On Campus: Week 3 happenings
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 2013 season may just be three weeks old, but it has already provided plenty of action, with highlight reel plays and fantastic finishes. This past weekend was more of the same and continues a trend of stellar performances all over the country.
LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS: Most people expected Alabama and Texas A&M to put on a show at College Station, but this is an instance where the nation was actually treated to something very special. The two best teams in the SEC and perhaps the country went toe-to-toe for 60 minutes, and when the dust settled, it was two-time defending national champion Alabama getting some revenge over Johnny Manziel and the Aggies in a 49-42 shootout.
For all the people who struggle with Manziel's off-the-field antics and his character flaws, there is no denying the youngster is the best player in the college game, and it may not even be close. Two costly mistakes by Manziel (interception in the end zone, interception returned for a touchdown) decided the game, as the sophomore passed for a career-high 464 yards and five TDs, while adding 98 yards on the ground against one of the best defenses in the country. However, Alabama's savvy signal caller A.J. McCarron put up big numbers as well, throwing for 334 yards and four TDs in the win.
It's a shame these two teams are not only in the same conference, but the same division, as a rematch for the national title would be extremely difficult to have happen, albeit not impossible.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE QB: The read-option is a favorite in the college ranks and is steadily gaining steam in the NFL. Signal callers across the nation are putting up mind-boggling numbers on the ground and through the air. The trend continues in 2013 as defenses are literally scrambling to keep up. Manziel is the poster child for the ultimate athlete under center, but players like Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Michigan's Devin Gardner, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Maryland's C.J. Brown have created mismatches with their ability to move the chains effectively in a number of ways. This is not a fad that will be gone anytime soon. Defenses will have to adapt or get left behind - way behind.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? If we are talking about Maryland's multi-faceted signal caller, the answer is quite a bit. Brown came into 2012 with plenty of hype and the popular thinking was that Maryland had itself a playmaker under center. Well, a torn ACL prior to the season opener shelved Brown for the entire year, one in which Randy Edsall's Terrapins endured a horrific season, thanks in large part to numerous injuries at the quarterback position. Brown has certainly made up for lost time and has the Terps at 3-0 for the first time since 2001. He has been the best player on the field in all three games, completing 67.1 percent of his passes for 833 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for 257 yards and five more scores. Not only has he breathed new life in a stagnant team in its last season in the ACC, but has probably taken Edsall off the proverbial hot seat to one that is lukewarm as October approaches.
LONE STAR SURPRISE: Texas A&M is the best team in the state of Texas and heading into the season, it seemed that the second-best squad would have come from a a group that included the Texas Longhorns, TCU Horned Frogs or Baylor Bears. However, Kliff Kingsbury has brought the "Air Raid" philosophies back to Lubbock and has rejuvenated a Texas Tech fan base in a very short time, while making believers of many a pundit in his first season at the helm. Kingsbury, of course, was a terrific gunslinger for the Red Raiders, ranking second all-time in passing yards. His meteoric rise in the coaching ranks has been equally fun to watch, as he was named the youngest head coach (33) in a BCS Conference and the second-youngest in the FBS behind Toledo's Matt Campbell. After having a hand in Manziel's Heisman Trophy winning season in 2012 as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator, Kingsbury returned to his old stomping grounds and has Texas Tech back in the Top 25 after three weeks into the season. The team is averaging just over 40 points per game, thanks in large part to an even 400 yards passing per outing. Kingsbury's new project was turning walk-on signal caller Baker Mayfield into a feared passer and the unknown freshman has run with it, completing 65.4 percent of his passes in his first three games for 996 yards and eight TDs. Mayfield left the big win over TCU last week with a left leg injury, but fellow freshman Davis Webb came in and the team made a seamless transition to close out the game. The wins should continue to pile up for the Red Raiders going forward, as they have to be in the Big 12 title mix now.
TOP PERFORMERS: Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (464 yards, 5 TDs), Oregon's Marcus Mariota (456 yards, 5 TDs), Oregon State's Sean Mannion (443 yards, 5 TDs), Oklahoma's Blake Bell (413 yards, 4 TDs) all put up huge numbers in Week 3, but there were plenty of other big performances under center, including Washington State's Connor Halliday (383 yards, 5 TDs), California's Jared Goff (371 yards, 3 TDs), Troy's Corey Robinson (371 yards, 2 TDs), West Virginia's Ford Childress (359 yards, 3 TDs), Washington's Keith Price (342 yards, 2 TDs), Auburn's Nick Marshall (339 yards, 2 TDs), Indiana's Nathan Sudfeld (335 yards, 3 TDs), Alabama's A.J. McCarron (334 yards, 4 TDs), Ball State's Keith Wenning (333 yards, 2 TDs), Michigan's Devin Gardner (248 passing yards, 2 TDs, 103 rushing yards, 1 TD), Utah's Travis Wilson (279 yards, 2 TDs, 142 yards rushing, 3 TDs), Maryland's C.J. Brown (277 yards passing, 1 TD), 122 yards rushing, 1 TD) and Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch (152 passing yards, 3 TDs, 159 rushing yards, 2 TDs).
Washington's Bishop Sankey (208 yards, 1 TD) was the definition of a workhorse in the Huskies' win over Illinois, as was Rutgers' Paul James (192 yards, 3 TDs).
Other outstanding rushing performances included Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (193 yards, 2 TDs), Indiana's Stephen Houston (155 yards), Alabama's T.J. Yeldon (149 yards, 1 TD), Ole Miss' Jeff Scott (164 yards, 1 TD, 73-yard punt return for TD). Ohio State's Jordan Hall (168 yards, 3 TDs), Northwestern's Treyvon Green (158 yards, 2 TDs), South Florida's Marcus Shaw (159 yards), Iowa's Mike Weisman (145 yards), Ball State's Horatio Banks (141 yards, 1 TD), Louisiana's Elijah McGuire (137 yards, 3 TDs), Mississippi State's Dak Prescott (133 yards, 2 TDs), Stanford's Tyler Gaffney (132 yards, 2 TDs), Boise State's Jay Ajayi (125 yards, 4 TDs) and Penn State's Zach Zwinak (128 yards, 3 TDs).
Texas A&M's Mike Evans (7 catches, 279 yards, 1 TD) was instrumental in Manziel's big game against Alabama. Oregon State's Brandin Cooks (9 catches, 210 yards, 3 TDs) was a one-man show for the Beavers.
Other wideouts who got the job done include Wake Forest's Mike Capanaro (16 catches, 177 yards), UConn's Shakim Phillips (10 catches, 178 yards, 1 TD), Notre Dame's DaVaris Daniels (8 catches, 167 yards, 2 TDs), Arkansas State's Allen Muse (6 catches, 158 yards, one TD), Ohio State's Devin Smith (3 catches, 149 yards, 2 TDs), Syracuse's Jarrod West (5 catches, 147 yards, 1 TD), Iowa State's Quenton Bundrage (7 catches, 146 yards, 3 TDs), Penn State's Allen Robinson (9 catches, 143 yards, 1 TD), Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd (6 catches, 134 yards, 1 TD) and Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard (8 catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs),
SNEAK PEEK: There is one Top 25 matchup this week, with the newly 23rd-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils taking on the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal at Palo Alto. An intriguing SEC clash features a pair of undefeated teams with Auburn at No. 6 LSU. Other games of note include No. 3 Clemson at North Carolina State, Michigan State at 22nd-ranked Notre Dame, Tennessee at 19th-ranked Florida and a Friday night clash between Boise State and Fresno State.
09/16 11:44:21 ET