Every top-10 college football team won by double digits, and still, Week 3 had its moments of absurdity and amazement.
The Nos. 11, 12 and 13 teams were all upset on the road. There were walk-off field goals (Indiana), walk-off Hail Mary touchdowns (App State), field storms (also App State … and Washington), rain delays (Iowa is not still playing) and so many other highlights from this weekend.
Here are some of the best moments from the weekend.
Phone the neighbors, wake the kids, the Kansas Jayhawks are the toast of college football.
After 12 straight seasons of three or fewer wins — tying Kent State’s misery from 1989 to 2000 as the longest such streak by an FBS team since the division split with the FCS in 1978 — Kansas is 3-0.
In 2015, Lance Leipold took over a Buffalo program that had two winning seasons since 1970, the only two seasons the Bulls went to a bowl game in their history (both losses). Leipold went 37-33 in his tenure there, reached three straight bowl games (with two victories) and won 10 games in 2018 for the first double-digit win total in the program’s history.
Leipold took over a listless Kansas program and went 2-10 in Year 1 but pulled off a euphoric 57-56 win in Austin over Texas last November. This year, the Bulls have already beaten West Virginia and Houston on the road. They’re averaging 53 points per game, third nationally, behind quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has thrown for 566 yards and seven touchdowns to just one interception, and also rushed for 237 yards and three more TDs, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. In the past five years, only Tua Tagovailoa in 2018 has a higher Total QBR in his first three games.
These are heady times for the Jayhawks, who, now that you mention it, will face 3-0 Duke, another upstart, this Saturday. Enjoy the ride, hoops fans. You get an early start on trash-talking this year. — Dave Wilson
Appalachian State gave College GameDay one of the best atmospheres the show will see all season.
After taking GameDay away from College Station by upsetting Texas A&M in Week 2, the Mountaineers and Boone, North Carolina, showed why the program and town hold a special place in the college football universe.
The energy and buzz around Boone was palpable, understandable given the school was (unexpectedly) hosting GameDay for the first time. Fans camped out at the GameDay site Friday night, with at least a couple hundred looking to secure the best possible spot for Saturday morning’s show.
It was also a phenomenal weekend for signs, in part because of the passion the fans had, but also because of the opportunity for a student to win free tuition if they had the best sign. When the three finalists were brought onto the stage to announce the winner, they learned they were all earning free tuition.
And because App State wasn’t going to waste a weekend with GameDay in attendance with a loss, the Mountaineers gave us what will be one of the best endings to a game we’ll see all season. After getting the ball back on their own 47-yard line with 15 seconds left in the game down 28-26, quarterback Chase Brice chucked up a Hail Mary that was tipped and fell into the hands of Christan Horn, who scooted into the end zone for the walk-off win.
Through three weeks, App State has put up the most entertaining season between its shootout with North Carolina, beating No. 6 Texas A&M on the road and Saturday’s finish.
If the Mountaineers have more up their sleeves, we can’t wait to see it. — Harry Lyles Jr.
App State’s miracle finish in Boone was in a league of its own, but there were several other wild finishes around the country.
The gutsiest call of the day took place in Manhattan, Kansas, where Tulane moved to 3-0 and handed Kansas State its first loss of the season. Conventional wisdom indicated that when the Green Wave faced fourth-and-1 from their own 24-yard line with 2:03 remaining, it was time to punt. After all, if they were stopped short, Kansas State would have gotten the ball with a short field to go for the tying score. Instead, Tulane coach Willie Fritz put his faith in his offense. Michael Pratt picked up the first down on a 2-yard run, icing the upset win. The line between genius and the butt of jokes is often indecipherable.
Fritz wasn’t the only coach to bet on his offense in a key moment on the road. After Liberty scored a touchdown with 1:11 left at Wake Forest, coach Hugh Freeze was left with a decision: Go for 2 (and the win) or play for overtime? There will never be any criticism here for going for the win in that scenario, but Liberty’s reverse attempt was sniffed out by Wake Forest, which hung on for the win.
Notre Dame celebrated its first win of the season Saturday. Actually, it celebrated its first win three times. As Cal tried to rally for a game-tying touchdown with under a minute left, first QB Jack Plummer was intercepted (overturned by targeting). Then a Plummer fumble was returned for a touchdown (overturned because his knee was down before the fumble). Finally, Cal’s Hail Mary attempt bounced around before falling to the turf (game over for real).
All of those finishes almost made Syracuse’s game-winning touchdown pass with seven seconds left to beat Purdue seem so run-of-the-mill. — Kyle Bonagura
BYU’s move to the Big 12 can’t come soon enough
Coming into BYU’s trip to Oregon, it wasn’t hard to imagine a scenario in which the Cougars could play their way into a New Year’s Six bowl. It was premature to feel confident, sure, but after two weeks that type of speculation was valid — especially when discussing what a win against Oregon would mean for the trajectory of the season. It was fun while it lasted.
BYU was wholly uncompetitive in the 41-20 loss to the Ducks, rendering the rest of the season a glorified barnstorming tour without real stakes to play for. It’s a final example of why entering the Big 12 next season will be such a boon for the program. Early-season losses will no longer have the same sort of season-long implications as they do playing as an independent.
After three games, Oregon and BYU are in a similar spot. Each has one good win, one bad loss and another win that doesn’t really register. For the Ducks, though, they can shift their attention to Pac-12 play, where they can recalibrate expectations. After the drubbing they took against Georgia, the performance against BYU was an important way to build confidence ahead of conference play. — Kyle Bonagura
DeBoer might just be the real deal
New coach Kalen DeBoer had a low bar to clear in upgrading Washington’s offense. UW fans would love to forget the uninspired schemes and performances from the past few seasons.
The questions surrounding DeBoer, Washington’s first-year coach, were how fast he would improve the unit and who would lead the way. Washington had to wait only three games into his tenure for both answers. Facing No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday night, the Huskies stormed out to a 22-0 lead and prevailed 39-28, recording their first signature win under DeBoer. A crowd of 68,161 at iconic Husky Stadium marveled at a functional, creative and fearless offense that piled up 24 first downs and 503 total yards.
“To get this win now is going to continue to put the belief in our guys,” DeBoer said.
DeBoer received less attention than other new Pac-12 coaches, namely USC’s Lincoln Riley and Oregon’s Dan Lanning. But those who have followed his career know that this is what he does. Offenses blossom under him, and so do players.
Michael Penix Jr. did as a young quarterback at Indiana in 2019. After multiple major injuries and a frustrating 2021 season, Penix is back with DeBoer, and perhaps better than ever. Penix on Saturday again looked like the electrifying quarterback who blitzed the Big Ten in 2020. His 278 pass yards in the first half marked the most by a Washington player since 2013, and he finished with 397 pass yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Washington is watchable again, thanks to DeBoer and Penix, and the team projects as a surprise contender in the Pac-12 this fall. — Adam Rittenberg
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