More Overtime (cont.)
Washington's 17-13 upset of Stanford was a major step for first-year coordinator Justin Wilcox's defense. A year ago, the Huskies allowed 446 rushing yards to the Cardinal; last Thursday, they allowed just 65. Obviously, Stanford's post-Andrew Luck offensive struggles accounted for some of the drop-off, but much of the credit should go to Washington. "That is playing good defense against a power running team," said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. "We stood our ground there all the way to the bitter end."
Another week, another dramatic victory for Miami (4-1). Quarterback Stephen Morris, who threw for an ACC-record 566 yards, uncorked a 62-yard bomb to Phillip Dorsett with 19 seconds remaining to top N.C. State, 44-37, prompting this priceless reaction from coach Al Golden (warning: contains explicit language). The 'Canes, which face No. 9 Notre Dame in Chicago on Saturday, are extremely young and porous on defense (ranked 114th nationally). But they're off to a better start than most would have imagined.
Virginia Tech (3-2) may want to steer clear of FedEx Field for the foreseeable future. In a near-carbon copy ending of their 2010 loss there to Boise State, the Hokies went ahead of Cincinnati, 24-20, on a 56-yard Corey Fuller touchdown with 1:49 left. Then Bearcats quarterback Munchie Legaux released an incredible 39-yard heave to a diving Damon Julian with 13 seconds remaining. "I threw it up hoping he would make a play and he came down with it," Legaux said afterward.
It may be that Arkansas' woeful defense is going to produce a lot of career days for opposing quarterbacks, but Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel went an eye-opening 29-of-38 for 453 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Aggies' 58-10 beatdown of the hapless Razorbacks (1-4). A&M (3-1) scored its most points in 70 all-time meetings with Arkansas. If Auburn's Kiehl Frazier is ever going to have a breakout game, next week is his big chance.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley made another celebratory In-N-Out run after the now No. 14 Beavers (3-0) pulled off a 38-35 win at Arizona. Quarterback Sean Mannion (who threw for a career-high 433 yards) and receivers Markus Wheaton (10 catches, 166 yards, two touchdowns) and Brandin Cooks (nine catches, 149 yards) continued to shine, and Mannion orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard, game-winning drive. The Beavers capped their comeback when Mannion connected with Connor Hamlett from nine yards out with 1:09 left.
While the competition has been weak, Texas Tech has clearly made tremendous strides under new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. The Red Raiders, a woeful 114th in total defense last year, currently hold the No. 1 ranking (167.5 yards per game) following Saturday's 24-13 win at Iowa State (3-1). Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz managed just 73 passing yards and threw three interceptions. "We just came right at them and hit 'em in the mouth," said defensive tackle Kerry Hyder.
Senior linebacker Mike Mauti was one of Penn State's most vocal players in rallying the Nittany Lions after the program's NCAA sanctions were announced in July. Two months later, he's been the heart of a defense that's helped Bill O'Brien's team rally from an 0-2 start to win three straight games. In Saturday's 35-7 victory over Illinois, Mauti had two interceptions and returned one of them 99 yards. He now has a team-high 48 tackles and four forced turnovers.
It's starting to get ugly for Georgia Tech (2-3), and, in particular, for defensive coordinator Al Groh. A week after allowing 609 yards in an overtime loss to Miami, the Yellow Jackets surrendered 510 yards to Middle Tennessee State in a 49-28 loss. "It was embarrassing," said Jackets coach Paul Johnson, who went 34-19 his first four seasons coming into this year. "I don't think there's any other way to describe it."
It's getting even uglier for embattled Cal coach Jeff Tedford, whose team fell to 1-4 following Saturday's 27-17 home loss to much-improved Arizona State (4-1). The Bears are off to the worst start of Tedford's 11-year tenure in Berkeley, and they still have five games against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25 (UCLA, Stanford, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State). Quarterback Zach Maynard (9-of-28 for 126 yards) has regressed after showing signs of promise late last season.
The legend of Mark Weisman continues to grow. Iowa's walk-on tailback -- formerly a fullback, and formerly an Air Force enrollee before that -- gashed Minnesota for 177 yards on 21 carries in the Hawkeyes' (3-2) 31-13 win over the Gophers (4-1). Weisman has now accrued 507 yards in three games. Meanwhile, the Floyd of Rosedale returned to Iowa City after a two-year absence, eliciting this fantastic headline in The Gazette: "Everything's Better With Bacon."
My preseason Duke-makes-a-bowl prediction is looking better by the week. The Blue Devils are off to their best start since they began 5-0 in 1994 -- also the last time they made a bowl -- following Saturday's 34-27 win over Wake Forest, their first over the Demon Deacons since 1999. Meanwhile, the rest of Duke's division is entirely unimposing. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina are a combined 10-10. Surely there are two more wins to be had in that bunch.
Louisiana Tech (4-0) continues to stake its claim as the nation's best mid-major, topping Virginia, 44-38. Ohio (5-0), however, still has the best chance of finishing undefeated -- its 37-34 scare against 0-5 UMass notwithstanding.
Miami (Ohio) quarterback Zac Dysert did his best Taylor Heinicke impression Saturday, throwing for 516 yards and six touchdowns and rushing for another 108 in a 56-49 win over Akron.
It's a tough time for the service academies. San Jose State (4-1) blanked Navy (1-3), while Army dropped to 0-4 following a 23-3 loss to Stony Brook.
Larry Coker, who you may recall won his first 24 games at Miami, is off to a 5-0 start in his return to FBS. Coker's UT-San Antonio team drubbed New Mexico State, 35-14.
Meanwhile, Bob Davie nearly pulled off an all-time stunner. His triple-option New Mexico team rallied from a 25-0 deficit to draw within 32-29 of Boise State. The Lobos' hopes ended, however, when their only pass attempt of the second half fell incomplete.