More Overtime (cont.)
Lost in the hubbub over the two SEC newcomers' games, LSU delivered an emphatic statement by pummeling visiting Washington, 41-3. Just last week the Tigers lost preseason All-America tackle Chris Faulk to a potentially season-ending knee injury, but that didn't stop the Tigers' four-headed backfield from grinding out 242 rushing yards. And with Tyrann Mathieu watching from the stands, the Tigers' defense held Huskies star Keith Price to 157 passing yards.
Remember when Auburn won a BCS championship with a Heisman-winning quarterback? Was that really only two years ago? The Tigers' latest post-Cam quarterback, sophomore Kiehl Frazier, has struggled mightily in two starts and tossed three interceptions Saturday against Mississippi State as Auburn fell to 0-2. Bulldogs quarterback Tyler Russell, on the other hand, made several spectacular throws in the 28-10 rout, finishing 20-of-29 for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
In light of the disappointing starts for Arkansas and Auburn, there's reason to believe Dan Mullen's team may be the best in the SEC West not named Alabama or LSU. After sliding to 7-6 last season, the Bulldogs will look to return to their nine-win level from 2010. Gene Chizik, on the other hand, suddenly can't catch a break. Next up for the Tigers: Louisiana-Monroe.
A week after enduring the wrath of Alabama's defense, Michigan's Denard Robinson took a page out of 2010, posting his third career 200/200 game (218 yards rushing, 208 passing) in a 31-25 win over Air Force. Robinson had 426 of Michigan's 422 total yards. Yes, you read that right. That included touchdown runs of 79 and 51 yards. "Not to be cocky or anything but once I get in front of everybody and I see the end zone, I don't think I'm getting caught," Robinson said.
Meanwhile, Ohio State rival Braxton Miller is starting to take on a Denard-like workload. With tailback Carlos Hyde suffering a knee injury in the second quarter against UCF, Miller carried 27 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-16 win. This, after notching 161 yards on 17 carries in the opener against Miami (Ohio). Not that Urban Meyer was pleased with OSU's rushing attack. "We're down to our third tailback, and it looked like it," Meyer said. "We have to get better."
It's not often a quarterback posts a stat line like Matt Barkley's on Saturday. In a strange, rain-delayed 42-29 win against Syracuse at half-empty MetLife Stadium, USC's quarterback threw for just 187 yards -- but tied a career high with six touchdowns. Marqise Lee now has 21 receptions and four touchdowns in two games, but Robert Woods overshadowed him this week with an electrifying 76-yard run. "I hope nobody forgets about me," joked Woods.
Currently sitting one spot behind Barkley at No. 10 nationally in pass efficiency: Kansas State's Collin Klein -- you know, the bulldozer who usually just runs the ball. In Saturday's 52-13 rout of visiting Miami, Klein was a lethal 9-of-11 for 210 yards, albeit with an interception. Not all has changed: Klein also ran 22 times for 71 yards and three scores. Bill Snyder's assessment of the Wildcats' clinic: "We're a work in progress," Snyder said, "but we're vastly improved."
Yet another eye-popping quarterback: Louisville sophomore Teddy Bridgewater. Through two weeks, he's completed 81.7 percent of his throws (49-of-60) for 576 yards in wins over Kentucky and Missouri State. "He's what, 19?" tight end Nate Nord said of Bridgewater. "He plays like he's in his 30s." The South Florida native's December 2011 recruiting flip from Miami to Louisville was deemed a signature moment for Charlie Strong's program, and that's proving accurate.
As Penn State kicker Sam Ficken's nightmare unfolded Saturday against Virginia -- he had an extra point blocked and missed four field goals, including the potential game-winner, in a 17-16 loss -- the inevitable reaction was: Bill O'Brien's team misses Anthony Fera more than any other transfer. But Fera suffered a groin strain over the summer and has yet to play for Texas, so Ficken likely would have played regardless. Not that it's any solace for the 0-2 Nittany Lions.
Saturday may have been the finest moment to date in USF quarterback B.J. Daniels' up-and-down career. Down 31-20 at Nevada late in the fourth quarter, Daniels threw a 52-yard touchdown to Chris Dunkley with 2:37 remaining. Then, after getting the ball back a minute later, Daniels threw a go-ahead 56-yard touchdown to Andre Davis with 38 seconds left in a 32-31 win. Daniels finished 22-of-40 for 363 yards and three scores; Davis had 12 catches for 191 yards and two scores.
The Tommy Rees era at Notre Dame is not over. While redshirt freshman Everett Golson initially overtook the 16-game starter, who was suspended for last week's opener against Navy following an offseason arrest, Rees saved the day Saturday in a 20-17 win over Purdue, leading a two-minute drive to set up Kyle Brindza's game-winning 27-yard field goal. Golson's thumb was bothering him, but coach Brian Kelly said he would have enlisted Rees regardless. But there's no controversy. Really.
Speaking of Purdue ... is the Boilermakers' Big Ten Leaders Division poised to be this season's version of the 2011 Pac-12 South? Following losses by Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Penn State, the division is a combined 7-5. Ohio State, which is ineligible for the league championship game, has two of those wins; Indiana has two others, against Indiana State and UMass -- and the Hoosiers on Saturday lost starting quarterback Tre Roberson for the season.
South Carolina did not miss injured quarterback Connor Shaw in a 48-10 win over East Carolina. His replacement, Dylan Thompson, threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns. "If Connor is 100 percent, he's our guy," Steve Spurrier insisted afterward. "Now we know if something happens to Connor, Dylan can go in there." Fast forward to endless sideline shots of Spurrier and/or Thompson the first time Shaw comes back and throws an interception.
Why do we ever doubt you, Paul Rhoads? Iowa State pulled off its first back-to-back wins over archrival Iowa since the late '90s with a 9-6 struggle that hung in the balance until Cyclones linebacker Jake Knott tipped and intercepted a James Vandenberg pass from the Iowa State 32 with 1:11 left. "This is the best feeling in the world, one that I'll remember the rest of my life," said Knott, a prospective All-America who's quietly notched 245 combined tackles the past two years.
The WAC may be on its last legs, but it's going out in style. On Friday, Utah State ended a 12-game losing streak to rival Utah with a 27-20 overtime victory. One night later, Louisiana Tech and Houston set an NCAA record for combined first downs (78) as Louisiana Tech won 56-49. Poor Houston, 13-1 last season, is now 0-2, with both losses coming against WAC foes (Texas State last week). Cougars quarterback David Piland threw for 580 yards ... and lost.
Of all the consequences of conference realignment, the worst might be that Saturday night's Florida State-Savannah State game got scheduled. (West Virginia had to bail on FSU.) The carnage was only 55-0 thanks to FSU pulling its starters in the first quarter and officials using a running clock after halftime. The game was called after two weather delays.
Nerd Alert I: Northwestern topped Vanderbilt, 23-13, in rain-drenched Evanston. Nerd Alert II: Stanford shook off last week's ugly opener to rout Duke, 50-13.
Not even Charlie Weis' schematic advantages could prevent moribund Kansas from falling to Rice, 25-24, on a last-second 45-yard field goal.
But even Weis feels sorry for Colorado coach Jon Embree. The Buffs, 3-10 last season, have opened with losses to Colorado State and Sacramento State (more on that one later).
In a disturbing moment replayed repeatedly Saturday, Tulane safety Devon Walker suffered a cervical spine fracture following a head-to-head collision with a teammate while making a tackle against Tulsa. Walker remains in stable condition after undergoing a three-hour surgery Sunday at St. Francis hospital in Tulsa, where neurosurgeons stabilized his spine. He did not suffer a collapsed lung, as initially reported, but doctors preventively performed CPR on Walker while he was still on the field.
Tulane team doctor Greg Stewart told The New Orleans Times-Picayune earlier Sunday that Walker had some feeling in his extremities but that they may not know until later in the week if Walker is paralyzed.
"We're just hoping and praying for the best for Devon and his family," said Tulane spokesman Roger Dunaway. So, too, will the rest of us.
SI Now Live Friday December 20, 2013
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