More Overtime (cont.)
Vanderbilt's ascension under James Franklin is costing other SEC coaches their jobs. Tennessee's Derek Dooley became the second coach this season (Kentucky's Joker Phillips was the first) to be fired shortly after a loss to the Commodores (7-4, 5-3 SEC), as he was dismissed Sunday following Vandy's 41-18 rout of the Vols. At 0-7 in the SEC this season and 4-19 in the league in three years, Dooley's ouster had been inevitable for weeks. "This is a result-based profession," said Tennessee AD Dave Hart. "You cannot ignore the results at the end of the day."
Many Vols fans have already turned their attention to popular replacement candidate Jon Gruden, whose potential in Knoxville seems to center almost entirely around the fact the Monday Night Football voice was a graduate assistant at the school 25 years ago and married a Tennessee cheerleader. Gruden seems torn about whether to return to coaching or become the new John Madden, but he figures to have NFL coaching opportunities as well. Tennessee will have to write a big check to lure him away.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen deployed Tavon Austin as a running back against Oklahoma, and the results were staggering. Austin notched a Big 12-record 576 all-purpose yards, including 344 rushing yards on 21 carries. Yet even that wasn't enough for defensively challenged West Virginia (5-5, 2-5 Big 12). Landry Jones' sixth touchdown pass, with 24 seconds left, gave Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1) a 50-49 win. "They ended up making one more play than we did," said Holgorsen.
Wisconsin's MonteÚ Ball tied the NCAA career touchdowns record (78) on Saturday, but the image of one that got away may define Ohio State's season. With 2:46 left, Ball dove toward the goal line only to be met by Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier, who punched the ball free, and Ohio State recovered. The Badgers managed to send the game to overtime, but Ohio State prevailed, 21-14, and will play for an undefeated season against 8-3 Michigan. "We can talk about it now," said Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer.
Denard Robinson's final home game at Michigan Stadium was a bit different than all those that came before it. Coming off an elbow injury that forced him to miss two games, Robinson played running back, receiver and a little bit of quarterback against Iowa (4-7), notching 122 all-purpose yards. But his replacement, Devin Gardner, shined, accounting for six touchdowns in a 42-17 rout. Gardner has provided the offense with a new wrinkle that should give Wolverines' fans some cause for hope heading into Ohio State week.
Northwestern (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) finally figured out how to protect a fourth-quarter lead, going up 23-20 on Michigan State with 7:30 remaining and -- unlike in its three losses -- stopping the Spartans' last-ditch comeback effort. The Wildcats forced four turnovers. With a win next week against 2-9 Illinois, Pat Fitzgerald's team will post a winning record in conference play for the third time in its past five seasons and will likely play in the New Year's Day Outback or Gator bowls.
One of the most overlooked coaching jobs this season is happening at Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12). Losing both former star Brandon Weeden and this year's top two quarterbacks has not slowed the Cowboys, who routed Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4), 59-21, on Saturday. Third-stringer Clint Chelf completed 11-of-21 passes for 229 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Mike Gundy's team will head into this week's Bedlam game against Oklahoma coming off consecutive 50-point efforts.
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood was an 11th-hour replacement when Greg Schiano left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and FIU's Mario Cristobal turned down the Scarlet Knights' job. All he's done is lead the program to its first-ever 5-0 Big East record. On Saturday, Rutgers (9-1, 5-0) shut down Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2), 10-3 in what Flood, an eight-year staff member, called "the best defensive effort since I've been at Rutgers." The stage is nearly set for a winner-takes-the-BCS-berth showdown at 9-1 Louisville on Nov. 29.
Meanwhile, the one team to beat Rutgers, No. 22 Kent State (10-1, 7-0 MAC), locked up a berth in the MAC title game and achieved its first 10-win season in school history with a 31-24 victory over Bowling Green (7-4, 5-2). Dynamo Dri Archer, who you first heard about in this column, sprang for 241 rushing yards on 17 carries, including this incredible 74-yard run that has to go down as one of the plays of the year -- just as Darrell Hazell will surely get nods for Coach of the Year.
Perhaps it comes with playing in the ACC, but Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is having the quietest monstrous season imaginable for a 10-1 team. On Saturday, Boyd accounted for 529 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns (five passing, three rushing) in a 62-48 shootout win over NC State (6-5, 3-4). Counterpart Mike Glennon, the new NFL draft prospect du jour, threw for 493 yards and five scores. "Overall, it was a fun game," said Boyd.
As if this season hasn't been hard enough for Boston College fans to swallow, on Saturday, shortly before the 2-9 Eagles fell in overtime to Virginia Tech, former standout running back Montel Harris rushed for a Big East-record 351 yards and seven touchdowns on 36 carries in Temple's 63-32 rout of Army. And that was after Matt Brown rushed for the first two touchdowns before leaving with an injury. The Owls (4-6) and Black Knights (2-9) attempted a combined 13 passes.
WAC football is going out in style. In a game that likely decided the league title, Utah State (9-2, 5-0) topped No. 19 Louisiana Tech (9-2, 4-1), 48-41, in overtime, after the Bulldogs rallied from a 27-3 second-half deficit. Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron finally threw his first two interceptions of the season. Meanwhile, much-improved San Jose State (9-2, 4-1) topped BYU, 20-14, to give the league more nine-win teams than any other non-AQ conference.
In a likely preview of the Conference USA championship game, Tulsa (9-2, 7-0) edged UCF (8-3, 6-1), 23-21. The teams could meet again in Tulsa in two weeks.
In the 148th meeting of their historic rivalry, Lehigh beat Lafayette, 38-21. It was announced Saturday that the teams' 150th game, in 2014, will be played at Yankee Stadium.
Harvard beat Yale, 34-24, on Saturday. With the win, Harvard has now notched six straight victories over Yale for the first time in the 129-year history of the The Game.
Beleaguered Southern Miss coach Ellis Johnson isn't going down without a fight. When his team scored an 86-yard touchdown with 2:48 left to get within 34-33 of UTEP, Ellis went for two. The Eagles didn't get it, and thus fell to 0-11.
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