NCF Nation: Weekend-rewind-100311

Weekend rewind: SEC

October, 3, 2011
Are we really a week away from the midway point of the season?

Time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s always a lot of fun to gauge the temperature in this league with our weekly Hot and Not thermometer:


[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
AP Photo/Rick WilsonAlabama and running back Trent Richardson have battered and bruised opponents this season.
Alabama’s offensive line: If you enjoy watching old-school, hit-'em-in-the-mouth football, then you absolutely love watching Alabama play offense. The Crimson Tide don’t do much of anything fancy, but they come off the ball on every down and keep pounding until the other team’s spirit breaks. They also have the ultimate weapon in the backfield (Trent Richardson) and are really starting to settle in as a unit right now up front. The two veterans -- left tackle Barrett Jones and center William Vlachos -- are both playing at an extremely high level. Vlachos was a man inside against the interior of that Florida defense last Saturday, and he’s also a reminder that it’s not about how good you look physically or what kind of frame you have, but how well you play, how smart you play and the leverage you play with.


Alabama’s run defense: Good luck in trying to run the ball against this bunch. The Crimson Tide lead the country in rushing defense, allowing just 39.6 yards per game. That’s nearly 20 yards fewer than the No. 2 team nationally (Virginia Tech). Alabama held Florida to 15 rushing yards on 29 attempts. That's after after holding Arkansas to 17 yards on 19 attempts the week before.


Kentucky’s offense: The only two FBS teams ranked lower than Kentucky in total offense are Florida Atlantic and Kent State. That’s not the kind of company you want to be keeping. The Wildcats are averaging 255.6 yards in total offense and have been limited to nine touchdowns in five games. In their 35-7 loss to LSU last Saturday, they managed just 155 yards and only had 59 through three quarters.


Arkansas’ pride: The Hogs were already coming off a deflating loss at Alabama where they got pushed around physically. The same thing happened in the first half last Saturday against Texas A&M, but Arkansas showed some serious grit and determination in rallying from an 18-point deficit at the half to win a game that tells you all you need to know about the level of pride in the Hogs’ program.


Georgia outside linebacker Cornelius Washington: He’s coming off the best game of his career against Mississippi State and figures to play a key role this coming Saturday against Tennessee’s passing game. So what does he do to celebrate? He goes out and gets arrested on DUI charges and will now be watching the Vols’ game from home.


Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray: Try finding a hotter passer over the past 10 games than Bray. He leads the SEC this season with 14 touchdown passes and only two interceptions in four games. Over his past 10 games dating to last season, Bray has thrown 32 touchdown passes. Now, that’s what you call slinging it.


Marcus Lattimore against Auburn: Even the great running backs aren’t going to have big games every week in this league. That said, Auburn seems to have Lattimore’s number. In three games against the Tigers, Lattimore is averaging just 61 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry. He didn’t have a run longer than 15 yards in last Saturday’s 16-13 loss to the Tigers.


LSU’s defensive fury: The Tigers don’t just try to stop people on defense. They try to dismantle them. Through five games, LSU has forced 12 turnovers and also has 12 sacks and is tied for the lead nationally with 44 tackles for loss. John Chavis’ group is a load to move the ball against, but the Tigers are even better when it comes to taking the ball away and creating negative plays.


Belief in Auburn: Obviously, those on the Plains are the only ones who have any genuine belief in this Auburn football team. The Tigers are reveling in proving the “haters” wrong. They’re coming off a huge win at South Carolina and continue to be masterful at finding ways to win. Gene Chizik has now won his past 10 games that were decided by a touchdown or less.


South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia: It’s not often that somebody makes a repeat appearance in the “freezer burn” section of Hot and Not. But how do you get around it with Garcia, who’s now thrown 14 interceptions in his past seven games dating to last season? Steve Spurrier was going to hang with Garcia as long as the Gamecocks kept hanging on to win. But now that they’ve lost, it looks like Garcia will be watching the next game from the sideline. The Head Ball Coach is apparently going to give sophomore Connor Shaw a chance. It’s unfair to place all of the blame for the Gamecocks’ offensive struggles on Garcia's shoulders. But to be a fifth-year senior, he’s made some inexplicable decisions and some even worse throws. Even the routine throws have become an adventure. It was a gamble to bring Garcia back in the first place after five suspensions. You wonder now if the Head Ball Coach wishes he’d never rolled those dice.

Weekend rewind: Pac-12

October, 3, 2011
Taking stock of the fourth week of games in the Pac-12.

Team of the week: Washington State. While the Cougars buddies in Seattle deserve a tip of the cap for winning at Utah, it's not an exaggeration to say Washington State's comeback, 31-27 victory at Colorado was the most important result of the Paul Wulff Era. It was a show of mental toughness that will be nearly as important as improved talent for the Cougs' return to relevance.

[+] EnlargeMarquess Wilson
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireWashington State's Marquess Wilson, right, celebrates with John Fullington after his fourth-quarter TD catch against Colorado.
Best game: The Cougars came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit with two TDs in the final 2 1/2 minutes, then forced a fumble to clinch the win. The key play was a 63-yard TD pass from Marshall Lobbestael to Marquess Wilson with 1:10 remaining.

Biggest play: Well, in order to spread the wealth -- Lobbestael-Wilson duly noted above -- Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall, playing on a nagging sprained ankle, turned in a physical, multi-tackle breaking 37-yard TD run against Oregon State that put the Sun Devils up 28-20 in the third quarter of a surprising tight contest with Oregon State.

Most memorable play: New category here to commemorate Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's unbelievable, one-handed 13-yard reception against UCLA that also included him athletically getting a foot in-bounds. Hey, if the quarterback thing doesn't work out, there's always tight end (and we're only half-joking; he could play tight end).

Offensive standout: There will many outstanding offensive performances, but USC quarterback Matt Barkley completed 32-of-39 passes for a school-record 468 yards with four touchdowns in the Trojans' 48-41 victory against Arizona.

Defensive standout: Washington State linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis had 14 tackles -- 12 solo -- and two sacks against Colorado.

Special teams standout: Jamal Miles, Arizona State's multi-purpose star had a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win against Oregon State.

Smiley face: The state of Washington. As Bud Withers of the Seattle Times pointed out, Washington and Washington State won road conference games on the same day for the first time since Oct. 18, 2003. Might the Apple Cup have some real stakes for both teams this year?

Frowny face: The new Pac-12 members. Colorado and Utah are now a combined 0-3 in conference play and 3-6 overall. The Buffaloes blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against Washington State, and Utah might have lost quarterback Jordan Wynn for a few weeks with a shoulder injury.

Thought of the week: Pac-12 defenses need to pick it up. No conference team ranks in the top-25 in total defense -- Stanford and California are 26th and 27th, respectively -- and eight rank 50th or worse. Here's a guess that the teams playing for the Pac-12 title on Dec. 2 will have top-50 defenses.

Questions for the week: Does Arizona State (4-1, 2-0) sew up the South Division on Saturday at Utah? The Utes, widely viewed as the Sun Devils top competition for the division title when the season began, are 0-2 in conference play and likely won't have Wynn. USC isn't eligible due to NCAA sanctions, and Arizona, UCLA and Colorado haven't shown much thus far.

Weekend Rewind: Big East

October, 3, 2011
Let us take a look back at Week 5, and a look ahead to Week 6 in the weekend rewind.

[+] EnlargeRay Graham
Vincent Pugliese/US PresswireRay Graham has eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark twice this season.
The good: Pitt running back Ray Graham had 226 yards rushing in a win over USF, and West Virginia running back Dustin Garrison had 291 yards rushing in a win over Bowling Green. The last time the conference had two 200-yard rushers in the same weekend was Nov. 16, 2006, when Pat White (220) and Steve Slaton (215) did it for West Virginia in a 45-27 win over Pitt. Incredibly enough, Slaton and Rutgers back Ray Rice also hit 200 on the same day that same season. Slaton had 203 against Marshall and Rice had 201 against North Carolina on Sept. 2, 2006. ... Rutgers won a Big East road opener for the second time in school history, taking down Syracuse 19-16 in overtime. ... West Virginia continued to roll on offense, beating Bowling Green 55-10. The Mountaineers scored the last 52 points of the game. ... The Big East has four teams among the top 10 nationally in sacks in 2011. Rutgers is fourth nationally at 3.5 sacks a game, while Cincinnati, Connecticut and USF are tied for 10th with three sacks a game.

The bad: Here we are in October, and there are no undefeated teams left in the Big East for the second straight season. The Big East is the only AQ conference without one, meaning no long-shot national championship odds exist anymore. For a league that had higher expectations this season, that certainly qualifies as a disappointment. Add the Louisville and UConn losses to two non-AQ teams at home and you have a pretty miserable weekend for the Big East. The Cardinals were shut out in the second half of their loss to Marshall and have scored just 17 second-half points all season. They also have serious problems with their run game, getting just 60 total yards. UConn, which was supposed to be led by its defense, had a terrible performance against Western Michigan. The Huskies allowed Alex Carder to throw for 479 yards -- that set a new school record. Meanwhile, Syracuse and Rutgers combined for nine turnovers, five missed field goals and a missed extra point in their Big East opener. ... As for USF, the Bulls dropped to 0-7 in Thursday night games and have lost four straight to Pitt. They allowed the Panthers to run 91 offensive plays -- the most by a Big East team this season.

Stats watch

  • West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy had two interceptions against Bowling Green, marking his second career two interception game.
  • UConn receiver Kashif Moore had eight receptions for a career-high 112 yards and two touchdowns against Western Michigan.
  • USF receiver Sterling Griffin had five receptions for a career-high 109 yards against Pittsburgh.
  • Cincinnati linebacker JK Schaffer had seven tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a half sack, a forced fumble and a 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Miami (Ohio).
Week 6 schedule
UConn at West Virginia, noon, Big East Network
Louisville at North Carolina, noon, ESPN2
Pittsburgh at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Syracuse at Tulane, 8 p.m., Cox Louisiana

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

October, 3, 2011
Taking a look at the week that was in the non-AQs ...

The good: Marshall and Western Michigan pulled upsets on their AQ opponents -- the Thundering Herd beat Louisville 17-13 and the Broncos beat UConn 38-31. ... Boise State got its run game going in a 30-10 win against Nevada as Doug Martin went over 100 yards for the first time this season. ... New Mexico State beat New Mexico 42-28 - the first time in over 40 years that the Aggies have won three straight in the series. ... San Jose State scored the go-ahead touchdown on a pass with 54 seconds remaining to beat Colorado State 38-31. The Spartans have won back-to-back games for the first time in three years. … Louisiana is 4-1 for the first time since 1988 after Brett Baer hit a 26-yard field goal with no time left to lift the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 37-34 win against FAU.

[+] EnlargeDarius Johnson
AP Photo/Matt StrasenReceiver Darius Johnson and SMU ripped TCU's pass defense in a 40-33 overtime victory.
The bad: The TCU pass defense continues to struggle. SMU beat TCU 40-33 in overtime, throwing for 349 yards in the victory. All of its offensive touchdowns came on passes. In all, TCU gave up more than 450 yards for the second time this season, and the Horned Frogs are out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in 47 weeks. ... Temple had a huge win against Maryland in Week 4, but the Owls fell flat at home against Toledo, dropping an important MAC game 36-13. All seven of their drives in the second half ended with a punt or turnover. ... Northern Illinois lost to Central Michigan 48-41 -- the third time this season the Huskies' defense has given up 40 points.

The heartbreak: Utah State is the poster child for broken hearts this season. For the third time, the Aggies lost a game in the closing minutes. This time, it happened against in-state rival BYU. Riley Nelson came off the bench to lead a comeback for the Cougars, engineering a 96-yard game-winnning drive with 11 seconds left for a 27-24 BYU win. His 13-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Matthews was tipped by Utah State defender Will Harris near the goal line. The Aggies blew a 24-13 lead, and were hoping for consecutive wins against BYU for the first time since 1973-74.

Meanwhile in Annapolis, a penalty flag helped decide one of the biggest rivalry games in college football. Navy erased an 18-point fourth quarter deficit behind quarterback Kriss Proctor, who had a 7-yard touchdown run and 5-yard touchdown pass to Gee Gee Greene with 19 seconds left in regulation. Alexander Teich ran in the 2-point conversion and the game went into overtime. Proctor put Navy up first in the extra period on a 1-yard touchdown run, but was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for getting in the face of an Air Force player. The extra point was blocked. Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson answered with a 1-yard touchdown run of his own and the Falcons made their extra point to win 35-34 and get a leg up in the competition for the Commander-In-Chief Trophy. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo was incredulous after the game, "I would hope the referees would have said something like, 'Settle down,' in that situation," he said. "It's too critical a call to make. I hope those guys can sleep well tonight."

Idaho nearly pulled the upset at Virginia, but the Vandals failed on their 2-point attempt in overtime and lost 21-20. Coach Robb Akey decided to go for the win in the extra period, but Brian Reader had his pass batted down. "My only disappointment was that we didn’t make the play at the end of the game," Akey said.

Case Keenum watch: Keenum threw for 471 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-42 win against UTEP, the 15th time he has reached 400 yards in his career. He now ranks third on the NCAA career pasing list, and needs 1,482 yards to break the mark held by Timmy Chang. Keenum is averaging 401 yards passing a game. If he keeps that pace up, he will break the passing record at UAB on Nov. 5.

Helmet stickers

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan. Carder threw for a career-high and program record 479 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-31 win against UConn.

Harry Peoples, WR, Louisiana. Peoples had 12 catches for 176 yards in a win against FAU. His 12 receptions tied the mark Brandon Stokley set against Louisiana Tech in 1995 for most catches by a UL receiver at Cajun Field.

Brady Amack, LB, Air Force. Amack amassed a career-high 23 tackles (11 solo), a sack and two tackles for loss in the Falcons’ 35-34 overtime victory at Navy. Amack’s tackle total ranks as the sixth-highest in school history and tied for the most in Mountain West history.

Matt Christian, QB, New Mexico State. Christian went 16-of-27 for a career-high 296 yards and a career-high four touchdowns 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.

Big 12 weekend rewind

October, 3, 2011
A drama-filled weekend of football and maybe more drama this week with conference membership. Here's a look back at the strictly on-field activity.

[+] EnlargeTBD
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesAggies junior RB Christine Michael has rushed for 408 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Best offensive player: Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M. Michael was dominant despite Texas A&M's second-half struggles. The 221-pounder had one of the day's highlights on what might have been an accidental Statue of Liberty play, snatching the ball out of Ryan Tannehill's hand for a 48-yard touchdown. He finished with a career-high 230 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. Honorable mention: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Best defensive player: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma. Jefferson picked off passes on three consecutive possessions to spark Oklahoma's 62-6 blowout win over Ball State, and added five tackles. Honorable mention: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State.

Best play: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State. Brown was lurking behind the defensive line when Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III's pass was derailed by a hit as he released it. The ball landed unexpectedly in Brown's chest, who bobbled it twice, but hauled it in to set up a late fourth-quarter go-ahead field goal that proved to be the game-winner.

Best fashion sense: Kansas. Oklahoma State was off this week, but the Jayhawks debuted some smooth baby blue unis as an homage to the 1961 Jayhawks team. A very, very nice look and better than any of the 48 combinations Oklahoma State has in its arsenal. Came complete with white helmets and each player's number on his helmet.

Best game: Arkansas 42, Texas A&M 38. Texas A&M may have trouble finishing, but it's college football's most entertaining team the last two weeks. This week, the 18-point lead was trimmed much more slowly, but officially was lost in the final minutes on a Broderick Green run in a great atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium. The Aggies can sling it, pound it, and have given up 948 yards passing the last two weeks. Honorable mention: Kansas State 36, Baylor 35

Worst half: Iowa State's first half. Mack Brown acknowledged earlier this year that Texas would have to win games by grinding with scores like 20-16 and 17-13. Iowa State trailed at home 34-0 at halftime in one of the most anticipated games ever at Jack Trice Stadium. Not good. Dishonorable mention: Texas A&M's second half.

Best quarter: Oklahoma's second quarter. The Sooners were sluggish early and led Ball State just 10-6 with nine minutes left in the half. Then OU ripped off 28 consecutive points, aided by Tony Jefferson's three interceptions. Honorable mention: Texas Tech's third quarter.

Worst case of déjà vu: Texas A&M. What else is left to say about the Aggies unreal collapse for a second consecutive week? As dominant as Texas A&M was against Oklahoma State in the first half last week, the Aggies might have been even more so against Arkansas on Saturday. The offense scored at will, and the defense looked like it would shut down the Hogs if it could slow Jarius Wright. Nope. Now, it's 2-2.

Stanford weekend rewind

October, 3, 2011
There were a lot of questions being asked going into this game -- and the Stanford Cardinal answered most of them. It was a superb performance by the offense and a good enough effort by the defense that UCLA's pistol offense never really got cranking on the ground. Here's a look back at some of the highs and lows of Stanford's 45-19 win over the Bruins.
  • Highlight reel: Take your pick. Andrew Luck's one-handed catch? Coby Fleener's one-handed catch? Any/all plays from the defensive goal line stand in the first quarter? It was a night for good plays. But yes, it goes to Luck, whose one-handed grab would have been sensational if he were a wide receiver, but is all the more impressive because he's a quarterback.
  • Best play: The highlights weren't just from the guys in red (or in Saturday's case, black). UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria looked awfully athletic when he leaped over Michael Thomas on his 13-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Give credit where credit is due, that was a pretty sweet play.
  • Who's hot: Fleener turned in another outstanding performance from a tight end. Each game, one of the Big Three could be the star. Saturday, it was Fleener, who caught four balls for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Who's hotter: Running back Stepfan Taylor followed up his career performance against Arizona with 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Bruins. He's as hot as any running back in the conference -- maybe even the country -- in the last couple of games.
  • Who's icy: Stanford coach David Shaw, who no doubt probably shot his players some chilly looks as he saw the penalties pile on. The Cardinal were flagged eight times for 70 yards.
  • The good: The Cardinal looked super-sharp on offense coming out of the bye week and got the fast start they'd been lacking in the previous three games.
  • The bad: No more bye weeks. It's grind time from now until Notre Dame. Pray for us.