League champions Western Kentucky led the All-Conference USA team with six First Team announcements, but runner-up Southern Miss placed the most overall players on the first and second teams with 10.
Louisiana Tech posted nine first- and second-team honorees, followed by WKU with eight.
And new North Texas head coach Seth Littrell, in his second day on the job, got a reminder why he’s in Denton, as the Mean Green were shut out of the first- and second-teams for the first time since 1957.
The first and second teams can be found below:
First Team Offense
QB — Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky, Sr.
RB — Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
RB — Jalen Richard, Southern Miss, Sr.
OL — Sebastian Johansson, Marshall, Sr.
OL — Jaylen Hunter, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
OL — Andrew Reue, Rice, Sr.
OL — Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, Jr.
OL — Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky, Jr.
TE — Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky, Sr.
WR — Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech, Jr.
WR — Richie James, Middle Tennessee, Fr.
WR — Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky, Jr.
First Team Defense
DL — Michael Wakefield, Florida International, Sr.
DL — Trevon Coley, Florida Atlantic, Sr.
DL — Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic, Jr.
DL — Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
LB — Evan McKelvey, Marshall, Sr.
LB — T.T. Barber, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
LB — Nick Holt, Western Kentucky, Sr.
DB — Richard Leonard, Florida International, Sr.
DB — Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech, Jr.
DB — Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
DB — Kalan Reed, Southern Miss, Sr.
First Team Specialists
K — Garrett Schwettman, Western Kentucky, Sr.
P — Dalton Schomp, Florida Atlantic, Jr.
KR — Deandre Reaves, Marshall, Sr.
PR — Richard Leonard, Florida International, Sr.
LS — Lance Schuffert, Southern Miss, Sr.
Second Team Offense
QB — Nick Mullens, Southern Miss, Jr.
RB — Kalif Phillips, Charlotte, Jr.
RB — Ray Lawry, Old Dominion, So.
RB — Ito Smith, Southern Miss, So.
RB — Anthony Wales, Western Kentucky, Jr.
OL — Michael Montero, Florida International, Jr.
OL — Reggie Bain, Florida Atlantic, So.
OL — Darrell Brown, Louisiana Tech, Jr.
OL — Jens Danielsen, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
OL — Michael Selby, Marshall, Jr.
OL — Rashod Hill, Southern Miss, Sr.
TE — David Morgan II, UTSA, Sr.
WR — Ed Batties, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
WR — Zach Pascal, Old Dominion, Jr.
WR — Mike Thomas, Southern Miss, Sr.
Second Team Defense
DL — Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte, Jr.
DL — Jarquez Samuel, Marshall, Sr.
DL — Michael Smith, Southern Miss, Sr.
DL — Jason Neill, UTSA, Sr.
LB — Anthony Wint, Florida International, So.
LB — Nick Thomason, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
LB — T.J. Ricks, Old Dominion, Jr.
LB — Brian Anderson, Southern Miss, Sr.
DB — Cre’von LeBlanc, Florida Atlantic, Sr.
DB — Bryson Abraham, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
DB — Jeremy Cutrer, Middle Tennessee, Jr.
DB — Bennett Okotcha, UTSA, Sr.
Second Team Specialists
K — Jonathan Barnes, Louisiana Tech, So.
P — Tyler Williams, Marshall, Sr.
KR — Kylen Towner, Western Kentucky, So.
PR — Deandre Reaves, Marshall, Sr.
LS — Matt Cincotta, Marshall, Sr.
As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.
CHALK, NOT CHAOS REIGNS When it comes to chaos, go with my beloved Cleveland Browns’ motto: “Wait ’til next year.”
With three playoff spots on the line — Oklahoma had already clinched one of the four semifinal berths — the likes of No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Stanford and No. 10 North Carolina needed a one-two punch of chaos, the latter which would’ve been self-created. No. 1 Clemson needed to lose to UNC and No. 2 Alabama needed to be upset by Florida in order for those three to have any shot; neither happened, and we are thus left with nothing but chalk as far as the eye can see.
The certainty is that Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan State will be chosen by the College Football Playoff selection committee as their four semifinalists. The great unknown is in which order they will be placed, although it may not be as great as some would like to think.
Starting in reverse, I think that MSU will be slotted in Ohio State’s spot from a year ago, the No. 4 seed from which the Buckeyes went on to win the title. At the top, I think the committee will keep the only 13-0 team in the country, Clemson, at No. 1, with their three wins over Top 10 teams swaying the dozen-member panel. That would leave ‘Bama and OU to fight over the Nos. 2 and 3 spots, although which one is higher-seeded than the other is of little importance.
So, for the 2015 semifinals, I’m foreseeing…
No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Michigan State
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
I suppose there is the possibility, albeit extremely slight, that the Tide could leapfrog the Tigers and throw a wrench into the projected matchups, but I find it highly, highly unlikely. You could also make the argument that the Spartans should be ranked higher than the Sooners, although, again and at first blush, I simply didn’t see it as OU’s résumé trumps MSU’s — three wins over teams currently in the CFP Top 25 their last three games? That’s crazy… until you realize MSU can claim wins over four teams in the Top 16: OSU, Michigan, Iowa and Oregon. And then you dig a little deeper.
The Sooners’ lone loss? To 5-7 Texas. The Spartans’? To 5-7 Nebraska on the road. MSU played 10 bowl-eligible teams (one 5-7) in 13 games, OU nine in 12 games. Sparty was 4-1 on the road, the Sooners 5-0. Nine of the Sooners’ wins came against Power Five teams; so did nine of the Spartans’. Seven of those PF wins for OU came by 10 or more points, while three of MSU’s were by double-digit margins. So, which direction will the committee go?
One theory already making the rounds: The group flips the Sooners and Spartans so that OU wouldn’t get the advantage of playing so close to home in the Cotton Bowl. That’s a very slippery slope that I hope the group doesn’t even think about heading down. Also potentially in play? The Sooners with 12 games thanks to the Big 12’s lack of a championship game vs. the Spartans and their 13 games.
In the end, perhaps the only real drama remaining is how the Sooners and Spartans are slotted. While MSU jumping from No. 5 to No. 3 would surprise me, it wouldn’t shock me. With TCU, you just have to go back one year to remember that the committee is not afraid of shaking things up because of that “13th data point.”
NEW YEAR’S SIX SELECTIONS
The four playoff slots aren’t the only prime bids to be handed out later today as the remaining four New Year’s Six bowls will be determined as well. Much like their playoff counterparts, there might not be much work for the committee to do.
The four big bowls consist of the Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC), Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12), and two featuring at-large teams (Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl). The Sugar is pretty well set in cement with Oklahoma State, thanks to Baylor’s loss, taking on Ole Miss.
For the Rose, I’m seeing an Iowa-Stanford slugfest, with Ohio State ticketed for the Fiesta. It’s certainly possible that the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes flip spots, although the initial rumblings have the former as a near-lock for Pasadena.
With OSU slotted, the Fiesta — and ESPN — would have to be salivating over pairing them with Notre Dame and the television ratings such a matchup would bring. Placing OSU in the Fiesta against Houston would give you the mentor vs. protégé angle — UH head coach Tom Herman was Urban Meyer‘s offensive coordinator in the Buckeyes’ title run — the national lure of a Buckeyes-Irish clash would be too much to pass up.
That would leave UH, as the Group of Five invite, in the Peach, very likely against Florida State.
While things are certainly subject to change, especially as it pertains to the Rose Bowl, it appears those will be your 2015-16 New Year’s Six matchups.
“You get a trophy and you get a trophy and you get a trophy…”
Well, not exactly but it’s certainly a direction that the FBS is headed when it comes to bowl bids.
Coming into Week 14, there were 75 teams with at least the minimum of six wins to fill the 80 available bowl slots. With just three teams capable of reaching that six-win threshold this weekend, we already knew there would be 5-7 teams going bowling; the only question was how many.
Kansas State, which would’ve gone regardless because of APR scores, upset West Virginia to reach six wins. Georgia State won its fourth game in a row to become eligible. South Alabama fell late to Appalachian State, meaning three 5-7 teams will qualify for the postseason.
Based on APR scores, which is how they will be selected, Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose State should be gifted berths from still-to-be-determined bowls Sunday afternoon. On the 5-7 front, there are some powerful people in the sport who are, rightly, concerned over the direction the postseason is headed.
“There’s a proliferation of bowl games and probably a lot of reasons for that. I haven’t unpacked them all,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was quoted as saying. “It doesn’t seem to me a healthy direction to continue to encourage 5-7 teams participating in bowl games. It’s a reward. I think the phrase in the NCAA manual is ‘a deserving winning team.’ We were at 6-5. We added a game and went to 6-6. I think that’s an appropriate level. I very much want to protect that access point at 6-6 as programs develop and have opportunities to continue their season.
“But I’m not an advocate that 5-7 is where we should end long-term. It was a fix this year. It was a potential for several years we might not be able to fill bowls, but I think we have to look at new strategies for managing the number of bowls.”
Given the money involved, however, it may take a borderline miracle to cram the postseason toothpaste back into the tube.
FIRST LEAGUE CROWN SINCE… Taking a look at the historical perspective of the 2015 conference champions from all 10 FBS leagues.
Houston was the winner of the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship game, dropping Temple 24-13. It’s the program’s first league title since winning Conference USA in 2006. The Cougars’ 11 conference championship’s have come in four different leagues: AAC (2015), Conference USA (1996, 2006), SWC (1976, 1978, 1979, 1984) and Missouri Valley (1952, 1956, 1957, 1959).
ACC Dabo Swinney claimed his second conference championship and first since 2011 with the “controversial” win over North Carolina. It’s also the 15th ACC title won by the Tigers and, with two Southern and four Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the football program claims 21 league crowns overall.
Michigan State claimed its eighth Big Ten championship and second of the title-game era. It was also the third won under head coach Mark Dantonio. Add in two MIAA titles, and the Spartans can claim 10 league crowns overall.
Oklahoma wrapped up its 45th conference championship last weekend, second only to Nebraska’s 46. Of those, 42 have come in one iteration or another of today’s Big 12, including 18 in the old Big Eight. All nine of the titles won in the Big 12 have come under the guidance of Bob Stoops.
With the win over Southern Miss Saturday, Western Kentucky claimed its first-ever conference championship since becoming an FBS program in 2007 and becoming a Conference USA member in 2014. It’s the Hilltoppers’ first title of any kind since winning the Gateway as an FCS school in 2002.
Bowling Green’s win over Northern Illinois Friday night was BGSU’s 12th MAC championship and its second the last three years. The Falcons also claimed five Northwest Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles between 1921-29.
San Diego State earned its first conference championship since 2012 and its first undisputed title since way back 1986. SDSU’s portfolio is certainly diverse, with conference championships spanning five different leagues: Mountain West (two), WAC (one), Pacific Coast Athletic Conference (five), California Collegiate Athletic Conference (five), Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (two).
For the third time in the last four years, David Shaw‘s Stanford Cardinal can proclaim itself the undisputed kings of the Pac-12. It’s also the program’s seventh Pac-8/10/12 title and 14th overall.
In its eighth SEC title game meeting with Florida, Alabama claimed the 25th SEC championship in its storied history, with the first coming in 1933. The Tide has won six of those titles in the conference championship game, with four of those wins coming under Nick Saban (2009, 2012, 2014, 2015). Those back-to-back championships are the first for an SEC school since Tennessee in 1997-98. Add in four Southern Conference titles, and the Tide has claimed 29 league crowns overall.
Arkansas State’s perfect 8-0 mark in league play gave the Red Wolves their fourth conference championship since moving up to the FBS level in 2006. Those four titles have all come in the past five years and, incredibly, under four different head coaches. Including their time at the FCS level, ASU has won 10 league titles.
SATURDAY RESET Below is a list of links for all of the Week 14 gamers/pertinent pieces posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.
Houston can make New Year’s reservations as AAC Champs with win over Temple.
CFT TOP FIVE A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.
1. Clemson — The controversy aside — holy hell that’s a bad beat for North Carolina — I still think the Tigers are the best team in the country. Now it’s up to them to prove me right. Or wrong, whatever the case may be. (Last week: No. 1) Next up: TBD
2. Oklahoma — I said it last week and, with OU not playing this weekend, I’ll say it again: there’s not a team in the country playing better football than the Sooners right now. In fact, I was closer to putting them in the top spot than I was seven days ago. While being a two or three seed doesn’t matter much, the committee would/will be doing OU a disservice by putting them anywhere but No. 2 in a few hours. (Last week: No. 3) Next up: TBD
3. Alabama — The first three quarters or so of play had me contemplating dropping the Tide all the way down to No. 4… only for UA to come back and totally redeem themselves. Well, not totally as I did drop them down one, but the upcoming Tide-Sooners playoff semifinal, should it go down that way, would be an utterly fascinating matchup of college football blue bloods. (Last week: No. 2) Next up: TBD
4. Michigan State — Wins over Oregon, Iowa, Ohio State and Iowa are very impressive, perhaps impressive enough that Sparty should be placed higher in my rankings. Only time will tell on that front, although I really don’t think so. (Last week: No. 5) Next up: TBD
5. Iowa — Some will say the Hawkeyes failed their first real test of the 2015 season, conveniently forgetting the wins over Northwestern and Pittsburgh. The Hawkeyes may not be the most glamorous team in the country, but they are one of the five best — I will allow, though, that I very nearly put Ohio State here. (Last week: No. 4) Next up: TBD
HEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS A statistical look at how the top contenders for this year’s stiff-armed trophy fared this past week.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (10-2, No. 9)
Saturday: Team did not play
Season: 211 carries for 1,658 yards (7.9 ypc), 18 touchdowns; 22 receptions for 218 yards, one touchdown
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (12-1, No. 2)
Saturday: 44 carries for 189 yards (4.3 ypc), one touchdown
Season: 339 carries for 1,986 yards (5.9 ypc), 23 touchdowns; 10 receptions for 97 yards
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (11-1, No. 3)
Saturday: Team did not play
Season: 243-354 (68.6%), 3,389 yards, 35 touchdowns, five interceptions; 131 carries for 420 yards (3.2 ypc), seven touchdowns
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (11-2, No. 7)
Saturday: 32 carries for 207 yards (6.5 ypc), one touchdown; four receptions for 105 yards, one touchdown; five kick returns for 120 yards; two punt returns for 29 yards; 1-1 passing (100%), 11 yards, one touchdown
Season: 319 carries for 1,847 yards (5.8 ypc), eight touchdowns; 41 receptions for 540 yards, four touchdowns; 36 kick returns for 1,042 yards, one touchdown; 14 punt returns for 67 yards; 2-3 passing (66.7%), 39 yards, two touchdowns
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (13-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 26-42 (61.9), 289 yards, three touchdowns; one interception; 24 carries for 131 yards (5.5 ypc), two touchdowns
Season: 287-413 (69.5%), 3,512 yards, 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions; 163 carries for 887 yards (5.4 ypc), 11 touchdowns
(Dropped out: none)
JT’s Personal Top Fivesman
1. Henry — Just give him his damn hardware already as we all know that, in the minds of the people who matter anyway, he won it with his performance Saturday in Atlanta. Probably. Maybe. Well, not really. Coming into Week 14, Henry winning seemed to be a lock; exiting it, it seems like the duo of Watson and, especially, McCaffrey are closing fast and are very much making a race out of this. (Last week: No. 1)
2. McCaffrey — If someone were to put this all-around machine No. 1 on their ballot — and I’m guessing there will be multiple West Coast voters doing just that — I’d have no issue whatsoever with it. In my book, you can put Nos. 1-4 in a hat and pull their names out and not be “wrong.” (Last week: 4)
3. Cook — It was only begrudgingly, and because of that superhuman effort in the Pac-12 title game, that I dropped the sophomore from what had previously been his standard perch at No. 2. It’d be a shame if Cook didn’t get a trip to the Big Apple out of his season, although I get the feeling that will end up being the case. (Last week: No. 2)
4. Watson — It’s tough leaving this supremely-talented sophomore out of the top three, but only three spots are available so somebody’s getting left out. Watson, McCaffrey and Cook will all be entering 2016 as juniors, and all three will headline every Heisman watch list that’s pushed out between now and September. (Last week: No. 3)
5. Mayfield — The OU junior came to the Heisman discussion late and it could very well have cost him mightily in the vote. Still, he deserves to be in the discussion given the season he’s had. (Last week: 5)
MARK, MIKE, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
In an unbelievably bold move, the administration at Michigan State allowed the identical twin brother of its head coach to lead the team in the Big Ten championship game against Iowa. At least, that’s what the FOX intro to the title game would have you believe.
C’mon man. First ESPN gets the man’s name wrong earlier this year, now FOX. How hard is it to know that MSU’s head coach’s name is Marc Dantonio?
PUT ‘EM UP, PUT ‘EM UP
On a couple of occasions, things got a little chippy during the Texas-Baylor game, including one bench-clearing incident. During that incident, Longhorns defensive back Jermaine Roberts was ready to roll — until the crowd started rolling in on him.
… simply so I can showcase the worst. First. Pitch. Ever.
HE SAID IT
“That’s nothing. That was a fight in a mall. I’ve been in a fight in an alley.” — Baylor head coach Art Briles, on the bench-clearing tiff with Texas.
HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I can’t say enough about our program, our young men. They are the ones out there battling. I’m so proud of them. They could have come in here and wilted under this.” — Georgia State head coach Trent Miles, after watching his team become bowl-eligible at 6-6 after winning just one game combined the past two seasons.
HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“There’s no team I’ve ever coaches that I wanted more to win a championship than this bunch.” — Nick Saban, after watching Alabama take apart Florida in the SEC championship game and punch its ticket to the College Football Playoff.
HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Shoot guys, they won the line of scrimmage. That’s why we’re getting on the road (to recruit) as soon as we leave here.” — Florida head coach Jim McElwain, after watching his Gators get taken apart.
HE SAID IT, THE FINAL ONE
“Holy cow, that’s just a young man making a really bad play.” — Dabo Swinney, explaining his punter going rogue on a fake punt that failed miserably in the ACC championship game.
HE WENT THERE
“I had a chance to look at it, and they missed it. They were wrong. That’s all I’m going to say about it. They were wrong. It isn’t going to change. It doesn’t matter one way or the other, so I’m going to have to swallow it like a man and just take it.” — Larry Fedora, on the unbelievably bad offsides call on an onside kick that cost his North Carolina team the opportunity to tie Clemson late in the ACC championship game.
Clemson’s 16-game winning streak is the longest in the country, the only FBS team currently with a streak in the double digits. Alabama and San Diego State will get the chance to join that select club this postseason as they’ve now won nine in a row, while Arkansas State has won eight straight. Oregon has now won six consecutive games as well.
On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak is Kansas at 15 straight, followed by UCF (13), Charlotte (10), Eastern Michigan (10), Oregon State (eight) and Boston College (eight).
S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK I
Texas is one of only seven schools nationally (Boise State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, TCU, Toledo and Tulane) with both a rushing and passing play of at least 84 yards this season. The Horns and TCU are the only Power Five Conference programs that can make that claim. Texas is the only Power Five team, and joins Toledo as the only FBS teams with three plays from scrimmage of 84 yards or longer.
S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
Florida’s Jim McElwain is the third first-year head coach in conference history, and first from the Eastern Division, to reach the SEC championship game, joining LSU’s Les Miles (2005, lost to Georgia, 34-14) and Gus Malzhan (2013, defeated Missouri, 59-42). McElwain is also the first head coach in Gator history to win 10 or more games in his first season with the program.
S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK III Jordan Canzeri (256), Akrum Wadley (204), and LeShun Daniels (195) have each rushed for at least 195 yards in a single game this season, making Iowa the first FBS team since LSU in 1997 to have at least three different players rush for 195-plus yards in a single game in the same season.
S.I.D NOTE OF THE WEEK IV
USC cornerback/wide receiver/return specialist Adoree’ Jackson is the only player in the country with 300 yards receiving, 500 yards in kick returns, 200 punt return yards and 20 tackles.
S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK V
With their sixth-straight West Division title, Northern Illinois has won more division crowns (seven) than any other current or former member of the Mid-American Conference. Trailing NIU are Toledo and Miami with five and four division titles, respectively. Bowling Green has won four division championships, Central Michigan and Ohio have each won three, while Akron, Ball State, Buffalo and Kent State each have one first-place finish to their credit.
OFF THE CHARTS Courtesy of the Michigan State sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART II Courtesy of the Mountain West Conference sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART III
Courtesy of the North Carolina sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART IV Courtesy of the Alabama sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART V Courtesy of the Houston sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART VI Courtesy of the Southern Miss sports information department
Since 2009, only four times has a quarterback averaged over 300 yards per game passing and 50 rushing. TCU’s Trevone Boykin has done it twice (2014, 2015). The only others to accomplish the feat were Heisman Trophy winners Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. Boykin has a 22-2 record as a starting quarterback during that two-year stretch.
YOU DON’T SAY
With its 55-16 victory over Penn State in the home finale, Michigan State has posted at least 11 wins five times in the last six seasons (11 in 2010, 11 in 2011, 13 in 2013, 11 in 2014). Prior to Mark Dantonio’s arrival, the Spartans had just two 10-win seasons in school history (1965, 1999).
Entering Week 14, North Carolina was averaging 7.46 yards per play, which ranked second in the country behind only Baylor at 7.47. The Tar Heels’ running game was averaging 6.0 yards per carry, which is third nationally.
NOTE OF NOTE
Below are the percentages of teams in each conference that qualified for a bowl game. The list includes the projected two 5-7 teams from the Big Ten and one from the MWC.
Pac-12 (10 of 12) ………………83.3%
Big Ten (10 of 14)………………..71.4%
SEC (10 of 14) …………………..71.4%
Big 12 (7 of 10) …………………70.0%
American (8 of 12)……………..66.7%
Mountain West (8 of 12)………66.7%
ACC (9 of 14)…………………….64.3%
MAC (7 of 13)……………………53.8%
C-USA (5 of 13) ………………….38.5%
Sunbelt (4 of 11)………………..36.4%
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
… with exactly 4,700 passing yards, Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson broke Ben Roethlisberger‘s single-season MAC record of 4,486 yards for Miami (OH) in 2003? Johnson also has 43 touchdown passes this season, breaking the conference’s single-season record of 41 he previously shared with former BGSU quarterback Omar Jacobs.
… Southern Miss this weekend became just the second FBS team to have a 4,000-yard passer (Nick Mullens) and two 1,000-yard rushers (Jalen Richard, Ito Smith) in the same season? The only other team to accomplish that feat was Oklahoma, with quarterback Sam Bradford and running backs Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray.
… with 3,496 all-purpose yards in 2015, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey is just the third player in FBS history to post 3,000 or more yards in a single season, joining Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders (3,250 yards in 1988) and Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews (3,161 yards in 2012)? The numbers for McCaffrey and Andrews were accumulated in 13 games — McCaffrey still has one more game remaining — while Sanders amazingly put up his yardage in just 11 games in one of the greatest single seasons in college football history.
… Derrick Henry‘s 1,986 yards rushing breaks the SEC single-season record of 1,891 set by Georgia’s Herschel Walker in 1981? It should be noted that Walker reached his total in two fewer games than Henry. Then again, Walker had 385 carries, Henry has 339.
… Oregon running back Royce Freeman finished the regular season as the only FBS player to eclipse 100 scrimmage yards in every one of his team’s games this year?
… Baylor wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne, pressed into service as the Bears’ fourth quarterback, has an older brother named Brixx? And, yes, the I’m taking full advantage of this factoid because I get to type the name “Brixx” and not have it involve an adult film star.
… Houston’s Tom Herman is just the fifth coach in NCAA history to start a career with wins in each of his first 10 games, joining Boise State’s Chris Petersen (2006), Miami’s Larry Coker (2001), Penn’s George Woodruff (1892) and Yale’s Walter Camp (1888)?
… Houston and Temple played in the first-ever American Athletic Conference football game in September of 2013 and also played each other in the first-ever league championship game Saturday? The Cougars won both of those games by a combined score of 46-26.
… Memphis has won nine games or more in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1949 and 1950?
… the 23 combined victories by Clemson (12-0) and North Carolina (11-1) entering the weekend is the highest total of wins for the participating teams in the 11 year history of the ACC championship game? The 23 combined wins betters the 22 in 2013 (Florida State and Duke) and matched in 2014 (Florida State and Georgia Tech).
… Friday Northern Illinois played in its sixth straight MAC championship game, tying Marshall (1997-2002) for most consecutive appearances in the game? Florida appeared in five straight SEC title tilts from 1992-96, the only other FBS team with a similar streak. The NIU-Bowling Green title game was also the third straight time the two have played each other in the contest, the first time that’s ever happened.
… Bowling Green is the only team in the country to have six road wins this season? BGSU was one of just 10 FBS teams that didn’t lose a true road game in 2015, with the others being Alabama, Clemson, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Toledo and Wisconsin. BGSU’s game against Tennessee was considered a neutral-site affair, as was the MAC championship game.
… the finishes to the 2015 season for Georgia State and Kansas State marked just the sixth and seventh times in the 12-game schedule era (2006) that a team advanced to a bowl after staving off elimination (2-6 or 3-6 records) in at least three straight games? The Panthers started the season 2-6 before ripping out off four straight wins to close out the year and become bowl-eligible. The Wildcats, meanwhile, won three straight after starting the year 3-6.
… Appalachian State has won 10 games this season, becoming the fourth Sun Belt Conference team to reach double-digit wins in a single season? The other three were Middle Tennessee State in 2009 and Arkansas State in 2011 and 2013. Those squads finished 10-3; with a bowl game remaining, the Mountaineers can set a league record for wins in a season.
I just wanted to extend a hearty and heartfelt thank you to all of our readers for making this the highest-trafficked season during my seven years at CFT. Specifically, though, I’d like to thank the readers of the Fifth Quarter. This is easily the most rewarding feature I work on here, and the fact that so many of you enjoy it makes it that much more enjoyable. This, unfortunately, will serve as the last Fifth Quarter of the 2015 season, so, at least when it comes to this space, I’ll see y’all next September after Week 1 of the 2016 season.
A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…
-14 — Rushing yards for Boston College in its loss to Louisville on 30 carries, an average of -.5 yards per carry. The Eagles had just 79 yards of offense in the contest.
.560 — Winning percentage of Pac-12 road teams in conferences games this season (14-11).
1 — Number of ball carriers for Illinois in its loss to Wisconsin, with running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn (13) getting the only carries.
2 — Number of ball carriers for Florida State in its loss to Georgia Tech, and just one of those was a running back. Dalvin Cook had 17 carries, while quarterback Everett Golson was credited with seven official carries.
12 — Different players who caught passes from three different quarterbacks in BYU’s 70-6 woodshedding of FCS Wagner.
12.8 — Yards per carry Matthew Dayes averaged en route to a 205-yard day in North Carolina State’s win over Wake Forest, the first time he’s gone for 200-plus in his 30-game career.
13 — Combined number of points by which Nebraska has lost their five games this season. The Cornhuskers have lost games by one (Illinois), two (Wisconsin, Northwestern), three (Miami) and five points (BYU).
13 — Consecutive games with a rushing touchdown for Alabama’s Derrick Henry, the longest active streak in the country.
13 — Consecutive 100-yard rushing games for Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, the longest such streak in the FBS.
14 — True road wins for Northern Illinois since the start of the 2013 season, the most of any FBS team. Duke has 12 such wins, while Ohio State and UCLA have 11.
26.9 — Points per game Kansas has lost by during its current 10-game losing streak. The Jayhawks have lost eight of those 10 by double digits, including five by 30 or more and one each by 40 and 50 or more.
32 — First-time starters for UCF, the most of any FBS team.
40 — Number of true freshmen Tennessee has played in 2014 (23) and 2015 (17), the most of any program the last two years. The 17 true freshmen played this season are second behind Georgia’s 22 and Army’s 21.
44 — Consecutive Big Seven/Eight games won by Oklahoma between 1952-59, the longest streak of any team in any conference. Oklahoma (Big 8, 1984-88) and Boise State (WAC, 2001-05) are tied for the second-longest streak at 31 straight. Florida State has the fourth-longest such streak at 29 straight from 1992-95 — they could’ve tied that mark yesterday except for, you know — while Ohio State has won 28 Big Ten regular season games in a row.
52 — Number of letters in the full name of UCLA’s kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn. For the record, the full name is (deep breath) John Christian Ka’iminoeauloameka’ikeokekumupa’a Fairbairn.
199 — Number of minutes, in game time, it’s been since Missouri scored a touchdown. Their last trip to the end zone came with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter of the Oct. 3 win over South Carolina. Since then the Tigers have lost three straight and scored a combined 12 points.
201 — Career-high rushing yards for Arkansas State quarterback Jalen Nixon in Tuesday’s win over Louisiana-Lafayette. That total, while impressive, is far away from the FBS single-game record for a quarterback — 321 yards by Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch in November of 2013. The all-division record is 342 by Matt Roe of Div. III Augustana (Ill.).
201 — School-record rushing yards for a quarterback by Quintin Flowers in USF’s win over SMU.
211 — Yards under Georgia Southern’s per-game rushing average Appalachian State held them in the Mountaineers’ win Thursday night. The Eagles came into the game averaging a nation’s best 399 yards per game, and were held to a season-low 188; their previous low was 195 in the season opener vs. West Virginia.
248 — Career-high rushing yards for Texas State’s Robert Lowe in a win over South Alabama. The senior came into the game with 290 yards on the season.
263 — Rushing yards for Tyler Ervin in San Jose State’s win over New Mexico. Ervin has now gone for 200 or more twice this season, with the other being a 300-yard effort late last month.
268 — AAC-record receiving yards for Keyarris Garrett in Tulsa’s high-scoring loss to Memphis.
355 — Combined rushing yards for Samaje Perine (201) and Joe Mixon (154) in Oklahoma’s win over Texas Tech. That duo was part of the Sooners’ 405-yard rushing effort as a team.
390 — Career-high passing yards for FIU’s Alex McGough in a win over Old Dominion. McGough’s previous high was 263 earlier this year.
399 — Career-high passing yards by UCLA true freshman Josh Rosen in a 16-point win over Cal Thursday night.
430 — Passing yards for Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson vs. Kent State, the sixth time in games he’s gone over the 400-yard mark. He’s also thrown five touchdowns in each of the last three games and four times total this season.
447 — School-record passing yards for Paxton Lynch in Memphis’ Friday night win over Tulsa.
465 — Yards of total offense for Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott against Kentucky, 348 passing and 117 rushing. Prescott also accounted for six touchdowns, three each passing and rushing.
514 — Passing yards for Luke Falk in Washington State’s upset of Arizona. That total isn’t a career-high as Falk threw for 601 yards in a loss to Arizona State lasts season.
741 — Yards of total offense in BYU’s 70-6 dismantling of FCS Wagner.
812 — Programs at every level of college football, only one of which, Florida State, entered Week 8 without committing an offensive turnover. That stretch came to an end as Everett Golson tossed his first interception of the year against Georgia Tech.
1,638 — Weight, in pounds, of Arkansas’ starting offensive line, which al.com writes is “the largest front five in all of football — college, NFL or elsewhere.”
344,007 — Twitter followers as of 3 a.m. ET Sunday morning for Michigan football, the most of any FBS team. Alabama is next at 285,547 followers.
As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.
YOU CAN’T SPELL “OVERRATED” WITHOUT S-E-C Well, technically you can, but just let me go. I’m on a roll.
Last week, the Associated Press voters turned the SEC into the only conference in that poll’s history to have 10 teams ranked in its Top 25. Most outside the South scratched their heads at such deference to the conference, but the coaches in the league ran with it in trumpeting the superior firepower their collection of teams had to offer. And then Week 2 happened.
Second-ranked Alabama looked presentable against decided underdog Middle Tennessee State (and by “presentable” think Ohio State-Hawaii), while sixth-ranked Auburn was taken to overtime, at home, by FCS Jacksonville State. No. 18 Arkansas was embarrassingly dropped at home by Toledo of the MAC, followed by 21st-ranked Missouri hanging on for a 27-20 win over an Arkansas State team that was on the wrong end of a 55-6 USC woodshedding in Week 1.
The non-conference kick-to-the-tentacles day for the SEC was punctuated by 23rd-ranked Tennessee. Up 17-3 on No. 19 Oklahoma entering the fourth quarter, the Vols gave up a pair of touchdowns to send the game into overtime. The Sooners, on the road, scored two touchdowns in the two overtime sessions while the Vols managed just one in a gut-wrenching home loss that gives UT a 2-30 record vs. AP-ranked teams since 2009.
At least No. 16 Texas A&M (56-23 over Ball State) and No. 17 Ole Miss (73-21 over Fresno State) stepped on an inferior opponent’s throat and didn’t allow them to breathe.
Based on results and not on reputation, the SEC should have, at the very most, six teams ranked in the newest AP Top 25 — my ballot, if I had one, would have four: Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Georgia and no I didn’t forget about LSU or Auburn. And that’s no slight to that conference or any of their teams; rather, that’s a nod to some quality teams throughout college football, some that are (gasp!) better than some of the currently-ranked ones in the SEC. In a few hours, though, we’ll see how many voters can leave their biases at the door and vote for the here-and-now — without tapping into their memory banks.
YOU GO GIRL!
Earlier this past week, we noted that Kent State head coach Paul Haynes promised that his walk-on female kicker, April Goss, would see the field at some point this season. As it turns out, some point was Saturday.
Following a Golden Flash touchdown late in the second quarter of the game against Delaware State, regular kicker Shane Hynes went out for the point after attempt. Haynes, though, called a timeout and, when the special teams unit went back out on the field, Goss trotted out along with them.
As noted in the tweet, Goss became the second female to score in an FBS game. The first, Katie Hnida, originally on the roster at Colorado before transferring under what ultimately became controversial circumstances, was successful on two point-after attempts for New Mexico in 2003. Months prior to that debut, Hnida attempted an extra point in the Las Vegas Bowl — it was blocked — becoming the first female to play in an FBS game.
Congratulations to Goss for grabbing her piece of history. And a personal thank you as well for giving my nine-year-old daughter something to cheer wildly about yesterday evening.
YOU GO GIRL! PART DEAUX
Unbeknownst to many, or even most, people, the SEC made some of its own gender history Saturday night.
The SEC oversees Sun Belt Conference officiating, and utilized a crew from that conference for the Texas A&M-Ball State game because of the number of league home games this weekend. Sebrina Brunson was an alternate on that crew and, after halftime, took over an on-field spot on that crew.
IRISH TITLE HOPES SNAPPED?
Entering the 2015 season, many an observer was viewing Notre Dame as a viable playoff contender. In a span of seven days, however, the Irish may have seen their postseason hopes dashed.
First, top running back Tarean Folston was ruled out for the remainder of the year because of a torn ACL suffered in the season-opening win over Texas. Then, a week later, starting quarterback Malik Zairesustained what will be a season-ending fractured ankle in the win over Virginia. And, suffice to say, it was a painfully horrific way for Zaire’s season to come to an end.
So, for the remainder of the year, the keys to the Irish offense will be in the hands of redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer. Kizer did his part in relief of Zaire as he tossed a pair of touchdown passes, including a 39-yarder with 12 seconds left to lift ND to a 34-27 win over UVa.
That said, what would the Irish give for a do-over from Everett Golson on his transfer to Florida State? The Irish aren’t out of playoff contention by any stretch of the imagination, but the twin losses to key offensive performers makes it a significantly tougher row to hoe for the Golden Domers. Well, that and a schedule that includes games against Georgia Tech, Clemson and USC.
HARBAUGH’S GONNA HARBAUGH
For the most part, it was a kinder, gentler Jim Harbaugh in Week 1. For the home opener, the khaki gloves came off.
Late in the second quarter of Michigan’s win over Oregon State, a Wolverine was, wrongly as it turned out, flagged for roughing the punter. And, being the gentleman that he is, Harbaugh decided to gently point out that fact to the men in black & white.
And by “gently” I mean he stomped and tossed his playsheet and generally ranted and raved about what was admittedly a bad call.
For some reason, I get the feeling that’s not the last time we’ll see an animated Harbaugh roaming the Ann Arbor sidelines.
He’ll get barely if any Heisman buzz, but what Matt Johnson has done the first two games of the season deserves some recognition.
In the first two games of the season, and against Power Five teams Tennessee and Maryland no less, the Bowling Green quarterback has thrown for 915 yards and eight touchdowns. 491 of those yards and six of those touchdowns came during a career-high performance in BGSU’s 48-21 upset of Maryland in College Park Saturday; his previous career-high prior to this season was 393 yards against Northern Illinois in the 2013 MAC title game.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Johnson’s early-season performance, even above the fact that it’s come against to P5 teams? He missed most of the 2014 season with a hip injury that also kept him out of spring practice this year.
Thanks in large part to Johnson, the Falcons will have to be considered not only the favorites in the MAC East but one of the teams who could potentially grab the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid.
LESS WEAK 2 Just a little bit, though.
In the 87 games that were played opening weekend, a full 47 were FBS vs. FCS — 22 involving Power Five conference teams, 25 involving the Group of Five. A week later, that number was cut nearly in half to 25 — 15 for P5s, 10 for G5s. The power conferences will, though, get a heavy dose of the G5s in the 76 total games played this weekend (including Thursday/Friday nights), with 31 games between those two football caste systems scheduled.
Last week there were 11 games pitting P5s against each other; in Week 2, that number dipped a bit to 10. Six of those contests are non-conference matchups (Oregon State at Michigan; Washington State at Rutgers; Notre Dame at Virginia; Iowa at Iowa State; Oklahoma at Tennessee; and Oregon at Michigan State) while eight teams will open up conference play (Wake Forest at Syracuse; Georgia at Vanderbilt; Kentucky at South Carolina; and LSU at Mississippi State).
Rounding out Week 2’s 76 games are 10 G5-G5 clashes.
SATURDAY RESET Below is a list of links for all of the Week 2 gamers posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.
Spartans clips Ducks, shows Michigan State will be firmly entrenched in the playoff discussion for the foreseeable future.
CFT TOP FIVE A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.
1. Ohio State — Defensively, it was as impressive a performance as there was in Week 2. Offensively… it was as impressive a defensive performance as there was in Week 2. Both quarterbacks looked tentative and uncertain in the win over Hawaii; Urban Meyer needs to get that position cleared up sooner rather than later. (Last week: No. 1) Next up: vs. Northern Illinois, Sept. 19
2. Michigan State — You beat the seventh-ranked team in the country, you get moved right on to the heels of the defending champs. In fact, the only thing that kept me from moving the Spartans up one more spot was a less-than-impressive win over Western Michigan in Week 1. (Last week: No. 5) Next up: vs. Air Force, Sept. 19
3. TCU — What did we learn in TCU’s 70-7 shellacking of Stephen F. Austin? The Horned Frogs are still a damn-good football team and, well, that’s about all we learned. How good TCU is might not actually be known for another month. (Last week: No. 2) Next up: vs. SMU, Sept. 19
4. Alabama — Let me be blunt here: I flat-out whiffed on ‘Bama in Week 1. The Tide should’ve been included in the original Top Five, and I just completely forgot about them. Consider this a market correction, even as they failed to impress much in the win over Middle Tennessee State. (Last week: NR) Next up: vs. No. 17 Ole Miss, Sept. 19
5. Oregon — Lose by three on the road to one of the Top Five teams in the country? My conscience won’t allow me to move them out quite yet, especially as the likes of Baylor and USC and Notre Dame and a handful of others undefeated teams simply don’t look better than a one-loss Oregon. (Last week: No. 5) Next up: vs. Georgia State, Sept. 19
(Dropped out: No. 3 Auburn, my dignity for actually having Auburn ranked that high)
OFFERING ONE UP TO ST. TIMOTHY
I don’t think much needs to be added to this.
Hey, who am I to judge a man’s/woman’s choice for a final resting spot?
WOO PIG BINKIE!!!
In the end, Bret Bielema stuck his foot in his mouth with his in-week touting of the strength of Arkansas’ schedule and the SEC overall leading into his Razorbacks losing to Toledo. His talking also left him open to this:
Ouch. Oh, and that would be Miley Cyrus circa 2004.
HELMET OF THE YEAR
I’m far from a fan of the myriad uniform combinations Oregon employs. And I’m normally not a fan of cartoon characters masquerading as college football logos. I’m a huge fan, however, of the helmet the Ducks decided to wear for the Michigan State game Saturday night.
What an absolute mess in Austin athletics — the “huge” win over Rice notwithstanding — none of which is Mack’s doing, of course.
HE SAID IT
“I don’t know if anybody listens to me or not, but this is mainly about the players. The guys that are out there playing, and their families that are watching it.” — Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, following the buildup to his first home game as his alma mater’s coach and all of the pregame focus being on him.
HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Let’s not go heaping too much praise on them just yet. They’re kind of like mushrooms; we like to keep them in the dark and feed them manure.” — Houston’s Tom Herman, following the “upset” win over Louisville and with the first scatological reference of the “he said it” era.
HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I don’t know. I guess you ask [athletic director] Gene Smith. That’s the guy to talk to.” — Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, when asked how he thought he’s handled the Buckeyes’ quarterback situation.
HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“You’re a helluva player, but have some damn class. ” — Tennessee head coach Butch Jones to Oklahoma’s Eric Striker, who was seen taunting the Neyland Stadium crowd following the Sooners’ double-overtime win.
HE SAID IT, THE FINAL ONE
“We won the game, but that’s not acceptable. You guys should be embarrassed having to write about it.” — An unhappy Jim McElwain, following Florida’s uneven seven-point win over East Carolina in Gainesville.
Two wins to start the 2015 season has pushed Ohio State’s nation’s best winning streak to 15 straight. Up next are TCU (10), Memphis (nine), Western Kentucky (seven), Michigan State (six) and Navy (five).
The “honor” of the longest losing streak had belonged to Georgia State, which had lost 12 in a row until Saturday night’s 34-32 win over New Mexico State. The win also marked GSU’s first-ever win over an FBS-level team as an FBS team themselves. Additionally, Colorado ended its nine-game losing streak, the longest amongst Power Five teams, with a 48-14 win over UMass. With those outcomes, UNLV now owns the nation’s longest losing streak at eight straight.
MY ANNUAL REMINDER THAT…
… Notre Dame, UCLA and USC are the only teams that have never played a non-FBS/Div. 1-A school since the current setup was established in 1978. Following the 2016 season, and because of a conference mandate, Big Ten teams will no longer be permitted to schedule games against FCS programs.
S.I.D NOTE OF THE WEEK
In a claim that the great Kellen Moore can’t even make, Jake Browning became the first true freshman to win the starting quarterback spot as well as the first true freshman QB to start for head coach Chris Petersen at either his current home of Washington or his former home of Boise State.
S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
UNLV’s Tony Sanchez is just the fifth man in the modern era of college football to move directly from being a head coach at a high school to being head coach at a university that was part of what is now known as the FBS. Sanchez, of course, only had to move across the city after going 85-5 in six seasons while leading 2014 national champion Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. Jim Bradley, who passed away in August, was the first to do it when he went across town to take over at NMSU.
S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK III
The meeting with UCF marked the first for Stanford against a current FBS program from the Sunshine State. Stanford faced Pensacola in 1903 and 1904 when the team was stationed in the San Francisco Bay. Stanford has won three postseason games (1986 Gator Bowl, 1993 Blockbuster Bowl, 2011 Orange Bowl) played in the state of Florida.
S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK IV
Thursday’s game at Western Kentucky marks Louisiana Tech’s first return to Bowling Green since 1939, a span of 76 years. That gap between trips to Bowling Green is the longest in school history between trips to a single opponent. The previous longest drought was a 62 years in between trips to Baton Rouge to face LSU (1941 to 2003) as well as 62 years before returning to New Orleans to face Tulane (1936 to 1998).
OFF THE CHARTS Courtesy of the Louisiana Tech sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART II Courtesy of the Michigan State sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART III Courtesy of the Mountain West sports information department
OFF THE CHARTS, PART IV Courtesy of the Oregon sports information department
SAY WHAT? Qadree Ollison became the first freshman in ACC history to run for 200 or more yards (207) in the Week 1 win over Youngstown State and he did it in just the second half after an injury sidelined Pittsburgh’s James Conner.
DULY NOTED V’Angelo Bentley is the only player in Illinois history to record a kickoff return, punt return, interception return and fumble return for touchdown in his career. Harold “Red” Grange is the only other Illini player with kickoff, punt and interception returns for TDs, but he never returned a fumble for a score.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
… Dalvin Cook‘s 266 yards rushing were the second-most in Florida State history? Cook’s performance is topped only by Greg Allen‘s 322 yards in 1981.
… Kentucky’s win over South Carolina in Columbia ended a 22-game losing streak in true road games?
… Miami sophomore running back Joe Yearby posted career-highs in all-purpose yards (243), rushing yards (146), receiving yards (97) and touchdowns (two, one each rushing and receiving) in the Friday night win over FAU? Fellow running back Mark Walton set a career-high for rushing touchdowns with three in that victory as well.
… Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton last weekend became the second FBS quarterback to ever start five season openers, joining Tulsa’s T.J. Rubley (1987-91)?
… Wake Forest linebacker Brandon Chubb has a brother, Bradley Chubb, who is a linebacker at North Carolina State while his cousin Nick Chubb is a star running back at Georgia? Additionally, he had another cousin who played defensive back at Georgia while his father was a linebacker at UGA.
… Washington State linebacker Peyton Pelluer‘s dad (Scott, 1977-80), grandfather (John, mid-fifties) and great-grandfather (Carl, twenties) all played for Wazzu?
… this season there are 14 individuals serving as the head coach at their alma maters? Those are Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Bryan Harsin (Boise State), John Bonamego (Central Michigan), Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina), Paul Haynes (Kent State), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), David Shaw (Stanford), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Matt Wells (Utah State), Sean Kugler (UTEP), Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin).
… Oregon had been a wagering favorite for 46 straight games before they headed into their game against Michigan State as three-point underdogs? Alabama has a current streak of 69 straight games as the favorite, which is tops in the country.
… Sept. 12 marks the latest LSU has opened a season since 1998 when the Tigers beat Arkansas State 42-6 on Sept. 12? LSU’s original 2015 opener against McNeese State last weekend was cancelled due to weather in general and lightning specifically.
… UCF’s game against Stanford Saturday was its first against a team from the state of California?
… with the win over North Carolina Central, Duke has started a season 2-0 for the third straight year for the first time since a streak of six in a row from 1949-55?
… in 2014 and 2015, West Virginia posted back-to-back shutouts in home season openers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium for the first time in program history?
… Washington State’s Bob Robertson is the longest-tenured radio play-by-play announcer in college football with 49 years behind the mic? The first time Robertson was on the radio call for a Wazzu game, a gallon of gas would set you back 30 cents.
… with the Illinois game originally scheduled for last Friday night delayed because of lightning, Kent State has had postponements in each of their last two road trips? The first of the two was Buffalo last November because of a snowstorm.
… there are just three Group of Five teams that have played in at least five straight bowl games? That trio consists of Boise State, Northern Illinois and San Diego State.
… there are just six teams that won’t play back-to-back home games this season? The unfortunate six are FIU, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, San Diego State, UMass and Western Kentucky.
… Tulsa was the first school to play in five straight New Year’s Day Bowl Games? Those were the Sun Bowl (1-1-42), Sugar Bowl (1-1-43), Sugar Bowl (1-1-44), Orange Bowl (1-1-45) and Oil Bowl (1-1-46).
… only Hawaii and New Mexico State will have all new offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators in 2015?
Friday night, and in his first career start as a sophomore, Dubois (Pa.) Beavers quarterback Matt Miller passed for what’s believed to be a national high school record 782 yards, helped lead his team to 90 points… and lost. That’s in large part because Meadville’s Journey Brown ran for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns in leading the Bulldogs to a 107-90 win over the Beavers. Deadspin.com writes that Brown “had a chance to set the national high school record [for single-game rushing yards], but the Bulldogs took a knee” at the end of the game.
FIU beating UCF gets Group of 5 race off to wild start
Forget about whether or not the Big 12 got the raw end of the deal in the first year of the College Football Playoff for a moment, and shift your attention to the Group of 5 conversation. Thursday night offered some interesting developments right out of the gate as far as those conferences are concerned. Few may have had as much of an impact as FIU’s surprising victory at UCF, thanks to a blocked field goal in the final seconds.
The highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion will receive a spot in the New Years Six line-up under the College Football Playoff format. Last year that spot went to Boise State out of the Mountain West Conference. When discussing the Group of Five, it is important to not just differentiate between specific teams like Boise State and Cincinnati, but also the entire body of work put together by the conferences as a whole. This may have been part of the reason the Big 12 was left out of the playoff last season, and appeared to be part of the reason why Boise State had a decided edge over Marshall out of Conference USA last season. Winning games is important for a team, but seeing other members of your conference rally to score some good wins helps the cause for everybody. That is why FIU upsetting UCF on Thursday night is pretty significant. Scoring wins against other Group of Five conferences helps everywhere in the conference.
Conference USA got off to a good start on Thursday night. Western Kentucky scored a victory over an SEC school, even if it was Vanderbilt. FIU took down UCF, a contender in the American and potential Group of Five contender. Texas San Antonio came up short on the road against Arizona, but they put up a respectable fight. While it is only a small fraction of a fraction of games to be played this season, Conference USA got off to a relatively good start compared to the American.
In addition to UCF going down, UConn narrowly escaped a home upset loss to Villanova. Tulane opened at home and was demolished by Duke, 37-7. The MAC did well with a road victory by Ohio over Idaho of the Sun Belt Conference. Ball State took care of business against VMI. But Central Michigan lost at home to Oklahoma State and Toledo was spared a potential loss Thursday night when Mother Nature intervened while the Rockets were losing to Stony Brook at home.
The Mountain West Conference holds the upper hand with the best contender in Boise State, and every team playing Thursday night scored a win. That includes Hawaii’s home victory over Colorado as the officials botched setting the ball with Colorado driving in the final seconds. It also includes Utah State’s massive struggle to get a 12-9 win over Southern Utah.
This race is going to be fun to watch all season long.