College football spotlight: Mack Brown shows USC, NCAA the ring finger

Mack Brown, the former Texas Longhorns coach, was in studio at halftime of the UCLA-Memphis game in his current gig as a college football analyst when the topic was raised about Texas’ game later in the day against USC.

Specifically, he was asked about a line in the game notes distributed by USC last week.

The line read, “USC is 4-0 in its series with Texas (not including 1 loss vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record, 4-1).”

Brown responded by raising a finger.

“No. 1, I was at the game and it was on ABC, and I saw it,” he said, keeping the finger raised, “and I do look at the ring and we still got it. It says No. 1. … And if I knew you could vacate games that you lost, I wouldn’t have never lost any. Because I would have done something bad enough to do something to vacate them.”

OK, so it should probably be noted that the digit Brown raised was his index finger, which was wrapped in a diamond-crusted national championship ring.

But those comments? Well, lets just say he was also giving a verbal finger.

Moral victory

It’s hard to believe that Baylor’s season highlight so far is that it trailed Duke by only four points after three quarters Saturday.

The Blue Devils pulled away in the fourth quarter to complete a 34-20 win, meaning they have opened a season with three consecutive victories for only the second time since 1994. But Baylor staying competitive for most of a game with a decent major-college team qualified as news.

In the Bears’ first two games under coach Matt Rhule, they lost to opponents that had never beaten a team from a Power Five conference. Liberty, which defeated Baylor 48-45, is in the first year of a two-year transition from the Football Championship Subdivision. Texas San Antonio, which beat the Bears 17-10, had lost its previous nine games against Power Five teams.

Before numerous allegations — and two convictions — of sexual assault involving football players prompted chaos that enveloped the campus, Baylor had won 32 games over three seasons, from 2013 to 2015. And even after coach Art Briles was fired amid the assault scandal, the Bears opened with six consecutive victories and were ranked as high as No. 8 last season.

Since then, they have lost nine of 10 games.

Baylor’s 0-3 start is its worst since 1999, when the Bears started 0-4 on the way to a 1-10 finish.

Oh, and next up: No. 2 Oklahoma.

Paying it forward

Coach Mike Riley is credited, so to speak, with bringing the forward pass to Nebraska football. Against Northern Illinois, a couple of those passes ended up headed the opposite direction, real fast.

Tanner Lee had three passes intercepted by the Huskies, including two that were returned for touchdowns of 87 and 25 yards, as the Cornhuskers fell 21-17. Lee’s last pick occurred with Nebraska trying to rally in the final three minutes of the game.

Under coach Rod Carey, Northern Illinois has four victories in its last five games against Big Ten Conference teams, having downed Iowa and Purdue in 2013 and Purdue in 2014. Its loss: 20-13 to then-top-ranked Ohio State, a five-touchdown favorite, in 2015.

Nebraska is 1-2, a record the Cornhuskers have carried three times in 57 years — twice in three years under Riley, who got a contract extension last week.

Feeling the heat

Riley is far from the only major-college coach who fans believe should be on the hot seat. Kevin Sumlin might be at the head of the table, even after Texas A&M defeated Louisiana Lafayette 45-21.

That’s because the Aggies actually trailed by a touchdown at halftime — against a team that gave up 66 points against Tulsa in its previous game, and came in with a record of 1-63 against current Southeastern Conference programs.

To recap, Sumlin and Texas A&M blew a 34-point lead against UCLA in Game 1, and were tied 14-14 midway through the fourth quarter in Week 2 against lower-division Nicholls State.

Next week the Aggies will try to end at six games a losing streak against Power Five opponents in their SEC opener against Arkansas.

All roads lead to grief

What was probably Kansas’ best chance at a road win this season slipped away in a 42-30 loss to Ohio, and now the Jayhawks appear on their way to setting the wrong kind of record.

Kansas hasn’t won on the road in football since downing Texas El Paso on Sept. 12, 2009. The losing streak has reached 42 games, two shy of the NCAA record established by Western (Colo.) State from 1926 to 1936.

The Jayhawks’ next three road games are Oct. 14 against Iowa State, the following week against Texas Christian and Nov. 11 against Texas.

“Somebody is going to break [the losing streak],” coach David Beaty said last week. “Might as well be us. Might as well be this week.”

Yeah, he says that every week.

Calling the infantry

You know the old military motto: the Army owns the ground.

OK, so the Army football team didn’t actually own it against Ohio State’s stingy defense, but the Black Knights had their moment: an 18-play, 99-yard touchdown march — and we do mean march — against the Buckeyes that lasted 9 minutes 37 seconds.

Army tried three passes on the drive, completing one for nine yards.

Picking them apart

Pittsburgh surely has seen quite enough of Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, who passed for a total of more than 1,000 yards in two games against the Panthers.

Last year, he passed for a school-record 540 yards, which he could have surpassed Saturday had he not been removed from the game after throwing for 497 yards and five touchdowns in two and a half quarters.

Four Cowboys had at least 100 yards receiving: Jalen McCleskey (162), James Washington (124), Marcell Ateman (100) and Dillon Stoner (100).

As for Pittsburgh’s passing game, USC transfer Max Browne has not been the answer at quarterback. He was removed in the second quarter, having completed seven of 10 passes for 60 yards. He was replaced by sophomore Ben DiNucci, who completed 13 of 25 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

“We have a decision to make,” coach Pat Narduzzi said afterward.

Extra points

Brandon Wimbush ran for four touchdowns and 207 yards, a Notre Dame record for a quarterback. And he wasn’t even the Fighting Irish’s leading rusher. Josh Adams ran for 229 yards in a 49-20 win over Boston College. … Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay ran 26 times for 151 yards and a touchdown against Northern Colorado, which got five yards in one carry from younger brother Zach Lindsay. … Purdue’s 35-3 win at Missouri means the Boilermakers (2-1) are already only one win shy of last year’s total. Purdue’s previous road win in a nonconference game came in 2007, against Toledo. … Rutgers ended an losing streak at 11 games with a 65-0 win over Morgan State. Should it count? Morgan State hasn’t scored this season, having been shut out also by Towson and Albany.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeHiserman

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