Week 4 of the 2017 college football season was quite the tease.
Sure, there were a couple of upsets including No. 16 TCU’s road win over No. 6 Oklahoma State and NC State’s road win over No. 12 Florida State. But there could have been a bunch more, even if all of the final scores don’t show it.
We’ll start with the obvious ones, like No. 4 Penn State’s walk-off win vs. Iowa. The Nittany Lions scored a touchdown on the final play to steal a 21-19 win at Iowa and avoid the upset. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley’s throw to Juwan Johnson may end up being one of the tosses of the season.
No. 20 Florida survived a scare from Kentucky too. Though perhaps the scare was more like a gift as Kentucky failed to line up and cover Florida receivers twice, including on what turned out to be Florida’s game-winning touchdown pass. Kentucky had a chance to steal a win, but a game-winning 57-yard field goal try with no time left fell short.
No. 2 Clemson eased away from Boston College in a 34-7 victory, but don’t let that score fool you. Boston College tied the game at 7-7 in the third quarter. Yes, Clemson needed 27 fourth-quarter points to get a four-score win as the Tigers’ run game finally got going.
No. 3 Oklahoma somehow found itself trailing 31-28 to 0-3 Baylor in the third quarter. Losing to a winless team after quarterback Baker Mayfield threatened a spanking wouldn’t have been a good look. Perhaps Oklahoma realized that, as the Sooners pulled out to a 49-31 lead and then held on for a 49-41 win after Baylor recovered an onside kick with less than two minutes to go.
No. 5 USC’s winning margin came in the fourth quarter too. The Trojans beat Cal 30-20 but the game was tied 13-13 entering the fourth quarter and turned after a Cal turnover deep in its own territory helped the Trojans score 17 unanswered points.
No. 8 Michigan trailed at halftime 10-7 to Purdue before scoring 21 points in the second half for a 28-10 win. The Wolverines’ outburst was keyed by quarterback John O’Korn, who replaced the injured Wilton Speight. O’Korn threw for 270 yards and a touchdown and interception as the Michigan defense clamped down on an explosive Purdue offense.
No. 14 Miami ended up beating Toledo by 22, but that game was in jeopardy at halftime too. Toledo even led 16-10 at halftime, before Miami scored 42 second-half points to swipe the win. The game was just the second of the season for Miami thanks to postponements due to Hurricane Irma.
Some big unranked schools had scares too. Tennessee’s weird season continued with a 17-13 win over UMass. Yes, UMass. The Minutemen had a chance to drive for the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes left but the drive went nowhere.
Nebraska trailed Rutgers 17-14 with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter before scoring 13-straight points for a 27-17 win. And South Carolina needed a field goal with four seconds left to beat Louisiana Tech.
Yeah, it could have been a crazy week. But even if it wasn’t, the weekend gave us a sign that there’s a lot of potential craziness ahead.
Here are Week 4’s Winners and Losers:
Texas Tech: Houston entered Saturday with the longest home winning streak in the country (16 games). Texas Tech, with ex-coach Tommy Tuberville in the booth, snapped it with a 27-24 win. Nic Shimonek threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns while TTU’s much-maligned defense forced five Houston turnovers in the win. Keke Coutee was Shimonek’s favorite target with 11 catches for 161 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Not much was expected of the Red Raiders entering the season, but Kliff Kingsbury has them off to a 3-0 start entering Big 12 play.
Wake Forest: Wake Forest is 4-0. We repeat: for the second season in a row, Wake Forest has started 4-0.
It wasn’t easy, but Wake Forest escaped with a 20-19 road win over Appalachian State by blocking the Mountaineers’ attempt for a game-winning 39-yard field goal try with just five seconds left in regulation.
— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) September 24, 2017
The Demon Deacons trailed 9-3 at halftime and 19-17 early in the fourth, but Wake went ahead 20-19 with a 25-yard Mike Weaver field goal with 7:22 to go. App State had two tried to win the game, but Wake held on to stay undefeated entering ACC play.
Abdul Adams: A special teams mistake caused Oklahoma to be backed up at its own one-yard line, but that was no issue for Abdul Adams. On the very next play, Adams burst through the line and showcased his speed on an awesome 99-yard touchdown run to extend OU’s lead to 21-7 late in the first.
Adams went on to rush for 164 yards on just 11 carries in the 49-41 win over Baylor, besting his previous career high by 71 yards. Adams and Trey Sermon have been a pretty good backfield duo so far this year with Joe Mixon and Semaje Perine now in the NFL.
Duke: The Victory Bell will remain in Durham and Duke is 4-0. The Blue Devils went on the road Saturday to face rival North Carolina and emerged with a 27-17 win. Duke trailed 17-13 well into the fourth quarter, but the Blue Devils went in front 20-17 on a one-yard Shaun Wilson TD run with 6:09 to go.
When North Carolina tried to retake the lead, Duke’s Bryon Fields Jr. intercepted UNC QB Chazz Surratt and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown to seal the win.
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 24, 2017
Virginia: Bronco Mendenhall is quietly turning things around at Virginia. He had his biggest win yet on Friday night. There aren’t many teams that play on the blue turf in Boise and come out with a victory, but the Cavaliers were dominant, winning 42-23. Kurt Benkert threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns in the win. It was the worst home loss for Boise State since 2001.
At 3-1 entering ACC play, Virginia has already moved past its two wins in Mendenhall’s debut season.
Rashaad Penny: San Diego State had a tight one on the road at Air Force and its best player came through late. Trailing the Falcons 24-21 with less than six minutes to go, Rashaad Penny broke off a 53-yard touchdown run to put the Aztecs in front, 28-24. The touchdown, Penny’s third, ended up being the winning score, allowing SDSU to improve to 4-0 on the season.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) September 24, 2017
Penny, a Heisman candidate, finished the game with 128 yards, giving him 716 yards and seven touchdowns already this season.
Arizona State: Arizona State started off Pac-12 play on a good note by beating No. 24 Oregon at home, 37-35, to snap a 10-game losing streak to the Ducks. Manny Wilkins threw for 347 yards and a touchdown while adding two scores on the ground for the Sun Devils. ASU led most of the way and by as much as 31-14 early in the third. Oregon came back and took a 35-34 lead with 6:41 to play, but ASU responded on the next possession with Brandon Ruiz booting the game-winning 41-yard FG with 2:33 to play. ASU is now 2-2 on the year.
Khalil Herbert: Kansas gave West Virginia a scare Saturday in Lawrence and sophomore RB Khalil Herbert played a big role. Herbert rushed for a whopping 291 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries. It was the third-highest rushing total for a player in Kansas history.
The Jayhawks cut WVU’s lead to 35-27 late in the third quarter, but the Mountaineers responded in an eventual 56-34 win.
Missouri: Things are going poorly in Columbia. We’ve had Missouri in this column a lot this year and somehow it keeps getting worse. Mizzou lost 51-14 to Auburn on Saturday and led coach Barry Odom to give a passionate defense of himself and the program after the game.
Not only is Missouri 1-3, it’s an ugly 1-3. How are the Tigers going to win three or four games in 2017?
Maryland’s quarterback health: Maryland’s big win over Texas in Week 1 came with a huge caveat as quarterback Tyrell Pigrome was lost for the year with a torn ACL. He was replaced by freshman Kasim Hill, who had played well in Pigrome’s place.
Well, now Maryland is down to its third-string quarterback. Hill was injured in the first quarter of a 38-10 loss to Central Florida. He was replaced by Max Bortenschlager, who ended up 15-26 for 132 yards passing.
The Terrapins were a potential bowl team with either Pigrome or Hill under center. If Hill — who was unable to put any weight on his right leg as he was helped off the field — is out for a long time, a bowl could be in jeopardy.
Pitt: The Panthers have been dissed twice so far by coaches after games in 2017. In Week 2, Penn State coach James Franklin compared Pitt to Akron. Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson had this to say.
Paul Johnson: turnovers have to be cleaned up "because against a good team, we won't be able to survive."
— Ken Sugiura (@ksugiuraajc) September 23, 2017
Pitt also started quarterback Ben DiNucci after USC transfer Max Browne started the first three games of the season. Coincidentally, Browne was benched after three games last season at USC in favor of Sam Darnold. At 1-3, Pitt’s going to need DiNucci to pull a Darnold.
Vanderbilt: Look, it’s no surprise that Vanderbilt lost to Alabama. It would have been a massive upset had the Commodores beaten the Tide. But good grief, it was an abomination.
Alabama won 59-0 and the stats are even uglier. Vanderbilt quarterbacks were 7-22 passing for 38 yards and an interception. As a team, the Commodores had 16 carries for 40 yards. And Vandy had three first downs.
Temple: The transition from Matt Rhule to Geoff Collins isn’t going so smoothly. Temple was completely outmatched Thursday night in a 43-7 loss to the Bulls. The Owls did give us some good moments though. So there’s that?
Final: USF 43, Temple 7
Photo recap: pic.twitter.com/BuJCfCorWy
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 22, 2017
Coastal Carolina: Losing to an FCS team is bad. Losing to an FCS team by more than 40 points is really bad.
OK, so Coastal Carolina isn’t far removed from being an FCS team itself; the Chanticleers will be members of the Sun Belt in 2018. But come on, losing 52-10 to the No. 21 FCS team in Western Illinois isn’t a good way to merge into college football’s top level.
CCU was outgained 510-307 and is now 1-2. Its only win on the season came vs. UMass, which lost to Tennessee by four in Week 4. So maybe Western Illinois is better than Tennessee?