Akeem Hunt

Mark Dantonio defends fake punt

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There was a handful of bad fake punts executed on Saturday. Mississippi State avoided letting a bad fake punt come back to haunt them. So did Michigan State.

Michigan State managed to get out of town with a win against upset-minded Purdue on Saturday. It even managed to overcome a rare questionable coaching decision by Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan State held a 38-24 lead midway through the fourth quarter. After two incomplete passes by quarterback Connor Cook, the Spartans were forced to punt from their own 29-yard line, giving Purdue some life. It turns out, Dantonio gave the Boilermakers even more life. Lawrence Thomas faked the punt and attempted to run for the first down. It did not work. Thomas only managed to pick up one yard, allowing Purdue to take over from the Spartans’ 30-yard line. Four plays later Akeem Hunt was in the end zone and Michigan State’s lead was down to single digits (until the defense scored a pick-six on an interception return by Darien Harris).

After the game, even though the defending Big Ten champions had won, Dantonio was asked about the decision to run the fake punt, and he defended it.

“I thought the time was right; the execution didn’t happen the way we wanted it, but I thought it was set up right,” Dantonio said following the win over Purdue (via MLive.com). “We’ll see whether it was defeated or whether we come up short.”

“I just sort of felt like, as it was indicated, the momentum sort of swung their way,” Dantonio said. “I felt like hey, it’s 5 yards, we can get 5. We’ve been working on it for a long time, and if you’re not going to use it don’t work on it.”

Purdue gave Michigan State a fight, but the Spartans responded. Michigan State may still be the team to beat in the Big Ten and they still have a shot to crack the playoff discussion weeks after the narrative wrote off the Big Ten. With so much riding on each game and play moving forward, do not expect Dantonio to take such a risk again, especially in games against Michigan and Ohio State.

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.

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Paul Hornung Award watch list led by 2013 finalist Myles Jack

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Watchlist season gets into its midseason-form this week with watch lists coming out on a daily basis. Monday got started with the release of the Paul Hornung Award watch list by the Louisville Sports Commission. A grand total of 47 players were named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which is awarded to the most versatile player in major college football and is named after Hornung, a Louisville native.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is the one finalist from last year’s award to appear on the watch list. In all, the list is composed of 22 seniors, 12 juniors and 13 sophomores from 43 different universities. Nebraska, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Duke each have two players listed on the watch list. The ACC and Big Ten lead the way with watch list players, with 10 each. The Pac-12 has seven players, the Big 12 has five and the SEC has just four players listed.

LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was the 2013 Paul Hornung Award winner.

Here is the entire watch list fr the 2014 season:

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Nelson Agholor, Southern California

Kenny Bell, Nebraska

V’Angelo Bentley, Illinois

Victor Bolden, Oregon State

Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh

Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

B.J. Catalon, TCU

Rashon Ceaser, Louisiana Monroe

Stacy Coley, Miami (FL)

James Conner, Pittsburgh

Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

Jamison Crowder, Duke

Stefon Diggs, Maryland

Chris Dunkley, South Florida

DeVon Edwards, Duke

D.J. Foster, Arizona State

Charles Gaines, Louisville

Rannell Hall, Central Florida

Scott Harding, Hawaii

Justin Hardy, East Carolina

Akeem Hunt, Purdue

Myles Jack, UCLA

Christion Jones, Alabama

Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State

Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

T.J. Logan, North Carolina

Venric Mark, Northwestern

Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa

J.D. McKissic, Arkansas State

Ty Montgomery, Stanford

Khalfani Muhammad, California

Marcus Murphy, Missouri

Jamarcus Nelson, UAB

Levi Norwood, Baylor

Ryan Switzer, North Carolina

Shaq Thompson, Washington

Antonio Vaughan, Old Dominion

Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield, Florida State

Carlos Wiggins, New Mexico

Kenny Williams, Texas Tech

Shane Williams-Rhodes, Boise St.

Myles Willis, Boston College

Dontre Wilson, Ohio State

Aaron Wimberly, Iowa St.

Shane Wynn, Indiana

The watch lists for the Bednarik Award and Maxwell Award will also be released today.

Purdue RB Dawkins will transfer to Colorado State

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In need of running back depth, Colorado State is adding a young talent from a Big Ten program.

Purdue running back Dalyn Dawkins is transferring to Colorado State in search of more playing time. The Coloradoan confirmed the transfer news Thursday morning.

Purdue returns the top two rushers from last fall with Akeem Hunt and Brandon Cottom each back for a senior season. Hunt led Purdue with 464 rushing yards and Cottom was second on the team with 154 rushing yards. Each scored one touchdown for the struggling Boilermakers. Dawkins was the only other player to get at least 30 rushing attempts for Purdue last season. Following the transfer of Dawkins, Purdue still has seven running backs on the roster heading into the fall.

Colorado State’s depth in the backfield is a bit different. The Rams lost Kapri Bibbs early to the NFL Draft after leading the team with 1,741 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns in 2013. Colorado State also lost Donnell Alexander to a transfer as a result of a falling out with the coaching staff. Alexander was second on the team in rushing with 428 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Dawkins will have to sit out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he will have three years of eligibility remaining after playing a limited role as a true freshman for the Boilermakers in 2013. Dawkins is the nephew of former NFL defensive star Brian Dawkins.