It’s Week 4 and our little college football season is all grown up. There are three games featuring two Top 25 opponents! The SEC is playing conference games!
There are new faces: Mike Leach at Mississippi State, basically the entire LSU starting lineup (and a chunk of the coaching booth) and Lane Kiffin on the Ole Miss sideline.
There are subplots: Florida State, whose coach, Mike Norvell, tested positive for COVID-19, will be led by Chris Thomsen when the Seminoles visit hated Miami.
The Pac-12 and MAC are opting back in (and yes, we know it’ll be a bit, but at least Oregon State fans don’t have to wait four years for the Beavers — in a river no less — like this guy). We’re all grateful to see Rondale Moore returning to add some electricity to our Saturdays.
We’ve got all that and more this week. Plus lots of cool uniforms, as you’ll see below. But probably most importantly, there’s Gary Patterson extolling the greatness of college football in song.
Top 25 games
All times Eastern. Lines courtesy of Caesar’s Sportsbook.
Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU (-16.5), 3:30 p.m., CBS
No. 8 Texas (-17.5) at Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m., FOX
No. 22 Army at No. 14 Cincinnati (-13), 3:30 p.m., ESPN/ESPN app
West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma State (-6.5), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN app
No. 4 Georgia (-28) at Arkansas, 4 p.m., SEC Network/ESPN app
No. 2 Alabama (-28) at Missouri, 7 p.m., ESPN/ESPN app
Vanderbilt at No. 10 Texas A&M (-30.5), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network/ESPN app
Florida State at No. 12 Miami (-11), 7:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN app
No. 16 Tennessee (-3.5) at South Carolina, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network/ESPN app
North Carolina State at No. 20 Virginia Tech (-7), 8 p.m., ACC Network/ESPN app
Troy at No. 18 BYU (-15), 10:15 p.m., ESPN/ESPN app
Bo Nix made some impressive throws on Saturday, and Auburn fans should be excited about this offense. Nix showed a great connection with Seth Williams, who showed he’s going to make SEC defensive backs lose sleep on Friday nights. Overall, there was some rust to knock off given the circumstances this offseason, but the Tigers are going to be fun to watch and a problem in the SEC West.
The Wildcats really looked like they were going to hang with Auburn for the duration of the game — and then the fourth quarter happened. The game got away quickly from Kentucky after a pair of turnovers led to two Auburn scores. However, this is going to be a team that nobody in the SEC will be able to ignore, and they have the potential to upset some teams if they’re able to put together four quarters of good football.– Harry Lyles Jr.
Another week, another test passed for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Georgia Southern is almost never a slouch, and they challenged Louisiana the whole way. It appeared that Eagles QB Shai Werts‘ heroics on a go-ahead two-point conversion was going to give Georgia Southern the upset. But a 53-yard field goal by Nate Snyder saved their perfect season. Now, they prepare for the Sun Belt’s game of the year against App State. — Lyles Jr.
It would be easy to say it was like the good ol’ Fun ‘N’ Gun days for the Gators, but not even Steve Spurrier’s best offenses put up the numbers Florida did in a win over Ole Miss. The Gators had 642 total yards of offense, the most in a conference game in school history. Kyle Trask threw a career-high six touchdown passes, tied with Joe Burrow for the most in an SEC opener — five of those went 15 or more yards. Tight end Kyle Pitts caught four of those touchdowns, tied for the most in a game in school history. Trask finished with a career-high 416 yards passing. But it was not all rosy for the Gators in their opener. The defense looked shaky at best, giving up 35 points and 613 yards. There is plenty to fix before its home opener next week against South Carolina. — Andrea Adelson
The defense was never in doubt, but the Pitt front sure made a statement Saturday against Louisville. While the offense continued to muddle its way through another up-and-down performance, the D-line was simply superb. They finished with seven sacks, 13 tackles for loss and, aside from a 75-yard run by Javian Hawkins, allowed just another 41 yards on the ground. While Kenny Pickett and the offense aren’t likely to wow anyone this season, this defense appears likely to keep the Panthers in every game.
It’s tough to move the football consistently when the offensive line simply can’t block anyone. Malik Cunningham was under pressure throughout, and he finished with just 107 passing yards and three picks. Javian Hawkins broke off a 75-yard touchdown run but had just three rush yards on his other 12 carries. It was just a miserable day for the Cards’ offense, which is likely to overshadow what was actually a surprisingly strong rebound by the defense. Eventually, the Cards will put it all together. It just didn’t happen Saturday. — David Hale
UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel made some headlines this week for declaring UCF the best team in Florida, then backed it up with a second-straight offensive performance to prove it. Gabriel threw for 408 yards and four touchdowns, and set a school record with 18 straight completions in the decisive win over East Carolina. Gabriel is the first player in UCF’s FBS history (since 1996) to throw for 400 pass yards and four touchdowns in multiple games — he’s done it each of the last 2 weeks. UCF also had two receivers with over 100 yards receiving for the second straight game with Marlon Williams (114) and Jaylon Robinson (100) topping the mark. It certainly was not perfect, and that starts with the offensive line as UCF had seven false starts in the first quarter. In all, UCF had a jaw-dropping 19 penalties. — Adelson
For the second straight season, the Sooners got upset by Kansas State; this time, after holding a 21-point late-third quarter lead only to see it disappear. Despite an impressive start by Spencer Rattler and the Sooners, they struggled down the stretch. The offensive line protection was shoddy late and the defense allowed four plays of 20-plus yards in the last 22 minutes. Special teams had its own issues, too, allowing a fourth-quarter blocked punt. Rattler also threw three interceptions. All told, a complete collapse late for OU. — Sam Khan Jr.
Here’s what it sounds like when you rally from 21 points down to beat No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman, which tied for the biggest comeback against a top-5 team over the past 25 seasons.
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) September 26, 2020
Florida, Ole Miss jointly kneel before kickoff
Coaches and players from both Ole Miss and Florida take a knee prior to kickoff in a showing of unity.
Florida and Ole Miss agreed to jointly take a knee before kickoff Saturday to “acknowledge the unrest in our country surrounding the treatment of African-Americans.”
In a joint statement, the schools said, “We recognize the impact of our personal platforms and are choosing to amplify the issues that directly impact us. Together we have chosen to take the opening series of today’s competition to acknowledge the unrest in our country surrounding the treatment of African Americans. We will continue to support social justice efforts as members of the Southeastern Conference and members of our respective communities.”
Auburn pays homage
Auburn honored former coach Pat Dye, who died in June at 80, in a couple of notable ways today.
The team will wore helmet stickers with “PD” on them, and another one that says “Sixty Minutes,” referencing a classic Dye retort when a reporter asked him how long it would take to finally beat Alabama, which had won nine straight Iron Bowls.
Gus Malzahn is paid his own personalized tribute by wearing Dye-style sideline attire.
Honoring an Auburn legend. pic.twitter.com/1qA5LeysKG
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) September 26, 2020
Iowa State’s Mike Rose gets bonus points for added degree of difficulty for this snag against TCU.
— HeavensFX (@HeavensFX) September 26, 2020
Ole Miss cashed in on the turnover celebration trend with an interesting new one.
Secure the INT, secure the bag 💰 pic.twitter.com/kPRwW595yY
— ESPN (@espn) September 26, 2020
And the Panthers took their talents to the hardwood after an interception against No. 24 Louisville.
Marquis Williams intercepts Louisville QB Malik Cunningham, then Williams joins his Pittsburgh teammates with a synchronized dunk celebration.
Louisiana’s Nate Snyder was previously 2-for-6 on field goal attempts this season, including a 34-yard miss earlier in the game before nailing this one to beat Georgia Southern.
LOUISIANA DRILLS A 53-YARD FIELD GOAL FOR THE WIN! pic.twitter.com/2qL0S6sAZN
— ESPN (@espn) September 26, 2020
A few teams are breaking out classic jerseys this weekend.
Oklahoma State is inducting Thurman Thomas, who was a two-time first-team All-American at OSU, into its new Ring of Honor this weekend during its game against West Virginia. To celebrate, the Cowboys are going to dress just like Thurman did in 1987 when he ran for 157 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia in the Sun Bowl.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, broke out its powder blue jerseys for the first time since 1994. The Rebels originally wore the colors from 1948-77 and again from 1983-94. Fans had only seen them as an alternate helmet over the past few years.
This Saturday … we honor a legend like it’s 1️⃣9️⃣8️⃣7️⃣.
— OSU Cowboy Football 🇨🇦🤠 (@CowboyFB) September 23, 2020
❄️ 𝗜𝗖𝗬 ❄️ pic.twitter.com/P74OuZQS8d
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) September 17, 2020
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State’s current running back is worthy of a little love as well.
A guy up the road from me painted this massive painting of Chuba Hubbard and put it on display in his backyard. pic.twitter.com/3EhN34L7vP
— Seth Duckworth (@Seth_Duckworth) September 26, 2020
Sing it, Coach
You think you’re ready for some football? TCU coach Gary Patterson wrote and sang a whole song about it.
“I keep telling people, creativity takes courage,” Patterson said last week. “Me singing a song like that takes courage. It’s all about getting back to college football. That was the inspiration.”
It’s the second song Patterson released this offseason, after “Take A Step Back,” which he posted in June.
It’s gotta be the shoes
The University of Florida dropped the Gators’ new cleats, retro Jordan 10s, for the opening week of the season.
If you think the players and alumni aren’t excited about them, just ask former Gator and current Pittsburgh Steeler, Joe Haden.
— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) September 21, 2020
It certainly seems like Notre Dame long snapper Michael Vinson, or “Milk” as his teammates call him, has won over the team.
The Fighting Irish created “Milk Monday” this week and the junior was the talk of the locker room. Everything from Vinson’s ability as a long snapper to his skills on the golf course were covered and the Notre Dame players even got the chance to list their favorite milks.
Unfortunately, following Milk Monday, the team was forced to cancel its game on Saturday with Wake Forest because of coronavirus concerns.
The Fighting Irish might not be able to play this week but at least they’ll be able to kick back and watch some games with a tall glass of milk, be it whole, strawberry or chocolate.
The Man. Myth. Milk.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 21, 2020
Your educational uniform update
Pitt’s first alternate uniforms since 2016 honor the city’s steel history. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there are several nods to the school’s Gothic Revival skyscraper, the Cathedral of Learning.
The “H2P” logo (for “Hail To Pitt”) is meant to evoke the “USS” mark that United States Steel Corporation employees wore. A yellow badge on the front left features an icon of master blacksmith Samuel Yellin, who forged the Cathedral’s 18-foot ornamental gates, at work. And, the paper adds, “above a black and yellow panther logo, reminiscent of steel’s smelting process, is Yellin’s Cathedral gates design gracing the jersey’s neckline.”
ꜰᴏʀɢᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰᴜᴛᴜʀᴇ
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) September 20, 2020
If you prefer your uniform reveals with a little more ancient history, take a gander over at Troy. While the uniform combo is no doubt a good one, what’s the deal with the scene?
The Troy website explains: “The Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park is home to 200 permanently exhibited Terracotta Warriors made by Dr. Huo Bao Zhu, from Xi’an China. The Warriors were constructed upon careful inspection of the original Terracotta Army buried with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di to accompany him in his afterlife.”
Elsewhere, the school explains the significance: “The warriors celebrate Troy’s reputation as ‘Alabama’s International University,’ in particular the University’s long association with partner schools in China.”
Something a little 🆕 for the 𝙉𝘼𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉𝘼𝙇 𝙎𝙋𝙊𝙏𝙇𝙄𝙂𝙃𝙏‼️
— Troy Trojans Football 😷 (@TroyTrojansFB) September 24, 2020