• Notre Dame 31, No. 15 Michigan State 13: The biggest news of the afternoon and the most exciting turn of events thus far in Week 3 … is that we still have absolutely no clue what to do with Notre Dame. We know it was Notre Dame that just took a nationally ranked team to the woodshed after an 0-2 start, because the Irish committed three turnovers in the process.
Unless it turns out Michigan State’s been lurking in mediocre obscurity by beating up on creampuffs to sustain its top 15 ranking, a trick the Irish know all too well. Could it be? Youngstown State and Florida Atlantic are hardly bellwethers of opponent athletic prowess. In addition to two turnovers of their own, the Spartans committed 11 penalties for 82 yards and allowed Kirk Cousins to be sacked twice. Notre Dame’s second touchdown came via an 89-yard kickoff return by George Atkinson late in the first quarter.
On to what worked: Michael Floyd notched his 200th career catch this evening, the first Fighting Irish player to pass that mark. But the highest-scoring Domer was Cierre Wood, who notched two short-yardage rushing touchdowns in the first half.
Stat of the night: Michigan State’s pass-to-run ratio. Cousins attempted 53 passes, connected on 34 of them for a grand total of 327 yards, yet threw only one touchdown pass. The highest-grossing Michigan State backs, Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell, rushed for 27 yards each. (RECAP | BOX)
• No. 16 Florida 33, Tennessee 23: UF finally got around to allowing a touchdown to an opponent in 2011, and a second, and a third. But as usual, Florida gave more abuse than it took. Choppy play from a lefty center still learning to snap with his right hand and the perpetual elusiveness of quarkback Chris Rainey broke and made the game, respectively, for two very green SEC East squads. But football wasn’t the centerpiece of this game. More than clashing shades of orange, more than exultant Gator chomps and taunting refrains of Rocky Top, the hallmark of the UT-UF rivalry is atrocious officiating, and from a yellow-flag standpoint, this year’s edition was a barn-burner. Between them, the Vols and Gators were penalized 26 times for 251 yards. That’s not a typo. (RECAP | BOX)
• No. 23 Texas 49, UCLA 20: That old Rose Bowl sure has taken a shine to Texas again. And breathe regular, angry Austinites: Garrett Gilbert did not attempt a pass this day. Case McCoy appears to be the guy for the moment, with 10 passes completed on 14 attempts for 167 yards, two scores and no picks. Hype-drenched freshman QB David Ash saw limited action, completing all four of his passes and making two ill-advised rushing attempts. Freshman running back Malcolm Brown led the Longhorns in rushing with 114 yards on 23 carries, but all-name all-star Fozzy Whittaker led the backs with two touchdowns. D.J. Grant caught three touchdown passes, and where does that leave Jaxon Shipley? Throwing a score of his own, of course. Texas got theirs back, and then some. (Of all the nights for Rick Neuheisel to make good on his promise to give up the postgame pep talks.) (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• No. 23 TCU 28, Louisiana Monroe 17: With attrition and injury and the first two games for evidence, a dropoff in Texas Christian’s defensive efficiency was to be expected. But this is new. Allowing the prolific Baylor Bears to score 50 is one thing; falling behind to a team that’s middling even by Sun Belt standards is quite another. The Horned Frogs trailed 17-14 at the end of the first quarter, but ULM would not score again. Gary Patterson’s 100th win is a happy occasion, but TCU should be concerned with defensive execution and its ability to protect Casey Pachall going forward. (RECAP | BOX)
• No. 11 Nebraska 51, Washington 38: The Blackshirts are simply baffling onlookers this year. The Huskies hung around early before succumbing to five straight Husker scores that broke the game open, 44-17. And garbage time scores are all well and good, but anybody allowing three fourth-quarter touchdowns to anybody seems … excessive. Can’t just make up for repeated lapses with one atomic hit, no matter how pretty. (Sidebar: Can this game be played every year? Huskies-Huskers! Huskies-Husters!) (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• Colorado 28, Colorado State 14: All right, who fed Tyler Hansen after midnight? The Buffs quarterback previously best known for being the Colorado quarterback who wasn’t Dan Hawkins’ son passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two more en route to halting both Colorado’s season-opening skid and State’s two-game 2011 win streak. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• Minnesota 29, Miami (Ohio) 23: The RedHawks might be the nation’s most promising 0-2 team, coming off a MAC championship, a coaching change and playing two AQ teams to open the 2011 season. The real news of this game is on the opposite side, however, where Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill returned to action after suffering a seizure during last week’s loss to New Mexico State. Today Kill got one back from the team that defeated his NIU Huskies for said 2010 championship. (RECAP | BOX)