FIVE FROM SI: WHY COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS AWESOME - WEEK 4
By Simon Carroll
Week 4 of the college football season was quite simply breathtaking. Si picks out five of the best moments from all the action…
Fake Kneel Appeal
Welcome back once again to the crazy college corner folks! Let’s head back to Thursday night to kick things off. The Cougars of Houston travelled to The Green Wave of Tulane (playing in blue for some reason) in an all-AAC matchup. Despite a 1-2 record Houston, under new head coach Dana Holgorsen, were expected to easily handle their hosts in their first conference game. They had after all been beaten by two ranked teams, so their record was not a true representation of their talent level. Tulane however had other ideas…
The Green Wave refused to let this game go. They kept it close all the way through the contest, Darius Bradwell running well and Justin McMillan hitting Jalen McClesky on timely big strikes. Despite heading into the fourth quarter a touchdown down, the game was tied at 31-31 with just eighteen seconds left on the clock & Tulane with the football. McMillan lines up to kneel the football and take the game to overtime. Or does he?
Ignore the haters and those who think it was unsportsmanlike. What happened next was AWESOME. Tulane ran a fake kneel and Amare Jones scootched round the left corner for a nice eighteen yard gain:
Still not even at the halfway line and with four seconds left, the fake kneel allowed McMillan one more pass to McClesky, who splits THREE defenders before turning on the jets to take the ball home as time expired:
An underdog win on a trick play. Inject it into my veins.
Roughing Your Own Passer?
For Rutgers fans there hasn’t been much to get excited about in New Brunswick for some time. Completely outclassed since joining the Big10, The Scarlet Knights are lucky to pick up three wins in any given season. So you can forgive the faithful, and indeed the players, for taking any opportunity to get excited.
Saturday offered them one of those rare opportunities. Yeah, Rutgers ultimately got beaten by Boston College. But the game was pretty tight in the first half, and after falling behind The Scarlet Knights actually got themselves in the endzone. Quarterback Artur Sitkowski found Raheem Blackshear with a 74 YARD TOUCHDOWN to tie the game. For center Michael Maietti, it was all too much:
One teammate punching another in the face was as exciting as it got for Rutgers. Boston College took this one 30-16.
Flipping The Script
Now. Eastern Michigan are hardly a college football giant. And they’ve upset a fair amount of big teams themselves in their time. But they are a division 1 school and on Saturday they were perilously close to being stitched up a kipper by lowly Central Connecticut State. The Blue Devils were eighteen seconds away from a famous victory on EMU’s grey turf. On fourth down they lined up to punt the ball away. You know where I’m going with this folks…
We love a blocked punt. We love it when they get taken back for a touchdown. But we also love upsets. The Eagles just about avoided one this weekend.
The Pitty Special?
What was that about underdogs? UCF probably lay claim to being the most disrespected football team in all of college football. They’ve been huge underdogs against power five teams for years and come away with big wins time and again. They were undefeated in 27 regular season games and had a bowl win over Auburn in that time. And throughout all of this, they’ve never been given a sniff of hope of a playoff spot. So when they travelled to Pittsburgh on Saturday the #15 ranked Knights found themselves seven point favourites against the Panthers.
UCF knew from the start that Pitt fancied this one. Pat Narduzzi had his team right up for it, and The Panthers led by 11 points at the break. Head coach Josh Heupel must have given them the hairdryer treatment at halftime because UCF were a different animal in the third quarter, laying on three scores and grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. But still Pitt lingered. They got the ball back one last time, and down just six points marched down the field to the four yard line with less than a minute on the clock.
The Philadelphia Eagles, in that Superbowl win over the Patriots 18 months ago, unlocked a football cheat code that nobody has found an answer for. I am of course talking about ‘The Philly Special’ trick play that basically won them the Lombardi trophy. Since then numerous teams have run the play in various guises and been successful. Narduzzi wasn’t shy in breaking out his own version for a big upset win:
An underdog win that all but kills off the hopes of the biggest underdog out there. I’m not sure how to feel…
We finish in Pullman with possibly the most surreal result you will see in 2019. UCLA have been a hot mess for the couple of years. Even college football legend Chip Kelly hasn’t been able to concoct any semblance of offense for the Bruins – they scored just 14 points each of the first three weeks this season. So it was no surprise to find them 32 points down halfway through the third quarter to #15 ranked Washington State in the early hours of Sunday morning.
What happened from that point on was so unrealistic you wouldn’t see it in a movie. Aided by SIX turnovers from Wazzu, The Bruins started putting some offense together. Slowly but surely they clawed back the difference. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson reels of 29 unanswered points. The Cougars answer with two scores either side of TWO MORE UCLA touchdowns to cling on to the lead, but Kelly & Thompson-Robinson weren’t to be denied. With just over a minute left DTR tosses a short pass to Demetric Felton to steal the game:
Chip Kelly lives!
One other note- Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon broke Gardner Minshew’s NCAA record for most passing touchdowns in a game with NINE scores in the losing effort. Head coach Mike Leach is the mad scientist who creates outrageous stats on offense. But the chips were down when Chip came to town.
previously the founder of nfl draft uk, simon has been covering college football and the nfl draft since 2009. based in manchester, simon is also co-creator & weekly guest of the collapsing pocket podcast.