After Tech's game last week against N.C. State the Wolfpack dropped into last place among the 117 division 1-A teams in pass defense. This week the school wearing that unfortunate mantle is Mississippi--Symons latest victim. In case you're wondering, Texas A & M is up next for Symons and the Red Raiders.
TWOS COMING IN THREE. The North Texas Mean Green tied an NCAA record in recording three safeties in its game against winless Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday night. Only one came via a player being tackled as the Mean Green benefited from an intentional grounding in the end zone call and a snap from center sailing over the punter's head and through the end zone.
HANDLE WITH CARE A week earlier the Oregon Ducks could do no wrong as they held the then nation's leading rushing team, Michigan, to negative yardage on the ground. Playing in Eugene against Pac 10 foe Washington State, the Ducks committed seven turnovers in the first half and parlayed them into a, 38-2, halftime deficit before losing, 55-16, to the Cougars.
STREAKING. Ugly and unimpressive or not, the Ohio State Buckeyes posted their nineteenth consecutive win over the weekend. The victims this time were the Northwestern Wildcats who succumbed 20-0. Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Texas Christian have the second longest current winning streaks at six games.
DROUGHTS END AND CONTINUE. Air Force Academy's Fisher DeBerry finally got his first win against BYU in Provo. It took him twenty years and eight tries to do it but the falcons downed the Cougars, 24-10, thereby giving DeBerry his first win ever in Utah against his long time nemesis. It was AFA's fifth win in its past seven games versus BYU.
DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY. Virginia Tech played an extraordinary game when it faced the UConn Huskies. The Hokies held the ball for less than nineteen minutes and yet coasted to a 34 point victory by a lopsided, 47-13, count. How's that possible? Simple. The Techsters scored three TDs without running a play from scrimmage. Eric Green returned an interception 84 yards for one score. Mike Imoh raced 91 yards with the second half kickoff for a second touchdown. Nathaniel Adibi added the finishing touches when he returned a blocked punt 16 yards for a third TD. Under head coach Frank Beamer no division 1-A team has blocked more kicks in the past decade and a half than Virginia Tech.
STAYING FOR A WHILE? Cinderella looks like she enjoys the neighborhood and intends to settle down for a spell. Last week the Northern Illinois Huskies entered the top twenty-five for the first time in the school's history. The Huskies hosted Iowa State over the weekend, beat the Cyclones, 24-16, and have jumped from 20th to 17th in the latest Associated Press poll. NIU's biggest remaining challenge on its regular season schedule may be a road contest with Bowling Green on October 25th.
The Huskies are doing their part to become the bowl-season-headache-in-the-making
for the czars of college football at BCS headquarters.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? After losing games to Southern Cal and Georgia Tech to start the 2003 season, the Auburn Tigers were dropped like the proverbial hot spud from top twenty-five polls around the country. Even a disappointing Auburn team this fall serves as a means of demonstrating the competitive chasm stretching between division 1-A and division 1-AA football.
Auburn hosted Western Kentucky on Saturday. The Hilltoppers are the defending national champs at the 1-AA level. The Tigers outgained Western Kentucky 567 to 163 and strafed the visitors 48-3. It was strictly no contest.
WELCOME MAT. The South Florida Bulls played their first game as a member of Conference USA and shut out hapless Army, 28-0. The Black Knights are 117th--dead last--in division 1-A in rushing yardage averaging a microscopic 64.5 yards a game.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Colorado State lost to Utah in Fort Collins and fell to a 2-3 mark as the calendar approaches October. CSU's latest fall on their face culminated with RB Marcus Houston's fumble in the fifty-ninth minute of play. The ball was recovered in midair by the Utes' Arnold Parker, who sprinted 80 yards for the game's winning points.
What's wrong with Sonny Lubick's team this fall? Look at the defense. Longtime defensive coordinator, Larry Kerr, picked up and left for a similar job at UCLA this season. The Rams have plenty of returning talent from their squad which won the Mountain West Conference title last year, but the defense has played without purpose or poise. CSU has already been decimated for 42 points by Colorado; 21 points by Cal; 41 by Miami of Ohio and 28 by Utah. The Rams have talent on defense, but miss Kerr more than they thought would be possible.
MOUNTAINEERING. San Diego State, finished for the moment with playing a parade of division 1-AA creampuffs like Eastern Washington and Samford, returned to the ranks of division 1-A over the weekend. Upon entering the game the Aztecs had never beaten the Bruins. The Aztecs can still make that claim after their, 20-10, defeat. UCLA amassed 323 yards in total offense against an Aztecs' team which had led the nation in total defense at the beginning of the weekend.
New Mexico rallied to beat instate rival New Mexico State, 24-17, for supremacy in the Land of Enchantment. The Lobos--a preseason pick to contend for the MWC title--have struggled badly in opening the year 2-3.
Casey Bramlet continued his efforts to lead the Wyoming Cowboys to a victory over a division 1-A team this fall, but his 2 TD passes weren't enough to spark the Cowboys to a win over Boise State as the Broncos broke the Pokes 33-17.
BUH-BYE. To the surprise of absolutely no one, John Mackovic has been tossed from his job as head coach of Arizona. The Mildcats
were battered for 59 points by LSU earlier this month, followed that desultory
effort by being brutalized by 48 points against the Oregon Ducks before getting
hammered by the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette for another 59 points.
Now under the direction of Mike Hankwitz, Arizona still has games on its schedule versus Washington State, Cal and Arizona State on the road as well as home contests versus Southern Cal and Washington. Football fans can't wait for basketball coach Lute Henson's crew to begin play.
THE UPPER CRUST. Membership continues to dwindle in college football's most exclusive fraternity--the group of teams with unblemished records. Air Force, Arkansas, Florida State, Louisville, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU, Tennessee and Virginia Tech enter October as the fourteen schools with undefeated records.
THE HAVE NOTS. Not every team is heading for a bowl invitation later this fall. Here are some names of teams that won't need to make plans for postseason play. Army, Buffalo, East Carolina, Idaho, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Rice, Southern Methodist and Temple are in search of an individual or collective first win in the current season.
This week's miss-it-at-all-costs game of the week, promising a cure for insomnia,
is the monumentally pointless struggle between the Temple Owls and the home-standing
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. Make sure to load the VCR with a fresh
tape for this one.