And here you were thinking Week 2 was going to be boring. Haven’t you learned anything? College football is never going to give you up or let you down. Or run around and …
… anyway …
From Arkansas Razorbacks ‘ double-overtime win over TCU Horned Frogs to the Hail Mary-that-shouldn’t-have-been for the ages, what was supposed to be a bad slate of games churned out some exciting finishes.
With so much action happening around the country, we here at CBS Sports want to get you caught up on all the noteworthy things that happened — both the good and not so good.
What were the highlights from Saturday of Week 2? What were the moments some programs want to forget? We hash out the best and worst below.
Winner — Arkansas-TCU, all of it: We have another early-season candidate for college football’s game of the year in 2016, and it’s Arkansas’ wild 41-38 double-overtime win over TCU. This game was all Hogs for three quarters, but a missed field goal sparked a ferocious TCU comeback in which the Frogs scored 21 unanswered points. However, that’s when things got really weird. Tom Fornelli did a great job breaking it down, step by step. Recaps can only attempt to do this game justice. The final couple of minutes bleeding into overtime were as fun as any in the season thus far.
Loser — The Big 12’s playoff hopes: After two weeks, the best team in the Big 12 is … Texas Longhorns ? The Longhorns are 2-0 and have the conference’s marquee win — vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish . Oklahoma Sooners , the preseason Big 12 favorites, took care of business against Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks on Saturday, but it was beaten straight-up by Houston Cougars in Week 1. TCU came up short in a dramatic finish with Arkansas but looked shaky in the opener against South Dakota State. If you push aside the excitement of the moment, it’s easy to see the Frogs have problems on defense and with self-inflicted mistakes. And then there’s Oklahoma State Cowboys . More on that later, but that’s a potentially crippling loss.
By no means is the Big 12 out of the playoff, but three of the teams projected to make a run have stumbled early. Texas, while obviously improved, is still young. Oklahoma has a chance for redemption against Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 3. The Houston loss doesn’t have to bury the Sooners, but this is not the start the Big 12 wanted in key non-conference games.
Winner — A rivalry revisited: It took 16 years for Penn State Nittany Lions and Pitt to play again, but it was worth the wait. Pitt’s 42-39 win was a classic. Though it looked like the Panthers were going to steamroll the Nittany Lions after jumping out to a 28-7 lead, Penn State made a valiant second-half comeback on the shoulders of running back Saquon Barkley . A blowout shrunk to a one-score game by the fourth quarter before an end zone interception from Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley sealed it.
Penn State and Pitt play three more times between 2017 and 2019. It’s no guarantee each one will be as good as this one, but it’s good to see these two teams playing again. Penn State-Pitt doesn’t have the national lore it used to, but in a weekend of undesirable non-conference games, this one delivered.
Loser — Holy turnovers, Holy War: BYU-Utah had an exciting finish because the Cougars elected to go for two (and failed), but this was not a well-played game. In fact, the Utes won 20-19 in spite of the fact they had six turnovers. Six. Brigham Young Cougars had three itself. All nine turnovers were committed in the first three quarters. The silver lining? Utah Utes has won six straight against BYU in the Holy War, one for each turnover.
Winner — Tennessee Volunteers ‘s hype train: For now, it looks like the Vols have steered themselves back into the national spotlight with a 45-24 win over Virginia Tech Hokies . All it took was four left turns, a bunch of fumbles by Virginia Tech (see below) and a 45-10 run. It didn’t hurt that quarterback Joshua Dobbs rushed for 106 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, either. He also broke the school’s all-time rushing record for a quarterback. (Dobbs only threw for 91 yards as UT continuously had short fields thanks to five Virginia Tech fumbles.)
For the second game in a row, though, the Vols came out flat. Like the season-opener to Appalachian State Mountaineers , they were getting pushed around up front. That can’t be overlooked. But neither can a 45-10 run. When Tennessee is on, it’s really on. When it’s not, it’s really not. It’s tough to figure out exactly what to make of the Vols, but we at least know what they’re like at their best and their worst.
Loser — Hello? Clemson Tigers ? Anyone home? At what point do we need to start being concerned about Clemson? Specifically, this Tigers offense looks nothing like the one it was projected to field. In two games, the most recent being a 30-24 escape over Troy Trojans , Clemson is averaging 19.5 points per game and just under five yards per play.
Remember: This is an offense that returns everyone, including Heisman Trophy candidate Deshaun Watson at quarterback and receiver Mike Williams . Yes, Clemson clearly has the target on its back. Yes, Auburn Tigers ‘s defense in Week 1 performed better than expected. But that doesn’t excuse the lack of execution. Or pulling mindless moves like dropping the ball before you’ve crossed the end zone.
So when do we see the real Clemson? Or is this it? As insane as it sounds, the Tigers could be 0-2 just as easily as 2-0.
Winner — Army’s historic start (seriously): How long has it been since Army started 2-0? Let’s put it this way: “The Macarena” was a No. 1 hit and “Independence Day” was the top-grossing movie in the country. It’s been a rough go for this program since, but coach Jeff Monken has this team off to its first 2-0 start in 20 years thanks to a 31-14 victory over Rice Owls . The last time that happened, Army went 10-2. With games against Texas-El Paso Miners , Louisiana-Lafayette, Buffalo Bulls , North Texas Mean Green , Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Morgan State, getting to seven wins and back into a bowl game is certainly doable.
Loser — Georgia Bulldogs : It would be unfair to note Clemson’s struggles against Troy without pointing out that Georgia needed to run out the clock against Nicholls to win 26-24. Actually, let me clarify: It would be unfair to note Clemson’s struggles against Troy without pointing out that Georgia needed to run the clock out against Nicholls, which lost to Colorado Buffaloes and Louisiana-Monroe by a combined score of 95-0 last year, to win 26-24. Actually, let me clarify again: It would be unfair to note Clemson’s struggles against Troy without pointing out that Georgia needed to run out the clock against Nicholls, which has won nine games in the past five years, to win 26-24.
Winner — LSU Tigers quarterback Danny Etling : LSU’s offensive problems are well-documented. Without Leonard Fournette (bruised ankle), the Tigers were missing their best player vs. Jacksonville State. At first, things looked bleak. The Gamecocks actually carried a 3-0 lead early into the second quarter and LSU quarterback Brandon Harris was completely ineffective. Then, LSU’s coaching staff made a change to Etling, a transfer from Purdue Boilermakers .
That’s when things changed. Etling led LSU to a touchdown on his first drive — a 46-yard score to DeSean Smith . The Tigers went on to win 34-13. Etling still didn’t put up video game numbers, going 6 of 14 for 100 yards, but at least the threat of the pass existed. Tre’Davious White’s punt return helped, but Etling’s presence gave LSU at least a little bit of a boost offensively.
The lesson: Football is weird sometimes …
Danny Etling lost his job at Purdue to Austin Appleby who is now at Florida and lost his job to current Purdue QB David Blough.
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) September 11, 2016
Loser — UCF Knights ‘s “special” teams: UCF never had a chance against Michigan Wolverines , but the Wolverines made sure to get this message across by blocking (or partially blocking) not one … not two … not three … but four kicks in a 51-14 win. How’d they do it? UCF’s first punt of the game? Partially blocked for 13 yards. The Knights’ second punt? Also deflected for 27 yards. It didn’t end there, Michigan blocked a pair of UCF field goal attempts in the first half as well. Mercy, it seems, is overrated to the Fightin’ Jim Harbaughs.
Winner — Central Michigan Chippewas ‘s Hail Mary lateral: This deserves another bump. Yeah, the Chippewas got away with one because of a misapplication of the rules, but Oklahoma State still didn’t stop Central Michigan from scoring — even if Central Michigan shouldn’t have had that opportunity. This was incredible on three levels: the Hail Mary itself, the awareness for the lateral, and the execution and run after catch.
Who says Week 2 was going to be full of duds? (Not this guy.)
Loser — Kentucky Wildcats and coach Mark Stoops: This time last week, Kentucky had a 35-10 lead on Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and all was well with Big Blue Nation. Then things went terribly wrong. Oh, so, so wrong. The Wildcats collapsed in epic fashion — and to former offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, no less — losing that game 44-35. It would appear the Wildcats haven’t recovered from that devastating loss. Coupled with a 45-7 defeat at the hands of Florida Gators , Stoops’ team has now been outscored 79-7 since holding that lead. Additionally, Kentucky’s losing streak to the Gators has now been extended to a whopping 30 years.
It’s been a forgettable few years for Stoops. In each of the past two seasons, Kentucky has dwindled away fast starts to finish 5-7. This year, however, the Wildcats don’t even have a hot start to fall back on. Making matters worse is that firing Stoops, which any Kentucky fan would agree to right now, would be expensive.
Kentucky would have to pay $12 million to fire Mark Stoops after this season.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 10, 2016
Winner — East Carolina Pirates vs. the ACC: East Carolina had extreme, extreme thirst for the Big 12. The Pirates weren’t even trying to slide up in the DMs, either; they were all playing this thing out in public. While ECU didn’t make the cut for Big 12 membership, it has a case to be every bit as good for the ACC.
OK, not really, but the Pirates do have an exemplary record against ACC opponents, having won their last six games, including a 33-30 victory over NC State Wolfpack . Only Clemson has a longer streak. Eventually, ACC teams will realize scheduling East Carolina is a mistake. Until then, this program is going to keep feasting.
Loser — Northwestern Wildcats : When things are bad for the Wildcats, boy are they bad. A loss to Western Michigan Broncos in Week 1 was tough but not totally unexpected. Losing 9-7 to Illinois State on a game winning field goal — off the upright, too! — is a different story.
Northwestern’s offense was stagnant (to put it lightly) with 277 total yards and 3.84 yards per play. Quarterback Clayton Thorson just hasn’t been a passing threat, either, with another sub-.500 completion percentage performance. Coach Pat Fitzgerald has done some great things in Evanston — this program won 10 games just last year — but 2016 is projecting to be a long season after an abysmal start.
Winner — Cincinnati Bearcats safety Mike Tyson : Yes, his name is Mike Tyson. Really. The senior safety for the Bearcats had three interceptions in a 38-30 win over Purdue. That ties him for the most in the AAC through two weeks. You could say Tyson really packs a punch … or that you should keep your ear to the ground about him. OK, I’ll stop.
Winner — Auburn’s #blessed life: I still don’t know whether Auburn is going to be serviceable this year. Holding Clemson to 19 points was a pleasant surprise, but there’s only so much we can learn about beating Arkansas State Red Wolves 51-14. Still, if the Tigers are good for anything, it’s making absurd plays that make you wonder just how easily the devil bought the rights to their soul. Case in point, this absurd flip to Kerryon Johnson , which he immediately reverses into a touchdown …
… and this one-handed grab by Kyle Davis .
I don’t know what type of black magic the Tigers use, but it works when they desperately need some.
Loser — Virginia Tech’s ball security: At the risk of being too obvious … and too cliche … and too literal, Virginia Tech fumbled away the game against Tennessee. We’re talking five fumbles, three in the span of just a few minutes. Keep in mind, too, that Virginia Tech had four fumbles lost in the season opener against Liberty. That is, decidedly, not Beamer Ball.
#Hokies have lost more fumbles tonight (5) than any in any game during Frank Beamer’s 29 seasons.
— David Teel (@DavidTeelatDP) September 11, 2016
And to think that the Hokies at one point led this game 14-0. It’s going to get better for this team, but don’t be surprised if coach Justin Fuente makes his team carry footballs around campus all week.
Winner — Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson : If you didn’t watch Louisville beat Syracuse Orange 62-28 on Friday, you missed a hell of a show by Jackson. The sophomore had 610 yards — yes, really — and five touchdowns while averaging 10 yards per play. Already, Jackson has numbers that compare to some of the great quarterbacks in college football history. Simply put, he should be in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Granted, the Heisman isn’t won in September, but a Week 3 game against Florida State Seminoles is a big stage to showcase college football’s newest star.
Source: CBS Sports / College football winners and losers in Week 2: Not so ‘boring’ after all, huh?