College Football Overtime (cont.)
Last Thursday, I laid out the criteria by which we'd determine if Alabama was worthy of its No. 1 ranking after Saturday's Penn State game. Suffice it to say, the Tide met every possible measuring stick in their 24-3 rout. They dominated both lines of scrimmage, they intercepted Nittany Lions QB Rob Bolden twice and they averaged 7.1 yards per play despite Mark Ingram watching from the sideline (Trent Richardson sprang for 190 rushing/receiving yards). Yep. No. 1, all right.
Just how unlikely was it that James Madison would knock off the Hokies? So much so that Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer had no problem letting Dukes coach Mickey Matthews (whose team won the 2004 I-AA national title and reached the semifinals two years ago) and his staff visit Hokies practices and recruiting camps over the past several years. "It's the biggest win of my career," said Matthews, who lost his two previous meetings with Tech 47-0 and 43-0.
Oregon's LaMichael James left jaws dropping around the country with this incredible, reverse field 72-yard touchdown run against Tennessee. At the time of his run, early in the third quarter, the Ducks and Vols were tied 13-13. By game's end, Oregon had run off 45 unanswered points and has now scored exactly 120 points in 120 minutes. "Once the tempo gets going, it's hard to stop," said James. "Once those guys got tired we kept rolling."
Wow, Turner Gill. Just wow. A week after losing his Kansas debut 6-3 to North Dakota State, the Jayhawks produced three touchdown drives of at least 60 yards. It's no coincidence Gill made two key changes during the preceding week: switching quarterbacks (freshman Jordan Webb went 18-of-29 for 179 yards, three touchdowns and an interception) and going back to more of the up-tempo, shotgun-spread offense KU had success with under Mark Mangino.
Last week the problem was the defense. This week it was the offense. Playing its home opener against a team picked to finish at or near the ACC cellar, USC converted five third downs and amassed 13 penalties in a 17-14 win over Virginia. Give Mike London's team props for an impressive defensive showing, but Lane Kiffin ... really? "That's the most miserable 2-0 locker room I've ever been in," he said afterward. "Which is good." Next week: Minnesota. It'd be hard to screw that up.
Watch out, because Iowa's got a running game. Adam Robinson rushed for a career-high 156 yards and Jewel Hampton, who missed last season, added 84 in a 35-7 rout of rival Iowa State. The Hawkeyes' 275 rushing yards were their most in a game in four years. Injuries hampered any hopes of a decent rushing attack last season and put added pressure on QB Ricky Stanzi. The prospect of Iowa developing a balanced offense to go with its dominant defense is a tad scary.
West Virginia avoided its first-ever loss to in-state foe Marshall thanks to an incredibly clutch performance from first-year starting quarterback Geno Smith. Taking over after a fortuitous Thundering Herd fumble at the WVU four-yard line and down 21-6 with 8:48 remaining, Smith led touchdown drives of 96 and 98 yards to send the game to overtime. The Mountaineers prevailed when Marshall kicker Tyler Warner's 39-yard field-goal attempt missed wide right by about six inches.
Three years in and Rick Neuheisel's UCLA offense is still downright atrocious. Impressive-looking Stanford came to the Rose Bowl on Saturday and blanked the Bruins, 35-0. Neuheisel's and coordinator Norm Chow's great experiment, the Pistol offense, has yet to render returns, due in no small part to another rash of injuries and attrition along the offensive line. And things may soon get worse. UCLA's (0-2) next two opponents are No. 23 Houston and No. 4 Texas.
It appears almost certain at this point that Colorado won't be joining the Pac-10 until 2012, but Cal was sure to give the Buffs a nice, rude welcome basket Saturday in the form of a 52-7 rout. The Bears' defense racked up six sacks and five forced turnovers. After starting with unusually low expectations, Jeff Tedford's team quietly cracked the coaches' poll at No. 24 on Sunday. But as I've learned well by now, use caution before jumping on the Kevin Riley/Cal bandwagon.
Of all the coaches believed to be on the "hot seat," my money's on Minnesota's Tim Brewster to earn the season's first pink slip (we'll say late October). Saturday's embarrassing 41-38 loss to South Dakota comes three years after the Gophers fell to North Dakota State in Brewster's first season, a pretty telling sign that the program has swung firmly back in the wrong direction. What a waste of that beautiful new stadium. Paging Mr. Leach on Line 2?
Air Force won at least eight games in each of coach Troy Calhoun's first three seasons, but to this point has lagged a step or two behind the Mountain West's "big three" (Utah, TCU and BYU). So Saturday's 35-14 win over the Cougars was a big one for the Falcons, who snapped a six-game losing streak to the Cougars. QB Tim Jefferson helped the Falcons' option offense rack up 409 rushing yards.
Houston star Case Keenum left Friday night's 54-24 rout of UTEP in the third quarter after displaying what coach Kevin Sumlin called "symptoms of a mild concussion." Keenum, who suffered the injury while trying to tackle a Miners player after throwing an interception, is day-to-day.
Randall Cobb really does do it all. The versatile Kentucky star threw a touchdown, caught a touchdown and returned a punt for a touchdown against Western Kentucky.
Where have you gone, Ray Rice? Rutgers managed just 172 yards of offense in a 19-14 win over Florida International.
Purdue endured a devastating blow Saturday: All-Big Ten receiver Keith Smith suffered a knee injury against Western Illinois that appears to be "serious."