The tone for the weekend was set, not on the football field, but by CBS Sports. The network announced that it has renewed its contract to televise the Army/Navy game through the 2018 season, with the added caveat of moving it to the second Saturday in December. By changing the date, the game will stand alone, where it rightly belongs, as the focus game of the weekend. Otherwise, it got swallowed up by the contrived, money grubbing conference championship games. Good move by CBS.
The weekend once again began on Thursday night, when Auburn, who led 17-3 at the half, surrendered 31 unanswered points to West Virginia, and suffered another shocking loss, 34-17 to West Virginia. It dropped the once mighty Tigers to 4-4, and put the Tommy Tuberville era in grave jeopardy.
We’ll begin with a pair of huge Saturday surprises.
Last season the Minnesota Gophers were 1-11, with the nation’s worst rated defense. They now find themselves in a better turnaround than the Tampa Bay Rays, sitting pretty with a 7-1 record, after its 17-6 victory over Purdue, and looking at a nine or ten win season. Tim Brewster has to be one of the strong candidates for Coach of the Year.
The other award winning performance is taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia. The FireAlGroh.com web site has been dismantled, as Virginia coach Al Groh has put together the best reconstruction project seen in Virginia since the Civil War. The Cavs upset No.18 Georgia Tech ( score? ) and have now won 4 in a row. Virginia started the season being outscored 128-20 in its first three Division I games, and now sit 5-3, while occupying the top spot in the ACC’s Coastal Division. Amazing!!
On the negative side, Purdue’s coach Joe Tiller, who is retiring after this season, stayed one year to long, as the Boilers, have lost five in a row, and are now 2-6, with virtually no chance of going bowling.
In another Big Ten disappointment, Illinois, once considered a conference threat, finds itself 4-4, and with its challenging remaining schedule, is in danger of having a losing season.
Poor Vanderbilt. The Commodores started the season 5-0, needing one more win in order to become bowl eligible for the first time in over 25 years. Since then Vandy had lost three straight, including Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Duke, and will be an underdog in its four remaining games, putting its bowl hopes in grave danger.
On the other hand Duke finds itself 4-3, in a great coaching job by David Cutcliff, and if Tennessee pulls the plug on Phil Fulmer, the Volunteers could do a lot worse than its old offensive coordinator.
In Oklahoma’s 58-35 destruction of Kansas State, OU scored the old speed limit (55) in the first half.
Our home town heroes, Boston College, suffered a defensive meltdown surrendering 45 points in its loss to North Carolina. UNC coach Butch Davis at 6-2, is another strong candidate for Coach of the Year.
Texas, a 28-24 winner over Oklahoma State was severely tested, but answered, not with it prolific offense, but with its defense, and has survived the first three, of its four step, mine field. It makes next weeks game in Lubbock a potential classic. It also probably all but guarantees, that D-coordinator Will Muschamp, will be someone’s head coach next year.
Mighty Meechigan and coach $Rod are 2-6, and will not be going bowling for the first time in 33 years.
The Georgia offense has reawakened, just in time for next week’s showdown with Florida.
LSU has surrendered 102 points in two losses – any chance the Tigers can get it former D-coordinator Bo Pellini, now coaching Nebraska, to come back?
The Big East has morphed into the Big Least. USF was upset by Louisville, while Pittsburgh and Dave Wannstedt did what they always do, cough one up that they are expected to win. Witness Saturday’s 54-24 destruction by SUNJ (formerly known as Rutgers), it was only the third win by the Scarlet Knights, but severely impacted the feel-good season in Pittsburgh.
David Letterman’s alma-mater Ball State is 8-0.
Strange stat of the day: Navy 5-3, a 34-7 winner over SMU, became the first Division I team in eleven years not to attempt a pass. Instead the Midshipmen ran it 77 times, with third string quarterback Ricky Dobbs carrying it 42 times for 224 yards and 4 td’s.
Phil Fulmer is another dead man walking as Tennessee is 3-5, and 1-4 in the conference, was held to a total of 173 yards in its loss to Alabama.
Penn State, a 13-6 winner in Columbus for the first time in 30 years, committed no penalties, (the one they committed was refused by Ohio State) and no turnovers, and did it with old fashioned smash mouth football. Baring a stumble against Iowa or Michigan State, the Nits, under 81 year old JoePa, should play in the National championship game. Amazing!!!!
That’s it from cyber space. We’ll be up and running Wednesday night with the analysis of week 10, which will be the first Saturday in November. Slow down the season!!!! Until then Peace. PK