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2021 Post-Week Three CFB Roundup

TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State


Reactions & Thoughts

Alabama's Not Invincible, But Still The Team To Beat: The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide went into "The Swamp" over the weekend as two-touchdown favorites over 11th-ranked Florida. After jumping out to a big lead in the first half, the Tide offense struggled down the stretch, allowing the Gators to give them quite a scare. A 17-yard touchdown run from Dameon Pierce with just over three minutes remaining gave Florida a chance to tie the game, but the two-point conversion came up short. The victory pads the Alabama resume early on, after it's taken a hit with Miami's struggles, but definitely showed that this 2021 team is not quite the 2020 edition. The Tide offense is extremely talented but far from perfect at this point in the season. Quarterback Bryce Young has earned recognition as a very early Heisman favorite, but you wonder if the other skill position pieces are where they need to be for this team to repeat as National Champions. Florida deserves a ton of credit for fighting themselves back in the game after it looked like it had blowout potential. They look to be a serious threat in the SEC East race and good enough to go toe-to-toe with a Georgia team that they beat last fall.

What's Wrong With Clemson's Offense?: Even though Clemson had to replace a pair of legendary pieces to their offense in Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, the assumption was that Dabo Swinney and OC Tony Elliott would be able to keep things humming in 2021. The offensive issues to begin the season against Georgia were understandable, but the performance this Saturday against Georgia Tech was fairly shocking. The Tigers managed just 284 yards of total offense against the Yellow Jackets and needed a goal-line stuff with under a minute remaining to improve to 2-1. It's hard to pinpoint just one issue for the Clemson offense to this point; D.J. Uiagalelei hasn't quite been what was advertised going into this season after two great showings in 2020, the ground game has obviously missed Etienne, and the O-Line also hasn't been up to par. I don't think it's time to sell Clemson stock just yet, even if the early returns have not been what was expected. They're way too talented to keep playing the way they have and at the very least, the defense should be able to carry them when needed. With that being said, a road tilt with NC State and then a clash with Boston College is one of their toughest parts of the 2021 schedule over the next two weeks.

The Big Ten East Is Not What We Expected: Imagine if someone had told you a month ago that Ohio State and Indiana would be a combined 3-3 going into late-September, while Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Maryland were all undefeated. To be fair, Ohio State and Indiana have faced a tough non-conference slate while Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan have all gotten off fairly easy, but Michigan State and Penn State got a pair of key non-conference victories over the weekend. The Nittany Lions withstood a test from Auburn at home to improve to 3-0, while the Spartans looked like the clear better team as they pounded Miami. I'll be the first to admit, I was completely wrong on this Michigan State program entering 2021. I didn't have a ton of confidence they had the offensive weapons to compete in the East, but have already matched my preseason win prediction (I had them going 3-9 overall). Mel Tucker should be an early contender for Big Ten Coach of the Year, but things don't get too serious until a late October-early November slate that includes Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State.

A QB Controversy In Los Angeles?: In the first game post-Clay Helton, USC blew the doors off Washington State, with the final score reading 45-14. It was a win that proved the Trojans would still be a factor in the wide-open Pac-12 South, but was perhaps more important in beginning an intriguing QB controversy. Starting signal-caller Kedon Slovis went down with an injury, prompting true freshman Jaxson Dart to come in and have a day. Dart finished with nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, while leading the Trojans in rushing. With Slovis' MRI and X-rays coming back clean, interim head coach Donte Williams has announced that the two will battle for the starting job. It's a classic quarterback conundrum, with the young, highly touted freshman going up against the veteran in the room. I wouldn't be shocked if Dart becomes the guy moving forward. As a true freshman, he'll be prone to mistakes, but he opens up the offense a lot more than Slovis has the past year-and-half.

Will Mike Norvell Even Survive Year Two?: It's amazing how quickly things can change in college football. Florida State opened the 2021 campaign with a close loss to Notre Dame but still played well enough for many around the program to feel good about their direction, particularly with the success they've had on the recruiting trail. Two weeks later, there's open discussion on whether Mike Norvell will even last past Year Two, with the Seminoles currently 0-3 and currently an underdog against Louisville. I hate how quickly the "hot seat" conversations happen in college football, particularly given the circumstances Norvell took the job in. He took over a disaster from Willie Taggart and his first season there was a global pandemic that impacted everything his staff was able to do. But, the fact of the matter is that FSU is one of the most iconic brands in college football and Norvell is currently 3-9. It's not just the record, but how some of the losses have looked. They were terribly coached the last two weeks and have looked out-of-sync the entire Norvell tenure. Financially, it would be incredibly difficult for Florida State to move on from Norvell after they fired Taggart so recently, but one thing we've learned over the past few years? Teams looking to move on from head coaches will always find the money.

Weekly Awards

Offensive Helmet Sticker: TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State

Those around the Ohio State program knew it was only a matter of time before true freshman TreVeyon Henderson was putting up gaudy numbers, and his stats in Week Three show he has fully arrived. Henderson notched 277 yards on 24 carries and also contributed three touchdowns in a 41-20 victory over Tulsa, setting an OSU freshman record. On the very young season, Henderson now has 346 yards and four scores, while averaging 9.1 yards per carry. He's done all that damage despite splitting up the Buckeye workload with Miyan Williams and Master Teague.

Defensive Helmet Sticker: Justin Rice, LB, Utah State

A tackling machine for Utah State over the last several seasons, Justin Rice played a major role in helping the Aggies improve to 3-0 with a 49-45 win over Air Force. He notched 14 total tackles, picked off a pass, and also forced a fumble as the Aggies survived. Rice now ranks tied for first in the country with three interceptions to his credit, tied atop those standings with seven other defensive backs, all of whom are defensive backs. He'll hope to keep it going as Utah State takes on a huge test this upcoming weekend in Mountain West power Boise State.

Team of the Week: BYU Cougars

Just about everyone in college football media assumed it was going to be a rebuilding year for BYU in 2021. For one, they had to replace Zach Wilson and several other key members to the 10-1 2020 team. More importantly, they went from one of the country's easiest schedules to one full of Power Five teams, including three straight to begin the fall. Not only have the Cougars answered the call and went 3-0 in that span, they've looked like the better football team each time. They hosted Arizona State in Provo this Saturday and proved that LaVell Edwards Stadium is among the most underrated venues in college football, pulling out a 27-17 win. This particular team might not be as flashy as the 2020 group, but they're well-coached and physical, with the makeup to go to battle with any team on their schedule. Don't be surprised if they are favored in just about every game the rest of the way, with the exceptions being road tilts against Baylor or USC.

"Small School" Team of the Week: Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

One of two FCS over FBS upsets of Week Three (Incarnate Word over Texas State was the other), Northern Arizona scored a massive upset of intrastate rival Arizona. The Lumberjacks, who entered this matchup 0-2, fell behind early but found momentum early in the second half with a touchdown run from tailback Kevin Daniels. Despite an Arizona score with just two minutes remaining, NAU stopped the two-point conversion and held on for their first win over the Wildcats since 1932. For Arizona, it continues a losing streak that first began back in October of 2019 and is likely to extend this next week, as they face Oregon.

Top 25

Current Rank____________Previous Rank

1. Alabama Crimson Tide    (1)

2. Georgia Bulldogs    (2)

3. Oklahoma Sooners    (3)

4. Oregon Ducks    (4)

5. Cincinnati Bearcats    (5)

6. Iowa Hawkeyes    (6)

7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish    (8)

8. Texas A&M Aggies    (7)

9. Penn State Nittany Lions    (11)

10. Ohio State Buckeyes    (10)

11. Clemson Tigers    (9)

12. Florida Gators    (12)

13. Iowa State Cyclones    (13)

14. UNC Tar Heels    (15)

15. Ole Miss Rebels    (21)

16. Liberty Flames    (17)

17. TCU Horned Frogs    (20)

18. Arkansas Razorbacks    (24)

19. USC Trojans    (19)

20. BYU Cougars    (NR)

21. Wisconsin Badgers    (23)

22. Michigan Wolverines    (NR)

23. Arizona State Sun Devils    (14)

24. Kansas State Wildcats    (NR)

25. Michigan State Spartans    (NR)

Just Missed: Fresno State Bulldogs, UCLA Bruins, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Boston College Eagles, San Diego State Aztecs, Kentucky Wildcats

Dropped Out: UCLA Bruins (16), Miami Hurricanes (18), Virginia Tech Hokies (22), Nevada Wolfpack (25)

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