Posted: Sunday October 2, 2005 7:26PM; Updated: Monday October 3, 2005 2:11PM
Player of the Week
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(tie) Croyle and Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn
The union of Quinn and Charlie Weis is looking like football's greatest marriage since ... well, Weis and Tom Brady. The Irish junior exploited Purdue's vastly overrated defense to the tune of 29-of-36 passing for 440 yards and three touchdowns in a not-as-close-as-the-final-score 49-28 victory. His 283 first-half yards were the most in Notre Dame history, and his three 300-yard games are already the most in a season by any Irish QB.
Team of the Week
The inaugural Keith Jackson 'Rumbling, Bumbling' Award
Though Michigan State suffered another heartbreaking defeat to arch-rival Michigan, Spartans defensive tackle Domata Peko forever etched himself in Michigan-Michigan State lore with his game-tying, 74-yard fumble return. Of all the crazy plays on an unusually wild Saturday, none made for a more entertaining highlight than the long-haired 320-pounder's jaunt down the sideline, complete with a skip into the end zone over Wolverines running back Michael Hart. If only Peko could kick field goals, too, the Spartans might be 5-0 today.
The inaugural 'Wacky WAC game of the week' Award
No one is happier than this writer to see WAC teams beginning conference competition, because you can almost guarantee at least one note a week like this. After Boise State rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit to tie the game at 28-28 early in the fourth quarter, the Broncos' Orlando Scandrick returned a blocked field goal 69 yards for a touchdown to put the Broncos ahead. Hawaii then came back to tie the score at 35-35, and would have tied it 42-42 with 3:03 remaining -- but Boise's Daryn Colledge proceeded to block the Warriors' extra point and (who else) Scandrick returned it for two points to give Boise a 44-41 win. Plenty more to come, people.
Spreading the field
When, exactly is the much-foretold Dennis Franchione turnaround coming at Texas A&M? Based on the track record at his previous 17 coaching stops, the $2 million man was already a year behind schedule going into this season, and in year three the Aggies have shown no signs of an impending breakthrough, losing at Clemson, putzing around with Texas State and going to overtime Saturday to survive Baylor (which, admittedly, is a step up from A&M's loss to the Bears in 2004).
That's how badly Michigan missed Mike Hart. After missing most of three games with injury, the sophomore carried 36 times for 218 yards against Michigan State, and the Wolverines needed every last bit of it because there was no way their defense was going to survive the Drew Stanton Express without some ball-control from their offense.
Speaking of which, the most striking aspect of Penn State's 44-14 rout of Minnesota wasn't the way its defense shut down Laurence Maroney (though that was indeed impressive), but rather the performance of its oft-maligned offensive line. A week after holding the ball for just 20:01 in a 34-29 win at Northwestern, the Nittany Lions were able to control the game by rushing for a staggering 364 yards, converting 13 of 19 third downs and gaining the second-most first downs (35) of any game in the Joe Paterno era. By staying on the field for a season-high 35:18, the offense was able to help the defense stay fresh, probably a major factor in stymieing the Gophers' running game.
Just when you thought Vanderbilt had rid itself of ... well, being Vanderbilt, it goes and loses 17-15 to Middle Tennessee State. And it's not just that the Commodores lost. A) It happened in traditional Vandy style, with quarterback Jay Cutler leading his team 81 yards in the final seconds only to have Bryant Hahnfeldt's game-winning 36-yard field goal attempt blocked, and B) It may wind up leaving the 4-1 Commodores, who were banking on victories over MTSU and Kentucky, one win short of ending their 23-year bowl drought (though the South Carolina game is looking a whole lot easier by the week).
Your new Big 12 North front-runner is ... Nebraska? The Huskers needed overtime to survive Iowa State 27-20, but Bill Callahan's long-struggling offense came alive in the process. QB Zac Taylor threw for a school-record 431 yards -- his previous high was 192 against Maine -- and Callahan left little doubt that this is not your father, or grandfather's Nebraska. The Huskers won despite rushing for 36 yards, their lowest total since 1967.
Clemson is redefining just how a thin the line is between winning and losing. After pulling off last-minute wins against Texas A&M and Maryland to start the season, the Tigers have now lost three straight games in triple overtime (Miami), overtime (Boston College) and, against Wake Forest, on a six-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds left. As is the case any time Clemson loses to the Demon Deacons, the Tommy Bowden death watch is officially back in effect.
And then there were none. A year after Utah and Boise State's undefeated regular seasons, UTEP's 27-20 loss to Memphis left the non-BCS conferences with no remaining unbeaten teams. It was a huge win for the Tigers (2-2), who are down to their third-string quarterback but got another heroic effort from RB DeAngelo Williams (236 yards and two touchdowns, his third straight 200-yard game).
There's two ways to look at UCLA's 21-17 win over Washington Saturday night. The positive spin: It was the kind of game the Bruins have lost in recent years, and QB Drew Olson engineered his first-ever game-winning drive with 1:08 remaining. The flip side: UCLA (4-0) should never have been trailing the dreadful Huskies that late in the first place.
Finally, you could probably watch football your entire life and never see something the likes of what Kansas State did against Oklahoma on Saturday. Facing a fourth down on their own 12-yard-line in the first quarter, the Wildcats sent out their punt team, but somehow punter Tim Reyer never made it off the sideline. And somehow no one noticed before center Jeff Mortimer went ahead and snapped the ball, right past up-back Brandon Archer and into the end zone for a safety. "We let our guard down," said K-State coach Bill Snyder. I don't think it's the guard you have to be worried about, Bill.