College Football Winners and Losers from Week 3
What another weekend of college football.
Week 3 fulfilled our craving for more drama, big plays and pure dominance.
Oh yeah, and don't forget about those pesky missed field goals.
So, did Alabama keep rolling, and were there any teams continuing to rise? Which schools are looking more legit or illegitimate as we zero in on October?
Well, let's check out what the middle of September gave us as the leaves begin to fall.
Note: All rankings mentioned are from the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
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The Crimson Tide are playing like robots. And I mean that in a good way.
In other words, Nick Saban and his team are never satisfied with a win. So, to fulfill the purpose of proving Alabama's dominance, we get an eclectic performance from the Tide each week.
The Arkansas Razorbacks were simply the next step in the process, and 'Bama rolled, 52-0.
A.J. McCarron and the offense were quite efficient once again and didn't turn the ball over. Also, Saban's defense pitched a second straight shutout and have given up just 14 points this season.
Folk, we're looking at the 2012 Crimson Tide as potentially becoming the greatest single-season college football team ever.
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USC’s national title hopes just took a steep nosedive.
Losing to Pac-12 rival Stanford on the road was a tough game, because the Cardinal were ranked No. 16 in the coaches’ poll. Still, this only makes getting back into the national title race more difficult.
With the dominance of the SEC and other schools like Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma in the mix, USC now needs a lot of help. The good news is that the schedule will get tougher in the second half, so some key games can certainly propel the Trojans back.
Regardless, failing to win a game it was supposed to win really puts a damper on USC’s 2012 campaign.
Winner: Tide Rolling on the Ground
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Looking at Alabama more specifically, the Tide's running game is unreal.
The most impressive aspect comes in the form of the offensive line. In the 2013 NFL draft we could see three Crimson Tide linemen go in Round 1. Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker each possess first-round talent, and it's amazing how well the Tide dominate the line of scrimmage.
Also, the number of players capable of slamming between the tackles is noteworthy.
Against the Razorbacks, 'Bama compiled 225 rushing yards on 45 attempts, and five different ball-carriers averaged over four yards per carry. Not to mention six of 'Bama's seven touchdowns came on the ground (three from Eddie Lacy).
This kind of supremacy at running the rock is making a second consecutive Alabama national title seem like a foregone conclusion.
Loser: Seats at Sun Life Stadium
Photo Credit: Michael Casagrande, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Hardly anyone showed up for the Miami Hurricanes' 2012 home opener.
After winning on the road at Boston College in Week 1 and then getting destroyed by Kansas State, the 'Canes came home to face Bethune-Cookman.
Well, despite there looking like more players on the field than in the seats at Sun Life Stadium, at least Miami won.
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The Stanford Cardinal just pulled off the biggest upset of this young college football season.
Pac-12 rival USC came into Stanford Stadium ranked No. 2 in the AP poll and No. 3 in the coaches’ poll. Stanford, however, was No. 21 in the AP and No. 16 in the coaches and the obvious underdog.
Well, the Cardinal took the game 21-14 by overcoming eight penalties and two turnovers.
On another impressive scale, Stanford racked up 417 total yards of offense and held the Trojans to just 26 rushing yards on 28 attempts. The Pac-12 race just opened up even wider, and the nation better watch out for the Cardinal.
Loser: Matt Barkley
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Matt Barkley just went 0-4 against Stanford for his career.
This loss coming with a dismal performance may ultimately cost Barkley the Heisman Trophy as well.
Going just 20-of-41 for 254 yards, Barkley was sacked five times, fumbled once and threw two interceptions. This outing was obviously not typical of what we’re used to getting from Barkley, although it does reveal his ability under constant duress and in a tough environment.
When facing other standout defenses like Oregon and Notre Dame, Barkley must step up, or his NFL draft stock will also plunge.
Winner: Notre Dame
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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are back...for now.
On Saturday the Irish went on the road to East Lansing, Mich., and upset the Spartans, 20-3, who were ranked No. 10 in both polls. This is arguably the biggest win for Notre Dame of the 21st century, and Brian Kelly has led his team to a 3-0 start.
Notre Dame held stud running back Le’Veon Bell to just 77 yards on 19 carries, and Michigan State managed only 237 total yards. Sparty’s only points came from a 50-yard Dan Conroy field goal.
In short, the Irish defense was suffocating all night long, and that sets up for a huge matchup next week against the Michigan Wolverines.
Loser: Virginia Tech
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Ranked No. 13 in the coaches' poll, Virginia Tech traveled to Pittsburgh this week.
The Panthers were 0-2 and entered with losses to Youngstown State and Cincinnati, so perhaps playing a non-Ohio team was the answer.
Frank Beamer's squad, on the other hand, was 2-0 and was expected to compete for another ACC title. Unfortunately for the Hokies, they lost 35-17, and Pittsburgh ruined their hopes of perfection.
More surprisingly, Pitt's 35 points come after putting up just 27 through its first two games.
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Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Although No. 1 Alabama was coming into Fayetteville, the Hogs didn't have a chance.
Losing 52-0 after getting upset by Louisiana-Monroe last week, Arkansas was limited to just 137 total yards and turned the rock over five times.
To make matters worse, there were bad snaps on special teams that cost the Razorbacks points as well as field position. Even the fog literally started rolling in as the game progressed through the rain.
Winner: BCS Controversy
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With USC going down, the BCS controversy can begin.
Alabama and LSU will obviously play one another, and there are plenty of other big games coming up on the schedule. If Notre Dame can keep rolling, the Irish get an enormous matchup with Oklahoma just before Halloween.
Oregon was upset by USC in 2011, so that matchup will draw attention, and Florida versus Florida State is looking better each week. Add in West Virginia, Georgia and Texas among others, and college football will simply get more intense through October.
Get ready for some BCS controversy again, because 2012 is looking broader than last fall.
Winner: Jawan "Circle Button" Jamison
Either Barry Sanders made a comeback or the Tecmo Super Bowl version of Bo Jackson made an appearance.
This was the work of Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison. His sick spin move resulted in a touchdown and sealed the win for the Scarlet Knights, 23-13, over South Florida.
Loser: The Big Ten
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Overall the Big Ten went 10-2 in Week 3, but only Ohio State legitimately won.
Everyone else won over significantly inferior opponents, Michigan State was upset by Notre Dame in East Lansing and Indiana fell to Ball State at home.
Wisconsin avoided a second straight major road upset thanks to Utah State kicker Josh Thompson missing his game-winning attempt, but the Badgers need more offensive production after scoring just 23 points the past two games.
Michigan right now is the Big Ten’s best BCS hope. However, the conference isn’t looking too competitive at the moment, and with the Wolverines playing Notre Dame next week, 2012 against BCS schools isn’t getting any easier.
Winner: Brendan Bigelow
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All Brendan Bigelow did was carry the ball four times for 160 yards—that's it.
Averaging 40 yards per attempt for the California Golden Bears against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Bigelow also scored twice.
Obviously the Bucks' tackling was horrendous, and rightfully so, because Bigelow made Urban Meyer's defense look like it had never played football before.
Nonetheless, what a performance by the sophomore. Let's hope he gets more carries as the season continues.
Winner: Florida State's Defense
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In three games the Florida State Seminoles have allowed just three points.
Now yes, their first two games came against Murray State and Savannah State. However, facing 2-0 Wake Forest in Week 3, Florida State was certainly getting its toughest challenge yet.
Well, the Demon Deacons were limited to just 126 total yards and recorded just seven first downs.
Additionally, the Seminoles made Wake Forest go 1-of-16 on third down.
Loser: Vincenzo D'Amato
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A kicker is never the sole reason why a team loses, but missing three field goals never helps.
Vincenzo D'Amato was perfect on extra points, which certainly kept California in the game against Ohio State.
Unfortunately, he shanked all three of his three-pointers, and the Golden Bears fell, 35-28. Now 1-2, Cal travels south to play the USC Trojans next week.
Winner: Jordan Lynch
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Northern Illinois defeated Army 41-40.
And had it not been for quarterback Jordan Lynch, the Huskies don't win.
The man accounted for 467 total yards, five touchdowns and averaged 9.6 yards per carry.
Even more impressive was Lynch's production despite Northern Illinois losing the time-of-possession battle 42:33 to 17:27.
Army just gave up big play after big play, and it's unbelievable to win after having the ball for less than one-third of the game's duration, not to mention putting up 41 points in the process.
Loser: Virginia Against the Run
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Any time a team prepares for Georgia Tech, stopping the run is key.
Because all the Yellow Jackets do is run the ball, you would think that stacking the box to slow them down would work.
Well, that was not the case for the Virginia Cavaliers, who allowed 461 rushing yards against 50 attempts, while Tech scored seven times on the ground. That is ridiculous considering the Yellow Jackets are an extremely one-dimensional offense.
What this also proves, though, is how flawlessly Georgia Tech performs running the ball. No matter how thorough a game plan may be, the Yellow Jackets are always one step ahead.
Winner: Auburn's Field-Goal-Block Team
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This turned out to be the difference for Auburn in avoiding the Louisiana-Monroe upset.
With Auburn up 28-14 in the third quarter, Warhawks kicker Justin Manton lined up for a 31-yard field goal.
The attempt never made it past the line of scrimmage. Tigers defender Corey Lemonier sliced through the line and basically caught the ball as it was kicked to prevent the points.
In overtime, Louisiana-Monroe lined up for another kick from 37 yards. This time Manton's kick fell just shy, because Auburn's Angelo Blackson put a paw up and barely got a piece of the rock.
Still, it was just enough, and Auburn scored on its overtime possession to avoid the upset.
Winner: Kolton Browning
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Kolton Browning is shredding SEC defenses.
After picking apart the Arkansas Razorbacks in Week 2, Browning impressed again with 295 total yards and four touchdowns.
In addition, he didn't turn the ball over, and three of his scores were touchdown passes. Browning was spreading the field all day by connecting with 10 different players, four of whom had four-plus receptions.
No, Auburn is not a strong defensive team, but Browning's elite consistency deserves attention.
Loser: Anyone Who Attended Mississippi Valley State or Southern
Photo Credit: Richard Alan Hannon, The Advocate
Mississippi Valley State, Jerry Rice's alma mater, won in Week 3 over Southern University.
Too bad this game was the exact opposite of any football game we saw Rice play in for the San Francisco 49ers.
That is, it wasn't explosive at all, as the Delta Devils beat the Jaguars, 6-0. Interestingly enough, those points were from a touchdown and then a blocked extra point instead of two field goals.
Also, the two teams combined for only 393 total yards, four turnovers and 19 penalties.
Winner: Penn State Fans
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It was a tough start for Penn State in losing two straight to open the 2012 season.
After losing at home to the Ohio Bobcats and on the road to Virginia, the Nittany Lions had nothing to feel positive about.
Fortunately, the fans got to see a win over Navy in Week 3. Now, Happy Valley finally has something positive to talk about after everything that has unfolded since last season.
Loser: Randy Edsall
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Randy Edsall should have remained with the Connecticut Huskies.
For one, he went just 2-10 with the Maryland Terrapins in 2011, and although the Terps began 2012 at 2-0, both wins were unimpressive.
This week Edsall faced his former team and fell at home in College Park, 24-21, to the Huskies.
By comparison, Connecticut faces a much easier schedule, and this season won't be too nice for Maryland. With West Virginia next week and Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State later on, the Terps are a long shot to go bowling.
Winner: Braxton Miller
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Braxton Miller is burning up the stat sheet each week.
After two great weeks—albeit against significantly inferior opponents—to open the 2012 season, Miller gave us another dominant performance against a stronger opponent.
Racking up 324 total yards against the Cal Bears, Miller threw four touchdowns (one pick) and ran for a fifth as Ohio State won 35-28.
He also scored a two-point conversion and dished the rock to seven different players through only 16 completions. The Buckeyes even lost the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes and had 11 penalties, but they still overcame the Golden Bears in the Horseshoe.
Loser: Sun Belt
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Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky were the only winners for the Sun Belt in Week 3.
Both Troy and Louisiana-Monroe gave their SEC foes a scare, but unfortunately they lost, and it wasn’t pretty thereafter.
North Texas, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette, South Alabama and Florida International all got soundly beaten. Sure, they're non-BCS schools; however, going 2-8 doesn’t allow the Sun Belt to gain ground in being a better non-AQ conference.
Loser: Derek Dooley
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Derek Dooley has yet to win a key game for the Tennessee Volunteers
Leading the Florida Gators 20-13 at home on Saturday evening, the Vols allowed 24 unanswered points and lost, 37-20. The Gators amassed 336 rushing yards, averaged 7.8 yards per carry and totaled 555 yards.
The Vols dropped to 2-1, and Dooley has yet to beat a ranked opponent.
He went 6-7 in his first season, and Tennessee went 0-5 versus ranked schools. Last season the Vols closed at 5-7 and once again 0-5 against ranked teams, not to mention a loss to Kentucky.
Winner: Johnny Manziel
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Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is quickly making Aggies fans forget about Ryan Tannehill.
After a decent performance against Florida last week, Manziel set a school freshman record with 294 passing yards against SMU, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). He added 124 yards on the ground and accounted for six A&M touchdowns.
Now yes, it’s SMU, but the Aggies didn’t turn the ball over either. We can only anticipate this youngster improving for the Aggies as the season progresses.
Loser: Boston College-Northwestern Red-Zone Offenses
In a game that featured seven field goals, the Northwestern Wildcats outlasted the Boston College Eagles, 22-13.
Unfortunately, neither team proved efficient once inside the red zone, or opposing territory for that matter.
The longest kick attempted was 42 yards by Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, and the Wildcats didn’t score their touchdown until there was 1:37 remaining in the game.
The good news is that each school has a reliable kicker. That said, against teams with much better defenses, scoring in general will be significantly reduced.
Winner: Geno Smith
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The West Virginia Mountaineers haven’t played a reputable opponent yet, but Geno Smith is tearing up the field.
Game 2 against James Madison was near flawless, because Smith connected on 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns.
So far that gives Smith nine touchdowns to zero picks in two games, and he remains a Heisman Trophy candidate. Facing Maryland next week, don’t expect anything less from Smith.
Loser: Ole Miss Defense
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The Ole Miss Rebels allowed 676 total yards against the Texas Longhorns this week.
Despite the Longhorns being ranked No. 12 in the coaches’ poll, Ole Miss could have played a little better defensively, especially because defense is largely what the SEC has become known for.
Unfortunately, the Rebels haven’t embodied that philosophy, and it wasn’t surprising to see the Longhorns put up 66 points. Quarterback David Ash went 19-of-23 for 326 yards and had four touchdowns, while Texas added four more scores on the ground (350 rushing yards).
In addition, Ole Miss failed to force a turnover or record a sack.