Remember when Maryland announced it was entering the Big Ten?  And everybody prayed for the poor souls of the football program that would get steamrolled by the Monsters of the Midwest?  I forgot it’s not 1983 when the league had 3 teams play in the 5 New Year’s Day bowl games (10-1 Illinois lost the Rose, 9-2 Michigan lost the Sugar, 8-3 Ohio St won the Fiesta while 9-2 Iowa got ripped off).  Saturday’s sample for this 14-team empire that would rival the SEC?  NOT so scintillating.  Losses by national title contenders Ohio State and Michigan State.  A blowout for the block M brand…as Michigan’s rivalry with Notre Dame ends on a decidedly down note.  The traditional September “like, what were you expecting?” defeats for Purdue and Northwestern.  A near upset at home to a cupcake for Nebraska…and less than impressive wins for Rutgers (over Howard), Illinois and Iowa.  Your Big Ten East Division unbeatens?  Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State and Indiana...that’ll take some getting used to.

 

Alma Mater Update– the Orange wisely prepared for Central Michigan during its weekend off…and saw the Chippewas pound Purdue 38-17.  The Orange also go to Mount Pleasant for this game.  At least SU can take consolation in the FCS school they needed not only a fake field goal but also a failed 2-point attempt in double overtime to beat dropped a half-century in its next game.  Villanova 50, Fordham (?) 6.  Scoreboard, boys and girls…

 

Maryland escaped upset at South Florida by rallying past the Bulls 24-17.  When the other team’s starting quarterback misses most of the game, one expects more than a seven-point margin…but as we’ve established it could have been worse.  Terrapin Triumphs– the triple back attack of Wes Brown, Albert Reid and Brandon Ross nets 120 yards on 27 carries… Marcus Leak notches two TD receptions…the defense shutting out USF in the second half while holding the Bulls to 57 yards on 25 plays…special teams provides the go-ahead score with a blocked punt.  Terrapin Troubles– SIX turnovers?  CJ Brown’s inconsistent September saw plenty of pressure (3 sacks) and misfires (2 interceptions and a fumble).  Next:  Saturday vs West Virginia.

 

Virginia Tech made the early ACC statement by upsetting #8 Ohio State 35-21 in Columbus...the first non-conference win against a top 10 team for the Hokies since they beat #9 West Virginia (and Major Harris) in 1989 (although technically everybody was non-conference for then-Independent VT)  Hokie Highlights–owning 3rd down by converting 9 of 17 while holding OSU to 4 of 16 in moving the chains.  The defense made JT Barrett look ordinary by intercepting him 3 times and holding the Buckeyes’ leading rusher to under 3 yards a carry.  Michael Brewer shook off a 4th quarter fumble to throw for the go-ahead score.  Hokie Humblings– the running game averaged 3.0 yards a carry…and 10 penalties for 107 yards continues the trend of liberal laundry for the Hokies.  Next:  Saturday vs East Carolina.

 

Virginia avoided what could have been one disastrous day by routing Richmond 45-13.  Even last year’s starting QB David Watford got into the game…joining former Cavaliers  Cavaliers quarterbacks  Michael Strauss and Michael Rocco who saw time for Richmond while current competitors Matt Johns and Greyson Lambert weren’t disastrous.  Cavalier Congrats– to a defense that tallied a magnificent seven takeaways… and to an offense that converted on 7 of 12 third downs…and the return game averaged 50 yards on 4 returns.   Cavalier Concerns– the QB trio averaged less than 10 yards per completion… the defense coughed up over 400 yards to the Spiders… and I’m still unsettled on quarterback competition that right now looks like a straw poll one month before the Iowa Caucus.  Next:  Saturday vs #25 Louisville.

 

Navy bounced back from a tough loss to Ohio State by outscoring Temple 31-24.  While the Big Ten may be teetering…the American Athletic Conference (of America) is down for the count: the AAC’s scary Saturday included SMU losing to North Texas by 37 and Connecticut barely beating Stonybrook.  Midshipmen Medals–  Keenan Reynolds tallied 173 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing while the team gained 487 yards on the ground…the defense held the Owls to 6-18 on third down…and just one penalty on the day.  Midshipmen Miscues– 3 fumbles (one returned for a Temple TD)… 17 yards per kickoff return and 1.5 yards per punt return far from special.  Next:  Saturday at Texas State.

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