To put it lightly, Week 3 was a weekend that the ACC will want to forget.
The conference boasts the nation’s best team, Clemson, but the gap between the top-ranked Tigers and the rest of the league has never looked wider.
The ACC’s woeful weekend started with a miserable dud on Friday night when Boston College was upset at home by Kansas. And it wasn’t a close game either. The lowly Jayhawks gashed Steve Addazio’s defense for 567 yards — including 329 on the ground — in a 48-24 win in front of a stunned fanbase in Chestnut Hill. It was Kansas’ first road win over a Power Five opponent since 2008 — a span of 48 games.
Things weren’t much better Friday night down in Winston-Salem where Wake Forest hosted North Carolina in a non-conference game (yes, you read that correctly). It wasn’t that the game, a 24-18 Wake Forest win, was particularly bad. But the ACC had to admit publicly that there was an error in officiating in the game’s final seconds.
UNC’s Michael Carter ran out of bounds at the Wake 43-yard line as the clock expired, but it seemed pretty clear that there should have been one second remaining in regulation. However, the replay official didn’t even bother to give it a second look, forcing the ACC to issue an apology on Saturday. If the second was put back on the board, the Tar Heels might have had a chance for one final play. Instead, UNC never got that chance.
Saturday was even worse for the conference. NC State was gashed for 173 rushing yards in a 44-27 loss to West Virginia, a team that entered Saturday’s game with just 56 yards on 43 carries from its running backs. Virginia Tech, a team that lost to Boston College earlier in the year, had to overcome a 14-3 halftime deficit just to beat Furman, an FCS team.
While the Hokies managed to avoid an upset, Georgia Tech couldn’t do the same. The Yellow Jackets lost 27-24 at home in overtime to The Citadel, an FCS team with losses to Elon and Towson this season. It was a game that Georgia Tech thought it won, too. With 10 seconds left in regulation, the Yellow Jackets reeled off a 17-yard touchdown run that would have won the game. But the touchdown was wiped off the board because coach Geoff Collins called a timeout before the snap.
Georgia Tech thought it'd won the game with a last-second touchdown...but the Yellow Jackets called a timeout just before the snap. pic.twitter.com/EP9dX9w7q2— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 14, 2019
Instead of a TD, the Yellow Jackets ended up kicking a field goal to force overtime. The Bulldogs hit a field goal to open the extra frame and then pulled out the win when a 46-yard try from Georgia Tech’s Brenton King sailed left.
Also of note: The Citadel runs the triple option. Former Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is smiling somewhere.
Collins’ timeout wasn’t even the worst gaffe from an ACC coach either. No, that honor goes to Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi, who inexplicably sent the field goal unit out onto the field on fourth-and-goal from the Penn State 1-yard line. Pitt was trailing 17-10 at the time with under five minutes remaining in regulation and had already boldly gone for it on fourth and short from its own territory earlier in the drive. And yet Narduzzi sent out Alex Kessman for a 19-yard field goal try and he clanked it off the left upright. PSU went on to win 17-10 and Narduzzi tried to explain his decision-making afterward. It didn’t make much sense.
Pat Narduzzi on why he opted for a field goal with a fourth and one with five minutes left, down seven— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) September 14, 2019
‘Because you need two scores to win the football game.’
He added that he doesn’t question that decision ‘at all’
Just wait until Narduzzi learns about two-point conversions!
And while Clemson took care of business against Syracuse without much issue, the ACC’s only other ranked team, No. 25 Virginia, had to stage a second-half comeback to beat Florida State, a team that was lucky to beat UL Monroe last week. UVA scored twice in the game’s final six minutes and then stopped FSU at the 1-yard line as time expired.
It was a disastrous ending for FSU. Instead of spiking the ball and running another play, FSU snapped the ball to running back Cam Akers, who was brought down short of the goal line after it appeared the team couldn’t get lined up correctly.
This is the disaster that was Florida State’s final play. If you can explain that … go right ahead. pic.twitter.com/8YySFPdSM8— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 15, 2019
It wasn’t much better for the officials, either. Two seconds expired from the end of Florida State’s penultimate play and from when the clock was stopped for the ball to be reset. While Florida State’s issues in not spiking the ball were largely self-inflicted, the Seminoles should have had a couple more seconds of cushion.
Regardless, Virginia, allegedly the ACC’s second-best team, barely beating a dysfunctional Florida State team at home sure feels like the conference’s biggest chaos signal yet. It’s Clemson and everyone else in the ACC. And we’re not so sure anyone else is all that good. Even the clock operators.
Here are the rest of Week 3’s winners and losers.
Ohio State: The Bucks are looking good. Ohio State has been the most spectacular team in the Big Ten through the first three weeks. The Buckeyes beat Indiana 51-10 early Saturday to go to 3-0 as Justin Fields threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. After a sleepy first quarter that had just 10 total points, Ohio State scored 44 points over the next two quarters to blow out the Hoosiers.
UCF: There’s the signature Power Five win UCF needed for its New Year’s Six bowl hopes. And boy, was it impressive. Yeah, Stanford is bad — more on them in a bit — but the Knights were fantastic in a 45-27 win that wasn’t nearly as close as that. UCF was up 38-7 at halftime and freshman QB Dillon Gabriel finished the game 22-of-30 passing for 347 yards and four touchdowns. It was the second straight start for Gabriel after Brandon Wimbush started the first game and, per coach Josh Heupel, wasn’t 100 percent ahead of a Week 2 game against Florida Atlantic.
Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts: The Alabama transfer was fantastic yet again in Oklahoma’s 48-14 win over 0-3 UCLA. This is the one stat you need to know about Hurts’ start to the 2019 season.
Jalen Hurts through 3 games...— Spenser Davis (@Davis_Spenser) September 15, 2019
Total touchdowns: 13
Eastern Michigan: Illinois became the latest Big Ten team to lose to Eastern Michigan on a last-second field goal. The Eagles cut it close though. EMU was up 31-17 before Illinois scored 14 straight points to tie the game at 31-31 with 1:44 left. That was plenty of time for Eastern Michigan, however, who drove 68 yards in eight plays and Chad Ryland hit a 24-yard field goal as time expired for a 34-31 win. Chris Creighton’s team is now 2-1 with an FCS opponent and MAC play on the horizon. A bowl looks pretty likely
Tennessee: Yes, we’ve reached the point where Tennessee beating an FCS opponent is worthy of an entry in this post. But dammit, Tennessee looked good doing it. The Vols won 45-0 over Chattanooga and had a nice 38-0 lead at halftime. Jarrett Guarantano had to only throw eight passes and he completed seven of them for 142 yards and three scores. SEC play looks scary for Tennessee, but they’re allowed to enjoy this week. We just won’t mention that Georgia State lost 57-10 to Western Michigan.
Kansas State: Is Chris Klieman turning Kansas State into a mini version of North Dakota State? The Wildcats could easily have won by more than a touchdown in their 31-24 win on the road at Mississippi State. KSU fumbled three times, including twice on muffed punts. The Wildcats’ stats from Saturday won’t blow you off the page, but they held Mississippi State QBs to just 11-of-27 passing for 151 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions.
Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard: Hubbard is blossoming into one of college football’s best backs. In a 40-21 win over Tulsa, Hubbard carried the Cowboys with 256 yards and three touchdowns on 32 attempts. He scored from 75 yards out on the first play from scrimmage and added a 30-yarder a few minutes later. And when Oklahoma State was running out the clock, he sealed the win with a 33-yard scamper to put the game out of reach. Through three games, Hubbard has 521 yards and seven touchdowns.
Miami RB Jimmy Murphy: The senior scored his first touchdown Saturday late against Bethune Cookman. And he did a somersault to celebrate.
Murphy, a former walk-on, was put on scholarship by former coach Mark Richt last year. Now he can say he scored a touchdown as a college football player.
Michigan State: How are the Spartans going to contend in the Big Ten East? It’s a legitimate question after a 10-7 home loss to Arizona State on Saturday. Michigan State went over 50 minutes before it scored a touchdown and kicker Matt Coghlin missed three field goals.
The defense is top-tier. But the rest of the Spartans are not. Coach Mark Dantonio chose to make some offensive coaching staff reassignments instead of wholesale changes after a lackluster 2018 on the offensive side of the ball and those changes don’t look like they’re working just yet. And Michigan State doesn’t have much time, either. A road trip to Northwestern happens in Week 4 and Ohio State looms on Oct. 5.
Colorado: What’s up, Buffs? A week after coming back to beat Nebraska the Buffaloes lost to Air Force 30-23 in overtime. With Colorado’s Week 1 win over Colorado State, the win by the Falcons means Air Force is the best team in Colorado. That’s simply how it works.
On a more serious note, Colorado had to outscore the Falcons by 10 points in the fourth quarter just to get to overtime. And then Air Force won the game on a 25-yard run by RB Kadin Remsberg on the first play of extra time and stopped Colorado on its possession.
The home loss ruins all the positive mojo Mel Tucker had gathered over the first two games of his head coaching tenure. And things get tougher from here. Arizona State, the team that just beat Michigan State on the road, is Colorado’s Week 4 opponent.
Stanford: How in the world did Stanford get like this? After a Week 1 win over Northwestern, things have gone very poorly for the Cardinal. Stanford has given up 45 points in back-to-back weeks in losses to USC and UCF. And, more troubling, neither game has been close.
The Cardinal last gave up 40+ points in back-to-back games in 2016 when it lost to Washington and Washington State in consecutive weeks. Stanford finished that regular season at 9-3 and then beat North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. Now that Stanford is 1-2 through three weeks, a lot of fans would immediately jump at the opportunity to take a 9-3 season and a Sun Bowl bid.
Illinois: The Illini had a fantastic chance to get to 3-0 and halfway to making a bowl game with a home win over EMU. Instead, Illinois paid $1 million for the pleasure of losing to the Eagles.
Well that plan backfired. Illinois handed Eastern Michigan $1 million to play the Fighting Illini in Champaign and lost on a last-second field goal. https://t.co/fH70gud5NL— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) September 14, 2019
Illinois may end up seriously regretting that loss too. There isn’t a game on the schedule where the Illini will be favored outside of a Nov. 2 game against Rutgers. Bowl eligibility might have disappeared the moment Ryland’s kick went through the uprights.
Minnesota: The Gophers are 3-0. But it’s not a pretty 3-0. At all. Minnesota had a tough time against FCS South Dakota State in Week 1 and somehow forced overtime against Fresno State and escaped with a win in Week 2.
A week ago in Fresno, it was a touchdown catch by Chris Autman-Bell with 46 seconds left that forced overtime. Saturday, Minnesota needed a great catch from Tyler Johnson with 13 seconds left to get a 35-32 home victory over Georgia Southern.
The Gophers look like a team capable of making a bowl game. But it’s way too early to consider them serious contenders in the Big Ten West. That’s three wins by a combined 13 points. The margin of error has been way too slim.
Colorado State: Things aren’t looking too good for Mike Bobo and the Rams. Hoping to bounce back from a 3-9 season in 2018, Colorado State lost 52-31 in Week 1 to Colorado and fell 55-34 Saturday at Arkansas — a team Colorado State beat in 2018. That’s 107 points over two games against FBS opponents in 2019. With Toledo and Utah State up next on the schedule, things may not get any better anytime soon for the 1-2 Rams.
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