NCF Nation: Tyler Tettleton

Instant analysis: Ohio 45, La.-Monroe 14

December, 28, 2012

Ohio University bounced back from a three-game losing streak to end the regular season and romped past Louisiana-Monroe for a 45-14 victory in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Friday in Shreveport, La.

Here’s a quick recap:

It was over when: Ohio got the ball to open the second half and drove 75 yards in seven plays to take a 31-7 lead on Beau Blankenship's 2-yard touchdown run.

Turning point: Louisiana-Monroe, instead of trying a field goal at the end of the first half, went for it on fourth down from the Ohio 10-yard line, and Kolton Browning's pass toward the back of the end zone sailed over the head of Rashon Ceaser as the second quarter ended. The Warhawks had a first-and-goal at the Ohio 1 with 21 seconds remaining in the first half, but Browning was sacked for a 10-yard loss by Tremayne Scott.

Game ball goes to: Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton hit his first six passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns to ignite the Bobcats' rout. He finished 13-of-21 for 332 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Stat of the game: Browning, who threw seven interceptions all season, was picked off three times in the first half Friday.

Unsung hero: Scott, who missed the last nine games of the regular season with a foot injury, returned in a big way and made two huge plays in the first half to help trigger the Ohio rout.

What it means: After a disappointing close to the regular season, Ohio put together one of its most complete performances of the season to win its second straight bowl game. The Bobcats finished with nine wins and have won 19 games over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Louisiana-Monroe’s first bowl appearance since becoming an FBS program in 1994 was anything but memorable. The Warhawks turned the ball over three times in the first half and were never in the game.

What to watch in the Big Ten: Week 9

October, 25, 2012
Ten items to track around the Big Ten in Week 9 ...

1. Battle of the banned: The harsh reality of no bowl trip hasn't slowed down Ohio State or Penn State this season. New coaches Urban Meyer and Bill O'Brien have revolutionized the offenses in both Columbus, Ohio, and State College, Pa., and have their teams on long win streaks entering Saturday night's clash at Beaver Stadium. Expect an electric atmosphere in Happy Valley as Nittanyville has been packed all week and Penn State fans are viewing the game as by far the biggest of the season. Although neither team will play in the postseason, Saturday night's winner likely will have the label of the Big Ten's best team and will put itself in the driver's seat for the Leaders Division championship.

2. Legends of the fall: While Penn State and Ohio State compete for symbolic titles and a division crown, Michigan and Nebraska are aiming much higher -- for a spot in the Big Ten title game Dec. 1. The Wolverines and Huskers meet Saturday night in Lincoln for the right to sit atop the Legends Division before the final month of the regular season. Although both teams have remaining tests, Saturday's winner gets the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker and a confidence boost for the stretch run. Michigan makes its first trip to Lincoln in 101 years, and Saturday marks the first conference game in NCAA history to feature two programs with at least 850 all-time victories. Nebraska is 27-6 at home under coach Bo Pelini.

[+] EnlargePenn State
Andrew Weber/US PresswireBill O'Brien's Nittany Lions have opened games strong this season, outscoring opponents 66-0 in the first quarter.
3. Ball vs. Bell: The Big Ten's top two running backs -- Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell and Wisconsin's Montee Ball -- will share the field Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in a reunion of two teams that last year gave us two thrillers, including one in the inaugural league title game. Ball, back to Mon-tee, has looked like a different player in Big Ten games, averaging a league-best 155.5 rush yards with 10 touchdowns. The Wisconsin senior has averaged three touchdowns per game in his past 17 contests, and needs five touchdowns -- of any kind -- to break Travis Prentice's all-time NCAA record. Bell was limited to just 68 rush yards on 26 carries last week, but still comes in ranked second in the Big Ten and 11th nationally in rushing average (123 ypg), just ahead of Ball (122.8 ypg). If Michigan State has any chance to record the upset and possibly turn around its season, it needs a big performance from No. 24.

4. Possible bowl elimination game: Both Minnesota and Purdue have some work left to get bowl eligible, and the loser of Saturday's game at TCF Bank Stadium will have its back to the wall. Both teams started the season strong, but have fallen off in Big Ten play, going a combined 0-6. Both teams have had quarterback issues and some trouble stopping the run on defense. Minnesota, needing two wins to become bowl eligible, has turned the keys of its offense over to true freshman Philip Nelson, who makes his first home start at quarterback. It'll be interesting to see how the former prep player of the year in the state performs in front of the home faithful. Purdue, meanwhile, comes off of a heartbreaking loss at Ohio State, a game it dominated most of the way. Inconsistency and big mistakes continue to haunt Purdue, which faces yet another pivotal game in the Danny Hope era.

5. Offenses in the crosshairs: Iowa and Northwestern combined for 72 points, 46 first downs and 874 yards in last year's game at Kinnick Stadium, a 41-31 Hawkeyes victory. If another shootout takes place Saturday in Evanston, it will come as a bit of a surprise. Iowa's offense has been a mess most of the season, aside from the surprising play of running back Mark Weisman. Many Hawkeyes fans are calling for a change at quarterback after senior James Vandenberg committed three turnovers in last week's blowout loss to Penn State. Coach Kirk Ferentz is sticking with Vandenberg, who might be able to capitalize on a Northwestern secondary banged up at the cornerback spot. Northwestern, meanwhile, is still searching for an identity on offense after enduring 20 three-and-outs in its past three games, including 10 against Nebraska. Offensive coordinator Mick McCall needs to figure out his quarterback rotation (read: give Kain Colter more opportunities) in a hurry.

6. Win or perish: Illinois coach Tim Beckman took a page from Jim Tressel's book during the off week and told his team to "burn the boats." The phrase, told to Beckman by Tressel, stems from the story of conquistador Hernando Cortes, who ordered his men to burn the ships that brought them to Mexico in the 1500s. "There was no turning back," Beckman said. "Win or perish. I have challenged this team to change." After four blowout losses, Illinois needs a lot of things to change as it hosts Indiana on Saturday. The Illini have a fairly favorable schedule the rest of the way, but they haven't been competitive against an FBS opponent since the season opener. Indiana, meanwhile, continues to find ways to lose and searches for its first Big Ten victory under Kevin Wilson. The Hoosiers have either led or been within one score of their opponents in all five of their losses. They seek their first win in Champaign, Ill., since 2006.

7. Miller's time: Last we saw Braxton Miller, the Ohio State quarterback was leaving Ohio Stadium in an ambulance after being slammed to the ground. Miller fortunately emerged with only a sore neck, and returned to practice this week. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said the team is preparing two quarterbacks for Penn State -- Miller and backup Kenny Guiton, who led last week's dramatic comeback against Purdue. Ohio State will use Miller as much as it can, but how he responds from the first real injury scare of his career remains to be seen. Penn State's defense has been stellar, but the Lions haven't seen a quarterback as dynamic as Miller since Ohio's Tyler Tettleton in the opener (a PSU loss). Given Ohio State's lack of depth on defense and Penn State's surging offense, the Buckeyes likely will need a boost from Miller in a tough environment to remain perfect on the season.

8. Martinez, Robinson on center stage: Michigan and Nebraska are contrasting teams in many ways, but they both have similar, dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks in the Huskers' Taylor Martinez and Michigan's Denard Robinson. Martinez was brilliant in leading Nebraska to a come-from-behind win against Northwestern, and he has been very good at Memorial Stadium throughout his career. But he'll face the best defense he has seen all season in Michigan. Robinson performed well in his last road game at Purdue, but still needs to distance himself from his early-season struggles away from Ann Arbor against Notre Dame and Alabama. For just the second time in college football history, two quarterbacks with more than 5,000 career pass yards and more than 2,000 career rush yards will square off (the other: Texas' Vince Young and Missouri's Brad Smith in 2005). Robinson leads all active FBS quarterbacks in career rushing (4,129 yards, 351 yards shy of the all-time record for career QB rushing), while Martinez is third (2,242 yards).

9. Roushar's play calling: Michigan State fans are understandably upset about their team's 4-4 start, and they've centered their critiques on offensive coordinator Dan Roushar. The Spartans have had a championship-level defense for much of the season, but the offense simply hasn't held up its end of the bargain. Head coach Mark Dantonio came to Roushar's defense this week, saying, "If they want to criticize, tell them to criticize me a little bit, because I'm in charge." But Dantonio also added, "We’ve got to get more points." Roushar's play calling looked pretty good in the two games last season against Wisconsin -- remember Rocket? -- but he'll have to find a way to move the ball against a solid, but not impregnable Wisconsin defense. The Spartans rank 107th nationally in scoring (19.6 ppg), averaging nearly 12 points per game fewer than they did in 2011. Michigan State should get more from tight end Dion Sims, who returned to the field last week at Michigan and can give struggling quarterback Andrew Maxwell a big target.

10. The start in State College: If season-long patterns hold for Ohio State and Penn State, the Buckeyes will be in trouble early on Saturday night. Penn State has outscored its opponents 66-0 in the first quarter and 100-23 in the first half this season. The Lions have scored in the first quarter in all seven of their games, and have scored at least one first-quarter touchdown in five contests. Ohio State, meanwhile, has been a slow-starting team in most of its games, being outscored 56-51 in the first quarter this season. The Buckeyes have been trailing at the end of the first quarter four times this season. The good news is they came out fast in their first road game against Michigan State, scoring on their first possession. Given how much confidence Penn State has and what will be a huge home-field advantage, Ohio State simply can't stumble out of the gate Saturday night. The good news is if the Buckeyes survive the first half, they should be in decent shape against a Penn State team that struggles in the third quarter.
Michigan and Penn State aren't used to this.

The Wolverines and Nittany Lions entered Saturday's games with a combined record of 201-39-5 in season openers. Penn State hadn't dropped its first game since 2001, and while Michigan had a few recent missteps, most notably a 34-32 loss to FCS Appalachian State in 2007, the Maize and Blue typically start seasons with relatively easy wins.

Michigan has never experienced an opening loss worse than the 27-point setback it endured at the hands of then-No. 2 Alabama on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas. Few expected Michigan to knock off the defending national champ, but most thought the Wolverines would hang around longer than a quarter.

[+] EnlargeDenard Robinson
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireDeion Belue will be a familiar face in Alabama's secondary next season, but others need to step up.
Although Penn State was far more competitive in its loss to Ohio, a talented team with a good quarterback (Tyler Tettleton) and a proven coach (Frank Solich), the perception of falling to a MAC team at home stings a team that had dealt with so much transition and turmoil during the offseason. There's a reason the Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries published a post Tuesday headlined: "Five Penn State losses worse than Ohio."

Both Michigan and Penn State find themselves in the unfamiliar position of needing to rebound in Week 2. And while Wisconsin survived its opener against FCS Northern Iowa, the Badgers are in the club as well, looking for a better performance as they hit the road for Oregon State.

"You've got to get over it," said Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who threw two interceptions, one returned for an Alabama touchdown, in the loss. "You can't let them beat us twice. It's time to move forward."

Penn State players echoed the same message this week as they get ready for a road test at Virginia. The Lions couldn't wait to get back on the field after a nightmarish offseason and channeled their emotion to take a 14-3 halftime lead on Ohio.

But when the momentum shifted in the third quarter on a likely Penn State interception-turned Ohio touchdown, Beaver Stadium seemed to deflate, and so did the Lions. Although Bill O'Brien attributed his team's second-half swoon more to Ohio's playmaking ability, players acknowledged a letup.

"As a football player, you have to have a short memory because there are wins and losses," senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said. "We've got to stay pumped up and not lose our energy. We lost some of our energy in the second half. We have to keep that up the whole game."

O'Brien stressed the need to move forward immediately after Saturday's game, and while there are schematic and personnel adjustments to be made to yield better results at Virginia, the coach has had to be more Stuart Smalley than Bill Belichick for his potentially fragile team.

"We've got to talk to our guys all the time about making sure they know how we feel about them," O'Brien said. "These are good football players who are playing in new systems. There are a lot of guys playing really for the first time in college football, who have bright futures. … I really feel good about our football team. Nobody wanted it to go that way on Saturday, but if you're sitting there with me watching the tape with our staff, there's a lot to build on."

Both O'Brien and Brady Hoke praised their teams' response in the first practices following the opening losses. Hoke is leaning on Michigan's senior class to ensure the team turns the page from Alabama to an always tricky Air Force squad, which visits Ann Arbor this week.

"We'll learn a little bit more about our leadership," Hoke said. "I've liked it to this point. This week we'll learn a little bit more on how motivated they are. I think when you only have 11 guaranteed opportunities left and you're Michigan, I think you'll be very motivated."

Bret Bielema expects the same from his Wisconsin team after a major scare at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers nearly squandered leads of 19-0 and 26-7 and needed a late defensive stand to hold off Northern Iowa 26-21. Wisconsin had won its previous seven nonconference home games by an average of 32.7 points.

Wisconsin typically hands out MVP awards (offense, defense, special teams, scout team) after wins, but Bielema withheld them after the Northern Iowa game, saying he "didn't really feel we're at that level yet."

Bielema called the close call a valuable teaching tool for his team.

"For us to face the adversity we had to to win that game, on offense, defense and special teams, you'd much rather have that after a win than a loss," he said.

Michigan and Penn State don't have that luxury, but like Wisconsin, the Wolverines and Lions are looking for bounce-back performances this week against dangerous foes. As both O'Brien and Hoke preached this week, it's a long season.

Then again, it'll feel a lot longer at 0-2.

"I know that we have to move on," Hill said, "and move forward."

Instant analysis: Ohio 24, Penn State 14

September, 1, 2012
It was over when: Tyler Tettleton ran up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Penn State trailed for the first time all game after that -- 17-14 -- and couldn't recover. Tettleton made his presence felt after throwing two passes longer than 30 yards on back-to-back drives, but that short run clinched it.

Game ball goes to: Tettleton. He disappeared in the first half but came on strong in the second. The Ohio signal-caller led his team to three touchdown drives, and threw for 207 yards in the second half. The Bobcats wouldn't have won without him.

Stat of the game: Four. That's the number of passing plays longer than 25 yards that Penn State's defense allowed. Three of those came during Ohio's three touchdown drives.

Second guessing: Putting in a linebacker on the kick returns was a gutsy idea ... but definitely an unusual one. Gerald Hodges returned three kicks and made at least two questionable plays before he was pulled. He fumbled a punt return and brought the ball out of the end zone, ending up at the 12 on the opening kickoff. This experiment might be over.

Best call: With 2:59 left in the game, on 3rd-and-Goal from the 5, Ohio lined up with three receivers in the shotgun. Tettleton found Donte Foster in the corner of the end zone to ice the game and put the score at 24-14.

What we learned about PSU: Penn State's offense has potential, and the secondary's in trouble. The offense had a few mistakes -- one fumble, at least four dropped passes -- but it moved the ball downfield better than last season. The secondary was picked on in the second half and, as most thought, appears to be the weak link to the defense. Ohio's fourth-quarter drive -- 14 plays, 93 yards -- showed Penn State's defense might not dominate like past years.

Who we should see more of: For Ohio, Beau Blankenship appears to be a guy to watch in both the running game and passing game. He ran for 109 yards and led the team in receptions (7). For Penn State, Allen Robinson had a strong debut. He had six catches for 74 yards in the first quarter. Yes, just one quarter. His route-running separates him from other receivers here, and he'll lead the team in receptions this season.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Keys

December, 16, 2011
You've seen the prediction. Now it's time to look at the keys for Ohio and Utah State in Saturday's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

Ohio (9-4)

1. Stop the run. Utah State boasts the nation's No. 6 rushing attack. Linebacker Noah Keller has shown a nose for the ball all season long, specifically with a monster performance in the MAC title game (13 tackles, 0.5 sacks, forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception). A repeat performance here would be bad news for the Aggies.

2. Find LaVon Brazill. Running with so many different players out of the backfield helps when you have a 1,000-yard receiver, which Ohio did this season for the first time in school history. Brazill, the school's all-time leading receiver (2,403 yards), lines up everywhere and can create problems for a Utah State defense that will already have its hands full trying to defend the pistol formation.

3. Leave the past behind. Bowl games often come down to which team is more interested in being there. Ohio led 20-0 at halftime of the MAC title game and was 30 minutes from its first conference title in 43 years before falling to Northern Illinois. The Bobcats must put the bitterness of that defeat behind and not get caught off-guard Saturday by the Aggies.

Utah State (7-5)

1. Be gap-disciplined. Ohio runs its offense out of the pistol formation and has multiple rushing threats, particularly quarterback Tyler Tettleton and Donte Harden. The Aggies and their 3-4 front must stick to their assignments or the Bobcats will make them pay on the ground.

2. Watch Travis Carrie. The junior cornerback is a playmaker, accounting for three plays of 34 or more yards this season. He has four interceptions for 81 yards, is tied for 18th in the nation in passes defended (1.23 per game) and has a punt return for a touchdown.

3. Embrace the opportunity. A 2-5 start and three unimaginable losses early gave way to a five-game winning streak to end the regular season, with Utah State winning each game by seven points or less. The Aggies have finally developed a knack for pulling out tight games and are making their first postseason appearance in 14 years, something that can't be overlooked.
Ohio and Utah State are a combined 1-11 in bowl games. The Bobcats are coming off a MAC title game loss that featured a 20-point halftime lead that Northern Illinois wiped away, ruining Ohio's chances for a first conference title since 1968. Utah State, meanwhile, lost several heartbreakers during the regular season before bouncing back to make its first bowl appearance since 1997, a Humanitarian Bowl loss, also in Boise, Idaho.

WHO TO WATCH: Robert Turbin. The WAC offensive player of the year is 10th in the nation in rushing, averaging 118 yards per game. His 19 touchdowns are tied for sixth most in the nation. Turbin keys a ground attack that ranks sixth in the nation, averaging more than 277 yards per game.

WHAT TO WATCH: Tyler Tettleton's right arm and legs. The dual-threat quarterback can beat you with his arm or legs. The son of former major league catcher Mickey Tettleton became the first player in school history to surpass 3,000 yards passing (3,086) this season. He's completed more than 60 percent of his throws for 26 touchdowns, with just 10 picks. He's also rushed for 627 yards and nine scores. And he's only a sophomore.

WHY TO WATCH: Ohio is going for its first 10-win season since 1968 in what will be its third straight postseason appearance, although it is 0-5 all time in bowls. The Bobcats are one of just three schools with at least four bowl appearances and no wins. Utah State is going for its first eight-win season since 1979, and the Aggies have won their past five games by a total of 19 points. The game can't be worse than the only other time these schools met, right? Utah State won that 1994 contest 5-0.

PREDICTION: Utah State 27, Ohio 24. The Aggies are looking to extend their five-game win streak. The Bobcats are trying to bounce back after their five-game win streak was snapped in the MAC title game. These squads match up pretty evenly, but Utah State's learning experiences from close losses this season -- last-second defeats to Auburn, Colorado State and BYU -- will once again serve the Aggies well late Saturday.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

December, 4, 2011
Ohio Bobcats (9-4) vs. Utah State Aggies (7-5)

Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Ohio take: The Bobcats rattled off five straight wins to end the regular season before blowing a 20-0 halftime lead Friday and falling by three to Northern Illinois in the MAC title game, ruining their chance at their first MAC title since 1968.

The strength of Ohio is its rushing attack, which comes from everywhere and is ranked 24th nationally. Donte Harden leads the team with 939 yards on 172 carries, but quarterback Tyler Tettleton is not far behind him. Tettleton, the son of former major league catcher Mickey Tettleton, has completed better than 63 percent of his passes, thrown for 3,086 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, in addition to rushing for 627 yards and nine touchdowns. Two other players have rushed for more than 400 yards.

Noah Keller leads the way defensively, with 104 tackles and seven tackles for loss. In defeat Friday, Keller recorded a game-high 13 tackles, 0.5 sacks, one forced fumble and fumble recovery and an interception. Travis Carrie is tied for 18th nationally in passes defended, with 1.23 per game (16 on the season). He has four interceptions for 81 yards and has returned a punt for a touchdown as well.

Utah State take: The Aggies' 24-21 win Saturday at New Mexico State gave them their first seven-win regular season since 1979. Adam Kennedy's eight-yard touchdown pass to Matt Austin clinched it for Utah State. The Aggies had not won seven games in a season — bowl included — since a Humanitarian Bowl victory in 1993. They have just 21 seven-win seasons in 113 years of football.

Their five Western Athletic Conference wins are their most in their seven years in the league. Their 5-2 mark in conference play is their best since going 4-1 in the Big West in 2000 and their most conference wins since 1993.

Utah State has now won five in a row, its longest winning streak since 1993. It has won three straight on the road for the first time since 1989. And this all came after the bad luck early in the season.

The Aggies lost their Week 1 game at defending national champion Auburn by allowing two touchdowns and an onside kick recovery in the final 2:07. They lost to Colorado State following a failed two-point try in double overtime. And they lost to BYU on a touchdown pass with 11 seconds to play.

Six wins later, they're going bowling for the first time since 1997.

NIU wants payback in MAC title game

December, 2, 2011
All offseason, they thought about it.

All spring, they thought about it.

All summer, they thought about it.

Northern Illinois had to get back to the MAC title game, had to make up for the heartbreak of last season.

The Huskies were on a nine-game winning streak and riding high with a Top 25 ranking when they faced Miami (Ohio) in the championship game in 2010. They were a big favorite to win, with Chandler Harnish at quarterback and league MVP Chad Spann at running back.

But somehow, the RedHawks pulled out an improbable 26-21 win after Austin Boucher threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Armand Robinson with 33 seconds left. Linebacker Pat Schiller admitted earlier this week the Huskies flat-out underestimated the underdog.

"After we lost," Schiller said, "I realized to never underestimate your opponent, especially in a championship game."

[+] EnlargeNorthern Illinois' Chandler Harnish
Andrew Weber/US PresswireNorthern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish passed for 2,692 yards this season and added another 1,351 rushing yards.
Now the Huskies are back in the MAC title game, facing Ohio tonight (7 p.m., ESPN2) with lessons learned from 2010.

"This is what it all comes down to, this is where my legacy's going to be left," Harnish said earlier this week. "We have a lot of unfinished business. We're trying to avenge some bad demons that happened to us last year. This is what we've been focused on all year, as a senior class this is what it's all riding on."

First-year coach Dave Doeren said he never mentioned Detroit -- site of the title game -- to his team. But he did not have to, because his players mentioned it for him. Their primary motivation this season has been to win a ring.

"Last year in one word it was a heart breaker," Harnish said. "We can look back and say we didn't run the ball very well and running the ball is a big part of our offense and we weren't able to do that. I don't think we were ourselves. We didn't play with that normal energy. We gave Miami a chance to play with us and they took advantage. We need to be ourselves and bring that energy and not take anything for granted."

Indeed, "heart breaker" is the word to describe what has happened to Northern Illinois in the MAC title game. In its only other appearance in the game, Akron beat the Huskies 31-30 on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining in 2005.

So the Huskies not only have something to prove for themselves, but for the program. They have got to find a way to win a championship.

"If we can do something like that, expectations for this university will definitely increase and it helps with recruiting and things like that," Harnish said. "We feel like we have a direct impact on history but we have to go take it. It's not going to be given to us. We have to play our best football, but we can definitely have a great impact on the future of this program."

Harnish already has, with his record-setting senior season. He won the Vern Smith Leadership Award and MAC Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,351 yards and passing for another 2,692 yards this season to set a single-season school record for total offense. He will finish his career with 13 school career offensive records.

But his leadership was huge after Northern Illinois dropped to 2-3 following a 48-41 loss to Central Michigan -- one of the worst teams in the MAC. Doeren told the players that from then on, they needed to view the season as a playoff. They took those words to heart, especially Harnish, who nearly quit the team last season after he lost his starting job.

The wins that followed may not have been pretty, but a 63-60 victory over Toledo essentially allowed them to win the West. They closed the season with seven straight wins.

In the East, the Bobcats closed the season with five straight wins and also rely heavily on their running quarterback, Tyler Tettleton, who has 3,444 total yards and 34 touchdowns this season. Ohio set nine team records this season, including scoring, total offense and passing yards.

With the way Harnish and Tettleton are playing right now, this one may end up being decided by one of them. After what happened last season, Harnish would relish that opportunity.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

October, 3, 2011
Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference. The independent players are selected by a national media panel.

Conference USA

Offense: Darius Johnson, WR, SMU. Had a career-high-tying two receiving touchdowns, along with 12 catches and 152 yards as SMU defeated No. 20 TCU 40-33 in overtime. It was his third straight 100-yard game.

Defense: Tyson Gale, LB, Marshall. Had a team-high seven tackles against Louisville, including a tackle for loss and the biggest play of the game when he intercepted a pass with 4:32 left in a 17-13 win.

Special teams: Kase Whitehead, P, Marshall. Dropped four of his five punts inside the 20 in the 17-13 win at Louisville. On the season, 10 of his 30 have been downed inside the 20.


Co-offense: Riley Nelson, QB, BYU. Cierre Wood, RB, Notre Dame. Nelson came in in relief of starter Jake Heaps and accounted for 206 yards of total offense in four drives as BYU rallied from a 24-13 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Utah State. Nelson was 10-of-14 for 144 yards and two touchdowns, adding 62 rushing yards on 11 carries. Wood ran 20 times for a career-high 191 yards and a touchdown in a win against Purdue. His 55-yard scoring scamper was also a career-long run.

Defense: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame. Had a team-high eight tackles unassisted, and a sack against Purdue.

Special teams: Alex Carlton, PK, Army. Made his first field goal of the season and made all six extra point attempts as the Black Knights beat Tulane. His six conversions moved him into sixth place on the Army career PAT made list.


East Division

Offense: Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio. Threw for over 250 yards for the third consecutive week as he finished with 276 yards passing and two touchdowns in a 17-10 victory over Kent State.

Defense: C.J. Malauulu, LB, Kent State. Had a game- and career-high 12 tackles in a 17-10 loss to Ohio. He also added three tackles for loss, a sack, a pass break-up and a forced fumble.

Special Teams: Boo Boo Gates, KR, Bowling Green. Had seven returns for 233 yards, including a career-best 77-yard return in the first quarter in a 55-10 setback at West Virginia. His seven returns are the second-most in school history, while the yards are the most ever in a game.

West Division

Offense: Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan. Threw for a career high and school record 479 yards and five touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter, in a 38-31 upset of UConn. His five touchdowns tied for second most in a game in school history.

Defense: Robert Bell, LB, Toledo. Had a career-high 12 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and one recovered fumble in a 36-13 road win at Temple.

Special Teams: David Harman, K, Central Michigan. Was 6-of-6 on extra-point attempts and 2-of-2 on field goals for 12 total points in a 48-41 win over Northern Illinois.

Mountain West

Offense: Tim Jefferson, QB, Air Force. Went 9-of-10 for 136 yards and a touchdown, and rushed 18 times for 66 yards and two scores in a 35-34 overtime win at Navy. Jefferson, who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run, led Air Force to its second-straight win over Navy and the first in Annapolis since 1997.

Defense: Brady Amack, LB, Air Force. Had a career-high 23 tackles (11 solo), a sack and two tackles for loss in a 35-34 overtime victory at Navy. The tackle total ranks as the sixth-highest in school history and tied for the most in Mountain West history. It also tied for the most in a FBS game this season.

Special teams: Alex Means, LB, Air Force. Blocked Navy’s extra-point try in overtime. Means has blocked two kicks this season and also tied a career-high with 12 tackles and intercepted a pass.


Offense: Matt Christian, QB, New Mexico State. Went 16-of-27 for a career-high 296 yards and a career-high four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 42-28 win at New Mexico. Christian also rushed for a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He had 397 yards of total offense and accounted for five of the six Aggie touchdowns in the game.

Defense: Keith Smith, LB, San Jose State. Had a team-high 10 tackles and forced a fumble in a 38-31 win at Colorado State. The forced fumble occurred in the second quarter and was returned 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Spartans a 17-7 lead.

Special teams: Justin Hernandez, WR, Idaho. Blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown with 3:11 left in Idaho’s game at Virginia. Idaho trailed 14-6 at the time and following the successful two-point conversion, the Vandals forced overtime. They lost 21-20 in the extra period.

Sun Belt

Offense: Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State. Set a new school record for completions in a game when he completed 37 passes on 49 attempts in a 26-22 win at Western Kentucky. Aplin passed for a season-high 396 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and also caught a touchdown pass against the Hilltoppers.

Defense: Lance Kelley, LB, Louisiana. Had eight tackles, a tackle-for-loss and an interception in a win over FAU. He currently leads the Cajuns and ranks fourth in the Sun Belt with 39 total tackles.

Special teams: Brett Baer, K/P, Louisiana. Scored 13 points in a 37-34 victory. He made field goals of 47 yards and 46 yards before hitting the game-winning 26-yard field goal as time expired. It was the first win for the Cajuns in the final 10 seconds of regulation since 2003.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

September, 19, 2011
Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference. The independent players of the week are selected by a national media panel.

Conference USA

Offense: Case Keenum, QB, Houston. Ryan Griffin, QB, Tulane. Keenum led the biggest comeback in school history in a 35-34 win at Louisiana Tech, completing 25-of-40 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns to overcome a 27-point third quarter deficit. Griffin completed his first 11 passes for 164 yards and finished the game 22-of-26 for 281 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns in a 49-10 win over UAB.

Defense: Korey Williams, LB, Southern Miss. Williams led the Golden Eagles with 10 tackles, seven of which were solo stops, in a 52-6 win over Southeastern Louisiana. He added one tackle for loss and an interception return for a touchdown.

Special teams: Nick Adams, KR, UAB. Adams set a UAB single-game record with 194 kick return yards and took a Tulane kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown in a loss to Tulane.


Offense: Trent Steelman, QB, Army. Had 28 carries for 108 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Northwestern.

Defense: Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame. Grabbed an interception deep in Notre Dame territory and returned it 82 yards, setting up a game-sealing field goal for the Fighting Irish over Michigan State.

Special teams: George Atkinson III, RB/KR, Notre Dame. Had 142 yards on four kickoff returns, including an 89-yard touchdown, in a 31-13 home win over No. 15 Michigan State. Atkinson is the first Fighting Irish freshman to return a kickoff for a score since Raghib Ismail in 1988.


East Division
Offense: Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio.
Threw for a career-high 285 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bobcats to a 44-7 victory over Marshall and improve to 3-0 on the year -- its best start to a season since 1976. He also also rushed for a touchdown and a season-best 53 yards.

Defense: Dwayne Woods, LB, Bowling Green. Had a game-high 12 tackles and two tackles for loss in the Falcons’ 28-27 loss to Wyoming.

Special Teams: Matt Weller, K, Ohio. Was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 20, 21 and 34 yards and was 5-for-5 in extra-point attempts in a win over Marshall.

West Division
Offense: Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan.
Had 13 catches for a season-high 177 yards in a 44-14 win over Central Michigan. White had two touchdowns and a career-best 241 all-purpose yards.

Defense: Travis Freeman, LB, Ball State. Had a season-high 12 tackles in a 28-25 victory over Buffalo.

Special Teams: John Potter, K, Western Michigan. Scored for 14 points in a 44-14 win over Central Michigan with five extra points and a career-matching three field goals (33, 43, 43).

Mountain West

Offense: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State. Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State. Moore went 32-of-42 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns. The 32 completions are a single-game career high for Moore, while the five touchdowns tied his career high. Hillman rushed for 191 yards on a career-high 32 carries and tied his career-high with four touchdowns in a 42-24 win over Washington State.

Defense: Larry Parker, DB, San Diego State. Josh Biezuns, DL, Wyoming. Parker helped forced three turnovers, including two fourth-quarter interceptions, as the Aztecs beat Washington State 42-24. The two interceptions were the first two of his career. Biezuns forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, had two sacks for 15 yards and combined with fellow senior defensive lineman Gabe Knapton to block the potential game-tying extra-point attempts with 3 seconds left as Wyoming beat Bowling Green 28-27.

Special teams: Greg McCoy, DB, TCU. Returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the second half, setting the tone for TCU to score 14 points in the opening 4:18 of the third quarter in its 38-17 win over ULM.

Sun Belt

Offense: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy. Set new career highs for pass attempts (63), completions (36) and rushing yards (33) in a loss to Arkansas. His 373 passing yards were the third most of his career.

Defense: Isame Faciane, DT, FIU. LaDarrius Madden, DB, Troy. Faciane had arguably the biggest play of the game against UCF when he picked up a fumble by Jeff Godfrey and returned it 51 yards for a game-tying touchdown in the win over the Knights. Madden had six total tackles and a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Special Teams: Melvin White, DB, Louisiana. Made the momentum turning play against Nicholls State with a 68-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown. The Cajuns outscored the Colonels 24-7 after the blocked field goal.


Offense: Mike Ball, RB, Nevada. Rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Nevada’s 17-14 win at San Jose State.

Defense: Logan Harrell, DT, Fresno State. Recorded a career-high 11 tackles and tied his career-high with 4.5 tackles for a loss of 23 yards in a 27-22 win over North Dakota.

Special teams: Jake Hurst, P, Nevada. Punted six times for 259 yards, A 43.2-yard average, in the win over San Jose State. He had a long of 49 yards and placed two inside the 20-yard line.

Spring QB competition: MAC

February, 10, 2011
Now it’s time to look at spring quarterback competitions in the MAC. There should be plenty of intrigue here, especially at Toledo and Miami (Ohio), where starters are returning from injury but finding they are not going to be shoo-ins to get their jobs back.

Ball State

Who’s competing: Kelly Page and Keith Wenning will compete once again in the spring. They are no strangers to competing against each other -- Wenning won the starting job from Page in 2010 as a true freshman. With new coach Pete Lembo set to install his no-huddle offense, both players are going to have to audition for that job. Keep in mind, Page and Wenning are the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.


Who’s competing: The Bulls did plenty of quarterback shuffling last season under first-year coach Jeff Quinn, but nobody seemed to stick as the starter. So the competition is open once again headed into the spring between Jerry Davis, Alex Zordich and Alex Dennison. Davis will be a junior, while Zordich and Dennison will be sophomores. Davis started the majority of games last season, but Zordich did start a handful as a true freshmen. Neither put up stellar stats as they tried to learn the spread offense.

Kent State

Who’s competing: Spencer Keith returns, but he was wildly inconsistent last season, throwing for 2,212 yards, eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions. But with a new coach in Darrell Hazell, nobody is guaranteed of keeping their starting job. Expect a competition with Giorgio Morgan in the spring as Hazell installs more of a traditional offense. Morgan has been a career backup.

[+] EnlargeZac Dysert
Kim Klement/US PresswireMiami Redhawks quarterback Zac Dysert will be battling for the starting job in 2011.
Miami (Ohio)

Who’s competing: This is going to be a tremendous competition between Zac Dysert and Austin Boucher, two quarterbacks equally capable of leading this team. Dysert started the first 10 games of the season before injuring his ribs and sitting out the rest of the way. In came Boucher, who had only thrown 14 career passes to that point. But Boucher closed the season 4-0, with a come-from-behind win in the MAC championship game and then a win the Bowl against Middle Tennessee. Dysert threw for 2,406 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and completed 65 percent of his passes. Boucher threw for 1,120 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions, and completed 64 percent of his passes. With a new head coach on Don Treadwell, both go in with clean slates and an opportunity to impress.


Who’s out: Boo Jackson

Who’s competing: Jackson and Phil Bates Bates have been involved in quarterback competitions themselves, so being in this position is nothing new for Bates. But this is opportunity to prove once and for all why he deserves to be the starter after taking a back seat to Jackson last season. He is a senior and the most experienced quarterback on the roster. But two will push him -- Kyle Snyder and Tyler Tettleton. Snyder redshirted as a true freshman last season, and Tettleton also redshirted and will be a sophomore. Tettleton attempted 23 passes in 2009.


Who’s competing: Chester Stewart began last season as the starter before then-coach Al Golden decided on a switch and put Mike Gerardi into the starting lineup during the Bowling Green game in October. Gerardi started the rest of the way, but it wasn’t enough to get the Owls into the MAC championship game. With new coach Steve Addazio taking over, both are in contention to become the starter. There is one more player in the mix -- Chris Coyer, a 6-foot-3 dual-threat, left-handed quarterback who has drawn comparisons to Tim Tebow. Addazio coached Tebow at Florida. Coyer’s bio says he worked out with Tebow in high school. Plenty of connections there for him to make a serious run at the starting job.


Who’s competing: Another intriguing competition here between Austin Dantin, who began 2010 as the starter, and Terrance Owens, who filled in quite nicely down the stretch. Dantin injured his shoulder/collarbone at the end of October and missed the final four games of the season. Owens went 2-2 as a starter, but he ended up with a better quarterback rating than Dantin and threw 13 touchdowns to seven for Dantin.