DaVaris Daniels (left) scored two touchdowns during Notre Dame's breakaway fourth quarter. (Michael Conroy/AP)
Snap Judgments from the Week 3 late-evening slate. For more content, check out SI.com’s stories on Alabama and Texas A&M from College Station, our takeaways from Ole Miss-Texas and Michigan-Akron, our early Snaps and midday Snaps.
• No. 21 Notre Dame 31, Purdue 24: The Fighting Irish seemed like they were asleep in the first half, but whatever coach Brian Kelly said in the second half must have resonated. Notre Dame scored 21 straight points, all in the fourth quarter, before the Boilermakers finally responded with a score of their own. A backbreaking drive by Notre Dame then milked the clock and kept the ball out of Purdue's hands late.
Tommy Rees and the Irish defense both overcame shaky starts to settle down and take a road win against a Purdue team dealing with a talent deficiency and a new head coach (the Boilermakers struggled with Indiana State last week in a 20-14 win). Rees finished with two touchdown passes, and the Fighting Irish defense added a score of its own after defensive back Bennett Jackson returned a Rob Henry interception 34 yards to the end zone.
Notre Dame seemed to suffer from the same hangover effect Michigan was dealing with in its close win over Akron today. The Fighting Irish exerted a lot of energy in a loss to the Wolverines last weekend and might have been taking Purdue lightly coming into the game (Despite what coaches and players say, this does happen quite frequently). Purdue’s offense was successful early, as coach Darrell Hazell relies on a lot of short and intermediate routes with the occasional big hitter.
Henry (25-of-40, 256 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) is still adjusting to the system, but he showed some touch on a variety of his throws. The only problem was the short routes didn’t quite go far enough downhill; Purdue only gained 6.2 yards per attempt.
The Fighting Irish defense clearly doesn’t have the type of intensity and shutdown ability it did last year, otherwise the idea of Purdue scoring 24 points would have been laughable. But there remains room to get better here, and if Kelly is able to reach that side of the ball, Notre Dame can still find quite a few wins on its schedule. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 13 South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 25: It may not have mattered who South Carolina played Saturday, as there was some frustration that was going to be worked out after the Gamecocks’ loss to Georgia last week. Vanderbilt was just the unfortunate party on the receiving end of it.
South Carolina led 28-10 at the half (Vanderbilt’s touchdown came after an interception was taken back to the one-yard line) and held a 381-96 advantage in yards, and the second half was more of the same until the fourth quarter, when Austyn Carta-Samuels woke up and led two straight scoring drives.
The Gamecocks’ miscues, including a botched punt return, let Vanderbilt back in the game. Ultimately South Carolina was too much for the Commodores, and a late interception in the end zone allowed the Gamecocks to regain control. Connor Shaw was good in the win, throwing for 284 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 84 yards, and Bruce Ellington had eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown to move the Gamecocks to 2-1. [RECAP | BOX]
• Oregon State 51, Utah 48: With the Floyd Mayweather fight going on at the same time, the Pac-12 was having its own boxing match between Utah and Oregon state in late night. Each team would land a blow, but then bounce back and counterpunch.
Oregon State running back Storm Woods left the game in the fourth on a scary injury after he took a knee to the helmet trying to block a defender, but he gave a thumb’s up before being taken off the field in an ambulance. On the next Utah possession, Travis Wilson ran for a 24-yard score with 4:25 to play to put Utah up a point. Wilson finished the night with 279 yards passing, 142 yards rushing and five total scores, but he made plenty of mistakes too, including three interceptions.
The Beavers converted on a fourth-and-nine on their next offensive drive, and Sean Mannion delivered a strike to Brandin Cooks to put the Beavers back up with 2:29 left.
But that left Wilson too much time, and the Utes made it all the way down to the eight-yard line before the he ran it in for another score to tie it up and send the game to overtime, where Oregon State finally won on an Mannion touchdown to Cooks after a Utah field goal. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 8 LSU 45, Kent State 13: With Jeremy Hill firmly entrenched in the starting running back role, LSU’s offense is looking more efficient and competent than it has in years, which is trouble for the rest of the SEC. Hill finished with 117 yards and two scores, and Zach Mettenberger had 264 yards and three touchdowns in an easy win. The Tigers have scored 138 points in three games, and the young defense seems to be making strides as the season goes on.
Kent State is reeling, and the Golden Flashes’ star playmaker Dri Archer had just one catch before leaving the game early. Archer has been injured through most of Kent State’s first three games, and the team is clearly suffering for it. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 4 Ohio State 52, Cal 34: If you were looking for points in the late game, this was the place to be. Kenny Guiton (21-of-32, 276 passing yards, four touchdowns, 92 rushing yards) was stellar in place of Braxton Miller, who missed the game due to an MCL injury he suffered against San Diego State. And Cal’s Jared Goff was almost as good, throwing for 371 yards and three scores.
Cal is going through growing pains, but the Golden Bears haven’t had any trouble scoring points so far. When the defense catches up to the offense, Cal might startle some teams.
Ohio State had huge numbers from most of its main suspects: Jordan Hall rushed for 168 yards and three scores and Devin Smith had 149 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Sooner or later (see: Sept. 28 against Wisconsin) Ohio State is going to be challenged by a more complete football team, and we’ll see what kind of a contender the Buckeyes really are. [RECAP | BOX]
• Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20: Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs needed this win in the worst way, and going into Auburn to take a close game would have been just the thing to settle the team down. But Nick Marshall, who finished the game with 339 yards and two touchdowns, led a game-winning drive ending in a C.J. Uzomah touchdown to give Auburn a 3-0 start (1-0 in the SEC) under Gus Malzahn.
It’s easy to see why folks in Auburn are excited again about the Tigers; Malzahn has breathed new life into the program, and his offensive mind will lead to good things as the team continues to get more comfortable. For the Bulldogs, it’s time to regroup against Troy before a date with LSU in on Oct. 5. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 12 Oklahoma State 59, Lamar 3: The Oklahoma State offense seems to be getting better every week. While the Cowboys had been getting it done through the air against Mississippi State and UTSA, they went to the ground against Lamar. Jeremy Smith made the most of his carries, finishing with 41 yards and three scores. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 17 Northwestern 38, Western Michigan 17:
Props to Western Michigan for scheduling a bunch of Big Ten opponents (it rounds out the pack with Iowa next week), but the Broncos
are still a bit away from being able to hang with a team like Northwestern. The Wildcats
got a monster game from running back Treyvon Green
(158 yards, two touchdowns), and quarterback Kain Colter
added 106 rushing yards and two total touchdowns to coast against Western Michigan and move to 3-0. [RECAP | BOX]