College Football Overtime (cont.)
The Eric LeGrand story just keeps getting better. On Saturday, the paralyzed former Rutgers player -- who is so upbeat about his circumstances he makes you feel guilty for ever complaining about anything -- led his team out of the tunnel onto a snowy field. The next day, LeGrand had this to say on Twitter: "So I left tire marks in the snow yesterday as I led my team out next time will be footprints."
Last week I misread a press release and mistakenly wrote that Houston quarterback Case Keenum had broken the NCAA career touchdown record. In fact, he was still four shy. Keenum rendered that mixup moot last Thursday by throwing for nine touchdowns in a 73-34 rout of Rice. Five of those landed in the hands of receiver Patrick Edwards, who finished with a mere 318 yards on seven catches. Keenum has now thrown 32 touchdowns and just three picks.
Oklahoma's Landry Jones set a new career high with 505 passing yards in Saturday's 58-17 rout of previously unbeaten Kansas State. The Sooners (7-1) are going to be kicking themselves over last week's stunning home loss to Texas Tech for a long time. A week later, Iowa State (4-4) throttled those same Red Raiders 41-7 while rushing for 368 yards. "I take total blame for that," said Tech coach Tommy Tuberville. "I saw a lot of it coming during the week."
It wasn't pretty, but formerly embattled Georgia coach Mark Richt (6-2) got a much-needed win over Florida (4-4), just the third of his 11-year tenure. "I know it was just a ballgame, but it seemed like a lot more than that," said Richt, whose team has rolled off six straight wins. It's not so pretty these days for Florida's Will Muschamp as the Gators are suffering through their first four-game losing streak since 1988. Remarkably, Florida scored just three offensive touchdowns in its four October games.
Quarterback Tevin Washington's career rushing night (176 yards) helped Georgia Tech hand fifth-ranked Clemson its first loss while also preserving Tech's chances of winning the ACC's Coastal Division. The Jackets (7-2, 4-2 ACC), who snapped a two-game losing skid, remain a half-game behind No. 12 Virginia Tech (8-1, 4-1) but host the Hokies a week from Thursday. Frank Beamer's team, which survived Duke 14-10, gets 12 days to prepare for the triple-option.
Remarkably, the one other team that has a shot in that division is Virginia (5-3, 2-2). Props to second-year Cavs coach Mike London, whose team went to Miami last Thursday and stunned the Hurricanes 28-21 two weeks after handing Georgia Tech its first loss. London broke out a fake field goal and a halfback option, in which running back Perry Jones threw a 37-yard touchdown. (He also caught a 78-yard score.) Virginia should at least reach its first bowl game in three years.
It seems like Brian Kelly has done a lot of apologizing during his two-year tenure in South Bend. His latest act of contrition was directed at his own players after several of them expressed displeasure on Twitter over their coach's comments last week insinuating the players he recruited are progressing better than the upperclassmen he had to "retrain." The Irish (5-3) at least made strides in one department, walloping Navy (56-14), which beat them three of the last four years.
It may sound crazy, but is Oregon's offense better right now with redshirt freshman quarterback Bryan Bennett? Saturday against Washington State, Chip Kelly pulled starter Darron Thomas -- whose injured knee may still be bothering him -- after he threw a pick-six just before halftime that cut the Ducks' lead to 15-10. With Bennett in the game, Oregon (7-1) rolled to a 43-28 win, but with help from speedy freshman DeAnthony Thomas' 93-yard kick return touchdown.
Poor Vanderbilt. First-year coach James Franklin has clearly upgraded the Commodores (4-4), who led No. 10 Arkansas 28-17 in the second half thanks in part to a strong second start by quarterback Jordan Rodgers, brother of Aaron. But in a very Vandy-esqe script, Arkansas' Jerry Franklin returned a fumble 94 yards, to tie the score 28-28, and Vandy's Carey Spear missed a 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left that would have sent the game to overtime.
What a week for Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who on Tuesday signed a new seven-year contract (despite his tenure getting off to a 1-6 start), then on Saturday knocked off Iowa 22-21 to claim the Floyd of Rosedale (a bronzed pig, for the unaware). It's not such a good week to be Kirk Ferentz, the $3.7-million-a-year coach now on the wrong end of the Gophers' past two Big Ten victories despite Hawkeyes running back Marcus Coker going for 252 yards on Saturday.
As the cliché goes, you've got to play 60 minutes to win in the SEC. Hopefully Texas A&M gets the message prior to its arrival next season. For the third time this season, Mike Sherman's Aggies (5-3) blew a double-digit second-half lead, this time against Missouri (4-4), which rallied to win 38-31 in overtime. "It's definitely something we've got to talk about and get fixed," Sherman said for the third time in a postgame press conference. Mizzou improved to 1-0 in SEC play.
Not surprisingly, Florida State (5-3) has gotten its act together since quarterback E.J. Manuel returned to the lineup. The Seminoles blanked N.C. State 34-0 on the heels of similar blowouts over Duke and Maryland. Amazingly, Manuel (25-of-34, 321 yards, two touchdowns, one pick) is playing despite suffering a Grade 3 separation to his non-throwing shoulder. "If you could see it now, it's still sticking up," he said. "It hurts, but I don't feel it."
Maryland's plan to fill Byrd Stadium has gone terribly awry. First they expect you to show up in this, and once you do, you have to watch the Terps (2-6) lose 28-17 to Boston College (2-6).
Texas outgained hapless Kansas 590-46 in its 43-0 win Saturday. Somewhere in between is the number of viewers who saw the game on the Longhorn Network.
Best wishes to two great running backs who suffered season-ending injuries this week, Pitt's Ray Graham (knee) and Oklahoma's Dom Whaley (broken ankle).
Condolences to the family of Bob Barry Sr., longtime voice of the Sooners and Oklahoma State before that, who passed away Sunday at the age of 80.