Week 3

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Bonkers in Berkeley: Cal leads Texas 35-33 in wild first half shootout

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You just knew that a late night college football game involving two schools from Berkeley and Austin was bound to get weird. California and Texas certainly delivered on that front in the first half on Saturday.

The Bears took a narrow 35-33 lead into the locker room thanks to a simply bonkers sequence to end the half that pretty much summed the night up for both teams.

Texas freshman Brandon Jones had just blocked a punt that rolled through the back of the end zone for a safety and a 33-28 lead with 1:38 left before halftime. Freshman phenom Shane Buechele, who suffered a hard hit to the chest and temporarily left the game, returned at quarterback the following series and promptly threw an interception that Cal safety Luke Rubenzer returned to the Texas 24 yard line.

Two plays later, Bears quarterback Davis Webb dropped an absolute perfect pass into the arms of Chad Hansen to improbably give Cal the lead after the offense spent most of the game playing catch up. It was the third touchdown throw of the night for Webb, a former Texas Tech signal-caller who has seen his fair share of the Longhorns.

Aside from the interception, his counterpart Buechele was impressive in his first road start in college, finding the end zone in impressive fashion when he a fired a 41-yard strike to a waiting Jacorey Warrick in the end zone. The UT offense didn’t seem to miss much of a beat with Buechele out and backup Tyrone Swoopes in, with the latter leading the team on two touchdown drives to help keep pace with the Bears.

Still, neither head coach can be all that happy with their defense after seeing plenty of big plays, missed tackles and numerous mental mistakes. Of course for those of us at home, it makes for must-see late night college football action that is bound to have a crazy second half encore.

Big plays help Michigan State take a 15-7 lead over Notre Dame at halftime

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Any time Notre Dame and Michigan State get together, a hard-fought and close game with a few wild bounces is likely to emerge.

That was certainly the case on Saturday night from South Bend as the Spartans used a crazy second quarter push to take a 15-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Irish were in control for most of the first quarter, mounting a nine play, 91 yard drive for the first score of the game on a DeShone Kizer quarterback scramble from 14 yards out. The signal-caller continued his strong play to begin the season with 6-of-9 passing for 103 yards in the first half but only had a handful of opportunities to show what he could do thanks to several miscues by his teammates.

A wild sequence of events in the second quarter was able to shift the momentum for the Spartans however. After getting stopped on third-and-six, Michigan State punted the ball away, only to recover it when it glanced off a Notre Dame blocker’s leg. Set up at the Irish 38 yard line, quarterback Tyler O’Conner lofted a pass into the end zone that receiver Donnie Corley simply snatched away from the hands of a defensive back.

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The team converted a two-point conversion out of a swinging gate formation on the next snap to take an 8-7 lead. That would have been plenty to keep momentum on their side had the Spartans not recovered a fumble on the very next Notre Dame offensive snap and then later mounted a 92 yard scoring drive in the final minute of the half thanks to an R.J. Shelton catch and run touchdown.

If there was one first half highlight for the Irish, it was likely in the form of a Tyler Newsome 71 yard punt — the longest in nearly two decades for the Irish.

Given what we’ve seen in the first half and in prior outings between these two teams, the final two quarters should be plenty of fun on NBC  tonight.

Huge 4th quarter run helps Houston beat Cincinnati to open AAC play

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Greg Ward Jr. looked a little rusty in his return action on Thursday night but in the end Houston got just enough out of their Heisman Trophy candidate to leave Cincinnati with a 41-16 win in a game that had a little bit of everything.

And when we say everything, we mean it.

A safety. A double reverse with a fumble boomeranging back in bounds. Back-to-back pick-sixes. A reverse flea-flicker. Goal line interceptions. Long touchdown passes. Huge goal line stands.

All in a day’s work during the AAC opener for both teams.

Ward threw two interceptions and took a number of big hits during a shaky first three quarters but rallied in the fourth to help the Cougars pull away and keep their slim College Football Playoff hopes alive. The quarterback finished the night 24-of-36 for 326 yards and a touchdown on the night but did most of his damage on the ground (73 yards, two scores) scrambling for big plays.

Though the final score didn’t indicate it, Tommy Tuberville’s team was in the contest for most of the night thanks to the Bearcats’ active defense. They harassed Ward on nearly every play in the pocket and limited Houston to just 3.5 yards per rush. Linebacker Antonio Kinard was all over the field in particular, racking up 18 tackles, a sack and two pass breakups.

Cincy’s offense however, failed to show up — especially in the final quarter. Quarterback Hayden Moore threw two interceptions and backup Ross Trail added another for a team that did the bulk of their damage on just four plays but was otherwise ineffective.

Amazingly the Bearcats actually took the lead right at the beginning of the fourth quarter to make things interesting. Houston responded like the potential College Football Playoff contender they are by scoring 28 unanswered to make the final score a laugher however.

Like we said, a game with just a little of everything on a wild Thursday night.

Bizarre play helps Cincinnati tie things up with Houston at halftime

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Houston head coach Tom Herman worried before the season began about his team’s conference opener at Cincinnati. After seeing how the Cougars played early on the road Thursday night, it turns out those fears were spot on.

Defense, dropped passes and strange plays dominated a sloppy first half of play in Cincinnati, as the Bearcats were able to limit the normally prolific Houston offense to just a single touchdown and headed into the locker room tied at 10-all after two quarters of play of the AAC opener for both teams.

Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. returned to action for Houston after injuring his shoulder and missing the team’s blowout win over Lamar last week. He lofted a beautiful 39 yard strike to Chance Allen in the first quarter to show that his arm looked just fine but had issues throughout the half finding receivers because of a lack of protection from his offensive line. The Heisman Trophy candidate did pick up several first downs with his legs but took a number of shots that caused him to get up slowly.

The Bearcats defense, led by their very active line in the trenches, limited the visitors to just 3.6 yards per rush and picked off Ward during the second quarter. Linebacker Antonio Kinard was in on an impressive 12 tackles in the first half alone.

The Cincy offense didn’t quite bring the same amount of effort, stalling several times on drives into UH territory and finding the end zone just once on a busted play that resulted in a 61 yard touchdown for Devin Gray.

All that was just building up to the strangest moment of the game — and possibly the season so far. Houston ran a double reverse that was setting up to be a sneaky trick play but Isiah Johnson was hit by safety Carter Jacobs, jarring the ball into the air and inexplicably back onto the field.

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Grant Coleman ended up picking the ball up off the turf and returning it back into Houston territory to setup a late Cincinnati  field goal that tied things up going into halftime.

Given how things went, it could be a wild final few quarters between the two AAC rivals.