ODU

Offenses struggle in Shrine Game as USF kicker wins MVP

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If you thought yesterday was the first Saturday without college football since August, then you were not paying attention to the college football all-star schedule. The 90th East-West Shrine Game was played in St. Petersburg, Florida, with the East team winning by a score of 19-3. As the score might suggest, there was not a whole lot to be seen in this one, but it served as an opportunity for some NFL-hopefuls to show what they can do to NFL Scouts.

USF kicker Marvin Kloss won game MVP honors with his display of field goal kicking. Kloss notched field goals from 47 yards, 39 yards, 30 yards and a short 19-yard field goal to lead the way for the East team’s victory.

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason was the most consistent of the quarterbacks in the game, completing seven of eight passes for 71 yards for the East. Duke’s Anthony Boone completed four of his eight passes for 49 yards and Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke struggled with just two completions out of nine passes and an interception. Louisville running back Dominique Brown scored the game’s only touchdown late in the fourth quarter and he was the game’s leading rusher with 70 yards.

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly was the leading passer for the West, completing seven of 13 passes for 65 yards. Kelly also led the West in rushing with 23 yards. Nevada’s Cody Fajardo and South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson combined to complete three of 12 passes for 10 yards. Both Fajardo and Thompson were intercepted as well, with each intercepted by FAU safety Damian Parms. The West offense was held to just 93 yards of offense, and completed just three of 133 third-down conversion attempts.

The offenses for both teams clearly struggled, which helped the defenses look even better in the all-star game. Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith came away as one fo the more impressive defensive standouts in the game with his ability to bring pressure on West quarterbacks.

One of the most dazzling plays in the game may have been pulled off by Colorado punter Darragh O’Neill. O’Neill leaped and snagged with one hand a high snap in the back of his end zone before getting off a punt. It was quite the effort, and a cause for celebration for punters everywhere watching.

With the Shrine Game now in the books, as well as the NFLPA Bowl that was played at the same time out west, the focus now shifts to the Senior Bowl this week. The Senior Bowl is the top-level college all-star game with the best of the best, so the level of play should be a little more entertaining that what the Shrine Game had to offer this season. The Senior Bowl will be played Saturday in Mobile, Alabama.

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.

SEPARATION SATURDAY
Thanks to a handful of games, the divisional and conference races have become, for the most part, much clearer in Week 11 than they were in Week 10.

Three of the divisional races in four of the Power Five conferences have either officially been decided (Pac-12 North) or are all but officially decided (ACC Atlantic, Big Ten East).  At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Big Ten West and SEC West are only slightly clearer than a week ago.

Below we take a quick trip through each of the Power Five conference races and see exactly where things stand with three weeks left in the regular season (four for the title game-less Big 12).

ACC

Atlantic
With the win over Virginia, all Florida State (6-0) needs to do is beat either Miami (Fla.) next week or Boston College the week after to claim the division title and a spot in the conference championship.  Clemson (6-1), which lost to FSU earlier in the season, would need to win its last ACC game against Georgia Tech in Week 12 and have the Seminoles lose both of their remaining league games to win the Atlantic.  Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.

Coastal
With three weekends left in their regular seasons, the Coastal race is essentially a three-team chase: Duke (4-1), Georgia Tech (5-2) and Miami of Florida (3-2).  If the Blue Devils win out — Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest, all at home — it’ll be a second consecutive Duke-FSU ACC title game.  Should the Blue Devils and Yellow Jackets trip once and the Hurricanes win out — they still face FSU — it’d be The U in Charlotte based on the win over Duke earlier in the season.  The ‘Canes, though, don’t own the head-to-head over Tech, so they’ll need to finish ahead of the Yellow Jackets.

BIG TEN

East
This one is very straightforward: all Ohio State (5-0) has to do is avoid losing two of its last three games while Michigan State (4-1) wins all three of its in order to stake its claim to a spot in the Big Ten title game.  The remaining games on the slate are certainly manageable, with contests left against Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan.  The win over the Spartans gives the Buckeyes the head-to-head tiebreaker and affords them a cushion should they slip up once the rest of the way.  Maryland, at 3-2, is technically still alive but unofficially eliminated.

West
Three teams are tied at 4-1 — Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin — and one is at 3-2 — Iowa — in what’s easily the most muddled divisional race in the land.  The last three games for NU and UW are all against teams from that group of four, while the Gophers will face the two teams it’s currently tied with plus Ohio State.  The Hawkeyes, who lost to the Gophers in Week 11,  have Illinois remaining in addition to Nebraska and Wisconsin.  Given how the schedule is assembled, the B1G East very likely won’t be decided until the final weekend late this month.

BIG 12

Thanks to TCU’s win over Kansas State, and Baylor’s thumping of Oklahoma, the Big 12 now features a trio of one-loss teams.  TCU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over K-State, while BU holds the same over them.  The Bears and Wildcats meet in the regular season finale; the winner of that game and the Horned Frogs could very well finish in a tie if everything goes to form.  Based on the head-to-head, you can bet your behind that they’ll be rooting like mad for K-State.

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Week 9, Statistically Speaking

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0 — Lost fumbles for UNLV in eight games this season, the only FBS team that can make that claim.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is Eastern Michigan, which has lost 14 in 2014.

0 — Games UCF has lost in American Athletic Conference play, vs. 11 wins.  The Knights are the only AAC team to have never lost a game in that conference’s brief history.

2 — Times this season, in seven games, SMU has scored more than six points in a single game, including the 48-10 loss to Memphis.  The winless Mustangs are averaging exactly seven points per game,with a high-water mark of 24 in Week 6.

2-5 — Whatever it means, that’s the record of teams the next game after playing Navy this season.  Rutgers and Temple are the only ones to avoid “The Curse of the Middies” in 2014.

3.07 — Yards per play Maryland averaged in its ugly 52-7 loss to Wisconsin.

4 — 200-yard rushing games for Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah this season; no other back at the FBS level has more than two.  The running back also totaled a school-record 341 all-purpose yards (225 rushing, 26 receiving, 90 on kickoff returns) in NU’s 42-24 win over Rutgers (previous record: 321 for Roy Helu Jr. vs. Missouri in 2010).

4 — Quarterbacks Vanderbilt has started this season, the only school that has had to reach that deep into its depth chart at the position.  Utah State will hit that mark in Week 10 as the Aggies lost their third starter of the year to injury, while SMU could very well reach the same number the same week.

Justin Hardy
Justin Hardy

4.6 — Number of receptions per game East Carolina’s Justin Hardy needs to average over the next five contests to break the FBS record of 349 career receptions set by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles.  Hardy is averaging 8.7 catches per game in 2014 and 7.6 for his career.

5 — First-quarter lost fumbles by Pittsburgh, tying the one-quarter FBS record set by East Carolina (1980) and San Diego State (1982).  Pitt finished with six lost fumbles — on seven total fumbles — in its 56-28 loss to Georgia Tech.

7 — Games in which Dak Prescott has thrown for 200-plus yards to start the season, the first Mississippi State player to accomplish that feat in the football program’s 115-year history.

10-0 — Stanford’s record under David Shaw coming off a loss.

11.2 — Yards per carry for true freshman Mike Boone as he rushed for a career-high 212 yards in Cincinnati’s 34-17 win over USF Friday night.

13 — Different players who caught passes in TCU’s 82-27 evisceration of Texas Tech.  No player caught more than four passes.

15.6 — Yards per completion Blake Frohnapfel averaged in throwing for 438 yards and five touchdowns in UMass’ 42-35 loss to Toledo.

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