College Football: 5 Things We Learned in Week 4
There were not a lot of marquee games on the slate this week (No. 5 Stanford’s 42-28 win over No. 23 Arizona State was the only game between ranked teams). Still, there was some exciting action and some injury news that could impact the rest of the season. Here are some of the top stories from Week 4.
Florida Loses QB Jeff Driskel For the Season
While no one would confuse the recent Florida Gators offense with the Fun-n-Gun versions from the mid-90s, quarterback Jeff Driskel has certainly made some big plays in big situations to help move Florida back to SEC respectability. So his loss to a season-ending broken leg in this week’s game could have a big impact on the SEC East race. Junior Tyler Murphy, who had never thrown a college pass until today, finished the game 8/14 for 134 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 84 yards and another score. While he played well enough to get the win over Tennessee, Murphy will have a steep learning curve with big games against No. 6 LSU and No. 9 Georgia in the next six weeks.
Where Has the Dana Holgorsen Magic Gone?
It wasn’t that long ago that Dana Holgorsen was, with the possible exception of Chip Kelly, the hottest name in coaching on the offensive side of the ball. So the downfall of West Virginia football has come as a huge surprise this season. While it’s understandable that the offense might slow down a bit without players like Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Geno Smith and Tavon Austin around, the Mountaineers’ offense hit a new low Saturday, seemingly going in reverse in a 37-0 loss to Maryland. The Mountaineers managed just 175 yards of total offense and six first downs while turning the ball over six times. All this after starting the season by needing to come from behind to beat William and Mary and then managing just seven points in a loss to Oklahoma. And things appear poised to get a lot worse before they get better as the Mountaineers’ next three games are against No. 11 Oklahoma State, at No. 20 Baylor and against No. 25 Texas Tech.
Michigan Survives Again
No. 15 Michigan is undefeated, but their play the last two weeks has to make you wonder how long that can last. Just a week after needing a last-minute stop to prevent the biggest home upset in school history (yes, bigger even than the Appalachian State loss) by Akron, the Wolverines played another sloppy, mistake-prone game and escaped with a 24-21 win over Connecticut. Since knocking off Notre Dame three weeks ago, the Wolverines have turned the ball over eight times. In that span, quarterback Devin Gardner has completed less than 53 percent of his passes for just 359 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. Michigan is still obviously good enough to survive these close games and could still be the favorites in the Big Ten Legends division. But if they can’t correct their mistakes soon, sooner or later one is going to catch up with them.
Nebraska Fans Will Forgive, But May Not Forget
Earlier in the week, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini made headlines for all the wrong reasons after a two-year old recording of his profanity-laden tirade about Nebraska fans and local media members became public. While reactions varied, most Cornhusker fans expressed disappointment but continued to support the coach. When the team was introduced on Saturday, there was a smattering of boos but many more cheers for Pelini. However, that reaction could be short-lived. After giving up 38 unanswered points in another embarrassing loss in Week 3, the heat on Pelini was already starting to rise. And while Nebraska looked solid in a 59-20 win over South Dakota State this week, Nebraska fans’ willingness to forgive may be tested if the Huskers’ big game struggles continue.
Baylor’s Offense is Really, Really Good
While they may not be in the spotlight as much with Robert Griffin III off to the NFL, don’t sleep on Baylor this year. The Bears are the first team since 1930 to start a season by scoring 60 or more points in three consecutive games. The Baylor offense is putting up insane numbers this year, setting school records for offense with 781 total yards in each of the last two weeks and leading the nation in both total offense and scoring. Yes, it has been against weak competition (Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe) but scoring at the rate Baylor is would be impressive by any measure. The Bears have a favorable schedule and should be 7-0 before going into a key three-game stretch in November against No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 25 Texas Tech and No. 11 Oklahoma State.