Week 3 of the 2020 college football season was the first to feature double-digit ranked teams as 10 of the AP top 25 were in action. Top-10 teams Clemson and Notre Dame took care of business for a second straight week with dominant showings while Miami and Louisville provided the first game between ranked opponents. Some ranked teams, however, had to find ways to pull out a win while one was tripped up.
Here's what we saw from college football's ranked teams this weekend.
King passes first test with No. 17 Miami (Fla.)
Miami (Fla.) beat Louisville on Saturday night in the first college football game this season between ranked teams. The No. 17 Hurricanes won 47-34 over the No. 18 Cardinals as quarterback D'Eriq King rose to the challenge in his first ACC game. King led the Hurricanes with over 300 yards and three passing touchdowns. His first was a 17-yard strike to Will Mallory on Miami's second drive, followed by a 75-yard dart to Jaylan Knighton in the third quarter. He capped off Miami's scoring with a 49-yard connection to Brevin Jordan on third-and-12 with under six minutes to play.
The Houston transfer didn't turn the ball over and avoided Louisville's pass rush, taking one sack and three total hits for the game. His patience helped extend drives as Miami (Fla.) scored points on all but three drives. Kicker Jose Borregales also converted all nine of his kicks (four field goals, five extra points) while the Hurricanes' defense broke out the "Turnover Chain" three times in the win.
D'Eriq King ➡️ Will Mallory— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 20, 2020
Hurricanes get in the endzone first 🌪️ pic.twitter.com/WEc0UEvpIc
Marshall's red zone takeaways down No. 23 Appalachian State
Marshall knocked off a ranked opponent for the first time since 2003, way back when the program stunned a Kansas State squad that went on to win the Big 12. On Saturday, the Thundering Herd upset No. 23 Appalachian State 17-7 with two red zone turnovers being the clear difference-maker. With the Mountaineers trailing 10-7 and driving at the end of the first half, Marshall defensive back Steven Gilmore jumped a pass from Zac Thomas, keeping the Herd in front at the intermission.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Thomas and Mike Evans completed a 41-yard catch-and-run on fourth-and-1. Marshall's Brandon Drayton caught Evans trying to muscle his way in for a score before doing his best Charles Tillman impression and jarring the ball loose for Nazeeh Johnson to fall on it in the end zone and preserve the 10-point lead. Rushing touchdowns from quarterback Grant Wells and running back Brenden Knox (138 yards) were enough to get Marshall across the finish line thanks to Gilmore and Drayton's big-time defensive plays.
No. 11 Oklahoma State uses defense, late rally to avoid upset
Scoring is a rarely a problem in Stillwater. But on Saturday, both points and yards were hard to come by for No. 11 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys held on 16-7 against Tulsa, scoring all but three points in the fourth quarter while receiving a much-needed defensive assist. Starting quarterback Spencer Sanders went out with an ankle injury on OSU's second drive and All-American running back Chuba Hubbard was kept relatively in check with under 100 yards on the ground, though he put the Cowboys ahead with a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Backup quarterbacks Ethan Bullock and Shane Illingworth both struggled to move the ball as OSU finished with 279 total yards, a far cry from its 2019 average of 453.9 per game.
While coach Mike Gundy's offense uncharacteristically did not light up a scoreboard, the Cowboys' defense made up for it with a stifling effort against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane scored their only points on a short field, turning the ball over on downs three times while failing to convert a third down on 12 tries. A year ago, Oklahoma State allowed teams to put up over 400 yards and almost 27 points per game. Could this be a new version of the Cowboys in 2020?
No. 19 Louisiana overcomes multiple deficits for OT win at Georgia State
Louisiana last played as a ranked team on Nov. 6, 1943 — a game that ended in a tie. Not only was Louisiana back in the rankings this week, but the No. 19 Ragin' Cajuns beat Georgia State 34-31 in overtime and will have a chance to remain ranked after overcoming a two-touchdown deficit. Quarterback Levi Lewis shook off two interceptions, twice cutting into Georgia State's lead with a passing touchdown. Lewis finished with 279 yards and those two scores.
It was the Ragin' Cajuns' run game that turned the tide. Elijah Mitchell ripped off two runs of 50-plus yards in the second half, tying the game with a 59-yard touchdown while getting taken down at the goal after breaking loose for a 53-yard gain. Trey Ragas punched it in on the next play to give UL its first lead. After GSU pulled level and kicked a field goal in overtime, UL head coach Billy Napier opted to feed Mitchell four consecutive times. Mitchell picked up all 25 yards, breaking a tackle and scoring from 12 yards out on his final carry. The senior finished with 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
👋 See ya, Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/RVtnVAKZQ7— Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns® Football (@RaginCajunsFB) September 19, 2020
Ridder, Doaks shine for No. 13 Cincinnati in rout
Cincinnati produced back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2018 and 2019. In the No. 13 Bearcats' 55-20 win over Austin Peay, the team appears to be picking up right where it left off. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is back under center for his third season at UC and was sharp, looking like a seasoned veteran against the Governors with a pair of passing touchdowns and 253 scrimmage yards in three quarters of action. But it was tailback Gerrid Doaks who stole the show. The senior scored a combined six touchdowns in 2019, nearly matching that total on Saturday after finding the end zone four times while leading the Bearcats in receiving yards.
Weaver leads dominant defense for No. 25 Pittsburgh
Typically, the "Iron Curtain" has been associated with Pittsburgh's professional football team. But through two games of 2020, the Panthers' defense has been quite imposing. No. 25 Pittsburgh won its ACC opener 21-10 over Syracuse with a stifling defensive effort. The Orange were held to 171 total yards, turned the ball over twice and converted 2-of-14 third-down attempts. Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett scored all three touchdowns for the Panthers, though the spotlight was on Panthers' defensive lineman Rashad Weaver. The redshirt senior returned to the field after missing all of the 2019 season to injury and made himself at home in the Orange backfield. Weaver led the way with seven tackles, three for loss and a pair of sacks. Pittsburgh finished with seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss in the win.
No. 7 Notre Dame runs over South Florida
For the second week in a row, Notre Dame's run game has been a highlight. The No. 7 Fighting Irish rolled 52-0 over South Florida as the ground game racked up 281 yards. Week 1 star Kyren Williams put together another strong performance, picking up 62 yards on 10 carries. Week 2 was all about Notre Dame showing off its backfield depth. Freshman running back Chris Tyree added 65 yards on eight carries, including his first career touchdown. Junior tailback C'Bo Flemister nearly matched his 2019 rushing output, totaling 127 yards and a touchdown. Even quarterback Ian Book got in on the ground game. The senior had only four carries for nine yards, but he scored on three of those touches.
No. 14 UCF pulls away from Georgia Tech
You don't win double-digit games in three consecutive seasons without an established identity. At Central Florida, that happens to be a high-powered offense. UCF has scored 30-plus points in 38 of their last 39 games, including the No. 14 Knights' 49-21 win over Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets kept pace with UCF for more than three quarters, pulling within a touchdown with 13:12 to play. But the Knights scored on their next three drives to pull away. UCF posted 660 yards of offense, paced by 417 and four touchdowns through the air from quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Tailback Otis Anderson had 88 yards on the ground to lead a multi-pronged rushing attack. Giving up 471 yards could become a concern later in the season, but forcing five turnovers is a good way to offset that.
No. 1 Clemson posts first shutout since 2016
The Citadel came into their matchup against Clemson with a 9-50 record against FBS opponents and 1-22 mark against the ACC before No. 1 Clemson romped 49-0 over the Bulldogs. It was the Tigers' first shutout win since the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. The Citadel was held to 162 yards and 3-of-16 on third down. Linebacker James Skalski added an exclamation point to a strong team defensive performance with a scoop and score touchdown. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw touchdown passes of 17, 44 and 54 yards, finishing 8-of-9 with 168 yards and four total total touchdowns in the first half while backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei added a pair of rushing touchdowns.