College Football Week 3 Winners and Losers

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It’s week three of Overreaction Tuesday, and we have three more fan bases in the football-crazed SEC that are already wanting to get rid of their coaches at LSU, Tennessee and Missouri. Week one it was Texas A&M with Kevin Sumlin, and last week it was Gus Malzahn at Auburn.

It was a wild Saturday of college football highlighted by Florida beating Tennessee on a game-winning 63-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired. We also saw underdogs barking loudly throughout the entire day as 10 underdogs covered the spread and won straight up.

This winners and losers list isn’t a compilation of overreactions, but it is an outlook of where programs, coaches, and players stand after the third week of the season.

Biggest Losers

Ed Orgeron and LSU: When you’re a team that’s favored by 7.5 points and you get beat by 30, you make this list. When you’re a top-tier program that decided to make an emotional, questionable hire by hiring the interim coach as head coach, and he gets beat by 30 as a 7.5-point favorite in his first SEC game of the year, you make this list. Coach O and LSU got absolutely undressed Saturday night 37-7 by Dan Mullen and Mississippi State. The Tigers were out-coached, the offense was still pathetic, and the defense got schooled by Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. LSU also had nine penalties for 112 yards Saturday night. They are averaging 10 penalties per game this season, which is dead last in the country.

Butch Jones and Tennessee: I knew it wouldn’t take long for the SEC’s human punching bag to make this list. The fact that Tennessee lost at Florida isn’t necessarily the issue, it’s how they lost. Butch Jones’ in-game coaching mistakes cost Tennessee a win in Gainesville two years ago, and it cost them a win Saturday. Vols’ running back John Kelly was running up and down the field on Florida’s tired defense the entire second half. Tennessee ran seven plays inside the Florida five-yard line in the second half. Kelly had ZERO carries on those seven plays, and quarterback Quinten Dormady threw a pick at the one-yard line. Jones’ in-game coaching decisions have been criticized throughout his tenure on Rocky Top, and it doesn’t look like things have improved.

Barry Odom and Missouri: Full disclosure; I picked Missouri to cover the seven-point line and beat Purdue on Saturday. I thought the Tigers would show up and play inspired football for their head coach, but boy was I wrong. Not only did they not play inspired, they got blasted 35-3 at home by PURDUE. I know the Boilermakers have improved under new head coach Jeff Brohm, but you still can’t get embarrassed on your home field as a seven point favorite by Purdue. Mizzou averaged 500 yards per game in 2016, which led the SEC. They put up a whopping 203 total yards Saturday against a below-average defense. I look ahead at the rest of Mizzou’s schedule and it is hard to find many wins. I believe the Tigers will be in the market for a new coach after this season.

Mike Riley and Nebraska: The Cornhuskers’ fan base still have the illusion that they should be the same program they were back in the Tom Osborne days when he was ripping off 13 conference titles and three national championships. The reality is Nebraska just isn’t the sought out destination for top recruits or top tier coaches like it used to be. With that being said, the Huskers still should NEVER lose at home to Northern Illinois. The Huskies came into Lincoln as 10.5-point underdogs and walked out with a 21-17 victory over Nebraska. Some big named Nebraska boosters have already come out publicly stating they want head coach Mike Riley fired. Nebraska is 1-2 so far this season with their only win being a narrow escape at home against Arkansas State. Coach Riley better get the ship headed in the right direction quickly, or he might be looking for a new job at the end of the season.

Biggest Winners

Dan Mullen and Mississippi State: I have been saying for two years now that Dan Mullen is the second best coach in the SEC behind Nick Saban. He proved it Saturday night orchestrating a 37-7 beat down over LSU. The Bulldogs dominated LSU Saturday night in every facet of the game. The surprising part was how badly they whipped LSU at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald looked like a magician running Mullen’s system as he threw for two touchdowns and ran for two. I firmly believe that the coaching mismatch was the biggest difference in this game. LSU has better athletes and better players. Mississippi State had a difference maker on their sideline, and they executed his flawless game plan to perfection. This win was no fluke for Mississippi State. Mullen has proved he can win at a high level when he has a quarterback. He got the Bulldogs to a No. 1 ranking during the 2014 season when he had Dak Prescott running his offense. Nick Fitzgerald is a budding superstar and he’s only going to get better in Mullen’s system. You can mark it down that Mullen’s name will be mentioned for several big time job openings at the end of this season. The question is, will he leave Starkville to take any of them?

Clemson: This year’s version of the Clemson Tigers stamped their claim Saturday night as a serious national title contender with a 47-21 beatdown at Louisville. There were many people (including me) that thought defending Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville would upset Clemson at home. That was far from the truth as Clemson dominated the Cardinals on both sides of the ball. The offense, led by quarterback Kelly Bryant, racked up 613 total yards, and the defense did an outstanding job of corralling Lamar Jackson throughout the game. This was Clemson’s second straight win versus a ranked opponent. Right now they have the best defense in the country led by an absolute nasty front seven. The offense was explosive Saturday night and will only get better as Kelly Bryant continues to progress throughout the season.