By: Ryan Moreland (@ryanmoreland)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a lot to talk about this week. There were so many close games, many of which were near upsets. We had some outstanding performances from some folks that weren’t household names before this week. This was an exciting week and I can’t wait to dissect it. Let’s dive in.
The first two weeks of Season 19 have seen a lot of blowout wins. While the league feels closer than ever, the scores tell us a different story. Well, the narrative changed this week.
Week Three had many games much closer than many of us suspected. There is no better example of this than the Pittsburgh vs Miami game. Miami came in as a 26.5-point favorite over the Panthers. That is a massive spread, but that didn’t stop the betters. There was $22.7 million placed on Miami to win with the points.
After the game, there was $22.7 million lost. The Panthers kept the game close from start to finish. Miami would go on to win, but only by 10 points.
This is just one example of this new trend. In Week Two this season, the average margin of victory was 30.4 points. There were only two games with a margin of less than 16 points. Those are insane numbers, and they look even crazier when compared to Week Three. This week the average margin of victory was 14.7 points and there were eight games with less than a 16-point margin.
This is a trend we all hope continues, especially for us in the booth. Great work this week by these underdogs, who were able to keep it close or pull off upsets.
Thursday Night Fever
Speaking of underdogs, did you all see the games last night? If you didn’t, you missed some of the week’s best games. Coming into Thursday night there had only been one upset this week, according to the Sportsbook (Cincinnati over Oklahoma State). It looked like Week Three might just come up light on upsets.
Then Thursday night happened. It started with West Virginia traveling to Waco to take on the Baylor Bears and Clemson hosting Syracuse. The Mountaineers were 7.5-point favorites over Baylor. Bears were fresh off a demoralizing loss to Oregon and WVU had just beat Oklahoma State. There was no way that Baylor could win, right?
The CFSL’s best rush attack was too much for WVU. The Bears had 253 rushing yards (fourth-most of any team this season) and Baylor came away with a six-point win.
That was great, but let’s be real folks. There is no way Clemson is beating Syracuse. Clemson came in 19.5-point underdogs. The Tigers were outscored 13 to 111 in the first two games.
Well, Freshman QB Luke Cannon and the Tiger defense weren’t hearing it. Cannon threw for six touchdowns and his defense forced three turnovers as the Tigers went on to win 52-33. The Tigers pulled off THE BIGGEST UPSET OF THE SEASON.
Oregon decided to keep the underdog vibes rolling on the late YouTube game. Ohio State was favored by 9.5, but the Ducks just killed their losing streak last week and they are ready to start their winning streak. The Ducks defense forced three turnovers and the offense handled the rest. Oregon won 38-26.
It was close to a clean sweep by the underdogs on Thursday night (like we saw last season), but Texas proved to be too much for Boise State. However, this was still a wild night and one that deserves to be celebrated. Tigers, Bears, and Ducks, oh my!
Biggest Upsets of the Season
Since we are talking about upsets, let’s look at the largest upsets this season, according to the Sportsbook.
Last week we had eight unbeaten left in the CFSL. We knew we would have to drop to at least seven since Florida State and North Carolina faced each other this week. Florida State won that one in a close game.
However, we lost another unbeaten team thanks to the Crimson Tide. Alabama beat Florida this week to push them out of the Unbeaten Club. This also means that there are no SEC teams left among the unbeaten.
Now, only six remain. The B1G is home to half of them. Illinois, Penn State, and Michigan all remain unscathed. There is also a pair in the ACC. Miami and Florida State weren’t at their best this week, but both are in the club. And last, but not least, is the lone representative from the Big XII. Texas has looked great this year (and they MAY be back).
This week the number of unbeaten is going to drop by at least two. Monday night’s games this week will only feature unbeaten teams. First will be red-hot Texas traveling to Miami to take on the Canes. The late game will feature a dominant Illinois team coming to Happy Valley to face these young Nittany Lions.
Michigan and Florida State won’t be playing undefeated teams, but they can’t sleep on Oregon and Clemson. Good luck to the unbeaten and the teams trying to dethrone them.
Who Impressed Me This Week
The Pittsburgh Panthers, The Whole Damn Team
The Panthers had the daunting task of going up against a juggernaut Miami squad this week. Most people thought it would be a blowout win for the Hurricanes. So much so that over $22 million was placed on Miami to win and cover a 26.5-point spread. The line at the soup kitchen must have been long Thursday because Pittsburgh took Miami to the wire. The Hurricanes would still win, but this was an incredible performance for the Panthers.
Cory Smith, Auburn WR
Smith has taken the league by storm in his first three weeks and it is about time he showed up on my list. Auburn fought hard in a game against LSU this week, but would ultimately fall short of an upset. However, Smith had six catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Congrats to Cory Smith for his first career two-touchdown game and a red-hot start to his career.
Robbie Legg, USC TE
Legg made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball in this league. However, this season he made the jump to TE and he has been balling. This week against a stout Illinois defense Legg caught 10 passes for 103 yards and a score. This is his first career 100-yard performance, but I am sure it won’t be his last. Great game!
Fred Thomas, Oklahoma State HB
Little has gone right for the Cowboys this season, but Thomas has been one silver lining. This week Thomas averaged over 9.4 yards per carry as he went for 218 yards. He would also add three touchdowns to his amazing night. The Pokes would lose the game to Cincinnati, but Thomas broke the single-game rushing record at Oklahoma State and looked good doing it.
Sky Sanders, Colorado QB
It has been a slow start to the season for the Buffs, but this week we saw a different Colorado team. They fought a tough Michigan for four quarters and their QB played his heart out. Sanders threw for 483 yards and three touchdowns while completing over 72% of his passes. Michigan came out with the win, but Colorado has a lot more confidence heading into Week Four.
Shelby Ware, Alabama FS
The freshman safety had a breakout game this week when the Tide needed it most. She had six tackles, but it was her ability to force turnovers that earned her this spot. She had an interception and a forced fumble against Florida this week. Considering Alabama only one by three points, the Gators might have notched a win without Shelby on the field. The CFSL has a new Ware, which might be better than the first.
Florida State’s DBs
North Carolina gave Florida State all they could handle this week. It looked like the #1 team was about to suffer their first loss of the season. However, the Seminoles put up a 21-point third quarter to get right back in the game. This was in large part because of the secondary. CBs Chris Bryant, Elijah Pence, Ryne Mitchell, and FS Apollo Richardson combined for six interceptions, two of which were pick-sixes. This DB room put the team on their shoulders and saved their top ranking.
Andrew Cook, Notre Dame CB
Notre Dame was desperate for a win this week and they got a big one over Kentucky. The unlikely hero of that game was Andrew Cook. Cook is in his senior season and had two career interceptions in his previous 34 games. This week he added three to that total and took one of those back for his first career touchdown. It is never too late to rewrite your legacy in the CFSL and Cook is proof of that. What an incredible performance!
Brandon Petty, Georgia QB
Petty was off to a rocky start in his career. His team was 0-2 and he had more than twice as many picks as he did touchdowns. Well, all of that has changed this week. Petty led this Bulldog team to a convincing 39-point win over Tennessee. He threw for 647 yards and eight touchdowns (yes, eight!) without turning the ball over once. I can’t wait to see his JTR score this week. Great game, Petty.
Baylor’s Rushing Attack
The three-headed monster of Windham Carter, Dorian Hunter, and Christian Davis have been electric so far this season. The CFSL’s #1 rushing attack played WVU and the CFSL’s worst rushing defense. And they didn’t disappoint. The three combined for 253 rushing yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Better yet, they got their team the W. Well played Bears.
The Adieu Haiku
Only two picks to his name.
Don’t let my man Cook.