Week 4 recap and observations. Photo courtesy of Furman Football.
It was a good weekend for football fans here in “The Palmetto State”, unless you are a fan of that team from Columbia. Overall, the D-I South Carolina schools dominated their opposition on their way to a 5-2 record this week. The only losses coming by Charleston Southern against The Citadel and the Gamecocks in a loss at Missouri. Kelly Bryant, former Clemson quarterback and the starter for Missouri, has still never been a part of a team that has lost to South Carolina.
It was business as usual for the #1 team in the country, as Clemson obliterated C-USA opponent UNC-Charlotte on Saturday night and moved to 4-0 on the year. Star QB Trevor Lawrence didn’t have to play long for the Tigers as Clemson completely emptied the bench in the 52-10 win over the 49ers. Clemson played a record high 110 players Saturday night, including five different quarterbacks. Fourteen different Clemson receivers caught a pass, but only two (Joe Ngata and Will Swinney) caught more than one. The Tiger’s defense continues to shine as they held the 49ers to their lowest total of points and yards this season (10 points, 216 yards). The Tigers get ready to take on the flagship UNC program next week in Chapel Hill.
South Carolina lost badly to Missouri on Saturday and freshman QB Ryan Hilinski didn’t look quite like himself. The problems in Columbia only seem to worsen and it feels like 2019 is going to be a year to forget for South Carolina fans. The Gamecocks get ready to take on Kentucky next week. The Cocks have not beat the Wildcats since 2013.
The third and final FBS team from South Carolina won big on Saturday. Coastal Carolina beat down the Minutemen of UMass 62-28, in a game in which the Chanticleer’s piled up over 600 yards of offense – throwing for 302 and rushing for 334 more. Since the season opening loss at home to Eastern Michigan, the Chants have run off three straight wins, one of those being a Power 5 team, Kansas. Coastal is on the road again next week in a Sun Belt showdown with Appalachian State.
In FCS, the three SoCon schools from South Carolina all won on Saturday. Wofford blew past Gardner-Webb with nearly 500 yards on the ground. The Terriers only threw the ball eight times in the game, but they don’t need to throw it when they can run the ball like they can. QB Joe Newman rushed for over 150 yards and had touchdowns both through the air and one the ground. Wofford’s defense was very solid and limited the Bulldogs to just 246 yards of total offense. Wofford turns around and faces VMI on the road next week, in what feels like a must win SoCon game for the Terriers.
The Citadel moved to 2-2 on the year after beating “little brother” Charleston Southern. The Bulldogs looked a little sluggish on offense, but they were without their starting QB and had back-up Brian Murdaugh in the game. The Citadel did just enough offensively and held out defensively long enough to get the 22-13 win at home. The Citadel now has to get ready to face off against conference foe Samford, who is now coming off two big wins themselves and features a very dynamic offense. The Citadel will be tested next week in Birmingham.
And that leaves us with Furman, who in my opinion, had the most impressive and dominant performance of the weekend by a South Carolina school. The Paladins opened SoCon play by hosting Mercer on Saturday afternoon. The Bears were coming off a tough loss to Austin Peay the week before, but featured QB Robert Riddle and a ton of play-makers on the offensive side of the ball. However, it was Furman’s offense that proved to be even more dynamic. The Paladins completely controlled the line of scrimmage and essentially were able to do whatever they wanted offensively. QB Darren Grainger and the host of weapons on offense lit up the scoreboard for Furman. Mercer was completely outmatched as Furman put up 600 yards of offense and scored 45 points. The Paladins defense also was in complete control of the game as they effectively shut down Robert Riddle and the Mercer offense. Furman gets set for another SoCon showdown at home next week as the Bucs from ETSU come to Greenville. Furman will look to keep the momentum going and get to 3-2 (2-0) next week. If the win over Mercer says anything, its that this Paladin team is for real and they aim to leave no doubt on the field.
Nationally, there were plenty of blowouts, close games, shoot-outs and miracle finishes. Unranked Pitt was able to knock off #15 UCF, who hasn’t lost a regular season game in like three years. Auburn got out to a big lead in College Station, but Texas A&M closed the gap and made it close near the end. The Tigers were still able to hold on at the end. The inconsistency issues continue for the Aggie’s offense as they couldn’t do anything for three quarters in this game. Wisconsin blew the door’s off of Michigan, who is still trying to find themselves offensively as well. Shea Patterson and the Wovlerine offense just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Another Top 25 loss for Michigan and head coach Jim Harbaugh.
LSU scored 66 on Vandy, but let the Commodores score 38 of their own. Old Dominion gave #21 Virginia all they could handle, but the Cavs were able to pull away late. #19 Washington State lost at home despite putting up over 700 yards of offense and their quarterback throwing nine touchdowns… yes, nine touchdowns! UCLA came back from a 32 point deficit in the second half to upset the Cougars and get their first win on the year. And Ole Miss lost after an official ruled that the receiver did not cross the plane of the goal line. The mind boggling thing was that the officiating crew didn’t even stop to review the call.
And then there was the game in Athens, GA. The Dawgs and the Irish. #3 Georgia vs. #7 Notre Dame. Two years ago, these two teams played in a thrilling classic up in South Bend. A game in which the Bulldogs would win by a single point. Coming into this game, it looked as if Georgia was by far superior and would run all over Notre Dame. But that didn’t happen. Give Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame defense credit. They were effective in shutting down the Georgia run game and were going to make Jake Fromm beat them with his arm. He was able to do just enough for the Dawgs going 20-26 for 187 yards and one touchdown. The Georgia defense came up big getting two Irish turnovers. The game was a lot closer than expected, but the final result was not. Georgia coming out on top 23-17. Even in the loss, however, Notre Dame was impressive. The defense played good enough to win, but inconsistency on offense couldn’t get the job done. Notre Dame’s playoff hopes aren’t completely dashed, but they will need some help if they wish to get back this year.
All in all, it was a great week of college football. There weren’t many surprises, but there were still a few and that’s what always makes college football so special. Looking forward to another great week next week.
The Carolina Panthers got their first win on the year as they beat Arizona 38-20 on the road in Phoenix. The Panthers looked like a completely different team offensively with Kyle Allen at quarterback (Cam Newton was out of the game with an injury). Allen threw for 261 and four touchdowns in his first start for the Panthers. The great day passing allowed room to run for Christian McCaffrey as he wheeled off 153 yards on the ground including a huge 76 yard touchdown run. The defense played well and forced two Arizona turnovers. Carolina moves to 1-2 on the year and gets ready for a game at Houston next week.
My biggest surprises in the league so far is how good Buffalo, San Francisco, Green Bay and Detroit have looked so far. All of those teams are undefeated (Detroit is 2-0-1) through the first three weeks. On the flip side, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Denver have looked awful and are all still looking for a win. Indianapolis is now 2-1 even without Andrew Luck behind center and are tied for the lead in the AFC South. Probably the most shocking thing to transpire through the first three games
Tonight’s Monday Night Football game takes place just outside of D.C. as the Chicago Bears take on Washington. The Bears open as a 5.5 point favorite tonight. Washington is 0-2, but lost two really close games to NFC East division rivals, Dallas and Philly. Case Keenum has played well for the Redskins early on and will have to continue that tonight against a really tough Bears defense. On the other side, Mitch Trubisky is questionable at times and has a lot of inconsistency issues. I’m not a believer in Trubisky and think he’s vastly overrated. The Bears will win tonight because of their defense, but it’ll be close.
Chicago – 20, Washington – 17