Call it “Shake-up Saturday”.  The first weekend of October saw a couple of SEC contenders get downgraded to pretenders after suffering 28 point defeats while the top two teams in the Big Ten escaped one-possession nailbiters with schools counting down the days until Midnight Madness.  The American Athletic Conference (of America) has more unbeaten teams than the Pac-12 (only standard-bearers like Cal and Utah remaining unscathed)…and nobody is discounting the possibility of a 2-loss SEC team advancing to the playoff.  For area schools, the fight to gain bowl eligibility begins:  Maryland, Virginia Tech and Virginia all have 3 losses and each school is examining the remaining schedule weekly as if it’s a commodities future.  Prepare for “did you see Georgia Tech collapse?  I think we can count that as a potential win” or “wow–Indiana almost beat Ohio State?  Thank goodness we play Rutgers” to enter the conversation–because when you’re 2-3 or 1-3, future opponents is often more appealing than the problems of the present.  Navy is also playing for a bowl– can the unbeaten Midshipmen continue its run through the AAC while impressing New Years Day Bowl scouts enough to merit a January 1st appearance?  Otherwise, they’re two victories away from clinching a Military Bowl bid.  At least in that case traveling to Annapolis Navy-Marine Corps Stadium won’t be a hassle.  The college football season is tumultuous enough.

 

Alma Mater Updates and Bye Week Blues– the Orange got a much-needed week off after falling to LSU.  Hopefully they won’t have to start a 5th string quarterback Saturday at South Florida.  Virginia gets Pitt after taking a long, hard look at an opening month where they were outclassed at UCLA, snakebitten against Notre Dame, lucky against William & Mary and embarrassed by Boise State.  Blue and orange combinations collide one week from Saturday in Charlottesville.  What are the proper wine pairings for wings?

 

Maryland’s game with Michigan was moved to noon because of Hurricane Joaquin concerns.  Eventually Joaquin and the home team were both downgraded…as the Terrapins tumbled to the Wolverines 28-0.  Consecutive weeks of getting blown out gives the College Park Community plenty of concern moving forward with a remaining schedule that features three unbeatens and a pair of 4-1 teams.  Can they turn the season around?  Terrapin Triumphs– the defense held the Wolverines in check for most of the afternoon, tallying three takeaways.  Quentin Jefferson notched a sack and an interception…while Jermaine Carter led the D with 8 tackles.  Terrapin Troubles– Caleb Rowe threw three interceptions before being replaced by Daxx Garman, who completed just 2 of 9 passes while getting sacked three times.  The offense converted just 1 of 18 third down attempts…with the majority of those chances coming on third and long (7+ yards needed).  Next:  Saturday at noon against #1 Ohio State (the Buckeyes barely beat Indiana 34-27 as the Hoosiers threw incomplete into the end zone as time expired)…thank goodness the bye week is on the horizon.

 

Virginia Tech showed that their early-season struggles were more than just September stumbles…losing their ACC opener to Pitt 17-13.  Are you ready for another 7-5 season with a trip to the St. Petersburg Bowl?  Because it looks like another season of being non-competitive in the easier ACC division.  Hokie Highlights– the defense kept them in the game…with Chuck Clark and Deon Clarke each notching 9 tackles and a sack.  A.J. Hughes averaged over 45 yards per punt and Joey Slye connected on both field goal attempts (43 and 48 yards).  It’s not exactly BEAMER BALL!, but it’s better than what the offense spit up.  Hokie Humblings– Brenden Motley fell to earth…completing just 9 of 20 passes with 3 interceptions while getting sacked 7 times.  The running game nets 66 yards on 26 carries (not accounting for the 57 yards lost on sacks).  Next:  Friday at 8PM against NC State (Wolfpack are 4-1 after losing to Louisville 20-13, their “wins” have come against EKU, ODU, USA and Troy)…it’s not the “Must See Thursday Football” in Blacksburg of old, but one will take it.

 

Navy stepped out of AAC play to take care of a more traditional rival:  the 33-11 steamrolling of Air Force saw the Keenan Reynolds coronation/victory lap continue.  The question “how good is this team?” will be answered soon enough, but unbeaten in October is an achievement to be admired (see the above teams).  Midshipmen Medals– Keenan Reynolds rushes for 183 yards while passing for 117 and a touchdown.  The defense held the Falcons to 5 of 16 on third down while tallying four takeaways…Kwazel Bertrand notching 8 tackles and two fumble recoveries.  Midshipmen Miscues– the offense moved the chains on just 4 of 14 third downs…while 7 penalties will not make the coaching staff happy.  Next: Saturday at 3:30PM against Notre Dame (4-1 after losing 24-22 at Clemson)…will the Irish go to their green jerseys against Reynolds and the Mids?

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