It was 75 years ago that a pig played peacemaker, and with that a rivalry began. Here is how the legend goes …
Angered by Minnesota’s style of play the year before, Iowa Governor Clyde Herring stated that the 1935 contest between the Hawkeyes and Gophers would be a cleaner game, and if not the Iowa fans would stand as judge and jury. Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson settled the tense situation by suggesting the two states bet their prized hogs on the contest. After Minnesota won, 13–6, Herring brought a pig from Rosedale Farms to Olson’s office, appropriately dubbed, Floyd of Rosedale. Olson later commissioned a bronze statue be constructed.
In a weekend in which Michigan and Ohio State is most present on the minds of Big Ten fans, the battle for Floyd will get overlooked. Iowa is finishing what’s been a frustrating season, while Minnesota administrators are ready for this season to end so that they may begin to rebuild a program that has been sputtering for some time.
But make no mistake: Both teams take fighting for Floyd very seriously. Here are a few notes on this series:
• Minnesota has 39 wins to Iowa’s 34, with two ties.
• The Gophers won 10 of the series first 11 meetings.
• Iowa has been the better team in recent years, having won eight of the last nine.
• The Gophers have failed to score a point in each of the past two years.
The battle for Floyd of Rosedale appears to be one-sided again this year, as Iowa possesses the more experienced and talented team. But if Minnesota showed anything in its last contest it is that it’s not ready to give up fighting. There is one more fight to go, one more opportunity to save face. And if there is anything that can bring a little joy to Gopher fans this season, it would be to bring that sweet pig back to Minnesota.
Week 12 Scoreboard
Penn State 41, Indiana 21
Michigan State 35, Purdue 31
Wisconsin 48, Michigan 28
Illinois 48, Northwestern 27
Ohio State 20, Iowa 17
Saturday’s intra-state clash between Northwestern and Illinois was interesting, to say the least. Due to limited space surrounding the east end zone, both teams had to start possessions going in the same direction — with one exception: Brian Peters’ 59-yard interception return for a score. Illinois coach Ron Zook said he’d love to play another game at the historic venue. No word yet on what Big Ten officials think about continuing the Wrigley game.
Another big day for McGloin
Nittany Lion quarterback Matt McGloin took apart Indiana in the second half of his team’s win on Saturday. McGloin finished the game 22 of 31 with 315 yards and two touchdowns. In four starts McGloin has led Penn State to a 3–1 record with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
Posey almost drops Ohio State’s BCS hopes
In a play that could have ruined Ohio State’s season, DeVier Posey let a perfectly placed Terrelle Pryor pass fall through his arms in the end zone. The third down drop would have been the game-winner. Instead, Pryor saved his junior receiver by continuing the drive and finishing off the Hawkeyes.
Team of the Week: Ohio State
With their season hanging by a thread, quarterback Terrelle Pryor picked up a first down on a fourth-and-10, then led the Buckeyes down the field toward victory. This may be a disappointing year for Iowa, but winning in Iowa City is no easy task, and the Buckeyes got it done with plenty riding on the outcome.
Disappointment of the Week: Michigan State
So what if Michigan State battled back, it had trailed an inferior Purdue squad all game — in East Lansing, no less. Had the Boilermakers not committed a 10-yard penalty and had a punt blocked on their second-to-last possession, the Spartans season would be over.
Offensive Player of the Week: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Illinois’ junior back had been on a roll entering Saturday’s contest, but no one could have guessed he would gain 330 yards against a Wildcat defense that had been allowing just 137.4 yards on the ground per game. Leshoure averaged 10.0 yards per carry for an Illini team that gained a total of 519 yards on the ground. His only two scores both came in the game’s first five minutes.
Defensive Player of the Week: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
The junior defensive lineman was his usual dominant self in the win over the Wolverines. Watt finished with six tackles and was disruptive on several other plays. He batted two Denard Robinson passes into the air, the second of which he caught and returned 15 yards. That play helped nail the coffin shut on Michigan.
Freshman of the Week: James White, RB, Wisconsin
White had 200 yards of total offense (181 rushing, 19 passing) on 25 touches and scored twice in Wisconsin’s convincing win over Michigan. Sure, much of his success can be attributed to the Badgers’ mammoth line, but White has proven week after week that he can be just as dangerous for Wisconsin as veteran back John Clay.
The Week Ahead
Upset Alert: Michigan State
The last time the Spartans came to Beaver Stadium, Mark Dantonio’s club was clobbered in a game that wasn’t as close as the 49–18 score suggests. Penn State is not that same team, but they are fully capable of handling a Spartans team that needed all of its ammo to beat Purdue last week.
Player to Watch: Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota
The Big Ten’s most experienced passer will end his career at home against an Iowa secondary that ranks seventh in the conference in passing yards allowed (217.9 per contest). The Hawkeyes rank first in team interceptions, so Weber must make wise decisions if he is to help Minnesota stay with the Hawkeyes for four quarters.
Only two Big Ten defenders are averaging more than nine tackles per game: Michigan’s Jonas Mouton and Illinois’ Martez Wilson. Last season’s leading tackler, Michigan State’s Greg Jones, ranks third.
Ohio State has a chance to close the gap in its all-time series with that team from up north. Michigan still holds a 57–43–6 advantage, but the Buckeyes have won the last six meetings.
The Badgers rank second in the country in team rushing touchdowns, trailing only Nevada, 44 to 41. Air Force and Auburn are the only other FBS schools with more than 35 rushing scores.
Purdue 28, Indiana 21
Penn State 27, Michigan State 24
Ohio State 38, Michigan 14
Iowa 45, Minnesota 7
Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 13
Alabama has a new fan base this week — the Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal’s immediate future depends a lot on Friday’s Auburn-Alabama showdown. Stanford is trying to make its first Rose Bowl since 2000 but may need a little help from the Crimson Tide.
As of now, Oregon and Auburn are the top two teams in the Bowl Championship Series standings. If both teams win the rest of their games, they will meet in the BCS championship game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
If that happens, the Rose Bowl is required to offer a bid to a BCS-eligible team from a non-automatic qualifying conference. In this case, that bid likely would go to TCU or Boise State.
But if Auburn loses, the No. 2 team in the BCS standings likely will become either TCU or Boise State. If either of those two teams plays in the BCS championship game, the Rose Bowl is off the hook and can return to its Pac-10 roots. Stanford would be the team to come to Pasadena because of its second-place finish in the conference standings. Oregon is the Pac-10 winner but would be taking its chances with an even bigger prize.
Another question is whether Stanford might get picked for another BCS game even if TCU or Boise State winds up in the Rose Bowl. The Cardinal are No. 6 in the BCS standings and could move up higher if a team in front of them goes down
One hurdle the Cardinal would have to overcome is fan interest. Stanford wouldn’t figure to travel well to a bowl game — it didn’t come close to selling out its last home game, a much-anticipated showdown against Arizona. Then again, perhaps the lure of quarterback Andrew Luck, a Heisman Trophy candidate, would make Stanford an appealing product.
This, of course, all depends on the Cardinal taking care of business in its season-finale Saturday against Oregon State. Stanford should be heavily favored to take out the Beavers, but OSU did have a strong bounce-back game last weekend in a rout over USC.
The Cardinal looked very strong in the Big Game against Cal, a team that had been playing very well at home this season. Entering Saturday, the Bears were 4–1 at Memorial Stadium, with their only loss coming 15–13 to the top-ranked Ducks. But Stanford dominated on offense while Cal was victimized by a slew of penalties, mistakes and missed opportunities.
Luck made a late-season Heisman statement, whipping the Bears with his arm and legs. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, and reeled off a pivotal 58-yard run in the second quarter that led to a touchdown. Luck looked like the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft he is anticipated to be. He demonstrated a terrific awareness of the pocket, often knowing just how long to wait before delivering a pass with pinpoint accuracy.
Washington 24, UCLA 7
Stanford 48, California 14
Oregon State 36, USC 7
Oregon State’s chances at a bowl game suddenly don’t feel like such a long shot. It didn’t appear the Beavers had a chance to win two of their final three games against the top three teams in the Pac-10 after a world’s-coming-to-an-end loss to Washington State last weekend. Before that, it was an unsightly loss at UCLA. But the Beavers got their mojo back in a big way Saturday, routing USC 36–7 at Reser Stadium. Suddenly, all the questions and doubt from the previous week were gone, and now Oregon State has to find a way to beat either Stanford or Oregon in its final two games to become bowl-eligible.
That won’t be easy, of course. The Ducks and Cardinal are far and away the class of the Pac-10. The Beavers must travel Saturday to Stanford, which absolutely dismantled Cal 48–14. Then, after playing the No. 7 team in the nation, it will be the Civil War against Oregon.
HUSKIES STILL ALIVE
Washington is another team that should have its bowl chances upgraded. The Huskies entered last week needing to win their last three games of the season, but not against the best competition. Washington beat UCLA 24–7 on Thursday. With the Apple Cup against lowly Washington State looming, the Huskies can enter Saturday’s game at Cal knowing they can get into prime position for bowl eligibility with a victory.
The Bears have been very good at home this season, but this is a different team than it was earlier in 2010. They have a new quarterback in Brock Mansion, who has made too many mistakes in his three starts and has been mostly ineffective. And their usually impenetrable defense at home was torn apart by Stanford — they allowed 469 yards to fall out of first place in the Pac-10 in total defense.
At 5–6, Cal needs a win to become bowl-eligible as well.
Only one week remains in the Big 12 regular season. One momentous week. The North and South titles and the corresponding spots in the final Big 12 Championship game remain up for grabs. And major clashes are on tap, with rivalries the rule in finalizing the conference title picture, as well as the bowl picture with BCS bids and more at stake.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State took care of business — in a big way — setting up a Bedlam showdown in the South. The Cowboys rolled past Kansas 48–14, while the Sooners routed Baylor 53–24.
Up next: Bedlam, before a prime-time national television audience, with GameDay heading for Stillwater. For the Cowboys, it’s a shot at their first Big 12 South crown, not to mention their best shot at the Sooners in years.
“It’s all about OU,” Cowboy defensive end Richetti Jones told reporters after the KU game. “All week, that's all we are going to do — eat, sleep, drink OU.”
Said OSU defensive tackle Shane Jarka: “It’s definitely the biggest game of my life. I’m not exaggerating that at all.”
Texas A&M impacted both races, knocking off Nebraska 9–6 to keep the North in play, while also maintaining slim hopes for itself in the South.
Still, for the Cowboys and Huskers, the scenarios are simple: Win and they’re in. The Huskers must fend off suddenly hot Colorado, or have Missouri lose at home to the Jayhawks. Nebraska owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Missouri by virtue of its 31-17 victory over the Tigers on
The Big 12 scenarios:
Can clinch the North Division with a victory over Colorado or a Missouri loss to Kansas.
Needs to beat Kansas and for Colorado to beat Nebraska. That would make the Tigers North Division champions.
The Cowboys can clinch the South with a victory over Oklahoma. A loss to the Sooners, plus a loss by Texas A&M, would put Oklahoma and Oklahoma State into a first-place tie but Oklahoma would have the head-to-head tiebreaker edge.
The Cowboys would fall into a three-way tie for first with a loss to the Sooners and a Texas A&M victory over Texas.
The Sooners must beat Oklahoma State on Saturday in Stillwater. If Texas beats Texas A&M on Thursday, an OU victory over Oklahoma State would give the Sooners the South title.
The Aggies would finish 6–2 in league play with a victory at Texas on Thursday. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, that would create a three-way tie in the South Division that would be broken as follows…
* If three or more teams are tied, steps 1 through 7 will be followed until a determination is made. If only two teams remain tied after any step, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the representative.
1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other
2. The records of the three teams will be compared within their division
3. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (4, 5 and 6)
4. The records of the three teams will be compared against all common conference opponents.
5. The highest ranked team in the first Bowl Championship Series poll following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative in the Big 12 Championship Game, unless two of the tied teams are ranked within one spot of the other in the BCS poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the Big 12 Championship Game.
6. The team with the best overall winning percentage (excluding exempted games) shall be the representative.
7. The representative will be chosen by draw.
Oklahoma State 48, Kansas 14
Oklahoma 53, Baylor 24
Texas A&M 9, Nebraska 6
Missouri 14, Iowa State 0
Colorado 44, Kansas State 36
Texas 51, Florida Atlantic 17
Texas Tech 64, Weber State 21
The regular season ended for two schools — Baylor and Iowa State — with losses. Still, the Bears should play on, earning a bowl bid for the first time as a member of the Big 12. After a strong start, Baylor stumbled to the finish, losing all three November games to ranked teams.
“You never want to go out like that,” said Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The Bears did wrap up their first winning season since 1995 and will await a call on their postseason fate.
For Iowa State, done at 5–7, the season’s end won’t be easy to digest. The Cyclones stood at 5–4 after beating Texas and Kansas to end October, but lost in overtime to Nebraska, then failed to get a needed sixth win in closing defeats to Colorado or Missouri.
Against Missouri, the Cyclones were without quarterback Austen Arnaud, who had torn knee ligaments in the loss to the Buffaloes.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. “College football is about bowl games. Not having that opportunity is very disappointing because we had opportunities to get the six and beyond and we didn’t do that.”
Trips To Win
Texas A&M and Nebraska, two of the nation’s top scoring teams, managed nothing but field goals in College Station. Aggie kicker Randy Bullock’s boot late in the fourth quarter was the difference.
A record crowd of 90,079 roared when Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez threw incomplete on fourth down of a final drive, then stormed the field after the game.
A&M, once 0–2 in conference play, won its fifth straight game heading into a Thanksgiving Day battle with Texas.
“The consequences of winning are the expectations get higher,” said Aggies coach Mike Sherman. “We jumped over another hurdle and have taken another step. We still have another step to take.”
Nebraska returned home wobbly, with Martinez hampered by an ankle injury that forced him to miss much of the first half and play tentative afterward. And the Huskers will get a Colorado team riding a two-game winning streak and hungering for a bowl bid, after another spirited win over Kansas State put the Buffs at 5–6.
The Huskers quickly tried to move on from what happened at A&M.
“The game’s irrelevant,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said, echoing a message to his squad. “At the end, we still control our destiny.”
Player of the Week: Trent Hunter, S, Texas A&M. The Aggies junior picked off two passes in A&M’s win over Nebraska, helping stretch his team’s winning streak to five games to stay alive in the Big 12 South title hunt. Hunter also added four tackles as A&M held the Huskers to two field goals and 306 total yards of offense.
Game of the Week: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. They call it Bedlam, for good reason, and this meeting is the most meaningful since 1984, when the team’s were ranked Nos. 2 and 3 and involved in the national title picture. The winner likely wins the Big 12 South and advances to the conference championship game with a BCS bowl on the line.
On the Spot: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska. The Huskers freshman left the game at A&M, took a nationally televised berating from coach Bo Pelini on the sideline and later limped through the second half of a touchdown-less loss. Now the Huskers need a win over Colorado, which has suddenly rediscovered its offense.
In the Spotlight: The Cowboys Triplets. Only now are people catching on to Oklahoma State and its talented trio — quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter and wideout Justin Blackmon — even though they’ve been lighting up teams all season. They’ll get lots of love Saturday, with GameDay in Stillwater and the Bedlam showdown set for prime time TV.
Brian Cabral, Colorado. Maybe the school should look inward in its coaching search to replace the fired Dan Hawkins. Cabral is a devoted Buff, as a former player and long-time assistant at the school. And there’s no arguing the results since he took over for Hawkins, with stirring wins over Iowa State and Kansas State.
Texas tickets. Once a coveted commodity, tickets to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium can now be had on the cheap. Apparently, only one struggling season is all it takes to keep Horns fans away. Premium seats were available for pennies on the dollar when Oklahoma State rolled into Austin two weeks ago and gaps of empty seats were seen for Saturday’s tilt against Florida Atlantic, when the Horns actually won 51–17. Now comes the real test: Will UT fans actually sell their seats to Aggies?
By the Numbers
10: Wins for Oklahoma State, the program’s most ever in the regular season.
18: Consecutive years of bowl eligibility for Texas Tech, attained with Saturday’s rout of Weber State.
90,079: Attendance for A&M’s game against Nebraska, a Kyle Field record.
Not that long ago, Virginia Tech was a team that couldn’t find a way to win a game. These days, Virginia Tech is a team that’s starting to look like it might not lose again.
The Hokies clinched the Coastal Division title Saturday with their 31–17 victory over Miami, earning a spot in the ACC championship game for the fourth time in six seasons. They extended their winning streak to nine games, their longest since 1999, as their 0–2 start to the season became even smaller in the rear-view mirror.
Back in September, after a six-day stretch in which Virginia Tech lost to Boise State and then got upset at home by Football Championship Subdivision member James Madison, such a surge seemed improbable. But the ACC’s most disappointing team through the season’s first two weeks now has a chance to accomplish many of the goals it set before the season started.
If the Hokies (9–2, 7–0 ACC) beat rival Virginia this week, they’ll reach 10 victories for the seventh consecutive season. They also will become the first ACC team to go undefeated in conference play since Florida State in 2000.
Neither achievement measures up to Virginia Tech’s ultimate goal of winning a national championship, but that dream for 2010 died early. The Hokies deserve credit for not letting that disappointment kill the rest of their season.
Boston College 17, Virginia 13
N.C. State 29, North Carolina 25
Georgia Tech 30, Duke 20
Clemson 30, Wake Forest 10
Virginia Tech 31, Miami 17
Florida State 30, Maryland 16
Atlantic Division now a two-team race
Maryland suffered its first home loss of the season against Florida State, falling out of contention for the Atlantic Division title in the process. But the Terrapins (7–4, 4–3) still will have a say in which team lines up against Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game on Dec. 4 in Charlotte.
If Maryland beats NC State this week, the Seminoles will go to the title game as the Atlantic Division’s representative. If the Wolfpack prevail, they will take on the Hokies.
Florida State (8–3, 6–2) is the leader in the clubhouse, having completed its conference schedule with a half-game lead on NC State. But the Wolfpack (8–3, 5–2) remained in control of the division with their victory at North Carolina, and they own the tiebreaker over Florida State based on their 28–24 win over the Seminoles on Oct. 28.
“It’s everything we’ve worked for,” NC State quarterback Russell Wilson said. “Since Day 1 when I got here, I’ve had ups and downs. But our team is really together right now, and that means a lot. …
“We have an opportunity, and now we have to get ready for this week and seize the moment.”
Pack’s seniors get sweep
NC State did more than move one win away from the Atlantic Division title over the weekend. The Wolfpack also got a rivalry win, knocking off North Carolina (6–5, 3–4) for the fourth year in a row. NC State had beaten the Tar Heels four times in a row during just one previous stretch, a string of five consecutive wins from 1988-92.
“It’s everything,” NC State wide receiver Darrell Davis said. “Being a guy from Florida, I didn’t know much about this rivalry before I got here. The people showed me how this rivalry is to them, how much it means to them. Over the years, I’ve grown to dislike this team as well.”
The lack of warm feelings was evident after the biggest play of the game, a 2-yard touchdown catch by NC State’s Owen Spencer on fourth down late in the third quarter that cut North Carolina’s lead to 19–17. Spencer pulled in the pass, which NC State coach Tom O’Brien called “a prayer,” after it was deflected by UNC safety Da’Norris Searcy and Davis.
NC State wide receiver Jarvis Williams and North Carolina linebacker Kevin Reddick were ejected from the game for their role in a scrum immediately after the play.
“I just think it was a big turning point for us,” Davis said, “and we used it as something positive instead of something negative.”
NC State outscored North Carolina 19–6 in the game’s final 16 minutes, going ahead for good on an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown by T.J. Graham early in the fourth quarter. The Wolfpack’s defense took it from there, holding the Tar Heels to a net minus-7 yards rushing for the game on the strength of seven sacks.
Let’s go bowling
The ACC entered the weekend with three teams that needed one more victory to become bowl-eligible. All three teams won, extending some impressive streaks in the process.
Boston College knocked off Virginia to gain bowl eligibility for the 12th consecutive season, winning their fourth game in a row after a season-jeopardizing five-game losing streak. The Eagles (6–5, 4–4) became just the fifth team in ACC history to win their final four league games after losing their first four league games.
Clemson picked up its first road win of the season at Wake Forest, recording its 12th consecutive six-win season. The Tigers (6–5, 4–4) also finished at .500 or better in ACC play for the 12th year in a row.
Georgia Tech extended its bowl-eligibility streak to 14 seasons after rallying from a 13–6 halftime deficit to defeat Duke. The Yellow Jackets (6–5, 4–4), who snapped a three-game losing streak, have finished at .500 or better in conference play each of the last 16 seasons.
The ACC now has nine bowl-eligible teams, meaning the conference can fulfill all of its bowl agreements. The league has guaranteed tie-ins with eight bowl games and an option for a ninth, so all nine teams should be able to play in the postseason.
Eagles’ Harris hurting
Boston College improved to 5–0 all time against Virginia, but the victory came at a cost. Tailback Montel Harris, who leads the ACC in rushing (113.0 yards per game), suffered cartilage damage in his left knee on the final play of the third quarter. Harris, who rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries against the Cavaliers, did not return to the game. His status for this week’s game at Syracuse is questionable at best.
Harris, who is second on Boston College’s career rushing list with 3,600 yards, has rushed for more yardage than any junior in ACC history. If he can’t play or is limited against the Orange, freshman Andre Williams will carry the load. Williams rushed for 108 yards on 12 carries against Virginia, giving the Eagles a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 2006.
Bowers, Tigers tough on defense
Da’Quan Bowers has been so dominant all season that his individual performance has overshadowed the success of Clemson’s team defense. After limiting Wake Forest to 205 total yards, the Tigers lead the ACC and rank ninth nationally in points allowed (16.7 per game). They also have allowed just one offensive touchdown in six consecutive games, the second longest streak in school history.
The Demon Deacons emptied their playbook to try to get something going against the Tigers, letting wide receivers Chris Givens and Marshall Williams each attempt a pass on trick plays. But nothing worked until the fourth quarter, when the game already had been decided.
“Give Clemson credit,” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. “There are some really good defenses in this league, but I don’t know that there’s any defense better than the one we just played.”
Bowers, of course, has played a big part from his defensive end position. He had two more sacks against Wake Forest, giving him at least one sack in a school-record ninth consecutive game. Bowers now has 15.5 sacks this season, just shy of the school record (16) that Keith Adams set in 1999.
Terrapins lose more linemen
Maryland’s offensive line has been a revolving door for much of the season, a fact that makes the team’s improvement from last year even more remarkable. The Terrapins, who already had lost starting tackles Justin Gilbert and Pete DeSouza to season-ending injuries, endured more misfortune against Florida State.
Center Bennett Fulper (hand) and right guard Justin Lewis (knee) went down in the first half against the Seminoles, causing massive shuffling up front. Right tackle Paul Pinegar replaced Fulper at center, left tackle R.J. Dill moved over to right tackle, and true freshman Max Garcia entered the game at left tackle. Pete White replaced Lewis in a straight switch.
The changes kept the Terrapins afloat in the short term — they rushed for 163 yards and allowed only two sacks against a Florida State defense that was averaging an NCAA-best 3.9 sacks per game — but Maryland will have to pay a price in the future. Garcia, who had been planning to redshirt this season, will lose a year of eligibility.
Some good news for Maryland: X-rays on Fulper’s hand were negative, and he was able to return to the game in the second half.
“That is an area that we can’t sustain many more losses,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said, “but our team stuck in there right to the very end.”
Morris finally looks like a freshman
Miami true freshman quarterback Stephen Morris had been stellar in place of Jacory Harris, who missed his third consecutive game as he recovers from a concussion, until the fourth quarter against Virginia Tech. But Morris threw three interceptions in the final period against the Hokies, and the Hurricanes (7–4, 5–3) finished with six turnovers for the first time since a game against Virginia Tech in 1999.
Morris, who had been 12 of 18 for 168 yards and a touchdown through three quarters, completed just 3 of 15 passes for 34 yards in the fourth. He also was hurt by the fact that Travis Benjamin dropped what would have been a 64-yard touchdown pass.
“They made the plays, and we didn’t,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said. “When you watch it, it’s heartache because the guys played hard, but we just couldn’t come up with the plays at the right time, and they did.”
Duke’s Brown goes down
Duke lost one of its best defensive players to a serious injury in its defeat at Georgia Tech. True freshman Kelby Brown, who has started the last seven games at middle linebacker, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee against the Yellow Jackets.
Brown sat out the first two games of the season with the intention to redshirt, but his play in practice was so strong that he forced himself on the field. He leads the nation in fumble recoveries per game (0.44) and ranks second among all ACC rookies with 7.3 tackles per game.
“It is unfortunate that Kelby’s fine freshman season ends prematurely,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “It is really tough for a freshman to arrive on campus in June and start seven games at middle linebacker, and he did just that. We know he is in great hands with our medical staff — it is the best in the country — and we’re confident Kelby will overcome this obstacle and be back as soon as possible.”
• Clemson tailback Andre Ellington missed his third consecutive game with a foot injury, but Jamie Harper capably carried the load in his absence for the second week in a row. A week after rushing for 143 yards and a touchdown and catching nine passes for 54 yards at Florida State, Harper rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown in addition to catching three passes for 39 yards at Wake Forest. Harper became the first Clemson player with at least 140 rushing yards in back-to-back games since James Davis in 2005.
• Duke quarterback Sean Renfree threw 14 interceptions during his team’s six-game losing streak earlier this season, but he has avoided throwing an interception for four games in a row. Renfree, who passed for 334 yards and a touchdown against Georgia Tech, has not thrown an interception in his last 157 pass attempts.
• Florida State tailback Chris Thompson ripped off a 70-yard touchdown run for Florida State’s first points against Maryland. Thompson, who is averaging 7.7 yards per carry, became the first player in school history with three touchdown runs of at least 70 yards in the same season.
• Georgia Tech kicker Scott Blair had to handle the punting chores against Duke after a pair of injuries. Starting punter Sean Poole needed surgery after slipping on a curb at a convenience store last week, and backup Chandler Anderson was sidelined with a strained hamstring. Blair, who made field goals of 41, 43 and 44 yards against the Blue Devils, averaged 46 yards on two punts.
• Miami wide receiver Leonard Hankerson had six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown against Virginia Tech, scoring a touchdown for the sixth consecutive game. Hankerson broke the school record for touchdown catches in a season (12), surpassing the previous mark of 11 set by Michael Irvin in 1986.
• North Carolina’s T.J. Yates completed 33 of 44 passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns against N.C. State, setting a school record for completions in a game and throwing for more than 400 yards for the third time this season. Yates also broke his own single-season record for passing yards and became UNC’s all-time leader in passing yards. He has thrown for 8,879 yards in his career, surpassing the previous mark of 8,755 yards set by Darian Durant.
• North Carolina senior Anthony Elzy caught nine passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against NC State, setting a single-game school record for receiving yards by a running back. Elzy, who had nine catches for 37 yards in UNC’s first nine games, has 16 receptions for 280 yards in the last two games.
• NC State received a nice boost against North Carolina thanks to the return of senior kicker Josh Czajkowski, who previously had been declared out for the season with a hamstring injury. Czajkowski made both of his field-goal tries, a 47-yarder and a 24-yarder, and all three of his extra points. “I told him on the field Thursday after he kicked that he should have done this a long time ago,” NC State coach Tom O’Brien joked. “I said, ‘You should have pulled your hamstring a long time ago because now you’re smooth.’ He even said that he’s kicking the ball better, he feels better and has much better rhythm for what he’s doing. Go figure.”
• Virginia wide receivers Kris Burd and Dontrelle Inman became the first teammates in school history to post at least 700 receiving yards in the same season. Burd has 752 yards this season, and Inman has 750 yards.
• Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley came up with his nation-leading eighth interception in the fourth quarter against Miami. Hosley is just one interception shy of Virginia Tech’s single-season school record, set by Ron Davidson in 1967.
• Wake Forest has lost nine consecutive games for the first time since it dropped the final 10 games of the 1978 season. The Demon Deacons’ skid is the second-longest active losing streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The countdown to the end of the Big East regular season is two weeks. And there are only two teams one can count out of the chase to at least capture a share of the conference title.
Pittsburgh still has the best chance to grab the league’s BCS bowl, but Connecticut helped itself and others by downing Syracuse last weekend. The Huskies bumped the Orange out of second place and now share that with West Virginia. Both are 3–2 in conference play, while Pitt is 4–1.
“It’s what I’ve tried to instill in these young men,” said UConn coach Randy Edsall.
“Hey, don’t let anybody count you out. You just got to keep fighting.”
Pittsburgh, though, can clinch no worse than a tie for the title by winning this week’s home Backyard Brawl against West Virginia. The Panthers can win the title outright by adding a season-ending road win against Cincinnati. On Saturday, Pitt nudged South Florida by 17–10.
“That was a heck of a win for our football team for a lot of reasons,” said Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt. “We needed to bounce back (from a loss to Connecticut) and the encouraging thing is we still haven’t put together a complete game.”
Pitt received a game-winning 22-yard touchdown run from Dion Lewis in the fourth quarter in Tampa. Lewis ran for 105 yards and a score, while quarterback Tino Sunseri was 11-for-16 passing for 142 yards and a touchdown to make the Panthers bowl eligible at 6–4. South Florida got a nice 45-yard touchdown run on a reverse from wideout Terrence Mitchell, but allowed a three-game winning streak to end.
Connecticut won at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome behind two touchdown runs from Jordan Todman and three field goals from kicker Dave Teggart. SU could only manage two Ross Krautman field goals. It ended a sometimes wonderful, but always strange Big East season for the Orange. Syracuse, which hosts Boston College this Saturday, became the first team in Big East history to win all of its conference road games, but lose all of its league home games.
West Virginia, 7–3 overall, remained alive on the strength of its defense in a 17–10 win over Louisville at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Mountaineer defense held the Cardinals to nine first downs, 26 rushing yards and 171 total yards. It didn’t allow an offensive touchdown. West Virginia is the nation’s only team that’s held every opponent to 21 points or fewer.
“Our kids are playing hard and they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.
On the other end of the conference, Cincinnati, the league’s back-to-back reigning champs, managed to escape the cellar and remain alive with a wild 69–38 victory over Rutgers. It was the highest-scoring game in Big East history. UC’s Isaiah Pead scored five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) and the Bearcats offense ripped off 661 yards of offense en route to 10 touchdowns.
Individual numbers? Pead had 213 yards rushing and teammate Zach Collaros completed 23-of-39 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Rutgers wideout Mark Harrison had 10 receptions for 240 yards and a league record-tying four touchdowns, and teammate Chas Dodd completed 19-of- 29 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns.
West Virginia 17, Louisville 10
Pittsburgh 17, South Florida 10
Connecticut 23, Syracuse 6
Cincinnati 69, Rutgers 38
Breaking it down
As stated, Pitt wins the Big East outright by taking its last two games. But Connecticut and West Virginia can still take the outright title as well. Syracuse, South Florida and Cincinnati all remain in the hunt to tie for the league championship.
After Pitt, UConn has the best chance to win the league outright. The Huskies need to win out at home against Cincy and at South Florida and hope Pitt loses at least once. Connecticut holds tiebreaker advantages over Pitt and WVU.
WVU needs to defeat Pitt at Heinz Field this Friday and win at home against Rutgers. It also has to hope Connecticut loses one of its final two games.
This week’s schedule has two Big East games on Friday. Louisville visits Rutgers at 11 a.m. on ESPN2. The U of L can become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2006 with a win.
WVU and Pitt meet at noon in the 103rd edition of the Brawl. That game will be televised by ABC.
Saturday league games will be Cincinnati at Connecticut; Syracuse hosting Boston College; and South Florida visiting Miami (Fla.).
Connecticut’s Jordan Todman scored a couple of touchdowns and ran for 130 yards against Syracuse. That performance was good enough to keep Todman No. 2 nationally in rushing with a 145.1 yard average. He’s second only to Oregon’s LaMichael James. Louisville’s Bilal Powell is eighth, averaging 120.7.
West Virginia’s defense, meanwhile, continues to impress. The Mountaineers are fourth nationally in rush defense (88 yard average), scoring defense (12.9) and total defense (245.1). WVU is also No. 8 in pass defense, allowing an average of 157.1 yards.
When Rutgers’ Greg Schiano had the Scarlet Knights on a roll a few years back, many thought RU was rejuvenated. Now it seems like RU is headed for the days of old. With two games to play the team is in last place in the Big East and has a chance to tie Temple for the most last-place finishes in league history. Temple, booted from the league in 2004, had seven.
The good and the bad
During Pittsburgh’s win over South Florida, Panther defensive end Brandon Linsdsey recorded his 10th sack of the season. No Pitt player has reached double digits since Joe Clermond in 2007. Pitt, though, also was whistled for 11 penalties for 116 yards. In the prior three games, the Panthers had been called for 11-90 combined.
South Florida running back Moise Plancher injured a shoulder against Pitt and was limited throughout the game.
When Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead rushed for his career-high 213 yards, it was the first 200-yard game for a Bearcat since Richard Hall had 238 against Miami in 2004.
How bad was it?
Louisville’s offense was shut down to such a degree that the team’s leading rusher against West Virginia was kicker/punter Chris Philpott. He had 21 rushing yards on a fake punt. “Just no execution on offense,” said U of L coach Charlie Strong.