The National, 9/24/12: Buffaloed. Colorado/Washington State, Miami/Georgia Tech, Louisiana Tech/Illinois, Western Kentucky/Southern Miss.
Set Off the Sirens: We had a lot of games this week which were very telling, not least of which was K-State's win over Oklahoma. Louisiana State went into Auburn, where historically they simply have not performed well at all, and escaped with an ugly 12-10 victory that was every bit as unwatchable as the LSU-Alabama game last season1. West Virginia got up early against a defensively competent Maryland squad, but struggled to put the Terps away before securing a 31-21 win in Morgantown2. Florida State trailed 28-14 in the third quarter before E.J. Manuel went crazy and led the Seminoles to 35 second-half points against a suddenly bewildered Clemson defense, burying the Tigers 49-37 in the end3. And out in Pasadena, Sean Mannion threw for 379 yards to completely upstage UCLA as surprising Oregon State never trailed, moving to 2-0 with a 27-20 win over the Bruins4.
Of course, those being top 25 games, we all heard all about them. There was plenty of other fun to be had on Saturday, starting in Pullman as Mike Leach looked set to unleash his Cougars on a hapless herd of buffalo.
The Wazzu offense finally started to break free of its shell Saturday, as Connor Halliday threw for 401 yards and four TDs. The Cougs seemed to be in control of the affair, holding a 31-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. But then Jordan Webb, late of That School Down the River, hit Nick Kasa for a 70-yard touchdown midway through the period, and then after forcing a punt found themselves at their own 10 yard line. Webb was knocked out of the game temporarily when he got the wind knocked out of him while completing a short pass to Nelson Spruce. Sophomore Nick Hirschman came in, and handed the ball to Tony Jones... who promptly broke free for an 84-yard touchdown run to bring the Buffs within three. Teondray Caldwell ran the ensuing kickoff back 56 yards, but Washington State had to settle for a field goal after losing two yards on three plays, giving Colorado one last gasp.
Twelve plays later, with only nine seconds on the clock, Webb plunged into the end zone from four yards out, and somehow, miraculously, the team which four hours before had been the consensus pick for "worst team in a BCS conference" was a play away from not only getting their first win of the year, but proving they actually had it in them to fight back and earn one. Caldwell's kickoff return was halted at the Wazzu 38, and when Halliday's desperate heave to Andrei Lintz fell incomplete, the Buffs had emerged with a 35-34 win5.
I Think I Have Whiplash Now: One thing we can say about the K-State defense is that it's apparently better than Georgia Tech's. On a crazy day in Atlanta, the Hurricanes blew the Ramblin' Wreck all over the highway. Miami got things off to a roaring start, scoring 19 unanswered points in the first quarter. It was starting to look like complete disaster for the Yellow Jackets, but Tech erupted for 22 points of their own in the second quarter, and then extended that lead to 36-19 with two more third-quarter scores before Miami got back up off the mat. Stephen Morris, who threw for 436 yards on the day, led the Hurricanes revival; a field goal and two touchdowns, the second a 10-yard pass to Mike James with only 27 seconds remaining, knotted the game at 36 and sent the contest into overtime.
On the first possession, Georgia Tech faced fourth and inches, and Miami's defense -- in a callback to last year's game against the Wildcats -- held firm and Tech went away empty-handed. The very next play was a handoff to James, who rambled 25 yards into the end zone to give Miami the win6. The Hurricanes are now, surprisingly, 3-1 and sit atop the Coastal Division of the ACC, which is just good news for us all around.
These Guys Might Pose a Threat... to Someone: Colby Cameron slung four touchdown passes to lead Louisiana Tech to a 52-24 win at Illinois7. That Louisiana Tech can score is no surprise to anyone. But they've historically had trouble converting their firepower into wins against BCS conference teams on the road, so the six turnovers that the Illini graciously granted the Bulldogs sure came in handy, as did the five sacks recorded by the Tech defense. Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who missed the last two games after injuring his ankle in the season opener, was utterly ineffective in his return and was pulled in the first quarter. That led to a bit of a resurgence, as Illinois cut the Tech lead from 21-7 to 21-17, but the Bulldogs just exploded after that, starting with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Cameron to Quinton Patton on the second play of the second half. That let the air out of the Illinois bubble, and they just never recovered.
Louisiana Tech is now 3-0. If they can get past Virginia this week, they'd seem to only have two real tests remaining: a home game against Texas A&M on October 13, and a visit from Utah State on November 17. An unbeaten season is probably asking too much, unless A&M Aggies things up... but an 11-1 campaign and a respectable ranking in the final polls? Totally doable at this point.
They S'posed to Be ESS EEE CEE: Or, at least, I think the SEC might be willing to consider a trade. Western Kentucky jumped out early and then just ground Southern Miss into dust, leaning on 369 rushing yards and a legitimately brilliant defensive performance to lay out the Golden Eagles 42-178. It wasn't even that close; the Hilltoppers led 21-3 at halftime and then score 21 straight points in eleven and a half minutes in the third quarter to put the game completely out of reach. Southern Miss scored two touchdowns after that point, but it was all garbage-time fluff. Western Kentucky's looking good, and they're halfway to bowl eligibility. They should probably rectify last year's completely inappropriate, unfair, and cynical exclusion from the bowls due to UCLA's ridiculous waiver.
Tomorrow: Shorter hits on the rest of the weekend's action.
Team coverage from around SBNation:
3 - Florida State (Tomahawk Nation): Recap from Dustin Tackett (via Bud Elliott), and more coverage from Eric Fisher. Clemson (Shakin' the Southland): Game recap from DrB, and FIGUREFOUR's thoughts after sleeping on it.
5 - Colorado (The Ralphie Report): Recap from Jon Woods. Washington State (Coug Center): Recap from Craig Powers, Brian Floyd examines the inevitability of it all and gets into Mike Leach's head, and Kyle Sherwood sighs in resignation.
7 - Illinois and Louisiana Tech aren't represented at SBNation yet.
8 - Western Kentucky and Southern Miss aren't represented at SBNation yet.