College Football Overtime (cont.)
Utah trailed Iowa State 14-10 at the start of the second quarter Saturday. By halftime the Utes led 41-14. They wound up winning 68-27 against a team that beat Texas Tech the week before, and, in doing so, amassed one of the most remarkable stats I've seen. Between total offense (593 yards), kick returns (168), punt returns (156) and interception returns (109), Utah ball-handlers amassed a combined 1,026 yards. Naturally, the Utes dropped a spot in the AP poll.
Meanwhile, fellow Mountain West (for now) power TCU beat Wyoming, 45-0, to notch back-to-back shutouts for the first time in 55 years. As mentioned earlier, the Horned Frogs dropped a spot in the coaches' poll.
If the Florida State-Miami game is a measuring stick for the two rebuilding rivals' progress, fourth-year 'Canes coach Randy Shannon has some explaining to do. Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles manhandled Miami, 45-17, with the kind of relentless rushing attack (298 yards) Miami's been lacking throughout Shannon's tenure. "It's my fault as a coach at the University of Miami," Shannon said. "I don't blame the kids. I didn't get them ready for the situation of playing in a game like this."
The Big Ten loves its co-champions, but this year could be particularly awkward because undefeated Ohio State and Michigan State don't play each other. (The Rose Bowl tiebreaker is highest BCS ranking, though it might not matter.) The Spartans (6-0) showed ideal balance in their 34-17 win over Michigan, running 49 times for 249 yards while quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 287. "We showcased to everybody in the world that we're gonna run the ball," said tailback Edwin Baker.
Oregon's 43-23 win at Washington State wasn't all rosy. Punt returner Kenjon Barner was knocked unconscious and hospitalized (thankfully, he was released Sunday) following a vicious helmet-on-helmet hit. Meanwhile, quarterback Darron Thomas went out with a sprained shoulder. Veteran backup Nate Costa didn't miss a beat, completing 13-of-15 passes and running for 84 yards. Thomas has a bye week to recover, but the Ducks' offense may be fine with either quarterback.
Oregon State's win at Arizona came with a price, too. Star receiver James Rodgers went down with a gruesome knee injury in the second quarter and spent the second half on crutches. Those covering the game surmised he's probably out for the year, pending an MRI result. Amazingly, the senior (who could still qualify for a medical redshirt) caught seven balls for 102 yards in 18 minutes of game action before the injury (which came on a touchdown that was nullified).
Texas Tech earned a dubious distinction Saturday: For the second straight week, its opponent (this time Baylor) returned an onside kick for a touchdown. This one, a surprise attempt in the first quarter, came when Tech's entire kick unit had a collective brain fart and stood watching the ball. Fortunately for the Red Raiders, quarterback Taylor Potts (42-of-59, 462 yards, four TDs, one INT) outdueled Baylor's Robert Griffin (31-of-42, 384 yards, two TDs) for a 42-35, defense-optional win.
To those who wondered whether Lane Kiffin would be able to keep bowl-banned USC motivated once its season started to sour -- we're about to find out. Stanford dealt the Trojans their second straight loss on a last-second field goal, 37-35, laying waste to huge performances by quarterback Matt Barkley (28-of-45, 385 yards, three TDs) and freshman receiver Robert Woods (12 catches, 219 yards, three TDs). "We're at the lowest of the lows," said Barkley. I don't know about that.
Oklahoma State sophomore receiver Justin Blackmon is having a monstrous season. His 13 catches for 190 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette were both career-highs, yet it marked his third game with at least 10 catches, and he's had at least 100 yards in all five contests this season. Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who coached Michael Crabtree at Texas Tech, said Blackmon "is no different ... There hasn't been too many times we've thrown it to him, it hasn't worked out."
When does Boise State work on all the trick plays it pulls out in big games? In its other games. The first play I saw upon turning on the Broncos' 57-14 rout of Toledo was a wicked fake punt in which Kyle Brotzman pitched a shovel pass to Tyler Shoemaker for a 60-yard gain. Alas, it was wiped out by holding. But the Broncos' starters still managed to rack up 50 points in two-and-a-half quarters.
You have to admire N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson's consistency. Over the past four games (Cincinnati, at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College), he's racked up between 328 and 368 yards while attempting 40, 41, 49 and 51 passes. The only blight: six interceptions in his past three games, though his two Saturday didn't stop the Wolfpack (5-1) from cruising to a 44-17 win over Boston College. The game of the year in the ACC Atlantic figures to come on Oct. 28, when Florida State visits Raleigh.
Rutgers may have found its quarterback of the future -- and it's not two-year starter Tom Savage. True freshman Chas Todd, replacing the injured and long-struggling Savage, threw a game-tying 45-yard touchdown with 3:53 left, then a 45-yard pass to set up a game-winning field goal against Connecticut. He finished 18-of-29 for 322 yards, two TDs and no INTs. Now, Greg Schiano faces a tough but inevitable decision. "I'm going to hold off on all that stuff," he said.
Despite having lost its top quarterback, running back and receiver to ACL injuries -- and despite having lost to Toledo -- Purdue (3-2) went on the road and knocked off 5-0 Northwestern, 20-17, behind redshirt freshman quarterback Rob Henry's 132 rushing yards. Henry, who ran the option at times, completed just six passes, but hard-luck coach Danny Hope will take it. "There's still going to be some rough sledding," he said, "but we're going to be a heck of a football team in time."
UCLA continues to be the nation's most baffling team. After averaging 322 rushing yards in consecutive wins over Houston, Texas and Washington State, the Bruins (3-3) went to Berkeley and ran for ... 26 yards in a 35-7 loss to Cal.
Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs has struggled on the ground all season, but he got some redemption through the air Saturday, completing three passes for 49 yards on a game-winning 64-yard drive to beat Wake Forest, 28-27.
In two crucial battles to avoid finishing No. 120, 0-4 New Mexico State edged 0-5 New Mexico 16-14, while 0-4 Florida International topped 0-4 Western Kentucky 28-21. Now if only we could have a New Mexico-WKU "plus one."
Pity Wyoming. The Cowboys, 2-4, have lost to then fifth-ranked Texas (34-7), third-ranked Boise State (51-6) and fifth-ranked TCU (45-0) as well as now No. 23 Air Force (20-14). What's up next? No. 11 Utah comes to Laramie.