Welcome back to Elms’ Essentials! Yes, I came up with that name in between this week and last. But it will stick through the end of the season and through the end of this series. I think it’s cool.
Anyway, this week in college football had a wealth of fantastic games. And while there were a good number of AP Top 25 teams that played some significantly lesser opponents (see Georgia, Florida State and Michigan, among others), there were several games that went down to the wire and showed us some things about some of the other Top 25 teams I didn’t mention just now, particularly one showdown in Tuscaloosa.
But enough of me talking. Let’s get into it!
Utah needs Cam Rising back ASAP
After Baylor dropped its first game of the season against Texas State, I said Utah would have very little trouble beating them, even without their starting quarterback. Well, that was just wrong.
Utah won, yes, but probably shouldn’t have. Baylor was up 13-6 late in the fourth quarter, and the only reason the Utes won was because they managed to score two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game.
Something seemed to turn after Nate Johnson went into the game at quarterback, as he went 6-for-7 with 82 passing yards, as well as rushing for 32 yards and a score. He played much better than Bryson Barnes, and as a result, Utah was able to narrowly escape a big upset at the hands of the Bears.
If I’m a Utah fan, I’m hoping and praying that Cam Rising comes back next week against Weber State because the offense looked sluggish and largely out-of-sorts (mostly until Johnson came in) and the slate gets much more difficult after the next couple of games.
Bo Nix is a legitimate Heisman candidate
And Oregon needs to be considered a legitimate College Football Playoff contender.
What, too soon? I know it’s only been two weeks, but after this statement win on the road against a better-than-its-record Texas Tech team, the Ducks are 2-0 and have established themselves as a bonafide national contender.
I’ll admit, it got a little touch-and-go there in the middle of the second half when the Red Raiders went up 27-18 in the third. At the time, Tech had the momentum, and I thought it was going to ride it to the win.
However, Oregon proceeded to snatch that momentum right back, and the result was a chaotic 38-30 win. Nix once again had an outstanding game, throwing for 359 yards and two scores with no interceptions, and he’s been underrated in the Heisman race for too long at this point.
So far this season, Nix has thrown for 646 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions with an 80.9 QBR. And judging that he is going up against Hawai’i’s defense next week, the ridiculous stats should continue.
Watch out for Nix and the Ducks, people!
Caleb Williams continues to do Caleb Williams things
Is this even a surprise to anyone? No? That’s what I thought.
I mean, what is there to say about Williams that hasn’t already been said? He’s the most dynamic player in the game, he’s drawn comparisons to Patrick Mahomes and he’s been carving up opposing defenses like it’s nobody’s business.
This past Saturday against Stanford, Williams threw 19 completions as opposed to a mere two incompletions with 281 yards and three touchdowns, along with one rushing score.
I know that guys such as Travis Hunter, Shedeur Sanders and Nix have vaulted themselves into the Heisman race. But at the same time, it has only been two weeks. And Williams is the game’s best player at the game’s most important position.
As of right now, he is still my Heisman favorite.
Coach Prime & Colorado continue to impress
Yes, I understand the Buffaloes were playing Nebraska at home, and let’s be real: the Cornhuskers aren’t exactly the cream of the crop in the sport.
But there is no denying that this was a dominant win. The Buffaloes had control of the game pretty much all the way through, and they really started to dismantle Nebraska’s defense in the second half.
Shedeur Sanders had another fantastic game, throwing for nearly 400 yards and two scores, and adding on another rushing touchdown just for good measure.
I will admit, there are some flaws in Colorado’s game. They’ve only rushed for 1.7 yards per carry to start the season, and that likely isn’t going to be a sustainable number for the rest of the year.
However, it’s getting more and more difficult to deny that the Buffaloes are a good team. In order to officially cement their status as such, a marquee matchup with Caleb Williams and USC two weeks from now looms large. If Deion Sanders wants to prove that his team is for real, a win over a top-10 team is a heck of a way to do it.
UCLA might have something in Dante Moore
Going into this season, I knew of Dante Moore and the fact that he was a five-star and a top recruit, but I didn’t really expect much of him during his freshman season at UCLA.
Well, I was, once again, completely wrong, because now I recognize that the Bruins just might have something special in their young field general.
Moore threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns, and looked very comfortable in the pocket and in all aspects of the game in a big win over San Diego State on the road.
In fact, the entire team had a dominant performance, as running back TJ Harden ran for 91 yards and a score, and Carson Steele added 84 yards and a score.
Josiah Norwood, Logan Loya and Carsen Ryan were on the receiving end of Moore’s three touchdown passes, catching one score each.
This UCLA team has the feel of a young, hungry, emerging team on the rise, and it’s clear that they are building off last year’s success (9-4 in 2022) and are set up to achieve something big. They jumped into the AP Poll this weekend as well, and they currently sit at No. 24.
Obviously, there has to be a lot to go right for the Bruins to legitimately contend with the big dogs in the Pac-12 (USC, Washington, Oregon), but if Moore and the rest of the team keep this level of play up, it could result in something special in Los Angeles.
And last but not certainly not least…
All of you knew that title was coming.
No, but seriously, I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the Longhorns’ performance this weekend. Quarterback Quinn Ewers had an amazing game, throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns with an 89.4 QBR.
Jonathan Brooks also had a very good game running the ball, tacking on 57 rushing yards and a score.
But the big statline that catches my eye was the play of the Longhorns’ wideouts, particularly Ja’Tavion Sanders and Adonai Mitchell. Sanders hauled in five receptions for 114 yards, and Mitchell had three catches for 78 yards and two scores.
Texas’ defense also came up big when it mattered most, picking off Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe twice and forcing him into some bad throws. Particularly in the second half, the defense made Milroe look uncomfortable in the pocket.
Now, this isn’t to only bash on Milroe and Alabama’s offense. I thought, in general, the Tide played well. Milroe made some mistakes, but he also made some very nice plays.
But guess what? The Longhorns played better. The whole game, it seemed that Texas was one step ahead.
This season honestly couldn’t be starting much better for Texas, and the Longhorns are ranked No. 4 in this week’s new AP Poll. A road showdown with Baylor next week could be a bit of a challenge, but just knowing this team and the way they looked this weekend against one of the top teams in the nation, I don’t doubt they’ll take care of business.