College Football Overtime (cont.)
No. 3 Stanford (9-0) heads into this week's showdown with Oregon pretty beat up. During Saturday's 38-13 win at Oregon State, receiver Chris Owusu suffered a concussion and tight end Levine Toilolo went out in the second quarter and did not return. The Cardinal were already playing without tight end Zach Ertz (knee), safety Delano Howell (hand), tackle Cameron Fleming (leg) and kicker Jordan Williamson. Some could return this week.
For their part, the sixth-ranked Ducks (8-1) appear to be returning to health. Running back LaMichael James rushed for 156 yards and quarterback Darron Thomas (13-of-25 for 169 yards and a touchdown) went the distance in a 34-17 win at Washington (6-3). Most impressively, Oregon's defense held Washington star Chris Polk to 80 yards on 24 carries and sacked quarterback Keith Price six times. "The defense showed up and we did our job," said defensive end Dion Jordan.
It was a day of milestones Saturday for two of college football's most venerable quarterbacks. With 407 yards in a 56-13 rout of UAB, Houston's Case Keenum passed former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang for No. 1 on the alltime career passing list (17,212) while leading his team to its first-ever 9-0 start. "It's been a very special season," Keenum said. Meanwhile, Boise State's Kellen Moore broke Colt McCoy's FBS record with his 46th career win, 48-21 over UNLV.
There have been way too many of these this year. Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles, the NCAA's career receptions leader and one of the sport's brightest stars, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the sixth-ranked Sooners' 41-25 win over Texas A&M. "He's such a special, special player," said coach Bob Stoops. "It's deflating for him and for all of us." The injuries are piling up for Oklahoma, which lost top rusher Dom Whaley for the season last week.
Northwestern (4-5) may have salvaged its season with a 28-25 upset at ninth-ranked Nebraska (7-2). It marked coach Pat Fitzgerald's second road win in three years over a Top 10 foe (Iowa in 2009), but this one came out of nowhere. A previously horrid defense held Huskers running back Rex Burkhead to 69 yards and forced two key fumbles, and backup quarterback Kain Colter racked up 229 total yards in just over a half. "A great program win for us," said Fitzgerald.
A week after I sung the praises of Oklahoma State's oft-criticized defense, the No. 3 Cowboys (9-0) needed a last-second stop to survive No. 17 Kansas State, 52-45, in a classic Big 12 shootout. Brandon Weeden threw for a career-high 502 yards but also tossed two picks, while the Cowboys' defense allowed the Wildcats' 86th-ranked offense to rack up 507 total yards. "In a perfect world, they're all going to be double-digit wins, but it's not like that," said Weeden.
While the nation fixated on LSU-Alabama, No. 8 Arkansas (8-1) broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to finish off No. 10 South Carolina, 44-28, and remain very much alive in the SEC West, a scenario not many have pondered. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks' loss means once-forgotten Georgia (7-2), which has won seven straight and improved to No. 14 in the rankings, moved atop the SEC East standings heading into a critical home game against 6-3 Auburn.
If you're looking for a convoluted mess, try the Big Ten's Legends Division. Nebraska's loss Saturday coupled with Iowa's 24-16 win over Michigan -- in which the Hawkeyes forced four Denard Robinson incompletions from the three-yard line in the final seconds -- left Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) back in first just a week after losing 24-3 in Lincoln. And Iowa (6-3, 3-2), a week removed from losing at Minnesota, controls its destiny, with remaining dates against the Spartans and Huskers.
Could the Big East be on its way to another four-loss BCS representative? Louisville (5-4), which started 2-4, knocked off West Virginia 38-35 to move to 3-1 in conference play. Freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continues to progress, going 21-of-27 for a personal-best 246 yards against the Mountaineers (6-3). Louisville, however, is still looking up at No. 23 Cincinnati (7-1, 3-0), which won 26-23 at Pittsburgh on Saturday and previously beat the Cardinals.
Texas coach Mack Brown brought in offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin to resuscitate the Longhorns' recently non-existent rushing attack, and it appears to be working. Led by freshman tailback Joe Bergeron's 191 yards and three touchdowns, Texas (6-2) racked up 439 rushing yards in a 52-20 rout of Texas Tech (5-4), despite top rusher Malcolm Brown sitting out with a sore foot. The 'Horns have averaged a staggering 370.3 ground yards over their last three games.
Speaking of powerful rushing attacks, Wisconsin's Montee Ball sprung for a career high 223 yards on 20 carries and added three touchdowns for a national-best 21 in the Badgers' 62-17 rout of Purdue. Meanwhile, quarterback Russell Wilson (21 touchdowns, three interceptions) still leads the nation in pass efficiency (196.7). Either or both would likely be in the thick of the Heisman race if Wisconsin hadn't allowed those consecutive last-second touchdown bombs.
Virginia (6-3) became bowl eligible for the first time in four years with a 31-13 win at reeling Maryland (2-7). The Cavaliers ended a 13-game losing streak in November. "Being bowl-eligible is only part of it," said second-year coach Mike London, whose team could still win the ACC's Costal Division. "I feel extremely humbled because of where the program was and the progress we've tried to make."
After allowing at least 42 points in seven straight contests, Kansas (2-7) managed to hold Iowa State (5-4) to just 13 points. Unfortunately the Jayhawks only scored 10.
Conference USA's version of LSU-Alabama may come Nov. 26. That's when Tulsa (6-3) and Houston -- both 5-0 in league play -- meet in a regular-season finale on the Hurricane's home field.
Boston College's streak of 12 consecutive bowl seasons is officially over after Florida State (6-3) humiliated the Eagles (2-7), 38-7, last Thursday.
After watching Kentucky (4-5) throttle Ole Miss (2-7, 0-6 SEC), 30-13, you have to wonder: What job has Jimmy Sexton lined up for Houston Nutt next?