College football Week 2 recap: Best highlights and takeaways

ByESPN Staff ESPN logo
Monday, September 12, 2022

Week 2 of college football really brought the heat.

Not one, but two top-10 teams got upset by -- drum roll, please -- the Fun Belt. Texas still isn't back (yet), but it hung in there with Alabama the whole game and gave the Tide a run for their money. Kentucky went into the Swamp and beat Florida, Kansas football has started the season 2-0 following a 55-42 OT win over West Virginia, and as if Week 2 didn't provide enough drama, we got a Hail Mary.

Here are some of the best moments from the weekend.

Play of the day

After trailing Buffalo21-7 late in the second quarter, the Patriot League's Holy Crosscharged back with a 21-7 run of its own to make this far more of a game than expected. The Crusaders took a 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter, but while UB tied the game with a 52-yard bomb with 31 seconds left, Holy Cross had no intention of letting this thing go to overtime. It doesn't seem fair to let a team named Holy Cross attempt a Hail Mary, but as you might expect, it worked.

Crusaders 37, Bulls 31. -- Bill Connelly

Upset of the weekend

When Marshallcoach Charles Huff was looking through the transfer portal for players to fill out his roster, he realized something: The Group of 5 is just a label. Marshall ended up adding 24 transfers.

"We put the roster together and we're like, 'Guys, we've got a Power 5 roster if we just count the starters,'" Huff told ESPN on Sunday.

Huff's concerns going into Saturday's game at Notre Damewere more about Marshall's depth, particularly along the lines of scrimmage. The drop-off from starter to backup could be significant, especially if Notre Dame could wear down the Thundering Herd.

Despite being three-touchdown underdogs, Marshall knew it could measure up to the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish. It led Notre Dame for most of the way in a 26-21 victory, its second win ever against an AP top-10 opponent.

Huff knew Marshall needed a clean performance against the Irish and, other than having a punt blocked late, got one. He had studied Notre Dame's recent games against Group of 5 teams, a loss to Cincinnatilast year and one-score wins over Toledo(2021) and Ball State (2018). In both losses, the Group of 5 team made mistakes that allowed Notre Dame to separate.

"I just kept walking down the sideline, yelling, 'Competitive discipline, competitive discipline, just do your job, man. I know you're going to want to make a play, but just do your job,'" Huff said. "They bought into it and probably what happened is we put a little pressure on Notre Dame as the game got deeper and deeper."

Marshall won without its best player, running back Rasheen Ali, who is sidelined until the second half of the season. Backup Khalan Laborn had 163 rushing yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Henry Colombi completed 16 of 21 passes with a touchdown and no interceptions. Steven Gilmore had a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown to give the Herd a two-score lead with 4:35 to play.

The victory then set off an incredible celebration.

"A lot of the guys that transferred here were at places where they didn't feel wanted," Huff said. "Here, they feel like they're part of a family, and that was a family celebration in the locker room. It was old players, new players, players who had been here for six years, players who had been here for six months, who all kind of came here and threw their chips in the middle of the table and said, 'We're going to do this together.'" -- Adam Rittenberg

Celebration of the weekend

When the seconds ticked down on App State's 17-14 upset of Texas A&M-- the program's second win over a top-10 team -- the city of Boone, North Carolina, rather quickly fell into chaos.

Plenty of football programs might be BIGGER than App State, but few are more passionate. The Mountaineers won back-to-back-to-back FCS national titles in the 2000s, and when their ambition took them to the FBS level in 2014, they needed exactly half a season to find their footing. They won their last six games of 2014 and have won at least nine games in every single season since.

App State's win over A&M was a masterpiece in game management and situational prowess. The Mountaineers played keep-away, holding onto the ball for 41:29 and allowing the Aggies only 38 total snaps. Two second-half scoring drives encompassed nearly 16 minutes of clock, and after A&M missed a potential game-tying field goal, they ate up the final 3:43 with aplomb. And then it was time to celebrate.

There honestly might not be a stronger, more fun football culture in America than what exists in Boone. Which is why College GameDay is on its way to town.-- Bill Connelly

Troll of the week

Austin meteorologist Avery Tomasco issued a stunning warning for Austin residents on Thursday, complete with graphics backup. Citing the "turn around, don't drown" warning often cited when people try to drive through flooded roads, he warned of a massive influx of tears that would fill the whole dang football stadium with water after the Crimson Tide put it on the Longhorns.

The twist, you see, is that Tomasco is an Aggie. And boy did his prediction backfire. Not only did he feel the Texas heat on Saturday, when temperatures still were in the 90s, he felt the heat on Twitter too for daring to taunt the Longhorns, who nearly pulled off the upset of Alabama.

Then, his No. 6 Aggies lost at home to Appalachian State in one of the biggest home losses in Texas A&M history. And he got double Doppler'd by his own bit.-- Dave Wilson


1. Notre Dame's season is quickly spiraling

Coaches who watched Notre Dame's season-opening loss to Ohio Stateconcluded that the Fighting Irish went conservative on offense to shorten the game and save their defense. It nearly worked. The next step called for Notre Dame to open up the playbook, turn quarterback Tyler Buchner loose and start asserting itself at the line of scrimmage against Marshall.

None of those things happened in its 26-21 loss to Marshall. The Irish averaged 3.5 yards per carry with one rush longer than 15 yards. It took them 27 minutes to score their first points of the game and they were blanked in the third quarter. The offensive line, a signature unit under previous coach Brian Kelly, is surprisingly struggling under Marcus Freeman, who became the first Notre Dame coach to lose his first three games.

"I'm not going to sit here and say it's the offensive linemen's fault," Freeman said. "It's from offensive line to quarterback to running back to wideouts to tight ends. There's multiple different levels of lack of execution. But again, we are an O-line driven program, and it starts up front."

Freeman is assessing everything after a troubling start to his tenure. But if Notre Dame can't start winning the line of scrimmage, the season will continue to spiral. --Rittenberg

2. Ewers might just be what Texas needs to win

In just two games as a starter, the Quinn Ewers experience at Texashas already been memorable. He threw an interception against Louisiana-Monroe on his second pass attempt of the season, then settled down and threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-10 win, followed by tweeting that his car had been towed during the game.

Then the Mulleted One came out gunning against Alabama, looking breezy and confident, tossing quick sidearm passes while keeping the Crimson Tide on their heels. He was 9-of-12 for 134 yards in just one quarter, leading two scoring drives. But Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner knocked him out of the game, hitting him on a pass rush and getting called for roughing the passer for driving Ewers into the turf. Ewers went to the locker room for X-rays and came back out in street clothes, with coach Steve Sarkisian saying after the game that he had a sprained clavicle. There's no timetable yet on Ewers' return, but there's even bigger anticipation now of what Sarkisian's offense could look like with Ewers' quick release and willingness to take deep shots.-- Wilson

For more takeaways on Alabama and Texas, check this out.

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