Let it be said that September of 2022 was one of the wilder months of college football that we have seen in a long time. Every Saturday we learned something new and Sept. 24 was no exception. Here are Five Things We Learned before we head to October:
1—Hendon Hooker has made his case for being on your Heisman ballot:
Going into this season Hooker had already shown us that he is one of the most accurate passers in college football. Last season he threw for 31 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
In Saturday’s 38-33 win over Florida in Knoxville, the Virginia Tech transfer threw for 340 yards and ran for 112 more, the first Tennessee quarterback throw for 300 and rush for 100 yards in a game since Joshua Dobbs did it in 2016.
So in four games this season Hooker has thrown for 1,193 yards, eight touchdowns and NO interceptions. He has completed 71.7 percent of his passes. Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has this week off before going to LSU on Oct. 8.
2—While Florida lost the game, quarterback Anthony Richardson got his groove back:
Truth be known, Florida coaches were getting out-schemed in Richardson’s two subpar games against Kentucky and South Florida. But against Tennessee Billy Napier and his coaches found ways to get Richardson out into space and take advantage his legs. When he’s moving Richardson is a much more confident passer. He completed 24 of 44 passes for a career-high 453 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for another 62 yards. He became only the sixth quarterback in Florida history to throw for over 400 yards in an SEC game. “It feels good just to have fun out there and play football,” Richardson told The Gainesville Sun. The Gators now have three straight home games against Eastern Washington, Missouri, and LSU before taking a week off.
3—No one actually won the Auburn-Missouri game:
There is just one word to describe Auburn’s game with Missouri at Jordan-Hare Stadium:
The rules of college football dictate that a game will have a winner and a loser.
Sorry. I just can make myself declare a winner in the Auburn-Missouri game.
When Missouri running back Nathaniel Peat, for reasons we’ll never know, decided it would be cool to juggle the football before scoring the winning touchdown, Auburn recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchback. That ended the game with Auburn leading 17-14.
Before that Missouri Coach Eli Drinkwitz decided to run down the clock from the Auburn 3-yard line instead of taking a couple of shots at the end zone. Drinkwitz positioned the ball in the middle of the field to allow his kicker, Harrison Mevis, a chip-shot field goal. Mevis, who had made 17 of 20 field goal attempts this season, pushed the kick wide right.
After the game Drinkwitz said he would do it again and his approach, to be fair, was completely logical.
But I’m just not sure I want to put the entire game on the foot of a kicker—unless it’s Kevin Butler.
In any event, Auburn Coach Bryan Harsin (3-1 with LSU coming to town on Saturday) lives to fight another day.
4—Arkansas’s loss to Texas A&M is the Hogs’ most gut-wrenching defeat under Sam Pittman:
Arkansas had complete control of the game in the first quarter, leading 14-0 and apparently heading in for another score. But quarterback K.J. Jefferson, who has been brilliant thus far this season, made a crucial error in judgement. He tried to dive over the Texas A&M goal line with the ball extended in his hands. The ball was knocked loose and picked up by an Aggie defender. When that defender was about to be tackled, Texas A&M’s Demani Richardson reached in and took the ball from his teammate. Then he raced 82 yards for a touchdown. So Arkansas went from probably being up 21-0 to only leading 14-6 (Texas A&M missed the extra point).
Then Arkansas went into some kind of daze. And by the time Arkansas woke up, the Razorbacks trailed 20-14. Arkansas fought back and trailed 23-21 with 10 minutes left. A 42-yard field attempt by Cam Little with 1:30 left literally hit the very top of the right upright and the Aggies prevailed.
This is where Pittman earns his money. Somehow he has to get his team off the emotional deck and get ready for a visit from No. 2 Alabama on Saturday.
“That was a tough one,” Pittman said after the game. “Give A&M all the credit in the world. They fought back from 14 down.”
5—There is Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State. Then there is everybody else:
No. 1 Georgia didn’t look very impressive in a 39-22 win over Kent State. No. 2 Alabama looked unstoppable in a 55-3 win over Vanderbilt. Ditto for No. 3 Ohio State in a 52-21 win over Wisconsin.
Trust me folks, those three teams will occupy those spots (the order could change) for the rest of the regular season. We’re going to spend the next two months arguing about Who’s No. 4. And after this weekend that’s really up in the air.
Oklahoma’s status is now in doubt after getting man-handled by Kansas State 41-34 in Norman. Clemson needed double overtime to win at Wake Forest 51-45. USC needed a touchdown with only 1:13 left to win at Oregon State 17-14. Michigan, who I’m still not sold on, put up impressive numbers but could not put away Maryland, winning 34-27.
The point is, I think the No. 4 slot is wide open for a team that can get got in October and November.