Snaps II: Clemson continues its aerial assault at FSU's expense
Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins continue to amaze and dominate
It seems we're going to see a different Miami team every week of the season
Plus: Braxton Miller Era begins, Illinois survives scare, UCLA finally wins one!
No. 21 Clemson 35, No. 11 Florida State 30: After posting gaudy numbers during the first three weeks of the season, redshirt sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd was supposed to look human against a rabid Florida State defense. Well ... maybe next week.
Boyd continued his 2011 aerial assault, passing for 344 yards and three scores and adding a rushing touchdown for good measure. And despite a fine effort from Florida State freshman quarterback Clint Trickett (who was filling in for the injured E.J. Manuel), Clemson (4-0) held on for a marquee win in front of a raucous Death Valley crowd.
Boyd again leaned heavily on his favorite target, freshman sensation Sammy Watkins. The crown jewel of Dabo Swinney's 2011 recruiting class is quickly establishing himself as one of the nation's most explosive youngsters. Watkins burned the Seminoles for touchdowns of 24 and 62 yards, finishing with eight catches for 141 yards one week after running circles around the Auburn secondary in a 10-catch, 155-yard, two-score performance. Maybe Dabo was on to something in the preseason when he said he'd never seen a freshman like him.
Boyd, meanwhile, is a bona fide Heisman contender after delivering a performance like this against the No. 11 team in the nation. And he continues to excel in the biggest spots, looking surgical on third downs. But he did make one noticeable mistake that cost the Tigers dearly at the beginning of the third quarter. After barely evading blitzing Seminole Christian Jones, Boyd lost his balance and began falling to the turf. But instead of just eating it and moving on to the next play, Boyd tried to get rid of the ball on his way down. The ball popped out of his hand and floated straight to FSU's Bjoern Werner, who took it 25 yards the other way for a score. (Here's a handy GIF to supplement my attempted description.) Officials reviewed the play to see if Boyd's knee was down, but the call stood. It was Boyd's first interception in 110 passes and cut the Clemson lead from 11 points to four.
The Tigers rebuilt a double-digit lead twice, but could never quite shake the 'Noles, thanks in large part to a gutty effort from Trickett. The first-time starter passed for 336 yards and three touchdowns (to one interception), but the Seminoles couldn't get out of their own way with 11 penalties for 124 yards. Two weeks ago, Florida State was ranked No. 5 and was right in the thick of the national title race. Now it heads into an off week on a two-game losing streak.
Clemson, on the other hand, dives right back into the spotlight next Saturday. Hitting the road for the first time this season, the Tigers face another big test: Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Mr. Boyd, the floor is yours. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
No. 3 Alabama 38, No. 14 Arkansas 14: Stewart Mandel attended this Crimson clinic and has provided his thoughts on the game. But I'd just like to toss some quick love to sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron. Quarterback was clearly Alabama's biggest question mark entering this season. McCarron eventually beat out Phillip Sims to replace Mr. Reliable, Greg McElroy, as the Alabama starter. But McCarron wasn't impressive in the season opener against Kent State, throwing a pair of interceptions. Since then, though, his game management has improved exponentially. And today he enjoyed the finest game of his young career, completing 15-of-20 passes for 200 yards and two scores in 'Bama's demolition of the nation's No. 14 team. Oh yeah, and his elaborate "Bama Boy"/Jesus tatt brought us one of the greatest T-shirts ever pressed. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
No. 7 Oklahoma State 30, No. 8 Texas A&M 29: Well, that was pretty wacky. Andy Staples was on site and has put everything in perspective. One thought from your loyal Snapster: Losses just cannot get more painful than this one was for Texas A&M. A true soul-crusher. In the first top 10 matchup at Kyle Field since 1975, the Aggies built a 20-3 halftime lead, sending the 12th Man into a tizzy. But two turnovers and numerous penalties later, the Pokes had reeled off 27 unanswered points to take a 30-20 lead in the fourth quarter. A&M scored a touchdown with 2:21 remaining to get within three points and actually got the ball back with just under two minutes remaining. But Ryan Tannehill tossed his third pick to seal the deal. (Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon eventually took a safety as time expired to give us the final 30-29 score.) From the highest of highs in the first half to the lowest of lows in the second, this game was a roller coaster plunge into the depths of hell for A&M. Too melodramatic? Not for the Aggie faithful. (RECAP | BOX)
Kansas State 28, Miami 24: Well, you certainly never know what you're going to get when the 2011 'Canes take the field. In the season opener, Miami turned the ball over four times and dropped a 32-24 decision to Maryland's Flag Duds. Then last week, the Hurricanes unexpectedly stomped No. 17 Ohio State 24-6. Consequently, Al Golden's team entered today's game at Kansas State as a 13-point favorite. Naturally, the Hurricanes fell short -- by one yard. The Wildcats capped off a thrilling goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter with a doorstep denial of Jacory Harris on fourth down. Harris was actually given a touchdown initially, but replay officials deemed that his knee was down and took the points off the board. (RECAP | BOX)
Ohio State 37, Colorado 17: The Braxton Miller Era is off and running. Literally. The Buckeyes' celebrated freshman quarterback did the bulk of his damage on the ground, running for 83 yards on 17 carries. He also threw a pair of touchdown passes, but only completed 5-of-13 passes for 83 yards. Which, come to think of it, is actually a HUGE upgrade from Joe Bauserman's historically horrendous performance last week at Miami. But let's not revisit that horror show. Junior Jordan Hall lent a helping hand to his freshman quarterback, rushing for 84 yards and a touchdown and returning a kick 90 yards to set up another Buckeye score. Ohio State improved to 3-1 and got back on track before next Saturday's Big Ten opener against Michigan State. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
No. 24 Illinois 23, Western Michigan 20: The Zooker has Illinois at 4-0 for the first time since 1951, but it certainly wasn't easy. Western Michigan, which upset Illinois the last time these teams met back in 2008, gave Ron Zook's team all it could handle. Eventually, Illinois wore down the Broncos by riding... Troy Pollard? Yup, Troy Pollard. Starting RB Jason Ford continued his season-long struggles in the early goings, so Zook finally decided to mix it up. Pollard, a previously anonymous fifth-year senior, rushed for a career-high 133 yards on 14 carries. (He had a grand total of three yards on one carry in last week's win over Arizona State.) Zook also tapped freshman Donovonn Young, who responded with 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
Washington 31, Cal 23: Jake who? Washington got pretty comfortable with Mr. Locker behind center over the past four seasons, but Keith Price is making a name for himself pretty quickly in 2011. At 3-1 with Price at the helm, the Huskies are actually off to their best start in six years. The sophomore signal-caller guided Washington past Cal for 292 yards passing and three more touchdowns -- giving him 14 scoring strikes in four games. As for Cal suffering its first loss of the season ... What'd you expect? After all, this was a road game. We all know Jeff Tedford's Bears don't like those. (RECAP | BOX)
UCLA 27, Oregon State 19: Rick Neuheisel's seat may feel a tad bit cooler, but not much. This Oregon State (0-3) team lost its season opener to Sacramento State and then dropped a 35-0 decision at Wisconsin. These are not your older brothers' Beavs. Not a whole lot of currency to be gained, even on the road. But hey, a win's a win. And UCLA's back to .500. Yippee! (RECAP | BOX)
No. 13 Virginia Tech 30, Marshall 10: Surprisingly, this is the first time Frank Beamer's team has reached 4-0 since 2006. David Wilson topped 130 yards rushing for the third time this season, finishing with 132 and a score on 26 carries. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
No. 6 Wisconsin 59, South Dakota 10: Well, isn't this nice: A Week 4 sacrificial lamb to help pad Russell Wilson's Heisman stats. Wisconsin's banner offseason free-agent acquisition did indeed shred the overmatched Coyotes, going 19-for-25 for 345 yards and three touchdowns before sitting out the fourth quarter. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)