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Craig Fitzgerald: "We're still getting strong, we're still greedy"

In post game interviews, we've heard numerous players credit Penn State strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald and his staff with their success through the midway point of the season, and in the fourth quarter in particular. Against Northwestern a few weekends ago, the Nittany Lions put together a 22 point fourth quarter, and the defense shut out the Wildcats in the final quarter, to survive with a 39-28 win.

Players say that they feel healthier, stronger, and fresher than they ever had through this point in previous seasons. Fitzgerald's in season plan calls for working a lot of the smaller muscle groups, and doing balance work, while still focusing on adding strength.

"We're still getting strong, we're still greedy." he notes in the clip, which highlights the work that him and director of training services Tim Bream put in.

At about the two minute mark of the clip, Bream demonstrates a pretty sweet NASA inspired anti-gravity treadmill and how they utilize it to get injured players back on their feet.

 




Long: "The chart had nothing to do with it, I felt like going for it"

When asked about lining up for the two point conversion and the win against Nevada in overtime on Saturday, San Diego State head coach Rocky Long could only shrug his shoulders and smile, saying "I just felt like going for it."

After the game, Long assured reporters that while his decision to go for two in order to get within three points during the third quarter was aided by the chart that many coordinators and head coaches keep on their play call sheets to advise them of whether to kick it or go for two, the overtime decision was all about a gut feeling.

"The chart had nothing to do with that. It was a gut feeling." Long added.

The conversion improved San Diego State to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in Mountain West play, and earned Long our "Call of the Week."




Monday TV - Detroit at Chicago

Lions at the Bears tonight, and tomorrow we'll have some Sun Belt Tuesday night action.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

Detroit at Chicago - 8:30 - ESPN

College:

No games tonight

High School:

No games




Idaho dismisses Robb Akey as head coach

As first reported in The Scoop this afternoon and announced officially by the school this afternoon, Idaho has terminated the contract of head coach Robb Akey. 

“The President (Duane Nellis) and I believe it is important to make this move now so we can immediately begin the process of hiring a new coach for the 2013 season,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said in a statement. “We appreciate Coach Akey’s enthusiasm and dedication to the University of Idaho but this is the right move at this time.”

In his sixth season as head coach of the Vandals, Akey carried a 20-50 record. Idaho was beaten by Louisiana Tech 70-28 on Saturday night, dropping its record to 1-7 on the season. Akey's tenure reached a high point in 2009 as he lead Idaho to an 8-5 record and win in the Humanitarian Bowl. The program slipped steadily following that season as Idaho went 6-7 in 2010 and 2-10 last seson. 

Idaho's new head coach steps into a unique and challenging situation. Idaho and New Mexico State were left without a conference home after the WAC dropped football due to the sweeping changes of conference realignment. The Vandals will compete as an FBS independent in 2013; its recently announced schedule includes home dates with Northern Illinois, Temple, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Old Dominion with visits to North Texas, Wyoming, Washington State, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, New Mexico State in a home-and-home agreement and a to-be-determined BCS opponent. 

It all adds up to a tough task for a new head coach that inherits a team currently ranked 101st or lower in 12 of the 17 official statistics tracked by the NCAA. 

In the meantime, offensive coordinator Jason Gesser will serve as the interim head coach. Gesser played quarterback for Akey at Washington State a decade ago before a brief stint in professional football. In just his second year of coaching at the college level, Gesser was brought in from Eastside High School (WA) to serve as running backs coach in 2011 before being promoted to offensive coordinator this season. 




Coaches of the Week - Week 8

Head Coach of the Week - Bill Snyder, Kansas State: What else can be said about the man that has twice led Kansas State into national prominence? How about this:

 In leading Kansas State to its third road victory over a ranked team this season, Kansas State cemented itself as a true contender for the school's first national championship after a 55-14 demolition of West Virginia. 'Cats quarterback Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns against just two incompletions, while the Kansas State defense forced WVU quarterback Geno Smith into his first interception in 273 attempts, and then picked him off again six throws later. Snyder's team held West Virginia to season-lows of 243 yards of total offense and 3.9 yards per play. In fact, each team ran 62 plays but Kansas State accounted for nearly twice as many yards and held the ball for almost seven minutes longer than West Virginia.

Offensive Staff of the Week - Louisiana Tech: Plenty of other offenses faced stiffer competition on Saturday, but Louisiana Tech's offense was so productive that we couldn't ignore the Bulldogs in good consience. In garnering 56 points and 582 yards in the first half, Louisiana Tech produced in two quarters what many teams consider a good two weeks. The Bulldogs set a school record with 70 points, a total that Sonny Dykes' team reached with 19 minutes still to play. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's group became the first FBS team to top 400 yards on the ground and through the air this season. In 95 snaps, Louisiana Tech gained 839 yards (a school record and the most by an FBS team this season) while achieving 8.8 yards per play and 39 first downs. Louisiana Tech has topped 40 games in every game this season and been held under 50 just once through seven games. Louisiana Tech sports information director Patrick Walsh summed up the night perfectly in our Tweet of the Day: 

Defensive Staff of the Week - Oregon: In the Thursday night spotlight at Arizona State, Chip Kelly's team demonstrated to the nation it was much more than a fast offense and flashy uniforms. Nick Aliotti's unit surrendered a Sun Devils touchdown on their first play and did not allow another point until the game was well out of reach. Arizona State's next 12 possessions produced a total of 221 yards with seven punts, two interceptions, a turnover on downs and missed field goal mixed in. The Sun Devils' 14 offensive points were a season low and their 408 yards were their second-fewest to date. In all, Oregon intecepted four passes, collected five sacks and held Arizona State scoreless in three red zone trips. After Thursday's performance, Oregon leads the country in red zone defense with only 15 scores allowed in 29 trips. 

Special Teams Unit of the Week - TCU: Despite a disappointing ending for Gary Patterson's team in triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech, special teams coordinator Gary Sharp's unit played winning football on Saturday. Frogs kicker Jaden Oberkrom nailed all six of his field goal tries and converted 5-of-5 extra points. Wide receiver Skye Dawson was a difference maker for TCU in the return game as he brought back five punts for a total of 61 yards, including a 22-yard return to the Texas Tech 31 that ultimately gave TCU a 17-7 lead. Ethan Perry booted three punts for a net average of 45 yards, two of which pinned the Red Raiders inside the 20. Equally important for Sharp's unit, TCU nullified Texas Tech's return game by not allowing a punt return on the day and limiting Texas Tech to a sum of two kickoff returns that totaled just 15 and 11 yards. 

Call of the Week - Todd Berry (ULM) and Rocky Long (San Diego State): For any head coaches that may be reading this, a sure-fire way to win our Call of the Week is to successfully go for two and the win in overtime. Todd Berry and Rocky Long share our award this week because both head coaches did just that on Saturday night.

First, Berry's team fought back from a 28-7 deficit to force overtime against Western Kentucky. After WKU scored to open overtime, ULM quarterback Kolton Browning ran in from three yards out to bring the Warhawks within one and then hit Rashon Ceasar in the end zone for the game-winning conversion. It was the second such win this season for Berry's team as ULM famously toppled then-No. 8 Arkansas in similar fashion on Sept. 8. 

Rocky Long's team also rode a wave of momentum into overtime after the Aztecs fough back from a 31-21 hole with 10 points in the game's final 3:45 to force an extra frame. San Diego State quarterback Adam Dingwell went a perfect 3-for-3 in overtime as hit a pass for four yards on first down, then a 21-yard touchdown strike that set up his game-winning two-point conversion to Rob Andrews. 

Both wins are crucial for each head coach. ULM became the first team not named LSU or Alabama to defeat Western Kentucky in the Hilltoppers' last 15 games, allowing Berry's squad to stand alone in first place in the Sun Belt. Long's team has now won three straight Mountain West games to pull into a four-way tie for second place in the MWC. Both teams need one more victory to achieve bowl eligibility. 




Sunday TV - Steelers vs. Bengals in prime time spot

Yesterday was full of big games, and big surprises. Today, the NFL picks up where they left off.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

Tennessee at Buffalo - 1 - CBS

Washington at NY Giants - 1 - FOX

New Orleans at Tampa Bay - 1 - FOX

Dallas at Carolina - 1 - FOX

Baltimore at Houston - 1 - CBS

Cleveland at Indianapolis - 1 - CBS

Green Bay at St. Louis - 1 - FOX

Arizona at Minnesota - 1 - FOX

NY Jets at New England - 4:25 - CBS

Jacksonville at Oakland - 4:25 - CBS

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - 8:20 - NBC

College:

No games

High School:

No games

 




Saturday Scoreboard

As scores roll in throughout the day we'll update you on the plays, games and quotes that stood out to us. Here's a link to the ESPN college football scoreboard for full coverage of today's action. 

Alabama 44, Tennessee 13. Make it a perfect 6-0 for Nick Saban on the Third Saturday of October. Alabama did just about everything it wanted to on both sides of the ball. The Crimson Tide threw for 306 yards and four scores, rushed for 5.2 yards a carry on 45 attempts, held Tennessee to 2.9 yards a carry and picked off two Vols passes without allowing a touchdown. Alabama has now played 84 consecutive quarters without trailing. Saban's team will return home to face Mississippi State with sole possession of first place in the SEC West on the line. 

Kansas State 55, West Virginia 14. Just as Kansas State stakes its claim to the top of the Big 12 standings, Bill Snyder does the same in the Big 12 Coach of the Year race. The Wildcats' defense made West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith look pedestrian in limiting him to 21-of-32 passing for 143 yards with one touchdown and his first two interceptions of the season. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein rose to the top of everyone's Heisman Trophy straw polls by completing 19-of-21 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns to go with 41 rushing yards and four additional scores on 12 carries. Kansas State secured its place among the nation's elite teams with noted giant killers Texas Tech visiting Manhattan next week.

Florida 44, South Carolina 11. Today Will Muschamp's team proved it was possible to dominate a game while gaining 29 yards of offense in the first half. The Gators forced three South Carolina fumbles and turned them all into touchdowns to claim a 21-6 hafltime lead. Florida won a game by 33 points in which it was outgained 191-183. Muschamp can clinch his first SEC East title with a win over Georgia next Saturday. 

Texas Tech 56, TCU 53 (triple overtime). And to think, this game was billed a showdown between the Big 12's top defenses. In a back-and-forth affair that was actually 23-21 through three quarters, both teams held and blew double-digit leads throughout the afternoon. Texas Tech finally broke TCU's serve at the top of the third overtime in forcing Gary Patterson's team into its sixth field goal try of the game. Seth Doege's seventh scoring strike of the day ended it in the bottom of the third overtime. Texas Tech now plays for a share of the Big 12 lead next week at Kansas State. 

Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28. Bo Pelin's team fought back from a 28-16 deficit midway through the fourth quarter to stay within one game of first place in the Big Ten Legends Division. Taylor Martinez continues to improve as a passer as he completed 27-of-39 passes for 342 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. In fact, Nebraska owned the statsheet by outgaining Northwestern 543-301. The Wildcats had a chance to steal the lead back but missed a 53-yard field goal with 1:10 to play. Nebraska will host Michigan next week with first place in the Legends Division on the line. 

ULM 43, Western Kentucky 42 (overtime). Todd Berry and his cardiac Warhawks pulled off another stunner. Trailing 28-7 in the second quarter, ULM fought back to tie it with 31 seconds to go. After Western Kentucky scored to open overtime, ULM quarterback Kolton Browning rushed in from three yards to make the score 42-41 and found Rashon Ceasar for the game-winning two-point conversion. Browning won the game nearly completely by himself, accounting for 377 of ULM's 385 yards from scrimmage. The win ends Western Kentucky's streak of 14 games with losses only to No. 1 LSU and No. 1 Alabama dating back to 2011. Berry's team now stands alone in first place at 3-0 in the Sun Belt. 

Michigan 12, Michigan State 10. It's hard to overstate the importance of this win for Michigan. A Brendan Gibbons 38-yard field goal with five seconds to play gives Brady Hoke and the Wolverines' senior class their first win over Michigan State, and most importantly keeps Michigan atop the Big Ten Legends Division. In earning a win despite not scoring a touchdown, the Wolverines claimed a 51-yard rushing advantage over the Spartans while rushing the ball only one more time than Michigan State.

Notre Dame 17, BYU 14. The Notre Dame Magical Mystery Tour continues for another week. In improving to 7-0 for the first time since 2002, Brian Kelly and co. set up a showdown game at Oklahoma in preimetime next Saturday. The Fighting Irish won despite starting quarterback Tommy Rees completing just seven passes, in part because Bob Diaco's defense held the Cougars to 66 rushing yards on 25 carries. 

LSU 24, Texas A&M 19. It took about a quarter and a half, but John Chavis' defense found a way to solve the whirlwind that is Johnny Manziel. LSU forced Manziel into the worst game of his young career, going 28-of-55 through the air for 273 yards with three interceptions while rushing 17 yards for only 27 yards. After accounting for 24 scores through his first six games, Manziel was held out of the end zone. Meanwhile, LSU was able to win the game in a decidedly LSU fashion. Les Miles' team was outgained 410-316 but won the turnover battle 4-0. All three of the Tigers' touchdowns came after forcing an A&M turnover. The other LSU trademark, enduring a slow start offensively by leaning on the opponents' defensive line for four quarters, was in play as Miles' team held an 111-1 rushing advantage in the fourth quarter. A pair of dynamic young runners led the way for the Tigers as sophomore Michael Ford carried 11 times for 78 yards and a score while true freshman Jeremy Hill again came off the bench to pace LSU with 18 carries for 127 yards and one score.

Ohio State 29, Purdue 22 (overtime). Danny Hope's team appeared primed to end Ohio State's perfect season before backup quarterback Kenny Guiton led the Buckeyes to a touchdown with three seconds to play. Guiton's pass to Jeff Heuerman converted Ohio State's two-point conversion to send the game to overtime, where the Buckeyes turned the opening possession into a touchdown. Purdue went four-and-out on the ensuing possession, allowing Urban Meyer to move to 8-0 in his inaugural season in Columbus. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who was taken to the hospital by ambulance after suffering an undisclosed injury in the third quarter.

Rutgers 35, Temple 10. Kyle Flood's first season keeps getting better and better. In defeating Temple, Rutgers moves to 4-0 in the Big East and further stakes its claim as the best team on the Eastern seaboard. In holding their sixth opponent of the season to 15 points or fewer, Rutgers won the second half 35-0 and outgained the Owls 371-191. The Scarlet Knights are now three wins away from claiming their first Big East championship.

Vanderbilt 17, Auburn 13. The loss drops Auburn to 1-6, its worst start since 1952. The Vanderbilt defense held Auburn to 2-of-12 on third down and 212 yards of total offense, including 5.2 yards per pass and 3.1 yards per rush. James Franklin's team won despite going minus-3 in turnover margin to improve to 3-4 on the season. Vanderbilt's remaining five opponents held a combined record of 12-21 coming into Saturday, meaning Franklin is within range of becoming the first coach to lead the Commodores to back-to-back bowl games.

Oklahoma State 31, Iowa State 10. Oklahoma State, the only FBS team to average 600 yards per game, racked up 625 yards behind another balanced effort. Quarterback J.W. Walsh hit on 32-of-47 passes for 415 yards and one touchdown and added nine carries for 46 yards and a touchdown. As a team Oklahoma State ran 42 times for 210 yards (5.0 ypc) and three scores. The Cowboys ran 99 plays to Iowa State's 70. 

Troy 38, Florida International 37. Larry Blakeney's team scored the game's final 17 points to rally from a 37-21 deficit. The win allows Troy (4-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) to keep pace in a crowded Sun Belt race, as seven of the league's 10 teams have .500 or better records in conference play to this point. Florida International fell to 1-7 overall and 0-4 in league play. 

Eastern Michigan 48, Army 38. Congrats to Ron English and his staff as Eastern Michigan earned its first win of the season. Eagles quarterback Tyler Benz had an incredibly efficient day, turning his 19-of-31 effort into 369 yards and five touchdowns. 

 




Saturday TV - Plenty of games you'll want to see

Saturday is full of quality action. Take a look at what we'll be watching for during week eight.

All times are eastern.

NFL:

No games

College:

LSU at Texas A&M - 12 - ESPN

Penn at Yale - 12 - NBC Sports Network

Rutgers at Temple - 12 - Big East Network

Virginia Tech at Clemson - 12 - ABC

Iowa State at Oklahoma State - 12 - FX

Purdue at Ohio State - 12 - ABC

Minnesota at Wisconsin - 12 - ESPNU

Northern Illinois at Akron - 12 - ESPN3

Auburn at Vanderbilt - 12:21 - SEC Network

Wake Forest at Virginia- 12:30 - ESPN3

Army at Eastern Michigan - 1 - ESPN3

Florida International at Troy - 1 - ESPN3

San Jose State at UTSA - 2 - ESPN3

Stanford at Cal - 3 - FOX

Boston College at Georgia Tech - 3 - ESPN3

New Mexico State at Utah State - 3 - ESPN3

South Carolina at Florida - 3:30 - CBS

Brigham Young at Notre Dame - 3:30 - NBC

South Florida at Louisville - 3:30 - ABC

Texas Tech at TCU - 3:30 - ABC

UNLV at Boise State - 3:30 - NBC Sports Network

Nebraska at Northwestern - 3:30 - ESPN2

North Carolina State at Maryland - 3:30 - ESPNU

Michigan State at Michigan - 3:30 - BTN

Pitt at Buffalo - 3:30 - Big East Network

Ball State at Central Michigan - 3:30 - ESPN3

Indiana at Navy - 3:30 - CBS Sports Network

LA-Monroe at Western Kentucky - 4 - ESPN3

Colorado at USC - 6 - Pac 12 Network

Alabama at Tennessee - 7 - ESPN

Kansas State at West Virginia - 7 - FOX

Georgia at Kentucky - 7 - ESPN3

Middle Tennessee at Mississippi State - 7 - ESPN2

Cincinnati at Toledo - 7 - ESPN3

North Carolina at Duke - 7 - ESPNU

Idaho at LA Tech - 7 - ESPN3

Marshall at Southern Miss - 7 - CBS Sports Network

Florida State at Miami (FL) - 8 - ABC

Baylor at Texas - 8 - ABC

Penn State at Iowa - 8 - BTN

Washington at Arizona - 10 - Pac 12 Network

Utah at Oregon State - 10:30 - ESPN2

San Diego State at Nevada - 10:35 - CBS Sports Network

High School:

No games