
Will there be a Hail Mary in that one, too?