I asked Ball State wide receiver Briggs Orsbon if he thought his Cardinals should receive a BCS bid (provided they finish the regular season undefeated). His answer? You’ll just have to keep reading below about Ball State’s latest win...and the final regular-season Diamond in the Rough profile.
1. DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: BALL STATE 31, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 24
Two great teams. Two great quarterbacks. One great game. It’s a shame somebody had to lose.
Ball State’s perfect season remained intact for another week with a hard-fought, come-from-behind win on the road against MAC rival Central Michigan Wednesday night. BSU quarterback Nate Davis threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Cardinals escaped Mount Pleasant* with a 31-24 win. Davis only completed 12 passes on the evening, but four of them went for scores.
* Note: They call it Mount Pleasant, but Weather Pleasant it was not. Snow came down consistently throughout the evening, and the fans had some serious cold and elements to brave...good thing the game seemed to be worth it!
Across the field, CMU star Dan LeFevour took advantage of the national spotlight with a 345-yard passing performance (even more impressive considering the snowstorm), but a late interception killed the Chippewas’ final chance to rally. LeFevour (who I’ve often described as a poor man’s Tim Tebow) also carried the ball an astonishing 24 times in the contest.
Speaking of running the football, Ball State’s tailback MiQuale Lewis finished the night with 177 yards on the ground, improving his season average to 132 yards per game. In the end, Ball State’s balance and execution was enough to outlast the Chippewas, their pumped-up fans, and even their flashy new “Vegas gold” jerseys.
The game-winning score for the undefeated Cardinals came with 7:34 to play, snapping a 24-all tie. On a critical 3rd-and-8 play, Nate Davis threw a perfect 11-yard strike to freshman wide receiver Briggs Orsbon in the corner of the end zone. In an e-mail to “Carrying On,” Orsbon described the all-important final touchdown.
“The idea of the play was either to get an out route with me or get Darius Hill over the top. However, it is normally a shorter route for me, but I had to adjust because of the 3rd-and-8 situation. Coming up to the line I recognized the defense was in man coverage and the DB was playing a good seven yards off of me, so I knew there was a good chance of the ball coming to me.
"Honestly, the ball seemed to be traveling in slow motion. It was the importance of the situation that made it such a difficult catch, but practicing plays like that on a daily basis prepares you for those types of plays.”
Briggs is right, by the way. In case you didn’t get to see the highlight, it was an incredibly difficult catch, but one he will remember for a very long time.
Now normally at this point in the column, I list a bunch of random thoughts about this week’s Diamond in the Rough. However, there’s a more pressing issue on my mind, so I’m going to preempt that section with this pointed question:
Briggs Orsbon...if you win out, do you think your team deserves to go to a BCS game? What about the national championship game? COACF readers, Bleacher Creatures everywhere, and college football fans want to know.
“We try not to get to wrapped up in all the rankings and that stuff, and just let it all fall into place. We also have to win a few games before we start worrying about any bowl games. However, with our circumstance I think we deserve a shot just like any other team in the country. If we aren't put in one of those games, then the country will never know if we deserved to be there or not.”
Before he finishes, here’s the quote I absolutely love:
“We didn't pick the teams on our schedule—we are just going out there and playing against them.”
Well put, Mr. Mid-Major. I wish your Cardinals had a chance to control your own national title destiny. But most of America (or at least the people with the money) seems to think a system where computers spit out the two schools with the biggest linemen and most banners is preferable.
2. LOU HOLTZ SPECIALS
Reader submission from Greg:
"This has been the best part of the game for Michigan...the punting game!" – Brad Nessler
“Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.” – Todd Harris
“You guys aren’t having a domestic, are you?” – Paul Maguire
“Go have another cookie, Paul.” – Brad Nessler
“I’m not going to speculate there, although I just did.” – Todd Harris
“Good non-speculation speculation.” – Ray Bentley
And although not from an actual game, this was the best quote I heard all week from an announcer:
“I think I’m smarter than I think I am.” – Mike Golic.
3. THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT
The ridiculous stat lines and improbable scores that make you think the sports ticker has malfunctioned...
Oklahoma 65, Texas Tech 21. I watched this game, as many of you did, so I didn’t exactly see the score on the sports ticker. But who would have really thought that a 10-0 team would/could lose by 44?
Syracuse 24, Notre Dame 23. (Yes, that would be eight-loss Syracuse and its lame-duck coach winning at South Bend. With the loss, Notre Dame set a record for most defeats in a two-year span (14). How’s that resumé coming, Mr. Weis?)
NCAA D-II playoffs: Abilene Christian 93, West Texas A&M 68. There’s not enough room on the entire Bleacher Report site to start listing all of the amazing stats and records from a mind-boggling shootout like this one. You can research the running back with seven touchdowns, the quarterback with six, and all the rest of the ridiculous numbers yourself.
After struggling mightily through his senior season, including missing the last three starts due to injury, Curtis Painter came out of nowhere on Senior Day to lead Purdue to scores on ALL 10 DRIVES...eight touchdowns and two field goals. Painter finished with 448 yards and five touchdowns to help give Joe Tiller a proper sendoff—the Boilermakers throttled the Hoosiers, 62-10.
(Sorry, I just wanted to write that score one more time!)
4. THANK GOODNESS FOR MY DVR
Here’s the jaw-dropping highlights that were worth rewinding for this week:
Ohio State’s Ray Small did a great job juking a defender instead of running out of bounds on an enormous 80-yard punt return against archrival Michigan.
Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer was downright nasty Thursday night, simply running over a Miami defender to pick up 35 yards on 1st-and-25. That hit will leave a bruise.
Oklahoma WR Manuel Johnson made the play of the week with a one-handed grab on a 66-yard touchdown pass. To top it off, Johnson actually had a brace on that arm due to an elbow injury he had suffered earlier in the season.
Any other nominees from the faithful readers/commenters? I look forward to hearing about them! Anyway, I saw the above three plays live, which make them my favorites by default!
5. SINCE I DO LIVE IN OHIO... (news from around the Big Ten)
Penn State and Ohio State finished their conference seasons at 7-1, with impressive wins over Michigan State and Michigan, respectively. The Nittany Lions get the league’s BCS berth, thanks to a 13-6 victory in Columbus last month.
Remember a few weeks ago, when I wrote that Minnesota might be the worst Top 25 team I’ve ever seen? I think I’ve brought that quote up a few times since then...basically because I was right.
The Gophers started 7-1...and have now lost four in a row, most recently a 55-0 drubbing at the hands of Iowa (in the Metrodome, no less). With the one-sided triumph, the Hawkeyes captured the famed bronze pig “Floyd of Rosedale”...
...if a bronze pig is indeed something to be desired.
One other note from the Big Ten...Wisconsin is extremely lucky. It’s that simple. The Badgers escaped with an overtime win against Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, 36-35...and the visiting Mustangs missed not one, not two, but THREE extra points in the game. Ouch.
6. MAYBE OFFICIATING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
Did anyone else see the atrocious 15-yard penalty on Oklahoma safety Nic Harris for a perfectly legal hit on a Texas Tech wide receiver? I can’t really describe how bad the call was...basically the receiver got sandwiched and the second safety (Harris) hit him hard.
Somehow, the referee decided that since the ball had already hit the receiver’s hands, the safety’s hit was unnecessary roughness (even though the receiver was still trying to grab the ball). I know I said I couldn’t really describe how bad the official’s decision was, but I’m going to try.
That call was awful, dreadful, shocking, poor, appalling, disgraceful, terrible, frightful, horrible, despicable, and outrageous.
End thesaurus search.
Maybe officiating is easier than I thought.
7. EVEN THOUGH SEVENTEEN IS A RANDOM NUMBER
Here’s the Top 17 ballot I submitted today…I do so with a growing sense of frustration, because I think undefeated teams deserve more recognition.
If I knew y’all wouldn’t laugh so much, I would probably go Alabama, Utah, Ball State, Boise State as the top four...but oh well. I’m beginning to reluctantly concede that the undefeated mid-majors will never get a shot...so I waste less and less effort trying to argue why they should.
7. Penn State
8. Ball State
9. Boise State
10. Texas Tech
11. Oklahoma State
13. Ohio State
17. Oregon State
8. FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE FINAL EDITION
Thank you for reading “Carrying On About College Football” all year! Even though there are some regular-season games left, I’m going into semi-retirement now that my Boilermakers have played their last game of 2008. Carrying On will return in January for one last article: a wrap-up of the entire bowl season (complete with the highlights, quotes, and randomness that this column is known for).
Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to interact with me throughout the season, especially those of you that have been around since Week One, and I’m glad for the friends I’ve made as a result. I leave you with the random thoughts that will keep me awake tonight (along with the Mountain Dew and the fact that Lakers games start quite late in Ohio.)
- Can we rename the Washington/Washington State game the “Sour Apple Cup”? Kinda figured that one would go two overtimes...with how bad these teams’ seasons have been, it seemed like the type of game that nobody really wanted to or deserved to win.
- When’s the last time Mississippi won at Death Valley (LSU) and the Swamp (Florida) in the same year?
- Did you realize the Cincinnati Bearcats have back-to-back nine win seasons? Talk about quiet success. To put nine wins in perspective...that’s as many as Michigan and Notre Dame have. Combined.
- If you look up the word “mulligan” in the dictionary, you’ll find something about a golfer getting a “second chance”...and most likely, an accompanying picture of Justin Kahut.
Kahut is the Oregon State kicker who missed a game-tying extra point with 3:58 to play in Tucson Saturday night, seeming to cost the Beavers a chance at their first Rose Bowl in 44 years. Kahut’s story has a happy ending, as the kicker redeemed himself with a game-winning 24-yard field goal as time expired. Final score: Oregon State 19, Arizona 17.
- Last, but not least...for as much fuss as everyone is making about the possibility of a three-way Big 12 South tie that would be decided by BCS rankings (which I’ll agree is really stupid), I’m surprised by how little attention a different scenario has gotten.
Do you realize that if Oklahoma State (the No. 11 team in the country, in case you’ve forgotten) can knock off the Sooners in this weekend’s rivalry game (which will be played at home in Stillwater), Texas Tech could end up playing Missouri in the Big 12 championship game?
The South champ would not be Oklahoma (because of their two losses). Nor would it be Texas (because the tiebreaker is no longer three-way, and the Red Raiders beat them head to head).
I think it would be slightly hilarious if the Raiders lose by 44 this week...and beat out the No. 2 team in the BCS (Texas) for the division title next week. Translation: The way that college football determines its champions and championship game participants is officially...strange.
But you knew that already.
With that, I bid you all adieu until January. Enjoy the holidays...and the football!
Tim Cary (yes, Cary...as in “Carrying On”) is a resident of Springfield, Ohio and a die-hard college football fan (especially when it comes to the Purdue Boilermakers). To submit thoughts, ideas, questions, arguments, or anything else for “Carrying On About College Football,” e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check back during the bowl season for a final edition of COACF, only on BleacherReport.com.