College football Winners and Losers from Week 3: Clemson’s defense dominates

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Say this for
Texas Longhorns
Southern California Trojans
: They know how to draw up memorable games. Nearly 12 years after the 2006 Rose Bowl for the BCS national championship, the Longhorns and Trojans played in another thriller, even if the stakes were lower. USC got the 27-24 double-overtime win, but not without causing a few heart conditions throughout the great Los Angeles area. 

Less dramatic was
Clemson Tigers
win over
Louisville Cardinals
. The Tigers’ defense was the star of the game, limiting former Heisman Trophy winner
Lamar Jackson
to one touchdown through the first three quarters. From this game to
Florida Gators
incredible Hail Mary win over
Tennessee Volunteers
, a lot happened in Week 3 of the college football season.

What were the highlights from Saturday of Week 3? What were the moments some programs want to forget? We hash out the best and worst below with this week’s version of Winners and Losers. 

Winner — Clemson’s defense (again): The final tally of the box score says Louisville had 433 yards and 21 points against Clemson, but that’s kind of a lie. Not the numbers — those are true — but things were never that good for the Cardinals. Clemson did just about everything right to make quarterback Lamar Jackson uncomfortable in the pocket. The Tigers’ defensive line did a fantastic job getting pressure in different ways and linebacker
Dorian O’Daniel
baited Jackson into a pick. Clemson won with a blend of straight-up, hat-on-hat force and disguised alignments. On defense alone, Clemson is playoff material. 

Loser — Louisville: Even at home, at night, and with the best quarterback in the game, it was going to be a tough task for Louisville to beat Clemson. Given the Cardinals’ pass protection issues, this felt like a potentially bad matchup. Still, did anyone think Louisville would have just one touchdown by the fourth quarter? And that score was on a heck of a creative play by Jackson. All of this begs the question: Where would Louisville be without its reigning Heisman winner? Part of what makes great players great is what they’re worth in wins. How many wins is Jackson worth by himself? 

Winner/Loser — Texas’ defense: Yeah, Texas lost to USC 27-24. Yeah, the Longhorns had an all-too-familiar, facepalm-worthy defensive lapse right before the end of the first half when they allowed a 56-yard touchdown pass. Tell me you didn’t watch that game and see a night-and-day difference between Week 1 and Week 3, though. The most impressive area of improvement was in run stopping. The Trojans didn’t even average two yards per rush. Defensive tackle
Poona Ford
had a game with his penetration and run stuffing, and linebacker
Malik Jefferson
was showing off incredible vision and closing speed. This has been such a liability for Texas over the past few years and it was, from start to finish, the best it’s been in a long time. That’s a positive sign. 

Loser —
Auburn Tigers

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