After one of the biggest slates of college football games in recent memory, it’s time to dig into the five stars of the weekend.
1 – Washington State QB Cam Ward & WR Josh Kelly (vs. #14 Oregon State)
Ward: 28/34 – 404 passing yards – 5 total touchdowns
Kelly: 8 receptions – 159 yards – 3 touchdowns
Nobody raised their stock on a national level more than Cougars quarterback Cam Ward after Washington State beat a tough Oregon State team 38-34 in the defacto Pac-2 Championship in Pullman.
The Cougars offense got out to a hot 14-0 start, including a touchdown on a deep pass to Kyle Williams on the second play from scrimmage, on their first two drives of the game and the Beavers were playing catchup the rest of the way, heading into halftime with a 28-14 lead. Ward connected with wide receiver Josh Kelly on three of his four touchdown passes, including a nasty 44 yarder in which he made five different defenders miss.
Ward now has 16 total touchdowns and 0 interceptions through four games, with 1,390 passing yards on a 74.6% completion percentage. He *should* begin entering serious Heisman discussion this week and the Cougars will get a bye week before traveling to UCLA for a matchup with the Bruins.
2 – Kansas State RB DJ Giddens (vs. UCF)
Stats: 38 touches – 293 total yards – 4 touchdowns
With backfield mate Treshaun Ward out with injury, DJ Giddens stepped into a workhorse role for the Wildcats in a shootout victory in Manhattan on Saturday. The sophomore back scored all three of the Wildcats first half touchdowns en route to a 21-17 lead and followed it up with another score under five minutes left in the 4th that gave the Cats a 37-24 lead and cementing a bounce back win for Kansas State.
No other skill position player touched the ball more than seven times on Saturday, as coach Chris Kleiman and offensive coordinator Collin Klein followed the old adage that ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ and the Knights defense simply couldn’t mend what ailed them.
The Wildcats move to 1-0 in conference play and get a bye week before traveling to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State on a Friday night on October 6th.
3 – Utah Defense (vs. #22 UCLA)
Stats: 7 sacks – 11 tackles for loss – 1 interception – 1 touchdown – 243 yards allowed
The Utah defense had Bruins quarterback Dante Moore in hell from opening kickoff to the final whistle, as the freshman quarterback went just 15/35 on the day and was sacked seven times, including three and a half by defensive end Jonah Elliss. The Utes defense put points on the board on the first play from scrimmage, as defensive back Karene Reid picked off Moore and returned it for a touchdown to give the Utes what felt like an insurmountable 7-0 lead.
91 of the Bruins total yards came on a late scoring drive in the fourth quarter that made it 14-7, and the only other 50+ yard drive for UCLA ended in a forced fumble that the Utes recovered. This was one of the finest performances for the Utes defense in the Kyle Whittingham era, and they’re now allowing just 9.5 points per game through four games.
The Utes will travel to Corvallis for a tough top 25 matchup with Oregon State on Friday night that will be must watch for college football fans.
4 – Georgia Tech DL Kyle Kennard (vs. Wake Forest)
Stats: 8 total tackles – 4 sacks
Georgia Tech got a big conference win on Saturday by upsetting the Demon Deacons on the road 30-16 and did it behind a dominating defensive performance led by defensive lineman Kyle Kennard. The junior defensive lineman from Atlanta sacked Deacs quarterback Mitch Griffis four times and the Yellow Jackets totaled eight sacks in the game as a unit.
Kennard and the defensive line made life miserable for most of the game for the Wake Forest mesh offense, and they’ll look to build off this when they face Bowling Green next weekend.
5 – Kentucky DB Maxwell Hairston (vs. Vanderbilt)
Stats: 4 tackles – 3 passes defended – 2 interceptions – 2 touchdowns
Have a day, Maxwell Hairston! The Wildcats defensive back had two pick-sixes against Vanderbilt, once early in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead and the second late in the fourth to cement the 45-28 win for Kentucky. The sophomore from Michigan is now up to three interceptions on the young season and will look to continue building on this performance when the Wildcats take on Graham Mertz and the Florida Gators next Saturday.
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