Home / College Football Live / The most important Week 3 takeaway for each Top 25 team

The most important Week 3 takeaway for each Top 25 team

Sep 15, 2018

  • ESPN

LSU won on a last-second field goal, Wisconsin lost when it missed a last-second field goal and Kyler Murray aced his first road test. But what will it mean going forward? Here’s what you need to know for every Top 25 team.


No. 1 Alabama 62, Ole Miss 7

Alabama coach Nick Saban figured out how to keep both of his quarterbacks happy — blow out the opposition. The No. 1 Crimson Tide became the first SEC team to score 50 points in its first three games with a 62-7 rout at Ole Miss. Alabama scored 49 points in the first half — it second-highest scoring total in the first half against an SEC opponent — and both Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts played big roles. Tagovailoa started for the third straight game and completed 11 of 15 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns. Hurts played in the first half and completed 7 of 10 passes for 85 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The Rebels threw the first punch, scoring on Jordan Ta’amu’s 75-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf on the game’s first offensive play. But Alabama’s defense made fast adjustments, holding the Rebels to 153 yards of offense on their next 50 plays. — Mark Schlabach


No. 2 Clemson 38, Georgia Southern 7

A week after surviving a physical, hard-fought game against Texas A&M, the Tigers relied on their ground game in a 38-7 win over Georgia Southern. Of immediate concern is the status of starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, who missed the second half after taking a hit to the head in the second quarter. On the whole, though, whether it was Bryant or Trevor Lawrence leading the offense, there wasn’t much consistency or rhythm, or many big plays in the passing game (though freshman Justyn Ross had a pretty, 57-yard touchdown reception). Clemson rushed for more than 300 yards, with Travis Etienne shouldering the load. Etienne finished with 162 yards and two rushing touchdowns. —Andrea Adelson


No. 3 Georgia 49, Middle Tennessee 7

For only the second time in school history, Georgia has scored 40 points in each of its first three games, and it’s unlikely anyone will slow down the Bulldogs’ balanced offense soon. Both quarterbacks — starting sophomore Jake Fromm and freshman Justin Fields — were extremely efficient, combining for only four incomplete passes and four touchdowns, and the running game continued to flourish by committee. Led by Elijah Holyfield’s 100 yards on eight carries, the Bulldogs averaged 8.3 yards per carry. Georgia travels to Missouri next week and then has back-to-back home games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, respectively. The Bulldogs should be 6-0 heading into their first real test of the season, Oct. 13 at LSU. —Heather Dinich


No. 4 Ohio State 40, No. 15 TCU 28

Head coach Urban Meyer returns to a 3-0 team that showed it could overcome significant adversity against a well-coached, talented opponent. The Buckeyes trailed TCU in the third quarter when they lost their best player, defensive end Nick Bosa, who at that point had accounted for the team’s only touchdown with a strip-sack of Shawn Robinson. The offense wasn’t finishing drives, and the defense struggled with TCU’s speed and pace. But the defense tightened up and generated another takeaway for points, and Dwayne Haskins and the offense finally started completing drives. A 28-point burst in a span of 9:28 showed how dangerous this team can be. There’s plenty to clean up, especially on defense with a trip to Penn State looming in two weeks. Bosa’s injury is also worth watching. But Haskins looks like the type of accurate passer to take this offense — and possibly this team — to the next level. — Adam Rittenberg

It’s clear the UnderFrogs will be a tough out in the Big 12 despite Saturday’s loss, especially if they can limit the mistakes that ultimately doomed them against Ohio State. Head coach Gary Patterson, offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie and the rest of the staff had an excellent game plan to upset a bigger, more talented Ohio State squad. TCU showed it can attack the perimeter with speed and boasts big-play threats both at running back (Darius Anderson) and wide receiver (Jalen Reagor, KaVontae Turpin, Dylan Thomas). You can’t turn the ball over for points as the underdog, much less twice, and quarterback Shawn Robinson’s decision-making must improve against top-tier Big 12 foes. TCU’s defense struggled at times in the second half but still tackled well and disrupted Ohio State’s rhythm at times.– Rittenberg


No. 5 Oklahoma 37, Iowa State 27

Oklahoma is going to be OK — for now — without star running back Rodney Anderson. The Sooners continued to show on Saturday that they’ve got plenty of offensive options. But for the first time in three games this season, an opponent exposed a few of Oklahoma’s weak points. Start with the play of the secondary. Iowa State’s Zeb Noland, starting in place of injured QB Kyle Kempt, teamed with Hakeem Butler to torch the Sooners through the air. On the edges, in particular, Oklahoma couldn’t contend with Iowa State’s height. It allowed the Cyclones to come back quickly in the first half from a 10-0 deficit and keep OU’s third win in doubt until the final three minutes.

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray was spectacular again at times, throwing for 348 yards and rushing for 77. Marquise Brown was unstoppable at wideout for OU in the first half. And Trey Sermon gained 71 yards on the ground as a solid replacement for Anderson — but Marcelias Sutton, also needed to handle a load at running back, left in the third quarter with a leg injury. The Sooners can’t afford more injuries there. And they’ve got issues to address in pass defense before the schedule toughens in October. — Mitch Sherman


BYU 24, No. 6 Wisconsin 21

Wisconsin’s playoff hopes took a nosedive on Saturday in what was arguably the biggest upset of the weekend. Wisconsin was a 23.5-point favorite against BYU and had a 93.1 percent chance to win, according to ESPN’s FPI, but couldn’t overcome a fourth-quarter deficit. The home loss will continue to cost them in the eyes of the playoff selection committee. Wisconsin, which was again a heavy favorite to win the Big Ten West, can obviously still reach the conference title game and shouldn’t be completely disregarded in the playoff conversation, but it’s fair to call the Badgers a long shot now. Remember, unranked Cal found a way to beat BYU. Wisconsin’s only other nonconference wins are against Western Kentucky and New Mexico, which does nothing for its playoff résumé. The Badgers still have road trips to both Michigan and Penn State — not to mention Iowa and Northwestern, which aren’t gimmes. If Wisconsin wants to get back into the playoff race, it has to win them all. — Dinich


No. 12 LSU 22, No. 7 Auburn 21

This LSU team might not be pretty. It might blow a big lead early, and it might try a fake-punt jump pass that would offend the football gods. But Ed Orgeron’s bunch continues to get the job done, first surpassing expectations in the season-opener against Miami and then storming back in the fourth quarter on the road at Auburn. Joe Burrow continues to take shots deep and show a confidence at quarterback that this program has been lacking for years. And the defense continues to do its thing, with Greedy Williams looking like the best cornerback in the country. With games against Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama remaining, the road ahead will be challenging. But if Burrow can continue completing big-time passes, LSU might be on to something. — Alex Scarborough

They blew it again. A year after Auburn blew what felt like an insurmountable lead to LSU in Baton Rouge, it turned around and did the same at home at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Entering the fourth quarter, the game felt as if it was in hand. Jarrett Stidham was in a groove, the running game had momentum and the defense had sucked the wind out of LSU’s sails. And then it all came undone. Stidham threw an untimely interception, and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow connected with Justin Jefferson for a back-breaking, 71-yard touchdown. With the momentum gone and the penalties racking up, LSU completed the comeback. Now, Auburn’s margin of error is down to almost nothing with games on the road against ranked teams in Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama. — Scarborough


No. 8 Notre Dame 22, Vanderbilt 17

While the Irish offense got a bit stagnant in the second half, Brian Kelly and company seem to be more comfortable each week with playing to their quarterbacks’ strengths. Brandon Wimbush ran 18 times for a touchdown and 94 yards (before sacrificing some of them to kill time on the final drive of the game). Ian Book came off the bench to throw the ball when the offense reached the red zone. The offense has had trouble keeping its rhythm for a four-quarter stretch thus far, but thanks to a secondary well-stocked with playmakers, it might not matter. Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in its first three games. Two goal-line turnovers from that group helped squeak out another close win this week. — Dan Murphy


No. 9 Stanford 30, UC Davis 10

With star tailback Bryce Love sidelined for the afternoon with an undisclosed injury, Stanford’s offense sputtered its way to a 20-point win over UC Davis. After opening the season with a pair of highly anticipated rematches against teams (San Diego State and USC, twice) that beat them in 2017, the Cardinal had hoped to guard against complacency before the schedule picks up with a tough, two-game road swing to Oregon and Notre Dame.

Instead, Stanford was never able to establish the run against its FCS opponent, rushing for only 137 yards on 33 carries. And in the first half, when the game was still reasonably competitive, the Cardinal managed only 33 yards on 19 attempts. Their leading rusher was third-stringer Trevor Speights, who rushed for 38 of his 87 yards on a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback K.J. Costello threw interceptions on the Cardinal’s first two drives.

It was a continuation of an unexpected, season-long trend, as even Love has failed to generate the sort of eye-popping rushing numbers that he did in last year’s run to a second-place Heisman finish. — Joel Anderson


No. 10 Washington 21, Utah 7

The Huskies will be happy to escape Salt Lake City with a win and should be encouraged by another outstanding game from their defense, but they’ll undoubtedly be discouraged by a sloppy, often-frustrating performance by the offense. It’s easy to point to quarterback Jake Browning‘s departed offensive weapons in the past two years to try to account for why his production isn’t close to what it was in 2016 — when he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting — but as a fourth-year starter, his poor decision-making is tough to explain. When the offensive line fails to provide him time to let plays develop, he needs to start throwing the ball away or be more willing to take a sack. — Kyle Bonagura


No. 11 Penn State 63, Kent State 10

After a 45-38 overtime win against Appalachian State in the opening week, Penn State is starting to find better balance on offense and defense. Since that close win, the Nittany Lions have beaten Pitt and Kent State by a combined 114-16 the past two weeks. A big part of the offensive success has been quarterback Trace McSorley, who now has six rushing touchdowns this season to go with 603 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Many of the questions about Penn State coming into the season were geared around how they would replace running back Saquon Barkley and some of the production at receiver. It has been a running back-by-committee process so far, but DeAndre Thompkins stepped up in the pass game with 101 yards and one touchdown in the game against Kent State. If the Nittany Lions can continue to build on these past two games, we could be in store for an exciting game in Week 5 against Ohio State. — Tom VanHaaren


No. 16 Mississippi State 56, Louisiana 10

It was the Nick Fitzgerald show as Mississippi State easily cruised past Louisiana. Fitzgerald accounted for six touchdowns: four rushing and two passing. It’s the second time in his career he has rushed for four touchdowns in one game, joining Harry Furman as the only players in school history with multiple career games of four rushing touchdowns. Furman did it in 1907. Fitzgerald also became the third player in SEC history with at least 35 touchdowns rushing and passing. Mississippi State scored on its first seven possessions, and Fitzgerald left the game late in the third quarter. There was one bit of bad news: Starting cornerback Jamal Peters left the game with a left leg injury in the second quarter and returned to the sideline with crutches and a brace on his leg. — Adelson


No. 24 Oklahoma State 44, No. 17 Boise State 21

Coach Mike Gundy’s program has long been known for its high-powered offenses. But against Boise State, the Cowboys landed a huge victory behind spectacular special teams and tenacious defense. For the first time since 2012, Oklahoma State blocked two punts, the first leading to a Cowboys touchdown three plays later; the second, Za’Carrius Green returned 17 yards for a backbreaking touchdown late in the third quarter. Defensively, the Cowboys sacked quarterback Brett Rypien seven times and eliminated Alexander Mattison and the Boise running game. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Cowboys are now 3-0 and should be ranked in the top 20 next week. They also could be favored in every game leading up to Nov. 10, when they travel to Norman for Bedlam. — Jake Trotter

The Broncos squandered a tremendous opportunity to gain the inside track to a New Year’s Six bowl as the Group of 5 representative. Instead, behind a series of special-teams miscues, they got blown out in Stillwater. Boise State had two punts blocked inside its own 20, both leading to Oklahoma State touchdowns. The Cowboys scored three plays later off the first; they returned the second 17 yards for another touchdown. Haden Hoggarth also clanked a 26-yard field goal attempt off the upright after a 14-play drive in the first quarter, which sapped some of Boise State’s early momentum. The Broncos remain the favorite in the Mountain West Conference, but they’ll probably need help now to get to a New Year’s Six bowl. — Trotter


No. 19 Michigan 45, SMU 20

A 45-point performance showed some bright spots for the Wolverines’ offense, but it shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a sign that all concerns on that side of the ball have been answered, considering the Mustangs gave up 46 to North Texas. Shea Patterson is looking like the playmaker Michigan hoped he would be, and former blue-chip recruit Donovan Peoples-Jones (3 TDs) had the best performance of his young college career. The offensive line didn’t take control until late in the game and remains a work in progress, but confidence is growing in Ann Arbor as the conference schedule opens next week. — Murphy


No. 20 Oregon 35, San Jose State 22

It was not the smoothest performance for the Ducks in their win over San Jose State. Justin Herbert threw three touchdown passes but also had two interceptions, including one in the red zone right before halftime. They also struggled to convert on third down and had too many penalties. The run game wasn’t consistent, either, and the defense gave up too many big plays. These are areas Oregon will no doubt want to get cleaned up now that “cupcake season” is over, especially with a home game against Stanford coming up next weekend. Stanford has outscored Oregon 101-34 in their past two meetings. — Adelson


No. 21 Miami 49, Toledo 24

Malik Rosier did enough to quiet his critics, at least for one week, in a 49-24 win over Toledo. Rosier became the first Miami player to rush for three touchdowns and throw for two in a game since the Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2004, and it’s a performance he needed to have after a shaky start to open the season against LSU. Deejay Dallas had a 100-yard rushing game, and Jeff Thomas had a 100-yard passing game to help the offense get going. But there are some injury questions for the Miami defense: Safety Jaquan Johnson left the game with a right hamstring injury, and defensive tackle Gerald Willis also got banged up. Johnson and Willis are two of the Canes’ best defensive players, and Miami is going to need them healthy if it is going to make a run for the Coastal Division title. — Adelson


Texas 37, No. 22 USC 14

Freshman quarterback JT Daniels and the Trojans took it on the chin in Austin. After a promising start, which included an early 11-point lead, a host of miscues led to the team’s collapse. Special teams were a mess — three Chris Tilbey punts averaged just 26.3 yards per kick, a blocked Chase McGrath field goal was returned for a touchdown and Talanoa Hufanga committed a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt. The Trojans also caught some tough breaks, such as a would-be safety that never came to be after replay review and the loss of Porter Gustin to a third-quarter targeting call. Most troubling, however, were the struggles in the running game. USC wound up with minus-5 yards on 16 rushing attempts. Daniels had his fair share of struggles — including an ill-advised interception — but not being able to run the ball didn’t help matters and has to be fixed moving forward. — Sam Khan Jr.


San Diego State 28, No. 23 Arizona State 21

The Cinderella start to the season for Herm Edwards’ crew came to a dramatic end against San Diego State. While the lack of a run game didn’t hurt last week against Michigan State, SDSU was able to take advantage of the one-dimensional Sun Devils attack, corralling N’Keal Harry for most of the game while surrendering just 25 yards on the ground. — David M. Hale

Teams with games canceled due to Hurricane Florence: No. 13 Virginia Tech, No. 14 West Virginia, No. 18 UCF

About proncaa

Check Also

Lewerke on the spot against Michigan’s tough defense

Lewerke on the spot against Michigan's tough defense

USC craving more consistency from erratic offense

Southern California coach Clay Helton wants a balanced offense

Mizzou needs a Homecoming win to snap three-game skid

Midway through the season, the Missouri Tigers are 3-3 and their losing skid includes all three SEC games so far.

Stanford looking to get back on track against Arizona State

Stanford hoping to shake off two-game losing streak as it heads to the desert to face Arizona State

FSU’s Robinson: Panama City ‘ripped to shreds’

FSU's Janarius Robinson said it looked like "someone dropped a nuclear bomb on us" when asked to describe what he saw upon returning home after Hurricane Michael.