Week 2

Getty Images

Royce Freeman helps Oregon roll over Virginia 44-26

1 Comment

Oregon’s starting tailback has one of the better nicknames in college football: ‘Rolls’ Royce Freeman.

It’s an apt nickname too, especially after his effort on Saturday night in an 44-26 win over Virginia in which he raced away from the Cavaliers defense like one of his namesake’s cars can usually be found racing away from paparazzi. Freeman finished the night with 21 carries for 207 yards — a healthy 9.9 yards a carry — and two touchdowns.

In a game that was never really in doubt for the Ducks all night, Freeman’s put the finishing touch on it with an 85 yard run near the end of the 3rd quarter that is sure to be a potential Heisman highlight down the road.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Oregon wideout Devon Allen, still fresh from running in the 110 meter hurdles at the Rio Olympic Games, also got into the highlight package with a 77-yard touchdown reception that he celebrated by, you guessed it, hurdling in the end zone. Quarterback Dakota Prukop finished the night with 288 yards and three scores through the air in his most complete game as a starter.

For Virginia, the cross-country flight home will be a long one in which they can ponder their 0-2 start. Bronco Mendenhall’s team did muster a few positives on offense late in the contest but will likely avoid any talk during defensive meetings next week.

Oregon will likely move up slightly in the polls given Saturday’s result to set up an interesting matchup at Nebraska in Week 3.

Boise State sneaks past Washington State in wild shootout on the blue turf

Getty Images
1 Comment

The combination of Boise State’s blue turf and Washington State’s quirky head coach Mike Leach was bound to produce a memorable game Saturday night that would serve as a flashback to WAC shootouts from yesteryear.

Mission accomplished.

Boise State scored an 85 yard pick-six on the first series of the game, had an 88-yard touchdown drive on their first offensive drive and then blocked a field goal in the first half but failed to put away Washington State in a wild 31-28 game that always seemed to have one of the two teams making a crazy play every few minutes down the stretch.

The Cougars managed to regroup coming out of halftime and make  a serious run at the win before ultimately falling just short. Wazzu scored two touchdowns in the 4th quarter to cut it to a one score game with four minutes to go but couldn’t quite force overtime or find a game-winner.

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, the nephew of ex-Washington State star Mark Rypien, threw for 299 yards and a touchdown but tossed two late interceptions in the 4th quarter that nearly put the victory in jeopardy. Luckily the sophomore was able to hand the ball off to tailback Jeremy McNichols for most of the night as he rumbled his way to 116 yards and two scores but the two turnovers were decidedly un-Boise like.

The Broncos’ normally reliable defense did not have a second half to remember either on their way to giving up 480 yards through the air to quarterback Luke Falk. Still, they came up big on the final play of the game to knock down his Hail Mary attempt and secure the program’s first win over their Pacific Northwest rival.

Boise State isn’t done with the Pac-12 after that one either, as they’ll travel to Oregon State next week looking for their second straight victory over a Power Five opponent. Washington State, meanwhile, will have to regroup after starting 2016 with an 0-2 record and an uphill battle to make a bowl game.

Utah survives six turnovers to top BYU in the Holy War

Getty Images
2 Comments

The first play of the Holy War’s return to the regular season after a multi-year absence turned out to be indicative of the rest of the game.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill had his pass tipped by a receiver on the Cougars’ first snap, with the ball promptly plucked out the air by linebacker Sunia Tauteoli and returned 41 yards for a pick-six. The tone for the night set right off the bat, both teams seemed to go back-and-forth trying to out do each other in the turnover department.

Utah ended up surviving six giveaways on Saturday night in a wild game that had a little of everything at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Ultimately it resulted in a 20-19 Utes win that was their sixth straight (and perhaps most incredible) in the series from BYU.

Not to be outdone, the Cougars also threw two more interceptions to give the game a remarkable nine turnovers… before the end of the 3rd quarter. Hill finished the night 21-of-39 for 176 yards passing in his final meeting with the team’s in-state rival but couldn’t quite muster a second game-winning drive in as many weeks.

Utah quarterback Troy Williams also threw three interceptions in his first taste of the series but managed to come out on top in the end despite a shaky effort most of the game through the air. The offense pounded away at BYU’s defensive front to the tune of 169 yards on 42 carries but costly fumbles from multiple players hampered the team’s rhythm most of the night.

The wackiness of the game came to a crescendo in late in the 3rd quarter. Cougars safety Kai Nacua, who already had two interceptions on the night, was called for a controversial targeting penalty on a play in which he appeared to turn his shoulder on a hit that was eventually ruled incomplete. On the very next play, BYU picked Williams off and Nacua’s backup, Austin McChesney, was also called for targeting and ejected.

Both players will miss the first half of the team’s game against UCLA next week.

The entire sequence would have been the wacky highlight of the night had the Cougars not gone down in an equally wild ending. Utah kicked a short field goal that proved to be the deciding points late in the 4th quarter but Hill got the ball back wth 2:29 left on the clock. He eventually marched the Cougars down the field in a 13 play, 75 yard drive that would have tied the ball game up had new head coach Kalani Sitake opted to go for two and the win instead of gambling on overtime.

It was a decision he would probably want back as the stingy Utes defense swallowed up Hill on a quarterback draw that sealed the fate of their rivals to the south.

The final sequence was also emblematic of the latest interest (to neutrals, at least) chapter of the Holy War that continues to be one of the best rivalries in the West. Hopefully ball security is taken a little more seriously next year though.

Utah turnovers, BYU mistakes mar first half of the Holy War

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Holy War? Try Holy Moly.

BYU and Utah played a game of hot potato to renew the regular season edition of their gridiron rivalry on Saturday evening, with the Utes narrowly jumping out to a 14-13 lead at halftime thanks to a late scoring drive.

Things got weird early and didn’t seem to let up at all before both teams went to the locker room in Salt Lake City. BYU’s first play of the game was intercepted off a tipped pass, which Utah linebacker Sunia Tauteoli snagged out of the air before running 41 yards to the end zone for the first point of the game.

That would turn out to be about the best thing to happen for the Utes until the final few seconds of the half considering the team’s offense turned the ball over four times. Quarterback Troy Williams threw two interceptions — one in the red zone — and the team fumbled twice to end a pair of first quarter drives. If there was any individual bright spot, tailback Troy McCormick rushing for 60 yards on just nine carries was likely the extent of it until Williams found Tim Patrick in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown and the late lead.

 

Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill did rebound from his first pass of the game, throwing for 69 yards in the first half and scrambling for 39 on a touchdown run in the closing minutes of the 2nd quarter. Safety Kai Nacua was all over the field for BYU in the first half and recorded the two interceptions off of Williams.

Both head coaches appeared to be visibly upset with their teams heading into the locker room and one can certainly understand why after such a sloppy first half from each side.