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Seven — seven!!! — turnovers leave Boise dazed, G5 hopes on the ropes

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No. 21 Boise State came into Friday night’s game in Logan riding a 12-game winning streak against Utah State.  If they’re going to make it a baker’s dozen against their Mountain West foes — and remain in the Group of Five picture — they’re gonna have to do it coming from behind.  From way, way, waaayyy behind.

Through two quarters of play, a stunned Broncos squad finds itself down 45-10 to the home-standing Aggies.  In the Broncos’ last four games, all wins, they’d allowed a combined 24 points.  The only game in which the defense had allowed more than 14 points this season came in a Week 2, a 35-24 loss at BYU.

To say that the Broncos’ offense has been off its game — and the Aggies’ defense on its — would be an understatement.  Boise came into the game 10th nationally in scoring offense (40.7 ppg) and 19th in total offense (482.3 ppg); the Aggies held the Broncos to negative first-quarter yardage and didn’t allow a first down until a couple of minutes were gone in the second quarter.

The key sequence of the half, and perhaps the game as well as the Broncos’ postseason, came late in the first and on into the second quarter, with Boise trailing 7-3 at the time.

USU’s Jake Thompson hit on a 51-yard field goal that seemingly would’ve been good from 71 yards out with 3:17 left in the opening quarter.  On the ensuing possession, true freshman Brett Rypien was sacked on a third-and-seven and fumbled, with the recovery giving the Aggies the ball at the Broncos’ 11-yard line.  Three plays later, Kent Meyers hit Hunter Sharp from 10 yards out for a touchdown.  On Boise’s next play from scrimmage, another Rypien fumble on a strip-sack was again recovered by USU at the opponent’s 15; three plays after that, LaJuan Hunt scored on a four-yard run.

So, in a span of 3:48, the Broncos saw a four-point deficit balloon to 21 at 24-3 thanks to two costly turnovers.  A third turnover, Rypien’s first interception of the game, on the drive after Hunt’s touchdown didn’t hurt the Broncos on the scoreboard as the Aggies were forced to punt for the first time since very early in the first quarter.

The Broncos actually turned it over on four straight possessions, but the Aggies fumbled a second Rypien pick back to Boise.  The visitors then turned that turnover flip-flop into a positive — a Kelsey Young one-yard run — to seemingly give the Broncos some much-needed momentum heading into the locker room.

Unbelievably, and after forcing a three-and-out with 2:30 minutes left that gave them the ball just shy of the 50 with a chance to add to the momentum, the Broncos handed the ball back to the Aggies on a Devan Demas fumble with 2:09 left in the quarter.  A 39-yard touchdown run by Meyers a minute later stripped the Broncos of any momentum they may have gotten from the Young score.

But wait, there’s more.  Seriously.

On the very next possession, with just 1:12 left in the half, a Rypien pass completion to Chaz Anderson was in turn fumbled, with USU recovering at the 20-yard line.  For those keeping score at home, that’s six turnovers for the Broncos — four lost fumbles, two interceptions.

One play later, USU put what could have been the final nail in Boise’s coffin as Meyers hit Sharp on a 21-yard touchdown catch.

But wait, there’s more.  Seriously.

With :11 seconds to play, Rypien threw his third pick of the game, which Marwin Evans returned 90 yards for a touchdown as the final seconds ticked off the clock.  And that pick came on the play right after another Rypien fumble recovered by the Aggies was instead ruled as an incomplete pass.

So, if you’re keeping a final score at home, that’s seven turnovers, five for which Rypien was directly responsible.  In the Broncos’ first six games, they had turned the ball over six times combined.

They do get the ball first to start the second half, so that have that going for them, which is nice.

One final note: The FBS record for turnovers in a game is 13 (five fumbles, eight interceptions) by Georgia vs. Georgia Tech back on Dec. 1, 1951.  Hey, it’s something to shoot for at least.

One final non-turnover note: in other Group of Five action, undefeated and 24th-ranked Houston has taken a comfortable 28-7 lead on the road into the half against 2-3 Tulane.  UH quarterback Greg Ward Jr., who came into the game as the only FBS player averaging 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, has totaled 263 yards of offense — 213 passing, 50 rushing.

 

Alabama ties 1990-2000 Florida for longest winning streak vs. unranked opponents

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There’s that, I guess.

The outcome of top-ranked Alabama’s scrimmage game against FCS Mercer Saturday was never in doubt, with the lone question being the margin of victory.  The answer came in the form of a 56-0 Crimson Tide over the Bears that could’ve been exponentially worse as, after jumping out to a 35-0 halftime lead, Nick Saban took his foot off the overmatched program’s throats in the second half.

With the win, Alabama has now won 73 straight games against unranked opponents.  That ties the 1990-2000 Gators for the longest such streak since the Associated Press poll originated in 1936.

The last loss?  To Louisiana-Monroe in Tuscaloosa during Saban’s first season with the school.

‘Bama won’t get the opportunity to break the tie with Florida as the will face a ranked Auburn team in the Iron Bowl before very likely facing another ranked team/teams in a bowl/playoffs.

Minnesota QB Demry Croft posts negative QB rating in loss to Northwestern

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Even Blutarsky said “dayum” when apprised of this development.

In Week 11, Demry Croft was steady in both the passing (9-15, 105) and running (10-183) games as Minnesota dominated Nebraska in a 54-21 win.  Seven days later, the quarterback put together one of the worst statistical performances you’ll ever come across.

In a 39-0 whitewashing at the hands of Northwestern, Croft completed two of his 11 passes for 43 yards and three interceptions.  So, yes, he had more completions to Wildcats defenders than he did to Golden Gophers receivers.

Add it all up, and Croft posted a pass efficiency rating of minus-3.5.  Again, a negative.  Quarterback.  Rating.

Throw in minus-17 yards rushing, and with the full understanding there were at least a couple of drops by his receivers, Croft cobbled together one of the worst statistical days for a quarterback in college football history.

The loss means that 5-6 Minnesota needs to beat fifth-ranked Wisconsin in the regular-season finale next Saturday to become bowl-eligible. Northwestern, meanwhile, has won six straight and stands at 8-3 on the season, two wins in the Week 13 matchup with Illinois and a bowl game away from the fifth 10-win season in the football program’s history.

No. 5 Wisconsin muscles their way to 11-0 against No. 24 Michigan

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No. 5 Wisconsin (11-0, 8-0) moved one step closer to an undefeated regular season thanks to a strong second-half showing against No. 24 Michigan (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten). The Badgers struggled to get much of anything going on offense in the first half, but the plays seemed to come together in the second half en route to a 24-10 victory in Madison on Saturday afternoon. The Badgers scored 21-unanswered points to overcome a 10-7 deficit in the third quarter.

Michigan was on the wrong end of a controversial instant replay in the first half, but even if the correct call had been made in the review it would not have been enough to score the upset. The Badgers wore down Michigan in the second half and found some passing plays to use to their advantage off the arm of Alex Hornibrook. Hornibrook completed just nine passes out of 19 attempts with one going for a touchdown and another deep ball providing a spark along the way. The recipe for a win, of course, remained running the ball. Freshman sensation Jonathan Taylor ripped off 132 yards on 19 carries to power Wisconsin’s offense.

Michigan starting quarterback Brandon Peters was carted off in the third quarter with an apparent head injury. He did not return, and John O’Korn was tasked with taking over the offense for the remainder of the game. Had Peters not been injured, it may not have mattered. Wisconsin’s defense was still making plays when they needed and not allowing Michigan to seize control for extended periods of time.

The win keeps Wisconsin knocking on the door to the College Football Playoff. If the Badgers win their next two games, they will stand an excellent chance of getting to the playoff for the first time in school history. Wisconsin will wrap up the regular season on the road next week with the annual rivalry game with Minnesota. The Gophers were getting thumped by Northwestern and will need a long-overdue win against Wisconsin in order to become bowl-eligible. Wisconsin has not lost to Minnesota since 2003. After that, it will be a date in the Big Ten Championship Game against the champion of the East Division, which will more than likely be the team Michigan plays next week.

Michigan will be home in Ann Arbor for their rivalry game against Ohio State. The Buckeyes will need the win in order to remain on the playoff radar heading into the Big Ten championship game. Jim Harbaugh has not beaten Urban Meyer yet.

No. 3 Miami scores 30 unanswered points to go 10-0 for first time since 2002

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The No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 ACC) overcame a disaster of a first half to keep their undefeated season going. On Saturday against Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC), the Hurricanes looked sluggish for one half and allowed Virginia to capitalize on big plays to a 28-14 lead, but Miami roared back with 30 unanswered points to improve on the best start since the last time Miami played for a national championship. Miami topped Virginia 44-28.

Miami players got to wear the famous turnover chain twice in the game, but the biggest turnover may have come with Jaguan Johnson‘s 30-yard interception for a game-tying score in the third quarter. The pick-six knotted the game at 28-28 in a wild third quarter, and Miami never looked back from that point on. Miami took the lead late in the third quarter on a 44-yard field goal by and Malik Rosier and Travis Homer added rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Hurricanes cemented the win.

Rosier was picked off twice in the game, but he ended his day with 210 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with 38 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. His Virginia counterpart, Kurt Benkert, actually had a fantastic afternoon with 28-of-37 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Until the lone interception thrown by Benkert, he looked more than capable to lead Virginia to an upset on the road. But Virginia needed more out of the running game and could not keep the big plays coming in the fourth quarter as Miami was taking control of the game.

Miami’s 10-0 start is the best start for the Hurricanes since playing for the BCS national championship in the 2002 season. This is also Miami’s first double-digit win season since 2003. That makes this Miami’s first 10-win season since joining the ACC. And they may not be done just yet.

Before making their first trip to the ACC Championship Game in two weeks, Miami will first make a business trip to Pittsburgh for the regular season finale against the Panthers. The Panthers were eliminated from postseason eligibility Saturday afternoon with a road loss to Virginia Tech, dropping Pitt to 4-7 on the year. Virginia will take on the Hokies next week in their regular-season finale on Friday night.