Heat rises.  It also stifles and confuses.  Last season at this time I saw the multiple hot seats at blue blood programs Texas (Mack Brown retired), USC (Lane Kiffin was fired) and Nebraska (Bo Pellini’s tenure hasn’t expired).  A new year brings new coaches looking over their shoulders at schools that feel they’re entitled to 10 wins, playing for a conference championship and a New Year’s Day reservation.  Michigan’s Brady Hoke not only has the 31-0 thumping by Notre Dame to answer for…but also a home loss to Utah.  Florida’s Will Muschamp saw his Gators get worked by Alabama one week after they needed triple overtime to outlast Kentucky.  There was even talk around Texas and first-year coach Charlie Strong after their early loss to BYU.  Coaches are paid big money to produce wins and revenue for their schools…and the only opponent more difficult than this week’s is yesteryear.  Because nobody in Austin will admit that Darryl Royal ever had problems beating Oklahoma…nobody mentions how Michigan under Bo Schembechler was 5-12 in bowl games…and nobody mentions that the Gators didn’t win an SEC title until 1984 (that had to be vacated).  Thankfully a coach’s salary allows his expenses budget to include antacids.

 

Alma Mater Update– one tough loss at home for the Orange.  As if one didn’t realize after needing a fake field goal in double-overtime to beat Villanova that this wouldn’t be a replay of the 1987 Sugar Bowl season.  Penalties and missed plays helped ruin the offense in the red zone…and coverage breakdowns led to a pair of long TD’s.  Now for Notre Dame–can SU get the 1983 Liberty Bowl season Fighting Irish?

 

Maryland won on the road for the second time in three weeks…edging Syracuse 34-20.  Entering a Big Ten buzz-saw that includes ranked teams Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin (plus Michigan and Penn State and an Indiana team that upset Missouri) at 3-1 is so much better than 2-2…because who wants to sit down for Thanksgiving Dinner at 5-6 needing a win over Rutgers to become bowl-eligible?  Terrapin Triumphs– beware the big play:  CJ Brown tossed a 90-yard TD pass to Brandon Ross that began as a simple swing pass, a blocked punt set up a 2nd quarter TD and Will Likely returned an INT 88 yards for the team’s last TD of the day (he also tallied a team-high 9 tackles)… Red Zone Defense forced the Orange to settle for field goals or nothing at all multiple times… and the team bounced back from a tough loss at home in fine fashion.  Terrapin Troubles– the offense gained just 68 yards in the second half… 8 penalties for 75 yards won’t sit well with the coaching staff…and the defense allowed over 500 yards for the second straight week.  Next:  Saturday at Indiana.

 

Virginia Tech began the ACC season with a whimper–a 27-24 come from ahead loss to Georgia Tech.  Whatever glow this team had from its upset win at Ohio State two weeks ago is washed away…and while there are still Coastal Division hopes (hey– Duke, UNC and Virginia remain Duke, UNC and Virginia) one wonders if it isn’t too early to be concerned if this isn’t another 4 or 5 loss team.  Hokie Highlights– linebacker Chase Williams led the hit parade with 17 tackles … Isaiah Ford notched 8 receptions for 114 yards… the defense held GT to 4-12 on third down while the offense was 8-14 at moving the chains.  Hokie Humblings– Michael Brewer threw 3 interceptions (one of which was returned for a TD)… laundry continues to be an achilles heel for this team with 12 penalties for 79 yards… and was that a blocked field goal I saw?  Whatever happened to Beamer Ball?  Next:  Saturday vs Western Michigan.

 

Virginia had #21 BYU on the ropes for 30 minutes before falling 41-33.  Another one-possession game against an unbeaten…another opportunity missed…but another encouraging sign that this program is moving in the right direction.  Cavalier Congrats–  how did they lose this game after owning a 35-16 edge in first downs and a 519-332 yardage advantage while  possessing the ball for over 40 minutes?  Miles Gooch (6 catches for 65 yards) continues to terrorize secondaries instead of Arnold Drummond… and Khalek Shepherd (73 yards rushing and a TD) looked sharp.  Cavalier Concerns– the defense bent and broke in the second half– allowing 3 touchdown drives… special teams allowed a kickoff return that kept the game out of reach… and neither quarterback averaged 10 yards per completion–even the Eight Ball knows you’ve got to stretch the field somewhat.  Next:  Saturday vs Kent State (evidently it’s schedule a MAC school day in the Commonwealth).

 

Navy fell behind early against Rutgers…and a second half rally wasn’t enough in a 31-24 loss to the Scarlet Knights.  Midshipmen Medals– Keenan Reynolds threw for 231 yards and a TD in his return to the lineup from a knee injury…the defense held Rutgers to 139 yards in the second half and turned an early Scarlet Knights fumble into a touchdown.  Midshipmen Miscues– the run defense was gashed for 284 yards… and after the D forced a fumble and a three & out allowed points on four straight possessions.  Next:  Saturday vs Western Kentucky.

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