Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
It's Tuesday, which means it's time to delve into the arcane mysteries of action outside the Top 25. We've got MACtion, we've got Big Ten follies, and we've got news for you: the Sun Belt's really competitive.
Never Have Dinner With the Ex
In a neutral site game at FedEx Field, Virginia Tech mounted a comeback, lost the lead again almost immediately on a 76-yard score by Ralph David Abernathy IV, then scored with 1:49 to play to go up 24-20 on Cincinnati. Then it all came crashing down when Munchie Legaux marched Cincinnati from their own 15, finally hitting Damon Julian on a 39-yard touchdown pass with only 13 ticks left to give the 3-0 Bearcats the win. The loss leaves the Hokies at 3-2, and 0-2 against their former pals in the Big East. Not a happy day.
Adventures of the Big Ten
Indiana is now the losingest program in the history of major college football, and Northwestern is not. That's the result of the Wildcats' 44-29 win, which broke the teams' tie at the top (or bottom, as it were) of the all-time losses list. The win moves Northwestern to 5-0, the final remaining unbeaten in the Big Ten whose season won't end in November. It also got them ranked.
They're the last non-Ohio State unbeaten because Minnesota, after three FBS wins of a touchdown or less, surrendered Floyd of Rosedale after holding it for two years. Four turnovers helped Iowa roll the Gophers 31-13, getting some measure of redemption after last week's disaster against Central Michigan.
Purdue, aided by a pair of pick-sixes late in the second quarter, raced to a 42-14 halftime lead over Marshall, and then proceeded to do everything in their power to relinquish it. Rakeem Cato slung five touchdown passes, racking up 439 yards, and the Herd pulled within ten points early in the fourth quarter before time, and gas, started running out. A seven-yard TD pass from Caleb TerBush to Gary Bush with 6:38 to go opened the gap back up to 16 points; Cato threw his final scoring pass about three minutes later, but first the two-point attempt failed, and then Purdue's defense finally got their act together to shut down the Marshall attack in the final minutes.
#MACtion... on Saturday?
Usually, Saturday MAC games have a tendency to be less exciting than their mid-week counterparts, but that wasn't the case on Saturday. Ball State never actually led until 5:38 to go, but they jockeyed with Kent State for the entire sixty minutes before Freddy Cortez hit a 25-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to put Kent State back on top 45-43. Miami (OH) and Akron had themselves a good old fashioned horserace; after Zac Dysert had piled up 516 yards and 6 touchdown passes for Miami, and Dalton Williams amassed 446 yards and 4 scores for Akron, the Redhawks had escaped with a 56-49 win. Finally, in Foxboro, Massachusetts figured out how to make offense work, with Mike Wegzyn throwing for 373 yards and four scores in a very near upset of unbeaten Ohio, falling short 37-34. Beau Blankenship saved the day for the Bobcats, running for 269 yards and two scores, both in the fourth quarter to key Ohio's comeback win.
Revenge of the Little Guys
Obviously, Georgia Tech has some serious problems. After scoring first on Saturday, once Middle Tennessee responded the Yellow Jackets never again had the lead as Benny Cunningham ran for 217 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Blue Raiders to a 49-28 rout in Atlanta. Two things are apparent: Georgia Tech's defense is a joke, and MTSU's loss to FCS McNeese State might have been just a bit of a fluke.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech continued treating scoreboards like slot machines, righting the ship after trailing 24-10 in the second quarter and ripping off 34 unanswered points to beat Virginia 44-38. The Bulldogs are now 4-0, and get to beat the snot out of UNLV this week before their hurricane-delayed season-defining contest with Texas A&M on the 13th.
And then there was FCS Stony Brook, who had no problems whatsoever dispatching Army in a 23-3 win thanks to 220 rushing yards and two scores by Miguel Maysonet. It's the Seawolves' first win over an FBS program, and came just two weeks after scaring the pants off Syracuse in a 28-17 loss.
Stuff and Things
This year's been rough on Alabama-Birmingham. They came so close last week against Ohio State, and on Saturday they were tied at 42 with a pretty decent Tulsa team with just over five minutes to play. Alex Singleton scored from six yards out then, and Tulsa hung on for the 49-42 win. Down I-59 in New Orleans, Louisiana-Monroe took out the built-up frustrations from their losses to Auburn and Baylor by obliterating Tulane 63-0. It was the highest-scoring effort for the Warhawks since moving to FBS in 1994; the loss was the hapless Green Wave's 14th straight. Don't write the Warhawks in as Sun Belt champs just yet, though; Western Kentucky's been on fire with the exception of their beating in Tuscaloosa three weeks ago. Last week the Hilltoppers destroyed Southern Miss; this week, they spotted Gus Malzahn's Arkansas State squad 13 first-half points before scoring 26 unanswered in the second half. Western Kentucky's now 4-1; they're off this week before a Thursday night hookup in Troy. After that, it's the showdown with Monroe. (And, of course, both teams are still going to have to contend with Middle Tennessee State and a decent Louisiana-Lafayette outfit. The Sun Belt really is pretty good this year, guys.)
The ugly game of the week belongs to San Jose State and Navy. The Spartans managed 388 yards of offense, but never once stepped foot in the end zone, only tallying points on four Austin Lopez field goals. That was okay, though, because the Spartans held the Midshipmen to 144 yards of total offense on the way to a 12-0 shutout and their fourth win in a row. That's right, you're reading that correctly: San Jose State is now 4-1 and while Louisiana Tech and Utah State are still the odds-on favorites to decide the WAC title, the Spartans may actually have something to say about the matter.