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College Football Recap: Week 3

September 17, 2012

In three games this past weekend did ranked teams face off – No. 2 USC at No. 21 Stanford, No. 20 Notre Dame at No. 10 Michigan St. and No. 18 Florida at No. 23 Tennessee. And in every one of them either a definite upset occurred – the first two – or something that seemed like an upset occurred – Florida’s convincing win at Tennessee.

I figured USC would be able to win at Stanford, which would’ve been Matt Barkley’s first W against Stanford in four tries. However, the loss of center Khaled Holmes and the Cardinal’s overpowering defensive line left Barkley to be treated like a piece of raw steak being attacked by a group of hungry dogs. Barkley was sacked four times in the 21-14 loss, and rarely had any time to go through his progressions and get off a clean throw. He didn’t throw a touchdown but was picked off twice and limited to only 254 yards on 41 attempts – the former a very poor number considering Barkley’s receiving weapons.

For the second consecutive game Barkley was outplayed by his coutnerpart, this time Josh Nunes. Nunes didn’t even complete half his passes but he threw two touchdowns, including the tying and go-ahead scores, the former a screen pass to nimble running back Stepfan Taylor who made several Trojan defenders miss on his way to the end zone. Nunes, who wasn’t sacked on the night, also had three rushes for 33 yards, including a 13-yard scamper on 3rd-and-10 on the game-winning drive. Stanford didn’t miss Andrew Luck Saturday night, and they might not need him the rest of the season. Nunes played very well against one of the best defenses he’ll see this year, and while Stanford plays four ranked teams from here on out as well as a road game next week at Washington the play of the defense and Nunes’ Saturday night signal what should be a very good future for the Cardinal.

Beating a higher-ranked team at home is one thing, but beating one on the road is another. Notre Dame went into East Lansing Saturday night and held Michigan St. to only 237 total yards in a 20-3 win. The two keys to the Irish’s win Saturday night: the big play and a suffocating run defense. The Irish scored its first touchdown on what seemed like a designed roll out to the right for Everett Golson who, from the numbers on the right side of the field, then threw a 36-yard touchdown to John Goodman on the left side of the end zone. On Notre Dame’s next touchdown drive George Atkinson III started the drive with a 32-yard rush to set up the Irish at the Spartans’ 19.

The Irish was also able to shut down stud running back Le’Veon Bell, who only rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries. The Irish features a very good front seven on defense, led by linebacker Manti T’eo and defensive linemen Sheldon Day, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. Those four guys will be key to Notre Dame’s future. The Irish plays Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC later in the season, and all four of those teams have better offenses than Michigan St. It’d be silly to say favor the Irish in all of those games, but a split is definitely reasonable – which should give the Irish a 10-2 season and probably a BCS bowl game.

Jeff Driskel passes Saturday night against Tennessee. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Down in Knoxville, Florida was the higher ranked team heading into the match-up of revitalized teams but Tennessee was at home and had looked very good in its win against North Carolina St. But Florida, which now has two straight impressive wins, shut down Tyler Bray and the rest of the Vols’ offense, and Jeff Driskel looked like Tim Tebow in the 37-20 blowout. Driskel had 300 total yards and went 14-for-20 passing with two touchdowns. He added 81 yards rushing, which was only the third most rushing yards for the Gators, behind Mike Gillislee (115) and Trey Burton (91). We knew their defense, led by Jelani Jenkins and Sharrif Floyd, was the real deal. Their D has only allowed seven points in its last two games, against Texas A&M and Tennessee. If the Florida offense can keep improving and continue to play like it did Saturday the Gators could be a scary team later in the year due to its well-roundedness.

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2 Comments
  1. Sean Breslin permalink

    In my opinion, Notre Dame’s win was the most impressive of the three.

    • I actually had that typed out, but erased it because Michigan St.’s offense has been very pedestrian so far this year. In the preseason I thought they had a chance to go undefeated if the passing game was there. Stanford really dominated USC, but I don’t blame you for thinking that at all.

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