Conference play is where you find the real heroes
By Ivan Maisel, ESPN.comIt is a corollary of the saying that you are never a hero in your hometown: a team is never a hero in its home conference, either. Your players might be promoted for national awards. You might be ranked high in the polls. But when you return from the la-la land of offseason hype and you finish your nonconference games, you return to the reality of playing the teams that know you best.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Andrew Robinson had an easy time of it against the Louisville defense.
On The Radar Now
By Ron Higgins, Special to ESPN.comFAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- You wonder what was going through Arkansas linebacker Weston Dacus' mind -- and he was a bit dazed -- when he said the following after No. 21 Kentucky's 42-29 win over the Razorbacks on Saturday night: "I was shocked Kentucky was able to move the ball on us as well as they did." Maybe Dacus didn't know Kentucky entered the game averaging 48.7 points and 504 yards. Maybe he didn't think Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson was that good.
April Brown/AP Photo
Andre' Woodson's recent work at Kentucky has vaulted him into the Heisman race.
Was This A Moral Victory?
By Adam Rittenberg, Special to ESPN.comSOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Beckoned by a standing crowd, euphoric Notre Dame players ran to their locker room at halftime, waving their arms as they passed through the tunnel. It was an odd sight for a program coming off consecutive BCS bowl appearances and 30 minutes away from the worst start in its 121-year history. The scoreboard read Michigan State 17, Notre Dame 14, presumably a buzzkill for the home team and its fans. But it actually served the opposite purpose, galvanizing a group that, after three weeks, finally had a chance. Was this progress?
Michael Conroy/AP Photo
Travis Thomas gave Notre Dame its first offensive touchdown of the season.
'Canes Hop In The DeLorean
By Jorge Milian, Special to ESPN.comMIAMI -- It seemed like old times for the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday. A frenzied nighttime crowd at the Orange Bowl. A defense as suffocating as South Florida's humidity.
Luis M. Alvarez/AP Photo
Miami QB Kyle Wright had one of the best performances of his career Thursday.
Tebow Leading Gator Charge
By Bruce Feldman, ESPN.comAt Friday's walk-through, the Ole Miss players broke their huddle by screaming, "Shock the world!" And despite being down in the second half Saturday, they almost managed to do that, putting a huge scare into the defending national champion Florida Gators. Still, Tim Tebow, the Gators' hulking sophomore QB, put his team on his back and carried it to a 30-24 win that was no doubt way too close for coach Urban Meyer's tastes.
Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Tim Tebow has been carrying the Florida offense.
Showing Some Fire
By Tim Griffin, Special to ESPN.comSTILLWATER, Okla. -- After the teams combined for staggering totals of 1,328 total yards, 62 first downs and six lead changes, it would have been hard to believe that anything could upstage Oklahoma State's 49-45 victory over Texas Tech. But the postgame fireworks in both interview rooms were more memorable than any on-the-field action in the wild Big 12 conference opener. OSU coach Mike Gundy lit into a columnist for The (Oklahoma City) Daily Oklahoman about a recent piece before storming out without answering any questions. And Tech coach Mike Leach ripped his team's performance, punctuating his diatribe with a choice expletive. Gundy was livid about a column about former starting quarterback Bobby Reid's recent demotion in favor of Zac Robinson. The OSU coach defended Reid during his emotionally charged response, his voice rising with anger several times as he confronted the columnist during his time at the podium. "If anybody hasn't read this article," Gundy said as he held up a copy of the newspaper, "I think this is something worth reading. Three-fourths of this is inaccurate. It's fiction. And this article embarrasses me to be involved with athletics." Gundy was just getting warmed up. He also charged that the article was "garbage" and that the editor who approved it was "garbage." Leach was just as angry, although not nearly as vitriolic. His team rolled up 718 yards and quarterback Graham Harrell passed for 646 yards -- the fourth-highest total in NCAA history -- but Tech was limited to only 10 points in the second half. "This is going to hurt some feelings ... but here's what we had this game," Leach said. "We had an offense that was extremely powerful, extremely productive, that probably sits and reads their press clippings, and then in an arrogant fashion, sat around the sidelines with their arms folded most of the second half. "And then, defensively, the entire first half, we got hit in the mouth and acted like somebody took our lunch money and all we wanted to do was have pouty expressions on our faces until somebody daubed our tears off to make us (expletive) feel better. Then, we'd go out there and try harder after our mommies told us we were OK. Well, neither one of those things is acceptable."
Three Weekend Observations
By Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com
GameDay Crew Final Thoughts
• TE Fred Davis, USC
9 rec, 124 yards, 2 TDs (all career-highs)
• QB Case Keenum, Houston
18-of-22, 254 total yards, 4 TD off the bench
• WR Taj Smith, Syracuse
173 rec, 2 long TDs
• RBs James Davis/C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Combined for 327 total yards, 4 TDs
• RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
Career-high 214 yards, 2 TDs
• DE George Selvie, USF
3 sacks, 5½ TFLs
Missing In Action
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.comLincoln police have put out an APB on the Nebraska defense. The suspects, known to have worn black shirts in the past, have not been seen on a consistent basis since at least 1999. And those who have met them say there is nothing to worry about, calling the group not only harmless, but actually quite accommodating. Reports say that if you throw something at them and/or run, they won't lay a hand on you. On Saturday, the Ball State offense rolled up 610 yards, including 422 in the air in a 41-40 Nebraska escape. Combine that with a 49-31 home loss to USC, and you have got opponents scoring 40-plus on the Cornhuskers in back-to-back games for the first time since 1945. That is 89 points and 1,067 yards given up by Nebraska over the past two weeks. Throw in a game at Wake Forest, and you end up with 737 opponent yards on the ground over the past three weeks, an average of 245.7. Rather harmless indeed.
Looking Back ...Ailing LSU still shines in South Carolina win
LSU's starting quarterback was limping, and its star receiver was on the bench. It didn't matter. The Tigers showed they are the class of the SEC with a win over South Carolina, writes Mark Schlabach. Story
King of the SEC road
Richtenstein successfully invaded Sabanation on Saturday, putting the birth of a deity on hold a little longer in T-Town, writes Pat Forde. Story
His Forte Is Running
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.comSure the opponent was SE Louisiana, but Tulane running back Matt Forte deserves a mention for his performance Saturday night. The senior ran for a school- and Conference USA-record 303 yards on 7.6 yards per carry, scoring all five of his team's touchdowns in its 35-27 win. The yardage is the second-most nationally on the ground over the past three years, only behind Garrett Wolfe's 353 yards in 2006. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Forte tallied more rushing yards this weekend than seven I-A teams have all season. Included in that group, of course, is Notre Dame, which has totaled exactly 200 fewer rushing yards than what Forte gained in a mere three hours.
Highlights: Penn State-Michigan
Plugging The Holes
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.comSince early September was open season on the Michigan defense (and justifiably so), perhaps it's time to praise Ron English's group for the way it's bounced back over the past two weeks. The rather tame offenses at Notre Dame and Penn State have helped the cause, but give credit where credit is due. After being shredded to the tune of 71 points and more than 1,000 yards during the team's disastrous 0-2 start, the Wolverine D has stiffened up considerably.
|First two games||Past two games|
Highlights: Florida-Ole Miss
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.comWhen a team gives up 718 yards, that team should expect to lose. Period, plain and simple, end of story. Unless, of course, that team is squaring off against the Texas Tech defense, which opens up many possibilities, just about all of which occurred Saturday in Stillwater. The game, won 49-45 by Oklahoma State on a 54-yard TD pass with less than two minutes left, included 182 offensive plays, 62 first downs and 1,328 yards. So math tells you Oklahoma State racked up 610 yards of its own, making this the first I-A game in five years that involved each team totaling 600-plus yards.
|500-yard passing games in '07|
|646||Graham Harrell, TTU||L, at OKST|
|601||Daniel Meager, UNT||L, at SMU|
|555||Brian Brohm, UL||L, vs. SYR|
|548||Colt Brennan, HAW||W, at La. Tech|
|537||Max Hall, BYU||L, at Tulsa|