Arkansas’ drop this week in the AP Poll was the 2nd largest in AP Poll history. The Razorbacks were #8 last week and fell completely out of the Top 25. The only team to drop further in the rankings was Michigan in 2007 after their historic loss to Appalachian St in the opener when they fell out of the Top 25 after being ranked #5 in the preseason. ULM got its first win over a ranked team since joining the FBS in 1994. Colton Browning rushed for 69 yards and hit 42-67-412 yards. Tyler Wilson was hit often in the 1H and didn’t play in the 2H and that was the key as Arkansas had a 28-7 lead and saw it vanish. ULM actually jumped out to a 7-0 lead with a 67/12pl drive but Ark appeared in control. At the end of the half on 4&1 ULM was SOD at the Ark 2 with :14 left, a daring gamble by Coach Berry that came up short. It was 21-7 at the half but Ark only had a 269-252 yd edge. ULM’s first drive of the 3Q got to the 11 but they were intercepted at the 1 and Ark, with backup QB Allen in, drove for a td and a 28-7 lead. ULM converted on 4&10 on their next drive and got a td with 5:41 left capping a 75/9pl drive and then on 4&gl went for it again and got a td with 14:08 left. The next 7 poss were punts and ULM took over with 2:59 left at their 10 and went 90/10pl with a 4&10, 23 yd pass forcing OT where they won it.
SMU’s victory over SF Austin was not as impressive as the final score of 52-0 would indicate. SFA had 466-328 yd and 28-17 FD edges. They had an amazing 10 turnovers in the game and that doesn’t even include a blocked FG that was returned for a td. SFA fumbled at the SMU49, was intercepted at the SMU30, had a 23 yd FG blk’d, had an int set up an SMU 31 yd td drive and then trailing 14-0, SFA lined up for a 47 yd FG on the 1H final play which SMU blocked and returned for a td. SFA was intercepted at the SMU17, SOD on 4&5 at the SMU20, had a FR 34 yds for a td, an int returned 77 yds for a td, a FR 96 yds for a td (two 14 pt swings) and fumbled at the SMU18. That’s TEN turnovers, one SOD, one missed and one blocked FG for a td!
LATE SCORES EQUAL MOMENTUM
I talk about in every blog about how late scores at the end of the half sometimes spur on a team. In the San Jose St game, Minnesota transfer DeLeon Eskridge rushed for 136 yards and 3 td’s vs UC Davis. Interestingly, the team had 2 brothers playing on different teams as Anthony Casper is a LT for the UCD Aggies and his brother Nicholas Casper is a RG for the San Jose St Spartans. UCD got a td on the 2nd play of the game on a 45 yd td pass and SJSt was SOD at the UCD30 and 11 before finally tying it with 1:49 left in the half, 7-7. They got an int on the next play and a 17 yd td run for 2 td’s in :28 to take a 14-7 halftime lead. SJSt went 52/6pl, 56/7pl and 79/10pl for td’s on their first 3 poss of the 3Q to blow it open, 35-7 and finished with a 503-252 yd edge... Maxwell Smith had 355 yards passing and 4 td’s and Raymond Sanders rushed for 115 yards for Kentucky vs Kent St. UK was off their key loss to rival Louisville. Smith’s 355 yd passing was the most for a UK QB since 2007. UK trailed 7-0 as on 2 of their first 3 poss they were SOD at the KSU37 and missed a 45 yd FG. KSU missed a 31 yd FG which would have pulled them within 4 with :40 left in the half and UK got a 47 yd FG on the final play of the half, a key swing to give them momentum. UK blew it open scoring 4 td’s and a safety to go up 47-14 early 4Q. KSU’s final 3 poss were SOD at the UK44, 2 and 5 yd lines.
Sacramento St won in a Pac-12 stadium for the 2nd straight year and did so via a late FG. Colorado led 14-0 scoring td’s on their first two drives but SSU chipped away and got a 28 yd FG on the final play of the half to take a 24-21 lead. They did have a 290-240 yd edge. CU got a td mid-3Q to lead 28-24 and SSU punted on their next 4 poss. CU punted on 4&6 with 2:26 left pinning SSU at their 15 down 1 pt and SSU went 72/9 getting a 30 yd FG on the final play to pull out the win. SSU coach Marshall Sperbeck announced during his postgame speech that he was giving walk-on K Edgar Castaneda a scholarship... Northern Arizona got their first win over an FBS team in 25 years. UNLV did have a 428-288 yd edge so it was a tough loss for Coach Bobby Hauck. UNLV jumped out to a 14-0 lead and was SOD on 4&10 at the NA21 with 6:14 left in the half but did block a NAU 34 yd FG on the final play of the half. At the half UNLV had a 14-0 lead and a 264-140 yd edge. A 75 yd PR td by Austin Shanks got NAU back in the game. The next 4 poss were punts and UNLV missed a 30 yd FG that hit the upright with 13:08 left. NAU went 80/15pl incl a crucial 4&2 conversion and got an 8 yd td run with 8:12 left to tie. There were 3 punts and NAU took over at their 14 with 1:16 left and went 70/5pl getting a 33 yd FG with :12 left to pull out the win.
Stanford was in a solid situation vs Duke. Duke’s D was banged up and SU was catching a lot of flack from the press after their close win over a very underrated San Jose St team. Statistically Stanford was not that impressive as Duke actually had a 385-373 yd edge and Stanford got a 76 yd PR td to Terrell and while they settled for 22, 32, and 35 yd FG’s, they did score on 4 of their first 5 offensive poss to lead 23-0. At half they had a 239-109 yd edge. Stanford extended it to 50-13 with 14:18 left and was a bit misleading statistically as in the 4Q Stanford managed just 18 yards and Duke had 105 going 42/11pl before being intercepted at the Stanford 13 with 9:29 left and 63/14pl before fumbling at the Stanford 16... San Diego St HC Rocky Long knows how to defend the option and Army was playing in its first game of the season. San Diego St was able to spend some of August preparing for the option. Army coach Rich Ellerson said, “I am stunned. I didn’t anticipate it and I couldn’t visualize us playing like that.” SDSt won easy 42-7. Army was SOD at the SDSt32 and fumbled at their own 36 setting up an SDSt td and trailed 14-0. It was 21-0 at the half with SDSt having a 207-135 yard edge. SDSt opened the 3Q with an 89/9pl and 33/2pl (after int) drives for td’s to lead 35-0. Army’s last 2 drives were SOD at the SDSt 19 and 48 yd lines. The yards were only SDSt 443-332.
NOT AS EASY AS THE SCORE
Northwestern trailed 10-6 into the 4Q vs Vanderbilt but got an 18 yd FG with 2:01 left to lead 16-13 then Vandy fumbled at their own 20 and NW on 3&19 got a 29 yd td run by Colter for the 23-13 lead which was clearly not as easy as the 10 point win. VU scored a td on their first poss and led almost the entire game with NW taking its first lead with 9:28 left... A look at the final score would show that Georgia easily manhandled Missouri 41-20 in their big test but this is a game where the score was nowhere indicative of the game. In fact, Missouri did not trail in the game until :51 were left in the 3Q. Missouri fumbled at the UGA28 on 1 drive and led 10-9 at the half with UGA getting a td with :24 left to pull within that margin. Missouri added a 69 yd td to lead 17-9 mid3Q. They settled for a 25 yd FG with 2:39 left in the 3Q to only lead 20-17 and UGA got a 3&11, 40 yd pass to Brown which was probably the key play. They were also stuffed at their own 38 and UGA got a 41 yd FG to lead by 7. Missouri was then intercepted and returned 21 yds to the 1 with 7:27 left and UGA got a td. Missouri was sacked and fumbled and UGA drove 5 yards for a td so on 6 yards of offense, they took a 27-20 game and turned it into 41-20. Missouri finished with a 371-255 yd edge. On my weekly show on ESPNU on Wednesday they asked me how QB Franklin would fare and I said that my computer’s projections was for Missouri to have 365 yards offense but with UGA missing 4 defensive starters, they could come close to 400 and that they did. Franklin hit 25-41-269 but only rushed for 25.
Oklahoma St had a 636-501 yd edge and frosh Wes Lunt threw for 436 yards which was a Big 12 record for a frosh and the 4th most in school history but he also had 3 crucial int. OSU had 4 personal fouls in the 1H and another at the start of the 3Q. The Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead but Arizona scored on 5 of their next 6 poss including short FG’s of 22 and 24 yards and led 23-14 at the half. It was 37-31 when the play of the game happened. OSU was driving for the lead at midfield but was intercepted and returned 48 yds for td. After another int, Arizona went 33 yards for a td to blow it open 52-31.
Oregon keeps shutting it down after the half. In the opener they had a 50-3 lead vs Arkansas St mid-2Q then let the Red Wolves back in. Here UO had a 35-3 lead with 1:10 left in the half and a 383-127 yd edge. Fresno would go 49/7pl and got a 43 yd FG on the final play of the half to pull within 35-6. That gave them momentum and they pulled within 35-19 with 9:40 left before the Ducks offense, which punted twice, fumbled (set up Fresno 22 yd td drive), fumbled (set up Fresno 6 yd td drive), punted and fumbled (set up Fresno 37 yd FG) on their first 6 poss of the 2H. The Ducks went 77/11pl to get a td to ice it, 42-19 with 3:51 left and Fresno went 63/8pl getting a garbage td with 1:30 left. Johnathan Franklin has been the most impressive RB so far with a pair of 200+ rushing games.
One of the most surprising stats on Saturday was the fact that UCLA rolled up 653 yds vs what looked like a pretty good Nebraska defense with Franklin having 217 yards rushing on 26 carries. This game was tied at 24 at the half and 27-27 mid4Q when Martinez was sacked in the EZ for a safety. Still, it was just a 2 pt game and Nebraska had the ball at their 20 when Martinez was intercepted and returned 24 yards to the 16. UCLA got a td on a 9 yard pass with 2:13 left to go up by 9. UCLA got a personal foul on the KO so Nebraska started at the UCLA36 and got a 40 yd FG with 1:38 left but UCLA recovered the onside kick. The Bruins did have a 653-439 yd edge in an impressive home win.
Texas St had a much-anticipated home game vs Texas Tech with an overflow crowd of 33,006 on hand in front of their newly expanded 30,000 seat stadium. It was the first time a Big 12 school has traveled to face them on their home turf. TSU may be using a new QB as Shaun Rutherford hit just 1-9-11 and Tyler Arndt on his 1st poss, led TSU to an 80/7pl drive for a td. He hit 12-22-130 yds and may have wrestled away the starting QB job. Unfortunately, at the time they trailed 28-0 and Texas Tech dominated this game as the score would indicate with a 591-270 yd and 36-16 FD edges. It was 55-10 after 3Q’s.
New Mexico was running an option offense and Texas HC Mack Brown did a good job preparing for it. NM did move the ball well early as they got 3 FD’s on their first poss, 4 FD’s on their 2nd, 3 FD’s on their 3rd and 1 FD on their 4th poss but despite moving the chains, Texas had a 169-107 yd edge at the half and 17-0 lead. UT took their opening two 3Q drives 75/6pl and 86/11pl for td’s and went on to a 45-0 shutout win holding NM to just five 2H FD’s.
FIU QB Jake Medlock had a big game throwing for 348 yards and rushing for 141. It was very surprisingly that Akron took FIU to OT. Medlock got 44 and 29 yd runs on the game’s first 2 plays as FIU jumped to a 7-0 lead and FIU missed a 34 yd FG and trailed 20-7 before getting a td with :33 left in the half. In the 4Q FIU trailing 31-28 got a 32 yd td run with 6:54 left for the lead but Akron got a td with 1:53 left on a 15 yd td pass and FIU needed a 30 yd FG on the final play to force OT where Akron missed a FG and FIU converted for a 29 yd FG.
Keep an eye on the Arizona St QB situation. Taylor Kelly, vs Illinois, had 10 poss and engineered 3 td’s and a FG. Michael Eubank, off the bench, hit 5-5-69 and had 3 poss and 3 td’s. Speaking of QB situations, Illinois was without starting QB Nathan Scheelhaase and that was really the story of the game as the offense struggled without him. ASU led 28-7 at the half with a 319-165 yd edge. They coasted to a 45-14 win. Reilly O’Toole got the start for Illinois and hit 10-14 but for just 54 yards and Miles Osei came in and hit 4-10-47 and the 2 combined for 4 int.
Western Michigan QB Alex Carder bounced back from a poor performance vs Illinois by throwing 5 td passes vs Eastern Illinois. He hit 29-40-364 yards as WM piled up 631 yards offense. The game was tied at 14 after 1Q but WM went 69/9pl, 85/8pl, 17/2pl (after 33 yd PR) and 20/3pl (after failed fake punt) for td’s on their four 2Q poss to blow it open 42-14. WM even finished the game with a 1st & gl at the 8 of Eastern Illinois taking a knee in their 52-21 win.
South Alabama had a 279-118 yd edge but barely got past FCS Nicholls St in what was a defensive struggle. The first 8 poss of the game were punts and NSU went 50/11pl for a 48 yd FG to lead 3-0. USA went 72/14pl for a 19 yd FG and it was 3-3 at the half with USA having a slim 98-52 yd edge. USA missed a 35 yd FG on their 2nd 3Q poss but after an int went 28/5pl for a 21 yd FG, 6-3. After an exchange of TO’s, USA went 64/11pl for a 34 yd FG but were clinging to a 9-3 lead. NSU’s last 3 drives ended on an int at their own 38, a 4th & 13 44 yd punt with 5:20 left and their last drive got to the USA14 but on 4&14 they fired incomplete with :32 left and USA escaped.
Virginia Tech’s offense struggled vs Austin Peay and they needed the special teams to get them going. It was scoreless late in the 1Q when Holmes rushed for a 2 yd td. VT blocked a punt setting up a 42/5pl td drive to give them a 14-0 lead. They took over with 1:32 left in the half and went 71/7pl and got a 30 yd td pass with :26 left in the half to take a 21-0 lead with a 185-79 yd edge. AP was intercepted in the EZ for a TB and VT scored td’s on their next 2 drives of 80 and 72 yards to lead 35-7 and went on to a 42-7 win.
It was a solid situation for Mississippi as they are an SEC school in need of a win taking on a UTEP team that had gone all out vs Oklahoma the previous week. In the first 6Q’s of the season, UTEP failed to score an offensive td as they trailed this one 21-0 at the half but did finally get one in the 3Q. UTEP was SOD on 4&1 at the Mississippi 3 with 13:28 left in the 3Q and UM went 97/7pl for a td, 14-0. UTEP was intercepted at the UM16 and Miss went 84/15pl for a td and UTEP also missed a 44 yd FG on the final play of the half. They trimmed it to 21-10 after 3Q’s when UM missed a 36 yd FG and Miss then went 69/8pl for a td with 11:18 left. UTEP’s final drive was SOD at the UM31 with 2:26 left.
Buffalo RB Brandon Oliver rushed for 236 yards as the Bulls rolled up 571 yds vs Morgan St. UB led 35-13 at the half getting a 22 yd td pass with :38 left and had a 301-163 yd edge. The Bulls led 49-20 and MSU took over with 5:49 left going 52/9pl getting a garbage td with :53 left.
Louisiana Tech and Houston had a record breaking game as the team combined plays (209), combined FD’s (78), and 87 completed passes in a game were all NCAA records. The old record was 81 back in 1990 (TCU/Houston). The two teams combined for 1,291 yards offense in a game that lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes. UH lost despite a 40-38 FD edge but trailed most of the game as LT jumped out to leads of 14-0 and 21-6 but it was 21-20 at the half with UH having a 291-237 yd edge. The game turned with UH trailing 28-20 they were SOD on 4&7 at the LT43 and LT drove for a td. UH fumbled at their own 14 and LT got an 8 yd td pass with 12:33 left in the game to go up 49-27 and they led 56-35. UH went 75/9pl for a td with 4:45 left, 80/12pl for a td with :35 left to get within a td but LT recovered the onside kick.