We have a new superstar player to celebrate in college football, but not a new No. 1 team.
Boy, was it close, though.
For the first time in the history of the Associated Press poll, the top three teams played on the road against ranked teams, so we expected some shake-up. And by the time Cal completed its upset of No. 11 Texas, seven ranked teams had fallen in Week 3.
No. 1 Alabama found itself in familiar territory, trailing SEC West nemesis Ole Miss for the third straight season.
The No. 19 Rebels held a 24-3 lead late in the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, but the Crimson Tide scored two touchdowns in the final 2:10, the second coming on Eddie Jackson's 85-yard punt return.
After Alabama went ahead 48-30 late in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss scored two touchdowns in eight seconds, thanks to a successful onside kick, before the Crimson Tide survived with a 48-43 victory. For the Tide, the 21-point deficit matched the largest comeback in the program's storied history. For the Rebels, it was the second game this season in which they've lost after leading by 21 points. (The other was against Florida State.)
It was a taxing win for the Crimson Tide, and many of their players and coaches needed an IV -- but not Nick Saban.
"You have coaches getting IVs," Saban said. "You have players getting IVs. But the old fella doesn't need an IV because they don't make 'em like they used to."
While Alabama took some time to find its footing against Ole Miss, No. 2 Florida State was run out of the building at Louisville. The Seminoles were embarrassed in a 63-20 loss against the 10th-ranked Cardinals -- it was the third-largest victory over a top-two team in the 80-year history of the AP poll and the biggest since 2008.
Although we're only one-third of the way into the season, Louisville's Lamar Jackson might be an early runaway winner of the Heisman Trophy. The sophomore quarterback continued his sizzling start by running for four touchdowns and throwing for one more against FSU. Jackson has accounted for 18 touchdowns in three games.
The Cardinals are more than a one-man circus, however. Louisville's defense held FSU star tailback Dalvin Cook to only 3.4 yards per carry and harassed freshman quarterback Deondre Francois into 7-of-18 passing.
After humiliating the Seminoles, the Cardinals will get their chance against defending ACC champion Clemson on the road on Oct. 1.
"We look at the start of the season and we know that everything has to go through Florida State and Clemson," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.
Alabama doesn't seem ready to loosen its grip on No. 1, but it might be hard to argue that the SEC is still the best league. In fact, that distinction might belong to -- gasp! -- the Big Ten, which figures to have at least three teams ranked in the top 10 when new polls are released Sunday.
No. 3 Ohio State scored 35 points in the first half at Oklahoma and all but knocked the No. 14 Sooners out of the College Football Playoff race with a 45-24 victory. The Buckeyes are 19-0 in road games under coach Urban Meyer, and they've won five consecutive road games against ranked foes. After losing nine underclassmen to the NFL draft, the Buckeyes were supposed to be a year away from challenging for one of the four spots in the CFP. But even with eight new starters on both sides of the ball, Ohio State again looks as if it might be the team to beat in the Big Ten.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett threw four touchdown passes against Oklahoma, all of them to sophomore Noah Brown, who might have already turned in the touchdown catch of the season with a behind-the-back (of the defender) grab late in the first half.
Although Ohio State won easily for the third week in a row, No. 4 Michigan was actually tested for the first time. The Wolverines fell behind Colorado by 14 points twice in the first quarter before rallying for a comfortable 45-28 victory at the Big House.
"In the first two games, we were never really punched in the face," Michigan tight end Jake Butt told reporters. "It wasn't going to be a fairy tale the whole season."
Ohio State probably won't be Michigan's lone competition in the Big Ten. No. 12 Michigan State built a 29-point lead in the third quarter at No. 18 Notre Dame before the Fighting Irish fought back for three late touchdowns. The Spartans held on for a 36-28 victory to end a three-game losing streak against Notre Dame.
Along with Oklahoma, the Fighting Irish have already lost two games and are probably eliminated from the CFP race before the calendar even turns to October. So is USC, which lost 27-10 at Stanford on Saturday night. Cardinal star Christian McCaffrey had 260 all-purpose yards, scoring on a 56-yard catch and 1-yard run.
Nebraska also figures to enter the top-25 rankings after beating No. 22 Oregon 35-32. The Cornhuskers were aided by the Ducks' decision to keep trying two-point conversions; Oregon went 1-for-5 on the attempts, the most missed conversions by a team in the past 10 seasons.
With a 3-0 start, Nebraska suddenly looks like the favorite in the Big Ten West. FCS national champion North Dakota State stunned No. 13 Iowa 23-21 with a last-second field goal in Iowa City. The Bison are the first FCS program to defeat an AP-ranked opponent since 2013 and the fourth to do so since the FBS/FCS split in 1978.
"I told them before the game we belonged. I told them at halftime we belonged," North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman said. "That's a great football team we beat today. You can't tell anyone in our locker room we're not good enough to beat anybody."
After a wild start to the 2016 season, the Crimson Tide weren't the only ones who needed to catch their breath Saturday.
"This game was so wild and woolly," Saban said. "It was an unbelievable game for fans to watch. It was a really difficult game for a coach to have to suffer through, but we made it.
"We made it."
That's more than a lot of the sport's traditional powers could say after Saturday.
Playoff teams after Week 3
2. Louisville: The Cardinals made an emphatic statement in their 63-20 rout of Florida State. They were the first ACC team to score 60 points in three straight contests, and the 63 points were the most given up by a Seminoles team in a game.
3. Ohio State: The Buckeyes scored 35 points in the first half of a 45-24 win at Oklahoma, the most points the Sooners gave up in the first half of a game at Memorial Stadium. OSU opens Big Ten play in two weeks against Rutgers at home after a bye this coming week.
4. Michigan: The Wolverines fell behind Colorado 21-7 early but pulled away behind their dominant defense. The Buffaloes had more points, yards and first downs in the first quarter than they had in the final three quarters combined.
Next four in contention
1. Houston: After a slow start at Cincinnati on Thursday night, the Cougars exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter of a 40-16 victory. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. returned from a shoulder injury and passed for 326 yards with three total touchdowns (two rushing and one passing).
2. Clemson: After two so-so performances to start the season, the Tigers demolished FCS foe South Carolina State 59-0 at Death Valley. It was so bad that the coaches agreed to play 12-minute quarters in the second half.
3. Stanford: The Cardinal's win over USC was their third straight victory over the Trojans by double digits, a first in the program's history. Stanford will play three of its next four games away from home: at UCLA, at No. 8 Washington and at No. 18 Notre Dame.
4. Michigan State: The Spartans built an early 29-point lead, then held on for a 36-28 win at Notre Dame. It was Michigan State's first win in the rivalry since 2010 and its first in South Bend, Indiana, since 2007.
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Jackson accounted for five more touchdowns against Florida State (one passing, four rushing) to give him an FBS-high 18 in three games this season. Entering Saturday, none of the 127 FBS teams other than Louisville had scored 18 touchdowns this season. It was Jackson's fifth consecutive game with 100 rushing yards and 100 passing yards.
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: USC has become McCaffrey's favorite opponent. In his past three games against the Trojans, including two games last season, McCaffrey is averaging 320 all-purpose yards. Saturday was his 13th straight game with at least 200 all-purpose yards, best in the FBS.
3. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: Barrett had four passing touchdowns and rushed for 74 yards on the ground in the Buckeyes' convincing win over Oklahoma. Barrett passed Braxton Miller and Troy Smith on Ohio State's all-time list with his 55th career touchdown pass.
4. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State: Pumphrey ran for 220 yards with three touchdowns on 23 carries in the Aztecs' 42-28 win at Northern Illinois. It was his second straight game with more than 200 rushing yards, and he set a Mountain West Conference record with his 52nd career touchdown.
1. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich and kicker Matt Wogan honored late Nebraska punter Sam Foltz by placing flowers at the 27-yard line -- Foltz's number -- at Memorial Stadium.
Really classy gesture by Oregon coach Mark Helfrich and Ducks kicker Matt Wogan to remember Sam Foltz. pic.twitter.com/uyUQl4PcMW— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) September 17, 2016
3. Auburn used a drone to deliver the game ball to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Tigers' game against Texas A&M.
The future is scary.— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 18, 2016
A drone delivers the game ball for Auburn - Texas A&M https://t.co/O1yAcXBJio
4. The "Har-Bug" showed up at the Big House. Harbaugh probably wondered how much time was wasted devising the paint scheme.
1. Yes, Louisville's Lamar Jackson floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.
😳— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 18, 2016
Jacob Eason finds Isaiah McKenzie on 4th and 10 to take the one point lead! pic.twitter.com/QoGmcncfuy
4. Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki made a, well, sick one-handed catch for a 52-yard gain in the Nittany Lions' 34-27 win over Temple.
1. Clemson's Ray-Ray McCloud can sleep better at night. South Carolina State's Ahmaad Harris fielded a kickoff and flipped the ball to an official -- without taking a knee. The Tigers recovered the fumble for a touchdown.
2. For the second week in a row, officials in the state of Oklahoma missed a pivotal play. Sooners running back Joe Mixon clearly dropped the ball before crossing the goal line on his 97-yard touchdown run.
Yeah, maybe that wasn't a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/DcY85eAlo1— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 18, 2016
3. You would think USC's defense would always know where Stanford's Christian McCaffrey is on the field. Somehow, the Trojans lost him on a wheel route, and he made them pay with a 56-yard touchdown catch.
So, someone should probably try to tackle Christian McCaffrey... pic.twitter.com/0whV41sVv5— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 18, 2016
4. Charlotte was penalized for three dead-ball penalties on the same Eastern Michigan pick-six, so the Eagles took the ensuing kickoff off from the 49ers' 20-yard line.
After 3 personal foul penalties, Eastern Michigan kicked off from the Charlotte 20-yard line (h/t EMU Athletics) pic.twitter.com/hYwsqakuwp— ESPNU (@ESPNU) September 18, 2016
Tweets of the night
1. Seriously, why do FBS teams keep scheduling FCS dynasty North Dakota State?
Live look at Iowa City pic.twitter.com/DicVVnb9G1— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 17, 2016
2. In the lead-up to Oklahoma's visit from Ohio State, Sooners backup quarterback Austin Kendall said the Buckeyes have a "very basic defense" and that Baker Mayfield would "light them up." It's safe to say Ohio State heard him.
3. And that's saying something.
Lamar Jackson 5x better than what I was at V-Tech....Enough said!! #future— Mike Vick (@MikeVick) September 17, 2016
4. Yeah, about that Tennessee offensive line.
Quotes of the night
1. "I saw that the linebackers were down the middle. I had to get the corner to the middle of the field, and once they called hike I said, 'I got to get to the middle before he does. Before he beats me there.' That's what I did. He threw a good pass; I had to adjust and come down with it and secure it. That put us on top." -- Georgia receiver Isaiah McKenzie on his winning touchdown catch against Missouri
2. "As a quarterback, you can't do that. It stinks that I'm sitting here and saying that it's my mistake again, but I have to correct it because it's on me. If we don't turn that ball over like that, we probably sit here and win the game." -- Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly
3. "Everybody knew that it was not a fluke. It was physical play. It got our attention. I did not have to say something magical to get them fired up." -- Miami coach Mark Richt, about how Appalachian State got his team's attention with its overtime loss at Tennessee in its opener. The Hurricanes defeated the Mountaineers 45-10 on the road.
4. "The refs came over to me right before the half and asked if I'd be OK with shortening up the game if South Carolina State was. I said it'd be fine with me. They came over again before the start of the third quarter and asked if I'd be OK with 12-minute quarters. It was fine with me." -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who agreed to play 12-minute quarters in the second half against FCS foe South Carolina State, after taking a 45-0 lead at the half
Stats that matter
1. $2,175,000: Amount of money that North Dakota State has been paid by the six FBS opponents it has defeated since 2010.
2. 82: Oregon's streak of 82 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass, an NCAA record, ended in its loss at Nebraska. The last time the Ducks didn't throw a touchdown pass was in a 26-17 loss to Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
3. 6: Auburn's 29-16 loss to Texas A&M was its sixth consecutive defeat in an SEC home game. The Tigers haven't beaten an SEC foe at home since knocking off South Carolina 42-35 on Oct. 25, 2014.
4. 14: Since 2005, Nebraska coach Mike Riley has 14 victories over ranked opponents while his own team was unranked, the most by any FBS head coach during that span.