The Top Ten Nutty and Noteworthy Notes to Know From Saturday
1. Big Drama in the Big Ten - Nothing sums up a tepid Saturday quite like knowing the best game of the day came between 5-3 and 3-5 Big Ten teams. Looking for his first Big Ten win as Illinois' head coach, Tim Beckman had a golden opportunity staring him in the face at Happy Valley. Taking possession with 3:23 at its own two-yard line and leading 17-14, Illinois dialed up a pass on first down despite Penn State being out of timeouts. The Illini went three-and-out, and Penn State kicked the game-tying field goal with 41 seconds left. Penn State scored a touchdown on the opening possession of overtime, then snared a game-winning interception on Illinois' first play.
2. Hail Pelini - Bo Pelini didn't need to lose to Northwestern. He just didn't. Yet that's what was about to happen on Saturday evening. After battling back from a 21-7 first-half deficit, Nebraska trailed Northwestern 24-21 with 1:20 to play. Despite a schedule that featured one ranked team in the first 10 weeks of the season, Pelini was about to put himself in a situation where his six-season streak of four-loss seasons could come to an end in exactly the wrong fashion.
Then this happened:
3. Gophers + Hoosiers = Bananas - Minnesota built a 35-13 lead with 6:24 to go in the third quarter, and then defensive coordinator-turned-acting head coach Tracy Claeys saw his defense fall completely apart. Indiana scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives to take a 39-35 lead, but the Gophers responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive to take a 42-39 lead. Indiana responded, driving to the Gophers' nine-yard line with plenty of time to score, but a wayward lateral ended with a Minnesota defender taking possession at the 23-yard line and running it 21 more yards to the 44. Don't look now, but the Fighting Jerry Kills are 7-2.
4. Mike Gundy and Mike Yurcich found their mojo - After scoring only 99 points in their first four games against BCS competition, Oklahoma State has put up 110 points in its last two wins against Iowa State and Texas Tech. The Cowboys ran for 281 yards and five touchdowns and added 211 passing yards and two more scores en route to a 52-34 victory at No. 15 Texas Tech. Oklahoma State gets unranked Kansas and Texas in the next two weeks before closing the season with Baylor and Oklahoma. Those games could be quite significant.
5. Everything Went All Wright - In his first game as a college football head coach, acting head coach Brian Wright did something full-time head coaches at North Texas, East Carolina and Tulsa couldn't do. He beat Conference USA-leading Tulane. And he did it quite handily. Florida Atlantic out-gained the Green Wave 331-167 on its way to a 34-17 victory.
6. The Greatest Play You Didn't See - Plenty of players can be describes as stat sheet stuffers, but none do it with quite the efficiency of Sacred Heart wide receiver Moses Webb. On a single play, Webb recorded a reception, a fumble, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. See and believe:
7. Scintillating Service Academies - Thank goodness the government shutdown is over because I would've hated for our men and women overseas to miss the quality football the service academies displayed on Saturday. In a 10 a.m. local time kick, Army jumped out to a 21-14 lead before Air Force woke up, ripping off a 21-0 run en route to a 42-28 win. In case you're wondering, there were 116 rushes and 22 passes. Next, Navy and Notre Dame staged a back-and-forth affair in which the Midshipmen took leads of 14-10, 20-17, 27-24 and 34-31, but could not answer Notre Dame's final score. A fourth-and-four end around at the Notre Dame 31-yard line was strung out for no gain with 1:08 to play, and Notre Dame held on for a 38-34 win.
8. South Texas Expansion - The state of Texas' 11th and 12th FBS programs certainly aren't playing that way in their first full-fledged seasons among the big boys. UTSA knocked off Tulsa 34-15, which admittedly doesn't mean as much in 2013 as it would have in 2012, but beating the defending Conference USA champions is definitively the biggest road win in the three-year history of the program. Texas State earned a 37-21 win at Idaho, moving Dennis Franchione's team to 6-3 on the season, meaning the Bobcats are bowl eligible in the first year they are indeed eligible to participate in a bowl game.
9. How Does That Even Happen? - TCU rallied from a 27-17 deficit with three minutes to play to force overtime on Saturday against West Virginia. The Horned Frogs took the ball to start the extra frame, starting where every overtime possession begins - the 25. The Frogs then lost six yards on first down, threw a complete pass for one yard, suffered a 15-yard penalty and then threw an incomplete pass. Suddenly it's fourth down and TCU has gone 20 yards in the wrong direction. Instead of going for it on 4th-and-30, Gary Patterson opted for the insane-yet-somehow-sensible 62-yard field goal try. A career long of 53 yards, Jaden Oberkrom's kick had the distance, but it was wide right. West Virginia knocked in a 34-yard field goal on the ensuing possession for the win.
10. Rob Jones' Golden Hands - To say that Delaware won despite trailing 31-10 in the fourth quarter doesn't even really do it justice. The Blue Hens trailed No. 7 Towson 31-17 inside the final minute of the game. Trevor Sasek hit Michael Johnson for an 11-yard scoring strike with 48 seconds left, and then Delaware recovered the ensuing onside kick. Sasek then hit Rob Jones, the same pair of golden hands that recovered the kick, for a three-yard score with 19 seconds to play. Figuring that not even an army of black cats could halt their luck at this point, Delaware went for two where, again, Jones grabbed Sasek's pass for the game-winning conversion.