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The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

Oklahoma State v Florida State Getty Images

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

THUMBS UP

Shaky title defense begins
Last year, Florida State rolled over, through and around its regular season opponents by an average score of 53-10, with their “closest” call being a 48-34 win over Boston College on the road in Week 5.  They did not score less than 41 points in any game, and allowed more than 17 points just once.  Based on the opener, the Seminoles won’t be steamrolling through its 2014 slate.  At first it looked as if it would be lather, rinse and repeat as the Seminoles jumped out to a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter.  Then  reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston began misfiring — two interceptions, just over 60-percent completion percentage — and the Cowboys outscored the ‘Noles 31-20 the rest of the way.  It wasn’t enough to dig out of that big early hole, however, as FSU extended its winning streak to a nation’s best 17 straight while Winston threw for 370 yards on an “off” night.  It did, though, offer some teachable moments for a coach looking to ensure his team doesn’t suffer through a post-title malaise as the ‘Noles go from being the hunter to the hunted.

Super Mario
Marcus Mariota has already been recognized as one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in Oregon history.  Now, the record books officially backup that stance.  In the Ducks’ season-opening romp over South Dakota, Mariota passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns, running for one other score — and setting or tying two school career standards and getting closer to a third in the process.  Mariota now has 82 career touchdowns (66 passing, 15 rushing, one receiving), breaking the tie he had been in with Joey Harrington. He’s also now tied with Darron Thomas for career passing touchdowns (66) and is within 22 yards (8,140 to 8,119) of breaking Bill Musgrave‘s record for total offense.  Suffice to say, Mariota, one of the preseason Heisman favorites, will break both those latter marks at some point during the Ducks’ highly-anticipated showdown with Michigan State next Saturday.

This one’s for you, bro
Early last November, Carl Pelini “resigned” as FAU’s head coach amidst drug allegations that were later recanted.  Nine months later, Pelini’s younger brother gave birth to a little bit of payback.  Saturday in Lincoln, Bo Pelini‘s Nebraska Cornhuskers pummeled FAU by the score of 55-7.  NU totaled a Big Ten-record 779 yards of offense — the most for the ‘Huskers since 1991 — and included 493 on the ground.  Ameer Abdullah ran for 227 of those yards, a career-high performance, while Tommie Armstrong passed for a personal-best 271 yards.  It won’t get the elder Pelini his job back with the Owls, but his former team’s evisceration could provide him with a little satisfaction.

Everett the Redeemer
Nearly everyone by now is aware of the Everett Golson story: led Notre Dame to the BCS title game in 2012 in his first season as a starter, then was (temporarily) kicked out of school after cheating on an exam.  Golson’s Redemption Tour commenced in earnest when he was readmitted in December, ramped up when he was officially named as the Irish’s starting quarterback earlier this month, and went into another gear thanks to his performance in the 2014 opener.  In the first half alone against Rice, Golson passed for 222 yards and accounted for all four of ND’s touchdowns — two passing, including a 75 and 53 yarders, as well as a pair on the ground.  Golson finished with 295 yards passing — second-most in his career — and five touchdowns as he added a second-half rushing score in the 31-point romp over the Owls.  If Golson can continue to shake off the rust and find his 2012 form, the Irish could be one of the teams that make noise in the postseason.

Fight or flight? No question for Trojans
It’s been, to say the least, a rough last week for the USC football program off the field, from a senior captain admitting he lied about an act of heroism to another senior calling his now-former head coach a racist.  On the field, however, the Men of Troy have found some solace.  In the first game of the Steve Sarkisian era Saturday night, the Trojans took out all of their lingering frustrations on an overmatched Fresno State squad by the score of 52-13.  Quarterback Cody Kessler passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns… in the first half alone.  The offense ultimately rolled up 704 yards of offense on 104 plays, the latter of which set a Pac-12 record.  The defense, meanwhile, held the Bulldogs to 326 yards and forced four turnovers.  It was an impressive performance all-around, especially when viewed through the prism of the storm clouds hanging over the program’s head.

No Gurley man
When healthy, Todd Gurley is the unquestioned best running back in the country.  The Georgia junior is now healthy, meaning his talents were on full display in the season opener.  In the 45-21 win over Clemson, all Gurley did was rush for a career-high 198 yards on just 15 carries, scoring three touchdowns in the process.  For good measure, he returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score, giving him a school-record 293 total yards (he caught one pass for minus-five yards).  If Gurley can stay clean medically, there’s little doubt he will be — at least, he should be — in the thick of the Heisman discussion throughout the season.

Bruin an offensive defense
In what was a first-ever occurrence, all 21 of UCLA’s first-half points came from the defense: two interception returns (Ishmael Adams 20 yards, Eric Kendricks 37 yards) and one fumble return (Randall Goforth 75 yards).  In fact, all three of those defensive touchdowns came in the second quarter, the first time that’s ever happened in a game featuring two Power-Five conference teams.  It was a good thing the defense came to play in Charlottesville, though, as the Bruins’ offense was apparently still on West Coast time, outgained by the Cavaliers 245-136 through the first two quarters.  The Bruins didn’t score its first offensive touchdown until just over a minute was left in the third quarter and held on for a 28-20 win.

Grin and Barrett
In his first game at the collegiate level, J.T. Barrett had his ups.  And his downs.  In other words, he played like your typical redshirt freshman quarterback.  In Ohio State’s closer-than-it-looked 34-17 win over Navy, Barrett was efficient as he completed 12-of-15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.  One of those incompletions, though, was a poorly thrown interception as the Buckeyes were driving for a score in the red zone.  On the other hand, Barrett was the team’s leading rusher (50 yards on nine carries).  Said head coach Urban Meyer, “I thought J.T. did OK. He was good. I never felt he was rattled.” Barrett appeared to grow more comfortable as the game progressed and it didn’t appear the game was bigger than him, which bodes well for an OSU team that, despite the loss of Braxton Miller, still holds playoff aspirations.

Berkeley resurrection
It’s just one game, but, after last season, it’s a cause for celebration.  Entering the 2014 season on one of the hotter coaching seats in the country, Sonny Dykes watched Saturday as his Cal Golden Bears jumped out to a big 31-7 lead on Northwestern and then hung on for a 31-24 win in Evanston.  It was Cal’s first win against an FBS team since Oct. 13, 2012 and snapped an overall nine-game losing streak.  This game could certainly be used as a measuring stick of the progress the Bears have made; last year in Berkeley, the Wildcats tripped up the Bears, who were en route to a one-win season, by two touchdowns.  Whether this portends a big turnaround for the Cal football program remains to be seen, but it certainly was a good start after the train wreck that was the 2013 season.

One tough zebra
As hard as they try, football officials sometimes inadvertently become physically involved in a play during the normal course of a game.  The latest example?  During the first half of the Southern Miss-Mississippi State game, back judge Kenny Long got up close and personal with a pair of Bulldog defensive backs:

 

Aside from a couple of nicks and cuts, Long was fine and continued officiating for the remainder of the game.

Beware the Mighty Bison!
When will FBS teams learn?  For the fifth straight season, FCS-level North Dakota State has knocked off an FBS football team, with Iowa State becoming the Bison’s latest victims thanks to a 34-14 beating in Ames.  NDSU actually trailed 14-0 early in the second quarter before ripping off 34 straight points in ISU’s humiliation.  The fact that the Bison pushed around one of the big boys from a Power Five conference is far from surprising — or at least should’ve been.  Despite losing its head coach to Wyoming, NDSU is the FCS preseason No. 1 and have won the last three championships (2011-13) at that level. The Bison have won 24 straight and 43 of their last 45, including a season-opening 24-21 win over Kansas State in 2013; a 22-7 win over Colorado State in 2012; a 2011 win over Minnesota by the score of 37-24; and, finally, a 6-3 win over Kansas in the 2010 opener. All of those wins against FBS teams, including Saturday’s, came on the road.  If FBS teams are looking for an FCS cupcake, might I suggest North Dakota instead of North Dakota State?

Idaho v Florida

Will Muschamp

THUMBS DOWN

Mother Nature
The weather did its damnedest to interrupt at least a couple of games opening weekend.  Very early in the fourth quarter of the Arkansas-Auburn game, the game was delayed after severe thunderstorms, replete with lightning, moved into the area.  That contest was delayed for more nearly an hour and a half before play resumed.  A few hundred miles east of The Plains, the start of the Idaho-Florida game was delayed for nearly three hours due to weather… and then was delayed again shortly after kickoff… and then ultimately prompted the cancellation of the game.  How significant was the rain in The Swamp?  See for yourself:

Elevator from hell
Somewhat surprisingly — OK, very surprisingly — Arkansas entered the locker room tied with Auburn 21-all at the half.  The Razorbacks were winless in SEC play last year, while the Tigers won the conference on their way to the BCS title game.  After the half, however, the game reverted to the expected form as AU scored the last 24 points to run away with the win.  So, what happened during that 15-minute break that turned the tide?

Of course, the faulty Otis wasn’t responsible for what became a blowout, but the assistants not being able to work with their position groups certainly didn’t help matters.

QB play from hell
It’s not a stretch to say that North Texas set quarterback play 50-plus years with the display it put on Saturday.  During Texas’ 38-7 win in the first game under Charlie Strong, two Mean Green quarterbacks — Andrew McNulty and Josh Greer — combined to complete 3-of-17 passes for 15 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions.  That performance works out to a minus-22.9 quarterback rating.  I don’t know if that was the worst collective rating of all-time, but I would think it wouldn’t take long to call that particular roll.

Embarrassing Orange win
Yes, Syracuse’s record stands at 1-0 on the season.  That, though, is where the highlights end.  Friday night, the Orange was taken to double overtime by Villanova before outlasting the FCS team by the count of 27-26.  The Wildcats outgained the Orange 389-320 and possessed the ball for nearly 38 of the 60 minutes in regulation.  Not only was ‘Cuse the lesser of the two teams in nearly every category — aside from the one that counts — but its starting quarterback, Terrel Hunt, was ejected late in the second quarter for throwing a punch.  Not in any way, shape or form was the game in general or that incident specifically a good look, Scott Shafer.

Rocky Mountain low
This was the year Colorado was expected to get it together under Mike MacIntyre, turning the woebegone football program around and get it headed in the right direction.  While that may ultimately be the case, you sure couldn’t tell it from the opener.  Trailing 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, Colorado State scored 17 unanswered points to upset their rivals 31-17 in the Rocky Mountain Showdown.  In fact, after CU took a 17-7 lead with almost 10 minutes left in the third quarter, CSU outscored the Buffs 24-0 the rest of the game.  It was a difficult and disappointing end for a team that entered 2014 with semi-high hopes.

Woofpack
(Waiting for the groans to subside… still waiting… and we’re good)  Entering halftime, North Carolina State trailed Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt 17-3.  The Wolfpack trailed 20-10 entering the fourth quarter.  Thanks to a pair of touchdowns, including one with 1:37 remaining in the game, NCSU was able to fend off what would’ve been an embarrassing season-opening loss to a Sun Belt school for Dave Doeren and company.  The game did, though, signal that this could be a long season for the Wolfpack if they don’t step up their level of play in a hurry as three of their first four ACC games are against Florida State, Clemson and Louisville.

FBS vs. FCS
Of the 84 games that have been or will be played during Week 1, a whopping 50 of them featured FBS vs. FCS matchups.  And, as expected, it was mainly a diet of lopsided wins for the big boys.  Aside from North Dakota State’s deconstruction of Iowa State and Bethune-Cookman’s two point win over FIU, FBS teams won 48 of those contests.  Of those 48 wins, just 11 were decided by 10 points or less.  Additionally, Power Five conferences played members of the Non-Power Five leagues in 17 games over the past three days; the Power-Five conferences have gone 14-3 thus far, with Utah State-Tennessee and SMU-Baylor still to be played Sunday.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

No. 1 Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31:  Maybe OSU should’ve been ranked in the Top 25 to start the season?  The Cowboys took the defending BCS champions to the limit, coming back from a 17-0 deficit late in the second quarter to scare the Seminoles opening weekend.

West Virginia v Alabama

West Virginia v Alabama

– No. 2 Alabama 33, West Virginia 23: Out of all of the surprising results from opening weekend, this is easily one of the most surprising.  The Tide entered this game as anywhere from 21- to 27-point favorites, but the Mountaineers hung with them throughout.  At the half, the Tide held a scant three-point lead.  UA stretched that lead to 10 early in the third quarter, with WVU never able to get closer than seven the remainder of the game.

– No. 5 Ohio State 34 , Navy 17: The final score indicated an easy romp for OSU, but it was far from it.  Playing without Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes were trailing the service academy 7-6 at the half, looking very much like an offense that had lost its linchpin.  Navy held a one-point lead until late in the third quarter when the Buckeyes scored the first of their three touchdowns in a span of 17 minutes to win going away.

No. 7 UCLA 28, Virginia 20: As noted above, it’s a good thing the Bruins’ defense showed up as the offense managed just seven points and 358 yards against the woeful Cavaliers, winners of just two games last season and six the previous two.

– No. 18 Ole Miss 35, Boise State 13: The Rebels exited the third quarter with a scant 7-6 lead… and then pulled away with 28 fourth-quarter points, with three of the scores coming on touchdown passes from quarterback Bo Wallace.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Florida State — Yes, a six-point win after rolling through every regular-season opponent by at least 14 points last year pales in comparison.  This, though, was arguably the toughest team on FSU’s schedule, which means the Seminoles, as they were at the start of the season, the heavy favorite to repeat as champs in the first year of the CFP.
Next up: vs. the Citadel Sept. 6

2. Oregon —  How much can you learn from what essentially amounted to a season-opening scrimmage in which the Ducks pounded FCS-level South Dakota 62-13?  Not a whole heck of a lot actually, so let’s move on.
Next up: vs. Michigan State Sept. 6

3. Texas A&M — Based on that 52-28 beating of South Carolina in Columbia Thursday night, how can A&M not be rated among the five best teams in college football after the first weekend?  CFT may have snubbed the Aggies in our preseason Top 25, but that won’t happen here.  For a team to be able to say “Johnny Football who?” after just one game, it seems destined for what most would consider a surprise season based on all of the attrition the past several months.
Next up: vs. Lamar Sept. 6

4. Alabama — It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win is a win.  The offense did rack up 538 yards of offense, while the defense limited West Virginia to just 28 yards on the ground in 24 carries.  There were, however, issues in the secondary yet again that must be corrected if the Tide is planning on making the expected postseason noise.
Next up: vs. FAU Sept. 6

5. Oklahoma — With Ohio State struggling with Navy for most of the game, the Sooners slide into the inaugural Top Five.  While it’s hard to judge OU based on one performance against overmatched Louisiana Tech, and unlike OSU, the Sooners did exactly what they’re supposed to do: stepped on an inferior opponent’s neck and didn’t let up until the last second ticked off the fourth-quarter clock.
Next up: at Tulsa Sept. 6

Jordan Westerkamp, Christian Milstead

Jordan Westerkamp

HE SAID IT
“I’ve coached a lot of football, but I’ve never seen that one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. That one’s hard to explain. To even have the wherewithal to put your hands back there, it’s amazing. I’ve always said, he catches everything that’s near him. He showed that right there.” — Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, on Jordan Westerkamp‘s behind-the-back catch (see below).

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I told him, ‘Do you. Don’t try to go out there and do nothing that you don’t do and try to be like (Braxton Miller) or anything. Just go out there and do you.’ When you do you, that’s when you’re the most comfortable so that’s what I told him.” — Ohio State running back Dontre Wilson, on his message to first-time starting quarterback J.T. Barrett.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“It’s a huge win. I can’t tell you how happy I am for the people of Colorado State University. Those kids in that locker room prepared to go win a football game like a good team should. There wasn’t any talking or any of that stuff; they just went out and played good football the way Colorado State Rams should.” — Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain, after watching his CSU Rams embarrass in-state rival Colorado.

HE SAID IT. THE QUADQUEL
“The guy’s a really good coach, now. Y’all need to fess up to that.” — Alabama head coach Nick Saban, on much-maligned offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“I would say we played better than them. I don’t know if we’re the better team but if you looked at this game, I thought we played better. … The best team doesn’t always win in overtime.” — Villanova head coach Andy Talley said following his team’s double-overtime loss to Syracuse.

CATCH OF THE DAY
Forget Catch of the Day; this beauty from Nebraska’s Jordan Westerkamp may end up being the Catch of the Year after just one week.

 

“It was a crazy play,” the player said in quotes distributed by the school. “I ran a corner route and I saw the ball get tipped, so I put my hands back and the ball just landed perfectly.”

You, Mr. Westerkamp, are officially ridiculous.  What, the Hail Mary last year wasn’t enough?

HELMET OF THE DAY
They may be reminiscent of something Ponch and Jon wore, but these Navy helmets the Midshipmen wore for their season opener against Ohio State were a gorgeous display of headgear:

Navy Helmet

GIF OF THE DAY
Behold, the glory of the elusive and mysterious “Ass Punt”:

Butt Punt

Bless you, Youngstown State’s Joey Cejudo. Bless you.

The only thing that could’ve made that play better? If a fat guy picked up the “blocked” punt and returned it for a touchdown.

SID NOTE OF THE DAY
Alabama quarterback Blake Sims had a record-breaking debut vs. West Virginia. Sims, who finished the game by connecting on 24-of-33 passed for 250 yards, secured the school record for most completions and attempts of any quarterback in a debut game at Alabama. The former completions record was held by John David Phillips, who connected on 17 passes in his debut vs. BYU in 1998. The former attempts record was 30, held by three different Tide quarterbacks. In addition, Sims’ 250 yards passing ranks third among Alabama quarterbacks in their debut. The record of 285 passing yards is held by Brody Croyle vs. Arkansas in 2002, followed by John Parker Wilson’s 253 yards passing in 2006 vs. Hawai’i.

SAY WHAT?
With their first-ever game on a Friday in Week 1, the Colorado-Colorado State rivalry has now been contested every single day of the week except Tuesday.

Monday (1900)
Wednesday (1923)
Thursday (1916-18 and 46)
Friday (2014)
Saturday (75 times)
Sunday (1899, 2008-09 and 13)

SAY WHAT? PART II
There are 12 current FBS head coaches who are coaching at the same school at which they played their college football. The dozen coaches are listed below:

Air Force: Troy Calhoun (1985-88)
Boise State: Bryan Harsin (1995-99 )
East Carolina: Ruffin McNeill (1976-80)
Kent State: Paul Haynes (1987-91)
Northwestern: Pat Fitzgerald (1993-96)
Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy (1986-89)
Stanford: David Shaw (1991-94)
Texas Tech: Kliff Kingsbury (1999-2002)
Tulsa: Bill Blankenship (1975-79)
Utah State: Matt Wells (1994-96)
UTEP: Sean Kugler (1985-88)
Virginia Tech: Frank Beamer (1966-68)

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– Not only was Christian Hackenberg‘s 454 yards passing a career high for the true sophomore, it was the first time in Penn State history that a quarterback had thrown for more than 400 yards in a single game.  The record-setting effort — besting the mark of 399 set by Zach Mills in 2002 — was punctuated by a late drive that culminated in Sam Ficken‘s game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock as the Nittany Lions upended UCF 26-24.

Connor Halliday‘s 532 yards passing in the 41-38 loss to Rutgers Thursday were the second-most in school history, 25 yards behind his record set last October in a 62-38 loss to Oregon.  He needed 89 throws to set that mark, however, while he needed “just” 56 for his second 500-yard passing game.  Also, Halliday’s five touchdown passes gives him 63 for his career, passing Ryan Leaf for third-most all-time at Wazzu.

Brandon Doughty scoffs in the general direction of Halliday’s performance as the Western Kentucky quarterback passed for 569 yards and six touchdowns in the season-opening 59-31 win over Bowling Green. Those two totals were school records, as were his 46 completions.

– Texas Tech’s Davis Webb passed for 452 yards and four touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ surprisingly close 42-35 win over Central Arkansas.

– In his first career start, Kentucky’s Patrick Towles passed for 377 yards in leading the Wildcats to a win over UT-Martin.

– Thursday night, Kenny Hill‘s 511 yards broke Johnny Manziel‘s school record in Texas A&M’s romp over South Carolina.

Clint Trickett passed for more than 300 yards in West Virginia’s loss to Alabama, making it the first time a Nick Saban-coached Tide team has allowed more than 300 yards passing in back-to-back games.  In the Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight passed for 348 yards.

Taysom Hill scored a career-high five touchdowns, three passing and two rushing, as a depleted BYU squad strolled past UConn 35-10.

– USF true freshman running back Marlon Mack set an AAC record with 275 yards against Western Carolina.  The old record of 215 yards by Tulane’s Sherman Badie was set just two days ago.

– Colorado State running backs Dee Hart (139) and Treyous Jarrells (121) combined for 260 yard rushing in the win over Colorado, becoming the first pair of Ram rushers to run for 100-plus yards in the same game since 1996.

– Not to be outdone, Michigan’s Derrick Green (170) and De’Veon Smith (115) combined for 285 yards in the Wolverines’ 52-14 payback waxing of Appalachian State.

– In Indiana’s 21-10 win over Indiana State, Tevin Coleman ran for a Memorial Stadium-record 247 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries.

– In the first game of his collegiate career, Western Michigan true freshman Jarvion Franklin ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Purdue.

– Playing in his first game at Air Force, Jacobi Owens ran for 233 yards as the Falcons rolled over Nicholls State 44-16.

– Alabama’s Amari Cooper caught a career-high 12 passes for 130 yards in the win over West Virginia.

– Oregon State’s Garrett Owens attempted a school-record seven field goals in Oregon State’s 29-14 win over Portland State.  Smelter connected on five of those attempts, missing from 25 and 50 yards.  All of his made field goals came from 31 yards and closer.

– Defending national champion Florida State currently owns the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 straight. Michigan State (11) is the only other FCS programs in double digits. Conversely, Miami (OH)  lost 17 straight, the longest such streaks in the country. Purdue has lost 11 straight, while Arkansas and Virginia have lost 10 in a row.

– Georgia State would’ve been on the wrong end of that list, but the Panthers were able to outlast Sam Houston State of the FCS 38-37 to end its 16-game losing streak.  It was GSU’s first win since Oct. 13, 2012 (41-17 over Rhode Island).  In the four-year history of the football program, GSU has never beaten a team that was an FBS school at the time the game was played (they beat South Alabama in Oct. of 2011, but the Jaguars were still in the last year of their transitional phase to the FBS level).

– For the first time in school history, two true freshman offensive lineman, Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama, started for USC in a season opener.

– Purdue’s Corey Clement is, per the school, the biggest player in college football, with the offensive guard listed at 6-8, 400 pounds.

– With the loss to North Dakota State, Iowa State has now lost to an FCS program in back-to-back seasons — 28-20 to Northern Iowa in last year’s opener included.

– With the win over South Dakota State, Missouri is now 13-1 in season openers under Gary Pinkel. The lone loss came in Pinkel’s first season in 2001 (20-13 to Bowling Green), meaning the Tigers have ripped off 13 straight opening-day wins since.

Getty Images - Chris Graythen

Getty Images – Chris Graythen

– LSU currently has the nation’s longest regular-season non-conference winning streak at 46 straight games. Les Miles is 35-0 in non-conference regular-season games as head coach of the Tigers.

– The Badgers had won 16 consecutive season openers dating back to 1998, which was tied for the third-longest streak in the nation with USC and behind only Nebraska (29) and Florida (24). LSU, with the win over UW, has now won 12 straight games to open a season, a streak that dates to 2003.

– On the flip side, Western Michigan has now lost 10 straight openers after its loss to Purdue.

– With West Virginia’s 3-0 lead early in the first quarter, Alabama trailed in a season opener for the first time since 2009 (down 17-16 to Virginia Tech late in the third quarter).

– With the win over Stephen F. Austin, Kansas State is now 21-2 all-time in openers under Bill Snyder. Just six of those 23 games have come against Power Five conference schools (Texas Tech, Arizona State, Iowa, USC, Cal, UCLA) while 13 have, like Saturday’s opponent, come against FCS programs. The two losses were to Arizona State in 1989, Snyder’s first season with the Wildcats and, infamously, North Dakota State last season.

– With the win over Kent State, Ohio’s Frank Solich moved out of a tie with the Golden Flashes’ Trevor Rees and into sole possession of sixth place for most wins in MAC history (67). Next up? Former Toledo and current Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel in fifth with 73. And, for those who are curious: Central Michigan’s Herb Deromedi and his 110 wins make him the winningest MAC coach of all-time.

– In its 62-0 win over Delaware, Pittsburgh outgained the FCS team 506-71.  407 of those yards came on the ground, with eight Panther players credited with at least one carry.  James Conner led all rushers with 145 yards on 13 carries.

– Ohio State has been ranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 for each the past 26 years, the most of any college football program. Next closest? Oklahoma’s 15 years.

– Speaking of OU, the Sooners have won at least 10 games in a season 12 times since 2000, the most of any program at the FBS level.

– UCLA’s trip to Charlottesville to take on Virginia was the Bruins first trip to the stadium of an ACC school since they traveled to Maryland to face the Terrapins in 1969.

– With the loss Saturday, Clemson has not beaten Georgia in Athens since 1986. Just four games in that rivalry have been played Between the Hedges during that stretch, however.

Arkansas v Auburn

Melvin Ray

– Both Arkansas and Auburn have seven teams currently ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll on their 2014 schedules, the most in the nation. All seven of the Razorbacks’ games against Top 25 teams come against SEC programs, including the season-opening loss to the Tigers.

– In its narrow eight-point escape against Northern Iowa, Iowa’s defense recorded 13 tackles for loss.  That was the Hawkeyes’ highest total since 2007.

– Houston entered Week 1 with 74 forced turnovers the past two seasons, the most for an FBS program.  In the opener against UT-San Antonio, however, UH lost the turnover battle 6-1 and, as a result, was “upset” by UTSA 27-7.  Speaking of the Roadrunners…

– UT-San Antonio returns 21 starters (9 offense/10 defense/2 kickers) this season, the most of any FBS program in the country.

– In its 45-0 loss to Stanford, UC Davis finally managed to cross midfield on the last play of the game.  The FCS team managed just 115 yards of offense — 61 rushing, 54 passing — for the entire game.

– During its three-point loss to Ohio, Kent State’s defense forced fumbles on four consecutive possessions. All four of the fumbles were recovered by the Golden Flashes, but the offense could only turn the turnovers into seven points.

– Louisiana Tech will open the 2014 season with three games in 13 days, with all three of those coming on the road against teams that played in bowl games last season: Oklahoma, Louisiana-Lafayette and North Texas. Those three teams combined to go 29-10 in 2013; Tech finished at just 4-8.

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Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks ties Bear Bryant for sixth all-time with 323 wins

Ken Sparks

The football programs at Carson-Newman University and the University of Alabama have next to nothing in common beyond playing the same sport.

Until now.

Carson-Newman, a Division II school in Johnson City, Tenn., stormed back from a 35-27 halftime deficit to defeat Tusculum College 55-35 on Saturday, giving head coach Ken Sparks his 323rd all-time win. The victory moves Sparks – now 323-87-2 at Carson-Newman, a job he’s held continuously since 1980 – into a tie for sixth-place on the all-time victories chart with legendary Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who went 323-85-17 from 1945 to 1982.

“I told (my players) if anybody wanted to talk about the number of victories that I had, you tell them that I didn’t play a play,” Sparks told the Associated Press.

Sparks, 70, is now within striking distance of the top five, trailing legendary Mount Union coach Larry Kehres by just 10 victories. Saint John’s head coach John Gagliardi holds the all-time wins record at 489, followed by Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (408), Howard, West Virginia and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden (377), pre-modern era titan Glenn “Pop” Warner (336) and Kehres (332).

Sparks was diagnosed with prostate cancer over the summer of 2012, and earned his 300th career victory in his first game after the diagnosis.

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Upon further review, ACC defends offensive pass interference penalty against Notre Dame

Notre Dame at Florida State

Just as surgeons are highly unlikely to announce they botched it, officials are very reluctant to announce one of their one got it wrong. Especially in a high-profile case like the decisive call that took Notre Dame’s would-be game-winning touchdown off the board Saturday night at Florida State.

NDFSU

In the wake of the call, the ACC trotted coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads out to explain the ruling.

“Offensive players on passing plays are restricted from going downfield and blocking anytime from the snap,” he said. “If the ball is first touched behind the line of scrimmage then that would be legal and it’s okay, but if it’s touched beyond the line then it’s offensive pass interference.”

Instead of kicking an extra point to take a 34-31 lead over second-ranked and defending national champion Florida State, Notre Dame faced a fourth-and-goal from the 18-yard line. Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson was pressured by Seminoles defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and his hurried pass sailed through the back of the end zone untouched. Final score: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27.

Rhoads’ explanation isn’t going to make the loss any easier to swallow for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. In fact, Kelly said he had less clarity about the penalty a day later than he did when the flag first hit the Doak Campbell Stadium grass.

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Criticism of USC DC Justin Wilcox reportedly at core of spat between LenDale White and Pat Haden

LenDale White carries the ball Getty Images

“You can win championships for this program,” former USC running back LenDale White told the Los Angeles Times Saturday, “but you can’t voice your opinion.”

That opinion White is talking about is the opinion the former Trojan holds of USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. White tweeted the following during last Saturday’s game with Arizona, which USC eventually won on a last-second missed field goal.

Fast forward to Saturday. According to InsideSoCal.com, athletics director Pat Haden – no stranger to sideline drama - confronted White about his tweets, and the two began arguing. Following USC’s 56-28 defeat of Colorado, White tweeted the following:

The USC athletics department denies Haden kicked White out of L.A. Coliseum. Reached on the field following the game, White told the L.A. Times, “I’ve never met some of these coaches. I’ve never been a part of them. I am a Trojan 20,000%. I back them 120%. I just get emotional during football games. I’m sorry.”

Minutes later, White had changed his mind. “I feel that exact same way as I did last week,” White said, before the paper quoted him shouting, “Fire Sark tonight.” Again, this was minutes after USC won a conference game by 28 points. It’s also worth noting Sarkisian was USC’s quarterbacks coach during White’s freshman and junior seasons.

“I think LenDale is a passionate guy,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said of his former running back. “He loves USC. We all want to win. We are all passionate about what we do. It is what it is.”

Indeed, Mr. White. Indeed.

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South Carolina may face No. 5 Auburn without two defensive players

South Carolina has a chance to pull off a major U-turn on what has been a disappointing 2014 season with a win over No. 5 Auburn Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it appears the Gamecocks must do so without two defensive contributors.

Senior defensive tackle J.T. Surratt suffered a pulled hamstring during yesterday’s 41-1o over Furman and will likely miss his chance to defend Nick Marshall and company.

“He’s probably doubtful to get back this week,”  Steve Spurrier told AL.com in a Sunday evening teleconference. “J.T., one of our senior captains, we’ll miss him in there. Hopefully some of the other guys can fill in admirably.”

Additionally, back-up weak-side linebacker Jonathan Walton suffered a mild concussion Saturday and is doubtful this week.

Surratt has 14 tackles and a sack this season, while Walton has collected 21 tackles and a fumble recovery.

South Carolina has the SEC’s 12th-ranked total defense, ranks 13th in scoring defense and is dead last in yards per play allowed (6.21), while Auburn ranks third in the conference in scoring and fourth in both total offense and yards per play.

Tight end Rory Anderson is also questionable after injuring his triceps on Saturday, but Spurrier hopes to get him back on the practice field this week. Anderson has 18 grabs for 204 yards and a touchdown on the year.

Auburn and South Carolina will meet at 7:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network.

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West Virginia President Gordon Gee calls post-Baylor win riots “criminal”

Gordon Gee

West Virginia toppled No. 4 Baylor 41-27 on Saturday afternoon in the biggest win since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012. The good news, of course, was that the home team won. The bad news? A noon kickoff meant the game ended around 4 p.m. local time, leaving plenty of time for the blue and gold faithful to, uh, celebrate the win.

Enthusiasm – if you want to call it that – built throughout the evening, eventually metastasizing into overturned vehicles and neighborhood street fires.

“We had fires in residential neighborhoods. We had where they tried to flip vehicles over in other places,” Morgantown police chief Ed Preston told WVMetroNews.com.

Like a true cancer, when one area would come under control of the police, the riots would spread to another area of town.

“As they were broken up or dispersed, other gatherings would occur in other parts of the city. Sometimes two, three, four gatherings were occurring at a time at various locations throughout the city,” Preston said.

And now what should have been a priceless day full of free publicity turned into an another ugly episode for a school that has become known for them.

Watch West Virginia president Gordon Gee’s mood transition from exuberance to disappointment to anger over the course of the day through his Twitter timeline.

“This is not acceptable Mountaineer behavior,” Gee told the paper. “It is not ‘partying’ to set fires, tear down fences or throw bottles at police. It is criminal and will be dealt with as such. I have zero tolerance for students who wish to act in such a way that it demeans the achievements of our institution and its faculty, staff, students, alumni and our Morgantown community.”

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USC QB Cody Kessler, WVU DL Shaq Riddick earn Walter Camp Player of the Week honors

Cody Kessler

USC quarterback Cody Kessler and West Virginia defensive lineman Shaq Riddick have earned Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors following outstanding efforts on Saturday.

Kessler set a USC single-game record for passing touchdowns – consider what that statement means for a moment – with seven scoring strikes in a 56-28 blowout over Colorado. His seven touchdown passes came on 19-of-26 passing for 319 yards, a passer rating of 264.98. Even better, Kessler was a scorching hot 11-of-16 for 159 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter alone as the Trojans sprinted to a 28-0 lead.

Kessler’s seven touchdowns tied a single-game record for the Pac-12 Conference, and his five first-half touchdowns tied a school record for touchdown passes in one half. It was also the fourth time Kessler has thrown for 300 yards or more in his career.

Riddick wreaked all sorts of havoc on Baylor’s undefeated record by collecting five tackles (four solo), three sacks and four tackles for loss in a 41-27 upset of the then fourth-ranked Bears. Riddick’s effort helped limit Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty to 16 completions in 36 attempts, and a season-low 95 rushing yards, nearly half their previous low of 189 yards in a 63-21 win at Buffalo.

The win pushed West Virginia back into the AP and Coaches’ poll for the first time in nearly two full years, the Mountaineers’ first appearance since Oct. 28, 2012.

 

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Who is the best team in the Big Ten?

Big 10 Championship Game - Ohio State v Michigan State Getty Images

With the drive to the College Football Playoff now about to hit fifth gear, the Big Ten is creeping up in the rear-view mirrors of the Pac-12 and Big 12. As those conferences begin to pick themselves apart and SEC West cannibalism about to get really interesting, the Big Ten could once again be fielding two teams worth considering in the playoff hunt; Michigan State and Ohio State. So, which team has the best case to represent the Big Ten in the College Football Playoff?

Both Michigan State and Ohio State lost their premier non-conference match-ups this season. The Spartans let one get away on the road against Oregon. Ohio State lost at home to Virginia Tech. Since then though, both teams have hit a stride and continue to string together strong performances. The Spartans dodged a bullet last week on the road at Purdue and followed that up by managing to pull away from Indiana on the road once again this week. Ohio State has been more convincing in recent weeks with blowouts of Big Ten newcomers Maryland and Rutgers. The two programs appear to be heading toward the Big Ten’s game of the year in East Lansing trending in slightly different directions, but the rematch of last season’s Big Ten championship game should bring out the best in both teams.

Neither team should be looking ahead, but Michigan State and Ohio State should be considered solid favorites in Big Ten play this week. Michigan State hosts Michigan. Ohio State plays on the road at Penn State. Both the Wolverines and Nittany Lions had bye weeks to prepare for these tests, but considering the state of each program, Michigan State and Ohio State should still have a decided advantage once the teams take the field. Assuming both get by without being upset this week, the stage will begin to be set for the colossal meeting on November 8. Michigan State has a bye week after playing Michigan and Ohio State has a home game against Illinois.

With the discussion about best one-loss teams starting to pick up steam, it will be important to know just how the College Football Playoff selection committee would view each potentially one-loss team with a Big Ten championship. The Spartans, in theory, could go 12-1 with a Big Ten championship game victory over a potentially ranked Nebraska or perhaps Wisconsin (or Minnesota?). A victory over a ranked Ohio State team would be nice as well, but up agianst a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Oregon would likely give the Ducks an edge if it came down to one spot remaining.

How would a one-loss Ohio State be viewed though? The Buckeyes have certainly played better on a weekly basis and quarterback J.T. Barrett has come a long way since his week two defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech. Would Ohio State be rewarded for improving along the way? If injuries are to be taken into consideration, would the committee not recognize Ohio State was playing with an inexperienced quarterback against Virginia Tech after losing Braxton Miller for the year, and would the committee not consider how the team has played as the season played out?

This is all hypothetical conversation, of course. One of these teams will lose at least one more game, but the Big Ten’s two best teams are beginning to warrant the same kind of consideration a number of other one-loss teams might be getting.

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A quick briefing on the Big 12 tiebreakers, just in case

Kansas State v Oklahoma Getty Images

After winning on the road at Oklahoma and Baylor stumbled on the road at West Virginia on Saturday, Kansas State currently sits on top of the Big 12 standings. The Wildcats are 3-0 in conference play, but the three teams right behind Bill Snyder’s team share an identical 3-1 conference mark. West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State are all 3-1, and TCU is 2-1. There is still a good chance this conference sorts itself out without much controversy, but as we sit here in mid-October it might be worth taking a quick look at the Big 12 tiebreaker, just in case we need them later on.

The most simple tiebreaker is the two-team tiebreaker. In the event two teams tie for first place in the Big 12 at the end of the season, the winner of the regular season’s head-to-head match-up will be rewarded with the Big 12’s spot in the Sugar Bowl or alternate bowl spot. The Big 12 has a deal with the Sugar Bowl, but if the Big 12 champion is not chosen to play in the College Football Playoff, the Big 12 champion will be placed in another bowl game, perhaps the Fiesta or Orange. So, if West Virginia and Baylor end the season tied for the Big 12’s best record, the Mountaineers would get the bowl spot.

It gets more complicated once more than two teams are involved. The following four steps will be used until a winner is chosen. The steps will be used to eliminate one team from any tie-breaking scenarios until there is just one remaining. Per the Big 12’s official website, the tiebreaker procedures for more than two teams are;

  1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other
  2. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed team(s) in the conference (4, 5 and 6….).
  3. The highest ranked team in the first College Football Playoff poll following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative unless the two highest ranked tied teams are ranked within one spot of the other in the College Football Playoff poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the College Football Playoff.
  4. The representative will be chosen by draw.

Ah yes, the Big 12 could come down to a good old-fashioned draw. How appropriate. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that point. Kansas State can do everyone a favor and run the table to avoid any potential headaches.

The Big 12 tweaked these procedures as a formality before the start of the season. The third tiebreaker used to go off BCS rankings, but because there are no more BCS rankings the conference had to adjust.

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Top Five in the Group of Five

Colorado State vs Utah State

The chase for a spot in one of the access bowls under the College Football Playoff format is starting to really heat up, but East Carolina still seems to hold enough of a lead over the rest of the field. Marshall has the best chance to stay undefeated, but Colorado State is making some serious noise right now as well.

Here is how I would rate the top five contenders in the Group of Five (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference) right now.

1. East Carolina (5-1)

The Pirates have tow victories over ACC schools, Virgina Tech and North Carolina. Both of those schools could be going to a bowl game this season. East Carolina would probably love to have another crack at South Carolina. The Gamecocks handed ECU its only loss of the season in week two, but have stumbled since then. Throw ECU in the best one-loss team category if you wish, but it should be access bowl or bust the rest of the way.

2. Colorado State (6-1)

After winning a defensive battle against Utah State, the Rams are now eligible for postseason play and have won five straight games. Like East Carolina, Colorado State also owns two victories over power conference teams, Colorado from the Pac-12 and Boston College from the ACC. Both of these wins came on the road, or at least away from home (Colorado was on a neutral field in Denver). The only loss came at Boise State, but the Rams are in a good spot now to win the Mountain Division if Boise State stumbles.

3. Marshall (7-0)

Yes, the Thundering Herd are undefeated but they lack any real signature victories. Rakeem Cato is a record-setting quarterback and will continue to rack up huge numbers to keep Marshall in the hunt, but the Conference USA favorites will probably need some help in order to get by East Carolina or Colorado State even with a perfect record.

4. Boise State (5-2)/Air Force (5-2)

Feel free to take your pick here. Air Force owns a head-to-head victory over the Broncos, but Boise State has defeated Colorado State and now a loss to Ole Miss on a neutral field isn’t looking too terrible. Boise State has also just beaten Nevada and Fresno State in cross-division match-ups. The Falcons, on the other hand, need one more win to become bowl eligible and should easily be able to pick that up with a somewhat favorable schedule remaining. They even get Colorado State at home in the final week of the season, and now that game could be pretty significant.

5. Georgia Southern* (5-2)

Yes, the newest member of the Sun Belt Conference deserves some praise. Off to a 4-0 start in its new FBS conference home, Georgia Southern has  made it clear to the rest of the Sun Belt they intend to compete right away. Georgia Southern’s two losses have come on the road against ACC opponents, but the Eagles gave North Carolina State and Georgia Tech all they could handle and lost by a combined five points in those games. Still some work to do, but Georgia Southern may be playing the best football in this conference.

* It should be noted Georgia Southern is not eligible to participate in the postseason as a first-year FBS school. Georgia Southern is eligible to win the Sun Belt Conference championship, but it will be prohibited form playing ina  postseason bowl game until 2015.

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Marshall’s Rakeem Cato sets NCAA record for consecutive games with TD pass

Rakeem Cato

Marshall trailed early on the road against FIU on Saturday, but quarterback Rakeem Cato still led the Thundering Herd to a win to remain undefeated. He did so while making some history as well. Cato’s first of four touchdowns on Saturday set the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Saturday’s game was the 39th straight game Cato has thrown a touchdown. The record (38 games) was previously held by Russell Wilson of NC State and Wisconsin.

”It was a team effort for all 39 games and we still got more games to play,” Cato said after the 45-13 victory. ”We’ve got to keep finding a way to find seven points.”

Through seven games, Cato has passed for 1,912 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions. His play is a large reason why Marshall is one of the four remaining undefeated teams and also why Marshall will remain in the hunt for an access bowl spot among the Group of Five contenders. East Carolina likely still has the edge in that category, and Colorado State has a pretty decent case as well.

There will be some talk that Heisman Trophy voters should be paying attention to what Cato has done as a result of this record, but keep in mind the Heisman Trophy is an annual award and not a career achievement award. That said, Cato is piling up some huge numbers, but his odds of being recognized by the Heisman voters are still slim due to the level of competition Cato is facing. This is not a slight on Cato’s achievements, but more so a dose of reality. Cato may have a shot to be invited to the Heisman presentation in New York if he keeps this up, but in the end he will have as realistic a chance to win the Heisman as players like quarterback Kellen Moore of Boise State or former Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.

But he sure is darn fun to watch.

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FSU still No. 2, Miss. State remains on top of coaches poll

Jameis Winston

Florida State actually lost ground following a win over Notre Dame, and Mississippi State remains on top of the Amway Coaches Poll this week.

Mississippi State remains in first place in the coaches poll with 36 first-place votes. Florida State follows in second place once again this week, now with 22 first-place votes. Ole Miss picked up the remaining four first-place votes in this week’s coaches poll and remains ranked third. Alabama moved up three spots this week following a demolishing victory over Texas A&M. The one-loss Crimson Tide are now ranked fourth in the coaches poll, followed by Michigan State, Auburn and Oregon. Notre Dame dropped three spots following the loss at Florida State, and is now ranked eighth, followed by Georgia and TCU to round-out the top 10.

No. 11 Kansas State moved up three spots following a road win at Oklahoma.. Ohio State moved up one spot to pass falling Baylor behind the Wildcats. No. 14 Arizona State and No. 15 Arizona continue to stand side-by-side in the rankings as well. No. 16 Nebraska jumped up three spots this week, passing idle East Carolina (No. 17) and old rival Oklahoma. The Sooners dropped seven spots to No. 18. Utah and Clemson wrap up the top 20.

No. 21 USC (up four spots), is followed by No. 22 Marshall (up two spots). No. 23 LSU is back in the coaches poll. Minnesota also debuts at No. 24 and West Virginia makes an appearance at No. 25.

Oklahoma State, Stanford and Texas A&M all dropped out of the coaches poll this week.

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Week 8, Statistically Speaking

stats word on a lptop computer

A numerical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

0 — Rushing yards for Tennessee as it was tripped up by Ole Miss in Oxford.  Three different Vols had negative yards rushing, led by quarterback Justin Worley‘s minus-41.

0 — Through seven games, the number of interceptions Wyoming has, the only team in the country to not yet pick off a pass this season.

1 — True road games each played by Ohio State, Texas and Wisconsin through eight weeks, the lowest total at the FBS level. The Badgers don’t play on the road again until Nov. 1 (Rutgers), while the Buckeyes and Longhorns will travel to Penn State and Kansas State, respectively, next weekend.

1-2 — Oklahoma’s record since Katy Perry propositioned quarterback Trevor Knight on ESPN‘s GameDay show prior to the loss to TCU.  Knight has thrown a pick-six in both losses, including the “upset” at the hands of Kansas State.

2 — Number of wins shy Ohio State’s current 18-game Big Ten winning streak is from tying the Buckeyes’ conference record of 20 straight set in 2005-07.

2 — FBS quarterbacks who have attempted at least 100 passes without an interception this season, with both coming from the Pac-12: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (188) and Utah’s Travis Wilson (111).

4 — Non-offensive touchdowns (punt return, kick return, interception return, fumble return) in Missouri’s 42-13 pasting of Florida that could very well mark the end of the Will Muschamp error era.

4-3 — South Carolina’s record in 2014, its worst to start a season since 2005. That year also happened to be Steve Spurrier‘s first season with the Gamecocks.

5 — Since 1944, the number of times Duke has started a season 6-1 or better: 7-0 in 1994, 6-1 in 2014, 1960, 1953 and 1952.

7 — School-record touchdown passes Cody Kessler tossed in USC’s blowout win over Colorado.  Kessler threw those seven touchdowns in just 27 attempts.

8 — Consecutive games in which Clint Trickett has thrown for 300-plus yards, including 322 in West Virginia’s upset of Baylor in Morgantown in Week 8.  That extends Trickett’s school record he set earlier this season.

8.8 — Yards per carry average on 15 attempts by Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, the nation’s leading rusher, in the loss to Michigan State.  MSU came into the game giving up 2.8 yards per carry, good for ninth in the country.

9 — Boise State players who caught passes in Friday night’s win over Fresno State, none of whom totaled more than 43 yards receiving.

13 — Nation’s longest current home winning streak by Alabama, Auburn and Baylor. Marshall, at 11 in a row, has the longest of the Group of Five schools.

14 — Fewest number of 100-yard rushers allowed since 2005, by Alabama. Following the Tide are Ohio State (19) and Boston College (21).

29 — Unanswered points scored by Nevada to overcome a 28-13 halftime deficit in beating BYU 42-35.

30 — Number of consecutive opponents Stanford has held under 30 points, the longest such streak in the country. Louisville and Ole Miss are tied for second at 14 straight.

35 — Points in the second quarter of Alabama’s woodshedding of Texas A&M, the most in a quarter in program history (records dating from 1945 to present). The previous high was 34 at Ole Miss on Oct. 7, 1989. The 56-point win was the Tide’s largest margin of victory since downing Vanderbilt 66-3 on Sept. 29, 1979 and the largest shutout win since beating Tulane 62-0 on Oct. 12, 1991.

37.9Jeff Driskel‘s quarterback rating in Florida’s embarrassing loss to Missouri.  The NCAA’s official stats website lists 114 quarterbacks in its passing efficiency ratings; Driskel is dead last at 95.5.

38-3 — Record of Urban Meyer-coached teams coming off bye weeks, which Ohio State defines as “season openers, games after an ‘off’ or open week, and bowl games.” Meyer went 5-1 at Bowling Green, 7-0 at Utah, 19-1 at Florida and is 7-1 at Ohio State. The three losses were to Miami of Ohio while at BGSU in 2001; to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl following the 2007 season; and to Clemson in the Orange Bowl following the 2013 season.

39 — Total number of points SMU has scored this season in six games. There are 13 teams averaging more points per game than the Mustangs have put on the scoreboard in 2014.

39 — Marshall’s Rakeem Cato consecutive game streak of throwing a touchdown pass, breaking his tie of 38 straight he had held for a week along with Russell Wilson. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (33 straight) can surpass Wilson’s old mark this season as well. Mariota, incidentally, has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game in which he’s played the past two-plus seasons, while Cato didn’t throw one in three of the first seven games of his Herd career (2011) but has thrown one in every game since.

43 — Kansas State has won that many games in a row when leading at halftime, including Saturday’s road win against Oklahoma.  That’s the best current streak in the nation and three behind tying OU’s all-time record of 46 straight.

53 — Unranked opponents in a row beaten by Alabama, tops in the nation. The Tide’s last loss to a non-Top-25 team was in 2007 to Louisiana-Monroe. Clemson is a distant second with (23) in a row.

100 — Wins for Div. III Wisconsin Whitewater’s Larry Leipold in his first 106 games, making him the fastest head coach to reach the century mark in college football history.  Michigan’s Fielding Yost had held the all-division record at 108 for over a century, with Yost’s 100th win coming during the 1908 season.

150 — Receiving yards running back Jahad Thomas had on three receptions during Temple’s loss to Houston Friday night.  Two of Thomas’ receptions went for 74 and 72 yards, although neither resulted in a touchdown.  The sophomore came into the contest with 66 receiving yards in his career.

194 — David Cobb‘s rushing total in Minnesota’s 39-38 win over Purdue that pushed the Gophers to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1990 and made them bowl-eligible for the third year in a row as well.

197 — Receiving yards for Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard, on 15 receptions, in the loss to Kansas State.  The junior’s topped 100 yards receiving in five of seven games this season, including efforts of 215 and 177.

202 — In his second game replacing Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb‘s rushing yards in Georgia’s easy win over Arkansas in Little Rock.  Along with Herschel Walker and Rodney Hampton, Chubb is one of three UGA freshmen to rush for 200-plus yards in a single game.

216 — Career-high receiving yards for Carlos Harris in North Texas’ loss to Southern Miss.  His previous career high was 120 set two weeks ago.

Josh Doctson

Josh Doctson

225 — Receiving yards for TCU’s Josh Doctson in the win over Oklahoma State, one shy of the school record 226 by Jimmy Young against Wyoming in October of 2008.

250 — Mississippi State and Ohio State are both averaging more than that number per game in both rushing and passing yards, the only two teams coming out of Week 8 that can make that claim.

287 — Combined rushing yards for Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford in Michigan State’s thumping of Indiana.  Hill, incidentally, averaged 11.1 yards on his 16 carries.

313 — Combined rushing yards for Drew Hare and Cameron Stingily in Northern Illinois’ win over Miami of Ohio.

314 — After 272 in Week 8, number of yards Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion needs to surpass USC’s Matt Barkley (12,327, 2009-12) as the Pac-12’s career leader in passing yards.  This week, Mannion passed another former USC quarterback, Carson Palmer (11,818, 1998-2202), for No. 2 on the conference’s all-time list.

 323 – Career victories by Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks, tying him with Alabama legend Bear Bryant for sixth on the NCAA’s career list.

333-104 — Cumulative score of the USC-Colorado series, with the Trojans owning a 9-0 all-time advantage.

351 — Penalties yards for both teams in West Virginia’s win over Baylor.  The Bears had 213 of those yards, eclipsing the Big 12 record of 183 set by Texas Tech in 2007.  The FBS record for one team, incidentally, is 238 (Arizona State vs. UTEP 1961), while the Div. I record for two teams is 421 (Grambling vs. Texas Southern 1977).

360 — Career-high in passing yards for Colin Reardon in Kent State’s win over Army.

364 — Days between Texas Tech’s last Big 12 win (37-27 over West Virginia Oct. 19, 2013) and its most recent (34-21 over Kansas Oct. 18, 2014).

408 — Passing yards for BYU’s Christian Stewart in a losing effort to Nevada.

416 — Yards of total offense (321 passing, 95 rushing) for Tyrone Swoopes in Texas’ win over Iowa State.

424 — Yards of total offense (330 passing, 94 rushing) for Brett Hundley in UCLA’s win over Cal.

441 — Rushing yards for Appalachian State in its 53-14 blowout of Troy.  The Mountaineers averaged 8.2 yards on their 54 carries.

463 — Yards of total offense (390 passing, 73 rushing) for Marquise Williams in North Carolina’s win over Georgia Tech, the second-highest total in Tar Heels history.  Williams also set school records for completions in a game (38) and a half (23).

489 — Games, out of 490, in which BYU has scored in since 1975, the lone exception being a 3-0 loss to Utah in 2003.

551 — Yards in receptions for Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins the last three games, including 187 in the three-point win over Utah State.

563 — Yards Utah’s Devontae Booker has gained the last three games after rushing for just 179 the first three. 229 of those yards came in the double-overtime win over Oregon State Thursday night.

1,000 — With 1,024 yards this season, Ameer Abdullah becomes the first player in the storied history of Nebraska football to rush for 1,000-plus yards in three straight seasons.

1,065 — Days since Michael Dyer‘s last 100-yard rushing game.  The running back rushed for 173 yards in Louisville’s win over North Carolina State, his first 100-plus rushing effort since a 157-yard performance against Samford Nov. 19, 2011, when he was a member of the Auburn Tigers.

1940 — Until Saturday, the last year Notre Dame had lost its seventh game of the year after starting a season 6-0. The loss to Florida State snapped a 15-game winning streak in such contests.

1990 — Last year Minnesota had started its season 3-0 in Big Ten play before it moved to that mark with the one-point win over Purdue.

106,795 — Attendance at Ohio Stadium Saturday, the largest crowd to witness a Rutgers football game in its 145-year history

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Sumlin says Texas A&M loss was “unacceptable and embarrassing”

Kevin Sumlin

Some coaches say there are performances that make you just want to burn the game film and never speak of it again. If Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin subscribes to that philosophy, this weekend’s loss at Alabama may see the game film burned right away in College Station. Alabama thumped the Aggies in Tuscaloosa to the tune of a 59-0, with a 35-0 second quarter dropping the hammer on a Texas A&M program that has been slowly and surely slipping in the rankings and standings since its season-opening victory at South Carolina. Sumlin did not mince words when summing up his team’s performance on Saturday.

“However you put it, that performance was unacceptable and embarrassing,” Sumlin said after the game. “Alabama had a lot to do with that. We’ve got to get back to work and examine where we are.”

So where does Texas A&M go from here? The Aggies have a bye week to start to regroup, but when Texas A&M gets back on the field Sumlin does not expect to see too many changes with the roster, including quarterback.

“I’m not talking about wholesale changes,” Sumlin said. “Whenever something like this happens, you can’t stick your head in the sand and just keep doing the same stuff. You’ve got to make some changes. What those are, I couldn’t tell you right now. But the bye week comes at a good time for us.”

Sumlin was asked about his thoughts on the quarterback situation and whether a change may be coming. Kenny Hill was pressured by Alabama until he was relieved of his on-field duties by freshman Kyle Allen. Sumlin said it was a move to try and generate any kind of a spark, but Hill will likely remain the starter under center moving forward. After the game Hill suggested Texas A&M did not play as hard as Alabama, but was at a loss of words to explain how it happened.

“They played a lot harder than we did, it felt like,” Hill said in his postgame media session. “I wish I could tell you. It’s something we’re trying to figure out.” Hill suggested the team is lacking confidence on offense and needs to get it back to start rolling.

Texas A&M better hope to get its confidence back quickly. The Aggies will play Louisiana-Monroe after the bye week, with a win clinching bowl eligibility for the Aggies. After that, Texas A&M ends the season against Auburn, Missouri and LSU.

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Baylor loses another starting offensive lineman to season-ending injury

Seth Russell, Troy Baker

Baylor’s loss on the road at West Virginia came with a hefty penalty, and now one of the 18 penalties for a Big 12 record 215 penalty yards either. Troy Baker, a starting right tackle on the Baylor offensive line, tore his ACL according to head coach Art Briles. The injury brings an end to the playing career for the Baylor senior, and also leads to some offensive line concerns moving through the second half of the season for the defending Big 12 champions.

Just a few days ago Baylor lost starting right guard Desmine Hillard for the remainder of the season. A wrist injury in a win against TCU required surgery and will keep him out for the rest of the season. Unless Baylor completely shuffles the line around, this will leave Baylor having to go the rest fo the season with a pair of back-up linemen on the right side of the line to protect quarterback Bryce Petty. Sophomore Jason Osei is listed as Baker’s primary back-up on the team’s most recent two-deep depth chart. Jarrell Braxton took over for the injured Hilliard against West Virginia and is expected to continue in that role the rest of the season.

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Time to debate which one-loss team is the best

Florida v Alabama Getty Images

There may be just four undefeated teams remaining in college football, but the real watch is on the one-loss teams that are now battling for positioning in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee. This much is certain; there will be a team with at least one loss in the College Football Playoff. With four spots to fill and a maximum of three undefeated teams possible this season and one undefeated not expected to be considered for playoff consideration, the debates will carry on over which one-loss team has the best overall profile.

There are a number of teams with one loss with a solid case to make for a playoff push if they can keep winning football games. There are others who may face an uphill battle due to upcoming schedules or other factors. Here are the one-loss teams, broken into two categories based on the chance they can make a playoff case or not.

THE TOP CANDIDATES

Alabama (6-1) – Crimson Tide coming off a resounding thumping of Texas A&M, will host Mississippi State and Auburn later this year.

Auburn (5-1) – Off this week but Tigers have a challenging schedule remaining including resurgent Georgia and Alabama.

Baylor (6-1) – Suffered first loss at West Virginia, still has Oklahoma on the schedule too.

Georgia (6-1) – Clearly the best in the SEC East, favorable schedule includes home game against Auburn.

Kansas State (5-1) – Coming off huge win at Oklahoma, in first place in Big 12. Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor still to play.

Michigan State (6-1) – Still holding on to team-to-beat status in Big Ten for now, but still has Ohio State on schedule.

Mississippi State (6-0)/Ole Miss (7-0) – Both are currently undefeated, but will face each other in final game of regular season, so we’ll include them each in this conversation for now.

Nebraska (6-1) – Cornhuskers have a manageable path to Big Ten championship game but road trips to Wisconsin and Iowa not automatic.

Notre Dame (6-1) – Irish pushed Florida State to the limit and still has road games against Arizona State and USC.

Ohio State (5-1) – Buckeyes have been getting stronger each week since losing to Virginia Tech. Road trip to Michigan State looms.

Oregon (6-1) – Best team in the Pac-12? Oregon still has to solve Stanford’s defense and a road trip to Utah looks a bit more imposing now.

TCU (5-1) – The big tests are now behind TCU, but road trip to West Virginia followed by home vs. Kansas State could be challenging.

THE OTHERS

Arizona (5-1)/Arizona State (5-1) – These Pac-12 rivals still have to play each other, so one will be knocked down to a minimum of two losses. Arizona State also gets Notre Dame at home. Arizona plays at UCLA and both have Utah remaining.

Colorado State (6-1) – Rams will not enter playoff discussion, but a case is beginning to become stronger for access bowl consideration. Rams probably get edge over undefeated Marshall.

Duke (6-1) – Duke could very well be heading back to the ACC Championship Game this season, but can they get by Florida State in a rematch? ACC Coastal still wide open too, but Duke is capable of getting through it.

East Carolina (5-1) – East Carolina would love to have that South Carolina game back. Pirates will not enter playoff conversation, but currently feel like leader among pack for Group of Five access bowl spot.

Minnesota (6-1) – Gophers off to a terrific start (only loss at TCU), but Minnesota faces brutal second half schedule with Iowa, Ohio State, @ Nebraska, @ Wisconsin to end season.

Utah (5-1) – Utes also off to great start but face challenging second half with games against USC, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona in consecutive weeks.


Which one-loss team do you feel has the best chance to reach the College Football Playoff? Starting next week (October 28) we will all get a sense of how teams are stacking up in the eyes of the selection committee. The selection committee will begin sharing its top 25 ranking to allow for an inside look at the committee’s logic.

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