But a few thoughts on Kansas State first. The Wildcats landed their first road victory over a top-three team ever, and collected back-to-back victories over Oklahoma for the first time since 1993-97. That was the start of Kansas State’s emergence under Bill Snyder, but it also came at a forgettable time for the Sooners (they were a combined 27-30-1 in that five-year span under Gary Gibbs, Howard Schnellenberger and John Blake).
For the Wildcats to win their first two games against Oklahoma under coach Chris Klieman is a promising sign for the program’s long-term health. And for them to pull off this comeback two weeks after an opening loss to Arkansas State bodes well for this particular team’s resilience.
As much credit as senior quarterback Skylar Thompson deserves — and the three-year starter threw for 334 yards and a touchdown and ran for three more scores — Oklahoma (1-1, 0-1 Big 12) contributed mightily to its own demise.
Kansas State scored on five consecutive possessions at one point in the second half, needing two minutes or less to complete four of those drives. And while the Sooners’ defense surely could have been better, the Wildcats had only 105 total yards on the three drives accounting for their last 17 points.
Oklahoma, spoiled by Heisman candidates at quarterback for the last five years, got a mixed bag from redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler. He completed 30 of 41 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions; one led to a K-State touchdown and another effectively ended the game.
In another program, one not expected to contend for a playoff berth and without the recent quarterback pedigree, the stakes and scrutiny might not be quite as high. Rattler doesn’t have such a luxury, but there’s still a lot to like despite the miscues.
The same can’t be said for Oklahoma’s playoff hopes. Sure, the Sooners could figure it all out, uncork a winning streak and win the Big 12 title with one loss. But it’s also a Big 12 that did not acquit itself well in a limited nonconference schedule (see the aforementioned Kansas State loss to Arkansas State, among others).
With the Big Ten and the Pac-12 now planning to play, Oklahoma’s margin of error was already smaller than initially anticipated. It got even smaller Saturday, and an encore of last season’s charge into the playoffs became a lot less likely.
Trestan Ebner. Rushing touchdown? Check. Receiving touchdown? Yup. Kickoff return for a touchdown? How about twice? The Baylor senior became the first player in Big 12 history to hit all of those benchmarks as the Bears swatted aside Kansas 47-14 in their season opener.
Miami. The No. 12 Hurricanes (3-0) administered a 52-10 woodshedding of Florida State, a perfect example of taking full advantage of a rival when it is down. It was the first time in the history of the Sunshine State series that a team had hung half-a-hundred, and considering Miami led 38-3 at the break, it probably could have turned out even worse for the Seminoles.
Alabama. On a chaotic Saturday, the Crimson Tide was never threatened in a 38-19 victory at Missouri. Najee Harris rushed for three touchdowns and Jaylen Waddle had eight catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns for Alabama, which after a punt on its opening drive scored touchdowns on five of its next six possessions.
Virginia Tech. Down 23 players and two coaches? No sweat. The No. 20 Hokies rolled past N.C. State 45-24 in their belated season opener, and it was clear very early the shorthanded hosts would cruise to a victory.
Virginia Tech scored 17 points in its first three possessions, with a pair of three-play touchdown drives included. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack (1-1, 1-1 ACC) gained eight yards on a total of 11 snaps in its first three possessions, and never got its running game going at nearly the same efficiency it did last week in a shootout win over Wake Forest.
K.J. Costello. One game into the Mike Leach era at Mississippi State, and a Bulldog has claimed the SEC single-game passing record. Costello, a graduate transfer from Stanford, completed 36 of 60 for 623 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in a 44-34 victory at No. 6 LSU.
Costello’s line doesn’t look out of line for what Leach pupils have uncorked at Texas Tech and Washington State over the years. And it’s safe to assume that after obliterating former Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier’s league mark of 544 yards (set in 1993 against Southern Mississippi), Costello could rewrite a few more records before the year is out.
Cincinnati. Army found the end zone on a fumble return in the opening minute. It wouldn’t again as No. 14 Cincinnati earned a 24-10 victory, limiting the No. 22 Black Knights (2-1) to 182 rushing yards. That’s a useful victory for the Bearcats (2-0), who figure to be among the top teams in the American.
Georgia. It was a mess of a Saturday for presumed title contenders, and those who didn’t pay attention to the No. 4 Bulldogs’ 37-10 victory at Arkansas in real time probably wouldn’t give it a second look. But Kirby Smart’s bunch trailed 10-5 in the second inning half before figuring things out with the help of a blocked punt to set up a score and an interception return for another.
Not great, though Georgia’s quarterback situation (Jamie Newman opted out of the season, and Southern Cal transfer JT Daniels hasn’t been cleared) is a partial explanation. But the Bulldogs at least won, which is more than LSU and Oklahoma can say.
Texas-El Paso. The Miners drubbed Louisiana-Monroe 31-6, its most lopsided victory over an FBS team since its 52-24 defeat of North Texas to close out the 2016 season. The Miners (3-1) have also won back-to-back games against anyone for the first time since 2015.
Florida’s Kyles. It was a good day for the Gators’ offense, and an especially sublime afternoon for its skill-position players with the same first name.
Quarterback Kyle Trask threw for 416 yards and six touchdowns as Florida spoiled Lane Kiffin’s debut at Mississippi with a 51-35 triumph. His favorite target was tight end Kyle Pitts, who caught eight passes for 170 yards and four scores. This could be just the start for the duo this season in coach Dan Mullen’s system.
Nate Snyder. It was a rough start to the season for the Louisiana-Lafayette kicker. The Indiana graduate transfer (he served as the Hoosiers’ kickoff specialist last season) entered the day 1 of 4 on field goal attempts, and had missed from 34 yards at the end of the first half against Georgia Southern before connecting from 25 yards in the third quarter.
Those struggles are now forgotten in southwestern Louisiana, where Snyder drilled a 53-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 20-18 victory.
Louisiana-Lafayette is 3-0 for the first time since 1988, winning once at the gun, once in overtime (at Georgia State) and once in dominant fashion at Iowa State. September isn’t even over, and it’s already one of the most memorable seasons in Ragin’ Cajuns history.
Shai Werts. If it wasn’t for Snyder, the Georgia Southern quarterback would receive even more attention for the two-point conversion that put the Eagles ahead in the first place.
It was part of a solid day for Werts, who was 11 of 18 for 255 yards and a touchdown.
Pittsburgh. The takeaway on the Panthers is the same as last week: The offense sure could stand to be explosive, but the defense is rendering that need entirely moot. The Panthers’ 23-20 victory over Louisville was another reminder of how Pitt is capable of bottling up quality offenses; the Cardinals managed just 223 yards on the day and mustered only a field goal in the second half.
Florida State. The 2020 season can’t end soon enough for the Seminoles (0-2, 0-2 ACC), who were manhandled 52-10 at rival Miami. From a defense that couldn’t get the Hurricanes off the field to an offense that was largely inert in the first half to a parade of mistakes (three turnovers and 12 penalties), things are looking bleak for a team that must still face No. 7 Notre Dame, No. 11 North Carolina, No. 21 Pittsburgh and No. 1 Clemson.
LSU. The magic of the 2019 season will live a long time in the memory of Tigers fans, but it isn’t going to save Ed Orgeron’s team this year. Last year’s national champions looked very much like a group that returned only a few of the key contributors from that group in a 44-34 loss to Mississippi State.
No, the absence of cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (illness) did not help matters. But even with him, LSU isn’t nearly as good as last year’s juggernaut. There’s still talent there, and the Tigers will be a tough out for most opponents, but this isn’t a top-10 team (with or without the Big Ten and Pac-12 playing).
Texas Tech. Led No. 8 Texas by 15 after scoring a touchdown with 3:13 to play … then lost 63-56 in overtime. Looks like the Red Raiders will have to wait until next year (again) to field a credible defense, though special teams was a major culprit against the Longhorns. Texas returned a blocked punt for a score and also recovered an onside kick as part of its comeback late in the fourth quarter.
Mark Stoops. There’s playing to win, and then there’s getting too cute by half. The Kentucky coach found his team down nine at No. 8 Auburn with less than 10 minutes to play and facing a fourth-and-5 at its 30.
Want to take your chances going for it with your offense? It’s a roll of the dice, but understandable given the conditions. There’s no guarantee of getting two more possessions at that point.
Want to try a fake punt when there is reason for an opponent to think you’re desperate enough to try one? Not as shrewd a play. Auburn snuffed it out, and two plays later Bo Nix connected with Eli Stove on a 21-yard touchdown pass to seal a 29-13 victory.
Louisville. There’s nothing inherently wrong with losing at No. 21 Pittsburgh, just like last week’s setback to Miami at home wasn’t particularly head-turning. Still, the Cardinals couldn’t get much traction against one of the ACC’s better defenses, picking up a third of their yardage on Javian Hawkins’ 75-yard scoring burst in the first half. (Hawkins had 12 carries for 3 yards outside of his touchdown).
It seems unlikely No. 24 Louisville (1-2, 0-2 ACC) can position itself to claim the ever-coveted role as the ACC’s best team besides Clemson. Making matters worse: Quarterback Malik Cunningham was carted off with an injury in the final two minutes, a scary turn for a player who established himself as one of the most promising signal-callers in the ACC last season.
Central Florida’s penalties. Let’s not dwell too much on the Knights’ 51-28 victory at East Carolina. After all, they rolled up 632 yards, scored in all seven trips into the red zone and got a four-touchdown day from quarterback Dillon Gabriel.
But those penalties — all 19 of them, for 139 yards — are an eyesore. According to College Football Reference, it was the most flags called on an FBS team since Miami had 23 at Duke on Oct. 31, 2015, a game that ended with a wacky kickoff return.
Central Florida didn’t face nearly so much drama, and it did improve after committing 10 penalties in the first quarter. That included four false starts (by four different players) before the first play of its opening drive.
The SEC joins the fun this week and on the still-nascent Heisman Watch in another seven days.
1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson; 519 yards, four TDs passing. He’s still the favorite after a stress-free 15-minute workout against The Citadel in the Tigers’ second game. Clemson is off this weekend. (Last week: 1)
2. QB Sam Ehlinger, Texas; 426 yards, five TDs passing. After an open date following a pounding of Texas El Paso, Ehlinger and the Longhorns venture into Big 12 play at Texas Tech. (LW: 2)
3. QB D’Eriq King, Miami; 469 yards, four TDs passing; 92 yards, 1 TD rushing. He had his way with Louisville’s limited defense as the Hurricanes improved to 2-0. He gets a second consecutive prime-time date with Florida State coming to town. (LW: 6)
4. QB Brady White, Memphis; 280 yards, four TDs, 1 INT passing. White was excellent in the Tigers’ first game against Arkansas State. The problem is it’s anyone’s guess when they’ll play their second. Dates with Houston (last week) and Texas San Antonio (this week) were called off because of virus concerns. (LW: 3)
5. RB Travis Etienne, Clemson; 170 yards, 1 TD rushing; 4 receptions, 58 yards. Etienne bears watching simply because Clemson will feed him carries when it has to. Against Wake Forest and The Citadel, his services haven’t been required much beyond the first half. (LW: 5)
6. QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma; 290 yards, four TDs passing. Now the fun begins for the redshirt freshman, who torched FCS Missouri State in the Sooners’ opener but faces Kansas State in the Big 12 opener for both teams. (LW: 4)