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Washington's Michael Penix Jr. (9) shushes the crowd after scoring a touchdown against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Sat., Sept. 16, 2023. (Cory Morse | Content Agency)
Washington's Michael Penix Jr. (9) shushes the crowd after scoring a touchdown against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Sat., Sept. 16, 2023. (Cory Morse | Content Agency)

Elms' Essentials: Week 3 Takeaways

Is the Alabama dynasty over? Is Michael Penix Jr. the Heisman frontrunner?

Week three has come and gone in the college football world, and it continues to never disappoint. The level of play was, once again, so entertaining and so incredibly fun to watch. Storylines, stats and intriguing matchups galore filled this week, and let’s take a look at what I’ve taken away after this week’s slate of games.

Michael Penix Jr. is the new Heisman favorite


Yep, that’s right. My new Heisman trophy front-runner is none other than Michael Penix Jr.

The Washington QB had another monster statline in a lopsided 41-7 win over Michigan State, throwing for 473 yards and four scores without a single turnover. The Huskies marched into East Lansing and just poured it on, completely outplaying and outclassing a hapless Michigan State team.

The thing that’s stood out to me about Penix Jr. through three weeks is the rapport he has with his wideouts, as Rome Odunze racked up eight catches for 180 yards, and Ja’Lynn Polk added five receptions for 118 yards and a ridiculous touchdown catch in the second quarter.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and I’ll say as many times as I need to in order for you to be convinced: the Washington Huskies are a legitimate College Football Playoff contender, and their superstar quarterback has had the best start to a season out of all the other Power 5 quarterbacks, and he is my Heisman favorite because of that.

Jayden Daniels bounced back in a big way

I’ll admit something: I was unsure about Jayden Daniels and if he was really the answer at LSU. I wouldn’t have been completely shocked if head coach Brian Kelly would be considering going in a different direction after another so-so game.

Well, it’s safe to say that at least for this week, Daniels proved me wrong in a big way.

Daniels went out and casually put up 361 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns against a solid Mississippi State defense. He only threw a mere four incompletions in 34 attempts. Four.

After the Florida State game, Daniels’ performance left me unconvinced and skeptical that he was the long-term starter in Baton Rouge. But after this performance, my doubts have been quelled, at least for this week.

It’ll be interesting to see how the season progresses and how good the Tigers really will become, especially with a road showdown with fellow Top-25 foe Ole Miss looming in a couple of weeks.

Put some more respect on Oklahoma’s name

Before you say anything, yes, I understand the Sooners were playing Tulsa, which isn’t exactly a football powerhouse. And yes, I’m aware that Oklahoma isn’t really being disrespected.

But I feel that everyone has been talking about Texas and whether or not they’re truly “back.” And I don’t think enough people have been talking about the start that head coach Brett Venables and the Sooners are on this season.

Oklahoma absolutely destroyed Tulsa by a score of 66-17, and keep in mind that they did that in front of the Golden Hurricane’s home crowd. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel carved up their defense for 421 yards and five touchdowns, and this game was just comically easy for OU.

The talk in the Big 12 has been almost all about Texas over the past couple of weeks. And that was somewhat understandable, as the Longhorns came off a very impressive win over Nick Saban and Alabama in front of a raucous crowd in Tuscaloosa.

But there hasn’t been enough about the Sooners. And they need some more respect on their name this year, especially after the disaster that was last season. They’re back and ready to turn the page in a big way.

Ohio State-Notre Dame is going to be a classic

Could Kyle McCord and Ohio State be turning a corner? They looked a lot more like the Buckeyes of old against a solid Western Kentucky squad, as McCord threw 19 completions to just four incompletions, 318 passing yards and three scores, including an absolute dime to Marvin Harrison Jr. in the third quarter.

Once that happened, McCord and the Ohio State offense started running and didn’t look back, as that play woke up an offense that had been somewhat sluggish in the first half. TreVeyon Henderson added 88 yards and two scores on the ground, and Harrison Jr. showed why he was considered as a Heisman candidate.

It’s good that the Buckeyes looked so good, because next week, we all know what’s happening: a showdown with No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend that will be crucially important to both teams’ College Football Playoff hopes.

The Buckeyes looked good overall, but will the momentum stay with them as they prepare to face a much better and battle-tested Fighting Irish squad? Only time will tell on that front.

It’s officially time to be concerned about Alabama

Following Nick Saban’s surprising decision to bench Jalen Milroe for transfer QB Tyler Buchner, I said that Saban did not make the right decision in benching Milroe, especially in the circumstances that the benching actually happened.

Well, let’s take a look at how the Tide did with Buchner at quarterback!

Does putting up a mere 17 points in a win against a 1-1 South Florida team constitute elite play? Is that…is that good?

I’ll answer that right now: no. No, it is not. Buchner looked uncomfortable practically each drive he played, and he really looked like a guy who was making his first start for the Tide. Ty Simpson didn’t do much better, only completing five passes for 73 yards.

It’s officially time to be concerned about the way Alabama is playing. The talent level isn’t like it was in years past. The coaching isn’t like it was in years past. The play of the team itself isn’t the way it was in years past.

I am of the belief that Saban and the Tide’s dynasty that they’ve enjoyed for the past couple of decades or so is over, and has been replaced by Georgia. Do I still think Alabama will do well this year? Yes, I do. This is the Alabama Crimson Tide we’re talking about. As long as Saban is on the sideline, this team will play well and win games.

But like I said, it’s not the way it was five or ten years ago. The dynasty is officially over.

Colorado-CSU is an early contender for game of the year

Another spicy take! Joe, where are you getting this from? What’s going on inside your head?Can we really deny it? When Colorado State was up 28-20 with seven and a half minutes to go in the fourth quarter, I thought the game was over. I thought that the Rams were going to steal a win from America’s darlings on their home field.

But the comeback that the Buffaloes mounted in those last seven minutes and during the two overtime periods was nothing short of spectacular.

It started with wide receiver Jimmy Horn Jr. catching a 45-yard touchdown from Shedeur Sanders, and that sent it into two consecutive overtime periods, where, after the two teams traded scores, Sanders found Michael Harrison for an 18-yard touchdown that won Colorado the game.

With all the buildup before the game, all the trash talk from Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell and Deion Sanders’ response, this game exceeded expectations in a dramatic way. I thought the Rams were going to be crushed; but instead, they put up one heck of a fight, and even looked like they might steal it at several points during the game.

But Colorado’s talent shone through when it mattered the most. And now, the Buffs’ upcoming slate against No. 10 Oregon and No. 5 USC over the next two weeks becomes even more important and anticipated than it already was.

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