College Football Week 3 Recap: Winners, Losers and Standouts

The teams, players and coaches that had notable results in Week 3 of the 2021-22 college football season.

By Stone Lexington

Updated: Sept. 19, 2021 • 7:45 AM ET

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Luke Fickell - Wikimedia Commons

Week 3 of the college football season has concluded, and several teams shined over the weekend. Others didn’t fare so well. Below are the winners, losers and standouts from Week 3 of the 2021-22 college football season.






West Virginia Mountaineers


The Mountaineers’ defense came up big late in Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech, keeping the Hokies out of the end zone when they had a 1st and goal from the 3-yard line with roughly two minutes to play. After an opening week loss to Maryland, West Virginia has rebounded with back-to-back victories, the latest coming over the No. 15 ranked team in the country. The Mountaineers have a stiff test next week when they travel to Norman to face the Oklahoma Sooners.




Michigan State Spartans


How did Michigan State make it look easy at times against the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes on Saturday — Physicality. The Spartans looked more physical than the Hurricanes along the offensive and defensive lines, and their rushing attack bludgeoned Miami throughout the day. Michigan State looks like it could be a real contender for the Big Ten East title.




Cincinnati Bearcats


Trailing 24-23 after three quarters, No. 8 Cincinnati scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth to pull away from the Indiana Hoosiers. If the Bearcats have any hopes of becoming the first non-Power 5 school to reach the College Football Playoff, Saturday’s win over the only Power 5 opponent on their regular season schedule could help. To keep those hopes alive, Cincinnati also needs defeat Notre Dame in their next game on Oct. 2.




Western Michigan Broncos


With their 44-41 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Western Michigan Broncos picked up their first victory over a Power 5 school in five years. The Broncos aerial attack was nearly unstoppable against the Panthers, as quarterback Kaleb Eleby threw for more than 300 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Unless they reach the MAC Championship game, the win over Pittsburgh could be the Broncos’ biggest of the season.




Alabama Crimson Tide


In their closest contest since last season’s six-point victory over Florida, the Crimson Tide defeated the No. 11 Gators for the ninth straight time with a narrow 31-29 victory on Saturday. As Florida attempted to tie the game with a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter, the Alabama defense stuffed the Gators at the goal line and held on for the victory. After a tough matchup with Florida, the Crimson Tide should find next week’s game against Southern Miss a bit less challenging.




Memphis Tigers


Getting a win over an undefeated SEC team is certainly noteworthy, which is exactly what the Memphis Tigers pulled off with a 31-29 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday. The Bulldogs needed only two plays to go 64 yards with less than two minutes remaining to score a touchdown and bring the game within two points. Nevertheless, the Tigers foiled Mississippi State’s two-point attempt to tie the game and ran out the clock after recovering an onside kick attempt. Memphis will host a tough UTSA team next week.




San Diego State Aztecs


It took three overtime periods, but San Diego State picked up its second win against a Power 5 opponent this season with a 33-31 victory over Utah on Saturday. The Aztecs did nearly all of their damage on the ground, as quarterback Lucas Johnson threw for less than 50 yards passing, while their leading receiver had one catch for 15 yards. Nevertheless, San Diego State shocked Utah to move to 3-0 this season.




Penn State Nittany Lions


Penn State picked up its second win against a ranked opponent this season with a 28-20 victory over No. 22 Auburn on Saturday. Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford was steady against a fast Auburn defense, while Penn State’s defense confused Tigers quarterback Bo Nix throughout the game. After two tough games against ranked opponents in the first three weeks, the Nittany Lions will face FCS member Villanova next week.




Northern Arizona Lumberjacks


FCS school Northern Arizona found the perfect Power 5 opponent to pick up one of the biggest wins in program history, and they didn’t have to travel far to do it. The Lumberjacks visited Tucson and upset the Arizona Wildcats 21-19 in Week 3, one of the most eyebrow-raising results from the weekend. Northern Arizona looked dreadful in its first two games against FCS opponents, but they got paid to play an Arizona team that has completely spiraled into chaos.




BYU Cougars


The BYU Cougars haven’t missed a beat without now New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. In Week 3, the Cougars moved to 3-0 with a 27-17 victory over No. 19 Arizona State. BYU led 21-17 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Cougars scored a late touchdown to seal a third straight victory over a Pac-12 opponent. After three straight games against Pac-12 opponents to open the season, BYU will host South Florida next week.




Fresno State Bulldogs


After falling just short against Oregon earlier this season, Fresno State picked up its biggest win of the season with a 40-37 victory over No. 13 UCLA in Week 3. Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener was very good against the Bruins, even throwing a game-winning touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the game. Fresno State will look to move to 4-1 next week when they host UNLV.

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Virginia Tech Hokies


No. 15 Virginia Tech had an opportunity to remain undefeated with a 1st and goal from the West Virginia 3-yard line with 2:06 remaining in the game. The Hokies only needed a touchdown and an extra point to take a late lead, but they failed to get into the end zone in four tries. Virginia Tech will look to rebound next Saturday when they host Richmond.




Miami Hurricanes


If not for a two-point victory over Appalachian State last week, the Miami Hurricanes would be looking at an 0-3 start to the season. When facing Power 5 opponents this season, the Hurricanes have lost their two matchups against Alabama and Michigan State by a combined score of 82-30. In his third season as head coach at Miami with no bowl wins, Manny Diaz needs to solve the Hurricanes’ issues, quickly.




Indiana Hoosiers


Although the Hoosiers lost to a top-10 ranked team on Saturday, they also lost to a team currently outside of the Power 5. Indiana fell 38-24 to No. 8 Cincinnati on Saturday, just the latest loss in a season that the Hoosiers had high hopes for. Their schedule won’t get any easier with Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan still to come.




Pittsburgh Panthers


Speaking of losing to non-Power 5 opponents, the Pittsburgh Panthers did just that on Saturday with a 44-41 loss to Western Michigan. After a 2-0 start to the season, the Panthers’ defense fell apart against the Broncos, as Western Michigan totaled 516 yards of total offense. Pittsburgh should rebound next week when they host New Hampshire.




Mississippi State Bulldogs


When you play football in the SEC, you’re expected to win games against non-Power 5 opponents. However, Mississippi State fell to Memphis on Saturday after starting the season with a 2-0 record. Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers had a great game, throwing for more than 400 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Yet, he threw the ball 67 times and Mississippi State had no rushing success to speak of. An interesting matchup with LSU awaits the Bulldogs next week.




Utah Utes


The Utes scored a touchdown with 16 seconds remaining in regulation and converted a two-point conversion to send their game against San Diego State in overtime on Saturday. It seemed like Utah had the momentum heading into overtime sessions, but they fell to San Diego State 33-31 in the third overtime after unsuccessfully attempting a two-point conversion. The loss has to be particularly frustrating for the Utes, seeing that the Aztecs only threw for 44 yards in the game.




Auburn Tigers


Attempting to tie the game, the Tigers drove deep into Penn State territory on their final drive of the game. Time, however, ran out for an Auburn team that lost its first game of the season on Saturday against Penn State. The Tigers will look to get back on track against Georgia State next week.




Arizona Wildcats


The Arizona Wildcats have officially hit rockbottom. While many in the U.S. were sleeping, the Wildcats lost to FCS school Northern Arizona, a team that lost 42-16 to Sam Houston State in Week 1 and 34-7 to South Dakota in Week 2. With the demoralizing loss, Arizona has lost a school-record 15 straight games, dating back to October 2019.




Arizona State Sun Devils


Arizona State received its first real test of the season in Week 3 and failed to get a gold star. The Sun Devils fell to No. 23 BYU, mostly struggling on offense. Junior quarterback Jayden Daniels wasn’t particularly effective, throwing no touchdowns and two interceptions against the Lumberjacks. The Sun Devils may be able to bounce back next week when they face a Colorado team that got blanked at home 30-0 by Minnesota this week.




UCLA Bruins


Life was good for the UCLA Bruins. They were coming off of a convincing victory over LSU the week before and looked like they were ready to compete with teams ranked in the top-10. Life turned quickly in Week 3, as the Bruins lost 40-37 to an underrated Fresno State team. Everything was good until Fresno State scored a touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the game, but UCLA will look to rebound next week against Stanford.



(note: These are players or units from a non-Power 5 team that defeated a Power 5 school, or from a team that defeated a ranked team.)



West Virginia running back Leddie Brown - 19 carries, 161 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Mountaineers’ 27-21 victory over No. 15 Virginia Tech


Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne - 261 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Spartans’ 38-17 victory over No. 24 Miami


Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III - 27 carries, 172 rushing yards; 3 receptions, 17 yards, 1 receiving touchdown in the Spartans’ 38-17 victory over No. 24 Miami


Michigan State receiver Jalen Nailor - 4 receptions, 82 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in the Spartans’ 38-17 victory over No. 24 Miami


Western Michigan quarterback Kaleb Eleby - 336 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Broncos’ 44-41 victory over Pittsburgh


Western Michigan receiver Corey Crooms - 8 receptions, 161 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Broncos’ 44-41 victory over Pittsburgh


Western Michigan receiver Skyy Moore - 11 receptions, 124 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Broncos’ 44-41 victory over Pittsburgh


Alabama quarterback Bryce Young - 240 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Crimson Tide’s 31-29 victory over No. 11 Florida


Memphis receive Calvin Austin III - 9 receptions, 105 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in the Tigers’ 31-29 victory over Mississippi State


San Diego State running back Greg Bell - 33 carries, 119 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns in the Aztecs’ 33-31 victory over Utah


Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford - 280 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception in the Nittany Lions’ 28-20 victory over Auburn


Northern Arizona running back Kevin Daniels - 27 carries, 127 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Lumberjacks’ 21-19 victory over Arizona


BYU receiver Gunner Romney - 6 receptions, 95 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Cougars’ 27-17 victory over No. 19 Arizona State


Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener - 455 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception in the Bulldogs’ 40-37 victory over UCLA


Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers - 136 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 40-37 victory over UCLA


Fresno State receiver Jalen Cropper - 14 receptions, 141 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 40-37 victory over UCLA