First and Ten
Tonight we begin a new weekly series that we will continue through the rest of the regular season. Ten quick takes about what we saw this weekend and how that effects the rest of the season.
- Big 12 quarterbacks currently hold the top four spots nationally in passing efficiency. It’s almost a broken record at this point, but this league’s stranglehold on efficient passers bears repeating almost every week. Geno Smith of West Virginia held on to the stop spot by going a pedestrian 25-of-35 for 268 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while Texas’ David Ash fell all the way to third after completing 22-of-29 attempts for 269 yards and a score with no picks. Ash was replaced in the No. 2 spot by Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh. The Big 12 not only holds the top four spots, but also five of the top six and six of the top nine as Baylor’s Nick Florence ranks sixth and Kansas State’s Collin Klein checks in at No. 9.
- Navy took a major step forward to claiming its third consecutive Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy Saturday. Despite being off to a horrible start (the Midshipmen were 1-3 coming into this game), Ken Niumatalolo’s team scored the final 15 points and kept Air Force out of the end zone in overtime to earn a 28-21 victory in Colorado Springs. The win was Navy’s first over an FBS opponent in 2012, but the Midshipmen can claim the trophy by earning their 11th consecutive victory over Army on Dec. 8 in Philadelphia.
- Speaking of Army, the Black Knights earned their first victory of 2012 on Saturday. One week after losing to Stony Brook 23-3, Rich Ellerson’s troops knocked off Boston College 34-31. The Black Knights rushed for 516 yards on the day and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. Three runners galloped for more than 125 yards. On the season, Army is just 14 yards shy of averaging 400 yards per game.
- It was a bad, bad day for the ACC. It started with Boston College’s loss to Army and didn’t get much better from there. Perennial favorite Virginia Tech allowed 339 rushing yards to post-season ineligible North Carolina in a 48-34 loss. Miami’s offense was erased a 41-3 loss to Notre Dame. And to cap the day, the league was removed from the national championship picture as Florida State fell to N.C. State, 17-16. On the bright side, Duke appears to be bowl-bound as David Cutcliffe’s squad is 5-1 and 2-0 in league play after a 42-17 drubbing of Virginia.
- In what was perhaps the most-anticipated game of the year in the FCS, No. 1 North Dakota State pounded No. 3 Youngstown State, 48-7. The Bison rode their defense to a national championship in 2011 and appear to be stronger than ever limiting Youngstown State, a team that scored 163 points in its first four games, to 211 total yards, 12 first downs and 3-of-10 on third down. Craig Bohl and his staff have North Dakota State ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring defense, total defense and first downs defense, No. 3 in passing defense and No. 4 in rushing defense.
- The Texas A&M – Louisiana Tech game suddenly looms as a very big game for both teams. The Aggies and Bulldogs were originally slated to meet on the season’s opening Thursday night in Shreveport, but now will play at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Kevin Sumlin has Texas A&M ranked No. 22 in the AP poll and sitting at 4-1 in his first season. A win on Saturday would set his squad up with an intriguing home game with LSU on Oct. 20 before going on the road to Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama. For Sonny Dykes and Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M may be all that’s standing in the way between his team and a perfect season. It’s not all downhill from here as Louisiana Tech still has its entire WAC schedule ahead of it, including closing the season with contenders Utah State and San Jose State, but the Aggies are the best team on the Bulldogs’ schedule on paper. Louisiana Tech comes into Saturday ranked in both polls for the first time in school history. The two teams are averaging nearly 100 points per game between them. Make time in your viewing schedule for this one.
- After seeing the nation’s longest winning streak snapped, TCU has possibly the most difficult schedule in the nation ahead of it. The Horned Frogs’ remaining seven opponents hold a combined record of 26-6. Five of the six losses among that group are to Big 12 teams. All seven of TCU’s remaining games will come against teams ranked in the top 25 nationally in scoring offense. This comes after TCU surrendered 30 points to Iowa State’s 72nd ranked scoring offense. With starting quarterback Casey Pachall’s status uncertain, freshman quarterback Trevon Boykin was 23-of-40 for 270 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, including one for a touchdown, in his first start. Keep in mind that Patterson considered playing Boykin at running back this week due to lack of depth at that position. The following seven weeks could be the most challenging in Gary Patterson’s career.
- The national championship picture could become a lot clearer after Oct. 20. November 3 was supposed to be the earth-shattering day of the college football season with Alabama and LSU staging the rematch to the rematch in Baton Rouge and Oregon traveling to USC, but the Trojans and Tigers have already lost. Suddenly October 20 looms as the biggest day of the season as South Carolina will host Florida and Kansas State will travel to West Virginia.
- Ohio State and the Big Ten are regretting the decision to delay the Buckeyes’ bowl ban. Standing at 6-0 and ranked No. 8 in the AP poll, Urban Meyer has a very realistic chance to go unbeaten in his first season in Columbus. The Buckeyes are clearly the class of the Big Ten through six weeks, but their season is essentially occurring in a vacuum since Ohio State delayed its bowl ban to this season all so the 6-6 Buckeyes could compete in the Gator Bowl at the end of the 2011 season. The good news for Meyer’s 12-0 hopes is also the bad news for the Big Ten as a whole: due to the Ohio State’s bowl ban, the Big Ten does not boast a single team in the Coaches Poll. When the BCS debuts on Oct. 14 there likely won’t be a Big Ten name to be found.
- Temple won its first game in the program’s return to the Big East. Thanks to the foundation laid by Al Golden and the maintenance by Steve Addazio, Temple arrived to the Big East a much different program than it was when the Owls left. And thanks to the tectonic shifts around the world of college football, the Big East is a much different league when it welcomed the Owls back than when it showed them the door. Temple scored 28 points in the second half, with two touchdowns from Boston College-transfer Montel Harris, to pull away from South Florida. The Bulls, who, by the way, were in Conference USA when Temple left the Big East in 2004, fell to 2-4 and 0-2 in Big East play with the loss.