There are 119 Division I-A football teams out there. No one man can follow them all this season. Lee Corso may be the lone exception. But since none of us are him, 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.
For fans of the ACC the results from Week 2 shouldn’t leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling about the level of play in the conference.
In a good news/bad news situation the good news is that the unranked Boston College Eagles won at home. The bad news is that they beat ACC member, 18th ranked Clemson 34-33 by blocking the extra point in the second overtime. Next week BC hosts Brigham Young in a Catholics versus Mormons match up, while Clemson visits the offense-challenged Florida State Seminoles.
Florida State needed to rally for two late TDs to beat lowly-regarded Troy 24-17. Virginia won 13-12 thanks to a missed extra point by lowly-regarded Wyoming in overtime, Miami hammered the lowly-regarded Florida A&M Rattlers 51-10, Georgia Tech hammered lowly Samford 38-6, Maryland was totally unimpressive in their win over the lowly-regarded Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders and Virginia Tech whupped lowly-regarded ACC conference-mate North Carolina 35-10.
It wasn’t about ACC teams beating up on lowly-regarded teams as North Carolina State lost 20-17 to the lowly-regarded Akron Zips on the last play of the game.
And last and least, the Duke Doormats lost 14-13 to Wake Forest in their typical, ignominious fashion.
There are only 2 games of note involving ACC teams next Saturday as Miami visits Louisville and Maryland visits West Virginia.
Colt McCoy probably spent his Sunday figuring out how to get out of bed. For the bulk of Saturday night, McCoy was crushed by the Ohio State defense as Texas lost 24-7. Turnovers were their undoing, killing drives that looked to be sure scoring opportunities for the Longhorns.
Billy Pittman fumbled away one chance at the Ohio State 2-yard line. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith led a quick five play drive after the miscue, ending in seven points for the Buckeyes. A McCoy interception in the third quarter led directly to an Ohio State field goal which put the Buckeyes up 17-7, and was the de facto end for the Longhorns’ chances.
The good news for Texas was a strong running game in their option offense. Selvin Young finished with 94 yards and JaMaal Charles added 70 more. This was the second week in a row that Ohio State has surrendered at least 150 yards on the ground.
The third year under coach Bill Callahan is going quite well for Nebraska. Zac Taylor threw for 202 yards and four touchdowns against Nicholls State as Nebraska won 56-7. The Cornhuskers have outscored their first two opponents 105-17. Their next game might be a little tougher as they travel to face the highly rated USC Trojans.
Dan Hawkins is most likely reconsidering his decision to leave 2-0 Boise State. Colorado lost for the second week in a row, this time to rival Colorado State in a game at Denver. Rams quarterback Caleb Hanie finished 20 for 23, with two of the three misses being throws out of bounds. Colorado sunk to 0-2, and is the only winless team in the Big XII.
In other action, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, and even Baylor, all won.
It would be trite to say that the Big East enjoyed a big weekend … but it is most appropriate.
The Big East took on the Big Ten in two games and proved that they can play with what some are calling the strongest conference in the nation. Rutgers proved to be a force in tearing apart Illinois 33-0 and moving to 2-0 in non-conference play. Syracuse fought Iowa through two overtimes before bowing 20-13. South Florida won a close battle against in-state rival Florida International 21-20.
Louisville had no problems against Temple, Pittsburgh handled Cincinnati, and West Virginia rolled over Eastern Washington.
After the teams combined for an 11-0 record for the first time in conference history last weekend, the conference finished the second week 7-4.
The Big Ten was involved in arguably two of the biggest games in the country this weekend, #1 Ohio State at #2 Texas and #19 Penn St. at #4 Notre Dame; however, neither of the games lived up to the hype.
OSU, two point underdogs going into the game, convincingly held onto their number one ranking with a 24-7 win. PSU went into the game with thoughts of an upset and vindication on their mind, but quickly fell behind in a yawner of a game, losing 41-17.
The high-octane OSU offense was only contained when conservative coach Jim Tressel, with the outcome decided, pulled in the reins. Troy Smith kept his Heisman bid alive and flourishing with a spectacular game in the national spotlight. Smith was 17-for-27 with 269 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn Jr. had monster games catching a combined 13 passes for over 240 yards and a couple of touchdowns. OSU’s defense was much better against Texas than Northern Illinois in week one. Although the defense is still susceptible to the run (172 yards), the unit caused two turnovers leading to 10 points and made big stops when called upon.
Iowa, with backup quarterback Jason Manson admirably subbing for the injured Drew Tate, scraped by a rejuvenated Syracuse Orange team in double overtime 20-13 in the Carrier Dome. In the league’s other overtime game, Purdue held off Miami University 38-31. #10 Michigan and MSU handedly beat Central Michigan (41-17) and Eastern Michigan (52-20), respectively. After falling behind 17-0, Indiana came all the way back to beat Ball State on the road 24-23, highlighted by a Marcus Thigpen 100-yard kickoff return. Wisconsin rolled over I-AA Western Illinois 34-10.
Illinois was smoked by the much improved Rutgers Knights 33-0. Northwestern, playing with heavy hearts at home for the first time since the passing of head coach Randy Walker, lost to I-AA's #5 New Hampshire 34-17. Minnesota was beat up badly 42-17 to California, surrendering 531 yards (371 in the first half alone).
Texas-El Paso gave us a pretty awesome game against Texas Tech. But they probably won't tell you that because, well, they lost. Down 24-12 in the third quarter, UTEP pick, pick, picked away with their cute little axe to eventually force overtime, but Texas Tech knocked in a field goal to win 38-35. UTEP wideout/quarterback Lorne Sam — a Florida State Transfer and younger brother of P.K. Sam — ran for a touchdown and also threw a pretty slick reverse flea-flicker for a score.
Houston is now 2-0 in the conference after stomping Tulane into the turf 45-7. Kevin Kolb became the UH's most prolific passer in history with 350 yards and three touchdowns, putting his career mark to 9,738 and surpassing David Klingler. Clearly this means he's desinted for more-than-horrible things in the NFL. The Cougars tune up against I-AA Grambling State next week before facing Oklahoma State.
The Pride of Birmingham — UAB — began conference play properly with an ulcer-inducing 17-12 win over East Carolina. On the last play of the game, ECU wideout Phillip Henry darted to the end-zone, ball in hand, but UAB defensive back Chris Felder jarred the ball loose and the recovered the fumble in the end zone to save the game.
Over in the land of the Independents the only Independent worth a damn, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, beat the Joe Pa’s of Penn State 41-17. In a win that was as easy as taking candy from a 79-year-old head coach wearing flood pants, Notre Dame outclassed Penn State in every phase of the game in a game that was never close.
In other Independent action, Navy beat D-1AA UMass, Army beat Kent State in overtime and Temple got lambasted by Louisville. These games are so inconsequential that the scores don’t need to be mentioned.
By the way, the term “Independent” should be scrapped for the more descriptive “Notre Dame and three teams that are too lousy to be in any conference.”
Next week Notre Dame hosts Michigan in what will be one of the games of the week, and Temple will visit Minnesota where they will be violated by the Golden Gophers. Army and Navy also have games, so I've heard.
In the early part of the season, it's all about the upsets.
Last week the Mid-American Conference teams put up some respectable showings, but didn't have that one win over a prestigious "big" school that has come to define the MAC in recent years.
This week the MAC got one in dramatic fashion.
Akron went to North Carolina State Saturday, and marched 67 yards in just over a minute to set up a winning score. With just over three seconds left, the Zips called on Dennis Kennedy, who had already scored two touchdowns and rushed for 120 yards. The Zips figured one more yard wouldn't be too much trouble. Kennedy reached the end zone as time expired, and Akron won its first game of the year. Kennedy emerged as not only the star of the game for Akron, but the star in the MAC this week.
Miami University (Please, do not call it "Miami of Ohio") almost came up with a win just as big, going to overtime at Purdue before falling, 38-31.
The Boilermakers simply could not stop Miami until overtime, and they were lucky to get there. Junior quarterback Mike Kokal ripped Purdue all afternoon, throwing for 354 yards and four touchdowns. Miami had a great chance to steal the game at the end of regulation, but Nathan Parseghian's 39-yard field goal was blocked.
Ball State and Kent State also had a shot at non-conference wins, but came up a combined four points short against Indiana and Army, respectively.
If not for Akron's last-second win, MAC fans would be harping on the almost-wins. I doubt fans in Kent and Muncie will take much solace in a Zips win, but for the league, it sure is helpful.
Not all the non-conference games were close. Michigan beat up on Central Michigan (41-17) and Michigan State ran over Eastern Michigan, 52-20.
There were three conference games this week, and all three yielded more questions than answers.
- Bowling Green 48-40 over Buffalo: The ramifications of a 2-0 Buffalo start may not have shook the earth to its core, but it should have. Buffalo has one road-MAC win in its history, and I have to admit that a loss to the Bulls, at Doyt Perry Stadium, would have haunted this BGSU graduate for years to come. Are the Bulls really improving? Or is BG regressing rapidly? Time will tell.
- Toledo was crushed by Western Michigan, 31-10. The Rockets are 0-2. Scary.
- And how the heck did Northern Illinois get beat by Ohio University? Garrett Wolfe rushed for almost 200 yards, Ohio's Austin Everson threw for 322 yards, and Ohio rallied.
The MWC is one of three conferences yet to play a conference games. But unlike the other two (Big Ten, Big XII), The Mount'n West has only two undefeated teams. And they both played I-AA teams this week.
23rd ranked TCU downed California-Davis 46-13 and Colorado State took down in-state rival Colorado 14-10. Wait … Colorado isn't I-AA? Well, that Montana State loss threw me off.
Air Force's season debut went better than most people hoped. Flying into Tennessee, they left with just a one-point loss to the Volunteers 31-30. Cadet Ryan Williams ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and the gutsy coach Fisher DeBerry went for the win rather than the tie, but Chad Hall couldn't run in the two-point conversion. Had the Air Force won, it would have been the second time in the last five years that all three branches of the army would have won on the same day.
Wyoming galloped to Virginia and took the Cavs to overtime 6-6 thanks to the leg of Aric Goodman, but a missed extra point in the first overtime was the difference in the game as Wyoming fell off the saddle 13-12.
Coming off of a tough opening week, the Pac-10 was looking for redemption. Unfortunately, the best the conference could come away with was a mixed bag, especially with powerhouse USC sitting this one out with a bye.
The biggest win came courtesy of the Oregon Ducks, who managed to overcome a hostile crowd, an ankle injury to star running back Jonathan Stewart, and a very underrated and dangerous Fresno State team to pull off a 31-24 win against the Bulldogs. Also in the "good news" column was a bounce-back victory for Cal over Minnesota, as starting quarterback Nate Longshore shook off a horrific opener to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns as the Bears romped the Golden Gophers 42-17. (Of course, even this bit of good news can be tempered with bad news. It turns out that Tennessee might not be such a powerhouse after all — they were barely able to hold off Air Force on Saturday.)
Unfortunately, that is where the good news ends for the Pac-10. While Washington State (56-10 over Idaho), Arizona State (52-21 over Nevada), and UCLA (26-16 over Rice, behind new stud tailback Chris Markey, who ran for 208 yards) were able to collect W's, they were all playing underdogs from inferior conferences (at least, I think they are still inferior), the Pac-10 was saddled with four non-conference losses on Saturday.
Arizona's 45-3 beating at the hands of #8 LSU was somewhat understandable and Washington losing 37-20 to Oklahoma was totally expected, but not only did the conference fail to pull off any upsets, they also had two horrible losses. Stanford lost to San Jose State by a 35-34 count and Oregon State (my Pac-10 sleeper … whoops) got absolutely crushed by Boise State as they made previously unknown running back Ian Johnson (240 yards, 5 touchdowns) look like the next Larry Johnson.
In the end, it was another tough weekend for the Pac-10. After just two weeks, the conference has only four undefeated teams (as compared to nine from the Big 12, seven from the Big 10, six from the SEC … heck, even the horrendous ACC has five unbeatens left), despite the fact that the entire conference has only played five games against ranked teams. No doubt all eyes will be on Eugene, Oregon next week as the #18 Ducks host #15 Oklahoma and look to turn the fortunes of the Pac-10.
Fisher DeBerry would not have a job if I were the athletic director at the Air Force Academy. Hell, he would not have been allowed to board the team flight home — I would have made him find his own flight back to Colorado Springs and his office would have been cleaned out before he could have arrived. His decision to go for two when an extra point would have tied the game and given Air Force a chance to take the 11th-ranked Vols to overtime was inexcusable and inexplicable. It is the kind of decision that should cost a coach his job- and not at season's end.
Georgia's shutout of South Carolina sets up an early-season showdown that will put one of the SEC East's marquee programs one game behind in the race for the division lead. Tennessee survived due to DeBerry's blunder but lost two defensive starters for the season in the game. Georgia, meanwhile, lost starting quarterback Joe Tereshinski and will likely go with freshman Matthew Stafford. It has been all or nothing for the Gamecocks. They shut out Mississippi State last week in Starkville and this week were shutout at home.
Speaking of Mississippi State and shutouts, the woeful Bulldog offense again failed to score. This time it was the Auburn Tigers who bore witness to the impotent Bulldog attack, winning 34-0.
Alabama turned the ball over twice in the red zone and had to rally for a late field goal to defeat the Vanderbilt Commodores. Alabama could have turned momentum in the favor early in the second half but shot themselves in the foot and were in for a battle for the remainder of the game. The Crimson Tide scored to tie the game early in the third quarter. The Tide forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff when budding superstar Jimmy Johns fumbled on the 1-yard line. What could have been 14 unanswered points in a matter of minutes instead kept Vandy in the game.
The University of Troy was so close to strapping one on and doing Florida State right there on the field. But FSU avoided disaster by rallying in the fourth quarter, leaving with a 24-17 victory. Despite a mere 24 yards rushing and QB Omar Haugabook throwing three picks, Troy capitalized on the Seminoles' turnovers and controlled the clock for almost half the game. Smokey Hampton caught 4 passes for 15 yards for Troy. And all this time I thought Smokey Hampton was my favorite brand of breakfast meat.
Florida International couldn't hold a 13-point lead to South Florida and fell 21-20. FIU scored on a Delbert Alvarado punt return and a Robert Mitchell interception (I loved him in Cape Fear) and went into the locker room with a 20-7 advantage. The next time they went back to the locker room, they turned back into a Sun Belt team.
UL-Monroe travelled to Kansas and tried to mount a comeback after being down 21-7. ULM's Kinsmon Lancaster ran in a touchdown in the third, but they missed the kick. And with another touchdown in the fourth — this one coming from Lancaster throwing to Zeek Zacharie — they had to go for the two-pointer and failed. Final score: 21-19. Lancaster had a hell of a game, though: 24-of-40 for 382 yards and accounted for all three ULM touchdowns.
So three Sun Belt teams fell to three BCS conference teams — two of the games on the road — and lost by a combined margin of 10 points. You know what? That's mighty impressive.
Well, despite an apparently pathetic record of 2-5 against the outside universe this weekend (there were no intraconference games), this was actually a banner week for the WAC. They broke a 21 game losing streak to BCS conferences, getting two wins over the Pac-10, with Boise State laying the smack down on Oregon State and San Jose State squeaking by the Stanford Tree.
The biggest feather in the WAC’s cap this week has to be the Boise win, as they are definitely the conference’s best shot at a BCS bowl this year and a giganto payoff which would obviously benefit all these cash starved (comparatively, to big budget dynamos) athletic programs.
The Pac-10 got some semblance of revenge, with Arizona State demolishing Nevada, Washington State kicking the tar out of Idaho, and Oregon winning a fairly close one at Fresno State — a hell of a tough stadium for any visitor to notch a win. Nevada, who the preseason hype was touting as upper echelon WAC, looks increasingly not so hot as the season progresses. Meanwhile, Fresno, who matched up gamely with a very good Oregon squad, looks to be the secondnd best (at least up to this point) in the conference, behind Boise State.
Hawaii and Louisiana Tech had the week off, with the remaining contests being Utah State getting an SEC whuppin' via the Razorbacks of Arkansas and New Mexico State losing a close one to in-state rivals New Mexico.