Winners and Losers from Week 3 of College Football
College football, you rarely disappoint us. Despite having zero matchups between AP Top 25 teams, Week 3 still brought some excellent storylines.
First-year coaches experienced the range of emotions, as Les Miles earned a big victory and Geoff Collins suffered a horrid defeat. Two coaches on the hot seat―Lovie Smith and Clay Helton―should feel a lot more pressure.
Plenty of favorites held their ground, though. Several contenders for the Heisman Trophy assembled enormous stat lines too.
We've highlighted the most noteworthy winners and losers in Week 3's action. This piece will be updated throughout Saturday night.
Winner: Les Miles, Kansas
Les Miles is on the board!
After toppling FCS program Indiana State in the opener, Kansas fell to Coastal Carolina in Week 2. Miles entered the Friday night contest against Boston College seeking his first FBS victory with his new program. Not only did the Jayhawks win, but they also did so in surprising fashion.
They recovered from a poor first quarter to smack the Eagles 48-24, snapping the team's 48-game losing streak against power-conference competition on the road. Kansas piled up 567 yards of offense, boasting a pair of 100-yard rushers in Pooka Williams Jr. (121 yards) and Khalil Herbert (187 yards).
Big 12 competition awaits the rest of the season, but Miles should be thrilled to have that streak in the rearview mirror.
Loser: Early Maryland Hype
Maryland obliterated Howard and a ranked Syracuse to begin the campaign, outscoring those two opponents 142-20 and surging to No. 21 in the AP poll.
Well, the fun was short-lived.
The Terrapins wasted a ton of scoring opportunities in a 20-17 loss to Temple on the road. They had four turnovers on downs, threw an interception and missed a field goal. Josh Jackson completed only 15 of his 38 pass attempts and took four sacks.
Perhaps it's simply one bad performance. Still, offensive inefficiency of that level will prevent Maryland from being even a spoiler in the Big Ten―and there's no easing in to that schedule. Following an idle week, the Terps host Penn State on Sept. 27.
Winner: Heisman-Contending QBs in the Afternoon
Week 3 was an excellent time for quarterbacks with Heisman dreams. Jake Fromm and Justin Fields dominated in the noon window, and Tua Tagovailoa followed suit in the midafternoon slate.
Georgia's Fromm picked apart Arkansas State for 279 yards and three touchdowns, hitting 17 of 22 throws in a 55-0 rout. Fields propelled Ohio State to a 51-10 victory at Big Ten foe Indiana, accounting for 210 yards of offense and four scores.
Later on, Tagovailoa torched South Carolina with career-high marks of 440 yards and five touchdowns during a 47-23 win. The southpaw already has 13 total scores in three games.
Yes, considering the competition level, this was expected. But it's always a good thing to pad the Heisman resume when possible.
Loser: Pitt's Upset Bid at Penn State
Can we be blunt? Let's be blunt. This was a mind-numbing ending.
Trailing 17-10 with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett found receiver Taysir Mack for a 29-yard completion that put Pitt on the 1-yard line for 1st-and-goal. The Panthers seemed destined to even the score and ramp up the pressure on 13th-ranked Penn State.
Incomplete. No gain. Incomplete. Then on 4th-and-goal―again, down by a touchdown―Pitt inexplicably attempted a field goal. Even if kicker Alex Kessman had hit the 19-yarder, Pitt still would've trailed with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Because the football gods have a sense of humor, though, he missed anyway.
The only logical conclusion is Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi hates math. Every reasonable piece of criticism is well-deserved.
Winner: Triple-Option Offense at Georgia Tech
Under former coach Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech ran a triple-option attack. Though it led to occasional success, that style is largely considered dated outside of military academies. First-year boss Geoff Collins accepted the challenge of modernizing the Yellow Jackets' offense and introducing a spread.
But in a cruel display of irony, Collins' first bad loss happened opposite an offense that runs the triple option.
The Citadel, an FCS program, amassed 320 rushing yards and took advantage of a timeout that negated a last-second touchdown to stun Georgia Tech in overtime. Brenton King failed to hit a 46-yarder on Tech's possession, and Jacob Godek nailed a 37-yard kick to help The Citadel win 27-24.
Collins' squad dropped to 1-2 and must travel to Philadelphia next Saturday to face the Temple Owls, who will be confident after clipping Maryland 20-17.
Loser: Lovie Smith's Job Security
Victories over Akron and Connecticut put Illinois in position for its first 3-0 start in eight seasons. All the Illini needed was to outlast a feisty Eastern Michigan team.
That, of course, didn't happen. Instead, they recovered from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, only to lose on a last-second field goal.
Lovie Smith's future is in serious jeopardy.
The fourth-year coach received an extension last November, but Smith's buyout is only $4 million after this season. If the Illini don't show marked improvement during Big Ten play―which begins with Nebraska next Saturday―they may be looking for a new coach.
Winner: UCF's Place in the National Conversation
UCF fans, I'm speaking directly to you: You're going to hear that Stanford isn't a great team in 2019, so this 45-27 victory isn't as impressive as it normally would be. That statement is true.
But the how is still exceptionally impressive.
The Knights built a commanding 38-7 halftime lead behind freshman Dillon Gabriel, who stated a convincing case to retain the first-string job. He completed 22 of 30 throws for 347 yards and four touchdowns, guiding UCF to its 25th straight regular-season win.
It's early. UCF still has trips to Pitt, Cincinnati and Temple before any College Football Playoff talk gets serious in November. Nevertheless, the Knights have once again demanded a place on the radar.
Loser: USC's Encore Performance
After seeing how Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis demolished the Stanford secondary, it was easy to buy USC entering Week 3 specifically. BYU stopped that hype train from gaining any further momentum.
The home team picked off the freshman three times, including the game-sealing interception in overtime. That final turnover handed the Cougars a 30-27 victory and their first-ever triumph over USC in three all-time meetings.
Additionally, the loss compounded what was already a problematic week for head coach Clay Helton.
His job security was already tenuous, especially after athletic director Lynn Swann resigned earlier in the week. USC's new AD might want his own coach. Results like this only increase the possibility Helton won't have a seventh season in charge of the Trojans.
Winner: Kyle Trask, the Comeback Kid
Between a 21-10 deficit and Feleipe Franks' ankle injury, Florida was on the verge of losing consecutive games to Kentucky for the first time since 1976-1977.
Backup quarterback Kyle Trask checked in and came up clutch.
The replacement finished 9-of-13 for 126 yards and scored the go-ahead four-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Florida added another late score to thwart Kentucky’s upset bid 29-21.
According to the Orlando Sentinel's Edgar Thompson, Gators head coach Dan Mullen said Franks is likely out for the year with a dislocated ankle, meaning this is Trask's team now.
Florida hosts rival Tennessee in Week 4.
Loser: Mark Dantonio and Michigan State
Michigan State football is best described as a roller coaster.
In Week 1, the offense was ugly. In Week 2, the offense was outstanding. In Week 3, the offense often moved the ball but consistently faltered in scoring position. Yet if the kicking unit had provided any assistance, the Spartans would've survived.
Three missed field goals doomed MSU. Matt Coghlin misfired from 47 and 31 yards in the second quarter and then 47 yards again in the closing seconds.
Yes, the Sun Devils should've been called for leaping the center on the final miss, allowing a third attempt at a game-tying kick. (MSU had previously been called for a penalty because it had 12 men on the field, negating a 42-yard kick Coghlin made.)
But an inefficient offense and ineffective special teams unit spoiled another terrific defensive effort—something all too familiar for Sparty.
Winner: Iowa Making One Less Mistake
Oh, how quickly narratives can change.
After forcing a turnover on downs in the final two minutes of regulation, Iowa needed to move the chains once to ice the game. Horrible execution on third down stopped the clock for Iowa State, who had zero timeouts. A foolish shift on fourth down pushed Iowa five senseless yards back.
And then the Cyclones proceeded to give it all away.
Iowa State defensive back Datrone Young ran straight into his teammate, receiver Deshaunte Jones, who had called for a fair catch. The punt deflected off Young's back, and Iowa recovered to seal the 18-17 rivalry win.
Instead of the attention being on Iowa's late-game issues, the focus is squarely on Iowa State's debacle.
Loser: Purdue's Chance at a Statement
Hosting a near-Top 25 opponent in TCU, Purdue had an opportunity to show it was ready for the challenges of the Big Ten season.
The Boilermakers, however, failed in a big way. Without quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who remains in the concussion protocol, they completely crumbled.
Senior running back Darius Anderson racked up 179 rushing yards, and teammate Sewo Olonilua added another 106 for the visiting Horned Frogs. They combined for three touchdowns in a 34-13 trouncing of Purdue, which mustered only 204 yards of offense on the night.
Compared to its West Division counterparts, Purdue has a relatively favorable schedule. But this wasn't a good sign.
Winner: Heisman-Contending QBs at Night
Make it a clean sweep for the nation's top quarterbacks.
Jake Fromm, Justin Fields and Tua Tagovailoa set a high bar in the afternoon, but Sam Ehlinger, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts and Trevor Lawrence similarly dominated their overmatched foes.
Texas' Ehlinger had the "quietest" night of the quartet with 306 total yards and three scores. LSU's Burrow amassed 403 yards and three touchdowns. Oklahoma's Hurts racked up 439 yards of offense and was responsible for four touchdowns. And Clemson's Lawrence threw two interceptions but still scorched Syracuse for more than 400 yards and four total scores.
Long story short? Week 3 was a tremendous time for Heisman contenders to pad their stats.