1. Tyler Murphy has his chance
For all of the criticism directed at Jeff Driskel over the last two seasons for Florida’s offensive struggles, there was never really a doubt he was the best option at quarterback. When Tyler Murphy replaced an injured Driskel in the first quarter against Tennessee on Saturday, he had exactly zero career pass attempts. He was an unknown.
The lightly recruited junior from Connecticut spent his first three years at Florida buried on the depth chart behind guys like Driskel, Jacoby Brissett and John Brantley. On Saturday, Murphy made the most of his opportunity and gave Gators’ fans a reason to be hopeful for what the season may hold in store for them. Florida averaged 20 points per game in the first two weeks of the season before putting up 31 on the Volunteers behind 218 total yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) from Murphy.
From a sheer skill standpoint, there’s no argument that Driskel is the best quarterback on the Gators’ roster. He’s lost for the season though, and the team is Murphy’s for the foreseeable future. The offense had grown stale under Driskel’s leadership, though. Murphy has the next two weeks to get used to being The Man with games against Kentucky and Arkansas before heading to LSU on Oct. 12. Florida looked incredibly average in its first two games, but Murphy just might have been the spark the Gators needed to make a run in the SEC.
2. Break up the Terps!
If you haven’t taken notice of Maryland during its 4-0 start this season, now would be a good time. The program looks rejuvenated in its third year under Randy Edsall. What a difference having an actual quarterback makes. After losing every single quarterback on the roster to injury last season, CJ Brown is healthy and firmly entrenched as a bona fide playmaker in the Terrapins’ offense. Maryland shellacked West Virginia 37-0 on Saturday thanks to Brown’s 236 total yards and two touchdowns.
Maryland is a complete team. They are third in the ACC in total defense, second in total offense, and fourth in turnover margin. They have a reliable kicker in Ben Craddock, who drilled all three of his field goal attempts on Saturday including one from 50 yards away. What was perhaps most impressive about the beatdown was the lack of contribution from Stefon Diggs. The ungodly talented sophomore had just two catches for 13 yards and -1 yard on two punt returns.
Entering the season, it was commonly accepted that Maryland’s fate would rely on two things: the health of its quarterback and the production of Diggs. We now know there are actually plenty of weapons on offense in College Park.
Maryland has this week off before a showdown on Oct. 5 with Florida State in Tallahassee. That’s the Seminoles’ last game before the showdown with third-ranked Clemson. Can you say trap game?
3. The path for Fresno State’s unbeaten season is clear
One of the most popular picks for the last ever BCS Buster has a wide-open path to an unbeaten season now. Fresno State has its two toughest games now comfortably in the rear-view mirror. The Bulldogs are 3-0 with a pair of one-point wins over Rutgers and Boise State to their name. The most difficult game left on the schedule is a Nov. 9 road trip to Wyoming. It will in all likelihood be the only game the Bulldogs play the rest of the season that they won’t be favored by double-digits.
Don’t look now, but Derek Carr is a hidden gem that won’t show up on anyone’s Heisman watch anytime soon, but he might be one of the most skilled passers in the country. Through three games, he’s averaging 374 yards per game and four touchdowns. He’s thrown just one interception so far this year.
The school has launched a Heisman campaign for Carr, but it won’t be enough. There simply aren’t any more teams on the Bulldogs’ schedule that will even raise the eyebrows of the voters.
The only way Carr or the Bulldogs will make news the rest of the year is if they lose. A 12-0 season will surely put them in a BCS bowl and after looking at how the final two months set up for them, anything less would just be a disappointment.