“Separation Saturday” certainly lived up to its name, even if the major games did not.
Louisville, Alabama and Ohio State came out as the big winners from Week 3. The Cardinals have arguably the single-most impressive win of any team so far this season with a dismantling performance over Florida State. Quarterback Lamar Jackson solidified his Heisman Trophy candidacy with five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ohio State showed youth wasn’t an issue with a comfortable win on the road at Oklahoma after a rain delay.
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 3? What were the moments some programs want to forget? We hash out the best and worst below.
Winner — Louisville livin’ large: Who has it better than the Cardinals right now? That 63-20 win over No. 2 Florida State was a statement if there ever was one. Jackson was every bit of the Heisman candidate he’s been projected to be with 362 total yards and five touchdowns. For the record, that puts him at 18 touchdowns through three games. The Cards’ defense deserves credit as well as the unsung heroes of the game. Even with garbage time, the Seminoles netted just 237 yards. If Louisville keeps playing like this, it’s not an underrated team trying to break through; it’s a legitimate playoff contender.
Loser — South Carolina State return man Ahmaad Harris: Typically, singling out players in a negative way on here isn’t kosher, but Harris’ failed touchback leading to a Clemson touchdown was … well, it was something, that’s for sure. A brain fart of the highest order, Harris tossed the ball to the official without taking a knee and Clemson recovered the “fumble” to go up 21-0. The game was over by then and the second half was shortened as a mercy rule. As for Harris, chin up. It gets better.
Winner — Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph: When you break Brandon Weeden’s single-game passing record, it’s going to get noticed. A rain-delayed game against Pitt ended up in a 45-38 shootout victory for the Cowboys, one week after they lost a game they shouldn’t have (literally) against Central Michigan. Rudolph threw for 540 yards, breaking Weeden’s previous single game record of 502 yards against Kansas State in 2011.
Loser — Iowa: I’m not going to dog on the Hawkeyes too much for losing 23-21 to North Dakota State. The Bison have a legit program, FCS or not. North Dakota State has won five straight national titles and their last six games against FBS teams. But therein lies the real problem for Iowa: It scheduled the Bison to begin with. Athletic directors apparently suffer from amnesia, so allow us to remind them again: Do not, under any circumstances, schedule the Bison in nonconference play down the road. You will regret it, and they will walk away with a six-figure check laughing all the way to the bank. (Yes, we’re looking at you, Oregon. Get out while you can.)
Winner — Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook: There’s not much for Wisconsin to celebrate in a 23-17 win over Georgia State (apologies in advance to colleague Robby Kalland and the Cure Bowl participants). However, some credit is due for Hornibrook, who came off the bench in relief of a struggling Bart Houston and went 8 of 12 for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Namely, Hornibrook led the Badgers on an eight-play, 59-yard go-ahead scoring drive after his team fell behind 17-13 in the fourth quarter. Not bad for a backup thrust into game action.
Loser — Tennessee’s slow start: UT has to be among the most underwhelming 3-0 teams in college football. The best thing the Vols can say so far is that Virginia Tech couldn’t hold on to the ball in a Week 2 win over the Hokies. A 28-19 win over Ohio — not Ohio State, Ohio — on Saturday isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence that this team can take care of business, either. This was a two-point game at the half and entering the fourth quarter before the Vols pulled away. And with a rash of injuries, Tennessee — the preseason SEC East favorite — is short-handed moving into a critical game against Florida in Week 4.
Winner — This Leonard Fournette stiff arm: It’s been a disappointing start for LSU, but Fournette is still a beast, and this stiff arm is just plain nasty. Fournette had 147 yards in the 23-20 win, but none more impressive than these. That poor defender probably has a family and everything!
Loser — Oregon’s two-point attempts. In recent years, Oregon has been well-known for two-points conversions, so much so that it almost became a staple of the play-calling. But in a 35-32 loss to Nebraska, the Ducks missed on four two-point attempts. Assuming hypothetically that the Ducks converted all four extra points, they would have won 36-35. Granted, the defense deserves blame for giving up 35 points — the offense did well despite injuries to Royce Freeman and Devon Allen — but going 1 of 5 on two-point conversions is absolutely noteworthy.
Winner — Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers: If there’s a defensive candidate for the Heisman, Peppers might be the best option. In Michigan’s 45-28 win over Colorado, Peppers had nine tackles — 3.5 went for a loss — one sack and 204 all-purpose yards, most of which he accumulated in the return game. Versatility is key for a player like Peppers to get serious Heisman consideration. He’ll need more games like Saturday to make a trip to New York.
Loser — Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall: Mendenhall and his Virginia Cavaliers are no strangers to the wrong side of W&L. Repeat selections are typically discouraged, but the Wahoos just suffered a devastating 13-10 loss to UConn to drop to 0-3. To make it worse, Virginia missed a 20-yard field goal as time expired. Remember: Mendenhall left BYU — voluntarily — to rebuild Virginia, though he was paid quite well to do so. Still, it’s going to take a while to do so.
Winner — Large man pick-sixes: We’re all about big-man touchdowns here at CBS Sports. They are rare plays to be celebrated, so when they happen, we like to highlight ’em. Two stood out in Saturday’s action. The first came from Memphis defensive lineman Jonathan Wilson against Kansas …
… and the second came from Alabama’s Jonathan Allen.
Calling both players “fat” is a mistakes; these are large, athletic players whose body fat percentage is lower than most of ours. Enjoy their dominance and be glad it’s not against you personally.
Loser — Ole Miss’ blown leads: Ole Miss is 1-2 through three games. In both losses, to Alabama and Florida State, the Rebels got out to a combined start of 52-9 before losing by a total score of 93-77. That means the Tide and Seminoles went on runs of 45-19 and 39-6, respectively. Turnovers were especially costly against Alabama as the Tide received 14 direct points off of them. It’s amazing to think Ole Miss could be 3-0 with wins over Alabama and Florida State, but poor second-half play has flipped the script.
Winner — San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey: If you haven’t heard of him yet, Pumphrey is quietly establishing himself as one of the best running backs in college football. He’s already broken Marshall Faulk’s school career rushing record at San Diego State. In a 42-28 win over Northern Illinois, Pumphrey scored his 52nd career touchdown, taking the Mountain West’s all-time mark.
Loser — Notre Dame: Hoo boy, the wheels might be falling off of this one. Losing to Texas in overtime in Week 1 wasn’t a playoff killer, but dropping a second game to Michigan State, 36-28, almost certainly is. It’s safe to say the Irish offense isn’t the problem — or at least it’s not the worst offender. Quarterback DeShone Kizer is the real deal and this team is still scoring 38 points per game. But the Spartans’ offense — the same one that struggled against Furman in Week 1 — put up 501 yards on the Irish. Even after a furious Notre Dame comeback, Michigan State was able to move the chains well enough to seal the deal. Reportedly, things between coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder were … tense.
Brian Kelly right in his DC’s face: “What the F_ _ _ are you doing?”
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 18, 2016
Winner — Buckeyes wideout Noah Brown channeling his inner Tyrone Prothro: If you somehow missed the best catch of the season thus far — and it may not be challenged for the rest of the year — you can rectify that below. You can also read the story on it, because sometimes viewing just isn’t enough. Or you can just watch … and then watch it again … and again.
Loser — USC: Even going 1-1 against Alabama and Stanford would have been a good start for USC. Instead, the Trojans went 0-2 and were outscored by a total of 79-16 thanks in part to a 27-10 loss to the Cardinal on Saturday. Astonishingly, one USC player indicated the team didn’t take its opener against the Crimson Tide seriously, as if playing the defending national champs was something to be overlooked. Well, the Trojans didn’t fare much better against Stanford as Christian McCaffrey racked up 260 all-purpose yards and a pair of scores. USC is getting outclassed, plain and simple. Clay Helton is 1-4 since being named the full-time coach and his team is losing by an average of 21 points per game.
USC used to be known by their aggressiveness. Pete always going for it on 4th down, always attacking down the field. This is scared football
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) September 18, 2016
Winner — Ohio State’s defense: You want some crazy stats? Here’s some for you. Through three games, the Buckeyes have nine interceptions, four of which have been returned for a touchdown. Ohio State pulled in two of those picks, including one pick-six, in a 45-24 win over Oklahoma. Though Ohio State allowed its first two offensive touchdowns of the season, the reality remains this defense has twice as many defensive scores as offensive scores allowed.
Loser — Top-billed matchups: In some way, yes, “Separation Saturday” lived up to the name. Louisville, Alabama and Ohio State emerged from tough tests victorious. However, did anyone anticipate the lopsided scores? The Cardinals housed the Seminoles by 43 points — and it wasn’t that close, either. Ohio State had no issues against Oklahoma in a 21-point victory. The only game of the big three that got weird was Alabama-Ole Miss, and that was thanks to a late score and an onside kick to give the Rebels two quick touchdowns. Otherwise, these games were anything but all-time classics.
Winner — Military academies FTW: Who says military academies can’t be competitive in this day and age? Army, Navy and Air Force are off to a combined 8-0 start after respective wins over UTEP and Tulane by Army and Navy (Air Force was on a bye). The Black Knights, 3-0, had a particularly impressive victory over the Miners, 66-14. Army … is decent? These are amazing times, indeed.
Army, Navy and Air Force are combined 8-0 so far. That’s awesome.
— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) September 18, 2016
Loser — Florida: Don’t get me wrong, the Gators took care of North Texas 32-0 on Saturday (even though UF’s offense didn’t look that great). In fact, Florida held its visitors to 53 total yards, the lowest number allowed in program history. Instead, the Gators are in this category because starting quarterback Luke Del Rio, who looked to be every bit the capable-enough signal caller Florida has needed for quite some time, was injured on a questionable hit late in the third quarter. Del Rio is expected to miss the Tennessee game, which now has many injured stars as it does big names playing in it when you consider that Vols defensive back Cam Sutton is expected to join previously injured UT players on the inactive list.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / College football winners, losers in Week 3: Big Ten brings it on Separation Saturday