College Football 2023: Winners and Losers from Week 3

Joel ReuterSeptember 17, 2023

College Football 2023: Winners and Losers from Week 3

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    Alabama quarterback Ty Simpson (15) throws a pass against South Florida during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
    AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

    Alabama does not have a starting quarterback, Florida State is not the College Football Playoff contender we thought they were and Kansas State went from sleeper to disappointment in the blink of an eye.

    That was just the afternoon slate of games.

    Welcome to Week 3 of the college football season!

    Florida topples No. 11 Tennessee 29-16 and No. 18 Colorado survives Colorado State's upset bid in 2OT.

    We've tracked the top storylines of the day and highlighted some of the most notable winners and losers from across the college football landscape..

Winner: Jayden Daniels Entering the Heisman Conversation

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    Jayden Daniels
    Jayden DanielsPeter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The LSU Tigers began the season ranked No. 5 in the AP poll, but they were quickly dealt their first loss of the season when Florida State pulled off a mild upset in Week 1.

    Quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for 346 yards with one touchdown and one interception in that game while adding another 64 rushing yards, but he was outplayed by his Florida State counterpart Jordan Travis.

    That tough opening game was followed by a cruise control victory over Grambling State in Week 2, and Daniels showed out with a career-high five touchdown passes in the first half while building a 42-10 lead.

    After a nice stat-padding afternoon last week, Daniels had a chance to prove himself against tougher competition on Saturday with a road game against Mississippi State, and he was nearly perfect in a 41-14 victory.

    The fifth-year senior completed 30 of 34 pass attempts for 361 yards with two touchdowns through the air, and he added 64 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground to headline the onslaught.

    The Tigers may face an uphill battle climbing back into the College Football Playoff picture, but Daniels has put himself in the early Heisman Trophy conversation with back-to-back big games.

Loser: Old Dominion's Shot at Upsetting Another ACC Team

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    LaMareon James
    LaMareon JamesAP Photo/Mike Caudill

    Back in 2018, Old Dominion pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent college football history when they beat No. 13 Virginia Tech.

    ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

    Old Dominion's win over Virginia Tech is the largest upset against an ACC opponent in the last 40 seasons. <a href=""></a>

    The Monarchs had a chance to upset another ACC squad on Saturday, when they built a 17-0 halftime lead against Wake Forest, and a pick-six from LaMareon James with 7:00 left in the third quarter made it a 24-7 game.

    However, Wake Forest quarterback Mitch Griffis picked it up after the break and threw for three touchdowns in the second half, and his touchdown pass to Jahmal Bank with 6:48 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Demon Deacons the lead for good.

    Wake Forest has a bye week next week to regroup before traveling to Clemson.

Winner: Missouri's Chances of Snapping a Top 25 Dry Spell

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    Missouri place kicker Harrison Mevis (92) is congratulated by his teammates after making a 61-yard field goal to win an NCAA football game against Kansas State on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023 in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
    AP Photo/Colin E. Braley

    The last time the Missouri Tigers were ranked in the AP poll was during a 5-1 start to the 2019 season, when a 38-27 victory over Ole Miss vaulted them to No. 22 in the Oct. 14 poll. They then promptly lost to Vanderbilt to kick off a five-game losing streak.

    Following Saturday's win over No. 15 Kansas State, that drought is likely over.

    Harrison Mevis hit a 61-yard field goal as time expired to give Missouri a 30-27 victory, and the Tigers used a 13-3 advantage in the fourth quarter to pull off the upset and start the season 3-0 after victories over South Dakota and Middle Tennessee State to open the year.

    The Tigers were picked to finish a distant sixth in the seven-team SEC Eastern Division in the media's preseason poll, but now appear headed for a spot in the Top 25 thanks to some clutch special teams work and a stellar 356-yard, two-touchdown performance from quarterback Brady Cook.

    With a victory over a Kansas State squad many viewed as the second-best team in the Big 12 after Texas, Missouri has earned a spot in the Top 25 poll, even if it winds up being a short-lived stay.

    Another tough matchup awaits next week with a neutral-site game against Memphis.

Loser: Florida State's Image as a College Football Playoff Contender

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    Jordan Travis
    Jordan TravisMaddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Florida State may have won on Saturday, but the Seminoles didn't look anything like the team that has been hyped as a serious College Football Playoff contender since upsetting No. 5 LSU in Week 1.

    The Seminoles were 23.5-point favorites on the road against a Boston College team that lost to Northern Illinois in Week 1 and narrowly squeaked out a 31-28 victory over FCS Holy Cross last Saturday.

    They looked to be in complete control when a DJ Lundy rushing touchdown with 11:20 remaining in the third quarter made it a 31-10 game, but that would be the final points the Seminoles put on the board.

    If not for a missed extra point and a subsequent failed two-point conversion on their next score, Boston College would have forced overtime as they rattled off three straight unanswered touchdowns but ultimately fell short of the upset in a 31-29 game.

    Perhaps most troubling for Florida State was their inability to capitalize on a sloppy game from Boston College:

    Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

    Boston College's school record 18th penalty of game gives Florida State clinching 1st down &amp; Seminoles survive 31-29

    Those 18 penalties went for a staggering 131 yards, yet it was still a competitive game against a team that entered the game ranked No. 3 in the nation with legitimate title aspirations.

    This will change how people look at the Seminoles on the national landscape.

Winner: Sam Hartman Climbing the Career TD Leaderboard

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    RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 9: Sam Hartman #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drops back to pass against the NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium on September 9, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Notre Dame won 45-24. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
    Lance King/Getty Images

    In five seasons at Wake Forest, Sam Hartman racked up 110 touchdown passes, including 39 touchdowns in 2021 and 38 touchdowns in 2022, and, now, he is steadily climbing the all-time leaderboard while piloting the Notre Dame offense.

    With three more touchdown passes in a 41-17 victory over Central Michigan, Hartman now has 13 touchdowns through his first four games with the Fighting Irish, and he passed some legendary names on the all-time leaderboard on Saturday.

    ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

    Sam Hartman had 3 Pass TD on Saturday, bringing his career Pass TD total to 123.<br><br>That ties Landry Jones for the 7th-most in FBS history. <a href=""></a>

    He passed Ty Detmer (121) and Aaron Murray (121) on his way to moving into a tie with Landry Jones, and in the next few weeks he could conceivably pass Colt Brennen (131), Baker Mayfield (131), Rakeem Cato (131) and Graham Harrell (134) to move into the No. 3 spot on the list.

    Kellen Moore (142) and Case Keenum (155) will then be all that stands between him and the all-time record.

    Sure, he's 24 years old playing in his sixth season of college football, but it's noteworthy nonetheless as he takes aim at history.

Loser: The Alabama QB Carousel

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    TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 16: Seth McLaughlin #56, Tyler Buchner #8, and Amari Niblack #84 of the Alabama Crimson Tide run off the field during a timeout in the first quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    Following last week's 34-24 loss at home against Texas, Alabama coach Nick Saban decided to make a change at quarterback, opting to bench Jalen Milroe after he threw a pair of interceptions against the Longhorns.

    Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner was named the starter for Saturday's game against South Florida, but his time under center didn't last long.

    After completing just 5-of-14 pass attempts for 34 yards while leading five drives that all ended in punts, Buchner was benched in favor of third-string quarterback Ty Simpson.

    "We said we wanted to see if we had a quarterback that could play winning football and thought we struggled a little bit," Saban said at halftime. "Maybe it was the rain. I don't know. Ty was the guy that practiced the best this week as a backup player, so he has a chance to play."

    For what it's worth, Simpson was a 5-star recruit during the 2022 recruiting cycle, so it's not like Saban turned to a walk-on to try to find an answer at quarterback. He completed 5-of-9 passes for 73 yards, but he was also sacked five times in the process.

    There's no clear-cut answer at quarterback for the Crimson Tide right now, and while they managed to survive for a 17-3 win against South Florida, that could spell disaster next weekend when Ole Miss comes to town.

Winner: Trevor Etienne and the Florida Rushing Attack

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    Trevor Etienne
    Trevor EtienneDavid Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    With Alabama and LSU both picking up early non-conference losses, the title of second-best SEC team behind Georgia looked like it might belong to Tennessee heading into Week 3.


    The Volunteers moved up to No. 11 in the most recent AP poll, then promptly laid an egg in their trip to Gainesville against a Florida team that also suffered an early loss to Utah in Week 1. The Gators scored 20 points in the second quarter to take a 26-7 lead into halftime, then coasted to victory on the strength of the running game.

    After rushing for a modest 109 yards and one touchdown through Florida's first two games, sophomore Trevor Etienne exploded for 172 yards on 23 carries to go along with a touchdown. It was a career-high yardage output for Etienne, who had a pair of 100-yard games last season while tallying 719 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman.

    All told, Florida ran for 183 yards on 43 carries while dominating the time of possession battled by a lopsided 37:18 to 22:42 margin.

    The Gators now have a golden opportunity to rattle off four straight wins against Charlotte, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and South Carolina before they host Georgia on Oct. 28.

    Don't sleep on this Florida squad.

Loser: Oklahoma State's Offense Against South Alabama

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    STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 16:  Wide receiver De'Zhaun Stribling #88 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys fails to land in bounds for a catch against safety Jaden Voisin #2 and cornerback Ricky Fletcher #6 of the South Alabama Jaguars in the first quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Considering it was only a seven-point spread, South Alabama beating Oklahoma State only ranks as a mild surprise from a betting standpoint.

    It's the way they won that makes it one of the most shocking results of the season.

    The Jaguars defense held the Cowboys scoreless until the 12:14 mark of the fourth quarter, building a 23-0 lead in the process before finally surrendering their first points of the game. The Cowboys managed just 208 total yards and 3.3 yards per play, looking completely overmatched for most of a contest that they paid to schedule.

    TJ Eckert @TJEckertKTUL

    Oklahoma State is paying South Alabama $300,000 to get ran out of Boone Pickens Stadium. <br><br>Yikes. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OKState</a>

    South Alabama is coming off a 10-win season in 2022, and they were picked to finish second in the Sun Belt West Division in the preseason poll, but a complete dismantling of a quality Power 5 opponent was still unexpected to say the least.

    The Jaguars allowed 17 points and 412 total yards against FCS opponent SE Louisiana last weekend, so this is by no means a defensive juggernaut, and today's outcome speaks more to the complete ineptitude of the Oklahoma State offense.

    There was no shortage of cringe-worthy stats.

    How about only 114 passing yards in a game that they trailed from the start? A meager 4-of-15 on third-down attempts? Only one trip to the red zone the entire game?

    Take your pick, it was all bad.

Winner: Texas Avoiding the Post-Alabama Hangover

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    Quinn Ewers
    Quinn EwersTim Warner/Getty Images

    Coming off a statement win on the road against Alabama last weekend and facing a sneaky good Wyoming team that already upset Texas Tech earlier this year, this week looked like a textbook trap game for the Texas Longhorns.

    Sure enough, it was a 10-10 game after Wyoming kicked a field goal with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.

    Then the Longhorns flipped the switch and took off.

    A pair of efficient 75-yard touchdown drives from Texas sandwiched around a three-and-out by Wyoming put the Longhorns in the driver's seat, and a pick-six on Evan Svoboda during the Cowboys' ensuing drive effectively put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter.

    Tip of the cap to Wyoming, who look like a team that could run the table in the Mountain West based on the way they played against a pair of Power Five opponents to start the season.

    The final margin of victory should be enough to keep Texas penciled into one of the College Football Playoff spots after they climbed to No. 4 in the AP poll following the Alabama win, though the 31-10 scoreboard at the final whistle does not tell the whole story of what could have been a disastrous outcome for the Longhorns.

Loser: Colorado State's Attempt to Halt the Buffs Hype Train

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    BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 16:  Head coach Deion Sanders of the Colorado Buffaloes walks on the field as players warm up before a game against the Colorado State Rams at Folsom Field on September 16, 2023 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    The rise of the Colorado football program under polarizing new head coach Deion Sanders has been the biggest story of the 2023 college football season, and the hype train took off out of the station at full speed following a 45-42 victory over then-No. 17 TCU in Week 1.

    A lopsided 36-14 win over Nebraska last weekend in the team's home opener further fanned the flames, and ESPN's College GameDay rolled into Boulder despite a less-than-marquee matchup against Colorado State in which Colorado was an overwhelming 24-point favorite.

    It can be easy for all of that hype to turn into a distraction, and Colorado State came ready to play on Saturday night amid all the glitz and glam of college football's hottest ticket. After an early pick-six by Shilo Sanders, the Rams rebounded to build a 21-14 halftime lead.

    Two-way star Travis Hunter did not return after halftime and was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated. After struggling to get in the end zone all second half, Sheduer Sanders and the Buffs drove 98 yards for a TD and 2-point conversion to tie the game with 36 seconds left to force overtime.

    Colorado completed the comeback 43-35 in 2OT.

    Now things get tougher for Colorado.

    The Buffaloes have a road game next weekend against an Oregon team that has outscored its opponents by a staggering 174-47 margin during a 3-0 start. That's immediately followed by a clash with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and USC on Sept. 30.

    But nonetheless, the hype train rolls.