1. Texas A&M went toe-to-toe with Clemson, but a handful of plays will haunt them. A night game with No. 2 Clemson, with GameDay and ESPN’s top crew in town, was the de facto premier of the Jimbo Fisher era at Texas A&M, and if this is a preview of what’s to come in College Station, the Aggies are going to be just fine.
Clemson shot out to leads of 14-3, 21-6 and 28-13, not due to sustained drives, but thanks to catch-and-runs by elite playmakers. Mainly Tee Higgins. The 6-foot-4 sophomore caught three passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown grab was downright Terrell Owns-like.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 9, 2018
Another long gain was a push-off that he flat out got away with.
Juste avant ce TD, QB Kelly Bryant s'est connecté avec WR Tee Higgins pour un gain de 50 yards. Pourtant, l'interférence offensive semblait évidente.pic.twitter.com/3fLEG0BsqR
— TBP College Football (@thebluepennant) September 9, 2018
Clemson’s vaunted defensive line definitely got its shots in, too, but as the game got later, Texas A&M didn’t wilt. It did the opposite.
Sophomore Kellen Mond threw for 333 yards in the second half. Texas A&M gained 393 yards on 35 plays after halftime and punted just once, immediately scoring touchdowns after falling behind 21-6 and 28-13. The Aggies seemingly were in position to pull within 28-26 with two minutes remaining, but Quartney Davis fumbled the ball, which was ruled on the field to have gone out of the end zone for a touchback. This was the angle from the pylon. Good luck overturning this one either way.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) September 9, 2018
Texas A&M forced a punt and scored with 46 remaining to pull within 28-26, but Mond’s 2-point try was intercepted in the end zone. Now consider that:
- Texas A&M’s opening possession ended in a missed 26-yard field goal.
- A 50-yard field goal was blocked.
- After scrambling to turn a 3rd-and-11 at the Clemson 44 into a 1st-and-10 at the 21, Mond cramped up and was forced to leave the field. Clelin Ferrell forced backup quarterback Nick Starkel to fumble on the next play, his only action of the game, which Clemson’s Justin Foster recovered.
A&M was that close. Not that anyone in maroon is going to claim this as a moral victory.
Fisher: "It hurts, no doubt," saying they were so close to beating the No. 2 team in the country.
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) September 9, 2018
Of course, September has never been the problem for A&M since joining the SEC back in 2012. Fisher was hired to fix October and November.
Still, after Saturday night, Texas A&M has seen enough to like its chances against the depth of the SEC moving forward.
1a. Just because we’re feeling good about Texas A&M doesn’t mean we should freak out about Clemson. This team has significantly more talent than everyone else it will play this season. Relatively speaking, going on the road and winning in that environment is one of the most impressive wins anyone has lodged this year. And, uh, have you seen this schedule?
1c. Just in case you’re scoring at home (because you know they are). Clemson’s win gives Dabo four straight wins over Jimbo, and pushes the ledger in Swinney’s favor, 6-5. The pair’s last scheduled meeting comes in Week 2 next season at Clemson.
2. If we’re judging just by what’s happened on the field this season, Oklahoma has an argument to be the No. 1 team in the country. Lincoln Riley’s team, ranked sixth in the AP poll, hasn’t played the toughest schedule in college football to date, but they’ve beaten the two opponents they have played like they stole something. Combined scores through three quarters against Florida Atlantic and UCLA: OU 81, Opponents 14.
The offense hasn’t skipped a beat, keyed by Kyler Murray’s unteachable play-making abilities and a loaded wide receiver corps.
Kyler Murray passing through two games: 28-of-44 for 515 yards with 5 TDs and 1 INT. That's good for 11.7 yards per attempt.
His 194.9 QB rating would've finished No. 2 nationally in each of the past two seasons — to Baker Mayfield.
— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) September 8, 2018
But the story of this Oklahoma season is the defense. Mike Stoops’s unit has improved its run fits, limiting FAU and UCLA to 2.84 yards a carry, which makes everything easier defensively. Last year, Oklahoma surrendered a 38 percent conversion rate on third down. Through two games, OU is 21-of-30 in getting off the field on third down, a 8 percent improvement that, over the course of the season, is enough to improve the Sooners’ third down defense from 57th nationally to 10th.
The competition will improve from here, starting with a visit to Iowa State on Saturday, but this Oklahoma team is very much in the conversation through this point in our young season.
3. The Nebraska-Colorado game was a beautiful mess. The long-awaited Scott Frost era was even-longer-awaited after last week’s opener with Akron was rained out, but the wait was more than worth it… at least for those of us who aren’t long-suffering Huskers fans.
Rekindling their haunted rivalry with Colorado, Nebraska opened the Frost era by immediately falling into a 14-0 deficit. Enter Adrian Martinez. The true freshman quarterback led the Huskers back and past Colorado, taking a 28-20 lead late into the third quarter. The Californian’s college debut was spectacular, hitting 15-of-20 passes for 187 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing 15 times for a game-high 117 yards and two touchdowns.
But Colorado has a quarterback of its own in Steven Montez, and his 8-yard strike to Jay MacIntyre (Mike’s son) brought the Buffs to within 28-26 with 1:24 to play in the third. Rather than go for two and the tie, MacIntyre played it safe and kicked the extra point. This kicked off a sequence of events that was pure college football madness:
- Nebraska missed field goal
- Colorado missed field goal
- Nebraska turnover on downs
- Colorado turnover on downs
- 1st-and-10 Nebraska interception
- Colorado missed field goal
With under four minutes remaining, Martinez injured his knee and did not return, further proving we are a fallen species that can not have nice things. Nebraska turned to backup Tristan Gebbia to come off the bench and… I’m sorry, the Nuggets is learning Gebbia transferred to Oregon State immediately after learning he was the No. 2 quarterback, and rather than lead a potential game-winning drive in Game 1 as a backup quarterback, he watched on TV from Corvallis where he is sitting out the season as an Oregon State transfer.
With zero other scholarship quarterbacks, Nebraska turned to walk-on Andrew Bunch, who could not salvage a 1st-and-20 after a hold, so the Huskers punted.
Nebraska’s defense appeared in great position to turn Colorado away for a fourth straight drive, but a 3rd-and-24 incomplete pass was nullified by a completely unnecessary, unnecessary roughness flag, turning a 4th-and-24 at Colorado’s own 45 into a 1st-and-10 at the Nebraska 40. One play later, Montez threw this dime.
Feel free to keep this on a loop the rest of the day, @RunRalphieRun fans.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 8, 2018
Nebraska turned away Colorado’s 2-point try, meaning a touchdown would win the game. Bunch maneuvered the Huskers from their own 36 to the Colorado 20, but Bunch threw incomplete on 2nd- and 3rd-and-9, and a brilliant Buffs blitz forced the ball out of Bunch’s hands prematurely, and his hopeless heave sailed beyond the end zone.
— Colorado Buffaloes (@cubuffs) September 8, 2018
Martinez was an instant star, and Montez (33-of-50 for 351 yards with three touchdowns) was just as good.
Meanwhile, Colorado, holy smokes do they have a star in WR Laviska Shenault. 11 catches for 211 last week, 10 for 177 this week.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 8, 2018
It was a classic game, in a classic setting, pairing two classic rivals. It’s too bad they don’t do that annually anymore.
4. Go ahead and pencil Stanford in for 10-plus wins. It wasn’t exactly stop-what-you’re-doing-and-change-the-channel viewing, but it got the job done. K.J. Costello completed 16-of-27 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, Bryce Love rushed 22 times for 136 yards and a touchdown, and No. 10 Stanford beat No. 17 USC, 17-3. The Cardinal defense made USC quarterback J.T. Daniels look like a true freshman making his first road start look like he was a true freshman making his first road start, limiting him to 16-of-34 passing for 215 yards with two interceptions.
The USC Trojans were held without a touchdown for the third time in that last 25 years.
The other two instances came in 2016 against Alabama and 1997 against Washington. pic.twitter.com/wM5yxuGBVa
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 9, 2018
Stanford is 2-0 for the sixth time this season. The other years were 2010 (final record: 12-1), 2011 (11-2), 2012 (12-2), 2013 (11-3) and 2016 (10-3). Average wins per year: 11.2.
5. The streak is over. The happiest plane in the sky Saturday night was the one flying from Mount Pleasant, Mich., to Lawrence, Kan., as Kansas beat Central Michigan 31-7 to snap the Jayhawks’ 46-game road losing streak. KU won away from Lawrence for the first time since beating UTEP in El Paso on Sept. 12, 2009. That was three head coaches ago.
Things not yet released the last time Kansas won a road game:
– Modern Warfare 2
– MacBook Air
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 8, 2018
“I’m excited to be on the team that broke it for sure,” KU linebacker Joe Dineen said told the Lawrence Journal World. “That’s crazy. It’s a long time coming and I’m really excited for our team and really excited for our fans. Big-time win.”
6. The other streak is over, too. 1986. That was the last time Kentucky had beaten Florida. The streak was not only older than every Kentucky player, it was older than their GAs, too. UK had come close in recent years — 36-30 in 2014, 14-9 in 2015, 28-27 last year — but always managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Not so on Saturday. The Wildcats pounced to a 7-0 lead, trailed 10-7 at halftime, then scored twice in the third quarter to take a 21-10 lead to the fourth quarter. Kentucky surrendered a 99-yard drive to allow Florida within five at the 3:34 mark of the final frame, then gave Florida the ball back for a last gasp drive, with the Gators taking over at their own 6 with 29 seconds remaining. Those are tiny odds to be sure, but Florida always found a way.
On the final play of the game, Feleipe Franks dropped back to pass, but he was stripped and Davonte Robinson raced the ball 30 yards to put a capper on a 27-16 Kentucky victory. It wasn’t just Kentucky’s first win over Florida since 1986, it was UK’s first successful trip to Gainesville since 1979.
Kentucky fans reacted like they didn’t know what to do with themselves, because they didn’t.
Somebody’s happy pic.twitter.com/BCUfcHsMZa
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) September 9, 2018
This doesn’t even look real pic.twitter.com/Srpp3EjAbm
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) September 9, 2018
7. The 2017-18 coaching cycle was packed full of some of the biggest hires we’ve seen in some time. Chip Kelly at UCLA. Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M. Scott Frost at Nebraska. Willie Taggart at Florida State. Herm Edwards at Arizona State. Dan Mullen at Florida. Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee. Kevin Sumlin at Arizona. Chad Morris at Arkansas.
Those nine coaches are a combined 2-10 against FBS competition thus far.
The two wins belong to Herm Edwards.
8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is honored to once again vote in the FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll. Here’s this week’s ballot.
5. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. Notre Dame
13. West Virginia
14. Central Florida
15. Boise State
16. Mississippi State
9. Odds and Ends
a. Houston announced itself as an AAC championship contender by throttling Arizona in Kevin Sumlin’s homecoming to TDECU Stadium (which didn’t exist when he was U of H’s coach.) Ed Oliver and company limited Kahlil Tate to seven carries for eight yards, while Coogs quarterback D’Eriq King tossed four touchdowns and ran for two more. Houston led 38-0 three minutes into the second half and cruised to a 45-18 win.
b. In the AAC’s East Division, South Florida also earned an impressive win over a Power 5 opponent, knocking off Georgia Tech 49-38 in Tampa. This win came through one of the most unique routes you’ll ever see, though. Terrance Horne returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the first quarter to help USF to a 21-17 halftime lead, but the Bulls overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit with three unanswered touchdowns to run away from the Yellow Jackets.
c. Raise the Jolly Roger: Eastern Michigan withstood 341 Purdue rushing yards to beat the Boilermakers, 20-19, on a 24-yard Chris Ryland field goal as time expired.
WALK. OFF. WINNER.
— #MACtion (@MACSports) September 8, 2018
It’s EMU’s second win over a Big Ten team in as many seasons; the Eagles struck down Rutgers in Week 2 last year.
d. Scottie Montgomery earned a huge win at East Carolina, knocking off North Carolina, 41-19 in Greenville. It was, believe it or not, ECU’s third straight win over UNC, and its third straight win by at least 20 points.
e. North Carolina, meanwhile, has gone from an 11-3 with an ACC Coastal Championship in 2015, to 8-5 in 2016, to 3-9 last fall, to 0-2 to start this season.
f. A week after holding Texas Tech to 27 points, Ole Miss surrendered 38 to Southern Illinois… in the first half. The Rebels won, 76-41.
g. A week after allowing 47 points to Ole Miss, Texas Tech shutout Lamar whilst scoring 77 points of their own.
h. Florida State at one point seemed destined to join Florida in infamy on Saturday, but the ‘Noles rallied from a 26-21 fourth quarter deficit to sneak by Samford, 36-26.
i. North Texas trounced Incarnate Word 58-16 to move to 2-0 for the first time in 24 years.
j. After starting 0-2 and trailing Arkansas 27-9 in the third quarter, Colorado State appeared headed for 0-3. But the Rams scored the game’s final 25 points, including the game-winning touchdown with eight seconds left, to stun Arkansas, 34-27.
k. All hail the basketball schools.
Saturday marks the 2nd time in the last 20 years that Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas and Duke all won on the same day.
The other day was September 15, 2007.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 9, 2018
l. Like Oklahoma, Ohio State has tweaked its offense after losing a multi-year starting quarterback, but instead to be more reliant on the pass. And boy howdy is it working. Through two games (against Oregon State and Rutgers), Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell are a combined 55-of-67 for 700 yards with 10 touchdowns against one interception. That’s an 82 percent completion rate for 10.4 yards per attempt and a 216.1 quarterback rating. The 2-0 Buckeyes open their season against a 2-0 TCU team also opening its season after easing into the tub with wins over Southern and SMU.
m. Illinois is 2-0 for the second year in a row after beating Western Illinois. The Illini turned last year’s 2-0 start into a 2-10 finish. Let’s see what this group does.
n. Iowa beat Iowa State 13-3. I didn’t watch a snap of this game, but that just feels right.
o. With Brett Favre and Doug Pederson in attendance, ULM went to Hattiesburg and beat Southern Miss, 21-20. The Warhawks intercepted Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham with 22 seconds left to seal the win.
p. Penn State doesn’t have rivals, but if it did, Saturday’s 51-6 trouncing of Pitt would’ve been its biggest win over its Keystone State rivals since 1968.
q. Oklahoma State beat South Alabama 55-13. Mike Gundy was feeling okay afterward.
— Colby Daniels (@Colby_Daniels) September 9, 2018
r. Poor UConn. The Huskies opened the season with UCF at home and Boise State on the road. In a related story, they were outscored 118-24 in two losses.
10. And finally… My 5-year-old played his first flag football game on Saturday (one carry for three yards, thank you very much). We won by one point after the other team dropped a pass in the end zone as time expired. Football is the best.