No. 16 Fresno State (10-1, 7-1 MWC) will not be going to a BCS bowl game this season. San Jose State (6-6, 5-3 MWC) made sure of that with a resounding and wild 62-52 victory in San Jose Friday afternoon, handing the Bulldogs their first loss of the season at the worst possible time. The win for the Spartans makes San Jose State eligible for postseason play.
Fresno State’s defense was shredded by San Jose State quarterback David Fales for 549 passing yards and six touchdowns. It was the first 500-yard game of his career for Fales. the Spartans also had three different wide receivers record at least 140 yards with Tyler Winston, Kyle Nunn and Chandler Jones all pacing the offense. The Spartans rolled up 736 yards of offense in the game. It was quite the turnaround for San Jose State as well. San Jose State lost at home in overtime last week to Navy. That loss meant San Jose State had to win this week to gain postseason eligibility and to do that against the top team in the conference.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr did just about everything you could have wanted him to do with a potential BCS bid within sight. Carr completed 38 pass attempts for 519 yards and six touchdowns. Receiver Davanta Adams accounted for 264 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Fresno State had been chasing Northern Illinois for an automatic BCS invite despite playing in a conference without an automatic bid. Ranking in the top 16 of the BCS standings and ahead of a conference champion from a conference with an automatic bid was what Fresno State needed, but that is far out of reach this late in the season no matter what happens in next week’s Mountain West Conference championship game, which will be hosted by Fresno State. Northern Illinois completed a 12-0 regular season and now is likely one win away from clinching a second straight BCS trip if they can win the MAC Championship Game against Bowling Green next week in Detroit. The Huskies played Florida State in last year’s Orange Bowl. Northern Illinois needs to stay ranked ahead of Central Florida, who can wrap up the American Athletic Conference championship tonight with a win against South Florida.
Fresno State will host either Utah State or Boise State in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game next week. If Utah State wins their home game against Wyoming, they will advance to the conference championship game. A loss to Wyoming by Utah State would set up a rematch between Fresno State and Boise State. Fresno State defeated Boise State earlier this season in Fresno, 41-40.
Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.
Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.
In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.
On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.
The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.
While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well. In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.
Just in time for their toughest stretch of the season, No. 8 Wisconsin may be without one of the team’s most important defensive players.
Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is set to miss the next several weeks after undergoing surgery to insert a screw in his cracked foot.
“He’s been playing on it for the last couple weeks, and it was bothering him a little bit,” Biegel’s father Rocky told ESPN. “He had X-rays last night and confirmed it was cracked. He either plays on it, and then if he breaks it, then he’s going to be out for eight weeks. Either way, he’s got to have surgery on it. So he can keep playing until it breaks or try to go through the season with it and try to fix it. At any time, he could break it all the way through. It was just a crack and they’re just putting a screw in it. It’s a very, very minor crack.”
No matter how minor it is, losing Biegel for as long as a month is a huge blow to a defense that has been among the best in the country this season. Wisconsin does have a bye week after traveling to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday but also have to play No. 2 Ohio State and division rivals Iowa and Nebraska to close out October.
Biegel has nine tackles on the year and a sack but is among the most experienced players on the team having played in 46 games at Wisconsin, including 32 starts. Redshirt freshman Zack Baun is expected to take his place.
If there is one bright spot for head coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox however, it’s that the Badgers’ linebacking corp is one of the best in the country. Still, as good as Jack Cichy, T.J. Edwards and T.J. Watt have been this year, they’ll have to step up their games with an imposing schedule coming up.
Houston is looking to avenge their only loss of the 2015 season on Thursday night against Connecticut but the Cougars will have to do so a little short-handed.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the team is down a whopping four starters and a key backup against the Huskies: starting linebackers Tyus Bowser (head injury) and Matthew Adams (coaches’ decision), running back Duke Catalon (head injury), cornerback Brandon Wilson (lower leg) plus backup tight end Alex Leslie (ankle injury).
Catalon has already missed a game this season and is arguably the biggest loss for the team as that will force them to rely on quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (who missed last year’s game) even more against UConn. The transfer from Texas is averaging 4.7 yards a carry on the year and had a big game against Oklahoma in the opener.
Coach Tom Herman and the sixth-ranked Cougars still should be able handle their business at home against a conference foe but the mounting injuries this early in the season are starting to get a little concerning if you’re a Houston fan.
Despite the wishes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide depth chart officially became a little thinner on Thursday.
After nearly a day of speculation, Alabama announced that quarterback Blake Barnett is no longer a part of the Crimson Tide football team.
“We received word this afternoon that Blake Barnett has officially withdrawn from school and is no longer with our program,” Saban said in a statement. “The quarterback position is a very unique position where only one player can play. We are very disappointed any time a player leaves the program who feels he can compete for a starting position elsewhere, rather than here at Alabama. We wish Blake the very best of luck in the future.”
Barnett started the opener against USC and has thrown for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the year. However the redshirt freshman lost the starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts and has only played sparingly in the first month of the season.
Saban recently said he wanted Barnett to remain with the program but it seems pretty obvious that playing time would be limited as the team’s backup signal-caller and a transfer would be forthcoming. Now it appears the only question is where to for the former five-star recruit, who is a Southern California native and was recruited by nearly everybody coming out of high school.