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College football report: Kliff Kingsbury gets a signature win

Kliff Kingsbury pulled off a big win. Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Kliff Kingsbury gets a signature win

Some people might have totally written off Kingsbury’s Red Raiders after their opening week defeat at the hands of a very average Ole Miss squad. It wasn’t just that they got beat. They played poorly while doing it and lost their starting quarterback. Coming into this season Kliff Kingsbury was facing a great deal of pressure to win. Entering the season with a record below .500 after five seasons will create that type of pressure, even at your alma mater. The Red Raiders have responded. They beat a good Group of 5 school when they won a shootout against the Houston Cougars in Lubbock and followed that up with dominant second half to take down Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State Cowboys. This win wasn’t about new quarterback and freshman phenom Alan Bowman throwing for 600 yards, it was the Red Raiders defense which starred on the road. Holding a top 25 team scoreless in the second half on the road is not normally something you’d associate with Texas Tech football. Now you can. It won’t get any easier for Kingsbury’s squad as 12th ranked West Virginia makes their way to Lubbock on Saturday for a top 25 matchup. A win by the Red Raiders would place them in pole position in the Big 12 championship game race.

When a loss is more than a loss

If you’re Justin Fuente you had to be feeling pretty good when you woke up last Saturday. Going into the game against 0-3 Old Dominion, Fuente’s Hokies were undefeated and which included a win on the road against  Florida State on Labor Day. A little over four hours later after the game and no one in Hokie Nation was thinking about the surprising start any longer. There are so many things that played into the 49-35 upset pulled off by the Monarchs, (I had to look their nickname up) but my biggest question is how did Virginia Tech wind up playing a game on the road against Old Dominion? That is a question for their athletic director to answer, Fuente now has bigger concerns. He lost his starting quarterback indefinitely when Josh Jackson broke a bone in his leg during the game but the loss of impactful players didn’t stop with Jackson. Leading pass rusher Trevon Hill was dismissed from the team Sunday for not “meeting team standards.” He was part of a defense that gave up 49 points. That defense as whole didn’t meet defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s standard. Hill’s dismissal is just another departure from a Hokies defense that suffered a great deal of attrition in the offseason.

Hate Watch Record 2-2

Leave it to Notre Dame to make a QB switch and explode offensively the minute I start paying attention to them. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly inserted Ian Book in the starting lineup against Wake Forest and the Irish offense looked completely different. By “completely different” I mean actually competent. Going into the game Notre Dame scored 24, 24, and 22 points in three home games to start the year. They scored 56 points at Wake Forest. Getting out of South Bend appears to have been good for the Irish offensive players. I can’t blame them. You’d feel better too if you got a reprieve from spending weekends in Indiana.

Hate Watch Game of the Week: Ohio State vs Penn State

There were plenty of reasons for me to root against Ohio State before the Urban Meyer/Zach Smith debacle so this one is easy. A top 10 matchup on Saturday night in Happy Valley is just great theater. Throw in a “whiteout” game and you’ve got the makings of a tremendous setting. Hopefully the game lives up to the hype and ends with a Buckeyes loss.

P.S. That stuff I wrote about Kelly Bryant being the leader of Clemson’s team a couple of weeks ago? Just forget about it, ok. Let’s all pretend like I never wrote it.



 

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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