For a slate of games that didn’t provide for a single ranked-versus-ranked matchup, college football Week 3 delivered a ton of drama.
Huge upsets highlighted the action on Saturday, and rivalry games led to some interesting circumstances. We also saw one of the most incredible highlights of the young season that unfortunately didn’t do anything positive for the player who made it.
Every winner has a corresponding loser. These were the most glaring from college football Week 3.
The end of the North Carolina vs. Wake Forest game
Wake Forest dominated the first half of action against North Carolina Friday night, but for the third consecutive game it appeared Mack Brown’s Tar Heels were angling for a comeback win. They went down 21-0 then scored 18 unanswered points thanks to some heroics by Sam Howell. Then, with 69 seconds remaining on the clock following a Wake Forest field goal, they had a chance to win it.
That’s when things went sideways, and fast. Howell and the Tar Heels horribly botched the time-management aspect of the two-minute drill. On top of that, the officials botched their role in the final moments (the ACC confirmed afterward), calling game when North Carolina should have had one more second left on the clock for a desperation play to win.
The fourth quarter was thrilling. The final moments were utterly disappointing.
Virginia Tech narrowly averts disaster at home against Furman
Oh, to have been a bug on the wall inside Virginia Tech’s locker room at halftime. Head coach Justin Fuente must have been livid.
The Hokies put together an incredibly inept first-half performance and went into the locker room down 14-3 at the half. Turnovers by Tre Turner and Ryan Willis led to short fields and touchdowns for the Paladins. The Hokies were booed off the field by their hometown fans, many of whom left the stadium afterward.
Virginia Tech woke up in the third quarter and salvaged a bit of pride. But this is a team that was favored to win by 21 points and paid Furman a king’s ransom to come visit. In the end, it’s a team that was lucky to escape with a win.
Peyton Ramsey gave Indiana no chance
If the Hoosiers were going to have any chance at all of upsetting Ohio State Saturday, they needed a huge game from quarterback Peyton Ramsey. There was some hope that he might come through after a nearly flawless performance in Week 2 against Eastern Illinois. But that hope was squashed.
Ramsey was under pressure often as Ohio State’s defensive front attacked the quarterback relentlessly. However, he struggled with accuracy when he did have time, completing 19-of-33 passes for just 162 yards. Even worse, Ramsey doomed what had been a promising drive in the fourth quarter, throwing an inexcusable 96-yard pick-six that buried the Hoosiers for good.
Josh Jackson implodes as Maryland upset by Temple
Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson had the Terps flying high with the top-scoring offense in college football heading into Week 3. On Saturday as Maryland took on Temple on the road, Jackson fell apart.
The Virginia Tech transfer completed just 15-of-36 passes (41.66%) for 183 yards, averaging just over five yards per attempt. He also threw an interception on the first drive of the game, which ended up turning into a touchdown for Temple.
Jackson wasn’t 100% to blame for No. 21 Maryland getting embarrassed Saturday. But his lackluster play was a huge part of why the Terps will enter Week 4 outside the top-25.
What were you thinking, Pat Narduzzi?
The Pittsburgh Panthers gave Penn State a heck of a battle in Happy Valley Saturday and had a chance to pull off an epic upset. Down by a touchdown with under five minutes to go, Pitt faced a fourth-and-goal from Penn State’s 1-yard line.
A field goal was useless at this point, because the Panthers were still going to need a touchdown to win. Yet that’s what Narduzzi called, and it came back to bite him in a huge way.
Kicker Alex Kessman absolutely shanked his 19-yard attempt, which clanked off the left upright. The Panthers did get another chance to tie the game before the final seconds ticked off the clock, but it was too little, too late.
On the road against an in-state rival, Narduzzi went ultra conservative instead of playing to win. Just an inexcusable mistake that cost his team a chance to make a statement on national television.
South Carolina’s special-teams mistakes
The Gamecocks had an excellent game plan for the Alabama game, and thanks to outstanding play by Ryan Hilinski they really had a shot to hang with the No. 2 team in the nation. Unfortunately, some huge mistakes on special teams in the first half hurt them and gave Alabama all the wiggle room it needed to pull ahead — for good.
It started in the first quarter when a holding penalty negated what should have been a touchdown on a fake field goal. Head coach Will Muschamp, realizing what a debacle that mistake was, absolutely lost it on the sideline. But that was only the first of a few key errors by his special-teams unit.
A bit later in the second quarter, an illegal motion penalty negated a gorgeous punt that pinned Alabama’s offense inside its own 2-yard line. The penalty ended up costing the Gamecocks well over 30 yards in field position, and Alabama scored on their next drive.
A third special-teams mistake cost South Carolina dearly in the second quarter when Shi Smith attempted to run for a first down on fourth-and-5. The trick play failed miserably, and it not for a missed field goal by Will Reichard it would have cost the Gamecocks even more points.
USC upset by BYU, and it probably coast Clay Helton his job
It’s easy to point to the three interceptions thrown by freshman Kedon Slovis and say that’s why USC lost to BYU in overtime. Especially because the final pick occurred in overtime and sealed the loss to take the Trojans to 2-1 on the season.
But it would be wrong to say the loss is on Slovis, though he did struggle. The Trojans were also atrocious on defense, allowing 430 yards and 30 points as Zach Wilson pulled out his best Johnny Manziel impression with huge, clutch plays when it mattered most.
But most of all, we have to blame Clay Helton, who has proved inadequate for the past couple of years. Now, with games against Utah, Washington and Notre Dame coming up, we’re likely seeing the end of the Cley Helton era at USC.
MSU with the “Sparty No!” finish against ASU
Michigan State is typically good for at least one game every year that has fans screaming “Sparty no!” Mike Dantonio’s team got it out of the way early in 2019 with an incredible failure against Arizona State.
Playing at home in front of their loyal fans, the Spartans struggled all game long. But after letting Arizona State go up by three in the fourth quarter, they came charging back with a six-play drive that went 46 yards and set them up with a 42-yard game-tying field goal.
Kicker Matt Coughlin, who had missed two previous kicks, drilled it through the uprights for the game-tying score. Only, there was a review, and afterward it was determined that Michigan State had 12 men on the field.
After moving him back five yards, Coughlin utterly shanked the next kick, and Sparty Nation wept.
Purdue’s offense stalls without Elijah Sindelar
There was some hope that Sindelar would play Saturday against TCU. Ultimately, he was held out as concussion symptoms persisted, and Jack Plummer got his first career start instead.
Purdue fans have gotten to see some incredible play from Sindelar and receiver Rondale Moore this year. Plummer was unable to replicate it, and the results were not pretty. He completed just 7-of-15 passes for 67 yards in the first half, and Moore was almost completely shut out with two catches for 12 yards.
Things got no better in the second half, either. Plummer ended up leading an offensive attack that gained just 204 total yards and didn’t score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter. Even more stunning is the fact that Moore — one of the best playmakers in the nation today — was held to just 25 yards of offense.
Iowa State couldn’t get out of its own way (literally)
The Cy-Hawk Trophy went to Iowa for the fifth year in a row, but the Cyclones had multiple chances to win Saturday. A game that was interrupted by Mother Nature twice for extended periods of time, ultimately it was what Iowa State was unable to do that stands out the most.
The Hawkeyes went up by one point with just under five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Iowa State stalled on its next drive, but then the Cyclones executed on defense to force a punt that would have given the offense a chance to win with plenty of time left on the clock.
Then, this happened:
The Cyclones never got the ball back after that — truly an awful way to lose a game.