Winners and Losers from Week 3 of College Football
The Alabama Crimson Tide emerged as the major winner of Week 3, topping the Texas A&M Aggies 49-42 in a matchup that lived up to its billing as one of the biggest games of the 2013 college football season.
While Alabama solidified itself as the No. 1 team in the country, second-ranked Oregon made its own statement against a Southeastern Conference opponent, as quarterback Marcus Mariota ignited his Heisman Trophy campaign.
Elsewhere around the nation, another Heisman favorite may have hurt his chances at winning the award, despite picking up a victory over a rival.
Winner: Texas Tech as a Big 12 Contender
It wasn't the prettiest performance, but Texas Tech picked up its first key victory under head coach Kliff Kingsbury on Thursday night.
The Red Raiders may have a bit of a quarterback controversy on their hands, as heralded walk-on Baker Mayfield struggled, throwing three interceptions. Backup Davis Webb replaced him and went 3-of-4 passing for 77 yards and threw the go-ahead touchdown with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Despite Webb's heroics, Kingsbury said afterward that Mayfield is still the starter, as reported by Dan Greenspan of NFL.com.
Regardless of who is under center, the Red Raiders look poised to compete for the Big 12 Conference title, which is one of the more wide-open conference races in the country.
Loser: TCU as a Big 12 Contender
In the loss to Texas Tech, TCU didn't look capable of competing for a conference title, particularly without quarterback Casey Pachall.
After Pachall's arm injury last week, Trevone Boykin took over as the full-time starter and didn't have a great day in Lubbock. The sophomore threw two interceptions and finished with a quarterback rating of just 28.6, though he did have an impressive game on the ground, tallying 101 rushing yards.
Still, the Texas Tech offense gave the Horned Frogs plenty of opportunities to win the game, but they weren't able to capitalize.
While one loss doesn't knock the Horned Frogs out of contention in the Big 12, they will need to show improvement quickly to stay in the race.
Winner: Fox on the Field
The game was on ESPN, but Fox was well represented in Lubbock, Texas.
Yes, there was a live fox in the stadium.
As Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports pointed out, the furry creature caused quite a stir.
Winner: UCLA's Comeback
Playing with a heavy heart after the passing of wide receiver Nick Pasquale, UCLA had an understandably slow start against Nebraska.
But after falling behind 21-3 in the second quarter, the Bruins stormed back in a big way. Behind quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Jordon James, UCLA scored 38 unanswered points and downed the Cornhuskers 41-21 in Lincoln.
Hundley was outstanding, finishing 16-of-24 passing for 294 yards with three touchdowns and 61 rushing yards. James was great as well, tallying 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
UCLA is quickly transitioning from a clear No. 3 in the Pac-12 to a legitimate contender alongside Oregon and Stanford.
Loser: Nebraska's Inconsistency
Nebraska's performance against UCLA was a spot-on representation of this team as a whole.
The Cornhuskers looked excellent in the first half, jumping out to a 21-3 lead at home behind strong play from quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Then, as the game wore on, their offense sputtered as they punted on five straight possessions after taking the 18-point advantage. From there, a failed fourth-down conversion and a fumble ended the Huskers' hopes for victory.
At its best, Nebraska is one of the more dangerous teams in the country, but inconsistency remains a crippling weakness for the Big Red.
Winner: Blake Bell
Making his first career start, Blake Bell took full claim of the lead quarterback role for Oklahoma.
The 6'6" 252-pound junior was expected to be the starter this season, only to be beaten out by freshman Trevor Knight during fall camp.
However, Knight struggled last week against West Virginia, prompting coach Bob Stoops to give Bell another shot at the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Bell responded accordingly, going 27-of-37 passing for 413 yards and four touchdowns, as OU smashed Tulsa 51-20.
A strong offense was the only factor keeping the Sooners from looking like a serious Big 12 contender, but Bell could be the one to change that. He'll have his first true test against Notre Dame in two weeks.
Loser: Teddy Bridgewater's Heisman Campaign
With few opportunities to impress against a weak schedule, Teddy Bridgewater bungled a chance to shine on national television against rival Kentucky.
The Louisville signal-caller wasn't terrible, but he wasn't outstanding either in a lackluster 27-13 win over a team that won just two games last season. Bridgewater finished 16-of-28 for 250 yards passing and just one touchdown. That one scoring toss came off an outstanding catch by receiver DeVante Parker on a jump ball between two UK defenders.
Bridgewater still remains on the short list of legitimate candidates, but he might not be able to generate enough buzz to take the award.
Winner: Rutgers Retires Eric LeGrand's Jersey
Rutgers retired the No. 52 jersey of Eric LeGrand at halftime of its 28-10 win over Eastern Michigan.
LeGrand, who was paralyzed while making a tackle in kickoff coverage in 2010, is the first player to ever have his jersey retired in the history of Rutgers football.
During the emotional ceremony, the 23-year-old shared his aspiration to help others like himself in an inspirational speech that drew loud cheers and applause.
Loser: Close Call in the Big House
A week after a thrilling victory over rival Notre Dame under the lights in front of a record crowd, Michigan faced a stark turnaround, hosting Akron at 12 p.m. ET.
The Wolverines played exactly to the level of the game, and it nearly cost them.
Akron scored two straight touchdowns to take a 24-21 fourth-quarter lead. That included one score off an interception thrown by Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who tossed three picks on the day.
After the Zips claimed the lead, Michigan responded with a quick touchdown to retake the advantage, 28-24, with less than three minutes to go in the game. Michigan then let the Zips march 71 yards downfield to within two yards of a colossal upset.
However, Akron would go no further as its final pass fell incomplete in the end zone, allowing the home team to avoid disaster.
Winner: Oregon Again
The Oregon Ducks looked very good again—and not just because of their latest uniform set.
UO briefly fell behind Tennessee, 7-0, before exploding for the next 59 points in the 59-14 victory.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota boosted his Heisman Trophy resume by completing 23 of his 33 passes for 456 yards and four touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore signal-caller also added a score on the ground, making him one of four Oregon rushers to reach the end zone.
The Ducks have now outscored their opponents 184-27 on the year, placing them directly in the race for the BCS Championship.
Loser: USC Attendance
The "Fire Lane Kiffin" initiative is in full effect.
This photo shows the Los Angeles Coliseum just 25 minutes before kickoff against Boston College, via Ryan Abraham of USCFootball.com. Abraham's Twitter feed (@InsideTroy) has numerous shots of the sparse crowd before and throughout the game.
USC eventually announced attendance at 62,006, which Abraham was quick to denounce.
Though few were there to witness it, the Trojans actually won 35-7 and tallied 521 total yards with quarterback Cody Kessler at the helm.
Winner: Manziel's Moment
Not to be outdone by last year's performance against Alabama, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel made yet another spectacular play against the Tide.
The Aggies quarterback slithered out of a 20-yard sack, rolled out and completed an impossible pass back across the field through traffic while taking a hit from linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Bleacher Report's Jake Silver has a collection of GIFs of the play.
There was almost a controversial targeting call on Alabama defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but the booth officials saved the referees on the field.
On the play in question, Clinton-Dix made contact with Texas A&M receiver Derel Walker, but he had his hands and head up, looking for an interception.
After the play ended as an incompletion, the officials on the field conferred with one another before flagging Clinton-Dix, one of Alabama's best defensive backs, for targeting, which would have resulted in his ejection.
The play went up to the replay booth, where his ejection was overturned. Although he was allowed to stay in the game, the 15-yard penalty stood.
Michael Shamburger of TheBigLead.com has a GIF of the play that nearly caused a firestorm of controversy over the new rule.
Winners: The Tide
Texas A&M gave a valiant effort in College Station, but the Aggies just weren't up to the task of knocking off the two-time defending champions.
It was all A&M early, as the home team jumped out to a 14-0 lead. However, Nick Saban's group stayed composed and rallied back, scoring the next 35 points.
Quarterback AJ McCarron was marvelous, going 20-of-29 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. His fourth touchdown ended up deciding the game. Meanwhile, running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake combined for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
The Crimson Tide defense took their lumps against the explosive A&M offense, but they held strong enough to eke out the 49-42 win.
No matter how many points Oregon scores, there is no question who is No. 1.
Loser: Texas A&M's National Title Hopes
We didn't learn much about Texas A&M in its loss to Alabama, except that the Aggies most likely won't be seen in the BCS title game.
A&M brought its unstoppable offense to play against the Tide, and it totaled 628 yards. Manziel was excellent, making a number of jaw-dropping plays while throwing for 464 yards and five touchdowns to keep his Heisman hopes afloat.
However, the Aggies also showed their suspect defense, which 'Bama gouged for 568 yards, including 234 on the ground and 6.3 yards per rush.
It isn't Texas A&M's defense that will keep it out of the title game, however. The Aggies only have one marquee game left on their schedule, against LSU.
All isn't lost for the Aggies, but their national title hopes are looking grim.
Winner: Mike Evans
As impressive as Johnny Manziel was, his receiver, Mike Evans, was the best player on the field.
The redshirt sophomore made numerous unbelievable plays and had the ridiculous numbers to go along with them. Evans caught seven passes for 279 yards and a touchdown, averaging just shy of 40 yards per reception.
His 279 yards were more than Alabama's top four receivers combined.
At 6'5", 225 pounds, Evans could be playing on Sundays this time next year.
Loser: Penn State Defense
Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg put in another strong performance for Penn State against Central Florida.
The Palmyra, Va., native completed 21-of-28 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown, and his No. 1 target, Allen Robinson, caught nine of his passes for 143 yards and a score. Joining Hackenberg and Robinson was running back Zach Zwinak, who tallied 128 yards and three touchdowns off 21 carries.
However, despite the best efforts of PSU’s offensive trio, the Nittany Lions defense didn’t show up.
UCF gouged PSU for 507 yards and converted seven third downs in 12 tries. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles just managed to out-duel Hackenberg, connecting on 20-of-27 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
The Knights never trailed in their 34-31 victory in Beaver Stadium, the program’s first over a Big Ten opponent.
Winners: Keith Price and Bishop Sankey
Led by its two stars in the backfield, Washington won handily over Illinois at Soldier Field.
Running back Bishop Sankey had a monstrous performance, logging 35 carries for 208 rushing yards. He also had three receptions for 63 yards and two total touchdowns.
Sankey caught one of quarterback Keith Price’s two touchdown passes on the day. Price found a receiver on 28-of-35 passes for a total of 342 yards. Altogether, the Huskies amassed 615 yards, nearly doubling the Fighting Illini's total
UW did commit 12 penalties for 104 yards and lose two fumbles, leading to a 34-24 final score, which was closer than it should have been.
Loser: Kansas' Déjà Vu
It’s déjà vu all over again for Kansas.
The Jayhawks started 2012 with a 31-17 win over South Dakota State, only to turn around and lose at home to Rice 25-24. That defeat to the Owls clipped the Jayhawks’ wings for the remainder of the year, as they finished 1-11.
This year, KU started with a 31-14 win over South Dakota, but lost on the road to Rice this weekend, 23-14.
Kansas will have a chance at a turnaround next week at Louisiana Tech; otherwise, it might hit another 11-game skid.
On a positive note, those white helmets did look good.
It didn’t take long, but Auburn already has as many total wins and more SEC wins than it did all of last season.
The Tigers are off to an outstanding start under new head coach Gus Malzahn after a thrilling comeback victory over Mississippi State.
Quarterback Nick Marshall hit tight end C.J. Uzomah in the end zone with just 10 seconds left on the clock to give Auburn its first conference win since Oct. 29, 2011. Marshall had his ups and downs in the game, but he led a masterful two-minute drill to seal the deal for the Tigers.
While Auburn moved to 3-0, Mississippi State is far from the start it envisioned, as it dropped to 1-2.
Loser: Steve Spurrier's Visor
It looked like South Carolina was going to cruise to victory over Vanderbilt, as it was out to a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.
However, as the Gamecocks let off the gas, the Commodores scored 25 of the next 32 points to cut the deficit to just 10 points early in the fourth quarter.
USC did manage to hold Vandy off, preserving the 35-25 victory, but the close call prompted head coach Steve Spurrier to not only take his visor off, but punt it as well. SB Nation has the GIF of the moment.
Winner: Oklahoma State's Battalion of Receivers
Oklahoma State decimated Lamar 59-3, gaining a modest 426 yards in the process, but it was a different type of quantity that made OSU’s win impressive.
The Cowboys’ 23 pass completions were spread out between 13 different receivers, none of whom had more than four receptions. Spread offenses require deep receiving groups, and OSU certainly has one.
Big 12 defenses should have a fun time sifting through that game tape.
Loser: Notre Dame's Near Miss
Notre Dame didn't seem particularly motivated to make a turnaround after a disappointing loss to rival Michigan last week.
The Irish were sluggish in a near defeat to Purdue, as the Boilermakers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. The Irish struggled on the ground, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry while netting just 91 rushing yards.
Tommy Rees and the Notre Dame defense saved the day. Rees tossed two touchdown strikes, and Bennett Jackson added the game-deciding touchdown off an interception return.
In the end, ND used a 21-point fourth-quarter rally capped by Jackson's score to avoid the upset and edge Purdue 31-24.
Winner: Kenny Guiton and the OSU Offense
No Braxton Miller? No problem.
Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton faced a tall task of keeping up with California’s Air Raid offense while replacing a Heisman Trophy candidate in Miller, but the senior was up to the challenge.
Guiton guided the Buckeyes to a 52-34 win by connecting on 21-of-32 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Jordan Hall helped him out by running for 168 yards and three scores.
In total, OSU stepped up to the plate and outslugged Cal, tallying 608 total yards. In addition to 86 points between them, the two teams combined for 55 first downs, 6-of-7 fourth-down conversions and 1,111 total yards.
Loser: Mack Brown's Job Security
The situation is growing darker by the day for Texas head coach Mack Brown.
Last week, the Longhorns allowed nearly 700 total yards in a loss to BYU. As a result, UT parted ways with defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
This week, Ole Miss did much of the same to Texas in a 44-23 win. The Rebels accumulated 449 yards, including 272 on the ground.
As the game wound down, the Longhorns players were visibly uninspired, heating up Brown’s seat even further.
It looks like Texas may need a drastic turnaround during Big 12 play for the longtime head coach to keep his post in Austin.
Winner: Hugh Freeze's Job Security
On the other side of the coaching spectrum, Hugh Freeze clearly has Ole Miss on the rise.
The second-year head coach has his young Rebels squad playing extremely well, as they are off to a 3-0 start after the 44-23 win over Texas.
The Ole Miss defense held the Longhorns scoreless in the second half to spark the comeback victory. Running back Jeff Scott pitched in with an excellent performance, running for 164 yards and a touchdown off 19 carries, while also adding another score off an electrifying punt return.
The next step for Freeze and Mississippi: taking on Alabama Sept. 28.
Winner: Shootout in Salt Lake
The Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight ended just in time for the climax of an even more thrilling bout between Oregon State and Utah.
The two Pac-12 foes traded shots, alternating the final seven scores of regulation. Three touchdowns came in the final five minutes of the fourth, including a game-tying score by the Utes with 21 seconds left that sent the contest into overtime.
OSU took control during extra time, however. After the Beaver defense held Utah to a field goal, quarterback Sean Mannion hooked up with Brandin Cooks for the game-winning score.
Mannion finished with 443 passing yards and five touchdowns, while Cooks hauled in nine receptions for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Loser: Finale Fiasco in Tempe
The finale in Tempe was bizarre, to say the least.
Trailing Arizona State 32-30, Wisconsin drove down field at the end of the fourth quarter and was set up nicely to take a short game-winning field goal.
The Badgers didn't have a timeout, so quarterback Joel Stave took the snap with just under 20 seconds on the clock and ran to the middle of the field to center the ball for his kicker. Rather than diving, sliding or kneeling down, he simply placed the ball on the ground, supposedly giving himself up.
The ball was whistled down, but the ASU defenders jumped on the ball since Stave never actually went down. What happened from there is a mystery, as the officials never allowed the play to start.
The clock ran out before the Wisconsin offense could snap and spike the ball, and Arizona State won.
Winner: Arizona State
Lost among the ridiculous ending was a pair of excellent performances from Arizona State's two offensive stars.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly tallied 352 yards through the air, though he didn't throw a single touchdown. However, thanks to his backfield mate, he didn't have to.
Running back Marion Grice reached the end zone four times on the ground while netting 84 rushing yards. He also brought in five passes for 50 yards.
In the win, the Sun Devils showed that they have the offensive talent to compete with the best of the Pac-12, as they posted 468 total yards on a Wisconsin defense that hadn't allowed a single point all season.