Just a few thoughts on last nights games.
North Carolina 10
South Carolina 27
Gamecocks jumped out to 17-0 lead in the first quarter in this one. Looked like it was going to be a blowout, but the Tarheels were able to claw and bite their way back a bit and keep it respectable. Jedeveon Clowney was catching some slack from the sports pundits for “taking a play off” here and there through the course of the game. Yes, you should be giving 100% effort every play, but considering the unseasonably cool weather we’ve had across the country the past couple of weeks and to suddenly have temps spike into the nineties with the humidity at an Ann Margaret level of sultriness – I think we can give the big boys up front a break for a minute of two in week one with a 17 point win in their pockets.
This one started out ugly for USC. With three drives in the first quarter, the Tojans only had three points to show for it with two drives stalling – one of them a turnover on downs after failing to convert a 4th and 4 at the Warriors 36. Hawaii pinned USC back at their own one early in the second and on the first play from scrimmage, Art Laurel sacked Cody Kessler in the endzone for the safety. Hawaii then got a great return on the ensuing kick to the USC 41 – they settled for a field goal, but did have the lead at the 11:43 mark of the 2nd 5-3. After that is was all USC as they intercepted Taylor Graham 4 times including a 35 yard return for a TD. The Warriors problem was a complete lack of balance. While they did have 208 yards, passing, they only mustered 23 yards rushing. Not exactly a recipe for success against one of college football’s big boy teams. For USC, it was still an ugly game and the “tandem QB” system Lane Kiffin is trying to work in, wasn’t so smooth last night. Kessler and Wittek combined to go 15 of 29 for 172 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 Interception (both by Kessler). They had ratings of 19.4 and 24.0 respectively. The only adage is true – If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t really have one.
Indiana State 35
Yes, yes, Hoosier fans, Indiana scored 73 points . . .against Indiana State. Before anyone in Bloomington gets too excited, keep in mind last season when the Hoosiers averaged 30 points per game. Scoring hasn’t been an issue since Kevin Wilson took over as head coach. Stopping other teams from scoring has been the chink . . .okay, you can call it a chink in the armor, but others might call it a big gaping hole in the armor. They gave up 35 points (28 in three quarters) last night . . .to the fighting Sycamores. So let’s be real and hope some of those problems get addressed as the season progresses.
UCF in a new conference – the American Athletic Conference (or the New Look Big East or the Old Conference USA Re-United as some would call it), but it’s still the same old Akron. One would think that having James Madison on the schedule next week would be a god-send for the Zips. Let’s hope that’s the case and they aren’t suffering a post beat-down, let-down. This one was pretty much over then Akron got off the plane in Orlando They didn’t score until there were 38 seconds left in the game. The Knights shouldn’t necessarily be chest thumping over this one. The Zips were 1-11 last season. The Knights will be getting ready for their next powerhouse game when they take on the Panthers of Florida International next Friday night.
This is the “Embarrassing Loss of the Night” – UConn isn’t exactly a dominant team in college football, but to lose to an FCS team on your home field in the season opener is never a good way to start the year. The Huskies scored first, but Towson answer right back late in the first quarter. The Tigers added to that lead midway through the second and never trailed after that. UConn gets next week off to lick their wounds before starting conference play against Maryland on the 14th. Towson gets to feel good for a minute, but moves on to Holy Cross next week.
Ole Miss 39
At halftime it looked like Vanderbilt had this one under control with a 21-10 lead going into the locker room, but Bo Wallace and the Rebels wouldn’t be denied outscoring the Commodores in the second half 29-14. The dagger in Vanderbilt’s heart came with 1:23 left in the game when Jeff Scott took the hand-off on the read-option from the Rebs own 25. He swept around the left end then made a beautiful cutback into the middle where he outran the remainder of the defenders for the go ahead touchdown. Both of these teams have FCS matchups next week with SE Missouri for Ole Miss and Austin Peay for Vanderbilt which works out nicely for them as they both have marquee matchups the week after that with visits to Austin and Columbia respectively to take on the Longhorns and Gamecocks.
Fresno State 52 – OT
This game was the very definition of a back and forth battle with 9 lead changes through the course of the contest. Midway through the second quarter, it looked like Rutgers was going to run away with this one when they opened up a 20-7 lead, but the Bulldogs fought their way back with the turning point coming after Janarion Grant fumbled a punt return. The subsequent drive lead to a touchdown making it a 20-14 game. The Dogs capped the first half with an 11 play, 80 yard drive that ended with a 2 yard TD pass from Derek Carr (yep, David’s little brother) to Davante Adams to give Fresno the lead 21-20 going into the locker room. The second half was a see-saw battle with both teams trading punches back and forth along with the lead. With Fresno down 45-38 and 1:18 left – Derek Carr put together a 5 play, 60 yard drive capped by a TD pass from the 2 to Josh Harper to tie the game at 45. Rutgers got the ball back with 38 seconds left and managed to get into field goal range, but Kyle Federico missed the 43 yarder that would have won it as time expired. In overtime, Carr wasted no time on the Dogs first possession completing a 25 yard pass to Greg Watson for the TD. Colin McGuire made the PAT to put Fresno up 52-45. The Scarlet Knights didn’t take much longer on their possession when, on the third play, Gary Nova found Brandon Coleman for a 4 yard TD. Rutgers decided to go for two points and the win (both teams looked exhausted by this time). Unfortunately, Derek Nova’s pass was incomplete and your Fresno State Bulldogs have now won 17 of their last 19 home openers. The two teams combined for 1,080 yards of offense and 5 turnovers. It wasn’t a defensive struggle, to be sure, but boy-oh-boy was it fun to watch!