By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
It wasn’t a great slate at the start of the weekend, but there ended up being some great games and upsets that made up for it. There may not have been a Top 25 matchup, but three ranked teams lost in wild finishes. Michigan State sent its game against Arizona State to overtime, until it didn’t. Maryland lost via a goal line stand to Temple and USC was the latest overtime victim to BYU.
Conference schedules opened up for some teams and will open up for some more this weekend. It’s hard to believe we’re already nearly a month into the college football season.
Let’s get to the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good: Ohio State. The competition hasn’t been great, but the Buckeyes have averaged 46 points per game against three FBS opponents and poured it on Indiana in their Big Ten opener on the road. Justin Fields has thrown nine touchdowns without a pick and is completing 70 percent of his passes. Can’t help but think seeing Michigan as the preseason favorites in the East division might’ve put a chip on Ohio State’s shoulder.
Honorable Mention: Arizona State. The idea of hiring Herm Edwards in Tempe was mocked across the country. The idea that Edwards would be having more success with the Sun Devils than Kevin Sumlin early on in their second year at each school was absurd, but here we are. Arizona State is 3-0 after a win over a ranked Michigan State team away from home. The defense is giving up seven points per game. The next four games against Colorado, Cal, Washington State and Utah will tell a lot about what this team is made of.
The Bad: Kentucky. Just when you think you’ve heard every kick punchline in the books, Kentucky comes up with another one. Chance Poore (yes, it’s pronounced “poor”) missed a game-winning 35-yard field goal with less than a minute left and Florida responded with a 76-yard touchdown run on an end-around three plays later to seal it.
Honorable Mention: Maryland. Oof. The Terrapins high-octane offense didn’t travel to Philly as Maryland only found the end zone twice in a 20-17 loss to Temple. Josh Jackson was only 15-38 passing and the Terps couldn’t take advantage of a 7-yard punt that gave Maryland the football at the Owls’ ten-yard line. A bye week is next, but Penn State looms the following weekend.
The Ugly: Pittsburgh. Mainly Pittsburgh’s play calling. Down by seven in the fourth quarter of a rivalry game against Penn State, the Panthers had first and goal at the half-yard line. Pittsburgh called two pass plays that both went for incompletions, one of which nearly resulted in a sack and a play action bootleg that was stuffed. On fourth and goal at the one and needing a touchdown, Pitt elected to kick a 19-yard field goal, with Alex Kessman missed. The Panthers got the ball back, but ran out of time as a desperation pass into the end zone fell incomplete. There are times when, in tight games, teams need to take the points. That was not one of them.
Honorable Mention: Florida State. For most of the night the Seminoles frustrated Virginia’s offense and Florida State looked poised to spring an upset on the road against a Top 25 team after being ridiculed over the first two weeks of the season in Willie Taggart’s second year in Tallahassee. Instead Florida State surrendered three fourth quarter touchdowns and failed to take advantage of a handful of penalties against the Cavalier defense on the final drive of the game. With the clock running Florida State opted to run a direct snap to Cam Akers instead of spiking the ball to set up a final play. Akers was dropped short of the end zone and Virginia moved to 3-0. The Seminoles are 1-2 with the only win coming against Louisiana-Monroe…in overtime.