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Michigan is already showing significant improvement under Jim Harbaugh

Michigan is already showing significant improvement under Jim Harbaugh
Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines at 3-1 in his first season in Ann Arbor. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

Don't expect a miracle, people said.

First-year Coach Jim Harbaugh will win at Michigan, but it's going to take time.

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Wait … is it possible Harbaugh's time has already arrived?

It looked that way Saturday after Michigan dismantled No. 22 Brigham Young, 31-0, in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines improved to 3-1, leaving them two victories short of last year's win total. Michigan might even crack the top 25 in Sunday's polls.

You measure a first-year coach by how his team improves over the course of a season. Michigan has improved significantly since Harbaugh's debut loss at Utah on Sept. 3.

Quarterback Jake Rudock complicated that game by throwing three interceptions. Afterward, though, an almost serene Harbaugh went out of his way to praise his team's effort.

"Lot of positives," Harbaugh said then.

One negative Saturday was the possible loss of workhorse running back De'Veon Smith, who suffered an apparent right ankle injury in the third quarter.

Celebratory cautionary note: BYU looked exhausted after playing the fourth game in a brutal stretch. The Cougars, trying to make noise as an independent by taking on all comers, opened the season at Nebraska, hosted Boise State and then played at UCLA and Michigan in consecutive weekends.

Michigan, which held BYU to 105 total yards, opens Big Ten play next week at Maryland.

Orange Bayou

Louisiana State at Syracuse was a strange, cultural pairing and also featured a huge talent disparity at key positions.

LSU boasted tailback Leonard Fournette, the sophomore sensation already being compared to Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker.

Depleted by injuries at the quarterback position, Syracuse started one-time fifth-stringer Zack Mahoney, a junior college transfer from the College of DuPage (we'll save you the time: it's in Illinois).

LSU won, 34-24, with Fournette rushing for 244 yards and solidifying his imaginary stranglehold on the early Heisman Trophy race.

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Fournette ran wild on Syracuse soil made hallow by legends Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little. Davis in 1961 became the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy.

Fournette was keenly aware of his surroundings. He even posed for a picture on the field with Little, who works as a Syracuse administrator.

Mahoney, though, should be commended for his performance. The walk-on is playing only because Syracuse has already lost two quarterbacks to injuries.

Mahoney looked shaky at times against LSU's talented defense, but ended up completing 16 of 38 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns.

It was the first time a Syracuse quarterback had thrown three touchdown passes in a game since Terrel Hunt tossed four against Tulane in 2013.

Heartbreak Hill-ers

Tennessee held a 17-3 lead on Oklahoma in Knoxville on Sept. 12 and blew it, losing in double overtime.

Saturday, Tennessee squandered a 27-14 fourth-quarter lead at Florida and lost, 28-27. It was Tennessee's 11th straight loss to the Gators.

Last week, Texas failed on an extra point try and lost by a point to visiting California.

Saturday, in Austin, the Longhorns' punter dropped a center snap near his own goal line and that allowed Oklahoma State to kick the game-winning field goal.

Texas is now 1-3 for the first time since 1956.

Did any hard-luck program get out alive?

Yes. Nebraska. The Cornhuskers entered Saturday's game against Southern Mississippi with a 1-2 record. The first defeat was to BYU, on a last-second Hail Mary pass. The other was in overtime, at Miami, after Nebraska had rallied back from a 33-10 deficit.

Saturday, Nebraska was on the other end, nearly blowing a 22-0 lead. The Cornhuskers needed a defensive sack at midfield to secure a 36-28 win in Lincoln.

"I guess it's really true," first-year Nebraska Coach Mike Riley said after the game. "It's never easy."

'Name' players

We hold this box score truth to be self-evident: Thomas Jefferson scored on a 72-yard run to give Delaware an early 7-0 lead at North Carolina.

OK, the lead didn't last. The Tar Heels ended up winning, 41-14, but Jefferson finished with 163 yards in 22 carries.

It seemed fitting the Blue Hens' freshman tailback plays for a school in the Colonial Athletic Assn.

This Jefferson hails not from Virginia, however, but from Prospect Park, N.J.

Delaware's Jefferson was born on Christmas Day (1995), while Virginia's Jefferson died on the Fourth of July (1826).

Later in the day, Army receiver Edgar Allan Poe (seriously) caught a touchdown pass against Eastern Michigan.

The "other" Poe, the famous 19th Century poet, deliberately got himself court-martialed and dismissed from West Point in 1831.

He would later influence the nickname of an NFL franchise based in Baltimore.

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