While You Were Cheering – Recapping the CFB World, Week 5

This week’s slate of college football was weird. Not the good weird of North Texas beating the pants off of Arkansas weird, but not a lot of palpably intense match-ups, and the few that were all kicked off at the exact same time. Army vs. Buffalo and West Virginia vs. Texas Tech looked to be great games on paper but turned out to be not all that close (WVU got a little frisky nearing the end allowing Tech back in it), while Syracuse vs. Clemson looked to be a blowout on paper, but ended up being the most entertaining until the prime-time slate.

Most of the 3:30 slate was a mess:

  • Purdue vs. Nebraska was not close after the first quarter. Both teams amassed over 500 yards as this turned into a track meet. 
  • Kyler Murray’s 70-second suspension really helped Baylor (pause, not). He missed the first drive because he was late for practice and then threw for six TDs and rushed for another.
  • McKenzie Milton single-handedly ran Pitt off of the field, throwing for four TDs and rushing for another two in a 42-14 win.
  • Tennessee vs. Georgia would have been compelling 10 years ago.
  • Louisville coughed up a 10-point fourth quarter lead to drop a much needed win vs. Florida State.

The best games of the time slot was Nevada vs. Air Force (more on that later) and I highly doubt ANY of you watched that! (I didn’t either, but hey I had to go to a wedding).

The primetime slot had multiple marquee games, but they all kicked off within an hour of each other.

  • The Mullen Bowl (Florida vs. Mississippi State) and Utah vs. Washington State both kicked at 6 PM (the latter on the Pac-12 Network no less, which is impossible to find even if you live in their footprint)
  • Boise St. vs. Wyoming, Iowa State vs. TCU, Ohio State vs. Penn State, and Stanford vs. Notre Dame all kicked between 7 and 7:30 PM. The results didn’t live up to the hype in Boise/Wyoming and ND/Stanford, but still!

I know that TV runs college football, but wouldn’t you want to spread those games out so (wait for it) more people watch more games?

Michigan was not immune to the butt 3:30 slate. After spotting Northwestern 17 quick points, the defense steeled their spine and didn’t allow a drive over 30 yards following their second touchdown; the longest drive of 29 yards to end the game was largely based on mid-range throws into a deep prevent defense. The offense clawed their way to 20 unanswered points and escaped with a gritty but moderately ugly win, accompanied with a sigh of relief but also a weird sense of pride. This was the best way to recap that win:

College football did not get as weird as we had hoped, but there were still a few occurrences that certainly made you hold your breath. Here’s what happened while you were cheering:

    • Tulane took down Memphis, 40-24, on Friday night, in a game that I don’t think anybody had Tulane winning (Memphis was a 14.5 favorite). Wearing the best helmet in college football, Tulane held Memphis, the 14th ranked offense in S&P+, to only 31 yards rushing and rushed for ten times that on their own. This game is Memphis’ 2nd divisional loss, which opens up the American conference quite a bit – although whoever wins this division gets UCF in the conference championship.
  • Texas: Back, but Only for a Half
    • Texas jumped out to a 19 point lead (including a punt return touchdown and a safety) and took that 19-0 lead into halftime and took their foot off the gas in the second half. Kansas State scored two touchdowns to get back within a score, but their final drive sputtered early and Texas escaped a game that ended up being closer than it should have been – the teams were separated by over 50 spots in S&P+ entering the week.
  • Virginia Tech – A Bump in the Road
    • Virginia Tech took care of a solid Duke team emphatically, holding the Blue Devils to only 14 points and 327 total yards. This makes last weekend’s loss to Old Dominion look more like an exception and not a season-defeating loss, even though Josh Jackson is still out for the near future. Duke is still knocking on the door of being a top 40 team in S&P+, so this is a quality win for the Hokies, but they host Notre Dame next week.
  • The Mullen Bowl! 
    • Florida defeated Mississippi State, 13-6 in Dan Mullen’s return to Starkville, a game that was not for the weak stomach. Feleipe Franks connected on 22 of 31 passes for 219 yards and Nick Fitzgerald only completed 11 of 26 passes, struggling mightily to locate the football, either airmailing his receivers or leading them so much that the ball fell weakly to the ground. Florida looked very Florida-y in this game, but played well enough to knock off a team that is looking like more bark than bite so far this season. The Bulldogs don’t catch a break as they face lots of Tigers in the coming weeks, hosting Auburn Saturday and traveling to LSU the following.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Plays Football
    • ECU Pirates vs. ODU Monarchs was straight up rowdy, with the Pirates winning 37-35. Neither team led by more than a touchdown at any point in the game, and four of ECU’s five touchdowns came immediately following an Old Dominion touchdown drive. ECU held ODU to only 21 rushing yards and 3-16 on third down conversions but still needed a last minute field goal to win the game. It’s not likely given the remainder of ODU’s schedule, but it could so happen that the Virginia Tech game is their only win of the season, which would be peak CFB weird. As far as ECU goes, they are looking pretty good for a team that started in the bottom 5 of the S&P+ rankings – wins over ODU and UNC and a one-score loss to USF. They have a good chance of eclipsing their previous win total of 3 in 2017.
  • Miami-OH Feels the #CollegeKickers Luck
    • An equally wild afternoon game, Miami of Ohio’s kicker had a day to forget, missing a PAT that would have put Miami up 13 with 3 minutes in the 3rd quarter, and missing the game-winning field goal with 23 seconds left. That said, the rest of this game was incredibly entertaining; neither QB threw an interception and both completed at least 64% of their passes. WMU QB Jon Wassink had himself a career game, throwing for 439 yards and 5 touchdowns on 27/42 passing, and rushed for what would become the game winning touchdown. It was back and forth and at times sloppy, but it was a nail biter and you can’t help but feel for the Miami kicker.
  • Louisville, WYD
    • A two touchdown lead at half was not enough for Petrino’s Cardinals, as Florida State came back from a 21-7 deficit to win 28-24. Both teams just struggled mightily to move the ball on the ground; Louisville averaged 3 yards per carry and FSU averaged 2.5 – these teams now rank 112th and 109th in offensive S&P+, respectively. A bowl for FSU still looks mighty tough, as they have to face 5 (!) more ranked opponents in the coming weeks: Miami, Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, and Florida. They have cool gloves, though:
  • Perhaps the Anchor Was Down Too Far
    • Vanderbilt escaped a close one against Tennessee State, winning on a 4th quarter touchdown in the waning minutes. Kyle Shurmur threw two early interceptions but was excellent down the stretch, connecting with Kalija Lipscomb for 38- and 68-yard touchdown passes, the latter coming with 6:20 left in the 4th that ended up sealing the game. TSU QB Demry Croft (remember him?) also looked quite good, completing 22 of 31 passes for 269 yards and 3 TDs. Vandy snuck away with a win, but now has to run the gauntlet of Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky in the coming three weeks. This performance is not exactly what the Commodores were looking for entering that stretch.
    • While you’re here, please keep TSU linebacker Christion Abercrombie in your heart. He collapsed after making a tackle and is in critical condition.
  • Air Force Falls Short Again
    • Nevada snapped their 8-game road losing streak against Air Force, mostly on the arm of Ty Gangi, who threw for four touchdowns (and a 99-yard pick-six, but hey). Down 5 points and with time dwindling, Air Force drove the ball deep into Nevada territory but could not convert for points, turning the ball over on downs (they attempted 3 straight passes!). Nevada took an intentional delay of game penalty and safety, electing to give the ball back to Air Force with 10 seconds left, and stopped the Falcons to seal the 28-25 win. It makes sense, but when you’re only up by a field goal, that is a gutsy roll of the dice.
  • Let the Triple Option Ring!
    • Georgia Southern (a surprising 3-1) defeated Sun Belt favorite Arkansas State 28-21 while only attempting three passes and completing one. Receiving the ball after Arkansas State tied the game up with 5:20 to go, Georgia Southern drove the ball for 10 plays and 83 yards in 4:42 to score the game winning touchdown with only 19 seconds left on the clock. It was an incredible drive (after the kickoff return was fumbled and recovered); Arkansas State had the Eagles dead to rights, facing a 3rd & 7 from the 47 yard-line with 19 seconds left. It appeared as if this was heading for overtime, until RB Wesley Kennedy III took the ball 47 yards for a score and the win. What a finish.
  • FAU – Faltered Around University (nailed it)
    • After scoring 3 touchdowns in their first 5 drives, FAU was held to only a field goal in the final 32 minutes of game play (and shut out the final 24 minutes) in a 25-24 loss to Middle Tennessee State. MTSU went for the ultimate Go Big or Go Home play; after scoring a touchdown with 38 seconds remaining to pull within one, they went for 2 and the win as opposed to kicking the PAT and taking it to overtime. It is the ultimate drama in a theater that already contains so much of it; MTSU prevailed and sends FAU to a 2-3 record.
  • EMU Blinks First (Do Emus Blink?)
    • This was…a football game. NIU took a 13-10 lead into halftime and there would be no scoring until…3 seconds left in the game when EMU kicked a game-tying field goal to send it to overtime. NIU had 7 possessions in the second half, none of which went for more than 33 yards, and EMU went three-and-out on every third quarter possession (they missed a field goal on a long 14-play, 57-yard drive to start the fourth). Both scored a touchdown in the first OT, and EMU missed a game winning field goal opportunity after NIU fumbled to open the 2nd OT. The Eagles would convert the field goal try to open the 3rd OT, but NIU punched in a touchdown to win the game and walk it off. A heartbreaking loss for EMU and a tough day for MAC kickers.
  • What Do You Get When You Combine WSU and Utah? A Cute (Cougar and a Ute)!
    • Nailed it (again). This game was 21-21 as early as 24 minutes in, and all signs pointed to a mega-shootout. We got the polar opposite of that; Utah scored a field goal to open the second half and WSU missed one to counter. They would exchange punts for the next 7 drives until WSU scored on a casual 89-yard passing play to win 28-24. Oh – WSU RUSHED FOR 0 YARDS.

Other Fun Stuff to Note

  • Hawaii defeated San Jose State in multiple overtimes to move to 5-1, as we all had predicted.
  • Nebraska starts a season 0-4 for the first time in program history.
  • Alabama covered the 49-point spread in the first half, but then failed to cover for the game (bunch a bums).
  • Arizona almost came back against USC, but they are still trying to make Khalil Tate a pass first QB.
  • While I’m beating up on the Pac-12: Colorado is 4-0 but their opponents have combined for 1 win (Colorado State over Arkansas).
  • Louisiana Tech handed North Texas its first loss, featuring this unbelievable effort from WR Rhasid Bonnette:
  • This week, in Linemen Swag:
  • And this week, in Turnover Props:

And just because I have to talk about SOME popular stuff, my favorite James Franklin tweets:

This week had a lot of bye weeks, as well. Next week will have a much larger quantity of games, but unfortunately, the quality does not follow suit. Most of the games that are considered marquee for this coming Saturday would only be “scoreboard watching” games normally – meaning I’ll only tune in if I see that it is close late. Here’s what we’re looking at for Saturday:

  • Illinois vs Rutgers (remember, entertaining football does not equal GOOD football)
  • Missouri vs South Carolina
  • RED RIVER RIVALRY! Oklahoma vs Texas
  • Northwestern vs Michigan State
  • Boston College vs NC State
  • Part of me wants to say FSU vs Miami, but I know better than that
  • LSU vs Florida (smash that under)
  • Navy vs Air Force
  • SDSU vs Boise State (this would be GREAT last year. This year, meh)
  • New Mexico vs UNLV
  • Kentucky vs Texas A&M
  • Auburn vs Mississippi State (looking less and less fun each passing week)
  • Notre Dame vs Virginia Tech
  • Cal vs Arizona

A lot of borderline entertaining games, but I won’t lie to myself and say I won’t watch them.

Thanks for reading and check back in next week!

Photo Credit: Brenden Sullivan/The-World-Herald

Bill Getschman