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The Fifth Quarter, Week 11 Rewind

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

PLAYOFF TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’?
It wasn’t the earth-shattering, landscape-shifting tumult that it could’ve been, but it was enough to, once again, shake the playoff picture up all over — especially at the latter half of the Top 10.

Stanford, No. 7 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, suffered its second loss of the season while No. 10 Utah did the same, effectively putting the Pac-12 on a precarious playoff precipice if not outright pushing the Power Five league over the ledge.  No. 9 LSU, coming off the loss to Alabama, saw its playoff hopes go up in smoke with an embarrassing loss to Arkansas.

Even more impactful, No. 6 Baylor fell from the ranks of the unbeatens to a No. 12 Oklahoma squad that will now be very much in the thick of the playoff chase.

That said, the remaining teams in the most recent Top 10 held serve, including the first five.  To varying degrees,  No. 1 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Iowa and No. 8 Oklahoma State struggled in closer-than-expected wins.  The key word there, of course, is “wins.”

Conversely, No. 2 ‘Bama put together the most impressive performance of Week 11, a 31-7 shellacking of No. 17 Mississippi State in Starkville.  Along with the Sooners, the Tide may have gained the most tonight in the eyes of the committee.

Will it be enough, though, to leapfrog an unbeaten Clemson into the No. 1 hole?  I think it will, but it wouldn’t shock me either way.  That said, and armed with the knowledge that (pats self on back) I nailed the committee’s top four last week (pulls muscle patting self on back), here are the four teams I believe will occupy the first four slots when the newest rankings, the third of the year, are released this Tuesday.

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio State
  4. Notre Dame

For some perspective, here is how the top four looked after the third release of last year’s CFP Top 25:

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida State
  4. TCU

Neither Mississippi State nor TCU would end up qualifying for one of the four playoff spots.  The two that did, Alabama and Ohio State, were No. 5 and No,. 8, respectively, with four releases remaining.  With three releases remaining last year, which is what’s left this year, Alabama, Oregon and Florida State were Nos. 1-3, while Ohio State was No. 6 (Mississippi State was No. 4).

Looking ahead to next weekend, the sport could be in for yet another significant shakeup as Ohio State will host No. 13 Michigan State; Oklahoma State will see Baylor invade Stillwater; Oklahoma will square off with a wounded and 15th-ranked TCU in Norman; and No. 14 Michigan will take a dangerous road trip to Penn State.

Miami v North CarolinaCONFERENCE CHASE CLARITY
With Clemson (ACC Atlantic) and Florida (SEC East) clinching in Week 10, we entered Week 11 with seven Power Five divisions/conference up for grabs.  Exiting Week 11, no divisions were decided, but more than a couple came closer to being claimed.

Below are the remaining scenarios for each P5 conference.

ACC
Coastal
Thanks to 6-0 North Carolina’s win over 5-1 Pittsburgh earlier this year, the Tar Heels have total control of the division.  In order to claim its first-ever spot in the ACC championship game, all UNC needs to do is either beat Virginia Tech next weekend or North Carolina State in the regular-season finale the following weekend. For Pitt, they need UNC to lose both of those games and beat Louisville in Week 12 and Miami in Week 13.

BIG TEN
East
Ohio State (6-0), Michigan State (5-1) and Michigan (5-1) all held serve with conference wins in Week 11.  If OSU wins both, they’re back in the Big Ten championship game.  An MSU win over OSU this Saturday and over Penn State in the final game of the regular season gives the division to the Spartans.  UM, because of its loss to MSU earlier in the season, needs their in-state rivals to lose to OSU and then beat the Buckeyes themselves the week after.

West
At 6-0, and with a win already over 5-1 Wisconsin, Iowa needs to simply win one of its two remaining games — vs. Purdue, at Nebraska — to claim its first-ever West title.  UW can still win the West, provided it wins out (at Maryland, vs. Northwestern) while the undefeated Hawkeyes lose out.  A three-way tie between Iowa, Wisconsin and Northwestern (4-2) is possible, but the tiebreaker would go to the Hawkeyes based on their 2-0 record against the other two.

Oklahoma State v Iowa StateBIG 12
You’d be lying if you said you thought before the season began that the road to the Big 12 title would run through Stillwater, yet that’s exactly where we stand with three weeks left in the regular season.  All that stands between Oklahoma State and a conference championship — and a likely punched playoff ticket — are two rather sizable obstacles: Baylor in Week 12, Oklahoma in Week 13.  An OSU loss in either of those, however, would send the conference plummeting into chaos.  Or, it’d clear things up if it’s the Sooners, more respected by the committee, who win out.  As has been the case throughout the first 11 weeks of the season, this conference won’t be decided until the end of November — unless OU loses to TCU and OSU drops BU in Week 12, of course, which would hand the Big 12 to the Cowboys.

PAC-12
North
Stanford claims the North if it beats Cal in the Big Game.  Oregon can claim the division with a Stanford loss and wins over USC and Oregon State — in Eugene — the next two weeks.

South
With 4-3 UCLA’s stunning last-second loss to Washington State and 5-2 Utah’s double-overtime loss to Arizona, it’s 5-2 USC that suddenly controls its own destiny in the South thanks to the Trojans’ Oct. 24 win over the Utes.  Wins over Oregon and UCLA the next two Saturdays would give USC its first berth in the Pac-12 title game.  Utah will need to win out against UCLA and Colorado and have USC lose at least once to win the division.  UCLA would need to win out against Utah and USC and have both of those teams lose out in order to claim the South outright.  A three-way tie is also a possibility as USC, Utah and UCLA could all finish 6-3.  In that scenario, UCLA would win the North based on a 2-0 record vs. the other two.

SEC
West
For 6-1 Alabama, it’s simple: Beat Auburn, and ‘Bama is headed back to the SEC title game as West champs.  A loss in the Iron Bowl, though?  Ole Miss could claim the West with wins over LSU in Week 12 and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl in Week 13.  Arkansas can still claim a share of the division, but can’t earn a spot in the conference title game as they would lose out on a three-way tiebreaker with Ole Miss and Alabama and a two-way tiebreaker with ‘Bama.

SATURDAY RESET
Below is a list of links for all of the Week 11 gamers/pertinent pieces posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

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

1. Clemson — After the big win over Florida State, Clemson might’ve been due for a letdown against Syracuse.  They were, but they still managed to take care of business and chugged along its unbeaten way. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Wake Forest, Nov. 21

2. Alabama — The ass-whoopin’ ‘Bama put on Mississippi State, coupled with the struggles of the team that was right above them in my eyes, was enough for me to get in lock-step with the College Football Playoff committee.  As was the case with the Buckeyes around this time last season, I don’t know if there’s any team in the country that wants to face the Tide right now. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Charleston Southern, Nov. 21

3. Ohio State — With games coming up against Michigan State and Michigan that will go a long way in determining their postseason fate, you can’t really blame OSU if they were peeking ahead.  Based on how they played, for the most part, against Illinois, that peek was actually a full-blown stare. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. No. 13 Michigan State, Nov. 21

4. Notre Dame — Much like with Clemson the week before, I’m relenting on the Golden Domers and tossing them into my top-five mix.  The Irish doesn’t do anything that really stands out, yet they do almost everything very well.  They’re a fascinating team, and one that you should root for to succeed if you want to see the playoff field expand sooner rather than later. (Last week: NR)
Next up: vs. Boston College, Nov. 28

5. Oklahoma State — The Big 12 OSU didn’t look good against a very below-average Iowa State squad, although, in fairness, there’s something about Ames that makes the Cowboys go off the rails.  They won in the dictionary trap game on the road, though, and that’s all that really matters.  Given all of the tumult above them, OSU should rise in the CFP rankings this Tuesday.  Here, not so much. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: vs. No. 6 Baylor, Nov. 21

(Dropped out: No. 4 Baylor)
(Others considered: Iowa, Oklahoma)

2014 Heisman Trophy PresentationHEISMAN 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 (8-2, No. 16)
Saturday: 22 carries for 138 yards, two touchdowns; two receptions for 17 yards
Season: 170 carries for 1,369 yards (8.1 ypc), 14 touchdowns; 18 receptions for 202 yards, one touchdown

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (10-0, No. 3)
Saturday: 27 carries for 181 yards, two touchdowns
Season: 220 carries for 1,425 yards (6.5 ypc), 16 touchdowns; 24 receptions for 169 yards

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (7-2, No. 9)
Saturday: 19 carries for 91 yards (4.8 ypc), one touchdown; three receptions for 36 yards
Season: 214 carries for 1,474 yards (6.9 ypc), 17 touchdowns; 10 receptions for 94 yards

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (9-1, No. 2)
Saturday: 22 carries for 204 yards (9.3 ypc), two touchdowns; one reception for zero yards
Season: 240 carries for 1,458 yards (6.1 ypc), 19 touchdowns; nine receptions for 69 yards

Matt Johnson, QB, Bowling Green (8-2, NR)
Wednesday: 23-41 (56.1), 269 yards, three touchdowns, one interception; 10 carries for zero yards
Season: 291-421 (69.1%), 3,955 yards, 36 touchdowns, four interceptions; 87 carries for 147 yards, three touchdowns

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (9-1, No. 12)
Saturday: 24-34 (70.6%), three touchdowns, one interception; 15 carries for 76 yards, one touchdown
Season: 217-309 (70.2%), 31, five interceptions; 110 carries for 301 yards, six touchdowns

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (8-2, No. 7)
Saturday: 33 carries for 147 yards (4.5 ypc), one touchdown; five receptions for 42 yards; two kick returns for 60 yards; one punt return for minus-five yards; 0-1 passing (0%)
Season: 231 carries for 1,354 yards (6.1 ypc), seven touchdowns; 33 receptions for 367 yards, two touchdowns; 23 kick returns for 665 yards; 11 punt returns for 32 yards; 1-2 passing (50%), 28 yards, one touchdown

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (10-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 34-47 (72.3%), 360 yards, two touchdowns, one interception; 14 carries for 105 yards, one touchdown
Season: 216-308 (70.1%), 2,593 yards, 23 touchdowns, eight interceptions; 108 carries for 598 yards (5.5 ypc), five touchdowns

(Dropped out: TCU QB Trevone Boykin, Baylor WR Corey Coleman)
(Added: Mayfield, Watson)

JT’s Personal Top Fivesman
1. Henry — Going from darkhorse to two straight dominant performances against ranked teams puts the talented running back in the stiff-arm driver’s seat. (Last week: No. 3)
2. Cook — If Cook reads this, he’ll think I have him rated way too low.  Don’t believe me?  Scroll down to this week’s “he said its.” (Last week: No. 2)
3. Watson — When you’re the quarterback of the No. 1 team in the country, and you put up a career-high of 461 yards of total offense, you have earned yourself a spot. (Last week: NR)
4. Elliott — Were it not for Elliott, the Buckeyes could very well be a two-loss team.  That said, it’s hard justifying placing him over anyone else currently above him. Games against Michigan State and Michigan, though, could change that. (Last week: NR)
5. Fournette — The exact opposite of Henry as Fournette was the hands-down Heisman front-runner before back-to-back games that saw him run for a total of 121 yards puts him on the verge of missing out on an invitation to New York City altogether.  I still say he’s the best player in the country, but the stat line doesn’t lie. (Last week: No. 1)

PERSPECTIVE
Normally, the ESPN College GameDay Twitter feed is all about the on-location signs that litter the crowd, tweeting out the best and the funniest and wittiest throughout Saturday morning.  After the horror in Paris Friday night, signage seemed a little too trivial, save for one.

#PRAYFORPARIS
If the Army football players running out onto the field prior to its game against Tulane with both the American and French flags flying doesn’t give you chills and/or goosebumps, you have no soul.

HELMET OF THE DAY
These are almost too bad-ass for words, with “these” being UCLA’s “Frog Men” helmets worn this weekend to honor the Navy SEALs around Veteran’s Day.

HOCKEY ASSIST OF THE YEAR
LSU pulled out your standard no-look-touch-pass-for-a-score play against Arkansas.  In fact, the only thing missing was a stick.  And a net.  And a goalie.  And some ice.  Never mind the hockey analogy; just watch the clip.

AWWW, SNAP
You ever have that feeling where there’s a pair of hands between your legs when in reality there isn’t?  Welcome to Texas center Taylor Doyle‘s world.

THE ROUND MOUND OF TOUCHDOWNS
I’m a fan of big-boned touchdowns, thus I’m a huge fan, so to speak, of Baylor’s LaQuan McGowan.  This is sheer poetry — and size — in motion as the, ahem, tight end notched his third career touchdown.

STATE OF KANSAS FOOTBALL
Kansas has lost an FBS-worst 13 straight games.  They’ve also lost 38 straight games played away from Lawrence and 31 consecutive conference road games.  As if that’s not bad enough, and just to add visual insult to on-field misery, KU’s equipment personnel can’t even get their Big 12 helmet stickers correct.  Either that or it was a bassackwards tribute to the old Big 8.

SORRY, CHARLIE
Following Texas’ win over West Virginia last season, Charlie Strong, and with the aid of his players, did some crowd surfing in the postgame locker room.  A year later, following the Mountaineers’ win over the Longhorns, his counterpart, Dana Holgorsen, responded in kind.

GRIDIRON GRAPPLIN’
On most fall weekend afternoons with the Iowa football team not in action, Kinnick Stadium sits empty.  As this is Iowa, and they’re really into their grappling, they decided to hold a wrestling match on the football field and in one of the stadium’s red zones.  And it actually looks pretty damn cool.

It was a quick turnaround for the stadium crew as the unbeaten Hawkeyes took the field a few hours later for an 8 p.m. ET kickoff against Minnesota.

GROUND CREW SMACK
North Texas was paid $1 million for its trip to Knoxville to Tennessee.  Suffice to say, the Mean Green wasn’t fond of the playing conditions inside Neyland Stadium, and perhaps thought UT should’ve put some of that guarantee toward field repairs.

HE SAID IT
“It felt amazing. It felt better than it does in here right now. It’s too hot in here right now. I was sweating out there. It was a beautiful day out. Thank God for that. I’ve never had a November in Iowa, from what I can remember, that has been this nice.” — Iowa wrestler Thomas Gilman, on what it was like to wrestle outside at Kinnick Stadium.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Once again, I’m sure television loves us.” — Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, following a comeback win over Iowa State that was fueled by a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I know that if I had any choice at tailback in the country, I got mine. I think I speak on behalf of the team. He’s a tough guy.” — Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, after watching Ezekiel Elliott rush for 100-plus yards for the 15th straight game.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“I just feel like I run the ball how I run the ball. If I keep doing me, because I’m Dalvin. I am one of them great running backs that are in college football.” — Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, humbly stating his Heisman case.

HE SAID IT, THE FINAL ONE
“Just want to comment about the environment. The fans were fantastic. Sold out, black-out crowd, and the energy was present from the time we came up pregame. Just an electric atmosphere. To be involved in this program 26 years now, these are the things our players will remember their entire lives. So just want to compliment our fans and thank them.” — Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, following a five-point win over Minnesota at Kinnick Stadium.

Meads Cup Final - North Otago v WanganuiSTREAKING
With 10 wins to start the 2015 season, Ohio State has pushed its nation’s best winning streak to 23 straight.  Clemson (13), Oklahoma State (12), Houston (10) and Iowa (10) are the only other FBS teams with double-digit win streaks, while North Carolina has won nine straight.

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak is Kansas at 13 straight, followed by UCF (11), Eastern Michigan (nine), Louisiana-Monroe (eight), SMU (eight), Charlotte (eight), Hawaii (eight), Maryland (seven), Boston College (six) and Oregon State (seven).

GOING BOWLING
Entering Week 11, there were 51 teams that had secured bowl eligibility.  Exiting the weekend, there are now 62 teams eligible for the postseason with three weeks left in the regular season.  The newest additions this week total 11: Arizona, Arkansas, Cal, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas Tech and USF.

There are 40 bowl games this season — counting the two College Football Playoff semifinals — meaning 80 teams will need to reach the six-win threshold in order for teams with sub-.500 records to remain where they belong: at home during the postseason.

MY FIRST (AND LAST) ANNUAL REMINDER THAT…
UMass football will be leaving the MAC following the conclusion of the 2015 season.  The Minutemen will play as football independents in 2016 and 2017 and then reassess their situation, deciding whether to remain independent, move to another conference (AAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt are possibilities) or drop back down to the FCS level.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK I
Alabama has played more games against Mississippi State than any other opponent. The two border rivals met for the 100th time on the gridiron Saturday. Tennessee (98) and Vanderbilt (82) are the only other opponents ‘Bama has played at least 80 times.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer has 278 career wins, the most of any active FBS head coach and sixth on the NCAA’s FBS all-time list. Beamer trails only the icons of the game in career wins in Joe Paterno (409), Bobby Bowden (377), Paul “Bear” Bryant (323), Glenn “Pop” Warner (319) and Amos Alonzo Stagg (314). To give some perspective, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher has averaged 11.6 wins a year in his first five years as a head coach, the best mark in league history. Fisher would have to average 11.6 wins a year for the next 19 years, or until 2034, to pass Beamer on the all-time wins list.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK III
Of the 128 FBS teams, just eight players with junior eligibility have received their undergraduate degree and are now pursuing their Master’s:

Junior Master

S.I.D NOTE OF THE WEEK IV
Baylor (8-1), Oklahoma (9-1), Oklahoma State (10-0) and TCU (9-1) of the Big 12 are a combined 36-3. No other Power Five conference has four teams with one-or-fewer losses.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK V
Since 2012, Trevone Boykin tops all players nationally in percentage (56.8) of his team’s total offense (12,613/22,199). No one else is above 50 percent.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK VI
Ohio State has won 17 consecutive true road games (games on an opponent’s home field), the longest such streak in the nation and extending the school record. The Buckeyes are undefeated, a perfect 17-0, in road games under head coach Urban Meyer, or since the start of the 2012 season.

OFF THE CHARTS
Courtesy of the Alabama sports information department

Three and Outs

OFF THE CHARTS, PART II
Courtesy of the UT-San Antonio sports information department

First-Time Starters

OFF THE CHARTS, PART III
Courtesy of the Ohio State sports information department

FBS Scoring Since 2013

OFF THE CHARTS, PART IV
Courtesy of the Temple sports information department

Grad Rates

OFF THE CHARTS, PART V
Courtesy of the Louisiana Tech sports information department

State Rushing Yards Per Game

SAY WHAT?
Baylor can join BYU (1983-85) and Houston (1966-68) as the only FBS teams in history to lead the country in total offense in three consecutive years.  The Bears led in that category in 2013 and 2014, and came into Week 11 leading with 665.6 yards per game (TCU was No. 2 at 621.4 ypg).  BU put up 416 yards in the loss to Oklahoma Saturday, although that shouldn’t jeopardize their standing entering Week 12 as TCU was held over 200 yards under their average.

YOU DON’T SAY
During Frank Beamer’s 28 previous years at Virginia Tech, 20 different power conference schools have had six or more head coaches, including five schools in the ACC: Pittsburgh (8), Boston College (7), Louisville (7), North Carolina (7) and Miami (6). Three schools — Pitt, Stanford and Vanderbilt — have had eight different coaches during the time Beamer has been the head coach at Tech.

DULY NOTED
Utah’s Devontae Booker has handled the football on 305 plays this season, the most of any FBS player.  Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin are next with 300 and 292, respectively.

Alabama v Mississippi StateDID YOU KNOW THAT

… with 204 yards against Mississippi State and 210 against LSU last week, Derrick Henry became the first player in Alabama history to rush for 200-plus yards in back-to-back games?  He also became just the second Tide back to rush for 200 or more yards three times in a single season, joining Bobby Humphrey in 1986.

… Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, in addition to breaking the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns, now has 81 total touchdowns in his career to tie him with Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon for second all-time?  The twosome trail the 83 of Wisconsin’s Montee Ball.

… Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott became just the 12th player in FBS history to pass for 8,000 yards and run for another 2,000 in his career?  The others are Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour, TCU’s Trevone Boykin, Baylor’s Robert Griffith III, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, Florida’s Tim Tebow, Northern Illinois’ Chandler Harnish, Missouri’s Brad Smith, USF’s Matt Grothe, Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase, USF’s B.J. Daniels and Illinois’ Juice Williams.

Louisville v Wake Forest… six Power Five quarterbacks lead their team in both passing and rushing?  That sextet includes Prescott, Oregon State’s Seth Collins, Texas’ Jerrod Heard, Kansas State’s Joe Hubener, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Duke’s Thomas Sirk.

Matt Johnson was held under 300 yards passing (269) for the first time since December of 2013 in Bowling Green’s 41-27 win over Western Michigan Thursday night?  Johnson had thrown for 300-plus in all nine games this season plus one last season — the opener, in which he sustained a season-ending injury — after being held to 272 in the 2013 Little Caesars Bowl loss to Pittsburgh the day after Christmas.

… Florida State’s Dalvin Cook is averaging 189.4 rushing yards per game (947 in five games) against FBS teams with a winning record, the most in the nation? Second is Alabama’s Derrick Henry at 163.7 (1,310 in eight games).

… Christian McCaffrey has now rushed for 100-plus yards in eight straight games, breaking Toby Gerhart‘s Stanford record of seven straight?

Ralph Webb has set school rushing records for freshmen and now sophomores in the first two seasons he’s seen the playing field at Vanderbilt?  Webb is already ninth on the school’s all-time rushing list.

492180284… Iowa State’s Mike Warren is the first freshman in Cyclones history to rush for over 1,000 yards?  He’s also only the seventh Big 12 freshman ever to top 1,000 yards.

… Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich is the only FBS player to lead his team in tackles every game this season?  Matakevich currently leads all FBS players in career tackles.

… Tulane linebacker Nico Marley is the son of former Miami Hurricane linebacker Rohan Marley and the  grandson of music legend Bob Marley?  The junior is the Green Wave’s leading tackler and is third in tackles for loss.

… the Laufasa brothers at UTEP, tailback Jeremiah and fullback Darrin, are the only brothers on an FBS program starting in the backfield?

… Florida’s Jim McElwain is the third first-year head coach in conference history to reach the SEC Championship Game, joining LSU’s Les Miles (2005, lost to Georgia, 34-14) and Gus Malzhan (2013, beat Missouri, 59-42)?

Wake Forest v Notre Dame… Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson replaced Al Golden as a voter in the coaches’ poll following Golden’s firing as Miami’s head coach?

… since 2010, the winner of the Oregon-Stanford game has also claimed the Pac-10/12 conference title? The Ducks beat the Cardinal Saturday night, so we’ll see if this streak continues in 2015.

… Nebraska is only the second FBS team since 2006 to lose four games in which the opponent scored the winning points in the final 10 seconds or overtime? The other was SMU in 2007.

… Memphis is just the third FBS team since 1996 to overcome double-digit deficits in five or more games in a single season?  UofM’s five such comebacks this season are tied with 2005 UCLA, and one behind 2000 North Carolina State’s six.

… Clemson’s 13-game winning streak ties the school record set from 1980-81?

… North Carolina’s nine consecutive wins is the longest one-season winning streak at UNC since 1914 when the Tar Heels won 10 straight?

Minnesota v Iowa… Iowa is 10-0 for the first time in school history?  C.J. Beathard is the first Hawkeye quarterback to ever win his first 11 starts (10 this season, one in 2014).

… Washington State has eight players with at least 20 receptions this season, the most of any FBS team?  Texas Tech is next with seven.

… Arkansas State has put together five consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1949-53?

… BYU, Fresno State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Monroe, San Diego State, San Jose State and UNLV are the only FBS teams to play road games in four different time zones this season?

… with two each, Nevada, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest have the fewest senior offensive players on their respective two-deep depth charts?

… Minnesota, Navy and Northwestern are the only three schools in the country that have had the same offensive staff (all coaches) for the last five seasons?

NIU’s starting QB, WR injured in first half vs. No. 24 Toledo

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If Northern Illinois is going to extend its winning streak over Toledo, it may have to do so without two of its most veteran playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.

In the second quarter of the Huskies’ game against the No. 24 (College Football Playoff ranking) Rockets, starting wide receiver Tommylee Lewis went down with what looked like a knee injury on a play in which he wasn’t hit by a defender.  A handful of minutes later, starting quarterback Drew Hare went down with another non-contact injury.

Neither player could make it off the field under his own power.  Lewis’ return has been labeled doubtful, although even that might be overly optimistic.  Hare has already been ruled out for the remainder of the game, with the last television picture of him showed him headed off into the locker room on crutches after his father had come down from the stands to talk to him.

As for the game itself, the undefeated Rockets, which have lost five straight to the Huskies coming in, have taken a 17-16 lead into halftime.  UT’s running game is the biggest reason behind the lead as they have plowed their way to 198 yards on the ground.  Terry Swanson leads with a team-high 108 yards on just eight carries.

Lewis was well on his way to his best statistical game of the season prior to his injury as he had five catches for 125 yards and the Huskies’ lone touchdown; his previous 2015 high was 80 yards.  Hare, who had started all nine games this season, has been replaced by Ryan Graham.  Prior to this game, the redshirt freshman had attempted five passes this season.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t make note of a couple of quintessential #MACtion moments from the first half:

  • With under two minutes left in the first quarter, and immediately after a play that lost 32 yards, Hare completed a 50-yard pass to Lewis on a third-and-39 play.  That drive ended in a field goal.
  • On a fourth-and-eight from their own 13-yard line, Toledo punter Nick Ellis ran for 18 yards for the first down on the fake, and was summarily blasted at the end of the play.  That extension didn’t lead to any points as Ellis was forced to punt four plays later.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

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

WACK-12
The Pac-12 came into the 2015 season looking to challenge the SEC for conference football supremacy.  While that may end up still being the case, it was a rough Week 1 in myriad regards for the Left Coast league, particularly its northern division.

First and foremost, No. 21 Stanford went into Evanston as heavy favorites only to be upended and upset by Northwestern.  And it wasn’t just that one of the preseason favorites in the North was beaten, it was that they were roughed up by the Wildcats and seemed to play timid on both sides of the ball.  More embarrassingly, a couple of hours later Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, which came into the game a 30-point underdog.

The South contributed to the first-week malaise as No. 15 Arizona State, viewed by some as a darkhorse playoff candidate (sheepishly raises hand), capped off the night with a 20-point loss to unranked Texas A&M.  At least that, though, was a loss to a Power Five school, and one from the stacked SEC West no less, in what was essentially a home game for the Aggies.

Add in Washington’s loss to Boise State — no shame in that — and Colorado’s loss to Hawaii Thursday night — a whole hell of a lot of shame in that — and it turned into a horrific lost weekend for the conference.  That said, remember how many were writing the Big Ten off a year ago at this time?  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise to repeat that history.

WEAK 1?
If you thought that the Week 1 schedule, especially Saturday, was especially lacking when it came to compelling on-paper matchups, you’re not alone.  In fact, the raw data is sitting right along side you.

Opening weekend, and including the two still remaining, there were/are 87 games involving FBS teams.  Of that, 11 pitted Power Five vs. Power Five (for this exercise, I’m considering BYU a P5); another 47 — more than half — featured FBS teams playing an FCS team.  There were 22 Power Five teams that opened their season against an FCS team, with the ACC far and away leading the cupcake way with seven.  The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had four apiece, while the pastry alley that is the late-season SEC lagged behind with three.

There were also 23 games played between Power Five and Group of Five teams.  The SEC accounted for eight of those games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 saw four each.  The FCS-heavy ACC had three such games.

It wasn’t just the Power Fives feeding on the FCS, though, as 25 Group of Five teams opened against the former Div. 1-AA.  The remaining six games saw Group of Five squads squaring off against each other.

While most of the FBS feasted on their FCS cupcakes, a handful choked on them.  Two that lost to FCS teams were Power Five members in the aforementioned Wazzu and Kansas (South Dakota State, more on that below) and two were Group of Five teams in Army (Fordham) and Wyoming (North Dakota).

BAD BLOOD CHEAP SHOT?
Vernon Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to Oregon earlier this offseason and ultimately earned the Ducks’ starting quarterback job.  As luck would have it, Adams’ current and former teams squared off in the season opener in Autzen Saturday night, and there was one interesting development in UO’s 61-42 win.

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Marshall’s Rakeem Cato, Tommy Shuler storm past NIU in first Boca Raton Bowl

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Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato and wide receiver Tommy Shuler played their last game together as a record-setting duo for the Thundering Herd at the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl, and the childhood friends had a blast at the expense of the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Marshall claimed an impressive 52-23 victory over North Illinois. With the win, Doc Holliday‘s program finished 13-1 this season, while the Huskies have now lost three straight bowl games.

Cato and Shuler essentially played a simple game of pitch and catch during the contest as the Huskies helplessly failed to stop either.

The quarterback finished the contest 25-of-37 passing for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Shuler, meanwhile, caught 18 of those passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.

Both performances set new records.

First, Cato broke his own school record with a new season high in touchdown passes.

Shuler’s aspirations were a little higher than simply setting a new program record. The wide receiver broke a Conference USA career record during his unbelievable performance.

Northern Illinois simply couldn’t match Marshall’s explosive offense, particularly in the second half. While 425 yards of total offense is generally considered an impressive output, it was still 80 yards less than Marshall accumulated. And Marshall could have made it even worse late in the game before pulling back the reins.

As talented as Cato and Shuler are, running back Devon Johnson can’t be overlooked. The 243-pound running back set the tone early with his physical running style. He ended the contest with 131 rushing yards on only 15 carries.

A win in the Boca Raton Bowl may be a bit of a disappointment for the Thundering Herd, who entered the season with bigger aspirations, but Marshall once again proved its one of the finest programs not located in a Power Five conference.

Boca Raton Bowl: Marshall building its argument as best from Group of Five

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The battle to be the best from the Group of Five conferences stands in favor of the Marshall Thundering Herd. Doc Holliday‘s squad currently leads the Northern Illinois 24-13 at the Boca Raton Bowl.

Northern Illinois continues to be the class of the MAC, but they’ve come up short in bowl games recently. Two years ago, the Huskies earned a trip to the Orange Bowl only to fall 31-10 to the Florida State Seminoles. Last season, Northern Illinois came up short in the Poinsettia Bowl against the Utah State Aggies.

The Huskies are in position to lose their third straight bowl game.

Of the two programs, Marshall looks like the team ready to take the next step and build a higher national profile.

The Thundering Herd entered the contest with the nation’s No. 1 offense. The one-two punch of quarterback Rakeem Cato and running back Devon Johnson can be very difficult to slow down. Stopping this offense is almost not an option.

Northern Illinois has been successful slowing Cato. The quarterback finished the half 7-of-12 passing for only 106 yards. All seven passes have been completed to wide receiver Tommy Shuler. But Johnson ran wild with 92 yards only eight carries. Both the quarterback and the running back registered a short rushing touchdown.

The Huskies have been successful moving the ball with 275 total yards through two quarters. In fact, Rod Carey‘s squad drove the ball inside the red zone four times. It came away with only one touchdown.

With the second half about to commence, Northern Illinois must finish on offense. The Huskies can’t allow Marshall’s defensive line to control the line of scrimmage. A few drives that result in touchdowns could get the Huskies back into the game. However, it all depends on whether or not Northern Illinois’ defense stop Marshall’s offense or force turnovers.