B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: Week 2
Low-level chaos defined Week 1 of the 2021 college football season. Week 2, on the other hand, threw a lovely curveball into the College Football Playoff race.
Oregon, we love you for it, too.
But even though the Pac-12 did something great in the early afternoon, the "Conference of Champions" still managed to mangle the evening. It's a gift, really, and gives us a wonderful juxtaposition to begin the latest edition of B/R's Weekly Awards.
Every Monday during the 2021 season, B/R will distribute a handful of awards. Some will review the previous weekend's slate, and others will preview what's coming up. A few topics might be humorous or downright strange.
This edition covers Oregon's big W amid an otherwise awful Pac-12 weekend, Texas' big L, an athletic trainer who saved the day, fans who saved a cat and many other topics. You just never know what to expect on a given Saturday in the fall.
Team of the Week: Oregon Ducks
Road victory over the nation's No. 3 team? Easy choice.
As a two-touchdown underdog and without key defensive players Kayvon Thibodeaux and Justin Flowe, Oregon secured a 35-28 win at Ohio State.
CJ Verdell sparked the Ducks with 161 rushing yards and two scores, including a 77-yard scamper early in the second half. The touchdown pushed Oregon to a 14-point lead, and Mario Cristobal's squad never let Ohio State closer than seven points after that point. Verdell also caught a 14-yard touchdown in the game.
By no means was it a perfect performance for Oregon. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for 484 yards and three touchdowns, and the Buckeyes racked up 612 yards.
But the Ducks made enough plays to steal a win.
Although this triumph may be vital in future College Football Playoff discussions, it mostly bolsters Oregon's margin for error in conference play. And after hosting Stony Brook next weekend, the Ducks finish with nine straight Pac-12 opponents.
Disaster Conference of the Week: Pac-12
Oregon's win? Huge! Look beyond the Ducks, however, and the Pac-12 otherwise had a nightmarish Saturday.
Stanford hammered No. 14 USC, building a 29-point lead en route to a 42-28 victory that cranks up the temperature on Clay Helton's hot seat. BYU snapped a nine-game losing streak in the Holy War and upended No. 21 Utah, 26-17.
Michigan ran wild in a 31-10 victory over Washington, which is now 0-2 after holding an AP Top 25 preseason ranking. San Diego State crushed Arizona 38-14. To make matters worse, Cal squandered a 12-point lead at TCU. And while we didn't expect Colorado to win, it certainly stings to allow No. 5 Texas A&M just 10 points and still lose.
In nonconference games, the Pac-12 only picked up wins against Mountain West teams and an FCS school. Not exactly something the league will be bragging about it.
Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State are the Pac-12's last remaining unbeaten teams. We just finished Week 2.
#TeamChaos Wins of the Week
Oregon's triumph at Ohio State certainly tops the list of chaotic results, considering what the Buckeyes have accomplished in recent seasons. They've ended no worse than seventh in the final College Football Playoff poll during the seven-year CFP era, reached the CFP four times and won a national title.
But now, the Buckeyes must win out. No team with a two-loss record has earned a spot in the CFP, so Ohio State faces a huge challenge for the next 10 regular-season games.
From a narrative perspective, Arkansas sparked major chaos.
Steve Sarkisian began his Texas tenure with a respectable victory over a ranked Louisiana team. He deserved and received measured praise for the debut, but Week 2 reminded us just how quickly the conversation can flip to a negative tone.
Because the Longhorns stunk. They were straight-up awful in a 40-21 loss at Arkansas, which led by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter and outgained Texas 471-242.
Folks, Texas is not back. And Sark is about to hear it.
Most Valuable Athletic Trainer: Mike Bean, Notre Dame
Athletic trainers are the unsung heroes of the sideline. If you don't believe me, you're either not married to one or haven't needed medical attention as an athlete.
Notre Dame's Jack Coan, however, knows the value of an AT.
The Fighting Irish trailed Toledo 29-24 late in the fourth quarter on Saturday. They needed a touchdown on the drive, but a small disaster appeared to put that drive in jeopardy as Coan dislocated the index finger on his throwing hand. He sprinted to the sideline and found Mike Bean, who calmly readjusted the quarterback's finger.
On the very next snap, Coan tossed a go-ahead touchdown to star tight end Michael Mayer. Notre Dame forced a fumble on Toledo's ensuing drive and survived with a 32-29 win.
Nothing but love for you, ATs everywhere.
Payout of the Week: Jacksonville State Gamecocks
I have so many questions.
With six seconds to play in regulation, Florida State held a 17-14 advantage on FCS school Jacksonville State. The visitors had a timeout remaining but needed to cover 59 yards. For the Seminoles, the situation was basically this simple: Make a tackle.
You can probably guess that FSU did not make a tackle.
In one of the most nonsensical finishes ever, two former ACC players launched Jacksonville State to an incredible upset. Clemson transfer Zerrick Cooper found former Duke wideout Damond Philyaw-Johnson for a 59-yard touchdown as time expired.
Why did Florida State not send three defenders to the 20-yard line before the snap? What in the world are the cornerbacks watching? Why is nobody sprinting back to help? How, 'Noles, how?!
Jacksonville State received a $400,000 guarantee to hand Florida State an unforgettably embarrassing loss.
Fans of the Week: Miami's Cat-Saving Crew
Are you a cat person? You're entitled to your wrong opinion. But everyone can get behind this compassionate moment.
While the Hurricanes hosted Appalachian State on the field, a group of people saved a feline friend. As the cat clutched a cable on the second deck of Hard Rock Stadium, several fans positioned themselves directly below and held up an American flag.
Soon, the cat tumbled—and a captivated crowd shrieked. Though the flag didn't completely catch its target, the flag broke enough of the fall to save the beloved cat.
Good on you, 'Canes fans.
In other news at the stadium, Miami squeezed out a 25-23 win over Appalachian State. True freshman Andres Borregales hit a 43-yard field goal in the closing minutes to save the Hurricanes.
Others Receiving Votes: Week 2 Rundown
Underdog of the Week: Duquesne Dukes
Last weekend, six Football Championship Subdivision programs beat a Football Bowl Subdivision team. The trend continues! Ohio entered as a 28.5-point favorite at home, but Duquesne pulled out a 28-26 victory. Ohio missed a potential game-tying two-point conversion with nine seconds left in regulation.
Failed Comeback of the Week: Northern Illinois Huskies
Midway through the third quarter, NIU stared at a 42-16 deficit against Wyoming. But slowly, the Huskies' luck changed. They scored once. Forced a turnover on downs, scored again. Recovered a fumble, scored again! Forced a punt! Took the lead! It's 43-42, baby! And then, Wyoming QB Sean Chambers ruined everything with the winning touchdown in the final two minutes. Wyoming won 50-43, and NIU's incredible 26-point comeback was lost to history.
Beamer Award: Rutgers and Syracuse
Seven years ago, legendary Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer held up his arms in celebration. Wake Forest missed a potential winning field goal, so Virginia Tech would have a chance to win in overtime. This happened as a graphic popped on the screen, showing the game's score: 0-0. And on Saturday, Rutgers and Syracuse entered halftime in a scoreless deadlock. Long live R00S.
Best Week 3 Storylines
Can I interest you in the smart-school showdown between Duke and Northwestern? How about Stanford's trip to Vanderbilt?
My goodness, the academics are salivating.
Anyway, the featured game of Week 3 follows top-ranked Alabama, which travels to face No. 11 Florida. Although the programs have met in three of the past six SEC Championship Games, this is their first-regular season matchup since 2014.
Seven years is a long time. Auburn and Penn State, however, have never played a regular-season game in their long histories. That's going to change Saturday night when No. 10 Penn State welcomes 23rd-ranked Auburn to Happy Valley.
There are also two intriguing late-night matchups for Pac-12 teams: No. 19 Arizona State heads to No. 23 BYU, and No. 13 UCLA hosts a Fresno State squad that nearly upset Oregon in Week 1.