Last week was all about the Sun Belt. The surprises didn’t end in Week 3, with some shock results in the early contests. Tip of the cap to Boston College for their dominant victory over Duke, and to Navy for their unlikely 27 point comeback against Tulane.
Week 3 results at a glance
Cincinnati 55-20 Austin Peay
Tulsa 7-16 Oklahoma State
Navy 27-24 Tulane
Liberty 30-24 Western Kentucky
Syracuse 10-21 Pittsburgh
Louisiana 34-31 Georgia State (OT)
Boston College 26-6 Duke
Southern Florida 0-52 Notre Dame
UCF 49-21 Georgia Tech
Appalachian State 7-17 Marshall
The Citadel 0-49 Clemson
Miami 47-34 Louisville
Wake Forest 42-45 NC State
Bearcats maul the Governors
In the early Week 3 kick-offs, we saw some surprises. Cincinnati were unwilling to fall foul to a David and Goliath story, brushing Austin Peay aside 55-20. The Governors are now 0-3 after opening the 2020 college season. The Bearcats shared the wealth in both the running and passing game. QB Desmond Ridder led the rushing attack with 57 yards from 4 attempts, with backup Ben Bryant enjoying 55 yards on the ground. Bryant also contributed with a TD run. Running back Gerrid Doaks went wild, with 3 rushing and 1 receiving touchdown. An impressive 64 yard TD run from Austin Peay back CJ Evans gave an air of respectability to the score-line in the 4th Quarter. This game was over by the half when Cincinnati led by 25. The #13 ranked Bearcats gave their back-ups some snaps as their focus turned to next week’s game vs. #22 ranked Army.
Rajin’ Cajun chaos at the Panthers
All eyes were on Louisiana in Week 3, playing its football game as a ranked team for the first time in nearly 80 years. Things didn’t initially go to plan as they trailed 14-0 to Georgia State. The Rajin’ Cajuns went down two scores in the 2nd Quarter, before Levi Lewis TD pass to Chris Smith brought Louisiana within a score at half time. The Panthers restored their lead early in the 3rd Quarter when Marcus Russell got over the goal-line on a 2 yard TD run. Summoning the momentum from last week’s victory over Iowa State, Billy Napier’s offense scored 21 unanswered points for their first lead of the game. With 7 minutes remaining in the game, Georgia State levelled the scores when Destin Coates got his first TD of the game. Coates ran the ball 34 times in the game for an impressive 150 yards.
The game went into overtime after Coates’ score. Although Georgia State opened with a field goal, the Rajin’ Cajuns marched downfield to celebrate a historic week. Elijah Mitchell capped off a memorable day with what proved to be a deciding 12 yard TD run. Mitchell ended the day with 164 yards from 16 attempts and 2 touchdowns.
Sleeping Cowboys stumble to a win
Oklahoma State were heavy favourites in their Week 3 season opener against Tulsa. A single Cowboy field goal separated the two sides in the 1st Quarter. A Zach Smith pass to Josh Johnson had the visitors a 7-3 lead at the half. Chuba Hubbard embodied Oklahoma State’s sluggish start, averaging less than 3 yards per carry in the first half. He and the Cowboys offense showed some signs of life after the break, his 3 yard TD run at the start of the 4th giving them a 10-7 lead. Two more Alex Hale field goals added some polish to a poor outing for Mike Gundy’s troops. Gundy was under fire during a controversial off-season. His team will need to be better than this if he wants to relieve the pressure on him this year.
Pitt pip the Orange
It was unsurprising to see that #25 ranked Pittsburgh got the better of Syracuse, but the game itself was much closer than anticipated. Dino Babers will be reassured by his team’s ability to keep the score competitive against a good outfit. Syracuse took the lead twice in the first half, but went in at half time trailing 14-10. A Kenny Pickett pass to Jared Wayne gave the Panthers breathing space and a two score lead. Neither side managed to put points on the board in the 4th Quarter, as Pitt saw off a spirited Orange. After a hammering at North Carolina to open the season, there were signs of life this week. However, it is a familiar story for Syracuse supporters as they open 0-2 for the season.
On a heart-warming note, Syracuse QB Rex Culpepper threw his first touchdown since being declared cancer-free. As a redshirt sophomore, it was discovered that he had testicular cancer. After a successful 10 week course of chemotherapy, Culpepper was given a clean bill of health.
There were wins in Week 3 for independent programs Navy and Liberty, who defeated Tulane and Western Kentucky respectively.
The Midshipmen take on a host of AAC opposition this year, and saw off the Green Wave to atone for their opening hammering by BYU. It looked as though Navy would be on the receiving end of another blowout, falling 24-0 at the half. However, Navy made good use of its rushing attack in the second half, finishing with 204 rushing yards. The Midshipmen enjoyed 42 minutes of possession, and made it count in the second half, scoring 27 unanswered points to take victory.
Liberty were not expected to best Western Kentucky in Week 3, but the Flames had other ideas. They took the lead just three minutes into the game, and never let it slip. Quarterback Malik Willis had just 13 completions to 21 rush attempts. Willis had 133 air yards to 168 yards on the ground. The Junior QB had three rushing touchdowns. There was scope for more success on the ground, and Joshua Mack had 100 yards from 23 attempts. The Western Kentucky run game never got going, with just 98 collective yards from 28 attempts. The Hilltoppers punted 5 times in this game, and have gone 0-2 to start the season.
Feelin’ Satisfied in Boston
The Eagles pulled off an unlikely win against a poor Duke side who simply did not turn up in their second defeat of the young season. Boston are without AJ Dillion in 2020, but enjoyed success in the passing game to account for his loss. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec completed 73.9% of his passes for 300 yards and 2 TDs as the Eagles opened their account with a win. His favourite target was Zay Flowers, who finished the game with 162 yards from 5 catches and a touchdown.
Chase Brice, former understudy to Joe Burrow at LSU, had one touchdown drive in the first quarter. However, it was running back Mataeo Durant who deserves the credit. The Junior running back went 49 yards to the house, but a missed extra point maintained Boston’s slender lead. Brice’s two interceptions capped off a horrible day for Duke. The Eagles gathered 19 unanswered points as the Blue Devils fell to 0-2 for the year.
Irish stroll to Victory
Notre Dame hosted USF on Sky Sports on Saturday evening. Unfortunately for UK fans, it wasn’t much of a contest.
Notre Dame are often criticised for favourable scheduling, and this was another example. The Irish raced out to an early lead, with Ian Book dissecting the Bulls defense at ease. By half time, Notre Dame was up 35-0 without breaking a sweat. The game slowed in the 3rd quarter, with just 10 points added to the scoreboard. By the final whistle, Notre Dame had secured an expected and emphatic 52-0 victory.
This victory was Notre Dame’s 20th consecutive home victory, and their second as an ACC team in 2020.
Clemson cruise past The Citadel
The Southern Conference’s Citadel were no match for the best team in college football. Trevor Lawrence and Co. picked up where they left off in 2019 with a dominant display.
Some will talk about the level of opposition, but Lawrence’s ball placement was at an elite standard in this game. He was able to showcase his arm strength with a 44 yard TD pass to Amari Rodgers. With the score at 49-0 at half time, an historic victory was in sight. The Tigers’ biggest ever victory came when Clemson defeated Guildford 122-0 way back in 1901. It wasn’t to be this weekend, with Dabo Swinney understandably rested his starters in the second half.
It was surprising to see no points scored by either team in the second half. With the game over as a contest, Clemson gave an early look at some future stars. Freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is widely touted as the successor to Trevor Lawrence. He showed some good flashes here, with 8/11 for 75 yards, and 2 touchdown runs.
‘Canes crush the Cards
The pick of the evening games in Week 3 was the matchup between Miami and Louisville, which kicked off in the early hours of Sunday morning for British viewers.
This was a hotly anticipated game between two of the ACC’s most talented programs. The ‘Canes offense picked up where it left off in Week 1, with D’Eriq King and Cam’Ron Harris establishing an electric attack. Harris broke his record for longest TD run last week with a 66 yard effort. He broke that once more in Week 3, breaking free for a 75 yard touchdown late in the 3rd Quarter. Miami were streets ahead at half time, and went in 20-6. Louisville rallied in the second half, with the Holy Trinity of talent all impressing on the night.
Quarterback Malik Cunningham threw for 307 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Two of those touchdowns were taken in by Tutu Atwell, who led the Cardinals in receiving with 114 yards. Running back Javian Hawkins had 164 yards from 27 carries, and a TD.
This game was always going to be a shootout between two exciting offenses. D’Eriq King’s impressive start as a ‘Cane continued. He had 325 yards and 3 TD passes. Though he used his feet to devastating effect against UAB in Week 2, he was only able to add 9 yards on the ground this time out. Tight End Brevin Jordan had 120 yards, and added more evidence to the case that he is the best receiving Tight End in college football today.
Rounding off the night
UCF floored Georgia Tech to open their season with a win, with QB Dillion Gabriel throwing for over 400 yards and 4 TDs.
Marshall went 2-0 to start the season with a 17-7 win over Appalachian State, limiting the Mountaineers to just one 1st Quarter TD.
One of the closest games of the day was between Wake Forest and NC State, where there were 8 rushing touchdowns between the teams. Kenneth Walker III was the pick of the bunch, with 131 yards and 3 TDs from 27 attempts. However, it was not enough for the Demon Deacons, and the Wolfpack took the win thanks to a Ricky Person Jnr TD with just 6 minutes remaining.
There were also wins for Troy, UTSA, SMU, Louisiana Tech, and UTEP. Louisiana Tech beat out Southern Mississippi with a TD and just 14 seconds left on the clock to secure a 31-30 victory. SMU was the top scoring school across the whole day, putting 65 points past North Texas. QB Shane Buchele threw for 344 yards and 4 TDs, adding another with his feet.
The stat line of the entire week was SMU freshman running back Ulysses Bentley IV, who ran for 227 yards and 3 TDs. Now that is what you call a college football debut.
Saturdays are for rushing, too. Just ask Ulysses Bentley IV.