From No. 1 Ohio State to the No. 119 team — which might be Florida International — 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.
Despite their putrid effort in losing to Virginia Tech by a 27-6 score, as far as the ACC race goes this game was meaningless as Wake Forest can still clinch first place in the ACC Atlantic division if they beat Maryland on the road this weekend. If Maryland wins they will take first place.
And speaking of Maryland, they messed the bed big time against Boston College as the Terp offense scored more points for Boston College than it did for them, as BC scored three defensive touchdowns on their way to a 38-16 win.
On the Coastal side of the ACC, Georgia Tech clinched first place by virtue of their 49-21 win over hapless Duke. Georgia Tech closes out their regular season this weekend against in-state rival Georgia Bulldogs.
In other ACC action Virginia made Miami more miserable than they already were by beating them 17-7, North Carolina sent John Bunting off with a 23-9 win over in-state rival NC State and Florida State squeaked out a win over Western Michigan 28-20.
While conference races across the country were decided this weekend, there is still some drama remaining in the Big XII. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 36-10 to keep their hopes for a Big XII South division title alive.
The Sooners had five turnovers on the day, two leading to scores by Baylor, but they were able to overcome mistakes to get the easy win. Sophomore Malcolm Kelly had his second straight great receiving week, catching five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Chris Brown, who had two touchdowns against Texas Tech a week ago, ran for 169 yards and a touchdown of his own in the victory.
Oklahoma had been left for dead in the Big XII race after they began 3-2, including a loss to division leader Texas. Things looked even bleaker in the next game against Iowa State when they lost Adrian Peterson with a broken collarbone. However, that was the beginning of a six game winning streak which has taken them to 6-1 in conference. The Sooners need to beat Oklahoma State next week and hope for a Texas A&M upset of Texas to get to Kansas City.
Earlier in the week, Missouri gave head coach Gary Pinkel a raise to $1.3 million a year, and extended him through the 2011 season. Maybe they will rethink that decision after Saturday. The Tigers lost to Iowa State 21-16 to fall to 7-4 overall. After starting the season 6-0, Missouri has lost four of its last five.
The Cyclones needed a defensive stop on 4th and goal to clinch the win. It was their first conference victory of the season, coming in Dan McCarney’s final game as head coach.
Texas Tech began the day down 17-0 against Oklahoma State midway through the second quarter. The Red Raiders then went on a tear, scoring 27 straight points to beat the Cowboys, 30-24. Graham Harrell threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns, both to Robert Johnson, in the victory.
Kansas State was unable to build on their defeat of Texas last week. They closed their regular season with a 39-20 loss on the road at Kansas. Josh Freeman who had been a big part of the Wildcat victory last week, did not have a touchdown pass, and threw three interceptions in the loss.
Senior tailback Jon Cornish had 201 yards rushing and two touchdowns for Kansas. The Jayhawks became the ninth bowl eligible team from the conference with their win.
What a difference a week makes.
Less than ten days ago, the nation was abuzz with how the Big East, and Rutgers in particular, would factor into the national title race. Most figured that the next big game would occur between Rutgers and West Virginia. But those who follow the Big East know about that Bearcats and how much they would factor into Rutgers dreams.
Last night, the University of Cincinnati served notice to the rest of the nation.
Far from a "let down" game, the Bearcats handled the No. 7 Scarlet Knights in a convincing 30-1 win.
The main story was Bearcat quarterback Nick Davila. Making his first start, he was 11-15 for 277 yards. However, his one yard run for 83 yard touchdown pass was more than enough to end Rutger's title aspirations.
This is the Bearcats' second season in the conference. And while they are only a game over .500 overall this season, the Bearcats have lost to four Top 10 teams, all on the road, in closely matched contests.
#1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan played in a game for the ages. Surprisingly, a match up featuring two staunch defenses, turned into a gun-slinging performance, with OSU holding off UM 42-39. In this wacky offensive game, both teams combined for over 900 yards, with OSU accounting for 503. Before the players had a chance to leave the field, the questions arose about a possible national championship game rematch. “The Game” proved that OSU and Michigan are far and away the best two teams in the country. On this day, the Wolverines just ran out of time against a slightly better Buckeye team.
Buckeyes’ head coach Jim Tressel and quarterback Troy Smith are now officially the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of collegiate football. Tressel improved his record against Michigan to 5-1 and Smith is now 3-0, cementing his legacy as the greatest Buckeye to play in “The Game.” It is easy to forget (not for me personally) that the OSU/Michigan rivalry was recently a joke. Annually, John Cooper-coached OSU teams would have great seasons washed out at the hands of the Wolverines. Before Tressel and Smith came along, I did not think I would live to see the Buckeyes reverse their fortunes. Now, going into the biggest OSU/UM game of my lifetime, I had little doubt that the Buckeyes wouldn’t pull through.
The outcome was decided on a gutsy fourth quarter drive by Smith. With his lead dwindling at 35-31, Smith threw a 13-yard laser to sophomore wide receiver Brian Robiskie in the corner of the end zone. A major turning point on the drive came on a third-and-long, with Smith forced out of bounds with a questionable penalty on a helmet-to-helmet hit. The call gave the Buckeyes a first down and kept the drive alive. Smith was able to overcome his three second-half turnovers to lead his team to victory. Smith most assuredly clinched his Heisman candidacy with a season-high 316 yards passing to go with 4 TDs.
Wolverines’ stud tailback Mike Hart rushed for 142 yards and 3 TDs. After the game, Hart said if there was a rematch, the outcome would definitely be different.
UM’s Chad Henne had arguably his best game of the season (his performance against Notre Dame was right up there). Henne completed 21-of-35 passes for 267 yards and 2 touchdowns in this pressure-packed showdown.
Personally, I think a major turning point came on the Buckeyes’ first offensive possession of the game. After receiving the opening kickoff, UM marched down the field and scored with relative ease. Against the fierce Wolverine defense, OSU was finding it difficult to establish a rhythm. On a 3rd and 16, Smith found oft-injured senior wide ut Roy Hall for the first down. That seemed to give the Buckeyes the confidence they needed. Later in the series, Smith found Hall again on third-and-five, and hooked up with Hall on third-and-goal for a touchdown. I was a little more at ease after the Bucks responded to the first blow.
OSU exploded for 21 second quarter points. The former No. 1 high school recruit in the country, freshman tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells, broke off a 52-yard run. On a second-and-one, with the Wolverines gearing up for a run, Smith found speedy flanker Ted Ginn for a 39-yard touchdown. Smith rifled a bullet to receiver Anthony Gonzalez from 8-yards out in response to a Henne-to-Adrian Arrington TD. OSU took a 28-14 lead into the locker room at the half.
Junior running back Antonio Pittman reversed what could have been a disastrous third quarter for the Buckeyes with a 56-yard run against the #1-ranked rushing defense in the country.
Wisconsin handedly beat Buffalo 35-3, winning 11 games for the first time in the storied program’s history. Quarterback John Stocco (separated shoulder) was out for a second straight week, but his backup, Tyler Donovan, filled in admirably, again. Donovan threw for a shade over 300 yards and two touchdowns. P.J. Hill Jr., in a rarity for his high standards, was held under 100 yards (86), but the red-shirt freshman did score a TD.
After missing last week’s game with knee surgery, PSU’s head coach Joe Paterno was back in action, although from the booth, as his Nittany Lions beat Michigan State 17-13 on “Senior Day.” Minnesota clinched a bowl-bid with a 34-24 home win over Iowa. Purdue put a nice finishing touch on their up-and-down season with a home victory over bitter in-state rival Indiana, 28-19. Northwestern, like Purdue, ended their season with an in-state victory over Illinois 27-16.
The Big Ten will send six teams to bowl games: OSU, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa.
The topsy-turvy Eastern division is going to be settled on the final weekend of Conference USA play.
East Carolina blew its chance to clinch the division despite being up eight with just over two minutes to play, falling to Rice on a Clark Fangmeier 40 yard field goal with just three seconds left. The Pirates stopped the Owls' two point conversion attempt but held the ball for just 1:20 on their next possession to give the home team one last shot.
Only five teams in all of Division I-A have had at least 13 consecutive winning seasons. You’d never guess one was Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles got 163 yards rushing from Damion Fletcher and Chris Johnson scored twice to help put away UAB 25-20. They’ll be headed to Houston for the CUSA title game if they can defeat Marshall at home next week.
The Thundering Herd have now won four of five after thumping UTEP 49-21. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 261 yards and five scores to lead the way. Marshall will pose a big threat to Southern Miss next weekend because it needs a win to become bowl eligible.
Elsewhere, Tulsa — who was once good — blew a 17 point halftime lead to lose its third straight to SMU 34-24. The Mustangs are bowl eligible for just the second time since 1987 … Houston, playing a meaningless game, survived to beat Memphis in overtime 23-20 … UCF failed to score a touchdown in its 10-9 loss to Tulane.
In Independent action Notre Dame doused Army 41-9 and faces a big game in Los Angeles against USC this Saturday in prime time this Saturday, and Navy crushed Temple 42-6.
In two weeks Army and Navy will face off in the latest installment in one of sports greatest rivalries.
And we're set.
Ohio took down Akron 17-7 Thursday, and walked away with the MAC East title. It was the Bobcats' sixth straight win, and sends them to the MAC title game Nov. 30 at Ford Field in Detroit. The Bobcats will play Central Michigan, which lost its first conference game Saturday, to Northern Illinois.
The one thing that has been consistent during Ohio's surge has been the running of Kalvin McRae. McRae has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game of the Bobcats' six-game winning streak.
Thursday, McCrae rushed for 136 of the team's 208 rushing yards against the Zips, and ran in a TD.
The West champion Chippewas ran into Garrett Wolfe, who ran for 203 yards in a 31-10 Huskies' win.
Earlier in the week, Miami won a sloppy 9-7 win over Bowling Green, while Toledo fell to Ball State, 20-17.
Kent State became bowl-eligible with a 14-6 win over Eastern Michigan. Eugene Jarvis made the win possible, rushing for 155 yards.
In non-conference games, Western Michigan came close to pulling an upset, losing 28-20 to Florida State, and Buffalo was drilled by No. 12 Wisconsin, 35-3.
You know, it feels good to actually write about the Mountain West and be in the state of Colorado at the same time. Now I can actually drink up the Rocky Mountains and still be able to tell you that there's just one legitimate team in this conference.
John Beck threw for a season-high 464 yards and snuck in a rushing score to solidify BYU as the almighty Mountain West team in their 42-17 win over New Mexico. He shared the wealth by throwing a touchdown to four different receivers and even took time out of the blowout to hand the ball to Curtis Brown 13 times for 124 yards. Those generous Mormons. The Cougars, now 21st in the AP and Harris Polls, will try to sweep the MWC next week with a win at Utah.
Speaking of, the Utes won on a last-second field goal at Air Force, 17-14. Eric Weddle's two rushing touchdowns look pretty good, but even moreso when you hear he also played on the other side of the ball, making eight tackles. And he lined up as punt returner, quarterback, and field goal holder. I really hate to make this pun — my better judgment is on vacation — but Weddle he do next?
The TCU-San Diego State game went right down to the wire as the Horned Frogs escaped with a 52-0 victory. TCU's Jeff Ballard threw five touchdowns to just three incompletions. In fact I'm not sure SDSU even had the ball on offense. That doesn't seem fair. Maybe they were going by the rarely-used "make it, take it" rules.
Finally. Hoost Marsh and Rocky Hinds in the same game. Hinds threw for 144 yards, a touchdown pass, and an interception for UNLV, while Marsh, Wyoming's wide receiver, had 2 catches for 31 yards. I don't really know what the final score of the game was here, and it's not important. Well … maybe it is to the rest of the world. Wyoming won 34-26.
The Trojans stymied Cal in the highly-anticipated showdown at the Coliseum on Saturday, using an opportunistic defense, their usual strong passing game, and a breakout rushing performance from freshman C.J. Gable (19 carries for 91 yards) to roll past the Bears by a score of 23-9. USC was slow to get out of the gates and went into the fourth quarter tied 9-9, but quarterback John David Booty hit Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith with touchdown passes in the final stanza and the Trojans won their 32nd straight game at home and improved to 19-0 in November during the Pete Carroll era.
Those two streaks will be put to the test next weekend when USC hosts Notre Dame in a game with serious national title implications. USC is currently third in the BCS standings, just percentage points behind Michigan, and with wins over the Irish and crosstown rival UCLA, it seems at least probable — if not likely — that the Trojans could pass Michigan and move into the BCS title game.
Speaking of UCLA, the Bruins continued to play well on Saturday, throttling Arizona State 24-12. USC obviously has a lot riding on the Notre Dame game, but UCLA may prove to be an equally tough task. The Bruins nearly defeated the Irish in South Bend earlier this year and have allowed more than 16 points in just one home game (when they got hammered by Washington State). UCLA has been up and down this year, but could have the chance to pull off a massive upset on the season's final weekend behind an aggressive defense and streaky offense.
As for the rest of the conference, it was a Saturday full of completed implosions. Just a few weeks ago Washington State was ranked in the top 25 and looking like the conference's sleeper time. Now? Yikes. The Cougars lost their final three games to Arizona, Arizona State, and Washington and finished the season 6-6. Stanford was unable to build on its first victory of the season as they lost 30-7 to Oregon State. And Oregon appears to have given up completely at this point, losers to Arizona by an absurd 37-10 score. Those three teams tie for the Borat Memorial "way to NOT finish the season strong" award.
The Pac-10 will feature rivalry games between the Arizona and Oregon schools next week, but all eyes will be on the Coliseum and on USC. As always.
DJRadiohead couldn’t be with us, what having survived a fire and a disappointing Iron Bowl, so your friendly neighborhood sports editor is filling in.
Let’s see… SEC … SEC … Western Carolina is in the SEC? Oh wait, Florida‘s the SEC team. So what the heck are they doing with Western Carolina in November? I’ll tell you what — they’re hammering the the cute little I-AA team 62-0 for some reason, what’s what.
Okay, actual SEC games … hmmm … ah, No. 9 LSU and Mississippi had a good game. LSU won in overtime 23-20. Wait, hold on, I didn’t know MSU was good. (Checks MSU’s record.) Ah, they’re only 3-8 with one conference win, you say? Well then.
Mississippi State’s also bad and gave No. 6 Arkansas fits before the Razorbacks could put the game away 28-14 on Marcus Monk’s third-quarter touchdown grab. Darren Mc
Awesome Fadden had only 84 yards on 26 carries, but he returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half, so all’s forgiven. With the win, the Hogs clinched the SEC West and will meet Florida for all the biscuits and gravy.
And then there was Alabama-Auburn. It’s big stuff in the Yellowhammer State. I should know. When I was down there in the summer, I saw a house with an Alabama and an Auburn flag in the yard. I was told that was their version of a mixed marriage.
And in DJRadiohead’s absence, I feel I should recap the game the way he would have. So here goes:
“What the fuck was Mike Shula thinking going for two on both touchdowns? Jesus fuck in a basket, it was only the god-fucking-damn second and third quarter. Son of an ass bucket! Fire Shula! Throw him on the street where he belongs! And those turnovers. How in the sweaty fuck does Alabama commit 4 turnovers? They should have never been in a spot to win this game. I’m gonna go listen to some Guster and see if I can book Suss for the first spot on next week’s BC Radio.”
Yep. Sounds like something he’d say.
Middle Tennessee took some time off from its dominance in the Sun Belt to lose 52-7 at South Carolina. Now they await Troy next week. It'll be great. Two teams perfect in the conference, the winner will … oh, wait. Troy lost to Arkansas State. Never mind.
Holding on for dear life, Troy took a 26-23 lead with 8:30 left in the game, but an ASU safety and prompt 70-yard touchdown drive with 17 seconds left put the Indians up 33-26 for the miraculous win.
Louisiana-Monroe was scheduled to lose big on the road at 7-4 Kentucky. But the plucky Warhawks actually led 34-33 after three quarters. UK took the lead with a field goal and scored another touchdown, but missed the kick, giving the Wildcats an eight point lead. On their final drive, Monroe scored with a minute remaining but missed the two-point conversion (an option play? Seriously?) to fall — valiantly, at least — 42-40.
We all know ESPN isn't paying attention to the Sun Belt, but Christ could they at least get the scores right? According to their box score, Florida Atlantic tied North Texas 17-17. But their scoring summary says FAU won 17-16. We better get this resolved fast, or we'll never know who will finish fifth in the Sun Belt.
Oh, and Florida International is now a perfect 0-10 with a 17-7 loss to Louisiana- Lafayette. They must have been heartbroken that coach Don Strock said he'll resign at the end of the season. Yeah, that's it. Also, A'mod Ned, the best darn fighter on crutches, shed the medical props to run for 21 yards.
There were four games on the WAC docket this weekend, and they were all blowouts.
Hawaii had a bit more trouble than they’ve been used to, but still went off for a 54-17 blowout of San Jose State at the friendly confines of Aloha Stadium. UH QB Colt Brennan continued with his gaudy assault on the NCAA record books, throwing for 402 yards and 5 touchdowns, as well as running for another TD.
Brennan now has 48 touchdowns on the year, only needing 6 more (and UH has two more plus the Hawaii bowl) to pass Dave Klingler (another UH, University of Houston) for the all time NCAA season mark. UH looked good running the ball as well, with Nate Ilaoa rushing for 100 yards (and receiving another 66 yards) and impressed on D, stuffing SJSU rusher Yonus Davis for 29 yards (he’d been averaging over 100 a game).
As for San Jose, this trip to the woodshed shouldn’t bring them down too far, as they’re 6-4, with a very good chance of winning their last 2, against conference bush leaguers (at least this year) Fresno State and Idaho.
Speaking of that pairing, Idaho got roughed up badly by the Fresno Bulldogs in California, getting shut out 34-0. Dwayne Wright rushed for 133 yards for Fresno in only their 3rd win of the year.
Elsewhere, Boise State continued undefeated with their noble quest to throw a horse sized monkey wrench into the BCS party, whacking conference doormat Utah State around like a wet towel, 49-10.
Nevada continued to look strong, shutting out Louisiana Tech 42-0 and winning their 8th game of the year on the road in Ruston against a mightily struggling Bulldog squad. LA Tech has only won three games this year, and only one in the not-so-all-powerful WAC.
With only a couple weeks to go, the top of the conference is obviously Boise (although if they had to play UH 2 more times I think the Warriors of Manoa would take ‘em both), followed by Hawaii and Nevada. San Jose State should be bowl eligible when all is said and done as well.
As for the other five teams in the conference, including idle New Mexico State, well,
better luck next year.