NUGGETS

LSU is really doing this, and they’re really good at it. Facing a 3rd-and-17 with the ball at their own 39, nursing a 6-point lead with 2:38 remaining, your father’s LSU would have punted the ball and trusted its defense. So would your older brother’s. So would yours, up to a year ago.

But that LSU is dead now, and the new one is scary. Joe Burrow faced pressure from all sides, stepped up and threw a wobbler off one foot, which Justin Jefferson caught and raced 61 yards for a game-clinching touchdown. No. 6 LSU 45, No. 9 Texas 38.

It was a true Big 12 game, in which Burrow was 31-of-39 for 471 yards with four touchdowns and a (tipped) interception (more on that in a moment). He spread the ball around better than any quarterback in LSU history: Jefferson caught nine balls for 163 yards and three scores, J’Marr Chase went eight for 147 and Terrace Marshall, Jr. snared six for 123 yards and a touchdown.

For his part, Sam Ehlinger nearly matched Burrow blow for blow. He hit 31-of-47 passes for a career-high 401 yards with four touchdowns through the air, rushed 19 times for 60 yards and a touchdown and even caught a pass for eight yards.

I thought the game turned on two Tom Herman decisions:

First, trailing 3-0 with the ball on the LSU goal line, Tom Herman characteristically went for it on fourth down. The Texas staff dialed up a great play where Ehlinger found a wide open Keaontay Ingram in the end zone, who simply dropped the ball. The Longhorns immediately caught the ball back with an interception and this time, rather than try a pass to 6-foot-6 receiver Collin Johnson, Texas ran on four straight plays and did not get in.

Second, Herman used two timeouts with just under two minutes left in the first half and Texas trailing 13-7 in an attempt to take a 14-13 lead to the locker room, but instead the strategy backfired. Texas went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and, even worse than that, gave LSU 67 seconds with which to work. They would need only 28, as Burrow hit passes of 21, 18 and 19 yards to give LSU a commanding 20-7 halftime lead.

It seemed as if LSU had Texas in blowout territory at that point, but the Longhorns pulled within a score four different times in the second half never climbed the hump. The closest they came was the 3rd-and-17 with 2:29 to go, but it turns out 3rd-and-17 in their own territory and the game on the line is right where LSU wants to be in 2019.

The inevitability of Clemson’s dominance. ESPN built up Clemson’s Week 3 trip to No. 21 Syracuse because, really, the only challenges on Tigers’ scheduled appeared to be next week against the Orange and Saturday against No. 12 Texas A&M.

Well, Syracuse lost 63-20 at Maryland and Clemson completely flattened the Aggies. Jimbo Fisher’s team scored the first three, and Dabo Swinney’s scored the next 24, the only 24, really, until A&M added a consolation score with six seconds remaining. Brent Venables’ defense, Venables’ retooled defense, held the Aggies to two yards a carry and 5.6 yards per attempt on 42 passes.

Ten games still remain on the defending champs’ regular season schedule but not a single one of them is ranked (I think we can assume Syracuse will drop out). Outside of Mack Brown’s surprising 2-0 Tar Heels and mayyyyybe Boston College, not a single one of them look like they even have a chance of cracking the Top 25.

Great game, Clemson. See you in December.

And with that, one of the game’s best coaching rivalries is over. Jimbo and Dabo are two of the five active coaches with national championships, and two of the three to win one this decade. The pair have met on an annual basis since 2008 but will not again unless: A) Clemson and Texas A&M meet in a bowl game, or B) one of them switches jobs.

From 2008 through ’14, Jimbo led the series 5-2.

From 2015 through Saturday, Dabo won five of five meetings.

Michigan survives Army. Barely. Look, it would be tempting to write Michigan off based on the No. 7 Wolverines’ 24-21, double overtime, hair on their chinny chin chin win over Army. But these same Black Knights took Oklahoma to overtime in Norman last season, and those Sooners won the Big 12 and reached the College Football Playoff.

But that game was different. Quite different.

Army never led in that game and only had the ball with a chance to take the lead once. You expect the strait jacket treatment from Army’s offense, but Army’s defense is a standard, undersized defense that plays with piss and vinegar in its soul. OU’s offense only snapped the ball 40 times, but they gained 8.9 yards a carry and achieved 19 first downs in those 40 snaps.

On this day, it was Michigan who spend the entire game playing catchup. The Wolverines’ only lead, in fact, was the final score. Twice Army had chances to land knockout blows, and twice they missed: a false start on a second-and-goal from the Michigan 1 that, rather than see Army take a 21-7 lead early in the second half, saw Army throw an interception and Michigan drive 78 yards to tie it up. Then, after forcing a turnover on downs near midfield with 2:32 to play, Army moved only 25 yards in 10 plays and settled for a 50-yard field goal, which its true freshman kicker shoved wide right.

Michigan’s defense made the plays necessary to win the game, but the offense… is still a work in progress. Shea Patterson threw for 207 yards on 29 attempts, and the running game produced 108 yards in 45 carries.

But Michigan won the game and for today, that’s what matters. As for tomorrow, the Wolverines take next week off before a trip to Wisconsin, and those guys quite a bit bigger up front.

The 1990s have never been further away than they are right now. That’s of course literally true in a metaphysical sense, but it’s also true in a metaphorical one. We’ve already covered the struggles of the 1997 national champions, but it was a bad, bad Saturday for the 1993, ’94, ’95, ’98 and ’99 champions.

— Tennessee, the 1998 national champion, lost to BYU to fall to 0-2 on the season and 5-9 in the Jeremy Pruitt era. And they lost hard, turning a 16-13 lead with under 20 seconds remaining into a 29-26 double overtime loss.

After hosting Chattanooga next week, UT plays: at No. 11 Florida, vs. No. 3 Georgia, vs. Mississippi State, at No. 2 Alabama. What is Big Orange’s record on Oct. 20?

— Florida State (’93 and ’99 champions) actually won on Saturday, but it felt like a loss. A 21-0 second quarter lead melted into a 45-44 overtime survival, where ULM, instead of going for two and the win, kicked an extra point and missed it.

— UCLA, a near champion in 1998, is also 0-2 after falling 23-14 to San Diego State, a San Diego State team that beat FCS Weber State 6-0 in Week 1. Chip Kelly is now 3-11 in Westwood.

— Nebraska (’94, ’95 and a share of ’97) has shown real progress, but the Huskers blew a great opportunity on Saturday when a 17-0 halftime lead wilted into a 34-31 overtime loss. Scott Frost is now 5-9 at his alma mater: 5-3 at home and 0-6 on the road.

While second-year coaches are struggling, first-year coaches are surging. Colorado’s Jay Johnson pulled out the play-call of the day, and perhaps the year. Trailing 17-7 with the ball on his own 4, who else has the guts to call a flea flicker?

Mel Tucker arrived in Colorado a stranger in December, but there’s no better way to win over the locals than beating CU’s biggest historical rivals (Colorado State, Nebraska) in your first two games as head coach.

Mack Brown did not have to introduce himself to the locals when he arrived last winter, but they’re feeling like he never left in Chapel Hill right now. After knocking off one former defensive coordinator in South Carolina’s Will Muschamp last week, Brown beat another in Miami’s Manny Diaz. True freshman Sam Howell threw the winning touchdown with 1:01 remaining, completing UNC’s second comeback win in as many weeks. I’m still not sure how good North Carolina really is, but the Tar Heels will find themselves in the AP Top 25 on Sunday.

Mike Locksley went to bed Saturday why people think this head coaching thing is hard. Maryland beat Howard 79-0 on Saturday, the type of win where you ask how much of that lopsided score was about the victor and how much was the vanquished. And then the Terps went out and whipped No. 21 Syracuse 63-20.

Locksley’s offense has taken the field for 28 non-end-of-half drives thus far this season. Nineteen have ended in touchdowns.


FRIES

The Super 16. The Nuggets is once again honored to vote in this year’s FWAA Super 16 poll.

  1. Clemson
  2. LSU
  3. Georgia
  4. Ohio State
  5. Alabama
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Texas
  10. Auburn
  11. Utah
  12. Michigan
  13. Texas A&M
  14. UCF
  15. Penn State
  16. Florida

Odds and Ends

a. The competition hasn’t been great, but Wisconsin has beaten South Florida and Central Michigan by a combined 110-0. It’s hard to improve on that.

b. Geoff Collins earned his first win at Georgia Tech with a 14-10 triumph over South Florida.

c. USF has now dropped eight straight games.

d. Scott Satterfield notched his first win at Louisville, 42-0 over Eastern Kentucky.

e. Jamey Chadwell also secured his first win as Coastal Carolina’s full-time head coach, 12-7 over Kansas.

f. Graham Harrell’s offensive install at USC is going according to plan. In Game 2 of the Air Raid Era and Game 1 with true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, the Trojans ripped off 35 straight points to beat No. 23 Stanford 45-20.

g. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon is a fifth-year senior who had thrown all of five passes prior to this year. Through two games of the only season he’ll truly get to play, he’s 60-of-74 for 884 yards with nine touchdowns against one interception.

h. Minnesota went to Fresno and won, 38-35 in double overtime, but the Bulldogs ran the prettiest play of the game.

i. Ohio State has gotten out to leads of 28-0 and 42-0 through two games. In fact, it’s misleading to call the latter a lead, since that was also the No. 5 Buckeyes’ final score in their drubbing of Cincinnati.

j. UAB graduated a ton of seniors, but the defending Conference USA champions are off to a 2-0 start after beating Akron 31-20 in Akron.

k. Plays like this will never not be funny.

l. Really nice win for Sonny Dykes and SMU, 49-27 over North Texas. The Ponies are also 2-0.

m. Other coaches who won their first games at their new schools: Tyson Helton (WKU 20, FIU 14), Dana Holgorsen (Houston 37, Prairie View A&M 17), Gary Andersen 2.0 (Utah State 62, Stony Brook 7), and Mike Houston (East Carolina 48, Gardner-Webb 9).

n. Like Mike Locksley at Maryland, Matt Wells (Texas Tech) and Eli Drinkwitz (App State) are also off to 2-0 starts at their new schools.

o. Jalen Hurts through two games: 34-of-41 (82.9 percent) for 591 yards (14.4 per attempt) with six touchdowns against no interceptions while rushing 24 times for 223 yards (9.3 per carry) and three touchdowns. That’s a quarterback rating of 252.3. Seems low, honestly.

p. In a game that ended at 4:22 a.m. Eastern time, Cal went to Seattle and overcame a weather delay to stun No. 14 Washington, 20-19. A 17-yard field goal with eight seconds left but the Bears over the top.

q. Hawaii is 2-0 and an impressive 2-0 with wins over Arizona and Oregon State. This put Nick Rolovich’s club in first place in the Pac-12.


DESSERT

In case you missed it, here’s Blake Anderson surprising his Arkansas State team after three weeks away grieving the loss of his wife, Wendy.

Arkansas State beat UNLV on Saturday, 43-17.

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.