College Football Overtime (cont.)
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini called his defense's performance against Wisconsin "a joke," and while Russell Wilson figures to embarrass many more opponents, Pelini clearly has a problem on his hands. His once-feared unit ranks 64th nationally in total defense (377 yards per game allowed). Huskers fans will wait for Pelini to pull something out of his defensive guru hat, but could it simply be that players the caliber of Ndamukong Suh and Prince Amukamara don't come around often?
Peyton Manning's potential successor, Andrew Luck, is already emulating the Colts star. Stanford coach David Shaw ran a no-huddle for five series of Saturday's 45-19 win over UCLA and let the quarterback call his own plays. "He can get to anything in the offense," said Shaw. "He was phenomenal. His [calls] were a little better than mine.'' As if that's not enough, Luck showed he can play receiver, too, making this ridiculous one-handed catch on a trick play.
Mercifully, Ohio State gets back suspended star receiver DeVier Posey, running back Dan Herron and tackle Mike Adams next week against Nebraska, which should bring some relief to an inept offense that had negative yardage late into the second half against Michigan State. But there' no timetable on when freshman Braxton Miller will develop the confidence to be a serviceable Big Ten quarterback, and coach Luke Fickell -- who's never before worked with an offense -- isn't exactly inspiring confidence.
Saturday saw some unbelievable receiving performances. I mentioned Illinois' Jenkins earlier. USC's Robert Woods had 14 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the Trojans' 48-41 win over Arizona. Baylor's Kendall Wright had nine catches for 201 yards and three scores at K-State. But Arkansas' Jarius Wright takes first prize. The senior had 13 catches for 281 yards and two scores and recovered a fumble in the end zone in the Razorbacks' 41-38 comeback over Texas A&M.
Kudos to Arkansas for a ferocious comeback, but my gosh, Mike Sherman. Like the teams of many former NFL-turned-college coaches, Sherman's squads seem to lack a killer instinct, and blowing 17- and 18-point halftime leads in consecutive weeks is about as galling as it gets. "It's a travesty that we didn't win this football game," Sherman said afterward. There's no truth to the rumor that A&M is reviewing conference bylaws to see if it can go to the SEC but leave Sherman in the Big 12.
The "Honey Badger for Heisman" campaign continues. LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu added his latest highlight-reel moment Saturday when he blitzed Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith, stripped the ball with an emphatic overhead swat and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown. Mathieu's two forced fumbles on the day gave him a school-record nine for his career -- less than halfway through his sophomore season. He'd be on my ballot as of today.
Long before Steve Spurrier botched the late-game time management and Stephen Garcia bumbled his way to a 9-of-23 passing day against Auburn, South Carolina's day got off to a rough start when SEC referees disallowed the UnderArmour Wounded Warrior jerseys the Gamecocks planned to wear because the numbers were too hard to read. They changed uniforms before kickoff. Bravo guys. Now if we could only get ACC officials to outlaw Maryland's entire wardrobe.
On a brighter note for the Gamecocks: Defensive end Melvin Ingram had 11 tackles (4.5 of them for loss), 3.5 sacks and picked off a fake field goal pass against Auburn. He's pretty good.
After struggling to run the ball in its first four games, West Virginia gave freshman running back Dustin Garrison a shot. All he did was rush for a school freshman record 291 yards on 32 carries in a 55-10 rout of Bowling Green. "I think we found a running back," said Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen, who's known primarily for the passing game but had star rusher Kendall Hunter at his disposal at Oklahoma State. If Garrison helps the Mountaineers become balanced, they will be tough to beat.
Stanford and Oregon are the head of the class in the Pac-12, but Washington is making a convincing case for No. 3. The Huskies went to Utah on Saturday and dispatched the Utes fairly easily, 31-14. Running back Chris Polk had his best game of the year (29 carries, 189 yards), but most encouraging was the defense forcing five turnovers. "We wanted to come out and show we have a whole lot better defense than we'd been showing," said linebacker Cort Dennison.
The shine is officially off TCU this year, as SMU (4-1) handed its Metroplex rival Frogs their second loss of the season, 40-33 in overtime. June Jones' program beat a ranked team for just the second time since SMU's 1986 Death Penalty and ended TCU's 22-game home winning streak. Frogs quarterback Casey Pachall (30-of-42, 304 yards, three TDs, no INTs) is doing his part, but Gary Patterson's normally stout defense is undergoing a rough rebuilding season.
Washington State (3-1) won its conference opener Saturday for the first time since 2006, scoring two touchdowns in the final 2:35 to stun Colorado (1-4) in Boulder, 31-27. While it's easy to dismiss any win over the Buffs, the Cougs have made major strides this season, led by quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, who took over for injured Jeff Tuel in the opener and is the league's third-rated passer. If Wazzu can win at UCLA this week, a bowl berth becomes feasible.
Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles is so consistently good it's easy to overlook him at times, but Saturday he set the Big 12's record for career receptions with 304.
Your Big East football Saturday included Western Michigan beating Connecticut, Marshall beating Louisville and Rutgers beating Syracuse 19-16 -- in double overtime. But this league must be saved.
In the MAC's version of LSU-Alabama, Toledo (2-3) put aside last week's Syracuse controversy to trounce Temple (3-2), 31-13. They could meet again in Detroit in December.
I'd update you on the 18th installment of Matt McGloin vs. Rob Bolden, but after a 16-10 win over Indiana, I'm not sure even Penn State followers care anymore.
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