Week 3 of the 2017 college football season was filled with several intriguing matchups and storylines. Clemson and Mississippi State delivered statement victories, USC defeated Texas in overtime, Memphis and San Diego State earned wins over Power 5 programs, and Florida beat Tennessee on a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass.
With the third weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 3:
College Football Week 3 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis
Memphis has earned a victory over a Power 5 team for three consecutive seasons, and it’s clear this program is on the rise behind second-year coach Mike Norvell. The Tigers knocked off UCLA 48-45 on Saturday, as Ferguson torched the Bruins for 398 passing yards and six scores. The six passing touchdowns tied a career high for Ferguson. With Ferguson and receiver Anthony Miller leading the way, Memphis should make a run to be the top Group of 5 program in 2017.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kameron Kelly, CB, San Diego State
San Diego State earned its second win over a Power 5 team this season, as coach Rocky Long’s team knocked off Stanford 20-17 on Saturday night. As expected with Long’s program, the defense is a shutdown group. The Cardinal managed only 238 total yards, including just 64 through the air. Kelly was the headliner on defense for Long, recording six stops (two for a loss) and two sacks. Additionally, Kelly forced a fumble that ended a potential scoring drive for Stanford and intercepted a pass with less than a minute remaining to seal the victory.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State
Yurcich pushed all of the right buttons in Oklahoma State’s 59-21 victory over Pitt. The Cowboys were rarely stopped, averaging 9.4 yards per play, converting 10 of 14 third-down attempts and recording four scoring plays of 40 or more yards against the Panthers. Quarterback Mason Rudolph threw for 497 yards and five touchdowns, and four Oklahoma State receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark in yardage.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Todd Grantham, Mississippi State
Grantham was one of the SEC’s top coordinator hires, and his arrival in Starkville is already paying big dividends for Mississippi State. LSU entered Saturday’s game averaging 36 points a game, but the Bulldogs limited the Tigers to just seven points, 270 yards, limited the offense to just three third-down conversions on 13 attempts and only one drive went longer than 50 yards. Additionally, Mississippi State held LSU running back Derrius Guice to just 76 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Texas fell short of a road upset against USC, but there were plenty of positives for coach Tom Herman to take back to Austin, including the play of Ehlinger. The true freshman was making just his second career start under center for the Longhorns and threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns on 21 completions. Ehlinger also rushed for 51 yards on 19 attempts. The true freshman made several clutch throws late in the game to keep Texas’ upset hopes alive and connected on a touchdown toss in the first overtime to send it to another session. Ehlinger showed plenty of poise and ability in a tough environment and nearly guided the Longhorns to an upset victory over a top-five opponent. Not bad for his second career start.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Marco Wilson/CJ Henderson, DB, Florida
Wilson and Henderson were two key cogs for Florida’s defense in Saturday’s win over Tennessee. Wilson tied for the team lead with seven stops and recorded three pass breakups. Henderson posted five tackles and recorded an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Freshman of the Week (Special Teams): Chase McGrath, K, USC
McGrath – a freshman walk-on – was instrumental in USC’s 27-24 overtime victory against Texas. Through two games, McGrath had yet to attempt a field goal but was perfect on all 13 extra point attempts. On the final play of regulation, McGrath (in his first career attempt) calmly connected on a 31-yarder to force overtime. And in the second overtime, McGrath nailed a 43-yard attempt to give the Trojans a three-point victory.
Team of the Week: Clemson
The path to the ACC Championship runs through Death Valley once again. Clemson’s defense has dominated through the first three weeks of the season and held Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in check in Saturday night’s 47-21 victory. Replacing Deshaun Watson at quarterback wasn’t going to be easy for coach Dabo Swinney, but he’s found his next star signal-caller in Kelly Bryant. The junior delivered a standout performance against the Cardinals, completing 22 of 32 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown and rushing for 26 yards and two scores. With a home game up next against Boston College, Clemson should be 4-0 headed into a road showdown against Virginia Tech on Sept. 30.
Unsung Hero of the Week: Devante Downs, LB, California
It’s a close call between San Diego State’s Kameron Kelly and Downs for defensive player of the week honors, but since the edge went to Kelly in that category, let’s give a tip of the cap to Downs as the unsung hero of Week 3. While helping to hold Ole Miss to just 16 points, Downs collected 14 tackles (three for a loss), two sacks and one interception.