Week 3 Rewind

Published on Sept. 18, 2012, at 12:52 p.m. Eastern

By Brian Edwards

On a Saturday when storied programs like Florida, Notre Dame, Texas and Alabama went on the road and posted dominant victories, the biggest development took place in Palo Alto, where Stanford knocked off Southern Cal 21-14 thanks to stellar performances from senior running back Stepfan Taylor and a defense that forced Matt Barkley into a rough night.

Taylor rushed for 153 yards and one touchdown and also scored on a 23-yard catch from Josh Nunes, who hit Zach Ertz with a 37-yard scoring strike for the game-winning points in the final stanza.

Stanford’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half, limiting the Trojans to 26 rushing yards on 28 attempts and intercepted Barkley twice.

The Cardinal, which has covered the spread in six consecutive games as a home underdog, has an open date before playing next Thursday at Washington. USC will play host to California in Week 4.

Alabama has dealt out cream-cheese treatment in back-to-back weeks after demolishing Arkansas by a 52-0 count as a 20-point road favorite. Of course, the Razorbacks were at a major disadvantage with QB Tyler Wilson unable to go after suffering a concussion the previous week in an overtime loss to ULM.

John L. Smith’s team hasn’t scored a point without Wilson over the last six quarters. A disgusted Wilson expressed his frustration with his teammates to the media after the game, noting that many of them quit in the blowout loss to the Crimson Tide.

While many in the national media have been critical of Wilson for doing so, this space applauds the leader who has seen his senior season run into the ditch by his former head coach and seen it made into a clown show by his interim head coach.

With his teammates needing a boost and a voice to follow, Wilson’s words were a last-ditch effort to save this squad. The Hogs better be ready when a Rutgers team comes to Fayetteville with extra rest on Saturday.

Nick Saban’s team will face FAU and Ole Miss at home over the next two weeks. Then ‘Bama will have a week off before consecutive road games at Missouri and at Tennessee.

Speaking of the Volunteers, they blew a 20-13 lead and lost for the eighth straight time to Florida. The Gators’ previously-pedestrian offense exploded for 555 yards of total offense thanks to excellent efforts from QB Jeff Driskel, FB Trey Burton, TE Jordan Reed and RB Mike Gillislee.

Will Muschamp’s team scored 24 unanswered points to capture a 37-20 win as a three-point underdog. UF will take on Kentucky at The Swamp and then it gets an open date to prepare for LSU in Gainesville on Oct. 6.

The Vols face Terry Bowden’s Akron Zips before going on the road to take on Georgia with their SEC East hopes on the line.

Notre Dame made a huge statement Saturday night in East Lansing, cruising to a 20-3 win over Michigan St. as a 4 1/2-point underdog. Everett Golson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score without committing a turnover. The Irish limited the Spartans to 237 yards of total offense and held RB Le’Veon Bell to 77 rushing yards on 19 carries.

I must admit that I’ve been hesitant to come around on Brian Kelly’s team, but it certainly has my attention now. The Irish host Michigan in South Bend this week and a victory will give it a 4-0 record going into its open date.

Texas is another team I’ve thought of as overrated, mostly because of a lack of confidence in its quarterback play. And, to be clear, a blowout win at Ole Miss doesn’t completely eradicate those concerns, but the Longhorns clearly have momentum after trouncing the Rebels, 66-31.

Look at Jim Mora Jr., whose initial foray into college football at UCLA has been a rousing success to date. The Bruins, who went 21-30 during Rick Neuheisel’s four-year tenure, are 3-0 both straight up and against the spread. They get Oregon St. at home this week.

FSU still hasn’t played anyone of note, but the Seminoles are dealing out ruthless pimpslaps. Wake Forest was the latest victim, taking a 52-0 shellacking that might help the Garnet & Gold faithful forget the 30-0 bagel given to them by Riley Skinner and the Demon Deacons in 2006.

The ‘Noles finally play a school of significance when they collide with Clemson and ‘Mister’ Sammy Watkins this Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

Boise St. returned to normalcy on the smurf turf by producing 599 yards of total offense in a 39-12 win over Miami (OH.). The Broncos are 7 ½-point home favorites Thursday vs. BYU.

Going all the way back to 1998, Boise St. has been a single-digit home favorite only 10 times. In those spots, the Broncos are an incredible 10-0 ATS.

BYU will be in bounce-back mode following its 24-21 loss at Utah in which the Cougars had several fortunate opportunities to send the game into overtime but failed nonetheless.

In Week 3, ranked teams like LSU, Oregon, West Va., South Carolina, Georgia, TCU and Michigan cruised to victory against cupcake opponents.

Louisville stayed undefeated and avenged a 14-7 loss at North Carolina last year, but backers of the Cardinals had to deal with anxiety galore before cashing a winner. They almost allowed a 36-7 lead midway through the third quarter to get away. The Tar Heels erupted for 27 points and had a two-point conversion try that would’ve pulled them to within three at 39-36 with more than four minutes left.

However, the conversion attempt failed but U of L fumbled the ensuing kick-off. UNC was in the red zone with a chance to win outright in the final two minutes, only to run out of downs, giving the Cards a 3-0 record and a 39-34 triumph as 3 ½-point home favorites.

Charlie Strong’s team will play its next three games on the road in a four-week stretch. I believe Teddy Bridgewater and Co. have the team to beat in the Big East, but U of L plays its regular-season finale in frigid conditions at Rutgers on a Thursday on a short week of preparation.

As for the Scarlet Knights, they were extremely sloppy with penalties and special-teams blunders in the first half Thursday at South Florida. The Bulls didn’t really take advantage, though, and RU took over in the second half and won a 23-13 decision as a 7 ½-point underdog. Again, Arkansas better be on upset alert Saturday when Kyle Flood’s team brings its act to the Deep South.

Ohio St. got another tester at The ‘Shoe and survived – barely. The Buckeyes captured a 35-28 win over California, but the Bears easily took the cash as 17-point underdogs. Jeff Tedford’s squad stays on the road Saturday at USC.

What’s wrong with Wisconsin? I don’t have the answer but the Badgers clearly miss QB Russell Wilson, as they’re averaging only 16.3 points per game. Utah St. QB Chuckie Keeton nearly led the Aggies to back-to-back upset wins but a last-second field goal missed and Wisconsin won 16-14 at Camp Randall.

Pitt went into its home game against unbeaten Va. Tech with a pair of embarrassing performances on its resume. Now the Hokies have the ugly blemish on their record after taking a 35-17 shellacking at Heinz Field in a game that was never in doubt. Pitt won by 18 as a 10-point home underdog.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–Texas A&M got Kevin Sumlin his first win with a 48-3 clubbing of SMU in Dallas. Redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel had a sensational performance, completing 20-of-36 throws for 294 yards and four TDs without an interception. Manziel also rushed 13 times for 124 yards and two TDs. The Aggies will most likely be favored in their next four games (vs. South Carolina St., vs. Arkansas, at Ole Miss and at La. Tech) and could be 5-1 when LSU comes to College Station on Oct. 20.

–Unless Kentucky pulls some major upsets in the next month or so, third-year head coach Joker Phillips most likely saw his fate sealed in Saturday’s 32-31 overtime loss to Western Ky. at home. Max Smith, who had thrown six TD passes compared to zero interceptions in UK’s first two games, was picked off four times by the Hilltoppers, who won on a double pass back to the QB for a successful two-point conversion. Props to Western Ky. head coach Willie Taggart on the huge victory for his Sun Belt program.

–Another Sun Belt school, Troy, gave Mississippi St. fits before falling 30-24. We should note, however, that the Trojans covered the number as double-digit home ‘dogs and tallied 572 yards of total offense.

–Dan Mullen’s Mississippi St. team has a legit shot at starting 7-0 and bringing that unbeaten record to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 27. The 3-0 Bulldogs have these four contests looming before playing at Alabama: vs. South Alabama, at Kentucky, vs. Tennessee and vs. Middle Tennessee.

–Auburn needed overtime to win for the first time in 2012, beating ULM 31-28 in overtime. The War Hawks face another BCS foe Friday when they host Baylor.

–Penn St. got its first victory under Bill O’Brien by spanking Navy 34-7 as a seven-point favorite. Senior QB Matt McGloin threw for 231 yards and four TDs without an interception. The ‘under’ is 3-0 in PSU games this year.

–By my estimations, there could be a number of SEC jobs open in December. It’s a given that Arkansas and Kentucky will be looking for new leaders. After losing to Florida, there’s no telling which way Tennessee’s season will go, so the job in Knoxville could be available. Let’s watch two other situations carefully – Auburn and Georgia. The Bulldogs are 3-0 and the favorites to win the SEC East and that’s exactly my point. If things go bad in Athens, Mark Richt will be right back on the hot seat. As for Auburn, we know how fast this fan base can turn on a head coach and I won’t be shocked if this team finishes 6-6 or possibly 5-7. Finally, there’s an outside shot that Steve Spurrier could retire if the Gamecocks win the SEC, as you know he’d love to go out in style like that, and, Vandy’s James Franklin could draw interest from any of the other SEC openings.

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