The Fifth Quarter: Historic Week 6 Rewind

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SATURDAY RESET
Below is a list of links out to gamers posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

  • In what was arguably the biggest upset in an upset-laden weekend, TCU stunned Oklahoma 37-33 on an interception return for a score early in the fourth quarter.  All of the sudden, the Horned Frogs are one of four unbeaten Big 12 teams in conference play, joining Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.  That number will be trimmed by at least one in Week 7 as TCU travels to Waco to take on Baylor.
  • Dak Prescott and his five total touchdowns dove headfirst onto the Heisman radar in leading No. 12 Mississippi State to a 48-31 beating of No. 6 Texas A&M that wasn’t even remotely as close as the score suggests.  Based on how the Bulldogs looked, they should be in or very near the Top Five when the new polls are released Sunday afternoon.  Or the Aggies were vastly overrated.  One of the two.
  • Putting a bow on a perfect and historic day of football for the state of Mississippi was Ole Miss, which stunned Alabama a few hours after ESPN had put the wraps on the first-ever GameDay show in The Grove.  The Rebels can’t bask in the glow of arguably the biggest win in the program’s history for too long, however, as they host Auburn next Saturday.
  • Auburn and Nick Marshall (four total touchdowns) had little problem dispatching LSU.  There’s a fairly decent chance that, given the top of the rankings getting knocked on its ass, the Tigers will not only move up to No. 2 but, perhaps, even into the top slot.
  • If the Big Ten was secretly rooting for undefeated Nebraska to knock off one-loss Michigan State, it was sorely disappointed as the Spartans hung on for dear life in beating the Cornhuskers.  And, courtesy of all of the Week 6 tumult and despite the one loss, Sparty could very well find itself in or near the Top Five Sunday afternoon.
  • It may have been a win only a football mother could’ve loved, but it was still a win for Notre Dame over nationally-ranked Stanford.  After what should be a breather against North Carolina next weekend, ND will be set to face top-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee.
  • Baylor was off offensively, but still found a way to easily put away an overmatched Texas squad in a 21-point win.  And if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the state of UT football, when a BU squad can play less-than-stellar and still walk away with a double-digit win, then I don’t know what to tell you.
  • After an extended afternoon nap, Oklahoma State woke up and put away Iowa State 37-21 in Ames, a place that was a house of horrors for the Cowboys recently.  Tyreek Hill‘s 97-yard kickoff return to start the second half set the tone for OSU.
  • Ohio State stepped on Maryland’s throat in the first half, and didn’t step off it in the second half as the Buckeyes cruised to a 52-24 win over the Terrapins in College Park.  The game marked the Terps’ first-ever conference home game in the Big Ten and its first sellout since 2008.  It also marked yet another sign that OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett should, one, at least be on the fringe of the Heisman conversation and, two, Braxton Miller should at least be mildly concerned about retaining his job next year.
  • HAIL YES!!! Arizona State perhaps saved its season with a last-second Hail Mary prayer that was answered, stunning a USC team that was still likely licking its wounds from a Boston College loss a couple of weeks ago.  The fact that the Sun Devils did it with their backup quarterback and kept their Pac-12 South hopes alive served as the cherries on top of the sundae.
  • Will Muschamp was school girl-level giddy over (barely) dropping Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.  Why he was that giddy when his squad is an absolute mess is another question for another day.
Oklahoma v TCU
Oklahoma v TCU

HISTORIC WEEK OF CHAOS
For those who were looking for utter chaos and a massive shakeup in the polls, Week 6 was Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Flag Day all rolled into one uproarious ball of “Holy $*&!”.

During this glorious weekend of football, including Thursday night, the Nos. 2 (Oregon), 3 (Alabama), 4 (Oklahoma) and 6 (Texas A&M) teams in last week’s Associated Press poll all lost.  It’s the first time since November of 1990 (No. 1 Virginia, No. 3 Nebraska, No. 4 Auburn, No. 5 Illinois) and only the second time since 1936 that four of the top six teams in the country had gone down to defeat the same weekend.  Three of those losses featured the higher-ranked team on the road — and came by a combined 12 points — with the lone home loss being the Ducks losing by seven in Eugene.

Add in No. 8 UCLA’s upset loss to unranked Utah at home, and it’s the first time in the history of college football — EVER — that five of the top eight teams have been knocked off in a single week.  Let that sink in for a minute.  The first-ever college football game was played in 1869… the AP poll debuted in 1934… and today, Oct. 4, 2014, was the first time that has happened in this great game.

Amazing.

That said, and by default, Florida State will likely remain No. 1 in the eyes of the AP voters, while Auburn will likely slide into the No. 2 hole.  Or those two could be flip-flopped.  After that?

You could state a case for both No. 12 Mississippi State and No. 11 Ole Miss, after the greatest day of football in that state’s history, to leap into the Top Five, especially the former on the strength of back-to-back wins over Top -10 teams. Any combination of No. 7 Baylor, No. 8 UCLA and No. 9 Notre Dame could find themselves in that rarefied ranking air as well.  And what of No. 25 TCU’s dispatching of No. 4 Oklahoma?  Rocketing up 20 or more spots into the Top Five certainly may be asking a little too much of the voters, but perhaps it shouldn’t.

One thing that is fairly certain amidst all of the chaos is that this is likely far from being the last upsetting weekend ahead of what should be an epic first year of the College Football Playoff.  Speaking of which, godspeed to the 13-person CFP selection committee; based on the way this weekend played out, you’re going to need it.  And earmuffs.  Lots and lots of big, bulky earmuffs.

CELEBRATING A HALLIDAY
If you’ve followed the past two seasons of Connor Halliday‘s career, you got the feeling that setting a significant national passing record was a matter of time.  Saturday night turned out to be that time.  In Washington State’s wild 60-59 loss to Cal that would’ve made defensive purists’ collective heads explode, the senior quarterback threw for a whopping 734 yards.  That breaks the FBS single-game record of 716 yards yards by Houston’s David Klingler Dec. 2, 1990, against Arizona State.  It’s also the second-most ever at any level of the NCAA, behind only Div. III Eureka College’s Sam Durley‘s 736 yards in 2012.  Halliday’s counterpart, Jared Goff, threw for 527 yards in the win.  The combined 1,263 yards passing is also an FBS record.

The record and the 812 yards of total offense are no doubt bittersweet for all involved as Wazzu missed a 19-yard field goal — 19 YARDS!!! — with 15 seconds remaining in the game that would’ve given them the win.  Instead, the Golden Bears, winners of one game in 2013, now sits atop the Pac-12 North at 2-1 in conference play and 4-1 overall.

LSU v Auburn
LSU v Auburn

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.  And, after a string of upsets in Week 6 mentioned directly above this, I’m just going to scrap last week’s Top Five and start the hell over.

1. Auburn — You happy now, Plains people?  After weeks of snubbing last season’s BCS runners-up, the Tigers have vaulted to the very top of this meaningless Top Five.  The blistering of No. 15 LSU was AU’s third quality win of the season, joining the season-opening 24-point smackdown of 3-2 Arkansas and the win over No. 20 Kansas State in Manhattan in Week 4.  The Tigers have another big test next week with yet another ranked team. Speaking of which… (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 12 Mississippi State, Oct. 11

2. Mississippi State — In back-to-back weeks, you went into Death Valley and easily beat No. 8 LSU, then followed that up with a beatdown of No. 6 Texas A&M in Starkville.  In my book, that résumé puts you near the very top.  Actually, it should probably put the Starkville boys at No. 1, the more I think about it.  Another big test, though, awaits. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: vs. No. 5 Auburn, Oct. 11

3. Florida State — The Seminoles have more talent than just about any team in the country, but simply haven’t played like it for the vast majority of the season.  It’s also very likely FSU is being compared to the 2013 version that steamrolled the competition en route to a BCS title, so that likely has hurt and will continue to hurt its standing as well.  . (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Wake Forest, Oct. 4

4.  Ole Miss — The fact that this is just the Rebels’ second win over a Power Five team this season, and the first came against woebegone Vanderbilt, means the Oxford 11 will have to settle for a spot just inside the Top Five.  The fact that they are even inside the Top Five, however, is surprising in and of itself.  There’s no rest for the West weary, however, as the Rebels will head out on the road against a team that will be pissed off and looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 6 Texas A&M, Oct. 11

5. Baylor — The Bears’ résumé is easily the weakest of the group, with wins over Iowa State and Texas not nearly enough to offset wins over SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo the first three weeks of the season.  In fact, it was nearly the reason why Notre Dame was sitting in this spot instead of BU.  I’ll give it to you this week, Bears, but I’m keeping my eyes on you moving forward. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 25 TCU, Oct. 11

(Dropped out: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Oregon, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Texas A&M)

Baylor v Texas
Baylor v Texas

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

No. 7 Baylor 28, Texas 7:  The Bears led a mediocre Longhorns team — and that’s being kind — just 7-0 at halftime.  BU’s offense was out of sync throughout, with its 389 yards of offense well below its seasonal average of 641 yards per game, the best in the nation.  The good news for Art Briles and his Bears is they have games against West Virginia and Kansas, plus a bye, before they face Oklahoma the first Saturday in November.

No. 21 Oklahoma State 37, Iowa State 20: The replay booth, much to the dismay of its athletic director, gave the Cowboys a controversial touchdown with no time left and a 13-6 halftime lead.  A kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, however, gave OSU some breathing room and it went on to cruise, relatively speaking, in Ames.

No. 22 East Carolina 45, SMU 24: Anytime you allow a team that’s lost its first four games this season by the combined score of 202-12 to come within three touchdowns of you, you’re going to make the cut for this list.  The woeful Mustangs were actually down by 11 at 35-24 at the end of the third quarter before the Pirates’s scored 10 fourth-quarter points put to rest any thoughts of an upset.

Michigan v Rutgers
Michigan v Rutgers

COACHING HOT SEAT
I begin my weekly look at a trio of the current head coaches who could most likely be ex-head coaches by season’s end — if not sooner.

1. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Michigan’s dumpster fire of a season continued unabated, with a 26-24 loss to Rutgers dropping the Wolverines to 2-4 on the season.  That’s the football program’s worst start since going 2-4 in Rich Rodriguez‘s first season in 2008, and its first 0-2 start in Big Ten play since 1967.  Add in a 3-9 record in conference play over the past 12 games and the Shane Morris debacle, and it’s very safe to assume that Hoke will not make it to a fifth season in Ann Arbor in 2015.

2. Will Muschamp, Florida
While the head coach was pleased as pie with the Yugo with spinnin’ rims that was the 10-9 win over Tennessee, his team’s performance in that near-loss is yet another data point for those who are looking for the head coach’s ouster sooner rather than later.  The further away the Gators get away from players recruited by Urban Meyer, the more UF’s record has taken a  downward turn.  In 2011 and 2012, Years 1 & 2 post-Meyer, the Gators were 18-8; since, they are 7-9.  In the talent-rich state of Florida, the Gators simply don’t have the talent to compete with the SEC heavyweights — or even its middleweights — and that should be the most disturbing sign to Muschamp’s boss.

3. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Beckman entered the season on one of the hottest seats in America, but quieted that talk somewhat with a 3-2 start to 2014.  Then, Purdue happened.  Saturday, the Boilermakers dropped the Illini to end their nine-game Big Ten losing streak and crank up the heat under Beckman’s seat yet again.  In his first two-plus seasons in Champaign, Beckman is 9-21 overall and a staggering 1-17 in conference play.

Ohio State v Maryland
Ohio State v Maryland

HEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at how some — stressing the word “some” — of the top contenders for this year’s stiff-arm trophy fared this weekend, listed in alphabetical order so as not to offend any of the delicate sensibilities readers in the audience may possess or get their unmentionables all wadded up over “their” player being excluded.  Also, each week one name will be sliced from a list that begins at a baker’s dozen:

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (4-1, No. 20)
Saturday: 18-23 (78.3%), 267 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions; 71 yards rushing, one touchdown
Season: 88-133 (66.2%), 1,354 yards, 17 touchdowns, five interceptions; 276 rushing yards, two touchdowns

Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina (4-1, No. 22)
Saturday: 31-41 (75.6%), 410 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions; 47 yards rushing
Season: 142-219 (64.4%), 1,879 yards, 15 touchdowns, three interceptions; 66 rushing yards, three touchdowns

Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall (5-0, unranked)
Saturday: 18-23 (78.3%), 198 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions; 20 rushing yards
Season: 87-144 (60.4%), 1,361 yards, 12 touchdowns, four interceptions; 195 rushing yards, four touchdowns

James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh (3-2, unranked)
Saturday: 21 carries for 83 yards (four ypc)
Season: 156 carries for 874 yards (5.6 ypc), nine touchdowns; two catches for 20 yards

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (4-1, No. 3)
Saturday: nine receptions, 91 yards
Season: 52 receptions, 746 yards, five touchdowns; 29 rushing yards

Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame (5-0, No. 9)
Saturday: 20-43 (46.5%), 241 yards, two touchdowns, one interceptions; 34 rushing yards
Season: 114-178 (64.1%), 1,383 yards, 13 touchdowns, three interceptions; 138 rushing yards, four touchdowns

Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (3-2, No. 17)
Saturday: 27 carries for 259 yards (9.59 ypc, one touchdown
Season: 105 carries for 871 yards (8.3 ypc), nine touchdowns; five receptions, 27 yards, one touchdown

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (4-1, No. 13)
Saturday: 25 carries for 163 yards (6.5 ypc), two touchdowns; two receptions, 24 yards; 1-1 (100%), 50 yards passing
Season: 94 carries for 773 yards (8.2 ypc), eight touchdowns; 11 receptions, 53 yards; 1-1 (100%), 50 yards passing

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (4-0, No. 8)
Saturday: 16-21 (76.2%), 269 yards, two touchdowns, one interception; 16 carries for minus-24 rushing yards
Season: 91-125 (72.8%), 1,310 yards, nine touchdowns, two interceptions; 53 carries for 122 rushing yards, two touchdowns

Marcus Mariota, WR, Oregon (4-1, No. 2)
Thursday: 20-32 (62.5 percent), 276 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions; nine carries for one rushing yard; one reception, 26 yards
Season: 111-160 (69.4%), 1,687 yards, 17 touchdowns, zero interceptions; 72 carries for 215 rushing yards, three touchdowns; one reception, 26 yards

Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn (5-0, No. 5)
Saturday: 14-22 (63.6%), 207 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions; 16 carries for 119 rushing yards, two touchdowns
Season: 55-95 (57.9%), 755 yards, eight touchdowns, one interception; 58 carries for 392 rushing yards, four touchdowns

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (5-0, No. 12)
Saturday: 19-25 (76%), 259 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions; 23 carries for 77 rushing yards, three touchdowns
Season: 77-13 (58.8%), 1,323 yards, 13 touchdowns, two interceptions; 85 carries for 455 rushing yards, six touchdowns

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (5-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 23-39 (59%), 297, one touchdown, one interception; seven carries for 34 rushing yards, one touchdown
Season: 96-144 (66.7%), 1,288 yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions; 19 carries for 42 rushing yards, two touchdowns

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptm0mzi1mjbimdq2zwewzjm1ymjhmtljnzdmyjnizjk5HE SAID IT
“It’s great to see all these people out here getting disappointed. I love it.” — Will Muschamp, acting a little too cocky for a head coach who just watched his Florida team bumble and stumble its way to an unimpressive 10-9 win over Tennessee.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Our receivers know how to catch the ball. We just had an off day today.” — Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, after watching his receivers inexplicably drop myriad passes in the loss to Mississippi State.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“This was just a dominate performance. We talked about this being a momentum Saturday for us and I’m just so proud of them. They put all three phases together – offense, defense and special teams. Just really proud of our guys. Really proud of our defensive performance. Those three turnovers were huge.” — Dabo Swinney said following Clemson’s 41-0 win over North Carolina State, his first shutout as a head coach.

HE SAID IT, THE QUADQUEL
“It wasn’t necessarily clean. The weather was a factor. But it was a factor for both teams. You saw the ball come out of both quarterback’s hands funny. Saw some missed balls that guys typically don’t miss but once again it was even” — Stanford’s David Shaw, on his team’s sloppy loss in South Bend to Notre Dame.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“I’m just so proud of our young men. You can’t lose a game in 30 or 45 minutes. You have to play for 60 minutes and that is something we’ve preached since we’ve been here. … At the end of the day, you get in this job to mentor young men, first. I preach that to our staff. I have the best staff of men that you want your kids around. These are great life lessons. Sometimes you’re on the other side of it and it stings and hurts. We’ve had our share of those. We have tremendous respect for Coach (Nick) Saban and Alabama. It’s a huge win for our program and our fans. It’s been a tremendous day.” — Hugh Freeze, after Ole Miss’ historic upset of Alabama.

POST-GAME CELEBRATION OF THE DAY
How happy were Ole Miss fans about their team’s upset win over Alabama?  Not only did they take the goal posts out of the ground, but they managed to get them out of the stadium and paraded them around Oxford.

And that came after this sensual, on-field post-game celebration

[/slow clap for all aspects of the celebrations]

PHOTO OF THE DAY
Tennessee announced earlier in the week that it wanted fans attending Saturday’s game against rival Florida to “checkerboard” Neyland Stadium.  The fans responded in resounding fashion to give the place a very cool look:

https://twitter.com/CollegeGameDay/status/518437302671265794/photo/1

GAMEDAY SIGHT OF THE DAY
Not only did guest picker/pop diva Katy Perry manage to hit on both Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit in the same segment, but she also managed to reference…

Katy Perry Corn Dog

… corn dogs in picking the winner of the LSU-Auburn game.  And throwing said corn dogs at the ESPN cameras.  I had my doubts going in, but well-played, Katy.  Well-played.

Not well played was Knight following Perry’s flirtation.  In OU’s 37-33 loss to TCU, Knight completed just 14-of-35 passes and tossed a pair of interceptions, the last of which was returned 41 yards for the game-winning score.

TWEET OF THE WEEK
Following Arizona’s upset of Oregon Thursday night, the Wildcats’ second straight win over the Ducks, the UA athletic department’s official Twitter account went to a video game of the past to sum up the last two meetings between the teams.

QUARTERBACKING OF THE DAY
Todd Gurley Pass Gif

Yes, that would be Georgia running back Todd Gurley completing a 50-yard pass in the win over Vanderbilt, and as a lefthander at that.  That pass, incidentally, was UGA’s longest completion of the season, which may be the most serious indictment of the Bulldogs’ limp passing attack to date.

FAT GUY FALL OF THE DAY
This is the GIF of Nebraska offensive lineman Jake Cotton — untouched, mind you –falling backwards that makes me laugh uncontrollably every single time I watch it.  Enjoy.

Jake Cotton Fall

Tiiimmmberrr…

RETWEETING MYSELF

Discuss…

STREAKING
Florida State has won a nation’s-best 21 straight games, extending the record for an ACC school by beating up on Wake Forest Saturday. The Seminoles’ last loss came Nov. 24, 2012, a 37-26 home setback to in-state rival Florida. With the exception of the last Saturday’s game against Clemson (23-17 in overtime), the 2014 season opener against Oklahoma State (37-31), the BCS title game against Auburn (34-31) and the 2012 regular-season finale against Georgia Tech (21-15), FSU has won every one of its games during this current streak by at least 14 points. Of those 16, 10 wins have come by 30-plus points, with three of those being by 50-plus points and two by 60-plus. FSU, thanks to Oklahoma’s loss, is the only team in the country with a double-digit winning streak, although Mississippi State at nine in a row is closing in. At the opposite end of the W/L spectrum is Idaho and UMass at 12 straight.  Thanks to Miami of Ohio’s win, the Vandals and Minutemen are the only FBS team with a double-digit losing streak.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE DAY
Pittsburgh’s 81 underclassmen — 55 freshmen (true and redshirt) and 27 sophomores (true and redshirt) — listed on its current roster is the highest total for any FBS team in the country. That’s 78.7 percent of its roster; Penn State, at 72.4 percent (76/105), is second.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE DAY II
East Carolina’s Shane Carden currently ranks fourth among all active FBS quarterbacks in engineering “game-winning” drives (i.e. offensive scoring drive in the 4th quarter or overtime that puts the winning team ahead for the last time), two behind Louisiana-Monroe’s Pete Thomas (seven) and one behind Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (six) and San Diego State’s Quinn Kaheler (six).

OFF THE CHARTS
The most total yards for an FBS team since 2000, courtesy of, as you’d expect, the sports information department of the team at No. 1:

1. Texas Tech (88,018)
2. Oklahoma (83,905)
3. Oregon (83,169)
4. Hawaii (82,966)
5. Houston (82,945)

OFF THE CHARTS II
The 10 longest consecutive game-scoring streaks in the country are…

Florida, 326 (1988-Present)
TCU. 272 (1992-Present)
Air Force, 263 (1992-Present)
Tennessee, 251 (1994-Present)
Virginia Tech, 249 (1995-Present)
Ohio State, 248 (1993-Present)
Georgia, 241 (1995-Present)
Nebraska, 238 (1996-Present)
Wisconsin, 224 (1997-Present)
Kansas State, 221 (1996-Present)

SAY WHAT?
There are only 16 football programs nationally that returned its entire coaching staff intact from the 2013 season: Arizona, Auburn, Baylor, Boston College, BYU, Colorado, Colorado State, Kansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Michigan State, Mississippi, San Diego State, South Carolina, Tennessee, UTEP and Washington State.

DULY NOTED
True freshmen have accounted for 20 of LSU’s 27 offensive touchdowns. Quarterback Brandon Harris has accounted for nine scores (three rushing, six passing), while running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Malachi Dupre have four each and running back Darrel Williams three. The 14 touchdowns produced by that quartet are the most by an LSU true freshman class since running backs Justin Vincent (10) and Alley Broussard (four) combined for 14 in all of the 2003 season.

South Carolina v Kentucky
South Carolina v Kentucky

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

Jojo Kemp ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries as Kentucky “upset” South Carolina. The win pushed the Wildcats to 4-1 on the year; UK had won just four of its previous 24 games prior to this season.

— Alabama has gone 4-3 in its last seven games.  In the Tide’s previous 42 games dating back to November of 2010, UA had gone 39-3.

— UCLA’s Brett Hundley was sacked a whopping 10 times in the Bruins’ upset loss to Utah.  Six different Utes were credited with sacks, with Hunter Dimmick and Nate Orchard contributing three apiece.

— Cal’s Trevor Davis returned back-to-back kickoffs for touchdowns in the win over Washington State, one going for 98 yards and the other 100.

— Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong had 10 catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns as ASU stunned USC 38-34.  The last of the three TD catches was the Hail Mary with no time left.  Mike Bercovici passed for 510 yards in the win.  In the first two starts of his career, Bercovici has passed for 998 yards and eight yards.

— Trailing UMass 41-14 very late in the second quarter, Miami of Ohio stormed its way back to end its school-record 21-game losing streak with a stunning 42-41 win. It was the RedHawks first win since Oct. 27, 2012.  In a losing effort, quarterback Blake Frohnapfel threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns. Frohnapfel has now passed for 968 yards the past two weeks.

— Coming off a stunning performance in his debut as a starter, Deshaun Watson totaled 350 yards of offense (267 passing, team-leading 83 rushing) and scored a pair of touchdowns both passing and rushing in Clemson’s 41-0 win over North Carolina State.  Jacoby Brissett, who was brilliant in NCSU’s near-upset of Florida State, was held to just 35 yards passing by the Tigers’ defense.

— With 410 yards passing in the win over SMU, Shane Carden became ECU’s all-time leader in passing yards(now has 9,134 career), surpassing passing David Garrard (9,029 from 1998-2001).

Austin Grammer completed 21-of-26 passes for a career-high 332 yards and two touchdowns in Middle Tennessee State’s 37-31 win over Southern Miss.

Todd Gurley totaled 237 all-purpose yards in Georgia’s 44-17 win over Vanderbilt: 163 rushing, 24 receiving and 50 passing.  Just give the man the damn Heisman already as he’s clearly the best football player in the country.

Melvin Gordon ran for a career-high 259 yards on 27 carries, yet Wisconsin still found a way to lose 20-14 to Northwestern.  Actually, the way was three interceptions by two different Badger quarterbacks, which the Wildcats turned into 10 points.

— Speaking of which, Northwestern safety Godwin Igwebuike picked off all three of the passes in the win over Wisconsin. Those were the first interceptions of the redshirt freshman’s career.

Akeem Hunt‘s 177 yards rushing was part of Purdue’s 349-yard effort on the ground as the Boilermakers upended Illinois 38-27.

— Central Michigan’s Thomas Rawls ran for a career-high 229 yards and two TDs in a 28-10 win over Ohio.  The career day came three weeks after Rawls was initially charged with a trio of felonies.  He reached a plea deal a week later and rejoined the team.

Rashard Higgins set a school record with four touchdown receptions as Colorado State whooped Tulsa 42-17 to push its record to 4-1.  The Rams are off to their first 4-1 start since 2006, when they finished 4-8.

— East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy has caught a pass in 41 straight games — the third-best active streak — and has caught at least two passes in every single game of that streak. Hardy now has 303 career receptions, and will need to average nearly six catches per game over the next eight contests (including a bowl game) to surpass Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles‘ FBS record of 349. Incidentally, Hardy has averaged 7.4 receptions per game in his career, and 8.4 the last 19 games.

— Mississippi State linebacker Richie Brown tied a school record with three interceptions as MSU “upset” Texas A&M in Starkville Saturday.

— Utah State’s Darell Garretson threw three first-half touchdown passes and finished with 321 yards passing, his third-career 300-yard game, as USU upended BYU 35-20 Friday night.  The Aggies are now 4-51 lifetime vs. ranked teams, although they’ve won the last three such meetings.

— Mississippi State’s win over No. 6 Texas A&M marks the first time since the program began playing football in 1895 that the Bulldogs have beaten ranked teams in back-to-back games.  Last Saturday, MSU dropped eighth-ranked LSU in Death Valley.

— Clemson came into the North Carolina State game as the least penalized team in the country with 11 in four games, and hadn’t had more than four in a single contest.  In the win over NCSU, the Tigers were flagged nine times.

— UT-San Antonio has been flagged just once in the last 20 games for holding (the 2014 opener against Houston).

— The Florida-Tennessee game Saturday was the first time both teams entered the contest unranked since 1955.  The Vols have now lost nine straight in the rivalry, with the last victory coming Sept. 18, 2004.

— SMU had scored one touchdown in its first five games this season; against East Carolina, the Mustangs scored three touchdowns in the first three quarters of what would become a 45-24 loss.

— Stanford has held opponents under 30 points in each of its past 28 games, the nation’s longest such streak. Louisville and Ole Miss are tied for second (12).

— Ohio State has now won 17 straight regular season games in Big Ten play, the second-longest streak in conference history behind the 20 straight by the Buckeyes in 2005-07.  Also, the Buckeyes have never lost a true road game under Urban Meyer (11-0).

— With the win over Kent State, Northern Illinois has now won 28 straight games at home and 24 straight MAC games.

— New Mexico State is the only FBS team that has yet to allow a sack this season.

— With two in the win over Navy, 4-1 Air Force has forced 10 turnovers this season; they forced nine turnovers in 12 games last season.

— Utah State’s “upset” win over BYU Friday night was its first in Provo since Oct. 7, 1978.  The win snapped a 17-game losing streak to the Cougars on the road.

— Oregon has lost as many Pac-12 games under Mark Helfrich in less than two seasons (three) as the Ducks did the last four years under Chip Kelly (three).

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

… with the visit to Ole Miss, there are now 15 Power Five schools that haven’t played host to ESPN’s College GameDay show, which is now in its 22nd year on-campus? Those not-so-fine 15 are Baylor, Cal, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Rutgers, Virginia, Wake Forest and Washington State.  That list will likely be sliced to 14 as the preeminent pregame show is expected to head to Starkville for the huge MSU-Auburn showdown.

… the three longest active streaks of being ranked in the Top 10 of the Associated Press poll belongs to Alabama (56), Florida State (22) and Auburn (14)?

… the nation’s two oldest FBS programs met for the first time ever Saturday as Rutgers hosted Michigan? The Scarlet Knights have played the most games in NCAA history (1,294) while the Wolverines (1,273) rank third — Navy is No. 2 at 1,276. Rutgers is playing its 145th year of football while Michigan is in its 135th year.

… After losing its first seven games to Nebraska, Michigan State has now won the last two? Along with Saturday’s win in East Lansing, the Spartans beat the Cornhuskers 41-28 in Lincoln last season.

… Wake Forest is the only school in the nation starting a true freshman at QB and at center?  That helps explain why the Demon Deacons have the worst offense in the ACC.

… the MAC (Northwestern, Purdue, Indiana, Pittsburgh) and the Mountain West (Colorado, Washington State, Wake Forest, Boston College), with four apiece, have the most wins vs. Power Five teams among the Group of Five conferences in 2014? The AAC (Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Vanderbilt) is next with three, followed by the Sun Belt (Wake Forest) with one. Conference USA is the only Group of Five league without a win over a Power Five opponent.

UTEP v Kansas State
UTEP v Kansas State

… of Kansas State’s five regular captains for the 2014 season, three — offensive lineman B.J. Finney, defensive end Ryan Mueller (pictured) and linebacker Jonathan Truman — began their careers as walk-ons? If you add special teams captain Weston Hiebert, K-State has four of six captains that were not on scholarship at the beginning of their careers.

… USC has just one player on its roster from Arizona (longsnapper Peter McBride), while Arizona State feature 31 Californians? Meanwhile, Utah, which faced UCLA, has 10 starters and 35 players total from the state of California.

… San Jose State has allowed just 187 yards passing the past three games? They allowed seven passing yards to Minnesota in Week 4, 64 to Nevada in Week 5 and 116 to UNLV in Week 5.

… Fresno State’s game against San Diego State was that football program’s 1,000th in its history? Thanks to the win over the Aztecs, the Bulldogs are now 580-420 over the course of 93 seasons. Those are the most all-time wins of any team currently in the Mountain West.

… Louisiana-Monroe’s game against Arkansas State was its first outside of the state of Louisiana in 2014? Three of the Warhawks first four games were home contests (Wake Forest, Idaho, and Troy) while the fourth was played in Baton Rouge vs. LSU.

… Temple has the fewest number of seniors on its roster with eight? The Owls and Tennessee, with six apiece, have the fewest number of seniors on the two-deep depth chart. Baylor has just seven.

… In his 48th season calling Washington State football games, Bob Robertson is the longest-tenured collegiate announcer in the country. Bill Hillgrove, in his 44th season calling Pittsburgh games, is second.

IN CLOSING
Have you ever wondered what an in-season day in the life of an Army football player is like? Thanks to that service academy’s sports information department, you can take a peek below into the very busy life of senior defensive lineman Joe Drummond:

Army Day in the Life I

Army Day in the Life II

Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns

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The Big Ten won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first of college sports’ power conferences to yield to the pandemic.

The move announced Tuesday comes six day after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

But it was not a surprise. Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks emerge

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President Donald Trump joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches Monday in the push to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown.

There was speculation that two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their seasons. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports and became the first school in the Bowl Subdivison to break from its league in doing so; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes had been taken by its presidents and chancellors on fall sports as of Monday afternoon and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,’” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. ”Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among the group posting their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #WeWantToPla. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Old Dominion has stopped trying. The Virginia school canceled football and other fall sports less than a week after Conference USA set out a plan to play a football season.

“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” ODU President Broderick said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a different stand, saying the Wolverines have shown players can be safe after they return to school.

“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” he wrote. “I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.

“Life is about tradeoffs. There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that’s absolutely true; it’s always true,” he wrote. “But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18- to 22-year-olds will be if there isn’t a season.”

“Here’s the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football, but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football,” added Sasse, a former college president. “This is a moment for leadership. These young men need a season. Please don’t cancel college football.”

Players unite in push to save college season, create union

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Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds saw the tweets from Trevor Lawrence and other college football players pushing for the opportunity to play this season despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers behind a players’ rights movement in the Big Ten, didn’t like the way some on social media seemed to be pitting Lawrence’s message against the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds got on a call with Lawrence and the star quarterback’s Clemson teammate, Darien Rencher, and within a matter of hours the summer of athlete empowerment found another gear.

College football players from across the country united Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport’s biggest decisions.

Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from Florida State to Oregon posted a graphic on social media with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently but at the end of the day the message wasn’t too far off from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. “Which is we all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do so safely.”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a movement they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened mass opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited arrived on the scene a couple days later, a movement that claimed the backing off 1,000 Big Ten football players. Their demands were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety in dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night, the call with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence led to a Zoom meeting — of course — with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs got to work on a graphic and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started bouncing ideas off each others’ heads and kind of discussing where we go from here and we ended up coming up with that statement,” said Reynolds, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

All of this capped a weekend during which the adults who run college sports seemed to be moving toward shutting it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college football leagues to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. They discussed mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic still not under control in the United States.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago? No, we’re not,” he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push back the tide with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too.

Reynolds wants athletes to have a say in the meetings that are deciding the fate of their sports — starting now.

”All college athletes through unifying and not being afraid to speak our minds and having social media to kind of mobilize, I think that box on a Zoom call is something that is pretty attainable,” he said. “Especially, in the near future.”

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

MAC football
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In many ways, the Mid-American Conference has little in common with Power Five leagues that first come to mind when fans think of major college football.

There are no 75,000-seat stadiums in the MAC. Million-dollar per year coaches are rare. In a typical season, NFL scouts might find one or two potential first-round draft picks playing at the 12 MAC schools that dot the Midwest. The MAC’s biggest games — #MACtion, if you will — are often played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Its television deal with ESPN pays per year only a few million more than the $9 million Clemson pays coach Dabo Swinney.

Still, the MAC is one of 10 conferences that competes in the NCAA’s highest level of football, and Saturday it became the first of those to surrender to the coronavirus pandemic and cancel the fall sports season.

So is the MAC an anomaly, done in by its small budgets or is this a dire sign of things to come in college football?

“I won’t try to judge what other folks are doing,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “I know we’re all in the same place. They all have their advisers. They’re going to make judgments based on the information they are receiving.”

Not long after the MAC announced it would explore second-semester seasons for all fall sports, including soccer and volleyball, the Big Ten made its own announcement that seemed ominous given the timing.

Tapping the brakes on football’s preseason, the Big Ten told its schools that until further notice full contact practices cannot begin. All teams will remain in the first two days of what is known as the “acclimatization period,” working out in just helmets. The first Big Ten games of the season are scheduled for Sept. 5.

“As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The MAC’s schools were facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly COVID-19 protocols, while also dealing with the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely.

A move to the spring, however, could also be budget-buster if it means less revenue from the ESPN deal, which pays each school about $1 million per year, and football ticket sales. The MAC also shares about $90 million per year in College Football Playoff money with four other conferences.

“It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications of any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. “As we sit here today we don’t know what this will mean financially and how the rest of the fall plays out.”

Steinbrecher said the decision effects only fall sports, not basketball or others that begin in the second semester such as baseball, softball and lacrosse.

He added the decision was unanimous among the membership. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier, supported by NIU President Lisa Freeman, has been a vocal advocate of delaying the season.

“No one wants to have football or sports more than me,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama in the late 1980s. “Football gave me all the opportunities I have today, but I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives.”

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said he has been feeling a sense of inevitability for two weeks about the MAC canceling fall football, but can’t predict whether this decision trickles up to other conferences.

“Could it? Certainly. There’s certainly a narrative out there that could happen,” Wetherbee said. “No, it wouldn’t shock me if some followed suit. In fact, it would shock me if some didn’t.”

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline made clear that even though plans for the football season have been adjusted to accommodate potential COVID-19 disruptions like the ones Major League Baseball has had, they are all still aspirational.

“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward,” Hainline said Friday during the NCAA’s weekly video chat on social media.

As the Power Five conferences re-worked their schedules to play exclusively or mostly within their conferences, another of the MAC’s revenue streams dried up.

MAC schools, with athletic budgets in the $30 million range, rely heavily on payouts from road games against power conference teams. Kent State alone had more than $5 million in so-called guarantee games canceled. Whether they can be recouped and when is still to be determined. Without that revenue, the strain became too great of trying to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic.

“Certainly there was a cost attached to it,” Wetherbee said. “But as a league we were prepared to do it.”

The move to try spring football has already been going on in the second tier of Division I.

Nine of 13 conferences that play in the Championship Subdivision, have postponed fall football seasons. The first was the Ivy League in early July.

Now it’s the MAC, which was among the first conferences to limit fan access to its basketball tournament in March as concerns for the virus began to soar across the country. On March 12, the MAC was among many conferences to call off their tournaments hours before the NCAA canceled all of March Madness.

“If you told me in March we’d be here today,” Steinbrecher said, “I’d never have believed it”