Check out the heroes and villains from Week 3 of the college football season.
UCLA: At the end of an emotional week in which WR Nick Pasquale was killed whilst walking through his home town, Jim Mora’s team showed incredible resilience and fight to come back from eighteen down at the half, stunning the record crowd of 91,471 in scoring 31 unanswered points to win 42-21, in the biggest comeback a Memorial Stadium in nearly a century. Mora’s done amazing things with a cellar-dwelling program, but this win ranks as his finest. It was gutsy, it was brave and it was great to watch.
Joe Southwick: The moustachioed senior quarterback broke the school record previously held by Jared Zabransky during Boise State’s 42-20 victory against Air Force to open their Mountain West Conference account. Southwick was absolutely surgical from the opening snap (aside from one tipped interception in the end zone), and finished the game 27-29 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnny Manziel: Say what you will – and I’ve said plenty – about the personality and attitude of the Texas A&M starting quarterback, but you can’t help but be continually amazed and impressed by his ability on the football field. Right now, he’s the most electrifying player in the nation and we saw plenty of that on Saturday when he shredded Alabama’s defense for 562 yards, including 279 through to the air to his go-to receiver Mike Evans. Just a mesmerising performance. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough for the Aggies, who lost 49-42.
Kenny Guiton: The senior started for the first time in his career in relief of quarterback phenom Braxton Miller at quarterback for Ohio State on the road in Berkeley against Cal, and looked damn good in doing so. He finished the game 21-32 for 276 yards and four touchdowns (three in the first quarter alone) and a handy 92 yards rushing, as well. Must be nice for Urban Meyer to know that if Miller should happen to miss any further playing time, he has a pretty good replacement ready to plug in and get started.
Eric LeGrand: The inspirational story of the Rutgers played, paralysed on a play at MetLife Stadium in October 2010 continues to be written, and Saturday featured it’s most impressive chapter. The Scarlet Knights retired LeGrand’s #52 jersey at half time of their eventual 28-10 win over Eastern Michigan, marking the first time in the school’s storied gridiron history – nearly one hundred and fifty years’ worth – that such an honour has been bestowed. If anyone deserves it, it’s LeGrand, who continues to be a shining example of someone who doesn't give up. Classy move, Rutgers.
Texas: A week after giving up more than five hundred rushing yards to BYU, the Longhorns were in up 23-17 at half time at home against Ole Miss, and inexplicably collapsed from there, allowing the Rebels to score twenty-seven unanswered points, and leave Austin with a commanding 44-23 win, that featured 272 yards on the ground. Their defense was like a sieve in the second half, after turning in a pretty good effort in the first. It’s gotten downright ugly at Texas now, and the fans are fed up. The Longhorns have Kansas State next Saturday – a nationally-televised game on ABC – and if they don’t win that, I wouldn't be at all surprised in the school pulls the plug on Mack Brown as head coach. It’s been quite the decline for the man who delivered Texas a National Championship not all that long ago.
Kansas: Hands down, the most embarrassing FBS program in existence at the moment. The Jayhawks lost 23-14 to Rice on Saturday, extending the most ignominious streak in the nation. The last time KU won a game against a FBS opponent was November 6 2010 when they beat an equally-bad Colorado. It’s been more than four years since they won a road game, too. On Saturday, KU's offense averaged just 4.2 yards per play and an even measlier 2.9 yards per rush. It’s a wonder that team doesn’t play to a completely empty stadium!
Defense in the Alabama-A&M Game: There was little to speak of, outside of Alabama’s Vinnie Sunseri taking an intercepted Johnny Manziel in the third quarter. Instead, the story of the day was both offenses rolling up and down the field just about at will. Such a circumstance is rare in the SEC, where 49-42 shootouts are about as common as the Cleveland Browns having a winning season. For Alabama coach Nick Saban, a noted defensive guru, watching from the sideline must’ve made him want to pull his hair out.
Michigan: A week after looking like world-beaters under lights at the Big House in beating Notre Dame, the Wolverines did everything they could to cough up their steadily-building momentum. It was Appalachian State-like on Saturday, with the Wolverine defense needing a desperate last-minute stand in the shadows of their own end zone to avoid losing to a pesky Akron team. QB Devin Gardner, the hero of the Notre Dame victory, had three interceptions and one fumble. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than good, and Michigan certainly were on Saturday.
Matt Millen: The worst colour analyst in the world of college football seems to keep getting plumb gigs, and I can’t work out why. When he’s not stating the painfully obvious, he’s trying to be funny and foster chemistry with play-by-play man Joe Tessitore – hint: there’s no chemistry at all – and it’s horribly awkward to watch. I don’t understand what ESPN see in Millen. Worse than putting him on (mostly) prime-time games is pairing him with the excellent Tessitore, who deserves much more than this.