From No. 1 Ohio State to the No. 119 team — which we guess is Duke, for now — there's a lot of football to keep track of. No sweat. Blogcritics has appointed a crew to clean up the mess left each week on the co-ed stadiums across the country and summarize (for you, the infallible reader!) the top games, conference by conference.
After Week 10 of the college football season the ACC has five teams in the top 25 — all between 18th and 24th — but that doesn’t mean that their brand of football has improved any.
In the conference’s best match-up of the week #22 Wake Forest beat #16 Boston College 21-14, giving the Demon Deacons the biggest win in their program’s history. Wake — after being picked to finish last — sits atop the ACC’s Atlantic Division with a 4-1 record and heads down to Tallahassee next Saturday for another huge game against Florida State.
The other “big” ACC match up was a dull, close game between #23 Virginia Tech and Miami. This game serves as a great example of how far the ACC has fallen as ineffective and sloppy play was the order of the day. Virginia Tech hardly looked like a Top 25 team in “rolling up” 139 yards of total offense, and Miami was a poor imitation of former Hurricane teams as they gave up the ball three times and committed eight penalties in Tech's 17-10 win. Whatever slim hope there was that Larry Coker could keep his job was extinguished by this lousy effort.
Clemson completed its total flameout by losing 13-12 to Maryland and Georgia Tech held on to beat NC State 31-23.
In ACC garbage time UNC lost to #11 Notre Dame 45-26, Florida State vanquished Virginia 33-0 and Navy beat winless Duke 38-13.
Nebraska and Texas set themselves up nicely with only two weeks remaining in the regular season. Before this week, they needed to win out and they would be guaranteed a spot in the Championship game. After wins this weekend, both teams can slip a little and still get that ticket for the December 2 game.
In their victory, Texas did what Nebraska couldn’t last week — beat Oklahoma State. The freshman Colt McCoy was again brilliant, tossing for 346 yards and three touchdowns. McCoy now has 27 touchdown passes this season, passing Vince Young for the single season record for touchdown passes at Texas.
Nebraska had to make up for their loss last week by beating Missouri this weekend. The stout Tiger defense which had been carrying them through the first six games of the year has been missing the last few weeks. Missouri gave up 419 yards to Nebraska as they dropped their third game in the last four. Nebraska’s Brandon Jackson ground out 111 yards on the ground coming on 32 carries. He also scored the final touchdown for the Cornhuskers as they moved to 7-2 with the victory in a game that was never in doubt.
Texas got their breathing room thanks to Oklahoma. The Sooners went on the road to College Station and beat the A&M Aggies, 17-16. Running back Allen Patrick gained 173 yards and scored a touchdown for Oklahoma. They needed him to come up big, too, as they were only able to gain 39 yards through the air on a 3 for 12 passing performance by Paul Thompson. Oklahoma closes with three straight South division games against Texas Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State. Two wins would put them in position to head back to the Cotton Bowl.
In other conference action, Texas Tech got over 500 yards passing from Graham Harrell to beat down Baylor 55-21. The win gets the Red Raiders bowl eligible. Kansas State won on the road in conference for the first time in two years, and also became bowl eligible with a 34-21 win at Colorado. The Wildcats last went to a bowl game when they upset Oklahoma in the Big XII Championship game in 2003. Finally, Kansas beat Iowa State 41-10 to keep the Cyclones winless in Big XII play.
Connecticut, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Syracuse spent the weekend playing video games, watching Lee Corso make sound effects, or whatever it is football players do on bye weeks.
The Big East’s only worthwhile game had the audacity to coincide with My Name is Earl and The Office. Third ranked West Virginia ran — literally, that’s kind of what they do during the game — into No. 5 Louisville. In the battle of two undefeateds, Louisville not only kept pace with the Mountaineers’ QB Pat White and tailback Steve Slaton, but pulled ahead by as much as 16 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, 44-34. Brian Brohm, now fully back from injury, was all, “I’ll take that” to backup QB Hunter Cantwell, referring to the ball. Brohm threw for 354 yards and a touchdown, which equalized White and Slaton’s ground attack, which combined for an altitudinous 281 yards and 5 touchdowns. (White had 4 of ‘em, the ballhog.) However, the reliable Slaton lost two fumbles, both on consecutive carries. For shame.
Stats were aplenty, and here are some more. Louisville’s receiving tandem of Brandon Douglas and Mario Urrutia each caught over 100 yards. The teams combined for over 1,000 yards, nearly 50 first downs, and rumors are a couple tackles were made.
Louisville vaulted No. 4 Texas in the AP Poll and also hopped from fifth to third in the BCS over No. 4 Florida. Next week The ‘Ville is again tested with a roadie to surprising undefeated Rutgers.
Psst. And Saturday South Florida beat Pittsburgh 22-12. Shhh. Pass it on.
#1 OSU and #2 Michigan both survived upset bids on the same day from the unlikeliest of teams, Illinois and Ball State respectively.
The Illini were within an onside kick of tying the game, and Ball State, trailing by eight, had four shots on the goal line to tie up Michigan in the waning minutes. OSU survived 17-10, and Michigan held on 34-26.
For OSU, offensively, the second half was as ugly as it gets. The Buckeyes punted six times and were intercepted once. OSU’s offensive struggles cannot solely be blamed on conservative coach Jim Tressel. The Illini defense was impressive, especially linebacker J Leman (19 tackles).
Michigan’s offense was not much better either, at least in the beginning. Quarterback Chad Henne only had 155 yards — 30 less than his pedestrian average — and threw an interception that went back for a TD. Mike Hart fumbled for the first time since junior high in his own end zone that went for a safety. Michigan’s defense was off of its game, too. The vaunted run defense was still present, but the Wolverines had trouble with the aerial attack, allowing 250 yards passing.
With a Capital One Bowl berth at stake, #17 Wisconsin beat Penn State at home 13-3. This game wasn’t as much about the star-studded tailbacks, P.J. Hill Jr. (148 yards rushing) and Tony Hunt (35 yards) as it was about the head coaches, Bret Bielema and Joe Paterno.
At the end of the second half, Bielema abused a new NCAA rule. He purposely had his kickoff team go offsides twice. The new rule starts the clock as soon as the kicker touches the ball rather than the receiver. After Wisconsin finally kicked off, the quarter had ended. Paterno was fired up. As the half came to an end, Paterno was trying to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Wisconsin, and when his attempts proved futile, Paterno lashed out at sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein as he headed to the locker room. During the ABC halftime show, co-host Craig James called Paterno an “old fart” when covering Paterno’s reactions before the half.
Paterno’s day continued to get worse. Early in the third quarter, PSU tight end Andrew Quarless was tackled out of bounds — right into Paterno’s left knee. Paterno fought to stay in the game, but medical heads prevailed. Paterno was carted off the field, and he even flew back before the rest of the team. Paterno wound up with a pair of fractures and an injured ligament in his left leg. Whether Paterno will have surgery will be determined at a later date.
Northwestern upset Iowa in Iowa City. Northwestern seems to have righted themselves with sophomore quarterback C.J. Bacher healthy and under center. Bacher gives the Wildcats a passing threat that was nonexistent earlier in the season. This opens up the running game for stud sophomore tailback Tyrell Sutton, 169 yards rushing with a TD. Iowa’s senior quarterback Drew Tate returned a week removed from thumb surgery on his non-throwing hand. Tate looked like a soccer goalie, wearing an oversized, padded glove. Tate never looked comfortable, throwing for 147 yards and 2 INTs.
Minnesota righted itself with a blowout win over Indiana, 63-22. Minnesota had over 500 yards of total offense with 378 coming through the year. Gophers quarterback Bryan Cupito had four touchdowns.
Michigan State fought valiantly to win one for their recently fired coach, John L. Smith, but came up agonizingly short, in a 17-15 defeat. MSU was plagued by dropped passes the entire afternoon, but still managed to turn a 14-6 deficit into a 15-14 lead. MSU quarterback Drew Stanton threw a costly interception in MSU’s territory in the fourth quarter. Purdue converted the turnover into the game winning field goal.
What was supposed to be the most exciting weekend of the season turned out to be as unwatchable as ever in the league that has fewer .500 or better teams than anyone else.
In the battle for control of CUSA West, Houston scored on its last two drives of the first half and then cruised in the second half en route to a 27-10 win over Tulsa. Kevin Kolb threw for 214 yards and a score as the Cougars improved to 5-1 in the league.
Save for a three game stretch where Houston lost by a combined eight points, the Cougars would be unbeaten and perhaps talking BCS instead of the Liberty Bowl.
Both East Carolina and Marshall kept pace heading into their key Eastern Division match up next Saturday. The Pirates got 128 yards and a touchdown from Brandon Fractious while holding UCF’s star Kevin Smith to just 50 yards on 18 carries in the 23-10 win. Meanwhile, Marshall blew its 21-0 lead only have backup quarterback Jimmy Skinner come in and throw three fourth quarter touchdowns in the Thundering Herd’s 42-21 victory over Tulane.
In the most entertaining game of the weekend, Rice went ahead of UTEP 30-10 in the first half before holding on for a 37-31 win on the road. The Owls' Jarett Dillard has now caught a touchdown in 11 consecutive games.
On Sunday, Memphis continued its season long to struggle replace D’Angelo Williams, getting blasted by Southern Miss 42-21.
In the big Independent game of the week… oh, wait there was no big Independent game again this week.
But Notre Dame kept their fans happy this week by beating up on another hapless opponent, winning over the one-win UNC Tar Heels 45-26. Somehow the Irish continue to move up in the polls despite playing an embarrassing schedule. This week the Green Behemoth travels to Colorado Springs where they face off against the 4-4 Air Force Academy.
In other “action” Temple lost to Central Michigan 42-26, Army lost to Air Force 43-7, and Navy beat Duke 38-13.
Every week, it seems I write about how things are competitive in the Mid-American Conference.
I don’t know if too many people outside the conference have noticed, but certainly, after this week, Michigan has.
Ball State came into Saturday’s game with a 3-6 record and a 3-3 conference record. Saturday, they gave the Wolverines perhaps their toughest test of the season. Nate Davis threw for 250 yards, and was one completed pass away (and a 2-point conversion) from going to overtime. Dante Love had 107 yards receiving and a touchdown pass to help the Cardinals.
Big Ten teams always get tough games from the MAC. Saturday solidified the claim us MAC graduates always make.
The other big surprise this week was Buffalo. James Starks rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns as the Bulls scored 41 straight points to beat the Golden Flashes 41-14. Right now, Central Michigan (42-26 winners over Temple) would play Ohio (16-10 victors over Eastern Michigan) in the title game. Western Michigan (27-24 winners over Miami) and Kent State are in second in the West and East, respectively.
One of my friends asked me if anyone wants to win. That might be the comedic look at it, but a more realistic one is there are 12 teams that are all competitive with each other.
The upside is it makes for a great title chase. The downside is no team will break the Top 25.
Two of our military branches — Army and Air Force — took center stage last Thursday on prime time. It looked as if the underdog cadets at West Point would take the early lead, but freshman quarterback Carson Williams, now known as MAGGOT! to his drill sargeant, fumbled the snap and Air Force Falconback Adam Zanotti scooped it up for a 98-yard touchdown. (What the heck's a "falconback?") Then AFA rattled off 36 points in the second quarter — a school record — to jet back to Colorado Springs with a 43-7 victory. The win ensures Navy, who beat AFA earlier this year, wins the Commander-in-Chief trophy.
BYU continued its march to the conference title with a 24-3 win over Colorado State. Quarterback John Beck has his standard 3 touch… wait, wha? He had no touchdowns and one INT? What happened? Still, his 22-for-30, 290-yard performance keeps the completion percentage healthy, and Fui Vakapuna ran it in twice to solidify first place. Plus, the Cougars grabbed the final spot in the AP Top 25 poll.
Wyoming, with two losses in the conference, still has a fleeting chance to win the MWC after narrowly edging San Diego State 27-24. The one-win Aztecs actually led at halftime, but two Joseph Harris rushing touchdowns vaulted the Cowboys up to a 27-17 lead that SDSU couldn't overcome as the last-minute onside kick failed. Crazy yet meaningless stat of the game: SDSU wideout Atiyyah Henderson led the team in pass receptions with three, totaling eight yards — fewest among teammates that also caught passes.
And even though TCU beat hapless UNLV 25-10, it appears the fall from grace has kicked the Horned Frogs out of the conference. At least according to ESPN. A screen capture taken at about 9 p.m. (7 p.m. Mountain Time) shows not only is TCU not in the conference, but Wyoming is tied for second place with themselves. It always helps to monopolize the second place.
Wyoming may need both its teams on Thursday for a nationally-televised showdown at BYU. But that station is CSTV, and I don't get that one.
Before we get to the recap, a quick apology. Last week I mistakenly wrote that the Pac-10 tiebreaker is a "last team to go to the Rose Bowl" policy. This isn't accurate. While it is the final prong of a series of tiebreakers, the first level is a simple head-to-head analysis, which makes a lot more sense and preserves the drama of the USC-Cal showdown.
The "last to go" tiebreaker came from those years when two Pac-10 teams could both wind up undefeated because they didn't play each other, which doesn't happen now with the nine-game conference schedule. Anyway, no excuses. One shouldn't be asserting facts without double-checking them… unless one is auditioning for a gig with The New York Times.
As for the action on the field this weekend, the biggest story was probably the demise of Washington State. After pulling off a few big wins and creeping into the Top 25, the Cougars laid an egg, losing 27-17 to a pretty poor Arizona team. It would have been nice for the conference to see a fourth team stick in the rankings, but it was not to be. Kind of like it would have been nice to see a season four premier of The O.C. that didn't suck.
As for the big guns in the conference, USC got a pretty ideal bounce-back game by drawing Stanford, which resulted in a predictable 42-0 win. And Cal stayed in "tune up for USC" mode by drumming UCLA 38-24 as late-charging Heisman hopeful Marshawn Lynch totaled 126 yards and two scores.
Oregon State maintained the momentum of its colossal win over USC by pounding a supposedly decent Arizona State team 44-10. It took the Beavers a while to get it going this year, but I wouldn't want to play them down the stretch.
(Side note: Boise State has to be loving what Oregon State is doing. The Broncos got their undefeated season going with what was then considered a minor upset over OSU. That win wasn't looking real great until the Beavs knocked off the Trojans. [Double side note: is there a more sexually inappropriate matchup of team nicknames in college football than Trojans-versus-Beavers?])
Finally, Oregon drilled Washington 34-14 and Jonathan Stewart looked 100% healthy and virtually unstoppable, which could make next week's Oregon-USC showdown very interesting.
It really was the best thing that could have happened. Maybe there are times when you need to take a step backwards to move ahead. There are some people who miss the early warning signs that something is breaking and will not make repairs until the machine implodes.
Alabama lost at home to Mississippi State, 24-16.
This is wrong on so many levels. Any Crimson Tide fan knew if Sylvester Croom survived in his job long enough to beat Alabama, this story would be told. That it happened in a season that has been teetering on disaster makes it all the worse. Alabama is broken and Mike Shula does not appear to be the man to fix it.
''We are a better football team than what we saw out there today. We thought we'd be further along by now,'' Shula said.
Right on both counts, coach. Alabama lost to an inferior Arkansas squad in September and squandered a golden opportunity to beat rival Tennessee a couple weeks ago. This team is better than the results they are producing and despite the turmoil Shula inherited they should be further along by now.
This embarrassing loss — and "embarrassing" is not nearly a strong enough word for it — could well shape the future of the Alabama program.
Believe it or not, there were other SEC games this weekend. Florida clinched a berth in the SEC title game with a win over a better-than expected Vanderbilt team, 25-19.
The game of the week was LSU's last-second win over Tennessee. Senior QB, and future strongman, JaMarcus Russell hit WR Early Doucet for a 4-yard touchdown with 9 seconds left on the clock to give the Tigers a 28-24 win. The win gives the Tigers a (very) outside shot at playing Florida for the SEC Championship. For the Tigers to advance, they would need Auburn to lose to both Georgia and Alabama and would need to win all their remaining games.
Speaking of Auburn, they finally found a team from the state of Arkansas they can beat. They whipped Arkansas St. 27-0.
And speaking of Arkansas, the Razorbacks continue to hold the inside track to face Florida in the conference title game. Arkansas won a thrilling game at South Carolina, 26-20. Star RB Darren McFadden can only hope some Heisman voters watched him hang 219 yards on the Gamecock defense. McFadden will not win the award and may not even be a finalist, but he is going to be a star in the NFL and might get a trip to the Downtown Athletic Club before he leaves Fayetteville.
Arkansas State would love nothing more than to get back and aim for that conference title after a 29-0 setback at Florida Atlantic last week, but they already had plans to lose to Auburn. Strangely enough, the loss wasn't as bad as the previous week, 27-0. In all fairness, the Tigers had four turnovers but the defense held ASU to 81 yards in the first three quarters. Beyond Corey Leonard's 61 yards passing, nobody else had more than 50 all-purpose yards (Chris James had 43).
Middle Tennessee and Troy both stayed perfect in the SBC with comfy home victories thanks to some remarkable rushing performances. MTSU dismantled Florida Atlantic 35-14 as Eugene Gross had 208 yards on the ground, as well as two scores. Then the Trojans feasted on gumbo during a 42-28 win over Louisiana-Lafeyette. Kenny Cattouse ambushed the Cajuns for 172 yards an two touchdowns.
And for some unknown reason, North Texas played Louisiana Tech and — for several known reasons — lost 34-31. The Mean ol' Green had a heck of a second quarter after spotting the Techies 21 points in the first. UNT rattled off 24 points before halftime, and in all had 31 straight points. But yeah, that still wasn't enough.
There were four games in the WAC this week, including last Wednesday’s 45-21 Boise State win over Fresno State. Fresno has lost 7 in a row since their season opening win against Nevada, while Boise remains undefeated and in the driver’s seat (especially having already beaten Hawaii) to secure the conference’s first ever BCS bowl bid.
Hawaii continued their offensive dominance with a 63-10 shellacking over Utah State on the road in Logan. Colt Brennan threw for 6 touchdowns and was named the National Offensive Player of the Week.
San Jose kept in stride with a win over poor, tired, New Mexico State, now the losers of 20 straight contests over 1A competition. Finally, Louisiana Tech beat North Texas, and better enjoy the feeling, as they travel to Honolulu this weekend to be the next sacrificial kalua pig for the Aloha Stadium luau pit.Powered by Sidelines