College Football Overtime (cont.)
From Roger Craig to Mike Rozier to Ahman Green, more than a few great running backs have donned the Nebraska uniform. Roy Helu Jr. topped them all Saturday, rushing for a school-record 307 yards on 28 carries in the Huskers' 31-17 win over previously undefeated Missouri. Helu has always been considered an elite talent, but had never come close to a game like this; his previous career high was 169 yards against Virginia Tech early last season. "He was a war daddy today," said receiver Niles Paul.
Penn State's previously dreadful offense racked up 41 points and 435 yards to hand Michigan (5-3) its third straight loss. Evan Royster (150 yards, two TDs) broke the school's career rushing record and quarterback Matt McGloin was solid in a spot start. "We're doing a good job of making a lot of [opposing] quarterbacks look pretty good," said Rich Rodriguez. Pardon the Wolverine faithful if they don't laugh. If Rodriguez doesn't beat Illinois and Purdue the next two weeks, he won't be back. Period.
One might assume Miami's Randy Shannon is on similarly thin ice after an embarrassing loss to Virginia -- in which quarterback Jacory Harris went down early -- dropped the 'Canes to 5-3, but not according to the Miami Herald. "If they win eight games every year, as long as the kids keep graduating and stay out of trouble, that's most important to [president] Donna [Shalala],'' a board of trustees member told the paper. A school president with sensible priorities? That won't go over well with fans.
Meanwhile Maryland's Ralph Friedgen, a guy who was presumed to be on the hot seat coming into the year, has his team off to the quietest 6-2 start in the country. That's probably because the Terps' ACC victories have come against 2-6 Duke, 3-5 Boston College and 2-6 Wake Forest, the latter of which Maryland destroyed 62-14 on Saturday. Still, after bouncing back from a 2-10 campaign to get the Terps bowl eligible for the seventh time in 10 seasons, the Fridge will be back in 2011.
Remember when Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson was the Big 12's preseason Offensive Player of the Year? Now he's the second-best quarterback on his own team after junior Ryan Tannehill -- making his first career start -- threw for a school-record 449 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-27 win over Texas Tech. Tannehill's ascension comes at the expense of Johnson, who'd started 28 straight games and became the school's alltime total offense leader last week.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was back at full strength Saturday against Tennessee, and it showed. The freshman, who was injured in the Gamecocks' loss at Kentucky two weeks ago and missed last week's Vanderbilt game, returned to rush 29 times for 184 yards and a touchdown in a 38-24 win. Afterward, he admitted that, "I kind of add [the yards] up in my head when I'm running." Well, he must have lost track. "I thought I had like 150, but it's cool."
In losing 41-0 at home to No. 13 Stanford, Washington suffered its first home shutout since 1976, gained its fewest yards (107) since 1973 and never crossed the Cardinal's 42-yard-line. A season that began with hopes of a bowl berth is going down in flames for Washington (3-5), while Mel Kiper's former projected No. 1 draft pick, Jake Locker (7-of-14, 64 yards, two interceptions), is dealing with sore ribs and a thigh bruise and suffering through a nightmarish senior season.
Another guy who began the year on Heisman watch lists, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, suffered his own indignity last Thursday night. After leading his team 63 yards to get down to within four yards of a winning score at N.C. State, Ponder fumbled a play-action fake to tailback Ty Jones, which N.C. State's Nate Irving recovered with 48 seconds left to preserve a 28-24 win. The Wolfpack (6-2, 3-1 ACC) now control their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic.
What exactly happens to the Cal Bears when they leave the friendly confines of Berkeley? Following their 35-7 loss at Oregon State, the Bears (4-4, 2-3 Pac-10) have been outscored 141-62 in four road losses. At home, however, they're 4-0, winning those games by a combined margin of 189-34. "It's a little ridiculous," Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan told the Oakland Tribune. Quarterback Kevin Riley suffered a knee injury in the loss and, pending an MRI, could be out for the season.
It's no secret West Virginia's gosh-darn nice-guy coach Bill Stewart was a questionable hire from day one, yet he managed to go 9-4 each of his first two seasons. But without a veteran quarterback, WVU's once-explosive offense has crumbled. In a 16-13 overtime loss at UConn last Friday, the Mountaineers (5-3, 1-2 Big East) fumbled seven times, losing four. "We gave a valiant effort," said Stewart, "but I am not proud of how we handled the ball."
Georgia's redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray looked brilliant in leading a second-half comeback against Florida and has the makings of a future star. Unfortunately, his interception in overtime doomed the Bulldogs. Florida's quarterback future remains muddled, as Saturday's offensive resurgence (444 yards) involved rotating John Brantley and Trey Burton, but the Gators are clearly more explosive with speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey back in the mix.
Move over, Kyle Singler. Duke has another star on its hands in quarterback Sean Renfree, who was a staggering 28-of-30 for 314 yards in the Blue Devils' 34-31 win over Navy. Coach David Cutcliffe has long been high on the sophomore, but nearly had to bench him after Renfree threw nine interceptions in his past three games. This time, Renfree was turnover-free. "I'm really proud that he took care of the ball," said Cutcliffe. "I could have told you before the game he was going to do that."
The most remarkable factoid I've seen in a long time, courtesy of Daily Oklahoman beat writer Jake Trotter: Texas coach Mack Brown has lost more home games this season (three) than Bob Stoops has in his 13-year Oklahoma career (two).
Speaking of the Sooners, receiver Ryan Broyles broke the school's single-game receiving record with 208 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches against Colorado. Two of the nation's top three receivers -- Broyles and Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon -- currently play in the state of Oklahoma.
UCF (6-2, 4-0 C-USA) took control of Conference USA with its first win over East Carolina (5-3, 4-1) in five years. George O'Leary's team has won 10 straight league contests dating to last season.
San Diego State (6-2) became bowl-eligible for the first time since 1998 with a 48-38 win over Wyoming. You've done it again, Brady Hoke.
You know those gimmicky Nike "Pro Combat" uniforms? It's way more awesome when Army wears combat-themed uniforms.