Every week in college football provides plenty of mind-boggling decisions, ridiculous highlights, amazing endings, wacky announcer quotes and unbelievable stat lines.
And this edition of COLLEGE FOOTBALL COMPREHENSIVE is jammed full of them.
Is half of the BCS title game set already?
Has the Heisman race basically been decided?
Which announcer has no idea what letter is on the side of the Miami Hurricanes' helmets?
Is tossing the ball up in celebration before crossing the goal line going to be a new trend? And do referees care?
Bottom line: Whether you watched 10 games, zero games or somewhere in between on Saturday, CFC is the ultimate wrap-up you don’t want to miss, featuring the always-popular segments:
WHO’S NUMBER ONE?
THANK GOODNESS FOR MY DVR
THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT!
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
MAYBE BROADCASTING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
MAYBE COACHING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
MAYBE OFFICIATING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
SINCE I DO LIVE IN OHIO...
Let’s kick it off…
WHO’S NUMBER ONE?
Taking a stab at ranking the nation’s Top 25 teams…
1. Alabama 2-0
2. Ohio State 2-0
3. Boise State 1-0
4. TCU 2-0
5. Oregon 2-0
6. Texas 2-0
7. Iowa 2-0
8. Nebraska 2-0
9. Florida 2-0
10. Wisconsin 2-0
11. Oklahoma 2-0
12. Arkansas 2-0
13. LSU 2-0
14. Utah 2-0
15. Arizona 2-0
16. South Carolina 2-0
17. Stanford 2-0
18. Auburn 2-0
19. Miami 1-1
20. Michigan 2-0
21. USC 2-0
22. Michigan State 2-0
23. Penn State 1-1
24. West Virginia 2-0
25. Texas Tech 2-0
THANK GOODNESS FOR MY DVR
The jaw-dropping highlights that were worth rewinding for…
Great run by Oregon’s LaMichael James to spark the Ducks in Knoxville (more on this later!) .
Miami (FL) ran back a kickoff for a touchdown AND a punt for a touchdown in the first half at the Horseshoe Saturday. Lamar Miller went 88 yards on the kick return, while Travis Benjamin took the punt 79 yards to pay dirt: it was the first time EVER that Ohio State had given up a punt return and kick return score in the same game.
Mississippi State recovered an onside kick from Sean Brauchle as they tried to come back against Auburn. The kick, a thing of beauty, was also recovered by Sean Brauchle. And in the interest of full disclosure, I freely admit to including this particular play just because I enjoyed hearing the announcer praise a kicker whose last name sounds like a green vegetable.
Notre Dame’s Kyle Rudolph nearly ran from Touchdown Jesus to the Golden Dome, sprinting 95 yards on a go-ahead touchdown catch in the final minutes against Michigan. Nothing like a good old-fashioned one-play, 95-yard drive. Unfortunately for the home team, they left far too much time for Denard Robinson.
Purdue’s Al-Terek McBurse and Ohio State’s Jordan Hall put together similar highlight plays within a few hours of each other Saturday afternoon, proving for the umpteenth time that the ball’s never dead until the whistle blows. McBurse rolled over a defender who thought he had made the tackle, used his off hand to keep his balance and didn’t quit running until he crossed the goal line for a 40-yard touchdown (quite a highlight for the young man’s first career rushing score!). Hall made a similar play on a kick return, as he broke away from three Hurricanes (who assumed the play was over), stayed upright and scampered another 37 yards before finally being dragged down.
Had to appreciate the 68-yard interception return by UTEP cornerback Travaun Nixon…complete with broken tackles, jukes, a spin move and a hurdle. Incredible moves for a defensive player; I think Nixon used every PlayStation button imaginable on that runback.
THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT
The ridiculous stat lines, improbable scores, and ticker typos that cause double-takes everywhere…
The last yard is always the hardest… How many times did Navy get to the 1-yard line and come up empty against Maryland Monday afternoon? Quarterback Ricky Dobbs fumbled at the goal line on three straight possessions (and no, sadly, that’s not a typo), but somehow the Midshipmen stayed within striking distance against the Terps.
The game came down to a 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line with less than a minute to play and the Middies down 17-14, so of course coach Ken Niumatalolo decided to forego the potential tying field goal and let Dobbs try to run the ball in from one yard out (since that had worked so well every other time).
Final score: Maryland 17, Navy 14.
Speaking of difficulty getting in the end zone… Congratulations to Louisville senior wide receiver Doug Beaumont, who finally got his first-ever touchdown on career reception 107. I’d hate to know the mathematical odds of catching 106 straight passes without managing to cross the goal line, but kudos to Beaumont for finally breaking through in the Cardinals’ 23-13 win over Eastern Kentucky.
I thought Coach K was in Turkey… Duke and Wake Forest went into halftime tied at 35-35. To put that kind of crazy scoring in perspective, Wake’s basketball team only averaged 34.4 first-half points per game during the 2009-10 season. Final score on the gridiron: Demon Deacons 54, Blue Devils 48.
Does the ACC still get a BCS slot? All four nationally-ranked ACC teams (Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State) lost on Saturday. No truth whatsoever to the rumor that the league has reached out to Jacksonville State and James Madison as possible expansion targets (since those teams actually WIN big games from time to time).
Imagine if he’d played the second half… Connecticut running back Jordan Todman piled up 151 rushing yards and three touchdowns before halftime in a 62-3 blowout victory over Texas Southern. With the Huskies leading 45-0 at intermission, Todman earned himself the rest of the day off.
How can we put this kindly? At least he’s an equal-opportunity passer… South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels only completed five throws in 20 attempts at The Swamp. Well, actually, nine of Daniels’ passes were caught: five by his team and four by the opponents. Which begs the question…is there any such thing as a negative passer rating?
What a difference a week makes… When last we saw the Kansas Jayhawks, they were losing 6-3 to North Dakota State in their season opener. This week, they upset nationally-ranked Georgia Tech. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming.
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: OREGON 48, TENNESSEE 13
In-depth spotlight and analysis of a game that deserves a closer look…
Memo to underdogs everywhere: If you ever have a chance to jump out on top of a heavy favorite early in the game, make sure you get as many points as possible.
That means touchdowns, not field goals.
Because when the sleeping giant is finally awakened, things can change in a hurry, as the Tennessee Volunteers found out the hard way Saturday night against No. 7/No. 8 Oregon.
While the Tennessee program has been mostly known for off-the-field stories lately (see: how to choose the wrong coach, how to tick off your conference, how to recruit the wrong running back, how to annoy the media, and how to spend practice time on showering instructions, among others), new coach Derek Dooley’s young team surprised the visiting Ducks on the field of play by dominating the first quarter of action Saturday.
Tennessee set the tone on the ground early, forced a fumble on Oregon’s first kick return, and marched the ball down the field on two straight drives before the Ducks had run a single play from scrimmage. Unfortunately for the Rocky Top crew, the home team stalled and had to settle for field goals on both possessions.
Tauren Poole was the difference-maker for the Vols early on, as he piled up 138 of his 160 rushing yards before intermission. I freely admit to never having heard of Poole before this game (last year, he was buried behind Bryce Brown and Montario Hardesty on the depth chart), but I doubt it will be the only time Mr. Poole impresses me this season…especially if he keeps averaging seven yards per carry.
Tennessee accumulated almost 200 yards of offense in the first period alone, a quarter which lasted much longer than anyone expected. A long weather delay (due to lightning in the area) after Tennessee took its 6-0 lead with 8:31 to play in the first quarter meant that the Ducks didn’t take an offensive snap until more than 90 minutes after kickoff. How’s that for a stat you don’t see every day?
The Vols didn’t lose any momentum in the locker room, shrugging off the stoppage to extend their lead to 13-3 on the first play of the second quarter.
However, since the final score was Oregon 48, Tennessee 13, I think it’s safe to say things went downhill from there.
The Ducks gave over 100,000 fans in Neyland Stadium an up-close-and-personal look at the high-powered offense that rolled up 72 points against New Mexico last week, scoring the game’s final 45 points (35 of them after intermission) to turn what looked like an upset-in-the-making into a laugher that sent fans scurrying for the exits long before the final horn.
Quarterback Darron Thomas did a nice job of running the Ducks’ patented spread option offense, as he threw for over 200 yards, ran for almost five yards a carry and faked out at least three cameramen.
Thomas is known for his feet more than his arm (just like every Oregon quarterback since Joey Harrington), but I thought he made some beautiful throws, including a perfect 28-yard touchdown pass down the seam to tight end David Paulson that tied things up before halftime.
Every good spread option attack needs a solid running back, and the Ducks are no exception. Oregon running back LaMichael James (who was seeing his first action of the season after an opening-game suspension) led the way for the visitors with 16 carries for 134 yards, including a breathtaking 72-yard highlight touchdown run.
James’ big play, which started to the right before the sophomore cut all the way back to the left sideline (breaking a tackle at the Tennessee 20-yard line for good measure), gave the Ducks their first lead and set the tone for the second half…nothing like a good old-fashioned one-play scoring drive.
Oregon finished with 447 yards of total offense and 27 first downs, while the Volunteers were left to try and figure out how things could have gone so far south so fast.
Because for the home team, the second half of this once-promising showdown was a big, fat, embarrassing goose egg.
Extra points from this week’s Microscope game:
-Tennessee will get better as their talented youngsters develop. According to the ESPN commentators, the Vols played a mind-boggling 12 true freshmen in their opener last Saturday.
-I’m starting the campaign to rename Oregon speedster Kenjon Barner “Kenjon Burner." His 80-yard punt return touchdown went by so quickly that it looked like it was on fast forward. Who needs to set up blocks anyway? Just run at the coverage team so fast they can’t get a hand on you. Worked fine for Burner…I mean Barner.
-Vols junior quarterback Matt Simms (you might have heard of his dad Phil or brother Chris?) needs to find some consistency. Simms appears to have the arm strength to make all the necessary throws, but he tended to follow up very good plays with extremely bad ones against the Ducks. Or as I wrote in my notes, “Missed the open guy, then hit the covered one. Figures.”
When the dust had settled, Simms’ bad outweighed the good in this particular game, most notably a horrible decision (when Tennessee was still within seven points) to throw a late out route off his back foot that Oregon’s Cliff Harris intercepted and took back 75 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, the Volunteers went from driving for a potential tying score to down two possessions. Talk about a back-breaker.
-Chip Kelly’s defense may have given up a lot of yards, but they were downright stingy on third downs. The home team only converted two all night, despite 15 attempts.
-So much for a West Coast team struggling with a long cross-country trip. Of course, thanks to the lightning delay, this contest probably wrapped up about the same time a typical home game in Eugene would have for the Ducks.
-Strange highlight of the day: Oregon’s Lavasier Tuinei caught a 29-yard touchdown pass that seemed to go right through the hands of Tennessee cornerback Prentiss Waggner. Waggner read the quarterback, broke on the ball perfectly at the goal line and then…somehow…completely whiffed on the pick. Really weird touchdown; there’s no other way to describe it.
-I’ve never been a fan of college teams that hand out the same jersey number to two different players (especially to key guys who are always on the field), although with many programs carrying more than 100 bodies, I understand why it happens.
But I have no idea why Tennessee needs not one, not two, but THREE different players listed as No. 26 on the roster. Placekicker Daniel Lincoln, defensive back Tyler Wills and defensive back Robert Yonce all appear to be tasked with the same number, which doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.
I can see it now: a new feature in this column…COMING SOON: “Maybe Assigning Jersey Numbers Is Easier Than I Thought."
MAYBE BROADCASTING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
This week’s wacky and weird announcer quotes…
“I think I saw what I saw.” – Jay Walker
“This M is not Marshall on the helmets” – Mark May describing the Miami Hurricanes. Actually Mark, that letter on their helmets is called a U, not an M.
“James Madison’s best work since the Federalist Papers.” – Rece Davis
“It’s like playing kill-the-man in the backyard. “– Kirk Herbstreit
“Mason hasn’t touched me yet this show.” – Gerry DiNardo
“The guy athletically, in person, looks the part. He’s Superman. Does he play like Jane?” Craig James on Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton. Craig, it's Superman and Lois, Tarzan and Jane. Please study up on your cartoon history. Thanks in advance.
“We had an official who wound up on his keister, back-side over tea-kettle, in the end zone.” – Rece Davis
“I love him like a very distant cousin.” – Dave Revsine
“He’s the Benjamin Button of the Purdue defense” – Tom Hart on longtime veteran Jason Werner
“This is not like back in the day, when if [lightning] didn’t hit you in the helmet, it wasn’t a problem.” – Mike Patrick
"That is a lateral, but it’s a completion.” – Brad Nessler. Um, okay.
“East Lansing, about an hour-and-a-half drive there, located just to the east of Detroit.” – Rob Stone. Apparently the city of East Lansing has been relocated into the middle of Lake Erie?
“I just want his dreadlocks for one day.” – Dave Lapham
“The truck is saying they’d rather see you have a waist like him.” – Bill Land
“If they play Dakota Fanning, they’re going to have trouble.” – Rece Davis on Minnesota’s recent struggles against teams like North Dakota State and South Dakota
“And then the roof caved in, almost literally.” – Mike Patrick describing a thunderstorm in open-air Neyland Stadium
“Throw some syrup on that pancake.” – Dave Lapham
“You have to look around the Pac-10 and you’ve got a lot of teams that are underrateable.” – Mike Pawlawski. Mr. Webster never heard of that particular word before.
And last but certainly not least, faithful readers of this column are reminded once again why this segment has been unofficially dubbed the “Lou Holtz Specials." And let’s be fair to Mr. Holtz, because it must be tough to be an Irish homer when your favorite program has been mired in mediocrity for so long. But of all the strange things Holtz has said over the past couple of years, I think that this quote takes the cake. Without further ado, I give you Lou Holtz describing why Notre Dame’s defense had such a great day Saturday:
“But this is also encouraging for Notre Dame’s defense, because Denard Robinson’s gonna do that to a lot of folks, but I think the rest of the Michigan offensive football team gained less than 50 yards.” – Lou Holtz
In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, the Denard Robinson Holtz speaks of single-handedly destroyed the Irish by amassing 502 total yards of offense, shattering the Michigan quarterback record by OVER 100 YARDS. But hey, the Irish should be encouraged because they contained everyone else.
Or to put it differently, “Other than the assassination, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”
MAYBE COACHING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
Did somebody’s seat just get hotter?
With third-string quarterback Nate Montana (that would be Joe’s son, not Hannah’s brother) in the game due to starter Dayne Crist’s injury, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had the ball at the Michigan 3-yard line with three seconds left before halftime. The Irish were trailing 21-7 at the time, and coach Brian Kelly made the gutsy (read: stupid) decision to eschew the nearly automatic chip-shot field goal and let his inexperienced quarterback try for a touchdown on the half’s final play instead.
The result: a Montana incompletion and the same 14-point deficit at the break.
Things got exciting late in the game when the Irish drove the ball all the way to the Michigan 27 in the final moments, trailing 28-24. However, the last-gasp Hail Mary pass –let’s face it, no one throws a Hail Mary like Notre Dame – sailed well into the stands to seal Kelly’s first defeat as coach of the Irish.
For those of us who like math, a successful first-half field goal means Notre Dame might have only been down 28-27, not 28-24 on the game’s final play.
And after the final pass airmailed the Irish receivers, Kelly must have been thinking how good a potential game-winning 44-yard try would have looked instead...if only he hadn’t been so greedy before intermission.
Maybe coaching is easier than I thought.
MAYBE OFFICIATING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
Throwing the flag on the guys in stripes…
According to page 147 of the NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations manual, “The replay official and his crew shall review every play of a game. He may stop a game at any time before the ball is next legally put in play (Exception: Rule 12-3-5c) whenever he believes that:
1. There is reasonable evidence to believe an error was made in the initial on-field ruling.
2. The play is reviewable.
3. The outcome of a review would have a direct, competitive impact on the game.”
If you really believed that every play of a game is reviewed (and unfortunately, I knew better), this weekend should have quickly cured you of that folly.
I mean, if every play is reviewed, how did Notre Dame’s T.J. Jones and Marshall’s Aaron Dobson score touchdowns despite dropping the ball in celebration before they ever crossed the goal line? Photo and video evidence that neither player actually bothered to carry the ball into the end zone on their supposed scores is all over the Internet, yet the referees in both games chose not to stop the action to look at the tape.
But wait, I thought every play was reviewed.
And speaking of replays that should have been examined and weren’t, am I the only guy who thinks Temple’s game-winning field goal actually missed and Marshall’s last-play overtime choke might have possibly sneaked inside the upright?
Not that the referees bothered to review those plays, either.
Must have had a flight to catch.
Probably to the next NCAA rules meeting.
Maybe officiating is easier than I thought.
*Thanks to @FunnelFiasco for completing the unenviable task of digging through the entire NCAA rules manual to find page 147. If I had taken the time to find that myself, this column wouldn’t have been published until USC was off probation.
SINCE I DO LIVE IN OHIO...
News from around the Big Ten…
I mentioned Denard Robinson earlier in the column, but the numbers he put up in Notre Dame Stadium really deserve a closer look. Any running back would love to rush for 258 yards in a game: doing it from the quarterback position is nearly unfathomable. Throwing for 244 yards to boot moves the numbers from “video game” quality to “fairy tale” level.
Capping the performance off by rushing for the game-winning score with 27 seconds left was the perfect ending, and don’t look now, but the Michigan sophomore has gone from one of three potential starting quarterbacks on his own team to possible Heisman front-runner in about eight days.
And he already has the perfect promotional photo: Check out the trophy stiff arm.
Since CFC isn’t really done until the fat lady sings…
-I thoroughly enjoyed Monday’s Boise State-Virginia Tech clash, although the way the week played out perfectly illustrates why the BCS is inherently flawed.
Explain how it makes sense that on Tuesday all the talking heads had penciled Boise State into the national title game due to their soft schedule and likely undefeated finish…while on Saturday, those same pundits declared the Broncos’ BCS hopes basically over…
…AND BOISE STATE HADN’T PLAYED ANOTHER GAME!
Instead, the Broncos’ season apparently went up in flames when a James Madison team that isn’t even an FBS squad upset the same Hokies Boise State had defeated in such thrilling fashion five days before.
I can’t think of a bigger myth in college football than “controlling your own destiny." It doesn’t work that way, and if the Dukes’ upset of a worn-down Virginia Tech ballclub on Saturday ultimately makes the rest of the Boise State year worthless, regardless of what happens on the field, it’s reason 8,765,432 why the BCS needs to go away as soon as possible.
-On a completely random note, my other favorite moment from the Boise-Va. Tech game was seeing a Broncos cheerleader hold up a sign encouraging the BSU fans to yell and cheer during a kickoff.
The sign read, and I quote: “AHHHH."
Now I’ve seen it all.
Tim Cary’s COLLEGE FOOTBALL COMPREHENSIVE (formerly “Carrying On About College Football”) is a weekly wrap-up series featured each Monday on BleacherReport.com. To submit unbelievable stats, strange announcer quotes, amazing highlights, or dumb coach/referee decisions for next week’s column, e-mail Tim by 1:00 pm Sunday at CFCmailbag (at) yahoo (dot) com or contact him on Twitter at @TimCary.
Miss last week's COMPREHENSIVE? Click here to catch up.