College Football Overtime (cont.)
I could try to wax philosophical about Joe Paterno's landmark 400th win, but it would be futile. How do you put into words such an otherworldly accomplishment? But just as JoePa has persevered these past four decades, these Nittany Lions (6-3) have taken the same path. Penn State's offense, left for dead a month ago, has produced three straight strong performances, including 35 unanswered points Saturday after falling behind 21-0 to Northwestern.
"I just think some of these kids now know what it takes to get it done and to me, that was the important thing," said Paterno after redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt McGloin replaced Rob Bolden and threw for 225 yards and four touchdowns. In a short speech to the crowd afterward, Paterno thanked the fans and his current and former players and ended in his typically forward-thinking fashion. "Now that the celebration's over," Paterno said, "let's go beat Ohio State."
Offense has trumped defense throughout the country this season, and some of the numbers flying around Saturday were truly absurd. No. 25 Nevada gained 844 yards in a 63-17 win over Idaho. How is that even possible? Navy put up 76 points on East Carolina, its most since 1919. Even Duke put up its most points in 20 years in a 55-48 win over Virginia. And the 67-65 Michigan-Illinois score was higher than the schools' past three basketball games against one another.
Yet another team that put up ridiculous numbers Saturday: Oklahoma State, which racked up a school-record 725 yards in a 55-28 rout of previously ranked Baylor. Star receiver Justin Blackmon is playing a higher version of football than any of his counterparts. In his first game back after a one-week suspension, he caught 13 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown and ran for a 69-yard score. Mike Gundy's team (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) now sits alone atop the Big 12 South.
Steve Spurrier's tenure at South Carolina has been a never-ending roller-coaster, so it's fitting that a week before heading to Florida to play for their first SEC East title, the Gamecocks were demolished 41-20 on their home field by Arkansas. "The way we played," said Spurrier, "you wonder how we won six games already this year." Yet if they win on Saturday, the Gamecocks are heading to Atlanta. And since Spurrier's teams show such little continuity from week to week, it's impossible to handicap.
Two Big 12 coaches pulled off the big wins they so desperately needed Saturday, with Mike Sherman leading Texas A&M (6-3) to its first victory over Oklahoma (7-2) in eight years, 33-19; and Tommy Tuberville leading Texas Tech (5-4) over No. 14 Missouri, 24-17. It was the Tigers' second straight road loss following that big Oklahoma win. Speaking of which, Bob Stoops needs to figure out why the Sooners can't win on the road anymore; they're 6-6 in their last 12 tries.
On the opposite end of the Big 12 spectrum, Colorado's Dan Hawkins could not have drawn up a more spectacular abomination to signify his last days in Boulder. Down 45-17 early in the fourth quarter, Kansas (3-6) ran off 35 unanswered points in just over 11 minutes to stun the Buffs, 52-45. Presumably horrified Colorado AD Mike Bohn told the Boulder Daily Camera the school "could make an announcement in regard to [Hawkins'] future later this week."
UCLA's Kai Forbath and Arizona State's Thomas Weber are both former Groza Award winners, but while Forbath kicked a game-winning 51-yard field goal to beat Oregon State 17-14, Weber hooked his potential 42-yard game winner against USC not long after the Trojans blocked his go-ahead extra point and returned it for two of their own. USC won 34-33 in part because its own kicker, who'd missed two previous attempts, kicked a 29-yarder with 3:06 left.
Does anyone want to win the ACC's Atlantic Division? N.C. State, Maryland and Florida State entered Saturday tied in the loss column. They stayed that way after the Wolfpack blew a 10-0 third-quarter lead to lose 14-13 at Clemson; Miami freshman quarterback Stephen Morris threw a touchdown with 37 seconds remaining to beat the Terps; and the 'Noles lost 37-35 to UNC when Dustin Hopkins' last-second field goal attempt went ... wide right.
Two senior quarterbacks suffered heartbreaking, season-ending injuries this week. Georgia Tech's Joshua Nesbitt, the engineer of Paul Johnson's triple-option offense for three years, suffered a broken arm in last Thursday's 28-21 loss at Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, Oregon backup Nate Costa, who's lost two seasons and had three previous ACL tears, appeared to suffer another serious knee injury while trying to salvage a botched field-goal snap against Washington.
Indiana coach Bill Lynch can't catch a break. His team (4-5, 0-5) missed a golden opportunity to pull off a huge win Saturday against No. 16 Iowa. The Hoosiers either led or stayed within a score the entire way and had a chance to win with 28 seconds remaining, but receiver Damario Belcher dropped a wide-open touchdown catch on fourth-and-10 and the Hawkeyes prevailed, 18-13.
Ten weeks into the season, the Big East does not yet have a bowl-eligible team. That's astounding. But Charlie Strong inched closer to the mark in his first year at Louisville (5-4) with a 28-20 win over previously streaking Syracuse.
UCF (7-2) earned its first Top 25 ranking Sunday, entering both the AP and coaches' polls. In the latter, it is the highest-ranked team in the state of Florida at No. 23, one spot ahead of the Gators.
New Mexico (1-8) earned its first win of the season and second of coach Mike Locksley's tenure with a 34-31 win over Wyoming. It's down to you, 0-10 Akron.
From the AP's account of Kansas State's 39-14 rout of now 4-5 Texas: "[Garrett Gilbert] put more passes in Kansas State hands [throwing five interceptions] than did [Wildcats quarterback Colin] Klein, who was 2-of-4 for nine yards."
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