In Which We Briefly Mock the Rest of Football: We'll start our rundown with the most obvious item: What the aitch-ee-double-toothpicks, Utah? The Utes, who ripped off 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to shatter a 7-7 tie with Brigham Young, tried their best to give it all back in the fourth. After Riley Nelson hit Kaneakua Friel with a one-yard pass to bring BYU back within three, Utah popped a big gain into Cougar territory but then stalled out, and were forced to punt. BYU was obliged to start from their own eight yard line; a few quick plays later a 47-yard pass from Nelson to Cody Hoffman got the Cougars to the Utah 39. Utah's defense then appeared to hold, but when a Nelson pass fell incomplete and the crowd thought the game had ended and rushed the field, review showed the ball had hit the ground with a second still showing on the clock, giving the Cougars a chance to kick a game-tying field goal after the sea of red was escorted off the field of play.
The kick was blocked, and the crowd thought the game had ended a second time, and rushed the field again... only they did so while the ball was still live, which was, you know, really freakin' dumb. The result: a 15-yard penalty on Utah, and BYU got yet another chance to tie... at which point Riley Stephenson took aim and promptly clanked the ball squarely off the left upright. Absolute insanity. Vanquish the Foe's Brett Hein vents his spleen, while over at Block U Jazzy Ute just shrugs, confused, and basks in victory.
That's Okay, Not Like It Matters Anyway: Next, a crooked glance in the direction of the irrelevant Ohio State Buckeyes, who bungled a 13-point lead, got a 7-point lead back, bungled that away, then finally managed to escape the clutches of the California Golden Bears. Don't blame Braxton Miller; he threw for very nearly 250 yards with four TDs against one pick, and ran for another 75. Don't blame Devin Smith, who caught five balls for 145 yards and two scores, including the 72-yarder which put OSU back in the lead with 3:26 to go. Blame the OSU defense, which allowed Brendan Bigelow to score twice on runs of 81 and 58 yards (and he averaged 10 yards a carry on his other two rushes, too).
The Buckeyes were beaten in nearly every statistical category except one, and it was ultimately the difference in the game. Vincenzo D'Amato missed three field goal attempts on the day, which would have been enough to overcome the 35-28 final had he made them all. Land-Grant Holy Land's Luke Zimmerman offers the OSU take, while at California Golden Blogs Kodiak surveys the destruction.The Last Best Options: There are now three mid-majors still left unblemished after three weeks of play. Ohio ran their tally to 3-0 with a hard-fought 27-24 win at Marshall; I wouldn't read too much into the score, as despite getting trucked by West Virginia, the Thundering Herd still showed up to play. Louisiana Tech's 2-0 now after a ridiculous 56-36 win over Rice, and if they can keep lighting up the scoreboard only Texas A&M and Utah State are real threats to stop them. The final unbeaten mid-major is Larry Coker's Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, and LOL PLZ. They have three wins against South Alabama, a D-II school, and beat FCS Georgia State 38-14 in a game so irrelevant it didn't even warrant an ESPN recap. (Seriously, even a bunch of D-II games get ESPN recaps every week.) They play another D-II school this week, meaning they could be 4-0 and still need to go 4-3 in conference just to get bowl eligible (since their remaining non-conference game is against FCS McNeese State).
The Longest Football Losing Streak in NCAA History Ends!: After failing to win one hundred and fifteen consecutive football contests, the hapless Nittany Lions of The Pennsylvania State University finally recorded a victory, downing Navy 34-7. How about a round of applause for those lovable losers? No? Okay, then.
MACtion Powers Activate: The MAC, as is its wont, had two games go completely bugtwinkles Saturday. Northern Illinois and Army went through six lead changes, including four in the final 18 minutes, before the Huskies finally escaped Blaik Field with a 41-40 road win. There were seven lead changes in Ball State's 41-39 win over Indiana -- the Cardinals' fourth straight victory over the Hoosiers -- in a game which saw Indiana erase a 13-point fourth quarter deficit before Steven Schott hit a 42-yard field goal to give Ball State the win with zeros on the clock.
They May Not Be Back Yet, But They Sure Want Us to Think So: Florida had some early struggles before sacking up and eventually manhandling Tennessee, scoring a 37-20 win which not only wounded (not destroyed, just wounded) the Vols' own dreams of returning to prominence, but makes us wonder if Florida really is back. The problem, of course, is that we're not so sure Tennessee was really all that anyway, so the Gators suffer a bit in the analysis. The same is true of Florida State, who has now outscored its opponents 176-3 in three games. The problem there, of course, is that the three wins include two wins over decidedly poor FCS teams, and this week's thrashing of Wake Forest. Okay, the Seminoles have proven they can actually beat Wake Forest, and that's important, but still. This week we'll actually get some real data on Florida State.
One team trying to return to glory who might just have done enough thus far to gain the benefit of the doubt: the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, who secured a convincing 20-3 road win over a pretty darned good Michigan State squad. We could always back off this position after next week's showdown with the Wolverines, but for now let's go ahead and concede Notre Dame might be BCS bowl-worthy.
The Tires, They Are on Fire: A collection of results which prove that certain teams are in deep, deep compost, though some worse than others. Arkansas loses to Alabama 52-0. Colorado gets destroyed by Fresno State 69-14 in a game in which Fresno led 48-0 in the second quarter and rolled up 665 yards of offense. Southern California fell 21-14 to their now seemingly eternal nemesis Stanford, all but wrecking their shot at a national title and casting doubt on their ability to even win the Pac 12 South with UCLA awakening from slumber.
Wisconsin needed a 37-yard Josh Thompson field goal to sail wide right in order to salvage a 16-14 win at home over Utah State, and while we're big fans of Chuckie Keeton and his Aggie pals, let's be honest: Wisconsin's now proven beyond a shadow of doubt that they're just not very good at all. And then there's poor Virginia Tech, who suffered the mortal indignity of getting blown out 35-17 by a Pittsburgh squad which has already gone out of their way to demonstrate their own ineptitude. All five of these teams are now on the outside looking in, and with the possible exception of the Trojans, not one of them looks anything like a quality football team at this point.
Things Which Proved Nothing at All: The initial reaction to the Longhorns' 66-31 dismantling of Ole Miss is "Oh, they have an offense." The second reaction may, and should, be: "Oh, Ole Miss kinda sucks." The third reaction? "Wait, Texas is supposed to have an awesome defense, and they let Ole Miss score 31 points?" Texas is clearly better offensively than they were last year, but there is nothing whatsoever about this game to lead anyone to think they can get past West Virginia or Oklahoma or even their Achilles heel Kansas State. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky beat Kentucky 32-31 in overtime, and my only reaction to that is "It's Kentucky." The Hilltoppers accomplished nothing other than to give the Sun Belt another SEC scalp, and are going to need to show something further before they can be taken seriously as a threat to #WarDamnHawk.
Largely Unnoticed Disasters: Wyoming closed to within 24-22 in the fourth quarter, but Cal Poly-SLO forced three-and-out on the Cowboys' final two drives to send Wyoming to ignominious defeat at the hands of the FCS Mustangs. Nevada, who two weeks ago looked like a serious threat to cause some chaos, struggled through a back-and-forth contest with FCS Northwestern State before finally escaping with a 45-34 win. San Diego State lost control of their game with North Dakota (that's just plain North Dakota, not the defending Division I Football Champions), and had to hold on fourth-down with under two minutes left to preserve a 49-41 win. Cincinnati stumbled all over themselves, committing six turnovers in a 23-7 win over a lightly-regarded Delaware State team; although the game was never really in question, that score's not going to impress anyone whatsoever. And although their win was enough to get them a sneaky spot at the tail end of the top 25, Mississippi State had to pick up a couple of first downs and drain the final four minutes off the clock to avoid being yet another Sun Belt casualty in their 30-24 win over Troy.
Two other FBS schools also had scary afternoons, though in all fairness both were expected to face fairly tough challenges. Syracuse managed to overcome a 17-14 halftime deficit, finally emerging on top of 2011playoff participant Stony Brook 28-17. Stony Brook, of course, gave 2011 FCS runner-up Sam Houston State all they could handle in their playoff meeting last year, so it's fitting that the other high-profile scare came courtesy of the Bearkats. Sam Houston State had a 20-10 halftime lead over Baylor before the Bears erupted in the second half to cruise to a 48-23 win.