Photo courtesy of Kansas State athletics
Week 4 in college football has officially concluded.
That means it’s time for our weekly top five performing teams. The SEC has returned, the Big Ten and Pac-12 are playing football later in the year and “MACtion” is back.
All is right in the college football world. With that, we take a deep dive into our top team performances for this past college football Saturday.
The formerly No. 21 Pittsburgh Panthers are off to a blistering 3-0 start under sixth-year head coach Pat Narduzzi. Pitt debuted its new “Steel” uniforms for Saturday’s contest against the 24th-ranked Louisville Cardinals. Those unis seemed to work as Pitt played another week of absolutely stone cold defense against one of the ACC’s best quarterbacks in Malik Cunningham.
The Panthers pulled out a 23-20 win over the Cardinals, and made a statement to the ACC that they can compete for one of the two spots in the ACC Championship game.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett has been outstanding so far this year. He’s thrown for five touchdowns compared to two interceptions.
Pitt’s defense has been as good as advertised as well. It forced three interceptions on Saturday. Narduzzi’s defense is proving capable of keeping the Panthers in any game. The Panthers’ defensive line is stacked. They’re led by big man Patrick Jones II and in the secondary with star cornerback Paris Ford.
Overall, the ACC should be on high alert when it comes to the Pitt Panthers.
4. Virginia Tech
Although a touchdown favorite for their match-up Saturday against NC State, Virginia Tech was down 23 players and four coaches due to COVID-19 quarantine measures. Those included starting quarterback Hendon Hooker and defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton.
Down a quarter of your team? No big deal. All the Hokies did was steamroll the Wolfpack with an outstanding performance in a 45-24 victory.
Hooker’s replacements Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson were fantastic in his place. Khalil Herbert also was a force in the Hokies’ run game, totaling 104 yards and a touchdown for the depleted offense. Virginia Tech also ran for 300 yards for only the third time since joining the ACC in 2004.
The defense was also very strong for interim defensive coordinator Ryan Smith. Smith is the first coach other than Bud Foster to call plays for the defense since 1994. The Hokies also forced Wolfpack quarterback Bailey Hockman into two interceptions.
Just like Pittsburgh, if healthy, the Hokies very well could make a run for that second spot in the ACC title game. We shall see, but nevertheless, it was certainly an encouraging start for Virginia Tech.
The eighth-ranked Texas Longhorns were on high upset alert on Saturday in Lubbock against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
With 3:13 left at their own 25 yard line, Texas Tech running back SaRodorick Thompson went 75 yards into the end zone to seemingly put the favored Longhorns away. Not so fast. Less than a minute later, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and company drove down the field and scored with 2:39 left to make it 56-48.
All the Red Raiders had to do was get the ensuing onside kick. The Longhorns however, had other plans. Texas recovered the onside kick and then Ehlinger hit Joshua Moore with 40 seconds left in the end zone to make it a two-point game. After a successful two-point-conversion, we had a tie ballgame.
After Texas scored on the opening possession in overtime, Caden Sterns picked off Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman to seal an improbable 63-56 comeback win in Lubbock.
2. Mississippi State
What else did you expect in Mike Leach’s debut? The Mississippi State Bulldogs went into Death Valley and took out the the sixth-ranked defending national champion LSU Tigers.
This was no fluke either. The Bulldogs controlled the game from start to finish and whipped Ed Orgeron’s Tigers, 44-34, in the SEC opener.
Mississippi State quarterback K.J. Costello absolutely smoked the LSU defense. The Stanford transfer was 36-for-60 passing with a whopping 623 yards and five touchdowns. Those 623 yards set a single-game SEC record and the newbie became the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for 600 yards in a contest.
Members of the SEC need to write down Costello’s name. He has been seen by many as a top-5 quarterback in the league. While the Bulldogs may not win the SEC West, they are a team that can certainly wreck havoc in that division and one teams need to take notice of. Don’t be surprised if this win catapults Leach’s Bulldogs to a very solid season.
1. Kansas State
While Mississippi State pulled off a huge upset in Baton Rouge, it doesn’t top this one. This one is truly amazing. The Kansas State Wildcats, who had just lost at home to Arkansas State, came into Norman and knocked off the third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, 38-35.
What makes this game even more amazing, is that this one was unsure if it would even get played. Similar to Virginia Tech, K-State has been hit hard with COVID-19 issues, and was forced to sit 10 new players that did not miss the game against Arkansas State.
Wait, it gets better. Not only did the Wildcats come back from a 35-14 deficit, but it was only the fifth time since 1936 that a road team has come from down 14 or more at halftime to beat an AP top-3 team. This was also K-State’s first road win over a top-3 team in school history. To add on, it’s the second straight year the Wildcats have beaten a top-5 Oklahoma squad.
As far as the game itself, Wildcat quarterback Skylar Thompson torched the Sooner defense in the second half. He threw for 334 yards and combined for four total touchdowns. Kicker Blake Lynch then nailed a 50-yard field with under five minutes left and the rest was history.
Kansas State pulled off what, to this point, is the biggest upset in college football this season.
Auburn (29-13) vs. Kentucky
Louisiana (20-18) vs. Georgia Southern
BYU (48-7) vs. Troy