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Tag:Dana holgorsen
Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 4



Posted by Bryan Fischer


As much as it frustrates the rest of the country, there's a reason why the SEC is continually touted as the nation's best conference. There's a reason why they've won five straight BCS championships.There's a reason why the league is so competitive. And it's not hard to figure out either.

Defense, and lots of it. S-E-C Speed, S-E-C D.

With nearly half the league ranked 75th or worse in total offense through four games, five ranked teams and a 25-4 non-conference record don't happen by accident. Six teams are in the top 30 in scoring defense, including Alabama and Florida in the top five.

For LSU, the fearsome part of their defense is the backend. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu repeated as Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week thanks to six tackles and two turnovers against West Virginia. A week earlier, his teammate Morris Claiborne was tabbed for the award after two interceptions against Mississippi State. If there's a better pair of corners in the country on one team, they're in the NFL. Mathieu's interception that he took down to the one right before halftime helped stretch the Tigers' lead to 20 and Claiborne's 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown ended all hopes of a Mountaineers rally and kept momentum planted firmly on the LSU sideline.

"West Virginia did a very good job, but our defense showed up to play and we got off to a nice start," Les Miles said after the game. " Morris Claiborne’s return was right on time, and we were able to finish it off. We made some mistakes, but we overcame that adversity."

What was surprising Saturday was just how little pressure LSU's front seven were able to get on opposing quarterback Geno Smith. He finished with a school-record 468 yards of total offense as the Tigers game up more yards in a game than they had since 2005. Giving up chunks of yards to a Dana Holgorsen-led offense is nothing new, but what kept the game in LSU's favor was the big play ability of coordinator John Chavis' defense.

Ultimately, the Tigers don't win by scoring, they win by scoring on defense.

Mathieu, who wears Patrick Peterson's old number seven, is as ball-hawking as you can get. Peterson was a one-man island last season, often taking away half of the field by himself in zone coverage if he wasn't locking up his man one-on-one. While Mathieu isn't as good in coverage as the man he took over for, he has a great feel for the game and reads plays as well as anybody on the back half. When he roams or blitzes, things just happen - as they did in Morgantown on Saturday. Despite losing Peterson, this secondary is better and deeper than it was a year ago as Claiborne and others have elevated their game. As one NFL scout told CBSSports.com writer Gregg Doyel, there are actually more than four NFL players among this group.

Read more about Tyrann Mathieu in Bruce Feldman's Big Picture

"The offensive game plan was not a problem," Holgorsen said. "Turning the ball over four times is a problem, and they have something to do with that too. They have a pretty good defense."

LSU has scored first and led at halftime in each of the Tigers' games this year. It's all part of the plan: Score first, play defense, be opporunistic and win the fourth quarter.

Alabama uses a similar strategy. Before the season, one person inside the program said what many had been saying: this defense was better than 2009's championship squad and might be one of the most talented ever under Nick Saban. They might have an even faster secondary than LSU and use the speed to play everything in front of them, swarming to ball seconds after the snap.

Against Arkansas, they also delivered shot, after shot, after shot on quarterback Tyler Wilson. The 3-4 the team runs allows Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart to mix in plenty of zone blitzes to create pressure on quarterbacks who rarely can tell where it's coming from before the snap. The Tide recruit athletes who can move well in they scheme more than anything and that's translated into a fearsome unit that is living up to their reputation as the best in the country. They play smart and play well.

"Well we set out to establish that we were going against the best offense in the SEC and a lot of people were labeling us as the best defense in the SEC, so we wanted to go out and show people what we were capable of with all cylinders turning," linebacker Dont'a Hightower said.

Though the highlight of the game with Arkansas was Marquis Maze's punt return for a touchdown, that was nearly the straw that broke the razorback's back. As Saban and others admitted it was a defensive play, DeQuan Menzie's interception, that shifted the momentum after the offense couldn't convert on the goal line.

"That was a big turning point in the game from a momentum stand point, and you know, we need to make more plays like that, get more turnovers," Saban said. "People are going to see what we do and figure out ways to deal with it. Our challenge is to get better every day."

That's a scary thought - for Alabama or for any SEC defense. Can't wait to see them match up with LSU on November 5 as much as the offensive coordinators do not.

Stat of the week

After wrapping up a 56-31 win over Rice, just about everybody was talking about Heisman candidate and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Look up the box score and it's easy to see why: he went a ho-hum 29-33 for 338 yards and five touchdowns as the Bears racked up 673 yards of offense. Even more eye-popping was the fact that he threw more touchdowns than incompletions for the second consecutive game. Griffin has also thrown more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) this season. He is completing 85% of his passes, hasn't thrown an interception and is throwing for nearly 12 yards per attempt. As one would expect, he tops the NCAA efficiency rankings, just ahead of Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.

Other stats of note

- Florida beat Kentucky for the 25th time in a row and by at least 34 points for the fourth straight year.  The Wildcats are on the losing end of the two longest active losing streaks to one team, the other being the 26 game streak to Tennessee.

- Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz set a school record and tied the NCAA record by throwing seven touchdown passes against UC Davis over the weekend. He sat out the second half after the Warriors led 49-0 at half but not before he also passed for a school record 424 yards in a half.

- Notre Dame is dead last in the country in turnover margin at -2.50 a game. The Irish have given the ball away 15 times in four games, more than they did in all of 2009 and 2006. The defense has forced just five this year.

- Quarterback Denard Robinson is the nation's leading rusher at 168.7 yards per game, over 15 yards a game more than runner up LaMichael James. While that's pretty impressive, he wouldn't be in the top spot were it not for the NCAA not counting his stats from the game against Western Michigan - which was stopped early. Of course, who knows, he might have been able to pad his stats during that game and still be in the lead a few weeks later like he is now.

- Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray had his nine-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing broken. The Aggies really went away from the ground game in the second half and never did establish Gray against Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden set school records for completions (47) and passing yardage (438).

- James was back to putting up video game numbers for Oregon against Arizona this weekend. He rushed for a school record 288 yards and also set the all-purpose mark. His first quarter touchdown run also gave him the Ducks record for career touchdowns as well. His 288 yards were more than the Wildcats have rushed for all year (249).

- Florida Atlantic had just one first down against Michigan State but racked up 20 against Auburn's defense in a 30-14 loss. The Owls are dead last in the country in offense and have scored only 17 points all year. 62% of FAU's offensive yardage this year came against Auburn.

- South Carolina's defense allowed just 77 yards to Vanderbilt and only five first downs all game. Defensive stud Melvin Ingram scored yet another touchdown, his third in as many weeks. By reaching the end zone, Ingram is tied for third on the team for points scored with quarterback Stephen Garcia.

- A few miles away from Columbia, Clemson receiver and freshman sensation Sammy Watkins is leading the Tigers in scoring after 141 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a victory over Florida State. Through four games this year he has 433 yards receiving and six touchdowns, marks that would have placed him second and third on the team respectively in each category last year.

- Four teams topped the 400 yard rushing mark last Saturday, led by Air Force rolling up 595 yards against hapless Tennessee State. Oregon had 415 yards against Arizona, Florida rushed for 405 against Kentucky and Army pounded Ball State for 402 yards. A team has rushed for over 400 yards 10 times this year while a team has passed for over 400 yards 22 times through week four.

- According to SI.com's Stewart Mandel, Illinois is 4-0 for the first time since 1951. I'm with him, how is that possible?

- Georgia Tech has six plays of 70+ yards this year and seven one-play scoring drives.

Yard-by-yard

-  Hats off to Mike Gundy's halftime adjustments. After being held about 1,000 points below their average in the first half to trail by 17, the Cowboys offense exploded as Brandon Weeden started picking apart Texas A&M's secondary with intermediate passes on their way to a comeback win. The Aggies turned the ball over three times and anytime you give Weeden the ball on a short field, watch out. The most telling sign was the lack of panic on the OSU sidelines as they fell behind. Though they hadn't been in the position before, it was as if they knew what to do and went out and executed. The defense isn't quite as good as Oklahoma's but they'll be able to ride the offense quite far in Big 12 play.

- I'm not quite ready to say the Michigan defense is good but it's certainly much improved and solid enough in a weaker Big Ten for new coordinator Greg Mattison. After the much maligned unit struggled all of last year, they seemed to turn a corner against a very good offense in San Diego State. The Wolverines shutout talented running back Ronnie Hillman and the Aztecs in the first half, the first time they've pulled off the feat in the first half in over two years. Hillman hadn't fumbled since the first carry of his freshmen season last year and yet coughed it up twice. We've been in this position with the Wolverines before last year - a fast start, Denard Robinson being Denard Robinson - before fading badly at the end in Rich Rodriguez' last year as head coach. This year, though, might be different. The schedule is manageable and with the defense being more opportunistic than they have been in the past, Michigan could have a much different ending.

- Michigan's archival Ohio State doesn't have the kind of stability that the Wolverines have but they had to be encouraged with the solid first start for quarterback Braxton Miller. He didn't cause anybody to label him the "next" anything after going 5-13 for 83 yards and rushing for 83 yards but it looks like he's the future after a disastrous passing game for the Buckeyes I saw firsthand against Miami. What's funny is the last time I saw Ohio State play on the road was a couple of years ago at USC. The offense struggled and the next game a talented true freshman by the name of Terrelle Pryor started for the first time. Pryor tossed four touchdowns in that game and led the Buckeyes to an 8-1 record as a starter. While Miller didn't come anywhere close to looking like his predecessor, he looked comfortable running the offense and playing with what the defense was giving him. No one's saying he'll be able to replicate what Pryor did on the field but it looks like yet again the Buckeyes have another true freshman ready to lead them into Big Ten play this year.

"I slept pretty good," he said of his first start. "I really didn't have any jitters at all."

With improved play from Miller and the rest of the offense, head coach Luke Fickell might sleep better too.

- There's no offense quite like Georgia Tech's. It's an option attack but one that has a dangerous passing game that is part of the reason the Yellow Jackets are leading the nation in yards per game. They piled up 496 yards on Saturday in a nice win over North Carolina. Quarterback Tevin Washington is the triggerman but unlike previous players at the position under Paul Johnson, he looks like he can legitimately get the ball down the field accurately. Of course, it helps to throw the ball to 6-foot-5 receiver Steven Hill. There were times where he looked just like Calvin Johnson while making one-handed catches on his way to 151 yards and a touchdown. Hill might be the best receiver no one's really talking about but with Washington throwing the ball and running back Orwin Smith helping out on the ground, expect to hear more about Georgia Tech going forward.

- Poor N.C. State fans. As if it weren't enough to see former quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm for a top 10 team, Thursday's blowout loss to Cincinnati couldn't have given anybody any confidence in what's to come this season. The offensive line gave up six sacks to go on top of three turnovers, two of which were interceptions thrown by Wilson's replacement Mike Glennon without much thought. There's some talent on the team but clearly not enough in a much tougher ACC this year. It's going to be a long season until North Carolina's Committee on Infractions hearing for Wolfpack fans.

- I thought the Clemson game would be a bit of a letdown game for Florida State and while they made it close, the execution just was not there for the Seminoles. Of course they wanted to win and definitely were without some key players, but they invested so much into the game against Oklahoma one would have to think that they spent a little too much time watching film from last week instead of film of the Tigers. Just when it seemed like the defense was ready to make a stop or the offense get going, there'd be a penalty (they finished with 11 for 124 yards). On the other side, it finally appears that Clemson is getting the hang of offensive coordinator Chad Morris' new hurry-up system. Tajh Boyd still has moments that must make Morris rip out some hair but he is looking much more comfortable behind center. With electric freshman Sammy Watkins making plays every time you tune in, it's easy to see why there's plenty of optimism in Death Valley.

"I'm super excited about how our players keep growing this offense and executing. And we're only four games into this offense," Morris said. "It's crazy."

- Penn State beat Eastern Michigan 34-6 as part of the Big Ten's weekend of home games against directional schools to raise money for themselves. The Nittany Lions might have come out with a victory but it was a costly one - starting outside linebacker Mike Mauti will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Considered to be the team's best backer, this is needless to say a big blow to a team that already has struggled some on both sides of the ball. Mauti missed the 2009 season with an ACL injury to his other knee and was limited at times last year due to a shoulder injury. Senior corner D'Anton Lynn was also hurt and had to be transported to the hospital to have his head and neck examined after a hit.

- Speaking of Penn State, the team that almost beat them last week, Temple, ended up routing Maryland 38-7. Steve Addazio has quietly taken what Al Golden left him and turned the Owls in a forced to be reckoned with. Junior back Bernard Pierce is the Northeast's best kept secret, as he rushed for five touchdowns and 149 yards to power Temple's first road win over a BCS foe in nine years.

- How bad is Oregon State? The Beavers lost 27-19 to a UCLA team that is not without their own issues on both sides of the ball. Many expected them to get a boost - they were favored at home - with the return of all-purpose threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni but it was to no avail. It's the worst start of the Mike Riley era and unlike many of his previous teams, there's just no execution. There's been issues behind the scenes and at quarterback on offense while the defense is still breaking in plenty of new players. As Pac-12 play continues, don't expect things to get any easier until the Beavers get back to their roots of playing smart football and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. For UCLA, it was a game they just had to have if they're to sneak into a bowl game this year. According to the LA Daily News , a joyous Rick Neuheisel told a group of fans after the game  "Anybody have fun on the flight here? Not as much as you'll have on the flight home!" Of course, he also added that the Bruins haven't been 1-0 in the conference, "in a long time."

More on College Football
Analysis
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
That Okie State rallies past Texas A&M is insult enough. That the Aggies cough up a 17-point halftime lead to a Big 12 power on their way to SEC is more than Dennis Dodd can stand.
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Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
LSU proves worthy No. 1 by beating three ranked teams on the road, whipping West Virginia on Saturday. Read >
Gregg Doyel Gregg Doyel
Notre Dame's Brian Kelly is an offensive genius and generally a wise man. Gregg Doyel says that intellect pushes Kelly to rely on defense. Read >>
Related links
Video
Quote of the week

"Big 12! Big 12! Big 12!" - Oklahoma State fans after their victory at Kyle Field. Perhaps it was also fitting that Texas A&M had two 12th man penalties on defense early in the game.

Quote of the week, part II

"The speed of the game, it's kind of lighting struck the outhouse and we were in it." - Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter after the Wildcats' 48-10 loss to Florida.

Tweets of the week

"Arizona will always be a basketball school.. So Child please!" and "If one more person EVER tells me Arizona is turning into a "football" school .. Can kiss the baby"

- Former Arizona forward Derrick Williams during his football team's blowout loss to Oregon. Ouch.

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Oklahoma State

8. Oregon

9. Virginia Tech

10. Nebraska

Where we'll be this week

The big CBS primetime matchup between Alabama and Florida from the Swamp will have Mr. College Football himself, Tony Barnhart, in attendance. Dennis Dodd will be at Camp Randall for Nebraska's first Big Ten conference game against Wisconsin while Brett McMurphy will be listening to 'Enter Sandman' as Clemson plays at Virginia Tech. I've got early duty as I'll be at Texas A&M's first SEC conference game (well, first unofficial one anyway) against Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium.

Leaning this way

Alabama at Florida (8 p.m. ET, CBS)

The past three meetings has featured one of two teams ranked number one overall and while neither will be in the top spot in the polls this year, a top 12 matchup awaits down in the Swamp. Both the Gators and Tide have tough defenses that are ranked in the top five nationally in the three big defensive categories (total/rushing/scoring defense) so each offense figures to have a little more trouble moving the ball than they have so far this year. Alabama's speed will be the difference as they bottle up Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps to come out with a victory.

Nebraska at Wisconsin

Welcome to the Big Ten Nebraska. Camp Randall should be jumping around as they welcome in the Cornhuskers and Taylor Martinez. Look for Russell Wilson to continue to be sharp and not turn the ball over and the Badgers' defense to make just enough plays to win. Martinez should be able to move the ball though, Wisconsin's defense hasn't really been tested - much less by an offense like Nebraska's.

Clemson at Virginia Tech

The first big test for both teams as Clemson goes on the road to take on Frank Beamer's squad. Clemson made several key mistakes that kept Florida State in the game last week and if they turn the ball over, that plays right into the Hokies game plan. Virginia Tech should win but don't be surprised if this is a close ACC battle.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: ACC, Air Force, Al Golden, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Army, Ball State, Baylor, BCS, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryant Moniz, Calvin Johnson, Camp Randall, Chad Morris, Chris Rainey, Cincinnati, Clemson, Cowboys Stadium, Cyrus Gray, D'Anton Lynn, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, DeQuan Menzie, Derrick Williams, Dont'a Hightower, Eastern Michigan, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Geno Smith, Georgia Tech, Greg Mattison, Gregg Doyel, Hawaii, Heisman, Illinois, James Rodgers, Jeff Demps, Joe Halahuni, John Chavis, Kentucky, Kirby Smart, Kyle Field, LaMichael James, Les Miles, LSU, Luke Fickell, Marquis Maze, Maryland, Melvin Inrgam, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Gundy, Mike Mauti, Mike Riley, Mississippi State, Morris Claiborne, N.C. State, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Patrick Peterson, Paul Johnson, Penn State, Rice, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Minter, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Ronnie Hillman, Russell Wilson, Sammy Watkins, San Diego State, SEC, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Addazio, Steven Hill, Stewart Mandel, Tajh Boyd, Taylor Martinez, Temple, Tennessee, Terrelle Pryor, Tevin Washington, Texas A&M, Tony Barnhart, UC Davis, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
 
Posted on: September 25, 2011 1:43 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 24)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Resetting the conference order - Saturday was the last week of non-conference match ups for the Big East, with the conference schedule kicking off on Thursday night with South Florida's visit to Pittsburgh. Every team has played three or four games, and there are things we've learned about these teams that have changed my view of the conference landscape.

In August, my projected order of finish looked like this:

1. West Virginia
2. Pittsburgh
3. South Florida
4. Cincinnati
4. Syracuse
6. Connecticut
7. Louisville
8. Rutgers

After four weeks of non-conference competition, my new re-shuffle looks a little like this:

1. West Virginia
2. South Florida
3. Cincinnati
4. Pittsburgh
5. Rutgers
6. Syracuse
7. Louisville
8. Connecticut

2. West Virginia's team got pushed, and they showed fight. The Mountaineers played LSU much closer than the 47-21 score indicates. Turnovers and impossible field position made it difficult for West Virginia to translate their 533 yards of total offense into the points needed to keep up the Bayou Bengals for four quarters. But West Virginia did not back down from the challenge, showing an impressive amount of resilience after trailing LSU by 20 at halftime. The two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter took a gritty tenacity from both the offense and defense. Unfortunately that third unit, special teams, was caught off guard with Morris Claiborne's 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. With that special teams play, LSU swung the momentum and the game back in their direction.

But the Mountaineers kept fighting, which is a good sign with conference play staring Oct. 8. The key for Dana Holgorsen's squad will be maintaining this high level of play for the rest of the season. The way the Big East title race has sorted out in recent years, the only way to control your destiny is to avoid two conference losses. At their best, West Virginia should beat four opponents. The final stretch of the Mountaineers' schedule includes Cincinnati, the Backyard Brawl against Pittsburgh, and a Thursday night showdown with South Florida on Dec. 1. It is very possible that matchup with the Bulls could be an unofficial Big East title game. But they must maintain their high level of play in order to get there.

3. Pittsburgh has not lived up to their expectations on either side of the ball. Todd Graham's arrival in Pittsburgh was supposedly going to issue in a new ear of offense that would be defined by high tempo, high scores, and lots of excitement for Panther fans. There was absolutely none of those things present at Heinz Field on Saturday in Notre Dame's 15-12 defeat of Pittsburgh. For the second week in a row, Pittsburgh failed to close out an opponent despite being handed several opportunities in the form of turnovers and poorly executed possessions by their opponents. It seemed like Notre Dame was begging Pittsburgh to put them back into their misery, and the Panthers did not display the offensive firepower or defensive intensity to create the points or stops necessary for a single field goal or touchdown in the fourth quarter. The frustrating finish comes just a week after blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead to Iowa. Maybe I'm in the wrong gear, but nothing about Pittsburgh's team seems high-octane right now.

4. Butch Jones appears to have things turned around. During fall camp, the Cincinnati players made several comments about there being a different feeling around the program in Butch Jones' second year at the helm. Normally, phrases like "buying in" throw up huge red-flags for coach-speak and I try to take them with a grain of salt. Cincinnati's defense was criticized as the weak link holding the team back in 2010, and this year the entire unit is back and leading the nation in forced turnovers. The offense hasn't skipped a beat, ranking first in the Big East in points scored with 49.5 points per game. The Bearcats defense still got shredded by Tyler Bray and Tennessee, but it is clear there is a different feeling and focus around the program. In August the players claimed they were buying in to second-year coach Butch Jones. By the end of September I'm buying their story.

5. Syracuse got some help from the stripes on Saturday. Toledo just can't catch any breaks. Two weeks after falling 27-22 against Ohio State, the Rockets took Syracuse to overtime in the Carrier Dome only to lose 33-30.

But the game should have never gone to overtime.

Video evidence shows that Orange kicker Ross Krautman actually MISSED the extra point that tied the game at 30 and caused overtime. The kick was ruled good on the field, and there was not substantial video evidence in the official's review to overturn the call. Some enhanced views of the kick reveal the hooking kick passing in front of left upright, therefore leaving no possibility of it sailing through. The mistake was noticeable enough for the league office to issue a statement on the ruling, and Syracuse should feel damn lucky for getting a much-needed win before conference play begins.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 24, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 11:59 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 2 LSU 47, No. 16 West Virginia 21

Posted by Chip Patterson

LSU WON. West Virginia was able to get Dana Holgorsen's offense in rhythm, collecting 533 total yard of offense.  But on Saturday LSU provided a potent offense of their own, feeing off great field position and 4 turnovers to a 47-21 win in Morgantown.  There was trash talking, hard hits, and great competition at the skill positions.  But the game was won for LSU in the trenches on both sides of the ball, with the Tigers wearing down West Virginia and pulling away late. 

HOW LSU WON: The Tigers' touted defensive unit did not put up numbers that would jump off the page (like the aforementioned 533 yards of offense for West Virginia), but they delivered enough timely turnovers and frurstrating pass coverage that kept West Virginia from crossing the end zone.  Nearly every time the Mountaineers started rolling down the field, LSU would come up with a perfect stop just outside of scoring position.  Jarrett Lee also put together an unusually impressive evening, completing 16 of 28 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions.  Once the Tigers' had the lead for good, it was Ware and Ford pounding the ball on West Virginia's 3-3-5 defense.  An exhausting clock drainer that has become LSU's bread and butter in the fourth quarter.

WHEN LSU WON: West Virginia got the home crowd rocking after scoring two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to cut the LSU lead to six points.  In typical Tigers fashion, they completely reveresed the game's momentum with a big special teams play.  Morris Claiborne took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards down the field for a touchdown and a two score lead for LSU.  It was a crippling blow to the home crowd and West Virginia's offense did not get a chance to score again.

WHAT LSU WON: The right to be considered the best team in the nation.  The Tigers have put together some of the most impressive on field performances this season, but their body of work and strength of schedule gives plenty of reasons for voters to consider placing LSU above Oklahoma and Alabama in the No. 1 spot.  There are still plenty of obstacles left in that rigourous schedule, but it is hard to make an argument FOR either Oklahoma or Alabama after LSU has beaten Oregon on a neutral field, as well as Mississippi State and West Virginia at home in primetime.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA LOST: The chance to leap up into the Top 10 nationally and make a case as a national contender.  Playing in the Big East won't get you enough respect from the voters and computers to give you many opportunities past the BCS berth, but a 4-0 start with victories over Maryland and LSU would give plenty of reason to consider the Mountaineers a dark horse.  West Virginia is still the favorite to win the Big East, and now that needs to be their No. 1 focus. 

THAT WAS CRAZY: Tyrann Mathieu.  Other fans may get tired of the attention he's getting, but we will stop calling his name when he stops making plays.  From strips, to interceptions, to punt returns, to downing punts at the one-yard-line; the guy is all over the place.  He wears Patrick Peterson's number and he still has (at least) one more full season to continue to improve.  

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 4:57 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 4

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Finally, we've reached the point of the season where conferences that aren't the Big Ten begin to offer actual meals rather than boring appetizers that add nothing. The SEC and ACC have delved into conference play a bit this season, but now the Big 12 and Pac-12 are diving in as well, which means we've got quite an impressive slate of games to sample from this weekend. 

BREAKFAST

#22 Michigan vs. San Diego State - Big Ten Network 12pm ET

Brady Hoke is San Diego State's old coach (haven't you heard?), so that's all anybody's going to talk about during the game. Don't focus on that fact too much, though, otherwise you're liable to stop paying attention to Denard Robinson, and that's a terrible idea. If Shoelace plays four quarters Saturday, he'll put up mammoth numbers on the Aztec defense. - Adam Jacobi

#25 Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina - ESPN 12pm ET

The Yellow Jackets kick off conference play with one of their most formidable Coastal Division opponents in the Tar Heels.  Georgia Tech leads the nation (yes, United States) in total offense right now, averaging just over 675 yards per game.  The numbers have been inflated thanks to a schedule, but the potency of Paul Johnson's option offense cannot be underestimated.  North Carolina's front seven is one of the ACC's best on paper, and Saturday is their chance for them to live up to the hype. - Chip Patterson

Pitt vs. Notre Dame - ABC 12pm ET

With so few must-see games going on in the morning, this matchup could prove to be quite entertaining. Notre Dame finally put a full 60 minutes together without driving off a cliff last week to pick up a win against Michigan State, and Pitt did quite the Notre Dame impression last Saturday while blowing a 27-10 lead over Iowa in the fourth quarter. Tune in for the future ACC follies! - Tom Fornelli

LUNCH

#3 Alabama vs. #14 Arkansas - CBS 3:30pm ET

The first clash of legitimate SEC heavyweights offers a compelling contrast in offensive styles: Arkansas's aerial circus of nationally-elite receivers and precision Tyler Wilson passes against a Tide attack that (thanks to the humdrum nature of AJ McCarron's performances to date) is likely to pound away with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, pound away some more, and when that fails? More pounding. Winner becomes heavy favorite to land at BCS bowl berth--at minimum. - Jerry Hinnen

#8 Texas A&M vs. #7 Oklahoma State - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET

The Big 12 no longer has a championship game, but this one could serve as a mini-playoff. The winner of this contest between two teams ranked in the top ten moves on to face Oklahoma later this season in a game that will likely decide the Big 12 title. Aside from the BCS implications, however, this matchup should be incredibly entertaining for all involved, as the Oklahoma State offense faces its toughest test of the season so far. - TF

#21 Clemson vs. #11 Florida State - ESPN 3:30pm ET

The Seminoles enter Death Valley banged and bruised after their 23-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma.  The most popular word in the pre game notes for Florida State is QUESTIONABLE, and thus so is the outcome of this game.  Clemson finally got their offense going against Auburn thanks to Tajh Boyd and breakout freshman Sammy Watkins, and the Tigers have a lot of momentum with their Atlantic Division rivals coming to town.  Last season this game was decided by a 55-yard walk-off field goal by Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins.  Saturday's tilt could be just as close. - CP

Ohio State vs. Colorado - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET

What looked like sort of a throwaway game in August now has some intrigue. Colorado's not very good at all, but Ohio State has its own quarterback issues to work out after last week's disastrous showing in a 24-6 loss at Miami. The game's in Columbus, so it's unlikely that all hell breaks loose, but if Colorado hangs around, you never know... - AJ

DINNER

#12 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt - ESPN2 7pm ET

The upstart Commodores move up about three or four classes from their featherweight bout against Ole Miss when they travel to Columbia to take on Marcus Lattimore and Co. Knowing that Lattimore will get his and that the terrors on the Carolina defensive front will hamper any effort to run, any chance of Vandy springing the upset rests in the passing game--in Larry Smith taking advantage of the soft Gamecock secondary, and the ballhawking Vandy defensive backs wringing a couple of game-changing turnovers out of Stephen Garcia. - JH

Kentucky vs. #15 Florida - ESPN 7pm ET

You there, good sir (or madam): do you enjoy the spectacle of wholesale slaughter? Do you take pleasure in the most savage of horse-whippings? Then may we please direct your attention this-a-way to yonder annual meeting between the Wildcats and Gators, won by the Floridians by an average of 42 points these past three years. And with these unfortunate Wildcats having had their offensive teeth removed this offseason just hence -- from cuspid to canine! -- this sideshow could be the bloodiest yet! - JH 

#1 Oklahoma vs. Missouri - FX 8pm ET

Last year on a Saturday night in Columbia, the Oklahoma Sooners came into town sporting a new spot atop the rankings. They would not return home with that #1 next to their name. This season it's the Tigers who come to Oklahoma to once again face the top-ranked team in the land. Can Missouri destroy Oklahoma's national title chances two years in a row? Tune in to find out. - TF

#16 West Virginia vs. #2 LSU - ABC 8pm ET

Anticipation for this game has had Morgantown buzzing since Monday, and I suggest you are settled into your spot on the couch (if city officials haven't removed it yet) by kickoff.  Dana Holgorsen's offense has been among the most efficient in the nation, and LSU's defense has worn down and broken every challenger they have faced.  I expect the Mountaineers to feed off the home crowd and get a fast start, the question will be how long they can keep it up against the tenacious Bayou Bengals defense.  It's the heavyweight match up of the evening - no reason to miss this one. - CP 

LATE NIGHT SNACKS

Arizona vs. #10 Oregon - ESPN2 10:15pm ET

Oregon begins conference play this weekend and is looking for their 13th-straight league victory against Arizona. The Ducks have bounced back from their opening loss against LSU to blow out a pair of opponents and get the offense cranked up again. Arizona is in the middle of a rough stretch to open the season but they do have an excellent quarterback in Nick Foles, the third best passer in the country, who has yet to throw an interception. - Bryan Fischer

Arizona State vs. #23 USC - ESPN 10:15pm ET

Though USC is ineligible for the Pac-12 South title, they will essentially be settling it on the field as the Trojans head to Tempe to take on Arizona State. Dennis Erickson's team fell to Illinois in a close game last week but are hoping to get things going again. ASU has lost 11 straight to USC so this game is about more than winning a game, it's about ending a long streak with the best team the Sun Devils have had. This game is worth watching just to see linebacker Vontaze Burfict take on Matt Barkley and Robert Woods. - BF
Posted on: September 22, 2011 2:56 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 4



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

Woman, she is proving to be a tough nut to crack. After her dominance in Week 1 of MWM, I chalked it up to beginner's luck. Then when she had another strong performance in Week 2 I didn't mind that much because I had a better week. But then she went and had another winning week last weekend, which means she's yet to get more games wrong than right.

This is becoming somewhat worrisome. Sure, it's still early in the season, but I've had to deal with her walking around talking smack for those three weeks, and it starts to wear on you. Which is why I'm clinging to the fact that after getting 11 games right in the first week, she picked 7 correct the next week and 6 last week. That's a downward progression! There is hope!

Could this finally be the week where she suffers the pain of a losing week, and has to hear me boast all day and all night? God I hope so.

Michigan (-8 1/2) vs. San Diego State - Saturday 12pm (All times Eastern)

Man - It's hard for me to truly predict what Michigan is going to do on any given weekend because I'm just not sure how serious Brady Hoke is about making Denard Robinson a passing quarterback. Yes, he makes some nice throws from time to time, but it's like buying a Ferrari and then only using it to go to the grocery store. That being said, I'll still take the Wolverines at home in this one. Pick: Michigan

Woman - "What better payback for the coach who deserted you than beating him up in his new house?  Unfortunately, he's the same coach who personally recruited you and designed your playbook. Don Corleone > Sonny Corleone." Pick: Michigan

Machine - Machines do not experience human emotion, so The Machine has no concept of Brady Hoke calling off the dogs against his former players as the Wolverines roll 45-17. Pick: Michigan

Alabama (-12 1/2) vs. Arkansas - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Tyler Wilson and the Razorbacks offense has had a nice start to the season, even without Knile Davis. Which makes that spread seem so very large, but at the same time, Arkansas hasn't faced a defense anywhere near the caliber of Alabama's. I'm not entirely comfortable with this pick, but I'll take the Tide defense at home and give up the points. Pick: Alabama

Woman - "The Tide rams and jams to a victory but Bobby Petrino's got a score to settle from last season, so I'll take the points.  (Some stormy personalities. You may be want to watch this from the comfort of your root cellar.) " Pick: Arkansas

Machine - The Machine sees a big upset this weekend, as Arkansas comes into Tuscaloosa and takes down Nick Saban's squad 35-24. Pick: Arkansas

Texas A&M (-3 1/2) vs. Oklahoma State - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - This is one of the tougher games to figure out this weekend. You have a high-powered offense in Oklahoma State going against a Texas A&M offense that has been incredibly efficient so far this season. It's somewhat of a coin toss, and when that's the case, I have to go with the team I think has the better defense along with homefield advantage. Pick: Texas A&M

Woman - "First time in over 35 years that two top 10 teams meet at Kyle Field.  Aggies coach Mike Sherman knows that revenge for an 0-3 record against OSU is best served red hot in front of 82,000 rabid fans." Pick: Texas A&M

Machine - The Machine has a lot of respect for Justin Blackmon and his tendency to destroy secondaries without remorse. Blackmon blows up for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Cowboys say goodbye to Kyle Field and win 41-31. Pick: Oklahoma State

Clemson vs. Florida State (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - With the question mark surrounding E.J. Manuel's availability this week, along with Florida State's recent track record in Death Valley, I have a very hard time giving up points with the Seminoles this weekend. I have to go with Clemson. Pick: Clemson

Woman - "With FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel questionable (and a ground game that's even more questionable), I have to take home field advantage + residual Tiger swagger from last week's victory + points." Pick: Clemson

Machine - This game was simulated with Manuel playing for Florida State, and it didn't matter. Clemson wins big, 38-14. Pick: Clemson

South Carolina (-16 1/2) vs. Vanderbilt - Saturday, 7pm

Man - Every part of me feels like I should pick South Carolina in this matchup because Marcus Lattimore is an absolute beast, and Vanderbilt is freaking Vanderbilt. But so far this year Vandy has looked pretty stout on defense, and the Gamecocks are giving up 33 points a game. Football gods help me, but I have to go with the Commodores. Pick: Vanderbilt

Woman - "Not sure how a team that's ranked 10th nationally in defense ends up with this spread.. Maybe it's a point for every three minutes Vandy's D is going to be on the field?  Regardless, I'll take 'em." Pick: Vanderbilt

Machine - The Machine recognize machines, and it does not care about this new Vanderbilt. Lattimore runs for over 200 yards and the Gamecocks roll 45-17. Pick: South Carolina

Kentucky vs. Florida (-17 1/2) - Saturday, 7pm

Man - Giving up that many points as a road team in an SEC conference game? That's insane, right? No, it's not because I've seen Kentucky play football this season, and insanity would be watching it again. Pick: Florida

Woman - "I hate these picks. Will Florida win by two touchdowns? Three?  Ten?  It's like playing roulette.  C'mon, lucky 18, 19, 20..." Pick: Florida

Machine - Bloodbath in Lexington. Florida wins 54-10. Pick: Florida

Oklahoma (-21 1/2) vs. Missouri - Saturday, 8pm

Man - This spread seems abnormally large to me given that Missouri isn't some doormat, and the Tigers did beat Oklahoma last season. That being said, I don't see a lot of the passes James Franklin completed against Arizona State a couple weeks ago finding their way to the hands of his receivers against this secondary. Plus I just don't see Oklahoma's offense struggling two weeks in a row. So I guess it's Boomer Sooner. Pick: Oklahoma

Woman - "Missouri, you and your bonnie Prince Gabbert kept Oklahoma from achieving its rightful place as heir to the BCS throne last season.  Well, it's time for you to apologize." Pick: Oklahoma

Machine - The Machine doesn't think Oklahoma will have too much trouble with Missouri this week, but it does feel that spread is a bit ridiculous as Oklahoma wins 34-21. Pick: Missouri

West Virginia vs. LSU (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 8pm

Man - Forget the actual game, I just wanna hang out with Les Miles and Dana Holgorsen for a night. You know that would be a good time. As for the game, though, I've seen what LSU's defense can do to high-powered offenses before, so I'm reauxling with the Tigers. Pick: LSU

Woman - "I'm gonna be honest with y'all.  I don't care who it is, until the Tigers lose, I'm picking Les." Pick: LSU

Machine - West Virginia's offense will definitely struggle against LSU, but the Mountaineers keep it close in a 24-20 loss. Pick: West Virginia

Arizona vs. Oregon (-16 1/2) - Saturday, 10:15pm

Man - I've seen Arizona play a few times already this season, and to be honest, I'm just not nearly as impressed with Nick Foles and the offense as I have been before this season. I just have a hard time believing that from what I've seen so far that this Wildcats offense can hang with Oregon for a full 60 minutes. Pick: Oregon

Woman - "Another year, another dogfight.  Question is, will it be like the 2009 squeaker or the 2010 2nd half blowout?   I'm picking Wildcats QB wonderboy Nick Foles to keep it close.  Oregon wins but doesn't cover." Pick: Arizona

Machine - Yeah, The Machine is pretty sure you're going to want to stay up late and watch this one. It's going to be rather fun to watch. Oregon wins 45-42. Pick: Arizona

Arizona State (-2 1/2) vs. USC - Saturday, 10:15pm

Man - I remember watching this game last season, and it was one of the crazier, more entertaining games of the year. USC eventually squeaked by with a 34-33 win, which was their 11th straight win over Arizona State. Five of those wins have come in Tempe, so as close as a lot of these games have been in recent years, until Arizona State proves to me that it can actually beat USC, I can't go any other way. Pick: USC

Woman - "Here's a sure bet:  Most Silicone At Any Football Game This Season.  Meanwhile, the Sun Devils haven't beaten the Trojans since 1999.  I'll go with that streak." Pick: USC

Machine - The Machine does not see a game like the one we all witnessed last year, as the Trojans win rather easily 27-14. Pick: USC

Season Record (Last week)



1. Woman 24-11 (6-4)

2. Man 21-14 (5-5)

3. Machine 17-18 (4-6) 
 

Posted on: September 19, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Big East poll reactions, Week 3

Posted by Chip Patterson

The new polls were released on Sunday, and the Big East saw their two nationally ranked representatives make a step up after convincing wins. West Virginia had a convincing win by defeating a competitive opponent away from home. South Florida impressed voters with a casual 745 yards of total offense in a 70-17 win.

West Virginia (AP: 16/Coaches: 16) - The Mountaineers have continued to be incredibly efficient on offense, but it was the defense's ability to come up with stops and turnovers early that impressed on Saturday. Maryland was able to climb back into the game with a bruising rushing attack, but all things considered it was an impressive non-conference victory for head coach Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers face their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday, welcoming the No. 2 LSU Tigers to Morgantown in primetime. If the Mountaineers can produce some offense on the rigid Tigers' D, they could give themselves a chance for the upset.

South Florida (AP: 18/Coaches: 17) - After three weeks of observation, the Bulls are finally starting to prove that their opening week upset of Notre Dame was no fluke. USF once again mightily handled their MEAC opponents, as quarterback BJ Daniels broke his own career-high numbers that were set just a week before. South Florida currently has no ranked opponents on their schedule before the season finale against No. 16 West Virginia on Dec. 1., so it will be difficult to make big jumps in the polls. Under the direction of head coach Skip Holtz, I don't expect the Bulls to get distracted by rankings anytime soon.

Other Receiving Votes - None. Pittsburgh blew a fourth quarter lead to Iowa, Syracuse lost by three touchdowns to USC, and Cincinnati blasted an inferior Akron squad. For right now, the Mountaineers and Bulls are representing the entire conference by themselves in the eyes of the national fan. Could be worse, there have been times it is ONLY West Virginia's banner to carry.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 3

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A longtime Floridian told me Friday he couldn't remember the last time the state was the center of college football like it was this past weekend. Sure there have been big games and plenty of teams in championship contention, but it's hard to think of a time when each corner of the state had a big primetime match up. Equally surprising, he said, was that traditional rivalry Florida-Tennessee was only the third most interesting game on the docket.

The spotlight was indeed on the Sunshine State and things couldn't have gone better for the most part. At the northern end, number one Oklahoma rolled into Tallahassee to play Florida State and there were moments when you genuinely stopped and said, "FSU's back." A loss is a loss but the way the Noles played was encouraging.

The storyline coming out the game seems to be all about Big Game Bob Stoops' team getting their first non-conference road victory over a top-five team in over three decades. The Sooners were gritty, responding to scores like a top-ranked and championship team should. Quarterback Landry Jones had several clutch throws and it seemed like linebacker Tom Wort was making every other play on defense. Oklahoma looked the part and survived with a victory.

The key word being survived. Yes their road woes are well documented but the reason the game was close - closer than most thought - was that Florida State looked the part of a top five team as well. For three quarters at least, it was a knockdown, drag out fight between two high profile head coaches. After FSU freshman Rashad Greene caught a beautiful 56 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, Doak Campbell was rocking. As more than one writer said on Twitter, it was partying like it was 1999.

One wonders what might have been had quarterback E.J. Manuel not gotten hurt. Could he have pulled off the upset? Who knows? But the biggest take away was the defense held an explosive, veteran-laden OU offense to just 23 points and showed they are close to having the athletes at every position like they used too when things were rolling. They were kids last year in Norman and it took less than a year for them to grow up into men. The offense still needs some work - especially along the line - but the defense should help carry the Seminoles through ACC play.

Jimbo Fisher has Florida State making waves on the recruiting trail and there are plenty of signs that the on the field product is coming along as well. The next step is winning games like the one on Saturday but, by all indications, that's coming. Party like it's 1999 indeed.

A couple hours down the road in Gainesville, two teams showed they still need work if they're to take the next step. It looked like Florida was going to run away with the game up 30-7 late in the third but the defense seemed to take the foot off the accelerator. For the most part though, the defensive line was active and did a great job of shutting down the Vols' running game. Completely. Florida's defense held Tennessee to just -9 yards on the ground, the third best mark in the country so far. The offense took a hit once receiver Justin Hunter went down but it was the young offensive line that just couldn't handle the pressure Florida was generating.

All-purpose threat Chris Rainey was everywhere Saturday for the Gators' offense. He had 233 all-purpose yards and recorded his fifth career blocked punt. The Gators are still adjusting to Charlie Weis' offense and Will Muschamp's defense but Rainey is a constant playmaker that the team will have to lean on as they get into the thick of the SEC schedule. Is this team in the same class as Alabama or LSU? Not even close. But there's enough there on both sides of the ball to put up a fight with Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.

Further South, some observers would have had no issue with vacating the Ineligibowl. It just wasn't a pretty game. Ohio State was a step slow all night and Miami struggled on offense outside of their scoring drives to open and close the game. Both teams got back several players from NCAA suspension and Miami's certainly made the difference in the game: Jacory Harris was efficient outside of two boneheaded interceptions and linebacker Sean Spence truly transformed the defense into a much stouter unit that was able to apply pressure on nearly every snap.

Sophomore running back Lamar Miller set the tone early with a big run on the first play of the game en his way to a career night that made him the fourth leading rusher in the country at 151.5 yards per game. There's plenty of talent on this team to get nine or so wins but there's still moments when the Hurricanes revert to last year's form and make a boneheaded mistake. It will be curious to see how they use this game as a momentum builder going forward. At full strength and with some confidence, the Hurricanes have a little bit of swagger back.

On the other side, Ohio State is lacking an identity and has to figure out their quarterback position and do so soon. The Buckeyes have no clue about what kind of team they want to be and there could be some doubt amongst the players about head coach Luke Fickell if post game comments are to be believed.

"I felt like me and Jordan (Hall) were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," tailback Carlos Hyde told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us."

Also, don't overlook the other game in Miami on Saturday: FIU following up it's big win over Louisville with a solid victory over in-state foe UCF to start 3-0 on the season. Many had pegged the Knights as a possible BCS buster at the beginning of the season so for FIU to knock them off does wonders for a program that was the definition of a rebuilding job just a few years ago. Yes it's a Sun Belt team but with the schedule like it is, don't be surprised if FIU keeps things rolling. The defense recorded six sacks against UCF and did a great job the week before against the Cardinals. Plus they did everything without all-everything star T.Y. Hilton, who missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. Take note, the program in the state with the most upside is the one that's not in a BCS conference.

The state of Florida won't be the center of the college football universe like it was this past weekend for some time. But while it was, it delivered.

Stat of the week

Auburn's win streak was snapped at 17 games by Clemson on Saturday, which was the longest in the nation. It was the 10th longest streak in the past decade and amazingly, 10 of the 17 games were decided by eight points or less. Stanford now has the longest win streak in the country with 11, just two seasons removed from a losing record and five seasons away from the school's 1-11 mark.

Biggest reason why the Tigers' streak ended? They're 117th in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 116th in rush defense, 107th in scoring defense and dead last in the country in third down stops. Yikes.

Other stats of note

- Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for highest completion percentage for 40 or more completions in a game. He completed 40 of 44 against New Mexico for a healthy 90.1 percent clip. He also hit 15 passes in a row at one point, tying a school record on his way to a 401 yard and five touchdown day.

- Kellen Moore's 457 yards of offense against Toledo was third most in the country this year and he averaged nearly 10.39 yards a play. His completion percentage on the season is at a remarkable 78.9 percent.

- With the loss to LSU on Thursday, Dan Mullen fell to 2-10 versus the SEC West as head coach at Mississippi State. Both wins are over rival Ole Miss. While the Bulldogs have been much more competitive under Mullen, they still haven't quite gotten over the hump just yet. He was 8-6 against the West while an assistant at Florida.

- There are beat downs and there's what Missouri did against Western Illinois. The Tigers defense allowed just one first down and 44 total yards on the day while the offense rolled up 744 total yards to set a school record that had been set just after World War II. Tailback Henry Josey ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns, the most in a game this season. The mark was also good enough to move him into sixth place on the national rushing list.

- Of the five players to top 200 yards rushing in a game so far this year, three did so on Saturday (Josey, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James).

- Georgia Tech's game against Kansas was pretty amazing to take a look at after the fact. The game delivered the longest run from scrimmage of the season (Orwin Smith went 95 yards for a touchdown), featured two 100 yard rushers and had five players with over 70 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets also piled up a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of them via the running game. The 12.1 yards per rush also set an NCAA record for highest in a game.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly has games with 18, 17 and 23 tackles to lead the nation in that category. His 58 total tackles are 19 more than the next player.

- Jeff Fuller became Texas A&M's all-time receptions leader against Idaho while Cyrus Gray topped the 100 yard mark rushing for the ninth time in a row.

- Via senior writer Bruce Feldman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has eight touchdowns and just eight incompletions.

Yard-by-yard

- Impressive, impressive comeback by Iowa from down 24-3 in the 3rd quarter to Pitt. James Vanderberg has been a little underrated early in the season in the face of replacing a longtime starter and doing so with plenty of fresh faces around him. The junior quarterback is 31st in the country in passing efficiency and 25th in total offense after Saturday's game in which he had several impressive throws in the second half in route to a 399 yard and three touchdown day. The lack of a running game has to be concerning if you're Kirk Ferentz, especially as the begin Big Ten play in two weeks with a trip to Penn State. A heck of a comeback but it's apparent there's plenty of flaws in the Hawkeyes.

- Why hello there Sammy Watkins. While it has taken some time for the Clemson offense to adjust to Chad Morris' new system, Watkins has been an explosive playmaker for the Tigers they really haven't had since C.J. Spiller left for the NFL. Yes it was against a porous Auburn defense, but this week was Watkins' coming out party to the nation with 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He shows an explosiveness you just can't teach whenever he gets the ball in his hands and was the spark that allowed Clemson to turn things around. A former five-star recruit, he was ranked behind fellow Tiger frosh Charone Peake coming out of high school by Maxpreps which should give you some indication what kind of young nucleus Dabo Swinney has assembled when you add in running back Mike Bellamy and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Speaking of Swinney, he channeled his inner-Howard Dean in his post game remarks on television.

- Al Golden didn't leave the cupboard bare at Temple as the Owls almost beat Penn State for the first time since Joe Paterno started coaching in Happy Valley. Despite giving up the lead late, Steve Addazio's club showed they can play with bigger and stronger team and should have no problem contending for a MAC championship this year.

- Kudos to James Franklin and what he's been able to do with Vanderbilt. After a close, 4th quarter win against defending Big East champ UConn, the Commodores embarrassed Ole Miss on Saturday 30-7. Franklin has really gotten the team and the rest of the community to buy into what he's building there and it's starting to pay off with the team's 3-0 start. Quarterback Larry Smith isn't sharp enough in the passing game yet but the offense is moving the chains on the ground and playing good defense - they're currently 10th in the country in total D. Things will get much tougher as they head on the road to face South Carolina and Alabama but with home games against Army and Kentucky and a date with Wake Forest, bowl eligibility is possible in Franklin's first year.    
 
- It looked like West Virginia finally started to get their rushing attack going against Maryland this weekend. Geno Smith is putting up great numbers from the quarterback position but head coach Dana Holgorsen knows that if the team wants to win the Big East - or beat LSU this week - they're going to have to be able to run the ball. Whether the answer at tailback is Vernard Roberts or Andrew Buie still remains to be seen but it can't just be all Smith, all the time. Tavon Austin is a dynamic threat who adds a few wrinkles but there still needs to be a consistent rushing attack so the defense can't play nickel the entire game. The Mountaineers did have an impressive three players top the 100 yard receiving mark last Saturday though.

- It was not pretty at the Rose Bowl as critics briefly turned their attention from overrating Texas to remarking on how hot UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat is. He's an alum who probably cares more about the program winning than anyone there yet there's been hardly any progress to show for it. The defense was supposed to be much better this year and strength of the team but it was anything but in the blowout loss to the Longhorns. Case McCoy (with a little David Ash mixed in) appears to be the answer for UT at quarterback and freshman tailback Malcolm Brown showed flashes on his way to a 110 yard day.

- I am not a believer in Nebraska's defense after playing Washington last week but they'll still do just enough to make it to the title game in their first year in the Big Ten. Still, the effort against the Huskies had a lot to be desired of a top 10 team.

- After returning from Sun Life Stadium late in the Miami night, I was surprised to find out there was not one, but two football games on and I managed to stay up for Oklahoma State-Tulsa late, late, late into the night. I couldn't believe they kicked off after midnight local time, much less that Brandon Weeden was still throwing to Justin Blackmon late in the fourth quarter - and well past 3 AM Central - with the game well in hand. Mike Gundy is not only a man, he's all in on this Cowboys team it appears. All or nothing, this is the most talented squad since Barry Sanders was in Stillwater and everybody is onboard. Why Gundy still had his stars on the field that late in the game for a blowout continues to baffle me however.

- I thought Navy's offense in the middle of the season always spelled trouble for teams that weren't ready for it - especially those coming off an emotional victory like South Carolina. The Midshipmen had a chance late but ultimately the Gamecocks ended up winning 24-21 thanks to a last minute interception. As one head coach told me, you schedule option offenses early or play them in a bowl game or else you'll end up upset. South Carolina wasn't upset but they nearly were with the way they played.

- I couldn't believe the score when I first saw it but here it was, Utah 54, BYU 10. A week ago in the Coliseum, I saw the dejected faces on the Utes sideline as their rally came up short against USC. I thought it would be another tough battle in the Holy War but the Utes smacked everybody around Saturday. Don't count out Utah as representing the Pac-12 South with USC ineligible for the title game and Arizona State still Arizona State.

- Kudos also go out to Wyoming, who blocked Bowling Green's extra point to win 28-27. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…

Quote of the week

Craig James during LSU-Mississippi State: "You play four quarters in the SEC."

Tweet of the week

Myself following the second ESPN account to feature the word Genocide in place of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Not a bad nickname if he keeps putting up passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's offense however.

"Company-wide memo about Geno & autocorrect on Monday. RT @McShay13: WVU QB Genocide Smith off to a fast start."

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Related links
Video
Fisch's Finest

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Texas A&M

8. Oklahoma State

9. Florida State

10. Oregon

Where we'll be this week

Tony Barnhart will be at the big Arkansas-Alabama game, Dennis Dodd will be in College Station for the top 10 matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Brett McMurphy gets another great game this weekend, showing up at LSU-West Virginia Saturday night.

Leaning this way

Arkansas-Alabama: The secondary for Alabama will be flying around and turnovers will doom an explosive Arkansas offense.

Oklahoma State-Texas A&M: The Aggies defense is underrated but this game will still be a shootout. The home crowd will give them the edge in a close one.

LSU vs. West Virginia: LSU's defense is just too much late in the game for Dana Holgorsen's offense to break through.

Across the goal line

I was going to write about conference expansion in this space but figured things would change by the time I finished writing the final paragraph. 


Category: NCAAF
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Posted on: September 17, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 3:54 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 18 West Virginia 37, Maryland 31

Posted by Chip Patterson

WEST VIRGINIA WON. West Virginia withstood a second half push from the Terps to hold on and escape College Park with a six point win. Geno Smith set a school record for completions (36) and racked up 388 yards passing, with three different receivers topping the 100 yard mark.

HOW WEST VIRGINIA WON: Despite the gaudy offensive statistics, the credit for the victory goes to defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and the Mountaineers defense. After O'Brien carved up the Miami defense in the Terps' opener, West Virginia held Maryland's offense in check by swarming to the ball on short passes and holding on third down.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: With the ball around midfield and just under two minutes remaining, O'Brien had a pass picked off at the 13 yard line - his third interception of the game. He had completed five of six passes on the drive, but it was the second incompletion that sealed the Terps' fate.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: Maryland's second half comeback tested the Mountaineers, who now will prepare for a visit from No. 3 LSU. West Virginia defeated Marshall and Norfolk State by a combined 64 points, and it was a good experience for Smith to lead those fourth quarter drives with some extra pressure. Things will be much more difficult in the fourth quarter with that deep and relentless LSU defensive line on the other side of the ball.

WHAT MARYLAND LOST:A chance to build on their opening win momentum. Even with a week off, the college football world was still talking about Maryland and their uniforms heading into Week 3. If the purpose of the uniform combinations is to generate some attention, they have been doing their job. But the threads will not keep audiences tuned in alone, and the Terps could've used another impressive victory at home to change the story from aesthetics to athletics.

THAT WAS CRAZY: After struggling mightily in the ground game for two weeks, West Virginia was able to get 107 combined rushing yards from Andrew Buie, Vernard Roberts, and Shawne Alston. The game was Alston's first after suffering a neck injury this spring. He rushed for 248 yards in six games of action in 2010.

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