In case you fell asleep early last night (or at a reasonable hour, depending on your time zone)…
Rutgers running back Paul James rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Scarlet Knights to a 41-38 win over Washington State at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, a hugely important win for Kyle Flood as he ushers his program into the Big Ten. Rutgers, roundly picked to finish last in the Big Ten East, looked like a team capable of bowl eligibility Thursday night in the Pacific Northwest.
On Rutgers’ first play from scrimmage as a Big Ten team, Gary Nova hit Leonte Carroo for a 78-yard touchdown. But it was James who took over, rushing six times on Rutgers’ game-winning drive (that was teed up when Washington State’s River Cracraft fumbled a punt) and scoring the go-ahead touchdown.
Granted, Washington State’s defense didn’t look good, but the Cougs were a bowl team a year ago and quarterback Connor Halliday threw for 532 yards and five touchdowns. Make no mistake, this was a good win for a Rutgers program that’ll be scrapping for bowl eligibility come November.
And over in Nashville, Derek Mason’s Vanderbilt debut was a disaster. In a game that didn’t kick off until 10:50 p.m. ET due to thunderstorms in the area, Temple embarrassed the ‘Dores 37-7.
It wasn’t necessarily that Temple played well — the Owls converted two of 17 third down chances and only gained 352 yards of total offense — but it was moreso that Vanderbilt played some awful, awful football Thursday night and into Friday morning. Vanderbilt players fumbled four times while Mason cycled through three quarterbacks, who combined to throw three interceptions.
Between the 30-point loss, shocking string of turnovers, storm-delayed game and the “ANCHOR DOWN” mess, things probably couldn’t have gone worse for Mason in his first game at Vanderbilt.
Oh yeah, and this game featured the first fat guy touchdown of the year.