College Football Comprehensive: Breaking Down The Highs and Lows Of Week 3

Tim CarySenior Analyst ISeptember 20, 2010

College Football Comprehensive: Breaking Down The Highs and Lows Of Week 3

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    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.

    Did Notre Dame get hosed in Spartan Stadium?

    Is the USC placekicker going to transfer? (Or will anyone want him?)

    Is it possible to have a 95-yard and 97-yard kickoff return in the same half, yet only score a total of 10 points?

    Did Mark Ingram or Terrelle Pryor take a step toward the Heisman Trophy?

    And which announcer uttered this memorable quote? "I like the execution, except for the fact that he threw it a little bit high and the ball was picked off."

    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:











    Let’s kick it off…

Who's Number One?

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    Taking a stab at ranking the nation’s Top 25 teams…


    1. Alabama 3-0

    2. Ohio State 3-0

    3. Boise State 2-0

    4. TCU 3-0

    5. Oregon 3-0

    6. Texas 3-0

    7. Nebraska 3-0

    8. Oklahoma 3-0

    9. Florida 3-0

    10. Wisconsin 3-0

    11. Arkansas 3-0

    12. Arizona 3-0

    13. Utah 3-0

    14. LSU 3-0

    15. South Carolina 3-0

    16. Stanford 3-0

    17. Auburn 3-0

    18. Iowa 2-1

    19. Miami 1-1

    20. USC 3-0

    21. Michigan 3-0

    22. Michigan State 3-0

    23. Penn State 2-1

    24. Nevada 3-0

    25. West Virginia 3-0

Thank Goodness For My DVR

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    The jaw-dropping highlights that were worth rewinding for…


    A list of the weekend’s most amazing plays has to start with Michigan State’s game-winning fake field goal. The “Little Giants” touchdown pass from Aaron Bates to Charlie Gantt was as gutsy a call as you’ll see in as dramatic a situation as football provides: trailing on fourth down in overtime. Mark Dantonio made the perfect decision with the perfect play and got a perfect result.

    What a crazy sequence in Raleigh Thursday night as a pass intended for North Carolina State wideout Jarvis Williams hit his hands, was tipped by Cincinnati’s Reuben Johnson, and then came back to Williams on the deflection. Williams came up with the ball in stride, but fumbled it just as he was about to score a Wolfpack touchdown.  Cincy recovered the ball in the end zone for one of the craziest touchbacks in recent memory.

    Awesome leap by Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase on his team’s first touchdown against in-state foe Northern Illinois. Scheelhaase took off from three yards away to elude a defender, went horizontal across the goal line, and then flipped all the way over for a big-time highlight score.

    Great touchdown plunge from Alabama’s Mark Ingram, who scored from a yard out by jumping into the pile, landing somewhere near the shoulders of tight end Michael Williams, and holding on to his teammate for dear life until the referee put his arms in the air to signify a ‘Bama touchdown.

    Regular readers of this column know I’m a sucker for one-handed catches, and Dane Sanzenbacher’s right-handed grab of a pass behind him (and pretty spin move once he landed, to boot) helped get The Ohio State University off to a good start against An Ohio University.

    Incredible full-extension dive by Clemson’s Jamie Harper to pull in a 24-yard touchdown and put the Tigers up 17-0 in Auburn. Unfortunately for Harper and company, it was the other Tigers (the Auburn version) that ultimately prevailed in an overtime thriller.

    Connecticut running back Jordan Todman did his best Houdini impression against Temple, escaping out the back side of a pileup at the line of scrimmage to race for a 59-yard touchdown run (the only time the Huskies would find the goal line in a 30-16 defeat).

    Shout-out to Arkansas punter Dylan Breeding for picking up a bad fourth-and-5 snap, sprinting toward the left sideline, and having the presence of mind to take on a defender at the sticks, earning a broken-play first down in the process. (Always nice when we can slide a punter into “Thank Goodness for My DVR”…with the touchdown pass from MSU’s Aaron Bates, this makes two–an unofficial column record.)

    Purdue wideout Cortez Smith caught a 76-yard touchdown pass that wasn’t even thrown to him, thanks to one extremely fortunate deflection. They say it’s better to be lucky than good…

    Last but not least, did defensive backfields take the day off Saturday? How else to explain Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg and Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter getting SO wide open for touchdown catches? Or as Gary Danielson so astutely pointed out, “The safety is the safety! That’s why they call you the safety!”  There wasn’t a safety (or any other human being) within 20 yards of Gragg or Hunter on their uncovered receptions.  New definition of “busted coverage”: when the wide-angle camera shot can’t find a single defender to even put in the picture.

That Can't Be Right!

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    The ridiculous stat lines, improbable scores, and ticker typos that cause double-takes everywhere…


    Dominating everywhere except the scoreboard… With 13 minutes left in the third quarter of the Iowa-Arizona game, ESPN showed a graphic comparing the total offensive yards of the two squads. The Hawkeyes had run 39 plays for 241 yards, while Arizona had gained only 221 in 33 snaps.  Score at that point? Arizona 27, Iowa 7. Go figure.

    That was easy… How many carries did it take reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram in his first action of the season to reach the 100-yard plateau? How about “three”? Ingram ripped off a 48-yard run and a 50-yard burst before six minutes had gone by as the Tide rolled (pun intended) 62-13 over Duke.

    And the Raiders’ draft board just changed… Projected top 2011 draft pick Jake Locker had a day to forget against Nebraska’s Blackshirts defense, finishing 4-20 for 71 yards with two interceptions. Memo to quarterbacks hoping to earn $50 million in guaranteed money at the next level: you should be able to complete more than one pass per quarter against any opponent in college.

    From one extreme to the other… While Locker couldn’t buy a completion, Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor had arguably the best passing stretch of his career Saturday afternoon in the ‘Shoe, completing a school-record 16 straight passes en route to an impressive 22-of-29 showing. For a quarterback that’s always been known more for his feet than his arm, the string of 16 in a row is a great sign, even though it came in Ohio State’s annual, yet-to-be-named “beat up on all the other teams in our state and give them a nice paycheck for their troubles” series. (The Bucks haven’t lost to an Ohio opponent since 1921.)

    This team could quack…er, crack the 1,000-yard mark in a single game. Seriously… Oregon continues to give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares with a seemingly unstoppable offense. The Ducks hung 69 on Portland State in three quarters and ran up 528 yards on the ground alone. Star tailback LaMichael James had 14 carries for 227 yards and oh, by the way, he didn’t even play the second half. 

Under The Microscope: Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 19

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    In-depth spotlight and analysis of a game that deserves a closer look…


    The margin between victory and defeat can be excruciatingly small at times.

    One point.

    One yard.

    One blade of grass.

    One fingertip.

    The Arizona State Sun Devils were oh-so-close to upsetting Big Ten power Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium Saturday afternoon. But unfortunately, “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

    The one point? Wisconsin put 20 on the board, while ASU could only muster 19.

    The one yard? How about a kickoff return by the Sun Devils’ Kyle Middlebrooks as the first half expired that came up inches short of a go-ahead touchdown?

    Middlebrooks ran the kick back 95 yards, but was dragged down at the Wisconsin 1 as the half ended.

    The one blade of grass? Arizona State running back Deantre Lewis had a shot at a 99-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but couldn’t escape the dreaded “turf monster.”

    Lewis took the handoff in his own end zone, got a nice block from the referee at the 10, and inexplicably fell down at the 30-yard line with only one defender to beat and a blocker out in front.

    Just like that, a game-changing play becomes a “coulda-shoulda-woulda” moment to lament on the long plane flight back to the desert.

    The one fingertip? Wisconsin defensive back Jay Valai blocked what would have been a game-tying extra point with 4:09 to play, providing the narrowest of victory margins for the still-undefeated Badgers.

    I normally get fed up with play-by-play man Mike Patrick for using the phrase “Holy Cow!” about 13 times a game, but Arizona State-Wisconsin was one thriller that deserved the frequent references to divine bovine. 

    Ultimately, the veteran team with the home-field advantage prevailed (Arizona State only started one senior in the contest), but it really couldn’t have been much closer.

    This Big Ten/Pac-10 showdown provided an interesting contrast of offensive styles: Bret Bielema’s teams are known for their bruising rushing attack, while Dennis Erickson’s visitors like to throw the ball around the yard.

    Both styles are effective when executed properly (which they were on Saturday), and the result made for a back-and-forth battle that wasn’t decided until the fateful extra point try in the final minutes.

    To further complicate things, both schools used their well-known tendencies to set up surprise big plays.

    Wisconsin hit several big play-action passes to Lance Kendricks, who made up for the absence of wideouts Nick Toon and David Gilreath by pulling in seven catches for 131 yards and a TD.

    Arizona State was able to get Lewis involved on the draw after Threet connected on a few early completions, and Lewis piled up 122 yards on only nine carries despite his team’s pass-first approach.

    John Clay (as expected) led all rushers with 123 yards, but it was a quiet 123 (if there is such a thing). Clay amassed 22 carries in a very workmanlike performance, and that was just enough for the Badgers to gut out the nail-biter win.

Extra Points From This Week's Microscope Game

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    Extra points from this week’s Microscope game:


    -I’m not sure there’s ever been a half of football where one team had a 97-yard kickoff return and a 95-yard kickoff return (by two different players, no less!) and still only had 10 points at intermission.

    ASU’s Omar Bolden had the 97-yard score, while Wisconsin defensive back Shelton Johnson made a brilliant play to pull Middlebrooks down after 95 yards before he could find the end zone.

    Safe to say the Badgers need some work on special teams: they also gave up an 80-yard first-half punt return that came back on a penalty.

    By the third quarter, the Camp Randall faithful were serenading the home team with mock cheers when they actually made a tackle in kick coverage. 

    -Scott Tolzien’s accuracy is greatly underrated. The senior completed 76 percent of his passes (19-of-25) for 246 yards, and while some of them were to wide-open receivers (thanks to John Clay play fakes), others were pinpoint throws on third-and-long deep outs, something I didn’t expect from the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust Badgers.

    -Arizona State quarterback Steven Threet had already beaten Wisconsin once coming into Saturday’s matchup: he was the starting quarterback for Michigan in a 2008 comeback win before transferring out west.

    -How many programs in the country could backup Wisconsin tailbacks James White and Montee Ball start for? Correct answer: a lot. White averaged 6.7 yards a carry Saturday afternoon when Clay needed a breather.

    -If there was a penalty for early celebration, Badgers’ holder Ryan Wickesberg would have drawn one when he started jumping up and down with his hands in the air after a 44-yard field goal try by Philip Welch on the opening drive…that missed.

    -Great effort by Arizona State punt returner Jamal Miles, who finished off a nice 25-yard runback in the fourth quarter by absolutely steamrolling Wisconsin’s Kyle Wojta. 222-pound football players aren’t supposed to bounce backwards like that; Miles literally RAN HIM OVER.

    -Kendricks was really unguardable for the home team. On one drive late in the first half, he drew pass interference penalties on two straight plays, the second of which was a touchdown because he caught the ball anyway.

    ASU couldn’t match up with the 6’4” tight end, and couldn’t afford to use extra defenders on him with the threat of the all-powerful run game.

    The momentum-turning touchdown catch came with 10 seconds to go before halftime and the Badgers out of timeouts; great game management by Tolzien and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to put Wisconsin on top heading to the locker room.

    -On the pass interference topic, ASU got robbed of four points when T.J. Simpson was mugged in the end zone by Wisconsin’s Niles Brinkley, who didn’t bother to look back for the football. No flag despite the blatant contact, and the Devils had to settle for a field goal. 

    -John Clay got his eighth straight 100-yard game against the Sun Devils: my favorite play was a third-and-2 conversion where he wasn’t in the mood to wait for left guard John Moffitt.

    Clay put his head down, ran over his own lineman (and the man Moffitt was blocking), pushing them both through the hole for a nine-yard gain.

Maybe Broadcasting Is Easier Than I Thought (The Lou Holtz Specials)

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    This week’s wacky and weird announcer quotes…


    “You just saw right there, that offensive line playing the piano.” – Craig James

    “No sign of the field goal team, excuse me, third down, no wonder.” – Mike Patrick

    “Nice job here of Zach Collaros understanding there is a huge circle in the middle of this defense that is left undefended.” – Jesse Palmer (Actually, Jesse, we usually call that open non-symmetrical space a “hole”. It’s only a circle because you drew a pretty yellow one on the telestrator…and unfortunately, Zach can’t see your artwork from the field!)

    “When you see guys running down the field like that all the time, that’s not a good thing.” – Craig James explaining why allowing 80-yard punt return TDs is, in fact, bad.

    “Some guys just have quick twitch fiber.” –Chris Martin (Exactly how I would have described it, Chris.)

    “There may not be anything wrong, but if your Heisman Trophy candidate running back is on the sideline for this long, there’s something that isn’t right.” – Mike Patrick (In related news, I’m actively looking for volunteers that can explain to me the difference between something being wrong and something not being right.)

    “Childs please!” – Dave Pasch describing a game-winning 40-yard touchdown pass to Arkansas wideout Greg Childs

    “How about this for a segue? This is what we do for a living, just smoothly go right in to the Red Slawlibber, ha ha…the Red Lobster Scholar Athlete.” – Verne Lundquist (Verne, it seems like you and I might have different definitions of “smooth”.)

    “Touchdown George Bell…he dropped it.” – Mike Patrick

    “True freshman: he just came to school this year.” – Bob Griese (We like to call that the Department of Redundancy Department.)

    “I’d be breathing fire for a week.” – Craig James

    “Mike Stoops is on some Red Bull chased with espresso.” – Mark Jones

     “Once again the final score: Wisconsin 21, Arizona State 20” – Mike Patrick (It was actually 20-19, but who’s counting?)

    “Good play call: I like the execution, except for the fact that he threw it a little bit high over his head and the ball was picked off.” – Bob Griese

    “Touchdown, Arkansas! No flags!  ….there is a flag…” – Dave Pasch

    “It’s probably either punt or fake or go for it.” – Mike Bellotti providing some revolutionary options on a fourth-and-2 for Minnesota.

    Time for the Lou Holtz NOTRE DAME HOMER quote of the week. This edition refers to the fake field goal that Michigan State used to stun the Irish. “It was well played by Notre Dame: they defended that very, very well.” – Lou Holtz (Um, Coach? The Spartans SCORED! If that was well-defended, I’d hate to see what poor defense looks like.)

    A couple other notes: the Oregon State/Louisville telecast got a lot of great close-up shots of head coach Charlie Strong on the sideline. Unfortunately, there was one small problem: most of them were of someone else, not Strong.

    Oh, and am I the only guy that hears Craig James refer to Texas Tech as a “hostile environment” and immediately thinks, “Wow, that phrase has a whole new meaning?”


    If you hear a weird or wacky announcer quote during the football weekend, send it my way! E-mail cfcmailbag (at) yahoo (dot) com by 1:00 pm ET each Sunday: your submission could make it in to next week’s COMPREHENSIVE.

Maybe Coaching Is Easier Than I Thought

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    Did somebody’s seat just get hotter?


    College football teams aren’t supposed to cross the goal line five times and finish the game with only 32 points.

    This is because most college football teams come equipped with what’s commonly known as a placekicker.

    One of said placekicker’s duties is to add “extra points” to scoring plays, providing a seven-point total for these “touchdowns.”

    Revolutionary concept, isn’t it?

    As we all know, seven times five equals 35, not 32.

    But not in Southern California. (Or else the math teacher at USC is on probation, too?)

    The Trojans attempted not one, not two, but three unsuccessful 2-point conversions at Minnesota Saturday for no apparent reason, and USC fans should be thankful the Gophers were inept enough to make the missing three points irrelevant.

    As of right now, there’s no truth to the rumor that every placekicker on the Trojans’ roster is preparing to transfer (considering USC coach Lane Kiffin apparently has given up on the old-fashioned method of scoring that involves putting foot to pigskin).

    However, it is likely that no other program in the country has the slightest interest in adding a USC kicker via transfer because of the rust factor: eyewitness reports speculate that the last time some of these players attempted real, meaningful extra points was the day before USC hired this Kiffin fellow.

    Maybe coaching is easier than I thought.

    (Speaking of questionable coaching decisions, why on earth didn’t the Iowa Hawkeyes attempt a Hail Mary pass before halftime at Arizona? Ricky Stanzi went down at his own 48 with three seconds left before intermission…the Hawks had not one, but two timeouts…and Kirk Ferentz still had no interest in stopping the clock to take one last crack at the end zone from near midfield.

    Of course, it makes perfect sense why Iowa didn’t care if they scored or not…since they were down TWENTY points at the time. Can anyone confirm if Ferentz was in fact in attendance at Kiffin’s “Why Points Really Aren’t Important In Football” seminar this summer?

    Yep, I’m finally ready to get rid of the “maybe” altogether.

    Coaching is easier than I thought.)

Maybe Officiating Is Easier Than I Thought

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    Throwing the flag on the guys in stripes…


    Notre Dame fans have reason to be just a tad upset after two questionable no-calls in Saturday’s thriller at Michigan State. The Spartans tied the game with 7:43 to play on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to B.J. Cunningham, but Cunningham clearly stepped out of bounds before getting past the Irish defender to haul in his crucial score.

    By rule, the receiver is allowed to return to the field of play without penalty if he is A. forced out and B. returns immediately…but in this case, the “force out” fell somewhere between debatable and downright non-existent.

    Yes, Cunningham and Darrin Walls brushed shoulders near the sideline, but in this humble writer’s opinion, Cunningham did more to cause contact than the Notre Dame corner, and that particular play should have seen a yellow flag on the ground, not just a referee’s hat.

    Give credit to Cunningham (and quarterback Kirk Cousins, who bought all kinds of time by scrambling toward the right sideline and directing his receiver where to go) for keeping the play alive, but the refs shouldn’t have allowed MSU to take advantage of bonus real estate outside the chalk.

    If the fourth-quarter no-call was dubious at best, there’s absolutely no doubt that the Spartans caught a break from the zebras on the final play of overtime. When Michigan State snapped the ball on the fake field goal that beat the Irish, the stadium play clock was showing 00.

    No matter what the “official statement” from the referees says, lag time is not acceptable in an era where we can measure times down to the thousandths of a second.

    If the game clock shows 0:00, a team shouldn’t be allowed to run a play. If the play clock shows 0:00, why should that be any different?

    A freeze-frame view of the fourth-down snap shows without question that the clock expired before the play started, and if the powers-that-be really are okay with that, let’s put this “lag time” concept right above Calvin Johnson’s “control the ball all the way through the ground” rule and right below the BCS in the category of “things that need to be changed pronto.”

Since I Do Live In Ohio...

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    News from around the Big Ten…


    While Denard Robinson and Terrelle Pryor get all the Midwestern hype, Dan Persa has quietly steered Northwestern to a 3-0 start to the season.

    Persa is hitting an unbelievable 81.6 percent of his passes and threw for a career-high 307 yards in the Wildcats’ victory at Rice Saturday evening. 

    Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald knew going into the season that he had a special quarterback with a special work ethic.

    “He’s a tremendous leader,” Fitzgerald said of Persa. “He’s the first to show and last to go. That’s the way you want your quarterback described.”

    The Wildcats have never in program history been to three consecutive bowl games, but with Persa at the helm, I’d be surprised if that streak stretches past January.


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    Since CFC isn’t really done until the fat lady sings…


    Don’t look now, but the North Carolina State football team is 3-0 for the first time since the days of one Philip Rivers after disposing of Cincinnati 30-19.

    A couple random notes from Thursday’s game: this tribute to our nation’s troops was incredible…and the Wolfpack have a starting safety named Earl Wolff.

    I admit it: that made me chuckle. Special mention in next week’s Comprehensive for the first commenter who can name another current college football player with a last name that so closely resembles his program’s mascot.

    (I have no idea if there is actually another example like Wolff or not, but this is where I throw out meaningless non-cash-value prizes to let you wonderful readers do my research for me. Some call it laziness.  I call it delegation.)

    Until next week…



    Tim Cary’s COLLEGE FOOTBALL COMPREHENSIVE (formerly “Carrying On About College Football”) is a weekly wrap-up series featured each Monday on

    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 a previous edition of COMPREHENSIVE?

    Week Two (Sept. 12)

    Week One (Sept. 5)