College Football Week 3 winners: The Southern Illinois Salukis stun Northwestern in another FCS upset

An FCS shock from the Salukis and the return of Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds headline the college football Week 3 winners and losers.

By the time college football Week 3 rolls around, you’d think an established order would have set in. But this is college football, there’s no such thing as order. It’s unruly, unpredictable, and often unhinged. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Who were the winners and losers from another week of highs and lows around the college football world?

College football Week 3 | Winners

Southern Illinois Salukis

Southern Illinois head coach Nick Hill knows a little something about upsetting the apple cart and overcoming the odds. He was the quarterback for the Salukis back in 2006 when they pulled off a shock win over Indiana. Up until the start of college football Week 3, that single upset was the program’s solitary win over Big Ten opposition.

On Saturday, not only did they add a second win to that tally, but they became the sixth FCS team to beat FBS opposition this season. Furthermore, Southern Illinois is the first FCS outfit to beat a Power Five program this fall. What’s even more remarkable is that, despite having success in recent seasons, the Salukis were actually 0-2 in FCS play after losing substantially to Incarnate Word and suffering a tight defeat to Southeast Missouri.

Once Ryan Hilinski had given Northwestern a 7-0 lead, you had the impression that would be all she wrote. However, the Salukis traded punches with the Wildcats — with Nic Baker hitting Tyce Daniel and Jacob Garrett for touchdown scores — to ensure it was all tied up at the half.

Southern Illinois showed their teeth in the second half, scoring the only points in the third quarter and outscoring the Wildcats 14-7 in the fourth. Baker’s one-yard touchdown scamper following a turnover ultimately decided the game. The Salukis capitalized on four turnovers and won the time-of-possession battle to record a famous 31-24 victory.

The scenes at Ryan Field after the win — considering that they were the road team — were incredible. Locker-room footage from before the game revealed that they believed they could win all along. It might not have been a shock to the Salukis, but pulling off the upset of the weekend makes them the big winners from college football Week 3.

Marvin Harrison Jr.

With 48 receivers selected in the history of the NFL draft, Ohio State has a genuine claim to be called “Wide Receiver U.” Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson added to multiple first-round pass catchers from the Buckeyes this past year. It’s been a crowded wide receiver room, and making your name in it can be a difficult business. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been considered by some inside the program as the best they’ve ever had. But Marvin Harrison Jr. might just have something to say about that.

While it was against a Toledo defense that couldn’t cope with the commanding precision and crisp delivery of C.J. Stroud‘s continual aerial bombardment, Harrison racked up 102 yards and two touchdowns on just six catches. It’s the second consecutive week that he’s demanded attention after tallying 184 yards on just seven receptions against Arkansas State.

The numbers are impressive. However, it’s the nature of their acquirement that beggars belief. Harrison makes the acrobatic look commonplace and the impossible seem achievable. Both touchdown grabs in Week 3 of the college football season were acts of gravitational defiance combined with acute awareness and elite physical ability. Harrison is establishing himself as the top receiver at the Ohio State University.

New Mexico Lobos

Success has been a stranger in Albuquerque in recent seasons. The New Mexico Lobos haven’t recorded more than three wins since 2016. Campaigns like that 9-4 season come fleetingly for the program. However, in Danny Gonzalez’s third season at the helm, they’re 2-1 following a dominating victory over a UTEP team that handed them a 20-13 defeat almost exactly one year ago.

Ignore the fact that the Miners are an increasingly beleaguered team. Because New Mexico deserves to be amongst the college football Week 3 winners due to their complete and utter defensive dominance over the UTEP offense. Quarterback Gavin Hardison will be having nightmares for weeks about snarling wolves snapping away at every offensive attempt.

The Lobos forced a sensational seven turnovers on Saturday. Hardison threw three interceptions, with Reco Hannah returning one for a 22-yard score that set the tempo for the game. Junior quarterback Calvin Brownholtz attempted one pass that was intercepted, and New Mexico also forced three fumbles. The Lobos dominated defensively and drained the clock, keeping the ball for over 36 minutes as they recorded a 27-10 win.

Any team that forces seven turnovers deserves national recognition. Additionally, after their win over UTEP in Week 3, there’s a genuine chance that New Mexico breaks through the three-win barrier that has blighted them since 2016. They face New Mexico State — currently 0-4 — in October, while their Mountain West schedule features four teams with a losing record, including an 0-3 Colorado State.

Chris Reynolds

“I love James Foster and I love Xavier Williams, but No. 3 is different. Just felt a little different knowing he was going to play. We looked like a different football team. One of the reasons why you feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and we can be a good football team, is because he was coming back.”

That quote from Charlotte head coach Will Healy is the perfect summation of why Chris Reynolds is sitting here on this list of college football Week 3 winners. The 49ers have had a terrible start to the season, losing three consecutive games in devastating fashion, including the FCS upset to William & Mary in the first official week of the season.

Reynolds suffered a shoulder injury in the Week 0 loss to Florida Atlantic and has had to sit on the sideline and grimace through not only the pain but disappointing performances in his absence. On Saturday, he returned in dazzling form, putting on a show that was so very close to earning him PFN Quarterback of the Week honors.

Statistically, Reynolds was sensational against Georgia State. The Charlotte quarterback threw for 401 yards and five touchdowns. However, it was the way that he went toe-to-toe with everything that quarterback Darren Grainger and running back Tucker Gregg threw at the 49ers and somehow dug deep to counter.

Reynolds orchestrated an eight-play, 69-yard drive with less than two minutes to go, driving a two-yard dagger through the heart of Panthers fans to Grant DuBose, securing a 42-41 win that likely doesn’t happen for the 49ers without their star quarterback. It’s that element of leadership that you don’t see in a box score, and Reynolds’ standing as a leader and ability to motivate his team could be heard throughout his post-game comments.

“It’s so easy when you’re battling adversity to quit, it’s usually the normal thing to do. But to have a bunch of resiliency from these guys and watch it pay off, it reminds them. Now you see that it works, that working hard and fighting adversity works, now it’s like okay, on to the next one. Enjoy tonight and then let’s do it again.”

College football Week 3 | Losers

We don’t like the word “loser” but sometimes there’s just no way to describe the events of a weekend, and college football Week 3 was no different. Football is, at the end of the day, a game of wins and losses, and these four teams of coaches certainly weren’t on the winning side on Saturday.

Sun Belt coaches

There’s a thin line between winning and losing, between greatness and a great defeat. Often, this threshold is crossed by the performance of a player on the field. Maybe a quarterback misplaces a pass or a defensive player whiffs on a tackle. Kickers are on the precipice of this divide, week in and week out. Sometimes, however, it’s a coach that is the ultimate decider of which side of the line a team falls, and college football Week 3 contained multiple examples of this.

Sadly, the two glaring examples came as Sun Belt teams were under the national spotlight. After Appalachian State’s upset win over Texas A&M, College GameDay was in attendance for their game with Troy. With the Trojans on the verge of an upset leading 28-24, head coach Jon Sumrall took an intentional safety, giving the Mountaineers two points and the ball back. The Troy HC clearly must have missed Chase Brice’s heroics this season, and the App State quarterback’s Hail Mary to Christian Horn gave the Mountaineers a 32-28 victory.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Chip Kelly’s UCLA team were staring an embarrassing defeat in the face against Sun Belt outfit South Alabama. The Jaguars, up 31-29 with 2:52 on the clock, found themselves deep in Bruins territory. With a 4th-and-2 situation at the UCLA 22-yard line, the Jaguars lined up for a field-goal attempt. Rather than make the kick, a fake-field-goal attempt failed, and UCLA drove down the field and converted their own kick for a 32-31 victory.

Herm Edwards

Arizona State suffered a shocking 30-21 defeat to Eastern Michigan on Saturday night. While one result itself doesn’t define a coaching career, it did decide the fate of Herm Edwards. The Sun Devils head coach parted ways with the program by “mutual agreement.” But anyone reading between the lines knows that off and on-field results haven’t matched up to the expectation that accompanied Edwards’ arrival in Tempe.

The on-field product has been ultimately disappointing, with a 26-20 record and no more than eight wins in a single season under Edwards’ stewardship. That came to a crushing crescendo as Samson Evans trampled all over the Arizona State defense to the tune of 258 yards and a score. The Eastern Michigan RB had never tallied more than 100 yards before the contest. Meanwhile, it was the ignominy of being defeated by a backup MAC quarterback that finally saw AD Ray Anderson set fire to Edwards’ hot seat.

The off-field situation has been even more disappointing, with the program subject to an ongoing NCAA investigation into multiple and sustained recruiting violations during Edwards’ tenure. It is understood from the mountain of evidence submitted to the NCAA that while the finger of blame might not point directly at the now former head coach, staff decisions made by Edwards — namely the elevation of defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce — led to the dire situation that the program finds itself in.

Colorado Buffaloes

“Like all of you, I have been disappointed to watch our football team struggle this fall, most recently yesterday at Minnesota. I know that our coaches and our student-athletes are capable of so much more and that all of you deserve better results.”

Colorado Buffaloes director of athletics Rick George took to social media yesterday to reassure fans that better times were coming after a dismal start to the 2022 college football season. It reads as the dreaded “vote of confidence” that could signal the end of coach head coach Karl Dorrell’s time in charge after losing 11 of their last 15 games.

The latest chapter of disappointment came, as George alludes to, in a college football Week 3 annihilation at the hands of Mohamed Ibrahim and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Ibrahim had equaled the program’s career-rushing-touchdown record in the first half, against a defense that has hemorrhaged rushing yards through three games of the season. The Gophers were up 42-0 before Colorado found the end zone.

Currently, the Buffs have one of the worst defenses in the nation. They rank 127th in points allowed and 119th in yards allowed per game, while they sit rock bottom in rushing defense by a considerable margin. The Colorado offense is equally grim. Only Navy and New Mexico State average less points per game. They couldn’t pass a parcel, ranking 124th in aerial offense. It’s a dire situation that could come to a head against UCLA next week.

Nevada Wolf Pack

When the betting odds for college football Week 3 came out, one game, in particular, caught my attention. It didn’t look right. It didn’t seem possible. Every analyst under the sun saw these odds and questioned them. Surely, there’d been a mistake. When the oddsmakers made the Iowa Hawkeyes a 23.5-point favorite over Nevada, we all scoffed. I say we because I don’t mind admitting I was one of them. My how we were wrong.

On the face of it, a Big Ten team being favored by over 23 points against an 0-2 Mountain West team shouldn’t seem surprising. But, it was and it was because of just how offensively turgid the Iowa offense has been to start the season. They ranked near the bottom of the nation in most offensive metrics heading into their game with Nevada and hadn’t scored a single passing touchdown.

That had changed by the end of the first quarter, with Nevada now tagged with the unshakable label of being the first team to allow Spencer Petras to throw a touchdown in 2022. While allowing over 300 yards to an offense that had more punting yards than offensive ones the week prior, the Wolf Pack limped to just 151 offensive yards despite having more time of possession.

Iowa covered the spread comfortably in a 27-0 win. Nevada has now lost their last two games after opening up 2-0 and face a tough game on the road at Air Force under the “Friday Night Lights.”

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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