Five things we learned in Week Three of college football

By Pat Carrigan

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What was meant to be a slightly down week of football ended up being a much more revealing slate than expected. 

TCU passed its first major test with flying colors, while Texas and Texas A&M took advantage of opportunities against lesser opponents to build consistency. WIth conference play on the horizon, the tune-ups are all but complete. 

Here are five things we learned during the third week of football. 

This ain’t your mother’s Sonny Dykes team

SMU arguably has the best duo of receivers in the state, and a Texas transfer at quarterback. Every stream of logic would assume that Sonny Dykes’ air raid roots would come out. Look closer. This team is all about rushing and defense. 

True freshman T.J. McDaniel put his mark on the program in his first game with an absurd 159 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries – eight! Veteran Xavier Jones added 110 yards and a touchdown, while Ke’Mon Freeman posted 71 yards. Defensively, Texas State was held to just 225 total yards, including just 16 rushing yards. 

Defensive coordinator Kevin Kane was one of the biggest coups of this first staff, joining the program from strong roots at Northern Illinois. Mixing Dykes’ air raid roots with Rhett Lashlee’s spread run concepts has proven to be an effective match. 

TCU’s defense is that good

Heading into the year, the thought process was simple – TCU would have an elite defense, but will struggle mightily in the passing game. Sure, Purdue was without its starting quarterback, but holding likely All-American Rondale Moore to just three catches is absurd. 

Linebacker Garret Wallow was that dude with 10 tackles and three tackles for loss. Trevon Moehrig and Jeff Gladney both had interceptions. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm is one of the best offensive minds in football; TCU held his offense to 204 yards… and forced 309 punt yards. 

The pass game is still pretty bad, as the combo of Alex Delton and Max Duggan combined to complete 33 percent of their passes for 75 yards. The rush game was very good, posting 346 yards and three touchdowns on 6.0 yards per carry. It doesn’t really matter though; this defense is so good that it can virtually drag this team to a bowl game by itself. It’s good by GARY PATTERSON standards. 

Houston might have a pulse

Dana Holgorsen’s tenure started off on a cold note, but Houston finally showed some fight against Washington State. The defense held Wazzu under three yards per rush. Giving up 440 yards and 31 points doesn’t sound impressive, but it was a solid day defensively against an elite passing game. 

The offensive coaching staff also did some things to get D’Eriq King free as both a passer and runner, as he finished with 322 total yards and three touchdowns. 

Houston still has to improve a lot more before the team is ready to compete for its ultimate goals of the AAC crown and a berth in the title game, but this was a good step against the No. 20 team in the nation. Building this momentum forward against Tulane in just a couple days will be critical. 

Texas hasn’t lost any focus

After losing to LSU in a brutal game a week ago, Texas finally got back on track. Sam Ehlinger threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns in an impeccable game, and Keaontay Ingram bounced back with a pair of rushing scores. 

That might not sound like much, but Rice showed some ability to make things difficult against Wake Forest and Army in the first two games of the year. Completely dominating them in every phase of the game is significant. 

More importantly, Texas also held Rice scoreless through the first three-and-a-half quarters of regulation. Both Rice touchdowns came in the last eight minutes of the game, when it was completely over. This game was always made to be a confidence builder, but Texas did not play with its food one bit in a truly dominant performance. 

Texas Tech’s offense is an issue

In the first two games of the season, Arizona gave up a combined 86 points and 1,037 yards against Hawaii and Northern Arizona. Tech’s performance was concerning to say the least. 

The Red Raiders, one of the best offenses in the sport over the past two decades, mustered just 14 points. It was the lowest scoring output against Arizona since Sept. 22, 2018, against Oregon State. Before that, it was Oct. 10, 2015, also against a horrible Oregon State team. That’s not the company anyone should aspire to keep. 

The defense played well, and eventually was just worn out by an Arizona offense that ran the ball 61 times. Through three quarters, Arizona only had 13 points, and six came on a breakaway run from electric QB Khalil Tate. But at the end of the day, Arizona is one of the worst defenses Tech will face. If 14 points is all this offense can manage, Tech is in trouble. 

College Power Poll

  1. Texas Longhorns
  2. SMU Mustangs
  3. TCU Horned Frogs
  4. Baylor Bears
  5. Texas A&M Aggies
  6. Houston Cougars
  7. North Texas Mean Green
  8. Texas Tech Red Raiders
  9. Rice Owls
  10. Texas State Bobcats
  11. UTSA Roadrunners
  12. UTEP Miners

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