Week 3 seemed to be somewhat of a Black Monday for coaches, but who really won and lost?
Week 3 of the college football season was highlighted more by the happenings off the field than the games that happened on the field. Arizona State and Nebraska are both looking for new head coaches, and College Gameday finally came into Boone, North Carolina (looked like a spectacular time by the way, I’m definitely going to Boone for a game).
Nonetheless, we had college football on Saturday, which means we have more winners and losers from around the nation. Let’s break them down here.
Winner: Michael Penix Jr.
Have a day, Michael Penix Jr.! The transfer from Indiana threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns as the Washington Huskies knocked off the Michigan State Spartans 39-28. Penix carved the Spartan defense from in the pocket and outside the pocket, including this strike that gave the Huskies a 29-8 lead.
Week 3 separated the diehards from the casuals in college football. And we saw some awesome football.— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) September 19, 2022
The @PFN365 Week 3 Team of the Week is headlined by Michael "hotter than fish grease" Penix and his laserlike precision:
Loser: Mario Cristobal’s game management
Miami and Texas A&M played what people call a “football game” on Saturday in College Station, a 17-9 Aggie victory. Miami was impressive, but for all the wrong reasons. They somehow: out-gained the Aggies in total yardage, had more yards per carry, and yet still lost.
The most staggering part of this was Hurricanes’ head coach Mario Cristobal and his questionable clock management. Cristobal settled for field goals in the red zone often, the most egregious of which coming in the 4th quarter with eight minutes left, turning a two possession game...into a two possession game. The Hurricane offense struggled mightily, with the receivers notching six drops, but Cristobal needed to know that he might not have gotten another chance like that to score a touchdown for the rest of the game.
Naturally, Cristobal’s management came into question on Twitter:
Miami fans getting a taste of that sweet, sweet Mario Cristobal Game Management ™ that Oregon fans enjoyed so much— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) September 18, 2022
Unfortunately for Miami, Mario Cristobal brought his game management skills from Oregon.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 18, 2022
You wanted Mario Cristobal, Miami?— Cameron Soran (@cameronsoran) September 18, 2022
Well, that comes with Mario Cristobal Game Management:
It isn't good. Actually, it's the opposite of that. It's horrible.
And no - you can't uninstall it.
Cristobal has always been this way as a coach, which makes what he did against the Aggies disappointing, but not surprising. Miami should be fine; they didn’t have leading receiver Xavier Restrepo in College Station, and six drops may not happen again. However, Cristobal’s game management should be worrisome for fans.
Winner: Brock Bowers and wherever they make other Brock Bowers
Wherever Georgia found Brock Bowers, whatever lab they created him in, whatever super soldier serum they gave him: they need to make it open to the public because Brock Bowers is not real.
Bowers had five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for a TD in the Bulldogs 45-7 demolition of South Carolina. It wasn’t just Bowers dominating, it was how he did it that makes him special. The first touchdown was an end around, a mere two plays after Georgia ran a jet sweep with him. Reminder: HE IS A TIGHT END AND HE OUTRAN A DB TO THE ENDZONE!
The Mailman delivers a block on Brock Bowers's reverse TD pic.twitter.com/Q9j94Mmy2p— Wes Blankenship (@Wes_nship) September 17, 2022
The second touchdown was a fade route where Bowers is simply too large of a human being to defend that pass. You can try, but you will absolutely fail.
THIS CATCH FROM BROCK BOWERS pic.twitter.com/Bf6FAvlz2e— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 17, 2022
The final touchdown might have been the funniest one. Bowers is left wide open by the Gamecock defense and he rumbles into the endzone. Two defenders tried to tackle him, and both ended up on a TikTok somewhere, a shame really:
Have yourself a day Brock Bowers!! pic.twitter.com/oPuqcYVbs8— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) September 17, 2022
People call him “Baby Gronk” but in reality he reminds me a lot of Travis Kelce or peak Greg Olsen. People shouldn’t be able to move like he does at his size, and yet he makes these plays on the normal. He won’t be draft eligible until 2024, but he’s already solidified himself as the best TE in the country.
Loser: Purdue’s late game strategy
If Purdue wanted to play every single game on death defying mode like fighting Tree Sentinel in Elden Ring, I respect it. However, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot in these games. Against Syracuse, the Boilermakers put on a masterclass in how to lose a football game.
Let’s set the scene: Purdue scores with under a minute to play in the game, then commits not one, but TWO unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, forcing them to kick off from their own ten yard line. It did create this beautiful visual, however:
Purdue just took the lead with a minute left and then immediately got two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, forcing them to kickoff from their own 10 yard line lol pic.twitter.com/FQty73P6vG— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 17, 2022
On top of that, when the Orange got the ball committed holding and pass interference on two separate third and tens before Syracuse QB Garrett Shrader threw the game winning TD.
Overall, the Boilermakers committed 13 penalties for 138 yards, but four in the final minute of a football game is absurd.
Winner: Marty Smith
I aspire to be Marty Smith. Having fun wherever he’s at, talking to citizens of Boone, North Carolina about beer or jumping into a lake wearing a suit.
He simply deserves the world.
Loser: The Auburn booster club
Sold out crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
A ranked, but very beatable Penn State team coming into town.
What does a Bryan Harsin-led team do?
They go out and die. One of those slow, painful deaths.
The Nittany Lions embarrassed the Auburn Tigers 41-12 in a game where Auburn looked overmatched, and that falls on the head coach.
Harsin is supposed to be an offensive guy. Well, the offense sure was offensive, only giving star RB Tank Bigsby nine total carries, while platooning at the QB position just made things worse. To be fair, you could put Cam Newton behind that offensive line and with that coaching staff and he wouldn’t succeed.
Defensively, the Tigers were thoroughly dominated up front. What was supposed to be a strength for the Tigers quickly became a weakness; Penn State had their way up front en route to 245 rushing yards and five TDs on the ground.
The reason this loser is the Auburn booster club and not Bryan Harsin is that Harsin will probably end up well off. His buyout is in the $18 million range and he can go do coaches rehab at Alabama before taking some job in California later.
The Auburn booster club tried to fire Harsin in the offseason. The investigation into alleged mistreatment of players and the rumor on social media that Harsin had an affair was all a way to try and fire him for cause, so they wouldn’t pay the buyout. Why wouldn’t they want to pay the buyout? Because they’re paying Gus Malzahn $21.7 million in buyout money. The investigation was, in a word, a shitshow, and Harsin kept his job among literal chaos on the Plains. Oh, and the athletic director who hired Harsin was fired mere weeks before the season.
Auburn dug themselves into this hole. The problems you see on the field are a reflection of poor management at the top. Management by the boosters who don’t know what they want in a coach, setting the Tigers back and landing them in the doldrums of the SEC.