For an NCAA Football Saturday featuring only three matchups between ranked teams, Week 3 brought plenty of entertainment. But which top-25 squads showed us the most in Week 3?
Most of the matchups in Week 3 involved powerhouses handling their business. LSU, FSU, UGA, WVU, Michigan, Clemson, Texas, UCLA, Alabama, Oregon, Arizona and South Carolina all overwhelmed their unranked opponents.
We saw yet another stunning upset by the Stanford Cardinal, an out-of-nowhere mauling by struggling Pitt over No. 13 Virginia Tech, and a bevvy of blowouts from ranked and unranked teams alike.
It isn't exactly breaking news when one-sided NCAA football games occur, and while it's important for teams in the hunt for a BCS title shot to take care of their weaker opponents, it doesn't always say a ton about that team's future prospects.
So, in the spirit of really delving into who impressed in Week 3, I've favored the teams that showed up against tough opponents.
Let's take a look at three teams who proved they've got big things awaiting them this season.
No. 21 Stanford Cardinal
Readers would be up in arms if I didn't mention the Cardinal in a list of the most impressive Week 3 teams. They beat the USC hype machine for the fourth time in a row, winning 21-14 in another close bout.
The Cardinal dominated the point of attack on both sides of the ball. Stanford's advantage in line play ultimately outweighed USC's skill-position advantage in crunch time.
They sacked USC QB Matt Barkley four times and pressured him consistently, ensuring he didn't have time to run through his progressions. On offense, they wore down the Trojans front by running jumbo sets and pounding the ball with RB Stepfan Taylor, who broke loose for 153 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
They also got timely plays from QB Josh Nunes, both with his feet (including a 12-yard scramble on 3rd-and-10 in the fourth quarter) and his arm. The capper was a beautiful 37-yard touchdown pass to Josh Ertz, who juked a defender out of his shoes and scampered for what would be the winning touchdown with 10:20 to play.
Stanford made a huge statement in Week 3, one that was well-articulated earlier in the week by defensive end Ben Gardner:
We are more than just "Andrew and the Luckettes."
In other words, Stanford showed they're a deep and talented team, and even without generational talent QB Andrew Luck, they're still a great football program.
No. 20 Notre Dame
There might not be a better way to sum up Notre Dame's performance. They beat a Top 10 opponent for the first time in seven years, breaking a six-game losing streak against ranked teams.
Notre Dame QB Everett Golson struggled for long stretches in Week 3, completing only 43.8 percent of his passes. Still, he made the big plays when he needed to, including a highlight-reel 36-yard hookup with WR John Goodman. Golson bootlegged to the right and then threw across the field to Goodman, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone even as pass interference was being called against his defender.
But no discussion of Notre Dame's performance against the Spartans would be complete without mentioning their defensive effort. Michigan State's only score came from a 50-yard field goal by Dan Conroy in the waning minutes of the first half.
The spotlight, in particular, was on senior LB Manti Te'o, who was playing just a few days after the loss of his girlfriend to leukemia and the death of his grandmother. He played remarkably well in Week 3, racking up 12 tackles and two pass breakups.
This was Notre Dame's finest performance in almost a decade and its finest defensive performance against a Top 10 team since beating Texas A&M 28-3 all the way back in 1993.
For the Fighting Irish to play this well on the road against a ranked opponent (let alone a team in the top ten) indicates big things are ahead for Kelly's team.
While they shouldn't book plane tickets to Miami for the BCS Championship quite yet, the Fighting Irish have a fighting chance at an unforgettable season this year.
No. 18 Florida
See a trend here?
The Florida Gators are undoubtedly one of those teams who showed up against tough opponents in Week 3.
Florida has now looked impressive in back-to-back second halves, rallying past the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers in Week 3. They scored 24 unanswered points to close out the game, winning handily at 37-20.
QB Jeff Driskel looked confident and efficient, completing 14 of his 20 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard touchdown play to WR Frankie Hammond. Driskel also added 81 yards rushing in eight attempts.
The Gators gashed the Vols on the ground, totaling 336 rushing yards, including 115 yards on 18 carries by RB Mike Gillislee. They also stopped the run effectively, holding Tennessee to just 83 total yards rushing.
That's a recipe for success at any level.
The Gators need to stop getting themselves into early holes. Still, if their performance in the second half of their Week 3 game against the Vols is any indication, Florida looks like a vicious SEC competitor.
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