Week 3’s slate of college football matchups couldn’t quite live up to the upset-fest that was Week 2, but it was an eventful Saturday, nonetheless.
The defining theme this week was the hot seat. We saw the second coach firing of the season, as Arizona State fired Herm Edwards and became the latest Power Five program to go shopping for a head coach.
Some embattled coaches managed to reverse the narrative, while others all but sealed their fates. Regardless, Week 3 gave us a lot more clarity on a number of situations around the country. These storylines dominated a weekend that didn’t see many shakeups at the top of the sport, though it still featured some thrilling outcomes.
With that in mind, here are the winners and losers from the third week of the college football season.
Coming off what was undoubtedly the program’s biggest win since making the jump to the FBS level, Appalachian State had a lot of momentum on its side. College GameDay was in town, and this team was seeing some New Year’s Six discussion. The Mountaineers found themselves in a dogfight with Troy, though, and they trailed by two on the final play of the game in need of a miracle. And a miracle, they got.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) September 17, 2022
Any day that begins with hosting GameDay for the first time and ends with a hail-mary touchdown and a field storming is a good one, and Appalachian State’s special run continues on as it looks like the best team in the Sun Belt right now.
The Tigers didn’t look good in a narrow victory over San Jose State last weekend, and Saturday’s 41-12 home loss to Penn State was about as ugly as they come. Auburn’s quarterback situation is, frankly, horrific. Its defense — which is supposed to be its strength — was worn down in the second half by the Nittany Lions’ ground game. Harsin’s seat is already practically engulfed in flames, and his team needed to at least compete in this one. The Tigers may be able to beat a bad Missouri team at home next week, but with upcoming games against LSU, Georgia and Ole Miss, it’s not looking good for the Harsin experiment.
Chad Morris lasted 22 games at Arkansas. He’s the only SEC football coach in the modern era to get fired after fewer than 2 full seasons (not counting Mike Price, who was fired for non-football reasons).
Bryan Harsin has coached 16 games at Auburn. Will he make it 6 more?
— Creg Stephenson the First (@CregStephenson) September 19, 2022
Yes, you read that correctly. Kansas’ gridiron, American football team is good. What a novel concept! The Jayhawks are 3-0 on the season after a convincing win over a talented Houston team, giving second-year coach Lance Leipold his third road win since taking over in Lawrence.
That’s one more than Kansas’ previous five (!) coaches combined.
Quarterback Jalon Daniels is a special player, and this looks like an upper-half Big 12 team right now. It will be fascinating to watch what Leipold can build with this program but expect to hear his name come up in several searches over the next couple of months.
This was just savage from @Kotelnicki. Direct snap to Devin Neal, handoff to Jalon Daniels, fake end-around to backup QB Jason Bean, all while Jared Casey acts like he’s blocking a LB before slipping open. pic.twitter.com/WJJsP8uQOp
— Kevin Flaherty (@KFlaherty247) September 19, 2022
Every week, there’s been one result in the late-night block that made me say, “Huh?” This week, that was Arizona State’s 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan. Obviously, athletic director Ray Anderson felt the same way, and that was enough for him to pull the plug on the 68-year-old’s tenure in Year 5. Possibly on the field immediately after the game!
Herm Edwards, Ray Anderson, Michael Crow pic.twitter.com/4D59aEDY4J
— Chris Karpman (@ChrisKarpman) September 18, 2022
Edwards’ hiring was widely questioned at the time given his limited college experience and decade out of coaching. Anderson — the man who hired him — was Edwards’ former agent, which was an obvious red flag.
Edwards finished with a solid 26-20 record in Tempe, but he was coming off a rough offseason that saw a mass exodus of players into the transfer portal amid allegations of NCAA violations. For the first time in a while, the Sun Devils seem to be in a worse position than in-state rival Arizona — more on the Wildcats later.
Friday night’s ACC duel between Florida State and Louisville felt like a bit of a must-win for both coaches, but Mike Norvell got the edge in a shootout, come-from-behind victory despite losing star quarterback Jordan Travis to what appeared to be a serious injury. Backup Tate Rodemaker threw a bad interception early in his appearance, but he played very well after that as FSU is now 3-0 for the first time since 2015.
What a drive for Florida State!
-Treshaun Ward 46 yard run
-Jordan Travis ➡️ Malik McClain for the 21 yard TD!
Jordan Travis so far tonight: 11-11, 148 yards, 2 TDs 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/BOtUswBwo0
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) September 17, 2022
This team looks good, and though it would be a major blow if Travis is unable to go the rest of the way, a cryptic tweet from the quarterback is giving fans hope.
great news… let’s get it
— Jordan Travis (@jordantrav13) September 18, 2022
A top-10 win for coach Kalani Sitake’s team is huge, and with no other clear candidates from outside the Power Five, BYU seems well positioned to make a run to the New Year’s Six (if not further).
That was written by some idiot in this column last week under a section title “Winner: BYU’s CFP hopes.” Oof. Needless to say, the Cougars no longer appear poised to make a run to the New Year’s Six (or further) after a 41-20 blowout loss to Oregon on Saturday. Even that score doesn’t tell the full story of how thoroughly BYU was dominated, as it trailed 38-7 entering the fourth quarter. This just didn’t look like the same team that beat Baylor last week.
There are few players in college football that have been more frequently dragged throughout the course of their career than Nix, a former five-star recruit who transferred to Oregon this offseason after three inconsistent seasons as the starter at Auburn. His time with Ducks so far has been just as inconsistent, but he reminded us on Saturday why coaches just can’t quit on him. He scored five total touchdowns and was efficient through the air, avoiding any interceptions. Am I saying Nix has turned a corner? No, and do not hold me to that. But I’ll give credit where it’s due, and this week, Nix deserves it.
Bo Nix airs it out for Troy Franklin 🎯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 17, 2022
You can’t talk about the underachievement of the Geoff Collins era at Georgia Tech without acknowledging the difficulty of the job he assumed. But the fact of the matter is, no one forced him to move away from the triple option which, for better or worse, never resulted in the program sinking as low as it felt during Saturday’s 42-0 shutout loss to Ole Miss at home. The Yellow Jackets just aren’t particularly good at anything. This thing just isn’t working out, and Collins is likely in the midst of his last campaign in Atlanta.
After a Week 1 loss to Florida State, we essentially discarded Brian Kelly’s inaugural LSU team. After a 3-0 start from FSU and the Tigers’ 31-16 victory in Saturday night’s SEC opener against Mississippi State, maybe that was a bit premature. LSU’s defense played lights out against a Bulldogs air-raid attack that entered the game with the second-best passing game in the league, holding coach Mike Leach’s team to its worst offensive output since 2020. Quarterback Jayden Daniels hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season, and the running game looked good. LSU should be 4-1 after games against New Mexico and Auburn, and this team could be better than we thought.
Great defense at LSU is back pic.twitter.com/db5XD3V4kz
— OTOP (@OneTeamOnePod) September 19, 2022
Miami had a golden opportunity on Saturday night to earn a statement win in the first season under coach Mario Cristobal as Texas A&M was still reeling from the loss to Appalachian State. Despite outgaining the Aggies by more than 100 yards, the Hurricanes were held out of the end zone in a 17-9 loss. This win wouldn’t have had as much luster after TAMU’s loss last week, but it certainly would have been better than the alternative. This doesn’t look like a team poised to challenge any of the big boys in the ACC Atlantic.
If you want to see a first-year coach who did manage to earn a statement win in Week 3, might I direct you to Seattle? It doesn’t look like many of the issues that led to the downfall of the Jimmy Lake era are systemic as Kalen DeBoer’s Huskies team dominated No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday night. Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is shining with the change of scenery, and this team may be more of a contender in the Pac-12 this year than any of us expected.
Michael Penix Jr. with the LASER pic.twitter.com/7sMnW8XxhO
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 18, 2022
As long as Colorado is still suiting up on Saturdays, Georgia Tech isn’t the worst team in the Power Five. The Buffaloes have only found fleeting success since making the jump to the Pac-12, and they’re currently 0-3. In losses to TCU, Air Force and Minnesota to begin the year, CU is being outscored 128-30. The decision to hire third-year coach Karl Dorrell — previously the head coach at UCLA from 2003-07 — was uninspired. Dorell had spent most of the time between head coaching jobs as an NFL assistant, and he’s 8-13 in Boulder. Since the beginning of the 2021 season, he’s just 4-11. One thing that is going in his favor: the buyout situation. Dorrell’s pricey buyout doesn’t drop until Jan. 1, and most of the Buffs’ top candidates would likely be unavailable if they wait until then.
- Winner: Syracuse. Talk about a guy currently coaching himself off the hot seat. The Orange survived a thriller against a good Purdue team in what was the most exciting game of the noon block, and Dino Babers’ team is 3-0 for the first time since 2018.
- Loser: Louisville. Someone had to lose Friday night’s game, and unfortunately for Scott Satterfield, it was the Cardinals. Quarterback Malik Cunningham is spectacular, but this is an unimpressive team otherwise that’s already 0-2 in conference play.
- Winner: Arizona. Am I giving a Power Five team credit for beating an FCS team at home? You bet! The ‘Cats were actually underdogs against the greatest dynasty in college football in North Dakota State, and though it was a close game, they got the win. Credit to coach Jedd Fisch’s team for not becoming the Bison’s next Power Five victim.
- Loser: Air Force. The Falcons got some New Year’s Six hype through the first two weeks, but that’s done now after a disappointing 17-14 loss to Wyoming on Friday night.
- Winner: Tulane. The Green Wave went 2-10 last fall, but it’s currently undefeated after a stunning win on the road against Kansas State on Saturday in the best helmet game of the week.
- Loser: Marshall (and Notre Dame, by proxy). The Thundering Herd followed up its monumental upset with a loss to one of the worst teams in the FBS in Bowling Green. To make matters worse, Notre Dame nearly lost to a bad Cal team at home, and a near-miss on a hail mary would have sent that game to overtime.
- Winner: Bobby Petrino. Did you know that Petrino is the head coach at Missouri State? If so, did you know that his Bears squad walked into Fayetteville and nearly knocked off his former team, which is ranked in the top 10? Arkansas found itself in an early 17-0 hole and had to overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to survive.
- Loser: Northwestern. Since knocking off Nebraska in Dublin, it’s been bleak for the Wildcats, who lost to Duke last week and again to FCS Southern Illinois on Saturday. This team is not good, but it beat Scott Frost, and you can never take that away from it.