NCF Nation: weekend rewind 101810

Hot and Not in the SEC: Week 8

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
2:44
PM ET
When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not …

Nothing like a little Jerry Reed to take us into this week’s Hot and Not in the SEC:

EN FUEGO

Jordan-Hare Stadium: There are a lot of places that rock around the SEC, and there are a lot of places around this conference that hold noise and make you feel like your ear drums are about to explode. But it’s that way from the opening kickoff at Auburn and only picks up steam from there. I’ve been to just about all the stadiums in the league the last few years, and I say with confidence that Jordan-Hare Stadium is as consistently loud and electric throughout the game as any stadium I’ve been to, and I think it’s gotten even more intense this season. When that crowd sensed blood in the fourth quarter last Saturday against Arkansas, even Toomer’s Corner was rocking several blocks away. They call it the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains, but there ain’t nothing lovely about it if you’re the other team.

HOT

[+] EnlargeAuburn
Mike Zarrilli/Getty ImagesCam Newton had 328 yards of total offense and rushed for three touchdowns against Arkanasas.
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton: He’s less than 150 yards away from becoming only the second quarterback in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. And with 13 passing touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns, he’s got a real shot at joining Tim Tebow in the 20/20 club.

NOT

Instant replay: Is it just me, or does it seem like in the SEC that the replay official’s definition of indisputable video evidence is different than everybody else’s? Arkansas got hosed on Mario Fannin’s fumble at the goal line. That ball was out before he crossed the goal line.

HOT

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson: Yes, he threw those two late interceptions, but to come in and perform the way he did in that kind of environment tells you all you need to know about the Hogs’ sophomore backup. After Ryan Mallett went down, Wilson passed for 332 yards and four touchdowns against Auburn and kept the Hogs in the game.

NOT

Florida coach Urban Meyer: Let’s preface this by saying that Meyer is one of the best coaches in America. He’s won two of the past four national championships. That said, there’s no way the Gators should be this bad on offense with the way they’ve recruited the past few years. They have backups on offense who would be starting for a lot of other teams in this league.

HOT

Mississippi State’s running game: The Bulldogs, third in the SEC in rushing offense, went old school on the Gators last Saturday night in the Swamp. They ran the ball over and over again and made the Gators like it.

NOT

Arkansas’s defense/special teams: There were positive signs, lots of them, for Willy Robinson’s defense. Arkansas genuinely looked like a much improved defensive football team for the first five games. That all changed last Saturday in the 65-43 loss to Auburn. The Hogs gave up 470 yards in total offense, including 330 rushing yards. John L. Smith’s special teams were equally bad. The Hogs gave up a 99-yard kickoff return, had a punt blocked and were repeatedly tackled short of the 20-yard line on kickoff returns.

HOT

Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline: Have you noticed who owns the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the SEC? It’s Hartline, who is having a terrific senior season with 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. He’s shown tremendous resolve throughout his career at Kentucky.

NOT

Auburn’s pass defense: In a word, it stinks. Making matters worse, the Tigers are losing some players to injury in the secondary, too, and will have even less experience on the field against LSU. Auburn is 108th nationally against the pass and was shredded for 428 passing yards and five touchdown passes last week against Arkansas. That’s going to get them sooner or later if they don’t start covering somebody.

FREEZER BURN

South Carolina’s secondary: Stopping somebody’s passing game is a two-way street. You have to get pressure on the quarterback, and you have to cover somebody. The Gamecocks got decent pressure on Kentucky’s Hartline last week and knocked him around some. The problem was they didn’t cover anybody. How many tackles can you miss back there? How many bad angles can you take? How many busted assignments can you make? Randall Cobb was so open on the game-winning touchdown that he had time to rip the fair-weather Kentucky fans on Twitter before he even caught the pass. But back to the South Carolina secondary, which isn’t short on talent. Depth might be a concern, but talent isn’t. The Gamecocks are ranked last in the SEC (and 110th nationally) in pass defense. They’re making Auburn’s pass defense look good right now, and that’s saying something.

Pac-10 rewind and look ahead

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
2:20
PM ET
A look back on the week that was.

Team of the week: While Washington deserves recognition for its double-overtime win against Oregon State, it's hard to ignore what USC did to California. A week ago, many were questioning USC's fire, focus and motivation after consecutive last-second defeats in which the defense failed to stop game-winning drives. But the 48-14 win against Cal showed plenty of fire, focus and motivation. It might be premature to announce the Trojans are back, but that conclusion is more valid than at any time this season.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonWashington's Jake Locker threw five touchdown passes against Oregon State.
Best game: The Huskies 35-34 double-overtime win against the Beavers was exciting. And strange. Washington jumped ahead 21-0. The rout is on! Oregon State ties the game at 21-21. The Beavers are going to roll! Then neither team could score -- only one second-half TD -- as the defenses stepped up. Then both teams scored two TDs in OT. Huskies quarterback Jake Locker and Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers turned in star performances. Great finish, though a bit happier for the home fans.

Biggest play: No game is about one play, but a dropped 2-point conversion undid the Beavers when they made an aggressive move for the win in the second overtime. While H-back Joe Halahuni was covered tightly by Huskies linebacker Cort Dennison, the Ryan Katz pass was on the money and it would have won the game.

Offensive standout: There were three Pac-10 games this weekend, and two featured quarterbacks throwing five TD passes in Locker and USC's Matt Barkley. But Barkley gets the nod for completing 25 of 37 for 352 yards against what was supposed to be a good Cal defense.

Defensive standout: USC. You can review the numbers here -- no one player stands out -- but the Trojans held Cal to just 245 yards and 10 first downs. That's worthy of note, particularly for a unit that has struggled all season.

Special teams standout: Kiel Rasp averaged 48 yards on four punts vs. Oregon State. You might recall that Rasp, a junior, only became the Huskies punter when Will Mahan was lost for the year to a knee injury. Rasp is presently 7th in the nation with a 45.91 yards per punt average.

Smiley face: USC bounced back from consecutive last-second losses to announce that it will not be folding up its tent in Pac-10 play. And Washington, in desperate need for a win to keep its bowl hopes alive, outlasted Oregon State in Husky Stadium a week after a lackluster effort at home against Arizona State.

Frowny face: There is no excuse, Cal. Even if USC's blowout win was about the Trojans playing great, the Bears shouldn't have rolled over that easily. 42-zip at halftime? That's just embarrassing.

Thought of the week: With Arizona quarterback Nick Foles going down with a knee injury, the battle for first-team All-Pac-10 at quarterback looks like it will be between Barkley and Stanford's Andrew Luck. Or might Locker make a late run? Or might a darkhorse candidate -- Oregon's Darron Thomas -- still stake a claim?

Questions for the week: The Pac-10 again has a muddled middle. Who will emerge from the gaggle of Arizona State, California, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington?

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 7

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
2:08
PM ET
Here's a look back at the best and worst of the week that was in the Big 12.

Best offensive player: Tie, Justin Blackmon (OSU), Landry Jones (OU), Ryan Broyles (OU), Robert Griffin (BU). Call it a cop out if you must, but there's really no way to differentiate between these guys. Blackmon had a career-high 207 yards receiving and a huge 62-yard score. Jones completed 30 of 34 passes in a 52-point conference win. Broyles had 10 catches for 131 yards and a score two minutes into the second quarter. Griffin engineered a conference road win, throwing for 234 yards and running for 137 more. I honestly just can't pick between these guys. You could make a solid case for any one of them.

Best defensive player: Brad Madison, DE, Missouri. Splitting time with Michael Sam in place of injured end Aldon Smith, Madison sacked Jerrod Johnson three times to help Missouri beat the Aggies 30-9. Honorable mention: Orie Lemon, LB, Oklahoma State.

[+] EnlargeTexas Longhorns players celebrate
Bruce Thorson/US PresswireTexas surprised Nebraska in the Longhorns' upset victory over the Cornhuskers.
Best team performance: Texas. Shock the world is probably too strong, but the Longhorns mildly disturbed the majority of the population by knocking off the then-No. 4 Huskers in Lincoln, ruining one of the most anticipated games in Nebraska history.

Best offensive freshman: Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State. Randle carried the ball 17 times for 95 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys 34-17 win over Texas Tech, providing a great second option to Kendall Hunter. Honorable mention: Baylor WR Tevin Reese and Oklahoma RB Roy Finch.

Best defensive freshman: Tre' Porter, CB, Texas Tech. Porter takes home the award for a second consecutive week, with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

Best play: Eric Hagg, S, Nebraska. Yeah, it was in a losing effort, but Hagg's school-record, 95-yard touchdown return of Justin Tucker's pooch punt injected some unexpected late drama into a Nebraska-Texas game that needed it. He made plenty of guys miss, shook off a few tackles, and put Nebraska within a recovered onside kick of having a chance to send its game against Texas into overtime.

Worst play: Tie, Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead, WRs Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie. All three dropped touchdown passes that weren't necessarily easy grabs, but trailing to Texas in a game of that magnitude, those are plays that have to be made. None of them did, and the team added a handful of other drops that added up to a frustrating day for the Huskers.

Worst call: Dan Hawkins, Colorado. If someone can explain to me the rationale behind going for two after first touchdown of the game late in the first quarter, I'm all ears. Going for it again (and failing again) only makes it worse.

"That is just the same thing that we did against Georgia. You get it and you`re feeling good," Dan Hawkins told reporters after the game. "And as it ended up it was kind of negligible anyway, so then we had to go for two in a sense the second time."

Maybe that's over my head, but the only teams in America that do that are dominant high school teams. Colorado would be a dominant high school team, no doubt. But this is the Big 12. Take the points and the Buffs Hail Mary to tie the game becomes a field goal to win it. That's not hindsight. That's common sense.

Worst quarter: Kansas' second quarter. Kansas let Carson Coffman run in a pair of touchdowns, throw for another and gave up a rushing touchdown to get outscored 28-0 in the quarter. The Jayhawks were in it after 15 minutes, down just 3-0. After the second quarter, it was officially ugly.

Worst team performance: Kansas. I said enough on Thursday night, but still. Almost two weeks to prepare. Rivalry game at home. 52-point loss. Can't do that.

Best game: Texas 20, Nebraska 13. Baylor's win over Colorado had the drama and late heroics, but Texas' masterful job covering Taylor Martinez provided a shock of its own: Martinez getting benched in favor of Zac Lee. Lee played well and led a lengthy drive that nearly ended in seven points. The shock of the Nebraska crowd, as well as that of everyone watching, provided somewhat of a surreal scene.
Let's take a look back at a pivotal weekend in the Big Ten before peeking ahead to Week 8.

[+] EnlargeWhite
AP Photo/Andy ManisRunning back James White and Wisconsin overpowered previously unbeaten Ohio State.
Team of the Week: Wisconsin. Through the first six weeks, Wisconsin provided little evidence to suggest it could knock off the nation's No. 1 team. But the Badgers put it all together in impressive fashion Saturday night against Ohio State. For the first time in recent memory, Ohio State's defense got humbled by a Big Ten opponent as Wisconsin's offensive line steamrolled the Buckeyes, creating huge running lanes for both John Clay and James White. Although the Buckeyes rallied in the third quarter and the early fourth, Wisconsin was too powerful on offense and received enough stops from J.J. Watt and the defense to keep Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State attack in check. Wisconsin overcame its big-game bugaboo and now hits the road for a huge rivalry game against No. 15 Iowa.

Best game: Ohio State at Wisconsin. The atmosphere at Camp Randall Stadium was absolutely electric, and the game began with a bang as Wisconsin's David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Wisconsin and Ohio State were mirror images in the first and third quarters, as each team dominated play and put together extensive touchdown drives (19 plays, 89 yards for Wisconsin; 19 plays, 94 yards for Ohio State). The Buckeyes had all the momentum as they closed to within three points early in the fourth quarter, but Wisconsin answered with the defining drive of its season, marching 73 yards in 10 plays and mixing up the play calls perfectly. The Iowa-Michigan game also brought some drama as Michigan rallied behind Tate Forcier, and Indiana-Arkansas State turned into a shootout.

Biggest play: We go back to Madison, as Wisconsin faced third-and-3 from its own 34-yard line early in the fourth quarter after Ohio State had rallied to within three points. Rather than pound away with the run game, Wisconsin took to the air and Scott Tolzien fired a bullet to receiver Nick Toon near the east sideline for a 20-yard gain. The Badgers didn't face another third down on the drive and went on to score a touchdown. "Huge catch in a crucial point of the game," Toon said. "But that's my job." Iowa faced a similar situation against Michigan, up 35-28 in the fourth quarter but facing third-and-9 from its own 41. Ricky Stanzi found Marvin McNutt for 17 yards, and the Hawkeyes went on to score.

Specialist spotlight: Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy really is starting to blossom as the successor to superstar Brett Swenson. Conroy went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts against Illinois, connecting from 37, 34, 32 and 18 yards. The Spartans really needed him on a day when the offense struggled for stretches. Indiana kicker Mitch Ewald also had an impressive performance in relief of the injured Nick Freeland. Ewald went 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts, including a 46-yarder in the fourth quarter. Gilreath doesn't technically qualify as a specialist, but his return against Ohio State is notable. It marked Wisconsin's first kick return touchdown since Lee Evans in 2000, and the team's longest since Aaron Stecker's 100-yarder against Minnesota in 1995.

Most futile call: Making my way through the Camp Randall Stadium concourse to Wisconsin's media room Saturday night, I kept hearing the public-address announcer pleading with the Wisconsin students and other Badgers fans not to rush the field. Um, good luck with that one. I understand the safety issue and the past problems at Camp Randall, but you're just not going to keep people off the field when their team has just defeated No. 1.

Game balls:

  • Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Watt tormented Ohio State's offensive line all night and recorded three tackles for loss and two sacks of Pryor. It felt like he had four or five sacks with all the trouble he caused. Watt also was credited with a quarterback hurry and has a team-leading 11.5 tackles for loss this year.
  • Indiana WRs Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss: The Hoosiers' star tandem combined for 14 receptions, 224 yards and two touchdowns in the win against Arkansas State. Belcher and Doss became the first Indiana wideouts to both eclipse 100 yards in a game since Ray Fisher and James Hardy in 2007.
  • Michigan State LB Greg Jones: The senior is well on his way to another All-America type season for Michigan State. He recorded a season-high 14 tackles to go along with a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry in Saturday's win against Illinois. Jones has led MSU in tackles in 27 of the past 33 games.
  • Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher: If there's a tougher wide receiver in America, feel free to send me his name because Sanzenbacher is my pick, hands down. Sanzenbacher never shies away from contact and making gutsy catches. He had six of them for 94 yards against Wisconsin. Sanzenbacher is playing like a first-team All-Big Ten receiver.
  • Iowa WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos: DJK became Iowa's all-time leading receiver Saturday after recording four receptions for 70 yards and three touchdowns. He now has seven touchdown receptions this season. DJK, who added a 40-yard kick return against Michigan, should share the game ball with quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who continues to put up Heisman-caliber numbers (17-for-24 passing, 248 pass yards, 3 TDs).
  • Purdue QB Rob Henry: The young fella looks like a winner, folks. Henry accounted for four touchdowns (3 rush, 1 pass) against Minnesota and completed more than twice as many passes (13) on just two more attempts (20) than he did the previous week at Northwestern.
  • Illinois DL Corey Liuget: It's always notable when a defensive lineman leads the team in tackles, and Liuget had another big performance Saturday at Michigan State. The junior recorded 11 tackles, one for loss, and two quarterback hurries as Illinois limited the Spartans' rushing attack.

OK, enough with Week 7. Let's take a quick look at Week 8.

No. 7 Michigan State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern (5-1, 1-1): The Spartans are 7-0 for the first time since 1966, but they have yet to win a game outside the state of Michigan. They head to Evanston and face a Northwestern team coming off of a bye week. Michigan State's playmaking defense has recorded 12 interceptions this fall; Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa has thrown only two in 177 pass attempts.

Penn State (3-3, 0-2) at Minnesota (1-6, 0-3): Interim coach Jeff Horton leads Minnesota for the first time against a Penn State team coming off of a much-needed bye week. It will be interesting to see if Penn State can regroup a bit and get its offense going against a Gophers defense that allows a Big Ten-high 31.7 points a game. Gophers quarterback Adam Weber takes aim at a Penn State defense missing several starters because of injury.

Purdue (4-2, 2-0) at No. 10 Ohio State (6-1, 2-1): Purdue is one of those teams that always plays Ohio State tough, but the Buckeyes might have steam coming out of their ears for this one. Ohio State won't overlook Purdue again after last year's loss in West Lafayette, and the Buckeyes are doubly mad after stumbling last week at Wisconsin. Henry is 2-0 as Purdue's starter, but he'll be tested at The Shoe.

Indiana (4-2, 0-2) at Illinois (3-3, 1-2): Illinois has gotten through the toughest stretch of its season, but it still needs three more wins to become bowl eligible. Indiana notched its only Big Ten victory against the Illini last year and has really struggled to get over the hump in league play. Ben Chappell and Indiana's high-powered pass attack goes up against an improved Illinois defense.

No. 13 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1) at No. 15 Iowa (5-1, 2-0): Two rivals with a lot of similarities meet in a showcase game at Kinnick Stadium. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema recorded the signature win he needed against Ohio State, but he also must show he can beat elite teams away from Camp Randall Stadium. Bielema heads back to his alma mater and faces an Iowa team that begins a stretch of marquee matchups on its home field.

Bye: Michigan (5-2, 1-2)

Week 7 review/Week 8 preview

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
2:07
PM ET
There was nothing more significant that happened in Week 7 than the neck injury to Rutgers' Eric LeGrand. It's devastating, and fans from all schools have been sending in their prayers and condolences.

On to more trivial matters, as we review the games and action from the week.

Team of the week: Pittsburgh. The Panthers haven't had much reason to celebrate this season, but a 31-point road win against a Syracuse team that was jacked up on confidence will do the trick. Pitt fumbled away its nonconference opportunities, but it would be foolish to count this team out of the Big East race.

[+] EnlargeArmon Binns
Jim Owens/Icon SMICincinnati receiver Armon Binns had three touchdown catches against Louisville.
Best game: Cincinnati's 35-27 win against Louisville was far and away the most entertaining game of the week in the Big East. It was a shootout in the first half, as the Cardinals took a 24-21 lead into the locker room. The scoring slowed down in the second half, but there were many big plays, big performances and an exciting finish.

Biggest play: Robert Sands' interception of South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels in the final minute before halftime of West Virginia's 20-6 win on Thursday. The pick set up a Mountaineers' score right before intermission to make it 17-3 and put the game on ice. Lesson to USF coach Skip Holtz: Never let Daniels pass near the end of the half while in his own territory. That proved disastrous against both Florida and West Virginia.

Best call: The touchdown set up by the Sands play was an exciting hook-and-ladder pass that Jock Sanders lateraled to Noel Devine. Gotta give credit to Bill Stewart and Jeff Mullen for that, especially after criticizing them for the double-pass play that failed against Maryland. But, actually, my award for best call involves the first West Virginia touchdown. The Mountaineers had their big-back look with Ryan Clarke and a fullback in the I, but Geno Smith faked the handoff and found a wide open Brad Starks for a 31-yard strike. West Virginia hadn't passed much out of that formation, and it clearly caught USF off guard.

Big Man on Campus (Offense): Cincinnati receiver Armon Binns had eight catches for 175 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-clinching 62-yard score in the fourth quarter. Good to see Binns have a monster game after he'd been relatively quiet much of the year.

Big Man on Campus (Defense): West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy was burned repeatedly in last year's game against South Florida. On Thursday, he had 10 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble to prove he's no longer a weak link in the chain.

Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Pitt's Dan Hutchins averaged 50 yards on five punts and had two downed inside the 20. He also made his lone field-goal attempt, a 24-yarder.

Strangest moment: Rutgers seemingly had everything in place for a game-winning field-goal try against Army after rallying from a 17-3 deficit. Chas Dodd completed a pass to Mohamed Sanu at the Army 28 on first down. Then Dodd ran for a 2-yard loss, trying to get the ball to the middle of the field. Then Army called timeout, and Rutgers somehow got a delay of game penalty after that stoppage as Dodd couldn't find his helmet on the sideline.

Forced to run another play, Rutgers gave up a sack. And then Dodd threw an interception on fourth down, forcing overtime. Fortunately for the Scarlet Knights, they still went on to win.

"We fouled that thing up," head coach Greg Schiano said. "I've made a lot of really good, time-management decisions over 10 years, really good ones that have won games for us. That one could have lost the game for us. That's my job to take control, and that was a bonehead move by me."

Worst hangover: Syracuse. The Orange kicked away a lot of momentum and fan excitement by losing 45-14 at home to Pittsburgh on Saturday. They surely thought they had improved to the point where they wouldn't get blown out at home like that in a conference game. You could sense the resignation by the home fans, many of whom headed for the Carrier Dome exits midway through the third quarter.

Now let's look ahead to Week 8, the first week when all eight Big East teams are squaring off head-to-head in conference play (Games listed in descending order of importance/interest):

Rutgers (4-2, 1-0 Big East) at Pitt (3-3, 1-0): The only matchup featuring two teams with undefeated Big East records. Rutgers had owned this series until Pitt struck back last year. How will the Scarlet Knights react after the LeGrand injury? (ESPN3.com, Noon ET).


Connecticut (3-3, 0-1) at Louisville (3-3, 0-1): The past three games in this series have all been close, with UConn winning all three. One of these two teams will essentially be out of the Big East race by Saturday night. (ESPNU, 3:30 ET)

Syracuse (4-2, 1-1) at No. 20 West Virginia (5-1, 1-0): How do the Orange bounce back while taking on what looks like the best team in the league? Can the Mountaineers keep things rolling and avoid a letdown? (ESPN2, Noon ET)

South Florida (3-3, 0-2) at Cincinnati (3-3, 1-0): Two teams going different routes, as the Bearcats have turned it on offensively, while the Bulls continue to search for answers on that side of the ball. (ESPN2, Friday, 8 ET)

Back and forth in the ACC: Weeks 7/8

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
2:06
PM ET
Here’s a look back at Week 7 and fast-forward to Week 8:

[+] EnlargeFSU
Reid Compton/Icon SMIThe Florida State defense made it difficult for Boston College to capitalize in the red zone.
The good: Florida State’s defense. Boston College ran nine offensive plays in FSU’s red zone and came out with zero yards. Instead, it settled for three field goals and that was the difference in the game. BC ran 18 plays in Florida State territory and gained minus-2 yards. BC had 266 total yards of offense, but four plays accounted for 171 of it. Of course, you could say that BC’s offense was just bad, but we’ll save that for ...

The bad: Wake Forest’s defense. The Deacs allowed Virginia Tech a season-high 605 total yards. Darren Evans had a career day. So did receiver Dyrell Roberts. The Hokies had 49 points by the end of the first half and 35 total first downs.

The ugly: Virginia’s red zone offense. The Cavaliers were successful on just 2-of-6 trips inside the 20-yard line. The Cavaliers now rank 113th in the nation in red zone offense, coming away with touchdowns 14 times in 25 trips.

The surprise: NC State lost to ECU. North Carolina was able to beat ECU. So was Virginia Tech. NC State beat itself instead with three turnovers.

The playmaker: UNC receiver Dwight Jones. He finished with a career-high 198 receiving yards, including 119 in the first quarter, on a career-best seven catches. His previous high was 43 yards against ECU earlier this year. Jones had touchdown catches of 81 and 20 yards. He also had a 54-yard reception to the 1-yard line, which led to another touchdown. The previous high for a Tar Heel receiver against Virginia was Sam Aiken’s 179 yards in 2002.

The top three games for Week 8:

North Carolina at Miami: This is an uber-important game for Miami coach Randy Shannon’s career. A loss to UNC would likely knock the Canes out of the Top 25 and significantly hurt their chances of winning the Coastal Division title. Miami has lost three in a row to the Tar Heels.

Georgia Tech at Clemson: The star power from the 2009 ACC title game is missing, but the drama is not. The key is whether Clemson’s defense, which allowed more than 300 rushing yards in each of the past two meetings, can slow down Paul Johnson’s spread-option offense.

Maryland at Boston College: It’s an important game if either program wants to maintain any hope in the Atlantic Division race, and it’s also a chance for the Eagles to get closer to bowl eligibility. BC’s bowl hopes are not over yet -- there are definitely four winnable games remaining -- but the margin for error is quickly shrinking.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
2:00
PM ET
Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 7.

[+] EnlargeTCU
AP Photo/Jeffery WashingtonTCU (No. 5) is one of three non-AQ teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings.
The good: The non-AQ teams made history in the BCS standings with three teams ranked in the Top 10. Boise State is No. 3, TCU is No. 5 and Utah is No. 9, but the big unknown is whether any of them will have a shot at the BCS national championship game. Boise State has scored 48-plus points in three straight games. Meanwhile, TCU has allowed just one field goal in its past three games. The last team to score a touchdown on the Horned Frogs was SMU in Week 4, when Zach Line ran in from 29 yards out at the 11:24 mark. … Miami (Ohio) is en route to one of the best turnarounds from the non-AQs. The RedHawks had a thrilling 27-20 comeback win against Central Michigan and are now 4-3 after going 1-11 last season. They have a critical game at home against Ohio this Saturday, then winnable games against Buffalo, Bowling Green and Akron before closing the season at home against Temple. At 3-0, Miami is on top of the East in the MAC. … Eastern Michigan won its first game of the season. … Rice won its first conference game with a 34-31 win against rival Houston to not only grab a hold of the Bayou Bucket, but to avenge a 73-14 loss to the Cougars last season – one of the most embarrassing losses in school history.

The bad: A week after picking up its first win of the season, New Mexico State lost to Fresno State 33-10 in part because it went 1-of-13 on third downs. … Akron dropped to 0-7 after a 38-10 loss to Ohio. The Zips had six penalties, two interceptions and failed to get their run game going once again. The Zips are averaging just 15.9 points a game, ranked No. 114 in the nation. … Idaho gave up 683 yards of total offense in a loss to Louisiana Tech in yet another inconsistent performance for the Vandals. In three losses, Idaho has given up 450-plus yards of total offense. In two wins against FBS teams, Idaho is allowing 145.5 total yards a game.

The heartache, Part I: Bowling Green has lost three games this season on the final possession. The latest heartbreaker happened Saturday in a 28-27 loss to Temple. Coach Dave Clawson decided to go for the 2-point conversion and the win with no time remaining. But Matt Schilz’s pass for Calvin Wiley was broken up on the goal line. The Falcons also lost the season opener 30-27 to Troy when the Trojans kicked a field goal to win with 4 seconds left. In a 28-26 loss to Buffalo, Bryan Wright missed a 40-yard field-goal try on the final play of the game.

“There’s really two ways of looking at it,” Clawson said Monday morning on the MAC coaches call. “We’ve lost three games this year on the last play of the game. From a positive -- with as young a football team as we are and with all the new starters, we’re not that far away. On the other hand, there’s certainly a frustration level when you get in that many close games you need to find a way to win your share. A year ago we did.” Last season, the Falcons won two games by one point.

The heartache, Part II: Western Kentucky took a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter at home against ULM. What could go wrong? Well, when you have lost 25 straight games, plenty. The Hilltoppers allowed 28 unanswered points and lost 35-30 to extend the nation’s longest losing streak to 26 games. They had a similar chance to win in the 2009 finale, but blew a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter and lost 24-20 to Arkansas State.

One more helmet stickers: Colorado State nose tackle Guy Miller had a truly dominating performance in a 43-10 win against UNLV. Miller set a school record with 4 sacks, breaking the mark of four shared by 1995 WAC Defensive Player of the Year Brady Smith and Mike Bell, a consensus All-American and the No. 2 overall selection in the 1979 NFL Draft. He also broke the Mountain West record of four. Miller has started 20 straight games for the Rams and has 6 sacks on the season the most at the school since Bryan Save had seven in 2003.

A few injury items to note: Air Force has lost running back Jared Tew for six weeks with a broken fibula, putting a serious hurting on the team. Tew had been a huge part of the success of the triple-option, with 540 yards and three touchdowns this season. ... San Jose State has now lost 12 starters for the season after several more injuries in a 48-0 loss to Boise State. Leading rusher Lamon Muldrow is out after tearing his ACL, and linebacker Ryno Gonzalez (foot) is also out. LB Wade O’Neill suffered a concussion, but won’t be out for the season.

Week 8 look ahead: Plenty of good matchups this weekend from the non-AQ teams. Air Force continues its tough four-game stretch with a game at No. 5 TCU. Houston travels to SMU in a game that could shift the balance of power in the Conference USA West Division. Meanwhile, Notre Dame plays Navy. The Midshipmen have won two of the past three games against the Irish.

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