Heading into the season, as per usual, we were bombarded with insanely-early Heisman lists; often times, these end up as drunken fodder late in the season, with some obscure figure rising from nowhere to take home the sport's most prized trophy.
There's no such worry this year. Leonard Fournette was picked by many, doubted by few, and just three weeks in, has trampled any and all speculation about the trophy given out three full months away.
He is the best player in the game. He's already the clear winner.
Fournette is the main -- nay, only -- reason the LSU offense should ever be talked about. Combine that with their typically nasty defense, and Fournette has the Tigers in the mix as the best team in the country.
(I know -- beating Auburn is the equivalent of beating Oregon State at this point, but c'mon...they looked really good in doing it.)
Speaking of looking really good: hello, Ole Miss! Raise your hand if you thought 2014 was an anomaly for the Rebels. (Hunger Games-style hands shooting up) OK, good -- I wasn't the only one outside of The Grove to feel that way. Beating 'Bama in Oxford last year was cute, but this? Going into Tuscaloosa, and laying a beat-down on a revenge-soaked Tide squad was just filthy...and an early nominee for win of the year. (And how long will they be talking about this play?)
Week 3 officially turned the college football season on its head. Alabama looked shockingly pedestrian; UCLA looked resilient, if not flawed; Oregon and TCU look defensively-challenged; and what was that, Ohio State? No team will be perfect, week-in and week-out, but the Buckeyes absolutely dodged a bullet after turning the ball over five times against Northern Illinois.
But they won. And with the way this season is shaping up, winning -- no matter how ugly -- is all that matters.
Stanford 41 (6) USC 31
If you claim you didn't see this coming (see: ESPN), then let us introduce you to Steve Sarkisian. Around these parts, he's knows as Seven Win Sark, and Saturday night was the meat-and-potatoes of the argument. He has the faster, more talented team, at home, WITH THE LEAD, and he finds a way to blow it. The leash between Sark and a tight-fisted Pat Haden was already short after this summer's shenanigans, but Sarkisian had a promising first year and crazy-good recruiting to fall back on. It's too early to warm up the hot seat talk (see what I did there?), but if he's not careful, this ship could go down fast. I mean, his defense made Kevin Hogan look great. That takes some kind of talent -- just not the kind that earns bonus points with the home crowd.
(15) Ole Miss 43 (2) Alabama 37
Don't let the final score fool you -- this was a whoopin', from beginning to end. The Rebels defensive line, led by Robert Nkemdiche, the new-wave defensive tackle (or, as I call him, the anti-Vince Wilfork) made Alabama work for every inch, and the offense, which came in averaging 70+ points per game, did just enough (including the aforementioned lucky bounce) to escape Tuscaloosa with a win. Chad Kelly threw for 341 yards for Ole Miss, and it appears that they can no longer be ignored, or thought of as anything less than a true contender.
The SEC West, ladies and gentlemen...wow.
(13 LSU 45 (18) Auburn 21
This one was just silly. LSU ran up, down, and, more often than not, THROUGH, Auburn on Saturday, solidifying three things in the process: The Tigers (um, Auburn) are a joke; the Tigers (LSU) are for real; and Leonard Fournette is the best player in the country, and the most frightening running back we've seen since Adrian Peterson. Yes, we can start making those comparisons, because he's that good. Remember, AP was doing it against Swiss cheese (aka, the Big 12). Fournette is doing it against the SEC. Whether the conference is overrated or not (they are), it's still not a place where running backs dominate like he does, and Saturday it was to the tune of 228 yards and three touchdowns. With no threat of a passing game, Auburn had one goal, and that was stop Fournette.
He embarrassed them. All day long. Something tells me the Tigers (Auburn) won't be the only victims.
(10) UCLA 24 (19) BYU 23
Somewhere, Lee Corso is telling us "closer than the experts think" about this one. It's almost a shame one team had to lose -- how great would an undefeated BYU team be to watch in the playoffs? Alas, they're destined for some form of the Liberty or Vegas Bowl, as their once promising undefeated season went way of the sun behind the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Bruins looked sluggish all game, especially Josh Rosen, their true freshman quarterback, who was just 5-15 at halftime. But a strong performance by running back Paul Perkins (219 yards) negated Rosen's struggles, and UCLA -- who trailed by seven entering the final quarter -- escaped with an impressive win to end the non-conference portion of their schedule.
That's it -- it's over. One of the worst non-conference seasons we've ever seen is mercifully over. Oregon-Michigan State aside, no game truly mattered; if it weren't for a who-saw-this-coming finish in Virginia last week between the Cavaliers and Fighting Irish, it would have been the only game worth talking about.
But now, conference play has arrived, nation-wide, and we truly get to see who's who; which teams were riding their non-conference slate to boost ratings (Baylor)? What team is lurking in the shadows, ready to stake a claim in the playoff picture (Oklahoma)?
It all begins anew next week -- and if Week 3 is any indication, we're in for a roller coaster of a season.