More Overtime (cont.)
In the end, Joker Phillips made Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart's decision easy. A day after the Wildcats (1-9) bottomed out with a 40-0 loss to Vanderbilt (5-4), Barnhart pulled the plug on his third-year coach, marking the official beginning of silly season. According to Yahoo's Pat Forde, Kentucky's list of candidates includes Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes (who figures to be a hot commodity) but does not include disgraced ex-Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, as many had previously assumed.
Tennessee's Derek Dooley (4-5) might have joined Phillips on the firing squad Sunday had the Vols not escaped Troy (4-5), 55-48, a game in which their middling Sun Belt foe gained an astonishing 721 yards. Wait a week or two. Meanwhile, Cal's Jeff Tedford (3-7) sealed his fate with a 21-13 home loss to Washington (5-4). It's not just the losing. Cal spent $321 million renovating Memorial Stadium and can't fill the seats due to apathy for Tedford's program.
It's a different story at UCLA, where Jim L. Mora's Bruins (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) are alone in first place in the Pac-12 South following a 66-10 dismantling of Arizona (5-4, 2-4). After a brief midseason slump, coordinator Noel Mazzone's offense is rolling again. Running back Johnathan Franklin has rushed for a combined 326 yards over the past two weeks, and UCLA is averaging 514.9 yards per game. Unlike last year's 6-6 team, this one could earn its way into the league championship game.
Nebraska (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) took a big step toward capturing the Big Ten's Legends Division thanks to the play of quarterback Taylor Martinez. For the second time in three weeks, the Huskers rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to win. Bo Pelini's team beat Michigan State (5-5, 2-4), 28-24, with a comeback capped by Martinez's five-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Turner with six seconds left. Martinez did throw three picks, but he also ran for 205 yards on 17 carries. In doing so, he broke Eric Crouch's school record for career total offense (8,166 yards).
Georgia (8-1, 6-1 SEC) all but wrapped up the SEC East with a 37-10 win over Ole Miss (5-4, 2-3). All that remains for the Bulldogs is a trip to 2-7 Auburn. In the coming weeks, you'll likely hear chatter that the Dawgs would deserve to jump some or all of Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame if they manage to upset No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta. But if that happens, note that seven of Georgia's eight wins have come against the following teams: Buffalo (1-7), Missouri (4-5), FAU (2-6), Vanderbilt (5-4), Tennessee (4-5), Kentucky (1-8) and Ole Miss (5-4).
Miami (5-4, 4-2 ACC) took control of the ACC Coastal Division with a 30-12 rout of Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3). However, there could be a forthcoming wrinkle. Miami may decide to self-impose another postseason ban in anticipation of NCAA sanctions. "We made the decision last year after we became bowl eligible," acting AD Blake James told The Miami Herald. "I think that would be the plan." Second-place North Carolina (6-3, 3-2) is already ineligible.
Another week, another unsung player steps up for Oregon State (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12). With starting tailback Storm Woods sidelined by a leg injury, third-string sophomore Terron Ward, who had a previous season high of four carries, ran 19 times for 146 yards in a 36-26 win over Arizona State (5-4, 3-3). The Beavers also played without star cornerback Jordan Poyer. "That is what this team has done so far," said coach Mike Riley. "If someone is hurt, then somebody steps in and makes the big plays like Terron did."
We salute you, Gary Patterson. Rather than put the ball back in the hands of Geno Smith, TCU's coach went for two on the final possession of double overtime in Morgantown -- and got it. Trevone Boykin's pass to Josh Boyce lifted the Horned Frogs (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) to a 39-38 win over reeling West Virginia (5-3, 2-3). Remember, Patterson did the same thing with 1:05 left in last year's 36-35 win at Boise State. "In these environments," said Boyce, "you have to go for it."
A week after nearly slipping into the abyss at Kansas, Texas (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) recorded its most important win to date, a 31-22 victory at Texas Tech (6-3, 3-3). Quarterback David Ash, pulled against the Jayhawks, rebounded nicely with an 11-of-19, 264-yard, three-touchdown performance (with no interceptions), and the oft-maligned defense performed admirably. "This is more of what we expected to start the season,'' said Longhorns coach Mack Brown. "...It was the best team win we have had all year."
Ohio State's (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) march to perfection continued with a 52-22 rout of Illinois (2-7, 0-5). After a bye, the Buckeyes' schedule finishes with Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2) and Michigan (6-3, 4-1). Meanwhile, Indiana (4-5, 2-3) controls its Rose Bowl destiny. Seriously. After the Hoosiers' 24-21 victory over Iowa (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten), the winner of Saturday's Indiana-Wisconsin game now takes control of Ohio State and Penn State's vacated Leaders Division.
It's rare that a top-20 team changes quarterbacks this late in the season, but that's exactly what is happening at Stanford (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12). While the struggling Josh Nunes played the first two series at Colorado (1-8, 1-5), redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan took over and went 18-of-23 for 148 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-0 win. Coach David Shaw had been gradually giving the mobile Hogan more playing time. "You'll see a whole lot of Kevin Hogan" this week against Oregon State, said Shaw.
Here's to the most amazing stat you'll read all week: Kansas State has scored 111 points off turnovers; its opponents have scored zero.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has moved into the top five nationally in pass efficiency. He's completing 70.4 percent of his passes for the 9-0 Cardinals.
With 157 rushing yards against UMass, Northern Illinois quarterback "Air" Jordan Lynch has now eclipsed 100 yards in eight straight games, an NCAA record for quarterbacks.
Utah's Reggie Dunn set an NCAA record with his fourth career 100-yard kick return Saturday against Washington State. Three have come in the past two weeks.
The annual enigma that is NC State continues. The same Wolfpack team (5-4, 2-3) that previously beat Florida State was embarrassed at home Saturday, losing 33-6 to Virginia (3-6, 1-4).
Maryland's emergency linebacker-turned-quarterback Shawn Petty went 9-of-18 for 115 yards in a 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech. But he did throw two touchdown passes to Stefon Diggs.
USF quarterback B.J. Daniels' career came to a sad end Saturday, when he broke his ankle against UConn. Daniels started 42 games in four seasons.