• Pitt 35, No. 13 Virginia Tech 17. We will not lie: We had not harbored high hopes for what appeared to be a dismaying Week 3 slate of games. With only three matchups between ranked teams and many other programs wrapping up their cupcake games before league play, we entirely expected to sit around in various states of boredom or sadness until USC and Stanford kicked off at 7:30 p.m.
So, of course, along comes Pitt, one week removed from getting waxed in its conference opener and two weeks removed from losing its season opener to an FCS team. The Panthers proceeded to stun us all, scoring more than twice as many points on No. 13 Virginia Tech than they managed against the Youngstown State Penguins in Week 1. College football’s gods are a capricious bunch, but let it never be said that they will let us remain without entertainment for long.
Tino Sunseri, so often maligned for reasons both fair and unfair, completed 19-of-28 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns. One of those scoring throws landed in the hands of Ray Graham, less than a year removed from an ACL tear. Graham bears responsibility for the Panthers’ two remaining touchdowns as well, both of which came on short-yardage runs. Freshman Rushel Shell, who split carries with Graham, recorded 157 yards on 23 touches. The Panthers finished with 537 yards of total offense against Bud Foster’s defense. That is neither a trick nor a typo.
Let’s not let the defense go without credit: Pitt forced four turnovers, including three interceptions thrown by Logan Thomas, and two sacks. Thomas was also the Hokies’ leading rusher, winding up with a grand total of … 28 yards.
As first wins go, this is a doozy. As first wins between future division rivals go, it’s a shot across the bow. (It would be like the Sunseri of old to attempt a shot across the bow that strikes a direct hit on an opponent, wouldn’t it?) [BOX | RECAP]
• Auburn 31, Louisiana-Monroe 28 (OT). So, so tantalizingly close to having a Sun Belt team finish with a better record against the SEC West than some SEC West teams might manage in 2012. The Warhawks showed the home team up early, staging an 89-yard touchdown drive on the game’s first possession. ULM stayed hot late with a 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 28-all with 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
In overtime, their fourth-down magic deserted them. We’re wondering, along with the stat guys at ESPN, why Kolton Browning wasn’t in charge of the game’s final play instead of kicker Justin Manton. ULM’s only other field goal attempt was blocked in the third quarter, and Auburn’s Angelo Blackson got a hand on the overtime attempt. It’s Blackson’s second blocked kick of the season. [BOX | RECAP]
• Ohio State 35, Cal 28. SI.com’s Gabriel Baumgaertner was on the ground in Columbus today and has a full report. But if we may, a suggestion for the Bears’ Vincenzo D’Amato, who missed field goal attempts of 40, 42 and 42 yards, the last of which sailed comically wide. Via alert reader “Sir Bud:”
@SIHolly cal should have pointed him 45 degrees offset to the right, like when I tee off in golf—
Sir Bud (@FrydPr0nz) September 15, 2012
• No. 5 Florida State 52, Wake Forest 0. So much for that 24.5-point line screaming jinx. The ‘Noles even turned off the burners late; all but two of their touchdowns came in the first half. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 16 TCU 20, Kansas 6. The Horned Frogs have not allowed a touchdown yet this season (although remember they had a Week 1 bye). Today marks TCU’s first Big 12 conference win; its next chance is Oct. 6 against Iowa State. [BOX | RECAP]
• Oklahoma State 65, Louisiana 24. Freshly hatched Cowboys starting quarterback Wes Lunt went down with a knee injury on his first series; the latest reports from the school indicate he’ll miss two to three weeks of playing time. Not to fear, numbers-wise, at least today: Replacement part J.W. Walsh threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns as the Pokes rolled up a school-record 742 yards of offense. [BOX | RECAP]
• Nebraska 42, Arkansas State 13. Asked some demented blogger Friday: “Can Arkansas State do to Nebraska what UCLA just did?” It would appear not. Rex Burkhead replacement Ameer Abdullah had a romping afternoon, as he rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns against the Red Wolves.
Bo Pelini took ill during the first half and did not return for the third quarter, heading instead to a nearby hospital. He’s since released the following statement: “Everything is fine. They ran some precautionary tests and everything checked out just fine. I plan to be back at work tomorrow. I’m proud of our team and coaching staff for the way they responded this afternoon.” [BOX | RECAP]
• UConn 24, Maryland 21. “I have emotions. I don’t think you’d be human if you didn’t have emotions.” — Randy Edsall, postgame. “Voice crack must have been a software blip.” — Our senior editor, a Maryland native. [BOX | RECAP]