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The Fifth Quarter: Week 2 Rewind


As is always the case every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.


The United States of America
Exactly 10 years ago today, this great country of ours fell victim to the most devastating terrorist attack in the nation’s history.  There will be many ceremonies, remembrances and vigils honoring the memories of the thousands lost that day, and the thousands lost in the wars and conflicts that followed.  Needless to say, it was significant blow to the country, and its effects are still being felt 3,650 days later.  The thing is, they may have knocked those towers down, they may have staggered us for a bit, but we’re still here.  Why?  Because that’s what we do.  And that’s how we honor those lost in the despicable, cowardly attack, by never, ever giving up and never allowing those that want to bring us down to reach their objective.  So, as you go about your day today, watching the start of the NFL season and/or replaying Week 2 of the college season, take a minute or two to say a little prayer for the lives lost that day and the countless family members affected every day since by their loss.  And never, ever forget that day.

Now THAT is an instant classic
Ben did an excellent job recapping the epic first night game in the history of Michigan Stadium, but we’d be remiss in not at least mentioning the instant classic between Notre Dame and Michigan.  Quite honestly, though, I’m not exactly sure what the hell it was I witnessed.  I know it was historic; three touchdowns in the final 1:12 of the game — including Michigan’s winning score with two seconds left — screams once-in-a-generation finish.  Other than that?  I don’t know.  For the second straight game, Notre Dame put up over 500 yards of offense — and lost.   Of course, five turnovers, the bane of the Irish the first two games, will tend to negate chunks of yardage being gained, regardless of how huge they are.  The Irish entered the fourth quarter with a 24-7 lead — and were promptly outscored 28-7 in the fourth to lose 35-31.  So, should we remember it as an Irish collapse of epic proportions or a comeback for the ages for the Wolverines?  I don’t know about you, but I’ll simply remember it as one helluva college football game.

It’s over, Nicky; it’s over!
We stumped after last week’s opener for Nick Saban to pull the trigger and name A.J. McCarron as his starting quarterback going into the game with No. 23 Penn State and beyond.  That didn’t really happen — McCarron did start, though —  but, headed out of the game with the Nittany Lions, there’s no reason to delay the inevitable — McCarron has earned the right to be No. 3 Alabama’s starter at QB for the foreseeable future. McCarron didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, but he did complete over 60 percent of his passes for nearly 200 yards, a touchdown and, most importantly, zero interceptions in the 27-11 win.  In fact, McCarron may actually have locked up the starting job without Saban saying a word publicly; backup Phillip Sims, who split series evenly with McCarron against Kent State, did not attempt a single pass, thus signaling that this really is McCarron’s team.  Well, for now, at least.

Well-deserved Bray-se for Vols QB
When Tyler Bray wasn’t even named third-team All-SEC in the preseason, we were one of a handful of people who openly questioned the logic surrounding the voting.  Saturday, Bray made me look like a genius.  Or less of a dolt.  One of the two, anyway, as all Bray did was throw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in Tennessee’s 45-23 win over Cincinnati.  The best part of the performance?  It allowed the Vols to open the season at 2-0, the first time that’s happened since 2006.  It also shows that, despite a rocky start on, um, Rocky Top, Derek Dooley and his coaching staff may finally have the UT football program headed in the right direction.  Especially with the caliber of player under center they’ll have for the next couple of years.

The real (next) McCoy
For a season plus a couple of games, Texas fans have been calling for the head of quarterback Garrett Gilbert on a platter, silver or not.   Longhorn Nation got their wish Saturday.  And a win as well.  After struggling yet again — two interceptions in eight attempts — Gilbert was yanked during the second quarter of UT’s game with BYU and replaced by a combination of Case McCoy, brother of Colt, and David Ash.  The passing duo combined to complete 9-of-11 passes for 92 yards and no picks.  The No. 24 Longhorns scored all of their points in the 17-16 win with McCoy and Ash in control of the offense.  It’s expected McCoy will start next week against UCLA, with Ash once again serving as the change-of-pace option at the position.

Fat Guy Heisman’s in the bag
One of my greatest joys in watching the game of football is a fat guy — an offensive or defensive lineman — scoring a touchdown.  When one of them single-handedly scores two of them in one game, and does it the way Melvin Ingram did in No. 12 South Carolina’s 45-42 win over Georgia?  That’s Christmas in summertime, my friends.  Ingram’s second TD was a rather ho-hum affair, a five-yard fumble return for a score.  His first one, however, was the stuff legends are made of.  On a fourth-and-17 from their own 32, Steve Spurrier called for a fake punt — for Ingram.  All the 280-pound lineman did was rumble 68 yards for a score that gave the Gamecocks a 14-13 lead, showing moves that belied his rather large frame.  We don’t know what’s the most amazing part of that score — the fact that it was a defensive lineman doing the scoring or the fact that Spurrier had the testicular fortitude to call a fake punt from his own 32-yard line.  And call it for a fat guy.

Happy bicentennial, coach!
It likely wasn’t prettier than but a handful of the previous 199, but No. 11 Virginia Tech’s 17-10 win over East Carolina still counts as the 200th in the underappreciated Hokies career of Frank Beamer.  While the Hokies outgained the Pirates by a nearly three-to-one margin in total yards, they committed two turnovers and committed 12 penalties — to just one for ECU — in the sloppy affair.  Still, a win is a win is a win and the 200th for Beamer, who deflected the postgame praise he received. “Like I said all week, I’m a fortunate guy to have had a lot of good people around me,” Beamer said. “And the school hung with me when things weren’t so good.

Loser gets the trophy though, right?
When it came to the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry, all of the talk the last month was about the God-awful trophy that was thankfully replaced on an interim basis by this.  Even more thankfully, there was a helluva football game that pushed trophy discussion even further in the background.  In a three-overtime thriller, the Cyclones were on the winning end of a 44-41 score over the Hawkeyes.  One of the greatest names to ever play the quarterback position, Steele Jantz, led the way for ISU’s improbable victory, throwing for 279 yards and four touchdowns

That’s just a pane in the glass
We touched on this earlier, but if this isn’t a winner I don’t know what is.  Short recap, then the clip: Auburn’s eagle Spirit attempted — and completed — a head butt of a luxury box’s window during its ritual flight into Jordan-Hare Stadium ahead of the game with No. 16 Mississippi State.  And lived to tell about it.  Here’s the visual proof:

AARPers unite!
Last week, a 17-year-old quarterback from Louisiana Tech earned a spot in the winners portion of The Fifth Quarter.  This week, we head to the extreme opposite end of the age spectrum to find another winner .  In NAIA Faulkner’s season opener, 61-year-old Alan Moore became the oldest player in the history of college football to play in a game.  Moore, who has five grandchildren, attempted and made an extra point in the game.  In a fitting coincidence on the 10th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, Moore is a Vietnam vet whose first collegiate football career was cut short by that war.


Good guy, big trouble
Right or wrong, the 45-42 home loss to South Carolina has ratcheted up the pressure on Georgia’s Mark Richt.  And cranked up the temperature of his hot seat exponentially.  Granted, the Bulldogs opened up the season against No. 5 (Now No. 4) Boise State and No. 12 South Carolina, but that will do little to stop the board members dressed in wolves clothing from howling outside UGA’s doors.  Especially after last year’s 6-7 mark.  And after the first 0-2 start of Richt’s tenure.  The schedule certainly allows for a turnaround — the next two games are against Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss, and their highest-ranked opponent left is No. 16 (for now) Mississippi State — that could very well turn the jeers raining down on the Bulldogs Saturday into cheers by season’s end.  Whether because of an easier schedule or better play or a combination of both, something needs to happen between now and the end of November to ensure a 12th season in Athens.

The wailing and gnashing of lost bets could be heard for miles…
Leading 17-14 with 11 seconds left in the first-ever Pac-12 conference game, USC blocked the potential game-tying field goal and returned it for a the win-sealing touchdown.  The score was initially disallowed as the Trojans were penalized when the team poured onto the field immediately after the block.  No big deal, though, as the Trojans won the game anyway, right?  If you didn’t have money on the game, right.  If you did, it could’ve been very, very wrong.  The spread for the game closed with USC as anywhere between 7.5 and nine point favorites.  At first, those degenerates that took USC and gave up the points were out some cash as the Trojans didn’t cover without the score.  Then, over an hour after the game had ended, the Pac-12 announced that the TD did indeed count and the final score would be 23-14.  So, while some of those that took USC and gave up the points were ecstatic with the reversal and a win or a push, those that took the Utes and the points suddenly found the fresh cash they thought they’d won ripped from their pockets.  Don’t know about you, but I’ll bet they weren’t happy.

Woeful against Wofford
Clemson 35, Wofford 27.  When you’re in a BcS conference and you barely escape against a Div. 1-AA school — at home, no less — by a margin of a touchdown and two-point conversion, you land square in the middle of the “Losers” bracket of The Fifth Quarter.  The Tigers may be 2-0, but the seat on which head coach Dabo Swinney‘s backside resides is quietly getting warm to the touch (we’ve heard)(not that there’s anything wrong with that).   And it doesn’t get any better for Clemson next week; after unimpressive performances against schools from the Sun Belt Conference and 1-AA, the Tigers will welcome a suddenly rejuvenated Auburn Tigers football team into Death Valley Saturday.

Katz gotta hurt
Entering the 2011 season, Ryan Katz was the unquestioned leader of the Oregon State offense.  Two games and two embarrassing losses into the new year, Katz is apparently on the outside of the huddle looking in as the Beavers appear to have given the keys of the offense over to Sean Mannion.  As noted by Ben in the aftermath of the bludgeoning, Katz was used very sparingly in the drubbing at the hands of No. 8 Wisconsin, while Mannion by most accounts acquitted himself well despite the 35-0 loss.  By all appearances, it will be Mannion under center for the foreseeable future as the Beavers attempt to turnaround what’s been a horrendous start to the season.

Michigan State specifically, mankind as a whole
“But the No. 17 Spartans easily downed FAU 44-0,” you say.   Then you learn that The Situation from Jersey Shore infamy, per MSU athletic director Mark Hollis, has decided to be a Spartans fan this season and was on the sidelines for Saturday’s game.  Honestly, there are no winners in this sobering development.

Commonwealth of Kentucky football
Friday night, Louisville was embarrassed by Florida International of the Sun Belt in a loss.  Saturday afternoon, Kentucky was being embarrassed by Central Michigan of the MAC — the Wildcats were outgained 383-344 — before pulling away for the 27-13 win in the second half.  Next weekend, Louisville and Kentucky will play their annual in-state rivalry game.  Why is an image of a couple of first-grade girls pulling each other’s hair on the playground popping into my head when I think of what that clash will look like?

You’re not going to count the individual and team statistics from the weather-shortened Michigan-Western Michigan game opening weekend, but you’re going to count the win for the Wolverines?  Really, NCAA?  The again, this is The Association we’re talking about, so never mind.  Makes perfect sense.  Carry on.


— Minnesota suffered a scare very late in its 28-21 loss to New Mexico State as head coach Jerry Kill suddenly collapsed on the sideline.  After being tended to by medical personnel and taken to a local hospital, the first-year coach was listed in stable condition after suffering what the school described as a seizure.  Kill is expected to make a complete recovery.

— Starting quarterback Tyler Wilson was knocked out of No. 14 Arkansas’ 52-3 win over New Mexico with concussion-like symptoms.  The injury is not to believed to be serious enough to keep him off the field in the ensuing weeks, but it bears noting and keeping an eye on.

— After carrying the ball twice in the first quarter, Florida running back Jeff Demps left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.  It’s not like the No. 18 Gators needed his services any further, however, as UF rolled to a 39-0 win over UAB.

— Is Washington State on the rise?  At least offensively they appear to be.  In the first two games of the 2011 season, Wazzu has scored 123 points; in 2010, Wazzu didn’t reach that point total until the third quarter of their sixth game.  Of course, they’ve faced Div. 1-AA Idaho State and should-be-Div. 1-AA UNLV, but still.  Where this program’s been for the past few years, they’ll take any sunshine amid the clouds they can get.

– On ESPN‘s College Gameday show, Kirk Herbstreit picked Cincinnati to go down to Knoxville and beat Tennessee.  Herbstreit, who left his lifelong home in Columbus in part because of the way he was treated by a small portion of Ohio State fans, now lives in Tennessee.

— Penn State burned their third timeout with 9:23 remaining in the first quarter of their loss to Alabama.  We’re certain there’s some kind of Joe-Pa/age joke in there somewhere, but we’ll just let it go and move on.

— The first night game in the history of Michigan Stadium drew 114,804 fans, a new school record.


— In two games as a Wisconsin Badger, Russell Wilson has completed 79.4 percent of his passes and thrown five touchdown passes versus zero interceptions.  There’s a reason why Wilson’s “free-agent” acquisition this offseason was hailed in many corners as a potential title-winning move.  Those numbers added to that running game and defense are it.

— In Colorado’s 36-33 non-conference loss in overtime over conference foe Cal –don’t ask — quarterback Tyler Hansen threw for a school-record 474 yards, while wide receiver Paul Richardson set another school mark with 282 yards receiving.  All the prolific passing aside, the Buffs are 0-2.  An exciting winless team, but winless nonetheless under first-year head coach Jon Embree.

— Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas tied a school record with six touchdown passes, including five in the first half, in the No. 13 Ducks’ 69-20 rebound rout of Nevada.  Thomas also threw for nearly 300 yards (295) and rushed for 81 yards on just eight carries in the win.

— In Michigan’s 35-31 thriller over Notre Dame, quarterback Denard Robinson passed for 338 yards — on just 11 completions.

— Unbelievably, Notre Dame has committed five turnovers inside the opponent’s five-yard line in two games this season.  Again, five turnovers inside the other team’s five; that rarely happens in one season let alone a pair of games.  All told, the Irish have committed a combined nine turnovers in games 1 & 2.

– Under no significant pressure, and with absolutely perfect weather conditions, Oregon State’s Johnny Hekker punted a fully-inflated football minus-four yards in the first quarter of the Beavers’ loss to Wisconsin.

— Tight end B.J. Cunningham‘s first-quarter catches gave him 149 for his career, setting the all-time Michigan State record.  He finished the game five catches, giving him 153 for his career.

— Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael threw for career highs of 361 yards and five touchdowns in Wazzu’s 59-7 win over UNLV. And, yes, I included this note just so I could type the name “Lobbestael”.

— I know this is non-Div. 1-A, but it’s worth noting: Jim Tressel‘s old stomping grounds, Youngstown State, scored 63 points — in the first half.  The Penguins went on to beat Valparaiso 77-13.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.