College Football: Winners and Losers from Week 4
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Hendon Hooker AP Photo/Wade Payne
What a fun week we had for the last Saturday of September in college football.
In the noon slate, No. 4 Clemson barely got past No. 21 Wake Forest, needing double overtime to win 51-45. Meanwhile, Kansas moved to 4-0 by beating Duke at home.
In the 3:30 slot, No. 25 Miami fell 45-31 to C-USA’s Middle Tennessee State at home, giving the ‘Canes their second consecutive loss of the season. No. 11 Tennessee took care of division rival No. 20 Florida and won 38-33. Appalachian State’s magical run was stopped, as James Madison scored 29 unanswered points to win 32-28.
No. 22 Texas fell on the road to Texas Tech in overtime. Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson fumbled on the opening possession of overtime, which allowed the Red Raiders to kick a game-winning field goal to win 37-34.
Let’s run through the winners and losers from Week 4 of college football so far.
Loser: Anyone Doubting Syracuse or Kansas
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Jalon Daniels. Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images
No, this is not a college basketball article you’re reading.
How great is this for schools that are traditionally basketball powerhouses? It seemed unlikely at the beginning of the season, but through four weeks, both Kansas and Syracuse are perfect.
Syracuse maintained its unblemished record on Friday night with a 22-20 win over Virginia. With the victory, the Orange are now 3-0 at home.
‘Cuse still has some tough games remaining on its schedule, including road games vs. Clemson, Pitt, Wake Forest and Boston College, but they look like a much more improved squad than the team that finished 5-7 last season.
The biggest reason for the improvement seems to be on offense, as head coach Dino Babers hired Robert Anae from Virginia as the Orange’s offensive coordinator. Quarterback Garrett Shrader is thriving in the new system, completing 66.4 percent of his passes for 986 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception.
And how about Kansas? In front of the Jayhawks’ first sellout crowd since Nov. 2019, Kansas beat Duke 35-27. With the victory, the Jayhawks are now 4-0 for the first time since 2009.
As long as quarterback Jalon Daniels keeps playing like he has been, Kansas should keep winning. Against the Blue Devils defense on Saturday, he threw for 324 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for another 83 yards and a score, too.
Both of these teams were far from favorites to win their respective conferences. And while the good times will likely come to an end, both programs have plenty of opportunities to show that their starts have not been a fluke.
Aside from games against Clemson, Pitt and Wake Forest, Syracuse will have a chance to beat NC State and Notre Dame. Kansas has Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas remaining. Don’t be surprised if one of those teams goes down to these basketball schools.
Winner: Middle Tennessee’s Defense
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Henry Parrish Jr. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Things are not going well for Miami.
Coming off a 17-9 loss on the road to Texas A&M, the ‘Canes looked to rebound at home against Middle Tennessee State.
Although it entered as 25.5-point favorites, per DraftKings Sportsbook, Miami struggled significantly against the Blue Raiders. In fact. MTSU had a 24-10 lead at halftime and ultimately shocked the Hurricanes on the road 45-31.
Miami had some life early in the fourth quarter, as Key’Shawn Smith returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to make it 38-24. But Middle Tennessee put together a 12-play, 75-yard scoring play to put the game on ice with 8:42 left.
The biggest reason Middle Tennessee won? Defense. The Blue Raiders had three takeaways on the day, including two picks off Tyler Van Dyke, as well as a fumble recovered in the first quarter.
For first-year Miami head coach Mario Cristobal, this could be a long season. It’s a bit surprising, given that Miami was considered a team to compete for an ACC Coastal title. Instead, the Canes are 2-2 and still have to play games against North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Pitt.
Loser: Anyone Who Thought Clemson Wasn’t Vulnerable
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David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Clemson remains undefeated, but Wake Forest gave the Tigers quite the scare Saturday afternoon. The Tigers needed double overtime to hold off the Demon Deacons, winning in a 51-45 shootout. It’s not too surprising that this game was close—Clemson was just a 7.5-point favorite on the road.
But Clemson had a whopping 10 penalties for 120 yards on the day, which helped keep Wake in this game. Looking at the rest of Clemson’s schedule, this might not be the last time the Tigers get close to losing.
Next week, Clemson plays No. 12 NC State, followed by back-to-back road trips against Boston College and Florida State before playing Syracuse on Oct. 22. Clemson gets a bye before going on the road to play Notre Dame on Nov. 5, then finish the year at home against Louisville, Miami and South Carolina.
The good news is that Clemson can probably drop a game and still handily win the ACC to make it into the playoffs. But Wake’s performance Saturday proved that Clemson might not be as unbeatable as some thought at the beginning of the season.
Some good news for Clemson fans? Tigers QB DJ Uiagalelei had a big day, finishing with 371 yards and five touchdowns.
Winner: Hendon Hooker and the Tennessee Offense
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Hendon Hooker. AP Photo/Wade Payne
As long as Tennessee’s offense keeps playing like it has, the Vols look like the only team that could threaten Georgia in the SEC East. During no. 11 Tennessee’s 38-33 win over the No. 20 Florida Gators, the Vols’ offense looked virtually unstoppable. Florida managed to stay in this one late though, and even recovered an onside kick in the game’s final seconds to attempt a Hail Mary.
Tennessee finished with 576 yards of offense, including 349 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Hendon Hooker. Hooker added another 112 yards and a touchdown on the ground, too. Receiver Bru McCoy led the Vols’ receiving corps with 102 yards and a touchdown. Tennessee was 6-of-9 on third down and averaged 12.5 yards per pass.
What’s even more impressive is that Tennessee only had 25:04 of ball possession and still put up 38 points. The longest drive of the day? A 10-play, 87-yard scoring streak that took 4:39 off the clock to put the Vols up 38-21 with 7:55 left in the game.
Tennessee will play at LSU after a bye on Oct. 8, followed by a home game against Alabama a week later. The biggest remaining games on Tennessee’s schedule appear to be at home vs. No. 8 Kentucky on Oct. 29 followed by a road trip to Athens to face Georgia the week after.
Through four weeks (including Week 0), the Vols are fourth nationally in scoring offense, averaging 52 points per game. If Tennessee can put up similar numbers like it has been all season, it’s hard not to pick the Vols to give Georgia a run for its money in the East.
Loser: Washington State’s Fourth Quarter Defense
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Oregon Ducks running back Mar’Keise Irving. Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
What a fourth-quarter collapse from Washington State. In a game that the Cougars led in its entirety through the first 56 minutes, Oregon scored 21 points late in the fourth to win 44-41.
Those three touchdowns came over a period of just two minutes and 49 seconds. Wazzu led 27-15 heading into the final frame, but the Ducks scored a touchdown in the opening seconds of the quarter to make it a 27-22 game. The Cougars scored off a Cameron Ward one-yard touchdown pass with 6:41 left to go up two scores again.
But this is when things got out of hand for Wazzu. Oregon countered first with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive to make it 34-29 with 3:50 left. A Wazzu three-and-out gave Oregon the ball back with 2:35 left.
Then, the Ducks needed just five plays to score a touchdown as quarterback Bo Nix found Troy Franklin for a 50-yard score. Nix ran it in for a two-point conversion to take a 37-34 lead.
Washington State had a chance to get a game-tying field goal, getting the ball back with 1:21 left. But on second down, Ward’s pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown to give Oregon a 44-34 lead. Wazzu managed to score a touchdown in the final minute, but it came in vain after the Cougars failed to recover the ensuing onside kick.
This Oregon team has drastically improved from the thrashing it took from Georgia in Week 1. The Ducks upset then-No. 12 BYU 41-20 last week, and to follow that up with a come-from-behind win on the road is big. Nix, who threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns last week against BYU, finished with 428 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Next up, Oregon faces Stanford at home.
Winner: A Wild Scoop-N-Score for Texas A&M
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Tyreek Chappell. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
We had ourselves a good game in Jerry World between Arkansas and Texas A&M. Although the No. 10 Razorbacks led 14-0 in the first quarter, the No. 23 Aggies found themselves back in this one thanks to an unbelievable scoop-n-score returned for a touchdown.
Arkansas was knocking on the door on TAMU’s 3-yard line, looking like it would score another touchdown. Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson tried to extend the ball over the pile but fumbled the ball.
Aggies defender Tyreek Chappell recovered it and started returning it the other way. As he was about to get tackled, he somehow had the presence of mind to hand it off to Demani Richardson, who took it to the house for the score. Take a look at how wild this play was:
David Gardner @byDavidGardner
The wildest play of the college football season pic.twitter.com/JmxIBKfg39
The Aggies’ two-point conversion failed, so Arkansas still led 14-13. Still, it completely changed the dynamic of the game.
This might be the wildest play we’ve seen so far all season. The Aggies scored 10 more points in the second half, and the defense held Arkansas to just one touchdown in the fourth quarter. Texas A&M won 23-21, so this scoop-n-score certainly gave the Aggies a lot of momentum heading into the second half.
Loser: Arkansas’ Game-winning Field Goal Attempt Doinked off the Top of the Upright
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Cam Little AP Photo/Brandon Wade
Oh no, what a horrible way to lose a football game if you’re Arkansas. Trailing by 23-21 with 6:30 left in the game, the Razorbacks got the ball back with a chance to take the lead with either a field goal or a touchdown.
Quarterback KJ Jefferson and the Arkansas offense drove down to the Texas A&M 24 yard line. With 1:30 left, Razorbacks’ kicker Cam Little lined up for a 42-yard attempt. Amazingly, (but not for Arkansas fans, obviously) the kick doinked off the top of the right upright and was no good.
no college football context @nocontextcfb
That was Little’s first and only field goal attempt of the entire game. Before the miss against the Aggies, Little had made both of his previous two field goals on the season. Last year, he made 83.3 percent of his field goals.
You never want to put a game’s win or loss on the shoulders of a single player, and we’re not trying to do that here. But this is an incredibly rough way to lose a football game against a rival like Texas A&M.
Winner: the Iowa Over
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Drew Stevens. Icon Sportswire
Anyone who took the over in Saturday night’s Iowa-Rutgers game that took the over can thank Hawkeyes kicker Drew Stevens.
Iowa took a 17-3 lead at halftime and didn’t really let off the gas for the rest of the game, leading 24-3 at the end of the third. Rutgers scored a touchdown with 11:15 left in the fourth to make it 24-10. This was important because the over/under for this game was set at 34.
Following the Rutgers touchdown, Iowa’s offense drove down to Rutgers’ 33 yard line. Hawkeye freshman kicker Stevens lined up for a 51-yard field goal attempt and nailed it, giving anyone who bet the over a victory.
Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli
On the season, Stevens has hit both of his field goal attempts so far. During last week’s 27-0 win over Nevada, he made a 43 yarder. Congratulations, those of you who took over for Iowa-Rutgers.