The Knights actually were able to move the ball fairly well on the vaunted Miami D, though their only TD came on a 3-yard pass from Hart to Brian Leonard in the 4th quarter after the outcome was no longer in doubt. Rutgers rushed for 130 yards on 35 carries and Hart threw for 193 more. However, he had 3 passes picked off along with the 2 blocked punts. Miami had no turnovers.
In the "good news – bad news" dept. for Rutgers, Hart broke the Knights' single season passing mark with 2,589 yards and another game to go. The bad news – Hart is also one interception away from tying the single season record for interceptions, 19 set by Ryan Cubit in 2001.
Miami's passing game again was inept. Brock Berlin was 6-14 for 86 yards and Derrick Crudup 1-3 for 7 yards. The Canes made up for their shortcomings in the passing game by rotating 3 running backs, all of whom had solid games. Jarrett Payton gained 82 yards, Tyrone Moss 53, and Jason Geathers 50.
Boston College had a huge win in Blacksburg, handing Virginia Tech their 1st home loss of the season 34-27. The loss almost certainly cost the Hokies a Gator Bowl bid, while the Eagles' victory gives them a 7-5 record and a bowl trip. The game showcased two of the best running backs in the country. B.C.'s Derrick Knight ran for 197 yards and 2 TDs on 38 carries. Heisman candidate Kevin Jones answered with 165 yards and 3 TDs. However, the winning score came through the air as Eagles' QB Paul Peterson hit WR Grant Adams on a 64-yard slant pass with 4:40 remaining. Adams outfought Tech DB Vincent Fuller for the ball and went the rest of the way untouched.
Pittsburgh survived a 4th quarter comeback by Temple to post a 30-16 victory over the game Owls. Down 21-3 in the 4th quarter, Temple QB Walter Washington led the Owls to 2 TDs. After a missed 2 point conversion attempt on the second TD, the Owls only trailed 21-16. The Panthers finally iced the game with a late drive capped by a 3-yard TD pass from Rod Rutherford to Larry Fitzgerald. It was Fitzgerald's second TD catch of the game. Overall, the Heisman candidate grabbed 7 passes for 102 yards and extended his NCAA record streak of consecutive games with a TD reception to 17. The Panthers' normally potent air attack produced only 147 yards as Rutherford was a subpar 10-22. Rutherford did break the Panthers' single season mark for passing yards held by Alex Van Pelt (3,163 in 1992).
Pitt celebrated the return of star RB Brandon Miree who carried 27 times for a career best 188 yards. Miree had been sidelined with a leg fracture sustained in the Panthers' 3rd game against Toledo. The victory keeps the Panthers in the hunt for at least a tie for the Big East title. A victory over Miami on Saturday night will likely mean a BCS Bowl for Pitt even if they end up tied with West Virginia for 1st place. For the snake bit Owls, it was just one more case of "close but no cigar".
West Virginia remained in a 1st place tie with Miami & Pittsburgh at 5-1 in the Big East with a hard fought 34-23 victory over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. The suddenly dynamic passing combo of Rasheed Marshall and Chris Henry led WVU to the win, the Mountaineers' 6th straight after starting the season with 4 losses in their first 5 games. Henry hauled in 2 TD passes of 24 and 67 yards, both coming in the 4th quarter. Henry finished with 6 receptions for 209 yards. Both teams' star running backs, WVU's Quincy Wilson and Cuse's Walter Reyes, were injured during the game but both courageously returned to action. The loss drops the Orangemen to 5-5.
With Florida St. already having clinched the ACC title, the race is now for bowl position and eligibility. The Seminoles were off on Saturday and will close the regular season with their annual OOC contest against Florida on Saturday.
Maryland improved to 5-2 in the conference and 8-3 overall with a narrow 26-24 victory over North Carolina St. in Raleigh. Maryland concludes their season with a road contest against Wake Forest on Saturday. The Wolfpack's loss ended their season with a 7-5 record, 4-4 in the ACC.
Duke ended a tough year on a winning note with a 30-22 victory over rival North Carolina. The Blue Devils end up at 4-8 and 2-6 in the ACC. For the Tar Heels, their nightmare season is finally over with a 2-10 mark.
Virginia improved to 6-5 (4-4 in the ACC) by defeating Georgia Tech at home 29-17. The Cavs will conclude their season with an OCC home game against Virginia Tech on Saturday. Next year, this will be a conference game for both teams. The defeat leaves the Yellow Jackets with an identical record (6-5, 4-4 in conference) with their traditional finale at home against Georgia on Saturday.
Clemson finished the season with 3 consecutive wins by destroying rival South Carolina in Columbia, 63-17. The Tigers end up with an 8-4 record and a conference mark of 5-3. The strong finish should ensure that Tommy Bowden returns for a 6th season in Death Valley.
The showdown in Ann Arbor between Ohio St. and Michigan for the Big 10 title and BCS Bowl bid surprisingly turned into a shoot out. The Wolverines shredded the vaunted Buckeye defense 35-21 behind the passing of John Navarre and the running of Heisman candidate Chris Perry. Navarre was 21-32 for 278 yards and 2 TDs, both to Braylon Edwards. Edwards finished with 7 receptions for 130 yards. Perry carried 31 times for 154 yards and 2 TDs and also grabbed 5 passes for another 55 yards despite having to leave the field several times with injuries. Ohio St. did not give up without a fight, though. Trailing 28-7, the Buckeyes scored twice, the last on a 2-yard run by Lydell Ross. Chris Gamble then intercepted a Navarre pass to give Ohio St. a chance to tie the game, but the Wolverines' defense held. Perry then capped the scoring with a 15-yard run halfway through the final quarter.
Iowa finished with a 9-3 mark after an impressive road win against Wisconsin, 27-21. The game went down to the final play with Hawkeye safety Sean Considine knocking down John Stocco's last gasp pass in the end zone. Stocco had replaced starter Jim Sorgi who was injured earlier in the game.
Michigan St. ended a 3 game losing streak by demolishing Penn St., 41-10. It was also sweet revenge for the 61-7 pasting administered by the Nittany Lions last year. The Spartans finished with an 8-4 record, a reverse of last year's 4-8. For Penn St., the loss left them with a 3-9 mark, the first time in their long history that they've lost nine games in a season!
Northwestern gained bowl eligibility by whipping Illinois, 37-20. The Wildcats finished with a 6-6 record. The Illini fell to 1-11, with their only victory over D1AA Illinois State. Was it really only two seasons ago that Illinois played in the Sugar Bowl?
Oklahoma ended their undefeated regular season with an impressive 56-25 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock. Heisman candidate Jason White had another strong game, throwing for 394 yards and four TDs. Kejuan Jones scored 5 TDs for the Sooners. Oklahoma has scored 50 or more points, a school record, seven times this year. Although the Sooners' streak of not allowing a touchdown ended at 3 games, they held Red Raider QB B.J. Symons to 230 passing yards. It was his lowest total of the season. Oklahoma also intercepted Symons five times. Symons did break the NCAA's D1 single season record for passing yardage. He's thrown for 5,336 yards, breaking the mark set by BYU's Ty Detmer in 1990.
Kansas St. prepared for the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma on December 6th by defeating Missouri 24-14. Diminutive Darren Sproles led the Wildcats by rushing for a school record 273 yards and 2 TDs. This will be a more interesting championship game than usual, since Oklahoma and Kansas St. did not play each other in the regular season.
Oklahoma St. ended the regular season at 9-3 by defeating Baylor by a 38-21 score. Kansas reached .500 by defeating Iowa State, 36-7. Ex-Oklahoma assistant Mark Mangino has made a lot of progress in his 2nd season at the head of the Jayhawks, who were 2-10 last season.
USC moved one step closer to the Sugar Bowl with an impressive 47-22 pounding of city rival UCLA in the Coliseum. Sophomore QB Matt Leinert had another strong outing, throwing for 289 yards and 2 TDs. As usual, fellow soph Mike Williams was his primary target with 11 catches for 181 yards and both of the TD receptions. The Trojans' tough defense held the Bruins to just 11 rushing yards and also accounted for two TDs of their own.
Washington St. blew a chance to stay in contention for an at-large BCS Bowl bid by losing the "Apple Cup" to Washington in Seattle by a 27-19 score. The Huskies have now defeated the Cougars six straight times. The winning TD came on a 21-yard pass from Cody Pickett to freshman WR Corey Williams with only 1:10 remaining. The Huskies thwarted the Cougars' final drive when Marquis Cooper picked off a pass from freshman QB Josh Swogger and returned it 38 yards for the clinching score. Drew Dunning kicked four field goals for Washington St. and is now the Cougars' all-time scoring leader. The Cougars nearly pulled off the victory despite seven turnovers. For Washington, the win ends their season at 6-6, avoiding their 1st losing season since 1976.
In "The Big Game", California rallied to defeat host Stanford 28-16. The Golden Bears finished 7-6 (5-3 in the PAC 10) and will "go bowling" for the first time since 1996. Junior WR Geoff McArthur set a California record with 16 receptions. They were good for 245 yards and 2 TDs. The unheralded McArthur is the nation's 2nd leading receiver behind Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald. Cal QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 359 yards and 3 TDs. The Golden Bears scored all 28 of their points in the 2nd half. At one point, they trailed 10-0 in the 3rd quarter.
In Eugene, Oregon defeated Oregon St. 34-20. The Ducks opened the year with 4 straight wins and ended it with 3. In between, they went 1-4. The Beavers' loss leaves them at 7-4. Their final game is on December 6th at USC.
LSU is now in the driver's seat in the SEC West after their narrow 17-14 victory over Mississippi in Oxford. Tiger QB Matt Mauck recovered from a tough start by going 16-29 for 189 yards and both TDs. His first pass of the game was intercepted and returned for a TD by Rebel LB Travis Johnson. Freshman RB Justin Vincent was also instrumental in the win, rushing for 105 yards on 22 attempts. Heisman candidate senior QB Eli Manning was limited to 200 yards passing. He completed 16 of 36 attempts and had 1 TD toss. LSU can clinch the division with a win on Saturday in Baton Rouge against Arkansas.
That is far from a given, though. The Hogs have had a true roller coaster year. After winning their first 4 games, they lost 3 in a row. They've recovered and have now won another 4 straight after pounding Mississippi State, 52-6. As for the Bulldogs, the loss is their 5th straight and 9th overall. Jackie Sherrill must endure one more game (at home against Mississippi in the "Egg Bowl") on Thanksgiving before he can thankfully hang up his cleats for good.
Finishing out the SEC West, Auburn turned back rival Alabama in the "Iron Bowl" by a 28-16 score. Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville endured a long week as he was informed his job status would be reviewed after the game. One national publication, The Sporting News, picked Auburn to win the national championship. The Tigers endured a difficult year, finishing with a 7-5 record. Will the victory over Bama save Tuberville's job?
In the SEC East, Georgia defeated Kentucky 30-10 behind 289 passing yards by QB David Greene. Kicker Billy Bennett booted 3 field goals and set an SEC record with 80 in his career. He also became the SEC's all-time leading scorer with 382 points.
Tennessee defeated in-state rival Vanderbilt 48-0. It was the Vols' 21st consecutive win over the Commodores. Tennessee QB Casey Clausen had 3 TD passes and broke Payton Manning's school record by throwing his 132nd straight pass without an interception. The victories give both Georgia and Tennessee 9-2 records. The Bulldogs end the regular season with an OCC game against Georgia Tech while the Vols will travel to Kentucky. Vanderbilt's loss ends their season at 2-10, matching last season's record.
- On Thursday night, Southern Mississippi ended TCU's chances for an undefeated season and a possible BCS Bowl bid by putting a 40-28 whipping on the Horned Frogs. The 8-3 Eagles will win the CUSA title by defeating 1-10 East Carolina in Greenville on Saturday. Southern Miss has now won 5 in a row. TCU ends with a short trip to Dallas to face 0-11 SMU. Louisville went to 8-3 with a wild 66-45 shoot out victory over Houston. Memphis continues to embarrass the Big East. Two weeks ago they blasted Louisville. On Saturday, they defeated another Big East-bound school by topping Cincinnati 21-16. The Tigers are 8-3 and have now won 5 straight. They can complete the "Defector Trifecta" by beating South Florida on Saturday. Take that, Mike Tranghese!
- In the MAC, Miami (Ohio) is still undefeated in conference play after their 49-31 win over Ohio, their 10th consecutive win. They've clinched the East Division title. In the West Division, Bowling Green and Toledo were both victorious. The Falcons topped Ball State 41-14 while Toledo defeated Western Michigan 34-17. Both teams are 6-1 in the conference and meet on Friday at Bowling Green to decide the Western Division crown.
- Utah, with 1st year head coach Urban Meyer, clinched the Mountain West title and a berth in the Liberty Bowl with a 3-0 road victory against BYU. It was the 1st time the Cougars had been shut out since 1975.
- In the WAC, Boise St. improved to 10-1 with a big road win over Fresno St., 31-17 on Friday night. The Broncos can go undefeated in the WAC for the 2nd year in a row if they can defeat Nevada at home on Saturday and win at Hawaii on December 6th.
- Navy won for the 7th time this year, defeating Central Michigan 63-34. Second year head coach Paul Johnson has really turned around the Middies program. They went 2-10 last year, but can end up at 8-4 by defeating winless Army on December 6th. A bowl bid is likely if the Middies beat the Cadets.
- In D1AA, Colgate had a surprisingly difficult time with Holy Cross but prevailed by a 45-38 score. The Red Raiders have now won 18 straight games, including a 12-0 mark this year. Holy Cross fell to 1-11. Colgate blew a 31-17 lead when the Crusaders scored 21 unanswered points. Jamaal Branch then took over for Colgate. His 24-yard run tied the game at 38 early in the 4th quarter and then he scored on an 87 yard run a few minutes later for the winning TD.
- In the Ivy League, Penn completed an undefeated (10-0) season by pounding Cornell, 59-7.
Last week, I discussed a number of Division 1head coaching vacancies that will or could open up after the season. Add one more as Idaho announced Tom Cable will not be back after a 3-9 season. Here are some names to keep in mind to fill those openings:
Non-BCS Division 1 head coaches
- Top on the list is Boise St.'s Dan Hawkins. He's been the head man of the Broncos for 8 years and is more than ready to move up. Possibilities include Arizona where there is an opening and Arizona St. and Washington where there may be one.
- Another impressive WAC head coach is Steve Kragthorpe of Tulsa. He took over the Golden Hurricane job this year after spending the last two years as the Buffalo Bills QB Coach. He's engineered an amazing turnaround at Tulsa, from 1-11 last year to 8-4 this season.
- A strong candidate for promotion is TCU's Gary Patterson. Since taking over from Dennis Franchione, he's gone 26-9 in Fort Worth.
- Also in CUSA, Jeff Bower has done another fine job at Southern Mississippi. He's in his 13th year in Hattiesburg and has turned down previous offers to leave his alma mater.
- Ex-Auburn Offensive Coordinator Bobby Petrino has impressed a lot of people in his first year at the helm of Louisville. His opportunity may not come for another year.
- In the Mountain West, the shining light is Urban Meyer of Utah. Meyer moved from Bowling Green to Utah this season and led the Utes to the league title. In his two years at Bowling Green, Meyer was 17-6 and was 5-0 against schools from BCS conferences. He's an ex-Notre Dame assistant coach and is a possible successor to Ty Willingham if the Irish falter again next year – that is if someone else doesn't grab him first.
- Speaking of the MAC, there are several hot names. Terry Hoeppner - Miami (Ohio), Joe Novak - Northern Illinois, Tom Amstutz - Toledo, and Gregg Brandon – Bowling Green. Novak could move due south to take over at Illinois. The Illini went in-state to Southern Illinois to replace basketball coach Bill Self with Bruce Weber earlier this year.
- In the Independent ranks, both Uconn's Randy Edsall and Navy's Paul Johnson will merit consideration. Edsall's done an outstanding job in his 5 years at Storrs and the Huskies deserve a bowl bid after their 9-3 season. They are well prepared to begin Big East play next season. Johnson has worked miracles in his 2 years at Annapolis since coming over from D1AA Georgia Southern.
1AA Head Coaches
Most top Division 1 programs are unwilling to risk hiring a D1AA head coach. The few D1 openings they do fill are of the "bottom feeder" variety such as Navy. It's too bad, because a number of them deserve the opportunity to run a solid program.
- Colgate's Dick Biddle has won 18 straight games. He's in his 7th season at the helm of the Red Raiders.
- Also in the Patriot League, Fordham's Dave Clawson is a name to keep in mind. The Rams were 0-11 in 1999, but have steadily improved since. Last season they were 10-3 including a win over Colgate. They finished 9-3 this season. Clawson has somehow managed to expand Fordham's recruiting base from basically the NYC Metro area to include Florida.
- In the Pioneer Conference, the names to remember are Mike Kelly of Dayton and Kevin McGarry of San Diego U.
- In the Ohio Valley Conference, Danny Hope of Eastern Kentucky is a rising star. The former Louisville assistant went 7-5 in his 1st year with two of the losses coming against D1 teams.
- Greg Gattuso has done a great job at Duquesne. The Dukes won another Metro Atlantic title this year.
- The Atlantic 10 has several top candidates. K.C. Keeler of Delaware went 11-1 this season. He spent nine years as head coach of Div. 3 Rowan, where he compiled an impressive 88-21-1 record. Mark Whipple went 10-2 at Massachusetts, with one of the losses coming against D1 power Kansas St. Don Brown has turned things around in his 3 years at the helm of Northeastern, while Andy Talley has consistently produced winning seasons at Villanova.
- In the Big South, Steve Patton has gone 30-13 in his four years at Gardner-Webb, a newcomer to Division 1AA.
- Jerry Kill of Southern Illinois, Don Patterson of Western Illinois, & David Elson of Western Kentucky are the top choices in the Gateway Conference.
- In the Southern Conference, Mike Ayers led Wofford to an 11-1 record after they went 9-3 last season. Another rising star is Mike Sewak of Georgia Southern.
- McNeese State's Tommy Tate is completing his 4th season at the helm of the Southland Conference school. Expect him to move up to D1 after this season.
- In the Ivy League, Penn head coach Al Bagnoli went 10-0 and is 19-1 over the last 2 seasons. Will any D1 program give him a chance?
- In the SWAC, Doug Williams has done a fantastic job at his alma mater replacing the legend, Eddie Robinson. Williams led the Tigers to an 11-2 mark last year and is 9-2 so far this season.
- In the MEAC, George Small has done a fantastic job in his first year at the helm of North Carolina A&T.
- In the 1AA Independent ranks, the top names are Kay Dalton of Northern Colorado and Howard Schnellenberger of Florida Atlantic. Dalton has successfully handled the Bears' move up from Division Two this season. Schnellenberger went from 2-9 last season to 9-2 this year, including an 8 game winning streak to end the season.
Division 1 Assistant Coaches
There are far too many candidates to list here, but two strong possibilities are Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops and USC Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow. Stoops is being mentioned as a strong candidate for the Arizona job.